At federal trial, financier navigates friendship with Trump

Oct 25, 2022, 2:19 AM | Updated: 3:01 pm
Tom Barrack leaves Brooklyn Federal Court, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New Yo...

Tom Barrack leaves Brooklyn Federal Court, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Barrack, a close ally of former President Donald Trump has taken the witness stand at his federal trial to dispute charges he secretly fed confidential information about the Trump administration to the United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — As wealthy financier Tom Barrack built a private equity empire that relied on his close contact with Middle East leaders, he encountered a stumbling block: his friendship with Donald Trump.

Barrack had known Trump for years and admired him. But the Republican former president’s anti-Muslim rhetoric during his 2016 campaign was, in Barrack’s words, a foreign policy “nightmare” that worried some of his biggest investors.

It was a quandary that Barrack, the onetime chair of Trump’s inaugural committee, has sought to explain this week while taking the witness stand on his own behalf at his criminal trial in New York City. Federal prosecutors have accused him of secretly working as a foreign agent who was under orders by the United Arab Emirates to manipulate U.S. foreign policy in its favor.

In his second day of testimony Tuesday, Barrack described efforts to arrange for Trump to meet with UAE national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other officials from more moderate oil-rich Persian Gulf states to persuade Trump to tone down his “outrageous claims” about alleged threats from the Arab world.

“I was trying to get common ground, to try to get him to step back from what he didn’t believe,” Barrack said.

Barrack also repeated his assertion that he wasn’t hiding his activities. He and his lawyers say Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and advisor, were fully in the loop.

Asked repeatedly if he ever “offered his services as a foreign agent” for the UAE, Barrack responded, “No.”

The only goal was to create a climate of “understanding and tolerance,” said Barrack, an Arabic speaker of Lebanese descent. “I was so excited that I could be some minor prod in that process.”

On Monday, Barrack testified that he met Trump in the 1980s while helping negotiate Trump’s purchase of the renowned Plaza Hotel. He said he grew to view Trump as “more resilient than anyone I knew.”

During jury selection, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan cautioned prospective jurors that Trump’s name would come up often, and pressed them on whether they could be fair in a case infused with politics and shadowy international business dealings. Some potential jurors were dismissed after saying it was asking too much because of their distaste for the former president.

Barrack, 75, is accused of using his “unique access” as a longtime friend of Trump to provide confidential information about the Trump administration to the UAE to advance the Emirates’ foreign policy and business interests. Prosecutors say that UAE officials rewarded Barrack by pouring millions of dollars into his business ventures.

Barrack has pleaded not guilty to acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, obstruction of justice and making false statements. His lawyers have denied he did anything underhanded.

The Los Angeles-based billionaire has known Trump for decades and played an integral role in the 2016 campaign as a top fundraiser at a time when many other Republicans were shunning the upstart candidate.

The government rested its case last week. Much of the evidence focused on emails and other back-channel communications between Barrack and his high-level leaders in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Prosecutors say those communications show how Barrack and his contacts schemed on how to win over Trump.

Before being indicted, Barrack drew attention by raising $107 million for Trump’s inaugural celebration following the 2016 election. The event was scrutinized both for its lavish spending and for attracting foreign officials and businesspeople looking to lobby the new administration.

Barrack’s testimony is to continue Wednesday.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011...
Associated Press

Boeing’s last 747 to roll out of Washington state factory

After more than half a century, Boeing is set to roll its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday.
17 hours ago
(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein, File)...
Associated Press

Inslee touts new housing program for Spokane’s homeless

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was in Spokane Monday to preview the opening of a new housing project for homeless people, calling the Catalyst Project a step toward ending the state’s homelessness crisis.
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Dominica’s leader expected to stay following snap elections

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was expected to remain leader of the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica after snap general elections Tuesday that the main opposition party and its supporters boycotted. Twenty-one of 32 seats in the House of Assembly were up for grabs, with several automatically going to Skerrit’s […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Woman gets 25 years for robbery in which boyfriend killed 6

CHICAGO (AP) — A woman who watched her former boyfriend kill six members of his family, including two young boys, at their Chicago home then helped him steal their property was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison. Jafeth Ramos, 25, pleaded guilty to armed robbery under a deal with Cook County prosecutors in which […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Tugboats, bottom, align a barge near the container ship Ever Forward, top, which ran aground...
Associated Press

Coast Guard faults pilot in Chesapeake Bay ship grounding

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Coast Guard investigation into the grounding in March of a cargo ship in the Chesapeake Bay faulted the pilot tasked with helping the ship navigate the waterway, saying he relied too much on one piece of equipment to navigate and was on his cellphone in the runup to the grounding. In […]
17 hours ago
Leaders attend the plenary session of the Mercosur trade bloc summit in Montevideo, Uruguay, Tuesda...
Associated Press

Tensions over trade deals exposed at Mercosur summit

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — A summit of the four Mercosur nations exposed tensions Tuesday as Uruguay’s eagerness to seek out foreign markets collided with opposition from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou said his country must “open up to the world” and it intends to negotiate a free trade agreement with China […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
At federal trial, financier navigates friendship with Trump