Thomas Barrack, a close advisor and ally to former President Donald Trump, pleaded not guilty to seven charges of illegal lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on Monday.
Prosecutors allege that the 74-year-old billionaire real estate investor secretly acted as an agent to a foreign government in order to push the Trump administration towards more favorable foreign policy with the United Arab Emirates from 2016 through 2018 without registering as a lobbyist.
The indictment also claims that Barrack, who founded Colony Capital and served as a senior adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign and chairman of his Inaugural committee, obstructed justice and lied to federal investigators about his relationship with the UAE.
According to text messages cited in the indictment, Barrack asked in December 2016 Emirati officials to create a plan (or “wish list”) for the first 100 days, 6 months, year, and four years of the new Trump administration. In other instances, prosecutors say Barrack agreed to provide “non-public” information about White House reaction to a meeting with senior UAE officials, and to relay concerns about a proposed Camp David summit to discuss a dispute between the UAE, Qatar, and other Middle Eastern countries (the summit was never held).
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara upheld Barrack’s $250 million bond, which was secured by $5 million in cash and several properties and stock valued at $150 million.
Barrack is subject to non-travel as a condition to his release, but may live in his home in Aspen, visit his minor children in California, and attend court in New York. Barrack must wear a GPS monitor to track his whereabouts.
His son, ex-wife, and business associate endorsed the bond, which they would become responsible for covering if he violates the terms of his release.
Barrack and another defendant, Matthew Grimes, 27, were both arrested last Tuesday before Barrack posted his $250 million bond on Friday, one of the largest bail amounts in U.S history. Grimes was released on a $5 million bond. A third defendant, Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, a UAE national, remains at large.
In a statement given to The Independent, Barrack maintained, “Of course I am innocent of all these charges and we will prove that in court.”
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan will oversee the next hearing, which is scheduled for September 2nd in the federal court in Brooklyn.