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In New Trump Probe, House Subpoenas Multiple People Tied to Miami and South Florida

In New Trump Probe, House Subpoenas Multiple People Tied to Miami and South Florida
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
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All stories of fraud, theft, and scumbaggery flow through Miami at some point. And there is maybe no bigger swindle in U.S. history than Donald Trump's hoodwinking of the American people in 2016. The man with a brain made from congealed Wendy's Frosties won just enough states in the Electoral College to assume the presidency of the most powerful nation on Earth. And he likely had help from a bumbling crew of Russian intelligence agents.

While they are largely powerless to do much of anything about it, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are now at least trying to get to the bottom of all this. And, after Trump's fixer and Goodfellas extra Michael Cohen accused Trump of at least 11 felonies last week, the House today issued subpoenas to 80 people in Trump's orbit. Maybe we'll learn the President instructed foreign hackers to steal Democratic National Committee emails. Perhaps America will know how much, if any, money the president is worth. And it's possible someone will arrest Trump and/or his children for various, extremely obvious financial crimes.

Who knows? But one thing is clear: Trump likes hanging out with Miami characters. (And that doesn't even include Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who lived in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, respectively.) Such as:

1. The Agalarov Family

The House Intelligence Committee today subpoenaed Irakyl "Ike" Kaveladze, the senior vice president of a real estate firm called the Crocus Group. Kaveladze was allegedly present at the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in which a Kremlin-connected lawyer allegedly offered Don Jr. a bunch of dirt on the Clinton campaign.

Crocus Group is a Russian firm run by Aras Agalarov, the Ukrainian billionaire who allegedly helped set up that Trump Tower meeting and the Trump Moscow project, which the president was reportedly negotiating throughout the 2016 campaign. But the Agalarovs also sure enjoy partying in Miami. As of 2017, Agalarov owned at least $14 million in Miami-area real estate, including multiple properties on Fisher Island, one of the wealthiest zip codes in the world. (Agalarov reportedly sold one of those properties last December, while another was briefly in foreclosure proceedings at the beginning of the year.)

In 2017, New Times dug up some old photos of the Agalarovs partying in Miami. Aras, his pop-star son Emin, and alleged Trump intermediary Rob Goldstone at one point held a New Year's party at the Versace mansion with 1990s one-hit wonder Lou Bega. Goldstone, one of the most darkly funny characters in the entire Trump-Russia saga, also got hit with a subpoena today.

2. Felix Sater

Sater reportedly pitched Cohen on the entire Trump-Moscow project, and texted Cohen that Trump "can become president of the USA and we can engineer it." But before that, Sater, a man with a history of Russian mob ties and criminal convictions, was perhaps best known to Floridians as one of the men behind the failed Trump Fort Lauderdale project. As New Times reported last week, Cohen's testimony proved Trump had previously lied under oath in a court case related to the failed South Florida development. Trump testified in 2013 that he'd had "not many" conversations with Sater over the years and didn't know Sater very well at all.

In reality, Cohen said last week, Trump and Sater had offices on the same floor of Trump Tower.

"Isn’t it true that President Trump misled at best or, at worst, lied under oath [in a Fort Lauderdale case deposition]?" Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) asked Cohen.

"Yes," Cohen responded.

3. Michael Caputo

Michael Caputo, political strategist and loud TV news moron, is well known to political reporters and observers across Florida. He's long run branches of his consulting firms, Michael Caputo Public Relations and Zeppelin Communications, from Miami Beach. Caputo reportedly first moved his businesses down here at the urging of political trickster and recently arrested person Roger Stone.

Caputo briefly ran Trump's New York state campaign. He also reportedly told the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he'd met a Russian man known as "Henry Greenberg," who was living in Miami at the time, cycling through numerous aliases, and apparently offering dirt on the Clinton campaign in exchange for $2 million. (Caputo claims Greenberg, who had a long history of arrests and shady conduct, was working on behalf of the FBI, but the Miami Herald was unable to confirm that last year.) Oddly, Cohen previously claimed he had never spoken to anyone potentially tied to the Russian government. But he later backtracked and admitted he'd met with Greenberg.

4. Viktor Vekselberg, close friend and partner of fellow Russian billionaire and Miami investor Len Blavatnik

Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch and investor, allegedly paid Cohen a bunch of money through some subsidiary companies. It sure seems like Vekselberg might have been trying to buy Cohen's loyalty to get the White House to lessen sanctions on Russia after Vladimir Putin attempted to annex disputed territory in Ukraine.

But while Vekselberg is not a particularly well-known figure in Miami, one of his best friends is. Vekselberg met a man named Leonard Blavatnik in college. Since then, Vekselberg and Blavatnik have worked together on various financial and real estate projects. Blavatnik, for example, helped bankroll developer Alan Faena's Faena House ultraluxury project at 3315 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach.

Plus, Vekselberg at one point owned a pretty substantial interest in Blavatnik's Manhattan-based company, Access Industries. That name might sound familiar to Miami politicos. During the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, ex-Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's political-action committee took a $200,000 donation from Access Industries. That donation proved controversial, because Levine spent time during his failed gubernatorial bid criticizing Trump for his own ties to shady Russian businessmen.

5. Tony Fabrizio

As the Tampa Bay Times noted earlier today, the House wants to talk to the Fort Lauderdale-based Fabrizio, one of the most prominent political pollsters in Florida. Fabrizio got his start working on Rick Scott's then-underdog campaign for governor in 2010. Since then, Fabrizio has worked for tons of other campaigns, including those of current Gov. Ron DeSantis, former State House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Trump himself. Before getting in bed with the Trump campaign (at Scott's recommendation), Fabrizio worked with Paul Manafort — reportedly on elections in Ukraine. Fabrizio has reportedly met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office, as well.

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