How the Steele dossier’s scenarios look after Cohen’s testimony

Meanwhile on every other Russia-related front, Cohen — with every reason to knife his former boss — offered dossier-discrediting denials. He never went to Prague to meet with Russian intelligence, as the dossier alleged, never heard anything about kompromat, and never had any direct evidence of Trumpian collusion with the Russians.

Is it possible that a real conspiracy was run without the knowledge of the president’s trusted and then-proudly shady fixer? In theory, yes; it could have all happened through figures like Paul Manafort, who we know shared campaign polling data, at least, with a Russian-intelligence-linked figure. But if the dossier’s claim of a years-long Trump-Kremlin entanglement and its claim of Cohen’s direct involvement are both looking implausible or false, then its claims about a sustained Manafort-managed collaboration should be treated extremely skeptically as well.

In which case the most likely l’affaire Russe endgame may be a special prosecutor’s report that doesn’t make Trump look good or decent or moral, but which implicitly exonerates him of conspiring with the Russians, and makes a lot of Mueller watchers extremely unhappy in the process.