Thomas Barrack, Trump fundraiser, charged with lobbying
Mr. Barrack, 74, has been friends with Mr. Trump since the 1980s. He helped raise funds for Mr. Trump’s first presidential campaign and led his transition team after Mr. Trump’s victory. But he was perhaps best known for leading Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, which raised $ 107 million – the most money ever raised and spent to celebrate an inauguration.
Critics have claimed that the committee has become a hub for peddling access to foreign officials or business leaders, or those acting on their behalf, but investigations by several local jurisdictions into the committee’s activities stopped without a charge being laid.
The federal investigation into Mr. Barrack’s links to foreign leaders, reported by The New York Times in July 2019, was a continuation of the investigation by Special Advisor Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The work of the special advocate brought to light violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, known as FARA, and led to an increased effort by the Justice Department to enforce it. The law requires those who work for foreign governments, political parties, or other entities influencing US policy or public opinion to disclose their activities to the department.
Several former Trump aides who were indicted by the special advocate have admitted violating the statute in guilty pleas, including Paul Manafort, the former campaign chair, and Rick Gates, the vice-chair. Mr Mueller referred questions about Mr Barrack to the US attorney’s office in Brooklyn, apparently because the allegations exceeded his investigative mandate.
In an episode reported by The Times, Mr. Barrack attempted to coordinate what Mr. Trump would say in a May 2016 campaign speech on energy policy with his contacts in the Persian Gulf, including Mr. al-Malik Alshahhi, the Emirati businessman.
Apparently referring to Mr Barrack’s contacts in the Persian Gulf, Mr Manafort asked him in an email about the speech: “Are you running this through our friends?” “
Sharon LaFraniere reported from Washington and William K. Rashbaum from New York. Kitty Bennett contributed to the research.