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    President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Washington

    How Two Convicted Felons Tried Ruining 'Clown Prince' Kushner's Middle East Plan

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    It was reported in May the Trump administration intends to release a Middle East peace roadmap, drawn up by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, sometime in June. However, the plan may have been derailed, or at least undermined, if Broidy and Nader had had their way.

    Leaked emails analyzed by the Associated Press (AP) reveal top Donald Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy and business partner George Nader cultivated crown princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and attempted to subvert Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan at the expense of Qatar, in return for major consulting contracts involving vast sums from both countries, according to an AP investigation of hundreds of pages of leaked emails between the two men. 

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump chat as White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is seen in between them, during their meeting at the King David hotel in Jerusalem May 22, 2017
    © REUTERS / Kobi Gideon/Courtesy of Government Press Office
    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump chat as White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is seen in between them, during their meeting at the King David hotel in Jerusalem May 22, 2017

    In one such email sent December 2, 2017, Broidy reported back to Nader on a meeting he'd had with the President, saying he'd told Trump the crown princes were "most favorably impressed" by his leadership, and in turn had offered the crown princes' help in the Middle East peace plan being developed by Jared Kushner. He presumably did not disclose to Trump his partner had complete contempt for the plan — and for his son-in-law.

    "You have to hear in private my Brother what Principals think of ‘Clown prince's' efforts and his plan! Nobody would even waste cup of coffee on him if it wasn't for who he is married to," he wrote.

    Bribery and Pedophilia

    Broidy and Nader are both long-time behind the scenes operators in Washington, and both have dubious criminal pasts.  

    Broidy became finance chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2006, a post he held until 2008, when a New York state pension fund invested US$250 million with him.

    Investigators subsequently found he'd plied state officials with nearly US$1 million in illegal gifts while collecting US$18 million in management fees to get their business, and in 2009, he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of rewarding official misconduct. Then-New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo called his tactics "an old-fashioned payoff," and "effectively bribery of state officials."

    Nader's legal issues are considerably more sinister, and involve child molestation. After almost two decades spent as a fixer and broker in Washington, connecting Israeli and Arab VIPs, in May 2003 he was convicted in the Czech Republic of 10 counts of sexually abusing minors.

    Sentenced to a one-year prison term, he served his time in Prague, before being expelled from the country. It was not until March 2018 his status as convicted pedophile was publicly revealed — perhaps explaining his apparently unbridled success in rebuilding his reputation in short order subsequently.

    Blackwater founder Erik Prince arrives for a closed meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington
    © AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin
    Blackwater founder Erik Prince arrives for a closed meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington
    After leaving prison, he soon reappeared in Iraq, as private contractors expense helping the US-led occupation forces and the new Iraqi government rebuild the shattered country at great expense. He is closely associated with Erik Prince, former chief of the notorious Blackwater and now an informal adviser to Trump. Since leaving Iraq, Nader has primarily resided in the UAE, working as an adviser to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (‘MBZ').

    The pair's respective backgrounds represented a mutual coincidence of needs — both were eager to break back in to Washington, and both had contacts the other craved. Together, they could convert their connections into millions if not billions of dollars.

    Discreet Backchannel

    Broidy and Nader pitched themselves to as a direct backchannel to the White House and proposed multiple plans to the two Gulf crown princes which would've earned them in excess of US$1 billion. One pitch was to help create an all-Muslim fighting force, another aimed at helping the UAE gather intelligence, another was related to setting up international counterterrorism centers in Saudi Arabia. In a note to Broidy, Nader said the princes were very happy with the proposals, particularly the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

    First however, the pair offered to pressure the US to "aid in coercive action" against Qatar and Iran. In respect of the former, Broidy and Nader would persuade the Trump administration to sanction Qatar and move a key military base from the country to another location in the Gulf.

    At the end of March 2017, Nader emailed Broidy he'd had "a terrific, magnificent meeting" with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, which indicated prospects for the billion-dollar contracts were good.

    Broidy and Nader were instrumental in the ultimately failed push of an anti-Qatar bill through Congress in April 2017. Emails show Broidy boasting he'd got the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, California Republican Ed Royce, to back the legislation. That year, Broidy donated almost US$600,000 to GOP candidates — Royce received the maximum permitted, and Broidy emailed Nader claiming he'd "shifted" the California lawmaker to "being critical of Qatar."

    On April 21 2017, Broidy sent Nader the draft of an opinion piece ostensibly written by retired Air Force General Charles Wald, former deputy head of US European Command, marked "Confidential."

    Three days later, the article was published in the Wall Street Journal under the title "The Two Faces of Qatar, a Dubious Mideast Ally". The article, co-called for moving US military assets from the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar to the "logical destination" of the UAE. Wald is listed in company documents as a member of Broidy's Circinus team.

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani listens to a reporter's question during a media availability with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, after their meeting, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Doha,Qatar
    © AP Photo / Alex Brandon, Pool
    Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani listens to a reporter's question during a media availability with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, after their meeting, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Doha,Qatar
    Broidy also persuaded US think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies to stage an anti-Qatar conference. The conference was held May 23 2017, and inspired a flurry of more anti-Qatar stories in the US and international mainstream media. 

    In late September, Broidy arranged to meet Trump in the Oval Office. In advance, Nader emailed over a script to follow, bulletpointing key objectives — selling the idea of an all-Muslim fighting force, keeping the president from intervening on Qatar, and arranging a meeting between Trump and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

    After the October 6 meeting, Broidy reported back to Nader he'd passed along the messages, and Trump was "extremely enthusiastic," believing a meeting with MBZ to be a "good idea."

    In December, days after Broidy's "clown prince" email, the UAE duly awarded him the intelligence contract he and his partner had been seeking, which paid up to US$600 million over five years.

    Conspiracy Unravels

    In January 2018, Broidy was looking forward to a third meeting with Trump, during celebrations of the president's first year in office. Nader was supposed to join them, but the initial payment from the UAE contract was late — he delayed his trip for a day to ensure it was wired.

    On the 17th of that month, Broidy received the instalment — US$36 million — and Nader fired him an ecstatic email. "Terrific!" he wrote, "First among many to go!"

    When Nader landed at Dulles Airport, Washington DC later that day, FBI agents were waiting to greet him. He was relieved of his electronic devices and served with a grand jury subpoena. He subsequently agreed to cooperate with investigators.

    The pair's bad luck would not end there. In February, news organizations began receiving the anonymously leaked batches of emails and files documenting their get-rich-quick scheme, and in April the FBI raided the premises of Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, seeking information on hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleged she'd had an affair with the president.

    Broidy it transpired was also a Cohen client — the lawyer's work for the fixer included covering up an affair he'd had with Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard, who got pregnant and later had an abortion. Broidy paid her US$1.6 million in alleged ‘hush money' to ensure their tryst was kept secret from the public — and his wife.

    Moreover, the pair's anti-Qatar operation yielded no results. The US' base in the country will not be moving to Qatar, US arms sales to Qatar have increased, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for a conclusive and peaceful end to the antagonism between the Gulf states.

    Former FBI Director Robert Mueller (File)
    © AP Photo / Charles Dharapak
    Former FBI Director Robert Mueller (File)
    As a result of their thwarted efforts, Broidy and Nader could find themselves in court again in the near future. Neither registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a federal law compelling lobbyists working for foreign governments to disclose their ties and political activities, even if they're not paid for their efforts. Violating the Act carries a maximum penalty of a US$10,000 fine and/or up to five years in prison.

    Broidy has claimed he didn't need to register as his activities weren't directed by a foreign client and came entirely at his own initiative — but AP documents show his lobbying was inextricable from the pursuit of contracts from day one, and involved specific political tasks carried out for the crown princes. Moreover, both UAE and Saudi Arabia are listed as "clients " in a leaked internal Circinus spreadsheet.

     

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    Tags:
    lobbying, Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), bribery, pedophiles, corruption, Qatar crisis, Jared Kushner, Robert Mueller, Donald Trump, UAE, United States, Qatar, Saudi Arabia
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