News outlet McClatchy relied on sketchy, anonymous sources – likely from opposition research firm Fusion GPS – to produce two articles last year claiming former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was in Prague in 2016, allegedly to meet with Russians about stealing the election.
Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report has been released, we know for sure that these two McClatchy articles are false. Cohen was never in Prague, just as he claimed. Cohen, being a proven liar, can’t be taken at just his word, but he also showed his passport to prove he had never been to Prague.
The Mueller report states unequivocally: “Cohen had never traveled to Prague and was not concerned about those allegations, which he believed were provably false.”
As I wrote in January, this claim from the dossier created by ex-British Intelligence official Christopher Steele, should have been easy to prove. Yet no major media outlet could. The Washington Post even sent reporters to every hotel in Prague to see if Cohen had stayed there, and came up empty (naturally, they didn’t report this damning revelation).
McClatchy has now added an “editor’s note” to its two Cohen-in-Prague stories. The first article, published on April 13, 2018, still has the original title claiming Mueller had evidence Cohen was in Prague, but now includes the following noted at the top of the article:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert Mueller’s report to the attorney general states that Mr. Cohen was not in Prague. It is silent on whether the investigation received evidence that Mr. Cohen’s phone pinged in or near Prague, as McClatchy reported.
The same note is attached to the second story, about Cohen’s cell phone allegedly “pinging” in or near Prague.
Notice how they can’t let that one go. In a separate article, McClatchy continues to hold to their reporting about the cell phone. That piece is titled “Mueller report states Cohen was not in Prague. It is silent on whether a Cohen device pinged there.”
The media outlet is desperately trying to hold onto a shred of credibility. Anonymous sources told them Cohen was in Prague. They were wrong. Anonymous sources told them Cohen’s cell phone pinged in or near Prague. There’s no evidence to suggest these sources are different.
If Cohen wasn’t in Prague, why would Mueller spend time and resources tracking down whether someone else had one of his devices in Prague (or manipulated location-sharing information on one of his devices).
McClatchy’s original report claimed Mueller had this cell phone information. Perhaps that was also a lie from their anonymous sources. Maybe it’s not in the Mueller report because Mueller never actually had such information. McClatchy essentially wants credit for reporting on nonexistent information.
It looks like the Mueller report did use cell-phone data to geo-locate someone else in the investigation, which McClatchy reports:
The report was silent on the issue of a device linked to Cohen pinging from the Czech Republic, and whether the investigation was ever presented with such evidence. The report confirms the investigation used this type of evidence, noting cell-tower records geo-located another person relevant to the investigation. (The investigation geo-located Erik Prince, former head of security firm Blackwater, at Trump Tower, for example.)
So, it’s reasonable to conclude that if Mueller had such information on Cohen, it would have been in the report. Since it’s not in the report, McClatchy can’t cling to this story and pretend they weren’t wrong.