A Lebanese-American businessman who worked to advance Saudi Arabia’s agenda to the Trump administration and who later provided grand jury testimony to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III about his efforts to connect a Russian banker to members of Trump’s transition team has been arrested on charges of transporting a dozen images of child pornography and bestiality.
Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia announced that George Nader, 60, was arrested Monday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
The charges were initially filed in April 2018 but were not made public until his arrest.
Nader’s name shows up more than 100 times in Mueller’s recently released report. The report describes efforts by Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian banker close to President Vladimir Putin, to have Nader serve as a conduit between him and members of Trump’s transition team.
Nader’s testimony to the grand jury came after he attended a December 2016 meeting at New York’s Trump Tower with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
A second meeting occurred a month later in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Seychelles and involved Nader, bin Zayed, former Blackwater boss Erik Prince and Dmitriev.
According to the Mueller report, Dmitriev expressed disappointment to Nader about the Seychelles meeting because he did not consider Prince to be an influential member of the Trump team.
In April 2017 Nader — working as an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, a close Saudi ally — wired $2.5 million to a top Trump fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada, the Associated Press reported last year. The goal was to persuade the U.S. to take a hard line against Qatar, a longtime American ally but now a bitter adversary of the UAE.
Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak on Monday ordered Nader detained overnight after a federal prosecutor argued that he was a danger to the community and a risk of flight. A bail hearing for Nader is expected to resume Tuesday afternoon.
An affidavit filed in support of the child porn charges against Nader says investigators found 12 separate videos after his phones were seized in January 2018 at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in connection with a search warrant, after he arrived on a flight from Dubai.
The affidavit states that the search warrant, which remains under seal, was in connection with “another matter” unconnected to child pornography.
The videos described in the affidavit show sexual contact involving animals, as well as videos in which children as young as 3 are shown enduring painful abuse.
Joshua Stueve, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, declined to comment on whether the investigation of Nader spun off from Mueller’s investigation.
Calls to attorneys who represented Nader in connection with his grand jury testimony were not immediately returned Monday.
Nader pleaded guilty to an identical charge in Virginia in 1991. He was also convicted in the Czech Republic by Prague’s Municipal Court of 10 cases of sexually abusing minors and sentenced to a one-year prison term in 2003.