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Jury finds Trump friend Tom Barrack not guilty of foreign lobbying and lying to FBI

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Tom Barrack, the longtime friend and former fundraiser of former President Donald Trump, was found not guilty Friday of charges that he acted 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 traded his decades-long friendship with Trump to give UAE officials “illegal” access to — and insider — information. about – Trump’s White House and his 2016 presidential campaign.

Barrack, who chaired Trump’s inaugural commission, was charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government without prior notice to the Justice Department, an offense that could carry up to 10 years in prison. In addition, he was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI about his contacts with the UAE during a 2019 interview with federal agents.

Barrack, a California billionaire, had denied making the UAE’s bid, claiming he arranged meetings between the Emirates and White House officials and made media comments praising the UAE government for being he wanted to, not because he was referred.

Barrack said he was grateful to the jury. “I am so moved by them and the system,” he said. Asked what he planned to do after the win, Barrack said he would visit the Statue of Liberty — and “have a drink.”

“God bless America,” he said. “The system is great.”

Barrack’s co-defendant, former assistant Matthew Grimes, was also found not guilty of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. “I’m just thankful,” Grimes said.

While Grimes was not the main focus of the prosecutors’ case, “here was charged with serious crimes that would have changed his life” if convicted, his attorney, Abbe Lowell, said.

Barrack attorney Randall Jackson said during his closing statement on Tuesday that there was “nothing outrageous” about Barrack’s dealings with the leaders of the Emirates, noting that the head of the private equity firm has interacted with top foreign officials over the years. more than 100 countries.

“It’s perfectly normal in business for a company to try to serve your business interests as well as your political interests,” Jackson said.

Prosecutors built their case largely around texts and emails that Barrack and Grimes exchanged with an Emirati businessman named Rashid Al Malik, who they described as their go-between for the couple’s dealings with Emirati officials.

The posts showed UAE officials giving Barrack feedback on what he should say in TV interviews and input on what Trump should say about energy policy in a 2016 campaign speech. An official also pressed Barrack for details on the potential choice. from Trump for several high-level positions, including CIA director and positions in the Departments of State and Defense.

Barrack denied sharing that information while testifying in his own defense, and also denied lying to the FBI.

The jury appeared early on in its decision on the foreign agent charges — all of its notes to the judge since the deliberations began Wednesday focused on testimony about the FBI’s charges.

The verdict came at the end of a six-week trial that included testimony from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Barak testified for five days.

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