The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Prince

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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:15 am


Trump White House Weighing Plans for Private Spies to Counter “Deep State” Enemies

December 4 2017, 9:24 p.m.
The Trump administration is considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer — with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal — to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering “deep state” enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Trump’s presidency.

The creation of such a program raises the possibility that the effort would be used to create an intelligence apparatus to justify the Trump administration’s political agenda.

“Pompeo can’t trust the CIA bureaucracy, so we need to create this thing that reports just directly to him,” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official with firsthand knowledge of the proposals, in describing White House discussions. “It is a direct-action arm, totally off the books,” this person said, meaning the intelligence collected would not be shared with the rest of the CIA or the larger intelligence community. “The whole point is this is supposed to report to the president and Pompeo directly.”

Oliver North, who appears frequently on Trump’s favorite TV network, Fox News, was enlisted to help sell the effort to the administration. He was the “ideological leader” brought in to lend credibility, said the former senior intelligence official.

Some of the individuals involved with the proposals secretly met with major Trump donors asking them to help finance operations before any official contracts were signed.

The proposals would utilize an army of spies with no official cover in several countries deemed “denied areas” for current American intelligence personnel, including North Korea and Iran. The White House has also considered creating a new global rendition unit meant to capture terrorist suspects around the world, as well as a propaganda campaign in the Middle East and Europe to combat Islamic extremism and Iran.

“I can find no evidence that this ever came to the attention of anyone at the NSC or [White House] at all,” wrote Michael N. Anton, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, in an email. “The White House does not and would not support such a proposal.” But a current U.S. intelligence official appeared to contradict that assertion, stating that the various proposals were first pitched at the White House before being delivered to the CIA. The Intercept reached out to several senior officials that sources said had been briefed on the plans by Prince, including vice president Mike Pence. His spokesperson wrote there was “no record of [Prince] ever having met with or briefed the VP.” Oliver North did not respond to a request for comment.

According to two former senior intelligence officials, Pompeo has embraced the plan and has lobbied the White House to approve the contract. Asked for comment, a CIA spokesperson said, “You have been provided wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda.”

At the heart of the scheme being considered by the White House are Blackwater founder Erik Prince and his longtime associate, CIA veteran John R. Maguire, who currently works for the intelligence contractor Amyntor Group. Maguire also served on Trump’s transition team. Amyntor’s role was first reported by Buzzfeed News.

Michael Barry, who was recently named the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Intelligence Programs, worked closely with Erik Prince on a CIA assassination program during the Bush administration.

Prince and Maguire deny they are working together. Those assertions, however, are challenged by current and former U.S. officials and by Trump donors who say the two men were collaborating.

As with many arrangements in the world of CIA contracting and clandestine operations, details of who is in charge of various proposals are murky by design and change depending on which players are speaking. An Amyntor official said Prince was not “formally linked to any contract proposal by Amyntor.” In an email, Prince rejected the suggestion that he was involved with the proposals. When asked if he has knowledge of this project, Prince replied: “I was/am not part of any of those alleged efforts.”

The former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the efforts scoffed at Prince’s denials. “Erik’s proposal had no company names on the slides,” this person said, “but there is no doubt that Prince and Maguire were working together.”

Prince and Maguire have a long professional relationship. Maguire recently completed a stint as a consultant with Prince’s company, Frontier Services Group, a Hong Kong-based security and logistics company partially owned by the Chinese government. FSG has no known connections to the private spy plan.

Prince has strong ties to the Trump administration: His sister Betsy DeVos is secretary of education, he was a major donor to the Trump election campaign, and he advised the transition team on intelligence and defense appointments, as The Intercept has previously reported. Prince has also contributed to Vice President Mike Pence’s campaigns.

Maguire spent more than two decades as a paramilitary officer at the CIA, including tours in Central America working with the Contras. He has extensive experience in the Middle East, where he helped plan the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Maguire and Prince met together in September with a senior CIA official at a Virginia restaurant to discuss privatizing the war in Afghanistan.

Prince told a top fundraiser that Maguire was working on part of his Afghanistan plan, characterizing it as the first part of a multi-pronged program. The fundraiser added that Prince never directly asked him for money. But sources close to the project say Maguire did seek private funding for Amyntor’s efforts until a CIA contract materialized. “They’ve been going around asking for a bridge loan to float their operations until the CIA says yes,” said a person who has been briefed on the fundraising efforts.

Beginning last spring and into the summer, Maguire and a group of Amyntor representatives began asking Trump donors to support their intelligence efforts in Afghanistan, the initial piece of what they hoped would be a broader program. Some Trump fundraisers were asked to provide introductions to companies and wealthy clients who would then hire Amyntor for economic intelligence contracts. Maguire explained that some of the profit from those business deals would fund their foreign intelligence collection. Others were asked to give money outright.

“[Maguire] said there were people inside the CIA who joined in the previous eight years [under Obama] and inside the government and they were failing to give the president the intelligence he needed,” said a person who was pitched by Maguire and other Amyntor personnel. To support his claim, Maguire told at least two people that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, in coordination with a top official at the National Security Agency, authorized surveillance of Steven Bannon and Trump family members, including Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. Adding to these unsubstantiated claims, Maguire told the potential donors he also had evidence H.R. McMaster used a burner phone to send information gathered through the surveillance to a facility in Cyprus owned by George Soros.

Amyntor employees took potential donors to a suite in the Trump Hotel in Washington, which they claimed was set up to conduct “secure communications.” Some White House staff and Trump campaign supporters came to refer to the suite as “the tinfoil room,” according to one person who visited the suite. This account was confirmed by another source to whom the room was described. “John [Maguire] was certain that the deep state was going to kick the president out of office within a year,” said a person who discussed it with Maguire. “These guys said they were protecting the president.”

Maguire and others at Amyntor have boasted that they have already sent intelligence reports to Pompeo.

Oliver North testifying before Congress in 1986, and Erik Prince testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2007, in Washington DC.

Photos: AFP/Getty, AP

Prince, Maguire, and Oliver North have long shared a common frustration over the failure of the U.S. government to bring two suspects from a high-profile terrorist event in the 1980s to justice. Last summer, Maguire discussed rendering the suspects with White House officials after learning the men had been located in the Middle East. Despite having no U.S. government approval, associates of Maguire began working on a snatch operation earlier this year, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Prince colleague.

Maguire, concerned that the FBI would not take action, made an offer to senior White House officials. The message, according to a person with direct knowledge of the rendition plan, was: “We’re going to go get these guys and bring them to the U.S. Who should we hand them over to?”

The rendition plan was meant to be a demonstration that Maguire and his associates had an active intelligence network and the capability to grab suspects around the world. Prince maintains he has nothing to do with that plan. But according to a source with extensive knowledge of Prince’s networks, Prince was working in parallel to assemble a team to help apprehend the men.

According to two people who have worked extensively with Prince in recent years, Prince has been contacting former Blackwater personnel who worked on a post-9/11 era CIA assassination program targeting Al Qaeda operatives. That program, which the Bush White House prohibited the CIA from disclosing to congressional intelligence committees, was revealed to Congress in 2009 by CIA Director Leon Panetta. The CIA says the program did not result in any assassinations.

Among the capabilities Erik Prince offers is a network of deniable assets — spies, fixers, foreign intelligence agents — spread across the globe that could be used by the White House. “You pick any country in the world Erik’s been in, and it’s there,” said a longtime Prince associate. “They’re a network of very dark individuals.” The associate, who has worked extensively with Prince, then began rattling off places where the private spies and paramilitaries already operate — Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, “all across North Africa.”

Opaque contracting arrangements are typical for Prince, who became a lightning rod in his Blackwater days and now prefers to minimize controversy by operating in the shadows, disguising his involvement in sensitive operations with layers of subcontractors and elaborately crafted legal structures. “That’s his exact MO,” said the longtime Prince associate, adding that Prince consistently attempts to ensure plausible deniability of his role in U.S. and foreign government contracts.

“I have zero to do with any such effort and saying that I did/do would be categorically false,” Prince said in his email to The Intercept. “Knowingly publishing false information exposes you to civil legal action. The only effort I’ve quite publicly pitched is an alternative to Afghanistan.”

Erik Prince, Founder and CEO of Blackwater Worldwide drives through campus in Moyock, N.C., Monday, July 21, 2008. Prince, along with another former Navy SEAL, turned to the swamps of eastern North Carolina, where he could train SEALS based at Virginia Beach and build a business among law enforcement and military, believing all lacked a one-stop training site. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Erik Prince, then-CEO of Blackwater Worldwide, drives through campus where he could conduct training in Moyock, N.C. in 2008.

Photo: Gerry Broome/AP

The intelligence and covert action program would mark an unorthodox return to government service for Prince, the onetime CIA contractor, who built a mercenary force that became notorious during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would also raise new questions about Prince’s foreign entanglements since he sold Blackwater.

In addition to Prince’s former assassination network, the hidden cadre of spies with no official cover — NOCs in CIA jargon — includes the assets of another key player in the Iran-Contra affair, CIA officer Duane Clarridge, who died in 2016. Maguire, who worked under Clarridge as a young CIA paramilitary in Central America during the mid 1980s, took over the network of contract spies, who operate mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Last summer, as Prince pushed his public proposal to privatize the war in Afghanistan, he and Maguire had broader ambitions, according to a person involved in the discussions. “The goal was to eventually get their network of NOCs worldwide, but they initially started with Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Prince seems to be firing on a lot of cylinders and pitching overt and covert plans,” said a current intelligence officer who has closely monitored Prince’s career and has been briefed on several of Prince’s recent efforts, including the proposal to Pompeo. The official declined to discuss details of the plans, but pointed to Prince’s much-discussed pitch to privatize the war in Afghanistan as a smokescreen for offering other more controversial programs and operations.

Prince’s Afghanistan plan, which received substantial media attention and got a hearing at the highest levels of the Trump administration, “was brilliant because it changed the narrative and made him relevant,” the officer said, referring to Prince’s scandal- and investigation-plagued career at Blackwater. The officer also added that the very public Afghanistan pitch, replete with cable news interviews and op-eds, provided a legitimate reason “to justify meeting with people” at the White House, CIA, or other government agencies.

“Erik has no hobbies,” said the longtime Prince associate. “Counterterrorism is his hobby.”

In some ways, these plans mirror operations Prince led during the Bush-Cheney administration. When Prince was running Blackwater, he and a former CIA paramilitary officer, Enrique Prado, set up a global network of foreign operatives, offering their “deniability” as a “big plus” for potential Blackwater customers, according to internal company communications obtained by The Intercept.

In a 2007 email, with the subject “Possible Opportunity in DEA—READ AND DELETE,” Prado sought to pitch the network to the Drug Enforcement Administration, bragging that Blackwater had developed “a rapidly growing, worldwide network of folks that can do everything from surveillance to ground truth to disruption operations.” He added, “These are all foreign nationals (except for a few cases where US persons are the conduit but no longer ‘play’ on the street), so deniability is built in and should be a big plus.”

The longtime associate of Prince said that the nexus of deniable assets has never gone away. “The NOC network is already there. It already exists for the better part of 15 years now,” he said.

Prince has long admired Oliver North and viewed his role in Iran-Contra as heroic, said the Prince associate. In 2007, Prince testified defiantly before Congress following the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad, in which Blackwater operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians, including women and children. Shortly after his testimony, Prince’s longtime friend, the conservative California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, praised the Blackwater chief. “Prince,” Rohrabacher said, “is on his way to being an American hero just like Ollie North was.”

North, a Marine lieutenant colonel on the Reagan National Security Council, oversaw a scheme to divert proceeds from illicit arms sales to Iran to Contra death squads in Nicaragua. The resulting scandal became known as the Iran-Contra affair, and North was convicted of three felonies, though these convictions were later thrown out.

Both North and Maguire attended a small reception in 2014 celebrating Prince’s third marriage — to his former spokesperson Stacey DeLuke. “It was an intimate affair,” said the Prince associate. “Only Erik’s closest friends were invited to that reception.” On election night 2016, DeLuke posted photos on social media from inside Trump headquarters.

On November 30, Prince testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee about his January trip to the Seychelles to meet with Mohammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and a Russian fund manager close to Vladimir Putin. According to the Washington Post, Prince presented himself as an unofficial envoy of President-elect Trump. The Intercept reported last week that the fund manager was Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Prince repeatedly said that he did not remember the identity of the Russian, but on Thursday, in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Prince admitted that he did in fact meet with Dmitriev.

Prince may have revealed part of his strategy in a July 2016 radio interview with Steve Bannon, when he proposed recreating the CIA’s Phoenix Program, an assassination ring used in the Vietnam War, to battle ISIS. Prince said in the interview that the program would be used to kill or capture “the funders of Islamic terror, the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East.” ... e-enemies/
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:08 pm

White House Press Secretary Issues Bizarre Non-Denial of Private Spy Network Plans, While White House Official Confirms It

Lee Fang
December 5 2017, 6:07 p.m.
The White House press secretary did not directly dispute the revelation that Blackwater founder Erik Prince and former Iran-Contra figure Oliver North pitched a plan to develop a private spy network to members of the Trump administration.

The plan, detailed in a story broken by The Intercept on Monday, is to develop a private intelligence network to counter perceived “deep state” enemies within government ranks. Prince denied the report, and North did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment.

“I’m not aware of any plans for something of that definition or anything similar to that at this time,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in response to a question from CBS News’s Major Garrett about the story.

Garrett followed up to ask if President Donald Trump “would be opposed” to an outside spy network operating on his behalf. Sanders said she was unaware.

Garrett asked to Sanders to confirm whether any administration official had been briefed on such a network.

“I’m not going to answer some random hypothetical. Did some random person off the street come in and say something? I don’t know,” Sanders said.

And finally, Garrett asked if it was an idea Trump would consider.

“Again, I haven’t asked him, but it’s not something that’s currently in the works,” Sanders replied.

Watch the exchange below:

A White House official later told New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman that the proposal was indeed pitched to the Trump administration, but there is no sign the president himself was briefed. A White House official also confirmed to CNN that the plan was pitched, adding that “this idea is going nowhere.” ... eep-state/
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby Luther Blissett » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:03 pm

Make no mistake that this Prince-North alliance will do nothing to counter the “classic” deep state enemies of the people, only bolster, empower, and legitimize them. The new definition of the “deep state” is just a phantom meant to obscure the actual corporate and oligarchic meaning of the phrase.

What this spy network will actually be used for is a special, technologically-enabled, proto-fascist security and intelligence force the likes of which have never been seen in the U.S. Imagine the crimes of the 20th- and 21st-century intelligence community on quantum cyborg steroids.
The Rich and the Corporate remain in their hundred-year fever visions of Bolsheviks taking their stuff - JackRiddler
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:23 pm

Schiff says of the Seychelles trip: "Prince also could not adequately explain why he traveled halfway around the world to meet with UAE officials and, ultimately, the head of the Russian fund."


Transcript: Erik Prince discussed trade, terrorism with Russian banker in Seychelles
THE WASHINGTON POST | Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, 6:12 p.m.
Blackwater founder Erik Prince arrives for a closed meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Erik Prince, a supporter of the Trump campaign and the former head of the security firm Blackwater, told congressional investigators that he discussed trade relations and countering terrorism with a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in the Seychelles earlier this year, according to a newly-released transcript of the interview.

Prince told investigators last week that Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, told him during the Jan. 11 meeting that "he wished trade would resume with the United States in a normal way."

Prince responded by telling Dmitriev that "if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Josef Stalin to defeat Nazi fascism, certainly the United States could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism."

The meeting in the Seychelles has drawn scrutiny as one of several interactions Trump associates had with Russian officials during the campaign and transition.

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.

As head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, Dmitriev reports to Putin.

Prince said his meeting with Dmitriev came up at the last minute and at the suggestion of crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, who Prince said invited him to the Seychelles — though he said he could not remember when or who from Zayed's staff extended the invitation. The crown prince is widely known as MBZ.

Prince also said he did not remember when or where he had a conversation with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in which Bannon told Prince he had met MBZ in New York in December, just weeks before Prince traveled to the Seychelles. Prince said Bannon vouched for MBZ during the conversation, calling him "a great guy."

Prince said he never told Bannon about meeting Dmitriev, and could not recall if he ever told Bannon about his meeting with MBZ.

The Washington Post in April reported Prince's meeting in the Seychelles with an unidentified Russian close to Putin.

In the House Intelligence Committee interview, Prince alleged that the Post was leaked U.S. intelligence about the meeting and claimed that he was improperly "unmasked" by former officials. The Post attributed its April story to U.S., European and Arab officials. Prince refused during the interview to identify those who he claimed told him that he had been unmasked.

The committee's top Democrat, California Rep. Adam Schiff, complained in a statement that Prince was "less than forthcoming" with information, concluding that committee Republicans "must compel Prince to testify on these matters" — particularly because the GOP has been acutely focused on finding the source of government leaks. ... seychelles

In Testy Testimony, Erik Prince Denies Involvement In Sketchy Russia Dealings

By ALLEGRA KIRKLAND Published DECEMBER 6, 2017 3:10 PM

Blackwater founder and Trump donor Erik Prince wasn’t pleased that the House Intelligence Committee called him in for a Nov. 30 interview, as his newly released closed-door testimony makes abundantly clear.

In the transcript of the over three-hour-long interview, an increasingly testy Prince offered blanket denials of any involvement in or awareness of untoward dealings tied to the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Front side, back side, no side, never got any indication of anything like that,” Prince said when asked if he knew of any exchange of information or discussions of establishing a backchannel line of communications between the Trump team and Kremlin.

The bulk of the questions focused on Prince’s secret January 2017 trip to the Seychelles, where he met with Kirill Dmitriev, an ally of President Vladimir Putin and CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. While the Washington Post, which broke the news of the meeting, reported that Prince presented himself as an “unofficial envoy for Trump,” Prince testified that the principal purpose of his visit to the island nation was an invitation to meet with members of the United Arab Emirates’ royal family, one of whom casually suggested he meet with Dmitriev for a drink.

Dmietriev was described to him, he testified, as a “Russian guy that we’ve dealt with in the past” who would be “an interesting guy for you to know, since you’re doing a lot in the oil and gas and mineral space.”

Prince testified that he was not representing the Trump team during their 30-minute conversation; that he couldn’t “recall” if he knew Dmitriev represented a state-banked investment bank sanctioned by the U.S.; and that he did not discuss sanctions or anything related to the incoming Trump administration with the banker. Dmitriev did, however, express “how much he wished trade would resume with the United States in a normal way.”

Prince repeatedly tried to turn his conversation with lawmakers towards the leaking of classified intelligence information, which he insisted should be the real concern of Capitol Hill and the intelligence community. He repeatedly asserted that he believed he’d been illegally “unmasked” by members of the Obama administration and that the revelation of his identity had affected his ability “to do banking, to do business.”

At points, the conversation took a turn for the comic. Prince, whose sister is Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, repeatedly denied having a special relationship with the Trump team, despite acknowledging that he submitted foreign policy position papers on the Middle East to the campaign, frequently texted with campaign CEO Steve Bannon, and visited Trump Tower several times during the transition.

“How would you describe the role of a citizen voter who wrote policy memos for a campaign, made multiple visits to Trump Tower, made six-figure donations to the campaign, and conducted a number of meetings with the campaign’s manager?” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) asked.

“Someone who cares about their country,” Prince replied.

Prince became increasingly short with the predominantly Democratic lawmakers questioning him as the hearing proceeded, dismissing their queries as a “waste of time” and “fishing expedition.”

Read the full transcript of his interview below. ... -committee

BY MAX KUTNER ON 12/6/17 AT 6:05 PM

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.

Prince testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on November 30, and the committee released the transcript of his testimony on Wednesday. The committee is one of three congressional panels investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with Trump’s presidential campaign.

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 purpose of establishing a way for Trump and Putin to communicate privately. Representatives for the United Arab Emirates were said to have arranged the meeting in the Seychelles islands. The Post claimed that Prince had “presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump.”

But in his testimony with the House investigators, Prince said he played neither an official nor unofficial role in the Trump campaign or on presidential transition team, though he had written policy papers and provided them to Steve Bannon, the chief executive of the campaign who became a Trump administration official. He also said he had interacted with Trump and other members of the campaign and transition teams.

Discussing the January meeting, Prince said that at the request of a prince from the United Arab Emirates, he traveled to the Seychelles islands to discuss business opportunities with the prince and his associates. He said he had previously known those people.

Erik Prince, the founder of private military contractor Blackwater USA, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on November 30. He spoke about a meeting he had in the Seychelles islands with a Russian national.

As the meeting was ending, someone suggested he meet with Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian banker who was in the area, according to the testimony. “You should meet him. He’d be an interesting guy for you to know,” Prince recalled the person who suggested the meeting saying. The person said something along the lines of, “He’ll be down in the bar area after dinner, if you wanted to meet this guy.”

Prince said he went to the hotel bar and used his phone to find a picture of the man. They met and discussed oil and commodity prices and trade between Russia and the United States, he testified. They also talked about “how the United States and Russia should be working together to defeat Islamic terrorism,” according to Prince. “I remember telling him that if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Joseph Stalin to defeat fascism, certainly the United States could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism.”

Dmitriev is the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund that since 2015 has been subject to U.S. sanctions. Prince said they did not discuss the sanctions, but he recalled Dmitriev saying “how much he wished trade would resume with the United States in a normal way.” The meeting apparently lasted less than 30 minutes, enough time for Prince to drink one beer.

At various times during his testimony, Prince grew frustrated with the questions. At one point, he said, “Now listen. It’s 5:30. I haven’t been home in a week. I flew in this morning from Africa, and I’ve had about enough of this. So thank you.”

Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member, told him that if he did not cooperate, the committee would issue a subpoena to compel him to return. Prince suggested the committee instead focus on who in the intelligence community leaked the details of his January meeting to the Post.

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.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Schiff said that when discussing the January 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. Prince also could not adequately explain why he traveled halfway around the world to meet with UAE officials and, ultimately, the head of the Russian fund.”

On Wednesday, the committee also met behind closed doors with Donald Trump Jr. Democrats on the panel have accused the Republicans of trying to rush through the witness interviews in order to finish the probe prematurely. The Republicans have accused the Democrats of prolonging the investigation to keep the Russia conversation going into the 2018 midterm elections. ... ing-740572

trump would provide our military to secure nuclear power plant sites being built by Russia in the Middle East trump needed to shred sanctions to help Putin "recolonize the Middle East" at the U.S. taxpayer's expense
read the letter that cummings sent on flynn whistle-blower
everything is about Russian sanctions

Revealed: Blackwater Founder Erik Prince's Business Ties With Netanyahu’s Disgraced Chief of Staff

U.S. businessman at center of storm over allegedly setting up back-channel between Trump and Putin has ties to Ari Harow and an Israeli financier

Hagai Amit Dec 06, 2017 12:49 PM
Blackwater USA Chief Executive Erik Prince testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington, October 2007.
Blackwater USA Chief Executive Erik Prince testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington, October 2007. Larry Downing/REUTERS
U.S. businessman Erik Prince – who has just been accused of trying to set up a back-channel for communications between the Trump administration and Russia – has deep Israeli connections as well, including business dealings with Ari Harow, the disgraced former bureau chief to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The founder of the military contracting firm Blackwater is worth a reported $2.4 billion and is at the center of a ruckus over U.S. President Donald Trump’s relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to U.S. media reports, Prince was behind Trump’s indirect channels to Putin, through the Persian Gulf states. Last week Prince, 48, testified before the House Intelligence Committee on meetings that took place in the Emirates in January. He admitted to meeting with the head of a Russian investment fund earlier this year, but claimed it was nothing to do with Trump and Putin.

Haaretz has learned that Prince used to do business in Israel with Harow, the former chief of staff to Netanyahu. Harow turned state’s evidence in August after pleading guilty to fraud and breach of trust, and is collaborating with the police on two investigations into Netanyahu’s affairs.

Ari Harow in 2014, while working as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief of staff.
Ari Harow in 2014, while working as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief of staff.Marc Israel Sellem
Prince also has long-standing ties with the Israeli financier Dorian Barak, formerly Harow’s business partner.

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A former Navy Seal, Prince is reportedly close to Trump – so much so that, according to U.S. media reports, he was present at the Trump election party in New York’s Trump Tower in November 2016. He also advises Trump and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on topics related to American foreign policy – from refugees to U.S. policy on Afghanistan. Prince reportedly has opinions on everything and isn’t shy about sharing them. His sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

His involvement in foreign policy raises eyebrows because of his involvement in Blackwater (now known as Academi), the multinational security firm that operates around the world. Though he sold the company in 2010, Prince has made a fortune from wars – from Iraq to Afghanistan. He has also attracted bad press: In September 2007, Blackwater employees escorting a convoy killed 17 Iraqis. They claimed it was an ambush, but Iraq claimed the killings were unprovoked. The Iraqi government refused to renew Blackwater’s license in 2009.

Five years ago, well before anybody predicted Trump’s election, Prince visited Israel and was hosted by Harow. At the time, Harow was a businessman with a private investment fund as well as being chief of Netanyahu’s bureau. Harow tried to interest Prince in investing in Indigo Strategic Capital, a venture capital fund that Harow was co-managing with Dorian Barak.

How much Prince invested in Indigo remains unknown, but it is known that through Indigo he invested in the Israeli companies NowForce (security) and Agent Vi (real-time video analytics).

Beyond Israel, Barak also tried to interest Prince in investing in an African rail project – with the Spanish infrastructure company Eurofinsa – and in a joint investment with the Tehran-born, British-Jewish billionaire Vincent Tchenguiz. Prince and Barak were also involved in a mining company called Alufer.

In late 2013, Harow signed a conflict of interest agreement, undertaking to sever ties with his private company 3H and vowing not to be involved in its management. It would be run by partners and his two brothers, he said, and Harow returned to serve as chief of staff for Netanyahu.

Harow is not known to have had ties with Prince over the last five years. But Indigo Strategic Holdings, a Cayman Islands-listed company that Barak set up to handle his joint activity with Harow, only closed in August.

Beyond Prince’s investments in Israel, the deeper significance of Harrow’s relationship with Prince may have been in introducing him to Barak. Previously, Barak worked as head of the mergers, acquisitions and business development division at Bank Hapoalim’s international division. He also prays at the same synagogue as Naftali Bennett, to whom he donated 1,800 shekels ($510) when the latter was successfully running for the leadership of Habayit Hayehudi in 2012.

Barak became an adviser to Prince on investments and finance, and served on the boards of Agent Vi, Indigo and other companies worldwide in which Prince had stakes – from Austria to Gibraltar. They include the British hydrocarbons and mineral exploration company Bridgeporth; another U.K. company called Airborne Technologies, which makes aviation systems (some refer to it as Prince’s private air force); and Alufer.

Barak and Prince are also involved in a holding company called Frontier Capital.

Barak also has ties in China, and launched an innovation center in Israel with KuangChi Science last year. The fund is supposed to invest $250 million, half in Israel. Its portfolio shows that it invested in companies in which Barak had previously invested money himself, partly through Prince.

With various people now touting Prince for a Senate run (including Steve Bannon), his Israeli ties could prove significant.

Harow’s representative said that in connection with a private company he had founded, he had been in touch with various business and philanthropic entities in Israel and elsewhere. During that time, he had not held any public office, and the ties described in this article ended in 2012, years before the U.S. presidential election, the statement said. “Any attempt to connect Harow with Prince and his activity in recent years is a cynical distortion of reality,” it added.

We Need to Keep a Close Eye on Erik Prince

By JOSH MARSHALL Published DECEMBER 7, 2017 3:06 PM

From TPM Reader RM …

The one thing I think your piece needs to address is the personal interests or motivations for pushing rapprochement with Russia. We should keep in mind that the GOP’s position on Russia underwent a radical shift from hawkish to fawning. Had any other person won the GOP nomination, the position on Russia would’ve been as skeptical as that of the Obama Administration and maybe even more hawkish (particularly if former Romney advisors had influence on a hypothetical non-Trump nominee).

Most every single advocate of this radical shift towards Russia had a financial interest or inducement to do so. People like Flynn and Erik Prince have stated that a push against ‘radical Islam’ makes Russia a natural ally thereby justifying rapprochement, but this seems like utter bullshit when one considers that Iran is a key ally of Russia, and Russia’s positioning in Syria is ISIS friendly. Flynn became pro-Russia because they bought his allegiance with thousands of dollars of consulting business. Erik Prince is more aligned with Russia because he was effectively blacklisted by the Obama Administration post-Blackwater scandal. In the case of less prominent folks like Sam Clovis, one must examine the Russia issue as a product of Russian active measures through their media influence, and political motivation. Such a position allowed them to distinguish themselves from other Republicans and provide justification for a more insular and skeptical look at a world in far right conservatives fear that whites are diminishing in power and political influence.

As I explained in my private response, I don’t think the idea of allying with Russia against radical Islamists is totally crazy. Russia, like the Assad government, may have some situational need for ISIS as a justification for the severity of their crackdown on militants. But fundamentally, Russia is pro-Assad. In the post-Cold War period that is fundamentally based on making an alliance with minority sectarian groups in the Middle East since the dominant power in the region is the US and the US is allied to the dominant Arab Sunni governments. This brief overview skips volumes of complexity. But it’s fundamentally accurate. Right wingers like those in the Trump administration may see Iran as indistinguishable from Sunni radicals as another part of “radical Islam”. I don’t think that is an accurate view.

For all these reasons, I don’t think the idea of collaborating with Russia against Islamic radicalism is crazy on its face. I do think it’s basically misguided for a number of reasons – not least of which is that I don’t think it would be terribly effective. But RM is right on target on the larger point of the massive shift in GOP thinking on this issue. He is particularly on target about Erik Prince. That’s the reason I’m highlighting RM’s note.

I don’t know how big a role Prince plays in the larger Russia story. But he and his various companies, whatever name they’re now operating under, are a dangerous and malevolent force in our current moment, even more than they were a dozen years ago when Blackwater was playing such a big role in America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As RM noted, because of Blackwater’s scandals and also because of the Obama administration (but not only the Obama administration, later Bush too), Prince’s ability to sell his mercenary services to the US government and military were severely reduced. So he’s looked abroad. He’s trying to put together a major effort in China. He has deep business relationships in the Gulf and even lived there for a time in part to keep a distance from US authorities. He is clearly on the lookout for business with Russia. Whatever he denied in his recent congressional testimony, they’re a potential client.

Then you had this amazing report from The Intercept a couple days ago about Prince pitching the Trump White House on setting up a parallel spy network reporting directly to the President and the CIA Director to go around the President’s “deep state” enemies.

This may sound weird and scary. I’d argue it’s weirder and scarier than it sounds. This is precisely the kind of stuff Prince has always been trying to do – use ex-military and intelligence operatives to build parallel national security forces that operate for profit and outside the rule of law. In this case, he has a President who is particularly, perhaps uniquely, open to that idea. He’s also clearly pitching his plans to his potential client’s mix of paranoia and mendacious blame-shifting. The world of military contracting long predates Trump and Prince, as have its inherent challenges to accountability and democratic governance. There are many different factors pushing in money in the direction of privatizing military and national security services. But few Presidents would find the attractions, both for evading the law and for acting with quasi-dictatorial power, more inviting than Donald Trump.

With his mix of post-national allegiance, hyper-authoritarian views and need for new clients, we need to keep a very close eye on Prince, both in terms of the Russia probe and also more generally. ... re-1099404
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:02 pm

Seth Abramson‏Verified account

(THREAD) On November 4, 2016—96 hours before the presidential election—Trump advisor Erik Prince went on a radio network controlled by Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon to say that an anti-Clinton cabal at NYPD was conspiring to leak false information about Clinton pre-election


2/ The facts here are undisputed:

(1) This interview occurred and Prince said what he said.
(2) Prince was in contact with Bannon before and after the election.
(3) Prince was a Trump advisor.
(4) Everything he said was a lie.
(5) What NYPD planned to put out was disinformation.


(6) Prince makes clear NYPD was coercing the FBI by threatening to put out disinformation.
(7) The coercion worked; Comey reopened the Clinton probe to prove the emails did *not* say what NYPD claimed.
(8) Giuliani was receiving leaks from active FBI agents and NYPD officers.


(9) Giuliani said a "surprise" was coming two days before Comey wrote Congress. He said it could give Trump the election.
(10) He said it in the context of revealing he'd gotten leaks from anti-Clinton FBI agents.
(11) The New York office of the FBI was called "Trumplandia."


(12) The leaks Giuliani received were illegal. The leaks Prince received were unethical.
(13) Both sets of leaks were pro-Trump cabals in the FBI and NYPD trying to help Trump's campaign.
(14) Giuliani said the agents in New York were livid Comey had closed the Clinton case.


(15) The lies Prince told had been "reported" two days earlier by a known fake news site, "True Pundit," that popped up the same day Don Jr. met with Kremlin agents at Trump Tower. The site claims to be run by former FBI agents still in contact with active—leaking—FBI agents.


(16) Prince says he got the story from anti-Clinton NYPD cops; True Pundit says he got it via anti-Clinton FBI agents; a Giuliani pal says Giuliani got it via the FBI and NYPD.
(17) McCabe emailed Comey days before the Comey Letter expressing worry about the True Pundit hoax.


(18) The New York Times says Comey wrote the Comey Letter (re-opening the Clinton investigation) because of a fear about "leaks" regarding the "new" Clinton emails. Those leaks could only come from NYPD or the FBI.
(19) Don Jr. and Flynn both tweeted out the True Pundit hoax.


(20) The NYPD gave the FBI Weiner's PC to check for any new Clinton emails on October 3. Comey told the New York field office ("Trumplandia") to answer that question ASAP on October 3. Over three weeks later, he found they had ignored his orders and done virtually *nothing*.


(21) They hadn't asked cooperating witnesses Abedin and Weiner for permission to look at the emails.
(22) They hadn't sought a warrant.
(23) They hadn't used their IT guys to see if the emails were duplicates.
(24) They blindsided Comey with this 10 days before the election.


(25) Here's what they *did* do from 10/3 to 10/27: they leaked disinformation about what the PC contained to Prince and Giuliani. NYPD threatened FBI brass with releasing the disinformation. They let Prince and Giuliani lie for political advantage. They *conspired*. ... 8045056000

Seth Abramson

NOTE/ The day after Prince/Bannon coordinated a disinformation drop on Breitbart—online and radio—Comey revealed the emails Prince said held damning info and would lead to immediate NYPD arrests were *duplicates*. Prince/Bannon didn't think Comey could check on that pre-election.

NOTE2/ Trump rewarded Prince by (a) inviting him to his election-night party; (b) putting his sister Betsy DeVos in his Cabinet; (c) letting him continue on as advisor; (d) sending him as surrogate to the Seychelles; (e) letting Prince lobby him on lucrative Middle East projects.

NOTE3/ Watch this video, beginning at 3:00, for approximately 90 seconds and you will find out why Jim Comey got fired.

He said he was "very interested" in finding out—on an expedited basis—whether the FBI had leaked to Giuliani or Giuliani pal Kallstrom.

NOTE4/ The #Trumplandia conspiracy must be investigated. Giuliani/Prince confessed to its particulars on audio/video, and Flynn/Don Jr. participated in it via social media (note: Don later tried to erase his tweet).

This *doesn't impugn* the many good folks at NYPD and the FBI.

NOTE5/ Steve Bannon has made clear, in several interviews, with both Michael Wolff and other reporters after he left the White House, that he controlled and was able to manipulate Breitbart content at will and that the Trump campaign "fed" information to Breitbart—again, at will.

LINK/ (h/t DM) The FBI had at its disposal, on October 3, 2016, a means to scan the "new" Clinton emails instantaneously to see if they *were* new. Apparently they never used it—as when Comey asked them on October 26, 2016 what they'd found, they shrugged.
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:37 pm


Will Republicans excuse Prince's lies to Congress by:
1) Calling the multinational PMC owner naive in the way of international spying?
2) Pointing to his family's political donations?

Erik Prince Might Want To Shift Investments To Private Prison Industry
By Josh Marshall | March 7, 2018 8:50 pm

This was hinted at in last night’s reports. But the Post has a story this evening suggesting not only that Erik Prince acted as an intermediary in a back channel between the Trump Transition but lied about it to congressional investigators. This goes back to that meeting in the Seychelles where emissaries from President-Elect Trump, Vladimir Putin and the government of the United Arab Emirates met in January, 2017. As the Post story relates, Prince told congressional investigators that he was there to meet with representatives of the UAE. The meeting with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russia state investment fund, was simply a chance encounter. George Nader, Bob Mueller’s newly-cooperating witness, who was there at the meeting and who we discussed earlier, says thats not true. The meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of President-Elect Trump could meet an emissary from Moscow.

Here we have a familiar story. Prince appears caught conducting clandestine business, which may not be criminal in itself (you can meet people in the Seychelles) but may or may not be part of a broader criminal conspiracy. But here he may be caught not only in a lie but a highly material lie and perhaps one that is so clear-cut and designed to impede a lawful investigation that he can be prosecuted for it. That gives investigators a key hook with which to pry open more of the story.

Let’s not forget something we discussed earlier. FBI agents working for the special counsel pounced on George Nader and rapidly convinced him to become a cooperating witness. They also had warrants to confiscate his electronic equipment. Both facts suggest investigators already had major evidence of wrongdoing implicating Nader. What was the evidence and what was the wrongdoing?

Also, don’t forget: In addition to being the infamous founder of Blackwater, Prince is the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

The Post article and other reports suggest this Seychelles meeting was part of the effort over the course of the transition to open a backchannel between Trump and the Kremlin. The meeting was “around January 11” 2017. That is to say, 9 or 10 days prior to Trump’s inauguration.

This to me is the most tantalizing part of the whole story. Presidents don’t need back-channels to conduct discussions with foreign governments, though they sometimes use them in situations that require delicacy and deniability. What precisely was this backchannel for that it couldn’t wait 10 days? The answer seems pretty straightforwardly that someone was either in an extreme rush or that the backchannel was to transact business that had to remain secret from the US government. Given the urgency it seems that it needed to be hidden not just from the outgoing Obama administration (for which there might be some rationale) but from the entire apparatus of the US government which would report to President Trump and for which he would establish policy in just days?

That seems highly suspicious given what else was happening in 2016 and would continue into 2017 and beyond. ... re-1115268
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:54 am

Erik Prince, under fresh scrutiny in the Russia probe over the Seychelles meeting, is hosting a fundraiser for .... none other than Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, perhaps the most Kremlin-friendly member of Congress.

Amid renewed scrutiny, Erik Prince to host fundraiser for Russia-friendly congressman

Erik Prince Blackwater Anderson intv ctw_00050213
(CNN)Blackwater founder Erik Prince will host a fundraiser this month for Russia-friendly Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, as Prince faces new questions over a 2017 meeting currently being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Prince and Rohrabacher have been friends and mutual supporters for years: Prince interned for the California congressman on Capitol Hill in 1990, and Rohrabacher vigorously defended Prince when Blackwater faced congressional scrutiny during President George W. Bush's administration.

The fundraising event, slated for March 18 at Prince's Middleburg, Virginia residence, is expected to be attended by GOP Reps. Tom Garrett Jr. and Dave Brat, and Lt. Colonel Oliver North, according to an invitation obtained by CNN. Tickets start at $1,000 for the general reception, although donors paying $2,700 will also be invited to attend a VIP event beforehand.

But the fundraiser comes at an uneasy moment for the longtime allies.

Democrats say Trump associate may have misled House panel over Seychelles meeting
Prince, an associate of President Donald Trump, is confronting renewed questions regarding a January 2017 trip to the Seychelles islands, where he met with a Russian banker, Kirill Dmitriev and Emirati officials. Also in attendance was George Nader, a Middle East specialist with ties to Emirati leaders. Nader is now cooperating with Mueller's investigation, CNN has learned.

During an interview in November with congressional investigators, Prince denied that the Seychelles trip was part of an effort to establish a backchannel between the Trump transition and Russia. But Prince did not mention Nader's presence there, either, an omission that has raised concerns among some Democrats.
Rohrabacher, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been the target of attacks by Democrats and some Republicans for his unusually robust support for Russia. In the past, he has dismissed claims of Russia's human right violations as "baloney," publicly defended WikiLeaks and argued that the DNC was not hacked by Russia.

Rohrabacher met with the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, for a private interview in December 2017.

He is now preparing for a challenging reelection fight, with nine Democrats currently jockeying to replace him in his southern California district. ... index.html

It appears that Russia's 17th richest man was in the Seychelles the same day as the secret Prince/Dmitriev meeting.

Andrei Skoch's (Metallo Invest) P4-MGU flew to Seychelles a day before the meeting. It flew from Moscow and stopped at UAE where Erik Prince lives before continuing to Seychelles the next day.

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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Apr 05, 2018 9:12 am

Mueller has quickly handed immunity to George Nader. That tells you how important Mueller views Nader’s testimony when it comes to blowing the Trump-Russia scandal wide open.

Erik Prince Seychelles Mtg: Adviser to Emirates with Ties to Trump Aides Is Cooperating with Special Counsel. Nader represented the crown prince in a mtg where Prince spoke for Trump team & Russian fund manager Kirill Dmitriev represented Putin.


Nader, who funneled money from the Emirates to Trump’s political efforts & attended the Jan 2017 Seychelles mtg w/ Erik Prince & Russian fund manager Kirill Dmitriev, also met w/ Jared Kushner & Bannon ahead of Trump's trip to Saudi in May 2017.

Dec 2016: Jared Kushner, Flynn, & Bannon met w/ Sheikh Zayed in NY, after which, Erik Prince told Zayed he was an authorized surrogate for Trump transition team & asked him to set up a mtg w/ Kirill Dmitriev, head of RDIF [subsidiary of VEB Bank].


Every time Mueller turns over a Trump-stone a Russian oligarch crawls out from under it with a sack of cash
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:54 am

Polly Sigh

More proof that Trump advisor Erik Prince lied under oath: Cooperating Mueller witness Nader, who's been interviewed 7 times by prosecutors, briefed Prince on Putin envoy Dmitriev prior to Seychelles – so not a chance encounter as Prince testified.

Seth Abramson

(THREAD) Erik Prince—former business partner of Joseph Schmitz—was peddling fake Clinton emails via Steve Bannon's Breitbart 96 hours before Election Day. We just learned an hour ago that Schmitz spent the summer of 2016 peddling fake Clinton emails, too.

6:33 PM - 6 Apr 2018

1/ This thread incorporates information from my other Schmitz thread today:

BREAKING: Two days ago I said we'd soon hear much more about Joe Schmitz. I didn't know it'd be *this* soon. This is a strange story we'll eventually get more details on. There's clearly much more to this—and it may yet involve Peter Smith and Erik Prince. …
Show this thread

2/ The question now is whether the fake Clinton emails Joseph Schmitz was peddling in the summer of 2016 had similar or the same content as the ones Erik Prince described for Breitbart in early November 2016. If so, the Trump campaign is now *formally* tied to all of this.

3/ Remember that one of Prince's many lies to Congress was about his ties to the Trump campaign—an important lie, as it kept any illegal activities he engaged in during the 2016 election clear of the Trump campaign. But Schmitz was a *part* of the campaign—he has no such defense.

4/ Did Schmitz transit his fake Clinton emails to his former business partner Prince so that—having been identified as fakes by the FBI, State Department, and others—they could be used as domestic disinformation right before the election? We need to see these Schmitz emails ASAP.

5/ Keep in mind that a clandestine campaign to leak *false* information about the content of Clinton's emails is what led Jim Comey to re-open the Clinton investigation. So if we now have proof that the Trump campaign was behind that clandestine campaign, this is *very* serious.

6/ Moreover, the question becomes, who *created* these fake emails—which presumably were intended to be believable enough fakes that they could perhaps fool the FBI and the State Department? Did Schmitz *know* the emails were fake? Who was his source? Who was he in contact with?

7/ Well, Schmitz was in contact with everyone on Trump's NatSec team, the Hungarian ambassador (whose boss, the Prime Minister of Hungary, is a key Putin ally), and, one presumes (and with good reason), Erik Prince. But who else? Steve Bannon (Breitbart)? Mueller *must* find out.

8/ I suspect it'll soon be clear that the Trump campaign hedged its bets: either they'd get real stolen Clinton materials from the Russians, which they clearly tried to do, or, failing that—perhaps due to of Russian caution on the issue—they would use fake emails to sink Clinton.

9/ Has Mueller questioned Giuliani? Prince tried to "launder" his fake Clinton emails by saying they came from the NYPD—who allegedly had back-ups of the Weiner-PC emails—but we can't know if that's true. We *do* know Giuliani was pumping an October surprise via the NYPD and FBI.

10/ My point: this Schmitz story is bigger than people think, and it's tied to the Peter Smith-Mike Flynn "dark web" plot, Trump NatSec members' suspicious trips to Hungary, and the Erik Prince/Rudy Giuliani shenanigans I began researching and writing about in December 2016. /end

NOTE/ Here's a "summary" article I wrote on the Prince conspiracy in January 2017, incorporating earlier articles from late 2016/early 2017. I think we're going to be returning to all of these topics very, very soon—hopefully with the help of IG Horowitz. ... 10fe11dbf9 …?

SUMMARY/ We now know two men—longtime friends/business partners and, moreover, both Trump NatSec advisors—were peddling fake Clinton emails in the period after Donald Trump had publicly announced that he wanted Clinton's deleted emails found and released. It wasn't a coincidence.

PS/ Remember that by September/October 2016—per Steele's dossier—Putin was sure Trump would lose, which explains why Russia used WikiLeaks, not Trump's campaign, to dump "real" stolen docs (the Trump campaign was too great a risk).

It seems Team Trump's Plan B was *fake* emails. ... 6159564803
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:19 am

Apr 8
From the Seychelles to the White House to Cambridge Analytica, Erik Prince and the UAE are key parts of the Trump story

In January 2017 Erik Prince attended a meeting in the Seychelles with the United Arab Emirate’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev, and George Nader, a former consultant for Erik Prince’s company Blackwater.
While Erik Prince testified in November 2017 to the House Intelligence Committee that the meeting with Dmitriev was unplanned, news broke last week that Mueller has evidence that Prince’s meeting with Putin’s ally Dmitriev may not have been a chance encounter, contradicting Prince’s sworn testimony. And, according to George Nader, a main purpose of the meeting was to set up a communication channel between the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration.
Earlier this year, a seemingly unrelated scandal erupted after a story broke about Trump’s data company Cambridge Analytica harvesting Facebook data on tens of millions of people. Shortly after that a Channel 4 News investigation revealed undercover film of Cambridge Analytica executives bragging about the dirty tricks they use to influence elections.
As the Cambridge Analytica scandal was unfolding, I broke the story about a new company Emerdata Limited, created by Cambridge Analytica executives, that in early 2018 added new board members Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, Cheng Peng, Chun Shun Ko Johnson, who is a business partner of Erik Prince, and Ahmed Al Khatib, a ‘Citizen of Seychelles’.
In 2017 as Cambridge Analytica executives created Emerdata, they were also working on behalf of the UAE through SCL Social, which had a $330,000 contract to run a social media campaign for the UAE against Qatar, featuring the theme #BoycottQatar. One of the Emerdata directors may have ties to the UAE and the company name, coincidentally, sounds like a play on Emirati-Data…Emerdata.
The United Arab Emirates and people advocating for the interests of the UAE — including Prince, Nader, and Trump fundraiser Elliot Broidy who has done large business deals with the UAE — have started to appear frequently in news related to Mueller’s investigation. Erik Prince, the brother of the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, lives in the UAE, attended the Seychelles meeting with the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, is business partners with Chun Shun Ko who just joined the board of the new Cambridge Analytica/SCL company Emerdata, and SCL had a large contract to work on behalf of the UAE.
To better understand the role Erik Prince and the UAE have played in the Trump-Russia story — and in the much broader story of global political influence, and often corruption — below is a timeline tracking some key events. Not all events are related, but reviewing the information chronologically may help answer a few questions, including: Why was the UAE involved in a meeting with Erik Prince to set up a communication channel with Russia? Is the UAE involved with Cambridge Analytica’s new company Emerdata? Does Erik Prince have any connection to Cambridge Analytica, even if only indirectly through Chun Shun Ko, Steve Bannon, or the Mercers? And what role has the UAE had in influencing the Trump administration?
Note: this timeline may be updated periodically to include new pertinent information. Each event below includes the source data link.
In a deposition Erik Prince said he had previously hired George Nader to help Blackwater as a “business development consultant that we retained in Iraq” because the company was looking for contracts with the Iraqi government. New York Times
After a series of civil lawsuits, criminal charges and Congressional investigations against Erik Prince’s company Blackwater and its former executives, Prince moved to the United Arab Emirates. New York Times.
Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi hired Erik Prince to build a fighting force, paying him $529 million to build an army. Additionally, Prince “worked with the Emirati government on various ventures…including an operation using South African mercenaries to train Somalis to fight pirates.” New York Times
A movie called “The Project,” about Erik Prince’s UAE-funded private army in Somalia, was paid for by the Moving Picture Institute where Rebekah Mercer is on the board of Trustees. Gawker Website
Erik Prince, who works and lives in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, created Frontier Resource Group, an Africa-dedicated investment firm partnered with major Chinese enterprises. South China Morning Post
The Russian Direct Investment Fund led by CEO Kirill Dmitriev, and the UAE’s Mubadala Development Company based in Abu Dhabi, launched a $2 billion co-investment fund to pursue opportunities in Russia. PR Newswire
January: Erik Prince was named Chairman of DVN Holdings, controlled by Hong Kong businessman Johnson Ko Chun-shun and Chinese state-owned Citic Group. DVN’s board proposed that the firm be renamed Frontier Services Group. South China Morning Post
January: Erik Prince’s business partner, Dorian Barak, became a Non-Executive Director of Reorient Group Limited, an investment company where Ko Chun Shun Johnson was Chairman and Executive Director, and had done a $350 million deal with Jack Ma. 2014 Annual Report Forbes
Erik Prince’s business partner Dorian Barak joined the board of Alufur Mining, “an independent mineral exploration and development company with significant bauxite interests in the Republic of Guinea.” (Prince would later testify that the purpose of his Seychelles trip was to discuss minerals and ‘bauxite’ with the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed). Alufur website
August: The John Bolton Super PAC founded by John Bolton, President Trump’s incoming national security adviser, hired Cambridge Analytica months after the firm was founded and while it was still harvesting Facebook data. In the two years that followed, Bolton’s super PAC spent nearly $1.2 million primarily for “survey research” and “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging” using Facebook data. New York Times
August/September: Erik Prince donated $150,000 to Make America Number 1, a pro-Trump PAC for which Robert Mercer has been the largest funder. Open Secrets
October: Erik Prince donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory fund and $33,400 to the Republican National Committee. FEC
October 11: Erik Prince did an interview with Breitbart News Daily describing Hillary Clinton’s “demonstrable links to Russia, particularly her complicity in “selling 20 percent of the United States’s uranium supply to a Russian state company.” Breitbart
November 4: Erik Prince told Breitbart News Daily that “The NYPD wanted to do a press conference announcing the warrants and the additional arrests they were making” in the Anthony Weiner investigation, but received “huge pushback” from the Justice Department.” Prince described criminal culpability in emails from Weiner’s laptop related to “money laundering, underage sex, pay-for-play.” Breitbart
December: The United Arab Emirate’s crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, visited Trump Tower and met with Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, and Steve Bannon. In an unusual breach of protocol, the Obama administration was not notified about the visit. Washington Post
Erik Prince told the House Intelligence Committee that Steve Bannon informed him about the December Trump Tower meeting with Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Prince also said he had sent Bannon unsolicited policy papers during the campaign. CNN
January 2017
One week prior to the meeting in the Seychelles, sources reported that George Nader met with Erik Prince and later sent him information on Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, contradicting Prince’s sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that the meeting with Kirill Dmitriev in the Seychelles was unexpected. ABC News
January 11: A meeting was held in the Seychelles with Erik Prince, the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Kirill Dmitriev, and George Nader, who had previously consulted for Prince’s Blackwater. According to Nader the meeting was to discuss foreign policy and to establish a line of communication between the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration. ABC News
February 2017
“After decades of close political and defense proximity with the United States, the United Arab Emirates have concluded three major agreements with Russia which could lead to its air force being ultimately re-equipped with Russian combat aircraft.” Defense Aerospace
March 2017
Elliott Broidy, a top GOP and Trump fundraiser with hundreds of millions of dollars in business deals with the UAE, sent George Nader a spreadsheet outlining a proposed $12.7 million campaign against Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. Broidy also sent an email to George Nader referring to Secure America Now as a group he worked with. New York Times
The largest funder of Secure America Now, a secretive group that creates anti-Muslim advertising, is Robert Mercer, who is also the largest funder of Cambridge Analytica. Open Secrets
April 2017
Jared Kushner’s father Charles Kushner met with Qatar’s minister of finance Ali Sharif Al Emadi to discuss financing of Kushner Companies’ 666 Fifth Avenue building. Intercept
“Tom Barrack, a Trump friend who had suggested that Thani consider investing in the Kushner property, has said Charles Kushner was “crushed” when his son got the White House job because that prompted the Qataris to pull out.” Washington Post
May 2017
May 20–21: Donald Trump made his first overseas trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, accompanied by Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and others. On his first day there Trump signed a joint “strategic vision” that included $110 billion in American arms sales and other investments. Washington Post
May 23: Per U.S. officials, the UAE government discussed plans to hack Qatar. Washington Post
May 24: Per U.S. officials, the UAE orchestrated the hack of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. Washington Post
Late May: Following the hack, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt banned Qatari media, broke relations and declared a trade and diplomatic boycott. Washington Post
June 2017
June 5: The Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt released coordinated statements accusing Qatar of supporting terrorist groups and saying that as a result they were cutting links to the country by land, sea and air. Washington Post
June 6: Trump tweeted his support for the blockade against Qatar, while Rex Tillerson and James Mattis called for calm. The Guardian
June 7: U.S. investigators from the FBI, who sent a team to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, suspected Russian hackers planted the fake news behind the Qatar crisis. CNN
June 27: Rex Tillerson “reaffirmed his strong support for Kuwait’s efforts to mediate the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt” and “leaders reaffirmed the need for all parties to exercise restraint to allow for productive diplomatic discussions.” U.S. Department of State Readout
An aide to Tillerson was convinced Trump’s support for the UAE came from the UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otabie, a close friend of Jared Kushner, known to speak to Kushner on a weekly basis. The American Conservative
July 2017
U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that the UAE orchestrated the hack of Qatari government news and social media sites with incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. Washington Post
August 2017
Emerdata Limited was incorporated in the UK with Cambridge Analytica’s Chairman Julian Wheatland and Chief Data Officer Alexander Tayler as significant owners. Company filing
September 2017
Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix and Steve Bannon both present at the CSLA Investors’ Forum in Hong Kong. CLSA is part of Citic Securities, which is part of Citic Group, the majority owner of Erik Prince and Ko Chun Shun Johnson’s Frontier Services Group. Bloomberg Tweet
October 2017
October 6: Elliott Broidy, whose company Circinus has had hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with the UAE, met Trump and suggested Trump meet with the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Broidy said Trump thought it was good idea. Broidy also “personally urged Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Tillerson, whom the Saudis and Emiratis saw as insufficiently tough on Iran and Qatar.” New York Times
October 6: SCL Social Limited, part of SCL Group/Cambridge Analytica, was hired by UK company Project Associates for approximately $330,000 to implement a social media campaign for the UAE against Qatar, featuring the them #BoycottQatar. FARA filing
October 23: Steve Bannon spoke at a Hudson Institute event on “Countering Violent Extremism: Qatar, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood,” and called the Qatar blockade “the single most important thing that’s happening in the world.” Bannon “bragged that president’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May gave the Saudis the gumption to lead a blockade against Doha.” The National Interest
October 29: Jared Kushner returned from an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia to discuss Middle East peace. Tom Barrack, a longtime friend and close Trump confidant said “The key to solving (the Israel-Palestinian dispute) is Egypt. And the key to Egypt is Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.” Politico
November 2017
November 4: A week after Kushner’s visit Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, launched an anti-corruption crackdown and arrested dozens of members of the Saudi royal family. Per three sources “Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince.” However, “Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so.” Another source said Mohammed bin Salman told UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed that Kushner was “in his pocket.” The Intercept
November 15: Dmitry Rybolovlev sold his Leonardo Da Vinci painting ‘Salvatore Mundi’ for $450.3 million, setting a new record for the highest priced painting sold at auction. Rybolovlev — who had purchased a Florida home from Trump in 2008 for $95 million, more than $50 million above Trump’s purchase price — sold the Da Vinci painting for $322 million above his purchase price. The painting was bought by Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah on behalf of crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman. The price was driven up by a bidding war with the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, as both bidders feared losing the painting to the Qatari ruling family. After the purchase came under criticism, the Da Vinci painting was swapped with the UAE Ministry of Culture in exchange for an equally valued yacht. Daily Mail
November 20: Erik Prince testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and said that he arranged his trip to Seychelles with people who worked for Mohammed bin Zayed to discuss “security issues and mineral issues and even bauxite.” Prince then described how someone, maybe one of Mohammed bin Zayed’s brothers, told Prince he should meet with Kirill Dimitriev, describing him as “a Russian guy that we’ve done some business with in the past.” Erik Prince Transcript
December 2017
Buzzfeed broke a story on how Erik Prince had pitched the Trump administration on a plan to hire him to privatize the Afghan war and mine Afghanistan’s valuable minerals. A slide presentation of Prince’s pitch described Afghanistan’s rich deposits of minerals with an estimated value of $1 trillion, and described his plan as “a strategic mineral resource extraction funded effort.” Buzzfeed
January 2018
George Nader emailed a request to Elliott Broidy saying the leader of the UAE asked Trump to call the crown prince of Saudi Arabia to smooth over potential bad feelings created by the book “Fire and Fury.” Nader also reiterated to Broidy the desire of the ruler of the UAE to meet alone with Trump. Days later as Nader went to meet Broidy at Mar-a-lago to celebrate the anniversary of the inauguration, he was met at Dulles Airport by FBI agents working for Mueller. New York Times
January to March 2018
Emerdata Limited added new directors Alexander Nix, Johnson Chun Shun Ko, Cheng Peng, Ahmad Al Khatib, Rebekah Mercer, and Jennifer Mercer. Johnson Chun Shun Ko is the business partner of Erik Prince. Ahmad Al Khatib is identified as ‘Citizen of Seychelles’. Shares are issued valued at 1,912,512 GBP. Emerdata article
SCL/Cambridge Analytica founder Nigel Oakes told Channel 4 News it was his understanding that Emerdata was set up a year ago to acquire all of Cambridge Analytica and all of SCL. Channel 4 News
A website for a company called displayed Cambridge Analytica as a partner. The team was led by CEO Sandy Peng, who previously worked at Reorient Capital, part of Reorient Group where Chun Shun Ko had been executive chairman. The site is no longer available. Twitter Thread
March 2018
March 13: A key goal of UAE political advisor George Nader, and Elliott Broidy who had hundreds of millions of dollars of business with the UAE, was accomplished, and Rex Tillerson was fired. New York Times
March 19: Russia-friendly California representative Dana Rohrabacher, who has criticized the Magnitsky Act and who Prince had interned for in the 1990’s, posted on his Facebook page “Proud that two patriots like Ollie North and Erik Prince are with me in my re-election campaign. Erik hosted today at his farm near Middleburg, VA a highly successful fundraiser for me. Ollie along (with) rising stars Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Tom Garrett Jr. inspired the 100+ patriots who showed up to support me.” Rohrabacher Facebook
April 2018
Sources reported that “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained evidence that calls into question Congressional testimony given by Trump supporter and Blackwater founder Erik Prince last year, when he described a meeting in Seychelles with a Russian financier close to Vladimir Putin as a casual chance encounter “over a beer.”” ABC News
John Bolton is set to begin as Donald Trump’s new National Security Advisor, replacing Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who had opposed Erik Prince’s plans to privatize the war in Afghanistan. Washington Post
Robert Mercer, the largest funder of Cambridge Analytica, has given $5 million to Bolton’s super PAC since 2013. He was the Bolton super PAC’s largest donor during the 2016 election cycle, and so far, is also the largest donor for the 2018 election cycle, according to federal campaign finance filings. The Center for Public Integrity
A source close to Erik Prince said, “now that McMaster will be replaced by neocon favorite John Bolton, and Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo, who once ran an aerospace supplier, the dynamics have changed. Bolton’s selection, particularly, is “going to take us in a really positive direction.”” Forbes
According to an SEC filing, Kushner Companies appears to have reached a deal to buy out its partner, Vornado Realty Trust, in the troubled 666 Fifth Avenue property. The Kushners had previously negotiated unsuccessfully with Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group, whose chairman has since been prosecuted and regulators have seized control of the company. The Kushners also negotiated unsuccessfully with the former prime minister of Qatar, and shortly afterwards Qatar was hacked and blockaded by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. It is not clear who will provide the financing for the deal. New York Times
February: $1.2 billion debt on Kushner Companies’ 666 Fifth Avenue building becomes due. Bloomberg ... 860808da91
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri May 04, 2018 2:58 pm

Wendy Siegelman

A U.S. warrior goes to China: Did Erik Prince cross a line? The Blackwater founder has cut a lucrative security-training deal with Chinese insiders. But is it against U.S. interests?

Beijing’s International Security Defense College, which boasts of becoming “the largest private security training school in China,” is overseen by Frontier Services Group, a Hong Kong-based company founded by Erik Prince ... 4455853379


"In the intelligence community and the Pentagon, there was discomfort to begin with because he [Prince] was courting the Chinese government at the same time as he was courting the American government for work.. . .He is way out of bounds." ... 4455853379


As China presses its “Silk Road” strategy, a $1 trillion effort to extend its influence across Asia, Europe & Africa, security is a vital concern - and among 5,000 private security companies doing business in China, Prince’s company has a special status ... 4455853379


Erik Prince's company, Frontier Services Group’s exact role is not clear... “but it’s very disturbing to have an American entity helping the Chinese government further their oppressive policies.” ... 4455853379


Per internal Frontier documents, executives were concerned the company was skirting U.S. law—known as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)—requiring special permits before defense-related technology can be transferred to foreign countries ... 4455853379


The Justice Dept & other US officials declined to say whether they are investigating Prince’s role in engaging in military commerce with other nations - a person familiar with the investigation of Frontier said the case was still active as of December 2017 ... 4455853379


Erik Prince feels the "U.S. government and State Department betrayed him. He’s very, very angry. The Chinese paid him a lot of money, but he’s not doing this just for the money. He believes the Chinese have a better strategy to solve problems than we do" ... 4455853379

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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed May 09, 2018 4:29 pm

Special Counsel Mueller’s Team Questioned Blackwater Founder Erik Prince

Sources told The Daily Beast that the Blackwater founder spoke with Mueller’s investigators. It is unclear what questions Mueller’s team had or what info Prince shared.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has spoken with Blackwater founder Erik Prince, two sources familiar with the matter tell The Daily Beast. It was not immediately clear what questions Mueller’s team had or what information Prince shared with the special counsel.

Prince attended a now-controversial meeting with the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund in the Seychelles Islands on Jan. 11, 2017—just over a week before Inauguration Day. The Washington Post reported that Mueller is interested in potential efforts at the Seychelles meeting to set up a backchannel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin.

A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

Reached for comment, Prince spokesperson Marc Cohen did not dispute this reporting.

“Erik gave a full and frank public account of events as they concern him to the intelligence committee and he has nothing else to add on this topic,” Cohen said.

As Cohen noted, this isn’t the first time Prince has faced questions related to potential coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin. On Nov. 30, 2017, he spoke at length with the House intelligence committee about the campaign. The committee released the transcript of Prince’s interview, where he described his conversation with Russian Direct Investment Fund head Kirill Dmitriev. Prince told the committee that they discussed trade and terrorism.

“I met him at a hotel bar, and we chatted on topics ranging from oil and commodity prices to how much his country wished for resumption of normal trade relations with the—relationship with the USA,” Prince told the committee. “I remember telling him if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Josef Stalin to defeat Nazi fascism, then certainly Donald Trump could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism.”

“The meeting ended after a maximum of 30 minutes,” Prince continued. “I’ve had no communications or dealings with him or any of his colleagues before or after that encounter last January. That’s really all there is to say about that meeting.”

What Prince didn’t note was that Lebanese-American businessman George Nader also attended the meeting, according to the Post. The paper reported that Nader is now cooperating with the Special Counsel probe, and has met with investigators “numerous times.”

The Post reported last April that the meeting’s organizers were interested in discussing Persian Gulf politics.

“Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia 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 U.S. sanctions,” the paper reported.

Prince is well-connected in Trump World. He donated $250,000 to pro-Trump efforts during the campaign, and his sister, Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s education secretary. Prince pushed hard—and unsuccessfully—for the administration to change its Afghanistan War strategy to rely on military contracting companies—the kind of firms that have made him a fortune. Prince is also close with former White House advisor Steve Bannon and has made numerous appearances on Breitbart’s radio show. But those relationships have not always resulted in Prince getting what he wants. Blackwater insiders have lambasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to The Daily Beast (calling him a “big, giant wussy”) for the continued legal targeting of a Blackwater contractor over the killing of civilians in Iraq.

Prince also isn’t the only high-powered businessman in Mueller’s crosshairs. The New York Times reported last week that Mueller’s team has questioned Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch. Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, revealed on Tuesday that Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a payment from a Vekselberg-linked company in the wake of the campaign. The Daily Beast confirmed Avenatti’s charge. And the AP reported that Mueller has also questioned Tom Barrack, a billionaire businessman who is close friends with the president. ... ia=desktop
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:17 am

Revealed: What Erik Prince and Moscow’s Money Man Discussed in That Infamous Seychelles Meeting

Mueller’s team and congressional investigators have looked into a meeting in the Seychelles between allies of Trump and Putin. Now we have the Russian read-out of what was said.
Betsy Woodruff,
Erin Banco
09.26.18 12:00 PM ET
Joint U.S.-Russian raids to kill top terrorists. Teamwork between an American government agency and a sanctioned Russian fund. Moscow pouring money into the Midwest.

These are just a few of the ideas the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund touched on during his meeting with former Blackwater head Erik Prince in the Seychelles, just weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to a memo exclusively reviewed by The Daily Beast.

The meeting between Prince, an influential Trump ally, and Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the sanctioned fund, took place on Jan. 11, 2017, at the Four Seasons Hotel in a bar overlooking the Indian Ocean. George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who advises the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, was also present.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has looked into the meeting as part of his larger investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. And nearly a year after the meeting, Prince told Congress his discussion with Dmitriev was just happenstance and took place “over a beer.” Prince also said he did not attend the meeting as a representative of the Trump team.

“The idea, according to the memo, was to set up a ‘joint special forces mission where together the U.S. and Russia take out a key ISIS person or place, then announces it after.’”
Since Prince’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller’s team has received information that the meeting was a pre-organized effort to set up a backchannel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, according to The Washington Post.

Still, the exact details of the conversation between Prince and Dmitriev in the Seychelles have remained murky. But a memo Dmitriev sent after the meeting—described here for the first time—sheds new light on the conversation and indicates it addressed some of the thorniest diplomatic challenges facing the United States and Russia.

The memo is characterized as a summary of some of the ideas discussed in the Seychelles. It’s not clear if Dmitriev, the Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO, drafted the actual document himself or merely sent it. Although RDIF is sanctioned, it was and still is legal for U.S. persons to meet with him and, in some circumstances, do business with the fund.

Brits Warned Trump Against Releasing Carter Page Docs
Dmitriev declined to comment on the record for this story. A spokesperson for Prince declined to detail his view of Dmitriev’s memo. “Mr. Prince told The Daily Beast everything there is to say when he interviewed in June, nothing has changed,” the spokesperson said. Ken Nahigian, the executive director of the Trump transition team, told The Daily Beast that a review of its files found no indication anyone on the team helped plan the Seychelles meeting or knew about it in advance. Lawyers for Nader declined to comment on the record.

“Why Erik Prince? Why Dmitriev?” said Rep. Jim Himes, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee who questioned Prince. “Why did that meeting happen? Conversations like that happen at the Aspen Institute every single day, but this is obviously something different—this is a hush-hush meeting in the Seychelles that at least one of the participants has been a little bit fuzzy about.”

A few days after the Seychelles meeting, while at the Davos World Economic Forum, Dmitriev sent out the two-page memo summarizing portions of his Seychelles conversation. The memo, which The Daily Beast reviewed, lists four potential areas of cooperation and calls for an action plan to improve U.S.-Russian relations over the next 12 months.

The first bullet point proposes the U.S. and Russia work together on “military coordination and joint actions in Syria against ISIS.” It’s an idea that appealed to some of the most important players in the early Trump administration; Mike Flynn, Trump’s first and famously Kremlin-friendly national security adviser, pushed to expand U.S.-Russian military communications in Syria, a move that may have been illegal.

Dmitriev’s plan would have gone several steps further.

The idea, according to the memo, was to set up a “joint special forces mission where together the U.S. and Russia take out a key ISIS person or place or frees an area then announces it after.” Prince, for his part, has publicly supported the prospect of closer U.S.-Russia cooperation on counterterror.

“[I]f Franklin Roosevelt can work with Joseph Stalin to defeat German fascism, Nazi fascism, national socialist fascism, then certainly Donald Trump can work with Putin to defeat Islamic fascism,” Prince told The Daily Beast in June.

The document also suggests the countries resume intelligence-sharing on terrorism in the country and work together on a “large-scale humanitarian effort” to build hospitals in rebel areas and fly in medical supplies and food.

Second, the memo proposes “a serious joint effort by U.S. and Russia to actively address the threat of nuclear, biological and chemical (WMD) terror.” While Trump, during the campaign and in the White House, talked of rebuilding America’s nuclear stockpile—and Putin rattled his saber similarly—the memo recommends the two countries work together on nuclear nonproliferation.

“Trump spent his presidential campaign pledging to bring back jobs to blighted Rust Belt towns. The memo is evidence that Russia was listening and proposing a way to help make Trump’s central campaign promise come true.”
“One potential venue is the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) which Warren Buffett is the primary sponsor of,” the memo says. The Nuclear Threat Initiative, whose CEO is now former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, is a Washington nonprofit that works to reduce the risk of WMD attacks. Over the years, it has sponsored dialogues between American and Russian diplomats. And last year, with a $50 million donation from Buffett, it set up a bank to purchase low-enriched uranium in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

Third, the memo proposes ways the U.S. and Russia can develop “win-win economic investment initiatives that will be supported by both electorates.” “Understanding U.S. production by foreign companies is a focus of the new administration,” the memo says. It goes on to note that Russian companies would “make investments with RDIF financing to serve the U.S. market in the Midwest, creating real jobs for hard hit area with high employment.”

Trump spent his presidential campaign pledging to bring back jobs to blighted Rust Belt towns, notching wins in Midwestern Democratic strongholds like Wisconsin and Michigan—and even making Minnesota competitive. The memo is evidence that Russia was listening and proposing a way to help make Trump’s central campaign promise come true.

The document also sets out the idea of a “joint RDIF fund with OPIC to support U.S. investment in Russia to make U.S. businesses competitive vs. subsidized Chinese business in Russia.” OPIC, also known as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, is a government agency that works with the private sector to help U.S. businesses gain a foothold in emerging markets. The memo also suggests organizing a business trip to Moscow for Washington politicos to highlight U.S. businesses’ success in Russia.

Fourth, the memo says the U.S. and Russia should have an “honest and open and continual dialogue on differences and concerns.” One of those concerns, the memo says, is resolving the Ukraine crisis—instigated by Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014—“through Minsk agreements and ensuring Ukraine fulfills its commitments.” The Minsk agreements were drafted and signed by warring parties to alleviate the conflict in Ukraine.

The memo also says the two countries should also coordinate a “working group between the State Department and Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address key differences.” It is unclear from the memo what those differences are.

Last, the memo proposes the U.S. and Russia set up a small working group with “2-3 people from each side authorized to finalize an action plan for a major improvement in the U.S.-Russia relationship” and proposes “coordination across major agencies and government bodies to achieve tangible impact in the next 9-12 months.”

“Why Erik Prince? Why Dimitriev? This is a hush-hush meeting in the Seychelles that at least one of the participants has been a little bit fuzzy about.”
— Rep. Jim Himes
Evelyn Farkas, an Obama administration Pentagon official who focused on Eastern Europe and Russia, said the proposals in the memo aren’t unusual; in fact, they mirror proposals that Moscow makes regularly.

“It’s nothing new,” she told The Daily Beast. “What is new is that they’re trying to do this through this weird backchannel.”

But the proposal of the task force—the memo’s fifth point—caught the eye of Mieke Eoyang, vice president of the think tank Third Way’s national-security program and a former House Intelligence Committee staffer.

“Number five, that there’s a task force where the Russians are going to participate in figuring out what the policy should be on numbers one through four, that’s really not normal,” she told The Daily Beast. “They call it shuttle diplomacy for a reason: There’s a back and forth on it. But you’re not letting them inside your decision-making loop.”

The memo was also sent to Richard Gerson, head of Falcon Edge Capital, a hedge fund in New York City. A representative for Gerson said he was in the Seychelles the week of the Prince-Dmitriev meeting but left the island before it took place. The representative declined to comment on the memo.

One Obama-era State Department official, who requested anonymity because of political sensitivities, said all the priorities laid out in the memo would be typical for two countries with normal relations. But he added that he was astounded this pitch was made in the wake of Russia’s 2016 election meddling. “It’s breathtaking,” he said.

Himes put it this way: “This just feels to me like one more of the half-dozen examples of Russians sticking their tentacles out to see what kind of relationships they might build, what kind of influence they might have.”

UPDATE 5:48 PM: After publication of this story, representatives of RDIF reached out to The Daily Beast and said Mr. Dmitriev categorically denies the existence of a memo or read out related to conversations that took place in the Seychelles. ... ref=scroll
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:08 pm

Two Princes: How a secret meeting signaled the UAE’s pull in Trump’s D.C.

A meeting in the Seychelles between the Blackwater founder and a Putin ally has drawn scrutiny. It also indicated another backchannel to the White House.

Fast Company
Two Princes: How a secret meeting signaled the UAE’s pull in Trump’s D.C.
On January 11, 2017, a week before Trump’s inauguration, two powerful men huddled together at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in the Seychelles, off the coast of east Africa: a fit, 6-foot-tall middle-aged American, with a military bearing, and a slightly younger Russian man, balding and bespectacled. They each nursed a beer and spoke quietly, so that the pair of Arab-looking men in dark suits standing nearby didn’t even try to eavesdrop. Every few minutes, the American checked his watch, a rescue-beacon-equipped Breitling Emergency.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly zeroed in on the hush-hush meeting, gathering evidence that shows it may have been one of the first efforts to set up a covert line of communication between Trump and Putin. But amid the scrutiny of Trump’s ties with Russia–and on meetings like the one in the Seychelles–another important story has been overlooked: the attempts by the United Arab Emirates, many successful, to influence the Trump administration, especially concerning its archrival Qatar.

The de facto ruler of the UAE, crown prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, or “MBZ” as he’s known, has met with members of the Trump coterie in two informal circumstances that we know of: in December 2016 in New York with campaign advisers Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and on January 11, 2017, in the Seychelles. There, MBZ arranged for the drink between Erik Prince—the Breitling-wearing founder of the now-defunct paramilitary firm Blackwater and brother of Trump secretary of education Betsy DeVos—and an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And a surprising number of useful American connections were also at hand for the 57-year-old crown prince. Among them were his adviser, Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, Republican lobbyist Elliott Broidy, whose security company had hundreds of millions of dollars in UAE contracts, and Trump inauguration committee head Tom Barrack, whose real estate business has profited handsomely from Emirate deals.

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) met with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in Washington, D.C. on May 15, 2017. [Photo: DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley]
There are indications that the “Trump-Emirates” group has already had a frightening degree of impact on U.S. foreign policy, including Trump’s exuberant support for the 2017 Saudi and UAE-led regional boycott of Qatar and his March 2018 firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The latter decision was reportedly urged on by unregistered lobbyists for the UAE after Tillerson intervened to stop the planned 2017 invasion of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. MBZ’s team has also pressured Washington to move the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command out of Qatar and sever Pentagon ties with a longtime regional ally.
Meanwhile, despite bipartisan protest, the Trump administration has supported a three-year-old Saudi and UAE-led military assault on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, which last month included an errant missile attack that killed schoolchildren on a bus. More than 16,700 civilians have been killed or injured during the siege, which has fed what the United Nations says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

None of this, by the way, is meant to endorse Qatar or other rivals of the UAE or their agents of influence in the slightest way. But all of the Emirati efforts need more attention, before the U.S. is dragged into a pointless Middle East conflict.

Erik Prince and the Russian at the bar

Prince told the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in November 2017 that he was invited to the Seychelles by “one of the members of the Royal Court” to discuss everything from “security issues to mineral issues to even bauxite.” The Emirati customers “mentioned a guy I should meet who was also in town to see them, a Kirill Dmitriev from Russia, who ran some sort of hedge fund.”

Dmitriev is the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, or RDIF, the state’s $10 billion sovereign wealth fund. RDIF’s close links with the Kremlin may have led the U.S. to sanction the fund. It also boasts tight links with Abu Dhabi: The UAE sovereign fund Mubadala has co-invested with RDIF in 40 investments in Russia since 2013.

Prince–a former Navy SEAL whose Blackwater firm was implicated in a massacre of civilians in Iraq in 2007–has been described by other attendees at the meeting as presenting himself as an unofficial envoy for President-elect Trump. But in sometimes testy and arrogant responses to the committee, Prince insisted he was not acting on behalf of Trump and denied that the meeting had anything to do with a Russian backchannel. The encounter with Dmitriev was an impromptu introduction, Prince claimed: The Russian official just happened to be at the hotel, also meeting Emiratis.

Erik Prince, founder of the defunct security firm Blackwater, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee on November 30, 2017. Prince has been on MBZ’s payroll since around 2010, when he changed his residence to the UAE, and founded his post-Blackwater company R2. [Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
They met at the bar and spoke for 30 minutes, Prince said, chatting on “topics ranging from oil and commodity prices to how much his country wished for resumption of normal trade relations.”
“I remember telling him,” Prince recalled, “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.”

According to a memo reviewed by the Daily Beast and first reported on Wednesday, Prince and Dmitriev discussed a range of possible collaborations, including a military effort to take out specific ISIS leaders in Syria, nuclear and chemical nonproliferation, and a perplexing plan for RDIF to invest money in the U.S. Rust Belt, “creating real jobs for hard hit area with high employment.” The proposals echo ideas that have been raised by Moscow more officially.

Why did MBZ broker the meeting? In part, U.S. and European officials say, it was to determine if Russia could be persuaded to withdraw its support of the Assad regime in Syria, an aim of Saudi Arabia as well as the Trump administration. Such a move would have probably required the U.S. to take the unlikely step of lifting sanctions imposed on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.

But if MBZ aimed to establish a backchannel between Trump and Russia, he was motivated by a range of other self-interested reasons, including obtaining Trump’s support against Qatar and possibly weaning the militant group Hamas from Qatari influence.

Mahe Island in the Seychelles. The meeting MBZ helped arrange there between Prince and a Putin ally is being examined by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. [Photo: SCAPIN/Pixabay]
Among the Americans MBZ hoped he could count on, perhaps no one was closer to Trump’s White House–and to MBZ himself–than Prince. In his House testimony, Prince said that while he has met with the crown prince “more than 12 times,” he does not know the crown prince well and did not do a significant amount of business with the UAE. But Prince and has been on MBZ’s payroll since around 2010, when he changed his residence to the UAE.
That year, Prince began building a private army for MBZ for a reported $529 million and helped train a Somali anti-piracy force funded by the UAE. Through a post-Blackwater company R2, founded in the UAE in 2010, Prince has also trained mercenaries who fight under the UAE flag in Yemen. In 2012, when Prince launched a private equity firm, FRG (Frontier Resource Group), eventually listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the investors included both the UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Court.

Apart from his sister, Prince’s strongest link to the White House was through former campaign chairman and top adviser Steve Bannon. Prince told lawmakers that he spoke periodically with Bannon and sent him unsolicited policy papers during the 2016 campaign. Bannon also hosted Prince frequently on Breitbart’s radio and website, where Prince aired anti-Hillary Clinton stories during the campaign.

In 2016, Prince and his mother donated $150,000 to the Super PAC Make America Number 1, one of Trump’s biggest supporters. And Prince is taken seriously by the Trump administration as a foreign policy guru: The White House is currently reviewing a plan by Prince to privatize the war in Afghanistan that has gained little support in the Pentagon.

Prince may have also introduced former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to MBZ. The crown prince met with Bannon, along with Jared Kushner and General Michael Flynn, in New York in December 2016; in a breach of protocol the UAE didn’t notify the Obama administration of the visit in advance. Prince told the House committee that the former Breitbart CEO said the meeting concerned Iran and Syria, and that the Emirati ruler “is a great guy.”

Bannon, Kushner, and Flynn all have close connections to Cambridge Analytica, a now-defunct company part-owned by the U.K.-based SCL Group Ltd. Infamous now for its misuse of Facebook data on behalf of the Trump campaign, in December 2016 this U.S. subsidiary of SCL was basking in its triumph. Within a year, SCL would be waging a clandestine influence campaign against Qatar on behalf of MBZ. According to federal filings, SCL Social Limited was hired for $330,000 in October 2017 to run a #BoycottQatar social media campaign for the UAE. When asked in October about the SCL work against Qatar, Bannon said he had nothing to do with it.

George Nader: a princely adviser with ties to Russia and the White House

We still don’t know, and we may never know, everyone who was at the now notorious rendezvous in the Seychelles and what they discussed. Apart from MBZ, Prince, and Dmitriev, the UAE’s spymaster Hamad al Mazrouei and another adviser to the crown prince, Palestinian politician Mohammed Dahlan, may have also attended, the Daily Mail reported.

Also present was George Nader, who helped organize the meeting. Nader, a longtime MBZ adviser with ties to the Kremlin, has contradicted Prince’s characterization to the House committee. According to sources close to the Special Counsel’s investigation, Nader–who first met Prince while representing his security contractors in post-invasion Iraq–reportedly told investigators that one of the primary goals of the meeting was to establish a line of communication between the Kremlin and the incoming administration, and said he had met Prince a week before the Seychelles meeting to brief him on Dmitriev.

This wasn’t the only high-powered meeting that the 59-year-old consultant arranged for MBZ in recent years. In mid 2015 Nader helped convene a yacht meeting in the Red Sea that included the crown prince, his Saudi counterpart Prince Mohammad bin Salman, President Sisi of Egypt, the crown prince of Bahrain, and the king of Jordan. The objective, according to sources who spoke with the pro-Qatari Middle East Eye, was to curtail the influence of Turkey and Iran. It’s not known what was discussed at the meeting, which took place after Trump announced his candidacy that June, but these were the countries that, with the exception of Jordan and the addition of Libya, would form an anti-Qatar alliance in 2017.

Nader’s entrée to Trumpworld started with Prince. The Blackwater founder arranged an August 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York between Nader, Donald Trump Jr., and an Israeli social media specialist, Joel Zamel. At that encounter–two months after a notorious Trump Tower meeting at which a Russian attorney offered damaging material on Hillary Clinton–Nader told Trump Jr. that the princes who led the UAE and Saudi Arabia were eager to help his father win the election. Zamel pitched Trump Jr. on a multimillion-dollar social media manipulation campaign run by his company PSY-Group, which employed several former Israeli intelligence officers.

It isn’t clear if such a campaign was initiated–Trump Jr.’s lawyer has said that his client wasn’t interested–but Nader was subsequently embraced as an ally by the Trump campaign. In his capacity as an adviser to MBZ, he met frequently with campaign advisers, including Bannon, Flynn, and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. At some point after the election, Nader paid Zamel up to $2 million, reportedly for a presentation about the significance of social media in political campaigns. Mueller is also said to be investigating this payment.

Nader achieved a remarkable amount in the months that followed the Seychelles meeting, after Trump’s inauguration. Nader would also become a conduit for Emirati money used to influence Trump’s circle. He would make frequent trips to the White House in the early months of the administration, meeting with Bannon and Kushner to discuss Middle East issues ahead of Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May 2017. In an Oval Office meeting, Nader would pressure Trump to fire Tillerson after the secretary of state had intervened to stop the proposed invasion of Qatar by UAE and Saudi Arabia. And Nader would get a big fish on the line: former RNC finance chairman and longtime fundraiser Elliott Broidy.

Elliott Broidy, a security contract, and a stealth lobbying campaign

Broidy is very close to Trump. In June, the Department of Justice and Federal Election Commission were asked to investigate if Broidy made a $1.6 million payment to an “ex-Playboy model” on behalf of Trump. As a result, Broidy resigned his position as deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee.

(Like Nader, who has been convicted on charges of child molestation and child pornography, Broidy has previously run afoul of the law: In 2009 the 61-year-old fundraiser plead guilty to paying New York pension fund officials almost $1 million in return for $18 million in management fees. In 2012, the conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor in return for Broidy’s cooperation and restitution of the $18 million. Broidy is now under investigation for influence peddling in China and Malaysia, the Washington Post reported in August.)

Around the time of the Seychelles meeting in January 2017–it isn’t clear whether it was before or after–Nader met Broidy. Nader then introduced Broidy to MBZ and helped Broidy obtain $200 million in UAE contracts for his obscure private security and intelligence company, Circinus.

It all happened very fast, even before Trump’s first visit to Saudi Arabia that May, which is generally thought to be the start of the UAE-Saudi campaign against Qatar. By February 7, Broidy was busy doing MBZ’s work, writing to a congressional staffer about an anti-Qatar bill.

A trove of leaked emails between Broidy and Nader obtained by the Associated Press in May revealed that Nader and Broidy orchestrated an anti-Qatar influence campaign without registering as foreign agents as required by federal law. They also lied about the source of their funding and links to the UAE and Saudi Arabia. At one point, Broidy bragged to Nader of his closeness to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, saying that he could “educate” Mnuchin on adding Qataris to U.S. sanctions lists.

Elliot Broidy, fundraiser and former deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. A George Nader company in the UAE sent $2.5 million to a Canadian company belonging to a friend of Broidy. From there it entered a Broidy bank account in L.A. [Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Pepperdine University]
According to summaries written by Broidy of two meetings he had with Trump, Broidy “was passing messages to the president from the two princes and that he told Trump he was seeking business with them,” the AP reported. Documents also showed that “the lobbying was intertwined with the pursuit of contracts from the very start, and involved specific political tasks carried out for the crown princes.”
On April 24, 2017, the Wall Street Journal published an anti-Qatar op-ed signed by a retired Air Force general, Charles Ward. It turned out that Ward was part of the Circinus team that had pitched Saudi Arabia for security work. And Broidy had sent a draft of the piece to Nader three days before publication.

That May, Broidy, who sometimes referred to Qatar as “the snake,” persuaded a U.S. think tank, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, to hold an anti-Qatar conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington. Broidy told the foundation’s CEO that the money for the conference did not come from a foreign government and that he had no contracts in the Gulf.

The same day as the conference, the UAE was behind a series of hacks targeting Qatari news and social media sites. The Washington Post reported that disinformation was posted and attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani–including false reports that the emir called Iran an “Islamic power” and said, “Hamas is the representative of the Palestinian people.”

As Qatar’s Al Jazeera reported, citing research from the University of Exeter, a well-orchestrated bot campaign “began spreading sectarian, anti-Iranian, and anti-Semitic rhetoric, while heaping praise on Trump” and “began framing the discussion of ‘extremism’ towards criticism of Qatar for being a ‘servant of Iran’ (while being paradoxically close to Israel), and for its alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and others.” At the end of May, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt cited the false news reports as the reason for a ban on Qatari media. They broke relations with Qatar and imposed a trade and diplomatic boycott.

In early June, the email of Yousef al-Otaibi, the UAE’s high-powered ambassador to the U.S., was hacked and offered to U.S. media outlets. One of his emails, to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, was especially embarrassing, as Otaiba had sent Gates greetings from MBZ. Gates had been a speaker at the anti-Qatar FDD conference in May.

A month later, in July, Broidy sent George Nader a spreadsheet outlining a proposed $12.7 million campaign against Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. And between 2017 and March of this year, Broidy gave $600,000 to members of Congress backing anti-Qatar legislation. In October, Broidy helped arrange another anti-Qatar conference at the Hudson Institute in D.C., featuring a keynote by Steve Bannon.

The UAE’s payments for the Broidy-Nader work were designed to obscure the origin of the funds. As the AP discovered, a Nader company in the UAE sent two payments totaling $2.5 million to Xiemen Investments Limited, a Canadian company belonging to a friend of Broidy, in April 2017. From there it entered a Broidy bank account in L.A.

Still, neither Nader nor Broidy registered under FARA as UAE or Saudi lobbyists. Violating the federal law carries a maximum fine of $10,000 or up to five years in prison. Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates all failed to register under FARA, only doing so retroactively. Last month, campaign consultant Sam Patten pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent during the election, paying $50,000 in cash from an unidentified Ukrainian oligarch to the Trump inauguration committee, for which Broidy was vice chairman.

Broidy’s activities in 2017 suggest that in addition to the Prince-Dmitriev introduction in the Seychelles, MBZ was already strategizing the anti-Qatar campaign before and during the meeting, with the idea of using Nader and Prince to get to the president’s inner circle and members of Congress.

Tom Barrack, the prince-linked donor who helped keep Jared Kushner out of bankruptcy

On June 5, 2017, the Saudi-UAE led coalition announced its blockade of Qatar. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson quickly intervened in an effort to calm the situation. He succeeded, but reportedly infuriated Crown Prince MBZ as well as members of the Trump White House. During an Oval Office meeting that October, Nader urged the President to fire Tillerson, “but only at a good time, politically,” as Nader recounted in a memo to Broidy. Tillerson would depart on March 31, 2018.

Tillerson was also undermined by Trump himself, who, after the blockade was announced, called Qatar “a funder of terrorism at a very high level.” At the time, Tillerson’s aides thought that Emirati ambassador Otaiba might have written that line for Trump.

Otaiba already had enough influence in Trumpworld that this suspicion was plausible. Jared Kushner was introduced to Otaiba by real estate financier and GOP donor Tom Barrack. Barrack, 71, whose parents are Lebanese-Catholic, is a native Arabic speaker and has had long ties in the region. He also had many business connections with Otaiba, and had even dealt with Otaiba’s father.

In 2009, Barrack worked with Otaiba to sell a Beverly Hills hotel for $41 million to a joint venture half owned by the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund. In 2012 Otaiba himself invested $1 million in a fund Barrack set up. Last year, a state investment fund controlled by MBZ invested $70 million in one of Barrack’s real estate partnerships, a landmark office tower in Los Angeles.

Tom Barrack, real estate investor and GOP donor. “Thanks to you, I’m in constant contact with Jared,” the UAE’s ambassador to the U.S. wrote Barrack in an email. [Photo: Brinson+Banks]
Barrack himself also once helped Kushner out of a financial jam. As the New York Times reported in June, the GOP donor bought up $70 million of Kushner’s debt on 666 Fifth Avenue and at Trump’s request was “among a group of lenders who agreed to reduce Mr. Kushner’s obligations to keep him out of bankruptcy.”
In spring 2016, Barrack introduced Otaiba and Kushner, telling Otaiba, who was skeptical of Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, that the candidate “also has joint ventures in the U.A.E.!” Kushner’s introduction to Otaiba quickly led to a connection to MBZ himself. Reportedly, Kushner spoke directly with UAE Crown MBZ and the Saudi Crown Prince through WhatsApp, bypassing the State Department in an astonishing breach of procedure.

“Thanks to you, I’m in constant contact with Jared,” Otaiba wrote Barrack in an email obtained by the Times.

Otaiba was also close to Trump’s 2017 deputy national security adviser, Egyptian-American Dina Powell, whose entrée to the White House came through advising Jared’s wife, Ivanka Trump, during the campaign. The relationship was such that Otaiba forwarded to Powell an email exchange he had with a Politico journalist who criticized Egyptian President Sisi.

The Trump administration was also good for Barrack. His real estate fund Colony Northstar has received $7 billion in investments since Trump’s nomination, a quarter of which has come from the UAE or Saudi Arabia.

A $450 million Leonardo and a bargain golf course

Some Trump-Emirates links suggest MBZ is managing financial ties with Trump companies directly. One example is his bidding in the November 2017 auction of a Leonardo painting belonging to Dmitry Rybolovlev. In 2008, the Russian billionaire curiously overpaid Trump $50 million for an oceanfront Palm Beach estate he never visited; the house sat empty for years before being demolished.

Rybolovlev sold “Salvator Mundi” in a Christie’s auction that set a new world record price of $450 million. The price of the 26-inch painting–valued at around $80 million the year before–was driven high by a bidding war between a representative for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince bin Salman and the UAE’s MBZ, each of whom claimed they mistakenly thought they were bidding against the Qataris. MBZ was trying to buy it for the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Saudi Arabia “won” the painting, but then gave it to MBZ in exchange for the crown prince’s $450 million superyacht, the Topaz. (MBZ has donated it to the museum, where it was scheduled to be have been unveiled in September, but in what one report termed “a shock move,” its exhibit has been delayed.)

But was it really a bidding war at all? Or was it a way to funnel UAE funds to the Russian tycoon? While it’s unlikely the painting sale–which made Rybolovlev over $320 million–was related to the Palm Beach purchase, or that he waited nine years to be reimbursed for doing Trump a good deed, it is plausible that these two deals are part a larger number of transactions we don’t yet know about between Trump and Rybolovlev, in which the UAE rewards Trump indirectly for his support.

There is a UAE link straight to Trump’s business holdings, too. As Trump prepared to run for president, MBZ would have known that in April 2014, Trump bought the Turnberry golf course in Scotland from Leisurecorp, a UAE state-owned enterprise, for what was termed at the time a “bargain price,” in a £35.7 million ($63 million) “cash deal.” The UAE had put a total of £92 million into the property, which it bought in 2008. Leisurecorp paid £52 million for the resort–which comprises three courses, a golf academy, a five-star hotel, as well as lodge and cottage accommodations–and then proceeded to spend a further £40 million on renovations.

It’s unclear why the UAE effectively made a £58 million gift to Donald Trump in 2014. But this is one of many questions about the Trump-Emirates relationship that needs more attention, especially before that relationship drags the U.S. into more dangerous adventures in the Middle East.

Ann Marlowe (@AnnMarlowe) is a writer and consultant in New York. The author is indebted to the reporting of Wendy Siegelman for many insights, including the importance of the Bannon link and her research on the UAE ties of Cambridge Analytica and its successor companies. ... -trump-d-c
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Re: The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Pr

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:18 am

Afghan minerals in the crosshairs of Blackwater's Erik Prince

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The founder of the notorious, and now defunct, Blackwater, has been making headlines for trying to privatise the Afghan war. What has gone unreported are his plans as "Trump's advisor" to extract the country's immensely rich mineral wealth.

Erik Prince, the founder of the private military company Blackwater, now known as Academi, has trained his sights on mining natural resources in war-torn Afghanistan, according to multiple sources and Afghan officials.

Details from Afghan officials and conversations with two sources knowledgeable about Prince’s movements in Kabul say he is looking into opportunities to mine Afghan minerals and visited the country in early 2018 and September to explore these possibilities.

Prince, who is the chairman of logistics firm Frontier Services Group, had pitched a plan to privatise the Afghan war and mine the country’s minerals to the White House last year.

His proposal included finding rare earth minerals in some of Afghanistan’s most volatile regions, allowing the United States to source valuable lithium for batteries, along with other deposits, and provide jobs to Afghans.

Prince and his associates met key figures in the Afghan mining ministry in January 2018, an Afghan government official with knowledge of Prince’s schedule told TRT World.

Team4RMC—an Afghan security company that was assisting Prince—requested a meeting for him with Afghan Mining Minister Nargis Nehan to discuss his plans to invest in the country, and described him as a “current advisor” to President Trump.

Prince and his associates, including Frontier Services Group head in Afghanistan, Shahin Mayan, met officials at the Afghan Ministry of Mines on 13 January.

Mining Minister Nargis Nehan was out of the country, so they met a deputy minister and other officials.

Team4RMC claimed Prince was also meeting President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other high-level officials.

In late 2017, according to a Kabul-based source and Afghan mining expert, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of safety and losing his job, officials from the Department of Commerce and United States Geological Survey working with the United States embassy in Kabul, visited the country to investigate ways in which minerals could be found and mined.

The Afghan mining expert tells TRT World that the Trump administration officials sought access to the resources map archive, researched by Soviet geologists in the late 1970s and 1980s and by American geologists after 2001, to determine the quality of the minerals and see samples of them.

The Soviet mineral data charts are far more extensive than the US efforts, according to an Afghan mining expert who has been researching the issue for over a decade and has documented the various local and foreign attempts to exploit the country’s resources.

This, the expert says, could be because the Soviets progressed further with their mining plans; they extracted uranium samples from Khwaja Rawash mountain in Kabul, exploited oil and gas from the country’s north in Amu Darya and coal in Baghlan province.

Building trust

There’s no evidence that Prince met Ghani or Abdullah, but if he did it would be significant: the New York Times reported in March that Ghani was angry with Prince for meeting his rival Atta Mohammad Nur in Dubai in December 2017.

When I contacted Prince in June, his spokesman said that he “currently had no mining interest in Afghanistan” and denied having any company presence in Kabul.

However, the Kabul-based mining expert—with direct knowledge of the company’s operations— confirms that Frontier Services Group had established an office in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul, with Mayan leading the company in Afghanistan.

According to TRT World’s source in Kabul, Prince has so far adopted a three-pronged strategy to build trust with Afghans and convince them to work with him.

First, he is attempting to work with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and his political party.

Second, he is trying to collaborate and gain the trust of tribal elders and political leaders including Atta Mohammad Nur, and make connections with ethnic groups and influential Pashtun leaders, as well as supporting political candidates in the 2019 presidential election.

Finally, he wants to introduce himself to the Afghan people through the Afghan media including a major TV interview with Kabul-based, Tolo News, in September.

TOLOnews' Lotfullah Najafizada interviews Blackwater founder, and Frontier Services group Chairman, Erik Prince on September 27, 2018.
TOLOnews' Lotfullah Najafizada interviews Blackwater founder, and Frontier Services group Chairman, Erik Prince on September 27, 2018. (Screengrab TOLO TV)
Hot water

Prince’s private security record shows that he thrives financially in places of insecurity.

In Afghanistan, his ability to extract resources will depend on paying off the right warlords and government officials as well as building the most brutal militias to wrestle control of minerals from insurgent groups such as the Taliban and the Islamic State (Daesh) which make huge amounts of money from illicit mining.

The US State Department, when asked for a statement on Prince’s involvement in Afghanistan, declined to comment directly about it, saying that, “Afghan mineral rights are an Afghan issue,” and suggested I speak to the Afghan Ministry of Mines with any questions.

An Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum spokesperson, Abdul Qadeer Mutfi, tells TRT World, “We are currently in the process of amending our minerals law and will be open to receiving proposals that meet our needs and fit the legal framework.” He also says the Afghan government is committed to keeping an “open and accountable extractives sector”.

Another spokesperson, Bhavana Mahajan, told me that the Afghan government hadn’t yet “received anything official” from Prince about his mining plans though the Ghani government was “open to doing business and exploring partnerships.”

The Pentagon has expressed opposition to Prince’s plan to privatise the Afghan war but has made no official comment about his desire to exploit its resources.

A United States Geological Survey study in 2010 estimated that untapped Afghan minerals—including copper, iron ore, rare earth elements, aluminium, gold, silver, zinc, mercury and lithium—are worth between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. Prince’s priorities according to mining experts are lithium, gas and gold.

It is a tantalising but dangerous prospect that could ease Afghanistan’s over-reliance on foreign aid provided Afghans get to reap the benefits.

In February 2018, USAID hosted 80 private business interests in Kabul to explore Afghan resources but USAID refused to disclose who attended the event despite my repeated requests.

President Donald Trump had expressed interest in exploiting Afghanistan’s vast, largely untapped mineral wealth to offset the expenses of the long war, the longest in US history, which has cost the United States over one trillion dollars.

Trump’s interest in Afghan mining and potential economic gains increased after separate meetings last year with Ghani and Michael Silver, the CEO of American Elements, an advanced metals and chemicals production company.

Trump and Ghani agreed in September 2017 to allow US companies access to Afghanistan’s rare earth minerals. Three senior aides of Trump met Stephen A. Feinberg, the billionaire owner of the mega military contractor DynCorp International, last July to explore mining options, the New York Times reported.

Erik Prince, chairman of the Prince Group, LLC and Blackwater USA, holds up a picture showing the affect of a car bomb while testifying during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill October 2, 2007 in Washington DC. The committee is hearing testimony from officials regarding private security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Erik Prince, chairman of the Prince Group, LLC and Blackwater USA, holds up a picture showing the affect of a car bomb while testifying during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill October 2, 2007 in Washington DC. The committee is hearing testimony from officials regarding private security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Trump is now pushing for direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government while encouraging US-backed, Afghan troops to withdraw from vast parts of the country.

Afghans are suspicious of any foreign companies aiming to exploit their resources. The arrival of Prince on the scene could further raise tempers in Afghanistan.

Prince is infamous in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world because of Blackwater’s atrocious record in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. His contractors killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007 and Prince has been involved in building a mercenary army for the UAE.

Strong networks, weak alliances

Trump’s White House reportedly considered in 2017 establishing a global network of privatised spies organised by Prince and the Blackwater founder is working with the Chinese government to secure its resources in African and Asian nations.

Prince and his family have a long connection to the Republican Party, they’ve been big donors for years, and he considered a US Senate run in 2017, while his sister, Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s Education Secretary.

Prince is under scrutiny for meeting a senior Russian fund manager allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Seychelles in January 2016 and is accused of lying to Congress about it.

President Trump rejected Prince’s plan to privatise the Afghan war, but he has continued advocating this year for the privatisation of the Afghan conflict.

The Taliban announced that they also opposed Prince’s plans, as has the Ghani government.

The New York Times recently reported that Prince visited Kabul in September to discuss his plans to privatise the war and exploit the nation’s minerals. The story stated that Ghani had repeatedly refused to meet Prince despite repeated requests to do so. Prince was said to be building political alliances with Ghani’s opponents to secure access in Afghanistan.

Prince has urged Washington to appoint an American “viceroy” to run the war and argued that “until those plans are enacted there will not be any economic improvements for the people of Afghanistan.”

Source: USGS Report: Summaries of Important Areas for Mineral Investment and Production Opportunities of Nonfuel Minerals in Afghanistan. (USGS Report: Summaries of Important Areas for Mineral Investment and Production Opportunities of Nonfuel Minerals in Afghanistan)
Will Afghans benefit?

The Afghan mining industry has remained relatively small for decades due to ongoing violence, insecurity and corruption. The Taliban earns large amounts of money from illicit mining, along with the drug trade, but it benefits very few civilians.

The Kabul mining source says that the mining industry is currently valued at $1 billion annually with 25-30 commodities being extracted. Countless more commodities are in the country but exploration and extraction are minimal.

Prince and his associates are attempting to enter the Afghan resources market at a time of intense insecurity in the country. The Afghan Ministry of Mines is a notoriously corrupt government body where there is no transparency around its decisions to appoint contracts to favoured bidders.

Prince’s company is unwilling to reveal its plans publicly because mining resources in a war zone is controversial, always occurs without community consent, and inevitably worsens violence in the areas targeted for exploitation.

The Ghani government recently signed large contracts with Afghan and foreign companies in a veil of secrecy to exploit resources in some areas controlled by insurgents.

Opponents of privatising Afghanistan’s resources, such as Integrity Watch Afghanistan and international NGO Global Witness, have expressed concern that without major governance changes these contracts will only worsen violence and entrench the power of warlords.

In a joint opinion piece by the two groups in January, they wrote that the Trump administration and Ghani government risked echoing a colonial past.

“For Afghans, whose ancestors fought against imperialism just as Americans did, that is a recipe for outrage,” they said.

During my two trips to the country to investigate the resources industry, in 2012 and 2015, it was nearly impossible to find any civilians in Kabul or in the countryside who supported its growth. They all feared worsening violence if anything was extracted because of corruption, looting and the formation of militias around the mines. Ordinary Afghans are rarely consulted about mining plans in their areas and mining contracts are never transparent.

An hour from Kabul, the people living near the Aynak mine - one of the largest copper deposits in the world, which has been leased to a Chinese company - have poor education and little access to water.

During a 2015 visit, the residents of Davo village near the mine told me that they had been promised primary and high schools, new roads, electricity, and a large mosque.

“Our expectations went up, but in the end, nothing was delivered,” Mullah Mirjan, a community leader told me at the time. ... ince-21655
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