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Crime and Courts

Donald Trump’s inaugural committee chair, Aspen man among trio accused of being United Arab Emirates agents

Thomas Joseph Barrack, 74, was charged alongside Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colorado and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, 43, of the United Arab Emirates

United State Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of about 3,000 supporters during a rally in Grand Junction Colo., Tuesday Oct. 18, 2016. United State Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of about 3,000 supporters during a rally in Grand Junction Colo., Tuesday Oct. 18, 2016. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The chair of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee was arrested Tuesday on charges alleging that he and two others — including a Colorado man — conspired to influence Trump’s foreign policy positions to benefit the United Arab Emirates.

Thomas Joseph Barrack, 74, of Santa Monica, California, was among three men charged in New York federal court with trying to influence foreign policy while Trump was running in 2016 and later while he was president.

Matthew Herrington, an attorney for Barrack, did not immediately return an email seeking comment. Barrack was due to appear at an initial appearance in federal court in Southern California.

Barrack was charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a June 20, 2019 interview with federal law enforcement agents. Also charged in a seven-count indictment in Brooklyn federal court were Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colorado and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, 43, of the United Arab Emirates.

Grimes also was arrested Tuesday in California. A message for comment was sent to his attorney. The whereabouts of Alshahhi weren’t immediately clear.

“The defendants repeatedly capitalized on Barrack’s friendships and access to a candidate who was eventually elected President, high-ranking campaign and government officials, and the American media to advance the policy goals of a foreign government without disclosing their true allegiances,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko said in a release.

This news first appeared in The Unaffiliated. Subscribe here to get the twice-weekly political newsletter from The Colorado Sun.

Lesko characterized the alleged conduct as “nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former President.”

“Through this indictment, we are putting everyone — regardless of their wealth or perceived political power — on notice that the Department of Justice will enforce the prohibition of this sort of undisclosed foreign influence,” the statement said.

According to federal prosecutors, Grimes was “was regularly and repeatedly in contact with the senior leadership of the UAE government” and he, along with his codefendants, “allegedly took numerous steps in the United States to advance the interests of the UAE.”

Authorities say Grimes was employed at a global investment management firm headquartered in Los Angeles and which Barrack was the executive chairman of.

The 46-page indictment includes an exchange between Grimes and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi in which they discussed the UAE’s preference that a certain unnamed U.S. congressman be appointed as the U.S. ambassador to the country.

Prosecutors used emails and text messages between the defendants to build their case, the indictment shows.


Colorado Sun staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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