Apr 30, 2019

Adam Schiff to make criminal referral for Erik Prince to DOJ

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told the Washington Post on Tuesday that his committee will make a criminal referral for informal Trump campaign adviser Erik Prince to the Justice Department.

The big picture: "The evidence strongly suggests that he misled our committee," Schiff told the Post's Robert Costa. Schiff said that whether or not the Justice Department will choose to prosecute Prince remains unclear, as the evidence that shows Prince misled the committee may have come in his proffer sessions with special counsel Robert Mueller — which may protect him from charges.

  • Schiff pointed to Prince's infamous meeting in the Seychelles in January 2017 with a Russian official close to Vladimir Putin as one example of possible perjury. Prince told the committee that it was a chance meeting, but the Mueller report revealed communications showing that it was, in fact, planned.
  • During the 2016 campaign, Prince — who is the founder of private military company Blackwater and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — also met with Donald Trump Jr., United Arab Emirates emissary George Nader and Israeli social media manipulation specialist Joel Zamel at Trump Tower. Earlier this month, Schiff said on "Meet the Press" that Prince did not tell the committee about the meeting, despite claiming to Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan that he had done so.

Schiff added that the committee may bring former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in for further questioning, as he "refused to answer almost all of our questions."

  • "When we asked whether he was asserting some privilege, he merely said he was not answering questions because the White House told him not to," Schiff said. "The communications between Mr. Prince and Mr. Bannon has apparently fled their devices," he added.
  • "When we pressed to hold him in contempt, the GOP members of our committee would not go forward."

A lawyer for Erik Prince told Axios in a statement:

"There is no new evidence here.  Erik Prince’s House testimony has been public for months, including at all times that Mr. Prince met with the Special Counsel’s Office.  Mr. Prince cooperated completely with the Special Counsel’s investigation, as its report demonstrates.  There is nothing new here for the Department of Justice to consider, nor is there any reason to question the Special Counsel’s decision to credit Mr. Prince and rely on him in drafting its report."

Go deeper ... Adam Schiff: Erik Prince did not disclose 2016 Trump Tower meeting during testimony

Go deeper

Biden says he's starting VP search this month

Joe Biden. Photo: Scott Olson / Staff

Joe Biden said he's spoken to Sen. Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama about selecting a running mate — and that he wants to build "a bench of younger, really qualified people" who can lead the nation over the course of the next four presidential cycles.

Driving the news: Biden spoke about the state of the 2020 race during a virtual fundraiser on Friday night that was opened to pooled coverage.

Trump ousting intelligence community inspector general

Michael Atkinson, inspector general of the intelligence community. Photo: Bill Clark / Getty Images

President Trump notified key lawmakers on Friday that he’s firing Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, who first alerted Congress last September of an "urgent" complaint from an official involving Trump's correspondence with the Ukrainian president.

Why it matters: The move, to take effect in 30 days, comes amid a broader initiative to purge the administration of officials seen as disloyal to the president.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Axios Visuals

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,097,909 — Total deaths: 59,131 — Total recoveries: 226,106Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 277,828 — Total deaths: 7,406 — Total recoveries: 9,772Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The federal government will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
  4. 2020 latest: "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said of the 2020 election, as more states hold primary elections by mail. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday that every county in the state opted to expand mail-in voting for the state's June 2 primary.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
  7. Tech updates: Twitter will allow ads containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases.
  8. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Senators call for independent investigation into firing of Navy captain.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.