Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, visited Prague last summer during the campaign to meet with a top Russian official, McClatchy reported Friday.
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The dispatch cited “two sources familiar with the matter,” saying that Cohen’s visit coincided when former British spy Christopher Steele said Trump’s longtime attorney had met with the official to discuss Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election.
Cohen, whose home and office were raided Monday by FBI agents on information obtained in part from Mueller’s investigation, has vehemently denied ever visiting Prague.
However, “confirmation of the trip would lend credence” to Steele’s report that “Cohen strategized there with a powerful Kremlin figure about Russian meddling,” McClatchy reported.
It also could undercut President Trump’s longstanding claim that “there is no evidence of collusion” with Moscow in the campaign.
Neither Cohen nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment, McClatchy reported, and a Mueller spokesman declined to comment.
But it remained unclear whether “Mueller’s investigators also have evidence that Cohen actually met with a prominent Russian” — allegedly Konstantin Kosachev — while in Prague, according to McClatchy.
Kosachev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, the Federation Council.
He has also denied visiting Prague during 2016.
Kosachev was among 24 key Russians the Trump administration hit with tough sanctions earlier this month in retaliation for Moscow’s election interference.
Others included Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, who operates in the Kremlin’s energy sector.
McClatchy also reported that Mueller’s investigators have evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic via Germany, apparently during August or early September 2016, as Steele disclosed in the dossier.
Cohen would not have needed a passport, because of the countries’ open-border policy, the sources said.
“The sources did not say whether Cohen took a commercial flight or private jet to Europe, and gave no explanation as to why no record of such a trip has surfaced,” McClatchy reported.
Unconfirmed reports of a secret Prague meeting became public when Steele’s unsubstantiated dossier was published in January 2017, shortly before Trump’s inauguration.
A former British MI6 agent, Steele prepared the dossier under partial funding from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Cohen’s alleged communications with the Russians were mentioned multiple times in the dossier — and Steele ultimately shared the data with the FBI.
President Trump has slammed the unverified dossier as a “Crooked Hillary pile of garbage” — and Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, rebutted the allegations in a response to Congress last August.
“Mr. Cohen is not aware of any ‘secret TRUMP campaign/Kremlin relationship,'” Ryan said.