One of President Donald Trump’s most controversial allies could be facing an investigation for violating United States sanctions.
“Erik Prince, a major Republican donor and founder of controversial security firm Blackwater, has been referred to the U.S. Treasury Department for possible sanctions violations tied to his recent trip to Venezuela for a meeting with a top aide of President Nicolas Maduro,” the Associated Press reported Monday, citing two senior officials.
“There’s no indication that Prince, whose sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, will be sanctioned for the meeting last month in Caracas with Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez,” the AP reported. “But the fact the visit was flagged underscores the concern of officials in the Trump administration over what appeared to be anunauthorized diplomatic outreach to Maduro. This, as support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó inside Venezuela — if not Washington — appears to be waning.”
Prince has been widely criticized for his mercenary work.
“Little has been revealed about Prince’s surprise trip to Caracas last month. But the mere presence in Venezuela of a businessman with longstanding ties to the U.S. national security establishment prompted questions about whether he was there to open a secret back channel to Maduro on behalf of the Trump administration, something the State Department has strenuously denied,” the AP noted. “It also marks something of a reversal for Prince, who earlier in 2019 was thought to have been pitching a plan to form a mercenary army to topple Maduro.”
The potential investigation into Prince occurs as Trump is being impeached for Rudy Giuliani’s shadow foreign policy for private gain.
“Prince has been accused of acting as a back channel on behalf of Trump before. In 2017, he met with an official close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles, islands off the coast of east Africa. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his Russia investigation said the meeting was set up ahead of time with the knowledge of former White House aide Stephen Bannon,” the AP noted.
Read the full report.