FILLING IN THE GAPS IN THE MUELLER REPORT, PART EIGHT: Collusion Redux - Erik Prince and the Seychelles Russian Backchannel Meeting
Erik Prince flew off to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean archipelagos, according to leaks in 2017, to establish a covert backchannel of communication from the White House to the Kremlin. Prince committed this little act of treason at Jared Kushner's request.
But the he accusation inflamed Erik Prince. In his congressional testimony, he claimed that he only flew to the Seychelles, accompanied by Lebanese-American pedo-sex trafficker George Nader, for business reasons. He insisted hotly that his encounter with Russian oligarch Kirill Dmitriev was serendipitous,and had nothing to do with Donald Trump.
But Nader's recollection of the meeting, held on January 11, 2017, starkly contradicted Prince's testimony. The Washington Post’s Sari Horwitz and Devlin Barrett wrote that Nader confirmed the meeting was “an effort to establish a backchannel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin." He added that this was Robert Mueller's understanding as well. (cf. WaPo, 3-7-18.)
Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan -- Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces and the de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi -- also attended the meeting. (Clearly, when Prince travels on business, he doesn't with mix with hoi polloi.)
On January 30, 2019, Advance Media reported that there were more than one international head-to-head: "The meetings in the Seychelles are a key subject of Mueller's investigation, sources familiar with the investigation have said. The meetings connected powerful players from Russia, the U.S., the UAE and Saudi Arabia across the political, financial and defense worlds.
"Flight records and financial documents ,,, as well as interviews with parliamentary and aviation officials in the Seychelles, paint a scene out of a Hollywood thriller."
Why the Seychelles? "Wealthy and politically-connected individuals from across the globe -- from Russia, France, Saudi Arabia and South Africa -- land in the Seychelles for meetings that take place as a part of a larger gathering hosted by MBZ. ... Many of them fly in on private jets and several do not clear customs. Some check into the Four Seasons Hotel while others arrive and stay on their yachts."
The local government boasts that the islands are “the kind of place where you can have a good time away from the media.”
Dmitriev flew to the Seychelles on Jan. 11, 2017 with his wife Natalia Popova and another woman with the last name Boldovskaia. Six other Russian individuals set down on the island just a few days after Dmitriev. The aircraft's ownership is unclear, but it also flew betwitxt Russia, Geneva and Cyprus in 2017. Others arriving on the island at the same time included Alexander Mashkevitch, said to be a financier of Bayrock -- an investment vehicle linked to Trump -- and Sheikh Abdulrahman Khalid Bin Mahfouz. Bin Mahfouz's late daddy, was a billionaire, former CEO of Saudi Arabia's very first private bank.
Nader flew to the Seychelles on January 7, per the Advance Media report, and again on March 24, "on an aircraft with the tail number VP-CZA, flight records show. The aircraft is registered to Gryphon Asset Management, an aviation consulting company based out of Dubai.Nader is a well-known advisor to the UAE with links to Dmitriev and members of the Saudi Royal family. He has attended meetings at the White House with Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner in the past, according to the [New York] Times, and has also been linked to Trump fundraiser and deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, Elliot Broidy.
"The Associated Press reported last month Nader sent Broidy $2.5-million through a Canadian company. Broidy then began giving donations to members of congress who were actively supporting legislation critical of Qatar, the AP reported."
The purpose of the meeting? Reporter Erin Branco notes that the Seychelles meeting "between Prince, Dmitriev and MBZ [Prince Al-Nahyan] was described as an attempt by the U.S. to set up a backchannel with Russia. The Post reported that Blackwater founder Erik Prince, an informal adviser to the Trump team, acted as a representative of the administration in the meeting."
Dmitriev is head of the sovereign wealth fund, and maintains a close relationship with Vladimir Putin. Mueller's investigators "received evidence challenging Prince's testimony, according to an ABC News report." (Source: Erin Banco, "The Trump Russia probe is expanding, as Mueller looks into new meetings in Seychelles," NJ.COM, Apr 10, 2018.)
Prince had a vested interest in the Trump presidency. He donated some $250,000 to the campaign. He also donated to pro-Trump PACs, and kept in touch with Cambridge Analytica's Steve Bannon.
There were several other meetings of the various factions represented the month before, mostly conducted at Trump Tower.
On December 1, 2016, Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn met secretly at the Tower with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. "Kislyak reported back to his bosses that at this meeting, Kushner said he wanted to set up a secret communications channel between the Trump team and Russia. (Kushner denies that this happened.)"
Several days later, the Washington Post received an anonymous letter suggesting that this secret meeting occurred, sure enough, and listed those present (though attendance wasn't confirmed for months). The letter also alleged that "at the meeting, Kushner, Flynn, and Kislyak discussed setting up a meeting between a Trump representative and a Russian in some third country, and concluded Flynn was too high-profile to go."
On December 12, Kislyak returned to Trump Tower and met with Kushner’s deputy. Then on the following day, Sergey Gorkov, chairman of the Russian government-owned bank VEB, dropped by to meet with Kushner. Again, these meetings remained secret for months.
"Then on December 15, 2016, a little over a month after Trump won the presidential election, the United Arab Emirates crown prince, MBZ, flew to the United States. There, he met with several Trump transition officials, including Flynn, Kushner, and Bannon. What was strange about this was that MBZ did not inform the Obama administration that he was traveling to the US, as major foreign leaders usually do. Trump’s team didn’t disclose the meeting either, and it too remained secret for several months.
Erik Prince also visited Trump Tower twice during the transition, to meet with Bannon, he later testified.
Vox reports that the context for the Seychelles meeting was others of "various factions involved the month before, mostly happening in Trump Tower.
"On December 1, 2016, Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn met secretly in Trump Tower with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Kislyak reported back to his bosses that at this meeting, Kushner said he wanted to set up a secret communications channel between the Trump team and Russia. (Kushner denies that this happened.) ... Kushner, Flynn, and Kislyak discussed setting up a meeting between a Trump representative and a Russian in some third country, and concluded Flynn was too high-profile to go.
"On December 12, Kislyak returned to Trump Tower and met with Kushner’s deputy. Then on the following day, Sergey Gorkov, the head of the Russian government-owned bank VEB, stopped by to meet with Kushner. Again, these meetings remained secret for months.
The meeting was planned when, according to the Washingtom Post in April 1017, "Zayed was approached by Prince, who said he was authorized to act as an unofficial surrogate for the president-elect, according to the officials. He wanted Zayed to set up a meeting with a Putin associate. Zayed agreed and proposed the Seychelles as the meeting place because of the privacy it would afford both sides."
"The island was, per the Vox report, "to be a back channel between Trump’s team and Putin’s team. That would sure seem to make sense, since all this happened shortly after Kushner reportedly said he wanted to establish a secret back channel with Russia, and both MBZ and Prince made their own trips to see Trump officials not long after that. ... It’s also worth noting that Michael Flynn has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigators since early December and we haven’t seen any of the fruits of his cooperation yet. Flynn was present in the meeting in which Kushner reportedly told Kislyak he wanted a back channel."
ILLING IN THE GAPS IN THE MUELLER REPORT, PART NINE: Watch Lying Liar Erik Prince Lie about the Trump Tower Psy Group & Seychelles Meetings, Lying to Congress, and Sundry Other Lies