Trump good friend Tom Barrack pleads not responsible to UAE lobbying costs

Thomas Barrack, a close adviser to former President Donald Trump and chair of his inaugural committee, arrives for a court appearance at the U.S. District Court of Eastern District of New York on July 26, 2021 in Downtown Brooklyn in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

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

Barrack’s $250 million release bond was maintained by a judge during the arraignment, where his next court appearance was scheduled for Sept. 2.

Judge Sanket Bulsara also ordered Barrack, 74, 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.

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.

Asked by a reporter how he would plead at this arraignment, Barrack replied, “Guys, I know you’re just doing your job — I’ll talk to you on the way out.”

Barrack had been jailed without bond until Friday, when a federal judge 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.

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

CNBC Politics

Read more of CNBC’s politics coverage:

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.

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

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.

Comments are closed.