Mueller Witness Appears in Court on Child Porn Charges

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A few years ago, an adviser to the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates held court with Trump campaign officials at New York’s Trump Tower. On Thursday, far from that building’s gold facade, he appeared in Virginia federal court to face child pornography charges.

This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, then president and editor of Middle East Insight. (C-SPAN via AP, File)

George Aref Nader, 60, was arrested by the FBI in New York on Monday as he made his way through John F. Kennedy International Airport. The arrest stemmed from an indictment more than a year old that was sealed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to the indictment unsealed Monday, Nader had a litany of sexually explicit images of children on a mobile phone he carried when entering the U.S. last January.

However, the indictment stayed under wraps as Nader agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller. Investigators in Mueller’s office sought more information about attempts from foreign officials, like Nader’s contacts in the United Arab Emirates, to influence U.S politics by reaching out to then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.

Nader, a longtime lobbyist and diplomat, once confidently talked himself into rooms with some of the world’s most elite power players.

But on Thursday, donning a rumpled prison-issued beige jumpsuit, the Lebanese-American appeared frail, his voice barely louder than a whisper as U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis asked if he understood the charges brought against him.

“Yes,” Nader replied, barely audible, as his attorney Christopher Clark of Latham & Watkins stood by his side.

Back in August 2016, Nader met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower to offer to help with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and then a few months later attended a meeting with UAE officials and Trump associates Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn.

Nader was reportedly interested in setting up meetings between the crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, and members of the Trump team. Not long after the initial meeting, Nader also arranged a face-to-face with Trump associate Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, a close ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

By April 2017, Nader was acting as an informal adviser to the UAE and reportedly wired some $2.5 million to Trump campaign fundraiser Elliot Broidy.

Unrelated to his child-pornography charges, Nader testified in the special counsel’s investigation in exchange for partial immunity.

Mueller’s team interviewed Nader at length during the probe, and his name appears over 100 times in the final 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Nader’s appearance Thursday at the federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, was short-lived. A detention hearing has been set for Friday and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 10.

In an affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint, FBI Special Agent Ted Delacourt described the disturbing contents of 12 separate videos he said investigators found on iPhones in Nader’s possession, which were seized on a warrant. One video depicted a boy, age 13 or 14, apparently penetrating a goat with its legs tied together, while others depicted boys age 3 or 4 having their genitals sucked on by baby goats or pecked by chickens, Delacourt said.

Nader faces 15 to 40 years in prison if convicted on the charges of transporting child pornography.

It’s not the lobbyist’s first run-in with law enforcement. He has a criminal history involving child pornography that runs all the way back to 1985 when he was charged with transporting sexually explicit materials depicting young nude boys. That case was dropped before he could face trial.

Nader was in hot water again when in 2003 he was convicted on 10 counts of sexually abusing underage boys in the Czech Republic. He only served a single year in prison for those charges.

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