Longtime Donald Trump associate Felix Sater told Chris Hayes on his MSNBC show Friday that he was trying to secure a real estate deal during the 2016 campaign to build “Trump Tower Moscow” with funding from VTB Bank, which is currently under U.S. sanctions.
“I had a local developer there [in Russia], and I had the Trump Organization here [in the U.S.], and I was in the middle,” Sater said. “And the local developer there would have gotten financing from VTB and/or another Russian bank, but VTB at that point was the go-to bank for real estate development.”
The deal didn’t go through, but it is likely part of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling. For his part, Sater said that he had nothing to do with the Trump campaign.
News of the Moscow real estate deal came to light this week after Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a status report outlining dozens of leads they say they could not pursue after the Republicans shut down the committee’s investigation, according to Business Insider.
Here is a rundown of how Sater was pursuing the Moscow deal, from Business Insider:
Sater and Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, were pushing for the deal with VTB in Moscow at the height of the presidential election, in late 2015 and early 2016. The revelation will likely draw sharp scrutiny from the special counsel Robert Mueller, who recently subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents related to the Trump Tower Moscow deal.
Sater first sent a non-binding letter of intent to Cohen outlining the terms of the “Trump World Tower Moscow” deal on October 13, 2015, The New York Times previously reported. Andrey Rozov, a Russian investor, had already signed it by the time Sater forwarded it to Cohen, and Trump signed the letter.
Weeks later, the two men exchanged a series of emails gearing up to celebrate the Trump Tower Moscow deal. In the emails, obtained by The Times, Sater bragged about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and told Cohen he would “get all of Putins team to buy in” on the deal.
“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote, according to The Times.
Besides being a Trump associate, Sater says that he has spent the past two decades as a top U.S. intelligence asset for the Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA and FBI. He even claims to have pursued high-level terrorists—including Osama bin Laden.
He won’t say whether or not he has been interviewed by Mueller. But it is very likely that Mueller is well aware of Sater’s intelligence work because he was the FBI director during much of the time Sater was reportedly working for the feds.