While news of Michael Flynn’s plea deal and cooperation with the Justice Department made the rounds, another one of the many cogs in the Trump-Russia collusion wheel began to crack. On Thursday, Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder and Donald Trump supporter who previously admitted to an “incidental” meeting with a close ally of Vladimir Putin, testified about that particular January 11th encounter to House investigators. According to the Washington Post, Prince confirmed that he and Russian hedge fund manager Kirill Dmitriev met in the Seychelles during the presidential transition. However, he denied there was any collusion.
The admission to investigators that he met with Dmitriev is a turnaround for Prince, who initially refused through a spokesman to identify the Russian with whom he had met, and later said he couldn’t remember his name.
He denied to House investigators that he was representing the Trump transition team during the Seychelles meeting, according to people who participated in the interview. They said Prince insisted the meeting took place over a beer and lasted less than an hour.
During a Friday morning appearance on MSNBC, Prince reiterated much of what was said in the Post article, which he stressed was largely the result of “illegal” leaks of confidential information to the press. Despite his best attempts to make the conversation about these and other leaks (instead of the many Russian investigations and his involvement), however, his interviewers repeatedly turned back to the topic at hand. After all, they were talking to a man who was apparently a part of a plot to open a secret back channel between the White House and the Kremlin — a charge Prince still denies.
“The interesting thing is, for all the fantasy of the Trump-Russia collusion, if there was actually this collusion going on, why this meeting happened in January of this year, two months after the election?” Prince asked rhetorically. “So no collusion, no nothing.” When one of his interviewers implied he was “a smart guy” making an otherwise nonsensical claim about the Trump-Russia timeline, Prince laughed it off and changed the subject to Flynn’s guilty plea. “I think the only thing that Michael Flynn is pleading guilty to is making some kind of false statement to the FBI. Nothing else [about] any Russia collusion.”
You can watch Prince’s full MSNBC interview below.