Jurors are due to begin deliberations in the trial of a longtime friend of Donald Trump, accused of taking advantage of his access to the former president by acting as an unregistered lobbyist for the United Arab Emirates.
The lawyers presented their closing arguments on Tuesday after six weeks of testimony from witnesses such as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as well as five days of Barrack testifying on the stand in his own defense. .
Barrack, 75, is charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, obstructing justice and making false statements to the FBI. Prosecutors allege he used his decades-long friendship with Trump to “illegally provide” UAE government officials with access to – and information about – the president and top officials.
Prosecutors argued on Tuesday that Barrack, who was chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, “lied and he lied and he lied again” to federal agents to hide he was providing political access and insider information to the UAE. United.
“Mr. Barrack traded his political access for a long-term relationship with senior UAE officials,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Harris told jurors when he was summoned to federal court in Brooklyn, New York. In return, the United Arab Emirates has unblocked its purse strings.”
The arrangement, Harris argued, paid off for Barrack. The UAE, through sovereign wealth funds it controlled, invested $374 million in Barrack’s company Colony Capital in 2017 and 2018, after not investing “a dime in previous years “.
Barrack repeatedly misled FBI agents who questioned him in 2019 about his dealings with a man who prosecutors say was his go-between with UAE officials because he knew what he was doing. had done was “wrong,” Harris said.
Barrack’s attorney, Randall Jackson, countered that his client “didn’t lie about anything” to the FBI and suggested the interviewers’ recollection was inaccurate – the two elements of what Jackson said were a case full of innuendo and “hijacking”. “
Jackson told jurors the government’s assertion of damning evidence was “a joke” and that there was “nothing nefarious” about Barrack’s dealings with Emirati officials.
“It’s perfectly normal in business for a company to try to accommodate both your business interests and your political interests,” Jackson said.
Jackson noted that when Barrack was being considered for an ambassadorship in the Trump administration, he filled out a federal form disclosing contacts with foreign officials in 147 countries, including the United Arab Emirates.
Jackson also downplayed the significance of UAE investment in Barrack’s company, calling it “less than half of 1% of Colony’s balance sheet” and saying it was on terms favorable to the UAE fund. United, not Colony.
“This whole lawsuit was an act of misdirection,” Jackson said, adding that Barrack had repeatedly rejected several demands from the Emiratis and backed Qatar within the Trump administration when the UAE and Saudi Arabia blocked him.
Jackson further argued that the government had no direct evidence that Barrack had made a deal with the UAE.
Authorities say the alleged scheme began during the 2016 presidential campaign and continued throughout Trump’s first year in office. Much of the government’s case relied on emails and text messages obtained by investigators.
The posts showed Emirati officials commenting to Barrack on what he should say in TV interviews and providing information on what Trump should say on energy policy in a 2016 campaign speech. They also pressed Barrack to get details on Trump’s likely picks for high-level positions, including director of the CIA and positions in the State and Defense Departments.
Harris told the jury that prosecutors showed them “hundreds of emails, text messages” and business and other documents to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Barrack and his aide and co-defendant, Matthew Grimes , “acted under the direction of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.”
Grimes’ lawyer, Abbot Lowell, disputed that his client was an unregistered foreign agent, saying he did what his boss Barrack told him to do, not what UAE officials had asked. As for the text messages showing a friendly relationship between Grimes and Rashid Al Malik, the alleged intermediary, it was because “they were friends”, not because he was under his “direction and control”, said Lowell.
The jury is due to begin its deliberations on Wednesday.