Blackwater founder Erik Prince acknowledges second Trump Tower meeting
Russia was not the only foreign entity that attempted to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with the goal of helping then-candidate Donald Trump win.
The now-infamous meeting with Russian nationals in 2016 at Trump Tower was also not the only one Donald Trump Jr. attended with the apparent eager acceptance of whatever political help was offered.
Last year, the New York Times reported that members of the Trump campaign hosted a meeting at Trump Tower, arranged by Erik Prince, with an emissary of wealthy Arab princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as an Israeli social media specialist at Trump Tower on August 3, 2016 — each of whom offered to help Donald Trump become president.
Prince, who founded Blackwater USA (now known as Academi), and who is the younger brother of Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, was interviewed by Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head program last week, where he disclosed for the first time that he attended the meeting and that Iran policy was a topic of discussion.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-WA) said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that “this is another concealed meeting,” and that “there are a lot of deeply concerning and unanswered questions that surround Erik Prince and his involvement with the campaign.”
The problem for Prince is that he was asked last year about the role he played with the Trump campaign in 2016 by the House Intelligence Committee. During that testimony, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) asked Prince what role he played in the Trump campaign. Prince answered, “I played no official or, really, unofficial role.”
Rooney clarified that apart from sending papers to former Trump staffer Steve Bannon, “there was no other formal communications or contact with the campaign?”
Prince answered, “correct.”
Prince did not, according to the public transcript, mention or acknowledge the meeting at all. Mehdi asked Prince about this last week during their interview, and Prince first said he did not think he was asked about it, and then said he did in fact disclose the meeting, but that there was a problem with the transcription.
Rep. Schiff was asked about this discrepancy.
“Well he’s certainly not telling the truth in that interview, there’s nothing wrong with our transcript, there was nothing wrong with the reporter who transcribed his testimony,” the Democratic lawmaker said.
“He did not disclose that meeting to our committee, and in fact as you can see from the published transcript of his interview, he was asked what kind of role he played if any in the campaign and he said he had no role, apart from on his own, submitting written papers, hanging a yard sign, or making a contribution. He was also asked about any substantive policy conversation that he might have had.”
Lying under oath, and lying to a congressional committee are illegal. Schiff indicated that this would be something that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would examine.
“So his interview certainly looks inconsistent with his testimony,” Schiff said. “Bob Mueller has that testimony already, and Bob Mueller will have to make the decision of whether that rises to the level of deliberate falsehood. But we had questions at the time of his testimony about his candor and how forthcoming he was and those questions have only been heightened now.”