A former federal prosecutor threw cold water on denials by Donald Trump's friend Thomas Barrack after his arrest for spying for the United Arab Emirates.
The chairman of Trump's inaugural committee was charged in a seven-count indictment with acting as an agent of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018, and former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he used his position to influence American foreign policy on behalf of his clients.
"This is not a paperwork violation," McQuade said. "I know Tom said that he could have filed notification with the attorney general and been permitted to lobby on behalf of the UAE, that's absolutely right. There's a reason people don't register in a situation like that. If he registered and everyone knew he was acting on behalf of the UAE, he would never have received the access he got."
"Some of the allegations are that he had drafted of President Trump's speech on energy and shared it with the UAE government officials, got their edits, and then gave it back to President Trump," she added. "That he took credit for getting the UAE omitted from Trump's travel ban in 2017. He wrote an op-ed in favorable terms for the UAE because he got input from the UAE, representing these things as his own judgment and opinion, when in fact, he was doing it on behalf of a foreign government, and the reason that that is a crime isn't because he made a paperwork error. It's because it permits secret undue influence by a foreign government."
Prosecutors haven't alleged a motive because they don't have to do so, but McQuade said it's not hard to figure out why Barrack acted as an unregistered foreign agent for the oil-rich nation.
"There's reporting in the New York Times that his firm was paid $1.5 billion by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, so there's certainly a very powerful financial moment that may be at stake here," McQuade said. "The other thing I see is the potential for cooperation. We know that the Eastern District of New York is also investigating fraud in the Trump inaugural campaign, which Tom Barrack shared, and so he has the opportunity here to come in and share information with prosecutors about that investigation if he wants to work off some of his time."
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