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More “Russia Collusion” Media PSYOPs – McClatchy cell-phone ping report on Michael Cohen in Prague

More “Russia Collusion” Media PSYOPs – McClatchy cell-phone ping report on Michael Cohen in Prague

Claims based on what unnamed people heard from unnamed people, none of whom are shown to have personal knowledge. This is the epitome of Trump collusion reporting.

One key part of the so-called Steele Dossier on Donald Trump was a reference to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen attending a summer 2016 collusive meeting in Prague to seek Russian help for Trump’s campaign.

It’s something Cohen repeatedly has denied, including under oath. Cohen not only denies such a meeting, he denies EVER having been to Prague. While Cohen has been prosecuted for some lies under oath, he has not been charged — so far — with lying about Prague.

I don’t know if Cohen was in Prague, and neither does the media or anyone on social media. Some day the truth or falsity of the accusation will be proven or disproven based on actual first-hand reliable evidence. But that evidence has not been made public, and may not exist.

Yet that has not stopped repeated leaks, primarily through McClatchy, asserting based on unnamed sources that there is evidence that Cohen was in Prague in the summer of 2016.

In April 2018, McClatchy reported Sources: Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016, confirming part of dossier:

The Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Confirmation of the trip would lend credence to a retired British spy’s report that Cohen strategized there with a powerful Kremlin figure about Russian meddling in the U.S. election….

But investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany, apparently during August or early September of 2016 as the ex-spy reported, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential. He wouldn’t have needed a passport for such a trip, because both countries are in the so-called Schengen Area in which 26 nations operate with open borders. The disclosure still left a puzzle: The sources did not say whether Cohen took a commercial flight or private jet to Europe, and gave no explanation as to why no record of such a trip has surfaced.

That April 2018 McClatchy report, like all media report speculating about Russian collusion, never has been verified. As Paul Mirengoff points out, even Mueller took issue with it:

Other news outlets apparently have not been able to corroborate McClatchy’s reporting about Cohen/Prague. Indeed, Ross notes, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported in October that CIA and FBI sources said they don’t believe Cohen visited Prague. Maybe there is new evidence that might cause the CIA and the FBI to revise their opinion, but I don’t think we should assume there is.

Moreover, after McClathcy’s April report on buzz that Cohen visited Prague, Robert Mueller’s office took the unusual step of counseling media outlets to be cautious about any source that claims to have knowledge regarding what its investigation has uncovered. “Dig deep into what they claim before reporting on it,” Mueller’s spokesperson said, and “don’t run with it unless you have your own sourcing to back it up.”

Now McClatchy is at it again, Cell signal puts Cohen outside Prague around time of purported Russian meeting (emphasis added):

A mobile phone traced to President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen 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, four people with knowledge of the matter say.

Let’s focus on that lead-in: “four people with knowledge of the matter say.” As you read down through the article, it’s clear that is at best a misleading statement. The four people in question have no personal knowledge (emphasis added):

Four people spoke with McClatchy on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of information shared by their foreign intelligence connections. Each obtained their information independently from foreign intelligence connections.

Understand what this means. None of the four have personal knowledge. They had communications with foreign intelligence connections. Those connections may not even have personal knowledge.

And there’s the coincidence of it all. After all this time and two years of media speculation, four people come forward anonymously with hearsay based on unnamed foreign intelligence services … all at the same time.

Cohen tweeted his denial of ever being in Prague:

That has not stopped the news cycle of Trump conspiracy theories from media and Democrats as if this report were true:

This is not reporting. This is not journalism. This reporting is the epitome of the Russia collusion PSYOPs being carried out through media reporting. The allegations are non-disprovable. We don’t know McClatchy’s source, or who McClatchy’s sources’ sources were, or even if there were actual foreign intelligence sources. There is nothing to disprove because there is no proof.

If the goals of the Russians, as has been reported, were to sow distrust of the legitimacy of the 2016 election and stoke discord in our political system, the media is their willing accomplice.


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Anyone want to bet that those four sources with “foreign intelligence connections” are all talking to the same person?

Actually, that’s probably unlikely. It’s more likely that those four sources for McClatchy were in the room with the source at the same time. They all heard the same rumor, but they’re all considered individual sources.

    Milhouse in reply to Semper Why. | December 28, 2018 at 1:27 am

    No, “Each obtained their information independently”. So if that is true (and if it isn’t then why assume there is any foreign source at all?) then they weren’t all in a room together. They still may all have been BCC’d on the same message. Or the same source made four phone calls. Probably more than four, since some recipients might not have fallen for it. It’s still completely unverified, unreliable, and irrelevant. Even if true, it means nothing significant. So why think too hard about it?

      Far easier to consider that they are just lying, or considering their four sources to be Chair, Lamp, Table, and Glass. When investing, they always say “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” True as far as it goes, but if I was considering an investment firm who had been wrong every day for ten years…

        As I said, if they’re lying then why assume any sources exist at all? The whole four-in-a-room theory depends on their not lying this time, for some reason.

          Milhouse in reply to gert. | December 28, 2018 at 6:22 am

          Oh, hi, gert. This is where I’ve been hanging out lately. Yes, exactly. As you pointed out to me, we must either assume they’re telling the literal truth in this one instance, and parse it for the actual truth; or else assume they’re lying as usual and ignore their words completely; but we can’t do both at the same time.

          Don’t be a stranger.

    malclave in reply to Semper Why. | December 28, 2018 at 1:52 am

    A foreign intelligence connection like, I dunno, a former British agent with a cinema-like name such as “Steele”?

The McClatchy article sounds very relotius to me.

So, the warlock hunts progress, heretofore catching only witches, and babies deemed unworthy. Well, they can hope for change, but after, what, 8 trimesters, none is forthcoming. It’s all very monotonic.

The worst aspect of this is that the way all of this is so quickly accepted, makes it even easier for Russians, Chinese, Iranian, NoKo, ISIS, ET or Sasquatch to pass off nonsense as fact.

If it’s one person with four split personalities making the claim, does that count as four sources?

The Friendly Grizzly | December 27, 2018 at 10:15 pm

“Four sources and seven years ago…”

The next scandal will have Trump in Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Thrater.

Cohen sneaks into Prague on some super-secret nefarious deal for Trump and makes a call using his own cell phone? I’m not going to credit Cohen with being a genius, but he doesn’t strike me as a complete idiot either.

McClatchy has been running versions of this story for years. Who are these guys? They remind me of Salon.

To make a long story much, much shorter, the only way anyone would know this is through misuse of data gathered for foreign intelligence purposes. That’s how it is known that “a” Michael Cohen was in Prague, even though it was exposed long, long ago that it was not “this” Michael Cohen. But if people much more important than me, earning much more money than me, have long ceased to care, I wonder why I should at this point.

Emptywheel points out that:

In any case, we know that the FBI seized a whole slew of Cohen’s phones on April 9 and were able to fully exploit all of them save an old Blackberry.

So we don’t have to rely on extrapolating from what are often common first steps, because we know that Mueller has already obtained Cohen’s actual phones (to say nothing of his phone records).

Off topic, I just saw Moshe Feiglin’s introduction to the coming election campaign. It’s in Hebrew but with good and clear English subtitles; whoever did them is very good at it.

Feiglin is almost Israel’s only remaining hope of actually reversing the decline rather than just slowing it. I was suspicious of him when he first started in politics, fearing that all his talk of “leadership” might be a sign of closet fascism, but his one term in the Knesset showed a very different side; he emerged as the Knesset’s only true libertarian.

But of course the stupid Israeli electorate will run after yet another general promising yet another “third way”, who will end up exactly like all the ones before him, or else stick to the devil they know, knowing perfectly well that he will continue to deliver the same slow defeat that he’s been dishing up, but afraid of any alternative.

If only TDS were a fatal disease! That would really MAGA!

I’m somehow reminded of someone else whose supposed visit to Prague exercised the imaginations of many, but nothing ever came of it.

(Personally I like Captain Ed’s theory that the Prague meeting did take place, but that its purpose was to warn the Iraqis off. According to this theory Iraq, not knowing about al Qaeda’s plans, came up with the same idea independently and started going about setting up an attack. But the exposure of the Iraqi spy cell in Hamburg in February 2001 set the al Qaeda plotters worrying that Iraq’s blundering in the dark would endanger their own plan into which they’d put so much work and money, which is why instead of going to Hamburg Atta met Binalshibh in Spain, and then traveled secretly to Prague to tell the Iraqis to stop.)

    Not a bad plot for a spy novel, a terrible way to view real-world events. Occam’s Razor applies here quite well.
    -Most likely, it’s a complete lie.
    -Possibly, there was somebody with the same name in Prague around that time, and Real Intelligence Sources confused the two.
    -Really doubtful that there’s some sort of crafted fake evidence designed to point in that direction.
    -Highly Unlikely that the visit was real and covered up.

Someone wake me up when there is something to wake up about.

So now we are back to the old accusations that we heard from the beginning of this charade. What is next? Cohen was seen at the Boshoi once in NY. Or maybe he was heard telling a friend he likes Moscow on the Hudson. Enough of this tripe.

    Walker Evans in reply to natdj. | December 28, 2018 at 10:03 am

    The CIA and PETA are both after him. It has been confirmed that he has an affinity for consuming Moscow Mules!

regulus arcturus | December 28, 2018 at 8:45 am

This is the type of activity which needs to be prosecuted.

Failing that, Cohen should sue McClatchy.

The accusations are that the Russians set out to sow mistrust about the US election system. If the Russians had deliberately set out to sow a self-beclowning of the media, they could not have dreamed that their program could be so wildly successful…indeed, far more successful than their supposed election system program.

I love these things.

Here we have a sleazy NYC attorney reportedly in a foreign country for a meeting. As he is not a member of any clandestine state-sponsored organization, he should leave a monumental footprint while he is there. There should be a record of him entering the EU. There should be records of where he stayed and where he ate. There should be records of how he traveled about, including fuel purchases if he used private transportation. There should be a myriad of witnesses to his general whereabouts during his “stay”. Yet, all the evidence that we have that Cohen was in Prague are totally unsupported hearsay accounts. Really? An organization such as the FBI or the CIA should have been able to produce a nearly complete itinerary for him, if he ws there at all. Yet, nothing has surfaced. In this age of leaking any information damaging to Trump, why would such damaging information concerning Cohen remain a closely guarded secret? Perhaps because there is no such evidence?

    regulus arcturus in reply to Mac45. | December 28, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    The fact that both FBI and CIA (I believe) have denied the Cohen-in-Prague story when they have incentive to confirm it (FBI does anyway), that signals something, though I’m not entirely sure what.

The Cohen in Prague was a major messup in the FISA 702 about queries done by Fushion GPS and Nellie Ohr who wrote the dossier .

This is deep state actors who are pushing this because the FISA searches hit on the wrong Michael Cohen .
They do not want that to come out but it will.

Russian Collusion rule of thumb:

There is a rebuttable presumption that any unsourced or anonymously sourced stories about Russian collusion are false and/or misleading. This presumption may only be rebutted by reliable, admissible evidence.

The absurdity here is that this is probably at least three levels of hearsay from being admissible in a US courtroom. Yet, somehow illegally obtained and illegally disclosed information from anonymous sources reporting on anonymous sources somehow is credulous enough to be taken seriously by most news media, including Fox News.

What is going on here? Cohen never having been in Prague despite Steele’s claim to the contrary debunks and discredits the Steele Dossier, and thus the basis for the at least four FISA warrants on at least Carter Page, as well as the justification for the Mueller investigation (and, yes, Steele and the Mueller investigation were tied together by Peter Strzok as well as Andrew Weissman, who started working with Steele in August 2016, most of a year before going to work leading the Mueller team). The way that the Steele Dossier was brought officially to the attention of the FBI shows the complicity of the US IC, and esp CIA in the plot, and this 3 levels of anonymous leaks from foreign governments has CIA written all over it. The other thing though is that this Steele Dossier mistake is highly suggestive that the contents of the Dossier were at least partially sourced to illegal accesses of NSA’s FISA Title VII databases by FBI contractors throughout the first third of 2016 (and before), and then laundered through Fusion GPS and Steele to hide the origins from the FISC (with the extremely likely facilitation by the CIA).

What organization is most likely to have dealt with the foreign intelligence agencies that supposedly provided this information? The CIA, of course. These would be allied intelligence agencies. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if one of their first level sources was discredited former CIA Dir Brennan, who is infamous for his history of leaking to the press for personal and strategic advantage. And who has his fingerprints all over the collusion between the FBI and CIA in their attacks on Trump, as well as the attack on the Saudi Crown Prince for the execution of Brennan’s
old friend Khossogi for his support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was trying to destroy the current Saudi regime.