The allegation that Michael Cohen flew to Prague in effort to further the presidential ambitions of Donald Trump began with memos produced while compiling what would later be known as the Steele Dossier. In one such memo dated October 19, 2016, former British counterintelligence official Christopher Steele sent Fusion GPS — the corporate research firm that had retained him for a Democratic-funded project — a memo which read, in part:
[A] Kremlin insider highlighted the importance of Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP’s lawyer, Michael COHEN, in the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership. COHEN’s role had grown following the departure of Paul MANAFORT as TRUMP’s campaign manager in August 2016.
This memo claimed that Michael Cohen, now known as Trump’s “fixer”, had met with Russian officials in an EU country in August of 2016 — the election year. The next day, Mr. Steele sent Fusion GPS a new memo noting that a Kremlin insider had said the supposed Cohen meeting had actually taken place in Prague.
Since the Steele memos became public back in January 2017 — when BuzzFeed first posted the documents — Cohen has repeatedly denied participating in any such meeting. When McClatchy reported last week that Robert Mueller has evidence that Michael Cohen actually did secretly travel to Prague in the summer of 2016, Cohen used twitter to deny the trip once again.
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
But David Corn has given an account of a conversation he had with Michael Cohen in an exclusive with Mother Jones:
In the weeks after the election, the details in Steele’s dispatches remained secret, and I spent weeks trying to determine if any of the allegations could be substantiated. The claim that Cohen met secretly with Russians seemed to be one of the tales that might be confirmable. I took a stab at that. While pursuing that angle, I called Cohen. He insisted that there had been no trip to Prague and that he had met with no Russians during the campaign.
This week I reviewed my notes from that phone call. Here’s the direct quote from Cohen: “I haven’t been to Prague in 14 years. I was in Prague for one afternoon 14 years ago.”
What’s notable? In that conversation, Cohen acknowledged he had once been to Prague—but a long time ago. In his recent denial, Cohen, whose home and office were raided last week by FBI agents seeking records related to the Stormy Daniels case and other matters (including taxi medallions), asserted he had “never” been to Prague. How significant is this discrepancy? There is no telling. But it is an inconsistency. Cohen’s lead lawyer could not be reached for a comment.
Could this be evidence of too much time spent with Donald Trump? Assuming Michael Cohen is lying (at the very least) about never having been to Prague, why would he do that? Why overshoot the lie? All anybody cared about was whether he met with officials for the purposes of possible collusion in a very specific time period? If he had in fact been to Prague 14 years ago (from 2017), why not simply deny the trip cited in the Steele memos?