In a column for the conservative Bulwark, a former official from the Department of Justice suggested that Tom Barrack -- and associate of Donald Trump facing multiple charges tied to his failure to register as a foreign agent -- may be in greater legal peril than has been reported.
According to a report from CNN, Barrack was indicted last week for lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for "what federal prosecutors in Brooklyn described as an effort to influence the foreign policy positions of both the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the subsequent incoming administration."
In that seven-count indictment, the wealthy businessman was also charged with obstruction of justice and lying to federal law enforcement agents.
According to the Bulwark's Dennis Aftergut, the charge of making false statements to the FBI may be his ultimate undoing.
Aftergut, who served as a former assistant U.S. attorney, contends that the case against Barrack has similarities to the federal government's case against former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.
According to Aftergut, "Like Flynn, Barrack had immediate access to Donald Trump. Just a month after Barrack chaired Trump's January 2017 inaugural, Barrack's investment firm internally circulated a confidential planning memo describing how to cash in: 'The key is to strategically cultivate domestic and international relations while avoiding any appearance of lobbying.'"
While the evidence against Barrack is bad enough, the former DOJ official said the real problem was lying to the FBI.
In particular, he noted the following from the charges against Barrack, reporting the businessman denied: "UAE officials asked him to do anything. He had nothing to do with facilitating phone calls between UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and President-elect Trump after the 2016 election and that he was given an encrypted phone to communicate with the Crown Prince."
According to the attorney, "If proven, the fact that Barrack lied to the FBI about Emirati officials exploiting his access—and about having acceded—is powerful evidence of what prosecutors call 'consciousness of guilt.'
Barrack, a lawyer who should have known better, had a strong motive to avoid registering. He would have far more influence, and therefore more earning capacity, as a PR agent for the UAE by not officially acknowledging he was getting paid to heap praise on his principal."
The attorney added one more troubling aspect of the Barrack indictment.
"The indictment also charges that Barrack passed along to foreign officials information about meetings at the White House, and that he helped shape a pro-UAE speech by candidate Trump," he wrote. "
Think about it: A paid agent for another country with as much daily access to the White House—and ability to steer the president's thinking—as the agent's foreign handlers desired."
You can read more here.