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MONTH-IN-BRIEF (Apr 2019)

Professional Responsibility

FARA Indictment of Former White House Counsel

By Keith R. Fisher

As a follow-up to our previous report on Skadden’s $4.6 million settlement with DOJ to avoid prosecution for violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), on April 11 the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia indicted former Obama White House Counsel (and former Skadden partner) Greg Craig for false and misleading statements to DOJ’s FARA unit and subsequently to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution team.  FARA’s purpose is to prevent covert influence by foreign principals.  Craig and Skadden had been engaged by Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych, former Ukrainian President, to prepare an “independent report” (the “Report”) supporting the conclusion that the prosecution, widely believed to have been politically motivated, of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko resulted in a fair trial by Western standards. 

According to the indictment, “[t]he purpose of the scheme was for Craig to avoid registration as an agent of Ukraine.”  Registration would have required “disclosure of the fact that [a wealthy private Ukrainian] had paid Craig and the Law Firm more than $4 million for the Report . . .;  undermine the Report and Craig's perceived independence; and impair the ability of Craig and others at the Law Firm to later return to government positions.”

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