Felix Sater — a channel to Russia, convicted felon, and associate of Donald Trump — provides the perfect window into Trump’s suspect business practices and network. Born in Russia to a mafia-boss father, Sater moved to Long Island as a boy and grew up surrounded by organized crime. He is perhaps most infamous for a 1991 bar fight gone awry, where he stabbed a man in the face with a margarita glass, landing him one year in prison for felony assault. In 1998, Sater pleaded guilty to a fraud scheme led by the Russian Mafia. To avoid more jail time, he cut a deal with the U.S. government and served as an FBI informant for over a decade. So it’s not surprising that his relationship with Trump and the Trump Organization is characterized by now-familiar themes of fraudulent financial behavior and Russian influence.

Sater’s relationship with Trump, based on news reporting and public record, began sometime in the early 2000s. Having previously worked for Bayrock LLC, which helped develop Trump Tower SoHo, Sater left the firm to become a senior advisor to Trump. In November of 2015, five months into Trump’s presidential campaign, Sater resurfaced a business proposal to break ground in Russia. Using his vast connections to the Kremlin, Sater made the case for a Trump tower to be built in Moscow. Upon receiving Trump’s direct approval to proceed, Sater became emboldened, and boasted about his Russia connections to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen. In an email to Cohen, Sater wrote, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.” While the deal never came to fruition, Sater’s sentiments are nonetheless significant.

Sater’s ties to Trump and his promotion of Russian interests conflate business and politics. More importantly, they serve as an indication of the manner in which Trump conducts business — toeing the line of legality and associating with whoever will elevate his name.