Tags: Russia Probe | george nader | mueller | probe

NYT: Mueller's Team Probing UAE Efforts to Buy Influence Through Trump Campaign

Image: NYT: Mueller's Team Probing UAE Efforts to Buy Influence Through Trump Campaign
Robert Mueller (AP)

By    |   Saturday, 03 March 2018 11:29 PM

Russia special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a Lebanese-American businessman on whether the United Arab Emirates sought to buy political influence in Washington by directing money toward Donald Trump's presidential campaign, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The Times cited "people with knowledge of the discussions," who identified the executive as George Nader, 58, and whom the report described as "an adviser to the de facto ruler" of the UAE.

Nader, who served as a negotiator on Syria in the Clinton administration, was "a frequent visitor" to the Trump White House last year.

He has been interviewed at least twice by Mueller's team, Axios disclosed in January.

The investigators are probing Nader's role in White House policymaking, according to the Times.

However, "how much this line of inquiry is connected to Mr. Mueller’s original task of investigating contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia is unclear," the report said.

One possible focus of Mueller's team is a report Nader received last year from a key Trump fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, about a private meeting with the president in the Oval Office.

Broidy, 60, owns a private security company, Circinus, with "hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts" with the UAE, the Times reported.

He "extolled" to President Trump about a paramilitary security force that his company was developing for the country in the meeting.

In addition, Broidy lobbied the president to meet privately "in an informal setting" with the UAE's military commander and "de facto ruler," Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to the report.

He, among other issues, also encouraged Trump to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

A copy of Broidy's document was provided to the Times "by someone critical of the Emirati influence in Washington" — and his spokesman said it had been stolen through sophisticated hacking.

According to the report, President Trump has supported the UAE on several fronts, including its endorsement of the new heir to the Saudi Arabian throne — and its "confrontational approaches toward Iran" and Qatar.

President Trump and Tillerson have been at odds over his backing of a UAE-Saudi blockage of Qatar, where a major U.S. military base is housed, the Times disclosed.

The president's support also defies longstanding American foreign policy.

In the White House meetings last year, Nader met with then-chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

They discussed U.S. policy in the Gulf region ahead of the president's visit to Saudi Arabia last May, "people familiar with the meetings" told the Times.

Reached by phone last month, Nader said told the newspaper that he had dinner guests and would call back.

"He did not," the Times reported, "and attempts to reach him over several weeks were unsuccessful."

Nader’s lawyer did not respond to messages seeking comment — and the White House also did not respond to similar requests.

But Broidy's spokesman said the document was illegally obtained.

"We have reason to believe this hack was sponsored and carried out by registered and unregistered agents of Qatar seeking to punish Mr. Broidy for his strong opposition to state-sponsored terrorism," he told the Times in a statement.

The spokesman added that Broidy had also made the accusation in a letter to the Qatari ambassador in Washington.

Further, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to the United States, declined to comment.

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The Times cited "people with knowledge of the discussions," who identified the executive as George Nader, 58, and whom the report described as "an adviser to the de facto ruler" of the UAE.
george nader, mueller, probe
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2018-29-03
Saturday, 03 March 2018 11:29 PM
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