As Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, it was reported on Wednesday that Mueller zeroed in on at least three new witnesses associated with a conservative commentator connected to former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone.
Mueller has been running full steam ahead with another report coming out on Thursday that the top Wall Street firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, agreed to turn over $4.6 million it made from work it did for Ukraine in 2012 with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The law firm also agreed to a civil settlement to register as lobbyists for a foreign government in connection with that work. It also acknowledged that it missed the Justice Department when the agency initially asked the law firm about it beginning in 2012.
According to The Wall Street Journal:
‘The settlement, signed Tuesday and released Thursday, is the latest fallout from the investigation into Mr. Manafort’s years of work in Ukraine for pro-Russia politicians, one element of Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any links to the Trump campaign.’
Last year, Manafort pleaded guilty to not properly reporting the work or paying taxes on the millions of dollars of income he had received. He also admitted to using the Skadden law firm to write a report that would be used in a public relations campaign. Manafort did not disclose in the required public filings the details about that work.
The WSJ reported:
‘The subject of the settlement is a 2012 report that Skadden prepared for the Ukraine Ministry of Justice under then-President Viktor Yanukovych. The report evaluated the corruption trial of Mr. Yanukovych’s political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. Through the report, Mr. Yanukovych sought to bolster the legitimacy of the prosecution, which critics said was politically motivated.’
Skadden had initially denied that the firm had sought out reporters to publicize the paper, but later acknowledged that one of its partners did so and was involved in the rollout.
John Demers, head of the Justice Department’s national security division, said:
‘Law firms should handle inquiries from the federal government the same way they would counsel their clients to: with appropriate due diligence to ensure the honesty of their response.’
Skadden responded, saying:
‘We have learned much from this incident and are taking steps to prevent anything similar from happening again.’
According to The WSJ:
‘Under the deal, Skadden agreed retroactively to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The Justice Department said one of the law firm’s former partners, identifiable as former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig, provided misleading information to the FARA registration unit in 2012 and 2013 when it requested information on the extent of the firm’s work in Ukraine. Skadden also agreed to change the way it responds to future government inquiries, according to the settlement.’
According to American Lawyer Magazine, Skadden is one of the world’s largest and most prominent law firms, with some 1,700 attorneys and annual revenue above $2.5 billion.
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