Mueller probe uncovers attempt to create back channel with Russian Federation

Rep. Adam Schiff D-Calif. ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence speaks with reporters just before his panel interviewed former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Thursday

Investigators are interested in Nader's role at a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince, a supporter of President Trump, and a Russian official close to President Vladimir Putin, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

Mueller recently learned that Trump asked his ex-chief of staff, Reince Priebus, how his special counsel interview had gone and whether the investigators had been "nice" to him, two people familiar with the discussion told The New York Times.

Prince was never officially part of Trump's transition, but frequently communicated with its members and served as an unofficial representative for it, according to investigators.

A witness, who has been cooperating with Mueller, told investigators the meeting was set up before the inauguration so someone from Trump's transition team could meet with a Moscow emissary, WaPo's report notes, which relies exclusively on unnamed sources.

Prince told lawmakers that the meeting was by chance and lasted only around 30 minutes. Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who is running the panel's Russian Federation probe, declined to comment Thursday about whether he would call Nader or Prince for an interview. The meeting has been previously reported.

A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

Nader, according to current and former officials, was known to Trump transition and administration officials as someone with political connections in the Middle East who could help navigate the tricky diplomacy of the region. Schiff said the committee is still waiting for Prince, who is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to provide documents that the panel requested from him. Since then, he has been talking to Mueller's investigators and providing information to the grand jury.

The Seychelles meeting would not be the only reported effort by Trump associates to set up a secret line of communication with Russian Federation. Those outlets also reported Nader attended that Seychelles meeting previous year.

Nader could not be reached for comment, and his lawyer declined to comment.

H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials, including from the UAE, that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report.

The UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russian Federation could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective, according to U.S. European and Arab officials. He said the goal of the meeting was for a Trump representative to meet with a Russian official close to President Vladimir Putin to discuss relations between the two nations.

The Washington Post, citing US officials, said such a concession by Moscow would have been required to justify any easing of USA sanctions on Russian Federation by the Trump administration.

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