This is the fourth of a series dissecting the timeline of Trump-Russia connections that’s kept at Bill Moyers’s website. For a bit of intro, and the first subthread click here. This one is all cut and pasted, with the links included. None of the text is my own, not even paraphrased.
This is all about a man named Felix Sater, who I think we should get to know a bit. Follow past the jump for this one.
2002: Russian-born Felix Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — begin working with Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which becomes Trump SoHo. Another development partner in Trump SoHo is the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir. After a 1991 barroom fight in which Sater stabbed a man in the face with the broken stem of a large margarita glass, he received a prison sentence. In 1993, Sater became part of a stock scheme that allegedly relied on four Mafia crime families for protection. He pled guilty and, in return for a reduced sentence, entered into a 1998 cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors pursuing members of organized crime. Reportedly, he also helped the CIA track down and purchase stinger missiles on the black market in Central Asia, thereby keeping them out of terrorists’ hands. Sater is still cooperating with the Justice Department in April 2002, when the US attorney for the eastern district of New York requests a postponement of Sater’s sentencing to September.
2005: In a sworn deposition in 2008, Sater testifies that Trump gave Bayrock Group an exclusive deal to develop a project in Russia. “I’d come back, pop my head into Mr. Trump’s office and tell him, you know, ‘Moving forward on the Moscow deal.’ And he would say ‘All right… I showed him photos, I showed him the site, showed him the view from the site. It’s pretty spectacular.” But that early effort to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow fails.
February 2006: Two of Trump’s children, Don Jr. and Ivanka, travel to Moscow. According to Sater, Donald Trump Sr. asked him to show them around: “He asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them and looking after them while they were in Moscow.” He summarizes the attitude of Trump’s children as “nice, big city, great. Let’s do a deal here.” Ten years later — October 2016 — Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten tells Forbes that the presence of Sater and Trump’s adult children in Moscow at the same time had been a coincidence.
Dec. 19-20, 2007: Two days after a Dec. 17, 2007 article in The New York Times about Felix Sater’s criminal past, a lawyer deposing Trump in his libel suit against journalist Timothy O’Brien — author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald — asks, “[W]hat kind of interaction did you have with Mr. Sater prior to the article appearing?” Trump answers, “Not that much, not very much….I would say that my interaction with Felix Sater was, you know, not — was very little.” Discussing Bayrock’s unsuccessful development efforts for Trump in Russia, Trump says, “This was going to be a hotel in Moscow. And I really can say the same things for all of the sites…a hotel in Moscow, a hotel in Kiev, a hotel in Poland, et cetera,…. Bayrock knew the people, knew the investors, and in some cases I believe they were friends of Mr. Arif. And this was going to be Trump International Hotel and Tower in Moscow, Kiev, Istanbul, et cetera, Poland, Warsaw.” Trump is referring to the Bayrock Principal, Tevfik Arif. A few minutes later, Trump says Arif “did bring people up from Russia… I believe he brought the people from Moscow up to meet me.”
January 2010—January 2011: After leaving Bayrock, Sater becomes “senior adviser to Donald Trump,” according to his Trump Organization business card. He also has a Trump Organization email address and office. The phone number listed on the card had belonged previously to a lawyer in Trump’s general counsel’s office.
Nov. 16, 2011: Answering deposition questions in a case involving a Fort Lauderdale project, Trump says he has only “limited involvement” with Bayrock Group, which was a Trump tenant “for a period of time.” (pp. 10-11) Trump testifies that he spoke with Felix Sater “for a period of time” when he was an executive with Bayrock. (p.18)
July 8, 2013: After a BBC reporter questions Trump about Felix Sater’s alleged prior connections to organized crime, Trump ends the interview.
Nov. 5, 2013: In a deposition, an attorney asks Trump about Felix Sater. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,” Trump answers. When asked how many times he had ever spoken with Sater, Trump says, “Not many.” When asked about his July 2013 BBC interview during which he was questioned about Sater’s alleged connections to organized crime, Trump says he didn’t remember it.
November 2013: At the Miss Universe pageant, Trump says: “I do have a relationship [with Putin] and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today… I do have a relationship with him… He’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he’s represented.” While Trump is in Moscow for the pageant, he and Alex Sapir (whose family’s company was one of the co-developers of Trump SoHo with Trump and Felix Sater) meet with the Russian real estate developer who had facilitated Trump’s $20 million deal to host the Miss Universe contest in Moscow. They discuss plans for a new Trump project in Russia. “The Russian market is attracted to me,” Trump tells Real Estate Weekly upon his return. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.”
Fall 2015: As Felix Sater works on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump’s bid for the presidency brings the project to a halt, according to a Feb. 19, 2017 article in The New York Times citing Sater.
Nov. 30, 2015: When an Associated Press reporter asks Trump about Felix Sater, he answers, “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.” Trump refers questions about Sater to his staff.
April to December 2016: Russia’s patent office grants 10-year extensions for six unused Trump trademarks that are set to expire in 2016. Trump had originally acquired the trademarks for hotel and branding deals that never materialized — including “Trump Tower” in 1996 and four more hotel-related trademarks in 2007, when Felix Sater and Bayrock Group were scouting potential deals in Russia.
July 2016: According to Politico, Felix Sater visits Trump Tower on business that he described as “confidential.” Sater declines to answer whether he’s had recent contact with the Trump Organization or Trump’s children. “I don’t see the relevance of that,” Sater says. When Politico asks the Trump campaign about Sater, Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks says, “We are not aware of a contribution or visit to Trump Tower.” Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten tells Politico that he has no knowledge of Sater’s visit to Trump Tower, that Sater was not advising the Trump Organization, and that the Trump Organization was not seeking business in Russia.
Aug. 19, 2016: On the day he resigns from the Trump campaign, Manafort records documents creating Summerbreeze LLC, a shell company that he controls. Shortly thereafter, Summerbreeze receives a $3.5 million loan from Spruce Capital, a small New York investment firm. Spruce’s co-founder is a developer of Trump hotel projects, including Trump International Hotel and Tower in Waikiki. One of Spruce’s financial backers, Alexander Rovt, is a billionaire who made his fortune in the privatization of the fertilizer industry in post-Soviet Ukraine. On Feb. 1, 2016, Rovt had shared a Manor College stage forum about Ukraine with Andrii Artemenko, a pro-Putin member of the Ukraine Parliament. In January 2017, Artemenko would resurface at the Manhattan Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue with long-time Trump business associate Felix Sater and Trump’s personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen. During their meeting, Sater gives Cohen a sealed envelope containing Artemenko’s Ukranian-Russian peace plan and asks him to deliver it to Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. The plan would have leased Crimea to Russia for 50 or 100 years, essentially ceding to Putin the territory he had annexed illegally.
Late January 2017: At the Manhattan Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue, Trump’s personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, meets with Felix Sater and Andrii Artemenko, a pro-Putin lawmaker from Ukraine. Artemenko and Sater gave Cohen a peace plan whereby Russia would lease Ukraine for 50 or 100 years and, eventually, get relief from US sanctions. According to The New York Times, Cohen says he would give the plan to national security adviser Michael Flynn. Responding to questions from The Washington Post, Cohen denies that statement, calling it “fake news.”
July 6, 2017: The Financial Times reports that Felix Sater has agreed to cooperate in an international investigation of a Kazakh family’s real estate dealings. The head of the family — Viktor Khrapunov, a former Kazakh minister now exiled in Switzerland — is reportedly under investigation for allegations that he embezzled government funds and hid the cash in other countries throughout the world, including the US. Deeds and banking records obtained by the Financial Times show that in April 2013, members of the Khrapunov family purchased three apartments in Trump SoHo for a grand total price of $3.1 million from a holding company in which Trump held a stake.