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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

Scoop: USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

4 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.