It was a double-dip day on Thursday.
In the morning, I read this article here on Raw Story about Felix Sater. If you find the name somewhat familiar, that's because it came up during the election. Sater is a particularly-sleazy businessman who has occasionally partnered with Donald Trump and has a long-history of legal troubles, though Trump claimed not to really know who he was -- despite photos of them together and despite Sater being...well, an occasional business partner.
(By the way, just to clarify the term "legal troubles," Sater -- for one example -- plead guilty to racketeering in a $40 million stock fraud scheme that the Mafia organized, though he never went to jail for it -- that's because he became an informant for the FBI and CIA. This is never a good thing when you find yourself a business partner of Felix Sater if you ever are under federal investigation yourself. Oh, and in an interesting related-issue, Andrew Weissmann -- who was the prosecutor who handled Sater's plea deal -- has been hired by Special Counsel Robert Mueller...)
Okay, so that's who Felix Sater is. Well, as it happens, Felix Sater has been questioned by Robert Mueller, and the Financial Times reported that he is "cooperating" with the investigation. Indeed, according to the sources, "Sater may have already flipped and given prosecutors the evidence they need to make a case against Trump."
But, hey, don't take the reporter's word for it. Just listen to...oh, Felix Sater. In an interview he gave with New York magazine, Sater himself hinted, "In about the next 30 to 35 days, I will be the most colourful character you have ever talked about. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about it now, before it happens. And believe me, it ain’t anything as small as whether or not they’re gonna call me to the Senate committee.”
It gets worse, if that's possible. (We'll..."worse" depending on your point of view. Others may be chomping at the bit. According to a source for The Spectator magazine, Sater has already told his family that he knows he and Trump are going to prison, "someone talking to Mueller's investigators informed me." ("Me," being the reporter, not Sater, just to clarify pronouns.)
Now, to be clear, a lot of this is "reportedly," and Felix Sater also appears to be someone who likes to talk big about himself. But, on the core issues, he is cooperating with the investigation, and he does have a history of making plea deals to give up his associates and keep himself out of jail.
Not good for Trump.
But as I said, Thursday was a double-dip day for Trump, and the other story may actually, remarkably even be worse -- and it has a twist. (In fact, because of the twist, that may be what makes it worse.)
Mind you, even without the twist, it's pretty terrible on its own.
Over lunch yesterday, a friend told me about a story that began with Bloomberg News and moved to other outlets, including Vanity Fair -- so these aren't fly-by-night news sources -- though it hasn't gained national traction yet, however it was discussed that morning on Thom Hartmann's radio show, where my friend heard about the article. He said the story presents a massive conspiracy bank fraud problem for the Trump family -- pretty much all of them: Donald, Eric, Don Jr., and Ivanka. And it's not based on rumor, but the article includes leaked emails from the Trump Organization -- not merely talked about, but the actual emails itself.
Later, after lunch, my friend tracked down the article and sent me a link to it. The story was very convoluted -- as most bank fraud stories are -- but to give you a general overview:
The story concerns Trump's involvement with a $350 million fraud over the Trump Soho Hotel deal (a facility he talked about at length on The Apprentice TV show -- something which probably isn't a good thing to have done at this point). Basically, his partner in the deal had committed the bank fraud with the help of the Mafia, and ultimately with other money laundering sources in Russia. And the leaked emails show that Trump, Eric, Don Jr, and Ivanka all knew about it, and even held a meeting on it. And not only did they never report it to the authorities, but kept it quiet to pretty much shake down their business partner and continue defrauding the banks.
Oh, one other thing. This is that "twist" part which makes it even worse for Trump. (Yes, even worse...)
When I got home from lunch and received the email from my friend with a link to the article, I burst out laughing about four paragraphs in. That's where I read that the business partner is...Felix Sater!!!!!
Well, that's not good for Trump.
There's something else that's very important in the article. It talks about federal RICO racketeering charges that could be pending, and also notes that the state of New York has its own RICO racketeering laws. Recall what I wrote here a couple weeks ago -- a presidential pardon ONLY covers federal crimes, not state or local.
Not good for Trump, the sequel.
Also, for anyone who tries to claim these are outside the purview of Mueller's Russia investigation, they aren't. The first story on the Trump Soho Hotel bank fraud overlaps with Felix Sauter doing money laundering with Russia. As for the second story, not only does any story with Sater now raise the trail to Russian with his money connections there, but any story with Trump's finances and money difficulties points to the foundation of why he likely had to go to Russian oligarchs for raising money, since banks in the U.S. and around the world wouldn't lend him any.
You can read the article and leaked emails here in this piece from The Stern Facts, which puts the entire story together from the various sources.
At the moment, this is not a national story. Neither is the one about Felix Sater cooperating with the Mueller investigation. But that doesn't make them any less real. The emails are real. Bloomberg News and Vanity Fair have reported them. Felix Sater is talking with the investigators. And Sater does have a history of making deals with the authorities -- one of whom is on Robert Mueller's staff. It's just that all these real stories simply haven't broken through "as news" ALL the other even bigger stories that have been making the headlines. But being a news headline is actually secondary to what the very real FBI investigators are doing, whether the stories have become headlines yet or not. And as Felix Sater himself says, "In about the next 30 to 35 days, I will be the most colourful character you have ever talked about."
It was not a double-good day for Trump. For other people reading about it all...that's another matter entirely.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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