Michael Cohen, while testifying Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee, denied traveling to Prague to meet with Russian operatives during President Trump’s 2016 campaign, as was alleged in the infamous Steele dossier and subsequent reporting.
“I’ve never been to Prague. I’ve never been to the Czech Republic,” Cohen told lawmakers.
Cohen’s testimony refutes both the Steele dossier, in which former British spy Christopher Steele alleged that Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with a Kremlin official about Russian efforts to leak DNC emails, and a subsequent McClatchy report that partially confirmed Steele’s findings.
The McClatchy report, published in April 2018, claimed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had evidence that Cohen “secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign” and speculated that Cohen did so to meet with Konstantin Kosachev, a member of the Russian legislature with close ties to Vladimir Putin.
McClatchy followed up with a second report in December that indicated Cohen’s cell phone “briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials.”
Cohen and his representatives have previously denied the allegation, but Wednesday represents the first time he’s done so under oath. “Bad reporting, bad information and bad story by same reporter Peter Stone,” Cohen tweeted in response to the initial McClatchy report.
The Steele dossier, which was indirectly funded by the Clinton campaign through a law firm, alleged that Cohen met with two Russians and a number of Eastern European hackers in Prague to discuss “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign.”
Many of the salacious allegations in the Steele dossier remain unsubstantiated and Steele himself has conceded that only 70 to 90 percent of the dossier is accurate.