Last month, Felix Sater, a businessman with ties to the mafia and "loyalists of Russian President Vladimir Putin," paid Donald Trump a visit at Trump Tower for "confidential" reasons, Politico reported Friday. That same month, Sater gave the Trump campaign $5,400 — the maximum contribution allowed.
Sater and Trump's ties go way back; the two once co-developed a Trump project and Trump briefly hired Sater. However, Trump has long maintained that his relationship with Sater is "distant" and stated under oath that he "would not recognize Sater if the two were sitting in the same room," Politico reported.
Whether or not Trump recognizes Sater, the Russian-born businessman's reappearance in Trump's circle comes at an inconvenient time for his campaign, Politico says:
Around 1999, Sater joined Bayrock, a real estate firm that had offices in Trump Tower and pursued business ventures with Trump. Bayrock is now being rocked by allegations made in a lawsuit brought by a former executive of unexplained cash infusions from Russia and Kazakhstan and receiving financing from a firm used by Russians "in favor with" Putin. Around 2010, Sater went to work for Trump directly, carrying a Trump Organization business card that described him as a "senior advisor to Donald Trump."
The revelation of Sater's contribution and recent Trump Tower visit come at a time when Trump's pro-Russian stances, his relationship with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and his campaign's role in softening the Republican Party's support for Ukrainian resistance to Russian incursions in its territory have all brought the New York billionaire's ties to Russia under intense scrutiny. [Politico]
Sater maintained that — aside from the meeting — he hasn't seen Trump recently.
Head over to Politico for more on the story, including why Sater is confident Trump would make "the greatest president of this century."