A dramatic week is likely on tap for Colony Capital founder Tom Barrack after the real estate titan made a last-minute move to take the stand in his own defense.
Barrack and his counsel on Friday disclosed the plan to have him testify in the trial, where he stands accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates, Bloomberg reported. His time on the stand could begin as soon as Monday.
Barrack could’ve testified on Friday, but prosecutors planned a lengthy cross-examination of another witness, pushing back the testimony for after the weekend.
The move comes with great risk, as noted by Bloomberg. On one hand, making his own case could help Barrack secure an acquittal. But prosecutors will be gunning to trap Barrack and exploit credibility issues in cross-examination, which could doom him to a guilty conviction.
Prosecutors have accused the ally of former President Donald Trump of trying to influence national policy on behalf of the UAE while seeking sovereign wealth investments. UAE funds invested $374 million in Colony, which Barrack claims is unrelated to informal advice offered to Trump during his 2016 campaign or subsequent administration.
Barrack was arrested in July 2021. The indictment, which referenced attempts to advance UAE interests in a campaign’s foreign policy positions, did not mention Trump by name, but said the candidate tied to the campaign was ultimately elected president.
Barrack served as an informal adviser to Trump’s campaign between April 2016 and November 2016 and chaired his presidential inaugural committee. He was also an informal adviser to senior U.S. officials on foreign policy issues for the Middle East.
The firm Barrack founded made painstaking efforts to break with its controversial former chief executive over the years. As the case against Barrack took shape, his company became unrecognizable, changing its name, leadership and headquarters. The company, now known as DigitalBridge, also shifted its portfolio from largely hotel, office, warehouse and retail to mostly digital-related assets, including data centers, cell towers and fiber-network properties.
— Holden Walter-Warner