Bloomberg Agency said that Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, National Security Adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed, Intelligence Director Ali Al Shamsi, UAE humanitarian aid official in Pakistan Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli and UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba oversaw an illegal campaign of influence inside Washington on the Trump administration.
Mohammed bin Zayed and the other four used Tom Barrack to influence the Trump administration
The agency added that the five Emirati officials used Tom Barrack, who is currently on trial in New York and is a close confidant of Trump, in this campaign of influence during financial transfers and evening meetings held in Abu Dhabi.
Bloomberg said that Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed met Trump in Washington days before he went to Saudi Arabia and worked to prepare the US president before his visit to the kingdom.
It stated that the Republican financier Tom Barak conveyed the details of the US administration’s thinking about the crisis in Qatar and tried, under the influence of the UAE, to cancel a Gulf-US summit at Camp David for reconciliation.
According to the agency’s report, a few weeks after the election of former US President Donald Trump in November 2016, American billionaire Tom Barrack received a royal welcome in the United Arab Emirates.
On that day in December, Tom Barrack met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and his brother Tahnoun, while his meeting with high-ranking men shows how much he (i.e. Barak) was valued as a guest, according to Prime Time Zone familiar with the events.
Read also: Abdel-Khaleq Abdullah, Ibn Zayed’s advisor, disavows Tom Barrack after the UAE used him for its benefit
Barak encouraged his hosts to envision what the next four years of Trump’s presidency could hold for them.
And the US agency continued in its report, according to a translation (Watan): “American prosecutors say that the meeting was part of a secret back channel effort to influence the foreign policy positions of the Trump campaign and the incoming administration, and to increase the political influence of the Gulf state.”
Barak was charged in July with acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates. He pleaded not guilty, and none of the Emirati officials who worked with Barak were charged with any wrongdoing in the case.
Mohammed bin Zayed and these four leaders – according to Bloomberg – “assigned” Barak and two of the accused in 2016 to run an illegal influence campaign inside Washington on the Trump administration.
Read also: Who is Thomas Barrack, who was arrested by the US authorities on charges of working for the UAE
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the government media office did not respond to email requests by the agency for comment.
A spokesperson for the UAE embassy in Washington also did not respond to a phone call and text message seeking comment. Barak’s representatives and prosecutors also declined to comment.
In the UAE, important political decisions and business transactions are often discussed at regular evening meetings hosted by senior officials. The UAE has emerged as one of the most powerful allies of the United States in the region, especially amid the tension in the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Barack and Trump
Barak, who had a long history of doing business in the Middle East, supported Trump early in his campaign, often fighting for him through skeptical television interviews.
The Emiratis placed an early bet on Barak, whose friendship with Trump spanned decades — according to prosecutors, they began asking Barrack to act on their behalf during the presidential campaign. Now the bet is paying off, with Barak overseeing the presidential inaugural committee and helping to lead the transition team’s search for key government employees.
Barrack encouraged his hosts to think big, not just about what could be accomplished in Trump’s first 100 days in office, but during his four-year term, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, Emirati businessman Rashid Al Malik sent a text message to Barack’s assistant Matthew Grimes: “They are very happy here with great comments.”
Prosecutors said the owner, who was charged along with Barak and one of Barak’s aides, fled the United States in April 2018, three days after law enforcement officials interviewed him about his work in the United Arab Emirates. Grimes, who was also convicted, pleaded not guilty.
According to the indictment, Barak aided the Emiratis on several fronts. He helped arrange a meeting at the White House with the president and pushed the UAE’s favorite candidates to fill positions in the new administration, according to the indictment.
On May 15, 2017, Trump met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, in which they discussed their common interest in confronting Iranian influence in the Arab world and fighting terrorism.
MbZ helped prepare Trump for his four-day visit to Saudi Arabia.
Immediately after the election, the Emirati official (Yousef al-Otaiba) asked Barak to brief him on Trump’s potential appointments to key positions such as the secretaries of state and defense, CIA director, and national security adviser, prosecutors said. “I have a regional interest in a high profile,” Barak replied.
By the spring of 2017, the UAE lobbied for the appointment of the unidentified US congressman as ambassador to the UAE.
Those efforts failed. Barak himself then emerged as a candidate for the position of US ambassador to the UAE or special envoy for the Middle East, according to the indictment.
Such an appointment, Barak said, “would give Abu Dhabi more powers!” According to the indictment. He did not get either job.
Prosecutors said in court papers that Barak also provided inside information about how Trump administration officials view the UAE-led blockade of neighboring Qatar.
And in September 2017, Barak told the owner that the administration might host a Camp David meeting with Qatar about the boycott, according to the indictment. This was not the meeting the Emirates wanted to have.
Barrack said he sent a message to Trump that he had “something very important to share” about the Middle East, according to the indictment. No meeting took place. The owner later texted Barack “A very special thanks and appreciation from the big guy. Much respect for your efforts.”
Prosecutors claim that there were no further actions by Barak on behalf of the UAE after September 2017.
But his crimes did not stop there, according to the prosecution. In June 2019, the FBI interviewed Barak about his work on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
Prosecutors claim that he repeatedly lied. “Of course, I am innocent of all these charges and we will prove it in court,” Barak said after his conviction in a statement.
According to the report, the Trump years will be disturbing for Barak in other ways. His company Colony Capital’s shares collapsed despite a bull market in stocks. He was also involved in several investigations.
The Emiratis did better. Trump backed a treaty between Israel and the UAE similar to the plans that Barak put forward years ago.
After Barak’s arrest, prosecutors portrayed him as a serious escape risk from the United States, noting that he holds dual citizenship with Lebanon and close ties to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. There are no extradition treaties between the two countries with the United States. A judge has released Barack on $250 million bail while he awaits trial.