During closed-door questioning by the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee last week, Blackwater founder Erik Prince claimed his meeting with the Kremlin-connected banker Kirill Dmitriev on a trip to the Seychelles was merely incidental.
Prince claimed he travelled to the secluded island off Africa's east coast to meet with officials from the United Arab Emirates for business purposes and that his meeting with Dmitriev was purely accidental.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) remained unconvinced:
"On the details of this 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," Schiff said in a Wednesday statement appended to Prince's declassified testimony. "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."
Prince admitted that he spoke briefly to the subject of U.S.-Russia relations but insisted he was not there to set up back channel communication for the Trump transition team.
"I remember telling him that 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," Prince told the committee.
Prince also acknowledged that Dmitriev told him he hoped Russian trade with the U.S. would resume "in a normal way."