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Former Trump business partner Felix Sater set to testify Friday before House Intelligence Committee

Felix Sater at his attorney’s office in New York in March. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer, is set to testify Friday before the House Intelligence Committee about his experience working on a proposed Trump tower project in Moscow during the 2016 election, according to Sater and other people familiar with his scheduled appearance.

The closed-door interview is part of an inquiry by the House panel into President Trump’s long-standing interest in expanding his brand to Moscow, a topic that Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the committee, has said he intends to explore further.

“This was a project that the president was pursuing during the presidential campaign” that “may have been the most lucrative deal of his life,” Schiff said Wednesday of Trump’s efforts to develop a project in Russia, which never advanced beyond the early stages.

During an appearance at the National Press Club, Schiff said the Trump Organization was effectively seeking Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s support for a Moscow tower in 2016 “while the candidate, Donald Trump, was out on the campaign trail extolling the merits of Vladi­mir Putin.”

A spokesman for Schiff did not comment on Sater’s planned testimony but said the committee is continuing its investigation into the Moscow project and “will be proceeding with multiple staff-level interviews as part of that investigation during the coming weeks.”

‘We will be in Moscow’: The story of Trump’s 30-year quest to expand his brand to Russia

Sater, a U.S. citizen, was originally set to testify before the panel in March, but his appearance was postponed. He worked on two efforts to develop a Trump tower in Moscow, and he escorted Trump’s children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. during a 2006 visit to the Russian capital.

Most recently, Sater worked closely with Trump’s then-personal attorney Michael Cohen on a proposed Moscow development that began in the fall of 2015.

At the time, Cohen and Sater discussed using the project to help not only Trump’s bottom line, but also his electoral efforts.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote to Cohen in a 2015 email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

Last year, Cohen admitted he lied to Congress about the project. He said he falsely claimed that efforts to build a Trump-branded tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, when in fact discussions continued through June of that year — as Trump was securing the GOP presidential nomination.

Cohen is serving a three-year jail sentence after also pleading guilty to tax and campaign finance crimes.

Along with Sater, the House Intelligence Committee is seeking the testimony of another businessman who was part of discussions about a Trump tower in Russia: Giorgi Rtskhiladze, a native of Georgia who is now a U.S. citizen and briefly expressed interest in a Trump Moscow development during a 2015 email exchange with Cohen.

In an interview, Rtskhiladze said the details of his testimony were still being negotiated between his lawyer and committee staff.