Feds Running Foreign Lobbying Probe Into Trump Confidant Tom Barrack

Tom Barrack, former Deputy Interior Undersecretary in the Reagan administration, and CEO of Colony Capital, delivers a speech on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times

Colony Capital chair and longtime President Trump associate Tom Barrack seems to be facing strong headwinds amid an ongoing federal investigation and trouble at his massive real estate business.

The New York Times reports that federal public integrity prosecutors in Brooklyn are probing whether Barrack violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires agents of foreign governments to register with the Justice Department. Prosecutors are specifically investigating whether United Arab Emirates- or Saudi-linked individuals sought to influence the Trump campaign through Barrack, and they conducted an interview with the businessman last month at Barrack’s request, per the Times.

The Times also got access to personal emails from Barrack during the 2016 Trump campaign, where he appears to have played the role of fixer and occasionally adviser.

In one July 2016 exchange with Paul Manafort and UAE ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba, Barrack appears to have pushed to strike language from the Republican Party platform calling for documents from the 9/11 investigation related to Saudi Arabia.

“On the platform issue there is another chance to make our gulf friends happy,” Manafort reportedly emailed Barrack, apparently referring to the 9/11 issue and to Trump’s proposed Muslim ban. In an earlier email to al-Otaiba, Barrack had described Manafort as ‚Äútotally programmed” on the Saudi-UAE alliance.

The Trump campaign struck language calling for the release of the 9/11 documents from its platform, though they were released that summer.

The probe also appears to focus on the Trump inaugural, with its unique mixture of record income ($106 million) and widespread allegations of access peddling.

The Times reports that a business associate of Barrack’s, UAE businessman Rashid al-Malik, received a ticket to one of the inaugural’s most exclusive events, the chairman’s dinner. Al-Malik reportedly tried to use his influence with Barrack to shape the Trump campaign’s Middle East policy.

The investigation comes at a difficult time for Barrack, as he beats a slow retreat from his position at the top of Colony Capital. The company has been struggling amid a flopped merger.

Owen Blicksilver, a representative for Barrack, did not immediately reply to a request for comment from TPM, though he denied the pay-for-play allegations to the Times.

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