ELLIOT COHEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Recently, the FBI raided the office of Trump long-time attorney and friend Michael Cohen. Emails, tax documents, and business records were seized, but the reasons for this raid are not abundantly clear at this juncture. According to a New York Times source, Cohen's 130K payment to porn star Stormy Daniels is one among many issues being investigated. One gnawing question is whether the raid might have had something to do with the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between Trump and the Russians in interfering with the 2016 Presidential election. This question is not so easily dismissed in light of Cohen's close, ongoing association with Trump throughout the campaign. Further, if some aspects of the controversial Christopher Steele dossier are taken seriously, then it might have a lot to do with it.
After all, Cohen helped Trump pursue business deals with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign, which cast doubt on Trump's denials of having any ties to Russia. According to the Washington Post, Cohen once asked longtime Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov for assistance in reviving a languishing Trump Tower development project in Moscow. According to the Business Insider, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating the Trump Organization's attempt to secure a Trump Tower deal in Moscow. Further, he had also been investigating Cohen's attempt to broker a “Russia-friendly peace plan” between Russia and Ukraine.
So, given Cohen's past history with Russian officials in his representation of Trump, including into the 2016 presidential campaign, it is not remarkable that his name would have appeared 24 times in the, by now, well-known Steele dossier penned by the former M16 British spy Christopher Steele. According to the Steele Dossier, Cohen played a key role “in the ongoing secret liaison relationship” between Trump and the Russian leadership. In essence, the dossier claims that Cohen took over Manafort's role following the departure of Paul Manafort as Trump's campaign chair. According to the dossier, Cohen's job was cover up and damage control, “to prevent the full details of Trump's relationship with Russia being exposed.” Toward this mission, Cohen allegedly held a clandestine meeting with several Russian Presidential Administration Legal Department officials in Prague in August 2016. Allegedly, the meeting was originally supposed to be in Moscow, but a meeting in Prague was easier to deny. According to the dossier,
"The immediate issues had been to contain further scandals involving MANNAFORT's [sic] 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 “to sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connections could be fully established or proven.”
In light of Cohen's own involvement with a Russia/Ukraine “peace-making” effort, it is not remarkable that Cohen would have been a good choice to contain such alleged scandal involving Manafort's Russia/Ukraine dealings. Regarding alleged secret meetings between Page and Russian officials, Page himself acknowledged meeting with Russian government officials in July 2016, according to the New York Times. So, there is some corroboration that the meetings did in fact occur.
According to the dossier, the overall objective was “to sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connections could be fully established or proven." So was Cohen motivated to take the lead in such a risky, alleged cover up to help Trump? If Cohen is taken at his word, then the answer appears to be yes. In a Vanity Fair interview in 2017 Cohen declared, “I'm the guy who protects the president and the family. I'm the guy who would take a bullet for the president."
If Cohen left a record trail, and the Steele dossier is, after all, veridical regarding the above-cited account, the FBI's raid on Cohen's office could be a treasure trove of evidence for an alleged cover up by Cohen of possible collusion between Trump and the Russians. However, whether the seeking of such possible evidence was one of the possible reasons for the recent FBI raid on Cohen's office remains to be seen.