How Erik Prince Used the Rise of Trump to Make an Improbable Comeback - 2019-05-03
Prince declined to invest in Black Cube, but appears to have liked the idea of selling a service that provided undercover operatives. During the 2016 election, he became involved with James O'Keefe and Project Veritas, a group of conservative provocateurs who specialize in using hidden-camera footage and secret recordings. O'Keefe, a protégé of the conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart, describes himself as a "guerrilla journalist" and has used undercover cameras in an effort to expose purported liberal bias in political groups and the media. Trump often promoted O'Keefe's videos and met with O'Keefe just days after he declared his candidacy. (A few weeks before that, Trump had donated $10,000 to Project Veritas through his foundation.) It is unclear if Trump's support of Project Veritas spurred Prince's interest in the group, but in late 2015 or early 2016, Prince arranged for O'Keefe and Project Veritas to receive training in intelligence and elicitation techniques from a retired military intelligence operative named Euripides Rubio Jr. According to a former Trump White House official who discussed the Veritas training with Rubio, the former special operative quit after several weeks of training, complaining that the Veritas group wasn't capable of learning. Rubio did not respond to requests for comment.
n the winter of 2017, Prince arranged for a former British MI6 officer to provide more surveillance and elicitation training for Veritas at his family's Wyoming ranch, according to a person with direct knowledge of the effort. Prince was trying to turn O'Keefe and his group into domestic spies. For his part, O'Keefe posted photos on Instagram and Twitter from the Prince family ranch of himself holding a handgun with a silencer attached and wearing pseudo-military clothing. He described the ranch as a "classified location" where he was learning "spying and self-defense," in an effort to make Project Veritas "the next great intelligence agency."
"Erik was weaponizing a group that had close ties to the Trump White House," said the former White House official familiar with Prince's relationship with O'Keefe and Project Veritas.