Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly gathered enough evidence to conclude that the January 2017 meeting between an associate of President Donald Trump, a Russian banker, and a representative of the United Arab Emirates in the Seychelles was conducted in order to set up a back channel for communication between the incoming Trump administration and Russia, The Washington Post reported.
Erik Prince, founder of military contractor Blackwater and a supporter of President Donald Trump, told U.S. lawmakers previous year he had discussed U.S. -Russia relations during a meeting in the Seychelles with a Russian business executive with ties to the Kremlin.
If this is true, Erik Prince, founder of private security company Blackwater, lied to lawmakers about the meeting being a chance encounter between Russian and US actors.
The Washington Post first reported that Mueller has gathered evidence that the secret meeting in Seychelles was an attempt to establish a back channel between Russian Federation and the incoming Trump administration.
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Rice sought the names of senior Trump officials in order to find out why Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of the UAE, made a decision to visit NY late 2017, she told the committee in a closed-door interview, according to a CNN report at the time. He says he was there for business reasons and was not representing the Trump team. 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, ' " Prince told lawmakers.
If confirmed, the nature of the Seychelles meeting would not be the first time the White House has allegedly tried to establish a back-channel with Russian Federation. The crown prince is widely known as MBZ. 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 past year.
While the episodes likely do not amount to witness tampering, Trump's insistence on approaching Mueller's witnesses about their testimony could give the appearance that he's attempting to interfere.
"I also think that Bob Mueller on his own can expand his own authority and investigate this", Napolitano said. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation a year ago and is cooperating with the Mueller probe, was reportedly also at the meeting.
Prince was never officially part of Trump's transition, but frequently communicated with its members and served as an unofficial representative for it, according to investigators.