U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, has collected evidence about a secret meeting in Seychelles in January 2017 which aimed to set up a back-channel between the incoming Trump administration and the Kremlin.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Erik Prince, the founder of military contractor Blackwater and a supporter of President Donald Trump’s, said to U.S. lawmakers last year that he had discussed U.S.-Russia relations during a meeting in Seychelles with a Russian business executive who has close ties to the Kremlin.
According to Reuters, a witness cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller told investigators that the meeting was held so that a representative of Trump’s transition team could “meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries.”
Meanwhile, the Post wrote that George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman organized and attended the Seychelles meeting. Nader testified before a grand jury as investigators look into discussions between the Trump transition team and emissaries of the Kremlin.
Prince’s lawyers had no immediate comment on the story and declined to give any comments on previous reports regarding Nader and the Seychelles meeting.
However, Prince, whose sister Betsy DeVos is Trump’s education secretary, stated last year that he and Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, or RDIF, had a meeting in a bar in the Indian Ocean country which was set by officials from the United Arab Emirates.
Reuters reports that Nader is cooperating with Mueller and has met several times with investigators since he was stopped and questioned by the FBI as he landed at Washington’s Dulles International Airport in January.
U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election trying to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. Mueller is investigating if Trump’s campaign knew about this and if they colluded with Moscow.
Both Russia and Trump deny the allegations.