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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Connecting dots on Trump-Russia relationship is no simple trick

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the AeroMod International hangar at Orlando Melbourne International Airport on Feb. 18, 2017 in Melbourne, Fla. Credit: Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Drawing a full and accurate picture of President Donald Trump’s relationship with Eastern European political and financial players poses a challenge.

Before his election, multiple news reports, interviews and legal documents drew attention to associates who may now turn relevant during this presidency.

Caution: It remains unclear how the dots, many of which can be located on a New York map, may or may not connect.

On Sunday, The New York Times described Trump lawyer Michael D. Cohen and one-time business associate Felix Sater as involved in behind-the-scenes efforts at a Russia-Ukraine peace deal.

Neither of the two men hold official government positions and it is unclear what they’ve accomplished for their ally in the White House.

Sater, now 50, of Port Washington, is a felon, but has also been praised as a valued government informant.

Trump worked with Bayrock Group LLC, the company for which the Moscow-born Sater, who grew up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, was an executive.

Bayrock partnered with Trump on a SoHo project and others in which Trump branded luxury real estate deals. Sater also worked with the Trump Organization on a failed hotel deal in Moscow and other projects, including one in Denver.

Sater, at one point, had business cards identifying himself as a senior adviser to Trump, and had an office on the same floor as the future president’s at 725 Fifth Ave., although Trump has made efforts to distance himself.

In 1991, during an argument with a commodities broker in a Manhattan restaurant, authorities said Sater stabbed a man in the cheek and neck with the stem of a margarita glass. He served a year on first-degree assault in the city jail system.

In 1998, he was convicted on a fraud charge involving a multimillion-dollar stock “pump and dump” scheme. He pleaded guilty and agreed to assist the government on issues of national security for the CIA.

In 2013, Loretta Lynch, while being confirmed for attorney general, was questioned about the case. She said Sater “provided valuable and sensitive information” and his help proved “crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of La Cosa Nostra.”

Bottom-line question: Does any of this come into play in current international relations? If so, how? Could these connections and experiences come to benefit Trump or the government?

Locally, Sater has a profile as a philanthropist. In 2014, Sater was honored as Man of the Year by the Chabad of Port Washington, where he lives. He’s also been associated with the Russian real estate firm Mirax Group.

There are many other points of interest — related or otherwise — that will no doubt emerge as official investigations, international contacts and congressional inquiries ramp up.


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