Ex-Obama Lawyer Faces August Trial Over Lobbying Claims

(Bloomberg) -- Gregory Craig, a former Obama White House lawyer who was swept up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, faces a two-week trial in August on charges he lied to the government and concealed work he did for a pro-Russian Ukrainian regime.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson at a hearing in Washington on Monday set a tight schedule of pre-trial deadlines to accommodate Craig’s and the government’s stated desire to wrap up the case quickly.

Jackson, who has overseen several cases stemming from Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, denied Craig’s request to keep his passport after prosecutors said that allowing him to keep the document would amount to "special treatment."

The charges against Craig, 74, a former lawyer at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, arose from Mueller’s two-year probe. Craig is the first prominent Democrat charged, and he pleaded not guilty last week. The charges, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, don’t relate to Craig’s work for the previous administration.

Craig has denied that he violated the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which had until recently been rarely used by prosecutors. The U.S. alleges he avoided registering his work as foreign lobbying in part out of a belief that doing so would prevent him from taking government jobs in the future.

Craig’s lawyer, William W. Taylor, told Jackson there are several flaws in the indictment that he will seek to highlight before the trial, including the government’s assumption that people being interviewed by federal agents must disclose "all relevant facts." He also said there are statute of limitations issues.

"We’d like this case resolved as soon as possible," Taylor told the judge at Monday’s hearing. "Mr. Craig is entirely innocent."

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.