Barrack had been accused of using his access to the former president to secretly act on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
Tom Barrack, a businessman ally of former President Donald Trump, has been acquitted illicit lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
Barrack, an old friend of Trump who chaired the former president’s inaugural committee, had been accused acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, obstruction of justice and misrepresentation.
The charges stemmed from allegations that Barrack, 75, used his personal access to Trump to covertly promote the interests of the United Arab Emirates.
The not-guilty verdict announced Friday follows three days of jury deliberations that capped the six-week trial.
In his closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Harris told jurors that Barrack had plotted to become the ‘eyes, ears and voice’ of the United Arab Emirates as part of a conspiracy manipulate Trump’s foreign policy.
At the same time, he charged, Barrack leveraged his back-channel connections to get the UAE to funnel tens of millions of dollars into an office building he was developing and into the one of its investment funds.
Prosecutors argued that the text messages and other forms of communication showed that Barrack was acting under the direction of Rashid al-Malik, a businessman who served as a conduit for the rulers of the United Arab Emirates.
Harris said Barrack introduced himself as the UAE’s “inside man”, while Malik asked Barrack “to do things for the UAE again and again”.
Barrack’s defense argued that he made no attempt to hide his relationship with Malik and that he was involved in Trump’s campaign “because he’s loyal to his friends – perhaps wrongly so,” a said attorney Randall Jackson.
In testimony last week, Barrack, who is of Lebanese descent and speaks Arabic, said he tried to arrange a meeting between Trump and UAE national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, among other officials, in a bid to persuade Trump of his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“I was trying to find some common ground to try to push him back from what he didn’t believe,” he said.
Before being charged, Barrack attracted attention by raising $107 million for the former president’s inaugural celebration after the 2016 election.
The event has been scrutinized both for its lavish spending and for attracting foreign officials and businessmen seeking to lobby the new administration.
During his testimony, Barrack also said he never asked Trump for forgiveness. However, he added that “dozens” of people had asked him for help in securing the former president’s pardon.
Several Trump associates and allies have been convicted in recent criminal trials, while others have pleaded guilty. Trump pardoned some of them before leaving office.
Steve Bannon, a Trump campaign and White House strategist, escaped a federal fraud trial thanks to a pardon from Trump in the final hours of his presidency. Bannon now faces charges of money laundering and conspiracy related to the same scheme – he is accused of deceive donors who were donating money to help build Trump’s promised wall along the US-Mexico border. In July, Bannon was found in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from a congressional committee investigating the 2021 attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol, and he was sentenced last month to four months in prison.
Roger Stone, longtime Trump adviser, sentenced in 2019 of lying under oath to US lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, was pardoned.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, was also pardoned after being convicted in 2018 of financial wrongdoing and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
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