Tom Barrack Indictment Overview

In July 2021 Tom Barrack, an advisor to Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, was charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates. Barrack was charged along with Rashid Al Malik, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates who had resided in California, and Matthew Grimes, a U.S. resident who worked for Barrack at Colony Capital. Barrack’s trial started in September 2022. Below are highlights of the indictment and charges against Tom Barrack, Rashid Al Malik and Matthew Grimes.

United States District Court, Eastern District of New York United States of America
– against –
Thomas Joseph Barrack
  • US Citizen residing primarily in California
  • Executive Chairman Colony Capital
  • Apr-Nov 2016 – informal advisor to Trump campaign
  • Nov 2016-Jan 2017 – Chairman of Presidential Inaugural Committee
  • Jan 2017 on – informal advisor to senior US govt officials on US policy in Middle East
  • Sought appointment to senior role in US govt including Special Envoy to the Middle East
Rashid Al Malik
  • RASHID SULTAN RASHID AL MALIK ALSHAHHI aka Rashid Al Malik and Rashid Al-Malik
  • Citizen of the United Arab Emirates, previously residing primarily in California on an F-1 visa
Matthew Grimes
  • US Citizen residing in California
  • Analyst in Office of the Chairman, later promoted to VP at Colony Capital, reported directly to Barrack
People and entities mentioned in indictment

Note: these people are not charged in the indictment or accused of any wrongdoing.

The indictment includes anonymous names, the real names are provided with links to the sources.

Emirati Official 1

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan – aka MBZ

  • Member of UAE leadership with high-ranking position in its armed forces.
  • Chairman of UAE sovereign wealth fund (UAE SWF 1)
  • Board of directors of another UAE sovereign wealth fund (UAE SWF 2)
Emirati Official 2

Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan

MBZ’s brother (Bloomberg)

  • High-ranking UAE official with responsibilities related to national security
Emirati Official 3

Ali Mohammed Hammad Al Shamsi

Director of the Emirati intelligence service (Bloomberg)

  • Member of UAE Supreme National Security Council
Emirati Official 4

Abdullah Khalifa al-Ghafli

(Middle East Eye)

  • Government official in UAE reported to Emirati Official 2 and Emirati Official 3
Emirati Official 5

Yousef al-Otaiba

(Nov 16 email in indictment matches information in The Intercept)

  • High ranking UAE diplomat
Emirati Official 6

  • Government official in UAE who reported to Emirati Official 2

UAE Sovereign Wealth Fund – UAE SWF 1

Mubadala Investment Company


UAE Sovereign Wealth Fund – UAE SWF2

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority/ADIA


U.S. Person 1

Paul Manafort

(see EmptyWheel)

U.S. Person 2

Stephen Bannon

(see EmptyWheel)


Indictment Links

May 16, 2022 Superseding Indictment

  • Filed 05/16/22
  • Case 1:21-cr-00371-BMC-TAM
  • Former Advisor to Presidential Candidate Among Three Defendants Charged with Acting as Agents of a Foreign Government

July 20, 2021 DOJ news release

  • Former Advisor to Presidential Candidate Among Three Defendants Charged with Acting as Agents of a Foreign Government
  • Defendants Allegedly Acted and Conspired to Act at the Direction of Senior United Arab Emirates Officials to Influence a Presidential Campaign, Public Opinion and the U.S. Government

July 16, 2021 Indictment


Counts 1-9

  • Count One – Acting as Agents of a Foreign Government Without Prior Notification to the Attorney General
  • Count Two – Conspiracy to Act as Agents of a Foreign Government Without Prior Notice to the Attorney General
  • Count Three – Obstruction of Justice
  • Counts Four to Nine – Material False Statements

UAE government officials including Emirati Officials 1-4 tasked defendants with among other things:

  • influencing public opinion, the foreign policy positions of the Campaign and the foreign policy positions of the US government
  • obtaining information about foreign policy positions and related decision-making within the Campaign and, at times, the US government
  • developing a backchannel line of communication with the Campaign and, at times, officials of the US government
  • developing plans to increase the United Arab Emirates’ political influence and to promote its foreign policy preferences.
Superseding Indictment Sections and Highlights
A. Initial Meeting and the Energy Speech

May 2016 – Barrack took steps to establish himself as the key communications channel for the UAE to the campaign

April 24, 2016 – Al Malik emailed Barrack to confirm meeting with Emirati Official 2

April 24, 20l6 — Al Malik emailed the Barrack to confirm that Barrack would meet with Emirati Official 2 on May 1,2016 in the United Arab Emirates. The following day, on or about April 25,2016, Al Malik emailed Barrack that Emirati Official 2 was “[v]ery much focusing on building the right relationships to help the country and he knows ambassadors can’t do much and they are limited even if they are active.” In his response, Barrack wrote that Emirati Official 2 should know that Barrack had been a thirty-year partner with the Candidate and that Barrack had staffed the Campaign. In reply, Al Malik wrote that Emirati Official2 and other senior United Arab Emirates officials wanted a “long term relationship with [Barrack] and it will be great to speak freely and suggest strategies and to help them with contacts and relationships.”

May 1, 2016 – Al Malik, Barrack met Emirati Official 2 and Emirati Official 4 in the UAE

May 9, 2016 – Al Malik informed Barrack that “Emirati Official 4 had confirmed that Barrack would the the “only channel to the Candidate” for the United Arab Emirates.”

May 12 – May 20, 2016 – Barrack, Al Malik (and Grimes) involved in emails related to draft of energy speech for Trump with draft input from Emirati Official 4 and US Person 1 working on the campaign (per EmptyWheel Bannon)

May 26, 2016  – Candidate delivered the energy speech including a pledge to “work with our Gulf allies.”

B. The National Political Party Plaform

May 30, 2016 – U.S. Person 1 emailed the defendant BARRACK, stating: “[W]e need to talk about language for me to put in fthe national political parfy] platform at national convention. Can be much more expansive than what we did in speech.” U.S. Person I added that the “platform language” would be “based on what you hear from your friends.”

July 13, 2016 – Barrack forwarded an email from U.S. Person 1 to Al Malik. The email from U.S. Person 1 advised that language “that was anti the Saudi Royal Family was removed from the platform” of the U.S. political committee associated with the Candidate. The removed language had “called for the release of 28 pages of sensitive documents gathered during the” investigation of the terrorist attacks on September 11,2001, which “allegedly contain information that asserts involvement by the Saudi Government/Royals[.]” In his email to AL MALIK, BARRACK stated that U.S. Person 1’s email was “[v]ery confidential but you can share with HH

C. Media Appearances

May 2016 to October 2017

Barrack repeatedly promoted the United Arab Emirates and its foreign policy interests during media appearances after soliciting direction from the defendant AL MALIK and United Arab Emirates officials

  • Barrack asked for feedback on what to discuss including ’themes to promote during interview
  • Al Malik provided ‘talking points’
  • Grimes involved in various emails related to interviews
  • Interview dates – 2016: May 31, July 1, July 18, July 21, Sept 2, Sept 27 and 2017: Jan 31
Additional Information

Lazy TV news interviewers were Tom Barrack’s willing enablers

July 21, 2021 – by Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

“The indictment doesn’t identify the national news programs that aired these interviews, but I tracked most of them down. Four of the six were aired on Bloomberg TV, and a fifth on the Charlie Rose program, which aired on PBS stations. I couldn’t find the sixth.”

“Barrack’s interviewers swallowed his assertions about the UAE as gospel — that they exemplified “good Islam” in distinction to violent Islamic terrorists, that they should be rewarded for standing as loyal and faithful allies of the U.S. in the war on terrorism, and that they were blessed with progressive young leaders.”

“Barrack’s UAE clients, according to the indictment, responded to almost every TV appearance with messages of praise and gratitude.”

D. Preparation of Strategy to Promote Emirati Policv Interests and Meeting in Morocco

June to July 2016 – emails re: strategy proposal

Al Malik, Barrack, Grimes – acting at the direction of United Arab Emirates officials, drafted materials proposing a strategy for the United Arab Emirates to promote its foreign policy interests and increase its political influence in the United States.

July 20, 2016 – Al Malik text message to Grimes stated “Let’s finish Saudi/UAE/USA strategy”

August 3, 2016 – Barrack, Grimes, Al Malik flew to Tangier, Morocco to meet Emirati Official 2

E. The Encrypted Messaging Application

June to July 2016 – emails re: strategy proposal

Al Malik, Barrack, Grimes – acting at the direction of United Arab Emirates officials, drafted materials proposing a strategy for the United Arab Emirates to promote its foreign policy interests and increase its political influence in the United States.

July 20, 2016 – Al Malik text message to Grimes stated “Let’s finish Saudi/UAE/USA strategy”

August 3, 2016 – Barrack, Grimes, Al Malik flew to Tangier, Morocco to meet Emirati Official 2

F. The Barrack Op-Ed

October 22, 2016 – Barrack published an Op-Ed

Prior to the publication of the Op-Ed, Grimes received input from senior United Arab Emirates officials relating to the Op-Ed through Al Malik. Emirati Official 4 sent talking points.

October 24, 2016 — Al Malik advised Emirati Official 4 that Barrack was “asking how Boss liked the article?”

Additional Information

Excerpts from Tom Barrack’s Op-Ed in Fortune in October 2016

What the Middle East Needs Now from America

“In the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, brilliant young leaders are crafting forward-looking policies to effectively forge a new Middle East. American foreign policy must persuade these bold visionaries to lean West rather than East.”

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been our longest and strongest ally and, to many Westerners’ amazement, it is impossible for the US to move against any hostile Islamic group anywhere in the world without Saudi support.”

“The Saudis are reliable defenders of the West’s diverse interests in the region, and have been America’s principal ally in the Middle East for more than seventy years.”

G. Assistance to the United Arab Emirates During the Presidential Transition

November 2016 to January 2017 – repeatedly took steps to assist the United Arab Emirates in connection with the transition to the incoming administration of the United States President-Elect.

Barrack, Grimes, Al Malik coordinated with various Emirate officials and US officials to coordinate phone call between Trump and Emirati Official 1

November 11, 2016 – “Barrack sent a text message to Al Malik containing a link to a news article reporting that Barrack could be appointed as Chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. In response Al Malik advised Barrack and Grimes that Al Malik wanted to be involved and would “take care of ME [Middle East] side” of the process, adding to Grimes that it would “position us well.” Both Barracl and Grimes agreed.”

Nov 16, 2016 – Emirati Official 5 asked Barrack for insight on President-Elect’s potential appointments to the positions of Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Director of the CIA and US National Security Advisor, noting “I would only brief my bosses.”

Nov 25, 2016 – Al Malik text message to Grimes: “Tomorrow I will see [Emirati Official 1’s] team and on draft ideas for [BARRACK] to Champion them.”

Dec 1, 2016 – Barrack, Grimes went to UAE, met with Al Malik and then Emirati Officials 1, 2, 3

Al Malik texted Grimes after meeting – “Btw [sic] try to think about what [BARRACK] said regarding the 100 daysplan/6 months/yearl4 years. . . And me and u will work with the guys here and Saudi.”

Dec 3, 2016 – Al Malik text to Emirati Official 4 re: plan discussed w/Barrack to “influence United States foreign policy in the first 100 days, 6 months, 1 year and 4 years of the incoming administration of the United States President-Elect”

Additional Information

UAE Enlisted Businessman to Spy on Trump White House

June 10, 2019 by Alex Emmons and Matthew Cole in the Intercept

Rashid Al-Malik reported to UAE intelligence on the Trump administration’s Middle East policy as part of a broader influence effort.

A week after Trump won the election, al-Otaiba sought insider information from Barrack. “If you have any insights about postings to places like state, DOD, CIA and national security adviser, I would be grateful,” al-Otaiba emailed Barrack on November 16, 2016, according to Middle East Eye. “I would only brief my bosses. Any indicators would be highly appreciated.”

H. Assistance to the United Arab Emirates During the New Presidential Administration

January 2017 to October 2017 – Barrack, Grimes, Al Malik acted to aid the UAE in its dealings with the executive branch of the US government.

March 2017 – “Barrack further stated that he had “program[med]” two senior United States government officials that day regarding the senior official from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

March 2017 to May 2017 – Barrack, Grimes, Al Malik communicated re: visit by Emirati Official 2 to DC, followed by the “big guy.”

May 14, 2017 – “Al Malik subsequently stated, “Our ppl wants u to help. They were hoping you can officially run the agendas.” Barrack replied, “I will!””

I. Assistance to the United Arab Emirates During the New Presidential Assistance to the United Arab Emirates with Appointments the New Presidential Administration

March 2017 – “Barrack, Al Malik, Grimes agreed to advocate for the appointment of individuals favored by the United Arab Emirates in the new United States government administration.”

March 13, 2017 – Al Malik sent Grimes resume for US Congressman that UAE wanted appoint US Ambassador to the UAE

March to April 2017 – Barrack asks Al Malik to ask Emirati Official 1 to put in a word with senior US official that they would be happy to have Barrack as a special envoy. April, Barrack texts Al Malik that Trump discussed appointing Barrack US Ambassador to UAE or Special Envoy to the Middle East.

J. Emirati Official 1’s White House Visit

May 2017 – Al Malik, Barrack, Grimes took steps to aid UAE officials in connection with Emirati Official 1’s White House visit on or about May 15, 2011, and to report information about that meeting to UAE officials.

MBZ visited the White House on May 15, 2017

K. The Qatari Blockade and Continuing Efforts to Assist the United Arab Emirates

June 2017 to October 2017 – Al Malik, Barrack, Grimes took steps to advance the United Arab Emirates’ foreign policy interests by attempting to influence US foreign policy, including USforeign policy with respect to the State of Qatar.

September 13, 2017 – Grimes texted Al Malik that Emirati Official 1 is meeting with [a former US government official (U.S. Person 2) on Friday.

Grimes advised Al Malik that Barrack and Grimes “worked hard to show [U.S. Person 2] how strong of allies we are. Very hard. . . . [BARRACK] spent lots of time.”

(Various communications, interviews, discussions among Al Malik, Barrack, Grimes re UAE position – Barrack conveyed to WH to not get involved)

The Defendants’ Efforts to Obtain Investments from United Arab Emirates Sovereign Wealth Funds

At the same time that Al Malik, Barrack and Grimes acted at the direction of United Arab Emirates officials and aided and abetted one another in so acting, Barrack and Grimes also made numerous and concerted efforts both directly and through Al Malik to solicit the assistance of United Arab Emirates officials, including Emirati Officials I and 2, in obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for Company A by United Arab Emirates sovereign wealth funds, including UAE SWF 1 and UAE SWF 2.

Company A [Colony Capital] raised no new capital from UAE from 2009 to 2016, however in 2017 and 2018 Colony raised approximately $374 million in capital commitments from UAE sovereign wealth funds.

April 26, 2017 – Al Malik texted Grimes re: pitch to Emirati Official 1 and senior ex officver with UAE SWF 1

June 6, 2017 – Colony purchased commercial property in Los Angeles California

September 18, 2017 — Grimes messaged Barrack message in which he discussed with Al Malik and Emirati Official 2 team should arrange upcoming meeting with UAE SWF 1 about potential co-investment with Company A in the commerical property.

September 28, 2017 – UAE SWF 1 made a capital commitment to invest approximately $74 million with Company A in the Commercial Property.

February 28, 2018 – UAE SWF 2 made a capital commitment to invest approximately $300 million with Company A in the digital infrastructure fund.

Related articles excerpts

Trump Ally Faces Foreign-Agent Trial Under a Mar-a-Lago Cloud (Bloomberg – September 19, 2022)

  • “It was another nation’s interests that Colony Capital LLC founder Tom Barrack would ultimately seek to advance once Trump was in the White House, prosecutors allege.”
  • “According to Barrack’s lawyers, there’s no connection between his White House contacts and the $74 million Mubadala Investment Co. invested in a Los Angeles office tower and the $300 million Abu Dhabi Investment Authority put into a digital infrastructure fund.”

Trump fundraiser Barrack sought UAE investment while lobbying for country -prosecutors (Reuters – May 2022)

  • Barrack is the founder of digital infrastructure-focused private equity firm DigitalBridge Group Inc (DBRG.N), formerly known as Colony Capital.

De-Colonized: How Tom Barrack’s firm broke with its founder (The Real Deal – July 22, 2021)

  • “As case against ex-CEO took shape, Colony Capital changed name, leadership, headquarters and transformed portfolio
  • “Nine months after Barrack’s return as CEO, Colony announced a $325 million deal to acquire digital infrastructure investment firm Digital Bridge Holdings, with plans for its chairman, Marc Ganzi, to take over as Colony’s CEO by 2021.”
  • “The subsequent transformation of Colony’s business has been dramatic. In just a couple of years, its portfolio has gone from 80 percent hotel, office, warehouse and retail to about 70 percent digital-related assets, including data centers, cell towers and fiber-network properties.”
  • “Colony also relocated its headquarters from Los Angeles to Boca Raton, Florida, in January, and rebranded as DigitalBridge last month.”
  • “Barrack, who started Colony in 1991, stepped down as CEO in 2020 and left his position as executive chairman in April. At the time, he owned 5.6 percent of the company’s total common stock, according to its proxy statement.”
  • “On Tuesday, Barrack also resigned from his seat on the board of DigitalBridge, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

DigitalBridge’s EdgePoint Infrastructure Gets $500m from ADIA (dgtlinfra – July 8, 2021)

  • “Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), a sovereign wealth fund, today announced that it has acquired a significant minority stake and committed up to $500m to invest in EdgePoint Infrastructure, a Southeast Asia-focused tower company and a portfolio company of Digital Colony Partners II, the flagship private equity fund of DigitalBridge Group (formerly Colony Capital).”
  • “ADIA’s $500m investment will support EdgePoint Infrastructure’s future growth, which will include both acquisitions and the development of new towers.”
  • “Strategy – DigitalBridge and ADIA – EdgePoint Infrastructure’s primary focus is to develop, acquire, and operate telecommunications towers in Southeast Asia. Additionally, the company will invest in adjacent digital infrastructure sub-sectors of small cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS), and C-RAN hubs. With the backing of DigitalBridge and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), EdgePoint Infrastructure’s objective is to grow into a scalable regional towers platform, initially in Indonesia and Malaysia.”


Subscribe to get notified of new posts. Your email is only used for automatic notifications and you can unsubscribe at any time


Please donate to support this site. All content is free and work is supported fully by reader donations. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.