Lawyers seeking to unseal documents related to the criminal past of a former business partner of President Donald Trump said in federal court on Monday that the documents may contain evidence that Trump committed fraud.
The sealed documents are from a federal case against Felix Sater, who Trump reportedly tapped as a senior advisor for his real-estate business in the 2000s even after Sater’s earlier role in a Mafia-linked stock scheme became public.
“A fellow named Donald Trump is now president and he had a business associate named [Sater.] The public needs to know the length of their relationship and the nature of the relationship and what kind of person [Sater] is,” attorney Richard Lerner said in Brooklyn federal court Monday afternoon. “By allowing this regime of secrecy to continue, it’s facilitating what may have been fraud by President Trump.”
It was unclear from the court proceeding what acts by Trump could possibly be construed as criminal. But after court ended, Lerner told Newsweek that if Trump knowingly did real estate with a convicted felon, that could constitute financial fraud.
Another attorney trying to unseal the documents—which include the complaint, cooperation agreement and pre-sentencing report from Sater’s case—also tied the issue to Trump. “This case involves integrity issues of the highest level [based on] the relationship between the defendant in this case and the president of the United States,” said John Langford, who is representing investigative journalist Richard Behar.
A Department of Justice lawyer told Judge Pamela Chen that unsealing the documents could be unsafe for Sater or others.
Sater served a…