It is a trial tailor-made to grab the attention of this city’s power brokers: In a federal courtroom this month, one of Washington’s most prominent lawyers — a former White House counsel and attorney to global statesmen and other icons — is battling criminal charges of lying to investigators about his work for a shady foreign client.
But the most riveting aspect of the case against the lawyer, Gregory B. Craig, is not his innocence or guilt. Rather, it is the depiction of the seamy world of power brokers like Mr. Craig that prosecutors have painted during nearly two weeks of testimony and in an array of court filings.
Mr. Craig’s trial has supplanted any image of Washington’s elite as sage Brahmins with a vivid picture of the ruling class at its avaricious worst. The details include a $4 million payment shunted through a secret offshore account to Mr. Craig’s law firm, a backdated invoice, a lying publicist, a scheme to net one player’s daughter a cushy job and a bungled wiretap by a suspected Russian intelligence asset nicknamed “the angry midget.”
Taken together, they illustrate how lawyers, lobbyists and public relations specialists leapt onto slippery ethical slopes to cash in on a foreign government’s hopes of papering over its sordid reputation. [Continue reading…]