Aspen Resident Barrack Jr. and Ex-Assistant to Stand Trial This Month for Illegal Lobbying

Legal

An Aspen resident who led fundraising efforts for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 will stand trial in Brooklyn federal court later this month on allegations he illegally worked on behalf of the United Arab Emirates to lobby the U.S. government.

Trial for Thomas Barrack Jr., 75, and his former assistant Matthew Grimes, 29, an ex-Aspen resident, is scheduled to begin Sept. 19 with jury selection.

Barrack Jr. and Grimes have been free on respective bonds of $250 million and $5 million since their July 2021 arrests in California. They both also must wear monitor bracelets despite filing unsuccessful motions seeking their removal.

Barrack Jr.’s bond is secured partly by his home on Eagle Park Drive at Buttermilk, which he purchased for $15.5 million in November 2017, according to property records. Grimes also is free on bond secured by property his parents own, according to court records.

Both have pleaded not guilty to charges they worked secretly as agents on behalf of United Arab Emirates, from April 2016 to April 2018, to influence President Trump’s foreign policy. The third person indicted was Rashid al-Malik Alshahh, who reportedly fled the United States.

Barrack Jr. and Grimes were originally indicted by a grand jury in June 2021. A new indictment issued in May said an equity investment company run by Barrack received $374 million in commitments from two UAE sovereign wealth funds in 2017. The indictment does not identify the company owned by Barrack, who in 1991 founded the real estate and private equity investment firm Colony Capital, which was rebranded as digital equity firm DigitalBridge Group in June 2021.

Grimes reported directly to Barrack Jr. while at Colony Capital. “Bank records and telephone records reflect that, prior to his arrest, the defendant (Grimes) listed Barrack’s $15 million home in Aspen, Colorado, as his primary residence by the prosecution,” said a pleading in November. “Further, thousands of emails and text message communications obtained during the course of this investigation further confirm that the defendant and Barrack have a close, albeit asymmetrical, relationship.”

What evidence the jury will see is being argued over in motions in front of Judge Brian M. Cogan.

Lawyers for Barrack Jr. have filed motions asking the judge to not allow the prosecution to introduce at trial evidence related to Barrack Jr.’s background and wealth. Showing the jury photos of Barrack’s homes and personal plane could taint the jury, their motion filed Sept. 6 argued.

“The Government has no legitimate purpose for offering this evidence. It
has no bearing on whether Mr. Barrack allegedly acted or conspired to act as an unregistered foreign agent. Instead, the Government’s proffered evidence invites the jury to convict Mr. Barrack based on improper emotional appeals and creates a substantial risk of class bias,” the motion said.

A filing by prosecutors Friday argued that some evidence Barrack wants kept out of trial is “highly relevant to matters at issue in this case,” including one exhibit that put Barrack Jr., UAE officials and President-elect Trump in the same room at Barrack’s home in Santa Monica, California.

“The government anticipates that the evidence at trial will show that, in December 2016, Mr. Barrack held an event to which he invited several co-conspirators, including Rashid Al Malik and a member of the United Arab Emirates Supreme Council for National Security, as well as multiple members of the incoming Trump Administration, including the President-Elect and multiple Cabinet-level officials,” the pleading said.

Several motions from Barrack Jr. and Grimes’s lawyers are under seal. One aims to preclude the prosecution from presenting evidence related to funds managed by Colony Capital and DigitalBridge.

Barrack Jr. served as chairman of the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee and was senior adviser to Trump’s campaign. He is credited with raising more than $32 million for Trump’s campaign. He introduced Ivanka Trump at the Republican National Convention in 2016, and he stood behind the Trump family when Donald Trump was sworn in as president.

Barrack paid $41,253 in property taxes on his Eagle Pines home to Pitkin County on May 5, according to property records.

By: Rick Carroll I  The Aspen Times  I September 11, 2022


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