A Secret Island Meeting

Rep. Adam Schiff D-Calif. ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence speaks with reporters just before his panel interviews former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Thursday

Rep. Adam Schiff D-Calif. ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence speaks with reporters just before his panel interviews former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Thursday

The businessman serves as an adviser to the United Arab Emirates' Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and is at the center of a January 2017 meeting between arms dealer Erik Prince and Russian operatives in the Seychelles that was, according to Nader, an attempt to set up a backchannel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin.

A witness, who has been cooperating with Mueller, told investigators the meeting was set up before the inauguration so someone from Trump's transition team could meet with a Moscow emissary, WaPo's report notes, which relies exclusively on unnamed sources.

Prince testified previous year before the House Intelligence Committee about his meeting and Thursday, Democrats pounced on reports that Lebanese-American businessman George Nader told the special counsel he was at the meeting. "And you should meet him, he'd be an interesting guy for you to know, since you're doing a lot in the oil and gas and mineral space, '" he said at the time.

Before Congress, Prince denied that the meeting was nefarious or even planned, and only lasted as long as it took the two men to drink a beer together.

Prince, who founded the private security company formerly known as Blackwater, had testified before the House Intelligence Committee that the meeting was by chance and had been set up by an UAE official.

Nader had also attended a December 2016 meeting in NY between senior Trump advisers and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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The Washington Post said that while Mueller is probing the circumstances of the Seychelles meeting, he is also more broadly examining apparent efforts by the Trump transition team to create a back channel for secret talks with the Kremlin. Multiple news outlets confirmed that the donor, Erik Prince, met with a representative of Vladimir Putin in Seychelles, hoping to set up an intelligence agency-free back-channel between the two governments.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly determined that a meeting in the Seychelles between associates of President Donald Trump and a Russian banker was meant to help establish a secret back-channel between Trump and Russia. -Russian relations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Senior adviser Jared Kushner sits behind President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House.

Mueller is investigating efforts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential race and whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin allies. According to The Post, Emirati officials were indeed under the impression that Prince was representing Trump at the meeting.

Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition.

"This is an issue that is clearly important to our investigation", Schiff said of the Intelligence Committee's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and whether anyone close to Trump collaborated in it. Schiff said he also wants Prince to turn over documents the committee has sought, but which he hasn't yet provided. Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for The Washington Post.

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