Department of Justice officials on Tuesday charged former President Donald Trump’s friend and ally, Thomas Barrack, Jr., 74, with acting as an agent for the United Arab Emirates between 2016-18, using his access to push the interests of the Middle East nation within the White House, a DOJ press release said.
Barrack, of Santa Monica, California, was arrested Tuesday along with Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colo., for conspiring to influence candidate, then President Trump’s policy positions regarding the Arab nation, according to the DOJ.
UAE national Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, also known as Rashid Al Malik and Rashid Al-Malik, 43, remains at large, according to the agency.
“The defendants repeatedly capitalized on Barrack’s friendships and access to a candidate who was eventually elected President, high-ranking campaign and government officials, and the American media to advance the policy goals of a foreign government without disclosing their true allegiances,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former President. Through this indictment, we are putting everyone — regardless of their wealth or perceived political power — on notice that the Department of Justice will enforce the prohibition of this sort of undisclosed foreign influence.”
According to a seven-count indictment unsealed Tuesday in New York, Barrack, who is also the founder and Chairman of Colony Capital, a real estate investment firm, served as an informal advisor to Trump between April and November 2016, and then chaired Trump’s inaugural committee through January 2017, followed by acting as an informal advisor in the White House.
While Trump was president, Barrack allegedly sought appointment to a senior role in the U.S. government, including the role of Special Envoy to the Middle East where he was in frequent contact with Alshahhi, an agent for the UAE, according to the DOJ.
According to the agency, the three suspects “took numerous steps in the United States to advance the interests of the UAE.”
In one example, the DOJ alleges that Barrack inserted language supportive of the UAE into one of candidate Trump’s 2016 energy speeches during the presidential campaign.
Following the election, the three “repeatedly acted at the direction of UAE officials to influence the foreign policy positions of the incoming administration in favor of UAE interests,” including the creation of a foreign policy “wish list” wanted by the UAE, which could be transmitted to the White House, according to the DOJ.
The agency said that Barrack met with FBI agents on June 20, 2019 and made “numerous false statements to them.
Barrack and Grimes were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in the Central District of California.
Trump and Barrack have been friends for some four decades but have had a bit of a falling out since 2019, according to a Politico article at the time.
According to the story, Trump became upset with Barrack over published reports about his role in getting foreign leaders to spend money to gain access to Trump and his inner circle.
“The president was really surprised to read all about the inauguration and who was trying to buy access and how, because the president doesn’t get any of that money,” a senior administration official told Politico.
Matt Herrington, Barrack's Counsel, told Newsmax, “Tom Barrack made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset. He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty today.”
Newsmax reached out to both the DOJ and Trump camp for comment but did not receive a response by the time the story was published.
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