Donald Trump may now claim that he is so unfamiliar with his former associate Felix Sater that he wouldn’t recognize him if they were in the same room together. However, Sater worked on and off for a decade with the Trump Organization, most recently working with Michael Cohen, the former attorney for The Trump Organization, to broker a deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow, all while telling Cohen that he could help Trump’s election chances with his Russian contacts.
Sater is a complex character whose Wikipedia bio describes him as a Russian-American mobster, convicted felon, real estate developer and former managing director of Bayrock Group LLC, a New York real estate conglomerate. He escaped prison time for his felony fraud conviction in a $40 million Russian mob-led stock fraud scheme by agreeing to act as an informant for the FBI and federal prosecutors in their organized crime investigations.
Now Yahoo News has revealed that Donald Trump wanted to use Sater’s cooperation with federal authorities as a positive talking point during the 2016 campaign to boost his “patriotic image” and show that “the guy that worked with him, you know, was doing stuff to protect our country,” as Sater related to an interviewer on Yahoo News’ Skullduggery podcast.
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The only reason that this never happened was that Trump was prohibited from using the information because it was part of then-sealed court documents that government prosecutors argued could not be made public at the time on account of national security considerations.
Sater did not shy from discussing his criminal past on the podcast — which in addition to his financial crimes included a stabbing in a Manhattan bar fight that resulted in his victim receiving 110 stitches and landed Sater a 15-month jail term.
Still, Sater believes that his subsequent cooperation with authorities more than makes up for his past criminality.
“I know for a fact that I have stopped 100,000 times more crime than I committed with my bar fight and the stock fraud,” Sater told Yahoo News. “And I know that I protected my country. And I know I risked my life for it.”
Trump’s disavowal of the man whose help on FBI investigations he once wanted to exploit for the benefit of his campaign still stings Sater to this day.
“I think it’s something that I have to truly dive deeper on my next session with my psychiatrist,” Sater laughed.
Sater’s anecdote is just once more bit of proof that Donald Trump’s worldview is entirely transactional with the president jettisoning anyone as soon as they cease to have value to him personally.
If Trump’s judgment could be called into question any further than it already has, his association with a convicted felon with Russian mob ties in trying to arrange major business deals should have been something that prevented him from even making it to the Republican primaries through thorough vetting by the GOP, much less being ignored in his eventual victory, even with its disputed legitimacy.
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Original reporting by Michael Isikoff at Yahoo News.