(Explanation for the obscure title at the end)
I should not be telling you this, but I think readers have a right to know before the weekend.
The Steele dossier on Trump’s numerous shady ties to Russia includes the notorious alleged visit by Cohen to Prague in August 2016.
1. Speaking to a compatriot and friend on 19 October 2016, a Kremlin insider provided further details of reported clandestine meeting/s between Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP’S lawyer Michael COHEN and Kremlin representatives in August 2016. Although the communication between them had to be cryptic for security reasons, the Kremlin insider clearly indicated to his/her friend that the reported contact/s took place in Prague, Czech Republic.
2. Continuing on this theme, the Kremlin insider highlighted the importance of the Russian parastatal organisation, Rossotrudnichestvo, in this contact between TRUMP campaign representative/s and Kremlin officials. Rossotrudnichestvo was being used as cover for this relationship and its office in Prague may well have been used to host the COHEN / Russian Presidential Administration (PA) meeting/s. It was considered a “plausibly deniable” vehicle for this, whilst remaining entirely under Kremlin control.
3. The Kremlin insider went on to identify leading pro-PUTIN Duma figure, Konstantin KOSACHEV (Head of the Foreign Relations Committee) as an important figure in the TRUMP campaign-Kremlin liaison operation. KOSACHEV, also “plausibly deniable” being part of the Russian legislature rather than executive, had facilitated the contact in Prague and by implication, may have attended the meeting/s with COHEN there in August.
Cohen – even after his plea deal – continues to maintain he has never been to Prague and was in Rome or maybe Capri at the time. However, McClatchy reporters have found circumstantial evidence (cellphone location records) that he was there after all. What will the Mueller report reveal? If the Steele dossier’s allegation is confirmed, it could be the smoking gun that ends the Trump presidency.
My own high-level source (whose identity I am sworn not to reveal) makes the following observation, couched as a speculation. Suppose you are the head of the Czech security service BIS, Michal Koudelka. He will see Putin’s machinations to weaken or destroy the NATO alliance and reestablish Russian hegemony over the former Soviet empire as a critical threat to the security of his country. Such threats justify extreme measures. The BIS will have put a major effort into checking the Steele claims of collusion with Donald Trump, the Trump organization, or the Trump campaign. They know what really happened in Prague.
Let’s suppose that these efforts have turned up a blank on the visit: Cohen did not meet Kremlin representatives in Prague, though the conspiracy was real. A professional counterespionage officer would inevitably think about an operation to “frame the guilty”.
The alleged location is home turf, and any patriotic Czech would cooperate with the op. It would be necessary to fabricate a complete web of irreproachable evidence: phone, fax and messaging intercepts, phone traffic data, flight and train records, hotel registers, human witnesses, smartphone snaps, security camera footage, even enough loose ends to reflect the untidiness of reality. Tricky but surely doable.
The package would have to convince Robert Mueller, a very experienced law enforcement professional and an upright man. On the other hand, the FBI includes a counterespionage function but is not specialised in the task like the BIS, as it also has to catch bank robbers, mad cultists, kidnappers, and serial killers. Divided attention and broader experience works in your favour. Besides, Mueller himself is possibly too upright to have the deviousness and paranoia of a real security man. Convince Mueller, and nobody else – certainly not the politicians in Congress – will be in a position to challenge the claim.
It’s a risky play, and if it failed Trump might well escape scot-free, but there are no easy choices in this game. Koudelka is an heir to the men who decided to kill Reinhard Heydrich in 1942, knowing the act would bring down dreadful reprisals on the heads of many innocent compatriots.
It would be poetic justice if the US President who has made systematic lying into his signature tune were to be brought down for the one treason he did not actually commit.
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The title is a reference to a fine late story of Rudyard Kipling’s from 1928. The plotline is an elaborate lover’s revenge through the forgery of a Chaucer fragment. The forger plans to inveigle the victim, a Chaucer expert, into vouching for the piece’s authenticity, and then destroy his reputation by exposing the fraud. But in the end he cannot do so and the work enters the canon.
Ah Jesu-Moder, pitie my oe peyne.
Daiespringe mishandeelt cometh nat agayne.
Kipling’ s Sussex house, Bateman’s, lies only 18 miles from Piltdown, scene of the great Piltdown Man forgery of a proto-human skull. This was “discovered” in 1912, and the hoax only exposed in 1953. The forger’s identity and motive are still contested. The expert taken in was the eminent Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, head of the geological department at the British Museum. So was he a target like Castorley in the story? The discovery made headlines and Kipling would surely have taken an interest. Perhaps his poet’s antennae detected something funny going on.
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PS to the post: The less interesting story dramatically is that Cohen did meet Russian agents in Prague and the Czech package will confirm it. In that case Koudelka and Mueller will have to anticipate attacks on its credibility, including half-baked conspiracy theories like mine. They had better find confirmation from another source owing nothing to the BIS.