In January 2017, three days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a businessman from the United Arab Emirates was invited to a lavish dinner planned by Trump’s longtime ally Thomas J. Barrack Jr., who was chair of the president’s inaugural committee. The guest list placed Rashid al-Malik, a onetime business associate of Barrack’s, amid more than 100 foreign diplomats and top members of the incoming administration. The president-elect himself made a surprise appearance at the gathering.
Al-Malik’s name later surfaced in connection with a federal probe into potential illegal donations to Trump’s inaugural fund and a pro-Trump Super PAC by Middle Eastern donors. Al-Malik was interviewed by members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and was “cooperating” with prosecutors, his lawyer told The Intercept last year. The New York Times recently reported that investigators are looking into “whether Mr. al-Malik was part of an illegal influence scheme,” although no details of that potential scheme have been made public.
In fact, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that al-Malik served as a paid intelligence source for the UAE throughout 2017, The Intercept has learned. [Continue reading…]