A prominent white-collar defender at Arnold & Porter is expected to testify in support of Gregory Craig, the former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner in Washington who is charged with making false statements about the scope of his work for Ukraine, according to new court filings.
Craig’s defense lawyers said late Monday they plan to call Arnold & Porter’s Amy Jeffress, a longtime former federal prosecutor, as a trial witness to support their client. Craig was accused in April of concealing information about his work on a report prepared in 2012 for the Russia-aligned government of Ukraine about the prosecution of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Federal prosecutors contend Craig, then a Skadden partner, was required to disclose his Ukraine advocacy under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, a database maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice that reveals certain services that law firms and lobbyists are performing for foreign government clients. Craig, represented by a team from Zuckerman Spaeder, has denied he misled the Justice Department about the nature of his work.
In their filing Monday, Craig’s lawyers said Jeffress, a white-collar and national security partner who joined Arnold & Porter in 2014, would “opine that it would have been reasonable for a knowledgeable practitioner in the field in or around 2012 and 2013″ to believe they did not need to register under FARA for preparing a purportedly independent report “regardless of how the foreign entity intended to use the report or did in fact use it.”
Craig’s lawyers said in their filing: “Ms. Jeffress will further opine that it would have been reasonable for a knowledgeable practitioner to believe that providing a copy of the report to a few media outlets and speaking about the conclusions contained in it, in order to ensure that those conclusions were accurately reported in the U.S. media, would not require registration as long as those contacts were not made under the direction and control of the foreign principal, even if the client had an interest in the report’s getting public attention.”
Prosecutors said in charging documents that the “purpose of FARA is to prevent covert influence by foreign principals. Proper registration under the statute allows the U.S. government and the American people to evaluate the statements and activities of individuals who are serving as agents of foreign principals.”
Jeffress formerly served as chief of the national security section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 2007 to 2009. During that time, Craig’s lawyers said, Jeffress “supervised that office’s investigations and prosecutions related to FARA, and her knowledge of how the FARA Unit performed its functions.” Jeffress also previously served as the Justice Department’s legal attache to the U.S. embassy in London.
Jeffress is the designated FARA adviser for Arnold & Porter, and her name appears on various filings in the FARA database, including a disclosure in February that said the firm was working on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
“She will base her opinions on her knowledge gained as a FARA practitioner who often advises clients (including lawyers and law firms, consulting firms, and some foreign companies) on their registration obligations under FARA,” Craig’s defense lawyers, including Zuckerman Spaeder’s William Taylor III, said in their filing.
Skadden, after reaching a civil settlement with the Justice Department in January, belatedly registered its advocacy for Ukraine. The government’s scrutiny of Skadden flowed in part from the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Craig, who joined Skadden in 2010, departed the firm last year.
Prosecutors said Monday they do not intend to call expert witnesses at trial, which is scheduled for August.