Trump ally Tom Barrack found not guilty of foreign lobbying charges
Tom Barrack, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump and his one-time chairman of the inaugural committee, was found not guilty Friday of illegal foreign lobbying activities, a defeat for federal prosecutors in Brooklyn who accused the billionaire businessman of acting improperly as a foreign agent on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
After a trial that lasted nearly two months and saw testimonies from two former Trump administration officials, a jury of five men and seven women reached the verdict after three days of deliberation.
Barrack was acquitted of all charges, including conspiracy, obstruction and lying to the FBI.
‘God bless America. The system works,” Barrack said outside the courthouse after his acquittal. “I’m humble. The system is great, the people are great, I have no animosity.”
Asked by TBEN News about his criticism of Trump at trial, in which he said his support for the former president was ultimately “disastrous” for his job, Barrack replied: “I support them all — it’s the toughest job in the world to become President of the United States.”
“I’m just done with politics,” he said.
Matthew Grimes, Barrack’s assistant at his real estate company who was charged alongside Barrack, was also acquitted.
“The word is cliche, but I’m just thankful,” Grimes said outside the courthouse.
The Justice Department accused Barrack, 75, of illegally lobbying the Trump campaign and the early days of the administration, while acting as a foreign agent for the UAE from 2016 to 2018 and failing to register with the Department of Justice, as required by law.
Prosecutors also accused Barrack of lying to federal investigators when they questioned him about his ties to the UAE in 2019.
The high-profile case offered a glimpse into the workings of Trump’s inner circle during the 2016 campaign and the early days of his administration, and featured a star-studded cast of witnesses. Two former Trump administration officials, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, testified at the trial.
Several former Trump administration and Trump campaign officials, including Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Rick Gates, were also mentioned at various points.
Ryan Harris, a federal prosecutor, argued in the closing statement that Barrack had tried to “exploit his access to Trump” with his contacts in the UAE as part of an effort to enrich himself and his real estate investment firm, which attracted large sums of money from the UAE. Emirates state wealth fund around the time of Trump’s arrival at the White House.
In his closing statement, Randall Jackson, a lawyer for Barrack, urged jurors to review the government’s case, citing what he described as a “complete lack of evidence.”
Barrack himself took the stand for his own defense for six days to defend himself against each of the charges against him. He spent hours in front of the jury explaining his longstanding business ties to the UAE and how he wanted to establish a relationship with the Trump campaign and the Middle East.
“I actually thought that was a great thing,” Barrack said of his efforts. “The idea of having someone with knowledge in both tangled arenas that could create a web of understanding and tolerance is what we all needed.”
He laughed when asked by his lawyer about the government’s claim that he was “manipulating the public” and “spreading UAE propaganda”.
“Not at all,” said Barak.
Barrack also testified that he briefed then-candidate Trump about his interactions with United Arab Emirates officials as he sought to help Trump better understand the problems in the Middle East.
“I spoke to President Trump about it and he said, ‘You’re doing the right thing,’” Barrack testified.