/Greg Craig’s lawyers: Nothing unusual in pushing firm to hire Manafort’s daughter

Greg Craig’s lawyers: Nothing unusual in pushing firm to hire Manafort’s daughter

Greg Craig

Prosecutors alleged that Greg Craig had pressured his law firm to hire Paul Manafort’s daughter in an effort to win more business for the firm. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Greg Craig’s lawyers are seeking to prevent prosecutors from admitting evidence in his upcoming trial that Craig pushed his law firm to hire Paul Manafort’s daughter, according to a motion filed on Friday in federal court.

Manafort arranged in 2012 for the Ukrainian government to hire Craig and his law firm to write a report on the prosecution of a former Ukrainian prime minister.

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Craig, a former White House counsel under President Barack Obama, was indicted last month on charges he lied to the Justice Department about the work in order to avoid registering as a foreign agent.

Prosecutors alleged in a court filing last week that Craig had pressured his law firm, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, to hire Manafort’s daughter, Andrea, in an effort to win more business for the firm.

Craig’s lawyers don’t dispute that he suggested the firm hire Andrea Manafort, arguing the likelihood that Paul Manafort would refer future business to Skadden would become “a certainty” if the firm offered his daughter a job.

But there’s nothing unusual about what Craig did, they argue. “It occurs daily in private law firms, as well as private corporations, universities, nonprofits, and virtually every other private institution in America that has employees,” they argue.

They also rejected prosecutors’ argument that Craig’s willingness to persuade his firm to hire Andrea Manafort to help secure future business from her father meant he would also evade registering as a foreign agent in order to do so. There’s no evidence that Manafort pressured Craig not to register, they write.

“The government hopes that jurors, who are not familiar with law firm hiring practices and protocols, will find something improper or tawdry in Mr. Craig’s acts, and thereby be more apt to find that he did something unlawful in his interaction with” the Justice Department, Craig’s lawyers write.

The U.S. attorney’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. Neither did Skadden.

The court filing gives more context to Craig’s efforts to help Andrea Manafort land a job at Skadden than prosecutors provided.

Andrea Manafort was in her third year at Georgetown law school in 2012 when Dewey & LeBoeuf, the big New York law firm at which she accepted a job, started to collapse. Paul Manafort, who was working with Craig on the Ukraine project, asked Craig to meet with his daughter and see whether he could help her get a job at Skadden.

Craig met with Andrea Manafort and set up a meeting for her with another Skadden partner, Mitchell Ettinger, according to emails filed by Craig’s lawyers.

Unbeknownst to Craig, the recruiting director at Dewey & LeBoeuf had reached out at the same time to Skadden about hiring Andrea Manafort. Without knowledge of Andrea Manafort’s connections, the firm sent him a form rejection letter.

Paul Manafort forwarded the letter to Craig on May 29, 2012, in an email with the subject line, “thanks for your help.”

“I see Skadden knows how to show appreciation for a $4MILLION gift account,” Paul Manafort wrote.

Craig emailed Ettinger the next day asking what had happened.

“This could not have come at a worse time for our case,” Craig wrote. “I wish someone had told me about this before sending out the letter.”

Once he figured out what had happened, Craig explained the situation to Paul Manafort. Andrea Manafort met with Ettinger and other lawyers at the firm, and Craig later wrote a memo arguing the firm should hire her.

The memo praised Andrea Manafort as personable, smart and ambitious. It also stressed the potential for Paul Manafort to refer more business to the firm if it hired her.

“Paul has said that he would like to strengthen his relationship with Skadden, and he is likely to direct a lot of work our way if Andrea comes to Skadden,” the memo reads, according to a copy filed by Craig’s lawyers.

Skadden made her an offer the same day Ettinger sent the memo to a top partner at the firm.

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