Robert Mueller’s investigation into foreign influence on the Trump Team during the 2016 election has a new focus: George Nader, the adviser to the leadership of the United Arab Emirates.
Nader, who also has ties to various members of the Trump Team, is said to be cooperating fully with the investigation, according to the New York Times. The investigation has taken an interest in a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles between the UAE, a Russian investor with ties to Vladimir Putin, and Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and an informal adviser to Trump.
More, via the NYT:
Mr. Nader’s cooperation in the special counsel’s investigation could prompt new legal risks for the Trump administration, and Mr. Nader’s presence at the Seychelles meeting appears to connect him to the primary focus of Mr. Mueller’s investigation: examining Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Mr. Nader represented the crown prince in the three-way conversation in the Seychelles, at a hotel overlooking in the Indian Ocean, in the days before Mr. Trump took office. At the meeting, Emirati officials believed Mr. Prince was speaking for the Trump transition team, and a Russian fund manager, Kirill Dmitriev, represented Mr. Putin, according to several people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Nader, who grew close later to several advisers in the Trump White House, had once worked as a consultant to Blackwater, a private security firm. Mr. Nader introduced his former employer to the Russian.
The legal question here is whether or not Prince was working as a representative of the transition team. The UAE folks certainly believed he was, it seems.
The significance of the meeting in the Seychelles has been a puzzle to American officials ever since intelligence agencies first picked up on it in the final days of the Obama administration, and the purpose of the discussion is in dispute. During congressional testimony in November, Mr. Prince denied representing the Trump transition team during the meeting and dismissed his encounter with Mr. Dmitriev as nothing more than a friendly conversation over a drink.
Mueller’s team believes there is a there there, to borrow a phrase from our former President, so they want to get Nader in and find out more about this meeting. Whatever the reason for thinking that, you can definitely read between the lines of the Times article and tell that, editorially speaking, that reporter is certain shenanigans went on.
The problem is that the Seychelles meeting coincides with, as the article points out, a pattern of strange, secretive meetings that involved Trump loyalists and Russian operatives. This includes Mike Flynn and Trump’s own son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
For those keeping track at home, Flynn has already gone down for his involvement with the Russians and conventional wisdom leads us to believe that Kushner is firmly in the crosshairs of the Mueller team.
In fact, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the Russia investigation takes down Kushner, even if I still question whether or not it can take down Trump himself.
But, this is just more scrutiny on Trump’s team, and he won’t like that one bit. Along with early morning tweets on the subject, we can expect Trump to make some public statements that only serve to distract from the current crisis he’s created for himself in this tariff nonsense. If he plays his cards right wrong, this could take us all the way through the weekend.
At least it would distract us from Sam Nunberg.