Trump ally from Santa Monica acquitted of foreign lobbying charges
A Santa Monica-based friend of former president Donald Trump who chaired his inauguration committee was acquitted Friday of violating federal law by secretly acting as a foreign agent while trying to help the United Arab Emirates influence the United States government.
Tom Barrack, billionaire founder of Colony Capital, was also acquitted in New York of obstruction of justice and making false statements to FBI agents in 2019 about his interactions with UAE officials and their representatives.
The verdict followed a six-week jury trial in federal court in Brooklyn. He had faced a total of nine criminal counts
“It’s these people who should take the victory lap,” Barrack told reporters, referring to the jury. “I’m so moved by them and by the system.”
Barrack, 75, was charged last year with using his influence with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and administration to push UAE policy interests, without notifying the U.S. attorney general as required by law that he was acting as an agent for the Middle Eastern country.
Barrack, an Arabic speaker of Lebanese descent who has had a decadeslong relationship with Trump, was accused of promoting talking points from UAE officials to members of the Trump administration. He also allegedly pushed propaganda for the UAE in appearances on major TV news networks and in published pieces.
Barrack raised money for Trump during the 2016 campaign and chaired Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee.
During the trial, Barrack’s attorneys said that while the defendant wanted better relations between the U.S. and countries in the Middle East, he never agreed to act under UAE “direction or control.”