Tuesday, 12 December, 2017

Blackwater Founder Denies Trump Connection to Seychelles Meeting

In Testy Testimony, Erik Prince Denies Involvement In Sketchy Russia Dealings Why did Blackwater's Erik Prince meet Russian fund boss in Seychelles bar? Not as Trump's secret envoy, he says
Bennie Garza | 07 December, 2017, 08:41

Prince claimed to have received a leak of classified information from former intelligence community employees regarding his trip to the Seychelles, but Schiff said he refused to disclose who provided him the information.

Prince testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on November 30, and the committee released the transcript of his testimony on Wednesday.

Erik Prince, the Trump-boosting founder of defunct military contracting firm Blackwater, was conspicuously elusive when members of Congress grilled him over his contacts with a Kremlin-connected banker, records made public Wednesday reveal.

Prince characterized his involvement with the Trump campaign as a donor and supporter who would occasionally write policy papers, but said that he held no official capacity.

When the committee's top Democrat, California Rep. Adam Schiff, asked Prince if anyone on the campaign indicated they were engaged in any discussions with the Russians through any channels, Prince responded, "Front side, back side, no side never got any indication of anything like that".

"I remember telling him that if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Josef Stalin to defeat Nazi fascism, then certainly Donald Trump could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism", Prince told the committee. "I look at minerals and oil and gas". "You should meet him".

"I didn't fly there to meet any Russian guy", Prince said.

"On the details of this meeting, Prince was again less than forthcoming and sought to represent that his discussion with Dmitriev, which comprised a third of the time he was conducting meetings in the Seychelles, was merely coincidental", Schiff said in the statement.

The transcript showed a combative hearing, in which Prince accused the committee's Democrats of a fishing expedition and complained they were wasting his time. The meeting apparently lasted less than 30 minutes, enough time for Prince to drink one beer.

According to Prince's recollections of the meeting, Dmitriev told the former military contractor that he wished trade would resume between the United States and Russian Federation "in a normal way", but did not discuss US sanctions at all.

"I think I remember Steve Bannon saying they had met with either [Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan] or someone like that and that he was a great guy", he said.

The state-run investment firm that Dmitriev leads in Russian Federation was sanctioned by the USA in 2015. He didn't relay his conversation with Dmitriev back to the Trump Organization, transition or administration, he added.

While the Washington Post, which broke the news of the meeting, reported that Prince presented himself as an "unofficial envoy for Trump", Prince testified that the principal objective of his visit to the island nation was an invitation to meet with members of the United Arab Emirates' royal family, one of whom casually suggested he meet with Dmitriev for a drink.

"That is correct", said Prince. The crown prince is widely known as MBZ.

Prince said he and the crown prince's conversation stuck to the problem of terrorism and aluminum manufacturing costs.

"What really bothers me and what I would hope the intelligence committee is doing is question why Americans that were caught up in the waves of signals intelligence, why on Earth would the Washington Post be running an article on any meeting that a private citizen, me, was having in a foreign country?" the former Navy SEAL testified.

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