The trial of Donald Trump’s longtime friend is set to start. He is accused of making money by being an unregistered lobbyist in the United Arab Emirates.
After six weeks of testimony by witnesses including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and five days of Barrack’s testimony on the stand, attorneys presented their closing arguments Tuesday.
Barrack, aged 75, was charged with being an unregistered foreign agent, obstruction
of justice, and making false statements about the FBI. Prosecutors claim that Barrack, 75, used his decades-long friendship with Trump to illegally give UAE government officials access to the president and other top officials.
Prosecutors claimed Tuesday that Barrack was the chair of Trump’s inaugural committee and that he “lied and then he again” to federal agents to conceal that he had been providing political access to the UAE and inside information.
Harris claimed that the arrangement paid off for Barrack. After not having invested “one penny” in the past years, the UAE invested $374 million in Barrack’s company Colony Capital in 2017, and 2018.
Harris stated that Barrack had repeatedly misled FBI agents when he was questioned by them in 2019 about his dealings and a man they claimed was his intermediary with officials from the UAE. Harris said that he knew what he’d done was wrong.
Randall Jackson, Barrack’s lawyer, countered that Barrack “didn’t lie about anything” to the FBI. He suggested that agents’ recollection was inaccurate. Both elements of Jackson’s case were filled with innuendo as well as “misdirection.”
Jackson claimed that jurors were making a joke out of the government’s assertion of overwhelming evidence and that Barrack’s dealings in Emirati with officials were “nothing sinister”.
Jackson stated that it is normal for businesses to try to serve both their business and their political interests.
Jackson pointed out that Barrack filled out a federal form disclosing his contacts with foreign officials in 147 nations, including the UAE, when he was being considered for an Ambassadorship under the Trump administration.
Jackson also dismissed the UAE’s investments in Barrack’s firm, calling it “less than one-half of Colony’s balance sheet” as well as stating it was on terms favorable for the UAE fund and not the Colony.
Jackson stated that “this whole prosecution was an act of misdirection.” Jackson also said that Barrack repeatedly denied requests from Emiratis and supported Qatar in the Trump administration, when Saudi Arabia and the UAE blocked it.
Jackson argued that there was no evidence to support the claim that Barracks had made a deal in the UAE.
The alleged scheme was allegedly started during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and continued through his first year as president. Investigators uncovered a lot of emails and text messages that led to the bulk of the government’s case.
These messages showed Emirati officials providing feedback to Barrack on what he should say during TV interviews and giving input about what Trump should have to say about energy policy in his 2016 campaign speech. Barrack was also pressed for information about Trump’s possible picks for top-level positions, including CIA director and positions in the State and Defense departments.
Harris stated to the jury that prosecutors showed them “hundreds” of emails, text messages, and business records to prove that Barrack and Matthew Grimes, his assistant, “acted under the direction of the UAE government.”
Grimes’ lawyer, Abbe Lowell refuted the claim that his client was a foreign agent unregistered. He said that he did exactly what his boss Barrack instructed him and not what UAE officials asked. Lowell stated that text messages indicating a friendly relationship between Grimes, Rashid Al Malik, and the alleged go-between were not due to him being under his “direction” and control.