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House Intelligence to subpoena Trump associate Felix Sater

The House Intelligence Committee was expecting to hear from Russian-born real estate executive Felix Sater on Friday about his involvement in plans to build a "Trump Tower" in Moscow, but Sater failed to show up for his scheduled appearance.

According to Patrick Boland, spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee, "The Committee had scheduled a voluntary staff-level interview with Mr. Sater, but he did not show up this morning as agreed." Boland said as a result of his no-show, the committee would now be issuing a subpoena to Sater for his testimony. 

Sater's attorney said in a statement that Sater wasn't able to appear Friday for health reasons. He called the committee's subpoena "entirely unnecessary," since Sater has voluntarily appeared before the committee in the past and has agreed to other appearances, "all of which were postponed" by the Intelligence Committee.

The Moscow Trump Tower project was a major focus of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's congressional testimony, in which he claimed the president pushed him to lie about negotiations about the building while the 2016 presidential campaign was underway. 

Sater worked closely with Cohen on the Moscow project before it was abandoned. Cohen is now in prison, partly on charges that he lied to Congress about the duration and details of the project. It was Sater who suggested to Cohen he should contact Russian officials about developing a building in Russia. 

Sater has a colorful past himself. He was an FBI informant in the late 1990s after pleading guilty to a $40 million stock fraud scheme put together by the Russian mafia. That was a few years after Sater got into a bar fight and stabbed a man in the face with a broken margarita glass. He went to prison for a year.

The meeting on Capitol Hill was to take place behind closed doors as part of the House panel's ongoing efforts to investigate the Trump administration in the wake of the special counsel's Russia probe.

Emily Tillett, Julia Kimani Burnham and Grace Segers contributed to this report.