Trump ally wins bid to bar photos of 'lavish properties' from foreign agent trial

FILE PHOTO: Tom Barrack speaks with members of the press at Trump Tower in New York City
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday ruled that prosecutors cannot show pictures of "lavish properties" owned by Tom Barrack, a former top fundraiser for Donald Trump, at Barrack's upcoming trial on charges of acting as an illegal foreign agent.

Barrack, a former private equity executive who prosecutors say acted as an agent of the United Arab Emirates, asked U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan last week to exclude evidence of his wealth, spending and lifestyle, arguing prosecutors were seeking to appeal to jurors' "class bias" against wealthy people.

In a written order, the Brooklyn judge said "generic photographs of three lavish properties does not provide any helpful context," and federal prosecutors had no need to show a picture of Barrack's plane.

"The government has overreached here and should not do it again," Cogan wrote. "There is little if any probative value in admitting these photographs and a high potential for unfair prejudice."

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

Prosecutors have charged Barrack, 75, with using his influence between 2016 and 2018 to advance the UAE's foreign policy goals without notifying the U.S. attorney general of his involvement as required by law.

Barrack, who supported Trump's successful 2016 White House run and directed his inaugural committee, has pleaded not guilty and faces a Sept. 19 trial.

In Tuesday's order, Cogan also denied a motion by Barrack to exclude testimony by government witnesses with expertise in foreign intelligence operations and politics in the Middle East.

The judge also denied Barrack's motion to exclude evidence about how Rashid Al Malik, an alleged intermediary between Barrack and UAE officials, left the United States in 2018.

Prosecutors have said they do not intend to argue that his departure was evidence of his guilt or Barrack's guilt.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)