Of all the strange aspects of Donald Trump’s life of crime, one of the most curious is his relationship with convicted Russian mafia money launderer Felix Sater. The Trump Organization and Sater partnered on the notoriously shady Trump Soho real estate project, with widespread media reports that Trump’s kids took the lead on the deal. Somewhere in there, Sater became a government informant.
Felix Sater’s name has come up quite a bit in the Trump-Russia scandal, but we still don’t know precisely what his role was in facilitating criminal activity between Donald Trump and the Russians. It looks like that’s about to change. House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff just announced that Felix Sater will publicly testify before the committee on March 14th. This is notable for a few reasons.
First, this is going to be out in the open. This will offer a fascinating look into the Trump family’s relationship with money launderers like Felix Sater in particular, and with Russian organized crime in general. Second, based on his history as a federal informant, you have to figure Sater will be at least partly cooperative during his testimony, with no real desire to protect Trump at the risk of harming himself. Trump has long been pretending he doesn’t know who Sater is, which means Sater isn’t under any delusions about being magically pardoned; his one way out will be to sell Trump out.
But the real upshot is that this is happening a mere two weeks from now. Everything is now happening in increasingly rapid succession. Felix Sater will be far from the only Donald Trump associate to be swiftly hauled in to testify. And as House Democrats choose to put more witnesses on public display, it becomes clear that secrecy is becoming less important, which means prosecutors are closer than ever to busting the Trump-Russia scandal wide open.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report