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Judge dismisses one count against ex-Obama counsel Greg Craig days before trial

A federal decide on Tuesday dismissed one among two counts in opposition to ex-Obama lawyer Greg Craig lower than per week earlier than the scheduled begin of his trial for allegedly making false statements about his work on behalf former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Dismissing one of many counts, U.S. District Decide Amy Berman Jackson cited the “ambiguity concerning the breadth of the provision” that Craig was charged below, saying “the rule of lenity requires the dismissal of the count.”

GREG CRAIG, OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL, PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO FALSE STATEMENTS CHARGES

Craig, a former White Home counsel for then-President Barack Obama, pleaded not responsible to the costs in April.

The primary rely accuses Craig of participating in a scheme to “knowingly and willfully falsify, conceal, and cover up…material facts” to keep away from registering as a overseas agent. The second rely accused Craig of creating false statements in an Oct. 11, 2013 letter furnished to the DOJ Nationwide Safety Division’s Overseas Brokers Registration Act (FARA) Unit.

Craig’s authorized group had filed a movement requesting each counts be dismissed. Jackson dismissed solely the second rely. Craig, whose trial is scheduled to start Monday, will nonetheless go on trial for the opposite rely.

Throughout a listening to earlier within the day, prosecutors supplied a possible preview of the federal government’s case, arguing Craig acted “at the direction” of then-GOP lobbyist Paul Manafort whereas engaged on behalf of the Russian-backed Yanukovych.

After leaving the White Home, Craig’s enterprise pursuits intersected with Manafort, who later turned chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential candidate and was convicted final yr of financial institution and tax fraud in case introduced by then-Particular Counsel Robert Mueller. Manafort subsequently pleaded responsible to crimes associated to overseas lobbying and witness tampering.

The FARA Unit is answerable for implementing overseas lobbying legal guidelines that require the disclosure of sure abroad exercise, together with public relations work for overseas entities. At challenge had been Craig’s 2012 lobbying and media contacts on behalf of Yanukovych, which passed off after Craig left the White Home.

GREG CRAIG, EX-OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL, INDICTED FOR ALLEGED FALSE STATEMENTS

Prosecutors on Tuesday informed Jackson that Craig engaged in a “scheme to conceal [his] registration obligation” and claimed Craig was asked “to act at the direction of Paul Manafort and Ukraine to bolster the authenticity” of a report Craig’s agency was engaged on, which might finally communicate positively about Yanukovych, who was Manafort’s shopper.

The prosecution additionally stated Craig participated within the media roll-out of that report by selecting to leak particular data to New York Instances reporter David Sanger, with whom Craig was stated to have had a “trusted relationship.”

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A lot of Tuesday’s listening to included authorized arguments over which knowledgeable witnesses shall be allowed to testify for the protection.

Fox Information’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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