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Ex-Obama WH counsel charged with lying about lobbying work

AP  |  Washington 

Former Obama administration was indicted Thursday on charges of making false statements and concealing information in a Justice Department foreign lobbying investigation that intersected with the probe.

Craig was charged in a two-count indictment that accuses him of willfully concealing material facts about work he and his former firm performed for the Ukrainian

The US for the announced the charges.

They came a day after Craig's lawyers said he expected to be charged in the probe, which spun off from special Robert Mueller's investigation.

In the statement, his attorneys, and William Murphy, said, "Mr Craig is not guilty of any charge and the government's stubborn insistence on prosecuting Mr Craig is a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion."

Craig's indictment comes as the Justice Department is cracking down on unregistered foreign lobbying and consulting.

Federal prosecutors in have been investigating two prominent lobbying firms in a similar probe, and Justice Department officials in have been increasingly willing to prosecute people who they believe intentionally conceal their lobbying work from the federal

The scrutiny of Craig stems from an investigation of former Trump campaign and his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in

The charges come about three months after Craig's former firm agreed to pay more than USD 4.6 million and publicly acknowledge that it failed to register with the for its work for the

The civil settlement with Skadden, Arps, Slate, LLP laid much of the blame for the firm's conduct on Craig, who was a

Craig's lawyers said federal prosecutors in had declined charges, but they expected an indictment to be brought by the US Attorney's office in at the request of the Justice Department's national security division.

Craig is a prominent Washington and was the first to former

In private practice, his clients have included former North Carolina Sen and James Cartwright, the former of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was charged in a leaks investigation.

The work that drew the Justice Department's attention occurred in 2012, when Craig and were hired by the to compile a report on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian

Tymoshenko was a political opponent of then-Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovych, who was a longtime Manafort patron.

The report was billed as independent, and while critical in some ways of Tymoshenko's trial, critics have said it whitewashed a politically motivated prosecution.

In its settlement earlier this year, acknowledged it participated in a campaign for the report and should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, because of it.

The firm also acknowledged it had been paid USD 4.6 million for the report and not just USD 12,000, as the had said at the time.

The settlement painted an unflattering picture of Craig's conduct.

In 2012 and 2013, the firm's work attracted the attention of the Justice Department, which sought to determine whether the firm should register under FARA.

But according to the settlement, a matching Craig's description made several "false and misleading" statements to the government, allowing the firm to avoid registration.

In the statement Wednesday, Craig's lawyers denied that he lied to the government or his firm.

They acknowledged that Craig spoke to reporters about the report but denied it was part of a campaign that would run afoul of FARA.

"Mr Craig repeatedly refused requests that he participate in Ukraine's media and lobbying campaign to promote the Tymoshenko Report," they wrote.

They said he spoke to reporters at Times about the report to "make certain that would accurately summarise the report's criticisms of the Tymoshenko trial and not rely on misinformation from and its representatives."


FARA is a meant to allow Americans to know when foreign entities are trying to influence public opinion or policymakers.

The law, enacted in 1938 to unmask Nazi propaganda in the United States, requires people to disclose to the Justice Department when they advocate, lobby or perform work in the US on behalf of a foreign government or political entity.

In the last few years, the Justice Department has brought several high-profile prosecutions involving FARA.

That includes a case against Manafort, who was recently sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, April 12 2019. 00:50 IST
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