Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked questions about the work of a private consulting firm that has undertaken projects for the United Arab Emirates, according to people familiar with the investigation, suggesting his probe is looking more deeply at foreign influence in Washington.
The questions by Mr. Mueller’s team concern a private consulting firm, Wikistrat, as well as two of its co-founders, Joel Zamel and Daniel Green.
Wikistrat—which was founded in Israel in 2010 and today is based in Washington, D. C.—bills itself as a crowdsourced consulting firm that draws on a large network of experts to help analyze geopolitical problems on behalf of corporate clients and governments.
Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for Messrs. Zamel and Green and Wikistrat, said that his clients aren’t a focus of the probe.
“Joel is a bright young businessman and Wikistrat has been privileged to serve several U.S. government clients,” Mr. Mukasey, chairman of white collar defense at the law firm Greenberg Traurig, said in a statement. “Joel and Wikistrat have only a tenuous connection to the special counsel’s investigation and are cooperating fully.”
Mr. Zamel has informally met with Mr. Mueller’s team, according to a person familiar with the matter, and was asked questions about his business relationship with George Nader, a Lebanese-American who serves as a top adviser to U.A.E. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and was also close to Trump administration officials last year.
The person described Mr. Zamel’s relationship with Mr. Nader, who has been cooperating with the Mueller investigation since earlier this year, as “arms’ length.”
Mr. Mueller’s team also asked Mr. Zamel questions about his work, including for certain clients, the person said. The ultimate target of this line of inquiry is unknown.
A spokesman for Mr. Mueller declined to comment.
Mr. Mueller’s mandate is to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump. ” The order appointing him says he is also empowered to examine ”any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.