Ex-Obama lawyer charged in Mueller Russia probe | News | DW | 11.04.2019
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Ex-Obama lawyer charged in Mueller Russia probe

Former White House counsel Greg Craig has been charged with lying about work he did for the Ukrainian government. He is the first person linked to the Democrats to be indicted in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Greg Craig, a lawyer who worked in the White House under former US President Barack Obama, was charged on Thursday in a lobbying investigation tied to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Craig is the first person with strong ties to the Democrats to face charges in the Mueller investigation, which has led to the indictment of numerous key allies of current US President Donald Trump.

What we know about the case:

  • Craig is charged with making false statements and concealing information from the Justice Department about his alleged lobbying work.
  • The case centers on a 2012 report Craig wrote to justify the prosecution of a political enemy of the Russia-aligned Ukrainian government at the time.
  • The international law firm that Craig worked at produced the report at the behest of Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Trump's presidential campaign.
  • Craig is accused of avoiding registering as a foreign agent and that he sought to hide the money he received for his work with Ukraine.
  • He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and fines totaling $260,000 (€230,900).

Lawyers dispute charges

Craig's legal team have rejected the charges, saying that the work their client did for the Ukrainian government did not qualify as foreign lobbying and that he acted as "an independent expert on the rule of law."

The Justice Department unit investigating Craig is responsible for enforcing a US law requiring people to disclose work they do for foreign governments.

"Mr. Craig is not guilty of any charge and the government's stubborn insistence on prosecuting Mr. Craig is a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion," his lawyers said in a statement.

Watch video 02:58

US Special Counsel submits confidential Russia report

Who is Greg Craig?

The 74-year-old lawyer is a prominent Washington attorney who served as a top White House counsel to Obama. He also led former President Bill Clinton's legal team during his impeachment proceedings and defended Clinton during his Senate trial.

Craig's private practice has included numerous prominent Democrats, including former vice presidential candidate John Edwards. After leaving the White House in 2012, he became a senior partner at the international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Read more: Russia sees 'chance to reset US relations' after Mueller probe

Dozens indicted in Russia probe

Thursday's case stems from Mueller's 22-month-long investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.

Some 34 people have been indicted in the probe, including former Trump allies and Russian agents. Manafort is currently serving a 7.5-year prison sentence for financial crimes and lobbying violations.

After reviewing Mueller's report, Attorney General William Barr said that the probe did not find enough evidence to charge Trump or others with conspiracy or obstruction of justice. Barr is expected to release a redacted version of the report next week.

Watch video 02:29

Trump feels exonerated by Mueller report

rs/aw (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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