Trump may be called to testify at foreign agent trial, judge says

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NEW YORK, Sept. 19 (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump may be called as a witness in the criminal trial of Thomas Barrack, a private equity investor and former Trump fundraiser charged with acting as an unregistered agent for the United Arab Emirates , an American said the judge Monday.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn told several prospective jurors for Barrack’s trial about the prospect of Trump testifying to gauge whether they could be biased against the defendant.

Prosecutors said Barrack, a former chairman of the company now called DigitalBridge Group Inc (DBRG.N), tried to exploit his ties to Trump to advance the interests of the UAE, without disclosing his efforts to the US Attorney General. make, as required by law. Barrack raised funds for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and chaired Trump’s inaugural committee in 2017.

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Barrack, 75, has pleaded not guilty, as has his former assistant and co-defendant Matthew Grimes. Both intend to argue that their interactions with UAE officials were part of their job, and Barrack’s lawyers have said the US State Department, and Trump himself, were aware of his contacts with officials in the United States. Middle East.

Any testimony from Trump would come as the Republican businessman-turned-politician faces a number of legal challenges, including a federal investigation into his handling of presidential records following his departure and a New York state trial in October of his family business for tax fraud. .

A lawyer and a Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Barrack’s lawyers said in an Aug. 26 lawsuit that Trump and members of his administration “cannot be ruled out as potential witnesses.”

Twelve jurors and four deputies will serve on the trial, which is expected to last about a month.

Prosecutors believe UAE officials gave Barrack input on what to say in television interviews and what Trump should say in a 2016 energy policy speech, instructing him to promote the interests of Saudi Arabia, an ally of the UAE, to look after. read more

Barrack was charged last year with acting as a foreign agent, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements in an FBI interview. The charge of a foreign agent carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Cogan fired a juror who said she didn’t like Trump, prompting the judge to ask if she could put her feelings aside.

“Subconsciously I have no control,” she said. “I want to be consciously honest and impartial.”

Another aspiring juror was fired by the judge after criticizing Trump’s “friendly” relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The man would have killed the press man, and you’re going to shake his hand?” asked the prospective juror.

Bin Salman denies involvement in Khashoggi’s death.

Barrack was arrested in Los Angeles but released on a $250 million bond. Another co-defendant, Emirati businessman Rashid Al Malik, is at large.

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Report by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Will Dunham and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Luc Cohen

Thomson Reuters

New York Federal Courts Reports. Previously worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.

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