President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, reiterated that he was not involved in Russia’s elaborate and multi-faceted effort to interfere in the 2016 election and tilt it in Trump’s favor in an interview with Vanity Fair. Cohen added that Trump was not involved in the effort either.
“I can tell you for certainty that neither I nor the president were involved, at any point in time, with this Russian conspiracy,” Cohen told Vanity Fair.
“I’ve never been paid by or colluded with any Russian to hack the DNC, to create search-engine optimization tools to cause Trump’s positives up and Hillary’s negatives up, I’ve never been to Prague, I’ve never been to the Czech Republic,” Cohen added.
Though Russia was found to have engineered the Democratic National Committee hack and a fake news campaign aimed at spreading pro-Trump propaganda, its interference was not limited to those methods. Russia’s goals also involved establishing personal contact with Americans perceived as sympathetic to Moscow, such as former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Cohen himself was in with Dmitry Peskov, a top Kremlin aide, at the height of the election as part of an effort to secure a Trump Tower Moscow deal.
His last denial – about never having been to Prague or the Czech Republic – was in reference to claims made in an explosive and unverified dossier that emerged earlier this year. The document, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, paints Cohen as a central figure in the Trump-Russia controversy, alleging that he was a key player in “the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership.” It also alleges that he secretly met with Kremlin officials in Prague last August, at the height of the presidential campaign.
“This whole thing has been an attack on me for doing my job,” Cohen said of recent controversies surrounding his role in the Trump campaign and recently-revealed contacts with Russian-born businessman Felix Sater and top Kremlin aide Dmitry Peskov. “That’s all that I did. I did my job.”
Cohen’s lawyer also submitted a letter to that effect to the House Intelligence Committee last month.
“We have not uncovered a single document that would in any way corroborate the dossier’s allegations regarding Mr. Cohen, nor do we believe that any such document exists,” said the letter to the House Intelligence Committee, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times and published in full by The Daily Beast. “Mr. Cohen vehemently denies the claims made in the dossier about him, which are false and remain wholly unsubstantiated.”
The letter was written by Cohen’s attorney, Stephen M. Ryan.
Though Cohen said “for certainty” that Trump was not involved in any efforts to collude with Russia, the letter his lawyer sent to the House Intelligence Committee took a less firm stance, instead saying that Cohen was “not aware” of “Mr. Trump having any improper political relationship with officials of the Russian federation.”