UPDATED: Donald Trump, Jr. held Trump Tower meeting with emissary for Arab princes seeking to swing US election

Russia wasn't the only foreign power that tried to influence the 2016 US election outcome.

Trump Tower, New York City. CREDIT: Getty Images
Trump Tower, New York City. CREDIT: Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr. held a meeting at Trump Tower in August 2016 with an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes, who offered to help his father win the US presidential election, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

The newspaper wrote that the two crown princes were from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Playing a role in setting up the encounter was businessman George Nader, who The Times said acted as an “emissary” between the parties. Nader, a Lebanese American, is said to have close ties to the Emirates.

Another meeting participant, Joel Zamel, a social media specialist, drew up a  “multi-million dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump,” The Times reported.

The meeting reportedly was arranged by Erik Prince, the former head of the Blackwater security company and brother to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Prince, a well-heeled Republican donor, also attended the meeting.


When the idea of the gathering was floated, Donald Trump, Jr. eagerly agreed, according to The Times, which said ties between the participants continued “past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office.”

The Times wrote: “After Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Nader paid Mr. Zamel a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million. There are conflicting accounts of the reason for the payment, but among other things, a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.”

As the newspaper described it, revelations about the meeting “are the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign in the months before the presidential election.”


The Trump Tower meeting is apparently on the radar of special counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director tasked with investigating Russia’s efforts to affect the outcome of the 2016 vote, according to The Times.

Nader, according to news reports, has agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe in exchange for immunity from prosecution and already has been interviewed by prosecutors in the Russia probe.

CORRECTION: This story corrects an earlier post which stated in error that the Arab princes were at the meeting. They were represented at Trump tower by Nader.