Tom Barrack has criticized Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the “racist tone” of the GOP

New York

Longtime Donald Trump ally Tom Barrack testified that he had mixed reactions to the former president’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and in the White House as he took the stand in the foreign lobbying trial on Wednesday.

Three days after testifying in his own defense in federal court in New York, Barrack tried to explain why Trump twisted his intended speech in 2016 while praising Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“I’m not saying anything candidate Trump said was imbecile,” Barrack said. “I’m saying, from my humble perspective, attacking Hillary Clinton, who was one of the best Secretaries of State…is not going to go over well.”

His lawyer, Michael Schachter, asked Barrack about emails between him and Paul Manafort, who was part of the Trump campaign at the time. In a May 2016 email, Manafort sent Barrack a draft speech outlining Trump’s “America First” energy plan.

“Wow, I’m shocked at how bad this is,” Barrack said in an email.

Barrack testified Wednesday that he felt the language in the speech was “imbecile” and that his opinion was “of course, why I wasn’t part of the campaign.”

Barracks is accused of acting as a foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates and failing to report his role to the Justice Department. He has declared himself innocent. Barrack’s defense said the businessman, a Lebanese American, was a man making his own decisions and was not under the direction or control of a foreign government.

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

But Barrack testified in court this week that he believed the Republican Party had taken on a “racist tone” as people embraced Trump’s ideas for a wall between the US and Mexico, a Muslim ban and other proposals.

“It was important not to see the Republican Party as racist,” Barrack said.

On Tuesday, Barrack testified that he was trying to connect then-candidate Trump with Arab leaders to sway them on his Muslim ban.

In an April 2016 exchange between Barrack and US Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Al Otaiba wrote that “confusion about your friend Donald Trump is VERY HIGH” in light of Trump’s proposed Muslim ban. Barrack responded that Trump is not “anti-Islamic” or “racist” and that he is “the king of hyperbole.”

“We can turn it into prudence,” Barrack wrote.

Barrack testified that he didn’t think there was anything wrong with Middle Eastern countries investing in the United States in an effort to improve relations with the West.

“I thought this was necessary to improve the reputation of Muslims and Arabs around the world who are doing the right thing,” Barrack said.

Jurors also saw text messages between Matthew Grimes, who worked for Barrack and is his co-defendant in the case, and another co-defendant named Rashid Al Malik, a UAE national who prosecutors said was operating undercover in the US. government

Barrack, Grimes and Al Malik were indicted last year and accused of acting as a secret conduit to the United Arab Emirates. Grimes has also pleaded not guilty. Al Malik fled the US shortly after being interviewed by the FBI in 2018 and remains at large.

In a text exchange, Grimes wrote Al Malik’s Barrack op-ed titled “What the Middle East Needs Now from America.”

“Can you read it please? What do you think?” Grimes asked Al Malik.

“They didn’t like the word dictatorship,” Al Malik replied.

Barrack testified that he did not recall any suggestion that the word “dictatorship” be removed from the draft. The review was published in October 2016 and received word of mouth.

Barrack testified that he sometimes received calls from contacts in the UAE who were using the secure line, but that there was nothing untoward, and that most of the time the contacts in the UAE and Qatar were calling on his regular mobile phone.

After Trump was elected president, the emails showed that Barrack and his associates communicated with heads of state around the world to help make congratulatory calls to Trump, but he said he had no agreement and did not act under any control. from countries including Qatar and Italy.