How Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, Found Herself Directly in the Middle of the Russia Election Scandal
Betsy DeVos, the Trump Administration’s former education secretary, has a billionaire brother, Erik Prince. Prince represents his family as one of many hard-right, social conservative activists, and has poured millions into organizations and people who would push a far-right agenda.
Prince is also the founder of Blackwater – a company the United States has hired in an attempt to privatize parts of the war in Iraq. Blackwater and Prince represent how people can make money by turning war into a profitable enterprise.
The name Blackwater may sound familiar. Several contractors were convicted of killing seventeen unarmed Iraqi civilians. After that, the company was forced to re-brand itself and distance themselves from the typical Blackwater Google search. Erik moves his family to an obscure place, and largely fell out of the public’s mind.
Rachel Maddow explains that that is when things got really interesting. Prince may have been far from public view, but he was strongly in the sights of Team Trump. Prior to the 2016 Presidential Election, Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News published a story in which Erik Prince is credited with saying police were on the verge of arresting Hillary Clinton as a complicit figure in a money laundering and child sex ring.
According to Prince, arrests were imminent, even though the Obama Justice Department was working hard to cover up the story. The report also claimed that Hillary frequented a secret “sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein” and that Hillary was guilty of murder.
Rachel Maddow put the pieces together.
- Prince is Betsy DeVos’s brother.
- Prince gave over $100,000 to a super PAC supporting the Trump campaign.
- Bloomberg news reports Prince was a significant adviser to Trump during the transition.
Bloomberg News describes Prince meeting with top aides several times as the incoming government took shape. Prince was tasked with identifying possible government appointees from people in the private sector. Using back door entrances to Trump properties kept Prince’s meetings clandestine, even one with Kellyanne Conway, during which the two discussed massive changes to the US intelligence community.
The importance of all this information? Firstly, the Trump Administration has been denying that they had any communication with Erik Prince. They’ve said he had nothing to do with any part of the campaign, transition, or the administration, and that he had no ties to any member of the Trump Administration.
The Post cites a Russian official close to Putin who said Prince, “presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump”. Those meetings are now a part of the ongoing investigation into ties between Trump and Putin.
So why is this important? First of all, the entire Trump Administration flatly denying they had any communication at all with Erik Prince – that he had nothing to do with any part of the campaign, transition, or administration, and that he had no ties to any member of the Trump Administration.
Things get even more sinister when you combine this information with a Washington Post story that reports Prince had two days of secret meetings on a remote island – with a Russian emissary – “to establish Trump-Putin back channel.”
The Post story cites a Russian official close to Putin, who said Prince “presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump.” The story goes on to report that these meetings are now part of the ongoing investigation into ties between Trump and Putin.