THE NEW YORK — A prosecutor said at a federal trial on Wednesday that a close supporter of Donald Trump surreptitiously assisted the United Arab Emirates in an effort to sway American foreign policy as part of a “power and money” conspiracy.
Tom Barrack’s attorney reacted by saying that his client has a perfect history of solely advancing legal commercial and political objectives.
The conversation took place during the opening remarks in the trial of Barrack, a renowned Trump ally and businessman from California who served as the chairman of his inauguration committee in 2017.
Barrack has entered a not guilty plea to accusations that include making false statements, obstructing justice, and operating as an unregistered agent of a foreign country.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Hiral Mehta, the energy-rich U.S. ally invested millions of dollars into Barrack and his co-defendants’ businesses at the same time.
Barrack, he said, saw himself as the UAE’s “eyes, ears, and voice,” and at one time, the UAE urged him to learn about the candidates Trump was considering for secretary of state and other important Cabinet positions.
Steven Schachter, the defense’s opening statement, claimed that there was no proof that Barrack ever followed UAE commands or violated his nation by working as a clandestine agent.
He declared, “Tom Barrack is his own guy. “You’re going to witness that Tom accomplished everything as his own man, making his own judgments,” the speaker said.
In his opening statement on Wednesday, the attorney for Matthew Grimes, a co-defendant of Barrack who is also on trial, said that Grimes was a lackey at Barrack’s company and was never in a position to act as a foreign agent.
A Middle East affairs specialist who testified as the government’s first witness is scheduled to resume on Thursday.
75-year-old Barrack was detained last year and freed on a $250 million bond.
Other initiatives included writing a speech for Trump’s campaign in which he praised a member of the nation’s royal family, informing the Emiratis of the opinions of top U.S. officials regarding a boycott of Qatar, and pledging to advance the interests of the UAE if he were appointed as an ambassador or envoy to the Middle East.
Such a position “would increase the authority of ABU DHABI!” In one correspondence that federal authorities were able to collect, Barrack made reference to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which controls wealth funds worth tens of billions of dollars thanks to its oil and gas reserves.
Ali al-Shamsi, the head of national intelligence for the UAE, was in regular contact with Barrack, according to evidence the U.S. prosecution is attempting to introduce during the trial.
Al Shamsi was one of the most significant UAE government representatives that the defendants interacted with as part of the alleged scheme, especially given his senior position in UAE intelligence operations, and testimony regarding his role and responsibilities is crucial to this case, according to the prosecution’s legal filings.