A Thursday report claiming that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was in Prague during the 2016 US election has begun to unravel after one of its authors admitted it was based on third-hand information which nobody affiliated with the report had seen, according to the Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross.
In a Thursday evening interview, McClatchy‘s Greg Gordon revealed that he and his colleague, Peter Stone, had not actually seen the underlying evidence that a phone traced to Cohen “briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016,” a report which echoed their April claim that special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence of Cohen’s trip – which, according to the controversial “Steele Dossier” was to meet with Kremlin insiders to arrange payments to Russian hackers.
“Is there anything that you were able to physically see for yourselves?” asked MSNBC host Joy Reid, to which Gordon replied “I wish we had. We held out for a while for that, and it came a time when we thought we had a critical mass. It is a competitive business.”
Instead, Gordon talked about his sources, who “have government sources” and “trusted intelligence-type sources” – dodging the question of whether his sources had even seen the evidence from their sources.
The attribution on that McClatchy piece is "two people familiar" — the same attribution as the April 13 Cohen-Prague story and as another Russia story that can be traced back to Fusion GPS's Glenn Simpson.
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) December 28, 2018
“Some of the sources have government sources, and some of the sources are people who have told us that they have trusted intelligence-type sources that they get information from. We don’t know the specifics, but we have used these sources on many subjects, and they have been very accurate.”
Both Cohen and his attorney – longtime Clinton pal Lanny Davis, have vehemently denied the Prague claims in the dossier – while Washington Post reporter Greg Miller told an audience at an October event that the FBI and CIA did not believe that former longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen visited Prague during the 2016 election to pay off Russia-linked hackers who stole emails from key Democrats, reports the Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross.
“We’ve talked to sources at the FBI and the CIA and elsewhere — they don’t believe that ever happened,” said Miller during the October event which aired Saturday on C-SPAN.
We literally spent weeks and months trying to run down… there’s an assertion in there that Michael Cohen went to Prague to settle payments that were needed at the end of the campaign. We sent reporters to every hotel in Prague, to all over the place trying to – just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty. -Greg Miller
Steele, using Kremlin sources, claimed in his dossier that Cohen and three associates went to Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials for the purpose of discussing “deniable cash payments” made in secret so as to cover up “Moscow’s secret liaison with the TRUMP team.”
Cohen’s alleged Prague visit captured attention largely because the former Trump fixer has vehemently denied it, and also because it would seem to be one of the easier claims in Steele’s 35-page report to validate or invalidate.
Debate over the salacious document was reignited when McClatchy reported April 15 that special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence Cohen visited Prague. No other news outlets have verified the reporting, and Cohen denied it at the time.
Cohen last denied the dossier’s allegations in late June, a period of time when he was gearing up to cooperate with prosecutors against President Donald Trump. Cohen served as a cooperating witness for prosecutors in both New York and the special counsel’s office. –Daily Caller
One day after Cohen pleaded guilty in New York to a slew of federal charges Lanny Davis – that Cohen had ever been to Prague, told Bloomberg “Thirteen references to Mr. Cohen are false in the dossier, but he has never been to Prague in his life.”