Donald Trump

Trump Friend Tom Barrack Says ‘I'm 100% Innocent' of Illegal Lobbying for the United Arab Emirates

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images
  • Private equity investor Thomas Barrack and a co-defendant pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn to federal charges of illegally lobbying his friend ex-President Donald Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
  • As he entered the courthouse, Barrack was met by a man hoisting a sign saying "Traitor" in big black letters.
  • Last Friday, Falcon Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company backed by Barrack, withdrew its registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying it was abandoning planned transactions.

Private equity investor Thomas Barrack and a business associate pleaded not guilty Monday through their lawyers in New York to charges of illegally lobbying his friend ex-President Donald Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

"As you'd expect, the system is working," Barrack, 74, said as he left Brooklyn federal courthouse after his arraignment.

"I think what you'll find is that … over time, you'll all see that I'm 100% innocent," said Barrack, who was arrested last Tuesday in Los Angeles on the charges.

His $250 million release bond was maintained by a judge during the hearing, where his next court appearance was scheduled for Sept. 2.

Judge Sanket Bulsara also ordered Barrack to refrain from traveling on private aircraft and from conducting any foreign financial transactions and to limit his domestic financial transactions to $50,000 or less.

And Bulsara told Barrack not to have any contact with officials from the UAE.

Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of Donald Trump who chaired the former president's inaugural fund, stands during his arraignment hearing at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., July 26, 2021 in this courtroom sketch.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of Donald Trump who chaired the former president's inaugural fund, stands during his arraignment hearing at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., July 26, 2021 in this courtroom sketch.

Barrack, who will live in his residence in Aspen, Colorado, is allowed under the bond to travel only to southern California to visit his children, and to New York for court appearances. His compliance with the travel restrictions is being monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet and GPS.

As he entered the courthouse before his arraignment, Barrack was met by a man hoisting a sign saying "Traitor" in big black letters.

That's the same message — wielded by what appeared to be the same person — that often greeted Trump's 2016 campaign chief Paul Manafort and his ally Roger Stone during their federal criminal cases, which ended in convictions.

Those convictions later were voided when Trump pardoned both men shortly before leaving office.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (2nd R) arrives with his wife Kathleen Manafort (R) at the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse for an arraignment hearing as a protester holds up a sign March 8, 2018 in Alexandria, Virginia. 
Alex Wong | Getty Images
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (2nd R) arrives with his wife Kathleen Manafort (R) at the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse for an arraignment hearing as a protester holds up a sign March 8, 2018 in Alexandria, Virginia. 

In a statement released after the arraignment, Barrack said,  "Of course I am innocent of all these charges and we will prove that in court."

"The important thing for us to remember is three miles from here standing in the middle of New York Harbor is the Statue of Liberty with a torch in her hand signifying enlightenment, welcoming the seven continents across the seven seas to bring to her the immigrant masses to give them tolerance, liberty and justice," Barrack said.

"My grandparents came here in 1896 and 1900 and from humble and simple beginnings they gave me the gift of all that America has to offer," he said.

"That statue is made of steel with a patina of copper. We're in the middle of a very heated moment and I can only tell you that the hardest steel is forged from the hottest fire."

Barrack had been jailed without bond until Friday, when a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered him released on the $250 million bond, one of the largest criminal bails in history.

The bond is secured by $5 million cash, more than $21 million in securities, and by four properties. On Monday, Barrack's son, ex-wife and a former business partner appeared Monday via video monitor to co-sign the release package and pledge properties to secure the bond.

Prosecutors in a detention memo last week had raised concerns that Barrack might flee to avoid the charges, given his holding of Lebanese citizenship and his access to a private jet.

Barrack's lawyer told Bulsara on Monday that Barrack does not own a plane.

Barrack, who chaired Trump's inauguration committee, with a 27-year-old business associate, Matthew Grimes, is charged in an indictment accusing them of secretly working to advance the interests of UAE with Trump's 2016 campaign and then during his presidency.

Grimes was released on a $5 million bond on Friday, and was arraigned with Barrack on Monday.

Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, arrives at the Prettyman United States Courthouse before facing charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering January 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. A self-described 'political dirty-trickster,' Stone said he has been falsely accused and will plead 'not guilty.'
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, arrives at the Prettyman United States Courthouse before facing charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering January 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. A self-described 'political dirty-trickster,' Stone said he has been falsely accused and will plead 'not guilty.'

Barrack, who never registered with the American government as an agent for the oil-rich UAE, is also charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a June 2019 interview with federal law enforcement agents.

Prosecutors have said that as Barrack was promoting UAE's interests with the Trump administration, he was informally advising U.S. officials on Middle East policy and was seeking appointment to a senior role in the U.S. government, including as special envoy to the Middle East.

The indictment also charges another man, UAE national Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, 43, who remains at large after fleeing the United States three years ago after being interviewed by law enforcement authorities.

Last Friday, Falcon Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company backed by Barrack, withdrew its registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying it was abandoning planned transactions.

The transactions had included an initial public offering of 25 million shares to raise $250 million for Falcon Acquisition, which was formed by Barrack's family office Falcon Peak and TI Capital. The SPAC had planned to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Barrack stepped down in 2020 as CEO of Colony Capital, a private equity firm he founded. He resigned as the firm's executive chairman in April.

- Additional reporting by CNBC's Brian Schwartz

Copyright CNBCs - CNBC
Contact Us