Michael Cohen is still insisting today that he’s never been anywhere near Prague, even after reports that his cellphone was used near Prague during the timeframe in which the Steele dossier claims he was there meeting with the Russians. Cohen has confessed to numerous Trump-related crimes, and he’s going to prison for them – so why would he deny this one if it’s true? There’s a perfectly logical explanation.
Back when the FBI was raiding Michael Cohen’s offices, it seized sixteen different cellphones. It always felt like that was too many phones for one person, even a packrat like Cohen, and that some of the phones had to have belonged to other people. So whose phones would be in Cohen’s possession? For now, only he and Robert Mueller know. But we suspect this might come down to two words: burner phones.
Let’s say that Michael Cohen was the guy on Team Trump who bought up a bunch of burner phones and then handed them out to whoever needed one. But because he was the world’s most inept fixer, he was buying phones in his own name and handing them out. Then, instead of destroying them like you’re supposed to, Cohen was just throwing them in a drawer. It would mean that any number of Trump-connected people were running around using phones that were registered to Cohen’s name.
In such a scenario, Michael Cohen could have provided one of these phones to a member of the Trump Organization or Trump campaign who then went off to Prague. European intel then picked up that phone in Prague, assumed it belonged to Cohen, paired it up with separate intel about Team Trump meeting with the Russians in Prague, and assumed it was Cohen at the meeting. That intel then made it into the Trump-Russia dossier.
In such case, the Trump-Russia dossier would essentially be correct about Michael Cohen’s cellphone showing up near Prague even as Team Trump was meeting with the Russians in Prague; it would have simply fingered the wrong Team Trump member because the phone was registered to the wrong person. It’s entirely possible Cohen wasn’t even a part of the Prague plot; he simply provided a phone to a Team Trump member who asked for one. In any case, as Cohen said today, “Mueller knows everything.”
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report