The two-tier U.S. Justice system, Part I

by WorldTribune Staff, January 21, 2019

Two similar cases. Two different outcomes.

In one, a political operative worked for a Russian-aligned Ukrainian president without registering in the U.S. as a foreign agent. The operative has been savaged by the media, indicted and tried and faced a sentence that could have resulted in life imprisonment.

Greg Craig in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama on May 1, 2009. / White House photo by Pete Souza

In the other, a political operative worked to boost a pro-Russian Ukrainian president’s interests in the United States without registering as a foreign agent. The law firm he worked for was fined. The operative has yet to be tried or sentenced and media are not clamoring to throw him in prison.

The first mentioned – Paul Manafort, who briefly served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager during the 2016 presidential election.

The second, Greg Craig, is a longtime Democratic Party operative and former White House general counsel for the Obama administration.

Writing for on Jan. 21, former Washington Times editor Joe Schaeffer noted that “A law firm that Craig worked for produced a dossier for a former Ukrainian president with alleged strong ties to Moscow, then deceived federal officials about the efforts. They’ve now been hit with a $4.6 million fine as part of a settlement with the Justice Department.

“So we have a prominent Democratic operative working on behalf of a reputedly pro-Russian Ukrainian president. The law firm that employed him received substantial compensation from a mysterious Ukrainian businessman acting in support of this would-be pro-Russian government. Wait a minute. When it comes to murky ties to Russian-aligned oligarchs, Paul Manafort is raked through the coals. Yet Greg Craig’s law firm only has to pay a fine?

“Will Craig be facing a stiff jail sentence soon? Or is that a punishment only meted out to former Trump campaign officials in an attempt to get them to incriminate the president?”

According to a report by Politico, Manafort had worked for supposedly Russian-aligned Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in 2012. He steered Yanukovych’s government into hiring the law firm Craig worked for, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, to put together a report justifying the arrest of ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose imprisonment had caused an international furor.

Not only did Craig’s firm produce the report but Craig actively promoted it to American media outlets as part of what Justice Department official John Demers called “a Ukrainian foreign influence campaign.”

But the law firm did not register as a foreign lobbyist as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Furthermore, the Department of Justice claims Craig went on to give “false and misleading” statements about the company’s role in promoting the report.

Politico notes a big reason Craig and Skadden Arps didn’t want to register may have been their reluctance to reveal the identity of a wealthy Ukrainian businessman who covered the firm’s lucrative fees with the Yanukovych government.

“Registration under FARA would have required [Skadden] to disclose, among other things, accurate and complete information related to the compensation that it received for preparing the report on behalf of the [Ukrainian government], and the identity of” that unknown moneyman, the Justice Department settlement with Skadden Arps reads.

Besides Greg Craig, Tad Devine, a former senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders during his run for the presidency in 2016, and Tony Podesta, longtime Democratic operative and brother to uber-powerful Dem John Podesta, also had enriching ties to Ukrainian politicians.

“The fact is, the involvement of careerist political advisers like Manafort and Podesta in the Ukraine is more a symptom of typical Washington, D.C. corruption than proof of any pipedreams of Donald Trump as a Manchurian Candidate for Moscow,” Schaeffer wrote.

Benenson Strategy Group, a consulting company that helped Barack Obama win the White House in 2008, proudly reposts a 2009 Politico article on its website that details the pot of gold Democrat advisers have found in Ukraine and elsewhere overseas.

“It’s difficult to track foreign campaign payments to American consultants, since they don’t fall under U.S. campaign finance or lobbying reporting requirements and most countries lack rigorous disclosure rules, but Ukrainian politics are thought to be particularly lucrative,” the article reads.

“In the Ukraine and in other post-communist countries, they have this misconception about Washington politics: They think that somehow if you sign up… former Obama people, you sign up the support of Obama,” Taras Kuzio, a senior fellow in Ukraine studies at the University of Toronto, told Politico.

Schaeffer concluded: “It should be clear that, with piles of money available to American consultants whose work is ‘difficult to track,’ all kinds of unseemly possibilities arise. Apparently former Obama consultants are especially attracted to this dodgy yet rewarding environment.”

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