Wednesday, August 4, 2021

No. 432: Thomas Joseph Barrack—The Indictment Against Him and Two Others

On July 16, 2021, the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York filed in federal court a sealed 46-page indictment against Thomas Joseph Barrack (Barrack) and two other individuals. The indictment was unsealed the same day. The seven counts against Barrack are: (1) Acting as Agent of a Foreign Government Without Prior Notification to the Attorney General, (2) Conspiracy to Act as Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Government, (3) Obstruction of Justice, and four counts of Material False Statements. (See Barrack et al., U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, Case No. 1:21-cr-371.)

The Judge
The case was assigned to U.S. Senior District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan. President George W. Bush nominated him in January 2006. The Senate confirmed him in May 2006. He assumed senior status in June 2020.

Barrack is a U.S. citizen residing primarily in California. He served as Executive Chairman of a global investment management firm headquartered in Los Angeles. From about April 2016 to about November 2016, he served as an informal advisor to the campaign of Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. From about November 2016 to January 2017, he served as Chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Beginning in January 2017, he informally advised senior U.S. government officials on issues related to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. He also sought appointment to a senior role in the U.S. government, including the role of Special Envoy to the Middle East. Here is paragraph 13 of the indictment:
Government officials in the United Arab Emirates, including Emirati Official 1, Emirati Official 2, Emirati Official 3, and Emirati Official 4, tasked the defendants [including Barrack] with, variously and among other things, (a) influencing public opinion, the foreign policy positions of the Campaign and the foreign policy positions of the United States government; (b) obtaining information about foreign policy positions and related decision-making within the Campaign and, at times, the United States government; (c) developing a backchannel line of communication with the Campaign and, at times, officials of the United States government; and (d) developing plans to increase the United Arab Emirates' political influence and to promote its foreign policy preferences.
Following that paragraph are ten subsections of the indictment. They are: (1) Initial Meeting and the Energy Speech, (2) Media Appearances, (3) Preparation of Strategy to Promote Emirati Policy Interests and Meeting in Morocco, (4) The Encrypted Messaging Application, (5) The BARRACK Op-Ed, (6) Assistance to United Arab Emirates During the Presidential Transition, (7) Assistance to the United Arab Emirates in the New Presidential Administration, (8) Assistance to the United Arab Emirates with Appointments in the New Presidential Administration, (9) Emirati Official 1's White House Visit, and (10) The Qatari Blockade and Continuing Efforts to Assist the United Arab Emirates.

The Arraignment
On July 26, Barrack was arraigned in New York City. He entered a plea of not guilty on all counts. He was required to post a bond of $250 million, and was then released pending a conference to be held before Judge Cogan on September 2 at 10:00 a.m. He was required to surrender all his passports. He will be subject to severe travel restrictions and continuous electronic surveillance.

General Observations
According to recent news reports, the indictment was ready to go a long time ago. Two members of Congress have asked the inspector general of the Department of Justice to investigate the delay.

I think the indictment in this case is an amazing document. I strongly recommend that you read it in full. It is available through the link in the first sentence of this blog post.