Mueller’s investigators examined a series of meetings between an Israeli social media strategist, the general blamed for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, and Trump adviser Michael Flynn.
Betsy Woodruff, Erin Banco https://www.thedailybeast.com
Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, the Saudi intelligence chief taking the fall for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, hobnobbed in New York with Michael Flynn and other members of the transition team shortly before Trump’s inauguration. The topic of their discussion: regime change in Iran.
Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful Saudi crown prince, dispatched Assiri from Riyadh for the meetings, which took place over the course of two days in early January 2017, according to communications reviewed by The Daily Beast. The January meetings have come under scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office as part of his probe into foreign governments’ attempts to gain influence in the Trump campaign and in the White House, an individual familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast. A spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment.
The New York meetings were attended and brokered by George Nader, a Lebanese-American with close ties to leaders in the United Arab Emirates who is currently cooperating with Mueller’s team. Also present at the meetings was Israeli social media strategist Joel Zamel, who has been questioned by Mueller for his role in pitching top campaign officials on an influence operation to help Trump win the election—overtures that could have broken federal election laws.
Steve Bannon was involved as well in conversations on Iran regime change during those two days in January, according to the communications.
The communications show that participants in the meetings discussed a multi-pronged strategy for eroding, and eventually ending, the current Iranian regime—including economic, information, and military tactics for weakening the Tehran government. Earlier this year the New York Times reported Nader was promoting a plan to carry out economic sabotage against Iran and pitched the plan in the Spring of 2017 to Saudi, UAE, and American officials. It’s unclear if that plan ever moved forward or if it was part of the larger project for regime change discussed in these January 2017 meetings.