Thomas Barrack was heckled on his way to pleading not guilty to federal charges of illegally lobbying Donald Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
The private equity investor who served as the ex-president’s inaugural committee chair was called a “traitor” as he arrived at a New York court.
“It’s our democracy. It’s our democracy, not yours traitor,” a man can be heard yelling in a video posted online. “It’s our democracy a**hole.”
Mr Barrack, 74, was also greeted by a man holding a “DIRTY TRAITOR” sign at the arraignment on seven counts of “acting and conspiring to act as agents of the UAE”, according to CNBC.
Judge Sanket Bulsara maintained Mr Barrack’s $250m release bond and ordered him to avoid any contact with officials from the country, the outlet reported. He was ordered to not travel on private aircraft or conduct foreign financial transactions, and to limit domestic transactions to less than $50,000.
Prosecutors argued in a memo last week that Mr Barrack was a flight risk as he holds dual US-Lebanese citizenship and had access to a private jet. His lawyer denied that Mr Barrack owns a plane, CNBC reported.
Mr Barrack has denied the allegations and said in a statement emailed to The Independent that he would prove his innocence in court.
The billionaire, who has been friends with Mr Trump for four decades, was arrested last week on charges that also included obstruction of justice and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Prosecutors allege he and two co-conspirators exploited his friendship with Mr Trump to advocate for the UAE’s “wish list” within the White House and in media interviews, including during a 2016 interview on national television.
According to the indictment, Mr Barrack subsequently emailed a co-conspirator, UAE national Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, that he “nailed it” for the “home team”.
Defence attorney Matt Herrington said in an email to Law&Crime that Mr Barrack made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset and would continue to fight the allegations in court.
Read Mr Barrack’s full statement:
“Of course I am innocent of all these charges and we will prove that in court. The important thing for us to remember is three miles from here standing in the middle of New York Harbor is the Statue of Liberty with a torch in her hand signifying enlightenment, welcoming the seven continents across the seven seas to bring to her the immigrant masses to give them tolerance, liberty and justice.
“My grandparents came here in 1896 and 1900 and from humble and simple beginnings they gave me the gift of all that America has to offer. That statue is made of steel with a patina of copper. We’re in the middle of a very heated moment and I can only tell you that the hardest steel is forged from the hottest fire.”
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