No mention of key Prague collusion allegation in Cohen plea deal

by WorldTribune Staff, December 3, 2018

The plea deal Michael Cohen reached with special counsel Robert Mueller generated intense media excitement last week. However it makes no mention of the original allegation involving him that was at the center of collusion accusations against the Trump campaign, a columnist noticed.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his 2016 meetings concerning the failed Trump Tower Moscow project.

Robert Mueller and Michael Cohen

“Of course that was news. But it turns out the Cohen plea agreement also made news in what it did not cover,” Byron York wrote for the Washington Examiner.

“Specifically, it spoke volumes – without saying a word – about a key allegation of the Trump dossier, the charge that Cohen traveled to Prague to arrange secret payments to Russian hackers attacking the Clinton campaign. The accusation is the heart of the collusion allegation, and Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller’s deal with Cohen strongly suggests that prosecutors have not found evidence to support it.”

Former British spy Christopher Steele, in the unverified Trump “dossier,” cited a “Kremlin insider” who reported that Cohen traveled to Prague in August 2016 for talks with Russians with close ties to the Kremlin, York noted.

The talks, according to the dossier, focused on “questions on how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow’s secret liaison with the Trump team more generally.”

Cohen publicly denied the allegation, saying the meeting never happened and he had never been to Prague.

Cohen told Congress: “Let me tell you where I was on the day the dossier said I was in Prague. I was in Los Angeles with my son who dreams of playing division 1 baseball next year at a prestigious university like USC. We were visiting the campus, meeting with various coaches, and discussing his future. Media sources have been able to confirm these facts and I can provide you with proof.”

York wrote that “For more than a year, a number of Trump-Russia investigators on Capitol Hill have maintained that none of the dossier’s substantive allegations are true. The new plea deal between Cohen and Mueller is more evidence to support that.”

Former Trump attorney John Dowd told The Washington Times that “The Cohen plea of lying to Congress by the special counsel raises the very serious question as to why the special counsel has refused to investigate and prosecute the false statements and testimony of James Comey, the main accuser of the president, before the Senate Judiciary and Intel committees.”

Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, said in a Dec. 2 interview that special counsels such as Mueller are prosecuting people “at any cost” and the mainstream media lets them “get away with it.”

“This is what’s wrong with these special prosecutors and independent counsels: They think they’re God,” Giuliani told John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” radio program.

Special counsels like Mueller “think they know the only truth that exists, even if there’s a lot of doubt about it,” Giuliani said. “They seem to want to [prosecute] people at any cost, including the cost of ethical behavior or the rights of people. And because 70 to 80 percent of the mainstream media is biased, they let them get away with it.”

Giuliani’s comments came days after Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress as part of the federal Russia investigation. Cohen faces up to six months in prison for the charge.

“It’s no secret that he wanted to be [White House] chief of staff or he wanted to have some very high position in the government, and the president didn’t think he was up to it, which I guess turns out to be absolutely correct,” Giuliani said of Cohen. “I have to suspect that that ultimately created some kind of bitterness, and when this pressure was applied to him I just don’t think he withstood it.”

Meanwhile, Comey has dropped his legal challenge to a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee for him to testify this week behind closed doors.

Comey on Dec. 2 tweeted: “Grateful for a fair hearing from judge. Hard to protect my rights without being in contempt, which I don’t believe in. So will sit in the dark, but Republicans agree I’m free to talk when done and transcript released in 24 hours. This is the closest I can get to public testimony.”

In a filing in federal court on Dec. 2, Comey’s lawyers moved to withdraw his motion to quash the subpoena, writing he “has now reached an acceptable accommodation” with the House Judiciary Committee for voluntary testimony.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, said in a statement that “Comey will join us for a closed-door transcribed interview later this week. We will release the transcript of his interview to the public as soon as possible after the interview, in the name of our combined desire for transparency.”

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