A January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles between businessman and entrepreneur Erik Prince and Russian wealth manager Kirill Dmitriev has drawn the attention of the special counsel investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The founder of government services and security firm Academi — formerly known as Blackwater — Prince is the brother of Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos.
At issue for Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conflicts between Prince’s testimony to a House panel and sworn statements to a grand jury from George Nader, a Middle East expert and adviser, to United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
Mr. Nader is now cooperating with Mueller’s office.
According to sources with knowledge of the matter, Prince testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee in November 2017 his trip to the Seychelles was to meet with bin Zayed to explore potential business opportunities.
Prince revealed he had met with Dmitriev, but told the House panel the ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin amounted to a chance encounter at the hotel bar arranged by a member of bin Zayed’s delegation.
According to Nader, Prince’s meeting with Dmitriev required no introduction from the Emirati delegation.
Public transcripts of Prince’s testimony to the House read:
“We chatted on topics ranging from oil and commodity prices to how much his country wished for resumption of normal trade relations. I remember telling him that if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Joseph Stalin to defeat Nazi fascism, then certainly Donald Trump could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism.”
First unearthed in 2017, the nature of the Jan. 11, 2017, meeting between Prince and Dmitriev is believed to have been held to establish contacts between the incoming administration and the Kremlin and was pre-planned.
Although a donor to the Trump campaign, Prince was never officially affiliated with the Trump presidential bid, and only occasionally acted as an informal adviser to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Prince has donated $280,000 to the Trump campaign, the GOP, and associated pro-Trump PACs.
Spokespersons for the White House, Mr. Prince, and Mueller’s office declined to comment on the matter.
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected for factual accuracy.
[Washington Post] [New York Times] [Business Insider] [Photo courtesy Reuters via VOA]