The House Judiciary Committee plans to question the point person for the controversial 2016 Trump Tower Moscow project in what will be Democrats’ second session next week with the onetime business associate of President Trump.
The panel, which has impeachment jurisdiction, will conduct a closed-door interview on Thursday with Felix Sater, a real estate developer and entrepreneur who once worked with Trump, according to two officials familiar with the session who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss the committee’s plans.
Sater, a U.S. citizen who was born in Russia, is to appear publicly before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.
Investigators on both panels are expected to question Sater on Trump’s plans to build a skyscraper in Moscow during the 2016 election, a project Sater worked on for a time. It was Sater who came up with the idea of giving a $50 million penthouse in that building to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a way to market the tower to wealthy individuals.
Originally, longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified that work on that proposed development ended in January 2016, well before Trump became the GOP nominee for president. However, text messages subsequently turned over by Sater showed that discussions about the project continued into the middle of that election year.
Cohen eventually said he had initially lied to congressional investigators about the project, which has become a top focus for House Democrats.
While both the Judiciary and Intelligence committees are investigating Trump, the Intelligence Committee has focused on what Trump associates may have known about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice, abused his power or engaged in public corruption.
In that vein, the panels’ questions are likely to differ slightly, with the Intelligence Committee focused on Russia and the Judiciary Committee asking about possible obstruction. Sater, for example, could be asked about whether he was ever instructed to lie or mislead to protect Trump regarding the timing of the 2016 Trump Tower Moscow talks.
In early March, the Judiciary Committee asked Sater for any documents related to Trump Tower Moscow as well as to foreign governments participating in or being solicited for business transactions with Trump, his company, his children’s companies or the presidential inaugural committee.
It also sought any correspondence about loans or capital investments by any Russian entity with the Trump Organization or any of the family’s businesses after Jan. 1, 2015. The panel, a Democratic committee official said, will ask Sater about all of those items.
Sater has been sought as a witness by congressional and Justice Department investigators because of his years of work with Trump on a range of developments beyond the Trump Tower in Moscow.
Sater, who came to the United States from Russia at age 6, helped lead a company, Bayrock, that partnered with Trump on the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York, which opened in 2010. The two men also discussed working jointly on other Trump-branded developments, including a hotel and condominium project that was built in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and others proposed around the world.
Trump has since distanced himself from Sater. The businessman was convicted in 1991 in connection with a bar fight and charged again in 1998 for his role in an organized-crime scheme to manipulate stock prices. Sater pleaded guilty but received no jail time, because of his cooperation with law enforcement investigating organized crime amd national security matters.