Earlier this week, Buzzfeed published a large number of emails relating to the Trump Tower Moscow deal that Donald Trump was trying to set up with Michael Cohen. Parts of them had been published before in the New York Times, but the completeness of this dump was certainly new. The online publication also provided a useful timeline at the side of its story.
It seems relatively clear that Felix Sater himself was a source, if not the source, on this story. An enormous number of emails were addressed to or from him, something that the publication does not seek to hide, choosing to redact only actual email addresses and phone numbers in many cases. The story did not get as much traction online as you might expect, a consequence perhaps both of the Office of the Special Counsel correcting its authors earlier assertion that it was in possession of apparently non-existent documents showing that Donald Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. One of the authors, Anthony Cormier, denied having personally seen these documents, whereas his co-author Jason Leopold said that they had both seen them. Cormier declined to explain when the discrepancy was put to him on ‘Reliable Sources’ and the anchor, Brian Stelter, did not follow up or press him on the point. This inconsistent explanation for the reporting, which was followed by mass firings at Buzzfeed, may have dampened reactions to what should have been another ostensibly huge story.
The social media hive mind pounced on the undisclosed elements of the releases, which involve VTB and, I suggest, implicate VEB ‘off stage’. But the lack of amazement, of celebration of Sater as a ‘whistleblower’, will not have pleased him. Surely Mr. Sater felt the need to get these documents out there – and to a friendly news site.
Felix Sater’s Relationship With Buzzfeed
Unlike the controversial article which was corrected by Bob Mueller, where only Leopold claimed the authors saw the alleged documents at its heart, a story which can be mostly ascribed, therefore, to Leopold, Felix Sater is principally Anthony Cormier’s friend and source. The pair’s story “Trump Moscow: The Definitive Story of How Trump’s Team Worked The Russian Deal During The Campaign” has a URL that shows it was filed by Cormier. Cormier is bylined on a frankly ridiculous story that seeks to defend Felix Sater as, get this, an ‘American spy.’
In the sprawling Trump-Russia investigation, one name constantly pops up: Felix Sater. In story after story, Sater is described as Donald Trump’s former business partner, a convicted stock swindler who was born in the Soviet Union, worked in Russia, tried to win Trump a deal in Moscow, and even helped broker a Ukrainian peace plan that Vladimir Putin would have loved.
Basically, he’s portrayed as something just short of a Russian spy.
Effectively, he has been a spy — but for the United States.
This is an hilariously bad piece of ‘trust washing’ that attempts to convince the public that the man who was conspiring with Putin to elect Trump, in his own words, is somehow one of the good guys. Sater was an FBI asset, a ‘dangle’ , never a spy. He bombastically, and falsely, stated that he caught Osama Bin Laden. But Cormier’s was not the only piece of ‘trust washing’ on Sater. A concerted PR effort can be seen, without too much trouble, when one reviews other pieces trying to sanitize this two-bit mobster; they all follow the same lines: ‘Hey, did you know that Felix Sater was an informant for the FBI?” The conspiracy theorists Who What Why, a website run by Russ Baker, a man that said the Bushes did 9/11, have been desperately trying to spin for Sater, and at the same time, make the case that the fact he once informed for the FBI not only gives Sater a pass, but actually stops Mueller from prosecuting Trump. Just after Comey was fired in May of 2017, Baker published a story entitled “WHY FBI CAN’T TELL ALL ON TRUMP, RUSSIA”, which tried to make the case that
the FBI’s Russia investigation was compromised because it could interfere with the Bureau’s objective of fighting organized crime originating in the former Soviet UnionSure, Jan
and all because of Felix Sater, whom Who What Why then tried to whitewash in many more articles, always making the case that because the FBI trusted him once, he was somehow now inviolate. Sater pitched the line that he was a sacred, untouchable FBI informant to other outlets – who were, thankfully, more skeptical than Buzzfeed or Who What Why. The LA Times said for example that:
Sater’s lawyer, Robert W. Wolf, gives his client more credit, saying he worked with “numerous U.S. national security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies.” Sater says he helped hunt “America’s greatest enemies” in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
There is no independent verification of those assertions.
Former CIA officials who worked in counter-terrorism and Russian affairs said they never heard of Sater and doubt his cloak-and-dagger claims of chasing down terrorists.
Sater laid relatively quiet after his triumphant Buzzfeed hagiography. Anthony Cormier, its author, had, without declaring it in the article, taken Mr. Sater out socializing to drinks and dinner parties in Manhattan before it was published. For Felix Sater, this partying appeared to be part of a strategy to use the media as his defense.
Sater did seem absolutely determined to ensure he was falsely portrayed as a cooperating witness, as a friend to the media and liberal establishments. Sater tried to get himself photographed hanging out with as many of the ‘resistor’ and media elite as possible.
Online, Sater boasted of his links to journalism and was, inexplicably, invited to speak at multiple journalism schools. His exchanges with this reporter were less cordial. When I pointed out to some of the alt-left whom they were hanging out with, Mr. Sater sent me a link to to the Buzzfeed piece authored by his social partner Mr. Cormier who had taken Sater to the dinner party. we were discussing.
Yahoo Broke the Trump Tower Moscow Story
It seems not unreasonable then to assume that the vast dumps of emails on Trump Tower came not from ‘investigative journalism’ but simply from Sater handing them over to be published by a friendly outlet. Cormier and Leopold received a great many plaudits for their story in May 2018, the “definitive story” of Trump Tower Moscow. In retrospect, however, the story was indeed definitive and exhaustive merely because Sater had given them his emails. The story, however, was not at all broken by Leopold and Cormier. The news that Trump Tower Moscow had gone on longer than admitted by Donald Trump or Michael Cohen was broken in an exclusive report by Yahoo News’ Hunter Walker and Brett Arnold on May 16th.
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The next day, Felix Sater dumped on their exclusive by giving the actual documents to Buzzfeed. It is clear from the Walker-Arnold piece that Sater admitted to them the documents existed, but only after they learned of their existence from multiple sources in Congress. The authors say Sater “confirmed” to them what they had already learned through their reporting. It’s also clear that they did not have possession of the emails.
Multiple sources have described to Yahoo News the texts and emails with Cohen that Sater has provided to the government. Sater confirmed to Yahoo News that he provided all of his texts and emails with Cohen to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team as well as to the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate’s Intelligence and Judiciary committees.
The emails and texts described to Yahoo News, which have not previously been made public
After Yahoo’s Walker and Arnold broke the news of these documents, Mr. Sater, who whatever his other shortcomings appears to have a flair for PR, worked with Cormier and Leopold so they could publish their much longer “definitive” Trump Tower Moscow piece. In retrospect, it is clear that this piece was based on Sater simply handing over his emails to the journalists. They quote extensively from them. Cormier and Leopold made a deeply ungenerous reference to Walker and Arnold’s breaking of the news in their prologue:
While fragments of the Trump Moscow venture have trickled out — most recently in a report last night by Yahoo News — this is the definitive story of the Moscow tower
The authors then attempt to pretend that their sources were ‘two FBI agents’ while not admitting that their actual source was, quite simply, their friend Felix Sater, who’d given them the documents whose existence Walker and Arnold had discovered through independent, investigative reporting. It is important at this moment to understand that even while Sater was partying with the left and positioning himself as a media player, he was, throughout, shilling for Donald Trump and denying collusion with Russia. His actions were designed to damage, not support, Mueller’s investigation. At the Manhattan dinner party to which Anthony Cormier took him, Sater posed with a bottle of wine labeled “Collusion” (yes, really) that he described as being “weak, like the investigation”. When he jumped into my conversation with somebody else and I replied “I wasn’t talking to you, traitor,” Mr. Sater sent me a meme of a therapist asking an insane patient “Is the Russian collusion in the room with us… right now?”
When the independent journalist Wendy Siegelman noted Sater’s intense PR blitz, Sater replied with a triumphant meme of Leonardo di Caprio ‘So much more to come’.
Why then is Mr. Sater now choosing to have all his emails published in such meticulous detail? The earlier “definitive Trump Moscow” story he sourced got most of the substance out. What could be the hurry now in terms of making sure every email sees the light of day?
Does Mueller’s Mystery Case Involve Trump’s RICO Indictment, and is Sater Running Scared?
In a previous article, I laid out the runners and riders for the Mueller ‘mystery witness’ case, where my own bet is that the subject is VEB. Whether I am right or wrong, Mr. Sater may agree with me that the subject is a Russian bank. Here are some things we can say for certain:
- The case is very important, receiving certiorari in the Supreme Court – although clearly that may mean that the point of law, rather than the actors involved, are important
- The case impacts national security and is likely to involve important actors because, distinct from the ‘importance via certiorari’ point, the courthouse authorities took extraordinary steps to conceal the identity of the appellant from reporters
- The ‘mystery case’ entity and associated amicus briefs are, by definition, not the subject of this specific Mueller case. Mr. Mueller is trying to subpoena a witness in his case. The sovereign financial entity is not accused of a crime in this case. Its data, that it is resisting handing over, is merely ‘witness evidence’ to the crime committed by the completely unknown target of the case.
Patribotics has reported exclusively that Donald Trump is personally indicted, under seal, on RICO charges along with Felix Sater, the Trump Organization and Bayrock.
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Is it possible that VEB, the state-run entity, is being subpoenaed for records that relate to some of Felix Sater’s funders on the Trump Organization-Bayrock deal? VEB might have records on transfers made to VTB, the commercial Russian bank involved in the Bayrock deal; or to Sergei Kislyak, whom, Felix Sater’s chosen messenger Jason Leopold reported,
The first Trump sealed indictment, I exclusively reported, had its genesis in a state Enterprise Corruption case from Eric Schneiderman, when he was the Attorney General of New York, I also reported that Schneiderman had had Trump Tower under state surveillance for well over a year – something that would not require a FISA warrant for AG Schneiderman to do. I reported, still further, that Paul Manafort, who promised ‘cooperation’ with the FBI before allowing a ‘by consent’ search of his apartment at Trump Tower, had lied to the FBI about what was there, cleaning out his apartment in advance and removing items to Florida.
Bloomberg reported with a clear-eyed view on Sater, Bayrock and Trump:
In that context, a troubling history of Trump’s dealings with Russians exists outside of Russia: in a dormant real-estate development firm, the Bayrock Group, which once operated just two floors beneath the president’s own office in Trump Tower.
Bayrock partnered with the future president and his two eldest children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, on a series of real-estate deals between 2002 and about 2011, the most prominent being the troubled Trump Soho hotel and condominium in Manhattan.
During the years that Bayrock and Trump did deals together, the company was also a bridge between murky European funding and a number of projects in the U.S. to which the president once lent his name in exchange for handsome fees. 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. 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.
One of Bayrock’s principals was a career criminal named Felix Sater who had ties to Russian and American organized crime groups. Before linking up with the company and with Trump, he had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government, fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there, and had gone to prison for slashing apart another man’s face with a broken cocktail glass.
In a series of interviews and a lawsuit, a former Bayrock insider, Jody Kriss, claims that he eventually departed from the firm because he became convinced that Bayrock was actually a front for money laundering.
Let us then cross-reference this with some other facts. Has Mr. Sater got wind that, no matter how many public relations pieces he places with Buzzfeed or Newsweek, US intelligence does not regard him as “An American Spy” and is about to unseal charges on him, personally, for RICO? My reporting is that the first sealed indictment on Donald Trump as a person is for RICO, that the Trump Organization is indicted as a corrupt organization, and that the specific case was that of Felix Sater and Bayrock. Sater’s motivation might then have been to warn his masters in Russia of some of what Mueller has on them; or to lobby Trump for a pardon. This money laundering by Sater and Trump with the Trump Organization pre-dated the election campaign of 2016. But the pre-Mueller, personal indictment of Donald Trump, granted while he was President of the United States, – jointly reported here by myself and Claude Taylor, and the fact that this indictment was for RICO with Mr. Sater, Bayrock and the Trump Organization – a story to this reporter alone – has dominated debate long after that election. A terrified Mr. Sater now appears to be trying to hurt Bob Mueller’s other cases with disclosures and to be lobbying Trump for a pardon he cannot give at the same time. This is not the sound of whistleblowing; it is the sound of a stuck pig, squealing.
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