Former Trump ally Tom Barrack and associate acquitted of foreign lobbying charges


Tom Barracksa longtime ally of donald trumpwas acquitted of all federal foreign lobbying charges in a Brooklyn courthouse on Friday.

Jurors deliberated for about 13 hours beginning Wednesday.

Barrack was acquitted of acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States and conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States.

Barrack, his former employee Matthew Grimes and an Emirati businessman named Rashid Al Malik were indicted last year and accused of acting as a secret backchannel for the United Arab Emirates. Prosecutors allege that Al Malik was secretly operating in the United States as an agent of the UAE government. Al Malik fled the United States shortly after being questioned by the FBI in 2018 and remains at large.

Grimes was acquitted of two counts: acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States and conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States.

Barrack also faced one count of obstruction of justice and six counts of misrepresentation. He was acquitted on all seven counts.

Prosecutors alleged Barrack offered Emirati officials his access to Trump’s campaign in 2016, which he told Al Malik in an email he ’employed’ after recommending Paul Manafort for a role . In return, prosecutors said, UAE-controlled sovereign wealth funds poured $374 million into projects by Colony Capital, Barrack’s company. Barrack’s defense attorney, Randall Jackson, claimed that amount was insignificant – “less than 1%” of the company’s balance sheet.

During the trial, Trump posted on his Truth Social account calling Barrack a “highly respected businessman” and saying he did not believe he was a foreign agent of the UAE. Barrack is a longtime friend of Trump, served as chairman of his inaugural presidential committee and advised him as president.

Abbot Lowell, a lawyer for Grimes, said during his closing argument that prosecutors had shown no evidence that Grimes had entered into an agreement with a UAE official to work as a foreign agent.

“A person cannot become an agent by mistake or by chance. He has to do it knowingly and intentionally,” Lowell said.

The nearly two-month-long trial included mentions of Trump himself and some of his former cabinet members. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified that he never asked Barrack to conduct diplomacy on behalf of the United States or pass information to a foreign government.

The defense team also called former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to testify about a meeting with Barrack in June 2017, when Barrack disagreed with Trump’s public comments supporting a blockade preventing goods from being transported. entering Qatar.

The defense attempted to refute the prosecution’s allegation that Barrack was in fact a secret channel for the UAE, noting that the UAE was one of several countries to have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. .

“He came up with the idea of ​​telling me that he thought the president had made a mistake in supporting the blockade and explaining why,” Mnuchin said. “His position was clearly in favor of Qatar.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

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