The Justice Department has updated its indictment against former President Donald Trump’s billionaire pal Thomas Barrack, documenting how he quietly changed the GOP platform during the 2016 Republican National Convention to avoid mentioning the Saudi royal family’s connection to the 9/11 hijackers.
On Monday, the DOJ replaced its original 46-page indictment document with an expanded 55-page indictment that more specifically details how the financier allegedly exploited his proximity to Trump to strike secret deals with the United Arab Emirates.
Barrack, who was also the chairman of Trump’s 2017 nominating committee who was caught spending money as he ushered in a new era of political corruption, was arrested last year for foreign lobbying and obstruction of justice.
In the latest version of the indictment, federal prosecutors documented Barrack’s role in the build-up to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. As a congressional investigation has since found, Barrack had previously cleared the Saudis and Emiratis to edit a major Trump campaign speech on energy, in which he pledged to ‘work with our Gulf allies’. . Then, as Barrack’s relationship with the Emiratis grew closer, the interference increased.
Seven weeks before the Republican convention, according to the revised indictment, someone referred to only as “Person-1” emailed Barrack to expand on GOP talking points at the convention. (The Middle East Eye news site, which originally reported the existence of the emails, assumed the person was criminal political strategist Paul Manafort.)
“We need to talk about language so that I can set up [the national political party] platform at the national congress. Can be much more expansive than what we did in the keynote,” this person wrote to Barrack, adding a notable caveat that the “platform language” would be “based on what you hear from your friends “.
But just a week before the start of the GOP convention, the platform project was deemed too problematic by “Person-1”.
Trump had previously promised to release the infamously missing 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report documenting the hijackers’ ties to the Saudi government and royal family – classified details that victims, activists and journalists had long sought to make public. But on July 13 of that year, that person wrote to Barrack that Republicans should drop mentioning it.
This person wrote to Barrack that any mention “that was against the Saudi royal family has been removed from the platform.”
According to federal investigators, who acquired the suspects’ communications, Barrack then turned around and forwarded that email to Emirati businessman Rashid Al-Malik. (The DOJ has also charged Al-Malik, who is accused of passing information to UAE government spies.)
In his memo to his contact in the UAE, Barrack reportedly wrote that the email was “very confidential but you can share it with HH. Please don’t pass it on any further as it’s very sensitive.
According to federal authorities, Al-Malik then forwarded this email to an anonymous Emirati official. But Barrack is also accused of passing the information to another unnamed Emirati official whom other reporters have identified as UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba. Barrack allegedly told him the information was “really confidential but important.”
Otaiba still retains that post in Washington, D.C. The Emirates Embassy did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
The long-awaited missing 28 pages were finally released – albeit with redactions – by President Barack Obama that summer. The New York Times called it a “frustrating time capsule” that grew in importance over the years, but ultimately showed that the tenuous ties between the 9/11 terrorists and Saudi leaders did not turn out to be the vast conspiracy that many suspected.
Brian McGlinchey, a freelance journalist from San Antonio, Texas, who played a pivotal role in aggressively pushing for their release, told The Daily Beast he welcomes the DOJ’s new focus on Barrack’s alleged role in the fact that the GOP avoids the subject.
“It underscores the hypocrisy of the Trump camp, because at that time there was an active presidential campaign going on,” he said. “You have the candidate in front who raises deep suspicions about Saudi involvement, at the same time you have these channel maneuvers at the Republican convention to help Saudis avoid embarrassment.”
When contacted for comment, the Republican National Committee told The Daily Beast it was unaware of what happened.
“The DOJ has not contacted the RNC about this, nor are we aware of this issue. Also, current RNC management was not involved in the 2016 platform,” Emma Vaughn said. , spokesperson for the group.
On Monday, the DOJ also hit Barrack with two additional criminal charges for making “material false statements” for allegedly lying to the FBI during an interview on June 20, 2019. Although some of the allegations were lumped together original charges, the revised indictment now separately charges him with allegedly lying about having only one phone when in fact he had a dedicated line to secretly communicate with the Emiratis.
Barrack’s legal team declined to comment for this story, citing the ongoing case, which is currently due for trial in late summer.