Democrats grilled Erik Prince about meeting Bannon before Seychelles trip

Trump associate Erik Prince evasive on why he met with Kremlin-connected banker during transition

Trump associate Erik Prince evasive on why he met with Kremlin-connected banker during transition

Prince again denied that he was acting as a surrogate of the Trump campaign when he met with Dmitriev in the Seychelles.

They also talked about "how the United States and Russian Federation should be working together to defeat Islamic terrorism", according to Prince.

Prince in November told lawmakers probing Russian interference in the USA election that he met with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund under US sanctions since 2015, for less than 30 minutes over a beer at the suggestion of Emirati royalty, whose invitation was the basis for his trip to the luxury islands.

Prince said that he didn't discuss sanctions with Dmitriev, or the prospect of doing business with him.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince detailed to House Intelligence Committee investigators a January meeting he held with a Russian banker in the Seychelles that he said was unrelated to his support for the Trump campaign, according to a transcript of his closed-door interview released Wednesday.

Prince said he never told Bannon about meeting Dmitriev, and could not recall if he ever told Bannon about his meeting with MBZ. Prince said Bannon vouched for MBZ during the conversation, calling him "a great guy".

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

Prince also said that his trip to the Seychelles, which he said was to meet with UAE officials about business opportunities, did not have anything to do with Russian Federation. Those meetings were similarly brief, he said.

As the meeting was ending, someone suggested he meet with Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian banker who was in the area, according to the testimony.

Committee Democrats have characterized his answers as incomplete.

In a transcript released on Wednesday of Prince's testimony last week to the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Prince said he and Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, met for about half an hour in a bar at the suggestion of officials from the United Arab Emirates.

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".

In a statement, Schiff said Prince did not "adequately explain why he traveled halfway around the world to meet with UAE officials or Dmitriev".

According to the newspaper, the UAE brokered the meeting "in part" to explore whether Russian Federation might be persuaded to back away from its relationship with Iran and Syria.

The Washington Post ran a story about his trip last April.

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.

"Unless The Washington Post has somehow miraculously recruited the bartender of a hotel in the Seychelles, the only way that's happening is through SIGINT", he said.

"I remember telling him that if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Joseph Stalin to defeat Nazi fascism, then certainly Donald Trump could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism", said Prince.

"That's illegal. That is a political abuse of the intelligence infrastructure". Prince refused during the interview to identify those who he claimed told him that he had been unmasked.