Thomas Barrack: Trump ally arrested and charged with acting as foreign agent

·2 min read

Longtime Trump confidant Thomas Barrack has been arrested in Los Angeles and charged with acting as a foreign agent of the United Arab Emirates, the Department of Justice has announced.

According to the DOJ, Mr Barrack and two other defendants “are accused of acting and conspiring to act as agents of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018”.

In addition, Mr Barrack has been charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal law enforcement at an FBI interview in June 2019.

Mr Barrack, the 74-year-old former CEO of Colony Capital, was an informal adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and served as the chairman of Mr Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee. Prosecutors say he exploited those connections to advance the UAE’s interests.

“Barrack is alleged to have abused his access to government officials to illegally advance the interests of foreign governments,” FBI Assistant Director Calvin Shivers said in a statement. “The FBI stands in concert with our external partners to ensure all who seek to wield illegal influence are charged for their crimes.”

A representative for Mr Barrack has denied the charges.

“Mr Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset,” the spokesperson told NBC News. “He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty.”

The other two defendants are Matthew Grimes, 27, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, 43, a UAE national. All three are accused of lobbying for the Arab country without registering as foreign agents, as they would be required to do by law.

“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,” DOJ Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko said in a statement. “The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former President.”

According to the Justice Department, Mr Barrack was “regularly and repeatedly in contact with the senior leadership of the UAE government” during and after the 2016 election, and repeatedly referred to Mr Alshahhi as the UAE’s “secret weapon” for pushing its agenda within the US government.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Barrack for comment though First Republic Bank, where he is a board member, but has not immediately heard back.

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