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Mueller, silhouetted, leaves the U.S. Capitol building after a meeting. Photo: Zach Gibson / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has been talking with George Nader, a little-known Bannon associate who boasts of his well-placed connections in the Middle East, Axios has learned.

Nader has spoken with Mueller's team at least twice, according to a source briefed on the investigation. A second source briefed on the investigation confirmed that Mueller's team has brought Nader in for questioning in the past week. The Special Counsel's office declined to comment.

Nader visited the White House frequently during the early months of the Trump administration. He became friendly with former chief strategist Steve Bannon, visiting his office regularly. A source familiar with the White House meetings said Jared Kushner also met Nader. After asking around about Nader, Kushner decided not to continue meeting with him, according to the same source.

Sources said Nader represented himself as being personally close to Mohammed bin Zayed — the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. But several sources who've observed Nader in action say he frequently name-drops, and that while he might be part of MbZ's extended entourage, it's unclear how influential he actually is.

A number of well-connected and experienced Middle East hands in Washington told me they'd never heard of Nader. I could only find a few people who have met him. Nobody was quite clear about what he does for a living.

A source who knows Nader told me he's originally Lebanese, and is now a U.S. citizen. I couldn’t reach him for comment.

For more great news and analysis in your inbox each day, be sure to sign up for Jonathan Swan's Sneak Peek and Axios' other newsletters.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's next power play

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), America's ultimate swing voter, told me on "Axios on HBO" that he'll insist Republicans have more of a voice on President Biden's next big package than they did on the COVID stimulus.

The big picture: Manchin said he'll push for tax hikes to pay for Biden's upcoming infrastructure and climate proposal, and will use his Energy Committee chairmanship to force the GOP to confront climate reality.

Why picking a jury for the Derek Chauvin trial is so hard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The tough task of selecting a jury for former MPD officer Derek Chauvin's trial for the killing of George Floyd is set to begin Monday.

The state of play: "This case may be the most highly publicized criminal trial in a long time. ... That means that it's harder to find people who really have an open mind," Richard Frase, University of Minnesota Law School professor of criminal law, told Axios.

Why it's so hard to sign up for vaccinations online

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The verdict from Americans trying to get the COVID vaccine is in: the sign-up websites are awful.

Why it matters: Appointment systems are a vital part of getting Americans vaccinated, but a series of missed opportunities, at every level, left local governments scrambling. And the frustrating, confusing process now carries the risk that some people will simply give up.