The Washington Post has an exclusive. One of its teams of journalists report the UAE arranged at least one secret get-together outside the US, between a close associate of President Putin and the Blackwater founder, who financially supported Trump and happens to be the brother of Trump’s education secretary.
According to the journalists, the secret meeting or meetings were “… part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials. … full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions. …”
Blackwater or Academi or XE Services, is a private military organisation founded by Erik Prince. It has a history of scandals, including the killing of civilians in Iraq. It seems to have changed hands as regularly as it changed its names. It receives regular US governmental contracts: “… provided services to the Central Intelligence Agency, including a 2010 contract for $250 million. In 2013, Academi subsidiary International Development Solutions received an approximately $92 million contract for State Department security guards.”
Like plenty other donors, including close family members, Prince’s role in the secret meeting or meetings seems to be linked to donations to the Republican election campaign: “… After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December. … ”
As usual with the Trump government, it denies everything: “We are not aware of any meetings, and Erik Prince had no role in the transition,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.”
According to the Washington Post team: “A Prince spokesman said in a statement: “Erik had no role on the transition team. This is a complete fabrication. The meeting had nothing to do with President Trump. Why is the so-called under-resourced intelligence community messing around with surveillance of American citizens when they should be hunting terrorists?””
The article also mentions Flynn and Kushner and their Russian “meetings”. For the complete Washington Post article by Sieff, Tate, Barrett, Gold, Hamburger and Helderman: Blackwater founder held secret meeting.
Washington Post: What we know so far – Team Trump’s ties to Russia