Greg Craig pleads not guilty, released on personal recognizance

Greg Craig, the top lawyer in President Barack Obama’s White House, pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon and was released on personal recognizance, following his indictment for allegedly making false statements to US authorities about his work for Ukraine alongside Paul Manafort.

On the same day Sam Patten, another Manafort-linked lobbyist, was sentenced to probation in court, the Craig arraignment highlights a recent push by the Justice Department to root out illegal lobbying.

It’s also yet another criminal prosecution to grow out of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, and specifically the investigation into Manafort.

Craig, 74, is accused of lying to the Justice Department about contracting with Ukrainians for a $4 million “independent” report about the then-Ukrainian president’s political opponent, then discussing the repot’s release with journalists.

Prosecutors allege that Manafort orchestrated the public relations campaign for Ukraine’s then-in-power political party.

Craig allegedly misled his law firm and the Justice Department about the extent of the work.

Craig has said that a Democratic operative — and not Manafort — brought him into the project.

At the time he did the work, Craig no longer worked for the Obama administration and instead was a corporate lawyer at a prestigious law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Skadden settled with the Justice Department early this year for its role in the Ukraine work, and Manafort admitted to orchestrating the report’s release as part of his guilty plea.

Craig said in a video posted online Thursday night that his prosecution was “unprecedented and unjustified.”

“I am confident that both the judge and the jury will agree with me,” he said.

President Donald Trump tweeted about Craig’s indictment Friday morning, calling it a “really big story” and criticizing news organization’s coverage of it.