Adam Schiff’s plans to go after Erik Prince may have hit a dead end. After the release of the Mueller report, the House Intelligence chair referred Prince for prosecution on perjury, thank to testimony from George Nader about a meeting Prince allegedly set up in the Seychelles just before Donald Trump’s inauguration to set up a back channel with Russia. Unfortunately for Schiff, Nader now has another trial with the Department of Justice — his own, for transportation of child pornography:
George Aref Nader, who was a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, was arrested on child pornography charges Monday in New York, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
Nader was arrested upon arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport for “transporting visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.” He previously pleaded guilty to the same charge in 1991, the Justice Department said.
If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years.
The DoJ didn’t catch him in the act just this weekend. The warrant for his arrest was issued over a year ago, and apparently resulted from searches conducted when the FBI first interrogated him over the Seychelles meeting. The DoJ sealed the warrant while trying to work with Nader to develop evidence in the Russia-collusion probe:
The complaint against him was unsealed in Virginia federal court on Monday after his arrest. But that complaint was actually filed in April 2018, three months after he was interviewed by FBI agents in January 2018 at Washington Dulles International Airport about a matter “unrelated to child pornography,” according to the complaint.
It was during that encounter that Nader was first asked to cooperate with the special counsel.
Three of Nader’s iPhones were seized at the time. And at least one of them was later found to contain videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to the complaint unsealed Monday.
Er … anyone else find these circumstances a bit questionable? Nader had to know that the FBI would find the videos on his iPhone when they initially interrogated him at Dulles. Even on its own, that’s a powerful incentive to tell investigators what they want to hear, especially when adding in Nader’s previous conviction on the same charge. Prosecutors didn’t find his testimony compelling enough to deal down or dismiss the charges, but didn’t let anyone know this until more than a year later — presumably including Adam Schiff, who wanted to prosecute Prince based in part on Nader’s testimony produced in this manner. And they kept the charges so secret that Nader was allowed to leave the country despite allegedly trafficking in child porn? Hmmmm.
This tends to explain why Robert Mueller ended up leaving the Prince thread untugged. The Seychelles meeting was not just a nothingburger for the Russia-collusion hypothesis anyway, it tended to disprove it. If the Trump team and Russia had colluded on the election, Prince wouldn’t have had to seek out back channels in January 2017 through Nader. The only issue left was whether Prince lied about the meeting to the House Intelligence Committee, but the evidence that Prince lied about the Seychelles meeting came mainly from and/or through Nader.
Mueller must have known full well that Nader would end up being charged again for child pornography, and decided to drop the Prince thread. Don’t forget that Mueller had referred Michael Cohen for prosecution over perjury to Congress, so why not Prince? Now we know — Nader was going to get discredited by prosecutors, in about as sensational way as possible.
And that will likely put a spike through Schiff’s attempts to prosecute Prince. Without Nader, the case against Prince won’t hold up well enough to win a conviction. Furthermore, the DoJ might not desire the experience of having the circumstances of Nader’s cooperation played out in front of a federal judge, who might demand to know why the FBI didn’t move immediately on the child-porn charge even after it became clear that the Russia-collusion hypothesis was a dead end.
This is the second indictment unsealed after the Mueller report of a peripheral character in the special-counsel probe. How many more shoes are yet to drop?