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Trump ally Tom Barrack acquitted of illicit lobbying in UAE

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 of illicit lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

Barrack, a longtime friend of Trump’s who chaired the former president’s inaugural committee, had been charged with acting as an unregistered agent for a foreign government, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

The charges stemmed from allegations that Barrack, 75, used his personal access to Trump to secretly advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates.

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The not guilty verdict announced Friday followed three days of jury deliberations that culminated the six-week trial.

In closing arguments, Assistant US Attorney Ryan Harris told the jury that Barrack planned to become the “eyes, ears and voice” of the United Arab Emirates as part of a criminal conspiracy to manipulate Trump’s foreign policy.

At the same time, he charged, Barrack leveraged his back-channel connections to get the United Arab Emirates to funnel tens of millions of dollars into an office building he was developing and into one of his investment funds.

Prosecutors argued that the text messages and other forms of communication showed that Barrack was acting at the direction of Rashid al-Malik, a businessman who served as a conduit for the rulers of the United Arab Emirates.

Harris said that Barrack promoted himself as the UAE’s “inside man”, while Malik asked Barrack to “do things for the UAE over and over again”.

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Barrack’s defense argued that he had not tried to hide his relationship with Malik and that he was involved in the Trump campaign “because he is loyal to his friends, perhaps to the extreme,” attorney Randall Jackson said.

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In his testimony last week, Barrack, who is of Lebanese descent and speaks Arabic, said he had tried to set up a meeting between Trump and the United Arab Emirates’ national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, among other officials, in an effort to persuade Trump to take a stand. his anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“I was trying to get common ground to try and get him to step back from what he didn’t believe in,” she said.

Before being indicted, Barrack made waves by raising $107 million for the former president’s inaugural celebration after the 2016 election.

The event came under scrutiny both for its lavish spending and for attracting foreign officials and businessmen seeking to pressure the new administration.

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During his testimony, Barrack also said that he never sought a pardon from Trump. However, he added that “dozens” of people had asked him for help in obtaining a pardon from the former president.

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 federal trial on fraud charges thanks to a Trump pardon in the final hours of his presidency. Bannon now faces state money laundering and conspiracy charges related to the same scheme: He is accused of misleading donors who were giving money to help build Trump’s promised wall along the US-Mexico border. In July, Bannon was found guilty of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from a congressional committee investigating the 2021 attack by Trump supporters on the US capitol, and was sentenced last month to four months. from prison

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Former Trump adviser Roger Stone, convicted in 2019 of lying under oath to US lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, has received a pardon.

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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