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Trump ally Tom Barrack used access to White House to help foreign government, prosecutor says

Tom Barrack used his longtime friendship with Donald Trump to “illegally present” authorities officers from the United Arab Emirates with entry to the then-president and senior administration officers, and he did so for “cash and energy,” prosecutors mentioned Wednesday.

Barrack, a California billionaire, and his former assistant Matthew Grimes “met with and took instructions from” the UAE throughout a two-year interval beginning in 2016, Assistant U.S. Lawyer Hiral Mehta informed jurors in Brooklyn federal court docket.

The pair are standing trial for performing as unregistered overseas brokers. “They did so within the corrupt pursuit of cash and energy,” Mehta alleged in his opening assertion at their prison trial.

Barrack’s lawyer, Michael Schachter, mentioned that his consumer was by no means beneath anybody’s management, dismissing fees that Barrack was performing as a overseas agent as “nothing in need of ridiculous.”

“He did issues as a result of he wished to” and never as a result of he was being urged to take action by a overseas authorities, Schachter mentioned. He “is an harmless man.”

In court docket filings, prosecutors mentioned the previous president and Barrack have been associates for many years and UAE officers moved to benefit from that relationship when Trump was operating for president throughout the 2016 marketing campaign cycle.

On the behest of UAE officers, Barrack leveraged his friendship with Trump to get language in regards to the significance of working with “our Gulf allies” inserted in a Trump marketing campaign speech about power in 2016, Mehta informed jurors.

When he served as chair of Trump’s inaugural committee, Emirati officers additionally pressed Barrack for particulars on who he’d decide for varied excessive degree jobs, together with CIA director and on the State and Protection departments, the prosecutor mentioned.

He additionally offered UAE officers with delicate info, together with inside discussions throughout the Trump administration regarding the blockade of Qatar by the UAE, Mehta mentioned.

And as Barrack was helping the Emirati authorities, it was investing tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in his non-public fairness fund, the prosecutor added. When he was requested by the FBI about his coping with UAE officers and the actions he’d taken, Barrack “began mendacity” and “lied and lied once more.”

Schachter argued that the feds have been blowing up “meaningless, inconsequential acts,” together with Barrack praising the UAE as an “necessary ally” throughout a TV interview. “Barack Obama has mentioned the identical factor,” Schachter informed the jury.

He additionally mentioned the sum of money the nation invested in his consumer’s $40 billion fund was comparatively small, and Barrack had backed Qatar’s place over the UAE’s throughout the blockade. The UAE and Saudi Arabia blockaded Qatar from 2017 to 2021. Trump tweeted approval of the blockade in 2017.

“This can be a first rate man wrongly accused of crimes he didn’t commit,” Schachter mentioned.

Grimes’ lawyer, Abbe Lowell, denied that his consumer knowingly acted as a overseas agent and contended that he was primarily an intern for Barrack. Whereas Grimes did arrange appointments for Barrack, together with with UAE officers, he did so at his boss’ request, Lowell mentioned, including that he’d additionally get Barrack his espresso and smoothies and babysit his youngsters.

“All he was doing was his U.S. job, for his U.S. firm, for his U.S. boss,” Lowell mentioned.

The trial is predicted to final about 5 weeks.

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