If Michael Cohen went to Prague, then Donald Trump will be impeached, convicted, and removed from office, assuming he doesn’t resign. Digby says it is the whole enchilada, and she’s right. But Adam Davidson may be right that scrutiny of Cohen’s business records are going to be sufficient on their own, regardless of what can proven about the Prague trip.
For starters, reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy set the world on fire (for those in the know) with their Thursday evening article that revealed that “Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016.”
The Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter…
…investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany, apparently during August or early September of 2016 as the ex-spy reported, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential.
Now, these two anonymous sources could be wrong but given the stakes, there is no way McClatchy would make such an explosive charge if they weren’t extremely confident that their sources are in a position to know and have no plausible reason to mislead them.
Michael Cohen still denies that he traveled to Prague in 2016, or ever.
Bad reporting, bad information and bad story by same reporter Peter Stone @McClatchyDC. No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague. I was in LA with my son. Proven! https://t.co/ra7nwjUA0X
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) April 14, 2018
That’s a lie. He’s already admitted that he travelled to Prague in 2001, not that this is relevant to the question at hand. But it’s it is relevant that the only part of that tweet we can confirm is not true.
I suppose some of you want to know why it will be so consequential if Cohen has been lying about traveling to Prague in 2016. I may write that piece tomorrow, but for today it should suffice that the central accusation of the Steele Dossier is that Cohen was the Trump’s campaign’s main contact with the Russians after Paul Manafort was fired, and that he went to Prague because Moscow would have been too obvious. While there, he colluded with the Russians on a host of issues, including on how to compensate Romanian hackers, how to manage the fallout from the Manafort flameout and how to explain Carter Page’s recent trip to Moscow.
According to the Kremlin insider, COHEN now was heavily engaged in a cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of TRUMP’s relationship with Russia being exposed. In pursuit of this aim, COHEN had met secretly with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials in an EU country in August 2016. The immediate issues had been to contain further scandals involving MANNAFORT’s commercial and political role in Russia/Ukraine and to limit the damage arising from exposure of former TRUMP foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE’s secret meetings with Russian leadership figures in Moscow the previous month. The overall objective had been “to sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connections could be fully established or proven.”
COHEN had been accompanied to Prague by 3 colleagues and the timing of the visit was either in the last week of August or the first week of September. One of their main Russian interlocutors was Oleg SOLODUKHIN operating under Rossotrudnichestvo cover. According to [redacted], the agenda comprised questions on how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the CLINTON campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow’s secret liaison with the TRUMP team more generally.
From the beginning, the central defense against these charges was that Cohen had not travelled to Prague and that he could prove it. He has not been able to prove it.
…Democratic investigators for the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which are conducting parallel inquiries into Russia’s election interference, also are skeptical about whether Cohen was truthful about his 2016 travels to Europe when he was interviewed by the panels last October, two people familiar with those probes told McClatchy this week. Cohen has publicly acknowledged making three trips to Europe that year – to Italy in July, England in early October and a third after Trump’s November election. The investigators intend to press Cohen for more information, said the sources, who lacked authorization to speak for the record
One of the sources said congressional investigators have “a high level of interest” in Cohen’s European travel, with their doubts fueled by what they deem to be weak documentation Cohen has provided about his whereabouts around the time the Prague meeting was supposed to have occurred.
Trump was not a bystander in the cover story. He publicly claimed that when the Prague story first emerged he was suspicious enough to call Cohen into his office and demand that he produce his passport. He then claimed, falsely, that a different Michael Cohen had been at the meetings with the Russians, as if that would make any kind of sense.
Cohen could have gone to Prague for some innocent reason, but he would have explained his reasoning for making the trip in that case instead of concocting cover stories and claiming that he was in Los Angeles during the times in question.
If he was in Prague, he was there for the reasons the Steele dossier said he was there. And if that is the case, then the case for collusion is proven beyond any shadow of a doubt.