Thomas Barrack, a billionaire businessman who is a close friend of former President Donald Trump, was arrested Tuesday morning on federal charges in Los Angeles related to allegations that he violated foreign lobbying laws and lied to federal investigators.
Barrack and two other individuals were arrested on foreign lobbying charges related to his dealings with the United Arab Emirates. The charges do not appear to be related to Barrack’s role as chairman of Trump’s 2017 inaugural fund.
The DOJ said in a statement:
A seven-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Thomas Joseph Barrack, Matthew Grimes, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, also known as “Rashid Al Malik” and “Rashid Al‑Malik,” a citizen of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with acting and conspiring to act as agents of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018. The indictment charges conduct relating to the defendants’ unlawful efforts to advance the interests of the UAE in the United States at the direction of senior UAE officials by influencing the foreign policy positions of the campaign of a candidate (the “Candidate”) in the 2016 United States Presidential Election (the “Campaign”) and, subsequently, the foreign policy positions of the United States government in the incoming administration, as well as seeking to influence public opinion in favor of UAE interests. The indictment also charges Barrack with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a June 20, 2019 interview with federal law enforcement agents.
Barrack, who also served as an informal advisor to Trump’s 2016 campaign, allegedly began informally advising the U.S. federal government in January 2017 on issues related to U.S. policy in the region and sought to advance the interests of the UAE.
The charges stem from an accusation that Barrack and the other individuals involved allegedly never provided the required notification to the United States Attorney General that they were acting in the United States as agents of a foreign government.
The statement from the DOJ included the following allegations of Barrack lobbying on behalf of the UAE:
- “… in May 2016, Barrack inserted language praising the UAE into a Campaign speech to be delivered by the Candidate about United States energy policy in May 2016 and emailed an advance draft of the speech to Alshahhi for delivery to senior UAE officials. Similarly, throughout 2016 and 2017, the defendants sought and received direction and feedback, including talking points, from senior UAE officials in connection with national press appearances Barrack used to promote the interests of the UAE. After one appearance in which Barrack repeatedly praised the United Arab Emirates, Barrack emailed Alshahhi, “I nailed it. . . for the home team,” referring to the UAE.”
- “Barrack and Grimes also solicited direction from senior UAE officials in advance of the publication of an Op-Ed authored by Barrack and published in a national magazine in October 2016 and removed certain language at the direction of senior UAE officials, as relayed by Alshahhi.”
- “Following the 2016 United States Presidential Election, the defendants repeatedly acted at the direction of UAE officials to influence the foreign policy positions of the incoming administration in favor of UAE interests. For example, in December 2016, Barrack met with Grimes, Alshahhi and senior UAE government officials, during which he advised them to create a ‘wish list’ of U.S. foreign policy items that the UAE wanted accomplished in the first 100 days, six months, year and four years of the incoming administration of the United States President-Elect.”
- “In March 2017, Barrack and his co-defendants agreed to promote the candidacy of an individual favored by senior UAE officials for the position of United States Ambassador to the UAE. In May 2017, Barrack agreed to provide Alshahhi with non-public information about the views and reactions of senior United States government officials following a White House meeting between senior United States officials and senior UAE officials.”
- “In September 2017, Alshahhi communicated with Barrack about the opposition of the UAE to a proposed summit at Camp David to address an ongoing dispute between the State of Qatar, the UAE and other Middle Eastern governments, after which Barrack sought to advise the President of the United States against holding the Camp David summit. The summit never happened.”
- “In furtherance of the alleged criminal conspiracy and conduct, Barrack and Grimes, with the assistance of Alshahhi, acquired a dedicated cellular telephone and installed a secure messaging application to facilitate Barrack’s communications with senior UAE officials.”
The statement from the DOJ also said that the Barrack voluntarily met with FBI agents in 2019 for an interview and that he made false statements to the agents.
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