Cell tower evidence places Michael Cohen near Prague in late summer of 2016, according to an explosive report that McClatchy published Thursday, suggesting the accusations may be true that Cohen went overseas to collaborate with Russian officials on swaying the United States’ presidential election.
Cohen, the former personal attorney and “fixer” for President Donald Trump, strongly denied that he ever took such a trip since the idea was put forth in the infamous Trump dossier made public in January 2017.
Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, however, the news outlets reported that Cohen’s cell phone briefly pinged towers near the Czech capital in late August or early September 2016.
The outlets report that the location information has been shared with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
If it does indeed exist, the cell tower evidence would support a major claim made in the dossier: that Cohen met with representatives of the Russian government during that time frame to discuss the Trump campaign and payments to hackers who were targeting Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It would also be notable because Trump’s supporters have seized on the idea of the Prague trip ― or the lack of evidence thereof ― as a means to discredit the entire dossier.
The series of documents, compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, contains numerous unsubstantiated claims about Trump’s ties with Russia, currently the topic of the special counsel’s query.
Cohen has said that he was in Los Angeles with his son at the time of the alleged trip. Once, bizarrely, he tweeted a photo of a closed passport as proof that he had never been to Prague. However, McClatchy alleged in April that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany and thus would not have needed a passport stamp between the two European Union nations.
The president, like his former attorney, immediately denounced the dossier and has repeatedly pointed to its financing by a lawyer working for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. In 2017, Trump held a press conference the day after BuzzFeed published the dossier to demand an apology from the outlet. He claimed at the time that he had seen Cohen’s passport and determined it contained no evidence of a trip to Prague.
As others have pointed out, it’s not clear why Cohen would lie about traveling to Prague ― if indeed he did ― other than to cover up wrongdoing.
The president’s relationship with Cohen soured over the summer after federal prosecutors investigated the attorney over actions committed as Trump’s legal representative. Cohen cooperated with investigators. He pleaded guilty to a range of criminal offenses, including violations of campaign finance law, and was sentenced to three years in prison earlier this month.