George Nader, a former associate of White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner that frequented the West Wing in the early days of the Trump administration, was once arrested for possession of child pornography in the 1980's.
The Atlantic reported Thursday evening that Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman currently cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, was arrested on the obscenity charges in 1985 but eventually had his charges dropped after the key evidence — photographs and film of nude boys "engaged in a variety of sexual acts" — was thrown out.
The businessman serves as an adviser to the United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and is at the center of a January 2017 meeting between arms dealer Erik Prince and Russian operatives in the Seychelles that was, according to Nader, an attempt to set up a backchannel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin.
The 1985 charges were brought against Nader, the Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand wrote, when U.S. Customers Inspectors opened a package sent to his company, International Insight, that contained the illicit photographs, film and advertisements that contained similar content. Customs opened the package because they suspected it was imported illegally, and used its contents to obtain a search warrant for Nader's home because, according to the government, he "a suspected pedophile [who] was likely to seek to contact children.
18 months after Nader pleaded "not guilty" to violating two federal obscenity laws due to materials found in his home, a court ruled that the government's warrant was "impermissibly general," and that the items found in his house that served as the foundations for the obscenity charges were also not permitted. The charges were dismissed just before he went to trial, and he has maintained his innocence.
Despite the dismissal, Bertrand wrote, the circumstances surrounding Nader's arrest should have raised red flags, and it's somewhat unlikely the Secret Service, who are tasked with vetting White House visitors, was not aware of its existence.
"This appears to be a federal criminal record and the charge was a felony charge," Laura Terrell, a national security lawyer who advises on background checks, told the Atlantic. She conceded that due to the pre-digital date of his arrest, the records may not have been digitized and appeared on his file.
Revelations of Nader's arrest comes in the wake of the scandal surrounding former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who was accused of domestic violence by two women he used to be married to and whose accusations were known to the FBI and likely known by the Trump administration as well.