Blackwater founder Erik Prince will host a fundraiser this month for Russia-friendly Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, as Prince faces new questions over a 2017 meeting currently being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Prince and Rohrabacher have been friends and mutual supporters for years: Prince interned for the California congressman on Capitol Hill in 1990, and Rohrabacher vigorously defended Prince when Blackwater faced congressional scrutiny during President George W. Bush’s administration.
The fundraising event, slated for March 18 at Prince’s Middleburg, Virginia residence, is expected to be attended by GOP Reps. Tom Garrett Jr. and Dave Brat, and Lt. Colonel Oliver North, according to an invitation obtained by CNN. Tickets start at $1,000 for the general reception, although donors paying $2,700 will also be invited to attend a VIP event beforehand.
But the fundraiser comes at an uneasy moment for the longtime allies.
Prince, an associate of President Donald Trump, is confronting renewed questions regarding a January 2017 trip to the Seychelles islands, where he met with a Russian banker, Kirill Dmitriev and Emirati officials. Also in attendance was George Nader, a Middle East specialist with ties to Emirati leaders. Nader is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, CNN has learned.
During an interview in November with congressional investigators, Prince denied that the Seychelles trip was part of an effort to establish a backchannel between the Trump transition and Russia. But Prince did not mention Nader’s presence there, either, an omission that has raised concerns among some Democrats.
Rohrabacher, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been the target of attacks by Democrats and some Republicans for his unusually robust support for Russia. In the past, he has dismissed claims of Russia’s human right violations as “baloney,” publicly defended WikiLeaks and argued that the DNC was not hacked by Russia.
Rohrabacher met with the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, for a private interview in December 2017.
He is now preparing for a challenging reelection fight, with nine Democrats currently jockeying to replace him in his southern California district.