The House Intelligence Committee finally got its chance to grill Felix Sater on Monday.
The former Trump business partner, like many other characters in the president's orbit, has a colorful history of, well, shady behavior. His background reads almost like an airport spy novel: He’s served time for slashing a man with a margarita glass in a bar fight, provided information to then-district attorney Loretta Lynch that helped convict 20 people in New York, and aided in the CIA’s operation to capture Osama Bin Laden.
But the reason anyone cares about him is that he’s the member of Trump’s network with the closest ties to the Kremlin. After all, he once bragged to his friend and former Trump fixer Michael Cohen that he could engineer Trump’s presidency, with a little help from Russian President Vladimir Putin. He's also at the center of the infamous Trump Tower project in Moscow.
That sort of multi-million dollar deal-making is a long way from Sater’s beginnings in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
VICE News visited the famous Russian enclave where Sater spent the majority of his childhood. We spoke with Alexandre Grant, an expert in Russian crime and a family friend of the Saters.
Grant explained Felix’s rise from small time crime to international intrigue.
“Felix Sater is a fantastic storyteller, better than anyone else... he will tell you a fairy tale and you will believe in it, and you [will] glorify him, but as a matter of fact... maybe half of that is, fruit of his imagination.”
This segment originally aired July 9, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.