Trump ally Tom Barrack charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government


CNN —  

Tom Barrack, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, was charged Tuesday with illegal foreign lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates for what federal prosecutors in Brooklyn described as an effort to influence the foreign policy positions of both the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the subsequent incoming administration.

Barrack is charged in a seven-count indictment with acting as an agent of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018. He is also charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal law enforcement agents.

Barrack was the chairman of Trump’s Inaugural Committee, and while some of the charged conduct concerns the presidential transition, it appears unrelated to the inaugural festivities.

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According to the indictment, Barrack and two other men charged Tuesday – Matthew Grimes of Aspen, Colorado, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, a UAE national – capitalized on Barrack’s status as a senior outside adviser to the Trump campaign to “advance the interests of and provide intelligence to the UAE while simultaneously failing to notify the Attorney General that their actions were taken at the direction of senior UAE officials.”

Barrack was directly and indirectly in contact with UAE senior leadership, according to the charges, and he referred to Alshahhi as its “secret weapon” to promote its foreign policy agenda in America.

Barrack and Grimes are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, according to the Justice Department, while Alshahhi hasn’t been arrested. In a court filing Tuesday asking for Barrack’s detention, prosecutors said that three days after being interviewed by federal agents in April 2018, Alshahhi fled the US and hasn’t returned.

The indictment cites several instances of the defendants’ alleged promotion of UAE’s agenda to the Trump campaign. In May 2016, Barrack inserted language praising the UAE into a campaign speech about US energy policy, then sent an advance draft of the speech to Alshahhi to give to UAE officials, according to the indictment. In 2016 and 2017, Barrack, Alshahhi and Grimes received talking points from UAE officials for Barrack’s TV appearances in which he promoted the UAE’s interests.

Following one appearance, Barrack emailed Alshahhi, “I nailed it… for the home team,” referring not to the United States but to the UAE, according to the charges.

After Trump won the 2016 election, the defendants allegedly continued to push UAE interests at the direction of UAE officials. In December 2016, Barrack, Grimes and Alshahhi attended a meeting with senior UAE government officials, where Barrack told them to make a “wish list” of US foreign policy items for the first 100 days of the incoming presidential administration, as well as for the first six months, year and four years.

According to the charges, Barrack had a dedicated cell phone with a secure message application for the purpose of communicating with senior UAE officials.

This story is breaking and will be updated.