Former Trump ally Tom Barrack and associate acquitted of foreign lobbying charges
By Lauren del Valle and Sonia Moghe, CNNUpdated: Fri, 04 Nov 2022 16:09:46 GMTSource: CNNTom Barrack, a longtime ally of Donald Trump, was acquitted on all federal foreign lobbying charges at a courthBy Lauren del Valle and Sonia Moghe, CNN
Updated: Fri, 04 Nov 2022 16:09:46 GMT
Tom Barrack, a longtime ally of Donald Trump, was acquitted on all federal foreign lobbying charges at a courthouse in Brooklyn on Friday.
Jurors deliberated for about 13 hours beginning on Wednesday.
Barrack was acquitted of acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the US and of 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 backchannel for the United Arab Emirates. Prosecutors allege that Al Malik was secretly operating in the US as a UAE government agent. Al Malik fled the US shortly after he was interviewed by the FBI in 2018 and remains at large.
Grimes was acquitted of both charges against him: acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the US, and of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent in the US.
Barrack also faced one count of obstruction of justice and six counts of making false statements. He was acquitted of all seven of those counts.
Prosecutors alleged Barrack offered Emirati officials his access to Trump's 2016 campaign, which he told Al Malik in an email that he "staffed" after recommending Paul Manafort for a role. In exchange, 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 that he did not believe he was a foreign agent of the UAE. Barrack is a longtime friend of Trump's, served as chairman of his Presidential Inaugural Committee and advised him as president.
Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Grimes, said during his closing argument that prosecutors showed no evidence that Grimes made an agreement with a UAE official to work as a foreign agent.
"A person cannot become an agent by mistake or happenstance. He has to do so knowingly and intentionally," Lowell said.
The nearly two-month 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 any diplomacy of behalf of the United States or pass any information on 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 going into Qatar.
The defense tried to disprove the prosecution's allegation that Barrack was actually a secret back channel for the UAE, noting that the UAE was one of several countries to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar.
"He came in with the idea of telling me that he thought the President had made a mistake supporting the blockade and going through his reasoning why," Mnuchin testified. "His position was clearly in support of Qatar."
This story has been updated with additional details.