By Leland Vittert, ,
Published March 08, 2018
Erik Prince tells Fox News that there was no perjury, no collusion and no attempt to set up a back channel to the Kremlin when he met with a Russian oligarch weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Prince, who is the founder of the Blackwater private security firm and brother to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, says accusations that he lied to the House Intelligence Committee simply aren’t true.
The Washington Post cites anonymous sources in its report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller “has gathered evidence that a secret meeting in Seychelles just before the inauguration of Donald Trump was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin.”
Prince testified last year before the House Intelligence Committee about his meeting and Thursday, Democrats pounced on reports that Lebanese-American businessman George Nader told the special counsel he was at the meeting.
Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters the Seychelles meeting crossed the line: “The public reports that George Nader may be cooperating with special counsel and has presented a different version of events, in the sense that this Seychelles meeting was part of an effort to establish a back channel to Russia, that the meeting that Erik Prince had with the Russian banker was not happenstances, is obviously at odds with the testimony we’ve heard in front of the House Intelligence Committee.”
The Post reports, “A witness cooperating with Mueller has told investigators the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries.”
Prince says, “I never ever have represented as anyone from the Trump transition and the only reason I went to the Seychelles was to see MBZ,” referring to Mohammed bin Zayed, the United Arab Emirates’ crowned prince.
“Never has so much been made about so little,” Prince texted when the story broke.
In a phone interview Thursday, Prince said, “No one from the Trump transition team knew I was going,” referring to the meeting that involved members of UAE government.
Prince acknowledges meeting with Russian businessman Kirill Dmitriev on the island, but reiterated his testimony that the meeting was both unplanned and not about any Trump-Moscow ties.
Prince says the only political conversation was superficial, Dmitriev brought up his wishes that America and Russia could have a better relationship, to which Prince said he agreed, and, “if Stalin and Roosevelt could come together to defeat Nazi fascism then Putin and Trump could come together to defeat Islamic fascism.”
That was the end, claims Prince, who says he hasn’t talked to the Kremlin-connected businessman since.
“This is a circular firing-squad argument,” Prince said, before leaving the country for a business meeting, ”If the left’s fantasy of collusion is true, why does a meeting two months after election matter at all.”
California Democrat and Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell told CNN that during Prince's testimony, he “never gave the name George Nader. If he met with George Nader, he lied under oath.”
Prince, who testified without an attorney present, says his comments about meetings with the UAE government, its advisers and delegations in the Seychelles cover Nader who worked for the Emiratis.
Now Schiff wants Prince to testify again before the committee; Prince tells Fox News, “There is no need. Schiff is grasping at straws, and his feelings were hurt when I scolded them about leaking my work I did as a CIA” (nonofficial cover officer — the most dangerous of intelligence work).