U.S., European and Arab officials told The Washington Post last April that the meeting was part of an effort to set up back-channel communications between the Kremlin and then President-elect Donald Trump.
The meeting on a small island off the eastern coast of Africa was between Erik Prince, the founder of the private military contractor Blackwater USA, and an official with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post reports.
The meeting was a chance encounter not a planned discussion, Prince later described to congressional investigators.
The Washington Post first reported that Mueller has gathered evidence that the secret meeting in Seychelles was an attempt to establish a back channel between Russian Federation and the incoming Trump administration.
A Lebanese American businessman who has acted as an adviser to the United Arab Emirates has been cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, after he was hit with a subpoena upon arriving in the United States in mid-January, according to people familiar with the matter.
Nader's cooperation with the special counsel was first reported by the New York Times.
Prince told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee that he did not plan to meet Dmitriev in the Seychelles but that once he was there discussing possible business deals with UAE officials, they unexpectedly suggested that he visit the hotel bar and meet Dmitriev.
Prince, for his part, criticized the Obama administration late 2017 for unmasking him while surveilling several people who met with foreign officials. He specifically denied past year that the meeting was arranged to set up a back channel of communication with the Kremlin.
While the episodes likely do not amount to witness tampering, Trump's insistence on approaching Mueller's witnesses about their testimony could give the appearance that he's attempting to interfere. But the Washington Post reports that the meeting appears to have been arranged in advance as a way to set up a "back channel" between the Trump White House and the Kremlin.
Investigators now suspect that the Seychelles meeting may have been one of the first efforts to establish such a line of communications between the two governments, these people said. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation previous year and is cooperating with the Mueller probe, was reportedly also at the meeting. According to The Post, Emirati officials were indeed under the impression that Prince was representing Trump at the meeting.
Based on information it has gathered, Mueller's office claimed that the meeting between Prince and Dmitriev had in fact been premeditated, and was meant to coordinate an eventual meeting between a representative of Trump's transition team and a Russian Federation emissary.