Tag: Michael Cohen

Mueller Indicts Roger Stone, Still No Evidence of Collusion

Political advisor Roger Stone has been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of obstruction, witness tampering, and making false statements.

Fox News reports:

The 24-page indictment alleges that Stone worked to obstruct the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by making false statements to the committee, denying he had records sought by the committee and persuading a witness to provide false testimony.

About twelve armed FBI officers in tactical gear arrested Stone in an early morning raid at his Florida home.

Stone will make an appearance later today at a federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

On Wednesday night, Stone appeared on Fox News’ show Tucker Carlson Tonight where he vowed he would not lie about President Trump to “ease the pressure on myself.”

“No matter how much pressure they put on me, no matter what they say I will not bear false witness against Donald Trump,” he said. “I will not do what Michael Cohen has done and makeup lies to ease the pressure on myself.”

For the full story, click HERE.

Desperate Adam Schiff Will Investigate B.S. Claims in Buzzfeed Story Disputed by Mueller

Despite the fact that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office took the extraordinary step to publicly dispute a Buzzfeed smear article about President Trump, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is determined to investigate the unfounded claims made by the publication.

Yesterday, during CBS’s Face the Nation, Schiff said he would “absolutely” investigate the debunked claims in the Buzzfeed story which reported that President Trump instructed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow.

When asked by Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan if he would investigate the Buzzfeed article, Schiff replied, “Absolutely, absolutely. Congress has a fundamental interest in two things first in getting to the bottom of why a witness came before us and lied and who else was knowledgeable that this was a lie.”

On Friday, Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

The President responded to the Buzzfeed story on Friday, writing on Twitter, “Remember it was Buzzfeed that released the totally discredited “Dossier,” paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based! A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!”

Despite New Reports, the Michael Cohen Prague Visit is Still Extremely Unlikely

Did we jump the gun in exonerating Michael Cohen from claims of Russian collusion? Probably not, but a new report is raising new questions. 

Earlier in the month, we noted just how flimsy a particular claim about him in Chris Steele’s dossier is; that Cohen allegedly traveled to Prague to meet with Russians with the goal of rigging the election by limiting coverage regarding Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and enlisting the help of Russian hackers. 

There are numerous reasons to doubt the dossier account, namely due to the facts that:

  • Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis, a major Clinton ally, denies the Prague visit.
  • Cohen, who is now turning on Trump, has not corroborated any collusion claims (but has instead focused on the unrelated  Stormy Daniels story).
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Greg Miller said during a book interview that sources at the FBI and CIA don’t believe that the Prague incident ever happened. Miller said that Post reporters “literally spent weeks and months trying to run down” leads from the dossier, and that they “sent reporters through every hotel in Prague, through all over the place, just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty.” Interestingly, that fact has yet to be reported in the Washington Post.
  • “Russian Roulette” author Michael Isikoff (which pushes the collusion narrative) now acknowledges that the dossier is “likely false.”

But according to a new report from McClatchy DC, the evidence of Cohen’s Prague visit has been uncovered at last.

The New, 100% Anonymous Evidence

According to McClatchy’s report, the supposed smoking gun was found in Cohen’s cell phone records. Like any supposedly reputable news agency today, they rely exclusively on anonymous sources that have “knowledge of the matter” (how convenient!). To quote:

A mobile phone traced to 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.

During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said.

McClatchy acknowledges that while they believe they’ve proven Cohen was in Prague after all, there still isn’t any evidence as to why he was there, or what he did while he was there. The “people familiar with the matter” reportedly gave this new information over to Robert Mueller. Humorously, McClatchy also writes that “McClatchy reported in April 2018 that Mueller had obtained evidence Cohen traveled to Prague from Germany in late August or early September of 2016, but it could not be learned how that information was gleaned.” 

The irony is apparently lost with the sentence “it could not be learned how that information was gleaned,” as we’re being presented with anonymous sources once again.

Holes in McClatchy’s Report

Right off the bat, we’re to parse how it’s possible that Cohen denied this Prague visit under oath to the Senate, but Mueller has done nothing to charge him with lying for that claim despite supposedly having information to the contrary (according to “sources”).

Cohen has already denied the report, which again, would result in perjury charges if he’s being untruthful. He’s already turned on Trump when it comes to payments to Stormy Daniels – why would he put himself at risk of further charges, unless he’s actually telling the truth?

Meanwhile, the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross has found a number of reasons to cast doubt on McClatchy’s report. According to Ross:

As others, even Trump critics have noted, the sourcing is sketchy. “Four sources familiar” doesn’t tell us if it’s gov’t officials, Michael Cohen associates, or even Fusion GPS. There’s also the circumstantial evidence undercutting the dossier’s claims on Cohen/Prague: Cohen did not plead guilty to lying about Prague, even though he denied the trip in his congressional testimony.

No other news outlets have corroborated the McClatchy stories, and Mueller’s office issued a statement after the first story cautioning against believing stories with vague sourcing.

And most important:

There’s reason to believe that the McClatchy reporters have relied on Fusion GPS, which has a strong incentive to bolster the dossier. Glenn Simpson was out spreading a fake story about a conservative lawyer that these McClatchy reporters referenced.

As Ross noted, McClatchy’s new report is really just an extended version of a report of theirs from last April which also claimed to find evidence of Cohen’s trip to Prague. That initial report provoked a rare response from Mueller’s office cautioning against taking such reporting at face value. A spokesperson for Mueller’s office said “What I have been telling all reporters is that many stories about our investigation have been inaccurate. Be very cautious about any source that claims to have knowledge about our investigation and dig deep into what they claim before reporting on.”

If the report was bogus then, why wouldn’t it be now? I’d say the probability that the special counsel has evidence of Cohen’s visit to Prague and has decided to instead charge him for financial crimes instead of lying to their faces is approximately zero.

The Russia Hoax has Collapsed

The final nails are finally being hammered into the “Russian collusion” narrative’s coffin, and new developments from the past week should cause even Trump’s most hysterical critics to reconsider (which they won’t, of course).

Dan documented the death of the collusion narrative yesterday on the podcast. If you missed it – here’s what you need to know.

Comey Deflects Dossier Dirt

After speaking with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee, fired FBI head James Comey came out firing against Fox News and Trump. “So another day of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Steele dossier. This while the President of the United States is lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI and attacking the rule of law in this country. How does that make any sense at all?” Comey asked, before then blaming distrust of the FBI on Fox News.

Though truly, Comey should be blaming distrust of the FBI on the FBI’s actions. Even former assistant FBI counterintelligence division director Bill Priestap acknowledged that dossier wasn’t verified before being used to justify surveillance on members of the Trump campaign team. And as we documented in “Spygate,” there are countless other procedures the FBI ignored or violated in using the Steele dossier. Is concern over the FBI ignoring procedures to justify politically-motivated spying something that only concerns Fox News viewers? If so, that paints Fox News viewers in a positive light.

Of course, Comey is only deflecting to blame Fox News to deflect away from his own role in pushing the bogus dossier, which is even more bogus than we thought.

The Dossier – Glaring Errors Remain, Trump Critics Express Doubt, and Steele Admits Political Motivation

While it’s not like the dossier had any credibility in the first place, we can revise its “D-” grade for truthfulness to a straight “F” for a number of reasons.

  1. The dossier story that Michael Cohen visited Prague to pay Russian hackers remained unverified. Cohen’s spokesman Lanny Davis (a Clinton ally) laughed off the alleged Prague trip when asked about if it happened on MSNBC, telling host Kasie Hunt “No. No. Everybody, America, we all love Kasie’s show. No, no Prague, ever, never.” And Cohen, who is now turning on Trump, still denies the Prague story and hasn’t corroborated any elements of the collusion narrative (which he probably would if it were true).
  2. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Greg Miller said during a book interview that sources at the FBI and CIA don’t believe that the Prague incident ever happened. Miller said that Post reporters “literally spent weeks and months trying to run down” leads from the dossier, and that they “sent reporters through every hotel in Prague, through all over the place, just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty.” Interestingly, that fact has yet to be reported in the Washington Post.
  3. “Russian Roulette” author Michael Isikoff (which pushes the collusion narrative) now acknowledges that the dossier is “likely false.”
  4. There’s no secret that the dossier is politically motivated (as indicated by the Clinton campaign funding its creation), but we finally have Steele on record admitting as much thanks to a lawsuit from Russian bankers smeared in his dossier. In an answer to questions from interrogators, Steele wrote “Fusion’s immediate client was law firm Perkins Coie. It engaged Fusion to obtain information necessary for Perkins Coie LLP to provide legal advice on the potential impact of Russian involvement on the legal validity of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election. Based on that advice, parties such as the Democratic National Committee and HFACC Inc. (also known as ‘Hillary for America’) could consider steps they would be legally entitled to take to challenge the validity of the outcome of that election.”

Is there anyone not in agreement that the dossier is a politically motivated hoax, except James Comey? It’s certainly not just “Fox News” saying as much, and thus far, the only evidence of attempted foreign meddling in the 2016 election came from the Clinton camp. Comey doesn’t have a problem with that, apparently.

The Framing of Flynn – New Information

In the past we’ve documented how Michael Flynn was setup, having not been charged with a crime relating to collusion, but rather for misremembering the contents of a telephone conversation he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak over sanctions. In late December 2016, the two discussed the sanctions against Russia Obama had just passed, and Kislyak promised that Russia would not react with sanctions of their own. Other sanctions related to Israel were also discussed. Flynn reportedly didn’t recall discussing sanctions when quizzed by the FBI.

At worst, it seemed that Flynn simply misremembered his conversation, which is extremely likely.

In a stunning new development, we’ve learned from a 302 report that proper protocol wasn’t followed to protect Flynn against entrapment. A 302 report contains accounts from the agents of what they said and did while interviewing Flynn, and the FBI waited over half a year to detail the Flynn interview. Interestingly, there were two 302 reports, which Robert Mueller claims was due to a drafting error (though many are speculating it proves the 302 was edited). The 302 contains numerous pieces of damaging information, including:

  • Flynn saying “yes, good reminder” when being asked about whether he discussed sanctions related to Israel with Kislyak (he did), even though the public was told Flynn lied in response to that question.
  • The fact that Flynn spoke with representatives from thirty other countries on December 22nd, making it likely that Flynn could’ve been confusing his calls when answering the FBI’s questions.
  • The revelation that Flynn had at least one other conversation with Kisylak (again, making it likely he could be truthful about the contents of a conversation he was confusing with another). Flynn thanks the FBI for this reminder (which isn’t indicative of an adversarial interview), and says he doesn’t remember if he discussed sanctions about Russia (which is radically different from a denial).

If I were asked to recall a random phone conversation while on vacation, I doubt I’d be able to do it. Add in thirty other calls, and faulty memory is to be expected. No one has yet to put forward a convincing motive for why Flynn would knowingly lie to the FBI. Given he didn’t do anything illegal, why would he bother?

For a more extensive summary, give the podcast a listen for yourself.

Sorry Liberals, Cohen’s Charges Prove There Was ZERO Collusion With Russia

All of those indicted thus far by Robert Mueller’s special counsel have one thing in common – that they’re facing charges which have nothing to do with the counsel’s initial scope, uncovering and punishing alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. When Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller’s special counsel after the firing of James Comey, it authorized Mueller to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).”

Not a single person has been charged within those guidelines, including Michael Cohen, the latest to be in the spotlight following the announcement of his three-year-sentence. Cohen’s charges included campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and lying to Congress. The “lying to Congress” charge stems from statements Cohen made regarding the Trump Organization’s failed efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

If you listen to the media, you’d get the impression that Cohen’s charges are the “smoking gun” the collusion conspiracists have been looking for the past eighteen months:

  • The soon-to-be-defunct Weekly Standard claimed that “The documents are, even for those skeptical of the left’s ‘collusion‘ narrative, deeply incriminating.”
  • The Washington Post’s not-at-all-conservative columnist Jen Rubin argued that the mention of the single word “synergy” in Mueller’s description of Cohen’s relationship with Russia proves collusion.
  • The Chicago Sun Times reported that “Collusion with Russia fans is possible, Trump fans. Deal with it.”
  • CNN headlined an op-ed assuming guilt, “Sorry, President Trump, collusion IS a crime.”

But as already mentioned, Cohen’s charges had absolutely nothing to do with collusion. And as a fantastic analysis from Real Clear Investigation’s Paul Sperry documents, the charges against Cohen explicitly disprove the collusion narrative.

Charges Fail to Substantiate Collusion Narrative

The charges stemming from Cohen’s false statements about a Russian Trump Tower project prove that the Trump campaign had no connection to the Russian government. As Sperry notes:

On page 7 of the statement of criminal information filed against Cohen, Mueller mentions that Cohen tried to email Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office on Jan. 14, 2016, and again on Jan. 16, 2016. But Mueller, who personally signed the document, omitted the fact that Cohen did not have any direct points of contact at the Kremlin, and had resorted to sending the emails to a general press mailbox. Sources who have seen these additional emails point out that this omitted information undercuts the idea of a “back channel” and thus the special counsel’s collusion case.

The second page of the same document reportedly quotes an August 2017 letter from Cohen to the Senate Intelligence Committee where he writes Trump “was never in contact with anyone about this [Moscow Project] proposal other than me.” This is of note because Mueller does not dispute this statement as false (while other statements in the same letter are disputed as false by Mueller). Mueller also doesn’t dispute Cohen’s statement about how they “ultimately determined that the [Trump Tower] proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.”

Another Cohen Connection Proves (a Lack of) Collusion

Cohen’s connection to New York real estate developer Felix Sater, who promised he could fast-track real estate projects in Russia, proves that the Trump campaign had no special access to Russia.

Cohen’s emails and text messages indicate he failed to establish communications with the Russian leader’s spokesman.

In the end, neither Putin nor any Kremlin official was directly involved in the scuttled Moscow project, sources say. Moreover, neither Cohen nor Trump traveled to Moscow in support of the deal, as Sater had urged. No meetings with Russian government officials took place.

Cohen’s only Russian “connection” ended up occurring when he sent an email to a desk secretary in the spokesman’s office. There’s no indication he received a response.

And About That Dossier…

Adding another nail to the coffin of Christopher Steele’s credibility, the story from his dossier involving a Cohen trip to Prague still has yet to be proven.

Notably absent from the criminal-information document is any corroboration of the highly inflammatory, though oft-cited allegation made in the so-called Steele dossier, funded by the Clinton campaign, that Cohen visited Prague to clandestinely meet with Kremlin officials in August 2016 to arrange “deniable cash payments to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign.”

Given many of Cohen’s recent negative statements about the President, Trump may want to reconsider his comments that he hires only “the best people,” but that’s irrelevant to the point here; that despite all of Cohen’s wrongdoing, none of it has anything to do with Russian collusion.

Trump Responds to Cohen Sentencing, Blasts Campaign Finance Charges

President Trump responded this morning to his former attorney Michael Cohen’s sentencing, writing on Twitter that the campaign finance charges he plead guilty to were meant to “embarrass the president” and help Cohen get a reduced prison sentence.

The three tweets read in full, “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called ‘advice of counsel,’ and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance. Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis. Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!”

Cohen was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison after he plead guilty to tax evasion, lying to Congress, making false statements on a bank loan application and so-called campaign finance violations. NOTE: No mention of Russian collusion.

Last week, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett blasted Acting U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami for convincing Cohen to plead guilty to the “non-crime” relating to the campaign finance charges.

Jarrett wrote on Twitter, “Robert Khuzami, the ‘Acting’ US Attorney, filed a sentencing memo claiming President Trump organized illegal payments. Khuzami doesn’t know the law. Non-disclosure contracts are legal in every state. It’s not an illegal campaign contribution. Not a crime. Khuzami is wrong. Trump did not use campaign funds. A candidate may make unlimited contributions to his own campaign. Yet, Robert Khuzami convinced Cohen, a liar and tax cheat, to plead guilty to a non-crime. Khuzami wants to be the guy who brings down the President.”