Hromadske talks to Damir Marusic, publisher of The American Interest Online, regarding the recent speculation surrounding Trump’s alleged connections to the ‘colourful’ Russian-born American real-estate developer and ex-convict Felix Sater. Marusic highlights some of the more revealing aspects of Sater’s past, including his involvement in a 40 million stock fraud scheme, subsequent deal with the Federal Government, and his cooperation with the CIA regarding the purchase of stinger missiles in Afghanistan.
In light of a recent article published by the New York Times, Sater is said to have made million-dollar investments in Trump properties in New York and Florida, however, it is ‘not clear where this money came from’ as the deals were made from ‘an opaque Icelandic investment firm’.
Sater has also been connected to Michael Coen, Trump’s lawyer.
So what do you know about someone from the Whitehouse leaving plans to lift the sanctions on the president’s desk? Who is this person?
So Felix Sater is one of the colourful characters from Donald Trump’s past. He is not very well known but his story has been reported in the American media, as one of these people involved in some of the investments in Trump’s properties. His early history, he’s an American citizen but he was born in Russian, I believe in 1966. He had a criminal past, he spent some time in jail for stabbing someone in the face in 1991, I think. After that, after he got out of jail, he got involved in a stock fraud scheme for 40 million dollars. As that scheme was getting broken up, he managed to make a deal with the Federal Government that meant he only ended up paying $25,000 after the case got fixed 10 years later. In the meantime, while he was cooperating with the ‘Feds’ there, there’s another story running around today that he was cooperating with the CIA, buying stinger missiles in Afghanistan. So, he’s a very colourful character. But the connection to Donald Trump is that, while working for a company called Bayrock, he had helped finance a property in Soho in New York for $50 million, from an Icelandic consortium, called I think, its FL Group, and there was apparently, reportedly again, a plan for a $2 billion more investment, but it never really materialised. The property got sold, I think, a couple of years ago, the Trump property, and Felix Sater also, in 2008, ended up leaving Bayrock and started to work directly for Trump, at which point there was another deal for a Florida Trump development, which also was sold last year. So, in general, all we know about him is that he brought money to the Trump developments through this company Bayrock, but it’s not clear where this money came from because it was from an opaque Icelandic investment firm.
And do you have any information on the possible connections between Coen, Trump’s lawyer and Sater?
I haven’t actually seen any direct connections, but the interesting thing about all of this reporting since before the election is that there seems to be a group of names that keep coming up. This might be the first time that I’ve seen Sater being linked to Coen, but it’s not exactly clear whether there was any reported previous connection there.
Does the name of the Ukrainian Member of Parliament Artemenko mean anything to you?
Nothing at all from what I know in US media, he’s a new player. But from the NY Times article today, I mean, it appears as though he has long standing to the perhaps at least broader Trump group, if not to the man himself.
The way this whole story is described in the NY Times it looks like somebody from Trump’s team could just come in and leave a plan on the president’s table. Is this possible?
So here’s the thing, this really is, it’s a unique time in America. You saw that General Flynn was let go for the National Security Council. The administration is very understaffed right now, so while I think you’ll find that in any presidential administration, trusted advisors can get the president’s attention, I would say that in a situation like this where there’s unprecedentedly little staff around the president, I think that it’s even more likely that someone could bring something in front of the president like that.’