Thomas Barrack, a close adviser to former President Donald Trump and chairman of his inaugural committee, is coming to a trial in the Eastern District of New York District Court in downtown Brooklyn in New York City on July 26, 2021.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images
Private equity investor Thomas Barrack and a business partner pleaded not guilty through their attorneys in New York on Monday for illegally lobbying his friend ex-President Donald Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
“The system works as you’d expect,” said Barrack, 74, as he walked out of Brooklyn federal court after his indictment.
“I think you will find that … in time you will all see that I am 100% innocent,” said Barrack, who was arrested on charges in Los Angeles last Tuesday.
His $ 250 million release guarantee was upheld by a judge during the hearing at which his next trial was scheduled for September 2.
Judge Sanket Bulsara also directed Barrack to refrain from traveling in private planes and conducting 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 UAE officials.
Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of Donald Trump who ran the former President’s Inaugural Fund, stands in this courtroom sketch during his hearing at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, United States, on July 26, 2021.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
Barrack, who will live in his Aspen, Colorado residence, is only allowed to travel to Southern California to visit his children and to New York for court hearings. Compliance with travel restrictions is monitored by an electronic ankle cuff and GPS.
As he entered the courthouse before his indictment, Barrack was met by a man who struck up a sign that read “Traitor” in large black letters.
This is the same message – spread by what appears to be the same person – that Trump’s 2016 campaign chief Paul Manafort and his ally Roger Stone often welcomed during their federal criminal cases that ended in convictions.
Those convictions were later overturned when Trump pardoned both men shortly before he left office.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (2nd R) arrives with his wife Kathleen Manafort (R) in the Albert V. Bryan US Courthouse to bring charges when a protester holds up a sign on March 8, 2018 in Alexandria, Virginia.
Alex Wong | Getty Images
In a statement released after the indictment, Barrack said, “Of course I am innocent of all of these charges and we will prove it in court.”
“The most important thing to remember is that three miles from here in the middle of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty stands with a torch in hand, which means enlightenment, and welcomes the seven continents across the seven seas to the immigrant crowds to bring them to them to give them tolerance, freedom and justice, “said Barrack.
“My grandparents came here in 1896 and 1900 and from humble and simple beginnings they gave me everything America has to offer,” he said.
“This statue is made of steel with a copper patina. We are in the middle of a very hot moment and I can only tell you that the hardest steel is forged from the hottest fire.”
Barrack had been jailed without bail until Friday when a federal judge in Los Angeles released him on the $ 250 million bond, one of the largest criminal bailouts in history.
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The bond is backed by $ 5 million in cash, more than $ 21 million in securities, and four properties. On Monday, Barrack’s son, ex-wife and a former business partner appeared on video on Monday to co-sign the release package and mortgage properties to secure the bond.
Prosecutors issued a detention memo last week that raised concerns that Barrack, given his Lebanese citizenship and access to a private jet, might flee to avoid charges.
Barrack’s attorney told Bulsara on Monday that Barrack does not own a plane.
Barrack, who co-chaired Trump’s Inauguration Committee with a 27-year-old business partner, Matthew Grimes, is charged with secretly working for the UAE’s interests with Trump’s 2016 campaign and then during his presidency.
Grimes was released on Friday for a $ 5 million loan and indicted against Barrack on Monday.
Roger Stone, a longtime advisor to President Donald Trump, arrives at the Prettyman United States Courthouse before being indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for lying to Congress and manipulating witnesses on January 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. Stone, a self-described “dirty political trickster,” said he was falsely accused and would plead “not guilty”.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Barrack, who never registered with the American government as an agent for the oil-rich UAE, is also charged with obstruction of justice and multiple false statements during an interview with federal police officers in June 2019.
Prosecutors said that while Barrack represented the UAE’s interests in the Trump administration, he was informally advising U.S. officials on Middle East policy and seeking appointment to a senior role in the U.S. government, including serving as special envoy for the Middle East.
The indictment also accuses another man, UAE national Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, 43, who fled the United States three years ago after being questioned by law enforcement agencies.
Last Friday, Falcon Acquisition, a Barrack-backed acquisition special-purpose vehicle, withdrew its registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, indicating it was abandoning proposed transactions.
The transactions included an IPO of 25 million shares to raise $ 250 million for the Falcon Acquisition, founded by Barracks Family Office Falcon Peak and TI Capital. The SPAC had planned to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
Barrack stepped down as CEO of Colony Capital, a private equity firm he founded, in 2020. In April he stepped down as the company’s CEO.
– Additional coverage by CNBCs Brian Schwartz