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Rex Tillerson to be called as a witness in the trial of Trump confidant Thomas Barrack, defense says

Federal prosecutors plan to call former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as a witness in the New York trial of Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of former President Donald Trump accused of illegally lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, Barrack’s lawyers said Saturday in a letter. the judge presiding over the trial.

Tillerson would be the first Trump administration cabinet official to testify at the trial, which is entering its third week.

Barrack, who was an adviser to the Trump campaign and administration, as well as chairman of the presidential inaugural committee, is accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI about his dealings.

Barrack’s attorneys indicated in their letter to Judge Brian Cogan that Tillerson, who was also CEO of Exxon Mobil, is being called in earlier than the government had planned because of a scheduling conflict.

“Today, the government informed the defense that it had ‘finalized the decision to call Secretary Tillerson as a witness,'” Barrack’s attorneys wrote. They said prosecutors intended to call Tillerson on Tuesday but asked that Cogan order him to appear Monday. Tuesday is scheduled to be a shorter day of judgment than usual due to Yom Kippur.

A spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn did not respond to a request for comment.

Tom Barrack speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention
Thomas J. Barrack, billionaire investor and close friend and adviser to Donald Trump, delivers a speech at the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The judge and attorneys in the case questioned potential jurors at length about their views and knowledge of Trump and others in his orbit, including Tillerson. Cogan indicated during jury selection that Trump or members of his administration could be called as witnesses during the trial.

The case centers on allegations that Barrack negotiated his friendship and access to Trump to benefit the government of the United Arab Emirates.

For the first two weeks, jurors heard from members of law enforcement including a digital forensics analyst and an expert on monarchies from the Gulf region. In recent days, text messages and emails have been read between Barrack and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and former White House senior adviser, as well as Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman of 2016. . Messages were also read between Barrack and the other two defendants in the case, former employee Matthew Grimes and Rashid Al Malik, an Emirati citizen then residing in California.

Federal prosecutors say that, from 2016 to 2018, Barrack sought to advance a “wish list” of UAE foreign policy positions.

Barrack was charged in July 2021. At the time, he was CEO of investment firm Colony Capital. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Colony Capital is now known as DigitalBridge.

grimes walked in not guilty pleas to the charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Al Malik, who was also charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, has not been located by police.

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