The Reverend


Reuters, this afternoon...



A U.S. Senate investigation into Russia's meddling during the U.S. election should include a thorough review of any financial ties between Russia and President Donald Trump and his associates, Democratic senator Ron Wyden said Wednesday.



A Reuters investigation published earlier this month found that dozens of members of the Russian elite have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida, according to public documents, interviews and corporate records.



From Josh Marshall, here's the important context needed to understand what Senator Wyden was getting at in his letter....



...Trump built his 'second act', starting in the first years of this century, on a free flow of money from the former Soviet Union. Numerous Trump business ventures partnered with people tied to the Russian or post-Soviet criminal underworld. This pattern is so widespread and consistent that it is a hugely important story in itself, though it tends to get overshadowed by the hunt for ties to President Vladimir Putin. Many of these ventures bear key hallmarks of money laundering. The most straightforward explanation is that Trump needed capital but had ruined his access to legitimate lenders and scared off most sensible investors. He was a perfect match for overseas money, specifically post-Soviet money, which needed to get out of its countries of origin and into the safety of the US, particularly US real estate. This was money you couldn't ask a lot of questions about; and Trump was happy not to ask.



That's a rough outline of where the investigation into Trump connections to Russians will inevitably lead. It's probably already there now. If you really want the skinny on Trump's dark connections to Russian money launderers, Russian organized crime mobsters, both either living in America or Russia.....then you must....must, I say....carefully read the expose found here. It's a lengthy piece...but be patient...you'll learn more about what's really going on in that one piece than from any other source to date.



The one key player in the narrative is Felix Sater....from the linked article...



....for more than three decades the FBI has had Trump Tower in its sights. Many of its occupants have been targets of major investigations, others have been surveilled, and yet others have served as informants. One thing many of them have in common is deep ties to organized crime — including the Russian mafia.



Felix Sater fits all of these categories. A convicted felon, Sater worked in Trump Tower, made business deals with Donald Trump through Sater’s real estate firm, Bayrock, cooperated with the FBI and CIA and was subsequently protected by the DOJ from paying for his crimes. And the Moscow-born immigrant remains deeply linked to Russia and Ukraine.



Bayrock, of which Sater came to own a majority (63%), and the Trump Organization, headed by the future president himself, did several high-profile deals together and had offices close by each other in Trump Tower, and yet the current president claims that he is “not that familiar with him.”



That would be this Felix Sater....



Late January, 2017....Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney, meets at a Manhattan hotel with Felix Sater and a pro-Putin Ukrainian lawmaker to discuss a potential peace plan for Ukraine and Russia. The New York Times reports that Cohen delivered this plan to (Mike) Flynn. Cohen confirms he met with Sater and the Ukrainian lawmaker,...



Furthermore, the authors of the lengthy article suggest that the reason James Comey's FBI was so tight lipped about Russian interference during last year's presidential campaign can be attributed to the fact that Sater had been, is still?, an "asset" of the FBI and/or the CIA. In addition, because Sater was/is an "asset", the authors say that there is no way that the FBI can be in charge of investigating Trump-Russian campaign coordination...because too much classified and sensitive information might be revealed....and the FBI will not go there. The writers compare the treatment of Sater to how authorities used, and dealt with, Whitey Bulger....



In this way, the FBI’s dilemma about revealing valuable sources, assets and equities in its ongoing investigation of links between the Trump administration and Russian criminal elements harkens back to the embarrassing, now infamous Whitey Bulger episode. In that case, the Feds protected Bulger, a dangerous Boston-based mobster serving as their highly valued informant, even as the serial criminal continued to participate in heinous crimes. The FBI now apparently finds itself confronted with similar issues: Is its investigation of the mob so crucial to national security that it outweighs the public’s right to know about their president?



That's quite a question, isn't it?



The recommended article I cherry-picked from is a must-read. Here, again, is the link.