Jerome Corsi thinks he’s taking the high road. The conspiracy theorist staring down a perjury indictment said on Monday that he’d rather “sit in prison and rot” than take the plea deal offered to him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his “thugs.” Mueller’s office reportedly has proof that Corsi lied to investigators about whether he knew details of WikiLeaks’ plan to release hacked Democratic emails prior to the 2016 election. Though it has become clear that he did know about the leak ahead of time, Corsi has alleged that the plea deal is fraudulent and plans to file a complaint against Mueller with the help of Larry Klayman, a right-wing attorney who once tried to have President Obama deported. “They can put me in prison the rest of my life,” Corsi, 72, defiantly told CNN. “I am not going to sign a lie.”
The confusion over who is lying about what and whether those lies were deliberate may have something to do with the fact that those in Trump’s orbit tend to have a different understanding than the rest of the world — including the Justice Department — of what constitutes “truth.” On Wednesday, Corsi offered viewers of The Beat With Ari Melber a glimpse into his reasoning, and it isn’t very hard to understand why the special counsel’s office might have had a few issues with his testimony.
“In July, I was on vacation with my wife in Italy, the 25th anniversary of the family,” Corsi explained when asked whether he was the source of Stone’s knowledge of the leak. “I think flying over I figured out that Assange had Podesta’s emails. I told Roger in this email and subsequently that I thought it was Podesta’s emails. This was my conclusion, my supposition. It did not come from Assange and it didn’t connect back to Assange. So there’s no link from me to Assange. The link is from me figuring this out and telling Roger. If I was the source, it was because Roger believe me figuring it out, not because I had a source.”
This interview by @AriMelber of Corsi is stunning.
Corsi's story is that he never talked with Wikileaks — directly or indirectly — and figured out "through divine intervention" that Wikileaks had Podesta's emails and would release them in October.
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 29, 2018
But how did Corsi “figure out” that WikiLeaks possessed and was planning to release the hacked emails of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager? Well, he just kind of did, and, for some reason, Mueller’s team did not find this defense to be satisfactory. “They didn’t believe it,” Corsi said when asked how the special counsel’s office responded to his story about Italy. “Jeannie Rhee, one of the prosecutors, said, ‘Dr. Corsi, you are asking us to believe, on an extended international flight with your wife for your anniversary, you had divine intervention? God inspired your mind and told you Assange has Podesta’s emails and they’re going to be dumped in October and dumped in a serial fashion? Is that what you’re saying?’ I said, ‘Yes, Ms. Rhee, that’s about what I’m saying.'”
Corsi’s now-very-public entanglement with Mueller’s investigation coincides with a Monday court filing revealing that former Trump campaign manager and current felon Paul Manafort broke his plea deal with the special counsel’s office by lying to the FBI. A day after that filing was made public, The Guardian reported that Manafort allegedly visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in March 2016, the same month he joined Trump’s campaign. Though many have questioned the accuracy of the report, which is based on anonymous sources, it nevertheless complicates the strange interplay between WikiLeaks, Trump’s campaign and clownish third parties like Stone and Corsi. It’s unclear what evidence Mueller has to connect the parties involved, but there’s certainly a lot of smoke to suggest a fire into which several prominent figures may soon be thrown.
Feeling the heat, President Trump is trying to tweet through it. He’s posted about the “Witch Hunt” 12 times since Monday, repeatedly accusing Mueller of bias and accusing his “angry” team of “shattering innocent lives” and trying to force people like Corsi and Manafort to lie. Fox News has followed the president’s lead in painting Corsi and Manafort, who has been convicted of several crimes as a result of the investigation, as victims. On Wednesday night, Tucker Carlson argued that the special counsel’s office is ageist for picking on two AARP-eligible men.
OMFG EVERYBODY SHUT UP AND LOOK AT THIS CHYRON pic.twitter.com/z8wGzsACEK
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) November 29, 2018
Not so elderly is Michael Cohen, the “reformed” former dirt-doer for Trump who has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Cohen already pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws in August, and on Thursday morning showed up in Manhattan to plead guilty to a new charge brought by the special counsel’s office. While pleading guilty in August, Cohen accused Trump of directing him to pay Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their alleged affair prior to the 2016 election. He mentioned Trump on Thursday, as well, claiming in court that the false statements about a Trump Organization project in Moscow for which he is being charged were made “to be consistent with Individual-1’s political messaging and to be loyal to Individual-1.” As it was in August, the unnamed “individual” in question is the president.
Cohen also acknowledged that he “minimized his contacts with the Russian government” and that he actually had a conversation with a Kremlin spokesman prior to the election. Perhaps clued in on what was to come by Andrew Whitaker, his new lapdog atop the Justice Department, Trump tweeted early Thursday morning that the Mueller investigation is desperately “in search of crimes” and that it “has proven only one thing-there was NO Collusion with Russia.” On Wednesday night, however, the president actually tweeted something about the investigation that is actually accurate. “So much happening with the now discredited Witch Hunt,” he wrote. “This total Hoax will be studied for years!”