An adviser to the United Arab Emirates who attended a meeting in early 2017 that connected participants close to both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin is now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and testified before a grand jury last week. The New York Times writes:
Mr. Mueller appears to be examining the influence of foreign money on Mr. Trump’s political activities and has asked witnesses about the possibility that the adviser, George Nader, funneled money from the Emirates to the president’s political efforts. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for Americans to knowingly accept foreign money for political races.
Mr. Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who advises Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the Emirates, also attended a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles that Mr. Mueller’s investigators have examined. The meeting, convened by the crown prince, brought together a Russian investor close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and an informal adviser to Mr. Trump’s team during the presidential transition, according to three people familiar with the meeting. […]
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.
Dmitriev has managed a Russian state-run investment fund since 2011 that solicits outside investments for infrastructure projects within Russia. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, however, was sanctioned by the Obama administration after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and annexed Crimea.
Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, was a frequent visitor to Trump Tower during the 2016 election and wrote several policy papers for Trump. He testified before the House Intelligence Committee last year that while he attended the Seychelles meeting, it was informal in nature and didn’t include discussions of sanctions.
The ranking Democrat on the House panel, Rep. Adam Schiff, was not impressed with Prince’s transparency.
“Prince also could not adequately explain why he traveled halfway around the world to meet with UAE officials and, ultimately, the head of the Russian fund,” Schiff said in a statement.