It has seemed at times that the only things coming out of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election are further spin-off investigations targeting individuals associated with candidate-turned-President Donald Trump — but that may be about to change.
Reports indicate that federal prosecutors in New York are considering pressing federal criminal charges against Greg Craig, a former White House counsel during the Obama administration, for failing to register with the government as a foreign agent.
Citing unnamed “sources familiar with the matter,” reports indicated that the investigation into Craig’s alleged unregistered lobbying on behalf of foreign governments arose as part of Mueller’s investigation into former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Furthermore, those sources indicated that the prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York were also looking closely at the prestigious and Democrat-aligned law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where Craig was a partner during the time of his questionable lobbying activity.
Law firm under scrutiny
The prosecutors are said to be considering whether to engage in a civil settlement agreement with the law firm — which would likely include hefty fines — or issue a deferred prosecution agreement.
The latter would likely spare the firm’s attorneys any jail time, provided they cooperate fully with prosecutors, comply with any special conditions in the agreement and refrain from committing any new crimes for a specified time frame., in exchange for charges against them being dropped.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and Department of Justice are said to be weighing whether or not they have enough evidence gathered to bring charges and earn a conviction, thus they reportedly have yet to decide if they will proceed or not.
Unregistered foreign lobbying
As for Craig, he is being investigated for allegedly improperly lobbying on behalf of the Ukraine government without having first registered with the U.S. government, a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
That alleged unregistered lobbying, which was done in conjunction with Manafort, involved Craig and the Skadden law firm pressing the interests of the Ukraine government with U.S. law and policy makers.
Manafort is said to have “solicited” Craig and Skadden to help promote a Ukrainian government report that looked favorably on that government’s questionable prosecution of a political rival, for which the firm was paid $4.6 million.
Craig is alleged to have promoted that report to various members of Congress without having first registered under FARA.
It remains to be seen if anything will come of these additional investigations that have spun off of Mueller’s deep-dive into Manafort’s admittedly shady pre-Trump business dealings.
However, it is refreshing to finally see influential and powerful Democrat figures come under scrutiny for violating the same laws that Manafort and others associated with Trump have been put through the wringer over.