Tom Barrack, the former chief executive of Colony Capital who was one of Donald Trump’s first supporters in the 2016 presidential campaign, has been arrested and charged with acting illegally by United Arab Emirates agents.
Barrack served as chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee and as an informal adviser to his campaign and administration, during which time, prosecutors accused, he advised senior U.S. foreign policy officials in the Middle East.
He was remanded in custody in California Tuesday morning, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Following an indictment dismissed by a Brooklyn federal court Tuesday, the veteran real estate investor allegedly used a dedicated phone loaded with encryption software to coordinate with UAE officials on ways “to advance the [country’s] foreign policy interests trying to influence U.S. foreign policy. ”
Federal prosecutors have also charged Matthew Grimes, a former colony executive who reported directly to Barrack, and Rashid Al Malik, a UAE citizen living in California with a student visa, in connection with the alleged conspiracy.
Barrack is also facing charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements when questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Defendants have repeatedly exploited Barrack’s friendships and access to a candidate who has finally been elected president, senior campaigners and government officials, and to the American media to advance the political goals of a foreign government without disclose their true alliances, ”said Mark Lesko, assistant attorney general in the justice department’s national security division.
Prosecutors accused Barrack of helping win a hearing with the Trump administration for the UAE’s position on issues ranging from a Saudi-led regional embargo in Qatar to the legal status of the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational organization. Sunni Islamist that Trump considered labeling as a terrorist organization. .
The UAE, which has become one of the most influential and assertive states in the Arab world, has long been considered an important American partner in the Middle East.
In text messages quoted by prosecutors, Barrack seemed to express enthusiasm for his alleged role as an unofficial diplomat.
“Our ppl wants you to help me,” it is said that Rashid Al Malik sent messages to Barrack in 2017. “They were hoping that you could officially manage the agenda.”
“I will!” Barrack responded, according to prosecutors.
A spokesman for Barrack, who left the March colony, said Tuesday he planned to fight the charges.
“Barrack has been making himself available voluntarily to investigators from the beginning,” the spokesman said. “He is not guilty and will plead not guilty.”