This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight.
C-SPAN via AP
By MICHAEL BALSAMO / AP
Updated: December 3, 2019 10:33 PM ET | Originally published: December 4, 2019

(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department on Tuesday charged eight people — including a prominent political donor to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and a Lebanese-American businessman who was a witness in Robert Mueller’s investigation — with conspiring to conceal the source of more than $3.5 million in donations to Clinton.

The 53-count indictment unsealed in federal court in Washington detailed efforts by Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja and George Nader to conceal the true source of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions, which prosecutors allege were made to gain influence with high-level political figures, including Clinton.

Khawaja, who lives in Los Angeles and is the owner of the online processing company Allied Wallet, is accused of making the donations in his name, his wife’s name and his company’s name, even though they were actually funded by another businessman, Nader.

As they arranged the payments, Nader was in touch with an official from a foreign government about his efforts to gain influence with the prominent politicians, prosecutors charge. The government is not identified in court documents.

A 2018 investigation by The Associated Press detailed that Khawaja, Allied Wallet and top executives contributed at least $6 million to Democratic and Republican candidates and groups. The donations earned Khawaja access to Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign and a post-election Oval Office visit with Trump.

Clinton is not identified by name in the court documents made public Tuesday, but there are repeated references in the indictment identifying the candidate as a woman. Federal donor records show Khawaja gave millions of dollars to Democratic candidates, including the main political action committee supporting Clinton’s campaign. He also donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund.

Nader is already in federal custody on unrelated charges accusing him of transporting a dozen images of child pornography and bestiality. He had provided grand jury testimony in the special counsel’s Russia investigation about his efforts to connect a Russian banker to members of Trump’s transition team. He had also worked to advance Saudi Arabia’s agenda to the Trump administration.

An attorney for Nader and a spokesman for Khawaja’s company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The indictment alleges that Khawaja, Nader and another defendant, Rudy Dekermenjian, attended an event to support Clinton in April 2016. The next day, Nader told the foreign official in a WhatsApp message that he had a “wonderful meeting with the Big Lady,” according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege that Dekermenjian and five others — Roy Boulos, Mohammad “Moe” Diab, Rani El-Saadi, Stevan Hill and Thayne Whipple — conspired with Khawaja to make contributions while concealing the actual origin of the funds. Those contributions, made to various political committees, totaled more than $1.8 million, according to federal prosecutors.

Khawaja is also accused of obstructing a federal grand jury investigation by providing a witness with false information about Nader and his connection to Khawaja’s company after he knew the witness was called to testify, prosecutors said. Boulos, Diab, Hill and Whipple also are charged with obstructing the grand jury’s investigation by allegedly lying to the FBI.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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