The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Tom Barrack, a billionaire Trump supporter who led the former president’s inauguration committee in 2016, had been detained on foreign lobbying allegations, according to Al Jazeera.
Barrack was charged with seven counts of illegal attempts to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in federal court in New York, according to a statement published by the Department of Justice’s public affairs office in Washington DC.
“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,” Mark Lesko, acting assistant US attorney general for national security, expressed.
The US also charged Matthew Grimes, a 27-year-old employee of Barrack’s investment firm, and Rashid al-Malik, a 43-year-old Emirati citizen and former business partner of Barrack who is now accused of working secretly for the Emirati government by the US.
According to the Associated Press, Barrack will plead not guilty
According to the DOJ, Barrack referred to al-Malik, who functioned as a go-between for senior Emirati officials, as the UAE’s “secret weapon” in Washington to advance its foreign policy. After Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, Barrack requested al-Malik to develop a “wish list” of US foreign policy goals that the UAE desired from the new Trump administration.
Following a White House meeting with top Emirati officials in May 2017, Barrack promised to discuss non-public opinions of senior US government officials, according to the Department of Justice.
According to the DOJ, in September 2017, Barrack urged Trump against hosting a potential meeting at Camp David to discuss the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt’s embargo of Qatar, at al-Malik’s urging.
According to a 2019 media report citing documents and unnamed sources, al-Malik received tens of thousands of dollars per month from the UAE’s intelligence service in 2017 for obtaining helpful information on Trump administration strategy toward the Middle East.