Felix Sater, a business associate of President Donald Trump and a key figure in his efforts to build one of Trump’s signature towers in Moscow, is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee Friday. His testimony will be held behind closed doors — which should suit Sater well.
WhoWhatWhy is one of the few news outlets that has shined a light on Sater, his shady associates, his Russia connections, and his role in the president’s business dealings.
To learn more about Sater, you can listen to this podcast with WhoWhatWhy’s Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker and reporter Jonathan Larsen:
Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team also looked at Sater as part of their investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Sater seems to have been engaged in all sorts of intrigues, one of which involved planning to stage-manage a friendly act involving both Trump and Putin in an effort to get Trump elected as president, as you will see from the excerpts of the report and the emails shown below.
“On November 3, 2015 the day after the Trump Organization transmitted the LOI [letter of intent], Sater emailed [Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen] suggesting that the Trump Moscow project could be used to increase candidate Trump’s chances at being elected, writing:
Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process…. Michael, Putin gets on stage with Donald for a ribbon cutting for Trump Moscow, and Donald owns the republican nomination. And possibly beats Hillary and our boy is in…. We will manage this process better than anyone. You and I will get Donald and Vladimir on a stage together very shortly. That [will be] the game changer. [Emphasis added.]
Later that same day:
Donald doesn’t stare down, he negotiates and understands the economic issues and Putin only want [sic] to deal with a pragmatic leader, and a successful business man is a good candidate for someone who knows how to negotiate. “Business, politics, whatever it all is the same for someone who knows how to deal.”
I think I can get Putin to say that at the Trump Moscow press conference.
If he says it we own this election. Americas most difficult adversary agreeing that Donald is a good guy to negotiate…
We can own this election.
Michael my next steps are very sensitive with Putins very very close people, we can pull this off.
Michael lets go. 2 boys from Brooklyn getting a USA president elected. This is good really good. [Emphasis added.]”
It’s clear that Sater thought of himself as a player in the orbit of both Trump and Putin. But many questions remain. Here is a selection of just a few that we hope lawmakers will ask today:
QUESTIONS FOR FELIX SATER
Relationship with Vladimir Putin
- What are the names of “Putin’s very very close people” you mentioned in your email of November 3, 2015, to Michael Cohen?
- And what were those “very sensitive” steps you referred to?
- How often have you been in contact with any of them?
- When was the last time you were in contact with any of them, and why?
Relationship with Donald Trump
- How close were you and Donald Trump? Was he being accurate when he claimed to barely know you?
- When you were working on real estate deals with Trump through your firm, Bayrock, did Trump know you were a convicted felon?
Oleg Deripaska and associates
- Was Trump aware of your relationship with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who tried to broker a Ukrainian peace deal with the help of [his former campaign manager] Paul Manafort? Did Trump support the peace deal?
- Did Viktor Boyarkin — the alleged GRU (Russian military intelligence) official who allegedly acted as an intermediary between Paul Manafort and Oleg Deripaska, have any contacts with Trump or the Trump organization?
Trump Soho, Bayrock, the Kazakh Connection
- Describe your activities with regard to Bayrock, the investment firm you were involved with, which was a partner with Donald Trump in the Trump Soho hotel project.
- Was the Trump organization aware that these monies came from illegal sources?
- Did any Russian nationals or shell companies controlled by Russian nationals invest in Trump Soho? Please detail.
Trump in Yalta, Kiev, Crimea
- Did you meet with then Ukraine Minister of Transport Chervonenko to discuss a plan wherein Trump would invest $500M in an exclusive yacht and hotel complex in Yalta?
- Did you facilitate a visit by Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to meet with high-ranking Ukrainian officials in February 2006 in Kiev to discuss potential Trump investments in that country?
- How much did Deutsche Bank lend Trump for a deal in Crimea?
- Are you aware of the relationship between Rudy Giuliani and commodities trader Sam Kislin, who reportedly has been investigated for laundering money for Russians?
- Do you know Duma MP Alexander Torshin? Did you know that Torshin is associated with Russian spy Maria Butina and a heavy contributor to the National Rifle Association (NRA)?
Alex Oronov, Michael Flynn, and the Ukrainian Peace Deal
- Please describe your relationship with Alex Oronov, Michael Cohen’s father-in-law, who mysteriously died on 3/21/17 and was rumored to be involved in the proposed Ukrainian peace deal hand-delivered by Cohen to the desk of Michael Flynn, who was briefly Trump’s National Security Adviser.
- Please describe your relationship with Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian MP also alleged to be involved in the above noted Ukrainian peace deal.
- How did the Ukraine peace plan evolve? Detail any quid pro quo involved.
- To your knowledge, do Trump, his family members, or the Trump Organization maintain any offshore bank accounts either in their own names or held by shell companies? Detail.
- Where does the Trump Organization bank its income from its foreign property holdings, such as Turnberry Golf course in Scotland and the Trump golf course in Dubai?
- Does the president and the Trump Organization report their foreign bank account holdings to the Department of Treasury as required?
- To your knowledge, has Donald Trump ever made use of shell companies to evade taxes, launder money, hide transactions, or for any other illicit purposes? Detail. Who can corroborate?
- Have you ever been asked to operate as a backchannel or as a bagman to/from Russia or the Ukraine by Trump or any of his family members?
- What did you do to get US prosecutors in Manhattan to extend to you extraordinary protection?
- How and why did you come to be in Trump’s business circle?
- Did Trump know about your criminal activity and prosecution?
- Did Trump know about your organized crime connections?
- Did Trump know that you were an FBI cooperator/informant?
- Was Trump also an FBI cooperator/informant?
- Was Trump aware there were Russian organized crime figures staying in his properties, such as Trump Tower in New York City?
- Were you ever asked to provide information on Trump to anyone from the former Soviet Union?
- What involvement did former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s son, Justin Kennedy, have in Trump activities with Deutsche Bank?