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‘Fishy’ charges facing ex-Obama counsel may be ‘political’: Ex-DOJ official

14 April 2019

"This case is about whether I misled the Department of Justice to avoid having to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act", Craig said in a video statement.

Craig however is fighting the charges.

Three sources familiar with the investigation said federal prosecutors in Manhattan are examining work done for Ukraine by both Weber and Tony Podesta, brother of John Podesta, a top official of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2016 Democratic presidential campaign and a former White House adviser.

The indictment of Craig, 74, stemmed from an investigation initiated by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

On Wednesday, attorneys for Craig issued a statement in anticipation of charges, arguing that Craig acted only "as an independent expert on the rule of law, not as an advocate" for the Ukrainians.

At the time he did the work, Craig no longer worked for the Obama administration and instead was a corporate lawyer at a prestigious law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Podesta's work for the Ukrainian government came to light in 2017 after Mueller's team charged Manafort with lobbying violations.

Sources familiar with the investigation said that investigations into Ukraine-related lobbying by Craig, Podesta and Weber were all initially being pursued by the Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of NY, but the probe related to Craig was transferred to federal prosecutors in Washington.

The indictment alleges that despite knowing federal requirements, Mr Craig did not want to register as a lobbyist for Ukraine "because he believed doing so could prevent him or others at the Law Firm from taking positions in the federal government in the future".

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich hired Craig's firm to provide a report justifying his imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a political rival.

"That is, at least according to Craig's lawyers, this case was originally investigated by the Southern District of New York", Miller continued.

Skadden reached a settlement with the Justice Department in January in which it agreed it should have registered as a foreign agent and paid a fine in lieu of prosecution.

As reported by Law.com, Craig's arraignment is scheduled for this afternoon, and his case has been assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson who has handled several cases stemming from the Mueller investigation.

Before Craig's indictment, the recent charges brought in cases initiated by Mueller had accused people of failing to disclose their lobbying work.

‘Fishy’ charges facing ex-Obama counsel may be ‘political’: Ex-DOJ official