Greg Craig Career: What Work Did He Do for Obama & Clinton?

Greg Craig and Obama

Getty Greg Craig with Obama.

Greg Craig is a former aide to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. He is also a longtime attorney who was indicted by federal prosecutors in connection to his work with convicted former Donald Trump aide Paul Manafort.

Craig, 74, served as Obama’s White House counsel and previously worked as Bill Clinton’s director of policy planning.

After serving in the Obama administration, Craig became a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

The firm was contracted by the Ukrainian government in 2012, then run by Putin-backed President Viktor Yanukovich, who was a client of Manafort.

Manafort later admitted that the firm was hired to write a report intended to boost Yanukovich’s reputation and the firm reached a settlement with the Justice Department earlier this year in which they admitted to failing to register as foreign lobbyists, The Washington Post reported. The firm said they relied on false statements made by Craig.

Craig was charged with failing to register as a foreign agent and lying to investigators.

Craig has denied any wrongdoing.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Greg Craig Attended Yale With Bill & Hillary Clinton

Obama WH counsel Greg Craig indicted for false statementsWhite House Counsel for the Obama administration has been indicted for work he's done for Ukraine as the partner of a law firm. CNBC's Kayla Tausche. » Subscribe to CNBC: http://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC About CNBC: From 'Wall Street' to 'Main Street' to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Find CNBC News on Facebook: http://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: http://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Google+: http://cnb.cx/PlusCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: http://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC #CNBC2019-04-11T19:18:17.000Z

Craig attended Yale Law School and was part of the same class as Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Craig even sublet his apartment to the Clintons for $75 a month, The New Yorker reported.

After graduation, Craig worked on-and-off at the law firm Williams & Connoly between 1972 and 2009 — except when Clinton called on him to serve.


2. Craig Served in Bill Clinton’s Administration

USA: CLINTONS LAWYERS BEGIN DEFENCE AT IMPEACHMENT HEARINGEnglish/Nat U-S President Bill Clinton's legal team began an impassioned defence of the president on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee. They admitted Clinton's conduct had been "misleading, even maddening", but argued this didn't warrant removing him from office. During the hearing, Committee Republicans frequently expressed dismay that Clinton's team refused to say that the President lied under oath. They also questioned why the White House didn't summon any witnesses with direct knowledge of the case. After months of relentless attacks on Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, the White House took a gingerly approach toward the evidence he turned over to the impeachment committee. Justice Committee Chairman Henry Hyde said on Monday that his panel had made a "compelling case" for removing Clinton for office. The 21 Republicans on the 37-member committee have made clear that, barring any new evidence favourable to Clinton, they would vote for at least one article of impeachment this week. Democrats said common sense and the will of the American people both argue against impeachment. SOUNDBITE: (English) "The legal case against the president is, in my judgement, a house of cards. The judiciary committee has heard from no factual witnesses to validate any of the charges. Instead it is relying on uncrossed examined, often contradictory, grand jury hearsay to support an already weak case." SUPER CAPTION: Representative John Conyers, of Michigan, Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat White House special counsel Greg Craig told the hearing that nothing in this case justified Congress overturning a national election. He added: "There are no grounds for impeachment." SOUNDBITE: (English) "Mr Chairman, I am willing to concede that in the Jones deposition, the President's testimony was evasive, incomplete, misleading even maddening. But it was not perjury." SUPER CAPTION: Greg Craig, Clinton attorney The White House came under criticism from some Republicans for not calling factual witnesses to the hearing. Representative James Sensenbrenner, Republican from Wisconsin, attacked the White House for using legal experts. History Professor Sean Wilentz from Princeton University turned the focus on House members considering the upcoming vote. SOUNDBITE: (English) "It is clear to me that any representative who votes in favour of impeachment, but who is not absolutely convinced that the President may have committed impeachable offences, not merely crimes or misdemeanour, but high crimes or misdemeanours; will be fairly accused of gross dereliction of duty and earn the condemnation of history." SUPER CAPTION: Sean Wilentz, History Professor at Princeton University Yale University law professor Bruce Ackerman, offered the White House a possible legal challenge to impeachment. He argued that if the House voted before year's end to remove Clinton from office, the new Congress could not act on articles of impeachment approved by the previous one. SOUNDBITE: (English) "Impeachment is the ultimate weapon of the peoples' representatives against an executive out of control. I do not believe that this evidence is evidence of an executive out of control, assaulting our basic liberties." SUPER CAPTION: Bruce Ackerman, Yale University Law Professor Representative Robert Inglis, Republican from South Carolina, pressed Clinton attorney Craig to go further. SOUNDBITE: (English) "Did he lie to the American people when he said I never had sex with that woman?" SUPER CAPTION: Robert Inglis, Republican from South Carolina Craig answered that the President didn't believe that he lied. SOUNDBITE: (English) SUPER CAPTION: Greg Craig, Clinton attorney SOUNDBITE: (English) You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/86e00ff95155234a546b090a3eaf7abe Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork2015-07-21T17:38:53.000Z

Craig, who served as a national security and foreign policy adviser to former Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy in the 1980s, was offered the post of White House counsel by Clinton in 1996 but declined, according to “Masters of the Game” by Kim Eisler.

Instead, he was named by then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the position of director of policy planning at the department, The New York Times reported, where he served until 1998.

During that time, he also assisted Albright on Tibetan affairs during China’s crackdown in the region, The Times reported.

He went on to serve as an assistant to the president and special counsel from 1998 to 1999, having been brought on to help Clinton during impeachment proceedings against him, The Washington Post reported.

Craig returned to private practice in 2000 and represented Juan Miguel Gonzales, the father of Elian Gonzalez, whom the Clinton administration sent back to Cuba amid an international custody dispute, per The Weekly Standard.


3. Craig Later Served as Barack Obama’s White House

UpFront – Headliner: Former White House Counsel Gregory CraigIn 2009, US President Barack Obama signed an executive order announcing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. The man who drafted that order was then-White House counsel Gregory Craig. More than six years later, Guantanamo remains open. And with Congress passing legislation this week that blocks the transfer of detainees to the US, can the president fulfill his promise to shut down the facility? In this week's Headliner, Mehdi Hasan asks Craig about the likelihood of Obama closing Guantanamo before the end of his presidency. – Subscribe to our channel: http://bit.ly/AJSubscribe – Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish – Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera – Check out our website:http://www.aljazeera.com/2015-11-14T09:31:11.000Z

Craig met the Obamas in 2004 and despite his close ties to the Clintons urged him to run for president, later becoming one of his foreign policy advisers, Newsweek reported.

Despite having known Hillary Clinton for decades, Craig endorsed Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

Craig even played Obama’s then-opponent John McCain during debate preparation sessions.

Craig wanted to be named Secretary of State but was instead appointed to be Obama’s White House counsel, The Washington Post reported. He served for a year from January 2009 until January 2010.

During his time at the White House, Craig was key in drafting an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay (which did not happen), recommended the release of the “Torture Memos,” and oversaw the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, The New York Times reported.


4. Craig Was Forced Out of Obama’s Administration

Political Assassination of Greg Craig w/ Steve ClemonsVote for TYT every day at http://www.podcastawards.com/index.php?option=index (through 11/30/09) & http://www.mashable.com/owa/ (through 12/13/09) For more details visit http://www.TheYoungTurks.com and follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theyoungturks Support The Young Turks by Subscribing http://www.youtube.com/user/theyoungturks Like Us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tytnation Follow Us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/theyoungturks Support TYT for FREE by doing your Amazon shopping through this link (bookmark it!) http://www.amazon.com/?tag=theyoungturks-20 Support The Young Turks by becoming a member of TYT Nation at http://www.tytnetwork.com/member-options/ Your membership supports the day to day operations and is vital for our continued success and growth. In exchange, we provided members only bonuses! We tape a special Post Game show Mon-Thurs and you get access to the entire live show at your convenience in video, audio and podcast formats.2009-11-20T01:32:07.000Z

Rumors swirled that Craig would be forced out of the administration for months, The New York Times reported at the time.

According to “The Promise: President Obama, Year One” by Jonathan Alter, Obama “tried to avoid a high-profile ouster” by offering Craig a federal judgeship but Craig declined.

Craig learned of his ouster while reading the morning paper, Alter reported.

Obama later called Craig to apologize, Alter added.


5. Craig Was Indicted in Connection to His Work With Convicted Ex-Trump Aide Paul Manafort

Former Obama White House counsel indicted for lying to DOJAndy McCarthy weighs in on former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig's indictment for making false statements to the Department of Justice. #DailyBriefing #FoxNews FOX News operates the FOX News Channel (FNC), FOX Business Network (FBN), FOX News Radio, FOX News Headlines 24/7, FOXNews.com and the direct-to-consumer streaming service, FOX Nation. FOX News also produces FOX News Sunday on FOX Broadcasting Company and FOX News Edge. A top five-cable network, FNC has been the most watched news channel in the country for 17 consecutive years. According to a 2018 Research Intelligencer study by Brand Keys, FOX News ranks as the second most trusted television brand in the country. Additionally, a Suffolk University/USA Today survey states Fox News is the most trusted source for television news or commentary in the country, while a 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation survey found that among Americans who could name an objective news source, FOX News is the top-cited outlet. FNC is available in nearly 90 million homes and dominates the cable news landscape while routinely notching the top ten programs in the genre. Subscribe to Fox News! https://bit.ly/2vBUvAS Watch more Fox News Video: http://video.foxnews.com Watch Fox News Channel Live: http://www.foxnewsgo.com/ Watch full episodes of your favorite shows The Five: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/longform-the-five/ Special Report with Bret Baier: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/longform-special-report/ The Story with Martha Maccallum: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/longform-the-story-with-martha-maccallum/ Tucker Carlson Tonight: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/longform-tucker-carlson-tonight/ Hannity: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/longform-hannity/ The Ingraham Angle: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/longform-the-ingraham-angle/ Fox News @ Night: http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/longform-fox-news-night/ Follow Fox News on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoxNews/ Follow Fox News on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FoxNews/ Follow Fox News on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foxnews/2019-04-11T18:43:59.000Z

On April 11, 2019, Craig was indicted by federal prosecutors in an investigation that stemmed from special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe, that saw Manafort convicted and sentenced to more than seven years in prison on a slew of fraud charges.

Craig was charged with failing to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine and lying about the work he did to investigators, CNBC reported. He faces up to five years in prison on each count.

Craig’s firm Skadden, Arps was hired by Manafort client Viktor Yanukovich’s government to create a report defending him after he jailed his political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, The Washington Post reported.

Craig insisted that he did not do work for Ukraine that violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act but in a settlement with the Justice Department the firm admitted it should have registered as a foreign agent and paid $4.6 million in fees it earned from its work in Ukraine.

The settlement added that the firm believed they did not need to register because of “false and misleading oral and written statements” made by Craig.

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