US House Democrat: Prince Must Reveal More Details to Intelligence Committee

Lester Mason
December 7, 2017

Prince in November told lawmakers probing Russian interference in the USA election that he met with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund under US sanctions since 2015, for less than 30 minutes over a beer at the suggestion of Emirati royalty, whose invitation was the basis for his trip to the luxury islands.

According to a transcript of testimony released on Wednesday, the founder of Blackwater refused to identify the former intelligence operatives who leaked the information.

He acknowledged that campaign strategist Stephen Bannon had told him about a December 2016 meeting between the Trump transition team and UAE officials, which reportedly annoyed the Obama administration at the time.

"The Emiratis I'd just met with previously said, there's an interesting guy from Russian Federation you should meet if you have any business in the commodity space, which I do", Prince told the committee.

Prince also said he did not remember when or where he had a conversation with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in which Bannon told Prince he had met MBZ in NY in December, just weeks before Prince traveled to the Seychelles. They met and discussed oil and commodity prices and trade between Russian Federation and the United States, he testified. Dmitriev did, however, express "how much he wished trade would resume with the United States in a normal way".

Prince said he hadn't delved too deeply into who Dmitriev was in the moments before he met him at a bar in Seychelles.

Prince said the meeting lasted 30 minutes.

"So, this notion you were representing the Trump campaign is not true?"

"I was roaming, so data roaming is expensive when you're overseas", Prince said.

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

Prince said he had met Trump just once, at a fundraiser, before he was elected president in November 2016.

The committee's top Democrat, California Rep. Adam Schiff, complained in a statement that Prince was "less than forthcoming" with information, concluding that committee Republicans "must compel Prince to testify on these matters" - particularly because the GOP has been acutely focused on finding the source of government leaks.

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

He declined to provide the committee the names of those individuals in an unclassified setting, but was adamant that the Obama administration had inappropriately manipulated signals intelligence, or SIGINT.

Discussing the January meeting, Prince said that at the request of a prince from the United Arab Emirates, he traveled to the Seychelles islands to discuss business opportunities with the prince and his associates.

In an interview with congressional investigators made public on Wednesday, Erik Prince, the founder of security contractor Blackwater, offered details about a meeting he had with a Russian banker-and he denied that he was acting on behalf of President Donald Trump, as had been reported.

When asked why Abu Dhabi's crown prince may have reached out to Prince after not having contact with him for some time, Prince said, "I think the Obama administration went out of their way to tarnish my ability to do business in the Middle East, and with a different administration in town, they probably figured that that downdraft wasn't present anymore". Controversy erupted in 2007, when Blackwater guards stopping traffic for a State Department convoy shot and killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians during a chaotic scene in Baghdad's Nisour Square.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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