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Doubt cast on report that put Michael Cohen in Prague

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 12/28/2018 Naomi Lim
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The journalists who reported that cell signals and intercepted chatter between Russians placed Michael Cohen in Prague amid the 2016 presidential campaign based their story on third-hand information, one of the journalists acknowledged Friday.

McClatchy's Greg Gordon told MSNBC Friday that neither he nor colleague Peter Stone ever personally saw the phone and intelligence data, originally obtained by an Eastern European agency, that they claimed provides evidence that President Trump's former lawyer could have been in the Czech capital in the summer of 2016.

"No," Gordon said when asked if any of the pair's four sources allowed them to see corroborating documentation. “Some of the sources have government sources, and some of the sources are people who have told us that they have trusted intelligence-type sources that they get information from. We don’t know the specifics, but we have used these sources on many subjects, and they have been very accurate."

Gordon and Stone's story Thursday follows another McClatchy article published in April that reported special counsel Robert Mueller had proof that Cohen traveled to Prague from Germany sometime between late August and early September 2016, substantiating claims made in the Trump-Russia dossier. In the series of memos, ex-British spy Christopher Steele said Cohen went to or near the European city to meet with Kremlin officials to discuss ways to conceal the “liaison” between the Trump campaign and Moscow. No other outlet has verified McClatchy's April or December reporting.

Cohen, however, has vehemently pushed back on the story and on Thursday issued a fresh denial.

"I hear #Prague #CzechRepublic is beautiful in the summertime. I wouldn’t know as I have never been. #Mueller knows everything!" Cohen, Trump's ex-fixer, wrote.

But Gordon on Friday questioned Cohen's trustworthiness.

“Michael Cohen, as we all know, has been convicted of lying about his dealings with the Trump hotel in Russia. He’s been convicted of being deceitful in a number of ways, so his credibility is not high,” Gordon said. “We have to follow what our sources that we trust and have developed over this two-year period have told us."

Cohen pleaded guilty last month to lying to Congress about a Trump Organization real estate deal as part of Mueller's federal Russia investigation. He was sentenced to two months in prison for the charge, which will be served concurrently with the three years he received through the case he faced in New York for campaign finance violations and tax and bank fraud.

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