Tom Barrack, an investor who is a long-time ally of former President Donald Trump, was arrested Tuesday on federal charges of illegal lobbying to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates.

According to the indictment released by the Justice Department on Tuesday, Barrack and two others – Matthew Grimes and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi – acted as agents of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018. Barrack was a top Trump fundraiser in the 2016 presidential campaign and the chairman of the presidential inaugural committee. 

Tuesday indictment charges that Barrack made “unlawful efforts to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the United States at the direction of senior UAE officials by influencing the foreign policy positions of the campaign of a candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, subsequently, the foreign policy positions of the U.S. government in the incoming administration, as well as seeking to influence public opinion in favor of UAE interests.”

The indictment further states that Barrack was “repeatedly in contact” with UAE senior officials, while closely working with Alshahhi, a UAE national whom Barrack referred to as a “secret weapon.”


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“The defendants repeatedly capitalized on Barrack’s friendships and access to a candidate who was eventually elected President, high-ranking campaign and government officials, and the American media to advance the policy goals of a foreign government without disclosing their true allegiances,” said Mark Lesko, an Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former President.” 

“Through this indictment, we are putting everyone — regardless of their wealth or perceived political power — on notice that the Department of Justice will enforce the prohibition of this sort of undisclosed foreign influence,” Lesko added.

Following the report, Barrack’s spokesperson announced that he intends to plead not guilty.

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