Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, in their attempts to “flip” witnesses and get testimony that could damage President Trump, seem to be finding themselves stymied in that effort. Three of their subjects just aren’t saying what they want to hear.
First, there’s conservative author Jerome Corsi, who said Monday that he’s turning down a deal to plead guilty to perjury. “The American people have got to understand, we have a criminal Department of Justice,” he said on One America News. “And they are taking citizens --- I’ve never committed a crime in my life. I’m 72 years old...[I could] die in prison but I will not lie to say that I didn’t tell the truth to the special counsel.” He appeared genuinely shaken.
“They can put me in prison for the rest of my life,” he told CNN. “I am not going to sign a lie.” He said on NBC that he “forgot” to tell Mueller certain things. “They want me to say I willfully lied. I did not willfully lie to the special counsel. I will not lie to save my life. I’d rather sit in prison and rot for as long as these thugs want me to.”
He had said he expected to be indicted and now appears to be correct. If that happens, I’ll make the point that in predicting it, he’s actually demonstrating the very ability to foresee events that he claims was behind his understanding that Julian Assange had John Podesta’s emails. Corsi has maintained that he had no advance information about the leaking –- that he had simply “connected the dots.” (The news site Vox calls this, if true, “a spectacularly lucky guess.”) But in trying to show “collusion” with Russia, Mueller obviously wants to hear from him that he had advance knowledge of some plot to do this.
The same intimidation tactics are being used on his associate Roger Stone, who denies receiving advance notice of the leaking of Democrats’ emails and hasn’t been charged with anything at this point. He said in a statement to FOX News, “I continue to see that my friend Dr. Jerry Corsi is being harassed by the special counsel, not for lying, but for refusing to lie.” The statement continues: “It is inconceivable to me that in America someone would be prosecuted for refusing to swear to a false narrative pushed on him by the Mueller investigators. If Jerry ever deduced that Mr. Podesta’s emails had been purloined and would be published by WikiLeaks, he did not share that conclusion with me.”
“This has been one of the most frightening experiences of my life,” said Corsi, speaking of events that started on August 28 of this year, when he received a subpoena from two FBI agents who arrived unannounced at his home. He said he’s done everything he could to cooperate with Mueller and thought he was “doing a pretty good job” of it, turning over two computers and giving the FBI access to all his email accounts and tweets, but that in the past two months the negotiations had “just blown up.”
Corsi was a commentator for Infowars (as was Stone) and wrote the anti-Obama book, “The Obama Nation.” If that’s really all he’s guilty of, the special counsel’s treatment of him truly is an abomination.
Then there’s Paul Manfort, who served for several months in 2016 as Trump’s campaign chairman. He was found guilty last summer in the Eastern District Court of Virginia of eight counts of bank fraud and tax crimes dating from before the Trump campaign and that were totally unrelated to the Trump/Russia investigation. If memory serves, Mueller attack dog Andrew Weissmann was one of the prosecutors. Like Corsi, Manafort is an older man for whom a 10-year sentence likely means spending the rest of his life in prison, plus he was anticipating yet another trial in Washington DC on similar charges, so he chose to accept a plea deal that required him to answer wide-ranging questions. Apparently, though, Mueller wasn’t satisfied with his answers; in a court filing submitted Monday night, he said that Manafort has lied to the FBI and the special counsel’s office on “a variety of matters” since the plea deal earlier this year.
Mueller calls this a breach of the plea deal. But according to the report, Manafort claims he has been truthful and does not agree with the government’s assessment that he has breached the deal.
In a particular chilling line, the report says Mueller’s office would “file a detailed sentencing submission to the Probation Department and the Court in advance of sentencing that sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies, including those after signing the plea agreement herein.”
Imagine if that line were written about you –- setting forth the nature of your crimes and lies –- after you had tried to be cooperative. Perhaps Manafort deliberately misled the special counsel, but perhaps he just (check all that apply):
1) had poor memory of times and places
2) contradicted the testimony of someone else
3) turned out not to offer useful information
4) chose not to support a false narrative
5) would’ve had to invent answers
6) accidentally left something out
7) had no direct knowledge of things they asked
8) didn’t want to speculate about others’ motives
9) misunderstood or got confused
10) insisted that President Trump did nothing wrong (the real heresy!)
Of course, if he actually can be shown to have lied repeatedly, there’s also the question of how useful any anti-Trump testimony from him would do be. At any rate, Manafort remains in prison while he awaits sentencing, which is scheduled for February.
Finally, there’s George Papadopoulos, the ex-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who probably wishes he’d never, ever gotten involved, especially considering he was really just on the fringes of the campaign. On Monday he reported to a medium-security Wisconsin prison to serve his 14-day sentence, after pleading guilty to lying to investigators about his interactions in 2016 with “Russian intermediaries.” He now believes that some of the people he had “interactions” with were part of a set-up to feed him a story about Russians having damaging information on Hillary, as a pretense for the FBI to open the “Russia” investigation.
He tried a last-minute motion to postpone his prison term (details at the link below), but it was rejected by the court. At least he’ll be getting it over with. After he serves his sentence, he’ll be on probation for a year. But two weeks from now, the moment the prison door swings open, he’ll start his push in earnest for information on the FBI and special counsel to come out.
“The truth will all be out,” he tweeted. “Not even a prison sentence can stop that momentum. Looking forward to testifying publicly shortly after. The wool isn’t going to be pulled over America’s eyes forever.” And in another: “The support from America has been overwhelming. You have all given me the strength to carry this boulder. Every day the haters get shouted out by the patriots and the people who believe in justice and who love America. FISA declassification will exonerate us all. Keep up the fight!”
I second that emotion.
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