“This appears to be a federal criminal record and the charge was a felony charge,” said Laura Terrell, a lawyer who works with clients in the national-security community and advises on background investigations. The decision on whether to grant a person entry is ultimately up to White House lawyers or the chief of staff, Terrell said. “That said, this charge was in 1985, and given that date—when many records were not electronic—there is also the possibility [officials] didn’t have the information,” she noted. Neither the White House nor the Secret Service immediately returned a request for comment.
Reports that Nader is now involved in the special counsel’s investigation add a new dimension to the Russia scandal that continues to plague the presidency. The New York Times reported earlier this week that Nader—a 58-year-old businessman and close adviser to the effective ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan—is now a cooperating witness in Mueller’s inquiry.
Nader often visited the White House in the months after Trump was inaugurated, Axios reported earlier this year. On January 17, he was en route to Trump’s Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, to celebrate the anniversary of the inauguration when he was served a grand-jury subpoena at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C.
Nader, an influential yet under-the-radar operative who edited a foreign-policy magazine in the 1990s, had “remarkable access to key political and business leaders throughout” the Middle East, former West Virginia Representative Nick Rahall said in 1996, according to a Congressional Record transcript of his remarks. In May 1987, for example, Nader described a meeting he had attended with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, along with “leaders of the Afghan mujahedin, some senior officials of the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, and some Islamic fundamentalists from Egypt.”
Nader seemed to consider himself a mediator. In May 2001, for example, Nader and his deputy at Middle East Insight, Jonathan Kessler, “practiced a little private diplomacy” by inviting Arab American businessmen to meet with the then-prime minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, at the home of former Bill Clinton adviser Mark Penn. Penn described the gathering as “prospecting for peace on the Potomac.” Republican Representative Darrell Issa, a Lebanese American, was among the guests. The magazine ceased publication in 2002.
The White House has come under scrutiny in recent weeks over interim-security clearances granted to high-level administration officials despite entanglements or allegations that could make them vulnerable to blackmail. Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, was recently accused by two ex-wives of domestic abuse. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had his interim clearance revoked late last month.