Federal prosecutors weigh charges against Democratic powerbroker in Manafort-linked probe

In addition, these sources said, prosecutors inside US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of fresh York 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 in addition to who was White House counsel under President Barack Obama during the first year of which administration, said his client “was not required to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.” A spokeswoman for Skadden didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A deferred prosecution agreement can be an agreement not to prosecute an entity as long as the defendant complies with the conditions of the agreement, in addition to in many cases which dictates which the defendant must commit no fresh crimes for its duration. The charges inside agreement are then dropped at the end of the period.

The investigation involving Craig in addition to Skadden was referred to federal prosecutors in fresh York earlier This specific year by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, CNN reported 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 which they have adequate evidence to bring the possible charges, these sources said, in addition to as a result haven’t made a determination about whether to proceed.

Any action against Craig or Skadden could be an extraordinary step, given Craig’s prominence in addition to Skadden’s position among the largest in addition to most prestigious law firms inside 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 which 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 in addition to Skadden can be closely linked to a case against Manafort, in addition to details about Skadden’s work inside 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 in addition to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice due to attempts to tamper with witnesses, in addition to he agreed to cooperate with the federal government.

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According to the filing, which charged only Manafort, in 2012 Manafort “solicited” a law firm on behalf of the then-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, in addition to the Ukranian government’s Ministry of Justice. The firm, which was Skadden, according to people familiar with the matter, was hired to write a report on the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine in addition to political rival of Yanukovych.

In advance of the report’s official Discharge, “Manafort arranged to possess the law firm disseminate hard copies of the report to numerous government officials, including senior United States executive in addition to legislative branch officials,” the filing says. The partner who worked on the report — according to court proceedings in another related case, which of former Skadden lawyer Alex van der Zwaan — was Craig, CNN has reported. Van der Zwaan, pleaded guilty in February to lying to the special counsel’s office, admitting which he misled investigators about his discussions related to Skadden’s work for Yanukovych in preparing the report.

According to the fresh York Times, Craig himself was also involved in promoting the report to members of Congress in addition to the media, a step which may have triggered FARA requirements.

Though FARA has an exception for lawyers who are performing legitimate legal work on behalf of a foreign client, which does require lawyers who attempt to influence US government policy matters to register. “Lawyers engaged in legal representation of foreign principals inside courts or similar type proceedings, so long as the attorney does not try to influence policy at the behest of his client, are exempt,” according to Justice Department guidelines.

The Manafort charges filed Friday allege which “Manafort knew which the report also did not disclose which the law firm, in addition to being retained to write the report, was retained to represent Ukraine itself, including in connection with the Tymoshenko case in addition to to provide training to the trial team prosecuting Tymoshenko.”

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More than $4.6 million was paid to Skadden for its work, the charges say, in addition to Manafort took steps to mask the sum of the fees, because “Manafort in addition to others knew which the actual cost of the report in addition to the scope of the law firm’s work could undermine the report’s being perceived as an independent assessment therefore being an effective lobbying tool for Manafort to use to support the incarceration of President Yanukovych’s political opponent.”

In addition to the referral involving Craig, Mueller’s team of prosecutors earlier This specific year referred inquiries to fresh York prosecutors involving possible FARA violations by longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, formerly of the firm the Podesta Group, in addition to former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber, a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, CNN has reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

which’s unclear whether federal prosecutors in fresh York are moving forward on the pieces of the case involving those two men in addition to their firms. inside Manafort charges filed Friday, prosecutors allege which employees of the two firms knew they were working for Ukranian politicians in addition to not an independent non-profit group. The Podesta firm had previously said which didn’t file under FARA because which had received certification coming from the non-profit which which was not an arm of a foreign government or a foreign political party.

Weber did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Mercury couldn’t immediately be reached. A spokeswoman for Podesta declined to comment.

CNN’s Kara Scannell contributed to This specific story.

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