Trump's man in Moscow to testify before House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday
Felix Sater, who served as Trump’s representative on the “Moscow Project” during the 2016 election, will appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning for a round of closed-door testimony. This appearance, which was encouraged by a subpoena, came after Sater failed to show the last time he was set to appear before Congress—because, he said, he overslept.
Russia-born Sater has had what might be called a varied career. He’s been a stock broker, a mobster, an FBI informant, and a key player in the Trump Tower-based “investment” company Bayrock. Sater has also worked directly with Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump on real estate deals going back to 2002. Sater once had an office right next to Trump’s and still packs business cards identifying him as Trump’s representative. In 2015 and 2016, it was Sater who was the primary Trump representative on the ground in Moscow dealing with Russian officials and potential investors as Trump worked on his plan to create the tallest building in Europe using Russian money—complete with Ivanka-themed spa and Putin-dedicated penthouse.
As Politico reports, Sater didn’t show for his last scheduled appearance. Instead, he told committee staffers that he had been sick and didn’t notice the sound of his alarm clock. He also didn’t get out of bed in time to let anyone know he was not coming until the whole committee was assembled to stare at his empty chair … which is not the kind of behavior that endears witnesses to representatives. However, it’s expected that Sater will shuffle out of bed this time and speak to the committee—though not in a venue where anyone else can hear.
Sater’s subpoena also came courtesy of his failure to hand over requested documents. Though the Trump associate says he has provided everything he has, the committee disagrees. Still missing is information on just how involved Trump, Trump Jr., and Ivanka were in the Moscow Project, and how late into the campaign Trump was still playing an active role.
The broker/mobster/informant/deal-maker is expected to answer questions about his job helping Trump on the Moscow Project, and about how the effort to build what would have been Trump’s biggest-ever real estate venture affected his actions during the campaign. Sater might also answer questions about earlier deals, as he appears to have served as the middleman in several arrangements very similar to the kind of money-laundering deals that earned Paul Manafort some of his jail time.
Sater played a key role in the development of the Trump SoHo hotel, and in creating the business entities that are behind other iconic buildings that carry Trump’s name—even though Trump had little to do with their construction. Sater also seems to have done his own fair share of money-laundering by way of overpriced real estate, selling multimillion dollar apartments to former Soviet officials and maintaining a warren of interconnected LLCs.
Before traveling in Trump circles, Sater was most famous for running stock scams, losing his broker’s license, making a deal that saw him become an informant against his partners, and doing jail time for cutting up a man's face with a broken margarita glass. So his testimony could be interesting—assuming he’s actually present. And awake.