Federal prosecutors plan to call former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as a witness in the New York trial of Thomas Barak, a billionaire friend of former President Donald Trump, accused of illegally lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, Barak’s lawyers said in a letter to a judge on Saturday. , which leads the process.

Tillerson will be the first cabinet official from the Trump administration to testify in the trial enters its third week.

Barak, who served as an adviser to the Trump campaign and administration as well as chairman of the president’s inaugural committee, is accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the UAE, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI about his affairs.

Barrack’s lawyers indicated in their letter to Judge Brian Cogan that Tillerson, who is also the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, was being called earlier than the government had planned because of a scheduling conflict.

“Today, the government informed the defense that it has ‘finalized the decision to call Secretary of State Tillerson as a witness,'” Barak’s lawyers wrote. They noted that prosecutors intended to subpoena Tillerson on Tuesday but asked Kogan to order him to appear on Monday. A shorter than usual court day is planned for Tuesday due to the Yom Kippur holiday.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn did not respond to a request for comment.

Tom Barrack speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention
Thomas J. Barack, a billionaire investor and close friend and adviser to Donald Trump, speaks at the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Prospective jurors in the trial were questioned extensively by the judge and attorneys in the case about their opinions and knowledge of Trump and others in his orbit, including Tillerson. Kogan noted this during jury selection Trump or members of his administration could be called as witnesses during the trial.

The case centers on allegations that Barak traded his friendship and access to Trump for the benefit of the UAE government.

During the first two weeks, jurors heard from law enforcement officials such as a digital forensics analyst and an expert on monarchies in the Gulf region. Texts and emails between Barack and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner — Trump’s son-in-law and former senior White House adviser — and Paul Manafort, Trump’s former 2016 campaign manager, have been read in recent days. . They also read messages between Barak and two other defendants in the case, former employee Matthew Grimes and Rashid Al Malik, an Emirati national who was then living in California.

Federal prosecutors say that between 2016 and 2018, Barak sought to advance a “wish list” of UAE foreign policy positions.

Barak was accused in July 2021. At that time, he was the executive chairman of the investment company Colony Capital. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Colony Capital is now known as DigitalBridge.

Enter Grimes plead not guilty on charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. El-Malik, who was also charged with operating as an unregistered foreign agent, has not been located by law enforcement.