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UAE hoped their man in Washington would be America's top diplomat 

Tom Barrack, a former advisor to former president Donald Trumpon September 19, 2022 [Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]
Tom Barrack, a former advisor to former president Donald Trumpon September 19, 2022 [Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]

The UAE hoped that former US President Donald Trump would give the top diplomatic job in America to Tom Barrack and appoint him Secretary of State. The American multibillionaire is currently on trial for lobbying on behalf of the Gulf state. Details of the 75 year old allegedly acting as an unregistered agent for Abu Dhabi were revealed in court yesterday.

Text exchanges from December 2016 were shown to the jury in which UAE officials are reported to have said that Barrack would be a "great envoy for us". Hopes that the long-time friend of Trump might even become Secretary of State were also mentioned during the exchange.

Jurors have heard expert testimony about the UAE and have seen hundreds of emails and text messages exchanged between Barrack, Emirati officials and Trump campaign officials in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Barrack, a confidant and informal adviser to Trump, is accused of acting as an illegal agent of the Emiratis, seeking to influence the Trump campaign and administration and funnelling secret information to the Gulf state. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which Barrack's defence attorney has dismissed as ridiculous.

The latest high-profile person to testify is Rex Tillerson. The former chief executive of ExxonMobil had a fraught relationship with Trump and lasted only a few months as US Secretary of State before being sacked. Under cross examination, Tillerson said that he was not aware of the details of what Trump heard from his outside advisers on foreign policy, including Barrack and Jared Kushner, the then president's son-in-law who is said to have been the architect of the so called "Abraham Accords".

READ: Trump adviser faces trial over acting as foreign agent for UAE

Speaking on the witness stand, Tillerson revealed that he was concerned about the change in leadership in the Gulf States, especially the appointment of Mohammed Bin Salman as Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Tillerson said that he advised Trump not to have a meeting with Bin Salman in 2017.

On the issue of the blockade against Qatar, Tillerson testified that Kushner was among those who thought Qatar was sponsoring terrorism. The US State Department ultimately "found no validity to the claims," he explained, and blamed Riyadh's intransigence for the standoff.

Tillerson added that his dealings with Barrack were limited. Nevertheless, he confirmed that Barrack had called him "on a couple of occasions" to discuss a potential ambassadorship.

The case continues.

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