Mueller’s investigation may have found someone to prosecute in the White House.
However, for the Democrats, it was in the White House when Obama was in office which means bad news for the former president.
Former Obama White House Counsel and Clinton-linked attorney Greg Craig may soon be charged by the Justice Department for engaging in illegal unregistered overseas lobbying, in a case initially probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — a development that would make him the first Democrat to face prosecution amid the long-running Russia investigation.
The case centers on lobbying work that Craig performed in 2012 for the Russian-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, while Craig was a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Craig allegedly never registered as a foreign agent under a U.S. law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires lobbyists to declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders, governments or their political parties.
FARA violations were only rarely prosecuted until Mueller took aim at Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, for his lobbying work in Ukraine. Manafort, who connected Craig with Yanukovych, has been convicted on numerous bank and tax fraud charges, and was separately accused of FARA violations as well. He was sentenced earlier this month to approximately seven years in prison.
Craig left Skadden last year as his work with Manafort became public. In January, Skadden agreed to cooperate with the DOJ’s registration requirements and paid $4.6 million in a settlement to avoid a criminal prosecution. “We have learned much from this incident and are taking steps to prevent anything similar from happening again,” the firm said in a statement at the time.
As with Manafort’s case, there is no indication that Craig improperly colluded with a foreign government while he was serving in any official capacity. Craig worked as White House Counsel from 2009 to 2010, and previously worked in the Clinton administration on impeachment matters.
Mueller referred the Craig case to New York federal prosecutors, apparently because it fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia.
New York prosecutors ultimately forwarded the case to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. in January for a now-imminent final decision on filing charges, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Separately, New York prosecutors are also looking into potential similar charges regarding another Clinton-connected Washington insider, Tony Podesta. In September, Manafort admitted to directing two firms — Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group — to lobby in the U.S. on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and Ukraine’s government, then led by Yanukovych, Manafort’s longtime political patron.
Mercury and Podesta, which were paid a combined $2 million on the project, then registered under a less stringent lobbying law that doesn’t require as much public disclosure as FARA.