NEW YORK - The chair of former President Donald Trump's 2017 inaugural committee pleaded not guilty Monday and said he was "100% innocent" of charges that he secretly lobbied the U.S. on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
Tom Barrack, 74, appeared in federal court in Downtown Brooklyn for the first time. The FBI arrested him in California last week. A federal magistrate judge in Los Angeles on Friday approved the $250 million bail deal negotiated between Barrack's lawyers and federal prosecutors.
Barrack's lawyer entered his plea for him.
"As you'd expect, the system is working. I think what you'll find is that … over time, you'll all see that I'm 100% innocent," Barrack said as he left the courthouse.
The bail arrangement required Barrack to give up passports and agree to electronic monitoring. The deal also imposed a curfew.
On Monday, a judge in Brooklyn left the bond conditions the same with one exception: Barrack is now allowed to travel to Aspen, Colorado, where he has a home and will stay, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. Barrack is required to be back in federal court to appear before U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan on Sept. 2.
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Prosecutors say Barrack used his multi-decade friendship with Trump to influence the Republican's policy, starting when Trump was a candidate in 2016 and continuing after he was sworn in as president. Barrack boasted to contacts in the Emirates that he could help them gain influence with the then-new administration, even as he was seeking a post as ambassador to the UAE or as special envoy to the Middle East, the feds said.
Federal authorities say Barrack broke the law by failing to disclose his UAE ties to the U.S. government. The indictment charged the 74-year-old with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and making false statements during a 2019 interview with federal agents.
In addition to heading Trump's inaugural committee, Barrack would also regularly give television interviews on Trump's behalf.
Last week, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko said these defendants capitalized on their access to the soon-to-be president in order to advance the policy goals of a foreign government. He called their actions a "betrayal" to U.S. officials, "including the former president."
The FBI arrested two other men — one from Colorado and another said to live in the United Arab Emirates.
Matthew Grimes, 27, an Aspen, Colorado-based former executive at Barrack's company, and Rashid al Malik, 43, an Emirati businessman who prosecutors said acted as a conduit to that nation's rulers, were also charged in the seven-count indictment returned in Brooklyn federal court.
Grimes also appeared Monday in the same court, where his lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him.
Al Malik fled the U.S. three days after an April 2018 interview by law enforcement and remains at large, authorities said. He is believed to be living somewhere in the Middle East.