Ex-Skadden Lawyer Craig Seeks Dismissal of Lobbying Case

(Bloomberg) -- Gregory Craig, the former White House counsel and Skadden lawyer, asked a federal judge to throw out an indictment accusing him of illegally lobbying for a pro-Russia regime in Ukraine.

Craig, 74, is the first prominent Democrat indicted on charges arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He joined the international law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP after leaving his post as White House counsel to Barack Obama. He was charged last month with concealing from the U.S. work he was doing at Skadden for the government of Viktor Yanukovych, starting in 2012.

Yanukovych was then the president of Ukraine. Craig’s work allegedly included promoting a Skadden report that put the trial of a Yanukovych political rival, former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Timoshenko, in a favorable light. Skadden earlier this year reached a settlement with the Justice Department.

Craig, who no longer works at Skadden, is charged with making false statements to the U.S. Justice Department unit responsible for enforcing compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and in papers filed under that act. According to the indictment, he sought to avoid having to register as an agent of Ukraine, which would have required him to disclose that he and the firm were working for that government and had been paid $4 million for the report.

He denies the charges and pleaded not guilty on April 12.

Craig’s lawyers moved to dismiss the case in a filing Friday with U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. They argued that Craig had no legal obligation to disclose facts about his work to the unit of the National Security Division that enforces FARA.

“It is clear on the face of the indictment that Mr. Craig’s communications to the FARA Unit were voluntary," his lawyers wrote in their motion. “He had no duty to respond at all, let alone to volunteer all possibly relevant facts.”

In a YouTube video posted on April 11, Craig defended his actions as lawful and said he and his firm had researched FARA’s requirements and concluded registration was unnecessary. He said FARA enforcement officials had accepted their rationale. “This prosecution is unprecedented and unjustified,” he said.

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