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Trump ally Barrack testifies Manafort requested Middle East input by Stocksak


© Stocksak. FILE PHOTO – Defendant Tom Barrack listens in on defense opening statements during a courtroom sketch in New York City. U.S. September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Stocksak), Wednesday, Tom Barrack, a former fundraiser for Donald Trump, testified that Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, asked him to solicit input and suggestions from Middle Eastern officials regarding a speech the candidate was scheduled to deliver on 2016’s energy policy.

Brooklyn Federal prosecutors have stated that Barrack (the former chairman of Colony Capital, a private equity firm) used his influence with Trump’s campaign and administration to push for the United Arab Emirates interests in 2016/2017 without notifying the U.S. attorneys general as required by law.

Barrack’s claim that it was not his intention to seek Emirati input for the speech could help him defend that while he had long sought to improve relations between the United States & several Middle Eastern nations, he never took action at Abu Dhabi’s direction – which prosecutors must prove he was an agent.

Manafort’s lawyer, who is not being accused of wrongdoing, declined to comment.

Barrack, 75 has pleaded not guilty. Monday’s testimony by Barrack denied that Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE national security advisor, asked him to work secretly for the Middle Eastern country in America when they met in spring 2016.

Prosecutors have provided emails indicating that OPEC member UAE government officials gave feedback to Barrack on what Trump should say in his May 2016 speech on energy policy.

Barrack, who was not part of the campaign but later chaired Trump’s inauguration, testified Wednesday that he was involved in the drafting of the energy speech “by default” due to Trump’s lack of “think tank resources” and other candidates with more government and political experience.

He said that Manafort had the idea to draft the speech from officials in the Middle East. Manafort had joined Trump’s campaign in 2016, but was not yet its chair. Barrack’s defense lawyer showed a May 2016 email in the jury in which Manafort asked Barrack whether he was running a draft for the speech “by our friends who were there 10 days ago.”

Barrack claimed he sent a draft the speech to Rashid Al-Malik and an Emirates energy executive. Prosecutors also charged him with acting as an intermediary for Barrack and UAE officials. Al-Malik is still at large.

Barrack said that he wanted Trump’s speech regarding seeking “energy independence for the United States” to not alienate his oil-exporting Middle East allies. However, he claimed that he didn’t include the feedback Al Malik sent him via a UAE official in his draft.

Barrack is expected to be cross-examined later in the week by the Prosecutors.

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