A top Democratic political consultant testified Friday that a Ukrainian oligarch footed the bill for a report now at the center of the criminal case against former White House counsel Greg Craig.
Mr. Craig has pleaded not guilty to misleading the Justice Department about his work for Ukrainian officials in 2012 when he prepared a report about the country’s prosecution of its former president.
Longtime Democratic pollster Doug Schoen told the courtroom the $4 million report was secretly paid for by Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian steel magnate.
Mr. Schoen said he arranged a $150,000 down payment from Mr. Pinchuk’s foundation to be sent to Mr. Craig’s former law firm, Skadden Arps, in 2012.
But after that first payment, future Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort took the reins to arrange payments, Mr. Schoen said.
“Mr. Manafort was handling the finances from this point forward,” Schoen testified.
Skadden Arps’s fee for the report was paid through a Cyprus bank account controlled by Paul Manafort.
Federal prosecutors contend Mr. Craig avoided registering as a foreign agent because he feared sullying his reputation by disclosing the report’s funding. They say that’s one of the reasons he lied to the Justice Department about his work for the Ukrainian government.
Defense counsel emphasized to the jurors that Mr. Craig did not seek work with Manafort, who is serving more than seven years for financial fraud. But rather, their client got involved through Mr. Schoen without knowing Manafort was involved.
It is the second time this week Mr. Craig’s attorneys sought to distance their client from Manafort.
Mr. Schoen, who worked with Mr. Craig in the Clinton White House, recalled picking his colleague for the Ukrainian report because they wanted a highly qualified lawyer to put together an independent report.
“I had been impressed with Mr. Craig and his work with the White House,” Mr. Schoen testified. “He has certainly been a lawyer of substantial reputation.
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