Qatari Officials Decided Not to Give Information on Kushner, Secret Meetings to Mueller

U.S. President Donald Trump, second left, shakes hands with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, left, during a bilateral meeting, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. Seated with them are: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, third right, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, second right, and U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Qatari officials gathered evidence of what they claim is illicit influence by the United Arab Emirates on Jared Kushner and other Trump associates, including details of secret meetings, but decided not to give the information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller for fear of harming relations with the Trump administration, say three sources familiar with the Qatari discussions.

Lebanese-American businessman George Nader and Republican donor Elliott Broidy, who participated in the meetings, have both been the focus of news reports in recent days about their connections to the UAE and Trump associates.

It is unknown whether Qatari officials were the source of the recent news stories detailing activities by Nader and Broidy published by The New York Times and CNN.

NBC News previously reported that Qatari officials weighed speaking to Mueller during a visit to Washington earlier this year, and has now learned the information the officials wanted to share included details about Nader and Broidy working with the UAE to turn the Trump administration against Qatar, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

Qatari officials believe the meetings — as well as fallout from Qatari business dealings with Kushner — may have influenced President Trump’s public endorsement of a blockade of Qatar by its neighbors that began last year.

A Qatari delegation came to Washington in late January and early February and met with Trump officials to discuss shared national security interests. Despite Trump’s endorsement of the blockade in June, the Qataris felt the meetings with top advisers had been productive and decided against reaching out to Mueller in order to preserve the relationship, according to people familiar with the internal Qatari deliberations.

A spokesperson for the Qatari embassy in Washington said in a statement last week that Qatar won’t be providing materials to the Mueller investigation.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Julia Ainsley, Carol E. Lee, Robert Windrem and Andrew W. Lehren