The Department of Commerce failed to release records related to Tom Barrack’s influence over the department and its participation in a plan to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, according to a lawsuit filed by CREW. CREW is asking the court to order the department to process CREW’s FOIA and release the relevant records immediately.
Over a month ago, CREW requested all communications between Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Barrack. CREW also requested any communications between Secretary Ross and former White House advisor to the Commerce Department Eric Branstad that mention Barrack and any communications that refer to Secretary Ross’ May 2017 official visit to Saudi Arabia. Commerce confirmed receiving the request, but has not provided any response since.
Barrack has significant ties to the Trump administration; he served as the head of the Trump inaugural committee and a report from the House Oversight Committee details his close contacts with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and other administration officials. He also has significant business ties to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and nearly 25% of investments into his company came from those two countries. He also has personal investments in Saudi Arabian nuclear technology. The requested records are critical to understanding the degree to which Barrack’s business interests influenced the Department of Commerce.