Left, Felix Sater, and right, Steve Bannon outside Danbury Federal...

Left, Felix Sater, and right, Steve Bannon outside Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut on Monday. Credit: Bloomberg / Andrew Harrer, AP / Julia Nikhinson

Daily Point

Fed jury rules against Trump-tied ex-LIer

True stories about the shadowy international dealings of Donald Trump’s onetime private-sector associates are still emerging in the news well into the real estate heir’s third presidential campaign.

Last week, Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman — who lived for years in Sands Point — came out on the losing end of a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. He was accused of helping a wealthy Kazakh man launder millions of dollars through property holdings including apartments at the Trump SoHo tower.

The city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, and the country’s big lender, BTA Bank, were awarded more than $32 million in damages, including interest, the plaintiffs announced on Wednesday. “I reject the verdict and will be appealing,” Sater told Bloomberg News.

Sater, 58, raised in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood, allegedly helped businessman Ilyas Khrapunov launder funds looted from the bank by former BTA chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov. Sater was involved in efforts years ago to get a Trump Tower built in Moscow. He worked with Trump’s then-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who delivered key testimony that led to the ex-president’s felony conviction in the Stormy Daniels hush-money cover-up.

Sater carried a business card identifying himself as a “senior advisor” to Trump and had an office two floors below the future president’s in Trump Tower.

Most uniquely about Sater’s longtime public profile, he seems to have been on both sides of federal investigations and prosecutions. It’s a story told repeatedly during Trump’s term: After pleading guilty to involvement in a $40 million stock fraud scheme, Sater became an FBI informant.

Todd Kaminsky from Long Beach, a former federal prosecutor and later state senator, once confirmed in court that Sater (referred to in proceedings as John Doe) provided cooperation “that was of an extraordinary depth and breadth, almost unseen, at least in this United States attorney’s office.”

Sater was honored a decade ago as “man of the year” for civic contributions by the Chabad of Port Washington. Sater reportedly moved to the West Coast several years ago.

On Monday, a Trump adviser of a very different type — Steve Bannon — was taken into custody in Danbury, Connecticut to begin a four-month federal sentence on contempt charges for defying a subpoena in the congressional probe into the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro reported to prison in March for his own 4-month sentence on contempt charges for refusing testimony.

Back in April 2020, Bannon was arrested on a yacht owned by friend and business associate Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire. Bannon and others were charged with defrauding donors of more than $1 million in a private effort to build Trump’s chimerical “border wall.” But as one of his last acts in office, Trump pardoned Bannon in that case.

If Trump returns to the White House, rest assured that a president’s core constitutional pardon power will be eyed by himself and his allies as an asset.

— Dan Janison dan.janison@newsday.com

Pencil Point

Go Joe!

Credit: PoliticalCartoons.com/Dick Wright

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Quick Points

Learning no lessons

  • The Dix Hills man who allegedly was drunk when he killed four people and injured nine by crashing his SUV through a Deer Park nail salon also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2014. After all these years and all the horrid examples, what is it about drinking and not driving that some people still don’t get?
  • At a Friday rally after his disastrous debate performance, President Joe Biden told a Raleigh, North Carolina crowd, “I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong.” Presumably, he also knows that running for president is about a lot more than that.
  • When Hurricane Beryl became a hurricane in the southeastern Caribbean, it marked the farthest east a storm has ever become a hurricane and the earliest that a storm ever became a Category 4. If you believe in omens based on history, this is not a good one.
  • Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose 2020 presidential endorsement was the springboard for Joe Biden’s victory, said there should be more live fact-checking during the next presidential debate — while also saying that he doesn’t know whether there should be another debate. Doesn’t sound like he thinks an absence of fact-checking was the only reason for Biden’s poor performance.
  • Republican National Committee chair Michael Whatley said the party will roll out an “overwhelmingly positive” vision of America at this month’s party convention. Has he cleared that with his candidate?
  • Uvalde, Texas families waited two years for charges to be brought against school police officers in the mass shooting deaths of 19 fourth graders and two teachers at Robb Elementary. It was an excruciating wait — but not as excruciating a wait as the hour-plus the officers waited before confronting the 18-year-old gunman.
  • A rare white buffalo was born recently in Yellowstone National Park, fulfilling a Lakota prophecy from 3,000 years ago that the next appearance of a white buffalo would signal that the Earth is at a crossroads and that “nothing would be good no more.” Sounds about right.

— Michael Dobie michael.dobie@newsday.com

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