Mueller now knows that Erik Prince’s meeting in Seychelles was for the purposes of establishing a communications backchannel between Trump and Putin

OK, now that we’ve talked about how reprehensible of a human being Betsy DeVos is, let’s talk about her brother, Erik Prince, the man behind the extremely shady private military company Blackwater…

You remember Prince, right? He’s the enthusiastic, far-right Trump supporter who, not too long ago, told members of the House Intelligence Committee that a January 2017 meeting he’d taken in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa, on the remote Seychelles archipelago, with Putin’s friend, the Russian hedge fund manager Kirill Dmitriev, was just a kind of happy coincidence, a chance encounter. Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t really the case.

As many had suspected, the secret meeting was not only planned, but Prince was acting on Trump’s behalf when he met with Dmitriev. And the objective of the meeting, as Mueller can now apparently prove, was to establish a secret communications backchannel between members of the incoming Trump administration and the Kremlin. And, it would appear that we now know this because the man who both orchestrated and attended the meeting, a Lebanese American businessman by the name of George Nader, is, according to press reports, now cooperating with the Mueller investigation… Yesterday, news broke that Nader had flipped. And, today, the Washington Post is reporting that Mueller now knows that the objective of the meeting was to establish a line of communications undetectable by the American intelligence community.

Before we get into that, though, here’s an excerpt from Prince’s testimony, in which perjures himself, stating under penalty of prison, that his meeting with Dmitriev was nothing more than a chance encounter, lasted only a few minutes, and had absolutely nothing to do with Trump.

Now, compare that to the following excerpt from today’s Washington Post.

…Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has gathered evidence that a secret meeting in Seychelles just before the inauguration of Donald Trump was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin — apparently contradicting statements made to lawmakers by one of its participants, according to people familiar with the matter.

In January 2017, Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and later described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion of U.S.-Russia relations.

A witness cooperating with Mueller has told investigators the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters…

Nader began cooperating with Mueller after he arrived at Dulles International Airport in mid-January and was stopped, served with a subpoena and questioned by the FBI, these people said. He has met numerous times with investigators…

Investigators now suspect that the Seychelles meeting may have been one of the first efforts to establish such a line of communications between the two governments, these people said. Nader’s account is considered key evidence — but not the only evidence — about what transpired in Seychelles, according to people familiar with the matter…

Now you have to ask yourself, “Why would an incoming administration need to establish a private communications backchannel with a hostile foreign nation when they would have the ability, through the State Department, to establish secure communications with any foreign leader in the world?” It doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Unless, of course, they had something to discuss that they didn’t want for there to be a record of, like the existence of a quid pro quo, in which Russia, for instance, provided assistance during the election, in exchange for the rollback of sanctions, etc… And, while we’re at it, here’s another question. Why is Mueller team, which has been extremely disciplined this far, allowing this news to leak out now? Are they, perhaps, hoping to flip Prince as well as Nader? Or did they, for some reason, feel as though this news needed to be public in order to provide context for the next round of grand jury indictments?

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26 Comments

  1. wobblie
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    I do not believe that Russia is a hostile state. Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE all were more involved in meddling in our election. Trans national Plutocrats of all types invested hundreds of millions of dollars to tell us all how to think. Fox and MSNBC and CNN gave Trump a billion dollars of free air time.
    Neither Prince (detestable though he is) nor the Russian he met with are government functionaries. At a time when our “intelligence community” seems hell bent on reigniting the cold war (with low level shooting between proxies in the middle east), it is probably a good thing to have some ways to communicate between our two governments.
    It was precisely these types of back channels that Kennedy utilized to end the Cuban missile crises. It was precisely these types of back channels that Nixon utilized to initiate the thaw in relations with China. It was precisely these types of back channels that Roosevelt utilized to assure Churchill that we would support Brittan.

    If anyone bothered to pay any attention to the Russians you would know that they are convinced that our ruling class is setting them up for a “regime change” operation, or perhaps a first nuclear strike. Remember we are the ones who abrogated the ABM treaty. We are the ones who have been encircling their country with nuclear interceptor missiles, a weapon which is arguably a first strike weapon. We are the ones operating in Syria without any legal basis in International law. We are the ones who invaded Iraq based on the falsehood of weapons of mass destruction.

    The “lefts” support of the war party is the worst thing that could happen. More war More war that is all we now get from the Democrats. It will cause us nothing but misery.

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Wobblie– that analysis would be valid if there were not already so much evidence that Trump and co are corrupt and self-dealing and already compromised in their ability to negotiate for American interests with the Russians. Does it not strike you as odd that Trump is so aggressive in stance with other nations but is relentlessly soft with Russia?
    Do you really believe this is about creating a lasting peace between our two nations, that Trump’s intent is honorable?
    Obama thought the perils of Putin and Russia were overstated and tried unsuccessfully to ‘soften’ our relations with Russia. Others have tried as well. I’m not a fan of relying on enmity to justify aggression. I don’t think that’s what is happening here. I think Putin is a danger. And when I say that I’m not denying that we are a danger as well. This stuff is not nearly as simple as you’d like it to be.

  3. nattybooboo
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I mean the left is accusaed of being ‘protectionist’ while liberals’ concerns about collusion with russia is never taken as an instance of tribalism or nationalism.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    nattybooboo, can I ask you a question? how did you vote for Jill Stein work out for you?

  5. Sad
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Wobblie is in trouble because the unions are supporting the Trump tariffs.

  6. nattybooboo
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I voted for Hillary thank you very much

  7. Lynne
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    wobblie, just because Russia may have had somewhat understandable reasons to meddle in our elections, it doesn’t mean that we should be ok with it. We also dont have to be ok with it even though the USA often meddles in other country’s elections. Perhaps we can learn from all of this? hahahaha. I mean it would be nice if collectively we could as Americans, conclude that it makes us feel bad to know that a foreign country could fool so many of us so we insist that our country not engage in the same behavior. I don’t expect that will happen but it would be nice.

    Instead I expect to see the Jill Stein voters continue to deny her role in Russian meddling (I don’t think she did anything deliberate but she sure walked right into being duped). I expect Trump voters to continue their denial too. And ok Clinton voters as well. NO ONE wants to admit that they were fooled. I know I don’t even though I was.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    “I mean the left is accusaed of being ‘protectionist’ while liberals’ concerns about collusion with russia is never taken as an instance of tribalism or nationalism.”
    1) protectionism is a real position, not an accusation and yes, many on the left advocate for it, as do some on the right. There is huge gray area between free trade and full protectionism/isolationism. I’m all for careful renegotiation of trade agreements, but I also understand that compromise is necessary to agreements, whereas they are not to trade wars… I don’t like tariffs personally because they don’t work. And because they pick winners and losers and, in our current system, the winners are usually giant corporations invested in industries that are obsolete or will be soon and their workers, but not the overall economy or workers at large. We need fast industrial disruption to become more sustainable globally. We also need foreign investment and trade. We dont need protectionism.
    2)Quite obviously concern about foreign intrusion in our electoral process and protecting US security overall are appropriate functions of nationalism in a …. nation. As a nation, our democratic sovereignty and the safety of our citizens should be the first concern and responsibility of our government. I’m not saying the US does a great job across the board on that, but it’s a core principle I’m unwilling to give up on. (Whereas my issue with protectionism is largely that it doesn’t work)

    I personally often feel I’d prefer no national borders at all, but that’s not our reality. And I admit that I haven’t figured out if borders offer more protection from oppression or systems for it. That calculus is beyond my measure.

  9. nattybooboo
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    ‘wobblie, just because Russia may have had somewhat understandable reasons to meddle in our elections, it doesn’t mean that we should be ok with it. We also dont have to be ok with it even though the USA often meddles in other country’s elections. Perhaps we can learn from all of this? hahahaha. I mean it would be nice if collectively we could as Americans, conclude that it makes us feel bad to know that a foreign country could fool so many of us so we insist that our country not engage in the same behavior.’

    Well said, Lynne. I hope we can learn from it, but I am also an optimist.

  10. Citywatch
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The Putin motto is “Make Russia Great Again”. The weapons used are no longer ships and planes and missles, they are economic and cyber based with a dash of “diplomacy” and marketing. Trump is Putin’s patsy. The financial dealings between them are the way Trump is trapped and the help with winning the election is both the bait that brought him in and the “favor” that binds him in obligation.

  11. CNN's Marshall Cohen
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Erik Prince, under fresh scrutiny in the Russia probe over the Seychelles meeting, is hosting a fundraiser for …. none other than Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, perhaps the most Kremlin-friendly member of Congress. (via @rebeccagberg)

  12. wobblie
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Not a one of you addresses our country pulling out of the ABM treaty. Not a one of you addresses how hour country launched a war of aggression against Iraq based on lies. Not a one of you addresses the Democrats support for the war machine. Given this near universal support for this lawless bipartisan regime is it any surprise that countries we have labeled as enemies will act in their self-defense.

    MM started the day with how bad the Trump administrations Sec. of Education is. No argument. But given how we have to spend a trillion dollars propping up our empire how can we expect anything but continual decline in all of standards of living. Or are all you folks “guns and butter” Democrats? We can have the war against all while at the same time having universal prosperity. Fools, we tried that and ended up with double digit inflation.

    Fight Trump on his education, housing, economic, tax policies–feeding Russiagate (what ever that is) means you are supporting the military/industrial/surveilence state and all the misery and austerity it will bring.

  13. Jean Henry
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie is often angry and righteous and finger-waving. I’m so glad there’s someone here with a more developed scolding tendency than my own.

  14. wobblie
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    While we are all busy watching Russiagate, anyone notice that our Senator Peters is one of 12 Democrats (Tim Kane is another) who are joining with the Republicans to role back Dodd/Frank and deregulate the banking industry? I guess all you Demorats are on board with empowering the big Banks.

    Jean, you follow the Dem practice of attacking the messenger rather than dealing with the argument.

  15. @RepAdamSchiff
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    We’ll need to interview George Nader & receive further testimony and documents from Erik Prince. Prince’s testimony is inconsistent with reports that the Seychelles meeting was part of an effort to set up a backchannel to Russia. It’d be negligent of us not to find out the truth.

  16. some guy
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    the question to be asked is if Trump was colluding with Russia to win the election, why would there be a need to set up a backchannel communication?

  17. Lynne
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    wobblie, it isn’t that everyone is ok with it, it is that some of us know that it is an issue for the primaries when Peters runs for re-election. It is also something worth calling his office about. I assume you have done that. I have.

  18. EOS
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Hilliary Clinton paid a foreign agent to dig up dirt on her political opponent. The information was supplied to the Obama administration who used it to get court approval to use electronic surveillance against Trump’s campaign. Somehow every move that Trump made was leaked to the press. And we have to ask ourselves, “Why would Trump not want to conduct sensitive foreign relations negotiations using a state department populated with partisan cronies left over from Clinton’s time in office? We have evidence that Clinton colluded with foreigners in an attempt to win the election and no one wants to talk about it. But a private businessman meets on a remote East African island with a Russian diplomat after the election and we demand that Trump be impeached. Isn’t communicating with hostile foreign governments part of the job of a president? The constant stream of unfounded accusations is more than a bit ridiculous. When are you going to acknowledge that Trump is doing a good job? A few months back you tried to get everyone worried that Trump was starting a nuclear war with North Korea. Now they are planning on meeting to discuss North Korean disarmament. DACA kids and more would have a path to citizenship were it not for Democratic obstacles. Why not try and work with Republicans to pass bills on necessary and mutually agreeable topics?

  19. Jcp2
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Mitch McConnell: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

    Like that?

  20. Jcp2
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    John Boehner: “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”

    Or like this?

  21. Sad
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Like Nixon is remembered for China Trump might be remembered for North Korea. Obama was never going to call him rocket man, and maybe that’s what was needed.

  22. Lynne
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    EOS. Even though the outcome is positive, I don’t think Trump’s policies, which have downgraded the USA’s reputation and standing in the world, can legitimately be called “doing a good job”

  23. Sad
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Do you really think our reputation has been downgraded? I hope they just think we’re in a rough patch, growing pains.

  24. Jean Henry
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Hold your horses on claiming a victory in North Korea. Who knows how this will all work out. Trump is largely without competent advisors now to handle such complex negotiations. And his trusted handlers, who have managed his volatility to whatever degree possible, are now mostly out of the picture.

  25. EOS
    Posted March 11, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Trump has been systematically accomplishing everything he promised to do during the election. Can’t wait to see Clinton, Comey, and Lynch in handcuffs. That would certainly improve our standing in the world. A restoration of justice.

  26. Jean Henry
    Posted March 11, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    “the question to be asked is if Trump was colluding with Russia to win the election, why would there be a need to set up a backchannel communication?” Proof of collusion (which is not illegal; but being party to a foreign govt manipulating a US election is) would not require ongoing communication, just ANY prior knowledge and coordination with Russian agents re manipulation. Setting up back channel communication AFTER the election was a way to start coordinating in detail with Russia before holding office. If Trump and co knew they owed some part of their victory to Putin than those back channels and Trump’s resulting soft on Russia stances would be seen as quid prop quo for their help in the election. If our President was compromised, then those back channels would enable Russia to influence US foreign policy to their advantage. Either scenario is treasonous.

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