Trump ally charged with acting as UAE agent
Thomas Barrack, a close ally to former US president Donald Trump and one of his top fundraisers, was arrested and charged on Tuesday for not disclosing his lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
The Justice Department unsealed an indictment in New York federal court accusing three suspects, including 74-year-old Barrack, of failing to register as agents of the United Arab Emirates as they attempted to influence Trump on foreign policy during the presidential campaign.
"The defendants repeatedly capitalized on Barrack's friendships and access to a candidate who was eventually elected president... to advance the policy goals of a foreign government without disclosing their true allegiances," Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko said in a statement.
Barrack, a private equity investor, was chairman of Trump's 2017 inaugural committee.
The Santa Monica, California, resident was accused of secretly advancing the interests of the UAE at the direction of senior officials of that country by influencing the foreign policy positions of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and then the foreign policy positions of the US government during Trump’s presidency through April 2018.
Barrack was also charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a June 2019 interview with federal law enforcement agents.
Prosecutors also said that he had met with and assisted senior leaders of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is a close UAE ally, and that he "provided UAE government officials 'with sensitive non-public information about developments within the Administration, including information about the positions of multiple senior United States government officials with respect to the Qatari blockade conducted by the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries'."
Barrack told the New York Times two years ago he did not lobby for a foreign government, but instead worked as a "neutral intermediary" between foreign leaders and the 2016 Trump campaign.
He will plead not guilty, according to a spokesperson.
"Mr. Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset," the spokesperson said, according to US media.
Charged with Barrack were Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colorado, and a 43-year-old UAE national, Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi.