Given Tom Barrack’s ties to the Trump administration, the Trump family, and the Middle East, his arrest this week surely has a whole lot of people in Trump world staying up at night. It’s not just that Barrack could end up cutting a plea deal against everyone. It’s where this investigation might be headed, with or without Barrack’s help.
When people are charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, it means they took foreign money that was legal in and of its own right, but they illegally failed to inform the U.S. government that they were doing so; it’s a crime of omission and misrepresentation.
But it turns out Tom Barrack wasn’t charged with a FARA violation. Instead he was charged with being “an agent of a foreign government.” That may not sound much different, but as legal expert David Laufman has pointed out, it’s an espionage-type charge that’s been used against people like Maria Butina. Or as legal expert Daniel Goldman summed it up, “Barrack is charged for being a spy for the UAE.”
If these charges are proven, it’ll mean Donald Trump had an actual spy for a Middle Eastern government serving as his Middle East money man while he was running for, and serving as, President of the United States. The best case scenario would be that Trump naively and idiotically didn’t know Barrack was a spy – and that’s the best case.
Any other scenario would involve Trump having known that Barrack was a spy for the UAE government, and using him anyway. Whether Barrack flips or not, you can only imagine where this investigation is going. If the Feds have proof that Barrack was a spy, then you’d better believe they’re investigating everyone who was closely allied with him, to see whether or not they knew Barrack was a spy – in the same way that the Feds examined every inch of Maria Butina’s boyfriend’s life.
So if you’ve ever been a close associate of Tom Barrack, right now the Feds are surely ripping through your life to figure out what you were really up to. The Barrack indictment seemingly opens the door for the Feds to justifiably go after everyone in Trump world and figure out who’s a criminal and who’s not. And if Barrack were to end up flipping… well, you know the rest.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report