Following in the footsteps of six other Trump 2016 campaign staffers who have been hit with federal charges since their candidate was elected, former adviser and inaugural committee chair Tom Barrack was charged on Tuesday for illegally lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of a foreign power and lying about it to federal law-enforcement agents.
The indictment filed by Brooklyn federal prosecutors alleges Barrack worked as an agent of the United Arab Emirates between 2016 and 2018 to “influence the foreign policy positions of the campaign” and “the foreign policy positions of the U.S. government” in favor of Emirati interests. Barrack, 74, is a longtime friend of Donald Trump and a wealthy private-equity real-estate investor, as well as the former owner of Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax production company.
According to prosecutors, Barrack edited a Trump campaign speech on energy policy in 2016 in favor of Emirati interests and sent an advance draft to senior UAE officials. In press appearances around that time, Barrack also sought feedback from UAE officials for media hits he did in support of UAE goals. After one such appearance, according to court papers, Barrack wrote to an alleged co-conspirator: “I nailed it … for the home team,” referring to the UAE. After Trump was elected, Barrack and two others named in the indictment — an Emirati national and a 27-year-old from California — “acted at the direction of UAE officials to influence foreign policy positions” of the incoming administration, including creating a “wish list” of foreign-policy items the UAE wanted in the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. Barrack also boosted the candidate for ambassador to the UAE favored by senior officials abroad. He then allegedly lied to the FBI when asked about this work, for which he did not register as a foreign agent as required by U.S. law.
If Barrack needs to vent after his arrest in Los Angeles on Tuesday, he has plenty of former co-workers he could sulk with: Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Steve Bannon, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, and Paul Manafort, whom Barrack personally recommended to Trump, have all either pleaded guilty or been convicted of federal crimes. (Barrack’s attorney says he intends to plead not guilty.)
The list grows even longer if you take into account Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who was arrested last year in Florida after allegedly loading a gun while drinking during a fight with his wife. Then there’s Elliott Broidy, the former RNC finance chair and Trump fundraiser, who pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of Malaysian and Chinese government interests. (He also paid a Playboy Playmate to keep quiet about their extramarital affair and, allegedly, her subsequent abortion.) In addition, Trump’s own business and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, were hit with tax-fraud charges filed by the Manhattan district attorney earlier this month. Rudy Giuliani could potentially join the illustrious crew above: In April, the former mayor’s office was raided by federal agents as part of an investigation into his own alleged work as an unregistered foreign agent lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian interests leading up to the 2020 election.