GageSkidmore, WASHINGTON MONTHLY|AIWA! NO!|On Sunday, April 15, 2018, I wrote, “If Michael Cohen went to Prague, then Donald Trump will be impeached, convicted, and removed from office, assuming he doesn’t resign.”
The piece was in response to a Thursday evening article Peter Stone and Greg Gordon had written for McClatchy that claimed that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) had evidence that, contrary to his repeated denials, Michael Cohen actually had traveled to Prague in the late summer of 2016 just as he was alleged to have done in the Steele Dossier. Obviously, I had no way to independently verify Stone and Gordon’s reporting, so I focused on the consequences of what they claimed to have learned assuming it were true. As for the veracity of their piece, I only noted that they were serious and well-respected reporters and that I knew that they were convinced they had the story right or they would never have gone to print with it.
As the months went by and there was no corroboration of their scoop, I began to wonder if they were going to wind up with egg on their faces. Lanny Davis began representing Michael Cohen and continued to deny that the Prague trip ever took place even as it became apparent that Cohen was cooperating with the OSC. Cohen was arrested, pleaded guilty and was convicted, and yet there was still no hint that he had verified a trip to Prague.
As a refresher, the claim that Michael Cohen went to Prague in late August or early September 2016 was the single most damning allegation in the Steele Dossier. Among the alleged purposes of the trip were to coordinate with Kremlin officials in an effort to manage the fallout from the mid-August firing of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, to find an innocent explanation for Carter Page’s recent trip to Moscow, and to develop a plan to compensate Romanian hackers who had supposedly played a role in the DNC hacks.
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.WASHINGTON MONTHLY