Trump Jr. met Gulf princes' emissary in
2016 who offered campaign help
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[May 21, 2018]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump
Jr., the U.S. president's eldest son, met in August 2016 with an envoy
representing the crown princes of United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The meeting was first reported by the New York Times on Saturday and
confirmed by an attorney representing Trump Jr.
The meeting was a chance for the envoy to offer help to the Trump
presidential campaign, according to The New York Times.
The newspaper said the meeting, held on Aug. 3, 2016, was arranged by
Erik Prince, the founder and former head of private military contractor
Blackwater, who attended the meeting. Joel Zamel, a co-founder of an
Israeli consulting firm, was also in attendance.
Alan Futerfas, Trump Jr.'s attorney, said on Saturday that nothing came
of the meeting.
"Prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with
Erik Prince, George Nader and another individual who may be Joel Zamel,"
Futerfas said in an emailed statement. "They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a
social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and
that was the end of it."
A company connected to Zamel also worked on a proposal for a "covert
multimillion-dollar online manipulation campaign" to help Trump,
utilizing thousands of fake social media accounts, the New York Times
The envoy, Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, told Trump, Jr.
that the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to help
his father win the 2016 presidential election, the paper said.
Since 1974, the United States has barred foreign nationals from giving
money to political campaigns and it later barred them from donating to
political parties. The campaign financing laws also prohibit foreign
nationals from coordinating with a campaign and from buying an ad that
explicitly calls for the election or defeat of a candidate.
The Saudi and UAE embassies in Washington did not immediately respond to
requests for comment.
The Wall Street Journal last month reported that investigators working
for U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had met with Zamel, and that
Mueller's team was looking into his firm's work and his relationship
Mueller is investigating whether Russia meddled in the presidential
election and if Moscow colluded with the Trump campaign, as well as
whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to thwart the
U.S. Department of Justice probe.
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Donald Trump Jr. enters the annual White House Easter Egg Roll with
Vanessa Trump lagging behind him on the South Lawn of the White
House in Washington, April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has called the
Mueller investigation a "witch hunt."
The New York Times report said the meetings are an indication that
other countries besides Russia may have offered help to Trump's
presidential campaign. Mueller's investigators have questioned
witnesses in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Tel Aviv and elsewhere
regarding possible foreign help to the campaign, the report said.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller's team, declined to comment on
Zamel's attorney, Marc Mukasey, said in a statement to Reuters that
his client "offered nothing to the Trump campaign, received nothing
from the Trump campaign, delivered nothing to the Trump campaign and
was not solicited by, or asked to do anything for, the Trump
"Media reports about Mr. Zamel's engaging in 'social media
manipulation' are uninformed," Mukasey added. "Mr. Zamel's companies
harvest publicly available information for lawful use."
Kathryn Ruemmler, Nader's lawyer, told the paper that her client
"has fully cooperated with the U.S. special counsel's investigation
and will continue to do so."
Erik Prince, who is also the brother of U.S. Education Secretary
Betsy DeVos, could not be immediately reached for comment.
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati)
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