Thomas Barrack, who served as chair of former President Donald Trump's inaugural committee, has been arrested and charged with allegedly acting illegally as an agent to a foreign government.
Prosecutors on Tuesday accused Barrack and two other defendants of "acting and conspiring to act as agents" of the United Arab Emirates between April 2016 and April 2018. Barrack was an informal adviser to Trump's 2016 campaign, and The Washington Post notes he was one of Trump's "closest associates during the campaign and in office."
"As alleged, the defendants, using their positions of power and influence in a presidential election year, engaged in a conspiracy to illegally advance and promote the interests of the United Arab Emirates in this country, in flagrant violation of their obligation to notify the Attorney General of their activities and in derogation of the American people's right to know when a foreign government seeks to influence the policies of our government and our public opinion," Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelin M. Kasulis said.
Prosecutors alleged the defendents "repeatedly capitalized on Barrack's friendships and access" to Trump and government officials to "advance the policy goals of a foreign government without disclosing their true allegiances." Barrack allegedly took "numerous steps" to advance the UAE's interests, including putting language praising the country into a campaign speech in 2016. He is also being charged with obstruction of justice and with making false statements to law enforcement agents during an interview in 2019.
"The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former president," Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko said.