A federal grand jury in Brooklyn has returned a multi-count indictment against Trump confidante Tom Barrack and two other co-defendants for allegedly acting as agents of the United Arab Emirates.
The indictment was unsealed Tuesday.
Barrack served as chairman of Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee. Rashid Al Malik , an Emirati businessman who once contemplated partnering with Barrack’s company in a 2013 real estate deal, was also charged. As was Matthew Grimes, a California resident who worked for Barrack’s investment firm.
A DOJ press release differs from the indictment, and describes Grimes as a Colorado resident.
Barrack’s alleged scheme directly touched then-President-elect Trump.
Before the inauguration, Barrack allegedly arranged calls between Trump and unnamed UAE officials. Barrack is charged with later lying to investigators about arranging those calls.
Barrack, Al-Rashid, and Grimes all faces charges of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act as well as conspiracy to do the same.
Only Barrack faces additional charges of obstruction of justice and making material false statements.
Barrack is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Los Angeles after his arrest there.
Matthew Herrington, an attorney for Barrack, told TPM in a statement that “Tom Barrack made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset. He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty today.”
Prosecutors allege that Barrack lied to FBI special agents in a June 2019 interview about the matter.
Barrack seems to have made a bid to head the charges off by making himself
available to talk to prosecutors. It appears to have backfired.
In a story published in July 2019, the New York Times reported that Barrack had been interviewed the previous month by prosecutors in the case at Barrack’s own request.
That meeting appears to have occurred close in time to the one in which he allegedly lied to investigators. Prosecutors now say that Barrack lied to FBI special agents in a June 2019 interview about the matter. The Trump friend is the only one of the three defendants to face obstruction and material false statements charges.
The indictment details alleged conduct that took place starting in early 2016 and which continued through 2018, well into Trump’s time in office. Investigators were interviewing Barrack as long ago as June 2019.
It’s not clear what is responsible for the delay from then to now, six months after a change in leadership at the DOJ.
After years of investigations into the Trump inaugural committee, these are not the charges that some had expected. But in a 45-page indictment, the feds allege a conspiracy to influence Trump’s foreign policy positions to benefit the United Arab Emirates.
The indictment alleges that Barrack, founder of Colony Capital, bragged to Emirati officials as early as April 2016 about “staff[ing]” the Trump campaign, and that he offered to serve as a conduit between the gulf state and the Trump campaign.
The initial effort, which prosecutors allege was a covert operation to influence American public opinion and policy, centered on a speech that then-candidate Trump delivered on energy in May 2016.
Prosecutors allege that Barrack sent copies of the speech to Emirati officials for review, including an early draft that had Trump referencing a man who held a “high-ranking position” in the country’s armed forces.
The indictment alleges that the trio attempted – with some success – to influence Trump campaign and administration policy across several areas.
After Trump issued an executive order in January 2017 banning the citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., Al-Rashid noted that the UAE was not included and texted Grimes that “This is [Barrack] time,” the indictment says.
Three days later, prosecutors say, Barrack gave an interview saying that the U.S. needed to promote “good Islam” and strengthen relations with “our partners” in the Middle East.
“Wow that’s exactly what I wanted,” Al-Rashid allegedly wrote to Grimes, after seeing the interview.
Prosecutors also describe an August 2016 meeting in Tangier, Morocco in which all three defendants allegedly participated, along with an Emirati official.
At the meeting, the feds say, the four discussed a “strategy” that Barrack had developed for how the UAE could use its wealth to influence U.S. and European policy.
After Trump’s victory, Grimes allegedly sent an email reminding the Emiratis of the document.
“[W]hile the primary purpose of the platform [will be] to achieve outsized financial returns, it will also accomplish a secondary mandate to garner political credibility for its contributions to the policies of” Trump, Grimes wrote in the message.
The 2017 inaugural bash also proved to be fertile ground for Barrack and his co-defendants, prosecutors suggest.
The Feds say that Barrack introduced a man that the indictment only describes as the “incoming United States National Security Advisor” to Al-Rashid, after an unnamed Emirati official had directed Al-Rashid to “gather information” about the person, who matches the description of Michael Flynn.
From there, Barrack allegedly traveled to the UAE on Dec. 1, 2016. There, he allegedly discussed a plan “to influence United States foreign policy in the first 100 days, 6 months, 1 year, and 4 years of the incoming administration of the United States President-Elect.”
That prompted one Emirati official to write in Arabic that Barrack would “be with the Arabs,” prosecutors say.
Later in December, before receiving invitations to both the Chairman’s Global Dinner on the eve of the inaugural and to the inauguration itself, Al-Rashid drafted a “wish list” of U.S. foreign policy positions that would benefit the UAE.
The feds said in a press release that Trump himself is a victim of Barrack’s treachery, as alleged in the indictment.
“The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former President,” the statement reads.
Read the indictment: