Felix Sater may be the Rosetta Stone to unlocking the conspiracy between the FBI and the CIA to destroy the candidacy and, later, the Presidency of Donald Trump. I write this after reading the latest indictment of Michael Cohen, who entered a plea agreement and confessed to lying about a real estate deal in Russia. It turns out that Felix Sater figured prominently in this deal.
Sater is not named in the charging statement filed by the Special Prosecutor but Felix Sater matches the description of “Individual 2.” The charging statement clearly shows that Sater played a key role in trying to promote contacts with the Russians, including Vladimir Putin:
COHEN and Individual 2 discussed efforts to obtain Russian governmental approval for the Moscow Project. (page 5)
COHEN and Individual 2 discussed on multiple occasions traveling to Russia to pursue the Moscow Project. (page 5)
On or about May 4, 2016, Individual 2 wrote to COHEN,“I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after the convention . . . Obviously the pre-meeting trip (you only) can happen anytime you want but the 2 big guys where [sic] the question. I said I would confirm and revert.” (page 6)
On or about May 5, 2016, Individual 2 followed up with COHEN and wrote, “[Russian Official 1] would like to invite you as his guest to the St. Petersburg Forum which is Russia’s Davos it’s June 16-19. He wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to either [the President of Russia] or [the Prime Minister of Russia], as they are not sure if 1 or both will be there. . . . He said anything you want to discuss including dates and subjects are on the table to discuss.”
On or about May 6, 2016, Individual 2 asked COHEN to confirm those dates would work for him to travel. COHEN wrote back, “Works for me.”
From on or about June 9 to June 14, 2016, Individual 2 sent numerous messages to COHEN about the travel, including forms for COHEN to complete. However, on or about June 14, 2016, COHEN met Individual 2 in the lobby of the Company’s headquarters to inform Individual 2 he would not be traveling at that time.
The day after COHEN’s call with Assistant 1, Individual 2 contacted him, asking for a call. Individual 2 wrote to COHEN, “It’s about [the President of Russia] they called today.”
It is quite clear from the charging document that Sater, not Cohen, was the one who was extending the invitation from Russian officials for Cohen to travel to Russia. What remains unknown is whether Felix Sater was doing this on his own initiative or was acting on instructions from his FBI handler to “bait” Cohen with this opportunity.
A criminal complaint filed by the FBI in January 2015 shows that the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Division directed a Confidential Source of the FBI, who matches the description of Sater, to use the Trump Organization as bait to go after Russian intelligence officers. Felix Sater appears to have played a critical role in taking down three Russian Non Official Cover officers—Evgeny Buryakov, Igor Sporyshev and Viktor Podobnyy—who were charged by the FBI in January 2015 for espionage. The alleged spying by these Russian NOCs commenced in 2012. We do not know how the FBI discovered their activities, but the Russians became targets of an FBI Counter Intelligence Division investigation. The complaint filed by FBI agent Gregory Monaghan, shows how Confidential Source 1 (who fits the role played by Sater in the Trump organization) used his relationship with Donald Trump’s company as bait:
As set forth below, in the summer of 2014, EVGENY BURYAKOV, a/k/a "Zhenya," the defendant, met numerous times with a confidential source working for the FBI ("CS-1"). CS-1 posed as the representative of a wealthy investor looking to work with Bank-1 to develop casinos in Russia.. . BURYAKOV's statements and conduct reflected his strong desire to obtain information about subjects far outside the scope of his work as a bank employee, and consistent with his interests as a Russian intelligence agent. These meetings established BURYAKOV's willingness to solicit and accept documents that CS-1 claimed he had obtained from a U.S. government agency and which purportedlycontained information potentially useful to the Russian Federation.
Monaghan’s complaint, however, also reveals evidence that the Russians were quite skeptical of Sater.
On or about July 22, 2014, EVGENY BURYAKOV, a/k/a "Zhenya," and IGOR SPORYSHEV, the defendants, had a conversation. BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV discussed an email to BURYAKOV regarding the potential development of casinos in Russia. BURYAKOV stated that the subject of the email was concerning "some sort of fucking nonsense" relating to casinos. SPORYSHEV stated, "It's unclear . Casino, Russia, like, some sort of a set up. Trap of some sort. I cannot understand what the point is." SPORYSHEV added, "You could meet [an associate of CS-1] if you want – you will look and decide for yourself."
Notwithstanding their doubts, the Russians went ahead with a meeting with Sater in Atlantic City, where Sater fulfilled his role on behalf of the FBI and set the hook in the Russians by having them accept a U.S. Government document:
On or about August 8, 2014, CS-1 met with EVGENY BURYAKOV, a/k/a "Zhenya," the defendant, and Male-2 in Atlantic City. The meeting lasted from around noon to 7:00 p.m. and included a tour of casinos in Atlantic City. At the end of the day, CS-1 took BURYAKOV and Male-2 to CS-l's office, where CS-1 gave a PowerPoint presentation on the proposed casino project in Russia. At the end of the PowerPoint presentation, CS-1 noted that U.S. sanctions against Russia could have an impact on their project. CS-1 also presented BURYAKOV with a United States Government document ("Government Document-1"), labeled "Internal Treasury Use Only," which contained a list of Russian individuals who had been sanctioned by the United States. CS-1 stated that CS-1 had a contact in the United States Government and could get more information about sanctions if BURYAKOV was interested. BURYAKOV replied that he was interested in such information. At the end of the meeting, BURYAKOV asked if he could keep Government Document-1, which CS-1 then handed to BURYAKOV. BURYAKOV took the document with him and left the meeting.
Worth noting that this operation was carried out while E. W. “Bill” Priestap was the FBI special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence Division in the New York Field Office. Ten months after the success of this case, Priestap was promoted to assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division at FBI Headquarters (FBIHQ) in Washington, DC. It was Priestap’s Counterintelligence Division that subsequently played a key role in going after the Trump campaign for allegedly working with the Russians in 2016. Yet, Priestap surely knew that the previous contacts between Trump’s organization and the Russians had been brokered at the behest of the FBI. The Monaghan affidavit does not paint a picture of “CS-1” acting unilaterally to cultivate Russian intelligence officers.
So how do we know that Sater really was an FBI registered informant? The answer lies with the failed Trump Tower in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Michael Sallah, writing for the Miami Herald, was the first I could find that wrote about Sater and his FBI ties:
When Felix Sater and his partners launched a plan to put up a Trump tower in Fort Lauderdale — luring scores of investors — he had already been charged in an explosive securities scam with New York mob figures.
He had pleaded guilty and was awaiting sentencing in the $40 million swindle.
But investors in the Trump tower never knew.
Sater had already been prosecuted in secret — his arrest records shut down and every trace of his role in the New York stock scandal stripped from public view. . . .
In a rare move, lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intercede in a bitter debate over the practice of concealing criminal cases from the public.
For now, Sater — an FBI informant who owns a $4.8 million Fisher Island condo — has become the poster boy of the fight over whether judges have the power to bury all traces of someone’s criminal history.
The Miami Herald, July 1, 2012 Sunday by Michael Sallah
Sallah provided the first comprehensive summary of Sater’s shady past:
Born in the former Soviet Union and raised in New York, Sater began his rise in financial circles as a young stock broker in the 1990s.
But his career took a wrong turn when he was arrested after getting into a bar fight where he stabbed another broker in the face with the stem of a shattered margarita glass.
After a stint in prison, he was released on parole. But he got into trouble again, this time in the stock fraud with members of the Genovese and Colombo crime families in 1998.
After pleading guilty to racketeering — and the case sealed — Sater went on to launch a new career in real estate that would take him across the country, including South Florida.
After he joined the Bayrock Group in New York as an executive in 2003, the firm unveiled a series of big developments, while licensing Trump’s name.
They announced the stunning 24-story high-rise on Fort Lauderdale’s beach that became one of the biggest condo-hotel deals in Florida.
The Miami Herald, July 1, 2012 Sunday by Michael Sallah
Felix Sater was not only an FBI informant, but he did some sensitive work for the CIA. Sallah also broke this angle of the story about Sater:
Charged in a New York securities scandal, the 46-year-old businessman traveled to his native Russia where he took on a unique role that went far beyond flipping on dangerous criminals.
He began spying for the CIA.
Tapping into the vast underground of the former Soviet Union, Sater was able to track down a dozen Stinger missiles equipped with powerful tracking devices on the black market.
With the backing of U.S. agents, Sater agreed to buy the weapons — keeping them out of the hands of terrorists. In return, the CIA pledged to keep Sater from going to jail in the stock scam he concocted with New York organized crime figures. . . .
What remains sealed is the work that Sater performed for the government in the past 14 years that’s now the topic of the court fight.
During one hearing, the judge said the case had reached top members “of a national law enforcement security agency. I should say agencies — plural.” But he didn’t elaborate.
The fight has been taken so seriously the judge is using the name John Doe instead of Sater to hide his identity and to “protect the life of the person.”
The Miami Herald, September 8, 2012 Saturday by Michael Sallah
Felix Sater was not just some run of the mill snitch. He was a very important informant and asset for both the FBI and the CIA. Don't take my word for it. That is what former Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. When Loretta Lynch was nominated for US Attorney General, she was pressed by Senator Orin Hatch to divulge information on Sater to satisfy all of the people who had been defrauded in the failed Fort Lauderdale Trump Towers venture. Here’s Loretta Lynch’s response:
'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.'
The FBI and Robert Mueller, who ran the FBI during the time that Sater operated as an FBI informant, need to answer two key questions.
- Was Felix Sater operating as an FBI informant when matters related to Russia were discussed with members of Donald Trump’s business enterprise?
- During the time that the FBI directed Felix Sater to use the Trump business enterprise as bait to entrap foreign spies and mobsters, was Trump witting of this ploy?
I reiterate a point I made in my previous post. Felix Sater worked with Trump starting in 2003. At no point prior to Trump’s June 16, 2015 announcement that he was running for President did the FBI pursue any criminal charges against Donald Trump or any member of his business organization. There are only two possibilities to explain that. Number one—Donald Trump did not commit any overt acts that would have met the standard for a criminal indictment. Number two—Donald Trump also was an informer for the FBI and was granted immunity and all records sealed. I believe the later is highly unlikely. Given the level of animus directed at Trump by many senior FBI officials, I find it improbable that such a secret could be kept.
We really need to know what the FBI knew about Trump’s Russia contacts that were facilitated by their informant, Felix Sater, and when they knew it. I do not think that the FBI will be eager to provide such answers.