House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday evening former Trump business associate was not cooperative with the panel during his closed-door interview.
Upon exiting the committee room, Mr. Sater told reporters he had fully cooperated with the committee, which is probing an aborted plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
But Mr. Schiff, California Democrat, saw it differently. He issued a rare statement just after Mr. Sater’s appearance slamming the Russian-born real estate developer.
“While we do not typically comment on closed interviews, given Mr. Sater’s public comments that he has fully cooperated with the committee and answered every question asked of him, we must correct the record,” Mr. Schiff said. “Mr. Sater has not fully cooperated with the committee and will remain under subpoena until he does so.”
Mr. Schiff alleged Mr. Sater asserted “a baseless” claim of attorney-client privilege in response to questions about Michael Cohen’s statement submitted to the committee in August 2017. Mr. Sater also claimed to be in an unidentified joint defense agreement, which Mr. Schiff said is simply not true.
“Our investigation thus far has revealed that Sater was not a part of any joint defense agreement, and has no basis to assert this privilege over these documents,” Mr. Schiff said.
The committee has asked for unreacted telephone records and documents related to his claim of a joint defense agreement with Cohen, the statement said.
“The committee will continue to pursue documents and testimony related to obstruction of the committee’s investigation,” Mr. Schiff continued.
It is not known if Mr. Schiff participated in the interview, which was largely conducted by staffers.
After his roughly six-hour appearance before the committee, Mr. Sater did not shed any new light, at least publicly, on how much President Trump knew about the aborted plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign.
He told reporters he only spoke to Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer, Michael Cohen on the deal and he doesn’t know how much information went beyond the president’s former fixer.
“He knew what he knew,” Mr. Sater said responding to questions about Trump’s involvement in the deal.
When asked how much that was, Mr. Sater responded, “I don’t know.”
Later, when asked if Donald Trump Jr., knew about the plan, Mr. Sater said, You’ll have to ask them, I’m sorry.”
He told reporters the questions posed to him were “more of the same” from his previous appearance before the same committee.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Sater said he planned to tell “lawmakers the truth” about the project.
The intelligence committee had originally scheduled Mr. Sater’s private testimony for last month, but he was a no-show, claiming he overslept. This is the second time he is appearing before the committee to discuss his work on the Trump Tower Moscow project with Cohen
Committee members intend to grill Mr. Sater about the project, which was scrapped sometime in 2016 amid the presidential election. Appearing before the committee in 2017, Cohen lied to Congress saying the project was abandoned much earlier than it actually was. Cohen is now serving three years in prison for lying to Congress and other crimes.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller detailed in his 448-page report Mr. Sater’s efforts to secure approval from the Russian government for the Moscow skyscraper. He also suggested offering Vladimir Putin a free penthouse in the building, theorizing that wealthy Russians would pay a premium to live in the same building as the Russian president.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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