House panel interviews Sater, holds hearing in Russia probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives intelligence committee said on Thursday it will hold an open hearing and an interview with Felix Sater, a Russian-American involved in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, next week as part of its Russia investigation.

The intelligence panel’s open hearing next Thursday will focus on the Kremlin’s use of money, oligarchs and intelligence in the 2016 presidential race. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul was scheduled to testify, the panel said.

The interview with Sater, who has served prison time in the United States for assault and later became an FBI informant on organized crime, had been set for last month but is scheduled for Wednesday, the committee said in a statement. Sater told Reuters he also was to appear before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday in a closed session.

Sater, who was born in Russia and raised in New York, is a property developer who worked with U.S. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen on the Moscow project while Trump was running for president.

Sater is expected to testify about his work on the Moscow project, which came under renewed scrutiny after Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about when negotiations on the deal ended in order to minimize Trump’s links to Russia.

The intelligence committee’s Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff, has said the panel is focusing on the Trump tower negotiations. Sater was originally scheduled to testify publicly before the panel on March 14.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Nathan Layne; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott