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Report: Mueller has evidence Seychelles meeting was effort to start back channel to Kremlin

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that contradicts Erik Prince's statements to lawmakers regarding a meeting he had in the Seychelles with an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin in January 2017, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

Prince, the founder of Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, told Congress the meeting was spontaneous and he did not know that Russian official Kirill Dmitriev was at his hotel. George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who helped set up and also attended the meeting, has been cooperating with Mueller, The New York Times reported Tuesday, and testified in front of a grand jury last week. The evidence Mueller has gathered shows that the Seychelles meeting was set up so a representative from President Trump's transition could discuss future U.S.-Russian releations with an emissary from Moscow, and likely was one of the first attempts to establish a secret line of communication between the two governments.

Prince said he was in the Seychelles on private business and he met Dmitriev at the suggestion of the people he was meeting with from the United Arab Emirates. He said they just spoke for 30 minutes, having a casual conversation. Prince has known Nader for years, and once hired him to try to drum up business from the Iraqi government after the start of the Iraq War. Nader, an adviser to the crown prince of the UAE, was viewed by the Trump transition team as someone with political connections in the Middle East, the Post reports, and he met several times with President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon. For more on the Seychelles meeting, visit The Washington Post.