Transcript: Erik Prince discussed trade, terrorism with Russian banker in Seychelles

12_06_Erik_Prince_Russian

Also in the interview, Prince accused former national security adviser Susan Rice and other National Security Council staffers in the Obama administration of leaking electronic surveillance of his meeting with the Russian in the Seychelles to The Washington Post, which first reported his Seychelles meeting.

The Washington Post had reported in April that Prince, who is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, met in January with a person close to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the goal of establishing a way for Trump and Putin to communicate privately.

"Front side, back side, no side, never got any indication of anything like that", Prince said when asked if he knew of any exchange of information or discussions of establishing a backchannel line of communications between the Trump team and Kremlin.

Schiff also noted that in his testimony, Prince acknowledged that he learned from Trump's chief campaign strategist Steve Bannon about a secret December 2016 meeting in New York City between high-ranking Trump transition and UAE officials, included the emirate's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Devin Nunes met with Blackwater founder and Russian Federation probe witness Erik Prince earlier this year. He spoke about a meeting he had in the Seychelles islands with a Russian national. He told the committee he had travelled to the Seychelles nine days before Trump's inauguration to meet with some potential business customers from the United Arab Emirates. The crown prince is widely known as MBZ. He said, you should meet him.

He recounted meeting Dmitriev at a hotel bar, where they discussed topics ranging from oil to commodity prices.

Prince testified that he was not representing the Trump team during their 30-minute conversation; that he couldn't "recall" if he knew Dmitriev represented a state-banked investment bank sanctioned by the USA; and that he did not discuss sanctions or anything related to the incoming Trump administration with the banker. He also said that Dmitriev discussed how much his country wished to resume normal trade relations with the US.

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Prince and Dmitriev spoke about "trade matters and how the United States and Russian Federation should be working together to defeat Islamic terrorism", Prince told the committee. "I remember telling him that if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Joseph Stalin to defeat fascism, certainly the United States could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism".

When Prince objected to extending questioning for another 30 minutes, Schiff replied, "It's not up to you to decide how long the hearing goes on".

At various times during his testimony, Prince grew frustrated with the questions. It's 5:30. I haven't been home in a week.

Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member, told him that if he did not cooperate, the committee would issue a subpoena to compel him to return.

Prince repeatedly tried to turn his conversation with lawmakers towards the leaking of classified intelligence information, which he insisted should be the real concern of Capitol Hill and the intelligence community.

On his way out, Prince told reporters that Schiff should apologize for "wasting all of our time, for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a meaningless fishing expedition".

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 Bannon vouched for MBZ during the conversation, calling him "a great guy".

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