Blackwater Founder Reportedly Met With Russian Official on Trump’s Behalf

Blackwater founder Erik Prince held a two-day meeting in the Seychelles with a person close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a bid to create a secret line of contact between the Kremlin and then-President-elect Donald Trump, The Washington Post reported Monday. The January 11 meeting was reportedly brokered by officials in the United Arab Emirates. Prince is the founder of private security firm Blackwater, which has been the subject of numerous human rights abuse allegation, civil suits, and criminal cases, including one in 2007 when Blackwater employees killed Iraqi civilians. Prince is also the brother of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and a prominent Trump donor, giving $250,000 to Trump and affiliated PACs during the 2016 presidential campaign. While Prince had no official role in the Trump transition, officials told the Post that he presented himself as an unofficial conduit for the Trump administration. The full details of Prince's two-day meeting are unclear, although the UAE's involvement suggests the meeting could have addressed Russia's relations with Iran, a country with which the UAE has intense rivalry. The identity of the Putin confidant is also unknown. Both the White House and Prince refuted elements of the Post's story. Prince's spokesperson did not deny that Prince had been in the Seychelles, but told the Post that “the meeting had nothing to do with President Trump.” The Trump administration reportedly decided not to pursue further meetings, as communications between Trump and Russian officials were seen to be too risky.