Tom Works As An Agent For A Large Insurance Company – The trial of former President Donald Trump’s unofficial adviser Thomas J. Barrack Jr., Jr., accused of acting as an unregistered agent for the United Arab Emirates, may reveal how foreign governments scrambled to infiltrate the Trump administration. It may have created lucrative opportunities for businessmen close to the White House.
Jury selection for the trial, which is expected to last until October, began Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. Prosecutors have accused Barak, a Los Angeles-based private investor, of using his privilege with Trump to advance the Emirati’s interests and acting as a secret conduit without disclosing his aspirations to the attorney general. as the government claims it should be.
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According to prosecutors, while serving in the Emirati government, Barak also solicited money from the rulers for investment funds that would support projects to advance Trump’s agenda and benefit from his policies.
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Mr. Barak has denied wrongdoing. In court documents, his lawyers suggested prosecutors delayed charging Trump until after he left office and said the allegations were without merit. Barak’s spokesman declined to comment.
On his way to the courthouse Monday morning, Mr. Barak said: “I believe in the system. I believe in the judge and the judges. Wait and see.”
Several prospective jurors were dismissed on Monday after expressing strong political sentiments, particularly toward Middle Eastern countries and Trump.
Several judges said Donald Trump, and developed a take-home survey question asking the jury to name the celebrity they most or least admired. A few were allowed to stay who said they could put aside their personal opinions and give a fair trial.
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In all, Barak faces seven charges, including acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, obstruction of justice and making false statements. He will be tried only together with his former assistant Matthew Grimes, who is accused of lobbying. Both were arrested in July 2021; Prosecutors filed a second indictment in the case in May detailing Barak’s efforts.
Attorneys for Grimes did not respond to a request for comment. In a motion to dismiss the charges in February, they said he allegedly did not agree to become an agent of the United Arab Emirates.
A third defendant, Emirati businessman Rashid al-Malik, who fled the United States in 2018 after being interviewed by federal agents, remains at large, prosecutors said.
Foreign governments have long sought privileged status from US presidential administrations. Wealthier countries, including the United Arab Emirates, have sought to influence US politics and society by making large donations to universities and think tanks and hiring armies of lobbyists to push bills through Congress.
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But under the Trump administration, some Gulf states have stepped up efforts to reach out to the president and his top aides, many of whom have little experience in foreign policy and are considered particularly vulnerable to influence.
According to the indictment, in May 2016, the Arabic-speaking Mr. Barak, who is of Lebanese descent, agreed to act as a back channel between the Emirati and the Trump campaign. Shortly thereafter, Barak sent al-Maliki a copy of a speech he said he had personally prepared for Trump in which he praised Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, then the emirate’s crown prince. Abu Dhabi.
“They loved it! That’s great,” al-Malik responded in the indictment, which includes extensive quotes from emails and text messages.
According to the indictment, when the speech was revised, Barak worked with campaign officials to make sure the remarks were a positive reference to allies in the Persian Gulf. After the speech, a senior Emirati official emailed Mr. Barak, saying that “everyone here is very pleased with the results.”
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During the Republican convention, prosecutors said Mr. Barack worked with the Trump campaign to target parts of the platform at the Emirate. He also praised the UAE. on television, according to the indictment; Mr al-Malik promoted the ad and broadcast Barak and Grimes’ speeches from a senior Emirati official.
After Trump’s election, prosecutors said Barak spoke with senior Emirati officials about Trump’s transition and potential candidates for top jobs. In December 2016, al-Malik gave Barak a “wish list” of foreign policy actions, prosecutors said.
Mr. al-Malik also pressed Grimes for the Trump administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood, a longtime Emirati target, as a foreign terrorist organization. “Yes,” replied Mr. Grimes. “With your guidance.” A few weeks later, Mr. Grimes sent Mr. al-Malik a news article saying a move was being considered.
Barak insisted in court documents that his ties to Gulf leaders were no secret. His post shows that “his actions were carried out with the knowledge of the Trump campaign and administration,” his lawyers wrote this year.
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His lawyers also noted that Barack provided the government with extensive information about his foreign connections while seeking an official position in the Trump administration. And starting in late 2017, he voluntarily met with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn’s investigation into Mr. Barack’s ties to foreign leaders stems from H. Mueller’s investigation.
In 2019, Mr. Barak revealed that his F.B.I. learned he was being investigated by the FBI, even though he said he had not been told he was a target, and set up a meeting with agents through his lawyers. Prosecutors say that during that interview, Barak made false statements about his ties to al-Maliki and his role in arranging contacts between the Trump administration and the United Arab Emirates.
In court documents, prosecutors alleged that Barak made some of his deals through the United Arab Emirates. money for business projects. According to the indictment, Barak planned to launch the proposed investment fund during a meeting with Emirati ruler Sheikh bin Zayed.
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There is no evidence that the proposed initiative took place or that Mr. Barak met the Crown Prince. But over the following months, the emirate’s sovereign wealth funds invested a total of $374 million in two deals financed by Mr. Barrack’s real estate giant, now known as DigitalBridge Group and formerly known as Colony Capital, according to the indictment.
Mr. Barak is one of several Trump associates under investigation for his ties to foreign interests, particularly lobbying of U.S. officials on behalf of governments and others.
In October 2020, Elliott Brody, a former top fundraiser, pleaded guilty to conspiring to influence the administration in the interests of China and Malaysia. Mr. Trump pardoned Broidy in the final days of his presidency.
Michael T. Flynn, who was briefly Trump’s national security adviser, admitted in 2017 that he worked as a foreign agent for a Turkish businessman. The confession was part of a deal – Mr Flynn was never charged with Turkey – and Mr Trump pardoned him in November 2020.
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Some agreements have raised questions of ethics rather than legality. After leaving the White House, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner received a $2 billion investment from a Saudi Arabian investment fund, which some critics said gave the impression that Kushner was being paid for lucrative White House activities. .
After Trump left office, his Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, sought funds for his private equity fund and eventually received $1 billion from the Saudis and $500 million more from the Emirates.
Rebecca Davis O’Brien covers law enforcement and litigation in New York. He previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, where he was part of the team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for stories about secret payments to two women on behalf of Donald Trump. More about Rebecca Davis O’Brien
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