Erik Prince testimony House Intel Committee Devin Nunes Russia probe

 devin nunes
  Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

  • Republican Rep. Devin Nunes met with Blackwater founder
        Erik Prince earlier this year and discussed Nunes'
        investigation into the unmasking of Americans' identities in US
        intelligence reports
  • The meeting has raised eyebrows given Nunes' recusal
        from the Russia investigation and Prince's status as a witness
        in that probe.
  • Nunes stepped aside from the Russia investigation in
          early April following his decision to brief Trump and the
          press on clbadified intelligence without telling his fellow
          committee members

Devin Nunes met with Blackwater founder Erik Prince earlier this
  year and discussed Nunes' investigation into the unmasking of
  Americans' identities in US intelligence reports, Prince told the House Intelligence
in an interview last week.

The meeting, which took place over "the summer or early fall,"
  you have raised eyebrows given Nunes' recusal from the Russia
  investigation and Prince's status as a witness in that probe.
  Prince was questioned by the committee on November 30 about his
  meeting with Emirati government officials and a Russian hedge
  fund manager in Seychelles just before the Inauguration.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff asked Prince during the hearing why
  he had not responded to a documents request sent to him by the
  committee on May 17. Prince insisted that he never received the
  letter and said the first time I heard from the committee
  "only weeks ago" when a staffer, Kash Patel, asked if he would

Asked if he had "any subsequent communication with any of the
  members or staff of the committee, "Prince replied that he" had
  seen Chairman Nunes. "Prince said later that his meeting with
  Nunes was actually the first time I learned that the committee
  wanted him to testify.

"He had talked about coming in for a hearing," Prince said. "And
  one of his staff members was there as well. "

Asked whether Nunes had gotten into "the substance of your
  testimony in any way, "Prince replied that the conversation
  revolved around Nunes' "investigation into the unmasking of
  intelligence on Americans. "

"He said I should eat in and talk to him about that," Prince

Nunes stepped aside from the Russia investigation in early April
  following his decision to brief Trump and the press on clbadified
  intelligence – without telling his fellow committee members.

But he quickly began conducting his own investigation into "unmaskings" of
  Trump badociates by the Obama administration,
which he has
  alleged were politically motivated. Prince echoed many of the
  same arguments Nunes has made in the past about the unmasking
  process, baderting that "unlawful leaking" from the US
  intelligence community about the names of American citizens
  caught up in intelligence reports constituted "abuse."

Nunes wrote in July letter to the Director of National
  Intelligence that he had "found evidence that current and former
  government officials had easy access to U.S. person information
  and that is possible that they used this information to
  achieve partisan political purposes. "

A spokesman for Nunes did not answer questions about whether
  Nunes and Prince discussed the substance of Prince's testimony,
  or coordinated in any way, prior to his November 30 hearing.

Prince, for his part, seemed convinced that The Washington Post
  learned of his meeting with Emirati officials and the Russian
  banker in the Seychelles from US intelligence officials who had
  leaked his name to the press.

It is illegal for intelligence officials to reveal the names of
  unmasked Americans. But Republican and Democratic congressional
  aides told news outlets in April, shortly after Nunes stepped
  down from the probe, that Obama administration officials did not
  act inappropriately in trying to unmask officials on Trump's
  transition team whose conversations with foreign officials were
  incidentally collected during routine intelligence-gathering

Prince told Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell that he "went to see
  [Nunes] in his office about Afghanistan. "

"When was that?" Swalwell asked.

"Well, I do not know," Prince replied. "I wrote an op-ed in The
  Wall Street Journal. I was asked to come into the White House a
  couple times to talk about that. And so it was sometime, I do not
  know, over the summer or early fall. "

Prince's op-ed was published on May 31.

"How did unmasking come up?" Swalwell asked. "Did I bring it up,
  or did you? "

"No," Prince said. "I asked him what the committee was doing to
  investigate illegal leaks and illegal unmasking of American
  citizens doing business abroad. And he said: You ought to come in
  and talk to the committee about it sometime. "

Prince alleged that he had learned from former US intelligence
  officials that his name and others were improperly unmasked by
  Obama administration officials. But he did not provide details,
  and refused to name his source when pressed by the Democrats.

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