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Colorful Trump associate Sater will cooperate with Feinstein request

Felix Sater looks through the front door of his New York home earlier this year during an interview with Dutch broadcaster Zembla.
Felix Sater looks through the front door of his New York home earlier this year during an interview with Dutch broadcaster Zembla. Zembla

Russian émigré and one-time Trump associate Felix Sater will cooperate with a request by the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee to turn over documents and meet with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Mr. Sater intends to be fully cooperative with any and all government investigations in this matter,” Sater’s lawyer, Robert Wolf, told McClatchy via e-mail.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday requested that Sater meet with the committee this month and turn over documents from 2015 and 2016 related to:

▪  A proposed Trump Tower deal in Russia,

▪  Any actual or proposed visits by Trump to Moscow in 2016,

▪  A visit by Sater to Trump Tower in July 2016,

▪  A Russia-Ukraine peace deal Sater developed with a Ukranian politician and former Trump organization lawyer Michael D. Cohen

▪  Contact Sater had with the Trump campaign and Russian government officials regarding the 2016 election

Sater is of particular interest to investigators looking into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign because of his long overlapping history with Donald Trump. In 2005, Sater was a director of the Bayrock Group, which developed the Trump Soho project in New York. That same year the Trump Organization gave Bayrock a one-year deal to try to secure a property in Russia that would have Trump’s name attached.

Those efforts failed, and Sater was forced out of his public leadership role in the Soho project after a New York Times story revealed that he’d gone to jail because of a 1993 bar fight.

Sater went on to work for the Trump organization briefly after departing Bayrock, carrying a business card in 2010 that listed his title as “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.”

Investors in a number of soured Trump-Bayrock deals didn’t learn until 2009, when Sater was sentenced, that he’d been indicted in connection with a big Wall Street stock-fraud scheme dating to the late 1990s.

At the sentencing, high-level law enforcement officials testified on Sater’s behalf, recounting how the Russian émigré worked with U.S. intelligence and the FBI to combat terrorism and the spread of Russian military hardware. Sater walked away with only a fine.

As Trump’s presidential campaign gathered steam, reports surfaced anew about Sater’s past. A series of reports earlier this year by McClatchy show how he and another former Trump associate were tied to a powerful Kazakh clan accused of largescale financial theft and money laundering.

Sater and the same family were part of a murky investment scheme in upstate New York that featured Sater covering his face with an Ipad and sprinting past television cameras after he bought a former state insane asylum at auction.

Then in February news broke that Sater and former Trump lawyer Cohen had worked with a Ukrainian lawmaker on a Russia-Ukraine peace plan that was favorable to Russia. They circumvented the State Department and had it delivered to then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

And months after that, Sater revealed that he and Cohen pursued a hotel deal in Moscow in 2015 and 2016 during Trump’s presidential campaign; they found a Russian partner but were unable to conclude the deal.

Feinstein’s letter to Sater was one of four she sent asking for information related to the Russia investigation, with the other three letters addressed to:

▪  The White House, requesting documents related to Jared Kushner’s role in the firings of Jim Comey and Michael Flynn

▪  Roger Stone, asking for his appearance before the committee and for material related to Russian hackers or WikiLeaks and his communication with the Trump campaign

▪  WikiLeaks lawyer Margaret Kunstler, requesting all communications between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks related to emails hacked by Russia

In October, Feinstein requested that Cohen meet with the committee and turn over documents and that the White House, Facebook, Twitter and data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica turn over documents related to the investgation.

Feinstein and Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee, announced in October that they would be pursuing separate investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice by the Trump administration.

Grassley spokesperson Taylor Foy declined to say whether Grassley supported Feinstein’s request but confirmed that Grassley is aware of the letter and that “Sen. Feinstein does not need the chairman’s blessing to send oversight letters.”

Emily Cadei contributed to this report.

Ben Wieder: 202-383-6125, @benbwieder Kevin G. Hall: 202-383-6038, @KevinGHall

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