Former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who is the author of the unverified Russian-Donald Trump collusion charge, still believes former Trump attorney Michael Cohen held secret meetings in Prague although the Ministry of Justice has not substantiated this claim.
The file alleged that Cohen had “secret meetings with Kremlin officials in August 2016” in Prague. However, Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee in 2019 that he had never been to Prague and that the Justice Department was unable to confirm Steele’s claim after a lengthy investigation.
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos spoke to Steele for a special, “Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier,” and asked him questions directly about Cohen.
“One big claim on the record, the FBI, according to the Inspector General’s report … is not true, is the claim that Michael Cohen had a meeting with Russians in Prague,” Stephanopoulos said. “Do you accept this conclusion that this did not happen?” ”
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Steele, who insisted the record is largely accurate throughout the interview, does not accept Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s findings that Steele’s reports could not be corroborated.
“No, I don’t,” Steele said.
Cohen has since turned on Trump, sharing information about the former president with prosecutors. Cohen called Trump a “cheater, liar, fraudster, bully, racist, predator, con man” and “amoral” in a book.
But he has always maintained that the story of his trip to Prague in a Russian conspiracy linked to collusion was false. Cohen served a prison sentence after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and bank fraud, but was returned to house arrest last year.
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“Michael Cohen has completely turned against Donald Trump. He accused him of all kinds of things, ”Stephanopoulos said. “It defies logic that if he did that he wouldn’t say it now. ”
“It’s self-incriminating to a very large extent,” Steele said.
Stephanopoulos asked what Cohen would incriminate himself in, to which the author of the file replied: “Treason, presumably”.
Stephanopoulos replied: “Since he went to jail, since he turned on President Trump, he has told all the stories. Why wouldn’t he admit it? “
“Because I think it’s so incriminating and demeaning and I think the other reason is that he might be afraid of the consequences,” Steele said.
Stephanopoulos asked Steele if not believing the FBI, in this case, is damaging his credibility.
“I’m ready to accept that not everything on the record is 100% correct, I haven’t yet been convinced that’s one of them,” Steele said.
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Questions surrounding Cohen’s alleged trip to Prague come from the dossier, published in January 2017 by BuzzFeed News, detailing salacious and unfounded allegations against Trump. Horowitz tore up the FBI in his report for relying heavily on the file to secure lookout warrants on Trump campaign manager Carter Page.
In August 2017, Cohen denied the allegations made in the file, calling them “totally false.” Cohen’s attorney said Cohen “had never been to Prague, Czech Republic, as evidenced by his passport” and “did not attend meetings with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016”.
When the dossier was first published, Cohen tweeted on January 10, 2017: “I have never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews. “
Steele compiled information for the controversial case on behalf of Fusion GPS, who was hired to conduct Democratic National Committee-funded opposition research and Hillary Clinton’s campaign through law firm Perkins Coie .
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.