As time has gone on, it’s become clear that corrupt foreign ties on the part of President Donald Trump and his associates don’t end with Russia. Concurrent to his still very much alive and active web of business connections all around the world, scandals have erupted involving countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
There’s now a new revelation from The New York Times that adds some weight to those scandals. According to the publication, in August of 2016, Donald Trump Jr. met with George Nader, a man who at the time cast himself as a “friend” of the crown princes of both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and offered campaign help on their behalf. It is illegal for foreigners to work on American political campaigns, but that did not stop Trump Jr. from seeming happy to entertain Nader.
Also at the meeting besides Nader and Trump Jr. were Trump campaign adviser and eventual White House staffer Stephen Miller, controversial Trump ally Erik Prince, and Israeli communications operative Joel Zamel. The whole set-up is strongly reminiscent of a meeting at Trump Tower that took place earlier in 2016 involving Donald Trump Jr., Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, and others. Trump Jr. went into that meeting with the understanding that Veselnitskaya would be sharing Russian government-sourced dirt on Hillary Clinton.
At the August meeting involving Trump Jr., Nader, and others, there was no reported explicit promise of secretly obtained damaging information on an opponent of Donald Trump. Considering that Trump Jr. had taken a meeting just a short time before with that explicit understanding, however, perhaps it just wasn’t said out loud this time around while still being in place.
The August meeting was set up by Prince and involved, besides Nader offering campaign help from the Emiratis and the Saudis, Zamel extolling what a company of his could do to help the Trump campaign get the upper hand on social media. Although what exactly his comments covered isn’t immediately clear, Zamel’s company Psy-Group had developed a plan for a massive campaign on behalf of Trump that would use thousands of fake social media accounts to boost his candidacy.
That strategy is certainly reminiscent of the one employed by Russians in their efforts on behalf of Trump. The issue of the August 2016 meeting, which set off a lengthy period of cooperation between Nader and the Trump camp, has been roped into the inquiry of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. According to The Times, Zamel has already been questioned about the August 2016 meeting by investigators, and a pair of FBI agents have even traveled to Israel to interview Psy-Group employees.
As for Nader, he has already been reported to be under scrutiny. He’s been understood to be cooperating with federal investigators since being first stopped for questioning earlier this year. Among the strikes against him is the fact that he visited Moscow at least twice during the election season on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.
Trump, since taking office, has maintained a close tie to the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia; the latter even hosted him for his first trip as president. Whether that connection has stemmed from or grown concurrent to something illegal remains to be seen.
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