Blackwater founder Erik Prince arranged for far-right activist James O’Keefe and his group Project Veritas to receive “training in intelligence and elicitation techniques,” according to The Intercept.
O’Keefe, who regularly posts highly edited and usually discredited “investigations” using undercover video of Democrats and left-leaning groups, became involved with Prince, who served as an unofficial adviser to the Trump campaign, during the 2016 election cycle, according to the report.
During the campaign, Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, arranged for Project Veritas to receive spy training from a retired military intelligence operative named Euripides Rubio Jr.
A former White House official told The Intercept that Rubio quit after several weeks, “complaining that the Veritas group wasn’t capable of learning.”
Prince arranged a second training:
After Rubio’s departure, Prince in the winter of 2017 arranged for a former British MI6 officer to provide more spy training to the group at Prince’s family’s Wyoming ranch.
O’Keefe posted photos of him holding a gun and wearing gear at Prince’s ranch, which he called a “classified location” where he was being trained in “spying and self-defense” to make Project Veritas “the next great intelligence agency.”
“Erik was weaponizing a group that had close ties to the Trump White House,” a former White House official told The Intercept.
It’s unclear if Prince had any other involvement with the group or their “projects.” Just months after the Wyoming training, The Washington Post revealed that a Project Veritas member tried to pose as a victim of former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to try to discredit the newspaper.
Trump is a big O’Keefe fan:
Trump often shared O’Keefe’s videos and met with O’Keefe, a self-described “guerilla journalist” days before he announced his candidacy.
Trump also donated $10,000 to Project Veritas, The New York Times reported.
O’Keefe wrote that Trump tried to recruit him in 2013 to infiltrate Columbia University to get President Obama’s records.
O’Keefe wrote that Trump "suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York's Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way."
"'Nobody else can get this information,'" O'Keefe quoted Trump as saying. "'Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'"
Although O’Keefe wrote that he told Trump that was not the type of work he did, he later added, "Trump shook my hand, encouraged me to keep up the good work, and half-whispered, 'Do Columbia.'"