WASHINGTON — A prominent Washington lawyer was found not guilty Wednesday of lying to the Justice Department about work he did for the government of Ukraine in a case that arose from the special counsel's Russia investigation and focus on the lucrative world of foreign lobbying.
The jury in the case of Greg Craig, a former White House counsel in the Obama administration, deliberated for about four hours before reaching its verdict.
Craig hugged his attorneys after the verdict was read.
The prosecution, an offshoot of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, was part of a broader Justice Department crackdown on lobbyists who do unregistered advocacy in the U.S. for foreign governments.
The trial focused on the multi-million-dollar project Craig and his then-law firm did for Ukraine in 2012 and featured testimony about his professional connections with some of the same figures who years later became entangled in Mueller's investigation, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates.
Prosecutors charged Craig with giving Justice Department lawyers false information about his work in order to avoid having to register with the government as a foreign agent.
The Justice Department alleged that Craig did not want to register in part because he feared harming his future employment chances with the federal government. But Craig, who testified in his own defense, was adamant that he never lied to anyone and that he did not register for the simple reason that he was not required to.
At issue was a report that Craig and his then-law firm were hired to produce for the government of Ukraine on the prosecution of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The purpose of the project was to evaluate the fairness of Tymoshenko's trial and to produce a report that Ukraine hoped could burnish its standing in the international community.
Craig testified that the sole purpose of conversations he had with reporters was to correct mischaracterizations of the report and spin coming from Ukraine about its conclusions.
Craig, who is now retired, has represented a litany of powerful political figures in his decades-long legal career. He worked on President Bill Clinton's defense during impeachment proceedings, and also represented former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and James Cartwright, a retired general and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Craig also served as an adviser to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.