Seeking Foreign Money, G.O.P. Donor Pushed for Trump to Golf With Malaysian Premier


Mr. Broidy and Mr. Nader met around the inauguration and worked to sway the Trump administration on behalf the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia at a time when Mr. Broidy was seeking contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the two countries.

Photo

George Nader in 1999. He an adviser to the Emiratis who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation.

Credit
Ron Sachs/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press

In a statement, Mr. Broidy said, “This whole narrative is a fabrication driven by hackers who want to undermine me.”

Mr. Broidy resigned as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee last week after admitting that he had worked through Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to reach an agreement to pay $1.6 million to a Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair with the fund-raiser.

The results of Mr. Broidy’s efforts on Mr. Guo’s case are unclear. China has charged Mr. Guo with corruption, but he remains in New York, where he has become an outspoken critic of Chinese government self-dealing and is seeking asylum.

Mr. Broidy’s attempts to curry favor with Malaysia through the golf date, however, entailed more direct and insistent communications with the White House, illustrating the influence he hoped to use for the benefit of both Asian countries.

“I have done work in Malaysia over many years and know Prime Minister Najib Razak well,” Mr. Broidy wrote in an email to the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, dated Aug. 31, 2017, early in Mr. Kelly’s tenure.

Mr. Broidy had personally appealed to Mr. Trump in June for a one-on-one golf date with Mr. Najib during the prime minister’s coming visit to Washington, and “the president told me he would be happy to play golf with the PM,” Mr. Broidy wrote in the email. The president’s previous chief of staff, Reince Priebus, had confirmed the golf date to Mr. Broidy, but “unfortunately, the golf game is not appearing on the schedule that has been provided through protocol to the PM,” he wrote.

“I look forward to discussing this with you,” Mr. Broidy wrote to Mr. Kelly, thanking him for his assistance. A person close to Mr. Broidy said Mr. Kelly did not reply.

For Mr. Trump, a golf date with Mr. Najib could have fueled criticism that the president is indifferent to the appearance of corruption. Mr. Najib is under investigation by prosecutors in both the United States and Malaysia on suspicion of embezzling from a state investment fund, the 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB. The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit seeking to seize $540 million in American assets purchased with money stolen from the fund.

A person close to Mr. Broidy said the golf date never happened and his business discussions with Malaysia never passed the preliminary stage.

The Chinese dissident, Mr. Guo, made a fortune in real estate and finance in China but fled in 2014 in anticipation of charges of corruption. He has said the allegations were fabricated by business and political opponents, and he has since styled himself as a whistle-blower exposing the corruption of the Chinese elite. He lives primarily in a 9,000-square-foot apartment overlooking Central Park that he bought three years ago for more than $67 million.

One person close to Mr. Broidy said he was interested in the case because of his friendship with Steve Wynn, another top Republican fund-raiser. Mr. Wynn, a casino mogul who himself recently resigned as a Republican finance chairman after a sex scandal, had large business interests in China and also sought to persuade the United States to expel Mr. Guo.

A representative of Mr. Wynn did not respond to requests for comment, and a representative of Mr. Guo declined to comment.

Mr. Broidy wrote a draft memo dated May 6, 2017, to Mr. Nader, the Emirati adviser, laying out a complex proposal for both men to profit from an unusual three-way trade relying on their combined influence in Washington and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E.

Mr. Nader would encourage his patron, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, to ask the United States to hand over Mr. Guo in connection with a business dispute with the U.A.E.

Mr. Broidy, meanwhile, would prod the Trump administration to comply with the extradition request from the U.A.E. while avoiding the appearance of turning a Chinese dissident over to China.

The Emiratis might then agree to deliver Mr. Guo to China, Mr. Broidy wrote, because they believe Mr. Guo owes $3 billion to Emirati investment funds. In exchange, the Chinese might pay off that debt, Mr. Broidy wrote.

“China would agree to pay” Mr. Nader and himself, Mr. Broidy wrote, and “Abu Dhabi would pay” them as well.

He and Mr. Nader “can assist members of the Trump administration, including President Trump, Mr. Kushner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly, and National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, see the value of cooperating with Abu Dhabi in getting custody of Mr. Guo, which in effect helps China get one step closer to acquiring custody of Mr. Guo,” Mr. Broidy wrote.

A person close to Mr. Broidy and familiar with the case said he did not send the email but still approached Mr. Nader in general terms about the proposal. In his statement, Mr. Broidy said: “I have never had a strategy or plan regarding Mr. Guo nor was there any compensation given or even discussed. And, to be clear, at no time was I told by George Nader or anyone that anyone from U.A.E. had any interest whatsoever in Mr. Guo.”

Most of the documents appear in 20 pages of emails from Mr. Broidy’s account that were provided to The Times by an anonymous group critical of his advocacy of foreign policies in the Middle East. Lawyers for Mr. Broidy have filed a lawsuit charging that hackers working for Qatar stole his emails in retaliation for his criticism of the country; Qatar has denied responsibility. The email to Mr. Kelly was provided by a different person.

Mr. Broidy drafted another memorandum, dated May 21, 2017, to Mr. Sessions. In it, Mr. Broidy wrote that “while conducting business in Malaysia” he had learned of “a potential opportunity for the U.S. and China to increase their law enforcement cooperation.”

A delegation from China was on its way to Washington four days later, Mr. Broidy wrote, and “the one request China will make” is the extradition of Mr. Guo, “who China alleges has conspired with others who have been arrested and charged with violations of numerous criminal laws of China.”

A person close to Mr. Broidy said he never sent that memorandum, and a Justice Department spokeswoman said Mr. Sessions never received it. But as late as the end of 2017 Mr. Broidy was evidently seeking to encourage Mr. Guo’s expulsion, in part by generating negative publicity about him. “Slam him,” Mr. Broidy wrote in October to an associate seeking to promote negative articles about Mr. Guo.

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R.N.C. Official Who Agreed to Pay Playboy Model $1.6 Million Resigns


He lamented that the issue had become a national news story, which he attributed to the publicity surrounding the federal investigations of Mr. Cohen. He said that the lawyer “reached out to me after being contacted by this woman’s attorney, Keith Davidson,” and that he hired Mr. Cohen after Mr. Cohen “informed me about his prior relationship with Mr. Davidson.”

In fact, the contract used in Mr. Broidy’s case included the same aliases that were used in the 2016 contract relating to Mr. Trump and Ms. Clifford — David Dennison and Peggy Peterson — according to a person familiar with it.

A spokesman for Mr. Davidson said he could not confirm or deny the details of the agreement. In a statement, Mr. Davidson said, “I’ve always acted in my client’s best interest, and appropriately in all matters.”

Mr. Cohen declined to comment.

Mr. Davidson’s relationship with Mr. Cohen forms part of the basis for a lawsuit brought by Ms. McDougal, who is seeking to get out of her contract with A.M.I., the owner of The National Enquirer, which never ran her story after buying it in August 2016.

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Keith M. Davidson, the Playboy model’s lawyer in the arrangement, also represented two women who were paid to remain silent about alleged affairs with Mr. Trump.

In the lawsuit, she contends that Mr. Cohen played a secret role in the negotiations for that deal, which allegedly involved only herself and the tabloid media company. The Times reported earlier this year that Mr. Cohen and Mr. Davidson discussed the deal the day before Ms. McDougal signed the contract.

Mr. Broidy was a major fund-raiser for George W. Bush, but he is particularly connected in Mr. Trump’s orbit.

He got his start in business as an accountant and then as an investment manager for Glen Bell, the founder of Taco Bell. He was a vice chairman of Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, has met frequently with top White House officials and had an Oval Office meeting with the president in October, according to documents obtained by The Times.

During the wide-ranging October meeting, Mr. Broidy raised numerous topics high on the agenda of the United Arab Emirates, a country that has given his security company a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He pitched the president on a paramilitary force his company was developing for the U.A.E. and urged Mr. Trump to fire Rex W. Tillerson, then the secretary of state, whom the U.A.E. believed was insufficiently tough on its rival Qatar.

The documents show that Mr. Broidy has worked closely with George Nader, an adviser to the U.A.E. and a witness in the special counsel’s investigation, to help steer Trump administration policy on numerous issues in the Middle East. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, is examining Mr. Nader’s possible role in funneling Emirati money to finance Mr. Trump’s political efforts. There is no indication that Mr. Mueller’s team is looking into Mr. Broidy.

In 2009, Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty to charges that he made nearly $1 million worth of illegal gifts to New York State officials in order to win an investment of $250 million from the state’s public pension fund. Among the gifts were trips to Israel and Italy, payouts to officials’ relatives and girlfriends and an investment in one relative’s production of a low-budget movie called “Chooch.”

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Fund-Raiser Held Out Access to Trump as a Prize for Prospective Clients


This type of access has value on the international stage, where the perception of support from an American president — or even a photo with one — can benefit foreign leaders back home.

Mr. Broidy was open about his business interests, but the administration made no effort to curtail his offers of access to clients or prospective clients.

Yet Mr. Broidy was so aggressive, some associates said, that they warned him to tone down his approach for fear that he might run afoul of the president, clients or American lobbying and anti-corruption laws.

As with so many other political conventions, Mr. Trump has upended the traditional system of access to the president, among the most prized chits in Washington. That is partly because of lax vetting that has allowed largely unfettered access to Mr. Trump and his White House by loyalists, friends and hangers-on with their own policy agendas or business interests.

But it is also because few of Washington’s established lobbyists have close connections to the president. In their place, a new class of insider has emerged, able to lobby the president directly on behalf of clients or business partners, an uncommon opportunity in prior administrations, when lobbyists focused on winning support from lawmakers or regulators.

In a statement, Mr. Broidy said the success of his company reflected his recruitment of “the best people, including a number of former flag officers,” not his political connections. “The idea that our success derives from activities around last year’s presidential inauguration is not only misplaced but insulting to the careers and capabilities of our highly trained and decorated veterans,” he said.

Mr. Broidy, 60, in some ways personifies this new breed of Trump insider. A lifelong Los Angeles resident who worked as an accountant before making a fortune as an investor, Mr. Broidy grew more interested in politics after the Sept. 11 attacks, which shaped his hawkish approach to foreign policy and concern for the defense of Israel. In 2005, he was appointed to a federal homeland security advisory panel.

Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty in 2009 to giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to New York state officials to help his company land a $250 million contract with the state’s public pension fund. He paid $18 million in restitution and avoided jail time.

As he worked to rebuild his bank account and reputation, he expanded his business interests in the defense and security industry, starting a company called Threat Deterrence in 2013 and purchasing Circinus in July 2015.

Photo

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo was invited by Mr. Broidy to Mr. Trump’s inauguration festivities, but he declined.

Credit
Kenny Katombe/Reuters

Mr. Broidy initially supported Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, embracing Mr. Trump only after Mr. Cruz dropped out.

His business took off after Mr. Trump’s election. Circinus has won lucrative work from around the world, including contracts worth more than $200 million to do defense work for the United Arab Emirates. And Mr. Broidy openly promoted Circinus’s work in meetings with Mr. Trump and other Republican officials, according to documents and interviews.

But Mr. Broidy faces a sudden backlash.

One of his business partners, George Nader, is cooperating with the special counsel, whose investigators have asked about Mr. Nader’s contacts with top Trump administration officials as well as his possible role in funneling money from the U.A.E. to Mr. Trump’s political efforts, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

Mr. Nader helped Circinus gain access to U.A.E.’s crown prince, while also using Mr. Broidy as a conduit to shape Trump administration policy toward the Persian Gulf on behalf of the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, both American allies. Mr. Broidy, in turn, appears to have helped Mr. Nader get his photograph taken with Mr. Trump at a fund-raiser, over the unspecified objections of the Secret Service. Mr. Nader has been convicted on charges related to child pornography and sexual abuse of minors.

Hundreds of pages of Mr. Broidy’s emails, proposals and contracts were provided to The Times by an anonymous group critical of Mr. Broidy’s advocacy of American foreign policies in the Middle East. Mr. Broidy’s representatives say they have proof that the documents were stolen by hackers working for Qatar in retaliation for his efforts to rally opposition in Washington to Qatar, a regional nemesis of the Saudis and the Emiratis. The Qataris dismiss this charge.

The documents reveal that Mr. Broidy, a vice chairman of the finance committee for Mr. Trump’s inauguration, arranged invitations to parties celebrating the event for foreign leaders with whom Circinus worked to sign contracts that could have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Mr. Broidy in some cases presented the invitations in a manner that suggested they were linked to their countries’ willingness to do business with Circinus.

For instance, Mr. Broidy invited Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the longtime president of the Republic of Congo, to a handful of inauguration week events, including the candlelight dinner featuring Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and their wives. “Your name has been submitted and approved,” Mr. Broidy wrote to Mr. Sassou-Nguesso in a note on Broidy Capital Management letterhead. Mr. Broidy stressed that the invitation was from Mr. Broidy and “is not coming from the Joint Congressional Committee” on Inaugural Ceremonies, which oversees the swearing-in and a luncheon at the Capitol.

The day after the letter was dated, Mr. Broidy asked his team at Circinus to prepare an invoice for $2 million to Mr. Sassou-Nguesso’s office for “military capabilities assessment and review/services,” according to emails and documents.

People close to Mr. Broidy said no invoice was sent and Circinus never worked for the Congolese government. Mr. Sassou-Nguesso declined the invitation to the inauguration festivities, they said.

Donors to previous inaugurations were also able to invite foreign heads of state to events as their guests, a spokesman for Mr. Broidy noted.

Two officials from Romania, another prospective Circinus client, met Mr. Trump at a private party to which Mr. Broidy invited them during inauguration week at the Trump International Hotel near the White House. Liviu Dragnea, a parliamentary leader who runs the Social Democratic Party, called for closer ties between Romania and the United States, prompting Mr. Trump to declare, “We will make it happen! Romania is important for us!” according to Mr. Dragnea’s Facebook post, reported by McClatchy.

At the time, Mr. Dragnea faced corruption charges, which he continues to fight. But for months after the inauguration, Circinus continued pitching his government partly on the access it could provide to Mr. Trump, according to a person who works with the Romanian government and was briefed on the solicitation.

Circinus has yet to receive contracts from Romania, people close to Mr. Broidy said. The company entered into an agreement last month with a Romanian government-owned defense company that appears to give it the inside track for contracts valued at more than $200 million, according to Romanian news media and people familiar with the contracting process.

Similarly, in a letter dated Jan. 3, 2017, and emailed to top Angolan government officials, Mr. Broidy indicated that he was also sending both an invitation to the inauguration festivities and a proposal for Circinus to provide security services for Angola. In one version of the proposal, the company sought nearly $64 million over five years. “With numerous preparations ahead, we request that you kindly return the executed document no later than January 9, 2017,” Mr. Broidy wrote in the letter to João Lourenço, then the Angolan defense minister, and another Angolan official.

Three days before inauguration, the Angolans submitted a $6 million payment to Circinus, which people close to Mr. Broidy say was $2 million less than the Angolans had agreed to pay. That same day, the Angolans and Mr. Broidy met on Capitol Hill with senators including Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, both Republicans, encounters arranged by Mr. Broidy and his team.

Photo

President João Lourenço of Angola was invited by Mr. Broidy last year to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida resort, even as Mr. Broidy pressed Angola for payments on a contract. Mr. Lourenço never responded to the letters.

Credit
Ampe Rogerio/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

About one month later, Mr. Broidy again wrote to Mr. Lourenço, discussing plans for him “to be joining us at Mira Largo” — an apparent reference to Mar-a-Lago, where Mr. Broidy is a member and has been spotted introducing guests to the president — “this coming weekend.”

“Many preparations have been made in advance of your visit, including additional meetings at the Capitol and the Department of Treasury,” Mr. Broidy wrote.

He went on to remind Mr. Lourenço that Angola was past due on “the balance of the payment” for Circinus’s services. “Please make this payment immediately,” he wrote.

Not long after Mr. Lourenço was inaugurated as president of Angola in September, Mr. Broidy wrote again to congratulate him and offer to help set up meetings with Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence. “Before the formalities which would naturally be in order between our governments, I am able to assess and advise in this matter, and would be delighted to help foster such closer relation between Luanda and Washington,” Mr. Broidy wrote, referring to the Angolan capital.

Mr. Lourenço did not come to Mar-a-Lago and never responded to the letters, according to people close to Mr. Broidy. Circinus never collected any additional funds from Angola beyond the initial $6 million payment, they said.

Mr. Broidy emphasizes to potential clients how his connections to Mr. Trump could benefit them, according to several people who have worked with him or heard his pitches.

“He was mentioning that he has political connections, and it could be helpful,” said Eymen Errais, a counselor to the Tunisian Ministry of Development, Investment and International Cooperation.

Mr. Errais and the department’s minister, Fadhel Abdelkefi, met with Mr. Broidy and Circinus executives in Tunisia a few weeks after Mr. Trump’s election. Circinus sought a contract to build an open-source intelligence center for the Tunisian government, a person familiar with the meeting said, but Mr. Abdelkefi’s ministry instead sought to persuade Mr. Broidy to invest in the Tunisian hospitality industry.

Nonetheless, in an email to Mr. Abdelkefi just after the meeting, Mr. Broidy vowed that the center “would be an extremely useful and effective tool for your government” and again emphasized his connection to Mr. Trump. He characterized the incoming administration as “an unprecedented opportunity, in that the House, Senate and executive branch of our government are all under Republican control for the first time in 10 years.”

Circinus prepared a proposal for a five-year contract totaling $80 million for the Tunisian work. But Mr. Errais said the Tunisians decided not to do business with Circinus. “A connection with Trump — how would that help us for security?” he said.

A person close to Mr. Broidy said he discussed the Republicans’ control of Congress and the White House to suggest that the American government might increase spending on counterterrorism.

Mr. Broidy’s allies say he has never hidden the overlap between his business interests and his political activity. In a memorandum about an October Oval Office meeting, for example, Mr. Broidy wrote that he had volunteered to Mr. Trump that his company was seeking a contract from the United Arab Emirates and had tried to arrange a private meeting for the president to discuss the matter with their leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

But as scrutiny has mounted around Mr. Broidy, Republican officials signaled that he would be a distraction at a high-dollar fund-raiser with Mr. Trump this month in Los Angeles. Mr. Broidy helped plan it and was listed as a co-host.

After conversations with Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, he volunteered not to attend, according to people briefed on the situation.

The dinner and round-table with the president proceeded without him.

Continue reading the main story

Fund-Raiser Held Out Access to Trump as a Prize for Prospective Clients


This type of access has value on the international stage, where the perception of support from an American president — or even a photo with one — can benefit foreign leaders back home.

Mr. Broidy was open about his business interests, but the administration made no effort to curtail his offers of access to clients or prospective clients.

Yet Mr. Broidy was so aggressive, some associates said, that they warned him to tone down his approach for fear that he might run afoul of the president, clients or American lobbying and anti-corruption laws.

As with so many other political conventions, Mr. Trump has upended the traditional system of access to the president, among the most prized chits in Washington. That is partly because of lax vetting that has allowed largely unfettered access to Mr. Trump and his White House by loyalists, friends and hangers-on with their own policy agendas or business interests.

But it is also because few of Washington’s established lobbyists have close connections to the president. In their place, a new class of insider has emerged, able to lobby the president directly on behalf of clients or business partners, an uncommon opportunity in prior administrations, when lobbyists focused on winning support from lawmakers or regulators.

In a statement, Mr. Broidy said the success of his company reflected his recruitment of “the best people, including a number of former flag officers,” not his political connections. “The idea that our success derives from activities around last year’s presidential inauguration is not only misplaced but insulting to the careers and capabilities of our highly trained and decorated veterans,” he said.

Mr. Broidy, 60, in some ways personifies this new breed of Trump insider. A lifelong Los Angeles resident who worked as an accountant before making a fortune as an investor, Mr. Broidy grew more interested in politics after the Sept. 11 attacks, which shaped his hawkish approach to foreign policy and concern for the defense of Israel. In 2005, he was appointed to a federal homeland security advisory panel.

Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty in 2009 to giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to New York state officials to help his company land a $250 million contract with the state’s public pension fund. He paid $18 million in restitution and avoided jail time.

As he worked to rebuild his bank account and reputation, he expanded his business interests in the defense and security industry, starting a company called Threat Deterrence in 2013 and purchasing Circinus in July 2015.

Photo

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo was invited by Mr. Broidy to Mr. Trump’s inauguration festivities, but he declined.

Credit
Kenny Katombe/Reuters

Mr. Broidy initially supported Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, embracing Mr. Trump only after Mr. Cruz dropped out.

His business took off after Mr. Trump’s election. Circinus has won lucrative work from around the world, including contracts worth more than $200 million to do defense work for the United Arab Emirates. And Mr. Broidy openly promoted Circinus’s work in meetings with Mr. Trump and other Republican officials, according to documents and interviews.

But Mr. Broidy faces a sudden backlash.

One of his business partners, George Nader, is cooperating with the special counsel, whose investigators have asked about Mr. Nader’s contacts with top Trump administration officials as well as his possible role in funneling money from the U.A.E. to Mr. Trump’s political efforts, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

Mr. Nader helped Circinus gain access to U.A.E.’s crown prince, while also using Mr. Broidy as a conduit to shape Trump administration policy toward the Persian Gulf on behalf of the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, both American allies. Mr. Broidy, in turn, appears to have helped Mr. Nader get his photograph taken with Mr. Trump at a fund-raiser, over the unspecified objections of the Secret Service. Mr. Nader has been convicted on charges related to child pornography and sexual abuse of minors.

Hundreds of pages of Mr. Broidy’s emails, proposals and contracts were provided to The Times by an anonymous group critical of Mr. Broidy’s advocacy of American foreign policies in the Middle East. Mr. Broidy’s representatives say they have proof that the documents were stolen by hackers working for Qatar in retaliation for his efforts to rally opposition in Washington to Qatar, a regional nemesis of the Saudis and the Emiratis. The Qataris dismiss this charge.

The documents reveal that Mr. Broidy, a vice chairman of the finance committee for Mr. Trump’s inauguration, arranged invitations to parties celebrating the event for foreign leaders with whom Circinus worked to sign contracts that could have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Mr. Broidy in some cases presented the invitations in a manner that suggested they were linked to their countries’ willingness to do business with Circinus.

For instance, Mr. Broidy invited Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the longtime president of the Republic of Congo, to a handful of inauguration week events, including the candlelight dinner featuring Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and their wives. “Your name has been submitted and approved,” Mr. Broidy wrote to Mr. Sassou-Nguesso in a note on Broidy Capital Management letterhead. Mr. Broidy stressed that the invitation was from Mr. Broidy and “is not coming from the Joint Congressional Committee” on Inaugural Ceremonies, which oversees the swearing-in and a luncheon at the Capitol.

The day after the letter was dated, Mr. Broidy asked his team at Circinus to prepare an invoice for $2 million to Mr. Sassou-Nguesso’s office for “military capabilities assessment and review/services,” according to emails and documents.

People close to Mr. Broidy said no invoice was sent and Circinus never worked for the Congolese government. Mr. Sassou-Nguesso declined the invitation to the inauguration festivities, they said.

Donors to previous inaugurations were also able to invite foreign heads of state to events as their guests, a spokesman for Mr. Broidy noted.

Two officials from Romania, another prospective Circinus client, met Mr. Trump at a private party to which Mr. Broidy invited them during inauguration week at the Trump International Hotel near the White House. Liviu Dragnea, a parliamentary leader who runs the Social Democratic Party, called for closer ties between Romania and the United States, prompting Mr. Trump to declare, “We will make it happen! Romania is important for us!” according to Mr. Dragnea’s Facebook post, reported by McClatchy.

At the time, Mr. Dragnea faced corruption charges, which he continues to fight. But for months after the inauguration, Circinus continued pitching his government partly on the access it could provide to Mr. Trump, according to a person who works with the Romanian government and was briefed on the solicitation.

Circinus has yet to receive contracts from Romania, people close to Mr. Broidy said. The company entered into an agreement last month with a Romanian government-owned defense company that appears to give it the inside track for contracts valued at more than $200 million, according to Romanian news media and people familiar with the contracting process.

Similarly, in a letter dated Jan. 3, 2017, and emailed to top Angolan government officials, Mr. Broidy indicated that he was also sending both an invitation to the inauguration festivities and a proposal for Circinus to provide security services for Angola. In one version of the proposal, the company sought nearly $64 million over five years. “With numerous preparations ahead, we request that you kindly return the executed document no later than January 9, 2017,” Mr. Broidy wrote in the letter to João Lourenço, then the Angolan defense minister, and another Angolan official.

Three days before inauguration, the Angolans submitted a $6 million payment to Circinus, which people close to Mr. Broidy say was $2 million less than the Angolans had agreed to pay. That same day, the Angolans and Mr. Broidy met on Capitol Hill with senators including Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, both Republicans, encounters arranged by Mr. Broidy and his team.

Photo

President João Lourenço of Angola was invited by Mr. Broidy last year to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida resort, even as Mr. Broidy pressed Angola for payments on a contract. Mr. Lourenço never responded to the letters.

Credit
Ampe Rogerio/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

About one month later, Mr. Broidy again wrote to Mr. Lourenço, discussing plans for him “to be joining us at Mira Largo” — an apparent reference to Mar-a-Lago, where Mr. Broidy is a member and has been spotted introducing guests to the president — “this coming weekend.”

“Many preparations have been made in advance of your visit, including additional meetings at the Capitol and the Department of Treasury,” Mr. Broidy wrote.

He went on to remind Mr. Lourenço that Angola was past due on “the balance of the payment” for Circinus’s services. “Please make this payment immediately,” he wrote.

Not long after Mr. Lourenço was inaugurated as president of Angola in September, Mr. Broidy wrote again to congratulate him and offer to help set up meetings with Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence. “Before the formalities which would naturally be in order between our governments, I am able to assess and advise in this matter, and would be delighted to help foster such closer relation between Luanda and Washington,” Mr. Broidy wrote, referring to the Angolan capital.

Mr. Lourenço did not come to Mar-a-Lago and never responded to the letters, according to people close to Mr. Broidy. Circinus never collected any additional funds from Angola beyond the initial $6 million payment, they said.

Mr. Broidy emphasizes to potential clients how his connections to Mr. Trump could benefit them, according to several people who have worked with him or heard his pitches.

“He was mentioning that he has political connections, and it could be helpful,” said Eymen Errais, a counselor to the Tunisian Ministry of Development, Investment and International Cooperation.

Mr. Errais and the department’s minister, Fadhel Abdelkefi, met with Mr. Broidy and Circinus executives in Tunisia a few weeks after Mr. Trump’s election. Circinus sought a contract to build an open-source intelligence center for the Tunisian government, a person familiar with the meeting said, but Mr. Abdelkefi’s ministry instead sought to persuade Mr. Broidy to invest in the Tunisian hospitality industry.

Nonetheless, in an email to Mr. Abdelkefi just after the meeting, Mr. Broidy vowed that the center “would be an extremely useful and effective tool for your government” and again emphasized his connection to Mr. Trump. He characterized the incoming administration as “an unprecedented opportunity, in that the House, Senate and executive branch of our government are all under Republican control for the first time in 10 years.”

Circinus prepared a proposal for a five-year contract totaling $80 million for the Tunisian work. But Mr. Errais said the Tunisians decided not to do business with Circinus. “A connection with Trump — how would that help us for security?” he said.

A person close to Mr. Broidy said he discussed the Republicans’ control of Congress and the White House to suggest that the American government might increase spending on counterterrorism.

Mr. Broidy’s allies say he has never hidden the overlap between his business interests and his political activity. In a memorandum about an October Oval Office meeting, for example, Mr. Broidy wrote that he had volunteered to Mr. Trump that his company was seeking a contract from the United Arab Emirates and had tried to arrange a private meeting for the president to discuss the matter with their leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

But as scrutiny has mounted around Mr. Broidy, Republican officials signaled that he would be a distraction at a high-dollar fund-raiser with Mr. Trump this month in Los Angeles. Mr. Broidy helped plan it and was listed as a co-host.

After conversations with Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, he volunteered not to attend, according to people briefed on the situation.

The dinner and round-table with the president proceeded without him.

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How a Witness for Mueller and a Republican Donor Influenced the White House for Gulf Rulers


Mr. Nader’s cultivation of Mr. Broidy, laid out in documents provided to The New York Times, provides a case study in the way two Persian Gulf monarchies have sought to gain influence inside the Trump White House. Mr. Nader has been granted immunity in a deal for his cooperation with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to people familiar with the matter, and his relationship with Mr. Broidy may also offer clues to the direction of that inquiry.

Mr. Nader has now been called back from abroad to provide additional testimony, one person familiar with the matter said this week. Mr. Mueller’s investigators have already asked witnesses about Mr. Nader’s contacts with top Trump administration officials and about his possible role in funneling Emirati money to Mr. Trump’s political efforts, a sign that the investigation has broadened to examine the role of foreign money in the Trump administration.

The documents contain evidence not previously reported that Mr. Nader also held himself out as intermediary for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who met with Mr. Trump on Tuesday in the Oval Office at the beginning of a tour of the United States to meet with political and business leaders.

A lawyer for Mr. Nader declined to comment. Two people close to Mr. Broidy said he has not been contacted by the special counsel’s investigators. In a statement, Mr. Broidy said that his efforts “aimed to strengthen the national security of the United States, in full coordination with the U.S. government.” He added, “I have always believed strongly in countering both Iran and Islamic extremism, and in working closely with our friends in the Arab world in order to do so.”

The documents, which included emails, business proposals and contracts, were provided by an anonymous group critical of Mr. Broidy’s advocacy of American foreign policies in the Middle East. The Times showed Mr. Broidy’s representatives copies of all of the emails it intended to cite in an article. In his statement, Mr. Broidy said he could not confirm the authenticity of all of them, noting that The Times was able to show him only printouts and not the original emails.

A spokesman for Mr. Broidy has said he believes the documents were stolen by hackers working for Qatar in retaliation for his work critical of the country — a regional nemesis of the Saudis and Emiratis.

“We now possess irrefutable evidence tying Qatar to this unlawful attack on, and espionage directed against, a prominent United States citizen within the territory of the United States,” Lee S. Wolosky, a lawyer for Mr. Broidy, wrote this week in a letter to the Qatari ambassador in Washington. If Qatar was not responsible, “we expect your government to hold accountable the rogue actors in Qatar who have caused Mr. Broidy substantial damages.”

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Elliott Broidy, center, at a dinner days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration with Larry Mizel, left, a Trump donor, and Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general.

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Clint Spaulding/WWD, via Rex, via Shutterstock

Forging a Connection

The two men first met during the crush of parties and other events surrounding Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Mr. Broidy, 60, a longtime Republican donor and a vice chairman of the inaugural fund-raising committee, got his start in business as an accountant and then as an investment manager for Glen Bell, the founder of Taco Bell.

Mr. Nader, 58, a United States citizen born in Lebanon, previously ran a Washington-based journal called Middle East Insight, acted as an informal emissary to Syria under the Clinton administration, and, according to a short biography in the emails, later worked for Vice President Dick Cheney.

The two became fast friends, and by February, they were exchanging emails about potential contracts for Circinus with both the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, and also about Saudi and Emirati objectives in Washington, such as persuading the United States government to take action against the Muslim Brotherhood or put pressure on its regional ally, Qatar.

Early in the Trump administration, the two men also noted with approval a successful effort to block a top Pentagon position for Anne Patterson, a former ambassador to Cairo whom the Emiratis and Saudis have long criticized as too sympathetic to the deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood during his one year in office.

In one message to Mr. Nader in March 2017, Mr. Broidy referred to Secure America Now, an advocacy organization that he suggested had campaigned against Ms. Patterson, as “one of the groups I am working with.” The two people close to Mr. Broidy said he had not raised money for the group or campaigned against Ms. Patterson.

The Saudis and Emiratis have had particularly warm relations with the Trump administration. Mr. Trump at times has appeared to side with the Arab monarchies against his own cabinet secretaries — including in the bitter regional dispute against neighboring Qatar. Also in concert with the Saudis and Emiratis, Mr. Trump has taken a far more hawkish stance toward Iran than either his cabinet or President Barack Obama, threatening to “rip up” the Iran nuclear deal that Mr. Obama brokered in 2015.

On March 25, Mr. Broidy emailed Mr. Nader a spreadsheet outlining a proposed Washington lobbying and public relations campaign against both Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. The proposed campaign’s total cost was $12.7 million.

The two people close to Mr. Broidy said the plan was drafted by a third party for circulation to like-minded American donors, and that only some of its provisions were carried out.

Mr. Nader did, however, provide a $2.7 million payment to Mr. Broidy for “consulting, marketing and other advisory services rendered,” apparently to help pay for the cost of conferences at two Washington think tanks, the Hudson Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, that featured heavy criticism of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hudson Institute policies prohibit donations from foreign governments that are not democracies, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies bars donations from all foreign governments, so Mr. Nader’s role as an adviser to the U.A.E. may have raised concerns had he donated directly.

Documents show Mr. Nader’s payment was made by an Emirati-based company he controlled, GS Investments, to an obscure firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia, controlled by Mr. Broidy, Xieman International. A person close to Mr. Broidy said the money was passed through the Canadian company at Mr. Nader’s request, and the reason for its circuitous path could not be determined.

Documents also appear to show that lawyers for Mr. Broidy discussed with him a possible agreement to share with Mr. Nader a portion of the profits from the first round of business his company did with the Saudis and Emiratis — an apparent reflection of his integral role in helping the company, Circinus, negotiate for the lucrative security contracts.

In his statement, Mr. Broidy said Mr. Nader “is not a shareholder, officer, director or employee of any of my companies.”

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Mr. Trump hosted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the White House on Tuesday.

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Doug Mills/The New York Times

“He has not been paid any origination fee or any other fees in connection with these matters,” he said.

Influential Links

Months later, as Mr. Broidy was preparing for an Oval Office meeting with Mr. Trump, Mr. Nader pressed him to try to line up a private meeting outside the White House between Mr. Trump and the leader of the United Arab Emirates, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, whom he referred to as “Friend.”

“Tell him that Friend would like to come ASAP to meet you SOONEST out of official site, in New Jersey” or Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, Mr. Nader wrote to Mr. Broidy on Oct. 1.

“Again, Again and Again, please try to be the ONE to fix a date for Friend while you are there if at all possible,” he added.

Six days later, Mr. Broidy did just that, repeatedly pressing Mr. Trump to meet with the crown prince in a “quiet” setting outside the White House — perhaps in New York or New Jersey — according to a detailed report on the meeting that Mr. Broidy sent to Mr. Nader shortly after. Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, blocked the request, Mr. Broidy reported.

In a memorandum to Mr. Nader about the Oval Office meeting on Oct. 6, Mr. Broidy reported that he personally urged Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Tillerson, whom the Saudis and Emiratis saw as insufficiently tough on Iran and Qatar.

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A portion of a memo that Elliott Broidy sent to George Nader, recounting his meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office.

Later in the fall, Mr. Nader complained that the Secret Service had stopped him from getting his picture taken with Mr. Trump at a fund-raiser. Although the reasons he was kept at bay from the president are unclear, Mr. Nader pleaded guilty in 1991 to a federal child pornography charge and served six months at a halfway house after videotapes were found in his luggage when he arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport from a trip to Germany, according to court records released last week. In 2003, he received a one-year prison sentence in the Czech Republic after he was convicted there of 10 cases of sexually abusing minors, The Associated Press reported, citing a court spokeswoman.

Mr. Broidy was puzzled by the Secret Service’s objections. Mr. Nader, in his capacity as an adviser to the ruler of United Arab Emirates, had met several times with senior administration officials in the White House during Mr. Trump’s first weeks in office.

Mr. Broidy was apparently able to deliver: On Dec. 14, he emailed Mr. Nader his photograph grinning next to Mr. Trump.

Despite the close relations between the White House and the two gulf nations, there have been occasional hiccups, and in January, Mr. Nader twice emailed his friend with another delicate request: The leader of the U.A.E. asked that Mr. Trump call the crown prince of Saudi Arabia to try to smooth over potential bad feelings created by the book “Fire and Fury,” by Michael Wolff. It portrayed the president’s views of the Saudi prince in an unflattering light, Mr. Nader wrote.

“See what you can trigger and do and we can discuss more in person,” Mr. Nader wrote, reiterating once again the “genuine desire” of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates to meet alone with Mr. Trump.

Days later, Mr. Nader wrote to his friend that he was looking forward to an upcoming trip to the United States. Mr. Broidy was arranging for him to attend a gala dinner at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Florida estate, to celebrate the anniversary of Mr. Trump’s inauguration, and the two men were considering a trip Saudi Arabia to try to sell the kingdom’s young and powerful crown prince on a $650 million contract with Mr. Broidy’s security company.

But those grand plans were interrupted. It was on that trip to the United States that, as he touched down at Dulles Airport, Mr. Nader was greeted by F.B.I. agents working for Mr. Mueller.

Correction: March 21, 2018

An earlier version of this article misstated the worth of contracts that Circinus, Elliott Broidy’s private security company, won from the United Arab Emirates. They were worth $200 million, not $200 billion.

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