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Wed Jun 13, 2018, 06:12 PM

What Could Michael Cohen Tell Mueller About Russia Collusion? Possibly a lot, actually.

What Could Michael Cohen Tell Mueller About Russia Collusion?
Possibly a lot, actually.

By Ryan Goodman
June 13, 20183:55 PM

This piece was originally published on Just Security, an online forum for analysis of U.S. national security law and policy.

After mixed reports emerged on Wednesday regarding Michael Cohen’s potential cooperation with federal investigators, one question is what his possible cooperation might mean for the Russia investigation. Does Cohen have valuable information that could help the special counsel learn more or even prove whether Trump campaign associates, or Trump himself, conspired with the Russians in the 2016 election?

Here are some of the most significant areas in which Cohen could likely shed some light.

In a BuzzFeed investigative report last month—about the work Cohen did on a secret deal to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow with Felix Sater, a Soviet-born American businessman and associate of Trump—there was this jaw-dropping line:

Even before the appointment of Mueller as special counsel in May 2017, FBI agents investigating Russia’s interference in the election learned that Cohen was in frequent contact with foreign individuals about Trump Moscow—and that some of these individuals had knowledge of or played a role in 2016 election meddling [emphasis mine], according to two FBI agents.

In my written testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, I also highlighted that piece of the BuzzFeed report due to its potential significance.

If Cohen was in frequent contact with individuals who had knowledge of or played a role in 2016 election interference, it would corroborate some aspects of the Steele dossier. That report, compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, suggests that Cohen may have played a central role in the coordination between Russia and the Trump circle. A report from Steele on Oct. 18, 2016, states, “a Kremlin insider with direct access to the leadership confirmed that a key role in the secret TRUMP campaign/Kremlin relationship was being played by the Republican candidate’s personal lawyer Michael COHEN.”

Another Steele report, dated the next day, is titled “RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF TRUMP LAWYER, COHEN IN CAMPAIGN’S SECRET LIAISON WITH THE KREMLIN,” and that report says that Cohen took the lead as the liaison with the Kremlin following the departure of Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman during the summer of 2016.



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