Russian-born business executive Felix Sater will be interviewed by the U.S. House intelligence committee about his role in President Donald Trump’s effort to build a skyscraper in Moscow during the presidential election, the Washington Post reports.
The staff-led, closed-door interview is part of the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Special counsel Robert Mueller said there was no evidence of a conspiracy between Russia and Trump’s campaign, but noted dozens of contacts between the two. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has said he wants the committee to investigate some of those contacts.
Sater worked with Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow before the 2016 election. The project was later abandoned, and Cohen is now in prison, partly on charges that he lied to Congress about the duration of the project.
Schiff, a Democrat from California, has said he wants to talk to Sater and “other witnesses related to Moscow Trump Tower” in future interviews.
Sater told the Associated Press he has testified extensively about the Russia project in the past and there was little new to add.
Early in Mueller’s investigation, Trump critics seized on Sater’s Nov. 3, 2015 email to Cohen: “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
Sater later said he was referring to exploiting Trump’s popularity and Putin’s interest in the Moscow development to boost the project, not any attempts to influence the outcome of the election.
Sater — who stood to make upwards of $100 million on the deal, which never went through — contended it was strictly business.