It looks like Special Counsel Robert Mueller has set his eyes on yet another associate of President Donald Trump, who allegedly played a vital role in establishing a back channel between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
As The Washington Post reported, Mueller has reportedly acquired evidence that prominent businessman and military contractor Erik Prince was part of the secret meeting between Russian representative to President Vladimir Putin, Kirill Dmitriev, and Emirati adviser George Nader, who recently agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team after being presented with a subpoena.
Nader reportedly had ties to senior White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner along with former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
Meanwhile, Prince, who is also the Blackwater founder, happens to be the brother of Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The infamous January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles islands was reportedly brokered by Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and his brother to encourage Russia to stop backing Iran, a long-time Kremlin ally, and setting up a communications channels between Trump team and Russian operatives, according to a report from last year.
The meeting took place just days before Trump’s inauguration.
As per the information given to the Post by a former Obama administration intelligence official, "separating Russia from Iran was a common theme" during a meeting with the Trump team.
This isn’t a surprise considering how Trump has publicly expressed his willingness to build diplomatic relations with Moscow, but has repeatedly shown reluctance to do so with Tehran. He is also a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
In fact, the very first major step that former National Security adviser Michael Flynn took during his brief tenure was to put Iran on notice over a missile test, the Trump administration was never able to prove violated any United Nations resolutions.
As for the UAE’s involvement in the talks set up by Prince, the Persian Gulf country is a staunch diplomatic and military ally of Saudi Arabia, and therefore sees Iran as a regional rival.
Prince allegedly contacted al-Nahyan despite having no official role in Trump’s transition team. He acted, as the Post puts it, as an “unofficial surrogate for the president-elect.”
However, Prince, whose mercenary firm is infamous for massacring 17 people in Baghdad in 2007, has always been close to the Trump campaign, and later transition team, in an unofficial capacity.
The Intercept reported last year that Prince had “been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the Defense and State departments.” The Post also stated the Blackwater boss donated “$250,000 to the Trump campaign.”
At the time, Prince denied the allegations against him.
KABOOM!— Brian Krassenstein🐬 (@krassenstein) March 8, 2018
Mueller has evidence that a January 2017 meeting in Seychelles, which included Erik Prince, was in fact an effort to set up a back channel between the Kremlin and the incoming Trump admin.
Now why the hell would the incoming admin need a back channel with Russia??
Erik Prince getting pinched for lying to Mueller would be some serious Al-Capone-for-tax-evasion type stuff. https://t.co/tImb70tWjc— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 8, 2018
Erik Prince is the founder of Blackwater (and Betsy DeVos’ brother). Last year, he said this was an “unplanned, unimportant encounter that came about by chance.” Like everyone else in this clownish pack of criminals, he lied. https://t.co/5ZaPiGfOjy— shauna (@goldengateblond) March 8, 2018
Erik Prince is prolly gonna go to jail and I am here for it.— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) March 8, 2018
The NYT version of the Seychelles meeting adds new significance to this exchange during Erik Prince's congressional testimony.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) March 7, 2018
He had insisted news accounts of the meeting were "fabricated" -- until he seemed to slip and acknowledge the existence of a transcript. pic.twitter.com/XVr3jhDhF8
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Larry Downing