The chairman of Donald Trump’s inaugural commission in 2017 was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to influence Trump’s foreign policy positions for the benefit of the United Arab Emirates and of committing crimes against what prosecutors have said. described as “the very heart of our democracy”.
Tom Barrack, 74, of Santa Monica, Calif., Was among three men charged in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, with conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent as they attempted to influencing foreign policy while Trump was running in 2016 he was president.
In addition to the plot, Barrack was charged with obstructing justice and making multiple false statements during a June 2019 interview with federal agents. Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colorado, and Rashid al Malik, 43, of the United Arab Emirates, were also indicted in a seven-count indictment.
“The defendants have repeatedly leveraged Barrack’s friendships and his access to a candidate who was ultimately elected president, to senior campaign and government officials, and to the US media to advance the political goals of a foreign government without revealing their true allegiances, Acting Deputy Attorney General. Mark Lesko said in a statement.
Prosecutors said Barrack not only agreed to advance UAE foreign policy interests through his unique access and influence, but also provided UAE government officials with sensitive information about developments in the United Arab Emirates. within the Trump administration, including what senior American officials thought of the Qatari blockade carried out by the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Middle East.
Worse, in his communications with Al Malik, the accused presented his efforts to secure an official post in the administration as one that would allow him to further advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates, rather than the interests of the states. -United, ”the prosecutors wrote. in a letter requesting his detention.
Authorities have said Barrack served as an informal advisor to Trump’s campaign from April 2016 to November 2016 and chairman of the presidential nomination committee from November 2016 to January 2017. From January 2017 he informally advised on Senior US government officials on Middle East foreign policy, they added.
Authorities cited several specific instances where Barrack or others allegedly sought to influence US policies, noting that in May 2016 Barrack inserted language praising the UAE into a campaign speech Trump made. delivered on US energy policy and emailed a draft of the speech to be delivered. to senior officials of the United Arab Emirates.
Likewise, throughout 2016 and 2017, the defendants requested and received direction and comment, including talking points, from senior officials in the United Arab Emirates regarding the national press appearances that Barrack used to promote the interests of the United Arab Emirates, ”the authorities said in a statement.
They said that after an appearance in which Barrack repeatedly praised the UAE, Barrack emailed al Malik, saying, “I made it…
Telephone and email messages sent to the UAE embassy in Washington were not immediately returned.
Barrack will plead not guilty, according to a spokesperson.
“Mr. Barrack has made himself available to investigators on a voluntary basis from the start,” the spokesperson said.
Grimes was also arrested Tuesday in southern California. A message requesting comment was sent to his lawyer.
Bill Coffield, an attorney for al Malik – who was not in custody Tuesday – said his client had cooperated extensively with the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and that there was “nothing new here ”. He said al Malik had simply tried to foster a good relationship between the country where he was born “and the country where he lives and works, which he both loves”.
Barrack appeared in an initial appearance in federal court in Los Angeles, where prosecutors were to ask a U.S. magistrate to bring him to New York.
Noting that Forbes estimated his net worth at $ 1 billion in March 2013 and his access to a private plane, prosecutors called him “an extremely wealthy and powerful person with substantial ties to Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ”which poses a serious risk of absconding in a letter filed before his appearance.
Barrack is the latest in a long line of Trump associates to face criminal charges, including his former campaign chairman, former deputy campaign chairman, former chief strategist, former national security adviser , his former personal lawyer and longtime CFO of his company. .