Greg Craig, a prominent Washington lawyer and former White House counsel under President Barack Obama, was found not guilty by a jury Wednesday of false statements to the Justice Department about his work for the pro-Russian government of Ukraine in 2012.
The verdict, which came after approximately four hours of deliberations in a Washington, D.C. federal courthouse, was a major setback for the DOJ’s recently redoubled efforts to closely scrutinize overseas lobbying work.
In April, Craig, 74, became the first prominent Democrat to be indicted in a case arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s now-completed probe into Russian election interference. Mueller referred the Craig case to prosecutors in New York last year after uncovering possible wrongdoing while he investigated former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s Ukraine lobbying work.
The grand jury indicted Craig on two counts of making false and misleading statements to investigators — including Mueller’s team and the DOJ National Security Division’s FARA Unit — in connection with his work on behalf of Russia-backed former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. One of those counts was dismissed before trial.
The work that drew the Justice Department’s attention occurred in 2012, when Craig and his law firm at the time — Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — were engaged by the government of Ukraine to review the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister, and produce a report on whether the trial met Western standards of justice. Tymoshenko was a political opponent of Yanukovych, a longtime Manafort patron and a political figure whom former Trump aide Rick Gates said he and Manafort had helped get elected.