Critics claimed the committee became a hub for peddling access to foreign officials or business leaders, or those acting on their behalf, but investigations by several local jurisdictions into the committee’s activities petered out with no charges filed.
The federal inquiry into Mr. Barrack’s ties with foreign leaders was an outgrowth of the investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The special counsel’s work put a spotlight on violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA, and led to a greater effort by the Justice Department to enforce it. The law requires those who work for foreign governments, political parties or other entities to influence American policy or public opinion to disclose their activities to the department.
Several former Trump aides who were charged by the special counsel acknowledged violating the statute in guilty pleas, including Mr. Manafort, the 2016 campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, the deputy chairman. Mr. Mueller referred Mr. Barrack’s case to the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, apparently because the allegations went beyond his investigative mandate.
According to the indictment, Mr. al-Malik was a key intermediary between Mr. Barrack and the Emirati leadership. In court papers, prosecutors said Mr. Barrack told State Department officials in 2017 that he did not know where Mr. al-Malik was from or whether he was affiliated with any foreign government. But privately, prosecutors said, Mr. Barrack repeatedly referred to Mr. al-Malik as the Emirates’ “secret weapon” to advance its foreign policy agenda with the Trump campaign and administration.
After one media appearance, Mr. Barrack emailed Mr. al-Malik, boasting that he had “nailed it” for the “home team” — meaning the Emirates, the indictment said. The two men repeatedly met personally with high-level leaders of the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, including in May, August and December of 2016, court papers say.
Late Tuesday, a federal magistrate detained Mr. Barrack and Mr. Grimes, pending a bail hearing on Monday. Prosecutors had described Mr. Barrack as a flight risk, citing his wealth, Lebanese citizenship, private jet and deep ties to the Emirates and other Persian Gulf countries.