Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of Donald Trump who chaired the former president’s inaugural fund, dances as he speaks to members of the press following his not guilty verdict in Brooklyn Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, November 4, 2022.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Former President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and former fundraiser Tom Barrack was found not guilty Friday of charges that he served as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates during the Trump administration and then lied 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 was traded for his decades-long friendship with Trump for “…illegally provide“UAE officials with access to and inside information about the Trump White House and his 2016 presidential campaign.”
A jury also found Barrack’s right-hand man and co-defendant Matthew Grimes not guilty.
Barrack, who served as chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, was charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Department of Justice, a violation punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, during an interview with federal agents in 2019, he was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI about his contacts in the UAE.
Barrack, a California billionaire, has denied doing the UAE’s bidding, saying he arranged meetings between Emirati officials and the White House and praised the UAE government in the media because he wanted to, not because he was directed to.
Barracks attorney Randall Jackson said during his summing up On Tuesday, it emerged that there was “nothing nefarious” about Barrack’s dealings with the Emirates leadership, noting that the head of the private equity firm had dealt with top foreign officials in more than 100 countries over the years.
“It’s perfectly normal in business for a company to try to satisfy both your business interests and your political interests,” Jackson said.
Prosecutors largely built their case on texts and email messages Barrack and Grimes exchanged with an Emirati businessman named Rashid Al Malik, whom they described as their go-between in the pair’s dealings with Emirati officials.
Reports indicated that UAE officials were giving Barrack feedback on what he should say in television interviews and input on what Trump should say about energy policy in a 2016 campaign speech. One official also urged Barrack , to give him details on Trump’s possible picks for various high-level posts, including director of the CIA and positions at the State and Defense departments.
Barrack denied sharing this information testifying in his own defenseand also denied lying to the FBI.
The verdict came at the end of a six-week trial that included testimony from a former foreign minister Rex Tillerson and former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Barack testified for five days.