Judge orders Mueller witness facing child porn charge held in jail

Nader was once informal adviser to White House

By Marshall Cohen
CNN

A federal judge on Friday ordered George Aref Nader to stay in jail until his trial for transporting child pornography, citing the danger the former witness to Robert Mueller's probe poses to the community.

Nader, 60, was once an informal adviser to the Trump White House and has attended high-level meetings with members of President Donald Trump's inner circle. He was also a key cooperator in Mueller's investigation. Now he'll live in an Alexandria, Virginia, jail awaiting trial on a federal charge transporting sexually explicit videos of underage boys.

Prosecutors said Nader posed an "extreme danger to the community" and federal Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis agreed. The judge cited Nader's decades-old convictions in the US for possessing child pornography and for "hands-on contact with minors" in the Czech Republic.

"Forty years ago, he had a propensity, and 40 years later he still has it," Davis said of Nader's repeated contact with minors. "That's a problem. ... He has not gotten any better, it appears."

During a contentious hearing, Nader's defense attorneys unsuccessfully pleaded with the judge to release him from jail, so he could move to a long-term medical facility. Nader recently had open-heart surgery and is dealing with a "very serious health condition," his lawyers said.

Nader's lawyers said he was prepared to tap into his $3 million net worth and hire a private security firm to provide around-the-clock armed guards outside his hospital room. The judge balked and suggested that Nader could just stop paying the guards, allowing him to walk free.

If convicted of this latest charge, Nader would face at least 15 years in prison, according to federal law. He hasn't had a chance to enter a plea, though his lawyers referred to the charge as an "allegation" and sought to downplay his Czech conviction for sexual contact with minors.

On the other hand, prosecutors pained Nader as a lifelong pedophile who started by watching child pornography but raised the stakes by having sex with minors. They said he paid a pimp to facilitate the abuse in the Czech Republic and once brought a "child prostitute" to the US.

Another hearing is scheduled for Monday at the federal courthouse in Alexandria.

After the 2016 election, Nader entered Trump's orbit and became an informal adviser on Middle East issues, leaning on his connections in the region. (Federal prosecutors said Friday that investigators found contacts on his phone associated with Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.)

During the Trump transition, Nader attended meetings with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, former chief strategist Steve Bannon and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

He was also a key cooperator in the Mueller investigation, and his testimony was heavily cited in the report. He helped Mueller fill in the pieces about the infamous Seychelles meeting in early 2017 that brought together Trump supporter Erik Prince and a prominent Russian government banker. According to the Mueller report, Prince coordinated parts of that meeting with Bannon.

It was Nader's role with the Russia investigation that ultimately landed him in jail this week.

FBI agents working for Mueller stopped Nader at Dulles International Airport outside Washington in January 2018. While examining his electronic devices, FBI agents found a dozen sexually explicit videos of underage boys, according to court records. Nader wasn't indicted in the Mueller probe, but federal prosecutors in Virginia later charged him with one count of transporting child pornography.

He was arrested on Monday when he returned to the US for medical treatment. He appeared in court wearing a khaki jail uniform, occasionally conferred with his attorneys, and did not speak.

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