Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has been talking with George Nader, a little-known Bannon associate who boasts of his well-placed connections in the Middle East, Axios has learned.
Nader has spoken with Mueller's team at least twice, according to a source briefed on the investigation. A second source briefed on the investigation confirmed that Mueller's team has brought Nader in for questioning in the past week. The Special Counsel's office declined to comment.
Nader visited the White House frequently during the early months of the Trump administration. He became friendly with former chief strategist Steve Bannon, visiting his office regularly. A source familiar with the White House meetings said Jared Kushner also met Nader. After asking around about Nader, Kushner decided not to continue meeting with him, according to the same source.
A number of well-connected and experienced Middle East hands in Washington told me they'd never heard of Nader. I could only find a few people who have met him. Nobody was quite clear about what he does for a living.
have an idea as to what this mystery man does for a living.
Is Nader spooky?
Nader is an American of Lebanese origin who has close ties to Mohammed bin Zayed
, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. For many years, Nader has edited a journal called Middle East Insight. He was the subject of this rather unusual "tribute"
from a West Virginia congressman, published in the Congressional Record back in the 1990s.
Because of his reputation for fairness and his remarkable access to key political and business leaders throughout the region, Nader has produced a magazine of distinction and high quality. Leaders such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, PLO Leader Yassir Arafat, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Morocco's King Hassan II, and Presidents Bush and Clinton have all been featured in Middle East Insight.
He's been at this game for quite a while. Here
is a 1987 piece by Nader published in the WP. The opening sentence is a grabber:
LAST FEBRUARY, during a reporting trip to Iran, I was unexpectedly invited to see Ayatollah Khomeini.
The piece is utterly non-judgmental, even though Khomeini said some rather outrageous things. Nader carefully avoids saying anything which might alienate the Iranians, even though his alliances go to the Sunni nations, which were (and are) at odds with Iran.
I am quite sure that Nader would have been debriefed by the CIA after this meeting. Indeed, he may well have embarked on that Iranian journey at the behest of American intelligence. If the folks at the Agency did not
debrief Nader, they would have been seriously off their game.
Now go here
As for Nader’s “Middle East Insight” publication…it has long been suspected of having very close ties to the Zionist lobby along with the CIA and Mossad. And indeed it is believed that many of Nader’s visits to the Middle East region have much more to do with intelligence collection than journalism.
These words were published in what seems to be a Jewish-run anti-Zionist site, so take that POV into account. Still, the idea makes sense: The more I look into Nader, the spookier he seems. His modus operandi
is to pose as a purely neutral observer who somehow manages to work his way into the confidence of the most powerful people in that part of the world.
Nader and Bannon.
Let us posit, for the purposes of this essay, that Nader really does have "spooky" affiliations. What, then, are we to make of his relationship with Bannon? Why did Kushner decide against further contact with Nader?
Some reports have gone so far as to describe Bannon as Nader's "mentor." That's a rather striking word. Bannon came to political prominence only recently, so why would he "mentor" a highly-experienced operative who is on familiar terms with the most powerful people in the Middle East? It seems as though the mentor-student relationship should run in the other direction.
Then again, maybe there's a lot about Steve Bannon that we haven't been told. In previous posts, we've noted Breitbart's strange relationship with American intelligence (or at least one faction thereof). Much more widely reported is Bannon's relationship with Cambridge Analytica, a private firm staffed by right-wing "former" British intelligence agents.
Here's an interesting possibility: Perhaps Nader was spying on
Bannon. Nader seems to be pretty slick. He'll say whatever he needs to say in order to get into the good graces of any individual he targets.
In all likelihood, Bannon relied on Nader's contacts with Middle Eastern leaders. I hope you haven't forgotten about this WP article
from last April:
The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.
The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia 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 U.S. sanctions.
Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor.
Skipping down a bit...
Flynn and Kushner were joined by Bannon for a separate meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who made an undisclosed visit to New York later in December, according to the U.S., European and Arab officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
In an unusual breach of protocol, the UAE did not notify the Obama administration in advance of the visit, though officials found out because Zayed’s name appeared on a flight manifest.
Officials said Zayed and his brother, the UAE’s national security adviser, coordinated the Seychelles meeting with Russian government officials with the goal of establishing an unofficial back channel between Trump and Putin.
Given his ties to both Bannon and Zayed, Nader must
have been part of these contacts. If there is
an unofficial Putin/Trump "chat line," then George Nader might well know how the thing was created and who created it.
No wonder Mueller would want to talk with this guy.
And now the story takes an even more ominous turn. From Bill Moyers' web site
Last week Maddow interviewed Anthony Cormier, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist working for BuzzFeed, who also on Friday broke a story about another meeting that Flynn conveniently forgot: a meeting he took with Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon on Jan. 5 with the king of Jordan. Both Kushner and Flynn left that meeting off their security clearance applications, and details of Bannon’s application are as yet unknown.
On the morning of Jan. 5, Flynn, Kushner and former chief strategist Steve Bannon greeted King Abdullah II at the Four Seasons hotel in lower Manhattan, then took off in a fleet of SUVs and a sedan to a different location.
The meeting with the king of Jordan had extremely high stakes: a discussion with the head of a key American ally that might have included plans about spreading nuclear power to one of the world’s least stable regions, possibly with the help of one of America’s main geopolitical enemies, Russia.
The piece goes on to suggest that these meetings were -- at least in part -- about a plan by Russia to give various Middle East "players" access to nuclear materials. Nader would be very useful to this effort.
Need I add that George Nader has long-standing ties to the ruling family of Jordan
Most people tend to visualize a "spooks vs. Trump" tableau, in which the nationalist/populist Trumpers stand in opposition to the intelligence community. Many Trump followers consider that community to be part and parcel of their imaginary "globalist" conspiracy.
But matters are not so simple. I've been saying for more than a year that there is a pro
-Trump faction within American and British intelligence, and that this faction worked with Putin to help put Donald Trump into power.
Look at Cambridge Analytica. Look at Bannon. And look (perhaps) at George Nader.
A long time ago, I wrote a long piece called "The Seedy of Lebanon,"
which took a look at some very strange individuals from that country
who interacted in mysterious ways with the Dubya administration. That
old post probably has no relevance to our current investigation; still,
it may be worth a re-read. (This follow-up post
may also be of some value.)
The Seedy of Lebanon have also wormed their way into Team Trump. In March of 2016,
we discussed the five people named by Trump as his foreign policy
advisers. The one who got the most attention at the time was the
ever-delightful Joseph Schmitz, while the one who gets the most
is George Papadopoulos. But there was also Walid
Phares, who helped to organize the Lebanese militia group which
committed the Sabra and Shatila massacre.
I can find
no link between Phares and George Nader, beyond the fact that Daniel
Pipes thanked both in his book about Syria. Obviously, Nader
is a very different breed of cat.
If you'd like to do further research, you should understand that an unrelated actor named George Nader played a CIA agent in a film called The Million Eyes of Sumuru
, one of the most unwatchable disasters ever made. Be careful as you Google, because you'll run across many links that will take you where you don't want to go. And for God's sake, don't try to watch that movie.