Thomas Barrack served as chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee in late 2016 and early 2017.

Jury selection started in the trial of Tom Barrack, the former chair of Trump’s inaugural committee.
Barrack is just the latest Trump ally accused of illegally lobbying for foreign interests.
The trial is a test of the Justice Department’s crackdown on covert foreign influence.

In the summer of 2016, Thomas Barrack stopped to appreciate his latest national television appearance as an informal advisor to the Trump campaign.

“I nailed it … for the home team,” Barrack wrote in a July 2016 text.

But in a court filing, federal prosecutors said Barrack was not referencing Trump’s campaign or the United States. The “home team” was instead the United Arab Emirates, prosecutors said, in an indictment charging Barrack — a wealthy businessman who served as chair of Trump’s presidential inaugural committee — with illegally acting as a foreign agent to push US officials on policies favoring the Gulf nation.

On Monday, jury selection began in Barrack’s trial,  where he stands charged not only with acting as an unregistered foreign agent acting on orders of foreign rulers but also with obstructing justice and lying to the FBI. The trial is expected to last about a month and could shed additional light on how advisers in Trump’s orbit secretly lobbied his campaign and administration on behalf of foreign countries.

Indeed, Barrack is only the latest Trump ally to face charges in connection with an alleged foreign influence campaign. In October 2020, the prominent Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy pleaded guilty to conspiring to influence the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests. Trump’s onetime national security advisor Michael Flynn had previously admitted to making “material false statements and omissions” in foreign-agent filings related to his advocacy for Turkey. (Flynn was not charged in connection with Turkey but made the admission as he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US before Trump’s inauguration.)

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Broidy and Flynn both received pardons from Trump.

Barrack is standing trial alongside his former assistant, Matthew Grimes, who was charged only with participating in the lobbying scheme. An Emirati businessman, Rashid al-Malik, was also charged, but he left the United States just days after federal agents interviewed him. He remains at large.

In court papers, federal prosecutors alleged that Barrack agreed in the spring of 2016 to develop a backchannel between the Emiratis and Trump campaign. As part of the arrangement, Barrack also agreed to influence and obtain information about the campaign’s foreign policy positions, according to the indictment, which quotes extensively from text and email correspondence.

Before long, Barrack sent al-Malik a copy of a speech he’d drafted for Trump, in which he praised an Emirati ruler who was the crown prince of Abu Dhabi at the time.

“They loved it so much! This is great!” Al-Malik replied, according to the indictment.

As the draft went through edits, Barrack then worked with Trump campaign officials to ensure that the remarks included a …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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