Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles was a premeditated effort to set up a covert communication channel between Russian authorities and the Trump transition team, the Washington Post reported Wednesday night.
This explosive information comes from the sworn statements of one of the participants in the meeting and a cooperating witness in Mueller’s probe: George Nader, a top adviser to the United Arab Emirates with ties to several Trump officials.
Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, told Mueller’s team that the meeting between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Russian businessman Kirill Dmitriev was arranged so that the informal Trump adviser and Putin’s government could discuss relations between the two countries, according to the Post. Per the report, Nader helped organize the meeting in the remote island nation.
In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last fall, Prince described the meeting in starkly different terms. He said that he was in the Seychelles in his capacity as a private businessman in order to meet with the UAE’s royal family. He said he met with Dmitriev by chance, on the Emiratis recommendation.
Prince denied that relations between the incoming administration and Russia were discussed over the drink they shared at the Four Seasons’ bar.
As the Post, CNN and the New York Times have now reported, Nader became a cooperating witness in Mueller’s investigation in mid-January when he was intercepted by federal authorities at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. He had intended to travel on to a party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Those publications have reported that Nader had ongoing communications with key Trump team members, including former chief strategist Steve Bannon and adviser Jared Kushner. Nader met with the two Trump officials in New York in December 2016 and again in the White House after inauguration, according to their reports.
Separately, Kushner reportedly met with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition to discuss establishing a secret backchannel of communications with the Kremlin.