Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Testifies at Trial of Trump Confidant Thomas Barack

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took the stand Monday as a witness in the New York trial of Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of former President Donald Trump who is accused of illegally lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

Tillerson is the first member of the Trump administration to testify in the Barrack’s trial, an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and chairman of the president’s inaugural committee. Barak is accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the UAE, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI about his dealings. Federal prosecutors say that from 2016 to 2018, Barak tried to promote a UAE “wish list” of foreign policy positions. Tillerson served as Secretary of State from February 2017 to March 2018.

Barak was accused in July 2021 and pleaded not guilty. At the time, he was executive chairman of the investment firm Colony Capital, which is now known as DigitalBridge. Also charged were a Colony Capital employee named Matthew Grimes and Rashid Al Malik, an Emirati citizen then living in California.

Grimes entered innocent statements on charges that he was acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Al Malik, who was also accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, has not been located by law enforcement. Prosecutors allege that Al Malik was an intermediary through which Barrack and Grimes communicated with UAE officials, soliciting their input in Barrack’s efforts to influence American foreign policy.

During the first two weeks of Barak’s trial, jurors heard from members of law enforcement and an expert on Gulf monarchies. The government’s presentation so far has revolved around text messages and emails between Barak and his co-defendants. Jurors have also been shown texts Barack sent in 2016 to Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, pushing for the Trump campaign to hire Paul Manafort, who later served as campaign chairman for about two months .

Jurors were also shown messages Barack sent to Manafort about a speech then-candidate Trump was preparing to give on energy policy.

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