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Trump-Russia collusion investigations

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen dismisses report of Czech meeting with Russians, despite claim his phone was detected in Prague

  • Cohen denies visiting the Eastern European city hours after report claiming his mobile phone was picked up by network towers there in summer 2016
PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 11:53am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 12:02pm

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, denied on Thursday he ever visited Prague, shooting down a report he had a meeting with Russian officials there during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

“I hear #Prague #CzechRepublic is beautiful in the summertime. I wouldn’t know as I have never been. #Mueller knows everything!” he tweeted, referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to get him elected to the White House.

Cohen’s tweet came several hours after the McClatchy news service reported that mobile phone records showed Cohen was near Prague in summer 2016, supporting claims he met Russian officials there.

Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison this month after pleading guilty to tax evasion and other crimes, has long denied ever visiting Prague.

He has been cooperating for the past several months with the Mueller’s office but details of his cooperation with the Mueller probe have not been publicly revealed.

Trump vehemently denies any collusion with Russia and has denounced the Mueller investigation as a “political witch hunt”.

The purported meeting between Cohen and Russian government officials in Prague was first reported in a document with compromising material on Trump compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

According to what has become known as the “Steele dossier”, Cohen had a clandestine meeting with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016 to discuss hiding links between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.

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McClatchy, publisher of The Miami Herald and other newspapers, said a mobile phone traced to Cohen briefly sent signals from network towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016.

“The brief activation from Cohen’s phone near Prague sent beacons that left a traceable electronic signature,” it said.

Citing “four people with knowledge of the matter”, McClatchy said the electronic record supports “claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials”.

“During the same period of late August or early September (2016), electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague,” McClatchy cited “two people familiar with the incident” as saying.

“The new information regarding the recovery of Cohen’s cell phone location doesn’t explain why he was apparently there or who he was meeting with, if anyone,” McClatchy said. “But it adds to evidence that Cohen was in or near Prague around the time of the supposed meeting.”

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McClatchy said the intelligence pointing to the presence of Cohen near Prague had been shared with the Special Counsel’s office.

Among the crimes Cohen pleaded guilty to was lying to Congress about the status of a Trump property project in Moscow.

Cohen acknowledged the talks to build a Trump Tower in Moscow continued until at least June 2016 – six months longer than he told Congress.