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Skadden Arps FARA # 6617

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Posted on January 27 2019

 

 

No doubt by now, you have all probably know that Mega Firm Skadden Arps entered into a Consent Decree with our Department of Justice. For those who haven’t paid attention to the various exhibits filed during Manafor’s Summer of 2018 EDVA Trial or van der Zwaan’s criminal information, this isn’t a surprise. As a refresher you may want to re-read the van der Zwaan entry found here. In the course of Manafort’s EDVA trial, I attempted to point my readers to various dots and then attempted to provide you with a factual basis of connecting the dots (2012 Memo, Dossier, Manafort, van der Zwaan, Skadden, Greg Craig, Tony Fabrizio) and tried to explain that if you take several steps back you can actually see many dots and how they are connected, so this June 2018 entry, found here, may also be of further assistance to help you understand today’s discussion.

Perhaps I’m a tad bit biased as it relates to Trump and Manafort but the reality is there’s some there there...irrespective of what “new” lie Trump or his surrogates say now or will say in the future. For example it actually never made any sense to me that Sean Hannity actually interviewed Paul Manafort on the night of Trump’s inauguration. The fact this particular interview continues to be overlooked is not lost on me. Given if Manafort really did resign the Donald J Trump Campaign in Mid August of 2018, after the Ukrainian Secret Ledger came to light,  then explain why on earth Sean Hannity & Fox News would interview Manafort decked out for the Black Tie event?

 

 

Skadden-Arps FARA # 6617

At all relevant times I will provide you with Department of Justice (DOJ) links, as you know I’m a strong supporter of showing your research and allowing you to read the same public documents I have but also giving you this information to better inform you to draw your own conclusions. See DOJ-OPA (OPA is an acronym for Office of Public Affairs) January 17, 2019 press release  #19-7, found here.

And yes I often go back and re-read information because I usually discover I missed a few important details, for example:

 

 ...in 2012 and 2013, Skadden received multiple inquiries from the Department’s FARA Registration Unit about its role in that campaign.

A partner then at Skadden made false and misleading statements to the FARA Unit, which led it to conclude in 2013 that the firm was not obligated to register under FARA. The facts, when uncovered, showed that Skadden was indeed required to register in 2012, and, under the Agreement, it will do so retroactively. (emphasis added)

 

Based on my research it’s my conclusion that the “lead partner” is a one Greg Craig. There are numerous dots that once you view them together, a reasonable person can infer it’s him. Furthermore in the DMV (DC, MD, VA) legal community word traveles fast. And I’d argue at times word can travel faster than the speed of light. When I say that Greg Craig was a DMV legal powerhouse, that assertion is base in part from my personal knowledge and countless media reports. As such this 2011 Washingtonian Article is one of the most robust interviews of Craig. And yes it is disappointing to see how far from grace he has fallen. But remember this analogy when a giant falls the ground shakes. 

For example when you are a well known legal powerhouse there’s a certain expectation that upon retiring or leaving a Mega Law firm...a formal announcement is made by way of a press release and/or retirement party. Speaking from personal experience when Senior partners or Principals leave a firm, there’s always a press release and a rather celebratory retirement party. Especially if said attorney leaves to become a Federal Judge, yet oddly in the case of Craig & Skadden Arps there was no such “pomp and circumstance”. In fact Skadden Arps issued no such press release and unceremoniously 404’d Craig from their firm’s website, see internet archive. See Skadden-Arps current 404 of Craig’s bio, found here

 

Furthermore after Greg Craig and Skadden Arps, seperate ways, Craig emailed the following statement to Barron’s (see article here), similarly the ABA Journal also noted Craig’s sudden departure, see article here. And yes of course the National Law Journal (NLJ) also noted Craig’s departure from Skadden, although NLJ was far more delicate stating Craig “retired”, see NLJ article here (Paywall)

 

“I turned 73 last month and have been planning to retire from the firm this year to pursue an early professional passion. I have been working for years with the Truman Center and am now joining their Truman National Security Project as a senior advisor to write and speak on urgent issues related to U.S. foreign policy."

 

Now circling back the the DOJ-OPA Release # 19-7, the DOJ goes on to provide us with additional details as to why the DOJ required Skadden Arps to retroactively file FARA...this might be the most overlooked and most consequential paragraph in the press release:

 

In both written and oral responses to the FARA Unit between February 6, 2013, and October 11, 2013, Skadden, in reliance on the lead partner, made false and misleading statements including, among other things, that Skadden provided a copy of the Report only in response to requests from the media and spoke to the media to correct misinformation about the report that the media was already reporting.  The firm also submitted documents to the FARA unit that were false.

 

Some may have overlooked the July 31, 2018 CNN exclusive. Which reported Special Counsel Mueller’s office madd several referrals to the SDNY. Not to belabor the point, the SCO’s does not leak, they area black box, 99% of the time the SCO’s only speaks via Court filings. So one could construe that the “leaks” came from the SDNY and/or the FBI NYC field office, who unfortunately does have a record of leaking details of various criminal and counterintelligence investigations. 

 

“ ...Mueller has referred matters to SDNY involving longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and his work for his former firm, the Podesta Group, and former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber and his work for Mercury Public Affairs, the sources said.”

“One source said that former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, a former partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, is also part of the inquiry.“

 

Shortly after CNN’s Exclusive, the NYC legal powerhouse firm  Zuckerman Spaeder issued this September 15, 2018 Press Release. I’d argue this might be the shortest press release issued, because it is literally twelve words long but says so much in the least amount of words possible. When attorneys hire attorneys that’s when you know the fecal matter hits the oscillator at full speed. Yowzah.

 

Which now bring us to the DOJ & Skadden Arps settlement agreement...as the DOJ-OPA Press Release #19-7 states in part:

“...in the spring of 2012, Ukraine, Ministry of Justice (MOJ), with the assistance of Paul Manafort, hired Skadden to write a report (Report) on the evidence and procedures used during the 2011 prosecution and trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and to address various questions regarding its fairness.  Skadden also agreed to advise Ukraine in connection with a second, potential future prosecution of Tymoshenko.  Although the engagement letter between Skadden and the MOJ stated that Skadden would be paid its customary fees and expenses, the contract Skadden signed with the MOJ, and which the MOJ made public, stated that the law firm would be paid only 95,000 Ukrainian hryvynas, which is approximately $12,000 Skadden understood that a Ukrainian business person would be paying its fees, which the law firm received from a Cypriot bank account of an entity named Black Sea View Ltd., which Manafort controlled

Skadden was eventually paid $4,657,568.91 for its work on behalf of the MOJ.  The arrangements with the Ukrainian business person, the amounts paid, and advice on a second criminal prosecution of Tymoshenko were not disclosed in connection with the issuance of the Report.

 

A few take aways from the paragraphs, $12,000 is a FAR cry from the $4,657,568.91 paid to Skadden Arps. That’s not an accounting error that’s a willful attempt to “hide or mislead” the Investigators. Which now brings us to the January 15, 2019 ratified “agreement”, found here, between the DOJ and Skadden-Arps.

The disgorgement of $4.65+M is significant but the terms stipulated in the agreement are worth re-reading, specifically paragraphed five. Which essentially reads the DOJ has Skadden Arps by the _____ [ in the blank] and the notion that this is a witch hunt. I mean Trump does understand that this is a criminal and counterintelligence investigation, right?

 

 

Which now brings us to the main event...let’s get ready to rumble, again I don’t think it’s a position of strength when your Mega Lawfirm enters a “settlement agreement” with the DOJ and subsequently forced to retroactively file FARA. Nor is it a position of strength that when you file your  retroactive FARA #6617 registration  as disclosed on page two, your former employee (who’s since been deported) Alex van der Zwaan is listed along with his former boss Greg Craig. See retroactive FARA # 6617 registration, here.

 

 

 

And then of course when you drill down on Skadden Arps FARA # 6617 Registration specifically pages 3 & 4, that one rather innocuous sentence oddly reached off the paper and slapped the taste out of my mouth.

 

 

The Firm understood that its work was to be largely funded by Victor Pinchuk

 

Gosh why do I know that name? It is so oddly familiar to me. Where oh where have I heard Victor Pinchuck’s name before...oh that’s right Victor Pinchuk made a sizable donation to the Donald J Trump Fraudation, sorry I mean Foundation. You can read more about Trump’s Foundation here, and here the fact that Trump likely paid his youngest son’s $50K per year tuition from the Foundation’s account is not lost on me. Or that Pinchuk’s name randomly appears over and over.

 

 

 

Although I would be curious which translator service or company did Skadden Arps use. Maybe I should be more direct, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to maybe figure out if they used the same translator that later attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. You can read more Anatoli Samochornov, Rudy Giuliani, Alfa Bank, Prevezon and Veselnitskaya etc  here. Again I’m not saying it’s a fact, I’m simply saying it would be interesting to see if (that’s a big if) Skadden Arps used the same translator that Veselnitskaya used.

 

Which now brings us to Skadden-Arps FARA #6617, supplemental statement, found here. I will admit that during the Manafort Summer 2018 EDVA trial, I found it frustrating that the 2012 Tymoshenko Memo was redacted and it made reading it rather difficult. So the fact that in January 2019 Skadden-Arps filed the unredacted memo, absolutely thrilled me. 

 

 

Now if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’d know that I get things wrong but there are times where I look at a bunch of data, in this particular instance I specifically looked at the Manafort Exhibits for his EDVA trial and made a few educated guesss, specifically the Memo, the Law Firm Partner, Kilimnik and the Dossier. Yes for some reason this entire FUBAR always manages to come full circle back to the Dossier.

 

 

Again I’m not an all knowing Oracle but I distinctly remember how much I was trolled and the endless tweets of bullshit I received. Here’s the point, yes I get things wrong but who would have known that my June 6, 2018 thread would have triggered a full on digital army of stalkers and trolls. I am by nature a curious person and once I think I have authentic as in empirical data I start asking questions. I also am a type of person if I read something, I rarely forget what I’ve read. But occasionally I do like to go back and re-read. When the SCO uploaded thousands of pages of exhibits for Manafort’s EDVA trial, there were specific exhibits that triggered my memory about the Dossier, specifically the unrest in the Ukraine but more importantly the infamous memo because there was a significant amount of litigation in the SDNY involving Tymoshenko and my pet project Firtash. Back in June I went out on a limb (see second tweet in thread below) and I said the SDNY lawsuit, Manafort, Ukraine, Russia, it was all interconnected.

 

 

 

For your edification Skadden Arps FARA #6617 Informational Materials (aka the Memo) can be read in its entirety sans redactions, here.

As you know FARA isn’t something that’s optional. One nuance that’s been somewhat overlooked is during Manafort’s EDVA trial his attorneys did their best at arguing the defense of “Manafort had registered and filed (in a “timely fashion”) appropriate lobbying disclosures pursuant to the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Remember that Manafort’s then FARA Attorney Melissa Laurenza of the Akin Group was...how do I put this, oh that’s right the Chief Judge in the DC District Court unsealed this Order & Memo the same day Manafort & Gates’ Indictments were unsealed. There are very few reasons Attorney Client privileged can be pierced, one such reason is known as the Crime-Fraud Exemption. See Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s Memorandum Opinion embedded in the tweet below.

 

 

This now takes us to Skadden-Arps FARA #6617 Exhibit AB Filing, found here. This particular filing actually sheds significant light on the actual Letter of Engagement, Scope of work, the impermissiblity of engaging in any work that would fall under the defined scope of FARA and it also offers additional names & companies.

The Firm also provided a copy of the Report to Vin Weber, a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, prior to its release and connected Mr. Weber with The New York Times by email 

 

 

Within the Skadden-Arps FARA #6617, Exhibit AB contains the actual letter of engagement (pages 6 thru 11, respectively) what was a bit surprising is I expected to see Alex van  der Zwaan’s name in the LOE or subsequent SOW. See February 2012 letter of understanding below.

 

Gregory Craig and Clifford Sloan will be responsible for and actively involved in the Engagement See the attached profiles. Additional lawyers will be added to the Engagement on an as-needed basis. In this regard, we would anticipate using David Foster and Allon Kedem. Who are associates in the Washington DC office of the firm.

 

I now refer you to pages 17 thru 21, entitled Retainer Agreement dated April 2012. What I found of particular interest is the Firm expressly states issues that:

 

Ministry on a variety of rule of law issues, including those that may arise before the European Court for Human Rights. ...and will not engage in any such activities - as defined in the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA)....The waiver provided for in this and the preceding paragraph includes the Firm’s ongoing representation of OAO Gazprom and any of its present or future affiliates or subsidiaries.

 

That rather benign sentence, in retrospect is alarming, given that on October 11, 2011 the U.S. Helsinki Commission issued an official statement upon hearing the imprisonment of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

This is a serious blow to democracy in Ukraine,” declared Co-Chairman Benjamin L. Cardin, (MD).

“The highly selective prosecutions of ranking members of the previous government, most notably today’s politically motivated conviction of former prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, fly in the face of Ukraine’s often-asserted aspirations and efforts to integrate into the European Union.  The Helsinki Commission and United States have strongly and consistently supported Ukraine’s European aspirations, which offer the best assurance of Ukraine’s future as an independent, democratic and flourishing state.  Unfortunately, the Tymoshenko conviction only jeopardizes these efforts.” 

Thus on April 30, 2013 the European Court on Human Rights rendered their Judgement that the imprisonment and  treatmrnt of Yulia Tymoshenko, European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

    • a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights;
    • amviolation of Article 5 § 4 (right to a speedy review of the lawfulness of detention);
    • a violation of Article 5 § 5 (right to compensation for unlawful detention);
    • a violation of Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) in conjunction with Article V 

 

You can read the April 2013 press release here, the full European Court on Human Rights Yulia Tymoshenko docket can be found here.

In closing and I may have previously mentioned, YES mega-Law firms are not untouchable. I would actually argue Skadden-Arps isn’t just a Mega-Law Firm. By any measure they are arguely the 3rd or 4th lawfirm, globally. I am certain this dark chapter in this firm’s history will cause some sort term reputational injury but that damage isn’t irreparable. Notwithstanding I found their PAC somewhat interesting 

SKADDEN ARPS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (C00232629) as of the time of this blog, it appears this PAC is all but dormant, however I did run a search for the 2015/2016 Election Cycle, you can review that FEC report here.

 

But FEC disbursements to Skadden Arps from various PACs and Committees, well that’s a whole different story, from what I can tell during the 2017/2018, they appear to have a healthy review stream. Similarly their 2015/2016 disbursements also appear to be robust.  But I suppose I should leave that for any other entry. - Spicyfiles Out me is exhausted 

 

 

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