Tillerson testifies at corruption trial of Trump adviser

Oct 3, 2022, 8:24 AM | Updated: 6:20 pm

Tom Barrack, center, arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Ph...

Tom Barrack, center, arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

(AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

NEW YORK (AP) — Rex Tillerson, who served a turbulent term as secretary of state under former President Donald Trump, was called as a government witness Monday at the trial of a Trump ally accused of leaking intelligence to the United Arab Emirates.

Tillerson testified that he barely knew the defendant, Tom Barrack, once the chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, or anything about his relationship with the UAE. Instead, he spelled out how he would meet with Trump on a regular basis to discuss foreign policy, emphasizing that the sensitive conversations were supposed to stay confidential.

“You really don’t want outside parties to have access to that information and use it to their advantage,” Tillerson told a New York City jury.

Prosecutors have alleged Barrack provided inside information on how Trump administration officials viewed a UAE-led blockade of neighboring Qatar. Tillerson testified he had advised Trump not to engage with the UAE on the issue, saying, “We needed to let them sort that out on their own.”

Tillerson also described one encounter with Barrack where he “called over to my office … and expressed an interest in an ambassadorship,” he said. But Trump didn’t embrace the idea, “so that was the end of it,” he said.

On cross-examination, Tillerson acknowledged having disagreements with Trump, but stayed clear of criticizing the former president. He said they sometimes played “good cop-bad cop” in their public statements about adversaries like North Korea.

The former Exxon Mobil CEO is the highest-profile witness so far at the federal trial of Barrack, a billionaire private equity manager and Trump confidant who’s accused of secretly working as a foreign agent for the UAE.

Barrack, 75, has pleaded not guilty to that charge, along obstruction of justice and false statements counts.

In 2018, Trump dumped Tillerson via Twitter, abruptly ending the service of a Cabinet secretary who had reportedly called the Republican president a “moron” but refused to step down, deepening disarray within the Trump administration.

Trump and Tillerson clashed on several foreign policy issues, including whether the U.S. would stay in the 2015 agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear efforts, a deal Tillerson favored. Trump announced in 2018 that the U.S. was withdrawing from the agreement.

So far, prosecutors have relied on a trove of emails and other communications they say demonstrate how Barrack’s “unique access” to Trump to manipulate his campaign — and later his administration — to advance the interests of the UAE. The efforts included helping arrange an Oval Office meeting between Trump and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2017.

At the same time, UAE officials were consorting with Barrack, the energy-rich Gulf state rewarded him by pouring millions of dollars into his business ventures.


Corrects story to reflect that the “adversary” Tillerson was referring to on cross examination was North Korea, not South Korea.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

              Tom Barrack arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)
              Tom Barrack, center, arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)
            Tom Barrack, left, arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura) Tom Barrack, center, arrives at Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

4 days ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

4 days ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

9 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

12 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

12 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Tillerson testifies at corruption trial of Trump adviser