Tom Barrack, who headed President Trump's inaugural committee, was acquitted of all counts in a federal trial in which he was accused of using his personal access to Trump to promote the interests of the United Arab Emirates, the Associated Press reports. A jury in Brooklyn deliberated three days before finding Barrack not guilty Friday of acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, obstruction of justice and making false statements. Barrack, 75, a California billionaire, was among a long line of Trump associates to face criminal charges. Barrack said he was thankful that the jury understood “such complex and believable facts in front of them. … I’m proud to be an American.” Trump said Barrack “should have never been charged or tried.”
In closing arguments, defense attorney Randall Jackson said Barrack made no attempt to conceal relationships with Rashid al Malik, a businessperson from the UAE who acted as a conduit to the rulers of the oil-rich Persian Gulf state. Jackson said it “makes no sense” that his client would try to infiltrate the Trump campaign on the behalf of the UAE at a time when Trump’s chances of winning the presidency were considered a longshot. Barrack, an Arabic speaker of Lebanese descent, described efforts to arrange for Trump to meet with UAE national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other officials from more moderate governments in an effort to persuade Trump to tone down his his anti-Muslim rhetoric. Barrack’s acquittal was the latest setback for the Justice Department, which has stepped up enforcement of laws governing foreign lobbying. Last month, a judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to force casino magnate Steve Wynn to register as a foreign agent because of his alleged lobbying for China during the Trump administration.