Felix Sater, whose company partnered with Donald Trump on the failed Trump Tower Soho and was also involved in Trump's stalled Trump Tower Moscow project, was an informant working for the FBI when he told Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that he would recruit Russian President Vladimir Putin to help "engineer" Trump's 2016 presidential election victory, a stunning new investigative report by BuzzFeed News revealed on Monday.
In fact, the BuzzFeed profile of the 52-year-old, Moscow-born Sater — reported and published with Sater's cooperation — says that Slater has already given information to Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller — whose investigative team includes at least six members who have worked with Sater previously, in some cases going back a decade.
Sater is also alleged to have deep connections to both Russian and American organized crime figures. In 1998, he pled guilty to a stock fraud scheme that also involved members of the Genovese and Bonanno New York Mafia crime families. That guilty plea led to an agreement to act as an FBI informant — but Sater had served as a valuable "asset" to the FBI as well as the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency long before his plea deal, BuzzFeed reported.
Sater, according to the Monday report, even provided important intelligence in the hunt for the now-slain terrorist leader Osama bin Laden prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon which made bin Laden the most wanted man in the world.
Sater obtained secret satellite phone numbers for bin Laden and helped the United States put together a covert hit team to kill the Al Qaeda leader, according to the BuzzFeed report, which may be read online in its entirety by visiting this link.
U.S. forces did not catch up to bin Laden for more than a decade after Sater's involvement, however, finally tracking him to a hideaway in Pakistan where a Navy SEAL team found and killed him.
Though Trump has claimed in sworn testimony that he does not know Sater and wouldn't recognize him if they were in the same room together, the BuzzFeed report portrays a lengthy and close relationship between the two, starting when Sater's company rented offices in Manhattan's Trump Tower. Sater marched into Trump's office uninvited one day, declaring, "I'm going to be the biggest developer in New York City — and you want to be my partner."
The BuzzFeed report is based on repeated interviews with Sater, who now lives in Los Angeles, as well as "legal documents, emails, letters, and interviews with 10 current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials familiar with his undercover work," reporters Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold wrote.
The report says that though Sater has been interviewed by Mueller's team, what exactly he told the Russia special counsel remains known only to Sater and the investigators.
But Sater is longtime friends with Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer and self-described "fix it guy" who figures as a central figure in the Russia investigation as well as in the concurrent scandal over a "hush money" payment of $130,000 to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, over an alleged extramarital sexual relationship between Trump and Clifford.
Due to his connections to both Trump and Trump's chief fixer, Cohen, Sater has been at the center of the Trump-Russia investigation. Not only was his now-defunct Bayrock company a partner in the Trump Tower Soho deal which according to a lawsuit filed in that case was "backed by oligarchs and money they stole from the Russian people," but Sater was also involved with Cohen in an off-the-books "peace plan" for Ukraine that would have resulted in Trump lifting economic sanctions against Russia.
It was also Sater who emailed Cohen in 2015 promising, "Our boy [Trump] can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin's team to buy in on this, I will manage this process."
The amount of information that Sater could provide to Mueller about Trump's Russian connections and possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election campaign would appear to be large. But according to the BuzzFeed piece, Sater still considers himself friends with Trump, even though Trump has claimed not to know him.
"It's very upsetting but, you know, what am I going to do? Start calling him a liar?" Sater said to BuzzFeed. "First thing I plan to do when Trump leaves office, whether it's next week, in 2020 or four years later, is march right into his office and say, 'Let's build Trump Moscow.'"