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Tom Barrack. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

The arrest on Tuesday of Tom Barrack, a business tycoon and close Trump ally, for allegedly acting as an unregistered Emirati agent could complicate relations between the Biden administration and the UAE.

Driving the news: The indictment against Barrack, a real estate investor who chaired Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, indicates he was in contact with the highest echelons of the Emirati leadership, without naming specific officials.

  • The only Emirati mentioned by name is one of the defendants, businessman Rashid Al-Malik, who facilitated Barrack's communications with senior UAE officials, per the indictment.
  • A 2019 story from The Intercept described Al-Malik as working for Emirati intelligence chief Ali Al-Shamsi as a paid intelligence source, reporting back to Abu Dhabi on the Trump administration's plans. Al-Malik left the U.S. in 2017 after he was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Between the lines: Barrack was not charged under the Foreign Agent Registration Act but under another foreign agent statute previously used to charge Russian agent Maria Butina and other alleged spies.

What they're saying: The White House, State Department and Emirati government still haven’t reacted to the indictment.

State of play: Unlike other countries in the region that had warm relations with Trump, the UAE managed to make the transition to Biden with almost no change in the relationship.

  • The White House will likely prioritize maintaining a close relationship with the UAE, but the indictment could create political complications, mainly inside the Democratic Party.

Go deeper

GOP operatives accused of funneling Russian cash to Trump

Jesse Benton, spokesman for the Ron Paul campaign, speaking to reporters on Jan. 1, 2012. Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

A former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul was indicted this month for allegedly funneling $25,000 from a wealthy, unnamed Russian to former President Trump's reelection efforts.

The big picture: The Justice Department alleges that Jesse Benton, 43, the husband of Paul's niece and a veteran Republican staffer, orchestrated a scheme to conceal the illegal foreign donation with another GOP operative, Doug Wead.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."