Felix Sater is the likeliest source for the cache of Trump Tower Moscow materials that BuzzFeed released yesterday, and also for BF’s earlier allegation that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress

When BuzzFeed got slammed after the spokesman for Mueller had criticized its reporting that President Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, BF editor-in-chief Ben Smith 1/75

pointed out in an interview with Brian Stelter that BF had been working intensively on the Trump Tower Moscow (TTM) story for years and that all of its previous reporting on the project had been confirmed (which is true). 2/75

BuzzFeed editor and reporter defend scoop — CNN VideoBen Smith and Anthony Cormier say they are confident in their disputed reporting about President Trump telling Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. “This will be borne out,” Cormier says.https://tinyurl.com/y9m9vs9l

There have been a number of breakthrough articles by BF co-authors Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold about TTM, the most important having been: 3/75

(1) “The Asset.” (March 12, 2018) 4/75

How A Player In The Trump-Russia Scandal Led A Double Life As An American SpyFelix Sater has been cast as a Russian mafioso, a career criminal, and a key business associate of President Donald Trump’s — but he spent more than two decades as an intelligence asset who helped th…https://tinyurl.com/y8qd48sa

(2) Trump Moscow: The Definitive Story Of How Trump’s Team Worked The Russian Deal During The Campaign. (May 17, 2018) 5/75

Trump Moscow: The Definitive Story Of How Trump’s Team Worked The Russian Deal During The CampaignOn the day of the third Republican presidential debate, Trump personally signed the letter of intent.https://tinyurl.com/yb8kznn4

(3) The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower Moscow. (Nov 29, 2018) 6/75

The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower MoscowDuring the presidential campaign, Michael Cohen discussed the matter with a representative of Putin’s press secretary, according to two US sources.https://tinyurl.com/ybn9bgvm

(4) President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie. (Jan 17, 2019)

Donald Trump Told Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About Moscow Tower ProjectTrump received 10 personal updates from Michael Cohen and encouraged a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin. Update: The office of the special counsel is disputing BuzzFeed News’ report.https://tinyurl.com/ya99qb3t


Yesterday, BuzzFeed published yet another piece on Trump Tower Moscow with a timeline of events, 8/75

These Secret Files Show How The Trump Moscow Talks Unfolded While Trump Heaped Praise On PutinAhead of Michael Cohen’s testimony, read the original paper trail behind the campaign to build Europe’s tallest tower in Moscow — and how it played out alongside Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.https://tinyurl.com/ybmfq4wj

together with an upload to Document Cloud of 284 pages of original source documents on the Moscow project: 9/75

Trump MoscowSource document contributed to DocumentCloud by Azeen Ghorayshi (BuzzFeed).https://tinyurl.com/yaosbr7m

(The materials in yesterday’s cache substantiate the claims made about TTM in the Jan 17 article, which was about much more than the allegation that President Trump suborned perjury, although that received the most attention because it was the most explosive part.) 10/75

Significantly, FELIX SATER was the principal source of the first three BF stories. (In fact, the first article, “The Asset,” was a puff piece on Sater.) 11/75

I now think it likely that FELIX SATER was the main source for BF’s Jan 17 article, which included the allegation that Trump suborned Cohen’s perjury; and that it is also likely that Sater was the source for the cache of documents on TTM that BF published yesterday. 12/75

So far as yesterday’s article and upload is concerned, the Sater-Cohen team would have been by far BF’s likeliest source. (After all, they were the ones who worked on the project.) But the source can be narrowed even further, by excluding Cohen. 13/75

We have no reason to think that Cohen has ever been a source of investigative reporting for BF (or for any other media outlet, for that matter). On the other hand, we know that Sater has been. 14/75

That leaves Sater as the #1 most likely source for the cache of materials published by BF yesterday — and Sater is even more likely to have been that source because he was almost certainly the main source for the three BF articles on TTM dating from March to November 2018. 15/75

It also makes sense that Sater was BuzzFeed’s source for the allegation that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress in its Jan 17 article. 16/75

Note, first of all, that it stands to reason that Cohen and Sater, who worked closely together on the TTM project, would have been in communication with each other before meeting with Congressional committees and Team Mueller 17/75

(and about everything else related to Trump-Russia, for that matter), because they would have wanted to compare notes and coordinate their upcoming testimonies. 18/75

We also know that Cohen lied to Congress but that Sater almost certainly did not. 19/75

NBC News reported on 29 Nov 2018 20/75:

The NBC report suggests that Cohen and Sater must have disagreed about what their testimony should be, and if Trump directed Cohen to lie, that would certainly have figured in the discussions between Cohen and Sater as well. 21/75

Furthermore, that must have occurred *before* Cohen’s Congressional testimony in September and October of 2017. 22/75

The theory that BuzzFeed learned from Sater that Trump directed Cohen to lie also helps explain the puzzling statement made by Mueller’s spokesman Peter Carr on January 18, in which Carr strongly criticized some unspecified details in BF’s Jan 17 article. 23/75

Here is what Carr said in response to the BF article and its allegation that Trump had suborned Cohen’s perjury: 24/75

On Jan 26 I posted a long article/thread in which I argued at considerable length that Mueller (through Carr) was objecting to two things in particular about the BuzzFeed article: 25/75 tinyurl.com/yc9cohxn

1) that it allowed and even invited the interpretation that President Trump had held a meeting with Cohen in which he had directed Cohen to lie (which is exactly how Giuliani and others interpreted the article), 26/75

and 2) that it allowed and even invited the interpretation that law enforcement officers associated with Team Mueller had leaked the story to BF (which is also how Giuliani and others had interpreted it). 27/75

It occurred to me yesterday that the theory that Sater was the original source of the allegation that Trump suborned Cohen’s perjury (and that it was then confirmed by two unnamed law enforcement officers) would help to understand Carr’s criticism of the Jan 17 BF article. 28/75

The BuzzFeed article says 29/75:

Now if Sater told the “authorities” the truth when he was interviewed by Team Mueller sometime in December 2017 (and he probably did tell the truth), 30/75

then Mueller would have known that Cohen had been directed by President Trump to lie quite independently of the materials from which BF said Team Mueller had learned this. 31/75

The above theory of BF’s sourcing also helps to explain why Giuliani felt so confident that the BF allegation was false. 32/75

Giuliani felt certain that the BF allegation was false because he knew there was no evidence for it in all the materials that the FBI had garnered in its raid on Cohen’s three premises in NYC in April of 2017. 33/75

But if Sater was the source of the BF allegation, then the evidence for the allegation wouldn’t have been found in those materials. 34/75

We know that Cohen taped most if not all of his conversations with Trump, and we have lots of text messages and emails between Cohen and Sater. But there is no evidence that Cohen made a practice of taping or otherwise recording conversations he had with Sater. 35/75

So it is quite possible that Cohen told Sater that Trump had directed him to lie to Congress in a personal meeting that was not recorded. Consequently, there would be no evidence for this communication in the cache of materials taken from Cohen by the FBI. 36/75

On the other hand, Giuliani was undoubtedly on solid ground in claiming that if there had been a one-on-one communication (by phone or in person) in which Trump had directed Cohen to lie, that communication would have shown up in the materials from the raid on Cohen, 37/75

because we know that Cohen recorded his conversations with Trump. We also know that BF is standing by its story, and Carr’s highly qualified denial was clearly not a categorical denial of the allegation that Trump suborned Cohen’s testimony. 38/75

So there is still an open question: how DID Trump direct Cohen to lie to Congress? 39/75

The most likely place to look, according to BF’s Jan 17 article, would be a team of lawyers (the lawyers being unnamed) associated with the WH who worked with Cohen on his upcoming testimony: 40/75

So the likeliest scenario at this point of time is this: Trump directed Cohen to lie through lawyers who assumed that Trump’s claim that negotiations over TTM ended in January of 2016 was true. 41/75

Around this time (September of 2017), Cohen and Sater were trying to coordinate their upcoming testimony about TTM before the “authorities” (as Sater called them). 42/75

Cohen told Sater that he had learned from lawyers associated with the administration that Trump wanted Cohen to testify to an early date for the termination of the negotiations in order to limit the Trump-Russia investigations. 43/75

Cohen and Sater failed to reach an agreement about that testimony. Sater demurred, and when he was interviewed by the “authorities” in December (several months later), Sater gave a July 2017 date for the termination of the negotiations. 44/75

According to this scenario, Cohen must have known that he was placing himself under extreme risk by testifying to the false January date. His false testimony is only explicable if he believed that he would get a pardon from Trump for perjuring himself if he ever needed one — 45/75

and we know that he did want and expect a pardon from Trump right up until the Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin, where Trump appalled and disgusted Cohen so much that he decided to forego a pardon and spill the beans to Mueller. 46/75

Things are moving very quickly now, and even accelerating, over many important parts of the Trump-Russia story. 47/75

The belief that Mueller will be wrapping up his part of the investigations shortly is gaining traction. Yesterday Chuck Grassley, the previous chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he expects the Mueller report within a month. 48/75

Grassley says he expects Mueller report ‘within a month’ — CNN VideoRepublican Sen. Chuck Grassley says he expects special counsel Robert Mueller will release a report on the Russia probe “within a month,” during a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt.https://tinyurl.com/y8zd8k5p

More significantly, perhaps, Acting AG Matthew Whitaker said on Jan 28 that he had been fully briefed on the Mueller probe, and that he thought that the probe was “close to being completed.” 49/75

We will also have a better idea whether my theory is correct when Sater’s testimony before HPSCI on 14 Dec 2017 becomes publicly available. 50/75

(Chairman Adam Schiff has committed to making all the HPSCI transcripts available once the DOJ has had an opportunity to redact any classified materials in them.) 51/75

I don’t think Sater’s HPSCI transcripts will tell us much, but I think they will be terribly important despite that — and even (at the risk of sounding willfully paradoxical) BECAUSE they won’t tell us much. 52/75

That is because, as I argued months ago, Sater almost certainly declined to answer any probing Trump-Russia questions in his hearing, on the grounds that he had become a source for Mueller. 53/75

Congressional committees have the power to strip immunity from a witness who is cooperating with a federal investigation, but it is unlikely that either Republicans or Democrats on the committee would have wanted to strip Cohen of his immunity if he requested it — 54/75

though they would have had very different reasons for not doing so — Republicans being afraid of what Sater would say if he were stripped of testimonial immunity, and Democrats, because they would have wanted to defer to Mueller’s wishes. 55/75

Congressional committees can and often do defer to the needs of federal investigations when they hold hearings. This is true of both closed and open hearings. 56/75

That is what appears to be happening with Cohen’s upcoming Congressional testimony: 57/75

House Intel panel postpones Cohen testimonyThe House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday abruptly postponed the closed-door testimony of President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen until later this month.https://tinyurl.com/y7nvwa5l

My contention all along has been that Sater’s Dec 2017 testimony before the House Intel committee was also “severely limited,” and that he was careful (per instructions from Mueller) to say nothing of any real import about Trump-Russia. 58/75

And it will be highly significant if it turns out that I have been right about this, because, as I have long argued, *Felix Sater MUST be the all-important Source E of the Steele dossier.* 59/75

That is one of the most compelling reasons why Sater would have been strongly motivated not to answer probing questions about Trump-Russia in the HPSCI hearing. 60/75

I have argued at length in previous threads that Mueller knew as early as September of 2017 that Sater was Source E of the Steele dossier, and that’s why I have called Sater the “dog that hasn’t barked.” 61/75

Michael Cohen informed us last Friday that Trump colluded with the Russians (and he was certainly…Neither Stephanopoulos nor Cohen parses the wording “everything related to the investigation, everything related to Russia,” but they didn’t have to, because “the investigation, everything related to…https://tinyurl.com/y9goeez2

I believe Mueller has been waiting to use Sater (as well as the testimony of others) to take down Trump until he is ready to proceed with collusion indictments and impeachment charges against Trump and some of his associates. 62/75

Sater will not be indicted by Mueller, since he was not a principal or actor in the Trump-Russia collusion (which is why Sater has always insisted that he has been a source for Mueller rather than a cooperating witness), 63/75

but as Source E he must have been vital to the investigations as a source or informant. 64/75

As memo #095 of the Steele dossier made clear, the singular honor (read: dishonor) for engineering the campaign collusion between Trump and Russia goes to Paul Manafort. But it was Sater as Source E of the Steele dossier who fingered Manafort as the key to that collusion. 65/75

And that is why I have always maintained that the Steele dossier has been the road map for the Mueller investigation from the very beginning. It’s all there in Steele memo #095. 66/75

Trump Intelligence AllegationsSource document contributed to DocumentCloud by Mark Schoofs (BuzzFeed).https://tinyurl.com/znm89bc

Cohen is scheduled to testify soon in a closed hearing before HPSCI (that hearing was originally scheduled for Friday, Feb 8, but was postponed today until Feb 28), and in a closed hearing before Senate Intel on Tuesday, Feb 12. 67/75

The committees will want to know about BF’s allegation that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, and unless Cohen asserts his right not to testify on the point as a cooperating witness for Mueller (a decision that depends totally on Mueller), 68/75

he will answer and say that Trump did suborn perjury. 69/75

The committees will also want to know from Cohen whether Trump colluded with Russia during the election, and as we know from Cohen’s interview on 14 Dec 2018 with George Stephanopoulos, 70/75

his answer will be yes (again, unless as a witness for Mueller he declines to answer the question). 71/75

Michael Cohen informed us last Friday that Trump colluded with the Russians (and he was certainly…Neither Stephanopoulos nor Cohen parses the wording “everything related to the investigation, everything related to Russia,” but they didn’t have to, because “the investigation, everything related to…https://tinyurl.com/y9goeez2

In any case, whatever happens in these hearings, the truth will certainly come out eventually, after Mueller has submitted his report (if not before). 72/75

When all that does happen, we will know for sure whether Felix Sater was Source E of the Steele dossier, and whether Steele’s informant (a Russian émigré living in the West, not someone in Moscow) got his reporting on Source E right in memo #095. 73/75

In short, if everything goes the way I expect it to, we should see fairly soon the final curtain descending on Trump, his real estate business, his family, and his administration — the end of this whole tragicomedy — 74/75

the greatest political crime in American history — and Felix Sater and Michael Cohen will have been crucial witnesses to it, even if they weren’t principal, indictable actors in it. 75/75


The Resistance. Vote Blue: True Blue American. We look forward, they look back. We’re progressive, they’re regressive. @twoodiac