US investigating possible UAE attempts to buy White House influence

US investigating possible UAE attempts to buy White House influence
The Mueller investigation team is looking at possible attempts by the UAE to gain influence in the US, as the swoop on foreign interference in Washington gains ground.
3 min read
04 March, 2018
Mueller's team is looking into possible UAE influence in the White House [Getty]

US investigators are looking into possible attempts by the UAE to "buy influence" in Washington, according to a report on Sunday.

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, is investigating claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now the team is looking at claims the UAE funnelled money to Donald Trump's campaign team during his successful election bid.

New information has led the Mueller investigation team to question Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, who has been an adviser to the UAE's de-facto ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the New York Times claims.

Investigators are reportedly looking into the role of Nader - a senior political figure behind the scenes in Washington - in possible influencing Donald Trump's Middle East policy.

He regularly met with senior Trump aide Jared Kushner - who is also the president's son-in-law - and far-right media figure Steve Bannon at the White House last year. 

Both are viewed as close to the UAE and its ally Saudi Arabia, although Bannon later left his role as security adviser to the president.

It came as Trump publically backed the UAE and Saudi Arabia in its diplomatic and media assault on Gulf state Qatar last summer.

The two regional powers - along with Egypt and Bahrain - began a blockade on the country in June, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism, claims Qatar strongly denies.

Donald Trump sent out a tweet supportive on the UAE-Saudi efforts, whilst the State Department under Rex Tillerson worked to end the rift.

The UAE allegedly used its considerable influence in Washington to lobby the Trump administration on the issue and worked to undermine Qatar's image in the US and Europe.

The blockade on Qatar has continued but the US is now pushing for a settlement on the issue.

Nader was a hugely influential figure in US Middle East policy making from the 1990s onwards.

He reportedly attempted to bridge ties between Syria and the US, which could have paved the way for a peace deal between Damascus and Israel.

He was also said to be a major figure behind the scenes following the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.

This included links with Blackwater, a mercenary force that operated in the country until a number of scandals led to it folding.

The Mueller team are also looking into claims that Nader received a confidential report from Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy.

Broidy owns a security company with business ties to the UAE and allegedly lobbied Trump to meet hawkish Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in an "informal setting" and pressed the president to sack Tillerson.

National Security Adviser H R McMaster reportedly resisted attempts for a meeting between Donald Trump and Mohammed bin Zayed outside the White House, saying it was against protocol.

The meeting was allegedly to discuss Mohammed bin Zayed's suggestion of the establishment of a counter-terrorism task force, headed by US army officers.

In it, Trump was also pressed to sack "poor performing" Tillerson, who has worked to avoid US entanglement in the UAE-Saudi blockade on Qatar.

The news comes after the Mueller enquiry indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities over Moscow's alleged interference in the US elections.