Jerome Corsi is largely responsible for the two most egregious Republican attacks of the last fifteen years: the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s assault on John Kerry’s distinguished military record and the birther conspiracy theory launched against Barack Obama. As a result, there are few people less sympathetic than Mr. Corsi. It seems like a kind of justice that he’s now in negotiations with Robert Mueller, reportedly to plead guilty to unspecified crimes in return for leniency.
Corsi’s name emerged rather recently in the context of the Russian investigation. It wasn’t until September 2018 that we learned that he’d been subpoenaed and agreed to turn over his computer and phone. Since then, NBC News has reported that the Special Counsel’s office has “obtained communications suggesting that Corsi was aware in advance that emails from former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta had been stolen and handed to WikiLeaks.”
Nothing Corsi says can be taken at face value, but by his telling, Mueller’s interrogators found his explanations “preposterous.” Corsi has also said that he fears he will spend the rest of his life in prison. He’s only 72 years old and in seemingly good health, so he must be thinking that he’ll get more than a perjury charge.
It’s clear that Corsi was in communication with Roger Stone in the critical August 2016 time period, both before and after Stone announced on Twitter: “It will soon [be John] Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Stone has testified that he was relying on information provided to him by Corsi, although both of them have tried to muddy the waters about how they came to that conclusion. At the time, no one knew that Podesta’s email account had been hacked, and WikiLeaks didn’t release the contents of his emails until early October.
What we know for certain is actually pretty limited at this point. Corsi initially said that negotiations with Mueller had broken down and he expected to be indicted, but now the word is that the negotiations over a plea are back on track.
Obviously, he could agree to plea guilty and expect some degree of leniency, but if the charges are serious enough he’ll need to actively cooperate to avoid substantial jail time.
It’s hard to say what kind of criminal liability he’s facing beyond lying to federal law enforcement officers. It’s possible that crimes totally unrelated to the Russia investigation have been uncovered. It’s also possible that he’s right at the beating heart of the Russia conspiracy-collusion case. Since Mueller already has Corsi’s electronic communications from 2016, he might not need him as a witness, but I’m sure it’d be nice to have him as a prosecution witness rather than an uncooperative defendant.
One thing that has been clarified is that the president was thinking about Corsi when he sent out these tweets:
Three days before those tweets, NBC News reported that Corsi had told them in a telephone interview that he had found his interrogation “confusing and frightening,” believed the Special Counsel’s office was “determined to find a connection with WikiLeaks and me” and was “afraid they’re going to lock me up and put me in solitary confinement.”
The fact that Podesta had been hacked wasn’t the only thing Corsi knew before the rest of us. In April, he correctly predicted that Trump would attempt to launch a counterattack against Hillary Clinton and the “deep state.” Of course, he said that Clinton (and Obama) would both be charged with treason, so his track record isn’t any better there than it was in explaining the real story of 9/11.
Still, President Trump has been trying to get the FBI to prosecute Hillary Clinton, and now he’s going to have South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he can accuse Clinton of crimes.
I hope some of the people responsible for this astonishing disinformation wind up in jail. Corsi would be a good start.