Prague, the Czech Republic’s capital is historically known as the City of Steeples and more recently as a center of burgeoning high-tech enterprises. Now, it is the setting for significant revelations linking the Trump campaign with the Kremlin.
A breaking report from McClatchey states that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has proof that Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and personal consigliere, Michael Cohen, traveled to Prague in 2016. The evidence purportedly includes pings from Cohen’s cell phone bouncing off cell towers in the area as well as intelligence sources in Eastern Europe that overheard Russians announcing Cohen’s Prague arrival.
The report buttresses an earlier one from McClatchey based on two unnamed sources apparently within the Justice Department, that said Cohen entered Prague through Germany in August or September 2016.
If accurate, these bombshells would do much more than substantiate allegations found in the Steele memo.
Cohen in Prague would connect a nexus that includes Paul Manafort and Carter Page of the Trump campaign with players in Putin’s regime. Furthermore, it would cement as fact three striking particulars:
- Putin was anxious to hide his illegal interference in our 2016 presidential election.
- The Russian president used a “fixer” of his own for this purpose.
- Cohen served as Trump’s fixer on an international scale.
To get the full depth of this news, we have to go beyond the bold headlines and news show snippets.
In July 2017, two Senate committees investigating the Trump-Russian connection asked for a trove of documents. Altogether over 40 individuals were swept up in the requests, which were directed at Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr.
Among those 40-plus names were Michael Cohen and Konstantin Kosachev.
Kosachev is a multilingual diplomat and established Russian politician whose many public appearances reinforce the Putin line on a variety of topics. In 2012, he grew in stature thanks to Putin, who appointed him head of an agency called Rossotrudnichestvo. Linked to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), this mostly symbolic organization is designed to bind former Soviet republics to Russia through trade, sports, security and finance. Kosachev’s role was to advance the influence of Putin in the CIS as well as strengthen bonds with Russian “compatriots” living abroad.
In plain language, Kosachev served as a mouthpiece for Russian president Putin. However, like Michael Cohen, he also acted as Putin’s clean-up guy. With a position several degrees removed from the president of Russia and his circle of oligarchs, Kosachev also shielded Putin for deniability purposes.
Steele devoted several intelligence reports exclusively to Michael Cohen and his covert liaisons with Kremlin operatives in Prague in August 2016.
As explained in his narratives, a few months before the election, Putin was growing more disturbed by the negative effects of his influence measures in the U.S. presidential campaign. He’d expected the leaked Clinton emails would’ve done more damage. Instead, there was a hue and cry Putin didn’t expect. He worried that Clinton would be elected, and that he would pay a serious price for his covert Trump support. Then Manafort’s work for Yanukovych was exposed, and he was subsequently sacked by Trump. The former KGB agent moved to shroud his pro-Trump campaign activity and reduce his risk of exposure.
According to Steele’s sources, the Prague meet-up was a part of Putin’s concealment activity. It had a single purpose, aimed at two of Trump’s campaign staff who were complicit with the Russans.
Cohen was there to tamp down the negative press swallowing the Trump campaign. One barrel of negative publicity had to do with Manafort’s corrupt relationship with the pro-Putin regime of Yanukovych in Ukraine. The other barrel related to Carter Page, who had met in secret with senior Kremlin officials in July of 2016.
Kosachev was “an important figure in the Trump campaign-Kremlin liaison operation,” recorded Steele, and partnered with Cohen in this damage control effort.
Michael Cohen has denied, repeatedly, that he was in Prague meeting with Russian agents. For his part, Kosachev has stated there was no Russian interference in the election. Fortunately, the U.S. Treasury is not taking him at his word and placed him on a list of sanctioned Russians.
A couple of things should be considered regarding Cohen. First, the Special Prosecutor is still investigating and his findings may or may not have evidence of this Prague rendezvous. If indeed Cohen gave this information to the Special Prosecutor, it would be much safer if this were not publicly revealed, considering Putin’s penchant for murdering his ‘enemies’.
If indeed the McClatchey reports are true and Mueller has the receipts, then a nearly direct link is established between Trump’s campaign and his business staff and Putin’s Kremlin. In other words, this is a Big Deal.