Lobbyist known for Trump ties charged with steering illegal contributions to Clinton
A lobbyist known for his ties to the inner circle of President Donald Trump has been indicted on campaign finance charges for allegedly using straw donors to conceal contributions to Trump’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, the Justice Department revealed on Tuesday.
The lobbyist, George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has acted as an informal conduit between Trump’s top advisers and various Middle Eastern interests. He also served as a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into election interference.
The Justice Department refers only to an unidentified 2016 presidential candidate, but campaign finance records make clear that the candidate was Clinton.
Nader embarked on the scheme in a bid to gain influence in Clinton’s circle while reporting to a foreign official, according to the Justice Department.
Among his alleged co-conspirators is Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, the CEO of a payments processing company, according to the Justice Department news release announcing the unsealing of the indictment, which was made by a grand jury in the District of Columbia.
Nader conspired with Khawaja to secretly fund $3.5 million in donations that were made in the name of Khawaja, his wife and his firm, Allied Wallet Inc., according to the indictment.
Khawaja co-hosted an August 2016 fundraiser for Clinton alongside the likes of Univision owner Haim Saban, basketball legend Magic Johnson and movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Khawaja conspired with six others to conceal his excessive contributions, according to the indictment. Campaign finance records show that the others, who were also indicted, donated to Clinton and to various Democratic committees.
A spokesman for Clinton, Nick Merrill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last year, an Associated Press investigation found that Allied Wallet engaged in a host of dubious business practices and possibly ran afoul of money laundering laws. A firm spokesman denied those charges to The AP.
Nader has acted as a liaison between Trump‘s advisers and Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, as well as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In August 2016, Nader met with Donald Trump Jr. to offer help to Trump‘s campaign alongside Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Israeli social media specialist Joel Zamel. In 2017, Nader visited the White House several times to meet with Steve Bannon, then serving as Trump‘s chief strategist.
In July, Nader pleaded not guilty to unrelated charges of importing child pornography and traveling with a minor to engage in sexual activity. Nader pleaded guilty to other federal child pornography charges in 1991. A lawyer for Nader, Jonathan Jeffress, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.