A New York jury Friday found Trump confidant and billionaire Thomas Barrack not guilty of all charges in his trial on federal foreign lobbying allegations.
Barrack, a 75-year-old investor who was an adviser to former President Donald Trump and chair of his Inaugural Committee, was accused of using his connections to Trump’s administration to try to sway U.S. foreign policy for a client, the United Arab Emirates.
Prosecutors portrayed Barrack as a businessman “campaigning for cash,” out to use his White House ties to add a lucrative client to his investment portfolio. Barrack’s defense said he was using his ties to the Middle East and the presidential administration to try to mediate disputes in a volatile but crucial region, an attempt to cap off a storied international investment career.
The jurors, impaneled since Sept. 19, deliberated for two days before reaching their verdict.
Barrack pleaded not guilty to charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the UAE, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.
Prosecutors showed the jury text messages and emails sent during in 2016 and 2017, during the presidential campaign and the early days of the Trump administration, in which Barrack and an employee of his firm, Colony Capital, appeared to relay talking points related to a “wish list” of UAE priorities. Barrack and the employee, Michael Grimes, communicated through a middleman with Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a sheik who is the UAE’s national security advisor, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Barrack’s and Grimes’ efforts garnered $374 million in new investments from a UAE sovereign wealth fund for their firm. Their defense said there was nothing illegal about their efforts to attract new investments, and noted that figure represented just 1% of the investment portfolio managed by Barrack’s former company, Colony Capital, now known as DigitalBridge.
Grimes was also charged in the case. The jury found him not guilty of charges he acted as an unregistered foreign agent.
The alleged middleman, an Emirati citizen who had been living in California, Rashid al Malik, was also charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Al Malik has not been located by authorities.
Barrack spent the final six days of trial on the stand, testifying in his own defense. He described his communications with UAE officials about the Trump administration as “puffery” and attempts to mediate disputes.
The jury also heard testimony from two Trump administration officials, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, called by Barrack’s defense, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, called by the government.