Report: Cell Records Back Claim of Cohen-Russia Meeting in Prague
Cellphone records show that Michael Cohen was near Prague during the summer of 2016, supporting claims that Donald Trump's former attorney met there with Russian officials during the presidential election campaign, the McClatchy news service reported Thursday.
Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison this month after pleading guilty of tax evasion and other crimes, has denied ever visiting Prague.
Since then, however, Cohen has turned on his former boss and has been cooperating with 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.
Details of Cohen's cooperation with the Mueller probe have not been publicly revealed, and Trump vehemently denies any collusion with Russia.
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.
McClatchy, publisher of the Miami Herald and other newspapers, said a mobile phone traced to Cohen had briefly sent signals off cell 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 that the electronic record supports "claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials."
"During the same period of late August or early September , 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 cellphone 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," it said.
Shared with Mueller
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 real estate project in Moscow.
Cohen acknowledged that the talks to build a Trump Tower in Moscow continued until at least June 2016 — six months longer than he had told Congress.