October 18, 2016 – What the Steele dossier gets wrong about Michael Cohen

In Email Timeline Post-Election 2016, Email/Dossier Investigations by Katie Weddington

Christopher Steele (l) and Michael Cohen (credit: Getty Images)

“Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier, makes several claims about Cohen in his 35-page report. The most jarring allegation is that Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials to discuss paying off computer hackers.

The Prague allegation has been one of the most hotly debated claims made in the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC. Cohen has vehemently denied the charge, including as recently as December, well after he began cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion. Steele’s defenders claim that the Prague claim is still an open question and that much of the dossier has been verified.

The dossier does contain some clear inaccuracies about Cohen and members of his family, specifically in a memo that Steele wrote on Oct. 18, 2016. But those false claims have largely flown under the radar during the dossier debate because they were one of only a couple of sections of the dossier that BuzzFeed redacted prior to publishing it on Jan. 10, 2017.

An unredacted version was unsealed earlier this month in a lawsuit that was filed against BuzzFeed by another target of the dossier.

In the memo, Steele alleged that Cohen’s wife was born in Russia and that her father was a leading property developer in Moscow.

“Speaking separately to the same compatriot in mid-October 2016, 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. COHEN had a wife of Russian origin, whose father, Efim SHUSTERMAN, was a leading Moscow property developer,” reads the memo.

(A snippet from the Clinton/DNC/Steele dossier.)

“It appears that SHUSTERMAN has a country house (dacha) in the settlement of Barvikha, west of Moscow. This village is reserved for the residences of the top leadership and their close associates.”

BuzzFeed acknowledged in its initial report on Jan. 10, 2017 that some claims in the dossier were inaccurate. The site specifically pointed to the misspelling of the Russian bank, Alfa Bank, as well as the claim that Barvikha is reserved for wealthy Russians. The site did not acknowledge the inaccurate claims about Cohen’s family.

Contrary to what the Steele memo claims, Cohen’s father-in-law is named Fima Shusterman, not Efim. He was also born in Ukraine and not Russia, as The New York Times and other outlets have reported. He left Soviet-controlled Ukraine for the United States in 1975, initially working as a taxi driver. Shusterman reportedly built a taxi medallion business worth millions of dollars. He has faced legal problems in the past, having been convicted in 1993 of tax evasion.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 2/25/2019)