Ever since the Steele Dossier was published Michael Cohen has denied that he has ever been in or near Prague in the Czech Republic. But most people thought he was lying.
This week McClatchey reported that there is convincing evidence that his cell phone was used near Prague in 2016, so we thought this was proof that Cohen has been lying all along about the Prague visit.
"Four people spoke with #McClatchy on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of information shared by their foreign intelligence connections. Each obtained their information independently from foreign intelligence connections."
— McClatchy (@mcclatchy) December 27, 2018
But now there is speculation that Cohen is telling the truth. The thinking is that he himself was not in or near Prague in 2016, but someone else from the Trump campaign was there with one of his cell phones.
This is plausible because when the FBI raided Cohen’s office and hotel room last April they took into their possession over a dozen cell phones. Why did Cohen have so many cell phones? It’s likely that most of them were “burner” phones such as the kind used by drug dealers and other criminals. The idea is that a temporary cell phone can’t be traced, so the criminals use them for a small number of calls and then throw them away.
Except Michael Cohen didn’t throw his away. He stuck them in a drawer in his office so the FBI could find them and use them as evidence.
This sounds really dumb until you realize that Cohen may have kept them to prove the complicity of his boss, Donald Trump, in his crimes.
So who would have taken a Cohen burner phone to Prague in 2016 to secretly meet with Russians and arrange for their help to elect Donald Trump president?
Well, it turns out that there was a member of the Trump campaign who was more senior even than Michael Cohen who is fluent in the Czech language and has traveled extensively to Prague.
That person’s name is Donald Trump, Jr., whose mother Ivana Trump was born and raised in Prague.
And Ivana’s father lived near Prague and was visited by Don Jr. many times during his childhood. So for Don Jr. to visit Prague would not be surprising or suspicious, since he has been going there his whole life.
This leads us to the following headline in Daily Kos:
“Cohen Wasn’t In Prague, But He Hears It’s Beautiful In The Summertime. Is Michael Cohen Trolling Don Jr.?”
This article has a link to a video of Donald Trump, Jr. speaking fluent Czech and explaining how he and his family went to the Czech Republic every summer for 2 months while he was growing up.
The article mentions Cohen’s tweet also where he said, after the McClatchey story came out:
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) December 27, 2018
What’s interesting is how Cohen uses the phrase “I hear.” Who would he have heard from that Prague is beautiful in the summertime? How about his boss’s son, Don Jr.? That makes a lot of sense. It also makes sense that Don Jr. would use a burner phone — provided by his father’s fixer — to make calls to Russians, thinking this would protect him from exposure.
If Mueller knows everything, but Cohen was never there, then it is likely that Mueller has the burner phone proving the calls were made to Russians, just as was outlined in the Steele Dossier. This would confirm whatever Cohen has already told Mueller about who made the Prague trip if it wasn’t him.
As the Daily Kos article points out, Cohen’s tweet wasn’t necessary. He could have kept silent. But maybe he was sending a message to the person who actually WAS in or near Prague in 2016. Maybe he was trolling Don Jr., which would fit within his character.
As the article concludes:
“Tweeting that, you hear it’s beautiful in Prague, and Mueller knows everything, seems very odd when you are under the eye of a prosecutor and you don’t need to and shouldn’t be tweeting anything. It almost seems like you’re not tweeting for your followers, but that you are trying to send a message to a very, very, few people.”
Eventually we might learn what Mueller already knows, but for now we have to be satisfied with learning small bits and pieces of the truth. And this week we may have gotten some hints that fill in key parts of the puzzle concerning the Prague trip that would prove there was an illegal conspiracy between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.