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House Intelligence Committee Sends Criminal Referral on Erik Prince to DOJ

Washington, April 30, 2019

Washington, DC — Today, the House Permanent Select on Intelligence formally referred Erik Prince to the Department of Justice for consideration of a potential criminal prosecution for false testimony that Prince provided to the Committee in 2017 as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. political process. The report of the Special Counsel strongly indicates that Prince’s testimony before the Committee was materially false.

The committee has identified at least six categories of materially false statements that Mr. Prince made during his testimony about his January 11, 2017 meeting in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive officer of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, as well as a subsequent meeting about Libya that Prince never mentioned to the Committee.

In the letter to Attorney General William Barr, Chairman Adam Schiff writes:

“Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III’s March 2019 Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election strongly indicates that Erik Prince knowingly and willfully provided materially false testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in connection with the Committee’s duly authorized investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. political process. ...

“Mr. Prince’s false statements hindered the Committee’s ability to fully understand and examine foreign efforts to undermine our political process and national security, develop appropriate legislative and policy remedies to counter future malign influence operations targeting campaigns and presidential transitions, and inform the American public, as appropriate.”

The full letter is below. Both the letter and corresponding appendix can be found here. Prince’s testimony to the Committee can be found here.

Dear Attorney General Barr:

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III’s March 2019 Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election (the “Report”) strongly indicates that Erik Prince knowingly and willfully provided materially false testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (the “Committee”) in connection with the Committee’s duly authorized investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. political process.  By this letter, we refer this matter to the Department to consider whether criminal charges should be brought for a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1001(a)(2) and (c).

Mr. Prince testified before the Committee on November 30, 2017, and the Committee released his transcript publicly on December 6, 2017.  The Special Counsel’s Office interviewed George Nader on multiple occasions after Mr. Prince’s Committee testimony, including on January 22 and 23, 2018.  The Special Counsel’s Office also interviewed Mr. Prince after his appearance before the Committee, and the Report cites interviews the Office conducted with Mr. Prince on April 4 and May 3, 2018. 

As the Report makes clear, evidence obtained by the Special Counsel, including testimony provided to the Special Counsel by both Mr. Prince and Mr. Nader, differs materially from Mr. Prince’s testimony, under oath, before the Committee on November 30, 2017. The Report reveals that Mr. Prince’s testimony before the Committee was replete with manifest and substantial falsehoods that materially impaired the Committee’s investigation.  In particular, Mr. Prince’s testimony about his January 11, 2017 meeting in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive officer of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, differs from the Report in the following material respects:[1]

 

Committee Testimony

Mueller Report

1

The Seychelles meeting with Mr. Dmitrievwas a chance encounter suggested by representatives from the United Arab Emirates once Mr. Prince was in the Seychelles. Mr. Prince made no mention of George Nader, thereby concealing from the Committee Mr. Nader’s involvement.

Approximately one week prior to the Seychelles meeting, Mr. Nader proposed to Mr. Prince, in a face-to-face meeting in New York, that Mr. Prince meet Mr. Dmitriev. In addition, Mr. Nader sent background information about Mr. Dmitriev to Mr. Prince.

2

Mr. Prince met Mr. Dmitriev once, at the hotel bar, for a maximum of 30 minutes. Mr. Prince testified that Mr. Dmitriev’s wife may also have been present, but he did not mention Mr. Nader.

Mr. Prince and Mr. Dmitriev met twice. The first meeting was 30-45 minutes at Mr. Nader’s villa with Mr. Nader present; the second meeting, held at Mr. Prince’s urging at a hotel restaurant, related to Libya.

3

Mr. Prince and Mr. Dmitriev did not discuss opening a channel of communication between the United States and Russia.

At the first meeting, Mr. Prince promised Mr. Dmitriev that he would report back to Steve Bannon about their conversation and Mr. Bannon or someone from the Transition Team would follow up if there was interest in continuing the discussion.

4

Mr. Prince and Mr. Dmitriev only discussed trade matters, oil and commodity prices, and how the United States and Russia should work together to defeat Islamic terrorism.

At the second meeting, Mr. Prince told Mr. Dmitriev that the United States could not accept Russian involvement in Libya.[2]

5

Mr. Prince was not acting as a representative of Donald Trump at the Seychelles meeting.

Prior to accepting the meeting with Mr. Dmitriev, Mr. Prince told Mr. Nader that he would have to check with Transition Team officials.

At the first meeting, Mr. Prince told Mr. Dmitriev that he provided policy papers to Mr. Bannon and promised that he would report back to Mr. Bannon.

When requesting the second meeting, Mr. Prince told Mr. Nader that he had checked with his “associates back home” and needed to convey a message to Mr. Dmitriev.

After the meetings, Mr. Prince told Mr. Nader that he would inform Mr. Bannon about meeting with Mr. Dmitriev.

After the meetings, Mr. Prince briefed Mr. Bannon about meeting with Mr. Dmitriev.[3]

6

Mr. Prince did not tell Mr. Bannon, the Trump Organization, or the Transition Team about meeting with Mr. Dmitriev.

After the meetings, Mr. Prince briefed Mr. Bannon about meeting with Mr. Dmitriev.

The aforementioned false statements were material to the Committee’s investigation.  They impaired the Committee’s understanding of Russia’s attempts to contact and influence the incoming Trump Administration, concealed Mr. Nader’s role as an intermediary, and stymied the Committee’s ability to request relevant documents and testimony from Mr. Prince, Mr. Nader, Mr. Bannon, and other individuals who may have information about the Seychelles meeting(s), among other matters of interest to the Committee.  As a result, Mr. Prince’s false statements hindered the Committee’s ability to fully understand and examine foreign efforts to undermine our political process and national security, develop appropriate legislative and policy remedies to counter future malign influence operations targeting campaigns and presidential transitions, and inform the American public, as appropriate.

We therefore refer this matter to you and request that you investigate whether there is sufficient admissible evidence to prove that Mr. Prince made materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations to Congress, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001(a) and (c).

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. 


[1]  The enclosed appendix provides excerpts from Mr. Prince’s Committee transcript that contradict the Report.

[2]  Most of the information about the first meeting remains heavily redacted due to grand jury material, and the Committee has been unable to evaluate this information for the purpose of this referral and other oversight and legislative needs.

[3] According to the Mueller Report, Mr. Bannon denied ever talking to Mr. Prince about Mr. Dmitriev.  Report at 156 (describing conflicting accounts provided by Mr. Bannon and Mr. Prince).