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1 of 2 charges dropped against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig

One of two felony counts in the indictment against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig has been dropped, just a week before his trial is scheduled to begin. Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed the second count, which charged him with making false and misleading statements in a letter to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) unit of the Justice Department in October 2013. 

Craig was indicted in April over his statements about his law firm's work on behalf of Ukraine. The case is part of a foreign lobbying investigation spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Jackson said of the second count that even after analyzing the statute, "the legislature's clear intent cannot be discerned." She concluded that the ambiguity about how broad the provision is and the documents to which it's supposed to apply required that she dismiss the count.

Craig will still face charges on the first count. The government is arguing he failed to register as a foreign agent despite there allegedly being several occasions that would have required him to do so. 

The indictment dates to work his firm at the time, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, performed for the Ukrainian government, which hired Craig to compile a report on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister. Tymoshenko was a political opponent of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was a longtime patron of Manafort.

The government claims Craig failed to report the public relations work he did for the Ukrainians, his personal contact with the media, and he did not disclose — as required by the act — that a private Ukrainian citizen had paid more than $4 million for the firm's services. Craig and other at his firm are also accused of creating a backdated letter and false invoice from Craig's firm to the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice for $1,250,000 to make it appear the ministry had paid for the report, and not a private citizen.

Clare Hymes and Amber Ali contributed reporting

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