Ex-Obama White House counsel caught in Mueller-probe dragnet

Former White House counsel Gregory Craig is expected to be charged. (Bloomberg picture)

WASHINGTON: Lawyers for a White House counsel during the presidency of Barack Obama said Wednesday they expected him to face federal charges in coming days linked to jailed disgraced lobbyist Paul Manafort, the Washington Post reported.

Gregory Craig faces federal charges in relation to legal work he did for the Ukrainian government in 2012 after leaving the White House.

If charged, Craig would be the first prominent Democrat to be caught in the dragnet cast by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Post and other media said Craig faces charges in relation to legal work he did for Ukraine in 2012 after leaving the White House to join Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Craig resigned in April 2018 amid a probe into whether the firm failed to register as foreign lobbyists.

Skadden in January reached a settlement with the justice department, admitting it should have registered, and agreed to turn over the fees it had earned in exchange for facing no criminal charges.

In its settlement, Skadden said the firm had relied on “false and misleading oral and written statements” made by Craig, the Post reported sources close to the case as saying.

In their statement Wednesday, Craig’s attorneys said his work came “as an independent expert on the rule of law, not as an advocate for the client” and that he had refused requests to participate in Ukraine’s lobbying.

“Mr Craig is not guilty of any charge,” they said.

The Ukrainian government reported Skadden was paid US$12,000 for their services, but prosecutors say Manafort used an offshore account to help route more than US$4 million to the firm.

Manafort was sentenced in March to seven-and-a-half years in prison for lobbying violations and financial crimes.