After my commentary yesterday about Robert Mueller’s wayward witnesses, a lot more has come out about the special counsel’s treatment of Jerome Corsi and Paul Manafort. (Not so much about George Papadopoulos, however, as he’s cooling his heels in a medium-security Wisconsin prison for 14 days.)
Corsi appeared on Tuesday’s Tucker Carlson show and demonstrated that he’s not going along quietly with what the special counsel would have him do. Mueller is trying to piece together his and fellow conservative author Roger Stone’s relationship (if one exists) with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, who leaked John Podesta’s emails, which were damaging to Hillary and the DNC during the 2016 campaign.
Jerome Corsi is often dismissed as an Infowars conspiracy theorist, infamous for his furthering of the “birther” theory that suggested Obama was actually born in Kenya and therefore wasn’t qualified to be President. (He was also accused of being racist for this, although the theory is no more racist than questioning the qualifications of a white person who might possibly have been born in, say, South Africa.) But, as Carlson pointed out on his show, Corsi, age 72, has a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard and has written two New York Times bestsellers. The felony charges he may be facing could easily put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
Mueller has all the emails between Stone and Corsi. Court papers show that a July 25, 2016, email from Stone to Corsi asks him to contact Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Corsi says he declined Stone’s request, saying any attempt to contact WikiLeaks might look bad. Mueller apparently doesn’t believe Corsi and may believe he went to London to get the Podesta emails and pass them along. (Of course, Mueller is going on the assumption that Assange got them from Russia, but Assange denies this and could very well have had another source.)
On August 2, Corsi wrote to Stone that WikiLeaks possessed information damaging to Hillary’s campaign and planned an October release. He said it was “time to let more than (Podesta) be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC. That appears to be the game hackers are now about.” Sure enough, WikiLeaks released the Podesta emails on October 7 (which happens to be the same day the Trump “Access Hollywood” tape came out, another “October surprise”).
According to FOX News reports, Mueller has been trying to find out if there was coordination between Stone and Assange about the timing of the release the Podesta emails. Corsi denied having inside information about that. As I mentioned yesterday, Corsi said he “connected the dots” and simply speculated that WikiLeaks had Podesta’s emails.
Prior to the broadcast, Roger Stone told Carlson, “None of the emails cited prove I had advance notice of the sources or content of either allegedly hacked or allegedly stolen emails published by WikiLeaks. When did political gossip become a criminal activity?” He also repeated what he has said about Corsi being prosecuted by Mueller “not for lying but for refusing to lie.”
Corsi says he thought he was being cooperative; he turned over his laptop and personal phone with access to all his emails, plus his Twitter account and all other communications as far back as 2015. After going through everything and dissecting every word, Mueller summoned him to an interview (the first of six) in September of this year, during which they asked him if he’d tried to broker a meeting with Julian Assange at the London embassy. He said he hadn’t, and that, in fact, “he didn’t want anyone to see Assange.” According to Corsi, the interrogators left the room to confer at that point, and when they came back they informed him that he’d just committed a felony.
Investigators had an email chain from 2016 in which he’d been asked to contact Assange. (It’s not clear from the FOX story, but that appears to be the email mentioned earlier from Roger Stone.) Corsi forwarded the request to someone else. Nothing ever came of this, but since Corsi had forgotten to tell Mueller about forwarding that email, he was accused of lying.
It seems obvious that Corsi simply forgot about forwarding it. Why would he think he could deceive Mueller, who had all his communications and had no doubt gone through every one of them with a fine-toothed comb? As Carlson pointed out, they already knew that Corsi hadn’t left the United States and hadn’t spoken to Assange. I would add that with the security at the Ecuadorian embassy, there would be a record of any visit, along with video of everyone coming and going.
Corsi says he has never met Julian Assange and has never had any contact with him whatsoever. But he forgot about forwarding one email two years ago that concerned Assange but amounted to nothing. For that, he probably faces bankruptcy trying to defend himself and may die in prison.
After that first fateful interview, Corsi was given an opportunity to go home and review the emails in question, and he says that when he came back, he amended his testimony to say that he could now recall the email. “The special counsel was happy with that,” he told Carlson, “until I couldn’t give them what they wanted, which was a connection that I had with Assange, that they assumed I had, which I didn’t have. Now, suddenly, they forgot they’d allowed me to amend my testimony, and they’re going back to the mistake I made Day 1, when I forgot the email.”
He claims they were trying to get him to plead guilty to “willingly and knowingly” giving them false information, and he refused to plead to a lie. He says his memory was not perfect (whose is?) but that he always intended to tell the truth. He believes his ordeal is “completely rigged and politically driven by Clinton operatives who have an agenda.” If a witness can’t give them what they need to complete their narrative, they “blow up” and charge that witness with perjury.
This is why President Trump absolutely must not sit down with this special counsel. Their goal is not to determine what he did or did not do, but simply to trap him in just this way.
Speaking of meeting Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, the Guardian ran a story claiming, with no evidence, that Paul Manafort –- see, we did finally get around to him –- held multiple secret talks with him there, multiple from 2013 to 2016. Manafort issued a statement saying the story was “totally false” and “deliberately libelous.” “I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him,” the statement reads. “I have never been contacted by anyone connected to WikiLeaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or WikiLeaks on any matter.”
For its part, WikiLeaks tweeted: “Remember this day, when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation. WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.” Both Manafort and WikiLeaks are talking about legal action against the paper.
For what it’s worth, I’ve linked to the story. The Guardian has tweaked it a bit and added “sources say” to the original headline. (These are unnamed sources, of course.) Now I’m wondering if this story is another of Mueller’s assumptions built on nothing, and if it might be one of the things he’s now accusing Manafort of lying about. If so, it wouldn’t surprise me, even if Manafort is telling the truth. His sense of justice seems to be on about the same level as the Guardian’s reporting.