Trump Aide Testifies Against Attorney Accused of Foreign Lobbying Violations

August 27, 2019 by Tom Ramstack
The federal courthouse in Washington DC. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors accused a high-powered Washington, D.C. lawyer in court this week of engaging in illegal foreign lobbying by helping to craft a report critical of the Ukraine’s former prime minister.

Gregory Craig, White House counsel during the Obama administration, says his law firm’s team was merely consulting for a client, not violating any laws. The firm accepted about $4 million in fees from the Ukrainian government.

Craig was hired by Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, who is serving more than seven years in prison after being convicted of bank and tax fraud.

Prosecutors said Craig’s effort to help the Ukrainian government went far beyond the normal duties of a lawyer, sometimes dipping into a publicity campaign for a foreign government intended to influence U.S. public opinion.

At the heart of the dispute is a 2012 report produced by Craig and his law firm of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP that criticized former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She was jailed during the administration of her political opponent, then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a longtime Manafort patron.

Although she was charged with financial crimes, her supporters say the arrest was politically motivated. Yanukovych sought a report from Skadden Arps that pointed blame at Tymoshenko but absolved him of wrongdoing.

The Skadden Arps report largely absolved him of misbehavior.

The Justice Department is prosecuting Craig for allegedly violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It is designed to give Americans notice when foreign entities try to influence public opinion or politicians.

The law requires foreign agents to register with the Justice Department and to disclose their involvement with the foreign entities.

Federal prosecutors did not charge Craig with failing to register but are accusing him of giving the Justice Department misleading information about his work for the Ukrainian government.

He has pleaded not guilty to one count of making false statements. The 74-year-old faces the possibility of more than five years in prison.  

During testimony August 22,, prosecutors called Rick Gates, a former campaign aide to President Donald Trump. He testified that he worked with Craig to prepare a publicity plan for the Skadden Arps report.

The plan included giving an embargoed copy of the report to a New York Times reporter.

Gates left little doubt about whether Craig was trying to boost the image of the prime minister.

He told the jury that Craig was the one who suggested using a New York Times reporter to “seed” the report that vindicated the prime minister. Craig also made himself available for an interview.

The New York Times story was published in advance of the official release date for the report in late 2012.

Gates testified the story helped create the good publicity Craig and Manafort sought.

“The overall strategy worked,” Gates testified. “The article wasn’t the greatest, but at least it was viewed neutrally, so it did have an impact. From our viewpoint, the success of it was very great.”

Prosecutor Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez asked him, “Did Mr. Craig carry out the role that he had promised to carry out in relation to The New York Times?”

Gates replied, “He did.”

Craig’s attorney tried to portray Gates as an unreliable witness, based partly on his plea bargain last year in which he pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiracy against the United States. He is awaiting sentencing in federal court.

The prosecution of Gates and Craig are a result of the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the 2016 Trump campaign for president.

The case is U.S. v. Craig, case number 1:19-cr-00125, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Law

Assange Lawyers Say Trump Offered a Pardon If He ‘Played Ball’
In The News
Assange Lawyers Say Trump Offered a Pardon If He ‘Played Ball’

LONDON — Julian Assange’s lawyers told a London court that they will provide evidence that U.S. President Donald Trump was prepared to offer the WikiLeaks founder a pardon if he “played ball” about leaks of Democratic National Committee emails. At a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Assange’s lawyer... Read More

Georgia City Sues Drug Company Over Medicine That Went from $40 to $39,000
Litigation
Georgia City Sues Drug Company Over Medicine That Went from $40 to $39,000

ATLANTA — The city of Marietta, Ga., has filed a class action lawsuit against a drug company after the price of a decades-old medicine went from $40 a vial to more than $39,000. The city, which covers health care costs for employees and their families, says... Read More

Turkish Security Guards Face Prosecution After Protester Beatings in DC
Law
Turkish Security Guards Face Prosecution After Protester Beatings in DC
February 13, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON - Security guards for Turkey’s president must face civil prosecution in Washington, D.C. after they beat protesters on Embassy Row three years ago, a federal judge ruled last week. Attorneys for the government of Turkey argued the security personnel should receive immunity against lawsuits by... Read More

States’ Attorneys General Sue to Force ERA into Constitution
Litigation
States’ Attorneys General Sue to Force ERA into Constitution
February 6, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- The attorneys general of Virginia, Illinois and Nevada are suing in federal court for an order that would add the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. On January 27 Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the proposed Constitutional amendment that would expand... Read More

5th Circuit Won't Review Ruling That Tossed Obamacare Mandate
Health
5th Circuit Won't Review Ruling That Tossed Obamacare Mandate
January 29, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - An appeals court in New Orleans rejected a request to review a December ruling invalidating a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. In December, a three-judge panel in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Act's requirement that Americans purchase health... Read More

DOJ's Inspector General Says More Subpoena Power Needed to Protect Whistleblowers
Employment
DOJ's Inspector General Says More Subpoena Power Needed to Protect Whistleblowers
January 28, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Justice's chief internal investigator told a House panel on Tuesday that he and his colleagues across federal departments need more subpoena power to help protect whistleblowers alleging fraud and other malfeasance. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz offered that assessment in... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top