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Embury-Dennis writes: "Donald Trump ally Erik Prince may have committed perjury, a congressman has said, after the former Navy Seal said for the first time he held a meeting with one of the US president's sons to discuss 'Iran policy.'"

Erik Prince. (photo: DN!)
Erik Prince. (photo: DN!)

Erik Prince: Blackwater Founder Admits Trump Tower Meeting With Donald Jr. in Disastrous Interview

By Tom Embury-Dennis, The Independent

09 March 19

'Sure looks like Erik Prince committed perjury,' congressman says

onald Trump ally Erik Prince may have committed perjury, a congressman has said, after the former Navy Seal said for the first time he held a meeting with one of the US president’s sons to discuss “Iran policy”. 

Mr Prince, founder of controversial military contractor Blackwater USA, admitted he met Donald Trump Jr and an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Trump Tower ahead of the presidential election. 

The admission comes more than a year after the 49-year-old, brother of US education secretary Betsy DeVos, failed to disclose the meeting under oath to the House intelligence committee, according to a public transcript.

According to The New York Times, Mr Prince organised the August 2016 meeting with Mr Trump’s eldest son and Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, who reportedly revealed Saudi Arabia and the UAE wanted to help Mr Trump in his bid for the presidency. 

The meeting also reportedly included Stephen Miller, now Mr Trump’s senior policy adviser, and an Israeli social media expert called Joel Zamel.

During the devastating televised interview with Al Jazeeera' Mehdi Hasan, which was aired on Friday, Mr Prince acknowledged the meeting happened, but said he was not asked about contacts with the Trump campaign by the House committee. 

Facing intense and meticulous interrogation from Hasan, he later changed tack, suggesting he did reveal the meeting during the testimony to lawmakers. 

According to the transcript, Republican congressman Tom Rooney asked Mr Prince, “So there was no other formal communications or contact with the campaign?” in reference to the Trump campaign. 

Mr Prince replied: “Correct.” 

Pressed by Mr Hasan, Mr Prince suggested they “may have got the transcript wrong”, to audible laughs from the studio audience. 

“I don’t know, I certainly remember discussing it with the investigators,” Mr Prince added. 

Ted Lieu, a congressman for California and a frequent Trump critic, shared footage of the interview on Twitter, and wrote: “Sure looks like Erik Prince committed perjury.”

A former special counsel at the Department of Defense, Ryan Goodman, tweeted: “Now seems obvious that Erik Prince lied to Congress about Aug 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr.” 

Mr Prince’s comments are the first time anyone reportedly involved in the meeting has publicly spoken out about it, and the first suggestion it could have been about Iran. 

The New York Times reported Mr Nader was offering “help” on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to Mr Trump’s candidacy, while Mr Zemel touted a proposal by his company to assist the campaign using social media manipulation. 

A lawyer for Donald Trump Jr told the newspaper last year his client “recalls” a meeting involving Mr Prince and Mr Nader about a “social media platform or marketing strategy”. 

“He was not interested and that was the end of it,” he added.

Blackwater, which Mr Prince sold in 2010, made headlines three years earlier when its mercenaries killed 17 unarmed civilians in Iraq when they opened fire in a crowded square in Baghdad.

Since Blackwater’s creation, the company has been awarded billions of dollars in US government security contracts, as well as hundreds of millions in classified contracts from the CIA.

Mr Prince has been contacted for comment.

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