Erik Prince 'certainly not telling the truth': Adam Schiff

Schiff says Prince didn't disclose his August 2016 Trump Tower meeting in his testimony to the House Intelligence panel.

    US House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff told US media on Sunday that Blackwater founder Erik Prince was "certainly not telling the truth" in his interview on Al Jazeera's Head to Head

    During that interview, which aired last week, Prince acknowledged a meeting that took place with members of the Trump campaign and others in August 2016. 

    When pressed by Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan about why he did not disclose the meeting when he testified under oath before the House Intelligence Committee in November 2017, Prince said, "I don't know if they got the transcript wrong", referring to a publicly available transcript from the hearing. 

    He later also said that "not all of the discussion that day was transcribed". He added that he "certainly" remembers discussing the meeting with "investigators".

    Prince's comments were the first time he or anyone from the meeting publicly acknowledged that it took place. 

    The New York Times first reported the meeting in May 2018. According to the Times, it was attended by Prince, Donald Trump Jr, George Nader, a former Blackwater employee and emissary for the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Stephen Miller, then a top aide to the Trump campaign and currently a senior policy adviser to the president and Joel Zamel, whose company Psy-Group employed former Israeli intelligence operatives and specialised in social media manipulation and was reportedly contacted by Rick Gates. 

    Prince told Al Jazeera the meeting was to discuss "Iran policy". 

    'Not telling the truth'

    Speaking to NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Schiff said, "Prince is certainly not telling the truth in that interview". 

    "There's nothing wrong with our transcript, there's nothing wrong with the reporter who transcribed his testimony, he did not disclose that meeting to our committee," Schiff said.

    180522050034343

    A staff member of the House Intelligence Committee also told Al Jazeera that Prince was not asked about the August 3, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower during his testimony and any redactions that were made to that testimony were done to protect personally identifiable information.

    Schiff said given there were questions over the United Arab Emirate's role in the Russian interference in the election, the meeting was directly relevant to the committee, which looked at Russia's election meddling.

    "This is another concealed meeting, this is another discussion that took place in the context of the meeting that he had in the Seychelles," Schiff said.

    "There have been persistent questions about whether the UAE was playing a backchannel role to the Russians during the campaign and those were a lot of the questions we were asking him about," he added. "So clearly, this meeting at Trump tower with these players was a direct interest to our committee, so why conceal it?"

    Prince has been interviewed by both the US House Intelligence Committee and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, about his ties to the current administration.

    Trump has called the investigation a "witch-hunt" and denied any collusion. Russia has denied US intelligence community's finding that Moscow interfered in the US political arena.

    With additional reporting by Elizabeth Walsh from Washington, DC. 

    Erik Prince on ending the war in Afghanistan

    Head to Head

    Erik Prince on ending the war in Afghanistan

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News