Thomas Barrack, the chairman of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration committee, was charged for illegally lobbying Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday in Brooklyn.
Between April 2016 and April 2018, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York released a seven-count indictment alleging that Barrack, 74, of Santa Monica, Calif., and two individuals — Matthew Grimes and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi — conspired to operate as UAE agents.
Authorities arrested Barrack and Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colo., on Tuesday and the two were expected to appear at a federal courthouse in Los Angeles later in the day.
The indictment says the three men worked to advance UAE interests by influencing the policies of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and administration. Barrack also faces charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal officials.
“As alleged, the defendants, using their positions of power and influence in a presidential election year, engaged in a conspiracy to illegally advance and promote the interests of the United Arab Emirates in this country, in flagrant violation of their obligation to notify the attorney general of their activities and in derogation of the American people’s right to know when a foreign government seeks to influence the policies of our government and our public opinion,” said acting United States Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis.
The men’s actions, according to Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko, “are nothing short of a betrayal of those leaders in the United States, including the former president.”
According to the Justice Department, Barrack served as an informal adviser to Trump’s campaign from April to November 2016, and then as chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee until November 2017. Following Trump’s presidency, Barrack worked as an unofficial adviser to the US government on Middle East matters.
Barrack was the executive chairman of Colony Capital, a multinational investment firm where Grimes worked. According to the accusation, UAE national Alshahhi was in “regular contact” with Barrack and Grimes.
“Barrack was in regular and recurrent contact with the high leadership of the UAE government, both directly and through Alshahhi and Grimes,” according to the Justice Department. “Barrack referred to Alshahhi as the UAE’s’secret weapon’ to push the UAE’s foreign policy agenda in the United States on many occasions.”