A jury on Wednesday acquitted former White House Counsel Greg Craig of a charge that he lied to Justice Department investigators who were probing his connections to foreign lobbying work.
The case, an outgrowth of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, was a major test in the Justice Department’s efforts to ramp-up enforcement of foreign lobbying disclosure law.
The allegation that Craig violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act was thrown out last month by a federal judge in D.C. before the case when to trial. The jury weighed a single count of making false statement to DOJ investigators.
After a three-week-long trial, the jury deliberated for only a few hours before delivering Craig, who served in the Obama and Clinton administrations, an acquittal.
The allegations stemmed from Craig’s involvement in a report that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort helped orchestrate as part of Manafort’s Ukraine lobbying prior to the 2016 election. Manafort’s lobbying for Russia-tied Ukrainian politicians was a focus of Mueller’s probe, and Mueller brought FARA charges against Manafort and his protege Rick Gates.
Those allegations, however, were never put on trial, as Gates and eventually Manafort reached plea deals with the government. Prior to his plea, Manafort was convicted by a jury in Virginia in a separate financial crimes case brought by Mueller.
The Justice Department secured a conviction in July in the FARA case it brought against Bijan Kian, the ex-business partner of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Craig’s case focused on his communications with journalists about a report that whitewashed the prosecution of a Ukrainian politician who was a political rival of Manafort’s clients. The report was done by Craig’s old firm Skadden Arps and the firm has admitted to obscuring the report’s links to Manafort’s lobbying effort.
Skadden reached a settlement deal with the government and had previously cut ties with Craig as scrutiny of his work increased.
Prosecutors had accused Craig of misleading investigators about the communications he had with journalists about report.
According to a CNN report, Mueller initially referred the case to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring charges. Prosecutors in D.C. then took over the case, CNN reported, and unveiled the two-count grand jury indictment in April.