Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, has reportedly obtained documents challenging the veracity of Blackwater founder Erik Prince's testimony to Congress about his January 2017 meeting with a Kremlin-connected businessman.
Mueller's investigation includes examining claims that the 2017 meeting in Seychelles between Prince—the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and an adviser to the Trump transition team—and Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian government's $10 billion sovereign wealth fund, was part of an effort to establish a back channel between the Russian government and members of the incoming Trump administration.
Last month, the Washington Post reported that George Nader—a Lebanese-American businessman who supposedly played a key part in arranging the meeting—had told Mueller's investigators and a grand jury that, as the Post summarized, "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."
Citing sources familiar with the probe, ABC News reported on Friday:
Nader has submitted to three interviews with special counsel investigators and four appearances before a federal grand jury in Washington since agents stopped him at Dulles International Airport in January, served him with a grand jury subpoena and seized his electronic devices, including his cell phone.
Documents obtained by Mueller suggest that before and after Prince met Nader in New York a week before the trip to the Seychelles, Nader shared information with Prince about Dmitriev, sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News, which appears to be inconsistent with Princeis sworn testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives investigative panel.
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Testifying before the House's Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in November, Prince claimed he was in Seychelles to meet with business officals from the United Arab Emirates, and that one of those officials had casually introduced him to Dmitriev.
"I didn't fly there to meet any Russian guy," Prince told the committee. "At the end, one of the entourage says, 'Hey, by the way, there's this Russian guy that we've dealt with in the past. He's here also to see someone from the Emirati delegation. And you should meet him, he'd be an interesting guy for you to know, since you're doing a lot in the oil and gas and mineral space.'"
Prior to his Congressional testimony, Prince had told CNN that he couldn't even recall the name of the Russian man he had met with in Seychells, and that their meeting "probably lasted about as long as one beer."
However, ABC reports that Nader met Prince at New York's Pierre Hotel and sent him biographical information noting that Dmitriev's role overseeing Russia's sovereign wealth fund ahead of the Seychelles meeting, which Nader claims to have "facilitated and personally attended."
"One of the primary goals of the meeting, Nader told investigators, was to discuss foreign policy and to establish a line of communication between the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration," according to the ABC report.