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




CNN

Tom Barrack, a longtime ally of Donald Trump, was acquitted in a Brooklyn court on Friday of federal foreign lobbying charges.

The jury deliberated for about 13 hours starting on Wednesday.

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

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 conduit to the United Arab Emirates. Prosecutors allege that Al Malik was working undercover in the US as an agent of the UAE government. Al Malik fled the US shortly after being interviewed by the FBI in 2018 and remains at large.

Grimes was acquitted of two charges against him: acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States and conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States.

Barrack was also charged with obstruction of justice and six counts of making false statements. He was acquitted of those seven charges.

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

During the trial, Trump posted on his Truth Social account that Barracki is a “highly respected businessman” and said he did not believe he was a foreign agent of the UAE. Barack is a longtime friend of Trump, who served as chairman of his Presidential Inaugural Committee and advised him as president.

Grimes’ attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in closing arguments 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.

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

The defense team also subpoenaed former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to testify about a June 2017 meeting with Barrack, in which Barrack disagreed with Trump’s public comments when he supported the blockade to prevent goods from going to Qatar.

The defense tried to refute the prosecution’s allegation that Barrack was actually a secret conduit to the UAE, pointing out that the UAE was one of the countries with which Qatar had severed diplomatic relations.

“He came up with the idea of ​​saying he thought the president was agreeing to the shutdown and reasoning why,” Mnuchin testified. “His position was clearly pro-Qatar.”

This story has been updated with additional details.