George Nader, Cooperating Witness in Mueller Probe, Was Arrested for Child Pornography in the 1980s

The latest enigmatic figure to saunter onto the stage in Robert Mueller's probe had a brush with the law in the mid-1980s.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Image, C-Span

George Nader, reportedly a cooperating witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, was arrested in 1985 on child pornography charges.

A frequent visitor to the Trump White House in 2017, Nader is the latest enigmatic character to saunter onto the stage as part of Mueller’s inquiry. A New York Times story last weekend said that Mueller was looking into whether Nader, a Lebanese-American with access to Persian Gulf elites, had helped funnel foreign money toward Trump’s campaign. On Tuesday, the paper said that Nader was cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

The 1985 criminal case against Nader on child pornography charges was eventually dismissed, according to court documents obtained by The Intercept. The existence of the charges was first reported by The Atlantic.

“The court found that Mr. Nader’s constitutional rights had been flagrantly violated, and the case was thrown out in its entirety before trial,” a representative for Nader told The Intercept. “Mr. Nader vigorously denies the allegations now, as he did then.”

The 1985 criminal case against Nader on child pornography charges was eventually dismissed.

According to prosecutors, as relayed in the U.S. District Court judge’s ruling on a motion to suppress evidence in the case, Nader received a package that included both a film of young boys engaged in sexual acts and pictures depicting nude boys. Authorities conducted a search based on a warrant, and similar material was found in a room that Nader rented in a Washington home, according to the court documents. The evidence discovered in the home was ruled inadmissible when the warrant was challenged, but the material delivered in the original package was not ruled inadmissible at the time. In July 1986, just ahead of a jury trial, the charges were dismissed, according a docket sheet from the U.S. District Court in Washington. Not all of the court filings are available online, and the reasons for the dismissal were not immediately clear.

In its initial report, the New York Times shed light on Nader’s role as adviser to the United Arab Emirates, a tiny Persian Gulf country with outsized influence in Washington, and his potential involvement brokering the country’s relationship with the Trump campaign. The Tuesday report said that Nader represented Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who effectively rules the UAE, at a meeting in the Seychelles between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Dmitriev, whose role in the UAE-brokered meeting was revealed by The Intercept last November, had been appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2011 to administer the state-run sovereign wealth fund.

The meeting has moved into a prominent role in Mueller’s investigation. Prince served as an informal adviser to the Trump transition and has maintained a close relationship with his administration. The Intercept reported in December that the administration considered a plan from the Blackwater founder to create a private spy network that would exist outside of accountable official channels.

Setting up and attending high-powered meetings like the one in the Seychelles would not be out of character for Nader. For years, he was best known to the public as the editor of a now-defunct journal called Middle East Insight, which featured interviews with key regional leaders and top Washington-based scholars. But Nader has long been a source of intrigue in Washington. Amid his high-flying access, speculation about his funding streams was rife.

Just weeks after the charges were dismissed in 1986, Nader turned up in Iran at the home of the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, where he hung out with members of the Afghan mujahideen. He wrote about the trip for the Washington Post, as well as his own journal. CNN reported on Wednesday that Nader would go on to work as a go-between to free American hostages taken in the mid-1980s by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Update: March 8, 2018
This story has been updated to reflect that the existence of the 1985 charges was first reported by The Atlantic.

Top photo: Left: Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was then the director of the FBI, speaks during a news conference on June 25, 2008, in Washington, D.C. Right: George Nader speaks in a screenshot from an event hosted by his journal, Middle East Insight, which was aired on C-SPAN on March 6, 1992.

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