Jerome Corsi, an associate of the Trump confidant Roger Stone, says he’s been offered a plea deal on one perjury count—but won’t take it.
Mueller has been interviewing Stone’s associates and senior Trump-campaign officials in recent months—including Corsi, Trump’s former campaign CEO Steve Bannon, and the former campaign chairman Paul Manafort—to determine whether Stone knew in advance that WikiLeaks had obtained hacked emails from a senior Clinton-campaign official, John Podesta, and coordinated the release to distract from the damaging Access Hollywood tape that showed Trump making vulgar comments about women. (The emails were dumped on October 7, 2016, just minutes after the tape was released by The Washington Post.)
Corsi was subpoenaed by Mueller’s team in September and has been predicting since last month that he might be indicted for lying. He has said that he told Stone in August 2016 that Podesta would be WikiLeaks’ next victim, but insists it was just a theory that he developed while traveling in Italy with his wife in the summer of 2016—a trip that Mueller has been very interested in, Corsi said. “They wanted me to connect Roger Stone with Assange,” Corsi told me, referring to the WikiLeaks founder who released the hacked Podesta emails in October. “They couldn’t believe how I knew in August that Assange had Podesta’s emails.”
Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, told me in an email that Corsi’s pledge not to cooperate means either that he knows Mueller is bluffing and doesn’t have enough evidence to charge him, which is “unlikely,” or that Corsi now finds himself “on the wrong end of an indictment.” If Corsi had decided to cooperate, Honig explained, “it would have been Mueller announcing Corsi’s cooperation along with the indictment of Stone (and perhaps others). Now, it’ll be Mueller announcing an indictment of Stone and Corsi (and perhaps others) all together.”
Roger Stone, meanwhile, should be taking note of Corsi’s ordeal, former federal prosecutors told me. Any inconsistencies between Stone’s testimony and what Mueller has learned could hypothetically lead to federal charges. While Stone has long denied that he discussed WikiLeaks’ plans with Bannon or any other campaign official in 2016, for example, emails from Stone made public last month belie that claim. On October 4, 2016, three days before the Podesta emails were published, Stone emailed Bannon predicting “a load” of new WikiLeaks disclosures “every week going forward.” (Stone told the Postthat he “was unaware of this email exchange until it was leaked,” adding that “we had not turned it up in our search.”)
Stone has also had to amend his House Intelligence Committee testimony three times since last November, as new reports have emerged about his contacts with Russian nationals, the extent of his interactions with WikiLeaks (he exchanged private Twitter messages with WikiLeaks in mid-October 2016), and his conversations with Trump-campaign officials. Despite those changes, the question of whether he perjured himself before the committee still stands—and is reportedly being examined by Mueller.
“Roger Stone had a chance, under oath, to tell the House Intel Committee about his contacts with Russians and WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign,” Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell of California, who sits on the panel, told me last month. “He misled us and has repeatedly—three times now—amended his testimony to fit new press reporting.” Swalwell noted that the committee’s Democrats voted to send transcripts related to its Russia investigation to Mueller, but Republicans resisted. That’s likely to change when Democrats regain control over the panel in January. “The special counsel should see Stone’s transcripts and the accounts of all witnesses,” Swalwell said.