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:
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) December 27, 2018
That has not stopped the news cycle of Trump conspiracy theories from media and Democrats as if this report were true:
Been waiting for Cohen in Prague to become public. Once we find out what he was doing there, this will be game, set, and match for Trump. Now’s the time. #TrumpResign
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) December 27, 2018
"…four people with knowledge of the matter say."https://t.co/VPzGiLxXIq
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) December 27, 2018
McClatchy's reporting that Michael Cohen did indeed visit Prague during the campaign is very solidly sourced. And it indicates direct collusion between Trump and Russia. https://t.co/Yg26AA4tRj
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) December 27, 2018
GOP & @realDonaldTrump used Michael Cohen's denials that he was never in Prague to cast aspersions on the damning Steele Dossier, which stated Cohen was in Prague meeting with Russians in 2016.
Why are folks leaking this info? Maybe because the Steele Dossier has lots of truth. https://t.co/dgesvmOlN6
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 27, 2018
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.DONATE
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