Former Obama White House counsel charged with lying to Justice Department

In this handout image provided by The White House President Barack Obama speaks with White House Counsel Gregory Craig in the Oval Office

The charges against Mr Craig claim he lied to federal prosecutors in the Department of Justice about his foreign lobbying efforts and concealed information about his private work in Ukraine for the Russian-backed government.

A prominent Washington attorney who worked in Barack Obama's White House on Thursday became the first Democrat to face charges from Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling. Tymoshenko was a political opponent of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was a longtime Manafort patron.

Reports suggest that Manafort and Craig's work intersected when Skadden was hired to make a report in defense of Yankovich's prosecution and imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and political rival of his.

Prosecutors allege that interactions Craig had with the media to explain and publicize the report in 2012 triggered a requirement to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which is meant to ensure transparency when foreign governments work to lobby USA officials or shape public opinion.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in US politics is over, but prosecutors are investigating two prominent Washington lobbyists for their work for the former pro-Russian government of Ukraine, according to three sources close to the probe.

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Weber disclosed his work for a Ukrainian think tank, but he did not register as a foreign agent for the government of Ukraine under a the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which would have required him to spell out his activity in detail, according to a Reuters review of lobbying records. U.S. Attorney General William Barr is expected to release a redacted version of Mueller's findings next week. The firm also acknowledged it had been paid $4.6 million for the report and not just $12,000, as the Ukrainian government had said at the time.

"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 wrote. As of April, 446 separate entities registered with the Justice Department, up from 387 at the end of 2016. They acknowledged that Craig spoke to reporters about the report but denied it was part of a public relations campaign that would run afoul of FARA. "That is what this trial will be all about", they said in a statement.

The treatment of the Craig indictment in legacy media contrasted with the intense attention the media gave to other Mueller cases.

In the last few years, the Justice Department has brought several high-profile prosecutions involving FARA. He was sentenced to serve 71/2 in prison.

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