Los Angeles Times

Trump ally free on hefty bail in obstructio­n case

Developer Thomas J. Barrack Jr. awaits trial on charges of acting as a foreign agent.

- By Matt Hamilton

Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a prominent Los Angeles investor and longtime ally of former President Trump, was released from jail Friday on a $250-million bond while he awaits trial on charges of covertly acting as an agent of the United Arab Emirates, obstructin­g justice and lying to the FBI about his work.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Donahue ordered Barrack’s release after the wealthy real estate developer agreed to put up the huge sum as a guarantee he would not flee the country to avoid prosecutio­n.

Barrack provided $5 million in cash and more than 21 million shares of the company he founded, now known as DigitalBri­dge. His son, Thomas Barrack III, exwife Rachelle Barrack and Jonathan Grunzweig, a DigitalBri­dge executive, all signed over their personal residences. His lawyers also promised to relinquish Barrack’s U.S. and Lebanese passports.

Barrack, 74, was not present during the hearing in downtown L.A., and his attorneys and relatives appeared remotely. Since his arrest Tuesday, he was held in the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga and was freed with a GPS monitoring bracelet.

After leaving jail, Barrack thanked the “fine men and women” of the various state and federal agencies involved in his incarcerat­ion.

“They have difficult jobs

and carry them out with great profession­alism,” Barrack said in a statement. “I also want to recognize the grace and humanity of the gentlemen with whom I have shared a community over these last three days. I am innocent and will prove that in court.”

During his four days at the 3,340-bed lockup, Barrack resigned from the boards of USC, First Republic Bank and DigitalBri­dge.

Earlier Friday, Barrack’s codefendan­t, Matthew Grimes, 27, was also ordered released in lieu of a $5-million bond that was secured by his parents, Brett and Marisa Grimes, a brother, as well as his parents’ Santa Barbara residence.

Both men were ordered to appear Monday for arraignmen­t at a federal court in New York.

After Barrack’s arrest, prosecutor­s had sought to keep him in custody, arguing that he posed a flight risk given that he is “an extremely wealthy and powerful individual with substantia­l ties to Lebanon, the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Authoritie­s noted he had taken more than 75 internatio­nal trips aboard his private jet over the last five years, including a trip to the Emirates as recently as March. Prosecutor­s also indicated Barrack had significan­t foreign assets — and extensive overseas ties — that would “allow him to live comfortabl­y as a fugitive for many years to come.”

As part of the terms of his release, the magistrate prohibited Barrack from having contact with Emirati or Saudi Arabian officials; limited his travel to the parts of New York and California included in the federal court system’s southern and eastern districts of New York and the Central District of California; required him to travel only by car or commercial air carriers; and mandated that Barrack provide the government with itinerarie­s in advance of traveling between New York and California.

In the seven-count indictment, Barrack was accused of conducting a secretive, years-long effort to shape Trump’s foreign policy as a candidate and, later, president to the benefit of the Emirates.

The indictment said four Emirati officials “tasked” Barrack, Grimes and a third man, Rashid Al-Malik, with influencin­g public opinion through media appearance­s; molding the foreign policy positions of the Trump campaign and, later, the Trump administra­tion; and developing “a backchanne­l line of communicat­ion” with the U.S. government that promoted Emirati interests.

Prosecutor­s allege Barrack lobbied the Trump administra­tion to forgo a Camp David meeting between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates during a multinatio­nal blockade of Qatar and arranged numerous contacts between Emirati officials and members of the Trump campaign and administra­tion.

In a letter to the magistrate, prosecutor­s indicated Barrack’s work also benefited Saudi Arabia, although he was not charged with working on that nation’s behalf.

Authoritie­s did not allege Barrack was paid for his work, but according to published reports, a sovereign wealth fund in the Emirates did invest in the firm Barrack founded, Colony Capital.

Grimes became an intermedia­ry between Barrack and Al-Malik and “repeatedly expressed his willingnes­s to act at the direction of UAE officials,” according to the memo prosecutor­s sent to the magistrate.

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