Former Trump inaugural chair Tom Barrack will take the stand to testify in his own defense in his criminal trial on charges that he illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, his attorney said in court Friday.
Barack, whose testimony was not expected, is fighting charges that he acted as a foreign agent of the UAE from 2016 to 2018 without registering, which prosecutors say constitute a crime.
Prosecutors earlier this week rested their case against Barrack, a California-based billionaire who ran Trump's 2016 inaugural committee and has been a longtime friend of the former president. Barrack began presenting his defense on Wednesday, and his testimony comes as the almost five-week trial is nearing its end.
The trial has seen testimony from a number of former Trump administration officials and has at times offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the Trump administration in its earliest days.
Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin testified on behalf of Barrack on Thursday, and earlier former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified for the prosecution.
Prosecutors also read to the jury dozens of communications between Barrack and Trump aides including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates.
In one exchange, Barrack emailed one of his UAE contacts in May, 2016, that he had "intercepted" a UAE sheikh who had "reached out to the Trump Organization to Jared ... to try and set up a meeting."
"I told him to cancel that is bulls---," Barrack wrote days later regarding a separate potential meeting.
The government also alleges that Barrack illegally lobbied on behalf of the UAE while seeking investments from two UAE sovereign wealth funds.
Mnuchin testified that in 2017 Barrack had expressed support for Qatar during the 2017 blockade of the tiny nation -- a position that would have put him at odds with the UAE.
On cross examination, Mnuchin sought to avoid specific questions about his own investment firm's financial ties to the UAE.
"Your honor, we're subject to various confidentiality agreements and nondisclosure agreements with our investors -- am I required to answer that question?" Mnuchin asked the judge after being questioned by prosecutors about whether his firm has specifically taken investments from UAE sovereign wealth funds.
The judge said he should answer generally.
"Your fund includes investments from sovereign wealth funds from the UAE?" the prosecutor asked again.
"Yes," Mnuchin replied.
Barrack has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.