A week before he was charged with illegal lobbying for the United Arab Emirates, Tom Barrack traveled to New York for an on-camera interview in Midtown Manhattan.
Dressed casually in dark jeans and a gray, long-sleeve top by Zegna, he gave no indication that he knew federal prosecutors across the East River in Brooklyn were preparing a seven-count indictment.
The investor, 74, spoke comfortably and confidently about his relationships in the Middle East, some of which go back a half-century to when, as a young lawyer from Los Angeles, he worked in Saudi Arabia.
Barrack called Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, “one of the best leaders anywhere in history” and said Emiratis would be among his co-investors in a venture he had just started to finance deals in the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries.
If anything, he was relaxed and seemed relieved to have moved on from two of the most challenging episodes of his career: the presidency of Donald Trump and the turnaround of Colony Capital, the real estate investment firm he founded in 1991.
Barrack, who was one of Trump’s biggest backers on Wall Street and chaired the committee that funded his inauguration, described his detour into politics as full of “anguish” and the troubles at Colony as a “nightmare.”