This week cable news began breathlessly practicing saying the name “Felix Sater” over and over again, after it leaked that he had conspired with Donald Trump and Michael Cohen to try to build Trump Tower Moscow during the election. Who is this Sater guy? Where did he come from? Why haven’t you heard his name before? Well, if you’ve been reading a site like Palmer Report, you’ve known full well who Felix Sater is – and why he’s so crucial to all of this – for a very long time.
Palmer Report first began trying to connect the dots between Felix Sater, Russia and Donald Trump back in February. We weren’t the first. To be frank, it was rather easy to see that something was there. Sater and Cohen had been exposed as part of the truly weird Kremlin plot to convince Trump to use blackmail material to oust the president of Ukraine, so Putin could install a puppet. That plot was only derailed because Michael Flynn got himself fired for unrelated Russia reasons before he could put it on Trump’s desk. Sater had previously been convicted for Russian mafia money laundering. He’d also become an FBI informant at some point. It wasn’t difficult to see where this was all going.
It was abundantly clear back then that Sater was the linchpin to unraveling Donald Trump’s connections to the Kremlin, and that Sater and Cohen were in close cahoots when it came to those connections. The trouble: at the time, no one could piece together specifically what those connections were. Sater was confirmed to have been involved in some of Trump’s sketchiest real estate deals, such as Trump SoHo. Cohen was Trump’s attorney at the Trump Organization. But what were they doing together, and what did it have to do with the Kremlin?
This week the answer finally arrived: Felix Sater and Michael Cohen were trying to help Donald Trump get his Trump Tower Moscow built during the election. Cohen even went so far as to contact the Kremlin for help. Sater bragged in an email that the project would get Trump installed in the Oval Office. Now that the crucial missing piece is in place, everyone from Congress to the Special Counsel is using it to zero in on Sater to get him to flip on Trump. Things are finally in motion.
But if you’ve been playing close attention, you’ve known for the past eight months that it was going to come down to Sater, his relationship to the Putin-controlled Russian underworld, and his relationship to Trump through Cohen. Palmer Report is often among the first to highlight a Trump-Russia storyline that we know is going to important, even if we don’t yet know how it all fits together. Skeptics invariably question why some of our reporting still hasn’t yet been vindicated, weeks or months later. It’s because these things take time to unravel in full detail. But this was always going to come down to Sater. We told you that back in February.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report