Ex-Obama aide charged with lying to Justice Department

Ex-Obama aide charged with lying to Justice Department

The Justice Department said Craig lied about his work there to avoid having to register as a foreign agent.

Craig served as the White House counsel under then President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2010. The case is part of a foreign lobbying investigation spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe.

In Patten's guilty plea he also admitted to arranging for a USA citizen to act as a straw purchaser to pay $50,000 for four tickets to the inauguration of Republican President Donald Trump on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch, who reimbursed Patten through a Cypriot account.

Craig allegedly lied to the special counsel's team during an interview a year ago about legal work that he did for the Ukrainian government in 2012 after leaving the White House to join Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a New York-based law firm.

It was not clear why Mueller - who prosecuted other Trump officials, including Manafort, Michael Flynn, and George Papadopoulos for making false statements - did not handle the Craig case himself, and opted instead to farm it out to prosecutors in NY.

"President Obama's top White House lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, was indicted yesterday on very serious charges", Mr Trump tweeted, going on to dub the story "really big" and knock "the Fake News New York Times" over not putting it on the front page, but "rather page 16".

Podesta's work for the Ukrainian government came to light in 2017 after Mueller's team charged Manafort with lobbying violations.

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In April 2018 a Dutch lawyer working for Skadden, Alex van der Zwaan, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $20,000 fine after pleading guilty to lying to the Mueller investigation relating to his work for Ukraine together with Manafort and Manafort's partner Rick Gates.

The work that drew the Justice Department's attention occurred in 2012 when Craig and Skadden were hired by the Ukrainian government to compile a report on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister.

The scrutiny of Craig stems from an investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. "Without that, it does raise questions over whether the prosecution is political or not".

In its settlement earlier this year, Skadden acknowledged it participated in a public relations campaign for the report and should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, because of it.

A spokesperson for Weber and for Mercury declined to comment. 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.

In a videotaped statement uploaded to YouTube on Thursday, Craig asserted that the report was "independent", and denied helping Ukraine spin the information it contained.

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