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Trump confidante Tom Barrack's fall from grace

Tom Barrack is an extraordinarily successful private equity and real estate investor, building a multi-billion-dollar empire that spans data centers to hotels to telecom towers. He's also under arrest and being held in federal custody.

Driving the news: Barrack, a longtime friend of Donald Trump and chair of his 2017 inaugural fund, was charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates.


  • DOJ alleges that the financier attempted to advance UAE interests by influencing foreign policy positions of Trump's 2016 campaign and subsequent administration.
  • He's also accused of obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a 2019 interview with federal law enforcement agents.
  • The charges are under the same foreign agent statute that was used to charge Russian agent Maria Butina and other alleged spies, not under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.
  • The indictment also includes obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a 2019 interview with federal law enforcement agents.
  • Barrack didn't enter a plea yesterday during a hearing in Los Angeles, although a spokesman says he plans to plead not guilty. A bail hearing is scheduled for Monday. Barrack didn't return my emailed request for comment (shocking, I know).

Background: Barrack founded Colony Capital in 1991, raising billions of dollars for private equity funds. It went public as a REIT in 2015, and soon began to stray a bit from its real estate strategy — including its ill-fated attempts to bail out Harvey Weinstein's production company. He stepped back from the firm last fall, as it rebranded to DigitalBridge and refocused on digital infrastructure.

Investment angles: Under Barrack's leadership, Colony raised fund capital from UAE and also bought some funds from scandal-plagued, UAE-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital.

  • One of his co-defendants, Matthew Grimes, is president of a SPAC that Barrack chairs. It filed for an IPO back in March, but hasn't yet priced.

The bottom line: Tom Barrack had past dealings with Harvey Weinstein and Arif Naqvi, walking away from both unscathed. His relationship with Trump, however, landed him in jail.

What to watch at the Olympics today: Gymnastics, golf, 3x3 basketball, swimming

5 events to watch today...

  • 🤸‍♀️ Men’s gymnastics: Team USA’s Sam Mikulak and Brody Malone compete in the individual all-around final. Coverage starts at 6:15 a.m. on Peacock (watch the replay at 8 p.m. ET on NBC)
  • 🏀 3x3 Basketball: The women’s gold medal game between the U.S. and Russia starts at 8:55 a.m. ET on USA Network. Russia and Latvia will play in the men’s final at 9:25 a.m. ET.
  • 🏌️ Men’s golf: Round one tees off at 6:30 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel or stream on nbcolympics.com.
  • 🏊 Swimming: Men’s 800m freestyle, 200m breaststroke and 100m freestyle finals and women’s 200m butterfly final. Coverage starts at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.
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National parks "drowning in tourists"

Data: National Park Service; note: Gateway National Recreation Area is excluded due to missing data in 2021. Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

National Parks across the U.S. are overflowing with a post-pandemic crush of tourists, leading to increased issues with congestion, traffic jams, user experience, strain on staff and increased damage to the parks.

Why it matters: Some are seeing such a record number they're being forced to limit, and even close, access to certain areas to avoid the danger of eroding the land. The result, ultimately, could change the way Americans interact with the parks going forward.

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Facebook's next chapter: Build the "metaverse"

Facebook's "next chapter," Mark Zuckerberg says, is to be prime builder of "the metaverse" — an open, broadly distributed, 3D dimension online where, he says, we will all conduct much of our work and personal lives.

The big picture: Zuckerberg admits Facebook will only be one of many companies building this next-generation model of today's internet — but he also intends Facebook to lead the pack.

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CDC asks the vaccinated to help save the unvaccinated from themselves

The Biden administration is essentially asking vaccinated Americans to help save the unvaccinated from themselves.

The big picture: America's "pandemic of the unvaccinated" has gotten bad enough that vaccine mandates are starting to catch on, and masks are coming back — in some cases, even for the vaccinated.

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Least persuadable unvaccinated Americans are largely white and Republican

Data: Axios-Ipsos Poll; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The most hardcore opponents of coronavirus vaccination — the group who say they'll never get one — tend to be older, whiter and more Republican than the unvaccinated Americans who are still persuadable, according to an analysis of our Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: As the Delta variant triggers more COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, mostly among the unvaccinated, the Biden administration and even some high-profile GOP political and media figures are trying to figure out how to nudge the country's vaccination rate higher.

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Female Olympians push back against double standard in uniforms

Female Olympians in Tokyo are rejecting the uniforms that have long defined their sports, highlighting a double standard that exists how women dress in competition vs. men.

Driving the news: During their qualifying round Sunday, Germany's women's gymnastics team wore full-length unitards, eschewing the conventional leg-barring leotards worn by most female gymnasts.

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Simone Biles won't defend Olympic title at gymnastics all-around final in Tokyo

U.S. gymnastics great Simone Biles won't defend her Olympic title in the upcoming all-around final as she continues to focus on her mental health, USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday.

After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many. pic.twitter.com/6ILdtSQF7o

— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) July 28, 2021

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

DOJ declines to defend Mo Brooks in Eric Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit

The Department of Justice declined late Tuesday to represent Rep. Mo Brooks in a civil lawsuit against the Georgia congressman concerning the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Brooks had argued he should have immunity in the suit, filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) against him, former President Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the insurrection. He said he was acting as a government employee when he spoke at a rally before the insurrection.

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