President Donald Trump just can’t seem to keep his head above water as he treads from one scandal to the next, trying to shake the links to Russia that keep popping up. But this might just be the skeleton that blows the Trump closet wide open.
On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Erik Prince was a key player in a secret meeting with a Russian friend of Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles. The meeting allegedly took place on January 11 after officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arranged for Prince and Putin’s pal to get together and discuss the possibility of establishing a covert line of communication between Moscow and then President-elect Trump’s White House.
Erik Prince is the founder of Blackwater, a company that provides military and security services to the U.S. Federal Government and now trades under the name Academi. Prince is also the brother of Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Moreover, Prince is also well-acquainted with Trump’s chief strategist and political advisor Steve Bannon, having appeared as a guest on Bannon’s radio talk show for Breitbart News.
The FBI has been paying close attention to the meeting in the Seychelles as part of an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election. The Trump White House, as well as Donald Trump himself, have been trying all kinds of sleight of hand to divert attention away from the FBI probe, but it really is the gift that just keeps on giving. In this case, the gift goes to Democrats and Republicans who want to get rid of Trump.
It is alleged that the UAE decided to facilitate the meeting in an attempt to investigate the possibility that Russia would become less involved in its ties with Iran. It is unclear what the full implications of such a deal would be; however, it will almost certainly require a great deal of compromise on the part of the United States.
According to officials, both U.S. and Emirati, Erik Prince asserted himself in the way than an official delegate might have, yet unofficially represented Trump’s wishes. It’s no secret that Prince was a major contributor to Trump’s campaign and was even spotted at the official transition team offices after the election victory. White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, has denied all of this, of course.
Erik Prince has had extensive contact with Middle Eastern leaders due to Blackwater’s involvement in the Iraq War. This would most likely have placed him in the right position to be Donald Trump’s stealthy gofer.
The Seychelles, on the other hand, seems to be the perfect spot to host secret meetings. There is a large contingent of high-profile billionaires that live in total seclusion on the islands. From British Royalty to Middle Eastern Sheikhs, Presidents, and Princes.
In December last year, former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Steve Bannon met with Abu Dhabi crown prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in New York City. The meeting was kept so secret to the point that not even the Obama White House was notified of Zayed’s arrival.
It is alleged that the reason for the Abu Dhabi prince’s interest in facilitating the meeting was their mutual disdain for Iran. Naturally, it seemed beneficial to both parties to try and strike some sort of deal with Russia to lessen her ties with Tehran. Enter Blackwater’s Erik Prince and a trip to the Seychelles.
Sheikh Zayed is believed to have been under the impression that Eric Prince served in an official capacity and was authorized to negotiate matter of foreign policy on behalf of Trump.
Officials that are well acquainted with Sheikh Zayed have said that he is an extraordinarily cautious man and would not have gone ahead with a meeting of this nature had he not personally been given the go-ahead by someone in the Trump White House.
Erik Prince has had highly profitable dealings with the government of the UEA, having at one point received earnings in the range of $500 million to protect Emirati officials from terrorism.
Commenting on the latest allegations, a spokesperson for Erik Prince denied he had any involvement in the Trump transition team and maintained that the meeting in the Seychelles was totally unrelated to White House matters.
[Featured image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]