Erik Prince testifies before House Intelligence Committee

Erik Prince testifies before House Intelligence Committee
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Erik Prince — the military contractor and Trump donor who attended a secret meeting in the Seychelles in January with a Kremlin-tied businessman — interviewed with the House Intelligence Committee for just over three hours on Thursday.

The interview was held behind closed doors, but a transcript is expected to be publicly released within the next three days, possibly as soon as Friday.

Prince has acknowledged that he traveled to the Seychelles and that he met with a Russian government official while there — but he denies that he was acting on behalf of the Trump administration. 

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Walking out of the Capitol alone, Prince characterized the interview as a waste of his time. He demanded that Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe Manafort went ‘above and beyond’ with plea deal, says ex-federal prosecutor Kavanaugh hires attorney amid sexual assault allegations: report MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, apologize for “wasting all of our time, for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a meaningless fishing expedition.”

Lawmakers largely declined to comment on the substance of Prince’s testimony, citing the upcoming transcript — but Democrats hinted heavily that whatever it contained has raised more questions for them.

Schiff declined to go into specifics but cited “unresolved issues” when asked if Prince would have to return before the committee.

Prince, who appeared without a lawyer, declined to answer some of lawmakers’ questions given that the transcript would be made public, according to Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesDid Congress just settle for less than best plan to reform housing finance? Senate panel postpones election security bill markup over lack of GOP support Three scenarios for how leadership races could play out in the House MORE (D-Conn.).

“There are some unresolved issues that are central to our investigation which will become very clear when you see the transcript,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.).

He added that Prince did not agree to return and that it’s possible the committee will have to subpoena him to reappear. It’s unclear how much Republican appetite there will be on the committee for such a step.  

“I can’t see where they’d have more questions, I’ve already wasted four hours of my life on that,” Prince told reporters afterward.

He characterized himself as having a minimal relationship with the campaign, according to those in the room — ”a donor and an interested voter,” according to Prince himself, who “wrote plenty of policy positions during the campaign.”

The Washington Post reported that the Seychelles meeting was part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and then-President-elect Trump.

According to the newspaper, the United Arab Emirates brokered the meeting “in part” to explore whether Russia might be persuaded to back away from its relationship with Iran and Syria.

It took place less than two weeks before the inauguration and has remained one of the enduring mysteries in the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

“We talked about the Russian business climate, where we thought oil was headed price-wise and how much he thought Russia would like to do business in America,” Prince told the New York Observer, which is owned by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“It had nothing to do with national security, the Trump campaign or anything else.” 

But according to The Washington Post, the rendezvous caught the eye of federal investigators as part of their broader probe into Russia's election meddling.

Prince, whose sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, said he has not been contacted by special counsel Robert Mueller.