The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a seven-count indictment in federal court on Tuesday against Thomas Barrack, a campaign adviser to former President Donald Trump and the chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee. Matthew Grimes from Aspen and UAE national Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi were also charged.
All three men have been charged with acting as foreign agents for “unlawful efforts to advance the interests of the UAE in the US at the direction of senior UAE officials…and for seeking to influence public opinion in favor of UAE interests.” Barrack was also charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a June 2019 interview with federal agents.
Barrack informally advised senior US government officials on issues related to foreign policy in the Middle East. Barrack served as the Executive Chairman of a global investment management firm headquartered in Los Angeles while Grimes was employed at the firm and reported directly to Barrack. During the same period, Alshahhi worked as a UAE agent and frequently contacted Barrack and Grimes, including numerous in-person meetings in both the US and UAE.
Among other things, the indictment alleges that Barrack directed Grimes and Alshahhi to create a “wish list” of US foreign policy items that the UAE wanted to accomplish in the first 100 days, six months, one year and four years of Trump’s presidency.
The DOJ and FBI released a joint statement of the charges:
The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former President…These arrests serve as a warning to those who act at the direction of foreign governments without disclosing their actions, as well as those who seek to mislead investigators about their actions, that they will be brought to justice and face the consequences…This case is about secret attempts to influence our highest officials, and when that corrupt behavior was discovered, we allege Mr. Barrack went even further, obstructing and lying to FBI special agents. In case it needs repeating, each of those bad choices is a federal felony, and each now comes with significant consequences – the first being today’s indictment…American citizens have a right to know when foreign governments, or their agents, are attempting to exert influence on our government…This is especially important to Americans during a presidential election year, and the laws on the books were created to protect our nation from such untoward influence.
Barrack and Grimes were arrested Tuesday morning while Alshahhi remains at large. The case will be tried in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.