US special counsel probes Seychelles meeting with Russian


Prince told lawmakers that the meeting came about by chance while he was there on his own business to meet with officials from the United Arab Emirates. He told congressional investigators that his meeting with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, was a passing encounter over a drink at the bar of the Four Seasons in the Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean.

Prince, who founded the private security company Blackwater, arrived in the Seychelles in order to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed and other Emirati officials, according to The Times, although it is unclear what the meeting was about. It's not a coincidence that Prince now lives in the UAE because he is essentially a fugitive from justice here.

In addition, the Times reported, citing "three people familiar with the meeting" that the crown prince convened a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles involving Mr. Nader and advisers to both President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Prince, that's roughly 30 minutes, which is a weirdly long time to nurse a beer. WaPo's reporting at the time also relied on anonymous sources - the legacy outlet has frequently used such journalistic techniques while reporting on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"We chatted on topics ranging from oil and commodity prices to how much his country wished for resumption of normal trade relations", Prince told the House Intelligence Committee. "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".

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Prince denied that he was acting as a representative of Trump, who would be inaugurated as president days after the meeting. However, according to officials familiar with the meeting, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Russian official. But on top of the reportedly illicit nature of the meeting, Prince's role as a representative for the Trump administration is disconcerting, given his reputation as a war profiteer and anti-Muslim Crusader.

The revelation could land Prince in trouble, as he has previously testified before Congress that he attended the Seychelles meeting as a businessman, not as a representative of the Trump administration.

Mueller's investigators continue to ask witnesses - including former national security adviser Mike Flynn - about how administration officials connected with foreign officials during the campaign, transition and the administration. He's met numerous times with investigators, the Post reported.

Such foreign donations to the campaign, if uncovered, would be illegal.