Paul Manafort Shared the Trump Energy Speech with Tom Barrack

One of the earliest exchanges with the guy described as his handler, Rashid Al Malik, in the indictment against Tom Barrack involved his success at editing a Trump speech otherwise calling for energy independence to include a commitment to “work together with our supportive allies in the Gulf.” Karen DeYoung described the resulting effect as a “jarring” conflict with the rest of the speech.

When, as a candidate, Trump was preparing an early 2016 speech outlining his energy policy, Barrack allegedly prepared a draft for the campaign including a favorable mention of bin Zayed.

The proposal seemed jarring, since the speech was to outline Trump’s plans to build domestic energy production and end oil imports from countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, both leading members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

When he delivered the address, Trump confusingly followed a vow to “become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel” with a promise to “work with our gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship.”

The indictment doesn’t make clear which “senior member of the Campaign” Barrack worked with to include the language.

But Barrack’s December 12, 2017 interview with Mueller does. Close to the end of a long interview that focused closely on Barrack’s role in getting Manafort the job and his own role leading the Inauguration Committee (in which Barrack focused on his efforts to peddle influence with other countries besides UAE), Barrack described that he worked directly with Manafort on the speech (which makes sense, because he did not yet know Rick Gates).

BARRACK stated he contributed to portions of TRUMP’s energy policy. BARRACK’s idea was to create a broad energy policy. MANAFORT had sent BARRACK a draft of a speech TRUMP was to give on energy. BARRACK made notes on the speech and returned his comments to MANAFORT. BARRACK contended, however, his notes to the speech were ultimately thrown out. BARRACK added during this time the TRUMP campaign’s view on Muslims was challenging. Moreover, the campaign seemed to have a negative view toward Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. BARRACK suggested the campaign needed to divide radical Islam from modern Islam. Before providing comments on the draft energy speech back to MANAFORT, BARRACK shared the draft with [line redacted]. BARRACK asked each about the tone and technical aspects of the draft speech. [four lines redacted]

Barrack’s description that he moderated Trump’s anti-Muslim bias is consistent with actions described later in his indictment, including his effort to distinguish Saudi Arabia and UAE from the countries banned by Trump. Depending on what appears behind those redactions, this explanation for his role in the speech might explain an oddity about the indictment.

The discussion of the speech is included in the section titled, “The Defendants’ Actions in the United States as Agents of the United Arab Emirates,” effectively showing evidence to support the charge that Barrack worked as a Foreign Agent for UAE. But the communications surrounding the speech do not appear in the Overt Acts section describing the acts the defendants took as part of a conspiracy. And, as I noted yesterday, while DOJ included the speech in a list of lies Barrack allegedly told the FBI on June 20, 2019 in a detention memo (and vastly overstated the extent of Barrack’s described edits), those lies are not charged as false statements in the indictment.

(1) writing a draft of a speech to be delivered by the Candidate in May 2016; (2) reviewing a PowerPoint presentation to be delivered to senior UAE officials on how to increase the UAE’s influence in the United States with his assistance;

There may be good reason for this. It may well be that Barrack denied any role in editing Trump’s speech in 2019, after Al Malik had been interviewed by Mueller’s team and subsequently fled the country. He certainly downplayed his role in his own interview with Mueller’s team, which took place five months before Al Malik’s own interview. But he did acknowledge that he attempted to draft the speech.

That is, Barrack may have told the truth in December 2017, when the issue was Manafort’s foreign influence-peddling with Russia, but did not in June 2019, when the issue had become his own with UAE.

35 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Wondering if we missed other red flags in 2016 — points at which the GOP’s policies and previous platform didn’t sync with what Trump’s campaign produced. The conflict over providing military aid to Ukraine in the platform during RNC convention was one, and it eventually led to impeachment. This disparity between GOP’s (read: Koch) intended investment into energy independence was another. Did GOP not complain loudly enough when these co-options happened? Were they being compromised/bought/threatened to prevent the general public from seeing these flags?

    • Rugger9 says:

      I think the GQP assumed that they could rein in DJT, but then it became clear later that there were too many MAGA cultists to ignore the danger to themselves in the primary elections to come (some were crushed to prove the point). So, they went along and in some cases (looking at Ron DeSantis, for example along with most of the top leadership) welcomed the additional illegal help from Russia.

      After that, the party was compromised and subject to blackmail which DJT has ruthlessly used since then. Seriously, what other modern party anywhere in the democratic societies goes into a major election without a platform (or manifesto as it is known elsewhere)? The GQP did in 2020, proving they had no plans other than keeping the 70+ year old toddler happy.

      • Peterr says:

        At the time of the convention, Trump hired Manafort in order to corral the delegates he thought he had won and ensure that they would not bolt and support someone else or change the rules in a way that would deny him the nomination. Trump struggled to find someone to agree to serve as his running mate, finally landing on Pence.

        The thinking at the time was that this was part of a big deal, with the choice of Pence designed to give Trump credibility with the evangelical wing of the party. Unspoken but widely believed (and ultimately proved to be true) was that Trump basically outsourced all the judicial appointments to the Federalist Society’s most fervent evangelical anti-choicers, in order to win their support.

        At the same time, to give the establishment GOP reason to get behind him and fall in line, Trump said he would put forward exactly the same platform in 2016 as had been adopted in 2012, with just one little change in the language about Ukraine. “See, we can all just get behind me and we’ll do the same stuff we said we’d do in 2012.”

        The evangelicals knew what was going on, and so did the establishment. They were not blackmailed and compromised by it, but they freely agreed to a deal with Trump — which has been coming back to bite them in the ass almost daily ever since.

        • subtropolis says:

          Agreed. There may have been some blackmail here and there — as is Trump’s MO — but they mostly fell in line (after being utterly p0wned in the primaries) because they’d assumed that Pence would be the GOP’s man in the White House, as they’d had during the Cheney administration. Of course, that didn’t work out so well for them because they are too stupid to see what the rest of us could see coming: a frigging dumpster fire of criming.

          At least the judicial appointments, shepherded by the Federalist Society and it’s man in the WH Counsel’s Office worked out for them. Though McGahn had to weather a shitstorm to see it through. I wonder whether the FS has some kind of medal for him.

    • Joseph Andrews says:

      The article here…as well as Rayne’s wise post that I am responding to, causes me to ask the following question (or two):

      Just how much power does a US president have?

      And how much power SHOULD a president have?

      On something as important as energy policy, the US should have a consistent, coherent plan…and not something that…oh, for example, swings back and forth in its importance depending on who is in charge.

      I’m thinking of a surname: Tillerson.

      Freaking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson!

      …love emptywheel–the articles and (virtually all of) the comments (wink emoji)

    • Savage Librarian says:

      There are more than 2 dozen people mentioned in the article cited below. Some of them are: Abbas, Adelson, Bannon, Barrack, Ron Dermer, Dmitriev, Flynn, Kislyak, Kushner, Ron Lauder, MBS, MBZ, Netanyahu, Yousef Al Otaiba, Papadopoulos, Bill Priestap, Prince, Putin, and Trump.

      Many of these names are familiar. But some, like Ron Dermer and Ron Lauder, have been mostly under the radar, at least in the MSM. Dermer’s relevance comes into focus in this article. But Lauder (a multi-billionaire and former government official) is still pretty much invisible. Among the many people he has had interactions with are Bannon and Nader, though. Plus, his worldview veers from some others in DT’s circle.
      So, it would be interesting if he ever had an opportunity to be interviewed by any investigative body.

      This article suggests Israel had input on DT’s March 2016 speech and inspired the campaign’s approach to the Middle East. It also suggests that there were strong ties among Bibi, MBZ and MBS.

      There also was discussion of, but no evidence of follow through on, a plan by
      “One would-be contractor who is close to the Emiratis, the Saudis, and the Israelis” who had “a plan to use cyberweapons planted inside Iran’s critical infrastructure, including its stock market, to wreak economic havoc and sow political discord.”

      Although his name is not mentioned in the article, I wonder if the contractor was Joel Zamel.

      “Donald Trump’s New World Order” – The New Yorker, 6/11/18, Adam Entous

      • Marinela says:

        Long article but good context. Thank you.

        It was as much collusion with Israel as it was with Russia. except there is no investigation into the Israel support for Trump candidacy.
        Tend to think that if Israel did not have an interest in Trump candidacy, he wouldn’t even be the GOP nominee.
        Looks like Israel didn’t want Hillary, as they viewed it as a continuation to Obama term, and they hated Obama Iran’s accomplishments.

        This is not America first, rather is Israel first. They just want America young’s to fight their wars.
        Can hear Israel providing counterintelligence to US saying, just invade Iran, easy war to win.

  2. Jharp says:

    So when is the day we learn whether Barrack sits in jail to await trial or not?

    Thanks in advance and it seems to me that that decision will have a huge impact on the prosecution.

    • bmaz says:

      There is not one reason in the world Barrack should not be given appropriate release conditions. And the premise that release conditions ought be manipulated to “impact the prosecution” is repugnant.

      • Hoping4Better_Times says:

        Carlos Ghosn?
        Edward Snowden?
        No extradition treaties with UAE or Saudi Arabia

          • Ryan says:

            I thought flight risk was THE thing that was assessed in determining pre-trial detention. Is it “ridiculous to think Barrack has the “incentive, means and inclination” to flee?

            I have no idea whether he has the inclination, and if a judge releases him, I won’t bat an eye. But I would think a judge would need to consider it. It doesn’t seem such a foregone conclusion as to be ridiculous.

            But I only play an attorney on zoom and in emails, so who knows.

            • bmaz says:

              No, just because a particular defendant has money is no reason they should ever be deemed a flight risk (Frankly, argued properly, it is the antithesis of that).

              Somebody mentioned Barrack has multiple passports. Is there evidence of that, or is it just more conjured up baloney? Any and all passports can be ordered surrendered by the court.

              By the way, the two standards are NOT, just “flight risk”, but also danger to society. I see no credible evidence Barrack is either, other than people hate him. That does not cut it. Release the man.

              • subtropolis says:

                I understand all of that. I am not usually inclined to want someone locked up before trial simply because I do not like them. But the judge would be negligent, imho, in not taking into consideration Barrack’s very adequate means to flee. He doesn’t require a passport, nor will a bracelet do anything at all to stop him from leaving. Keep in mind that this isn’t about “lobbying” as many news outlets have suggested. Barrack is in very deep shit.

                • bmaz says:

                  No, they are common crimes. And having the financial means to flee in no way equals the presumption of fleeing. What you propose are automatic considerations but nowhere near presumptions as you argue. They just are not, and never should be.

          • FengWang says:

            Perhaps the long interval between the recommendation to Barr’s Justice Department that he be charged and yesterday’s indictment will hasten the trial. I would hope that the prosecution’s ready to go, at least.

            IANAL. How can someone with the resources (presumably including multiple passports) of Tom Barrack be brought to trial if he’s given his liberty? Jump bail or potentially spend the rest of his life in jail…hmmm…

            • Rugger9 says:

              As satisfying as it is to lock Barrack up and throw away the key without a trial, much less a conviction you need to understand that is not how America should work, and is something DJT (as well as the rest of the GQP) would do in a heartbeat. Crikey, Cawthorn wants to jail Fauci now.

              With that said, there is nothing stopping the judge from getting all of the passports, putting a bracelet on him, etc., plus it’s Garland’s DOJ now, not Barr’s so I would suspect it will be harder to look the other way if Barrack tries to leave the USA.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          If he fled to the UAE it would be even more convincing proof of guilt than conviction after a trial, since there would be no scope for defense attorneys to create (even unreasonable) doubt in the public mind. Plus, he would have to live the rest of his life in the UAE.

      • Jharp says:

        Not insinuating he should remain locked up.

        I am 100% certain that the judge will very carefully the law and the evidence and almost certainly make the right decision.

        I’d think Barrack would have top legal representation and don’t recall many billionaires getting rolled by judges.

        Just asking when we is the day we find out.

          • dwfreeman says:

            Barrack has been released from jail in the LA area, facing charges of acting as a foreign agent in the US for the United Arab Emirates, on a bail agreement pledging payment of a $250 million bond to secure future court appearances in his case.

            The deal spares Barrack, who was arrested Tuesday,
            from the prospect of spending the weekend in jail and then being transferred in government custody to Brooklyn, NY, where his indictment originated. He faces arraignment on Monday. Barrack was being held in San Bernardino, CA.

            Prosecutors declined to detail reasons behind the unusually high bail package but noted earlier this week that Barrack, 74, presents an unusual flight risk due to his wealth — estimated at $1 billion by Forbes magazine — and his extensive foreign ties. Barack has already posted $5 million in cash and pledged the value of his home as part of his bond agreement. The remainder of the bail amount is reportedly to come from Barrack’s shares in Digital Bridge Holdings, an investment firm.

  3. Herb de Bray says:

    ….and the conspiracy ball just keeps on bouncing. Someone at some point needs to start bringing closure to this morass of lies that are everywhere. Elie Honig’s book, Hatchet Man, is a huge eye-opener as to the depth of corruption in the upper echelons of US governance. There are those deniers and those invisible as well as those who know when to bailout, Barr; Tillerson(maybe)?

    • bmaz says:

      Lol. Honig is yet another self promoting “former federal prosecutor” making bank off of not much.

      • gmoke says:

        I’ve met two MA Attorneys General, Thomas Reilly and Martha Coakley. Both of them had what I call “prosecutor’s eyes,” very, very cold. I wonder if that is a prerequisite for USA ADAs as well.

        In my experience, Sheldon Whitehouse and Maura Healey do not share this characteristic, although I would not like to be facing either of them across a courtroom.

  4. yogarhythms says:

    T’s 2016 energy speech contained a jarring section favorable to UAE energy goals with no transition from prior section favorable to US independent energy goals. TB presumably arranged without a transition the section favorable to UAE to become part of T’s speech. DOJ not charging this specific action by TB could mean superseding indictment coming? Or there is enough other evidence present to support indicted charges?

  5. JVO says:

    As these spectacular indictments continue to roll out and the DOJ continues to add brush strokes to the canvas, they continue to clearly avoid the object of the work – the ones at the center of the canvas. Their brush strokes also continue to limit (downplay) the full extent of the communications among all involved. There are so many stated, obvious and logical aspects that remain to be followed up as Marcie lays out. It’s like that stuff could be collected up and made part of an indictment of a group of people and/or organizations that would fill in the the center of the canvas. And no, this is not a @popehat burner account.

    • Rugger9 says:

      They are cornering the rats. When Garland comes to DJT, he wants to be sure he doesn’t have anyone left to take the fall for him.

      On a semi-related note, the House Ds want to see what the FBI did with all of those tips during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, and while they’re at it, they should find out who paid off his rather impressive debt pile.

  6. harpie says:
    3:30 PM · Jul 22, 2021

    Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn wanted to charge Tom Barrack last year with working as an agent for the UAE, but held off after the US attorney in Brooklyn, Richard Donoghue, “expressed misgivings” according to CNN.

    From the article:

    But two sources tell CNN the US attorney in Brooklyn at the time, Richard Donoghue, expressed misgivings about the case. It’s unclear if he delayed the case outright or if prosecutors chose not to move forward at the time knowing the US attorney would not support it.
    Donoghue did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

    Donoghue was subsequently promoted by Barr to become principal associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department. […]

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