Trump & Russian spies – biggest link, IMO, is Felix Sater. Here’s what you need to know, from three articles.
From Washington Monthly
Donald Trump keeps saying that he has nothing to do with the Russians. Most recently, he made this claim in his White House press conference last week: “I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.” He said it at a press conference in early January, too.
Whether Trump is being too clever by half or simply lying is something that reporters, the Intelligence Community, Congress, and maybe the Treasury Department need to figure out. What’s clear for now, though, is that Trump has plenty of connections to Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.
Hopefully, you’ve already seen the New York Times piece from this weekend detailing how Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen took a dossier to Michael Flynn that had been provided to him by a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician named Andrii V. Artemenko and a Russian mob-connected former employee of the Trump Organization named Felix Sater.
The dossier reportedly contained damaging information about the anti-Russian Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that the Trump administration could conceivably use to oust him. It also contained some kind of Russian-Ukrainian “peace plan” that would facilitate the lifting of sanctions on Russia.
What people are focusing on, quite justifiably, is the involvement of this Felix Sater character. I could write a whole, very long piece dedicated to nothing more than how obviously crazy it is for a personal lawyer to Donald Trump to meet with Sater, let alone carry his information personally to Trump’s national security adviser. Hopefully, however, you can find that argument made elsewhere.
From Stern Facts
A Russian mobster named Felix Sater told the Moscow media that he met with Trump’s campaign before the election, and revealed intimate details about his relationship with the man who Donald Trump swears he doesn’t know.
The newly unearthed Russian language interview with Felix Sater was published on November 15th, 2016 and was discovered by Democratic Coalition senior advisor Scott Dworkin’s #TrumpLeaks research operations.
Felix Sater’s admitted contact with the Trump campaign during the election culminated in an incident where he carried an abortive secret “peace plan” between Russia and the United States over Ukraine that dovetailed with Donald Trump Jr.’s paid trip to speak a Putin-supported, Paris “peace conference” with a Syrian group.
After a lengthy IRS investigation beginning just after Sater meet Trump, the casino formerly named Trump’s Taj Mahal got slapped with a massive fine from the US Treasury’s criminal investigative division FinCEN.
The Senate wants to know about it, now.
New details from the Senate’s Trump Russia investigation in the last 48 hours since FBI Director James Comey was fired, confirm the importance of the time period when secretly convicted felon Felix Sater worked for Donald J. Trump, and the new Russian interview reveals that he openly moonlighted in the Trump Organization as US secret agent for the FBI and CIA, after he was convicted racketeering with the New York mafia in 1998 — which took a Supreme Court ruling to reveal.
Donald Trump hired the convicted felon, Russian emigre as his Senior Advisor during the decade-long period of time from 1998–2008 which saw him transform from bankrupt developer, to reality TV star with the aid of Producer Mark Burnett, who also did business with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The New York Times profiled Felix Sater in-depth 10-years ago solely because of his special relationship to the man who played a real estate developer on reality TV, who now resides in the White House.
A massive body of evidence points to a special relationship between Felix Sater, Donald Trump — and the federal government, who could have apparently allowed the pair to use Trump casinos to turn over “bad guys” to law enforcement, and which implies that he had the ability to shelter his associates from criminal charges for criminal acts; specifically for money laundering at the Trump casino empire.
It was a casino empire in New Jersey without any form of anti-money laundering controls, for two decades.
Not only does Sater tell the story of meeting Donald Trump in that interview on snob.ru, and talk about his ten years of regular contact with him — sometimes as much as twice a day — but he confirms two very important details about his relationship with our Russophile President.
First, Felix Sater claims that Trump knew about his “secret agent” activities with the FBI and CIA.
While there’s no direct way of proving the President’s knowledge of Felix Sater’s covert activities, the Trump Organization was a sponsor of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers in both 2002 and in 2003, which lends some credence to the idea that Donald Trump knew what was going on.
Former Trump campaign advisor James Woolsey is on the board of AFIO, which is a mainstream organization for America’s former intelligence officers.
Former President George Bush is also a member.
Secondly, Sater claimed to have regular contact with the Trump campaign last year.
We now know that Sater and Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen were caught by the New York Times with Sater, who was attempting to run a private diplomatic mission in Ukraine — an action discussed in the Christopher Steele intelligence dossier .
The apparent plan to drop sanctions against Russia failed.
Shortly thereafter, Cohen’s Ukrainian relative was found dead under mysterious circumstances.
Trump’s connections to gangsters from Russian and former Soviet states mafiosos and oligarchs alike, all multiplied during Sater’s tenure.
To be clear, there is no question about Felix Sater’s service to the US government either.
After Trump was sued for Sater scamming his Florida condominium buyers in the Trump Fort Lauderdale tower, his Senior Advisor fought all the way to the Supreme Court seeking to keep his 1998 felony conviction for racketeering sealed by a then-little known federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.
The federal government lost in the Supreme Court, leading to what the Miami Herald’s Michael Sallah called dozens of explosive documents.
The court revealed that Felix Sater was nabbed by the feds for his involvement in a New York Cosa Nostra stock scheme in 1998 and had his arm twisted to begin working for both the FBI and CIA.
One person who certainly knew about these activities was former Obama Administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who described (p. 142) the convicted felon Sater’s government activities thusly in sworn testimony to the US Senate at the request of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah, over his concerns about sealed convictions that allowed criminals to roam the streets, without informing Americans that they might be dealing with a confidential informant that could rob them with immunity from criminal prosecution:
The defendant in question, Felix Sater, provided valuable and sensitive information to the government during the course of his cooperation, which began in or about December 1998. For more than 10 years, he worked with prosecutors from my Office, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and law enforcement agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies, providing information crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of La Cosa Nostra.
For that reason, his case was initially sealed.
Forbes Media recently filed an action in federal court seeking to unseal the remaining records from Felix Sater’s secret criminal conviction, which contains a treasure trove of compiled research on Trump’s former advisor, and included a report by freelance investigative journalist Bill Conroy about the implications of cooperation with the FBI and intelligence agencies. (This paragraph was added the day after publication of this report.)
If his spectacular claims are to be believed, Sater also hunted down the financing for 9/11, helped the Clinton Administration target Osama Bin Laden and all manner of covert activities in his life as a secret operative.
However, the dark side of America’s deal to fight terror included allowing a Mafia-linked felon to have a free hand to conduct a criminal enterprise.
Indeed, Felix Sater did defraud thousands of Americans around the country, and has never faced criminal charges for his activities.
December 4, 2015 — Donald Trump tapped a man to be a senior business adviser to his real-estate empire even after the man’s past involvement in a major mafia-linked stock fraud scheme had become publicly known, according to Associated Press interviews and a review of court records.
Portions of Trump’s relationship with Felix Sater, a convicted felon and government informant, have been previously known. Trump worked with the company where Sater was an executive, Bayrock Group LLC, after it rented office space from the Trump Organization as early as 2003. Sater’s criminal history was effectively unknown to the public at the time, because a judge kept the relevant court records secret and Sater altered his name. When Sater’s criminal past and mafia links came to light in 2007, Trump distanced himself from Sater.
But less than three years later, Trump renewed his ties with Sater. Sater presented business cards describing himself as a senior adviser to Donald Trump, and he had an office on the same floor as Trump’s own office in New York’s Trump Tower, The Associated Press learned through interviews and court records.
From Daily Beast
Felix Sater: The Crook Behind the Trump-Russia ‘Peace’ Plan
Sater is one of the most notorious and shady characters in the American president’s past, including his very recent past.
Felix Sater is an immigrant who did prison time for stabbing a man in the face with the broken stem of a margarita glass, and he would surely qualify for the label “bad hombre” were he from Mexico instead of Russia. It was only by becoming a federal informant that Sater avoided a possible 20-year term for a $40 million fraud in which the feds figure many of the victims were elderly. Sater’s father also became an informant after being convicted of joining a Mafia soldier shaking down small businesses in Brooklyn for nearly a decade.
None of that stopped Donald Trump from having extensive business dealings with Sater that included the high-rise Trump SoHo New York hotels and condos. Then, after Sater’s rap sheet was widely publicized, Trump said he hardly knew the man. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,” Trump says in court papers from a 2013 law suit.
Yet, even as the Trump administration was preparing plans to ramp up deportations, the president’s longtime personal attorney sat down for coffee in a Manhattan hotel with this Russian immigrant. According to The New York Times, Trump attorney Michael Cohen and Sater were party to some amateur diplomacy aimed at settling the Russian war on Ukraine with a plan to push Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko out of office (Watts: in exchange for the lifting of Russian sanctions.)
Cohen insisted to The Daily Beast that the Times account was wrong and that he had not been involved in the peace plan. He declined to comment on whether he was troubled by Sater’s criminal background and organized crime ties.
“I will not respond to this question as I am not knowledgeable of all aspects to his past,” Cohen told The Daily Beast via email.
Cohen did acknowledge sitting down briefly with Sater at a Manhattan hotel last month.
“I was asked to meet him for a quick coffee and agreed,” Cohen told The Daily Beast. “When asked, I was unaware who was going to be joining the meeting and never agreed to or worked on any diplomatic plan for Ukraine.”
The person who joined the meeting was Andrii Artemenko, a rich Ukrainian member of parliament of dubious reputation in his home country. Artemenko claims to have material evidence of Poroshenko’s corruption so compelling as to force the Ukrainian president from office.
The Times stands by its account, saying that Cohen had told the paper that he delivered a copy of the plan to the office of then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn shortly before Flynn was fired. The plan is said by the Times to involve Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine and a referendum on the fate of occupied Crimea: namely, whether or not the peninsula, which Russian forces seized almost bloodlessly in 2014, would be “leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years.” Artemenko reportedly insists that their peace proposal was met with approval among senior aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sater did not respond to a request for an interview with The Daily Beast before this article was posted. He was quoted elsewhere denying that he had been engaged in actual diplomacy. He did tell Fox News that the effort is just his latest contribution to his adopted land.
“What could be wrong in helping stop a war and trying to achieve peace?” he said. “I have done so much for my country and thought that promoting peace was a good thing.”
Sater is certainly experienced in promoting things, principally himself. And what he has done for his country—two big Mafia cases for the FBI, a failed effort to buy Stinger missiles in Afghanistan on the black market for the CIA, and supposedly obtaining Osama bin Laden’s cellphone number—seems to have been undertaken largely to escape punishment for what he has admitted in court having done to this country.
Much about Trump’s presidency, and the cast of characters it has assembled, challenges even the most imaginative Hollywood screenwriting, but Sater’s backstory is an especially remarkable example. Having emigrated to Brighton Beach from the Soviet Union when he was 8 years old, he might have been the archetype of the self-made immigrant Trump has nothing but admiration for, provided of course they’re from certain non-Muslim countries.
In his early twenties, Sater had a three-year stint as a successful broker on Wall Street before he slashed that man’s face open in El Rio Grande, a Manhattan bar, causing the victim a wound which required 110 stitches and earning the perpetrator a felony conviction for assault.
Sater served 15 months at Edgecombe Correctional Facility. He was released on parole, prison records seen by The Daily Best show, in September 1995. A month later, his investment firm, White Rock Partners, changed its name to State Street Capital Markets.
Sater mostly escaped public notice until 1998, when the manager at a Manhattan Mini Storage in SoHo opened a cubicle Sater had rented under a false female name (the account was in arrears) and made an interesting discovery. In addition to a 12-gauge shotgun and two 9-millimeter pistols were a box and gym bag containing documents that led the FBI to a massive “pump-and-dump” stock fraud, racketeering, and international money laundering scheme, the architects of which were later shown to be Sater and two of his longtime business colleagues, Gennady “Gene” Klotsman and Salvatore Lauria. Both were with Sater at El Rio Grande the day he turned a margarita glass into a weapon. By the time the evidence was uncovered in SoHo, Sater and Klotsman had gone to Russia; Lauria had also skipped town. They returned and were arrested.
According to a 1998 indictment of Sater filed in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, Sater violated the terms of his agreement with the National Association of Securities Dealers, which instructed him to restrict his activities at White Rock “largely to clerical duties, for which he would receive a minimal salary. In fact, [Sater] received substantial compensation greatly exceeding his agreed-upon salary, and he took part in activities at White Rock and State Street, including the handling of securities and account statement.”
As Sater and his co-defendants would later admit when pleading guilty, White Rock and State Street made money by lying about the worth and ownership of securities, encouraging brokerage firms to peddle the artificially inflated stocks, then laundering the proceeds through various off-shore accounts. All told, they stole about $40 million, much of it from elderly investors, including Holocaust survivors.
Moreover, their illicit activities involved four different Italian mafia crime families, as a subsequent grand jury indictment in 2000 stated. Specifically, from March 1993 to October 1996, Frank Coppa Sr., a captain in the Bonnano crime family; Eugene Lombardo, an associate of that family; Daniel Perisco, an associate of the Colombo family; Joseph Polito Sr., an associate of the Gambino family, Ernest “Butch” Montevecchi, a soldier in the Genovese family among others, “devised, implemented and oversaw fraudulent schemes to manipulate the price of securities” of four different companies and “fraudulently induc[ed] investors to buy and hold these securities,” according to the indictment, also filed in the Eastern District of New York.
Sater, Klotsman, and Lauria, who had already pleaded guilty to the 1998 complaint, were listed as unindicted co-conspirators in this later case, which clearly netted much bigger fish for the feds based on an accidental haul at the Mini Storage. They all turned on their former mob accomplices, as did Sater’s father, Mikhail Sater, also known as Michael Sheferofsky.
The father was indicted in 2000 on two counts by then-U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch. Sheferofsky’s accomplice in that case was Butch Montevecchi, who also figured in the younger Sater’s case. Both men pleaded guilty to extorting “restaurants, food stores, and a medical clinic” in the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn through intimidation and violence from December of 1990 to January of 1999. The father got off with three years’ probation in exchange for cooperation that included wearing a wire in a case against a group of Polish immigrants perpetrating major Medicaid fraud in Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
U.S. Attorney Lynch seemed to make ample use of the Saters, who were a unique father and son team, both working as informants with the same Mafia henchmen, but different FBI handlers on different cases. In a letter addressed to U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch during her confirmation hearing to become Barack Obama’s attorney general, she wrote that as a decade-long informant Felix Sater provided “information crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of La Cosa Nostra.”
If the reference to “national security” seems a bit out of place in characterizing a domestic crackdown on organized crime, then that might be because of what Sater, Klotsman, and Lauria allegedly got up to when they were overseas.
As recounted in The Scorpion and the Frog: High Crimes and High Times, a 2003 book Lauria later co-authored with former Associated Press journalist David Barry, the three associates became spies for the CIA, tasked with offering U.S. taxpayer money to buy Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that had gone missing from the covert U.S. campaign to oust the Soviets in Afghanistan. Those missiles, it was feared, were destined for Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.
By 2002, Sater had reinvented himself yet again, this time as a managing director of a real-estate development firm called the Bayrock Group, founded by the Kazakhstan-born Tevfik Ari. His co-defendant and fellow FBI and CIA informant, Lauria, eventually joined him there.
Bayrock’s offices are, conveniently, in Trump Tower, which is how Sater’s checkered path intersected with the
Bagli recounted Sater’s history with assault and stock manipulation and yet, in a 2013 deposition related to a separate libel case, Trump claimed that Sater “may” have directly brought a Fort Lauderdale project to him years earlier, while denying any knowledge of his ties to organized crime. “I don’t think he was connected to the Mafia. He got into a barroom fight.”
Whether or not Trump was lousy at due diligence or his fleet of lawyers simply couldn’t Google the name “Felix Sater” (which would have brought up a 1998 Businessweek article citing his implication in the Mini Storage affair and ensuing fraud case) remains unclear. And Sater’s decision to add a ‘t’ to his given name to make it “Satter” should not have greatly complicated matters.
However, the offering plan filed with New York State for the Trump SoHo, averred that there were “no prior felony convictions of Sponsor,” referring to Bayrock and another developer involved in the project known as the Sapir Organization. At this time, Sater had an ownership stake in Bayrock, according to correspondence obtained by Forbes.
In October 2009, 11 years after his indictment, Sater finally faced sentencing for his financial crime in a closed Brooklyn courtroom. He addressed the judge.
“Yes, I am guilty of the things that I have done,” he said. “The worst thing that could happen, your honor, despite whatever sentence you impose on me… I went into real estate development and I built a very successful real estate company… a Trump project. I built the whole thing. Years ago, they wrote an article in the newspaper, ‘Executive With Ties to Donald Trump Has Criminal Past.’ The next month, I had to leave my company, the company I had built with my own hands.”
He spoke of his parents and his sincerity was somewhat undercut by those who knew of his father’s conviction for years of racketeering.
“I hated myself, despised myself for doing the things that I was doing while I was doing them, because my parents did not sacrifice what they sacrificed to have me come to this country and become a criminal,” he said.
Sater was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine rather than the $40 million in restitution he might have been required to pay and to serve no jail time rather than as many as 20 years.
In 2013, Sater’s connection to Trump, who was still two years shy of running for national office, caused the mogul one of his many moments of pique with a member of the international press. Trump stormed out of a BBC Panorama interview when asked by John Sweeney, “Shouldn’t you have said, Felix Sater, you’re connected with the Mafia and you’re fired.” Trump replied by suggesting Sweeney might be “thick” and that he could not break a contract with Bayrock even if Sater’s mob ties were established to his satisfaction.
Sater’s tenure at Bayrock wasn’t just confined to leveraging the Trump brand. He was accused of threatening gruesome acts of violence against erstwhile business associates who were in a position to disclose his shady history. In 2007, the manager of one Trump hotel-condo in Phoenix, Arizona, sued Sater after he allegedly threatened to get a cousin to electrocute the manager’s testicles, dismember him and leave him “dead in the trunk of his car.” Sater reportedly settled that case out of court, but denied the charges. The manager was apparently satisfied with the settlement, for he has since said he wished Sater, “the best of luck.”
By 2010, Sater was out at Bayrock—but in at the Trump Organization. He reportedly brandished a business card naming him as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.” He also had a valid email address at the organization, a phone number that had previously belonged to one of Trump’s general counsels, and his own office in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
Sater’s role as an employee of the Trump Organization also came to light when he was accused of shaking down one of his former colleagues at Bayrock.
Jody Kriss, the former finance director of Bayrock, alleged that he was entitled to a share of the $227 million profits in the Trump SoHo project. As reported by The Daily Beast in August 2016, Kriss claimed, in a court case filed in Delaware, that he was owed $7 million for his work on the project but offered a settlement of only half a million dollars. His principal antagonist in recouping his investment, he said, was Felix Sater.
In sworn testimony, Kriss stated that his money had become entangled with an Icelandic financial company known as FL Group, which seemed to draw Russian investors “in favor” with Vladimir Putin. (Bayrock founder Tevfik Arif was also part of this deal.) According to Kriss:
“Felix Satter [sic] told me that the deal with FL prohibited me from getting the rest in that I could either take the money and shut up or risk being killed if I made trouble. I knew at that time Satter had served a prison sentence for first degree assault (stabbing someone in the face with a wine glass stem) and with learning what would soon become common knowledge, that Satter had had a decades-long involvement with the New York and Russian mafia and had just in 2007 been sued in a civil action in Phoenix.”
The Delaware case ultimately was dismissed because of jurisdiction; but the judge stated on the record that the case could have otherwise proceeded. Sater’s defense team has denied the allegations.
In a separate and still-pending suit to which Kriss is a plaintiff, this one filed in New York’s Southern District, he has alleged that “tax evasion and money-laundering are the core of Bayrock’s business model.”
The defendants have argued that the suit amounts to a shakedown, but the judge has ruled that Kriss has enough of a case to warrant moving forward.
As for Sater, he had coffee the other day with the president’s personal lawyer and discussed a peace plan for Ukraine.