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'Man of mystery' cooperates with Mueller in Russian Federation probe

'Man of mystery' cooperates with Mueller in Russian Federation probe

Several outlets reported Tuesday that an adviser to the United Arab Emirates with ties to the Trump administration, George Nader, is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The meeting in the Indian Ocean island nation in January 2017 was between Erik Prince, a prominent US military contractor who is the brother of Trump's education secretary, and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russian government-controlled wealth fund who is close to President Vladimir Putin, The Washington Post reported late on March 7.

The information came from a witness who told Mueller's team that the meeting was meant to establish future relations between Washington and Moscow.

A witness, who has been cooperating with Mueller, told investigators the meeting was set up before the inauguration so someone from Trump's transition team could meet with a Moscow emissary, WaPo's report notes, which relies exclusively on unnamed sources.

Nader's reported cooperation with the Mueller probe could be an indication that Mueller and his team are focusing more closely on the Seychelles meeting.

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Prince said he went to the Seychelles as a private businessman, not as an official or unofficial emissary of the Trump transition team. The UAE officials suggested he visit the hotel bar and meet Dmitriev, Prince told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017.

Though Prince was not and is not part of the Trump team, people familiar with the Seychelles meeting told reporters that he presented himself as an unofficial Trump envoy to people setting up the meeting. The crown prince is widely known as MBZ. It is unclear how much Nader has contributed to Mueller's information gathering.

Investigators now suspect that the Seychelles meeting may have been one of the first efforts to establish such a line of communications between the two governments, these people said.

Mueller's investigators continue to ask witnesses - including former national security adviser Mike Flynn - about how administration officials connected with foreign officials during the campaign, transition and the administration. But the Washington Post reports that the meeting appears to have been arranged in advance as a way to set up a "back channel" between the Trump White House and the Kremlin. Such a concession by Moscow would have been likely to require the easing of USA sanctions on Russian Federation, which were imposed for Russia's intervention in Ukraine in 2014, those officials said. According to the Times, Emirati officials believed the American and the Russian were representing their respective presidents. But on top of the reportedly illicit nature of the meeting, Prince's role as a representative for the Trump administration is disconcerting, given his reputation as a war profiteer and anti-Muslim Crusader.