The Department of Justice Tuesday said that Tom Barrack, the former head of President Donald Trump's inaugural committee, was arrested and charged with conspiring to act as an agent of the United Arab Emirates and lying to investigators.
The Justice Department also arrested Matthew Grimes, a 27-year-old from Colorado, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, aka Rashid Al Malik, a UAE national, in connection with the investigation. Prosecutors say the three are facing similar charges.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, the three used Barrack's influence in the Trump campaign to advance the interests of the UAE at the direction of UAE officials between April 2016 to April 2018.
“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 Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
Barrack was an informal advisor to Trump's campaign in 2016, before leading the inaugural committee. After the inauguration, Barrack reportedly informally advised senior U.S. officials on issues related to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
Barrack was arrested Tuesday morning in California for allegedly "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 Justice Department said.
An example listed in the press release from investigators includes a campaign speech delivered in May 2016 about U.S. energy policy in which Barrack inserted language praising the UAE. Prosecutors allege Barrack forwarded an advance draft of the speech to Alshahhi to give to senior UAE officials. Investigators say Barrack received talking points and sought feedback for national press appearances.
The Justice Department says Barrack and Grimes failed to notify the U.S. Attorney General that they were acting in the United States as agents of a foreign government.
Before joining the Trump campaign, Barrack was the Executive Chairman of a global investment management firm in Los Angeles. Grimes was also employed at the firm and reported to Barrack.
He and other co-defendants will make a court appearance later on Tuesday.