Mueller examining whether Seychelles meeting aimed at creating back channel

09 March, 2018, 10:22 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Blackwater founder Erik Prince

The key new player that has emerged in all this is Lebanese-American businessman George Nader.

George Nader, a low-profile diplomatic go-between who has forged close ties to the Emirates, was stopped and questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at Dulles International Airport in January as he returned from an overseas trip, these sources say.

Mueller's investigators continue to ask witnesses - including former national security adviser Mike Flynn - about how administration officials connected with foreign officials during the campaign, transition and the administration. Mueller's investigation shows no signs of slowing down.

Nader couldn't be reached for comment, and his lawyer declined to comment.

Nader has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators.

The Washington Post has reported that Nader is cooperating with the special counsel and has told investigators that the meeting was an attempt to set up a back channel with Moscow.

The UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russian Federation could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on USA sanctions, those officials said. Prince is the founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater (famous for massacring unarmed civilians in Baghdad), a supporter of a privatized and for-profit military, and brother of Trump's Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. He says he was there for business reasons and was not representing the Trump team.

Prince has sharply disputed that account, saying he did not present himself as a representative of the incoming administration.

Though Prince was not and is not part of the Trump team, people familiar with the Seychelles meeting told reporters that he presented himself as an unofficial Trump envoy to people setting up the meeting. The crown prince is widely known as MBZ. Both men participated in the Seychelles meeting, which has reportedly come under scrutiny by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his Russian Federation investigation. Prince said Bannon vouched for MBZ during the conversation, calling him "a great guy".

Before Congress, Prince denied that the meeting was nefarious or even planned, and only lasted as long as it took the two men to drink a beer together. Mueller is seeking documents from witnesses regarding the president and several of his closest advisers and campaign associates, as CBS News has reported. The issue of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities was a subject raised in McMaster's daily intelligence briefings, according to the current and former officials.

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