Unregistered foreign agents brought down by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation raised similar concerns to no avail, but former Obama administration White House counsel Gregory Craig’s defense team told a federal judge Monday that publicity surrounding Mueller’s work will taint Craig’s trial, reports Courthouse News Service. Brandishing a copy of the New York Times in court, Craig’s attorney Paula Junghans voiced alarm that the public has already been apprised of evidence the government is barred from presenting at trial. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson emphasized that voir dire will be rigorous for the 70 potential jurors.
Craig’s trial will focus on the years 2012 to 2013, when convicted lobbyist Paul Manafort commissioned a report from the private law firm Skadden Arps, where Craig was a partner, that backed Ukraine’s arrest of its former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Ukraine at the time was run by President Viktor Yanukovych, who belonged to the pro-Kremlin Party of Regions. Years before he chaired Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Manafort made a fortune as a lobbyist for the Party of Regions in the United States. Prosecutors charged Craig, 74, not with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is covered by a statute of limitations that expired, but rather with having willfully lied to the Justice Department to avoid registering as a foreign agent. Jackson offered prospective jurors a warning before identifying the more than 50 potential American and Ukrainian actors to likely be mentioned in proceedings. “I’m about to read a very long list of names,” Jackson said. On the list were Manfort, now imprisoned for a host of financial crimes as well as FARA violations and conspiring against the U.S., and Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to conspiring against the U.S. and making false statements to the FBI.