New Lies for Old: The Collapse of Jerome Corsi’s ‘Deep State’ Narrative (Part 3)
By Will Banyan, Copyright © 15 March 2019
“Jerry [Corsi] simply could not find it in his Christian heart to lie before the Creator and his Son; nor could he agree to be branded falsely as a felon, losing his right to vote. To the contrary, he has made it clear he would risk being imprisoned by a runaway Deep State prosecutor for the remainder of his life, rather than to lie under oath and implicate the president in alleged wrongdoing.”
Larry Klayman, lawyer for Jerome Corsi, Renew America, January 11, 2019
“I challenge this congenital liar to produce any evidence ,corroboration or proof of this fairytale which has emerged from his alcoholic haze . I’ll wait. God will strike this liar down.”
Roger Stone commenting on Jerome Corsi, Instagram, January 20, 2019
In electing to expose the damning email exchange by releasing draft Statement of Offense Corsi created a problem for himself and Roger Stone in that he had undermined their existing cover story for Stone’s Podesta tweet. The exposure of the emails also handed Mueller with potential evidence of “connections between individuals associated with the U.S. presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump…and the Russian government or [Wikileaks]” (Statement of Offense, p.2). It is plausible that Corsi intended this to be a “limited hangout”; the staged release of information that professional propagandist thought he could control to his benefit. To be an effective “limited hangout” a plausible narrative not only needs to be built around the information disclosed to effectively downplay its importance, but the messaging needs to be coherent. In this case, however, Corsi and Stone had failed on both counts: their new attempts at rewriting history have been transparent fictions made worse by their acrimony-driven failure to coordinate their cover stories.
Stone Cold Confusion
Roger Stone has disputed the emerging narrative that he had foreknowledge that Wikileaks had John Podesta’s hacked emails at almost every point, though his explanations have had to be modified as each new piece of evidence has been released. Before Corsi leaked the Statement of Offense, for example, Stone offered this curiously worded denial to the Daily Caller, seemingly refuting Corsi’s claims:
Stone, 66, insists that Corsi did not tell him anything about Podesta emails.
“Absolutely, positively not,” he told TheDCNF.
“He never told me that he had figured out or believed that John Podesta’s emails had been stolen. There is no email that says that. There is no text message that says that. And there is no phone call that says that. He never told me that.” (Daily Caller, Nov. 13, 2018, emphasis added]
This is of course true: in his email of August 2, 2016, Corsi does not claim that “he had figured out or believed John Podesta’s emails had been stolen”, instead he simply stated that “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps”, implying that he had received information on Wikileaks intentions. The email also made reference to “Podesta” being “exposed as in bed w[ith] enemy” and the “game the hackers are now about…” Corsi’s oddly clipped email seemed to assume a lot of prior knowledge by its intended recipient.
Then, after the damning August 2 email was exposed Stone opted to dispute its meaning. In his statement to the Washington Post (Nov. 27, 2018), for example, Stone carefully sought to cast doubt on how Corsi’s email should be interpreted, while at the same time denying that he personally received and passed on “any materials”:
“None of the emails cited prove I had advance notice of the source or content of either allegedly hacked or allegedly stolen emails published by WikiLeaks,” [Stone] wrote in a text message to The Post. “When did political gossip become a criminal activity? More importantly these emails provide no evidence that I received any materials from WikiLeaks or Assange or Corsi or anyone else and passed them on to Donald Trump or the Trump campaign or anyone else” [emphasis added].
The Daily Caller also gave its Men’s Fashion Editor a number of opportunities to explain away the significance of the email exchanges:
“I had no idea that Podesta’s emails had been stolen until they were published,” Stone told The DCNF. “It makes a reference to Podesta, but even that’s not a veiled reference to his emails” (quoted in the Daily Caller, Nov. 28, 2018; emphasis added).
Stone claims that he did not interpret the email as Corsi saying that WikiLeaks or hackers had Podesta’s emails. He says he believes that Corsi was referring to research that they had been discussing regarding Podesta and his lobbyist brother’s business dealings with foreigners (Daily Caller, Nov. 30, 2018; emphasis added).
Stone’s latest version is to insist the Special Counsel has “mischaracterized” this email. Writing for Infowars (Jan. 02, 2019) Stone offered this novel reinterpretation:
Corsi’s predictions in an e-mail to me on August 2nd that Assange would have major data dumps in the following weeks in August were incorrect. His statement the Podesta’s “would have to be exposed” makes no reference to John Podesta’s purloined e-mails and appears to be based on information that was entirely public but had gotten little media attention.
Similar arguments have been employed by a number of a Stone’s allies. Cassandra Fairbanks, for example, a journalist with The Gateway Pundit when she sparred with Corsi’s lawyer, Larry Klayman on Newsmax TV on January 30, 2019 (see Figure 1), made a point of highlighting the apparent errors in Corsi’s email:
He made four predictions actually, regarding Wikileaks. He claimed there would be a release in October, which was the only one that was true. He claimed there would be releases in August and September. Those were false. He claimed that the releases were going to be about the Clinton Foundation. Those were false. He claimed there was going to be a release about Hillary’s health, but that came out in March 2016. Everything he said was completely absurd.
Of course, Fairbanks did not attempt to explain either the reference to “Podesta”, which Stone had originally admitted referred to John Podesta, whose hacked emails comprised the bulk of the October Wikileaks release, or that this release included emails with concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health. For her efforts, Corsi subsequently announced he had served a “legal notice” to Gateway Pundit demanding a retraction.
Stone’s conflicting explanations not only make no sense—there was no email, Corsi’s email does reference John Podesta but not his hacked emails, there is no evidence he received materials from Wikileaks and passed them onto Trump (that was not the accusation), the email was about the Podesta brothers not John Podesta (contradicting earlier assertions and clarifications), the email’s August prediction was wrong (but say nothing about what Wikileaks released about Podesta in October), and the email was about publicly available information—but are at odds with what most other observers believed the email exchange confirmed, and more tellingly it conflicted with Corsi’s new cover story.
The Dot Connector
In his own bid to control the narrative and to explain away what he had exposed, Corsi has offered a true limited hangout: a partial admission combined with a strong denial. On one hand Corsi has been adamant the email does reveal that Wikileaks had the hacked emails of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta and that it intended to release them in October 2016. But on the other hand, in an attempt to limit his own legal exposure, Corsi has repeatedly insisted that he had no contact with or received information from Wikileaks either directly or indirectly, instead our savant—“Jerome R. Corsi, PhD”—modestly claims to have “figured it out” all by himself. But this new cover story is even more improbable and dishonest than Stone’s own dubious explanations.
First, Corsi’s story about his miracle work of deduction is inconsistent, with shifting and contradictory dates and explanations about how he conducted this analysis. According to NBC News, citing its lone anonymous source:
Questioned by Mueller’s prosecutors about why he appeared to know before anyone else that WikiLeaks had Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, Corsi told them he simply figured it out on his own, the source said. He concluded, after seeing little about Podesta in the initial WikiLeaks dump of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, that the anti-secrecy organization was holding Podesta’s communications for an “October surprise,” the source said [emphasis added].
The source said he is aware of no evidence obtained by the Mueller team that would contradict that assertion.
Corsi repeated this explanation in a subsequent interview with NBC News (Nov. 14, 2018):
Corsi told NBC News that he “figured out” that Podesta’s emails would be released in October after reading the initial WikiLeaks dump of Democratic National Committee emails and finding few Podesta messages among them. He said he connected the dots and anticipated they would be published later by Wikileaks [emphasis added].
As for exactly how and when he just “figured out” that Wikileaks had Podesta’s emails, Corsi had at least three different explanations. One version, that he offered in late November was that he had conducted his own “forensic analysis” of the DNC server. For example, in an interview with Natasha Bertrand from The Atlantic (Nov. 26, 2018), Corsi claimed:
“I had sources who had shown me how [the] Democratic Party had put their systems together, and gave me thousands of pages of information over the summer on how the DNC’s computers worked,” Corsi said. “So when Assange on July 22 dropped the Democratic National Committee emails, which included messages from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I did a forensic analysis and determined that there were no Podesta emails in there.”
Corsi told a similar tale in his interview with the One America News Network (OANN) (quoted at length in Politico, Nov. 26, 2018). “I connect the dots,” he told OANN, “I didn’t need any source to tell me.” According to Politico:
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 [emphasis added].”
This explanation was missing from both his book, Silent No More, and other interviews where he presented his deduction as a revelation that came to him when he and his wife were vacationing in Italy over July-August 2016. Of course, there are two versions, one where he had it on the flight on his way to Italy:
“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 (Daily Caller, Nov. 13, 2018; emphasis added).
But in Silent No More, Corsi claimed this moment of clarity came on the flight home from Italy, ten days after he had sent the email to Stone:
My recollection is that by the time I returned to the United States from Italy, on August 12, 2016, I had figured out that the DNC emails Assange yet to drop belonged to Podesta (Silent No More, unpaginated; emphasis added).
Corsi’s constantly shifting stories not only lack credibility, but they are implausible. For one, given that John Podesta’s emails were hacked from his private gmail account, and not from the DNC server (because Podesta was not a member of the DNC), it makes no sense to assume that his emails were somehow missing and being withheld. It is true through their own forensic analysis of the documents released in the DNC hack, that the Democrats realized that Podesta’s email account might have been hacked as well. The basis for this, however, according to Podesta’s interview with TechCrunch, was discrete knowledge of the origins of one of the documents released and Stone’s tweet:
Podesta: In the summer, when the DNC hack documents started coming out, there was a document in that release that didn’t seem like it would have made its way to the DNC and may have come from my email account. So at least the possibility I’d been hacked rose during the course of the summer. In August, [Trump adviser] Roger Stone started pointing to WikiLeaks and pointing to me. So that seemed to be the second indicator that they at least had something, but it wasn’t until October 7th that the full extent of the loss was known to me and our team (TechCrunch, Aug. 02, 2017; emphasis added).
Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ book Shattered: Inside Hillary’s Doomed Campaign (2017) also highlights how only those with inside knowledge of DNC and campaign documents would have spotted the single item that suggested John Podesta’s personal email account may have been compromised. According to Allen and Parnes, after the first leak of DNC documents on the DC Leaks website:
Democrats had done a forensic analysis of the documents to determine whether it was possible that any of them had come from a source other than the national committee. They had identified at least one that plausibly could have come from the personal e-mail accounts of either Podesta or longtime Hillary Clinton confidante Capacricia Marshall (Shattered, p.240; emphasis added).
The motivation for Corsi’s story is obvious: to deny any connection between himself and Wikileaks. In Silent No More, Corsi argues that the entire Russian collusion narrative will collapse if no connection between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks can be demonstrated. He writes that it became “clear” to him that Mueller’s prosecutors were:
out to prove that I was the link between Assange and Stone—the key link to Assange that the prosecutors had to establish to advance their Russian collusion narrative. If no one from the Trump campaign had direct access to Assange, how possibly could Robert Mueller prove their Russian collusion narrative? Without this narrative fully proved, how possibly could Mueller indict Stone? (Silent No More, unpaginated; emphasis added]
But Corsi’s new cover story has failed to convince either the Special Counsel or any serious observers of the affair. The draft Statement of Offense proposed charging Corsi with perjury over his claim, citing the August 2 email as proof. The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand noted it “isn’t clear…why [Corsi] considered Podesta, who had no role at the DNC, to be conspicuously missing from a DNC email release.” In his recent profile of Stone and Corsi, New Yorker journalist Jeffrey Toobin found Corsi’s explanation “dubious”:
There was nothing about the prior disclosures that would give Corsi any basis to predict that Podesta’s e-mails would also be made public. The D.N.C. hack revealed the contents of just seven in-boxes on the group’s internal system, and Podesta did not even work at the D.N.C. Subsequent investigations revealed that Podesta was hacked in another operation, which used a different form of attack. The evidence indicates that someone told Corsi that Podesta’s e-mails were going to be disclosed, rather than that he figured it out on his own (New Yorker, Feb. 18 & 25, 2019; emphasis added).
In a detailed analysis of his claims in Silent No More, investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler argued Corsi was “pretending that he figured out on his own that Wikileaks had John Podesta’s emails” so he could protect the identity of who had told him.
Also making his claims to have arrived at this conclusion through brilliant deductive skills was the very language of his email which attributed the source of his information, if not to Wikileaks directly, to a source with insight: “Word is friend in the embassy plans 2 more dumps.” When challenged on this by Ari Melber, Corsi struggled to come up with even a remotely plausible explanation for this:
MELBER: That doesn`t really match the written evidence that`s now in public when – and I`m reading from your e-mail when you wrote to Stone “word is a friend in the embassy plans two more dumps.” Word is sounds like a reference to the word on the street or things you`re hearing.
CORSI: I`ve read that.
MELBER: You typically say word is before you share a thought that is your own deduction?
CORSI: Often it`s very difficult just as you`re having difficulty right now to believe I deduce this, and I will try to couch it as something where it is. If I had that directly from Assange, I would not have hesitated who said Julian Assange has told me. I use the word is to really cushion and you can believe this or not, but I came up with this of my own deduction and I believe Julian Assange this week is affirmed that.
MELBER: But why not just say I think instead of word is.
CORSI: Well, over my entire life going back to when I was a child, my father said, Jerry, when you come up with these deductions which are often right, you`re going to have a trouble of getting people to believe them.
MELBER: I think Mr. Corsi, that`s true.
CORSI: True (The Beat with Ari Melber, Jan. 08, 2019; emphasis added).
Not surprisingly the Special Counsel did not believe Corsi’s explanation, suggesting in the Draft Statement of Offense (p.3) that Corsi’s source on Wikileaks holdings was in fact “an individual who resided in London, England”, believed to be Ted Malloch, coincidentally another purveyor of the “Deep State” vs Trump conspiracy theory. Mueller’s disbelief led to the draft plea deal, which Corsi publicly rejected.
To Scrub or Not to Scrub
Also warranting a cover story was this allegation in the draft Statement of 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 (Statement of Offense, p.4).
In his initial media statements, Corsi had little to say about this specific allegation, preferring instead to promote his “figured it out” cover story. Since January 2019, however, with his stepson Andrew Stettner subpoenaed by Mueller for his role in the deletion of the email correspondence, Corsi has offered a new set of, albeit contradictory cover, stories.
The first attempt was made in an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber on January 8. Challenged on this issue Corsi provided the following explanation:
CORSI: It was – the FBI showed up at my stepson’s home, 40 years old and knocked on the door. They had a text message in which I’d asked him to scrub a computer. It was an old computer that have been sitting on my desk. The memory was full. My wife wanted a computer for her business. I said why don’t you take this old one to recycle.
MELBER: Did it have messages from his –
CORSI: No, it did not. It was an old computer that had not been being used.
MELBER: OK. And yet in Mueller’s draft indictment which you shared with the world interestingly, it says that between January and March 2017 you deleted all your e-mails from before October 2016. Why?
CORSI: Because the machine – I had a 17-inch laptop that was dying in a needed new space. I also turned over the time machine application with the hard drive backup that had all e-mails whether I’d erased them or not and I knew that they were all there. I was trying to keep an old computer running because I liked that 17-inch. And to do so I had to erase e-mails. It was not a plan to erase evidence [emphasis added]
From this deliberately addled discourse Corsi claims to have: (a) asked his stepson to “scrub a computer”, an “old computer” sitting on his desk that was to be used for his wife’s cleaning business – Moni-Mel Custom Cleaning Solutions – because its “memory was full”; and (b) in order to keep a 17-inch laptop he liked, but which “needed new space”, he “had to erase e-mails.” That’s two computers. At the same time, though, he had an Apple Time Machine, an external drive that “had all e-mails whether I’d erased them or not…”
Corsi further embellished this tale on Fox Business News on January 14 (see Figure 2), where he told Trish Regan his stepson had asked to use an old Mac computer that he had not used for “several years” to “repurpose it” for the cleaning business. His stepson later texted Corsi with the message: “It’s scrubbed.” Corsi also used the interview to declare that “Mueller doesn’t know” he had been using an Apple Time Machine external hard drive to record everything he did on his computers. Asked why “not just give that to the Feds?” Corsi responded: “I would be happy to…They haven’t asked me for it.”
In this account, though, there was no mention of the “dying” 17-inch laptop or the erasure of the emails from it, no reason given as to why his stepson needed to text him about the scrubbing, and no coherent explanation as to why he was now claiming Mueller did not have his Time Machine. The last point is particularly telling as just the week before he told Ari Melber he had given his Time Machine to the Special Counsel:
I also turned over the time machine application with the hard drive backup that had all e-mails whether I’d erased them or not and I knew that they were all there [emphasis added]
And he had told Melber the same thing on January 28:
As I said, I provided them everything on a proffer, my computers, my backup, you know, also those computers, cell phones, e-mail accounts, everything [emphasis added].
In fact, last November Corsi made the same claim to ABC News:
After the subpoena was served, Corsi said that he decided to cooperate with the special counsel’s office. “I had two computers that I used, I handed them both over, a time machine that recorded all the emails in my computer in a contemporaneous state 2016 — completely unaltered,” he said [emphasis added].
This particular fact is also mentioned in the draft Statement of Offense:
This fact was even noted in his latest book, Silent No More, with Corsi regretting his apparent foolishness in trying to help Mueller “reach the truth by turning over my laptops, my Time Machine, my cellphone, my emails accounts, my Twitter and Google accounts anything else the Special Counsel’s Office wanted” [emphasis added; unpaginated].
Corsi also doesn’t explain that, as is the case with most external hard drives, the snapshots or backups on the Time Machine can be erased or “scrubbed.” His attempt to eliminate the offending emails from a specific period was perhaps foolish as Mueller’s team was able to retrieve them (either from the hardware surrendered or from the external servers holding Corsi’s email accounts). The intent to deceive, however, both in the act of “scrubbing” and the contradictory cover stories he is now offering up suggests Corsi knew he had something to hide. Perhaps sometime soon all will be revealed.
When the news first came out that Corsi had been subpoenaed by Mueller, some skeptics of the Russian collusion narrative were quick to dismiss Corsi as an unreliable, fringe character, a mere “conspiracy theorist”, unworthy of any serious consideration. Moreover, the decision to target Corsi, it was argued, clearly exposed the desperation of the Special Counsel’s investigation in its bid to support its conspiracy narrative (see Figure 3). Law professor Jonathan Turley, for example, told Fox News that indicting Corsi would be like “shooting the wounded.” While Michael R. Caputo, a former Trump adviser, used the news to attack the credibility of Mueller’s investigation, claiming the Special Counsel was now relying on a “9/11 Truther, Birther, nutjob” and a “man ridiculed for decades as crazy” (a somewhat hypocritical stance from Caputo given his own dealings with Stone – including arranging a meeting with a Russian promising “dirt” on Clinton, appearing with Stone on Infowars, and promoting “Deep State” conspiracies).
Journalist Michael Tracey described Corsi as “a uniquely odious person” who was possibly being targeted by “overzealous prosecutors working on faulty assumptions.” David French, writing in the National Review, wrote dismissively about the “dynamic duo of Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi…” who were part of that group of “comically inept crooks and grifters” who had sought personal advantage by supporting Trump’s campaign.
Despite all the evidence revealed, some observers continue to struggle with the idea of Corsi, the “Birther”, as a player in the Russia scandal. New Yorker journalist Jeffrey Toobin, for example, speaking on NPR, derided Corsi and Stone as “conspiracy theorists”, if not “semi-ridiculous figures”, who were nevertheless “involved in this crime of hacking, and they were knowledgeable about – instrumental in instigating and encouraging this extremely damaging release of emails.” It was “C-list caper”, observed the National Review’s editors in their dissection of Stone’s indictment, noting his associates included “Jerome Corsi, Stone’s confederate at the Infowars conspiracy-theory site…”
It is somewhat ironic, though, that Corsi is now engaged in open warfare with many of his former comrades in the alt-right conspiratorial community that had been his natural home. He has filed a lawsuit against Roger Stone, accusing him of waging a “smear” campaign designed to induce “heart attacks and strokes” in Corsi to prevent him from testifying against Stone. Interviewed by Toobin in New Yorker (Feb. 18 & 25, 2019), Stone rather brutally dismissed his former friend: “He’s certifiably insane, and he has told multiple provable lies.” Responding to continuing attacks from Stone’s allies at Infowars Corsi has now launched a defamation lawsuit accusing Infowars of colluding with Stone in a “conspiracy to defame, smear, intimidate, tamper with and threaten” him. Corsi has even accused the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross of using information supposedly leaked by Mueller for an article about a dubious cancer doctor Corsi was promoting (Ross has categorically denied Corsi’s claims).
Even Donald Trump, whose presidency Corsi claims to be defending from the predations of the “Deep State”, seems to have disavowed any familiarity with him:
There have been a few exceptions to this sad litany of rejection. For example, William F. Jasper, senior editor of John Birch Society’s magazine, The New American, has praised Corsi for having “opened a new battlefield in America’s fight against the Deep State, the shadowy globalists who have been engaged in an all-out treasonous campaign for the past two years to overturn the 2016 elections and overthrow President Trump” (The New American, Dec. 24, 2018, p.44). In a more recent article in The New American (Feb. 18, 2019), author Troy Anderson gave Corsi a platform to promote his line that Mueller was a “cover-up artist” who was only indicting people for “process crimes”, while ignoring the supposedly “massive”, “Russian collusion between Hillary Clinton and John Podesta…” Inexplicably, both Jasper and Anderson failed to mention Corsi’s now revealed role as a cut-out linking Wikileaks and the Trump Campaign, or his admission that a number of his own stories aimed at exonerating Stone and the GRU hackers were just lies.
There were already strong grounds for doubting “Deep State” conspiracy theory that Corsi offered in Killing the Deep State. The reasons ranged from the shoddiness of his research, the exclusion of contradictory evidence, his reliance on partisan propaganda sources, the incoherence and implausibility of the supposed anti-Trump “Deep State” plot (a more effective “Deep State” would surely have prevented his candidacy in the first place), and the fact his book was clearly yet another piece in a pro-Trump/anti-Mueller propaganda campaign. More telling, though, was Corsi’s deliberate decision to avoid engaging with substance of the evidence of collusion between the Russian government agents and cut-outs, Wikileaks, and the key figures belonging to or closely associated with the Trump campaign; a decision that was intended to conceal his own activities in that sphere.
Since October 2018, however, the credibility of the “Deep State” conspiracy theory detailed in Killing the Deep State has only diminished further. The draft Statement of Offense and subsequent filings from Mueller’s office indicting Roger Stone, combined with Corsi’s own attempts to shape the narrative by disclosing what the SCO had discovered, have revealed how he and Stone acted as cut-outs between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. In short, Corsi has not only exposed himself as a participant in the conspiracy he assured Trump supporters was a Democrat-Deep State fiction, but as a calculated promoter of deliberate falsehoods; a propagandist.