Craig Pushed Skadden to Hire Manafort Relative, U.S. Says

(Bloomberg) -- Former Skadden partner Gregory Craig lobbied his law firm to hire a relative of Paul Manafort while Manafort was lobbying for the pro-Russia government of Ukraine, federal prosecutors said in a court filing.

Craig is charged with lying to the government about his efforts on behalf of the Ukrainian regime at the time. He has pleaded not guilty and, in a pair of motions filed Friday, asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington to dismiss the case.

The prosecutors’ description of the relative appears to match that of one of Manafort’s daughters. In papers filed on Friday, they said Craig went to bat for her after Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP had already rejected her application because he wanted to curry favor with Manafort and the Ukrainians.

The U.S. says it plans to introduce that evidence at trial to support its allegations that Craig was willing to lie to the Justice Department unit that enforces the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, to retain business he got from Manafort.

$4 Million Fee

It “goes without saying that I will push all future business to wherever [my
relative] lands,” Manafort allegedly told Craig in an email, adding that a $4 million fee Skadden earned on its earlier work for the Ukrainians “can be viewed as just the beginning.”

The firm ultimately hired Manafort’s daughter.

Craig no longer works at Skadden, which reached a settlement earlier this year with the Justice Department. Skadden and Craig’s lawyers didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the prosecutors’ filing.

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

First Democrat

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 Skadden 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.

Craig’s case is being prosecuted by the office of District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu.
Kadia Koroma, a spokeswoman for Liu, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Craig’s motions to dismiss.

The case is U.S. v. Craig, 19-cr-125, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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