Mueller Probes Growing Evidence of Back-Channel Between Trump, Russia

Stormy Daniels arrives at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday Feb. 10 2008 in Los Angeles

Stormy Daniels arrives at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday Feb. 10 2008 in Los Angeles

He said the objective of the meeting was for a Trump representative to meet with a Russian official close to President Vladimir Putin to discuss relations between the two nations.

Last year, Prince told lawmakers and the media that the meeting was an unplanned, unimportant encounter that came about by chance because he happened to be at a luxury hotel in the Seychelles for meetings with officials from the United Arab Emirates.

The Post, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, said 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".

A Lebanese-American businessman who witnessed a meeting between a Trump adviser and a Russian investor is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller for his investigation into the Trump campaign, according to a New York Times report.

The Post said Nader has been cooperating with Mueller and has met numerous times with investigators since he was stopped and questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after he arrived at Washington's Dulles International Airport in January.

Prince said he went to the Seychelles as a private businessman, not as an official or unofficial emissary of the Trump transition team.

Although Prince had no official role in the Trump transition team, The Intercept-citing a former senior USA official that advised the transition-reported in January 2017 that he had weighed in on Defense and State Department candidates and provided advice on intelligence and defense. He specifically denied past year that the meeting was arranged to set up a back channel of communication with the Kremlin.

H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials, including from the UAE, that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. Since then, he has been talking to Mueller's investigators and providing information to the grand jury. In December 2016, White House senior adviser and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner met with then-Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak to talk about setting up an unofficial communication channel, The Times reported a year ago.

Investigators now suspect that the Seychelles meeting may have been one of the first efforts to establish such a line of communications between the two governments, these people said.

In January of 2017, a billionaire donor to Donald Trump's presidential campaign allegedly tried to set up a secret meeting between the incoming administration and the Russian government. But on top of the reportedly illicit nature of the meeting, Prince's role as a representative for the Trump administration is disconcerting, given his reputation as a war profiteer and anti-Muslim Crusader.

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