Mueller investigates consulting firm tied to UAE

Mueller investigates consulting firm tied to UAE
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The investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections led by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is looking into a private consulting firm that has worked for the United Arab Emirates, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Mueller’s team has begun asking questions about the private consulting firm Wikistrat and its founders, Joel Zamel and Daniel Green.

The company’s lawyer, Marc Mukasey, says that neither the company or its founders are the focus of the investigation.

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However, a source told the Journal that Mueller’s team met with Zamel and questioned him about his business relationship with George Nader, a top adviser to the crown prince of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who also had a close relationship with the Trump administration last year.

“Joel is a bright young businessman and Wikistrat has been privileged to serve several U.S. government clients,” Mukasey said in a statement. “Joel and Wikistrat have only a tenuous connection to the special counsel’s investigation and are cooperating fully.”

The UAE contracted Wikistrat in 2015 to conduct war game scenarios on Islamic political movements in Yemen, sources told the Journal. Wikistrat then reportedly began using on-the-ground sources to anticipate threats.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia — who both entered the Yemen civil war in 2015 — have been lobbying the Trump administration to back a campaign aimed at isolating Qatar, an ally of the U.S.

Mueller’s investigation was reported earlier this month to have looked into Nader, who frequently visited the White House last year. Mueller is looking into Nader’s influence on White House policymaking and is asking about the UAE’s efforts to influence the Trump administration.

The moves suggest Mueller is focusing on foreign lobbying as a key aspect of his probe.