(JTA) — A focus in the special prosecutor’s investigation into President Donald Trump reportedly is a Middle Eastern businessman with close ties to a major Jewish Republican donor.
George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who serves as an adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and last year was a frequent visitor to the White House under Trump, is now a focus of the investigation by Robert Mueller, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Nader reportedly received what The Times described as a “detailed report” from top Trump fundraiser Elliot Broidy about a private meeting in the Oval Office with the president, the newspaper reported.
Broidy, a Republican fundraiser who is a California-based investor with a strong interest in the Middle East, owns a private security company called Circinus, with hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with the United Arab Emirates.
During the private meeting with Trump, Broidy spoke enthusiastically about a paramilitary force his company was developing for the UAE, and urged the president to meet informally with the crown prince. He also called on Trump to back the UAE’s policies in the region and to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to the memorandum about the meeting provided to The Times by someone the newspaper described as “critical of the Emirati influence in Washington.”
The memo also noted that Broidy and the president “spoke for several minutes about politics and the fund-raising efforts for the midterm elections as well as the state of affairs at the RNC,” or the Republican National Committee.
Broidy’s spokesman told the newspaper that his memo was stolen by “sophisticated hacking” and that he believed it was carried out by Qatari agents.
Broidy reportedly first met Nader around the time of Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
Mueller’s investigators have questioned Nader and pressed witnesses for information about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Trump during the presidential campaign, The Times reported, citing people with knowledge of the discussions.
It is not clear how this part of the investigation relates to Mueller’s charge of investigating contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump’s support for the Emiratis and endorsement of an Emirati- and Saudi-led blockade against Qatar, which is home to a major U.S military base, has put him on a collision course with Tillerson and previous American policy.
Nader reportedly visited the White House frequently during the early months of the Trump administration, meeting with top advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner to discuss American policy toward the Persian Gulf states ahead of the president’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May 2017.
In the late 1990s Nader reportedly worked secretly with current World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder to broker a peace deal between Israel and Syria, shuttling between Damascus and Jerusalem.
Broidy, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to bribery for making payoffs to four senior New York state officials as he pursued an investment from the state public pension fund, was a top fundraiser for the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008.