Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took the witness stand Monday on the international lobbying trial of Tom Barrack and testified the longtime pal of former President Donald Trump had unsuccessfully sought an ambassadorship.
Tillerson, who served as Trump’s secretary of state for simply over a yr earlier than he was fired by tweet in March 2018, stated he first met Barrack when he was heading Trump’s inaugural committee in early 2017.
Prosecutors contend that Barrack, 74, acted “to advance the pursuits of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in america on the route of senior UAE officers by influencing the international coverage positions” of the U.S. authorities as an unregistered international agent throughout the Trump administration.
Requested if he ever requested Barrack to conduct any diplomacy on behalf of the U.S., or requested him to move any info to a international authorities, Tillerson stated, “No.”
Tillerson described a telephone dialog with Barrack that he stated occurred in 2017 the place Barrack requested him about an ambassadorship. Tillerson stated he could not recall to what nation or what space. “It was a reasonably quick dialog, as I recall,” Tillerson stated, however “I took word of it.”
He talked about Barrack’s curiosity within the subsequent assembly he had with the then-president.
“Is that this one thing you need me to comply with up on?” Tillerson stated he requested Trump, who “didn’t reply a technique or one other.” “He didn’t proactively say sure,” Tillerson stated, so “I didn’t do something.”
Prosecutors have stated Barrack used his proximity to Trump to assist the UAE by giving inside info on the U.S.’s response to the UAE and different international locations’ blockade of Qatar in 2017, whereas additionally urging the Muslim Brotherhood to be declared a terrorist group.
Tillerson advised prosecutors that the knowledge was delicate. “You actually don’t need outdoors events to have that info and attempt to use it to their benefit,” Tillerson stated.
Requested what the U.S. place was on the Muslim Brotherhood, Tillerson stated, “We didn’t help naming the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.” He stated the group has 4 million members together with quite a few democratically elected politicians and people concerned in terrorist acts had been a small subsection.
“It might make issues very difficult” if the group had been named a terror group, he stated. Tillerson additionally stated it was necessary that individuals lobbying on behalf of international governments register with the federal authorities. “If somebody is representing a international nation, they’re there to ship a message,” Tillerson stated.
On cross-examination, Tillerson was requested by Barrack protection lawyer Randall Jackson if he ever met with international officers whereas he was the top of ExxonMobil. Tillerson stated sure, and estimated that he’d met with authorities officers within the UAE over a dozen occasions whereas he was heading the fuel and oil large.
Requested if he’d ever registered as a international agent, Tillerson stated that after discussing the matter along with his attorneys, he didn’t. “There was nothing I used to be doing that required it,” he stated.
Barrack’s lawyer Michael Schachter has referred to as his consumer “an harmless man” and stated in his opening assertion final month that the notion his consumer was appearing as a international agent was “nothing in need of ridiculous.”
“He did issues as a result of he needed to” and since he thought of them the appropriate factor to do, and never as a result of he was being urged to take action by a international authorities, Schachter stated.