July 22, 2016: The Sater and Cohen Deal Gets Handed Off To Millian and Papadopoulos?

Last night on TV, Anthony Cormier said that the negotiations between Michael Cohen and Felix Sater actually continued into July, but that the later discussions were on encrypted chats that got deleted.

We know that Sater was at Trump Tower on July 21, 2016, because he bought some campaign swag that showed up in FEC filings. (h/t Andrew Rice on Twitter)

Sater told POLITICO he was unaware he had exceeded the maximum contribution. Informed that purchases of campaign paraphernalia count as contributions, Sater said he had bought campaign merchandise in the basement of Trump Tower last month. He said he made two $2,700 contributions to the Trump campaign online through his iPad.

The purchase of campaign merchandise and two contributions for $2,700 each are all dated July 21 in the FEC filing.

That same day, George Papadopoulos signaled something to Ivan Timofeev about Trump’s RNC speech.

“How are things [Timofeev]? Keep an eye on the speech tonight. Should be good.”

The next day is almost certainly when Sergei Millian first started cultivating Papadopoulos.

Millian’s cultivation of Papadopoulos likely explains this reference in the affidavit supporting Papadopoulos’ arrest, showing Papadopoulos asking Ivan Timofeev over Facebook on July 22, 2016 for any information he had on someone he was about to meet for the first time (see my timeline here).

“If you know any background of him that is noteworthy before I see him, kindly send my way.”

That would say that, on the same day WikiLeaks released the DNC emails — which itself took place a day after Papadopoulos signaled something about Trump’s RNC speech to Timofeev — Millian started cultivating Papadopoulos, who apparently had started spending more time in NYC.

That relationship would lead to a proposed business deal between Millian and Papadopoulos — basically as cut-outs for the business deal that Cohen and Sater started.

Mr. Trump’s improbable victory raised Mr. Papadopoulos’s hopes that he might ascend to a top White House job. The election win also prompted a business proposal from Sergei Millian, a naturalized American citizen born in Belarus. After he had contacted Mr. Papadopoulos out of the blue over LinkedIn during the summer of 2016, the two met repeatedly in Manhattan.

[snip]

Mr. Millian proposed that he and Mr. Papadopoulos form an energy-related business that would be financed by Russian billionaires “who are not under sanctions” and would “open all doors for us” at “any level all the way to the top.”

One billionaire, he said, wanted to explore the idea of opening a Trump-branded hotel in Moscow. “I know the president will distance himself from business, but his children might be interested,” he wrote.

Apparently, a new witness recently went to the FBI to describe Papadopoulos’ continued involvement in this deal — and his direct ties to Trump.

The letter, dated November 19 and obtained last week by The Atlantic, was sent to Democratic Representative Adam Schiff’s office by an individual who claims to have been close to Papadopoulos in late 2016 and early 2017. The letter was brought to the attention of Schiff and House Intelligence Committee staff, according to an aide who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The letter was also obtained by federal authorities, who are taking its claims “very seriously,” said two U.S. officials who also requested anonymity because of the sensitivities of the probe.

The statement makes a series of explosive but uncorroborated claims about Papadopoulos’s alleged coordination with Russians in the weeks following Trump’s election in November 2016, including that Papadopoulos said he was “doing a business deal with Russians which would result in large financial gains for himself and Mr. Trump.” The confidant—whose name The Atlantic is withholding on request but whose identity is known to congressional and federal investigators—stated a willingness to take a polygraph test “to prove that I am being truthful” and had come forward now after seeing Papadopoulos “become increasingly hostile towards those who are investigating him and his associates.” A lawyer for Papadopoulos declined to comment.

[snip]

The confidant who sent the letter to Schiff’s office last week claimed to have witnessed a phone call between Papadopoulos and Trump in December 2016, around the same time that Papadopoulos was allegedly boasting about the Russia deal and sending emails to Flynn and Trump’s campaign CEO, Steve Bannon. In one email, Flynn urged Papadopoulos to “stay in touch, and, at some point, we should get together.” Trump has called Papadopoulos “a coffee boy” who played no meaningful role on the campaign.

In his sentencing memorandum, Papadopoulos alluded to his concern about getting the job he expected in the Trump Administration (on which the deal with Millian was premised) to explain why he lied to the FBI in January 2017.

The agents asked George to accompany them to their office to answer a “couple questions” regarding “a guy in New York that you might know[,] [t]hat has recently been in the news.” George thought the agents wanted to ask him about Russian businessman Sergei Millian. Wanting clarification, he asked the agents, “…just so I understand, I’m going there to answer questions about this person who I think you’re talking about.” The agents assured George that the topic of discussion was Mr. Millian who had been trending in the national media.

En route to the FBI office, George voiced concern about the repercussions of his cooperation ever becoming public because the Wall Street Journal had just reported that Sergei Millian was a key source in the “Trump Dossier” controversy. George explained that he was in discussions with senior Trump administration officials about a position and the last thing he wanted was “something like this” casting the administration in a bad light.

[snip]

George knew Mr. Millian only as a businessman pitching an opportunity to George in his personal capacity. The agents asked how they first met, what they discussed, how often they talked or met in person, if George knew whether Mr. Millian was connected to Russia or a foreign intelligence service, and who else on Mr. Trump’s campaign may have been in contact with Mr. Millian.

[snip]

George found himself personally conflicted during the interrogation as he felt obligated to assist the FBI but also wanted to distance himself and his work on the Trump campaign from that investigation. Attempting to reconcile these competing interests, George provided information he thought was important to the investigation while, at the same time, misleading the agents about the timing, nature, and extent Case 1:17-cr-00182-RDM Document 45 Filed 08/31/18 Page 9 of 16 10 of his contacts with Professor Mifsud, Olga, and Ivan Timofeev. In his answers, George falsely distanced his interactions with these players from his campaign work. At one point, George told the agents that he did not want to “get too in-depth” because he did not know what it would mean for his professional future.

[snip]

Out of loyalty to the new president and his desire to be part of the administration, he hoisted himself upon his own petard.

All of that suggests the deal was still on in January 2017, and Papadopoulos was trying to preserve his opportunity to serve as a cut-out for the deal and so lied to the FBI.

Mind you, it may be that the deal was not entirely handed off. Glenn Simpson told HPSCI that Fusion had substantiated ties between Millian and Cohen (though I hope he looked further than Twitter).

And then, you know, as further time went on, we found he was connected to Michael Cohen, the President’s lawyer. And eventually, after boasting about a lot of this stuff on camera, on tape, to the TV network, he backed away from all of it suddenly when the Russia controversy began to get hot.

And Michael Cohen was very adamant that he didn’t actually have a connection to Sergi, even though he was one of only like 100 people who followed Sergi on Twitter. And they — we had Twitter messages back and forth between the two of them just – we just pulled them off of Twitter.

In a blockbuster follow-up to their May report that laid out all this Trump Tower stuff, Buzzfeed hints at other people Cohen was in contact with, who also were involved in the hack and leak operation.

Two FBI agents with direct knowledge of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations told BuzzFeed News earlier this year that Cohen was in frequent contact with foreign individuals about the real estate venture — and that some of these individuals had knowledge of or played a role in 2016 election meddling. The identity of those individuals remains unknown.

Which of course would make it unsurprising if July 22, the same day WikiLeaks released the DNC emails, was the day the real estate deal backing it up would get handed off to further obscure it.

Update: In this really report on Cohen’s plea, Rudy sounds like he’s not sure whether the deal went forward or not.

“The president, as far as he knows, he remembers there was such a proposal for a hotel,” Giuliani said. “He talked it over with Cohen as Cohen said. There was a nonbinding letter of intent that was sent. As far as he knows it never came to fruition. That was kind of the end of it.”

Cohen’s Testimony Implicates Trump and His Spawn

As you’ve heard, Michael Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress this morning in conjunction with the Mueller investigation. Even what he testified to will implicate Trump and Don Jr directly. Here’s what the information says Cohen lied to cover up:

Cohen continued to pursue a Trump Tower Moscow deal for far longer than he testified he did, and briefed “family” on it, which presumably includes Don Jr (who therefore lied to Congress about it)

The Moscow Project was discussed multiple times within the Company and did not end in January 2016. Instead, as late as approximately June 2016, COHEN and Individual 2 discussed efforts to obtain Russian governmental approval for the Moscow Project. COHEN discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project with Individual 1 on more than the three occasions COHEN claimed to the Committee, and he briefed family members of Individual 1 within the Company about the project.

The plans continued after the campaign got information about emails and were specifically structured around Trump getting the nomination; they ended when the DNC hack was reported

COHEN agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and took steps in contemplation of Individual 1’s possible travel to Russia. COHEN and Individual 2 discussed on multiple occasions traveling to Russia to pursue the Moscow Project.

COHEN asked Individual 1 about the possibility of Individual 1 traveling to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project, and asked a senior campaign official about potential business travel to Russia.

On or about May 4, 2016, Individual 2 wrote to COHEN, “I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after the convention . . . Obviously the pre-meeting trip (you only) can happen anytime you want but the 2 big guys where [sic] the question. I said I would confirm and revert.” COHEN responded, “My trip before Cleveland. [Individual 1] once he becomes the nominee after the convention.”

On or about May 5, 2016, Individual 2 followed up with COHEN and wrote, “[Russian Official 1] would like to invite you as his guest to the St. Petersburg Forum which is Russia’s Davos it’s June 16-19. He wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to either [the President of Russia] or [the Prime Minister of Russia], as they are not sure if 1 or both will be there. . . . He said anything you want to discuss including dates and subjects are on the table to discuss.”

On or about May 6, 2016, Individual 2 asked COHEN to confirm those dates would work for him to travel. COHEN wrote back, “Works for me.”

From on or about June 9 to June 14, 2016, Individual 2 sent numerous messages to COHEN about the travel, including forms for COHEN to complete. However, on or about June 14, 2016, COHEN met Individual 2 in the lobby of the Company’s headquarters to inform Individual 2 he would not be traveling at that time.

Cohen was in direct communication with Dmitry Peskov’s office; and Putin’s office contacted Felix Sater

On or about January 14, 2016, COHEN emailed Russian Official 1’s office asking for assistance in connection with the Moscow Project. On or about January 16, 2016, COHEN emailed Russian Official 1’s office again, said he was trying to reach another high-level Russian official, and asked for someone who spoke English to contact him.

On or about January 20, 2016, COHEN received an email from the personal assistant to Russian Official 1 (“Assistant 1”), stating that she had been trying to reach COHEN and requesting that he call her using a Moscow-based phone number she provided.

Shortly after receiving the email, COHEN called Assistant 1 and spoke to her for approximately 20 minutes. On that call, COHEN described his position at the Company and outlined the proposed Moscow Project, including the Russian development company with which the Company had partnered. COHEN requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction. Assistant 1 asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would follow up with others in Russia.

The day after COHEN’s call with Assistant 1, Individual 2 contacted him, asking for a call. Individual 2 wrote to COHEN, “It’s about [the President of Russia] they called today.”

And all this is just what Mueller wants us to know.

According to ABC, Cohen has been providing information about ongoing contacts with Russians, and floated pardons, among other things.

The questioning has focused on contacts with Russians by Trump associates during the campaign, Trump’s business ties to Russia, obstruction of justice and talk of possible pardons, sources familiar with the discussions have told ABC News.

Remember, too, that Trump just submitted a sworn open book test that would have answered this question:

What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?

I would bet a lot of money Trump lied in his answer. Don Jr is in immediate trouble and pops isn’t that far behind.

Did Jerome Corsi (or Roger Stone) Get Podesta Emails from Guccifer 2.0?

Thus far, the public narrative about Jerome Corsi’s travails with Robert Mueller (aside from the fact that he just hired Larry Klayman and is submitting a complaint about Mueller to Matt Whitaker) pertain to how he served as the long-hidden go-between between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks.

But I want to lay out a number of data points to suggest that — after he learned information on WikiLeaks via Ted Malloch — he (or Stone) may have obtained actual Podesta emails from Guccifer 2.0.

This post assumes that Corsi and Stone learned not just that GRU and WikiLeaks had Podesta emails but also that the emails included documents pertaining to Joule Holding, as laid out in this post.

Corsi had access to Guccifer 2.0 through his Peter Smith buddies

Roger Stone has said he was not involved in the Peter Smith operation to find the emails Hillary Clinton deleted, but Corsi was. And Smith reached out to Guccifer 2.0.

The activists, the journalist-turned-entrepreneur Charles Johnson and his former business partner Pax Dickinson, agreed to help Smith’s quixotic mission, which failed to track down copies of Clinton’s emails. Johnson is a polarizing figure who was banned from Twitter in 2015 after promoting an effort to “take out” a Black Lives Matter activist but maintains ties to White House officials. Smith also reached out to “Guccifer 2.0”—an alias the U.S. intelligence community has linked to Russian state hackers—and was advised to seek the help of a white nationalist hacker who lives in Ukraine.

Smith also appears to have had advance knowledge of the Podesta emails, and was fundraising off of their release in October 2016.

Corsi’s information was sourced to “hackers,” not “friend in embassy”

When Corsi reported information about upcoming releases back to Stone, he first referred to “friend in embassy,” meaning Assange, but then described the “game hackers are now about.”

Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.… Time to let more than [the Clinton Campaign chairman] to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton]. That appears to be the game hackers are now about.

Sure, Assange is himself a hacker, of sorts. But the reference to the hackers, plural, seems to reference a different actor. (Chuck Ross has a screen cap of the email here.) Perhaps he was thinking of GRU itself, or people like Chuck Johnson and Weev (described above).

Guccifer 2.0 was happy to search for specific files

In a number of instances, Guccifer 2.0 sought out and provided files pertinent to a specific interlocutor, as when on August 15, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 sent files on his opponent to a congressional candidate.

On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.

[I reiterate earlier warnings that I believe this person may be different than the person usually presumed to be the candidate.]

So Guccifer was at times happy to deliver precisely what interlocutors wanted, down to searching on a name.

Corsi’s statement of offense incorporates the GRU investigation

Two parts of Corsi’s statement of the offense reflect that his discussions with prosecutors may extend to the investigation into GRU.

First, there’s the scope laid out (which must reflect an expansion of the investigation from what it was on August 2, 2017, when Rod Rosenstein first memorialized it in detail). In addition to the connections between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, the investigation included GRU (this was four months after the GRU indictment) and how GRU got the documents to WikiLeaks.

At the time of the interview, the Special Counsel’s Office was investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including:

a. the theft of campaign-related emails and other documents by the Russian government’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (“GRU”);

b. the GRU’s provision of certain of those documents to an organization (“Organization 1”) for public release in order to expand the GRU’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign; and

c. the nature of any connections between individuals associated with the U.S. presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and the Russian government or Organization 1.

Then there are the prosecutors who signed off on the draft plea deal.

In addition to Jeannie Rhee, Andrew Goldstein, and Aaron Zelinsky (all of whom we’ve seen in the Andrew Miller proceedings), Rush Atkinson is included. Before this document, Atkinson had only shown up on the Russian side of the investigation — the IRA and GRU indictments.

Corsi refused to name his Podesta email source before the grand jury

Corsi’s so-called cooperation went to hell when he refused to name his real Podesta email source before the grand jury (note, given what was laid out in his draft plea, I think the date of this must be November 2, not November 9).

A source with knowledge of Corsi’s most recent grand jury appearance, which occurred last Friday, told TheDCNF that he was pulled out of the proceeding because prosecutors were frustrated with his testimony.

[snip]

Corsi says that Mueller’s team zeroed in on a trip he took to Italy with his wife in July and August 2016 to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. It was on that trip that Corsi claims his theory about Wikileaks and Podesta finally clicked.

“When I flew to Italy in July and early August 2016 for my 25th wedding anniversary, I really put it together,” he says of Wikileaks having Podesta’s emails.

Corsi says that he came up with his theory after realizing that Wikileaks’ July 22, 2016 release of DNC emails did not contain any from the Clinton campaign chairman.

“I noticed there weren’t any Podesta emails in there. In July, flying over to Italy I thought, ‘I bet Assange has Podesta’s emails,’” Corsi asserts.

Corsi said that prosecutors rejected that explanation.

“They really wanted me to tell the truth, and I did. But they wouldn’t accept that.”

Prosecutors “drilled on and drilled on and drilled on” Corsi’s activities in Italy, including his phone calls and emails, he said.

Admittedly, this could just be Ted Malloch or someone (or, again, someone like Chuck Johnson, who has ties to Assange). But Corsi’s refusal to name his real source would make more sense if it were something even more scandalous.

The date Corsi and Stone are trying to explain away is the same date Stone talked with Guccifer

As I’ve pointed out a couple of times, Stone and Corsi have offered conflicting stories about … something that happened on August 14, 2016. At one level, it’s totally obvious what happened: The NYT published a story that revealed Paul Manafort’s graft and ties to Russia, and they talked about ways to respond by projecting such accusations against someone else. But that doesn’t explain why and how their response focused on Podesta. And Stone and Corsi’s cover stories both appear to struggle to explain what went on between the two of them that day.

For example, in the cover story Corsi did in March 2017 (which he now says he presented to the grand jury in immunized testimony), he claims he started researching his August 31 research report on that day.

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

In his immunized testimony, Corsi admitted that he didn’t start this research until August 30, and did so as an explicit cover story.

Stone has several times claimed something in Breitbart — perhaps this post — focused their attention. But that doesn’t make any sense at all, because that’s still a focus on Joule, not on the Manafort-related Tony Podesta sleaze Corsi’s report would cover.

We can assume that Corsi and Stone met on or around August 14. He only returned home from Italy on August 12. And Corsi published this interview on August 15. August 15 is also the very first day Stone ever tweeted about John Podesta.

Those two days are also when Stone reached out to Guccifer.

Guccifer is almost certainly talking about the DCCC files dropped on August 12, which because of the amount of personal details leaked were the most sensitive files dumped. But it’s just possible the reference to posted files were to files posted somewhere else.

The emails Corsi deleted match up to both the Joule disclosure and the last Guccifer post

Finally, there’s this from Corsi’s statement of the offense:

Between approximately January 13, 2017 and March 1, 2017, CORSI deleted from his computer all email correspondence that predated October 11, 2016, including Person 1’s email instructing CORSI to “get to [the founder of Organization 1]” and CORSI’s subsequent forwarding of that email to the overseas individual.

The dates here are interesting. The October 11 date is pretty easy to explain. That’s why the Peter Smith foldering email was expressing happiness with the Podesta emails that were then dropping. It’s also the date when Wikileaks released the Joule documents; if Stone and Corsi were discussing Joule before that, it would represent prior knowledge.

There are a great of possible explanations for why, on January 13, Corsi might have decided he wanted to delete all the emails pertaining to his campaign activities, including that that’s the day SSCI announced their investigation [Update: See CJ’s suggestion — that it pertains to how Time Machine does back-ups — here]. It is, however, the day after the last Guccifer post, when he falsely claimed to be unrelated to Russian intelligence again, itself a response to the Intelligence Community Assessment stating with high confidence he was and January 10 testimony from the top spooks reinforcing that point. That same day, Stone associate Lee Stranahan DMed Guccifer and asked if he wanted to do an interview.

In other words, if Stone and Corsi had worked with Guccifer — directly or indirectly — to plan their attacks on Podesta, the stakes for doing so would have gone up right before — according to the government — he may have started thinking about deleting his emails.

As for March 1, that’s the day before Jeff Sessions recused (though it was clear he would have to do so before that); though the end date may also pertain to a preservation order or some investigative explanation — though that would have been remarkably early for such a step, given the timing of known George Papadopoulos steps. It’s particularly remarkable that Corsi had deleted his emails by March 1 given that the cover story he wrote up for Roger Stone was written over three weeks later.

All of this is, mind you, highly speculative, and thus far there’s no hint in anything serial fabulist Corsi has said to indicate that’s the case. But it is a theoretical possibility, one that would explain a lot about what just happened.

Trump’s Two Denials Could Provide Reason for Mueller to Demand an Interview

According to an updated NYT story on this week’s Paul Manafort and Jerome Corsi developments, the delay in Trump’s submission of his open book test came in response to two things: Seeing a reference to Roger Stone’s regular contact with then-candidate Trump in Corsi’s draft statement of the offense and learning that Mueller had informed Manafort he had caught him lying.

Mr. Corsi’s dealings with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors have caused alarm among the president’s legal team, who were informed of developments by Mr. Corsi’s lawyer. President Trump’s lawyers were especially troubled by a draft statement of offense against Mr. Corsi that was passed on to them, according to people familiar with the situation. In it, prosecutors claimed that Mr. Corsi understood that Mr. Stone was “in regular contact with senior members of the Trump campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump” when he asked Mr. Corsi in late July 2016 to “get to” Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

The reference to Mr. Trump coincided with other events that so disturbed the president’s lawyers that they delayed turning in his responses to written questions after negotiating over them with the special counsel for nearly a year. At roughly the same time, the Justice Department inadvertently released a secret criminal complaint against Mr. Assange and Mr. Trump’s legal team learned that prosecutors were accusing Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, of lying. Only after Mr. Mueller’s team reassured Mr. Trump’s lawyers that they were not trying to lure the president into a trap did they forward his answers on Nov. 20.

Unsurprisingly, CNN has already confirmed that Trump denied culpability in his answers to the two questions that address those topics.

President Donald Trump told special counsel Robert Mueller in writing that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks, nor was he told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

One source described the President’s answers without providing any direct quotes and said the President made clear he was answering to the best of his recollection.

Remember, the GRU indictment described Stone as “a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump,” so the inclusion of “including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump” reflects language added since July. Recall, too, that Stone at first complained about that description, insisting that “My contact with the campaign in 2016 was Donald Trump. I was not in regular contact with campaign officials,” only to backtrack to, “I certainly acknowledge that I was in touch with Trump campaign officials,” when he realized the implications of that. As CNN notes, in recent weeks Mueller’s team asked for records of Stone’s calls and visits to Trump Tower. So it’s possible a recent witness — Michael Cohen and Steve Bannon could both be possibilities — suggested that Stone had conveyed WikiLeaks information directly to Trump, leading to the request for more records.

And (as I used as a hypothetical last night on Chris Hayes’ show), we know that Manafort and Trump met on June 7, 2016, just before Trump announced an attack on Hillary Clinton in coming days and two days before the June 9 meeting.

So it is quite likely Mueller has evidence that both of Trump’s claims are lies.

Finally, remember that one excuse Trump has given for refusing to sit for an interview is that none of this really affects him directly, so Mueller has no need to engage in back-and-forth with him. It’s quite likely that a Corsi indictment and a Manafort sentencing report could be public within the next month alleging that both of the claims Trump made are false. While I still doubt Mueller would wait for a Trump interview, any inconsistency between Mueller’s evidence and Trump’s answers would make it far easier to demand an interview.

Jerome Corsi Prepared the Lies He told Special Counsel

I noted several times that Jerome Corsi’s lawyer, David Gray, claimed on the record in an interview with the WaPo that Corsi was offered, but declined, to engage in criminal behavior with Roger Stone.

Gray said he was confident that Corsi has done nothing wrong. “Jerry Corsi made decisions that he would not take actions that would give him criminal liability,” he added, declining to elaborate.

Asked if Corsi had opportunities to take such actions, Gray said, “I wouldn’t say he was offered those opportunities. I would say he had communications with Roger Stone. We’ll supply those communications and be cooperative. My client didn’t act further that would give rise to any criminal liability.”

That story was published on October 5, the day before he his first interview with Mueller’s team. We now know some of what Corsi said at that interview. He admitted that Roger Stone had asked him to reach out to WikiLeaks to find out what it had.

CORSI said that in the summer of 2016 an associate (“Person 1”) who CORSI understood to be in regular contact with senior members of the Trump Campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump, asked CORSI to get in touch with Organization 1 about materials it possessed relevant to the presidential campaign that had not already been released.

But, Corsi claimed in an interview the day after his lawyer had told the press he declined to engage in criminal behavior, he had declined Stone’s request.

CORSI said he declined the request from Person 1 and made clear to Person 1 that trying to contact Organization 1 could be subject to investigation. CORSI also stated that Person 1 never asked CORSI to have another person try to get in contact with Organization 1, and that CORSI told Person 1 that they should just wait until Organization 1 released any materials.

That seems to suggest that Corsi denied he had reached out to Ted Malloch, somehow obtained information on what WikiLeaks had planned, and shared that with Stone because he believed it would involve criminal liability — and his lawyer agreed.

But his plea agreement doesn’t include reaching out to WikiLeaks among the crimes it says would be covered if he took the plea deal. That plea deal only envisioned Corsi’s risk to include lying, more lying, and conspiring to lie.

In consideration of your client’s guilty plea to the above offense, your client will not be further prosecuted criminally by this Office for the conduct set forth in the attached Statement of the Offense; for any other false statements made by him to this Office or to the grand jury between September 6, 2018 and November 2, 2018; and for obstructing, aiding or abetting in the obstruction of, or conspiring to obstruct or commit perjury before congressional or grand jury investigations in connection with the conduct described in the Statement of Offense.

Now, Corsi claims that he told those lies because he didn’t remember what really happened, and because he had deleted all his emails (in a very curiously specific period, January 13 to March 1, which means the government is somehow sure he did it weeks before he first rolled out the public cover story he had worked on with Stone), couldn’t refresh his memory until the FBI obtained the deleted emails from his computer. So it’s possible that Gray really believed Corsi’s claim to have declined Stone’s requests (though it’s unclear why he would have thought that responding to them would involve criminal liability — as I keep saying, speaking to Guccifer 2.0 or WikiLeaks is not, by itself, a crime, and Corsi would have the added protection of being able to claim he was acting as a journalist).

Still, all this seems to suggest that Corsi prepared the lie he told prosecutors, believing that telling the truth would expose him to criminal liability.

That’s going to make it a lot harder to claim this was all an accident brought on by poor memory once he does get charged.

Hillary Clinton Caught Her Stroke from Jerome Corsi

Gotta give Jerome Corsi: For a guy that not even his spouse should believe, he has taken down a series of Democratic presidential candidates. One thing we learn from the plea agreement he didn’t sign, for example, is that a campaign attack claiming that Hillary had had a stroke may have originated with the same guy who invented the Swift Boat Veterans and a Kenyan birth certificate.

On August 2, 2016, having consulted with someone who consulted with Julian Assange, Corsi advised Roger Stone to start setting up a claim that Hillary had had a stroke.

On or about August 2, 2016, CORSI responded to Person 1 by email. CORSI wrote that he was currently in Europe and planned to return in mid-August. CORSI stated: “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging…. Time to let more than [the Clinton Campaign chairman] to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton]. That appears to be the game hackers are now about. Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke — neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus, setting stage for Foundation debacle.” [my emphasis]

On August 3, by his own accounting, Roger Stone spoke with Trump.

On August 5, Trump started an attack on Hillary that would evolve into claims she had a stroke.

Donald Trump pumped up his attacks on Hillary Clinton’s character Saturday night by suggesting that the former secretary of state is not mentally fit to be president.

“She took a short-circuit in the brain. She’s got problems,” Trump said, seizing on Clinton’s explanation that she “short-circuited” a recent answer about her truthfulness in discussing her email server.

“Honestly, I don’t think she’s all there,” he added.

A perhaps more interesting detail is that when Corsi tried to destroy all evidence he had been conspiring with people working with emails stolen by Russia, he deleted all those before October 11.

Between approximately January 13, 2017 and March 1, 2017, CORSI deleted from his computer all email correspondence that predated October 11, 2016, including Person 1’s email instructing CORSI to “get to [the founder of Organization 1]” and CORSI’s subsequent forwarding of that email to the overseas individual.

October 11 is the day WikiLeaks released the emails including attachments relating to Joule were released. If you wanted to eliminate all evidence of foreknowledge of those emails, you’d start there. And Corsi tried to do just that, eliminate evidence of the period leading up to WikiLeaks’ release of Joule emails, during a period when Stone was working on a cover-up story.

Mueller Just Guaranteed He Can Issue a Public Report

Back when Paul Manafort first entered a plea agreement, I argued the effects of it could not be pardoned away.

Here’s why this deal is pardon proof:

  1. Mueller spent the hour and a half delay in arraignment doing … something. It’s possible Manafort even presented the key parts of testimony Mueller needs from him to the grand jury this morning.
  2. The forfeiture in this plea is both criminal and civil, meaning DOJ will be able to get Manafort’s $46 million even with a pardon.
  3. Some of the dismissed charges are financial ones that can be charged in various states.

Since that time, Mueller has been busy finishing up the Roger Stone indictment, Trump has finally finished his open book test, and any owners of the property Manafort had to forfeit under the plea deal had their 30-day window to challenge the forfeiture (only the bank owning the loan on his Trump Tower condo is known to have contested the forfeiture, which means the government may already be irretrievably seizing $43 million of Manafort’s property).

Which brings us to the status report that Mueller’s team delayed long enough to get that open book test.

Paulie can’t help himself. According to Mueller’s team, he has kept lying and lying since entering the cooperation agreement.

After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement. The government will 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.

As the defendant has breached the plea agreement, there is no reason to delay his sentencing herein.

As I noted back in September, the standard the government has to prove to claim Manafort has breached his agreement is just “good faith,” as compared to preponderance of the evidence with Rick Gates.

With Gates, the standard the government has to prove to argue he has breached his agreement is preponderance of the evidence or, in case of committing a crime, probable cause. With Manafort, the government only has to prove “good faith.”

Now, it is true that Trump can pardon Manafort (though that probably won’t happen right away). That’s the only sane explanation for Manafort doing what he did, that he is still certain he’ll be pardoned. But many of these charges can still be charged in state court.

Just about the only explanation for Manafort’s actions are that — as I suggested — Trump was happy to have Manafort serve as a mole in Mueller’s investigation.

But Mueller’s team appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying to them. That means they didn’t really need his testimony, at all. It also means they had no need to keep secrets — they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was pulling a fast one over the prosecutors, all while reporting misleading information to Trump that he could use to fill out his open book test. Which increases the likelihood that Trump just submitted sworn answers to those questions full of lies.

And that “detailed sentencing submission … sett[ing] forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” that Mueller mentions in the report?

There’s your Mueller report, which will be provided in a form that Matt Whitaker won’t be able to suppress. (Reminder: Mueller included 38 pages of evidence along with Manafort’s plea agreement, which I argued showed how what Manafort and Trump did to Hillary was the same thing that Manafort had done to Yulia Tymoshenko.)

Update: I’ve tweaked this post since first posting it.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

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.

[snip]

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.

Birds of a Feather: Comparing ‘Sparrows’ Chapman and Butina

Name: Anna Vasilyevna Kushchyenko Chapman Maria Valeryevna Butina
Born:

Place:

23 February 1982

Volgograd, Volgograd Oblast, Soviet Union

November 10, 1988

Barnaul, Siberia, Soviet Union

Education Economics (Masters)

Moscow University or RUDN University (unclear)

Moscow, Russia

Political Science, teaching

Altai State University

Barnaul, Siberia, Russia

Marital Status: Divorced (2006) Single
First Entered U.S.: 2009 2011
Visa Y/N: Unclear Yes
Visa Type: Unclear – Acquired residency in U.S. as British citizen by marriage Initially traveled to/from U.S. with Russian official Aleksandr Torshin; applied for F-1 student visa in 2016
Work in U.S.: CEO, PropertyFinder LLC (real estate sales) Special assistant to Aleksandr Torshin; gun rights activist; student
Arrested: 06/27/10 07/15/18
Charged with: 18 USC 371 Conspiracy,

18 USC 951 Agents of Foreign Governments

18 USC 371 Conspiracy,

18 USC 951 Agents of Foreign Governments

Though Marcy has already discussed Maria Butina’s recent attempt to avoid prosecution as a Russian spy under 18 USC 951, it’s worth comparing two Russian women charged on different occasions with violating the same act.

There are some similarities including the hair color, and some key differences — Chapman and Butina aren’t clones. Their behavior and achievements in the U.S. on behalf of Russia suggest a change in methodology over time.

The indictment charging Chapman included her mission, decrypted from a 2009 message sent to Chapman and a co-conspirator:

Butina’s mission appears to be similar, but there’s no decrypted message included in the Department of Justice’s Arrest Affidavit to compare with that in Chapman’s indictment. We must rely on Butina’s translation of another document she shared by email with ‘US Person-1,” believed to be Paul Erickson.

Both Chapman and Butina had missions or assignments; Butina’s appears to be worded more loosely but a full text of the email is not publicly available to make a more accurate assessment. Both women were expected to get close to and develop relationships with U.S. policy makers.

What may explain why Butina’s mission is worded a little differently: between the time Chapman receives her assignment and Butina shares her mission with U.S. Person-1, the policymakers have changed from Democrats to Republicans.

The Democrats were also much more difficult and distant; we can see in other interactions between Illegals Program spies including Chapman that targets weren’t as readily engaged as U.S Person-1. Though Americans who interacted with Illegals Program spies were amazingly credulous, the spies still didn’t get very close to their intended target, Hillary Clinton.

By the time Butina began her work in 2011, methods had changed. Instead of tradecraft seen in the Buryakov case circa 2013-2015 and the earlier Illegals Program circa 2010, Butina is initially accompanied by a Russian official – no need for Butina to implement additional traditional tradecraft to report intelligence when they are their own channel, subordinate spy to superior and minder. Once a relationship between Butina and US Person-1 had been well established, tradecraft was even more nominal – we don’t see in the Arrest Affidavit anything more complicated than a commercially available laptop computer and cellphone.

The descriptive name of the assignment on which Butina worked also indicated a shift — “Project Description ‘Diplomacy'” —  to building constructive (konstrucktivnyh) relations with an organization central to influence over the Republican Party, with an understanding that they (Russia in concert with Political Party 1 and Gun Rights Organization) had some ‘right to negotiate’. This is far more substantive than Chapman’s assignment to seek and develop ties with key contacts.

Spying operations changed along the arrest and deportation of the Illegals Program spies and in sync with a transition in U.S. Politics:

— The shift in Congress from Democratic Party to GOP with the 2010 election may have been a trigger for a new approach once the 112th Congress was sworn in;
— The transition happened in sync with the embrace of Torshin by the National Rifle Association (NRA);
— Change from Clinton to Kerry as Secretary of State likely played a role given the expectation Clinton would be the front runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

But one key factor may have changed the tack Torshin and Butina took compared to Chapman and the Illegals: the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, Appellant v. Federal Election Commission on January 21, 2010.

Now there was a means to funnel money to meet Torshin’s and Butina’s efforts without the level of difficulty other methods might have had before 2010. They could identify, meet, target, influence, and point to a candidate the NRA could fund using Russian money — in effect, developing and recruiting unwitting (or witting) agents.

They collected Republican members of Congress to exploit as useful idiots, in other words.

No wonder Butina had to hide behind a seemingly innocuous student status. Besides masking the reason why she was in the U.S., she needed to appear lower on the cultural status scale than the GOP’s easy marks on which she worked. In contrast, Chapman only needed the appearance of a real estate gig to enable her to poke around.

Note again in the excerpt from the DOJ’s Arrest Affidavit the ‘right to negotiate’ — does this suggest that Citizens United, combined with NRA’s welcome, that Russia felt it had an alternative (read: illegitimate) path to diplomacy, circumventing a Democratic White House between 2011 and 2017?

It’s clear something changed after 2010 at the NRA with regard to allocation of money between lobbying and campaigning.

Never mind that gun control advocacy group the Brady Foundation was outspent by an overwhelming amount. The NRA shifted its practice dramatically in 2012 from spending on lobbying instead to campaigning, just about the time Torshin had fully integrated Butina into a gun rights advocate as his “special assistant.”

In 2012 the NRA also transitioned away from relying as heavily on the  American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), doing more of its policy work and outreach directly through GOP candidates. ALEC executed a PR feint — backing away publicly from gun rights issues and the Stand Your Ground laws it helped promote — but in reality it was ceding to the NRA these efforts because ALEC was no longer needed after Citizens United as a legislative front. The NRA could handle their issues directly with candidates under the guise of campaign support.

The rest is history, with Butina taking selfies with NRA’s president David Keene and various GOP candidates to document her benchmarks along the way through Trump’s 2016 campaign.

(Conveniently, Trump trademarked his tagline, Make America Great Again, in November 2012.)

Butina’s legal team may argue against a charge of violating 18 USC 951 as a negotiating chip, claiming she didn’t spy. If either of these red-capped sparrows could have claimed they weren’t a spy, it wasn’t Butina. Her mission was successful in a way Anna Chapman could only have dreamed.

Is Jerome Corsi Trying to Get Trump to Intervene (Again)?

When his former National Security Advisor was at risk for lying to the FBI and serving as an agent of a foreign government, Trump considered pardoning him to keep him from talking, but didn’t.

When his former Campaign Manager was at risk for serving as an agent of a foreign government (and, probably, a whole lot else), Trump considered pardoning him to keep him from talking, but didn’t.

I wonder if Jerome Corsi thinks his luck would be any better.

According to the conspiracy theorist’s own telling, he has been in discussions with Mueller’s investigators since late August. The following has happened recently:

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 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

The last time Corsi yanked the media chain, here’s what happened:

The reference to screaming and shouting appears to be based off Corsi’s claims of what went on in the grand jury.

So perhaps Corsi believes if he creates another media frenzy, Trump will take action.

Is it possible that whatever Corsi would tell investigators is more damning than what Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort have presumably already said? Recall that Roger Stone, in several of his many efforts to deflect any attention on his own actions, has suggested that Corsi had his own relationship with Trump (perhaps trying to suggest that if anything Corsi learned made its way to Trump, it would have been directly).

Stone suggested that the special counsel may actually be interested in Corsi’s relationship with Trump.

Corsi was a leading proponent of birtherism, the false conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. In 2011, he wrote the book “Where’s the Birth Certificate?: The Case That Barack Obama is Not Eligible to be President.”

Around that time, Trump took up the conspiracy theory, questioning Obama’s citizenship and demanding that he release his birth certificate.

Stone said that during a conversation with Trump in 2011, “he said to me, ‘Who is this guy, Jerome Corsi?’” Stone recalled.

Stone said he asked Trump why he was inquiring about Corsi.

“I’ve been talking to him,” Stone recalled Trump saying.

Stone said that Corsi also met with Trump during the 2016 campaign.

And Corsi’s own lawyer has suggested Corsi declined to take part in criminal activity that Stone may have invited him to be a part of.

Gray said he was confident that Corsi has done nothing wrong. “Jerry Corsi made decisions that he would not take actions that would give him criminal liability,” he added, declining to elaborate.

Asked if Corsi had opportunities to take such actions, Gray said, “I wouldn’t say he was offered those opportunities. I would say he had communications with Roger Stone. We’ll supply those communications and be cooperative. My client didn’t act further that would give rise to any criminal liability.”

Of course, Corsi may not need a pardon to get himself out of the legal pickle he’s in. He may be counting on Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to bail him out. Whitaker was appointed the day before Corsi’s attempts to work the media; when firing Jeff Sessions, John Kelly made it clear Whitaker needed to be in place that day. And the same day that Corsi started this blitz, November 8, Michael Dreeben suggested both that Mueller could do all the things that prosecutors do without pre-approval — seeking immunity, making plea agreements, and bringing indictments — but also noted that subpoenaing a journalist is one of the things that requires Attorney General approval.

Prosecutors do this all the time. They seek immunity. They make plea agreements,. They bring indictments.

[snip]

If we want to subpoena a member of the media, or if we want to immunize a witness, we’re encouraged if we’re not sure what the policy or practice is, to consult with the relevant officials in the Department of Justice. If we wanted to appeal an adverse decision, we would have to get approval of the Solicitor General of the United States. So we’re operating within that sort of supervisory framework.

Given the other things Mueller’s team has said — notably, that any subpoenas they issued before Whitaker was appointed remain valid — it’s not clear Corsi even could roll back any cooperation he offered before Whitaker came in. But that doesn’t mean Corsi might not try, especially if past efforts proved to have some effect.

At the very least, Corsi may be trying to give Trump more basis to bitch about witch hunts.

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