Donald Trump’s billionaire pal Tom Barrack is on trial for secret foreign lobbying.
Donald Trump’s billionaire pal Tom Barrack is on trial for secret foreign lobbying.

Donald Trump’s billionaire pal Tom Barrack is on trial for secret foreign lobbying.

Thomas J. Barrack, a billionaire real estate investor and close associate of former President Donald Trump, is on trial this week. The picture the feds are painting of Barrack is that he’s not only a traitor to his country—he’s also a terrible boss.

That was the biggest takeaway Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn, where one of Barrack’s special assistants, Matthew Grimes — who faces some of the same charges as his former boss — is on trial. Barrack’s only illegal influence campaign.

Federal prosecutors said Barrack, who helped orchestrate Trump’s presidential inauguration-turned-enrichment regime in 2017, used his privileged position of power and influence to secretly lobby on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

And Grimes may prove indispensable to the case.

Grimes’ defense attorney told jurors Wednesday afternoon that the young man was just a wealthy “gofer” who would “go to this and go to that,” take the coffee off his head and make a reservation as “el jefe.” The young man would call it the Spanish Barrack – indeed he was the one who met the Arab kingdom and cut controversial deals.

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The lawyer even recounted one time when Barrack took Grimes out of his family for the winter holidays – forcing him to fly from California to Hawaii at the last minute because his rich boss forgot to pack gifts.

“The foreign agent is not the one who packs the bag… and babysits,” Abbe’s attorney David Lowell told jurors during his opening statement, challenging Barrack as the true enabler.

Courtroom tactics have the effect of forcing Barrack to defend himself on every side.

The hearing has barely begun, and already there is talk of national security secrets and diplomatic conflict. Barrack’s lawyers delivered opening statements to jurors seeking to play down the idea that he betrayed the United States by agreeing with the UAE, claiming that the country is an “important ally” and its soldiers have fought and died in the United States. in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When the jury was out, federal prosecutors objected to that picture, “which is not accurate,” they said.


U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan called Barrack’s lawyers “appealable for their convictions,” noting that “there was a strong suggestion that Emirati was a good guy.” The judge also had to stop Barrack’s legal team from referring to classified materials, shooting down their plan to argue that Barrack is innocent only because of the government’s reluctance to use them. any intelligence evidence that may have been gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.

“You might not think there is such information… that’s not true,” Cogan said.

Earlier, Barrack was arrested in collaboration with another Trump criminal, disgraced Gen. Michael Flynn, to use their White House connections to advance the interests of a nuclear company called IP3. They were involved in a deal that would have exported nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia without diplomatic protection to prevent the authoritarian regime there from misusing it to develop an atomic bomb.

Barrack, a Lebanese-American, has been a longtime friend of the Saudi royal family since his time as a lawyer, and was forced to apologize in 2019 to slow the assassination of the Saudi crown prince. Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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In the coming days, Barrack will defend himself with Grimes, his former right-hand man at real estate investment firm Colony Capital. Grimes, who started as an analyst and moved up to vice president, is accused of playing the system to get comfortable in the UAE through a secret corporate channel that should have gone through the State Department.

The Justice Department’s investigation originally began with seven counts last summer, but a federal grand jury indicted that in May in an expanded nine-count case, with additional felony charges of lying to the federal government.

The 55-page indictment documents how Barrack also abused his influence by quietly passing the GOP program at the 2016 Republican National Convention to avoid angering Saudi Arabia. According to the feds, Barrack intervened to prevent Republicans from revealing the Saudi royal family’s ties to the 9/11 hijackers.

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