Ninian  Reid / Flickr President Donald Trump meets with the...
Ninian Reid / Flickr

Step one: Fill the White House full of people who lie, lie about their lying, and who lie about … that also.

Step two: Watch as other governments attempt to determine the best way to deal with lying liars who lie about their lying.

Step three:

Qatari officials gathered evidence of what they claim is illicit influence by the United Arab Emirates on Jared Kushner and other Trump associates, including details of secret meetings, but decided not to give the information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller for fear of harming relations with the Trump administration, say three sources familiar with the Qatari discussions.

A US ally has evidence that a senior adviser to Donald Trump has been holding secret meetings with the UAE—and others—but is withholding this information from the US official charged with investigating that senior adviser, because the ally understands that the occupant of the White House values … Honestly, they don’t know what he values, or what he’s lying about. Or what lies he’s told to cover up other lies. So it’s just easier to stay quiet and withhold information about someone in the White House who is working against the interests of the country.

NBC News previously reported that Qatari officials weighed speaking to Mueller during a visit to Washington earlier this year, and has now learned the information the officials wanted to share included details about Nader and Broidy working with the UAE to turn the Trump administration against Qatar, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

That would be frequent White House guest George Nader, unofficial UAE ambassador and guy who is under investigation for directing UAE money to Trump. And Trump money man, Elliott Broidy, who appears to have been on the receiving end of foreign money funneled illegally into Trump’s campaign. Which would seem like something interesting for Robert Mueller to hear about … if only America’s allies could be sure that actually cooperating with the law and telling the truth wouldn’t be punished.

If all this seems incredibly twisted, it’s really not. Trump loves money. Kushner desperately needs money. Neither of them is picky about the source of that money. The Saudis, UAE, and Qataris all have money. They also involved in a multi-faction fight for influence in which all of them are supporting various organizations—including groups involved in terrorism—not because they’re particularly supportive of the ideologies behind those groups. None of the countries involved is a democracy. Not Saudi Arabia, which is a totalitarian regime under the capricious thumb of a royal family that itself is convulsing in internecine warfare. Not Qatar, which is … ditto. And certainly not UAE, which is actually seven tiny kingdoms, bound together against any attempt to make their leadership give up power.

Both the Saudis and the Qataris support terrorist groups as a means of extending their own influence, and keeping those groups fighting against some other group of royalists. This frequently means that some terrorist groups are taking cash from multiple sides in this war by proxy. It also means that Qatar gave money to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, who are far from the worst group when it comes to international terrorism, but a big pain to the Saudis because the Brotherhood has stirred up unrest against the royal family.

And it apparently means that both the Saudis and the UAE discovered that Donald Trump and company could be treated as just another group they could buy.

During the campaign, when someone who had connections to a foreign government came calling to offer up some of those funds in return for a little goodwill to his clients, and maybe a little thought about some future work for his personal army of mercenaries, they didn’t turn him away. 

In one example of Mr. Nader’s influential connections, which has not been previously reported, last fall he received a detailed report from a top Trump fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, about a private meeting with the president in the Oval Office.

Mr. Broidy owns a private security company with hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with the United Arab Emirates, and he extolled to Mr. Trump a paramilitary force that his company was developing for the country. He also lobbied the president to meet privately “in an informal setting” with the Emirates’ military commander and de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan; to back the U.A.E.’s hawkish policies in the region; and to fire Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson.

And there’s growing evidence that the reward for allies who are generous toward Trump and his friends is that they get to set US policy in their region.

Mr. Trump has closely allied himself with the Emiratis, endorsing their strong support for the new heir to the throne in Saudi Arabia, as well as their confrontational approaches toward Iran and their neighbor Qatar. In the case of Qatar, which is the host to a major United States military base, Mr. Trump’s endorsement of an Emirati- and Saudi-led blockade against that country has put him openly at odds with his secretary of state — as well as with years of American policy.

Donald Trump supported a blockade against one US ally—an ally that is home to critical US military bases. It’s never been exactly clear why Trump backed isolation of Qatar, or why he tweeted a series of unsupported statements about the country that gave the Saudi’s free-reign to assault a nation that had close ties to the United States.

The evidence that Qatar was the source of funding for ISIS or other radical forces was certainly no better than the evidence against the folks who were running the blockade. So why did Trump side with one group over the other and allow a ratcheting up of international tensions in the Middle East that threatened to break into full-scale war? It’s becoming a lot more clear.

Qatari officials believe Trump’s verbal backing of the blockade was a form of retaliation by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, whose family’s negotiations with Qatari investors had recently fallen apart, according to several sources familiar with the Qatari government’s thinking.

The most generous reading of these events are that Kushner and Trump were manipulated by lobbyists and fund-raisers representing the UAE and factions within Saudi Arabia to disrupt the governments of both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The glaringly obvious reading is that Kushner and Trump sold out two US allies because a third opened their wallet.

Mr. Nader is now a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned Mr. Nader and have pressed witnesses for information about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

That investigation might get a considerable boost if only Mueller could see the evidence collected by the US ally who was betrayed by Trump. But it’s understandable that the Qatari government doesn’t want to make their bad situation any worse.

A spokesperson for the Qatari embassy in Washington said in a statement last week that Qatar won’t be providing materials to the Mueller investigation.

The Qataris also met with FBI Director Chris Wray while they were in Washington, but never shared their information about the UAE’s alleged influence on the administration.

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