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Trump ally Thomas Barrack was acquitted of foreign agent violations

Trump ally Thomas Barrack was acquitted of foreign agent violations

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NEW YORK – Thomas Barrack, a long-time friend of former President Donald Trump who chaired his inaugural committee, has been acquitted. Friday violating federal law by acting as an unauthorized foreign agent while trying to help the United Arab Emirates influence the US government.

Barack, the billionaire founder of Colony Capital who had a decades-long relationship with Trump, is accused of promoting speeches by UAE officials to members of the Trump administration. He also allegedly pushed pro-UAE propaganda in appearances on major TV networks and in published writings.

Prosecutors said Barack was motivated to keep the UAE happy because his sovereign wealth fund invested $374 million in Colony Capital from 2017 to 2018 and there was the possibility of more to come.

Barrack’s lawyer, Randall Jackson, said the government’s case mischaracterizes Barrack’s relationship with the UAE.

“You have not heard one word during this entire trial about passing on sensitive intelligence,” Jackson said in his summation this week. “That never happened. Never materialized.”

Jackson also said there was no evidence of an agreement between Barrack and UAE officials that he was acting on their behalf and that an express agreement was required for a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act to occur.

A jury in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn reached its verdict on Friday in a trial that began in late September.

Barack is one of several Trump associates indicted in recent years on charges related to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Rick Gates, all former Trump advisers, faced similar charges and were convicted.

Barack, 75, and his business associate Matthew Grimes, 29, also acquitted Friday, were charged with acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent. Barack faced several other charges related to lying to the FBI during an interview about his involvement in the UAE.

Reporting so far: Government rests on foreign agent case against Trump friend Barrack

Among the witnesses were former members of the Trump administration’s cabinet: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The government’s case relied heavily on numerous text messages and emails involving Barrack, his co-defendant Grimes and contacts in the UAE. Jurors also saw a number of clips of TV interviews and written texts showing Barrack praising the UAE leadership.

The main broker for the UAE was Rashid Al Malik, an emeritus who lived in Los Angeles. Al Malik was also charged but fled the country after learning of the investigation.

Prosecutors argued at trial that Barak was successful in his efforts to interfere in foreign affairs on behalf of the UAE. Also an adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Barrack reportedly managed to get praise for “Gulf allies” in one of Trump’s campaign speeches. Prosecutors claimed the term was code for the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Prosecutors said Barack also allegedly provided “insider information on foreign policy developments” to the Trump campaign and his UAE administration and praised the small oil-rich country’s national security in national television interviews. He even “assisted the UAE and its allies in meetings at the White House” in the early days of Trump’s tenure, Assistant US Attorney Ryan Harris said in his summary on Tuesday.

The UAE is “an autocratic and authoritarian government ruled by an oil and gas-rich royal family that controls some of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the entire world,” Harris said.

Barack was facing 20 years in prison on the top count against him. Grimes faced up to a decade in prison if convicted of the top charge.



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