The day after the stunning public Michael Cohen hearing with the House Oversight Committee took place, he appeared again in a closed-door session with the House Intelligence Committee. In that hearing, Cohen revealed something mysterious that had the Congressmen at the “edge of our seats.” It was something that Cohen originally did not seem to think was a big deal, but ended up being very important. The Washington Post reported it could be that Trump dangled a pardon in front of Michael Cohen in order to keep him on his side after his office was raided.
The Post could be right, and if they are, that would mean that Donald Trump committed felony obstruction of justice. However, before the Post reported pardon-dangling as the mysterious new bombshell that came out of the closed-door hearing, I had thought of and dismissed this idea because both Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis, and Eric Swalwell reported on MSNBC that whatever this revelation was, it was something Cohen had not originally reported because he did not realize it was a big deal.
As a lawyer who has been talking with the SDNY and Mueller’s team for hundreds of hours, Cohen would know that the president dangling a pardon in front of him would be very significant. If he did not realize it based on his own training as a lawyer, then surely he would understand after the SDNY and Mueller’s team asked him about it, and questioned him about every aspect of the last conversation he had with Trump, and the pardon offer, which they undeniably have done.
Another reason the description of the mysterious new bombshell doesn’t completely fit with the dangling of a pardon is that Michael Cohen is reportedly coming back to meet with the congressional committee again on Monday, because he thinks he can find and deliver proof of this new revelation. What proof would Cohen have of this phone conversation? Phone records? Did he record the conversation? If there is a recording, then it would have been turned over to or seized by authorities, which means this would definitely have come up before, and Cohen would know it was significant. While it is possible that the big new information Cohen provided Congress was that Trump offered him a pardon, it just doesn’t fit well with the description given by Lanny Davis and Congressman Eric Swalwell.
Something I read on Palmer Report quite some time ago does fit: Michael Cohen was asked in the public hearing if he had ever been to Prague and he answered, no. Behind closed doors, it would make sense for a Congressman to ask again, and to explain to him what information they have that suggests he was there. Perhaps the Congressman told Cohen that intelligence had picked up signals from a phone registered to him near Prague, and perhaps a congressman asked Cohen if anyone else could have been in possession of a phone registered to him.
As Palmer Report pointed months ago, Cohen had so many phones seized from his office, it makes sense that some of them may have been purchased by Cohen as “burner” phones for Trump and his family. This line of questioning and conversation could have led Cohen to put pieces together that he had not thought of before, i.e., that someone from the Trump family could have traveled to Prague with a phone that was registered to him. While Mueller may already know who went to Prague and when, if Cohen did not know anything about Prague, Mueller would not have shared what he knows with Cohen. It just doesn’t work that way. So, Cohen may not have put the pieces together until Friday in the closed-door session.
While we don’t know if this is the new bombshell, it fits what we know about this mysterious new discovery. It is very possible that Michael Cohen would not have understood the significance of one of a Team Trump member taking a burner phone, and he might not have known that a signal from a phone registered to him was picked up in Prague.
Additionally, Michael Cohen may have a lot of credit card and financial statements and records in his “boxes” of materials that could relate to any travel expenses incurred by the Trump Organization, and he could have kept records of who had the phones registered to him. Either way, someone is going to be facing prison time for this new bombshell revelation.
Cheryl Kelley lives in the DC area with her husband and young son. She is active in government and politics.