A man with links to President Donald Trump's transition — and someone who served as a witness in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation — has been charged with transporting child pornography.
This is not George Nader's first run-in with the law. The former Trump liaison pleaded guilty to one count of transporting child pornography in a 1991 case in the U.S., and he was later convicted of multiple cases of sexually abusing minors in Prague in 2003. Both of these incidents predate Trump's transition.
Although charged in Virginia, Nader's initial court appearance occurred Monday in New York. "Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak ordered Nader to remain in custody, pending a further hearing Tuesday," the Washington Post reported. He reportedly faces between 15 and 40 years in prison, if convicted.
On Jan. 17, 2018, Nader was charged in a previously-sealed criminal complaint with possessing child pornography while traveling to Washington Dulles International Airport from Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates. He allegedly was in possession of "visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct" on a cell phone.
During the transition, "Nader played an unusual role as a kind of liaison between Trump supporters, Middle East leaders and Russians interested in making contact with the incoming administration in early 2017," according to the Post. Nader subsequently became a key witness in Mueller's investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal.
Of particular interest to prosecutors was Nader's alleged effort to organize a meeting in the Seychelles in January 2017 between Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian official close to President Vladimir Putin, and Erik Prince, a Trump supporter who founded a private security firm called Blackwater. Prince has claimed that the pair met by chance, when he just so happened to be meeting with United Arab Emirates officials at a luxury hotel. Although Mueller's report has been issued, questions about the meeting remain unanswered.
The Post also reported that Nader, who at the time of the meeting had worked for years as an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, told investigators the meeting had, in fact, been planned in advance to see if a back channel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin could be established. The purpose of that back channel was allegedly to commence informal discussions of future relations between the two countries.
In addition to allegedly assisting the Seychelles meeting, Nader is also reported to have visited the White House on a few occasions to meet with Steve Bannon, then the president's chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser. Bannon was also interviewed by Mueller during his probe, although not necessarily about Nader, and Kushner has remained a target of scrutiny in relation to a number of national security questions.
Members of the far-right frequently attack progressives by spuriously attaching them to pedophilia-based conspiracy theories. The most infamous example of this was Pizzagate, the now de-bunked conspiracy theory, which falsely claimed that members of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign were part of a secret pedophile ring. That particular conspiracy theory caused a man named Edgar Welch, who was obsessed with the conspiracy theory, to burst into Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington with a gun in order to discover the so-called "truth" about the alleged pedophile ring. After terrorizing the customers and launching his own investigation, he realized that Pizzagate was a hoax and surrendered to police.