Trump Crony traded his influence for cash investments from the UAE – Mother Jones

Thomas Barack in 2018.Javier Rojas / Prensa Internacional via Zuma

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When the Department of Justice last year accused Tom Barrack, a friend and advisor to former President Donald Trump, with conspiracy to “illegally advance and promote the interests of the UAE,” did not explain why they believed Barrack had secretly lobbied for the UAE. But on Tuesday, in a so-called Barrack replacement indictment, federal prosecutors added a plea. And it’s not shocking.

In 2017, a private equity fund managed by Barrack, then called Colony Capital, “raised approximately $ 374 million in equity commitments from UAE sovereign wealth funds,” the indication Law These investments, prosecutors note, followed seven years (from 2009 to 2016) during which the investment management company “did not raise new capital from the UAE’s sovereign wealth funds”.

The new filing cites emails former Barrack employee Matthew Grimes, also accused of the case, sent in December 2016 when the fund was established. Grimes wrote that this “UAE fund” aimed to “achieve outsized financial returns,” but also had a “secondary mandate to gain political credibility for its contributions to” President-elect Trump’s policies. “We will do this by buying investments. , funding, operational improvements and pooling resources in … those areas that will benefit most from a [Trump] Presidency, ”wrote Grimes.

There is an obvious parallel here with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser. The New York Times revealed last month that Kushner’s new private equity firm Affinity Partners has secured a $ 2 billion investment from a fund controlled by Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the United Arab Emirates. Kushner got this huge investment despite a bad track record investing other people’s money. the Times well-known advisors to the Saudi fund had raised red flags on the investment, including “the inexperience of managing the Affinity Fund”.

But an important piece of the experience Kushner had was his key role stick up for MBS in the Trump White House after US intelligence agencies concluded the crown prince personally approved the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Like my colleague David Corn he wroteit is “hard not to see the $ 2 billion investment as a reward for past services or as a preemptive bribe if Trump succeeds in regaining the White House.”

Prosecutors said Barrack, who advised Trump’s campaign in 2016 and chaired Trump’s inaugural committee, maintained back-channel communications with UAE leaders during the Trump campaign and presidency and worked to advance the UAE agenda in Washington, DC.

Prosecutors have detailed a series of steps supposedly taken by Barrack to help the Emirates. In 2017, he also unsuccessfully sought nomination to a senior post in the Trump administration, including a post as a special envoy to the Middle East. In a text message dated April 12, 2017 to an alleged UAE agent, Barrack wrote that his appointment “would give Abu Dhabi”, the Emirati capital, “more power”. Prosecutors charged Barrack with nine counts, including violating a law requiring foreign agents to register with the Attorney General and obstructing justice by lying to federal agents questioning him about his activities.

Barrack pleaded not guilty to all charges. He asked for the case to be closed in January movement arguing that the government has not shown that it has agreed to work for the UAE. The motion also notes that prosecutors appeared to have largely completed their investigations by 2019. The two-year wait before indicting Barrack, his lawyers wrote, suggests that “the government intentionally delayed the filing of this case. for political reasons or tactical advantage “.

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