RIYADH (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates did not try to influence the election of Donald Trump, a minister said on Tuesday, following reports that the president’s son met with an envoy representing the crown princes of the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“Attention needs to be paid to facts over innuendo & speculation; the UAE made no effort to influence the 2016 U.S. election,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
“Like other governments friendly to the US, UAE officials had contact with staff & advisors in both 2016 presidential campaigns to inform and be informed of the candidates’ foreign policy positions.”
The New York Times last week reported on a meeting in August 2016 at which Lebanese-American businessman George Nader told Donald Trump, Jr. that the Gulf Arab leaders were eager to help his father win the election.
Trump Jr.‘s attorney has said nothing came of that meeting.
Nader’s lawyer has said her client “has fully cooperated with the U.S. special counsel’s investigation and will continue to do so.”
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Russia meddled in the presidential election and if Moscow colluded with the Trump campaign, as well as whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to thwart the U.S. Department of Justice probe.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.”
The New York Times report said the meetings are an indication that other countries besides Russia may have offered help to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Since 1974, the United States has barred foreign nationals from giving money to political campaigns and it later barred them from donating to political parties. Campaign financing laws also prohibit foreign nationals from coordinating with a campaign and buying advertising that explicitly calls for the election or defeat of a candidate.
(Reporting By Stephen Kalin; editing by John Stonestreet)