Erik Prince Was Like a “Kid at Christmas” When He Met the Sanctioned Russian Bearing Normalized Business Relations

DOJ released the latest bunch of Mueller 302s in response to the BuzzFeed FOIA last night. They include the 302 from an Erik Prince interview on April 4, 2018.

There are, as is the norm for DOJ’s politicized treatment of this FOIA, redactions of embarrassing stuff and unredacted descriptions that later testimony would prove to be a lie. Much of that hides Prince’s relationship with Roger Stone, including his funding of Stone’s racist voter suppression efforts in 2016.

But with regards to Prince’s meeting with Kirill Dmitriev in the Seychelles in January 2017, the 302 is crazy. It makes it clear that Prince walked into the meeting hoping to make a buck and denied to the FBI knowing that making a buck from Dmitriev would require lifting sanctions on Russia.

Prince describes knowing George Nader back to 2006, when he was working for the Vice President of Iraq — Prince called Nader a “courtesan.” Prince provided details about the meeting, during the election, when Nader set up a meeting with Joel Zamel, offering social media products. The meeting was specifically tied to overturning Obama’s Iran deal, and Prince is the one who decided to bring Don Jr rather than Steve Bannon.

Early in the interview, Prince described his mercenary business with the Emirates, explaining that he focused on “‘peripheral’ areas where the Department of Defense does not have a significant presence, such as Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.” As part of his description of his relationship with Mike Flynn, whom he first met in June 2016, Prince describes “another time” meeting with Flynn in an Irish bar to talk “about how to put out fires in peripheral areas,” the same phrase he used to describe the places his mercenaries work.

Prince described knowing nothing about the December 15, 2016 meeting between Flynn, Kushner, Bannon, and Mohammed bin Zayed in NYC. But then the FBI showed him texts showing that he and Nader met right around the meeting, and Nader said he could not wait to “Follow up on our excited mission,” which Prince understood as a reference to using his mercenaries in Yemen. Prince also confirmed that texts from December 20 pertaining to “big real hunting” in the “neighboring country” also pertained to his plan to use mercenaries in Yemen. Prince’s description of the meeting he had with MbZ in the Seychelles immediately preceding his meeting with a back channel to Russia also invoked, “peripheral countries where the UAE had troops, like Somalia, Libya and Yemen.”

Over and over, this 302 makes it clear that MbZ was dangling more mercenary contracts for Prince, and he was eager to get them.

In precisely that period in December when Nader was floating business deals in “peripheral countries,” per a question Prince was asked, Nader sent him a picture of himself with Vladimir Putin, which Prince offered some lame excuse for.

Prince does not know why Nader sent Prince an image of Nader and Putin together, other than the fact that Nader always likes to show off his connections.

It’s in that context that Prince and Nader ended up planning and then  meeting in New York at least twice on January 3 and 4, 2017, possibly bracketing at least one meeting Prince had with Bannon at Trump Tower.

In the same way Prince had no explanation for the Putin image, Prince had no explanation for why Nader sent him information on Kirill Dmitriev on January 3 and 4. Nor did he have any recollection of calling … someone, whose name is redacted (earlier, the interview established that Prince had Trump’s direct phone line). Later, however, after his meeting in the Seychelles with Dmitriev, Prince recalls sharing the very same bio with Bannon, though it may have been a separate screen cap of the same bio.

But the context of his meeting with Dmitriev, set up by someone Prince called a courtesan, is that Prince badly wanted more business with MbZ, and that’s how he was lured to a meeting with a sanctioned Russian after getting sent a picture of Putin.

Prince was like a kid at Christmas about his meeting with MBZ, he could only focus on the presents under the tree. Prince had previously conducted significant business with the UAE and he hoped to gain business for the future.

Before Prince had the meeting with Dmitriev, MbZ first asked Prince — the self-described kid at Christmas eager for presents from MbZ — whether he could deliver the Trump Administration.

In Prince’s mind, Prince was not there on behalf of the upcoming Trump administration. Prince did not play up his relationship with Bannon or anyone else close to Trump. MBZ asked though whether Prince thought that the Trump administration would support the ideas that they were discussing. In response, Prince cited Trump’s campaign promises and what Prince had heard from Trump’s Strategic Policy Advisor, Bannon, on the issues.

Only then, after giving MbZ — the guy from whom Prince wanted Christmas presents in the form of more contracts for mercenary work  — the answers he wanted, did Prince meet with Dmitriev, the back channel from Russia. Here’s how savvy man of the world and self-described kid at Christmas seeking presents Erik Prince addressed sanctions.

Dmitriev also talked about the two countries resuming normal trade relations, but Prince does not recall Dmitriev specifically mentioning sanctions.

Then there’s this interesting bit where Prince presumes to speak for what Dmitriev, whom he claims he met for mere minutes over beer, was thinking.

Dmitriev knew Prince had been a loud advocate for Trump but Prince does not recall Dmitriev speaking as if Prince was a contact to the Trump people.


Dmitriev insinuated to Prince that he wanted Prince to pass along the message of better relations to people in the U.S. Dmitriev emphasized wanting to get past the past. Prince does not recall any discussion of potential Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. [my emphasis]

There’s a paragraph in the 302, right after Prince offers yet more ridiculous explanations for why he would have gotten Dmitriev’s bio before meeting if the meeting weren’t pre-arranged that should explain whether Prince knew, having read Dmitriev’s bio, he understood that his bank was under sanctions. But it is redacted for privacy reasons.

In spite of all the evidence that he couldn’t explain of advance warning that this was a back channel meeting with Russia, Erik Prince by his own description was an easy mark. A child, hoping to open Christmas presents he would only get in context with this back channel meeting.

They dangled more contracts before the mercenary and he took a meeting with a sanctioned Russian, then reported back to Steve Bannon.

15 replies
  1. klynn says:

    “They dangled more contracts before the mercenary and he took a meeting with a sanctioned Russian, then reported back to Steve Bannon. “

    Reading this made me realize just how much our national security is seriously compromised.
    Thank you for this post.

    • Smeelbo says:

      Since the Republicans appear to be playing for all the marbles, and at this point, cannot afford to lose the Election, I fear we’ll see Prince’s Little Grey Men alongside Proud Boys and the like.

      Speculating, we may have already seen them in action in Portland.

  2. Matthew Harris says:

    I am assuming a big part of why Prince hasn’t been charged with anything is that the best witness against him (who isn’t in Russia), is George Nader, who is, to say the least, a very unreliable witness.

    My own guess is that Prince was being investigated in one of the 12 spun-off investigations, and that it was going slowly because of lack of witnesses, and that such investigations often go slow. But that since Barr took over, it has been probably actively sidelined.

  3. William Ockham says:

    That “courtesan” line about Nader seems very odd. Did Prince intend to say “courtier”? Taken at face value, he’s claiming that Nader was a high-priced sex worker for the VP of Iraq in 2006.

    • Hika says:

      Courtier or courtesan: both aim to satisfy the lusts of the rich and powerful, and are usually adept at lying about what they are up to.

  4. viget says:

    What exactly DID MbZ want from Trump? Just repeal of the Iran deal? Nah… that’s what Israel wanted… Had to be more than just that. Seeing as how MbZ put major bank into getting Trump elected, I really wish I knew what his quo was.

    • Rayne says:

      Repeal of the Iran deal AND a means to take out the Iranian oil which caused a glut when Iran was permitted to reenter the market as of late 2014. Oil prices plummeted causing an increase in tensions within KSA because the sovereign wealth fund’s rate of accumulation was threatened and the lesser royals became restive about both income and succession.

      The single largest consumer of fossil fuels on the planet is the U.S. military. Now draw the line between the dots.

      • DAT says:

        Don’t forget access to nuclear technology. Access to nuclear technology as in access to bomb making technology.

  5. Honeybee says:

    Resources. What about aluminum? What about copper? What about Rosneft oil interests? (The late Yerovinkin was a “courier” of sorts, too, wasn’t he, between Sechin and Putin?) In Canada and Minnesota, commodities extraction partnerships carry global ramifications. Sometimes (as with India’s Essar) they go awry. Companies like Glencore might seek joint ventures with China, even Qatar. One kind of assumes that Rex Tillerson knew all these players, but he’s gone from the Trump scene. The games go on. Is America our beloved republic remotely important to any of these world-spanning partnerships? How does one small person, in self defense, go about even asking these bigger questions?

    • soothsayer says:

      Very good questions. As key resources are a necessity, I would add, that is why these issues are layered and intertwined in many instances. Based on needed markets and ongoing transactions, there are good and bad outcomes for multiple good, bad or grey area players, for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes sustainable decisions requires dealing with bad actors until a solution can be determined to deviate from overly complicated relationships.

      One current example having both political and economic risk is rare earths e.g. China controls 90% of global rare earth production. These are vital for products from smart phones, EV batteries, medical imaging machines etc. A solution to this issue, noting all complexities, is in trying to build alternate sources, with solutions that reduce the political, economic, and sustainable issues such as human rights, all at the same time. Noteworthy, is a new rare earth metals plant in the US near El Paso, with a focus on sustainable processing, renewable energy for power and environmentally-friendly continuous ion exchange separation method. I have also read, that there are furthering of alliances between the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada, with the EU looking at its own initiatives to source independently of China as well. Beyond security, it would bring industry jobs back to the U.S. in high tech manufacturing.

      So, with the example above, I think it is very important to ask these questions, and work with entities across the spectrum to find solutions that are also sustainable for the future. In regards to oil, I am fully aware that the capital markets are moving out of carbon stocks and into renewables per the UNSDG goals, as much as possible with the current 2 degree F threshold in mind. I would hope, all companies within the fossil fuels space, look to build transition and parallel business models into their current business models, that are sustainable, economically viable, and consider all of the geopolitical (economic, energy and national security) considerations in mind. Because I do not want them to fail and put out so many workers and sources of gdp to our economy, I would rather them to succeed, but in transition to sustainable business models. That is my hope, but we shall see.

      But as to Erik, well to be honest, I see him as rogue in many instances, but also what we would term an asset or in fact possibly a useful idiot (apologies for the word use, but it is a specific term for a specific form of relationship), of our own.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        In 2007, ExxonMobil’s market cap was $500 bn
        On Oct 1, 2020, it’s market cap was set at $137.9 bn

        A Florida based utility that generates solar and wind power, called NextEra Energy, was valued at $138.6 bn on Oct 1, 2020

        Google “NextEra + ExxonMobil” for details.

        • soothsayer says:

          Interesting. Thanks for sharing this. I did some follow up research and see:

          “NextEra’s ascent and ExxonMobil’s decline reflect a collapse in oil consumption in the pandemic, the rise of renewable resources on the electric grid and investors’ desire for steady returns at a time of low interest rates.”

          I have also read many reports where investment banks have noted that their Sustainable portfolios and index traded funds, have fared well during the pandemic, which on its own says a lot. They are less volatile, less short term gains and more long term growth focused companies. To quote someone, it is what it is.

          I also found it fascinating, that NextEra did what I would have recommended of companies in the space, plan transition businesses, balance their product offerings, and be nimble enough to be at the forefront of these new technologies and shifts in demand. Looks like they have and have proven to be a forward thinking and strategic company in this regard.


          “Over the past 15 years, the world has moved to cleaner electricity. Arguably no company has navigated this transition in the U.S. better than NextEra. In the process, it became the largest electric utility in the world. In a nutshell, I view NextEra as the most forward-thinking operator in the regulated utility space.”

          Though, I still would argue, balancing a product offering is important, since there are still issues in storage from wind/solar that require further solutions, and therefore a wide range of sustainable product offerings can provide a more robust platform.

    • soothsayer says:

      “But as to Erik, well to be honest, I see him as rogue in many instances, but also what we would term an asset or in fact possibly a useful idiot (apologies for the word use, but it is a specific term for a specific form of relationship), of our own.” <– Our own being of the US, aka a gun for hire. I mean, he most of the time seems to be a rogue and ridiculous character, but also a product of the ridiculous people who made him (e.g Dick etc).

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