Why Cohen will mark the end of Trump’s presidency . . . and of Trump

Following the raid on Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room — including seizing his cell phone, computers, records, etc., etc., etc. — it has become clear this is the beginning of the end for Trump.

Why?

Because Cohen was Trump’s “fixer.”  He made unpleasant things go away.  He arranged shady things that Trump did not want his fingerprints on.  Cohen is a sleaze bag protecting an even bigger sleaze bag and criminal.

And now, with the files in FBI hands, it’s all over.

Much of this hinges on Cohen’s August 2016 trip to Prague, Czechoslovakia, which he denies but which now it appears that he really did make.

I suppose some of you want to know why it will be so consequential if Cohen has been lying about traveling to Prague in 2016.   For today it should suffice that the central accusation of the Steele Dossier is that Cohen was the Trump’s campaign’s main contact with the Russians after Paul Manafort was fired, and that he went to Prague because Moscow would have been too obvious. While there, he colluded with the Russians on a host of issues, including on how to compensate Romanian hackers, how to manage the fallout from the Manafort flameout and how to explain Carter Page’s recent trip to Moscow.

Cohen went to Prague because he was heavily engaged in a cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of Trump’s relationship with Russia being exposed.

In pursuit of this aim, Cohen had met secretly with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials in a European country in August 2016. The immediate issues had been to contain further scandals involving Manafort’s commercial and political role in Russia/Ukraine and to limit the damage arising from exposure of former Trump foreign policy advisor, Carter Page’s secret meetings with Russian leadership figures in Moscow the previous month.

The overall objective had been “to sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connections to the Trump campaign could be fully established or proven.”

Cohen had been accompanied to Prague by 3 colleagues and the timing of the visit was either in the last week of August or the first week of September. One of their main Russian interlocutors was Oleg Solodukhin operating under Rossotrudnichestvo cover.   The agenda comprised questions on how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow’s secret liaison with the TRUMP team more generally.

From the beginning, the central defense against these charges was that Cohen had not traveled to Prague and that he could prove it. He has not been able to prove it.

Democratic investigators for the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are skeptical about whether Cohen was truthful about his 2016 travels to Europe when he was interviewed by the panels last October, two people familiar with those probes told McClatchy this week. Cohen has publicly acknowledged making three trips to Europe that year – to Italy in July, England in early October and a third after Trump’s November election. The investigators intend to press Cohen for more information, said the sources, who lacked authorization to speak for the record

One of the sources said congressional investigators have “a high level of interest” in Cohen’s European travel, with their doubts fueled by what they deem to be weak documentation Cohen has provided about his whereabouts around the time the Prague meeting was supposed to have occurred.

Trump was not a bystander in the cover story. He publicly claimed that when the Prague story first emerged he was suspicious enough to call Cohen into his office and demand that he produce his passport. He then claimed, falsely, that a different Michael Cohen had been at the meetings with the Russians, as if that would make any kind of sense.

Cohen could have gone to Prague for some innocent reason, but he would have explained his reasoning for making the trip in that case instead of concocting cover stories and claiming that he was in Los Angeles during the times in question.

If he was in Prague, he was there for the reasons the Steele dossier said he was there. And if that is the case, then the case for collusion is proven beyond any shadow of a doubt.