Like pieces of an intricate puzzle, key elements of the infamous Steele dossier (a series of raw intelligence reports compiled by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele) and court filings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller have been slowly coming together to reveal a potentially extremely serious criminal conspiracy, perhaps even treason, between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The cornerstone of Trump’s longtime defense against the dossier was that Michael Cohen had never been to Prague. Shortly after Buzzfeed published the Steele dossier, Michael Cohen tweeted an image of his passport and vehemently denied he’d ever been there.
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) January 11, 2017
Cohen thought to tweet an image of his passport showing he didn’t have an entry or exit stamp for the Czech Republic would keep him in the clear. Of course, it was rightly mocked as a weak defense because the Czech Republic is in the Schengen Area, an area with open borders between 26 countries. In April 2018, McClatchy reported investigators had evidence Cohen entered the Czech Republic from Germany.
As recently as December 17, 2018, shortly after Michael Cohen’s sentencing in a New York courtroom, his attorney, Lanny Davis, told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, “No. No Prague ever, never.”
Why would Michael Cohen so vehemently stick to the story that he never went to Prague? Because confirming his trip would be rock-solid confirmation that this important element of the dossier is accurate and Michael Cohen, working on behalf of Donald Trump, committed felony conspiracy against the United States.
As noted in the dossier, Cohen allegedly traveled to Prague, taking over as the primary Trump campaign contact after Paul Manafort left the Trump campaign in mid-August 2016, amidst reports Manafort had secretly taken millions in payments from Russia-aligned leaders in Ukraine. In April 2018, the Washington Post outlined the key dossier elements related to Prague.
It suggests that Cohen took over management of the relationship with Russia after campaign chairman Paul Manafort was fired from the campaign in August (because of questions about his relationship with a political party in Ukraine). Cohen is said to have met secretly with people in Prague — possibly at the Russian Center for Science and Culture — in the last week of August or the first of September. He allegedly met with representatives of the Russian government, possibly including officials of the Presidential Administration Legal Department; Oleg Solodukhin (who works with the Russian Center for Science and Culture); or Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign relations committee in the upper house of parliament. A planned meeting in Moscow, the dossier alleges, was considered too risky, given that a topic of conversation was how to divert attention from Manafort’s links to Russia and a trip to Moscow by Carter Page in July. Another topic of conversation, according to the dossier: allegedly paying off “Romanian hackers” who had been targeting the Clinton campaign.
Emphasis added. More specifically, the dossier notes Cohen and Kosachev specifically discussed “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign.”
So, how does someone like Michael Cohen come up with so much cash to pay off hackers?
We know that Michael Cohen has a history of arranging illegal payments on behalf of Donald Trump. In August 2018, Michael Cohen stood before a federal judge and pleaded guilty to felony campaign finance charges, along with tax evasion and bank fraud. These charges related to the hush money payments paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two of the women Donald Trump had affairs with during his marriage to Melania Trump. But, there was another, more mysterious, payment listed in Michael Cohen’s plea deal—$50,000 to a technology company. At the time of the plea deal, NBC News reported on the unusual payment and payback arrangement.
The documents do not identify which tech company Cohen paid the money to, or what, exactly, the company did for him. But the mere existence of the previously unknown payment suggests that Cohen may have been doing more for Trump, and for the Trump campaign, than simply paying off women.
Furthermore, the way that Cohen reported the $50,000 expense to the Trump Organization in January 2017 suggests the money may not have been paid out through traditional financial channels.
According to prosecutors, Cohen presented Trump executives with bank records for several of the expenses he incurred on Trump’s behalf. But for his $50,000 payment to a tech company, Cohen provided no paperwork, just a handwritten sum at the top of one of the other bank documents.
Did Trump foot soldier Michael Cohen pay the Russian hackers $50,000 for services rendered? Was he seeking reimbursement through the Trump Organization? If so, this felony criminal conspiracy is getting wider and wider and all of it was done to thwart the free and fair elections of the United States of America.
Let’s say that again—IF THESE ALLEGATIONS ARE TRUE, DONALD TRUMP AND HIS CAMPAIGN WERE ENGAGED IN A CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE UNITED STATES WITH RUSSIA.
The bowing to Putin. The embarrassing press conference in Helsinki. The inexplicable decision to abruptly leave Syria, turning the region over to Putin’s control. Lifting sanctions on Russian oligarchs. These things all make sense in light of the news that Putin may very well have all the goods, knowing precisely how his agents and cyber operations worked in concert with the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign. He could expose Donald Trump’s treason at any moment. And wouldn’t that be enough for Donald Trump, notorious narcissist, to make the above terrible decisions and statements—to protect his own ass, even if it meant selling out his own country?
Clearly, if Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that Michael Cohen did indeed take that trip to Prague, met with the Russians and/or paid off the Russian hackers, this is going to be game over for this administration. It has to be, right? For the sake of the republic?
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.