Trump Ally Acquitted of Violating FARA

A federal jury on November 4 found investor and former Trump associate Thomas Barrack not guilty of criminal charges that included violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) by acting of a foreign agent of the United Arab Emirates.

Barrack, the founder of Colony Capital, was an adviser to former President Donald Trump and chair of his Inaugural Committee. In July 2021, The Department of Justice unsealed an indictment alleging that Barrack acted and conspired to act as an agent of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018. Barrack also faced several other counts, including obstruction of justice, related to lying to the FBI during an interview about his involvement with the UAE.

At trial, prosecutors argued that Barrack acted at the direction of top UAE officials to, among other things, insert pro-UAE language into a Trump stump speech and influence Trump’s position on the 2017 blockade of Qatar by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. Prosecutors alleged Barrack did so because the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund had invested $374 million with Colony Capital. The defense, however, maintained that there was no explicit arrangement between Barrack and the UAE, which is required for a FARA violation to occur.  

Witnesses at trial included former Trump administration secretary of state Rex Tillerson and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin. 

Barrack had faced up to 20 years in prison.

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