The United States announced on Tuesday federal charges against Thomas Barrack, a friend and former adviser to former US President Donald Trump, whom it accuses of having acted as a foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and influenced the policies of the ex-president.
Barrack, a billionaire investor who cooperated with Trump’s election campaign in 2016 and presided over the organization of his investiture in 2017, was arrested this tuesday in Los Angeles (California), official sources informed the television network NBC News.
Barrack, Trump’s friend for decades and whom the former president even considered nominating as ambassador to Mexico, faces federal charges in a New York court for his “Illegal attempts to advance UAE interests in the United States”, reported the Department of Justice in a statement.
According to the indictment, the 74-year-old investor “influenced political positions” of Trump when he was a presidential candidate in 2016, and also when he arrived at the White House, so that they would adjust to the interests of that emirate of the Persian Gulf.
Along with three other defendants, Barrack worked to “advance the interests [de los Emiratos] Y provide intelligence to the UAE, without notifying the United States attorney general that he was following instructions from senior officials “in that Arab country, the Justice Department explained.
That is a violation of US laws on foreign influence, and had significant consequences on Trump’s foreign policy, according to the indictment.
In May 2016, Barrack “inserted UAE praise into campaign speech” by Trump on energy policy, and sent a copy of it to the Emirates authorities before the candidate even pronounced it.
A month after Trump’s electoral victory, in November 2016, Barrack met with senior Emirati officials “and advised them to create a ‘wish list'” that they wanted to get from foreign policy of the new Administration, assured the Department of Justice.
Beginning with Trump’s rise to power in January 2017, Barrack “informally advised” senior officials of the Trump administration on matters “related to US policy in the Middle East” and tried – unsuccessfully – to be appointed special envoy for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Barrack also successfully advised Trump in September 2017 that will not hold a summit in Camp David (Maryland) on the rupture of diplomatic relations with Qatar of the UAE and other countries in the area, something that the Emirates were against, according to the indictment.
The UAE’s “secret weapon” in the United States
In addition to Barrack, the federal authorities charged his two alleged assistants in the plot: Matthew Grimes, 27, who was also arrested on Tuesday; and a 43-year-old Emirati national, Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, who is still free.
Barrack communicated through these two assistants with the Emirati authorities and went so far as to describe Alshahhi as the UAE’s “secret weapon” in the United States, according to the statement.
Trump’s former adviser is also charged with “obstruction of justice” and for making false statements during a June 2019 interview with FBI agents, in which he “falsely denied that Alshahhi had asked him” to act on behalf of the UAE.
Barrack is one of multiple former Trump advisers who have faced federal charges, and his arrest comes shortly after a grand jury indicted both the Trump Organization and the firm’s chief financial officer of perpetrating a 15-year tax evasion scheme. Allen Weisselberg.