Prominent Democratic attorney and former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig expects to be indicted in the coming days in relation to his work with lobbyist Paul Manafort in Ukraine in 2012, his lawyers said Wednesday. Craig, who also worked in the Clinton White House, is facing charges for his work at the law firm Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he was a partner at the time. The firm was hired by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to review his Justice Ministry’s prosecution of a chief rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, which led to her being imprisoned by the regime. Skadden produced a 187-page report on the case and claimed it was an independent analysis while failing to disclose the firm was being paid by the Ukrainian government to produce it.
Manafort and other lobbyists working for the Yanukovych regime spread the Skadden report widely in an effort to sanitize their guy in the face of criticism of the conviction and his record more generally. When the Justice Department queried the firm in 2012 to see whether its work on behalf of Yanukovych required it to register as a foreign agent, Craig responded in a in September 2013 letter to the DOJ saying he “in no way serving as an agent for Ukraine.” The DOJ agreed at the time, but when the Mueller investigation led to a deep dive into years of murky work by Paul Manafort in Ukraine, Craig’s characterization of his work came under renewed scrutiny by prosecutors.
“Skadden in January reached a settlement with the Justice Department, admitting it should have registered for its work in 2012 and 2013, and agreed to turn over the $4.6 million in fees it made for the report in exchange for facing no criminal charges,” the Washington Post notes. “In its settlement, Skadden agreed that DOJ’s 2014 finding that the firm did not need to register came after DOJ relied on ‘false and misleading oral and written statements’ made by Craig.”