(NEW YORK) — Government prosecutors in the case of Tom Barrack on Thursday read aloud hundreds of emails and texts sent by the former Trump fundraiser, who is on trial at a federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, for allegedly illegally lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
The hours-long recitation included messages to Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, and Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
Barrack, a billionaire California-based businessman and longtime Trump associate, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he acted as a foreign agent for the UAE from 2016 to 2018 and failed to register with Justice Department, which prosecutors say constitutes a crime. The government alleges that Barrack illegally lobbied on behalf of the UAE while seeking investments from two UAE sovereign wealth funds — a charge his defense attorneys have dismissed as ridiculous.
“[The government’s] accusations are nothing short of ridiculous. Tom Barrack was never under anybody’s direction. Tom Barrack was never under anybody’s control,” said Michael Schachter, Barrack’s attorney. “Tom Barrack was his own man [and] said things because he wanted to.”
After several days of testimony, prosecutors on Thursday laid out communications from Barrack in an effort to prove their case. The messages largely focused on discussions surrounding an energy speech that Trump, who was then a presidential candidate, was set to deliver in early 2016.
Prosecutors have alleged that Barrack shared an early draft of the speech with UAE government officials for feedback, and then inserted language favorable to the UAE.
“Wow, I’m just stunned by how bad this is,” Barrack wrote in an email to Manafort in May, 2016, upon receiving a new draft of the proposed energy speech that did not include his earlier additions praising the UAE. “We better figure out a way to get one paragraph to balance foreign policy concerns for energy dependent allies in the gulf.”
“Send me an insert that will work for our friends. I will push to get it included,” replied Manafort, who was later pardoned by Trump after being sentenced in 2019 to seven years in prison for charges related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. “This is easier than fighting to get the speech back to where it was.”
According to emails presented by prosecutors, Barrack, seeking feedback, had first sent a draft of the speech to Rashid Al Malik, whom the government describes as a UAE national who is also charged alongside Barrack. Al Malik then forwarded the speech to a member of the UAE government, and after much back-and-forth, language praising the UAE was inserted.
“Here is my latest draft, I will give it to him tomorrow,” Barrack wrote days later to Al Malik, in an email with the subject line “totally confidential.” Amidst more back-and-forth that followed, Barrack pushed back on some suggestions, writing to his aide, Matthew Grimes — who is also charged and has pleaded not guilty — “do not include any of their other comments please.”
On May 26, 2016, Trump delivered the speech — which included a pledge to “work with our Gulf allies.”
“Amazing speech!” Al Malik wrote to Barrack shortly thereafter.
“MBZ and MBS were watching,” added Al Malik, referring to UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and then-Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.
Prosecutors also displayed emails from months before the speech, in which Barrack pushed to get Manafort hired by the Trump campaign.
“I think it’s really, really important and Manafort is a genius killer [sic] but the opposite of [Trump adviser Roger] Stone,” Barrack wrote in a Feb. 29, 2016, email to Ivanka Trump and Kushner.
Barrack also forwarded an email he had previously sent to Trump saying that Manafort was “the most serious and lethal of managers.”
“Thank you for being such a great friend,” Manafort emailed to Barrack after Manafort was hired as the campaign’s GOP convention manager. No responses from Ivanka Trump or Kushner were included.
Other emails also appeared to show an effort by Barrack to prevent others from meeting with UAE officials. In early May, Barrack emailed Al Malik that a sheikh had “reached out to the Trump Organization to Jared … to try and set up a meeting.”
“I intercepted,” Barrack wrote in the May 5, 2016, email, which prosecutors read as a picture of Kushner was displayed for the jury.
“I told him to cancel that is bulls—,” Barrack wrote days later regarding a separate potential meeting.
Later, Barrack emailed Jared that the man he was supposed to meet with was a “mid level bureaucrat.”
“You are the only direct channel to the candidate and no one else,” Al Malik told Barrack in a later email.
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