Southern California businessman and former chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, Barrack is charged in a seven-count indictment with acting as an agent of the United Arab Emirates between April 2016 and April 2018. He is also charged with obstructing justice and fabricating false statements to federal law enforcement officials.
A spokesperson for Barrack said he would plead not guilty to the charges against him. A judge ordered his detention after an initial court appearance on Tuesday afternoon.
But Barrack’s relationship with Trump began long before the former president ran for office or found reality TV fame.
Born to immigrants who owned a Lebanese grocery store, Barrack made his fortune in distressed property, or what he saw as low-risk, high-reward properties desperate for rehabilitation.
Yet it wasn’t until the 1990s that Trump became attached to Barrack, who became an increasingly trusted advisor and sounding board as he succeeded in business.
Barrack’s business profile would grow alongside Trump’s notoriety, and by the time Trump began to consider an offer in the White House, Barrack was well positioned to have considerable influence over strategy.
“Donald used Tom at first to bounce ideas off him. Tom didn’t come in for political reasons,” Nick Ribis, a senior casino executive at Trump who later worked for Barrack, told CNN. “Egos tend to get in the way – jealousy and egos. That wasn’t the case with Donald and Tom.”
Public and private support for Trump
When he needed a way to soften his image with Mexico, Barrack urged Trump to take a last-minute secret trip to the country and show he can blunt his rhetoric on the world stage. And when Muslim monarchs sounded the alarm over a policy to ban their 1.6 billion adherents from immigrating to the United States, Barrack urged Trump to readjust his abrasive posture – while sending soothing words back to its own Rolodex.
“I have nothing but amazing things to tell you about Donald,” Barrack said in his 2016 convention speech, “because this man is good enough, he’s tough enough, he’s smart enough and he’s pretty good. paid to do it on its own merits. “
Their relationship culminated with Barrack’s role as chairman of Trump’s presidential nomination committee, where he planned and coordinated most of the events around Trump’s nomination in 2017.
But his high profile in Trump’s world has drawn close scrutiny, even though he has remained an outside adviser.
In 2019, Barrack elicited a considerable backlash when he argued that the United States lacks the moral authority to criticize Saudi Arabia due to its own record of “atrocities.”
“As long as you don’t make me a guest at the Ritz,” Barrack joked before answering a question from CNN’s Becky Anderson at the Milken Institute MENA Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Barrack’s influence in the Trump administration and how he was able to influence it were again called into question on Tuesday.
According to the published indictment, Barrack and two other men – Matthew Grimes of Aspen, Colorado, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, a UAE national – capitalized on Barrack’s status as an outside adviser leader of the Trump campaign to “advance interests and provide intelligence to the UAE while failing to inform the attorney general that their actions were taken under the direction of senior UAE officials.” “
Barrack was in direct and indirect contact with senior management in the United Arab Emirates, according to the charges, and he called Alshahhi a “secret weapon” to promote his foreign policy agenda in America.