Mueller May Have Evidence Erik Prince Lied to Congress

Erik Prince

The U.S. special counsel investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election has gathered evidence that a secret meeting in Seychelles in January 2017 was an attempt to set up a back-channel between the incoming Trump administration and the Kremlin, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Nader attended a December 2016 meeting in NY between Emirati officials and members of Trump's inner circle, and another in January 2017 in the Seychelles islands between the Emiratis and Erik Prince, a Trump associate.

Prince, in past statements to Congress, has described the meeting as a "chance encounter" that did not involved US-Russia relations.

The information came from a witness who told Mueller's team that the meeting was meant to establish future relations between Washington and Moscow.

Mueller recently learned that Trump asked his ex-chief of staff, Reince Priebus, how his special counsel interview had gone and whether the investigators had been "nice" to him, two people familiar with the discussion told The New York Times.

Prince said he went to the Seychelles as a private businessman, not as an official or unofficial emissary of the Trump transition team.

Though Prince was not and is not part of the Trump team, people familiar with the Seychelles meeting told reporters that he presented himself as an unofficial Trump envoy to people setting up the meeting. One person described Nader as an important witness in Mueller's efforts - one who has spoken repeatedly to investigators since his arrival in the United States. The crown prince is widely known as MBZ. Since then, he has been talking to Mueller's investigators and providing information to the grand jury.

Nader has long served as an adviser to the UAE leadership, and in that role he met a few times with Trump officials, including Steve Bannon and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to people familiar with the matter.

Based on information it has gathered, Mueller's office claimed that the meeting between Prince and Dmitriev had in fact been premeditated, and was meant to coordinate an eventual meeting between a representative of Trump's transition team and a Russian Federation emissary. In December 2016, White House senior adviser and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner met with then-Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak to talk about setting up an unofficial communication channel, The Times reported previous year.

Nader - and the Seychelles meeting - are of interest to Mueller's team as it examines whether any foreign money or assistance fueled the Trump campaign, and how Trump officials during the transition and early days of the administration communicated with foreign officials. According to The Post, Emirati officials were indeed under the impression that Prince was representing Trump at the meeting.

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