LOS ANGELES – Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the chair of former President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee and a prominent Southern California businessman and philanthropist, was arrested Tuesday on federal charges that he and others were part of a years-long effort to shape Trump’s foreign policy as a candidate and later president, all to the benefit of the United Arab Emirates.
Barrack, 74, and two other men were indicted in a New York federal court and accused of acting as unregistered foreign agents of the UAE starting about the spring of 2016. The indictment describes the trio as being “tasked” by four UAE officials: with influencing public opinion through media appearances; with molding the foreign policy positions of the campaign and later, the Trump administration; and developing “a backchannel line of communication” with the U.S. government.
Barrack was also accused of obstructing justice and making several false statements in a 2019 interview with federal agents.
Among Barrack’s actions to benefit UAE, according to the indictment, were publishing an Op-Ed in Fortune magazine that relied on “feedback” from foreign officials and making several media appearances that promoted the Gulf state’s policies. After a July 2016 television appearance in which Barrack repeatedly praised the UAE, he messaged another man accused in the alleged conspiracy, boasting, “I nailed it....for the home team.”
The indictment alleges Barrack’s work had a direct impact on Trump’s behavior, including a 2016 speech that pledged work with “our Gulf allies” and a phone call Trump had while president with an unidentified UAE leader.
Barrack – who was arrested Tuesday morning at one of his business sites in Sylmar, according to an FBI spokeswoman – was due to appear later in the day at a downtown federal courtroom.
“Mr. Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset,” said a statement issued by Barrack’s longtime spokesperson. “He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty.”
Announcing the high-profile prosecution, federal officials said Barrack and others had conducted secret attempts to sway the actions and decisions of the Trump administration.