Trump adviser Tom Barrack arrested on charges by foreign agents

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Prosecutors say Barrack used his inside access to White House officials, gained through roles such as chairing Trump’s founding committee, to provide the UAE with “non-public information about the views and reactions of high-ranking US government officials To give meeting in the White House between the United Arab Emirates ”. senior US officials and senior UAE officials. “

An advisor to Barrack at his investment firm Colony Capital, Matthew Grimes, and a businessman from the United Arab Emirates, Rashid Al-Malik, were also charged.

Prosecutors allege that Barrack tried to take on a high profile role in Middle East politics early in the Trump administration, while telling his allies in the United Arab Emirates that such an appointment would be good for them.

“In his communication with Al Malik, the defendant formulated his efforts to gain an official position within the government as one that would enable him to advance the interests of the UAE rather than those of the United States,” the prosecutors wrote in a judicial record.

While the indictment cites numerous examples of Barrack working closely with Al-Malik to advance the interests of the UAE, Barrack’s motivation for doing so is vague. However, the indictment suggests that Barrack’s public relations and lobbying for the UAE were intertwined with its financial and investment interests. Prosecutors allege Grimes sent Al-Malik a proposal in December 2016 stating that implementing the plan “could generate excessive financial returns”.

In addition, the three men accused in the case were working at the time to help a United Arab Emirates ally, Saudi Arabia, acquire nuclear power technology from the United States to use funds from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as well as US investments to take over the US energy company Westinghouse. The House of Representatives investigation found that Al-Malik was acting on behalf of both the UAE and Saudi officials.

Prosecutors allege that Barrack shared with the UAE a “completely confidential” draft of a Trump energy speech in May 2016 and that Al-Malik later attended the inauguration ceremony as Barrack’s “personal guest”.

The indictment alleges that Barrack and Grimes were given a “dedicated cell phone” to communicate with senior UAE officials and installed a secure messaging application for this purpose.

Prosecutors also allege Grimes agreed to remove a reference to “dictatorships” in a barrack comment at the request of UAE officials. “They didn’t like the word dictatorships … they don’t want to be called dictators, which is true,” Al-Malik told Grimes.

The comment cited in the indictment appears to be a Fortune magazine published on October 22, 2016, vilifying the Arab Spring movement while praising Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the UAE. Barrack’s language follows what Grimes agreed to.

“The instability created by conflicting Western interests has resulted in far worse atrocities in the new regimes than the crimes of the previous order,” wrote Barrack.

The indictment states that after the comment was published, Al-Malik wrote to Grimes, “Big Boss loved it.”

Barrack made his fortune, valued by Forbes at $ 1 billion, while at the helm of private equity firm Colony Capital. He stepped down as CEO of the company last year and as Executive Chairman of the company in April. He and Grimes were arrested in the Los Angeles area, where they first appeared in federal court on Tuesday afternoon.

Prosecutors said on court records that they are demanding that Barrack be held in federal custody and transported to New York City so he can go on bail before a federal judge in Brooklyn. They said Barrack’s vast wealth and international connections would give him ample opportunity to hide abroad.

“There is no doubt that the defendant’s enormous financial resources and access to private planes give him all the means necessary to escape justice now that he is faced with extremely serious criminal charges backed by overwhelming evidence” the prosecutor wrote.

Prosecutors also noted that after the FBI interviewed Al-Malik in Los Angeles in 2019, he left the United States and never returned.

During a brief appearance before U.S. Judge Patricia Donahue, Barrack’s attorney Matt Herrington said the two sides are still negotiating a bail package. Donhaue agreed to keep Barrack in Los Angeles until another hearing on Monday morning.

Grimes also went to the same judge earlier in the same session. His attorney Matthew Freedman said his client was 27 years old and no longer employed by Colony.

“He’s a pretty inferior to all of this,” Freedman said. “He no longer works in the company.”

Freedman also noted that Grimes has known of the federal investigation for years and, unlike Al-Malik, has not tried to escape. “My client did not flee,” said the defense attorney.

While Freedman sought the release of Grimes for a temporary bond, Donahue turned down the idea. “I think the defendant poses a very serious risk of escape,” she said. She also continued his bail hearing through Monday.

The indictment is the latest move by the Department of Justice to step up enforcement of laws limiting and disclosing foreign influence in the United States. However, the Foreign Agents Act indicting Barrack was not the Foreign Agents Registration Act, but rather a lesser-known act that is typically used to prosecute individuals accused of working on the orders of senior officials in a foreign government.

Attorney Mack Jenkins, who led the bail hearings in Los Angeles, described the law as “very rarely used.” He said it reflected the elite circles that Barrack and the others sought to influence and influence on their behalf.

“We’re talking about the highest levels in the United Arab Emirates and the highest levels in the United States,” Jenkins said.

The indictment also offers another benefit that the prosecution failed to mention. While FARA requires proof that a person knew their behavior was illegal, the Foreign Agents Act, which is used to prosecute Barrack and his co-defendants, does not require such proof.

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