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Tom Barrack and Matthew Grimes: Former Trump ally and associate acquitted on foreign lobbying charges




CNN

Tom Barracksa longtime ally of Donald Trumpwas acquitted of all federal foreign lobbying charges in a Brooklyn court on Friday.

The acquittal was a failure for the Department of Justice, which in recent years has launched a crackdown on individuals with undisclosed contacts with foreign governments because of the risks. potential national security.

Barrack was acquitted of acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States and conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States. The juries deliberated for about 13 hours starting Wednesday.

Matthew Grimes, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Falcon Peak Partners, leaves criminal court in New York, U.S., on Monday, October 3, 2022.

Barrack, his former employee Matthew Grimes and a Saudi businessman named Rashid Al Malik were indicted last year and accused of operating as a covert communications channel for the Emirates United Arab Emirates. Prosecutors allege that Al Malik was secretly operating in the US as an agent of the UAE government. Al Malik fled the US shortly after he was interviewed by the FBI in 2018 and is still growing up.

Grimes was acquitted of both charges against him: acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the US and conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent in the US.

Abbe Lowell, attorney for Grimes, said: “Matthew couldn’t be more grateful that we have a system in which his truth and innocence can be displayed. “However, this is just another example of overcharging and overcharging and the problem is that not everyone can afford to fight back. The system needs more monitoring to prevent such cases from being filed.”

Barrack also faces one count of obstruction of justice and six counts of making false statements. He was acquitted on all seven counts.

“God bless America, the system works,” Barrack told reporters after Friday’s ruling.

“These 12 people, ordinary people with complicated, unbelievable truths in front of them, somehow, somehow fought their way through all the quagmire to find justice for the lady with the flame. torches are burning, and a judge protects them,” he added.

When asked about the timing of the acquittal and midterm elections, Barrack said: “Let’s stop fighting each other, stop politicizing, whoever the president is, let’s honor him. and leave all this rubbish behind us. America is like that. Politics just annoys all of us.” Before leaving, he said that he had finished his political work.

Prosecutors allege Barrack offered Emirati officials access to Trump’s 2016 campaign, something he told Al Malik in an email that he “recruited” after disclosing introduced Paul Manafort for a role. In return, prosecutors said, sovereign wealth funds controlled by the UAE poured $374 million into the projects of Colony Capital, Barrack’s firm. Barrack’s defense attorney Randall Jackson argued that amount was insignificant – “less than 1%” of the company’s balance sheet.

During the trial, Trump posted on his Truth Social account calling Barrack a “respected businessman” and saying he did not believe he was a foreign agent of the UAE. Barrack is a longtime friend of Trump, served as chairman of his Presidential Inaugural Committee and advised him as president.

Lowell said in his final argument that prosecutors presented no evidence that Grimes made an agreement with a UAE official to work as a foreign agent.

“A person cannot become an agent by mistake or by accident. He must have intentionally and intentionally done so,” Lowell said.

Over the past five years, the Department of Justice has reinstated a criminal statute that has been dormant for decades and brought numerous criminal cases under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA, against those individuals are lobbying for foreign governments or companies without disclosing it, as required by law, to the attorney general.

Top Trump allies Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Elliot Broidy have all pleaded guilty in connection with FARA. Manafort and Gates have been pardoned by former President Donald Trump.

But when the cases were brought to trial, the Justice Department’s records were mixed up. Greg Craig, a former Obama-era White House adviser, was acquitted by a jury for lying to the FBI about work he had done for the Ukrainian government.

Barrack, who has not been charged under FARA status, has been charged with acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. The statute, known by the national security community as “spy,” is generally reserved for cases involving espionage.

Prosecutors need to prove the person has a deal and is working under the direction and control of a foreign government.

Earlier this year, a Mexican citizen pleaded guilty to acting as a foreign agent and admitted to traveling to the United States at the direction of a Russian intelligence officer to seek information on an American informant.

However, the foreign espionage case of a former business partner of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was dropped through the courts. He was found guilty by the jury only to have the judge hear the sentencing. The conviction was later reinstated by a federal appeals court, which sent the case back to the trial judge. He has been granted a new trial.

The trial, which lasted nearly two months, included references to Trump himself and some of his former cabinet members. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified that he never asked Barrack to conduct any diplomatic activity on behalf of the United States or pass on any information to a foreign government.

The defense team also called former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to testify about a meeting with Barrack in June 2017, when Barrack disagreed with Trump’s public comments in favor of a cargo blockade on Qatar.

The defense tried to refute the prosecution’s allegation that Barrack was actually a covert backing channel for the UAE, noting that the UAE was among the countries that severed diplomatic relations with Qatar.

“He came up with the idea of ​​telling me that he thought the President made a mistake in advocating a lockdown and explaining why,” Mnuchin testified. “His position is clearly in favor of Qatar.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

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