Trump's Billionaire Pal Testifies That Trump Was 'Disastrous' for Business

Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Former President Donald Trump's "divisive" politics ruined his billionaire friend’s business, real estate financier Tom Barrack said at his criminal trial in New York City on Monday.

"Disastrous," he said, describing how his personal relationship with Trump affected his multi-billion dollar global investment business.

Barrack's case presents a rare sight: an unbelievably wealthy baron facing the real threat of prison time. He's accused of putting the nation's security at risk by misusing his position of influence and power with the Trump administration to cut secret deals with the United Arab Emirates.

In this behemoth trial that started last month, federal prosecutors are trying to prove that Barrack abused the access he got to the incoming president by using it to secretly lobby on behalf of Arab royals. For example, an indictment updated in May claimed that Barrack quietly tweaked the GOP platform at the 2016 Republican National Convention—making sure to avoid any mention of the Saudi royal family’s connection to the 9/11 hijackers.

Trump’s Billionaire Pal on Trial for Secret Foreign Lobbying

For jurors, the trial has also become a crash course in the complex and often paradoxical U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. Feds have had to thread a needle, describing its fractured relationship with competing royal families in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, maintaining that they are indeed friendly at times—but not as trustworthy as one might assume, and certainly “not allies,” as one prosecutor put it.

The trial is also timely, as the Justice Department portrays Saudis as reluctant friends on the global stage just as the Biden administration vows that the country will suffer “consequences” after its leaders snubbed the U.S. president’s request to keep the price of oil down—and instead sided with Russia by voting to reduce output from the 13 countries that make up the oil cartel known as OPEC.

The investment mogul is a longtime friend of Trump’s from the celebrity's heyday in the 1980s New York real estate world. Barrack's early support for Trump played a pivotal role in Wall Street lining up behind the Republican in 2016. He would go on to chair Trump’s inaugural celebrations, which were mired in accusations of self-dealing and corruption that ended in a settlement with the District of Columbia attorney general.

But on the stand Monday, Barrack frowned and shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he lamented four years of chaos that ensued—and seemed to blame his association with Trump for his legal troubles today.

"Would it have been better to support someone else?" his defense attorney asked.

"In hindsight, unquestionably," Barrack groaned, citing the "continued drama this president found himself in."

Trump’s Billionaire Pal Watered Down GOP Platform on 9/11 for Saudis

Barrack testified that Trump's racist Muslim ban and nonstop political scandals made it harder for the investment firm Colony Capital to keep alive its business relationships with Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

"I thought he would transition. The style was something I and others didn't appreciate," he said.

When asked how Trump affected his professional life, Barrack began to point the finger at the former president for his current legal woes.

"I'm sitting with all of you today," he said, before prosecutors interrupted him with an objection and prevented Barrack from finishing the sentence.

Barrack held back from criticizing the anti-democracy MAGA movement too harshly, visibly playing the jurors with "both sides" talk.

"I never envisioned that... we could have the dilemma... we can't talk to each other without debate... on all sides," he said. "They're all trying to do the right thing. It's just ugliness."

The company Barrack founded, Colony Capital, rebranded as DigitalBridge Group shortly before the feds arrested him in Los Angeles and charged him in the present criminal case. Barrack stepped down from the board and resigned as CEO.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.