In an interview with congressional investigators made public on Wednesday, Erik Prince, the founder of security contractor Blackwater, offered details about a meeting he had with a Russian banker-and he denied that he was acting on behalf of President Donald Trump, as had been reported.
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.
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 objective of establishing a way for Trump and Putin to communicate privately.
Prince told congressional investigators that he was a donor to Trump's campaign who later submitted policy papers to members of the president-elect's transition team.
Democrats on the panel have pointed out that the December meeting between the Trump transition and the UAE took place just weeks prior to Prince's January 11 meeting with Dmitriev, which was brokered by Emirati officials.
He met with the committee voluntarily, and did not have an attorney with him. He said, you should meet him. "So I met him in the bar and had a drink".
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"On the details of this meeting, Prince was again less than forthcoming and sought to represent that his discussion with Dmitriev, which comprised a third of the time he was conducting meetings in the Seychelles, was merely coincidental", Schiff said in the statement.
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".
Schiff and Prince got into a testy back-and-forth exchange, with Schiff threatening Prince with a subpoena if he refused to continue with the hearing.
"You may be used to operating this way in your business, Mr. Prince", Schiff responded.
Prince said that he didn't discuss sanctions with Dmitriev, or the prospect of doing business with him.
They also talked about "how the United States and Russian Federation should be working together to defeat Islamic terrorism", according to Prince.
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He recounted meeting Dmitriev at a hotel bar, where they discussed topics ranging from oil to commodity prices.
The state-run investment firm that Dmitriev leads in Russian Federation was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2015. Dmitriev and Prince didn't specifically discuss sanctions or Prince's relationship to the Trump administration, Prince said.
He said that he had to search Google for a photo of Dmitriev in order to find him in a bar.
But Prince said he could not remember whether the conversation with Bannon took place before or after his trip to the Seychelles.
"I was roaming, so data roaming is expensive when you're overseas", Prince said. "He'd be an interesting guy for you to know", Prince recalled the person who suggested the meeting saying.
Prince said he and the crown prince's conversation stuck to the problem of terrorism and aluminum manufacturing costs.
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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.