Prosecutors waited until Biden took office to charge Trump adviser Thomas Barrack, report says

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Thomas Barr has been charged with illegally lobbying for the United Arab Emirates (AP)
Thomas Barr has been charged with illegally lobbying for the United Arab Emirates (AP)

Prosecutors held off on indicting longtime Trump ally Thomas Barrack until after President Joe Biden was in office,">CNN says.

According to the network, two unnamed sources close to the investigation say the Department of Justice had enough information to bring charges against Mr Barrack last year, but waited until the new administration was in charge.

Mr Barrack, a former adviser to Donald Trump who ran his inaugural committee, was charged on Tuesday with acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates, as well as obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI.

But according to CNN’s sources, the DOJ could have unveiled those charges much sooner. It is not clear why they held off.

One possibility, the sources said, was that former US attorney Richard Donoghue was reluctant to pursue the case. The attorney general at the time, William Barr, reportedly also had misgivings about foreign agent cases in general.

The Independent has reached out to the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, and to Mr Barr’s former law firm, but has not immediately heard back.

Mr Barrack has denied the charges against him.

“Mr Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset,” his lawyer, Matt Herrington, has told news sources. “He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty.”

Mr Barrack, the 74-year-old former CEO of Colony Capital, has known Mr Trump for four decades and served as an informal adviser to his 2016 presidential campaign. Prosecutors say he exploited those connections to advance the UAE’s interests.

“Barrack is alleged to have abused his access to government officials to illegally advance the interests of foreign governments,” FBI Assistant Director Calvin Shivers said in a statement. “The FBI stands in concert with our external partners to ensure all who seek to wield illegal influence are charged for their crimes.”

The indictment also named two other defendants: Matthew Grimes, 27, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, 43, a UAE national. All three men are accused of lobbying for the Arab country without registering as foreign agents, as they would be required to do by law.

“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,” DOJ Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko said. “The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former President.”

The Independent has reached out to Mr Barrack for comment though First Republic Bank, where he is a board member, but has not yet heard back.

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