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Former Trump adviser indicted for acting as UAE foreign agent

15 minutes. The United States announced on Tuesday federal charges against a friend and former adviser of former US President Donald Trump, whom it accused of having acted as a foreign agent of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and influenced the policies of the former president.

Thomas Barrack, a billionaire investor who cooperated with Trump’s electoral campaign in 2016 and presided over the organization of his inauguration in 2017, was arrested this Tuesday in Los Angeles (California), official sources informed the television network NBC News.

Barrack has been a friend of Trump for decades, and in fact the former president considered nominating him as ambassador to Mexico. He faces federal charges in a New York court for his “Illegal attempts to advance UAE interests in the United States“.

According to the indictment, the 74-year-old investor “influenced the political positions” of Trump when he was a presidential candidate in 2016. He also influenced when he arrived at the White House, so that they adjusted to the interests of that emirate of the Persian Gulf.

Provided information to UAE

Along with three other defendants, Barrack worked to “advance the interests (of the emirate) and provide intelligence to UAE, without notifying the United States attorney general that he was following instructions from senior officials “in that Arab country, the Justice Department explained.

That is a violation of US laws on foreign influence, and had significant consequences on Trump’s foreign policy, according to the indictment.

In May 2016, Barrack “inserted a praise for the UAE into a campaign speech” by Trump on energy policy. In fact, he sent a copy of it to the emirate authorities even before the candidate pronounced it.

A month after Trump’s electoral victory, in November 2016, Barrack met with senior Emirati officials. There he “advised them to create a ‘wish list'” that they wanted to get from the new administration’s foreign policy, the Justice Department said.

Beginning with Trump’s rise to power in January 2017, Barrack “informally advised” senior officials in the Trump administration on matters “related to US policy in the Middle East.” Also tried – unsuccessfully – to be appointed special envoy for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Barrack also successfully advised Trump in September 2017 not to hold a summit at Camp David (Maryland) on severing diplomatic relations with Qatar from the UAE and other countries in the area, something the emirate opposed, according to the accusation.

Arrest of his assistants

In addition to Barrack, federal authorities indicted his two alleged aides: Matthew Grimes, 27, whom they also arrested on Tuesday; and a 43-year-old Emirati national, Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, who is still free.

Barrack communicated through these two assistants with the Emirati authorities. In fact, he even described Alshahhi as the UAE’s “secret weapon” in the United States, according to the statement.

Trump’s former adviser is also charged with “obstruction of justice” and with making false statements during a June 2019 interview with FBI agents, in which he “falsely denied that Alshahhi had asked him” to act on behalf of the UAE.

Barrack is not the only former Trump adviser facing federal charges. His arrest comes shortly after a grand jury accused both the Trump Organization and the firm’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, of perpetrating a 15-year tax evasion scheme.

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