WASHINGTON >> A cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference has been charged with possession of child pornography, according to court documents unsealed today.
George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman who acted as an informal adviser to the United Arab Emirates’ powerful crown prince, was arrested Monday after he landed at Kennedy International Airport in New York, according to a Justice Department news release. The child pornography charges were unsealed after his arrest.
According to the court documents, Nader was caught early last year with iPhones containing sexually explicit videos of young boys. The phones were discovered after he was stopped by federal agents at an airport and questioned about his efforts to arrange meetings between intermediaries from several foreign governments and Trump transition officials in the weeks after the November 2016 election.
Nader received partial immunity in exchange for his testimony, and he ended up spending hours before a grand jury being questioned by prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller.
Nader faces 15 to 40 years in prison if he is convicted, according to the Justice Department. A lawyer for Nader did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
The Mueller report depicts Nader as a shadowy emissary who moved easily between power centers in the Middle East and Russia, and who used those connections to try to broker meetings with people associated with Donald Trump both during the campaign and after he was elected president.
Prosecutors were particularly focused on a relationship Nader had with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russian investment fund who is close to President Vladimir Putin of Russia. According to the Mueller report, Nader told prosecutors that Dmitriev had said “that his and the government of Russia’s preference was for candidate Trump to win, and asked Nader to assist him in meeting members of the Trump campaign.”
After the election, Nader helped set up a meeting in the Seychelles Islands off the coast of eastern Africa among Dmitriev, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates and Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater who was serving as an unofficial adviser to the Trump transition.
Months earlier, Nader and Prince had met Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower. During that meeting, in August 2016, Nader told the younger Trump that both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were eager to help his father be elected president.
As an adviser to Prince Mohammed, Nader used his patron’s vast fortune to try to influence foreign policy during the early months of the Trump administration. Working with Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser seeking Emirati and Saudi contracts for his security firm, Nader helped steer the White House to take a hard line against Qatar — the small Persian Gulf nation engaged in a bitter dispute with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.
He also met frequently with Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, who at the time were both senior advisers to Trump. Bannon left the White House in 2017.
Nader was also indicted in 1991 for violations of transporting child pornography.