In the very public, post-election parade of dignitaries, confidantes and job-seekers filing in and out of Donald Trump’s marquee Manhattan tower, Blackwater founder Erik Prince was largely out of sight. And yet Prince was very much a presence, providing advice to Trump’s inner circle, including his top national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with his activities.
Trump was weakest in the area where the stakes were highest -- foreign affairs. Among those his aides turned to was Prince, a man whose specialty is paramilitary security forces, and whose company is best remembered after its employees were convicted of killing Iraqi citizens, including children, in the notorious 2007 Nisour Square gun battle. Prince wasn’t implicated in the shootings. In the decade since, Prince has carved out a role as a controversial critic of U.S. policies to fight terrorism, a view often espoused by the incoming Trump administration, which was eager to ramp up its anti-terrorism policies.According to people familiar with his activities, Prince entered Trump Tower through the back, like others who wanted to avoid the media spotlight, and huddled with members of the president-elect’s team to discuss intelligence and security issues. The conversations provide a glimpse of Prince’s relationship with an administration that’s distanced itself from him since the Washington Postreported earlier this month that Prince had met with a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles in January.
That island encounter was the latest in a series of conversations between Trump advisers and Russians that have come to light as U.S. investigators probe allegations that Russia interfered with the presidential election.
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