Former White House counsel Craig not guilty in Ukraine case

Politics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Greg Craig, who had served as former President Barack Obama’s top White House lawyer, was found not guilty on Wednesday of charges that he lied about work he performed for Ukraine in a case that grew out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

FILE PHOTO: A former White House Counsel under President Barack Obama Greg Craig leaves the U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Craig was accused of lying about a legal review he conducted in 2012, after he left the White House, that largely vindicated the prosecution of a political enemy of Viktor Yanukovich, the Russian-aligned president of Ukraine at the time.

But a jury in federal court in Washington acquitted Craig, 74, of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires disclosure of lobbying work on behalf of a foreign government.

He had faced up to five years in prison if convicted.

“I want to thank the jury for doing justice. I’m very fortunate to have the support of a loving family and many loyal friends who were steadfast during this ordeal,” Craig said in a statement.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson in August dismissed a second charge of making false statements about that activity.

The verdict is a blow to the Justice Department’s efforts to ramp up enforcement of foreign-lobbying laws after decades of inactivity.

Federal prosecutors involved in the case did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, the New York law firm that produced the report, agreed in January to turn over the $4.6 million it was paid and retroactively register as a foreign agent as part of a settlement with the Justice Department. Craig no longer works for the firm.

Skadden had produced the 187-page report at the behest of Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign who is currently serving a 7-1/2-year prison sentence for lobbying violations and financial crimes.

Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler

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