Report Suggests Blackwater Founder Erik Prince May Have Lied to Congress

He told Congress he didn’t meet with the Trump campaign. A new story says he did.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince before his House Intelligence Committee testimony, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

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Blackwater founder Erik Prince appears to have a problem. The New York Times reported Saturday that Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, arranged and attended an August 3, 2016 Trump Tower meeting where George Nader, an adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, told Donald Trump Jr. that UAE and Saudi Arabia were eager to help his father win the election.

That doesn’t reflect well on Prince, because on November 30, 2017, he told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, under oath, that he had no formal communication or contact with the Trump campaign, other than occasionally sending “papers” on foreign policy matters to Steve Bannon, who became head of the Trump campaign in August.

“So there was no formal communication or contact with the campaign?” Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) asked Prince during his interview by the Intelligence Committee.

“Correct,” Prince responded.

The contradiction between the Times’ report and Prince’s testimony was flagged Saturday by Just Security:

Prince also told the committee that he met Trump Jr. “at a campaign event,” and at Trump Tower “during the transition.” He did not mention the meeting with Trump Jr. and Nader. 

ABC News reported last month that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that seems to contradict another claim Prince made before the Intelligence Committee: Prince said a meeting he attended in Seychelles during the presidential transition with a Russian financier close to Vladimir Putin was an unplanned encounter. Nader, who is cooperating with Mueller, has told investigators that he arranged for Prince to travel to the Seychelles to meet Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a Russian sovereign wealth fund, after giving Prince information about Dmitriev, according to ABC.

The Daily Beast reported this month that Mueller’s team has questioned Prince. 

Prince, unlike most witnesses who appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, agreed to allow the panel to release his entire testimony. As a result, Mueller’s team can use the transcript as evidence to potentially charge Prince for lying to Congress. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, told Mother Jones in March that Democrats are also considering sending Mueller criminal referrals urging him to prosecute witnesses who lied to the committee.

“We’re gonna be going through the transcripts and analyzing them for any concerns we have with the greater body of information we have,” Schiff said.

A Prince spokesperson declined to comment.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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