Security contractor Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, helped finance an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails in 2016, according to the publicly released version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
The redacted report said the effort was led by Barbara Ledeen, a onetime GOP staffer on Capitol Hill and associate of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn reached out to Ledeen after Trump privately and repeatedly asked him and other campaign officials to obtain the deleted emails from Clinton’s private server, according to the report. This was one of the multiple Flynn-linked efforts to get Clinton’s emails, another being with GOP operative Peter Smith.
At a July 2016 press conference, Trump asked Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, but according to the report, he privately and repeatedly “asked individuals affiliated with his campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails.” The report said Flynn told investigators that Trump repeatedly asked him about the emails and that he, in turn, tried to get them.
In September 2016, Ledeen claimed to have actually received “a trove of emails” that belonged to Clinton, but wanted to authenticate the emails, the report said. Prince “provided funding to hire a tech advisor to ascertain the authenticity of the emails,” the report said. The analysis determined the emails were not real.
A spokesperson for Prince, Marc Cohen, declined to comment when reached via email by CNN.
Prince and Flynn provided information about these efforts to investigators, according to the footnotes.
A former Navy SEAL, Prince was the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater who entered Trump’s orbit during the 2016 campaign. He later became the subject of press reports and congressional inquiry over a meeting he had with a Russian banker in the Seychelles, an island chain in the Indian Ocean. Since Trump took office, Prince has floated the US reorganizing its war efforts in Afghanistan with a focus on using private sector forces and pitched a private network of intelligence contractors, according to previous CNN reporting.
By Marshall Cohen and Eli Watkins, CNN