The organizer of former US President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony, Tom Barrack, on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges of illegal lobbying for the United Arab Emirates.
The US Justice Department accuses Barrack of secretly lobbying the Trump administration for the UAE between 2016 and 2018, as well as lying to investigators about his dealings with the Middle Eastern country.
“Of course I am innocent of all these charges and we will prove that in court,” Barrack said in a brief statement after he was arraigned in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York.
Last week, Barrack was released from custody on $250 million (€212 million) bail while awaiting trial. He will next appear in court on September 2.
What is the case?
Barrack and two others have been charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
New York prosecutors allege that Barrack had established himself as the UAE’s “key communications channel” to the Trump campaign.
According to the indictment, Barrack and the co-defendants in the case repeatedly coordinated to influence Trump’s picks for ambassadorships and other key posts.
Mathew Grimes, a former executive at the global investment management company run by Barrack, also pleaded not guilty on Monday.
While Trump has not been implicated in the case, it is the latest legal action against people from his close circle of allies.
fb/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)