Someday, we may find ourselves staring in amazement at our computer screens as a man who resembles the 45th president performs unspeakable acts with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room.
But Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, thinks that day will never come. And he’s in a good position to know one way or another.
The public first learned of the possible existence of what came to be known as the pee tape from the Steele dossier. Former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele reported that prostitutes had performed a “golden shower” urination show for Trump in the Moscow Ritz where he was staying during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. This had been recorded by Russian intelligence for purposes of blackmailing Trump.
But this claim about a pee tape wasn’t news to Cohen. Thanks to a newly released transcript from the House intelligence committee, we now know that Cohen first heard about the pee tape shortly after Trump returned from Russia.
Trump denied it, but he asked Cohen to find out where the rumors were coming from.
Testifying under oath, Cohen says he spoke to many people about the tape, including one unnamed caller who demanded $20 million.
Another person who called Cohen about the tape was Harvey Levin of the gossip site TMZ, who also had heard about the existence of the tape. (TMZ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
In the end, Cohen concluded that the pee tape didn’t exist for a very practical reason. If prostitutes had urinated on the bed in the Moscow Ritz, where did Trump sleep that night?
The tape had acquired a life of its own, Cohen said, much like the claim that he had attended secret meetings with Russians in Prague, which also appeared in the dossier. Cohen said under oath that all the allegations concerning him in the dossier are false.
But, Cohen also relates an interesting anecdote about the dossier. After it was published January 10, 2017 by Buzzfeed, Trump called Cohen at home.
In other words, Trump seemed very concerned. He appeared unsure whether the allegations in the dossier regarding Cohen were true or not.
So let me make sure I got this right. This is the same dossier with the golden showers allegations that Trump scoffs at. If those claims, which appear in the very front of the dossier, were false, would he really need to see Cohen’s passport in the middle of the night?
In other words, if there’s a huge lie on page one of the dossier, you don’t need to scrutinize pages two, three, four, and five, especially not in the middle of the night. It can wait until morning.
Perhaps Trump was just panicking, but it seems quite possible that something in the dossier hit the mark to cause such panic for Cohen to go rushing back to Trump Tower waving his passport. Whether that’s the pee tape or not, we don’t know.
Steele, unlike Cohen and Levin, Steele, was passing along more than a rumor about the pee tape. He claimed to have confirmed the incident with three separate sources:
- “Source D,” described as having “been present.”
- “Source E,” a “senior/western member of the staff at the hotel,” who was aware of the golden showers incident at the time it occurred in 2013.
- “Source F,” a female staffer at the hotel who confirmed the story.
I remain unconvinced. It could be Steele was the victim of a Russian disinformation effort. As I wrote in Trump/Russia, this kind of tawdry material in reports compiled by former spooks was not out of the ordinary:
What people failed to realize was that sordid allegations like the one in Steele’s report were a dirty secret of the world of private investigations. Several people familiar with this world told me that reports by companies like Kroll, K2, Mintz Group, IGI, and others were often littered with tawdry allegations. “Yes, sex stuff comes up a lot and it’s often nonsense,” a DC attorney who often hires private investigators told me. One veteran opposition researcher told me he has seen the same thing so often that he has detected a pattern: when the subject of the investigation was connected to Latin America, drugs were involved; when the connection was Russia or Eastern Europe, then it was usually sex. “Every single one of their reports has something like that,” the opposition researcher said. “That’s what they pitch the client to keep them on the hook. They then spend months trying to confirm it.”
Then again, maybe Steele got it right and one day we may find ourselves staring in amazement at our computer screens as a man who resembles the 45th president performs unspeakable acts with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room.