Washington – Thomas Barrack, close advisor to former President Trump and chairman of his, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with violating federal lobbying law after allegedly failing to disclose his work on behalf of the UAE, the Justice Department said.
A seven-count indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, indicting Barrack and two others, Matthew Grimes and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, for their alleged efforts between April 2016 and April 2018 as agents from the United Arab Emirates. Barrack reportedly tried to influence the foreign policy positions of then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and then the Trump administration.
Federal prosecutors also allege that Barrack and the other two sought to influence public opinion in the United States in favor of the interests of the United Arab Emirates. Barrack also faces charges of obstructing justice and lying to federal agencies in an interview in June 2019.
He and Grimes were arrested in California and are due in Los Angeles court Tuesday afternoon. Alshahhi is still at large, according to the Justice Ministry.
“The defendants have repeatedly taken advantage of Barrack’s friendships and 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 the United States. ‘a foreign government without revealing their true allegiances,’ the acting deputy prosecutor said. General Mark Lesko said in a statement. “The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing less than a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former president.”
Barrack is a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s and headed his presidential nomination committee. It was, however, the subject of close scrutiny by federal and local investigators for the committee’s activities. The charges unveiled Tuesday appear unrelated to the inaugural committee.
According to the 46-page indictment, Barrack used his connections with Mr. Trump and senior government officials to illegally promote UAE interests and failed to notify the attorney general that he was doing something wrong. lobbying on his behalf, in violation of federal law.
The indictment details several instances in which Barrack and the two co-defendants attempted to advance the interests of the UAE. In May 2016, prosecutors allege that Barrack added praising language for the United Arab Emirates in a campaign speech by Mr. Trump on US energy policy and shared an advanced draft of the speech to Alshahhi for give it to senior officials in the United Arab Emirates. The three men are also said to have researched and received talking points and other comments from senior United Arab Emirates officials regarding Barrack’s press appearances in 2016 and 2017.
After Mr. Trump was elected president in November 2016, the indictment claims that Barrack and the other two men acted under the direction of UAE officials to influence the political positions of the new administration for the benefit of their interests.
Federal prosecutors said Barrack made false statements to the FBI during a voluntary interview about facilitating communications between Mr. Trump and United Arab Emirates officials after the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors say Barrack has arranged at least one phone call between Mr. Trump and two Emirati officials, and provided their contact details to the then president-elect’s aide.