Breaking News Emails
Newly unsealed court records confirm that Felix Sater, a former business associate of President Donald Trump, was an invaluable FBI source who used his ties to the criminal underworld to rat out New York's organized crime families and gather intelligence on Al Qaeda and arms dealers in Afghanistan.
But the trove of documents, made public this week following a yearslong legal effort by media organizations, shed no new light on the part of the Russian-born businessman's past that is probably of the most interest to House Democrats investigating the president.
They don't get into his work with Trump on real estate projects in New York City and elsewhere in the years before he ran for president, and don't deal with the time period when Sater was pushing for a deal to build a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
U.S. District Judge Leo Glasser, who ordered the records released, ruled that some documents should remain secret, but assured the public that those materials contain "not a jot or tittle that mentions the President in relation to Sater."
A Soviet emigre who befriended Trump in the 2000s, Sater served jail time for slashing a man with a broken cocktail glass in 1991 and then was convicted of racketeering in 1998 for his role in a $40 million pump-and-dump stock fraud.
That conviction, though, was kept under seal for years as Sater provided intelligence to the FBI on a who's who of criminal organizations.
Meanwhile, he reinvented himself as a real estate developer, working with a company that partnered with Trump on a hotel condominium project in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood and repeatedly trying to work out a deal for a Trump branded property in Russia.
Sater's name appears dozens of times in former special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference. He had multiple exchanges with Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as he pushed a Moscow project during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The skyscraper deal was later abandoned, and Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, campaign-finance violations and lying to Congress about the project.
In all the years he worked with the FBI, Sater said the authorities never asked him to provide information about Trump before Mueller inquired about the Moscow deal. He said additional court records that Glasser ordered to be unsealed next month will provide even more details about his globe-trotting efforts to combat terrorism.
"I love this country more than anything else," Sater told The Associated Press, adding he was not moved to cooperate by the possibility of a jail sentence. "I'm not trying to wrap myself in a flag, but I did this out of patriotism."