On January 25, 2019, Roger Stone, a long time advisor to Donald Trump, was arrested by the FBI at a pre-dawn raid in Florida. The indictment filed by the Office of the Special Counsel contained 7 charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering, and lying to congress in regard to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election and his involvement with WikiLeaks. In the charging document, prosecutors alleged that, after the first Wikileaks release of hacked DNC emails in July 2016, "a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton Campaign. Stone thereafter told the Trump Campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by [WikiLeaks]." The indictment also alleged that Stone had discussed Wikileaks releases with multiple senior Trump campaign officials. By the time of those contacts, it had been publicly reported that the DNC emails had been hacked by Russians and provided to Wikileaks. Stone was convicted of all charges in November 2019, after the conclusion of the investigation.
The New York Times reported on April 4, 2018, that Nader has a history of dealings with Russia dating back to at least 2012, when he brokered a $4.2 billion arms deal between Russia and Iraq, and attended an invitation-only conference in Moscow organized by close associates of Vladimir Putin. Nader has reportedly traveled frequently to Russia on behalf of the UAE, accompanying MBZ on many of those trips, and has had his photo taken with Putin. Nader has reportedly received at least partial immunity for his cooperation with the Mueller investigation. The Times also reported that Joel Zamel had been stopped at Reagan International Airport in February 2018, had his electronic devices briefly seized, and later testified before the Mueller grand jury about his relationship with Nader. The New York Times reported on May 19, 2018, that Trump Jr. met with Nader, Prince and Zamel in Trump Tower on August 3, 2016. Nader reportedly told Trump Jr. the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to help his father win the election. According to Trump Jr.'s attorney Alan Futerfas, Zamel pitched a social media manipulation campaign from his Israeli company Psy-Group, although Zamel's attorney Marc Mukasey denied this. Trump Jr. reportedly responded favorably according to one source, although Futerfas denied this. Nader subsequently had frequent meetings with Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner. After Trump's election, Nader paid Zamel a large sum of money of up to $2 million. The Times reported that Prince had arranged the August 2016 meeting; Prince had stated in his November 30, 2017, testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that he had no formal communications or contact, nor any unofficial role, with the Trump campaign. The Times reported on October 8, 2018, that sometime after March 2016 Rick Gates had solicited Psy-Group to present proposals for social media manipulation and opposition research against Trump's primary opponents and Hillary Clinton. Gates reportedly was uninterested in the Psy-Group proposals, as social media strategy was being developed inside the Trump campaign, and there is no evidence the Trump campaign pursued the Psy-Group proposals. The Mueller investigation obtained copies of the proposals and questioned Psy-Group employees.More Info
An aircraft owned by Andrei Skoch—a Russian billionaire subject to U.S. sanctions—arrived in the Seychelles a day before Prince himself did. The Washington Post had reported on April 3, 2017, that American, European and Arab officials said the Seychelles meeting was "part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump". Prince denied in November 30, 2017, House Intelligence Committee testimony that he had represented the Trump transition or that the meeting involved any back-channel. The Washington Post reported on March 7, 2018, that Mueller has gathered evidence that contradicts Prince, and ABC News reported on April 6, 2018, that Nader had met with Prince at a Manhattan hotel days before the Seychelles meeting and later provided him with biographical information about Dmitriev. CNN reported on March 6, 2018, that Nader had been detained and questioned by the FBI at Dulles International Airport as he returned from a trip abroad on January 17, 2018.More Info
The New York Times reported on March 3, 2018, that the Mueller investigation had been examining possible efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to buy political influence by directing money to the Trump campaign. Investigators had recently interviewed Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, and other witnesses, about this matter. Nader was reportedly a frequent White House visitor during 2017 and investigators have inquired about any policymaking role he may have had. Investigators have examined a meeting around January 11, 2017, in the Seychelles that was convened by the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (known as "MBZ"), which Nader attended. Also present at that meeting were Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of state-owned Russian Direct Investment Fund, who is close to Vladimir Putin; and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a major Trump donor and an informal advisor to the Trump transition. UAE officials reportedly believed that Prince was representing the Trump transition and Dmitriev was representing Putin. The Mueller report later found that Nader had represented Prince to Dmitriev as "designated by Steve [Bannon] to meet you! I know him and he is very very well connected and trusted by the New Team," while Prince "acknowledged that it was fair for Nader to think that Prince would pass information on to the Transition Team," although Bannon told investigators that Prince had not informed him of the Dmitriev meeting in advance. Prince testified to the House Intelligence Committee that "I didn't fly there to meet any Russian guy," although the Mueller report found that he and Nader made significant preparations to meet Dmitriev. Although Prince characterized a second meeting between him and Dmitriev in a hotel bar as a chance encounter of no consequence, the meeting was actually pre-arranged after Prince had learned from calls back home that Russia had moved an aircraft carrier off Libya and he wanted to convey that the United States would not accept any Russian involvement in Libya.More Info
The Wall Street Journal reported on December 15, 2017, that Mueller's office had requested and received employee emails from Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that worked for the Trump campaign, earlier that year. The Washington Post reported on March 20, 2018, that Christopher Wylie, an employee of Cambridge Analytica until late 2014, said that former Trump campaign CEO and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon oversaw a 2014 effort at the company (which he co-founded) to gather Facebook data on millions of Americans and test the effectiveness of anti-establishment messages such as "drain the swamp" and "deep state", which became major Trump themes after Bannon joined the campaign in August 2016. Views of Russian President Vladimir Putin were also tested. The Associated Press reported on March 22, 2018, that the special counsel is examining the connections between the company, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, particularly how voter data may have been used in battleground states.More Info
The Washington Post noted on January 9, 2018, that the source Simpson had referred to may not necessarily have been an informant willingly or directly, or during the campaign, but rather may have become an informant as a result of later becoming implicated in wrongdoing. Natasha Bertrand, then with Business Insider, reported on January 3, 2018, that a source told her Simpson had been referring to George Papadopoulos, who had first been interviewed by the FBI seven days after Trump's inauguration and whose cooperation with the FBI—to "provide information regarding any and all matters as to which the Government deems relevant"—began with his arrest on July 27, 2017, and was not publicly known until his indictment in October 2017. The New York Times reported on May 18, 2018, that the FBI sent an informant to meet with George Papadopoulos in late-summer 2016, and to meet repeatedly with Carter Page over ensuing months, after the FBI had acquired evidence that the two men had suspicious contacts with Russians. The Washington Post reported the same day that the informant first approached Page at a symposium in Britain in July 2016, and in September 2016 invited Papadopoulos to London to work on a research paper. Late that summer, the informant also met with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis in Northern Virginia. The informant was identified as an American academic who teaches in Britain, but both The Times and The Post declined to publish his name. NBC News identified him as Stefan Halper.More Info
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