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Judge Advances Federal Lawsuit Alleging Trump Organization Was A Money Laundry

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Moscow native Felix Sater, a real estate developer and former business associate of President Donald Trump known for his ties to the Russian mafia, has been accused of laundering millions of dollars in a lawsuit. And on Monday, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan allowed that lawsuit to move forward.

The money, according to the lawsuit, was stolen from BTA Bank in Kazakhstan, and Sater is accused of laundering it through Trump Organization properties.

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House Panel To Grill Felix Sater, Overseer Of Trump Moscow Project

Prepare for fireworks.

The House Intelligence Committee  will hold a public interview next Wednesday with Felix Sater, a Russian-born Trump business associate and convicted felon who served as the point man for the shady Trump Tower Moscow project that is now at the center of a probe into nefarious Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sater worked with Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to try and secure the rights to the Moscow tower project as Trump ran for president. And emails show that Sater suggested working with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s people to both get Trump elected and the project approved.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email to Cohen in November 2015. Sater added, “I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this.”

It’s unclear how far Sater went in order to seek out Putin associates’ “buy in.”

But Sater’s email provides a possible motive for collusion — which special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as multiple congressional committees, are probing.

Interviewing Sater is a key part of the House Intelligence Committee’s re-opened probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether the Trump campaign had any knowledge or role in those actions.

One of the main topics the committee is probing is whether there was any “coordination between the Russian government, or related foreign actors, and individuals associated with Donald Trump’s campaign, transition, administration, or business interests.” And that’s where Sater’s testimony fits in.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced the probe would be restarted after House Democrats took back control of the committee earlier this year.

When Republicans controlled the House, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) ran the committee’s probe — which was a total sham and appeared more of an effort by Nunes to protect Trump from scrutiny rather than actually get to the bottom of any Trump-Russia conspiracy.

Wednesday’s public interview with Sater will be one of the first major actions in the newly Democratic-controlled committee’s probe.

Get your popcorn ready.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: Donald Trump with Tevfik Arif, center, and Felix H. Sater, right, at the official unveiling of Trump SoHo in September 2007, when it was still under construction. Credit Mark Von Holden/WireImage

Biographer Foresees ‘Harrowing’ Experience For Trump As Probe Unfolds

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Trump biographer Tim O’Brien predicts that the next few months are going to be very unpleasant for the president, as House Democrats conduct a thorough probe of his personal finances.

Writing in Bloomberg, O’Brien draws on his own experience of getting sued by Trump last decade to discuss the president’s shady financial dealings that could get him into trouble for insurance fraud, among other crimes.

“Scrutiny of Trump’s insurance dealings is just the beginning of what is going to be a long, meandering and possibly harrowing experience for the president, his family, longtime employees, many of his business partners and the White House,” he writes. “Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, attorneys general in Virginia, New York and the District of Columbia, five committees within the House of Representatives and, now, banking and insurance regulators, are all putting the Trump Organization and the president’s financial and political dealings under a wide array of microscopes.”

O’Brien notes that we already know of one shady character in Trump’s orbit who is scheduled to testify before Congress: Felix Sater, the Russian-American former mobster who worked with former “fixer” Michael Cohen to negotiate with Russian officials to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even as he was running for president.

O’Brien describes Sater as a “career criminal” and says he could offer information about not just the Moscow project, but also the Trump Soho hotel project that has been scrutinized as a potential vehicle for international money laundering.

Looking at all these potential targets for investigations, O’Brien concludes that many of the president’s closest allies might turn on him to save themselves from legal jeopardy.

“If Cohen is any indication… many, if not everybody, at the Trump Organization and elsewhere may decide to protect themselves before they protect the president,” he writes. “Investigators have landed on the money trail.”

IMAGE: Donald Trump with Felix H. Sater (right) and Tevfik Arif at the official unveiling of Trump SoHo in September 2007, when it was still under construction. Credit Mark Von Holden/WireImage

#EndorseThis: Trevor Noah Laughs At Trump’s Biggest Lie Ever

For many months, Americans have wondered exactly how Donald Trump is connected with Russia. And for just as many months, Trump has repeatedly replied, “I don’t have anything to do with Russia!” He has stuck with that mystifying denial stubbornly, despite a mountain of evidence showing that it’s false.

Now Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has turned over emails to Congress that show Trump was trying to build the world’s tallest skyscraper in Moscow while he was running for president.

For some reason, Trevor Noah finds this revelation shocking, if only because the scale of Trump’s lie is as large as the building he wanted to put up in the Russian capital. The Daily Show host was less surprised to see convicted felon Felix Sater starring as the middleman in that Moscow deal.

Shocking or not, it’s all quite amusing — in that ultra-dark way we’ve learned to enjoy since last January.