Investigators have learned that a cell phone traced back to Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime former lawyer and fixer, sent signals that ricocheted off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, McClatchy reported, citing four people with knowledge of the matter.
During that same period — around late August or early September 2016 — the outlet said an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up surveillance of a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague.
Details of Cohen’s possible trip to Prague first emerged publicly in a dossier, which alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele.
The document cited a “Kremlin insider” as saying there were “clandestine meeting/s between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael COHEN and Kremlin representatives in August 2016.”
“The Kremlin insider clearly indicated to his/her friend that the reported contact/s took place in Prague, Czech Republic,” it said.
The document further alleged Cohen met with individuals linked to the Russian government, including Konstantin Kosachev, a member of Russia’s parliament, and Oleg Solodukhin, who works with the Russian Center for Science and Culture.
It also said Cohen, Kosachev, and others, including Romanian hackers, discussed “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the [Hillary] Clinton campaign,” and ways to “sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven.”
The dossier further alleged that Cohen and one or more Kremlin officials huddled in or around Prague to plot ways to limit the discovery of the close “liaison” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Earlier this year, McClatchy reported that the alleged trip was a subject of focus for lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee. Their interest in Cohen’s whereabouts in 2016 was said to be fueled by what they considered to be weak documentation Cohen provided to show them where he was — New York and Los Angeles — at the time of the alleged Prague visit.
After he was widely criticized last year for tweeting out a photo of his passport cover as proof that he didn’t visit Prague in 2016, Cohen showed the inside of the document to BuzzFeed News. According to the outlet, Cohen’s passport did not contain a stamp for the Czech Republic.
However, investigators working for the special counsel Robert Mueller have reportedly obtained evidence that Cohen first flew to Germany in late August or early September 2016, and then traveled to the Czech Republic through another means of transportation.
Were that the case, Cohen may not have needed a passport because both Germany and the Czech Republic lie within the Schengen Area, which encompasses 26 European countries and functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel.