Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is now purportedly looking into whether the United Arab Emirates, with perhaps help from a top adviser, tried to gain political influence by putting money into Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign -- a tack that would indicate Mueller’s investigation continues to expand beyond whether campaign officials colluded with Russia.
Mueller’s investigators in recent weeks have questioned the adviser, Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, and asked witnesses for information about whether the UAE tried to buy political influence by giving money to the Trump campaign, according to The New York Times.
Nader has been a frequent visitor to the Trump White House. And the president has praised the UAE for the Persian Gulf nation’s efforts to work with the United States on economic issues and squashing terrorism in the region, thanking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed for his efforts just last week, according to the White House.
Nader has purportedly been an adviser to the crown prince. Axios first reported that Mueller investigators were talking to Nader.
Mueller took over the Justice Department investigation in May 2017. And in recent weeks, he has made several moves that suggest his probe has expanded beyond possible collusion, including charging former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort with alleged tax and bank fraud and indicting 13 Russians in connection with trying to sow political discord during the 2016 elections.
Nader was purportedly close to top Trump political strategist Steve Bannon, who in in August 2017 was forced from the White House.
The Times story also states Mueller’s team is interested in how much influence Nader might have -- or had -- on White House policymaking and whether foreign money has recently flowed into the U.S. to impact Washington policy.
The Times also reports that it has a copy of a memo that Nader received about a private Oval Office meeting between Trump and Elliott Broidy, who purportedly has millions worth of private-security contracts with the UAE.