Trump insider charged in Brooklyn Federal Court with seeking to influence US on behalf of UAE
The chair of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee was arrested Tuesday and charged in Brooklyn Federal Court with conspiring to influence Trump’s foreign policy positions to benefit the United Arab Emirates.
Tom Barrack, 74, of Santa Monica, California, was among three men charged with conspiring to act as unregistered foreign agents as they allegedly tried to influence foreign policy while Trump was running in 2016, and later while he was president.
Barrack was charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a June 2019 interview with federal law enforcement agents.
Also charged in a seven-count indictment in Brooklyn Federal Court were Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colorado and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, 43, of the United Arab Emirates.
The case is assigned to Judge Brian M. Cogan.
“As alleged, the defendants, using their positions of power and influence in a presidential election year, engaged in a conspiracy to illegally advance and promote the interests of the United Arab Emirates in this country, in flagrant violation of their obligation to notify the Attorney General of their activities and in derogation of the American people’s right to know when a foreign government seeks to influence the policies of our government and our public opinion,” stated Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District Jacquelyn Kasulis.
Prosecutors said Barrack not only agreed to promote UAE foreign policy interests through his unique access and influence, but also provided UAE government officials with sensitive information about developments within the Trump administration — including how senior U.S. officials felt about the Qatari blockade conducted by the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries.
“Worse, in his communications with Al Malik, the defendant framed his efforts to obtain an official position within the Administration as one that would enable him to further advance the interests of the UAE, rather than the interests of the United States,” prosecutors wrote.
Barrack will plead not guilty, according to a spokesperson.
“Mr. Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset,” the spokesperson said.
Grimes also was arrested Tuesday in California. A message for comment was sent to his attorney. The whereabouts of the third defendant weren’t immediately clear.
Barrack was due to appear at an initial appearance in federal court in Southern California, where prosecutors were to ask a U.S. magistrate judge to bring him to Brooklyn.
Noting that Forbes estimates his net worth at $1 billion and his access to a private plane, prosecutors called him “an extremely wealthy and powerful individual with substantial ties to Lebanon, the UAE, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” who poses a serious flight risk in a letter filed prior to his appearance.
Prosecutors also want Grimes held without bail.
The case was referred to the Eastern District by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the Trump administration, according to a source in the law enforcement community.
Barrack is the latest in a long line of Trump associates to face criminal charges, including his former campaign chair, his former deputy campaign chair, his former chief strategist, his former national security officer, his former personal lawyer and his company’s longtime chief financial officer.
Attorneys Matthew Herrington (Paul Hastings firm) and Michael Freedman (The Freedman Firm) will represent Barrack and Grimes, respectively.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment