United States special counsel probes Seychelles meeting with Russian
09 March, 2018, 02:54 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation has reportedly uncovered evidence that a secret meeting in Seychelles shortly before President Trump's inauguration was meant to create a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin.
They have interviewed a witness who said a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles between Prince and Russian Direct Investment Fund chief Kirill Dmitriev, brokered by the United Arab Emirates, was set up so that the incoming Trump administration and the Russian government could discuss U.S.
The UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russian Federation could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on USA sanctions, those officials said.
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.
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George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman, helped organize the meeting and shared that information during testimony before a grand jury gathering evidence as part of Mueller's probe of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"We chatted on topics ranging from oil and commodity prices to how much his country wished for resumption of normal trade relations with the U.S.A.", Prince told lawmakers. Prince is the founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater (famous for massacring unarmed civilians in Baghdad), a supporter of a privatized and for-profit military, and brother of Trump's Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Trump says there was no collusion between Moscow and his campaign and calls the investigation a witch hunt.
Nader's reported cooperation with the Mueller probe could be an indication that Mueller and his team are focusing more closely on the Seychelles meeting. -Russian relations, according to people familiar with the matter.
Representatives of Prince had no immediate comment on the Post story, and had declined to comment on previous reports about Nader and the Seychelles meeting.
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Nader could not be reached for comment, and his lawyer declined to comment. He acknowledges the panel would need Mueller's permission to talk to Nader since he is a cooperating witness in the DOJ investigation.
H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials, including from the UAE, that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report.
The Washington Post said the U.A.E. agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russian Federation could be persuaded to curtail its close relationship with Iran - a key objective of both the Trump administration and several Gulf Arab countries. Mueller is investigating Russia's role and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
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