The swamp: playing everywhere for a fortune in contracts



WASHINGTON – In a search for money and influence that began at the inauguration of President Donald Trump, two American businessmen sought to take advantage of the connections that stretched from the Persian Gulf palaces to the Oval Office in more than one billion dollars in contracts.

Elliott Broidy, one of Trump's most important fundraisers, and George Nader, a Lebanese-American adviser to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, advanced the agenda of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at the highest levels of the country. Government of the United States. Its goal was to persuade Washington to crack down on Qatar, a small Gulf country that Saudi Arabia and the UAE accused of supporting terrorism, even though Qatar is an ally of the United States that hosts critical military badets.

At the same time, Broidy and Nader turned to the lucrative intelligence and defense contracts of the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis, allegedly sending messages from Crown Princes in both countries to Trump, according to an Associated investigation Press. The AP report is based on interviews with more than two dozen people and hundreds of pages of emails leaked between Broidy and Nader, including job summaries and documents and hiring proposals.

Last week, Saudi Arabia distanced itself from Nader and Broidy, saying: he did not sign any contract with any of them, although he acknowledged that there were talks with Nader. A senior Saudi official said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the end of "commitment to these people."

"We would not be surprised if they told people they had our ears," said the official, who was not authorized. to comment by name.

The Embbady of the United Arab Emirates did not respond to requests for comment.

The email cache also reveals a previously uninformed meeting with the president and provides the most detailed account of the work of two Washington experts who have been entangled in the confusion surrounding the two criminal investigations closest to Trump: Russia's investigation of the special lawyer and the scrutiny of federal prosecutors for silent money payments by Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Chris Clark, attorney for Broidy, said The AP report "is based on fraudulent and fabricated documents obtained from entities with a known agenda to harm Mr. Broidy."

"The public education efforts led by Mr. Broidy did not imply any direction from any foreign director," Clark said in a statement.

The AP delivered 53 pages of leaked emails to Broidy's attorneys. A second lawyer, David Camel, listed an email as fraudulent and refused to give further details. None of the lawyers presented manufacturing evidence.

Nader's lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, declined to comment.

The PA conducted a comprehensive review of the emails and documents, verified their content with dozens of sources, and determined that they followed events closely, including efforts to cultivate the princes and press Congress and the White House against Qatar, which the partners called "the snake".

In Washington, lobbying for personal gain is nothing new: Trump himself turned the incestuous culture into a battle cry when he promised to "drain the swamp." Broidy's attempt to alter US policy in the Middle East and reap a fortune shows that one of the president's chief money men found the swamp as navigable as ever with Trump in office.

The Broidy company eventually won an intelligence contract with the United Arab Emirates worth more than $ 200 million that could be extended to $ 600 million, according to an email. Efforts to win an even bigger contract from Saudi Arabia failed.

Nader later called the attention of special lawyer Robert Mueller. His researchers confronted Nader in January hours after the plan with Broidy paid off: a $ 36 million bank transfer from the UAE. Nader is now cooperating with Mueller's team.

While it is not clear whether Mueller's investigation is investigating the influence operation of the partners, Nader witnessed a key moment of interest: a meeting in the Seychelles during Trump's transition that included a Trump adviser and entrepreneur close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Broidy was caught in an investigation into Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer.

After prosecutors in New York raided Cohen's property, it turned out that Cohen had also represented Broidy. as the president He made arrangements for a payment of $ 1.6 million to Playboy Playmate who had an adventure with Broidy.

The AP previously reported that Broidy and Nader attempted to obtain an anti-Qatar bill in Congress while obscuring the source of money behind their influence campaign – $ 2.5 million routed through an opaque Canadian company.

Neither Broidy nor Nader submitted documents to the US government. UU under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a law designed to make lobbyists working for foreign governments reveal their links and certain political activities.

Broidy has maintained that he was not obliged to register because his effort was not directed by a foreign client and he came on his own. But the documents show that lobbying was intertwined with the search for contracts from the beginning and involved specific political tasks for crown princes, whose countries are listed as the "clients" of the lobbying campaign in a company spreadsheet from Broidy, Circinus, LLC.

Clark, one of Broidy's attorneys, said that his client had "complied with all relevant laws, including FARA."

Abstracts written by Broidy from the two meetings he had with Trump report that he was pbading Nader's messages from the princes directly to the president.

By November, the Trump administration had not moved as hard against Qatar as expected. To pressure the White House and increase opposition to Congress against Qatar, Broidy said he had organized a political operation to write a strategy memorandum to the leading Democrats who attacked the Trump administration for being "soft" with the alleged support. of Qatar to financing terrorism. . That note was leaked to the press.

"Strictly confidential: I made this happen completely – touch completely differently to exert the necessary pressure!" Broidy wrote to Nader in an email dated November 10.

"SUPER", answered Nader.

"Only between directors and us," Broidy wrote, referring to the princes of the crown. . "Let's crush the snake!"

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David Caruso in New York contributed to this report.

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Follow Desmond Butler on Twitter at https://twitter.com/desmondbutler and Tom LoBianco at https://twitter.com/tomlobianco

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Do you have any advice? Contact the authors securely at https://www.ap.org/tips

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Leve the key documents in the correspondence of Broidy and Nader at:

http: // apne. ws / Uux7vo3

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.

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