Billionaire Trump confidant Thomas Barrack calls friend’s presidency “disaster” for his business

Thomas Barracks
Thomas Barrack leaves the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York during a brief break during jury selection for his trial on September 19, 2022 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/Getty Images


Billionaire investor Thomas Barrack testified Monday that his friend Donald Trump’s presidency was “disastrous” for his business.

Barrack made the comment while testifying in his own criminal trial in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI. Barrack is accused of trying to use his long friendship with the former president to influence US foreign policy towards a “wish list” of priorities for the United Arab Emirates.


Trump ally Tom Barrack charged with acting as foreign agent

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The 75-year-old California native, who chaired Trump’s 2016 presidential inauguration committee, revealed that he “believed that as soon as [Trump] if elected, he would be more moderate and more acceptable.”

However, Barrack testified that his connection to the administration made the shareholders of his company, Colony Capital, “freak out” and was the reason he said he was “sitting with all of you today.”

Asked about the impact on his business, Barrack said: “The owners of public stock are voting with their feet.” And he added that “the continuing drama that this president found himself in … many of these institutional shareholders were upset that I was involved with the president.”

Asked if he regrets his support of Trump’s campaign and his association with the administration, Barrack told the jury “in hindsight, no doubt,” adding that politicians, regardless of party, “are just involved in ugliness.”

Barrack also had the opportunity to talk about his decades-old friendship with the former president, which dates back to the 1980s. He said Trump had previously mentioned his interest in running for the White House, but that he had mostly used it as a bargaining chip for his contract for the reality TV show “The Apprentice.”

When Trump developed a genuine interest in running for president in 2015, Barrack was supportive.

“I thought it’s a great thing in America that you can take a well-intentioned entrepreneurial person like Donald Trump and come into the fray and it’s a good thing for the system,” Barrack said.

Barrack told the jury that his company did business with other nations such as the UAE’s regional rival, Qatar, whose investment in Colony was “undoubtedly” more significant than that of the United Arab Emirates. He testified that it would be “impossible” to act as an agent for one of those countries because investors want to know “that nobody has an advantage” and that “they are all equal.”

Barrack’s testimony came a day after Trump posted on his social media platform about the case, disputing prosecutors’ allegations.

Trump called Barrack “a highly respected businessman whose DREAM was to see PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.” He accused the Justice Department of being “weaponized.”

“He NEVER spoke to me about ‘speeches’ and what to say on this subject. He is only being unfairly persecuted because he is a supporter of ‘Trump,'” the former president wrote.

Trump and Barrack have spoken at least once since the trial began last month, according to a source familiar with the matter.

On Friday, defense attorneys for Barrack made the surprise announcement that they planned to call him one witness in own defense as the trial draws to a close. His testimony continues until Tuesday.

The trial, now in its sixth week, focuses on the defense’s case after the government rested last week. Jurors have heard testimony from some of Barrack’s professional network and from members of President Trump’s cabinet.

The government called the former foreign minister Rex Tillerson to the stand the 3rd of October. Tillerson, whose tenure lasted from February 2017 to March 2018, said he did not know Barrack communicated with Emirati officials and never asked for Barrack’s involvement in foreign policy discussions.

Last week former finance minister Steve Mnuchin, who served all four years of the Trump administration, undermined the government’s case against Barrack when he testified. Mnuchin said Barrack supported Qatar during the economic blockade imposed by its neighbors, including the UAE, against Qatar. The blockade was approved by Trump.

Tillerson was also questioned about a planned summit at Camp David where Trump hoped to resolve the blockade of Qatar. Mnuchin would not elaborate on discussions about Camp David, citing executive privilege. The summit never took place.

Barrack, along with his former assistant, Matthew Grimes, and business associate, Rashid Al Malik, were charged in July 2021. At the time, Barrack was executive chairman of the investment firm Colony Capital, now known as DigitalBridge. He has since resigned. Grimes entered not guilty of charges to 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 law enforcement.

Lawyers for Barrack and Grimes have said their communications with UAE officials were related to their business dealings. They have said that Trump and the US State Department were aware of Barrack’s international business dealings.

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