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Indicted UAE Lobbyist Barrack Argues First Amendment Amid Sealed Docs No UAE Answers

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

EDNY, March 15 – Thomas Barrack and Matthew Grimes, indicted for illegal lobbying for the United Arab Emirates, were arraigned on July 26, 2021 before U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York Magistrate Judge Sanket Bulsara. Inner City Press live tweeted it here (and podcast here)

 On August 3, Grimes asked the Court for permission to travel to New York where his lawyers are based - and then to take the train to Boston (the conditions of release were limited and car and common air carrier, with private jet access cited). Letter on CourtListener here.

On November 2, Judge Cogan held another proceeding in the case - but no listen-only call-in line was provided, unlike the in-person EDNY guilty plea the same day in US v. Daniel Rendon Herrera, a Colombian drug kingpin charged with continuing criminal enterprise and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization before Judge Dora L. Irizarry. Inner City Press live tweeted thread here.

Why less transparency on Barrack?

On March 15, 2022, with the UAE Mission to the UN under Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh refusing to answer written questions from Inner City Press and documents sealed in EDNY, this Barrack argument; "while the indictment alleges that Mr. Barrack spoke positively about the UAE in the media, see Indictment ¶ 24, those allegations do not show he was the UAE’s agent, see Mot. 7. Otherwise, a U.S. citizen could never speak positively of a foreign government or its objectives without running afoul of Section 951, and could not flatter himself when he did so, see Indictment ¶ 24(d)—a result that would clearly run afoul of the First Amendment, see supra 11-14. Similarly, the indictment alleges that UAE officials asked Mr. Barrack for information about certain U.S. officials, see Indictment ¶¶ 54, 56, and informed Mr. Barrack of certain UAE objectives, id. ¶¶ 57, 60-62, 65, 71-74, 81-87, but there is no allegation Mr. Barrack agreed to advance these objectives or complied with the UAE’s requests, see Mot. 7, 17-18. Merely receiving requests from a third party does not show a duty to act subject to the third party’s direction or control; “mutual assent” to the agency relationship is required." Full filing here.

From July 26: Judge Bulsara: Mr. Grimes, I have a document that's called an appearance bond. What's your relationship with Matthew Grimes? A: He's my brother...  I earn $140,000 a year.

 Judge Bulsara: Mr. Grimes, I'm prepared to release you pending trial, provided you understand the conditions. Grimes: I do, your Honor.

Judge Bulsara: You can only travel on a common air carrier. Fund transfers are restricted, as set forth in the bond.

AUSA: This case has been set down for a conference before Judge Cogan on September 2 at 10 am. We request the exclusion of time under the Speedy Trial Act until then

Judge Bulsara: Defense, do you consent? Yes. Judge Bulsara: OK, we are adjourned.

Both defendants entered pleas of “not guilty” to the indictment through their attorneys.  No changes in their bond conditions except that Barrack is now also allowed to travel to the state of Colorado where he will reside at his home in Aspen.  Their first appearance before U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan will be on September 2 at 10 a.m.  The government will begin turning over discovery to the defendants.  Grimes’s father was present in the courtroom in Brooklyn today.  Barrack’s ex-wife, son and Barrack’s friend were on videoconference as suretors for his $250 million bond.

The case is USA V. AL MALIK ALSHAHHI et al., 21-cr-371 (EDNY, Cogan, J.)


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