A close adviser to Michael Cohen on Sunday emphatically denied the Steele dossier’s allegations that the former Trump adviser visited Prague during the 2016 campaign to arrange payments to Russian hackers.
Lanny Davis, a lawyer-turned-adviser for Cohen, did not skip a beat when asked by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt about the dossier’s Prague allegation.
“Did that trip ever happen?” Hunt asked Davis, a Democratic attorney who is close to the Clintons.
“No. No. Everybody, America, we all love Kasie’s show. No, no Prague, ever, never,” an emphatic Davis replied.
Davis’ comments deal a heavy blow to the dossier, which is considered Exhibit A in Democrats’ case for Trump-Russia collusion.
Written by former British spy Christopher Steele, the dossier alleges a vast conspiracy between the Trump team and Kremlin insiders to hack and disseminate Democrats’ emails to influence the outcome of the election. The claims about Cohen are perhaps the most specific of any made about alleged collusion in the 35-page report.
Cohen has met with prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for 70 hours since August. Mueller has revealed in court filings that Cohen has provided information about Russia-related matters, as well as the Trump Organization’s efforts to negotiate real estate deals in Moscow.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Dec. 12, after pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and making illegal campaign contributions through a $130,000 payment he made to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006. He also pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe on Nov. 29 to lying to Congress.
As part of the deal, Cohen admitted he lied to Congress in 2017 about the extent of his attempts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Neither of Cohen’s two plea deals made mention of the dossier’s allegations regarding collusion.
Both Cohen and Davis have cast doubt on the dossier in the past, but not since the former Trump fixer ramped up his cooperation with Mueller and company.
Davis disputed the dossier’s assertions on Aug. 22, a day after Cohen pleaded guilty in the New York case.
He had stayed silent on the dossier question as Cohen began meeting more frequently with Mueller’s team, but addressed his reasons for doing so in his interview on Sunday.
Davis said that Cohen “actually instructed me when I was serving as his lawyer, just don’t answer it anymore, because it’s one of these silly things that constantly gets repeated.”
“So the answer is, no, he’s never been to Prague,” continued Davis, adding that Cohen has also never visited any suburbs of Prague.
The dossier’s claims about Cohen have been a topic of intense debate in the nearly two years since the document was published.
Democrats have defended Steele and the dossier by claiming that none of his allegations have been disproved. Republicans have responded by asserting that the dossier’s claims about a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia have not been verified. GOP lawmakers have also gone after the FBI for relying heavily on the dossier to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Mueller’s team and the FBI have not commented on the dossier’s claims about Cohen. But Washington Post reporter Greg Miller recently claimed that FBI and CIA officials told the newspaper that they do not believe that Cohen’s trip occurred.
“We’ve talked to sources at the FBI and the CIA and elsewhere — they don’t believe that ever happened,” Miller, a Pulitzer Prize winning national security reporter, said at an event in October that aired Saturday on C-SPAN.