You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Longtime Trump associate Thomas Barrack pleads not guilty to lobbying, lying charges

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 7/26/2021 Shayna Jacobs

NEW YORK —Thomas J. Barrack, a wealthy investor and ex-adviser to former president Donald Trump, pleaded not guilty to charges related to foreign lobbying at his first court appearance in New York since his arrest in California last week.

Barrack, 74, and his co-defendant Matthew Grimes, 27, were arraigned Monday in federal court in Brooklyn, where they are charged with failing to register as agents of a foreign government while covertly working on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

Barrack, who is also accused of lying to the FBI, is free on a $250 million bond. He left the courthouse surrounded by a throng of reporters and photographers and got into a black SUV.

A short time later, his spokesperson released a statement from Barrack that referred to the Statue of Liberty’s historical role in welcoming immigrants and noted his grandparents’ arrival in the United States more than a century ago “from humble and simple beginnings.”

[Veterans Affairs makes coronavirus vaccines mandatory for most health workers]

“Of course I am innocent of these charges and we will prove that in court,” the statement said. “. . . That statue is made of steel with a patina of copper. We’re in the middle of a very heated moment and I can only tell you that the hardest steel is forged from the hottest fire.”

Barrack chaired Trump’s inauguration committee, and they had a decades-long relationship before a falling out while Trump was in the White House. He spent three days in a California jail before prosecutors and his attorneys agreed on a bond package.

In an interview after Monday’s hearing, Barrack attorney Matthew Herrington said he and his client were cooperative during a voluntary June 2019 meeting with investigators and offered to answer additional questions if necessary.

“The next thing that happened was an automatic weapon was put to [Barrack’s] head when he was arrested by a 15-person FBI tac team,” Herrington said, suggesting that there was no basis for the government to request Barrack’s detention last week. “Not a single word of the indictment was new to me.”


Video: Trump ally Barrack arrested on foreign lobbying charges -U.S. Justice Department (Reuters)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Los Angeles field office said in response to the attorney’s claim that it is “not uncommon to have multiple FBI agents at any arrest as a safety precaution, but it was less than 15.”

The spokeswoman, Laura Eimiller, added that “only a handful of agents” were present outside the business meeting where Barrack, who was cooperative, was arrested without incident. “No SWAT Team or long guns were present,” Eimiller added.

[‘Some are still suffering’: Months after Capitol riot, police who fought the mob contend with physical, psychological pain]

Barrack and Grimes, who posted a $5 million bond, will remain free pending trial.

In court on Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket J. Bulsara reminded them of a number of release conditions: Both men must wear GPS monitoring devices, and their ability to travel is limited, though Barrack can travel to California to see his youngest children, who are minors.

He cannot procure private planes for any trips and must supply his itineraries to his pretrial monitors and the U.S. attorney’s office in advance.

In addition, Barrack can’t engage in foreign business transactions, and any deals he enters into in the United States cannot be worth more than $50,000.

He also cannot confer with Grimes or a third defendant — Rashid al-Malik, who has not yet been apprehended — or speak to anyone in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.

Barrack and Grimes allegedly worked to influence Trump’s 2016 campaign on behalf of the UAE and later tried to push policies to the Trump administration that were favorable to the oil-rich Persian Gulf state.

Efforts included trying to reword campaign speeches in ways that would help the UAE and taking other steps to model Trump’s policies and proposals in a pro-UAE manner, including with respect to the country’s rival, Qatar.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Thomas Barrack arrives for a federal court appearance in New York on July 26. © Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images Thomas Barrack arrives for a federal court appearance in New York on July 26.
AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Washington Post

The Washington Post
The Washington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon