Gregory Craig, former White House counsel for Barack Obama, was indicted on Thursday by a grand jury for lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and for failing to register as a foreign agent.
He is accused of lying to the Justice Department about his work on a 2012 report aimed at justifying the prosecution of a political enemy of Viktor Yanukovych, the Russian-aligned president of Ukraine at the time.Craig's lawyers declined immediate comment.
Craig, 74, faces up to 10 years in prison for charges of making false statements and violating a lobbying law.
Craig was at one time reportedly investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "Russiagate" probe, before his case was passed on to the Southern District of NY and then prosecutors in Washington.
Skadden was tasked with preparing a report defending the Ukrainian prosecution of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Craig deliberately hid the true nature and compensation of his work for Ukraine in order to maximize the public relations value of the report he wrote for the Eastern European government, according to the indictment.
Craig resigned in April 2018 amid a probe into whether the firm failed to register as foreign lobbyists. "I think we don't have to with this assignment, yes?" They acknowledged that Craig spoke to reporters about the report but denied it was part of a public relations campaign that would run afoul of the law. "Mr. Craig had no interest in misleading the FARA Unit because he had not done anything that required his registration".
It was transferred out of SDNY because, after examining Craig's case, federal prosecutors in NY concluded they had insufficient evidence to bring charges against him, CNN has reported.
The firm paid a fine of more than $4.6 million, admitting it misled the government about it's role as a foreign agent during its time working for Ukraine.
Michael Avenatti faces 36-count federal indictment
Avenatti also allegedly raided another client's settlement in 2017 to pay $2.5 million for his portion of a jet, prosecutors said. The New York prosecutors have separately accused Avenatti of trying to blackmail Nike Inc for more than $20 million.
On Thursday, his attorneys, William Taylor and William Murphy, called the indictment "unfair and misleading" and said prosecutors ignored exculpatory evidence.
Manafort and Gates later became Donald Trump's campaign chairman and vice chairman during the 2016 presidential race and have faced criminal charges of their own related to their work for Ukraine.
The development comes after lawyers for Craig said Wednesday that they expected him to face federal charges in coming days linked to jailed lobbyist Paul Manafort, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported. It appeared likely even earlier this year, after the Justice Department's national security division settled with Skadden in January over FARA violations in an agreement that foreshadowed a possible charges against Craig.
Prosecutors say he misleadingly instructed his law firm - Skadden Arps Slate Meager & Flom - not to register under federal lobbying requirements because he feared being locked from future government positions. They said they would fight any prosecution.
The settlement painted an unflattering picture of Craig's conduct.
Greg Craig listens as President Barack Obama makes a surprise appearance during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, May 1, 2009.
FARA is a decades-old law meant to allow Americans to know when foreign entities are trying to influence public opinion or policymakers. He was sentenced to a combined prison term of just more than seven years last month following financial fraud convictions in Virginia and Washington, all related to his work in Ukraine.