Charges Pondered Against Former White House Counsel

CNN reports:

Federal prosecutors in New York are weighing criminal charges against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig as part of an investigation into whether he failed to register as a foreign agent in a probe that is linked to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to sources familiar with the matter.

In addition, these sources said, prosecutors in the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are considering taking action against powerhouse law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where Craig was a partner during the activity under examination.

Apparently the fact that Skadden Arps and Paul Manafort collaborated in the conduct for which Manafort was prosecuted has been in the public domain for a while:

The inquiry into Craig and Skadden is closely linked to a case against Manafort, and details about Skadden’s work in the matter were disclosed in superseding criminal charges filed Friday by Mueller’s office against Manafort. …

According to the filing, which charged only Manafort, in 2012 Manafort “solicited” a law firm on behalf of the then-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and the Ukranian government’s Ministry of Justice. The firm, which was Skadden, according to people familiar with the matter, was hired to write a report on the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine and political rival of Yanukovych.
In advance of the report’s official release, “Manafort arranged to have the law firm disseminate hard copies of the report to numerous government officials, including senior United States executive and legislative branch officials,” the filing says. The partner who worked on the report — according to court proceedings in another related case, that of former Skadden lawyer Alex van der Zwaan — was Craig, CNN has reported.

A former Skadden lawyer has already pled guilty to lying to federal investigators about Skadden’s role. Skadden was paid $4.6 million for writing the report. That’s a heck of a report. I would think the fee can be explained only by the expectation that Skadden would use its political influence on behalf of the Ukrainian faction that paid for the report. In that case, presumably Skadden should have registered under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

It is not easy to see how Manafort can be prosecuted, but not Greg Craig and Skadden Arps. But then, there is this unintentionally revealing observation:

Any action against Craig or Skadden would be an extraordinary step, given Craig’s prominence and Skadden’s position as one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the country.

As opposed to Paul Manafort, who is a nobody and a Republican to boot.

Glenn Reynolds wonders, Will Greg Craig flip on Obama?

If they go after everyone in Washington who should have registered as a foreign agent but didn’t, the jails will be full. But if they don’t, then why single out Manafort?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

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