Federal prosecutors here in New York are weighing criminal charges against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig as part of an investigation into whether he failed to register as a foreign agent in a probe that is linked to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Said one insider familiar with the case "Ironically, if SDNY gets Obama's former counsel, Greg Craig, to flip, they will be going after Obama next."
__This__ is earth shattering. . .
In addition, these sources said, prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) are considering taking action against powerhouse law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where Craig was a partner during the activity under examination. Prosecutors are considering a civil settlement with the firm or a deferred prosecution agreement with Skadden, these sources said.
An attorney for Craig, who left the Skadden firm in April and who was White House counsel under President Barack Obama during the first year of that administration, said his client "was not required to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA)." A spokeswoman for Skadden didn't respond to a request for comment.
In addition to the referral involving Craig, Mueller's team of prosecutors earlier this year referred inquiries to New York prosecutors involving possible FARA violations by longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, formerly of the firm the Podesta Group, and former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber, a partner at Mercury Public Affairs.
A deferred prosecution agreement is an agreement not to prosecute an entity as long as the defendant complies with the conditions of the agreement, and in many cases it dictates that the defendant must commit no new crimes for its duration. The charges in the agreement are then dropped at the end of the period.
The investigation involving Craig and Skadden was referred to federal prosecutors in New York earlier this year by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, in August.
Prosecutors at the US attorney's office have notified the Department of Justice of the options under consideration, the sources familiar with the matter said. Prosecutors, however, haven't concluded that they have adequate evidence to bring the possible charges, these sources said, and as a result haven't made a determination about whether to proceed.
Any action against Craig or Skadden would be an extraordinary step, given Craig's prominence and Skadden's position as one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the country.
The investigation pertains to whether Craig improperly performed lobbying work on behalf of a group associated with Ukraine without registering with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. Federal law requires that an entity representing a foreign political party or government file public reports detailing the relationship under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
The inquiry into Craig and Skadden is closely linked to a case against Manafort, and details about Skadden's work in the matter were disclosed in superseding criminal charges filed Friday by Mueller's office against Manafort. Manafort pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice due to attempts to tamper with witnesses, and he agreed to cooperate with the federal government.
The takeaway: Mueller is finally going after Obama and his crew.