No matter how many ways you slice and dice polling data as it relates to Donald J. Trump, you will find a partisan divide in which 40 percent of Americans believe the former US President should still be in the White House, and the other 60 percent who believe he should be in jail.
If you, like me, fall into the latter group, then you’ve spent much of the last few years wondering how he has escaped the long arm of the law for one brazen felony after another—from inciting a terrorist attack against the US Capitol, to paying hush money to former adult film stars in violation of campaign finance laws, to facing three dozen credible allegations of rape, to operating a fraudulent “university,” to paying little or zero federal income tax, and much more.
In fact, the US prison population is filled with criminals who have committed far fewer and less egregious crimes than the 45th President of the United States, making his evasion all the more flabbergasting. But, a pair of New York City judges and a US citizen charged with working as an undisclosed foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could very well make citizen Trump an inmate of the New York correctional system.
Thomas Barrack, a 74-year-old Lebanese American financial tycoon, was arrested on July 20, along with two others, for illegally lobbying Trump on behalf of the UAE government and obstructing justice by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
His co-conspirators include Rashid Sultan al-Malik Alshahhi, an Emirati with close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), and Matthew Grimes, a US citizen who was employed by Barrack’s private equity firm – Colony Capital.
According to the unsealed incitement, Barrack communicated with UAE officials using an encrypted application on his phone, to coordinate efforts to advance UAE foreign policy interests with the Trump administration.
Barrack has since been released on US$250 million bail, but appeared before a Brooklyn court on September 1 with his attorney, who demanded prosecutors turn over all documents related to evidence against his client.
The prosecution, led by US Attorney Ryan Harris, countered by saying it has already released more than 100,000 pages of documents to Barrack’s lawyer, and that it would release more evidence on a “rolling basis.”
Prosecutors signaled the case against Barrack and his co-conspirators will involve the release of classified information.
In a two-page letter filed in the court that same day, prosecutors signaled the case against Barrack and his co-conspirators will involve the release of classified information but did not clarify the nature of the revelations.
Nevertheless, the contents of this classified information will likely send a chill down the spines of Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr., because Thomas Barrack was chair of Trump’s 2017 Inauguration Committee. In fact, the Committee is at the center of a criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office into whether Trump, his company, and its employees committed tax, banking, and insurance fraud, among other crimes.
Prosecutors in that case are not only examining whether Trump fraudulently inflated the values of his properties to secure loans – before undervaluing them later to pay lower taxes – but also the US$107 million raised by the Inauguration Committee, an amount double to that raised by both Presidents Barrack Obama and George W. Bush.
Barrack is alleged to have controlled this money along with Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner, of which US$40 million remains unaccounted for.
In 2018, Newsweek observed, “The money raised eyebrows among political operatives because there was nothing about the celebration that indicated it would exceed a more traditional price tag.” Even more, a spokesperson for a consumer affairs advocacy group commented at the time: “It really raises a lot of suspicions that these funds were mismanaged and probably no longer exist.”
Barrack promised to release evidence of where and how the US$107 million was raised and spent but has never made good on that promise.
Thus, the case against Barrack, for illegally spying and lobbying on behalf of the UAE government, and the case against Trump, for tax, bank, and insurance fraud, are inextricably tied. The question now is whether Barrack will turn against Trump and his family in exchange for leniency from the Brooklyn judge.
There are two good reasons to believe Barrack could turn against his former boss: firstly, they have since had a falling out, as reported by Politico in 2019; and secondly, Barrack faces the prospect of spending the remainder of his life behind bars if found guilty of cheating the American people in return for millions of dollars from a foreign government – the UAE.
No doubt, Barrack is highly familiar with the trial of retired General Michael Flynn, who was charged and sentenced to prison for not disclosing his ties to the government of Turkey while acting as Trump’s National Security Advisor.
“You arguably sold out your country. I’m not hiding my disgust,” the federal sentencing judge told Flynn.
There’s evidence Barrack was successful in influencing US foreign policy in the UAE’s favor, and to the possible detriment of the US.
But Barrack’s crime is even worse, as noted by New York Daily News, since he, unlike Flynn, was actually on the payroll of a foreign government while advising the President of the United States. More specifically, there’s evidence Barrack was successful in influencing US foreign policy in the UAE’s favor, and to the possible detriment of the US.
According to the indictment, Barrack effectively lobbied the Trump White House into including a line in a May 2016 speech that pledged support for the UAE and its Arab Gulf allies. Furthermore, his efforts played a role in the US backing out of negotiating an end to the UAE-Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
For now, the trial of Barrack remains largely off American screens, but as revelations move ever closer to Trump, and as the metaphorical noose tightens around the neck of the UAE agent, it could quickly become the trial of the century.