Back to Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Cohen is schedule to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
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In recent months, Donald Trump Jr has made a run for the prize of Trump insider with most dogged effort to collude with Russia, even partly sidelining the efforts of Trump lawyer and enforcer Michael Cohen.

But perhaps Cohen has yet to cede the title.

A Politico piece published yesterday noted that congressional investigators – especially congressional Democrats – are actively scrutinizing travel to Europe by several key Trump campaign associates. Michael Cohen seems to be high on that list.

I wanted to focus specifically on what the Steele Dossier alleges was a meeting with Russian intelligence agents in Prague in August 2016. There is no other evidence outside of the dossier that such a meeting or even such a trip took place. It is also important to note that a collection of raw intelligence isn’t meant to be like a newspaper article. It’s not presented to the reader as all verified and true. It’s assumed that some significant amount of the information may not be accurate. So if we think the dossier’s findings have merit in general, it should not follow that this meeting necessarily happened.

At the time of the dossier’s original release, Cohen showily displayed his passport which shows no visits to the Czech Republic. But as a number of people noted at the time, this doesn’t necessarily answer the question. There is free passport-less passage through the EU once you enter an EU country. Cohen’s passport did show a trip to Italy in July. July isn’t August. But that’s the kind of dating issue that might get mixed up in the chain of information transition.

In any case, point being: Cohen was in the EU zone, relatively close to the Czech Republic only a couple weeks before August. So his passport by no means rules out a visit to Prague. Since most press coverage has seemed to take Cohen’s denial at face value, I had assumed or left open the possibility that he’d provided investigators with other evidence we’re not aware of. But that seems not to be the case.

Politico has this passage

Cohen’s passport would not show any record of a visit to Prague if he entered the EU through Italy, traveled to the Czech Republic, and then returned to his point of EU entry. A congressional official said the issue is “still active” for investigators.

Reading the article it seems clear that Cohen simply denied ever being in Prague and majority Republicans saw no basis to disbelieve him and thus would not require him to provide items like credit card records and other documents which might confirm his account.

This seems very much an open question whether Cohen did in fact have this meeting.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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