Foreign agents like indicted Aspen man ‘corrupt’ US political system, expert warns



DENVER (KDVR) – Federal prosecutors are targeting a Colorado man accused of working as a foreign agent to influence the Trump administration.

Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, was named in a federal indictment of seven counts, along with another American and a citizen of the United Arab Emirates.

The US Department of Justice said the crimes began in 2016 when an adviser to candidate Trump, Thomas Barrack, 74, sought to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates. Barrack is accused of doing this under the direction of the United Arab Emirates without disclosing this information to the United States Attorney General.

“If you want to do this, you have to register as a foreign lobbyist,” said Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Denver. “In this case, there was no recording. They were doing it secretly, and that’s where they broke the law.

Barrack, of Calif., Was an executive at an investment firm, according to the DOJ. Authorities said Grimes worked for Barrack and the duo conspired with UAE agent Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi aka Rashid Al-Malik.

The defendants “have engaged in a conspiracy to illegally advance and promote the interests of the United Arab Emirates” in the United States, according to a press release from the DOJ.

The crimes were allegedly committed between April 2016 and 2018. The alleged targets of this foreign influence were the Trump campaign and the Trump administration. The DOJ calls this effort a betrayal of the former president.

“I suspect the Trump administration will somehow pretend we didn’t know that,” Hashemi said.

Barrack is accused of altering a Trump campaign speech in 2016 to praise the UAE. Authorities said he sent an advanced copy by email to the UAE.

After the 2016 election, investigators claim that the three men “repeatedly acted on the instructions of UAE officials to influence the foreign policy positions of the incoming administration,” and they say Barrack asked the UAE to create a “wish list” of what the UAE wanted. the United States

This is part of a crisis of democracy in the United States, according to Hashemi.

“Foreign governments directly enter and corrupt the American political system,” Hashemi said.

Hashemi also said the current president must demand answers.

“If the Biden administration really wants to be serious about this particular investigation, then it will need to have a very serious conversation with the UAE about what they were doing,” Hashemi said.

Barrack and Grimes were arrested and brought to justice. The alien named in the indictment is still at large, according to federal prosecutors.

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