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Thomas Barrack, a friend of Donald Trump who chaired the former president’s nomination committee, was arrested Tuesday on federal charges that he acted as an agent of a foreign government.
Prosecutors say Barrack, 74, used his close ties to Trump’s White House to advance UAE interests.
Along with Barrack, Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colorado, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, 43, from the United Arab Emirates, are accused of acting and conspiring to act as agents of the nation from the Middle East between April 2016 and April 2018 Grimes worked for Barrack at an investment management firm.
Prosecutors say the three defendants failed to provide the required notice to the U.S. Attorney General that they were acting as agents of a foreign government.
Barrack is also charged with obstructing justice and lying to federal agents.
“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 a foreign government without revealing their true allegiances, “Mark Lesko, Acting Deputy Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Ministry of Justice, said in a statement.
Barrack attorney Matt Herrington said in a statement that Barrack “made himself available to investigators voluntarily from the outset. He is not guilty and will plead not guilty today.”
In 2016, Barrack served as an informal advisor to Trump’s campaign, prosecutors said, and then chaired Trump’s presidential nomination committee. Once Trump came to power, Barrack informally advised U.S. officials on Middle East foreign policy.
Authorities say they will not hesitate to enforce laws that require disclosure of U.S. foreign influence campaigns
NPR Justice correspondent Carrie Johnson contributed reporting.