Prominent Political Donors Charged in Campaign Finance Scheme

An influential political power broker who was a witness named in the Mueller report was among eight people charged with conspiring to conceal the source of excessive contributions to groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Prosecutors say George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who was a cooperating witness in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, conspired with Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, the owner of an online payments company, to conceal more than $3.5 million in donations to the groups. The donations let Mr. Khawaja gain access to Mrs. Clinton during the campaign, and he also visited with President Trump in the Oval Office, according to an investigation by The Associated Press last year.

The indictment, unsealed on Tuesday, does not name Mrs. Clinton as the candidate who received the donations. But the indictment refers to a female candidate, and donor records indicate Mr. Khawaja gave Democrats and a political action committee supporting Mrs. Clinton millions of dollars.

Mr. Nader, who has been a frequent visitor to Mr. Trump’s White House, has spent decades working in international diplomacy. He was an informal adviser to the United Arab Emirates’ crown prince, and he was depicted in the Mueller report as a power broker who would connect people associated with the Trump administration to interests in the Middle East and Russia. Mr. Nader frequently met with administration officials, including Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner, and helped steer some White House policies.

Mr. Nader is currently in federal custody on unrelated charges of possessing child pornography. He was granted partial immunity in exchange for testifying in Mr. Mueller’s inquiry.

Prosecutors said Mr. Khawaja made the donations in the names of himself, his wife and his business, but that the money actually came from Mr. Nader. While arranging the payments, Mr. Nader reported to an official of an unspecified foreign government about his efforts to gain influence, according to an indictment unsealed on Tuesday.

Mr. Khawaja, who hosted a fund-raiser in Los Angeles for Mrs. Clinton in 2016, was charged with conspiracy, making illegal contributions through someone else, causing excessive contributions, making false statements, causing false records to be filed, and obstruction of a federal grand jury investigation.

The indictment unsealed on Tuesday also said Mr. Khawaja conspired with Roy Boulos, Rudy Dekermenjian, Mohammad “Moe” Diab, Rani El-Saadi, Stevan Hill and Thayne Whipple to conceal more than $1.8 million in donations from March 2016 through 2018. They were charged with conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions through others and concealing excessive contributions.

The investigation by The Associated Press in 2018 found that Mr. Khawaja’s company, Allied Wallet, helped merchants engaging in a variety of scams, including pornographers, debt collectors and offshore gamblers. The company donated at least $6 million to Republican and Democratic politicians, the report said.

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