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(CNN) – Tom Barrack, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, was charged Tuesday with unlawful lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates in what federal prosecutors in Brooklyn described as an effort to influence foreign policy positions. both from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the subsequent incumbent administration. Barrack is charged with seven counts of acting as an agent of the United Arab Emirates between April 2016 and April 2018. He is also charged with obstruction of the justice and making false statements to federal law enforcement officers.
Barrack was the chairman of the Trump inauguration committee, and although some of the behaviors charged have to do with the presidential transition, they appear to be unrelated to the inauguration act.RELATED
According to the indictment, Barrack and two other men indicted Tuesday, Matthew Grimes, of Aspen, Colorado, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, an Emirati national, took advantage of Barrack’s status as a high-level external advisor to the campaign. Trump to “advance the interests of the UAE and provide them with intelligence, while failing to notify the Secretary of Justice that their actions were carried out under the direction of senior UAE officials.”
Barrack was in direct and indirect contact with senior UAE leaders, according to the charges, and referred to Alshahhi as his “secret weapon” in promoting his foreign policy agenda in the United States.
Barrack and Grimes are scheduled to appear Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, according to the Justice Department, while Alshahhi has not been detained. In a court filing Tuesday calling for Barrack’s arrest, prosecutors said that three days after being interviewed by federal agents in April 2018, Alshahhi fled the United States and has not returned.
A Barrack spokesman said he will plead not guilty.
“Mr. Barrack has voluntarily made himself available to investigators from the beginning. He is not guilty and will plead not guilty,” the spokesperson told CNN.
The UAE embassy in Washington did not immediately return a request for comment.
A lawyer for Grimes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I got it … for the local team”
The indictment cites several cases of alleged promotion of the UAE agenda by defendants to the Trump campaign. In May 2016, Barrack inserted language of praise for the UAE into a campaign speech on US energy policy, then sent an early draft of the speech to Alshahhi for delivery to UAE officials, according to the accusation. In 2016 and 2017, Barrack, Alshahhi and Grimes received talking points from UAE officials for Barrack’s television appearances in which he promoted UAE interests.
Following an appearance, Barrack emailed Alshahhi: “I got it … for the home team,” referring not to the United States but to the UAE, according to the allegations.
After Trump won the 2016 election, the defendants allegedly continued to advance UAE interests under the direction of UAE officials. In December 2016, Barrack, Grimes, and Alshahhi attended a meeting with senior UAE government officials, in which Barrack told them to make a “wish list” of US foreign policy issues for the first 100 days of the incoming presidential administration, as well as for the first six months, year and four years.
According to the allegations, Barrack had a dedicated mobile phone with a secure messaging app to communicate with senior UAE officials.
Trump’s first year in office
In 2017, Barrack, Grimes and Alshahhi continued to work on behalf of the UAE to advance their interests in the White House. Three days after Trump’s inauguration, Alshahhi texted Grimes to arrange a phone call between UAE officials and the new president, according to the indictment. Grimes told Alshahhi that he had spoken to Barrack about it, and a few days later, Grimes told Alshahhi that Trump would speak to a UAE official that day, and later told Alshahhi: “We can take credit for the merit of that phone call. “
That March, an official from Saudi Arabia, an ally of the UAE, visited the White House, and the next day, Barrack sent a text message to Alshahhi, telling him that he had briefed Trump on the meeting. Barrack also said that he had arranged for another senior US official to speak with the Emirati official with whom Trump had spoken shortly after the inauguration. Alshahhi replied, “Incredible.”
Around the same time, Barrack, Grimes and Alshahhi began pushing UAE-favored people for appointments in the new presidential administration. On March 13, 2017, Alshahhi sent Grimes the resume of a US congressman who the UAE wanted him to be named US ambassador. The congressman’s appointment was “important to our friends,” Alshahhi wrote to Grimes. “Because our [sic] the current one is about to change. “
Two days later, Alshahhi approached Barrack, asking for his help in securing the congressman’s appointment. “They are very interested in the ambassador they suggested to help the relationship. Their help will go a long way.” Barrack replied, “Yes … give me the name again.” About a month later, Barrack told Alshahhi that Barrack himself was being considered by Trump to become a US ambassador to the UAE or a special envoy to the Middle. East. The appointment of Barrack to either position “would give ABU DHABI more power!” He told Alshahhi.
“This will be great for us,” Alshahhi replied. “And it will make you do more. A very efficient operation.” Barrack replied, “And great for you!” Barrack was never named to either position.