Legal analyst Marcy Wheeler noticed a small detail in the hearing in the case of Tom Barrack on Wednesday that made her think Steve Bannon might soon be indicted.
Barrack was the chair of Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration committee, which increased scrutiny of him and his business practices. He is charged with illegally lobbying former President Donald Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates without registering as a foreign agent. Barrack has pleaded not guilty and the trial is set to begin in Sept. 2022. The indictment doesn't only name him, however, his associates Matthew Grimes is also named and a third defendant, a UAE national, remains at large.
Barrack asked this week if the government intended to supersede his indictment and if so when. The government came back with the comment that they reserve the right to do so and it would likely be in June 2022.
Tom Barrack wants to know if the govt plans to supersede the indictment against him and if so when. \n\nThat's interesting bc DOJ seems to be continuing that investigation. \n\nhttps://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21458602-220321-hearing-agenda\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/UmKQXLc5Uy— emptywheel (@emptywheel) 1647890683
The surprising piece of the previous Barrack documents, however, indicates that there are more involved that have not been named.
"The government has made several requests for materials from other executive components of the federal government, and upon receipt of these materials, will promptly disclose any additional items that are discoverable," Court documents say. "Additionally, the investigation related to this case is ongoing (we note that one of the charged defendants is a fugitive and the indictment alleges conduct by several unindicted co-conspirators)."
The "fugitive" is likely Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, aka Rashid Al Malik, as the Justice Department release from July 2021 points to.
Is the government revealing that those likely to be part of a superseding indictment could be the "several unindicted co-conspirators?"
All of the names have been redacted, though it's clear that they were interviewed in 2021. The DOJ also indicated that they'd been able to obtain considerable amounts of evidence (80,000 more files) in the past three months. At the same time, Barrack described additional evidence that would be found at the Department of Commerce, State, and the White House. Wheeler includes significantly more details, but the gist of the government's argument is that they don't have to get documents from those departments, but agreed they would from the Trump White House that is at the National Archives.
Barrack's argument in the case is that his "lobbying" of Trump wasn't unusual at the time and that everyone was doing it. The government explained that such a claim is hardly a defense.
"Some of the people described in the indictment — most notably Paul Manafort .... did things on which a 5-year statute of limitations has expired (though there’s a Barrack-related action Manafort took in 2017 that is not yet time-barred)," wrote Wheeler.
Steve Bannon too could be one of those named in the indictment. The case describes a meeting with US Person 1, who spoke with UAE crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Wheeler explained that the government's description of the meeting, which doesn't name names, is remarkably similar to a report on an event where Bannon spoke to a group invited by the conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute.
The story says that neither Bannon nor Jared Kushner were strangers to the Sheikh, as they'd met him in Dec. 2016 at Trump Tower along with Michael Flynn. The meeting was reported everywhere because it caused problems at the time. Barack Obama was still in office as the president and the White House wasn't notified about the visit.
A McClatchy report at the time noted that Breitbart, where Bannon worked after the White House, published "more than 80 Qatar-related headlines" since the beginning of a blockade began by UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt.
Wheeler explained: "This kind of media campaign is the stuff that can get you charged as an undisclosed foreign agent." It's for that reason she thinks Bannon is about to be indicted.
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