On Thursday, a former Obama official named Gregory Craig was indicted by a grand jury on charges of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and lying to federal investigators about his years of lobbying for Ukraine’s president.
Craig, who was President Obama’s first White House Counsel, allegedly committed these crimes while working with Paul Manafort. The former Trump campaign manager also pleaded guilty to FARA violations after his conduct was uncovered as a result of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The indictment is a sign that after years of looking the other way at FARA violations, the government is now taking them seriously, and reacting accordingly.
Naturally, though, President Trump only sees this through one lens:
President Obama’s top White House lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, was indicted yesterday on very serious charges. This is a really big story, but the Fake News New York Times didn’t even put it on page one, rather page 16. @washingtonpost not much better, “tiny” page one. Corrupt News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
There are a couple of points to make here. One, Craig left the Obama White House in early 2010. The crimes for which he is being charged reportedly did not begin until 2012. Whereas some of Manafort’s crimes were taking place while he still ran Trump’s campaign.
Two, FARA violations are a bipartisan issue. Both Democratic and Republican figures are being investigated for concealing their lobbying while working for Ukraine, including Craig and Manafort. This is less of a partisan point-scoring operation than one that is actually trying to clean up the “swamp” that Trump railed against on the campaign trail and for the two years since his inauguration.
All Trump hears, however, are the words “special counsel” and “Obama,” and immediately jumps right to hollering about how much the media hates him because papers didn’t put the Craig story on their front pages.
Trump wasn’t the only person in his orbit trying to spin the Craig news in a way that, in the hothouse that is conservative media, could be reported as finally beginning to catch the Obama officials who started the Russia hoax, when in fact it has nothing to do with that:
WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL INDICTED in connection with MUELLER investigation! https://t.co/DuxOLSs5NF
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) April 11, 2019
No, Conway is not referring to Michael Flynn, who actually was violating FARA while he worked in the White House. But that would be more honest.