A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Greg Craig, a White House counsel in the Obama administration, on charges of making false statements and hiding information from the Department of Justice related to his work on behalf of Ukraine.
“Craig, 74, of Washington, D.C., was indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for willfully falsifying and concealing material facts from the [Foreign Agents Registration Act Unit],” the DOJ said in a statement. The FARA Unit is part of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The charges against Craig stem from an investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Craig, a prominent attorney, is best known for being the first White House counsel to former President Barack Obama. He has also served as counsel for former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright. Thursday’s charges are unrelated to Craig’s time in the Obama administration.
Craig’s lawyers released a statement Wednesday night saying they expected their client to be charged in a foreign lobbying investigation spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The lawyers said that the “government’s stubborn insistence on prosecuting Mr. Craig is a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”
The DOJ said the maximum penalties for Craig’s charges are five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for the charge of making false statements, and five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for the charge of concealing information.
In January, Craig’s former law firm agreed to pay a Justice Department settlement of about $4.6 million, and to publicly acknowledge that it did not register with the government as a foreign agent for its work for Ukraine.
The Justice Department looked at Craig’s activities from 2012, when the Ukrainian government hired him and law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP to compile a report on the prosecution of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko ― the political opponent of longtime Manafort patron and then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
In Skadden’s settlement this year, the firm acknowledged that it participated in a public relations campaign for the report and that it should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Skadden also acknowledged it was paid $4.6 million for the report, instead of just the $12,000 the Ukrainian government said at the time.
FARA is a 1938 law meant to inform Americans when foreign agents try to influence public opinion or policymakers. It requires people to disclose to the Justice Department when they advocate, lobby or perform public relations work in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign government.
Thursday’s announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu, as well as William Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, which is investigating the case.
Craig released a statement on Twitter later Thursday in response to the indictment.
“This prosecution is unprecedented and unjustified,” he said. “I am confident that both the judge and the jury will agree with me.”
Read the full indictment below.
This story has been updated with Craig’s statement.