In Testy Testimony, Erik Prince Denies Involvement In Sketchy Russia Dealings

Kirill Dmitriev chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund attends a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with foreign investors in St. Petersburg Russia

Kirill Dmitriev chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund attends a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with foreign investors in St. Petersburg Russia

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.

According to a transcript of testimony released on Wednesday, the founder of Blackwater refused to identify the former intelligence operatives who leaked the information.

That meeting has drawn the attention of congressional committees looking into potentially improper contacts between the Trump campaign and transition team with Russians, and sparked questions about whether Prince may have been an unofficial envoy on behalf of Trump or his associates.

In the transcript of the over three-hour-long interview, an increasingly testy Prince offered blanket denials of any involvement in or awareness of untoward dealings tied to the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

"I remember telling him that if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Josef Stalin to defeat Nazi fascism, certainly the United States could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism", Prince told investigators.

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. The two men also spoke about the prices of oil, minerals and other commodities.

There was no follow-up to the meeting with Dmitriev, he said.

"How would you describe the role of a citizen voter who wrote policy memos for a campaign, made multiple visits to Trump Tower, made six-figure donations to the campaign, and conducted a number of meetings with the campaign's manager?" Representative Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican, asked him.

"That is correct", said Prince.

Prince described the arrangement of his meeting with Dmitriev as informal, telling investigators that the real objective of his trip was to meet with Emirati officials to discuss terrorism in the area and "conceptual-only stuff" on mineral-related business.

Prince testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on November 30, and the committee released the transcript of his testimony on Wednesday.

"Prince also could not adequately explain why he traveled halfway around the world to meet with U.A.E. officials and, ultimately, the head of the Russian fund", said Schiff.

Prince insisted to the House committee he had not acted as a representative of the Trump administration during the meeting with the Emirati dignitaries, though he was close to Bannon and sent him unsolicited policy papers during the campaign.

He declined to provide the committee the names of those individuals in an unclassified setting, but was adamant that the Obama administration had inappropriately manipulated signals intelligence, or SIGINT.

Schiff on Wednesday called for the committee to subpoena Prince to testify on what the intelligence officials told him.

The meeting in the Seychelles was originally reported by The Washington Post.

Erik Prince, the supporter of Donald Trump and founder of the private security contractor Blackwater testified earlier to the House Committee that former intelligence community members told him who was to blame for leaking information to the Washington Post about his business trip to the Seychelles. "He'd be an interesting guy for you to know", Prince recalled the person who suggested the meeting saying.

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