Erik Prince is best known for founding the mercenary-like private security firm Blackwater, responsible for the death of over a dozen Iraqi civilians, but that didn't stop Donald Trump from seeking his advice while he was president-elect.
Despite White House press secretary Sean Spicer's recent claims that Prince "had no role in the transition," it turns out that Prince gave the president-elect a great deal of foreign policy advice (particularly related to counter-terrorism) during the transition period, according to a report by Bloomberg. Although the Trump administration has tried to distance itself from Prince after it was revealed earlier this month that he had visited an aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles in January, Prince actually met with Trump advisers several times between the election and the inauguration.
Although the Trump administration has tried to distance itself from Prince after it was revealed earlier this month that he had visited an aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles in January, Prince actually met with Trump advisers several times between the election and the inauguration. Prince also frequently talked with Michael Flynn, who later became national security adviser before resigning in disgrace due to his own undisclosed Russian connections. He also had talks on a New York-to-Washington train with then-campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (now White House counselor) and Kevin Harrington, an associate of Trump adviser Peter Thiel who now serves on the National Security Council.
While it is unclear what advice Prince gave to the incoming Trump administration, the Blackwater founder is notorious for his anti-Muslim views. One former employee testified last year that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe." Prince himself
Prince himself appeared on Breitbart's radio show in September to accuse Hillary Clinton's aide Huma Abedin of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, arguing that "she’d have a very difficult time passing any actual quality security background check on agents of influence."
In addition to his notorious association with Blackwater, Prince is also the brother to Betsy DeVos, who Trump chose to be his Secretary of Education. Both Prince and DeVos were generous financial supporters of Trump's presidential campaign. Prince is also close with Vice President Mike Pence, who supported Prince after Blackwater was revealed to have murdered 17 Iraqi civilians in cold blood. As governor of Indiana, Pence also regularly received campaign contributions from Prince.
Prince's affection for Trump was evident as early as August, when he told Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos that "I even like some of his projects that have gone bankrupt, because people that do things, and build things, and try things, sometimes fail at doing it, and that’s the strength of the American capitalist system. He sat across the table and fired people that didn’t perform in his business, and I’m not talking about the TV show, I’m talking about when hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line."