Donald Trump’s Russia investigation may have taken a new turn with a report highlighting the president’s financial connections to Russia through a reported Russian mob-linked criminal and a real-estate firm accused of money laundering.
Most of the media attention, as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s questioning regarding the Russia investigation, has centered on alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, as well as the subsequent firing of FBI Director James Comey. But a new report from Bloomberg highlights a potential financial connection between Donald Trump and a now-defunct real estate development group called Bayrock Group that may have allowed shadowy money to flow from Vladimir Putin’s inner circle into Trump’s companies.
Bayrock worked with Donald Trump as two of his children — Donald Jr. and Ivanka — on a number of real estate deals between 2002 and 2011, the report noted. During that time, Bayrock was connected with banks in trouble for money laundering and had an office just two floors below Donald Trump’s own office in Trump Tower.
“Icelandic banks that dealt with Bayrock, for example, were easy marks for money launderers and foreign influence, according to interviews with government investigators, legislators, and others in Reykjavik, Brussels, Paris and London,” the report noted. “Trump testified under oath in a 2007 deposition that Bayrock brought Russian investors to his Trump Tower office to discuss deals in Moscow, and said he was pondering investing there.”
There were also allegations from a former Bayrock principal named Jody Kriss that the company was actually a front for money laundering, a charge that the company contested in court while describing Kriss as a disgruntled employee. But the case Kriss brought forward close to a decade ago is still moving forward, with a federal judge in New York allowing it to proceed as a racketeering case, Bloomberg reported.
The report also connects Donald Trump to a “career criminal” named Felix Sater, another principal at Bayrock who former Bayrock employees said had frequent meetings with Trump in Trump’s office. Sater, who has ties to organized crime in the United States and Russia, spent time in prison for assaulting a man with a broken cocktail glass.
Bad news Donny‼️
Lawyers seek to unseal docs in case against Felix????????Sater????????hired by Trump despite Mafia stock scamhttps://t.co/LMLaLIL2sf
— Dr. Dena Grayson (@DrDenaGrayson) June 20, 2017
The alleged connections between Donald Trump and Felix Sater got an even wider audience when Rachel Maddow highlighted the report on her MSNBC show. Others have picked up the story, including Raw Story, which noted that Sater worked with Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on an attempted Ukrainian peach proposal.
Sater is also alleged to have advised Trump’s campaign.
— The Stern Facts (@thesternfacts) June 20, 2017
While the report noted that it is unclear if the connections to Felix Sater or Bayrock are part of Robert Mueller’s investigation, there is evidence that the independent counsel is focusing on money laundering and Russian organized crime. Mueller’s team has grown to include prosecutors with expertise in white-collar fraud and Russian organized crime, Bloomberg noted.
For his part, Donald Trump has denied any close connection to Felix Sater.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]