By Luc Cohen
NY (Reuters) – A fundraiser for former U.S. President Donald Trump said prosecutors were wrong to imply his firm sought investment from United Arab Emirates sovereign wealth funds as a “quid pro quo” for lobbying for the Gulf country.
Thomas Barrack, who chaired Trump’s 2017 inaugural fund and was a frequent guest at the White House, is defined to be on trial the following month in federal court in Brooklyn on charges of lobbying the Trump administration for the UAE without disclosing the partnership, as lobbyists must do for legal reasons.
Prosecutors said in-may an investment management firm Barrack ran received capital commitments from the unnamed UAE funds totaling $374 million in 2017, after receiving no new funds from the united states from 2009 to 2016.
Barrack has pleaded not liable.
In a possible preview of the 75-year-old investor’s defense strategy, Barrack’s lawyers on Friday said others at Barrack’s firm, DigitalBridge Group Inc, sought the UAE investment. They asked U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to issue subpoenas for another employees’ communications.
“Such evidence will undermine the Government’s allegation that Mr. Barrack decided to act at the mercy of the UAE’s direction or control in trade for UAE sovereign wealth fund investments,” Barrack’s lawyers wrote in a court filing.
The lawyers disputed the implication that the investment was “somehow a quid pro quo from UAE government’s leaders in trade for Mr. Barrack’s supposed agency.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn didn’t immediately react to a obtain comment.
Prospective jurors for Barrack’s trial were set to begin with filling in questionnaires on Monday to greatly help the court and lawyers for both sides choose the panel, court public records showed. The trial is defined to begin with on Sept. 17.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in NY; editing by Grant McCool)