After 14 Years, Conspiracy Artist Jerome Corsi Continues to Successfully Yank the Media’s Chain

Before I address Jerome Corsi’s latest success at playing the media, let me review my theory of why Mueller’s team is so interested in Corsi with respect to Stone (which they’ve been pursuing since March).

Jerome Corsi probably knew not just that WikiLeaks would release Podesta emails, but also what they contained

On October 6, 2016, Jerome Corsi renewed an attack on John Podesta first floated in a Peter Schweitzer and Steve Bannon report released on August 1 (and funded by Rebekah Mercer).

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager, John Podesta, was on the executive board of a client of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is at the heart of the the Panama Papers investigation into massive global offshore money-laundering.

The company for which Podesta served as a board member, Joule, also received $35 million from a Putin-connected Russian government fund at the same time then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spearheaded the transfer of U.S. advanced technology, some with military uses, as part of her “reset” strategy with Russia, according to a report titled “From Russia With Money,” released in August by the Government Accountability Institute. “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer is president of GAI, and Steve Bannon, the CEO of the Trump campaign, is a director.

The Russian entities that funneled money to Joule and its related companies, and ultimately to Podesta, include a controversial Russian investor with ties to the Russian government, Viktor Vekselberg, and his Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate with interests in oil, energy and telecommunication.

It was a remarkably prescient report! Just hours later, WikiLeaks would start releasing John Podesta’s emails, and would you know it?!?, starting on October 11, those emails included documents pertaining to Podesta’s efforts to unwind his relationship with Joule. He and Roger Stone both returned to that attack on October 13, after WikiLeaks had released those files. And on October 17, Corsi finally got around to a post linking the released files to (claim to) substantiate the attack.

While that’s in no way proof, it certainly seems to suggest that either Corsi or Stone not only had advanced warning that WikiLeaks would release Podesta emails, but knew that those emails would include documents pertaining to Joule.

As it happens, though, Corsi and Stone spoke about Joule back in August, probably on August 14, before Stone predicted that it’d soon be Podestas’ time in the barrel. Corsi explained that conversation in March 2017, at a time when Stone was pushing Randy Credico to back his explanations for the Podesta comment, this way:

On Aug. 14, 2016, the New York Times reported that a secret ledger in Ukraine listed cash payments for Paul Manafort, a consultant to the Ukraine’s former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

When this article was published, I suggested to Roger Stone that the attack over Manafort’s ties to Russia needed to be countered.

My plan was to publicize the Government Accountability Institute’s report, “From Russia With Money,” that documented how Putin paid substantial sums of money to both Hillary Clinton and John Podesta.

Putin must have wanted Hillary to win in 2016, if only because Russian under-the-table cash payments to the Clintons and to Podesta would have made blackmailing her as president easy.

On Aug. 14, 2016, I began researching for Roger Stone a memo that I entitled “Podesta.”

Stone has explained whatever digital tracks and the timing of that conversation slightly differently, claiming first that it pertained to a reference to a Schweitzer piece, but probably currently relying on this piece.

If Stone and Corsi plotted on August 14 to return to the Joule attack after WikiLeaks released files on it, then that conversation would have shortly follow the trip to Italy in late July and early August that, according to Corsi, Mueller appears to believe is where Corsi learned about the Podesta emails.

But Corsi says — in spite of apparent emails in Mueller’s possession proving otherwise — he figured out WikiLeaks would release Podesta’s emails just by “forensic analysis.”

“I connect the dots,” he said. “I didn’t need any source to tell me.”

Corsi said he determined in August that WikiLeaks head Julian Assange had obtained Podesta’s emails and was likely to release them in October — and he said several emails he sent in the summer of 2016 would confirm that fact. But he said his awareness was simply a logical deduction, not inside information from WikiLeaks.


Corsi said that he had “sources” who had given him 1,000 pages of information over the summer of 2016 on how the Democratic Party’s computers worked. He said he did a “forensic analysis” of those emails to infer that Podesta’s were missing from the batch.

“Whoever was in that server, had to have seen Podesta’s emails,” he said. “It was a guess, but it was a conclusion that Assange had Podesta’s emails. … He was going to release them in October. Assange always releases things strategically.”

Which brings us to where we are today. After twice getting the media all worked up over claims about plea deals, Corsi now says he is rejecting a plea deal on one count of perjury.

Matt Whitaker May Determine What Happens Next

It’s not just that Corsi has succeeded in yanking the media’s chain, twice setting off press tizzies closely covering the claims of a man whose job is getting the press to embrace elaborate lies. It’s that Corsi’s chain-yanking have occurred at key times in the Matt Whitaker era. Consider this timeline:

November 7: Trump fires Jeff Sessions and replaces him by the end of day with designated hatchet man Matt Whitaker

November 8: In hearing in Andrew Miller subpoena challenge, Michael Dreeben lays out what Mueller can do with and without Attorney General appointment, noting that subpoenaing a journalist requires AG approval

November 8: On his podcast, Corsi suggests something big is going down with Mueller

November 9: Corsi appears before the grand jury and doesn’t give the answer — regarding how he learned that WikiLeaks would release John Podesta’s emails — that prosecutors expected; they told him they were going to charge him with perjury

November 12: On his podcast, Corsi says he expects to be indicted; a huge media frenzy follows

November 13: The media frenzy continues until (he claims), moments before starting an MSNBC interview, his lawyer tells him to call it off

November 15: Trump tweet apparently reflects Corsi’s claim of prosecutors yelling at him to give specific testimony they seek

November 19: In supplemental filing in Miller case, Mueller says he retains full authority of US Attorney until and uniless appointing regulations get changed

November 23: Corsi goes to the WaPo (off the record), AP, and MSNBC (the latter two both on the record) to tell them he is in plea negotiations

November 26: Corsi announces he has been offered, but will reject, a plea deal to one count of perjury, accuses Mueller of Gestapo tactics, and claims he will file a complaint with Whitaker

I’ve been wondering since November 9 whether Whitaker and Mueller had differences of opinion about what should happen with Jerome Corsi. We don’t actually know, yet, what kind of role Whitaker has played in overseeing Mueller’s investigation yet, partly because it’s not clear whether he’d be read in before the conclusion of an ethics review that it’s not at all clear he would pass (he can refuse to recuse anyway, but that will pose risks to his law license).

Still, it seems likely that, going forward, Whitaker will have an opportunity to weigh in on what happens to Corsi. If Mueller decides, once Corsi refuses a plea deal, to charge Corsi with that lie and perhaps others (or a role in a larger conspiracy), Whitaker may have an opportunity to veto it. And DOJ would presumably treat Corsi, a clear propagandist, but one with prior ties to the President, as a journalist.

To be clear, Corsi would be charged for lies to the grand jury. Even assuming he claimed he did so to protect a source, he’d be in a different position than (say) when James Risen refused to say anything about a source. He’d have already lied.

Still, by treating Corsi with heightened First Amendment privileges, Whitaker could add layers of review to any new charges (again, assuming anything Corsi says is true).

Meanwhile, Corsi has told multiple outlets that he wants to accuse Mueller of advising Corsi to lie to FINRA about pleading guilty.

Corsi has also added a new twist to the saga, claiming that he plans to file a complaint with Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker over Mueller’s team’s alleged recommendation that he keep his plea deal a secret from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

“FINRA requires by law that I immediately report anything that might affect my ability to hold securities licenses,” Corsi explained. “So I asked the special counsel’s team how they expected me to fulfill my legal obligation to FINRA if they want me to keep the plea deal a secret. And they said, ‘you don’t have to tell FINRA because this will all be under seal.’ So I told them I was going to file criminal charges against them with Whitaker, because they just advised me to commit a crime.” The special counsel’s office declined to comment.

By making claims that are probably bullshit and were probably made in front of his attorney, Corsi risks really screwing up his legal representation.

But all this is pretty obviously theater performed for two audience members: Donald Trump (who has already publicly responded) and Matt Whitaker (who believes in Bigfoot and time travel). So it may work!

Does Mueller need Corsi’s prosecution, or does he need his testimony?

Nevertheless, if Corsi serially lied to investigators, I would imagine Whitaker would eventually approve of charges against him.

But that may not be what Mueller wants (and Corsi may know that).

While it seems clear part of Corsi’s lies pertain to how he learned that WikiLeaks had and would release Podesta’s emails, Corsi told Nashsa Bertrand that the lie pertained to an email he sent to Roger Stone telling him to go see Assange.

Corsi told me that he emailed Stone in 2016 (he didn’t specify what month) telling him to “go see Assange”—an email that prosecutors showed him during an interview earlier this year that Corsi apparently had not voluntarily produced. “I couldn’t remember any of my 2016 emails,” Corsi said. “I hadn’t looked at them. So they let me amend my testimony, but now they want to charge me for the initial day [of my interview with prosecutors] when I said I didn’t remember that email. I won’t plead guilty to it.”

Corsi’s story doesn’t make sense — not least because if this really were about his original interview, it would be charged as False Statements, not Perjury — but if what Mueller needs is an account of Corsi’s August communications with Stone, then Corsi’s current stunt may actually achieve part of its objective.

Mueller probably doesn’t want to charge Corsi — and certainly not Corsi alone — because he’s such a gaslighter the trial will be a pain in the ass (and while he’s got a credible lawyer, he obviously doesn’t have any control over Corsi’s stunts). What Mueller probably wants is the testimony he needs to be able to charge Stone as part of a larger conspiracy.

The bigger question, though, is whether Mueller needs that testimony before he takes his next investigative steps.

33 replies
  1. Kevin Finnerty says:

    As someone who has followed the conspiratorial fringes of the internet for at least a decade, I still cannot get over the fact that these clowns are at the center of a (successful) plot to influence a presidential election.

    I have grown increasingly uneasy watching Stone and Corsi throw up dust these last few weeks. Arguing with conspiracy theorists is notoriously difficult because they operate purely on bad faith. They admit nothing and twist facts to create alternative scenarios and lead you down a rabbit hole while you try to disprove them, with each step, leading you further away from the orignal point you were trying to make.

    Mueller has tools at his disposal that I, as an internet rando, do not have. But even with subpoena power and the ability to obtain testimony from others, Stone and Corsi will be able to erect a fortress of bullshit. My worries are threefold: 1) Like EW said, Mueller needs testimony from an unhinged conspiracy theorist to prove his case and their obstruction may prove effective; 2) If this goes to trial, Stone, Corsi, et al will be able to confuse jurors the same way conspiracists sow doubt online; and 3) Corsi’s outlandish theories will find a welcome audience with the highest levels of the justice department.

    It’s clear to us what is going on, but these kinds of personalities are incredibly slippery and my concern is that the dust kicking might be having an effect.

    • BobCon says:

      I share your unease about Mueller going in the rat hole after these guys, although I also have to wonder whether Mueller hasn’t dug up a lot of Manafort style activity to charge them with. The position of these guys may be a lot weaker than they are implying.

  2. Trip says:

    Since when is Corsi some kind of tech professional? He gets 1000s of pages from “sources” on how the computer worked and then did “forensics”on it? What the actual fuck is he talking about? I can’t wait for his ‘citizen’s arrest’ of Mueller.

    When does this crappy show get canceled? Seriously, this is some of the stupidest writing I’ve seen. No one believes the script.

    • Fran of the North says:

      Unfortunately, some do believe the script. True believers will use Corsi ‘talking points’ as facts and regurgitate them ad infinitum. Others who are aware of the basics but unwilling or unable to suss logic and convoluted story and time lines may be swayed by the ‘both sides do it’ argument.

      Never underestimate the ability of repetition to influence the discussion.

      SAD!  ;o)

  3. SH says:

    Quick comment on Corsi. My initial thought on Corsi’s stunt of filing la complaint with Whitaker was that this may be an attempt to establish grounds to fire Mueller. Under the DOJ-SC regulations, the special counsel can be removed for cause.

    MW, your site is invaluable and is a goto source on the probe. Please keep it up.

    • Peterr says:

      MW, your site is invaluable and is a goto source on the probe. Please keep it up.

      For those who share these opinions, hitting that little “Support” button in the top right corner would make “keeping it up” that much easier to do. Consider it a Cyber Monday deal on great journalism.

  4. viget says:

    My this Stone is a slippery character.  Where does he come up with this cast of ne’er do wells to do his bidding for him?  No one knows square one about any of these guys, and they all have credibility problems up the wazoo that makes using them as corroborating witnesses a difficult endeavor indeed.

    Is Stone (and not Manafort) the final firewall for Trump?  Or does Mueller hope to pit an indicted Stone against Manafort to get enough evidence against Trump?

    It makes me also wonder what exactly Stone has been doing the past decade or so that we DON’T know about.

  5. DrFunguy says:

    I had the same thought as SH: is this a ploy to set up Mueller, or members of his team, for termination for cause? Hopefully they wouldn’t fall for such a tactic. Most likely Corsi is just making stuff up.

  6. Frank Probst says:

    I haven’t been paying attention to his legal representation.  It’s hard for me to imagine a competent lawyer saying anything but “SHUT UP!!!” with respect to his public statements.  Saying things publicly that might lead to your attorney being questioned under the crime/fraud exemption (apologies for not knowing the exact legal term) sounds like the kind of thing that would get you dropped as a client.  Testifying against your own client–even if you’re legally obligated to do so–is something that sounds bad for business.  I’m curious about what the lawyers think.

    • Trip says:

      Just my opinion, but this is the type of garbage where we’d all be better off if the media decided not to regurgitate it into a story. Just file it in the back of your brain as stupid shit Trump says that holds no value, likely no truth, and it’s akin to him liking the sound of his own voice drowning out more important news.

  7. Rusharuse says:

    Trump and his stooges won’t shut up, Mueller and his lot won’t speak up. The media, stuck in the middle, just make it up. Not fake news – more like Astrology!

    • General Sternwood says:

      Welcome to the cargo cult! Special Counsel John Frum will soon be bringing food, clothing, and indictments.

  8. Rugger9 says:

    Paul Manafort is clearly hoping for his pardon from Kaiser Quisling, or he’s hoping to never walk free again (in range of Soviet Russian hit men).  Since he waited this long though he’s already forfeited a bunch of stuff that would otherwise have come in handy in exile.

    Unless there is something I’m missing, isn’t this the kind of thing that gets books thrown at you at sentencing? Recall how Paul had also messed with the trial arrangements in the first federal case, getting caught doing stuff he wasn’t supposed to do in jail as well as pulling the rug out from Trial #2’s location so I must wonder why he’s really trying to irritate the OSC.

    • BobCon says:

      For me, the big questions are whether Manafort was freelancing, or if his lies are being developed in communication with someone else. The most explosive possibility is that it’s happening as a part of that weird JDA — which might mean Mueller didn’t object to it because he had suspicions and wanted to see where it would lead. (Highly speculative, I know.)

      And if he’s not acting alone, how good is their operational security? Manafort hasn’t been good at faking out the feds in the past.

  9. Rugger9 says:

    Corsi, on the other hand, is apparently daring Mueller to indict him.  Somehow he thinks Kaiser Quisling will pardon him (I guess), but as we have seen before, Mueller is likely to speak with actual indictments and just managed to force Papa into his 14-day prison term.  Will KQ pardon Papa or commute the sentence?  Stay tuned.

    The Palace thinks they are smarter than they really are, and really their only hope is that Whitaker can spike the probe before Uday, Qusay or Jarvanka gets indicted.

  10. Nopants says:

    What’s he lying about now? I’d put my money on the money. The WHOLE criminal enterprise. Russian mob. Trump’s Splish Splash Laundromat. Mercer Bank. Murdoch Media. Turkey Tanks. Saudi Butcher Shoppe. Putin’s Purse.

  11. Kai-Lee says:


    Re “For me, the big questions are whether Manafort was freelancing, or if his lies are being developed in communication with someone else. The most explosive possibility is that it’s happening as a part of that weird JDA — which might mean Mueller didn’t object to it because he had suspicions and wanted to see where it would lead. (Highly speculative, I know.)”

    Remember that Mueller let Manafort keep and use a laptop during his first jail stint which he of course misused and provided further evidence of his criminality (witness tampering, for example).

    Trump will say it’s entrapment or in the latest case with the triangulated Trump-Manafort statements, a “perjury trap”!

    Grifters Gonna Grift, Cons Gonna Con

  12. orionATL says:

    jerome corsi is a “conspiracy artist” writes emptywheel. i am so glad to see that ew has invented an appropriate term to challenge the mindless and implicitly positive phrase “conspiracy theorist” which the media reflexively apply to emotional manipulators and propagadists like jerome corsi and alex jones, rightwing businessmen who, like rush limbaugh, engage in calculated manipulation of loyal simpletons for money and power.

    the word “artist” in “conspiracy artist” brings to mind the term “con artist” which is what corsi, jones, limbaugh, et al, are. “theorist” hides their motivation behind a patina of legitimacy.

  13. orionATL says:

    it seems clear that corsi believes that a loud defense depending on “let it all hang out, publicly” is a strong defense against the kind of quiet, gentlemanly agreements lawyers ratify in quiet, gentlemanly (and ladylike) rooms with 10′ doors and dentil molding.

    now we get to see the osc’s next move :)

  14. orionATL says:

    i don’t know where all this fol da rol with jerome corsi will lead, but it has one salient feature i like – it is bringing attention and conviction to the existence of a strong working relationship between roger stone, stone’s “intimate friend of 40 years” president trump, stone’s old business partner paul manafort, julian assange and his wikileaks, and the putin government (and its private, billionaire agents).

    a perfect hurricane of vindictiveness.

  15. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    I just popped this link about current events onto another of Marcy’s posts. It’s a long read, but well worth the time investment to get a long view. Perhaps, many years from now, we’ll look back and actually thank Trump for inadvertently blowing up his own crapper.

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