In early March, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe reportedly rolled a witness, George Nader, who confirmed that Blackwater founder Erik Prince did indeed attempt to set up a secret backchannel (while acting as an “unofficial envoy”) between Trump and Russia in January 2017. Prince had claimed that his Seychelles islands meeting was merely a “chance encounter” between himself and a Kremlin representative, Kirill Dmitriev. However, a new Financial Times report connects the dots between Dmitriev and Vladimir Putin’s family.
Apparently, Dmitriev is not merely the Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO, but as the Daily Beast notes, six sources stepped up to state that his wife, Natalia Popova, is very close to Putin’s daughter, Yekaterina Tikhonova, and Popova deputy-directs Tikhonova’s Innopraktika foundation. While these links, of course, don’t absolutely prove that Putin himself was involved in setting up the rendezvous, the new information makes it even less likely that Prince was telling the truth about inadvertently bumping into Dmitriev after meeting with United Arab Emerates officials at the same hotel.
In related news, the shady right-wing data firm Washington Post recently revealed that Cambridge Analytica — which was exposed for harvesting 50 million Facebook profiles in an attempt to sway the election for Trump — is linked to Frontier Services Group, a Hong Kong-based global security and logistics company that happens to be run by Erik Prince. Oh boy.
(Via Financial Times, Daily Beast & Washington Post)