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Blackwater Founder Denies Trump Connection to Seychelles Meeting

07 Décembre 2017

Prince donated to Trump's campaign, made multiple visits to Trump Tower in NY and said he wrote some foreign policy memos for the Republican candidate, which he delivered to Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon.

Prince and Dmitriev spoke about "trade matters and how the United States and Russian Federation should be working together to defeat Islamic terrorism", Prince told the committee.

Prince also acknowledged that Dmitriev told him that he hoped Russian trade with the USA would resume "in a normal way".

In a combative hearing behind closed doors, Democrats pressed Blackwater founder Erik Prince about his meeting with President Donald Trump's then-chief strategist Steve Bannon ahead of Prince's trip to the Seychelles, where he met with a Russian hedge fund manager.

Prince said he never told Bannon about meeting Dmitriev, and could not recall if he ever told Bannon about his meeting with MBZ.

But Prince said he could not remember whether the conversation with Bannon took place before or after his trip to the Seychelles.

Prince described the arrangement of his meeting with Dmitriev as informal, telling investigators that the real objective of his trip was to meet with Emirati officials to discuss terrorism in the area and "conceptual-only stuff" on mineral-related business.

He said he met Trump himself only once, at a fundraiser prior to the election. Those meetings were similarly brief, he said.

Prince - whose sister is Trump administration education secretary Betsy DeVos - denied reports that he met with UAE officials and Dmitriev on behalf of the Trump transition team to establish a back-channel between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump.

Committee Democrats have characterized his answers as incomplete.

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The meeting in the Seychelles was originally reported by The Washington Post.

"Prince also could not adequately explain why he traveled halfway around the world to meet with UAE officials and, ultimately, the head of the Russian fund".

"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.

According to the newspaper, the UAE brokered the meeting "in part" to explore whether Russian Federation might be persuaded to back away from its relationship with Iran and Syria.

Prince in his testimony told investigators that former Intelligence Community officials had provided him with "specific evidence" that improper unmasking of names in classified signals intelligence was the basis for the Post's story.

"Unless The Washington Post has somehow miraculously recruited the bartender of a hotel in the Seychelles, the only way that's happening is through SIGINT", he said.

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 goal 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's illegal. That is a political abuse of the intelligence infrastructure".

Prince also complained during his testimony about US intelligence community spying on Americans, and so-called improper identifying or "unmasking" of Americans caught up in surveillance of foreigners.

Blackwater Founder Denies Trump Connection to Seychelles Meeting