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Mueller 'to expose Trump campaign's collusion' with Saudi-Emirati alliance and Israel Open in fullscreen

Karim Traboulsi

Mueller 'to expose Trump campaign's collusion' with Saudi-Emirati alliance and Israel

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Date of publication: 14 December, 2018

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is reportedly set to move on to alleged mutually beneficial but possibly illegal dealings between the US president and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel.
After his work seeking to expose dubious links between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, US Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly set to move on to alleged mutually beneficial but possibly illegal dealings between the US president and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel.

Citing sources familiar with Mueller's probe, a report in The Daily Beast on Thursday said US prosecutors in 2019 "will begin to unveil Middle Eastern countries' attempts to influence American politics" with alleged huge payments and promises of lucrative deals.

The report said witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign "have been questioned about their conversations with deeply connected individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Israel" on topics ranging "from the use of social-media manipulation to help install Trump in the White House to the overthrow of the regime in Iran". 

The alleged Middle East meddling in the US elections and later attempts to influence the Trump administration will be investigated by a special team overseen by Mueller, different from the Russia probe team, according to The Beast.

There are several persons of interest whose alleged dealings with Trump's coterie will reportedly be looked into by Mueller's team.

Michael Flynn, Trump's disgraced former national security adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is currently one of the leading figures at the centre of the probe's revelations with regards to Russia. But Flynn is also allegedly involved in Middle Eastern "meddling" with the Trump team.

Flynn could yet bring new details "about the scope of the special counsel's probe into how individuals from" Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel "offered not only to help Trump win the presidential election, but also how they sought to influence foreign policy in the early days of the administration", according to the report.

Others Mueller will investigate or has already investigated include George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and emissary to the UAE "who helped arrange the now-infamous meeting between Trump associate and Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of one of Russia's sovereign wealth funds" and acted "as a go-between with representatives from Gulf state governments, at least one well-connected Israeli, and the Trump team".

There is also Eliott Broidy, a Washington lobbyist who worked with Nader as part of Saudi and Emirati efforts "to lobby the incoming Trump administration against Qatar and Iran"; and Joel Zamel, who has deep ties to Israeli intelligence - and whose company, Psy Group, had drawn up a plan to use social-media manipulation to help Trump clinch the Republican nomination. 

According to The Beast, Zamel was part of a plan to promote regime change in Iran, and was present in a meeting discussing that purpose which included Nader, Flynn, and Saudi General Ahmed al-Assiri, who was sacked recently over his alleged involvement in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The reported Middle East focus of Mueller's next move faces some obstacles. Many of these lobbying dealings fall into a grey area and may or may not actually be illegal, according to experts quoted by The Beast. However, the report said technical breaches of the law could still be enough to establish some form of criminality.

"The Special Counsel's Office has taken a keen interest this year in practices that were once considered business-as-usual in Washington," the report said, citing the example of Republican operative Sam Patten "who pleaded guilty to the rarer-than-rare charge of causing foreign money to be paid to the 2016-17 Presidential Inaugural Committee", while former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Flynn were both charged "with not disclosing parts of their businesses under the Foreign Agents Registration Act".


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