Jurors find Trump friend Thomas Barrack not guilty on all charges in foreign lobbying trial

A New York jury on Friday found billionaire Trump confidant Thomas Barrack not guilty of all charges in his federal trial on foreign lobbying allegations.

Barak, a 75-year-old investor who was an adviser to former President Donald Trump and chairman of his inaugural committee, has been accused of using his connections to the Trump administration to try to influence US foreign policy for a client, the United Arab Emirates.

Prosecutors portrayed Barak as a businessman “campaigning for cash” to use his White House connections to add a lucrative client to his investment portfolio. Barak’s defense said he was using his ties to the Middle East and the presidential administration to try to mediate differences in a volatile but critical region, an attempt to cap a storied international investment career.

The jury, which had been empaneled since September 19, deliberated for two days before reaching its verdict.

Tom Barrack speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention
Thomas J. Barrack, a billionaire investor and close friend and adviser to Donald Trump, delivers a speech at the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Barrack pleaded not guilty on charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the UAE, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.

Prosecutors showed jurors text messages and emails sent in 2016 and 2017, during the presidential campaign and the early days of the Trump administration, in which Barak and an employee of his firm, Colony Capital, appeared to air talking points about a “wish list” of UAE priorities. Barak and the employee, Michael Grimes, contacted Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a sheikh who is the UAE’s national security adviser, through an intermediary, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Barrack and Grimes’ efforts raised $374 million in new investment from a UAE sovereign wealth fund for their company. Their defense said there was nothing illegal in their efforts to attract new investment and noted that this figure represents just 1% of the investment portfolio managed by Barrack’s former firm, Colony Capital, now known as DigitalBridge.

Grimes was also charged in the case. The court found him not guilty of the charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

The alleged middleman, an Emirati citizen living in California, Rashid al-Malik, was also charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Al Malik has not been located by authorities.

Barak spent the last six days of the trial on the stand, testifying in his own defense. He described his communications with UAE officials about the Trump administration as “inflatable” and attempts to mediate disputes.

The jury also heard testimony from two Trump administration officials, a former Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchincalled by Barak’s defense and former foreign minister Rex Tillersoncalled the government.

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