Former President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and former fundraiser Tom Barrack was found not guilty on Friday of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates during the Trump administration , then lying to the FBI about those contacts.
The jury deliberated for about two days in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, before voting to acquit Barrack, who prosecutors say traded his decades-long friendship with Trump to ‘unlawfully supply’ officials in the United Arab Emirates. united access to — and inside information about — the Trump White House and his 2016 presidential campaign.
Barrack, who served as chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, was charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Justice Department, a violation punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, he was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI about his contacts in the United Arab Emirates during a 2019 interview with federal agents.
Barrack, a California billionaire, had denied doing the UAE auction and maintained that he had arranged meetings between Emirati officials and the White House and made comments in the media praising the UAE government because he wanted it, and not because it was directed at him.
Barrack said he was grateful to the jury. “I’m so moved by them and by the system,” he said. When asked what he planned to do after the win, Barrack said he was going to visit the Statue of Liberty and “have a drink”.
“God bless America,” he said. “The system is amazing.”
Barrack’s co-defendant, former aide Matthew Grimes, was also found not guilty of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. “I just feel grateful,” Grimes said.
While Grimes was not the focus of prosecutors’ case, “he was charged with serious crimes here that would have changed his life” had he been convicted, his lawyer, Father Lowell, said.
Barrack’s lawyer, Randall Jackson, said during his oral argument on Tuesday that there was “nothing nefarious” about Barrack’s dealings with Emirati leaders, noting that the head of the private equity firm had dealt with foreign senior officials in more than 100 countries over the years.
“It’s perfectly normal in business for a company to try to accommodate both your business interests and your political interests,” Jackson said.
Prosecutors largely built their case around text messages and email messages Barrack and Grimes exchanged with an Emirati businessman named Rashid Al Malik, whom they described as their go-between for the couple’s dealings with officials emirates.
The posts showed UAE officials giving Barrack comments on what he should say in TV interviews and comments on what Trump should say on energy policy in a 2016 campaign speech. An official also pressed Barrack for details on Trump’s possible choice for various high-level positions, including director of the CIA and positions in the State and Defense Departments.
Barrack denied sharing this information while testifying in his own defense and also denied lying to the FBI.
The jury appears to have made up its mind on the foreign agent charges early on – all of its notes to the judge since deliberations began on Wednesday have focused on testimony regarding the FBI allegations.
The verdict came after a six-week trial that included testimony from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Barrack testified for five days.
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