Special counsel Robert Mueller’s is looking into whether foreign countries have used political influence, in the form of political contributions, to gain favorable policies from the Trump administration according to sources. One country Mueller has reportedly fixed his attention on is the United Arab Emirates.
Mueller and his investigators have questioned George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who has been a player in political Washington since the 1980s, billing himself as a connected mediator between Washington and Mid-East governments on issues of both business and policy.
Nader, and others, have been questioned about possible attempts by the Emirati government to buy political influence by directing funds to support President Trump during the presidential campaign.
Nader recently received a detailed report of a meeting between President Trump and a prominent Republican fundraiser, Elliot Broidy, that took place in the Oval Office last fall. The meeting was used to lobby President Trump about the virtues of a private military force made up of contractors being developed for the UAE.
The force was being developed by a private security company Broidy owns. Broidy also lobbied the president to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE’s military commander in a private and informal setting.
Additionally, the Emiratis, through Broidy sought to gain the President’s backing for hostile policies toward the UAE’s neighbor, Qatar, and to dismiss Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Nader received a copy of the report from Broidy. The New York Times received a copy of the report from someone, it says, “critical of the Emirati influence in Washington.”
The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, along with other mid-east governments have instituted an economic blockade on the country of Qatar for what they allege is state sponsorship of international terrorism. The U.S. signed off on the blockade last year, over Tillerson’s objections.
Nader shuttled back and forth between the Middle East and White House during the early months of the Trump administration to discuss, and help affect, U.S. policy in the Middle East. Some reports have former top White House adviser Stephen Bannon being Nader’s main advocate in the West Wing. Others say it was presidential son-in-law and mid-east policy head, Jared Kushner.
The questioning of Nader and the inquiries into the nexus of fundraising and policy-making in the Trump White House suggest a broadening of Mueller’s investigation. It was also reported last week that Mueller is looking into whether Jared Kushner influenced White House policy in attempts to secure financing for his real estate business.
According to sources Mueller’s team is also looking into discussions the top White House aide had with Qatari, Chinese, Russian and Emirati officials in order to use his position to advance personal business interests, and then attempted to influence American foreign policy accordingly.
Kushner advocated for the Qatari blockade weeks after efforts to secure financing from the Qatari government for a troubled asset in the Kushner family real estate business fell through.
Qatari officials, in Washington last month, were reportedly prepared to hand evidence over they say shows the UAE and their Persian Gulf neighbors coordinated with Kushner to harm their country economically, to Mueller’s team. The officials ultimately decided against it because they felt their meetings with other U.S. officials had been productive.
Requests for comment from the Turkish, Emirati, Russian and Chinese Embassies on any interaction between them and Robert Mueller’s team were not immediately returned.