Former Obama White House counsel indicted

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A former Obama White House counsel has been charged by a grand jury with lying to officials and concealing information about his lobbying efforts in Ukraine.

Craig, 74, faces charges of "hiding material facts" and lying to lobbying regulators under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA. If charged, he would be the first prominent Democrat charged as a result of Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Craig was not just charged with making false statements.

"I did not participate in a scheme to mislead the government or hide material facts", he said.

The government said Thursday that Craig was indicted for making false statements and concealing material information about Ukraine lobbying activities. A spokesman for the USA attorney's office declined to comment. After the initial inquiry into Craig and Skadden was opened by Mueller, Craig's case was referred to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of NY and then again to prosecutors in the US Attorney's office for the District of Columbia.

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Manafort was the first former Trump aide to be arrested in the special counsel's investigation, though his charges related only to his consulting in Ukraine. It admitted it was paid $4.6 million for the report, and not the $12,000 the Ukrainian government said at the time.

Craig became chief White House counsel at the start of President Obama's first term, but left in 2010 to work as a lobbyist.

Craig has privately represented prominent political figures, including former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, and is regarded within the legal world as a powerhouse.

"You are 'THE MAN, '" he wrote Craig in an email after the report received favourable media coverage, according to the indictment.The report was meant to be an objective review of the Ukrainian government's prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, the country's former prime minister who was convicted in 2011 on corruption charges and sentenced to seven years in prison. Tymoshenko was a political opponent of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was a longtime Manafort patron.

Some accused Skadden's report of whitewashing Ms. Tymoshenko's prosecution.

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The indictment cites Craig as emailing another attorney in February 2012 with the statement: "I don't want to register as a foreign agent under FARA". The disclosures also would have undermined the authority of the supposedly independent report.

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.

"This indictment accuses Mr. Craig of misleading the FARA Unit of the Department of Justice in order to avoid registration". "I have been clear that we can not run close to the FARA line and if we were seen as hiring and directing [PR firm] we would be doing much more than just lawyering", he allegedly wrote in one May 2012 email. Craig had been under investigation after it was alleged that he improperly failed to register as a foreign agent under the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Prosecutors also allege that Craig lied to the special counsel during an October 2017 interview, saying that he "repeated certain of the false and misleading statements he had made to the FARA Unit concerning the timing and nature of his contacts with journalists about the Report".

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