A British consultant who helped publicize a report commissioned by the government of Ukraine in 2012 retroactively registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department on Friday.
The filing sheds a little more light on an elaborate lobbying and public relations effort orchestrated by Paul Manafort starting more than seven years ago on behalf of the Ukrainian government and Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president at the time and Manafort’s client. Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, looked into the effort as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Story Continued Below
The consultant, Jonathan Hawker, registered through FTI Consulting, the consulting firm at which he worked at the time but has since left.
He helped to publicize a report produced by the law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in 2012 on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister of Ukraine whose imprisonment had led to international condemnation of Yanukovych, her political rival.
While Hawker was based in London, he “participated in a media strategy planning session in the U.S. that included discussion of distribution of the report in the U.S.,” according to the disclosure filed on Friday. He also communicated “directly and indirectly” with members of the U.S. media.
The filing comes weeks before Greg Craig, a former White House counsel in the Obama administration who was the report’s lead author, is set to face trial next month on charges of misleading the government about his own role in publicizing the report. Craig has said he did nothing wrong.
FTI hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing.
“Our assignment was to provide European-based media relations support to European media contacts in connection with the public release of the Skadden Arps report,” FTI said in a statement to POLITICO. “After consultation with the government, we made this voluntary filing to report certain activities within the U.S. or involving U.S. entities of a UK-based member of our Strategic Communications team that occurred as part of that media relations support.”
Skadden, the law firm that produced the report, admitted in January to misleading the government about its work and retroactively registered with the Justice Department. The firm handed over to the government nearly $4.7 million that it has been paid for its work on the report as part of the settlement.
Two lobbying firms that worked with Manafort on the broader effort to burnish Ukraine’s image in the U.S., Mercury and the Podesta Group, retroactively registered with the Justice Department in 2017. Neither firm was charged with any wrongdoing.
The documents filed by FTI on Friday confirm details Mueller laid out last year during his investigation.
Prosecutors alleged at the time that Manafort had “retained a public relations firm” — identified as only as “Company C” in the court filing — “to prepare a media roll-out plan” for the report. Manafort paid the firm more than $1 million from an offshore account, according to prosecutors.
FTI’s disclosure shows that Black Sea View Ltd., a Cyprus shell company identified with Manafort, wired £650,000 — about $1 million at the time — to FTI in seven payments over the course of 2012.