Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asked the House Intelligence Committee on Friday for an official transcript of Trump adviser Roger Stone’s testimony, according to people familiar with the request, a sign that prosecutors could be moving to charge him with a crime.
.. Securing an official transcript from the committee would be a necessary step before pursuing an indictment that Stone allegedly lied to lawmakers, legal experts said.
.. The special counsel could use the threat of a false-statement charge to seek cooperation from Stone, as Mueller has done with other Trump advisers, such as former national security adviser Michael Flynn and longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen... For weeks, the special counsel’s office has had access to an unofficial copy of Stone’s closed-door September 2017 interview, according to people with knowledge of the process. Mueller’s request of the official copy signals the special counsel could now be pursuing an indictment, several legal experts said... Stone accused House Democrats of “attempting to play frivolous word games, and hairsplitting about semantics over nonmaterial matters.”
Stone added: “Where is the evidence of Russian collusion or WikiLeaks collaboration?”
.. Stone, who boasted during the race that he was in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has said since that his past comments were exaggerated or misunderstood. Both he and WikiLeaks have adamantly denied they were in contact.
.. As part of that review, ODNI shares copies of the transcripts with other agencies, including the special counsel’s office, that might have an interest in protecting information in the interviews, officials said.
However, because the Stone interview was conducted in executive session, the transcript officially belongs to the committee and may not be released unless authorized by the committee, according to its rules.
.. Stone released written testimony he provided the House Intelligence Committee before his September 2017 interview, in which he wrote that he had no “advanced knowledge of the source or actual content of the WikiLeaks disclosures regarding Hillary Clinton.”
.. He told the panel that he based some of his predictions on public information and tips from associates. He also said that he had an intermediary who provided him with information about WikiLeaks — but refused to name the person, indicating the person was a journalist with whom he had spoken off the record.
.. Shortly after his closed-door appearance, Stone wrote a letter to the committee saying he learned about WikiLeaks’s planned release from Randy Credico, a New York comedian who had interviewed Assange and is a longtime friend of New York attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler, who has represented WikiLeaks.
Credico has repeatedly denied passing any information from WikiLeaks to Stone. He said he may have speculated about the group’s tactics with Stone.
.. Stone has released numerous text messages that he says prove he was relying on Credico for information about the upcoming Wikileaks release of material damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In one of them Credico, who boasts of being best friends with Assange’s attorney, asserts that the Wikileaks founder will make an announcement soon. In another the comic writes: “Hillary’s campaign will die this week.”
.. In recent weeks, Mueller’s prosecutors have been focused on another Stone associate who alerted him to an upcoming WikiLeaks release in 2016: conservative writer Jerome Corsi.
In an Aug. 2, 2016, email, Corsi wrote to Stone that the group planned to disclose emails that October that would embarrass Clinton, according to charging documents drafted by Mueller’s team and provided to The Washington Post.
.. “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps,” Corsi wrote in the email quoted in the draft document, referring to Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London since 2012. “One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.”
.. Corsi, who rejected a plea offer from the special counsel, said the email was based on his speculation of what WikiLeaks might be planning, not any inside knowledge.
.. The day after receiving the message from Corsi, Stone has said, he spoke with Trump by phone.
.. Stone has said he never discussed WikiLeaks or hacked emails with Trump. “Unless Mueller has tape recordings of the phone calls, what would that prove?” he told The Post last month.
.. “The emails prove nothing,” Stone added, “other than like every other politico and political reporter in America, I was curious to know what it was that WikiLeaks had.”
.. Over the past several months, Mueller’s investigators have interviewed a dozen Stone friends and associates, focusing on individuals who discussed WikiLeaks with Stone before to the election. Some have provided testimony and records that contradict Stone’s claims.
.. Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst and conservative writer, told The Post that he was interviewed in New York last week by two FBI agents who asked about his 2016 contacts with Stone, Corsi and Credico.
Ortel said the agents were interested in an email from then-Fox News reporter James Rosen that Ortel forwarded to Stone on July 25, 2016. In it, Rosen wrote, “Am told WikiLeaks will be doing a massive dump of HRC emails relating to the CF in September,” referring to Clinton and her family foundation.
Ortel declined to disclose the full details of his FBI interview but told The Post that he did not know where Rosen had gotten his information about WikiLeaks’s plans.
Rosen, who no longer works at Fox News, has repeatedly declined to comment.
.. In written questions posed to the president earlier this year, Mueller sought information from Trump about his interactions with Stone and whether they discussed WikiLeaks.
According to people familiar with Trump’s responses, the president said he had no prior knowledge of what the group was going to do and that Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks’s plans.
.. In recent days, however, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani was less definitive.
“Did Roger Stone ever give the president a heads-up on WikiLeaks’s leaks concerning Hillary Clinton and the DNC?” ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos asked him Sunday.
“No, I don’t believe so,” Giuliani said. “But again, if Roger Stone gave anybody a heads-up about WikiLeaks’s leaks, that’s not a crime . . . collusion is not a crime.”
The special counsel is connecting the dots and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the president.a flurry of recent activity this past week all points in the same direction: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will likely implicate the president, his campaign, and his close associates in aiding and abetting a Russian conspiracy against the United States to undermine the 2016 election.First, Mueller has clearly identified collusion in the
- efforts of Trump aides and associates to contact WikiLeaks. In a draft plea agreement provided to conservative operative Jerome Corsi, Mueller details how Roger Stone, who the special counsel notes was in frequent contact with Donald Trump and senior campaign officials, directed Corsi to connect with WikiLeaks about the trove of stolen materials it received from Russia.
- Corsi subsequently communicated WikiLeaks’ release plan back to Stone, and
- the Trump campaign built its final message around the email release. That is collusion.
Third, Mueller has found evidence that Trump was compromised by a hostile foreign power during the election. In his plea deal, Cohen revealed that Trump had repeatedly lied to voters about the then-candidate’s financial ties to Russia. While Trump claimed during the campaign to have no business dealings with Russia, he was negotiating a wildly lucrative business deal not simply with Russian businessmen, but also involving with the Kremlin itself. Trump’s team even reportedly tried to bribe Russian President Vladimir Putin by offering him a $50 million penthouse.
Worse, Russia not only knew that Trump was lying, but when investigators first started looking into this deal, the Kremlin helped Trump cover up what really happened. That made Trump doubly compromised: first, because he was eager to get the financial payout and second because Russia had evidence he was lying to the American people—evidence they could have held over Trump by threatening to reveal at any time.
Since the president’s embarrassing performance at the Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin—when he kowtowed to a foreign adversary rather than stand up for American interests—there has been open speculation about what leverage the Kremlin has over him. Now we know at least part of the picture, raising the specter of what other information Putin has, and how he is using it to influence Trump’s policy decisions.
Fourth, we know that Trump has engaged in an increasingly brazen attempt to cover up his actions: installing a political crony to head the Department of Justice by potentially illegal means in an effort to shut down the investigation; using his former campaign chairman and convicted criminal Paul Manafort to find out information about Mueller’s investigation; and even appearing to offer Manafort a pardon if he helps him obstruct the Russia probe. These may be components of an obstruction of justice case, but they also provide strongly circumstantial data points as to how serious Trump himself views the allegations of collusion being levelled against him.
The evidence from the special counsel’s investigation is already damning, but it must contend with a haze of lies, confusion and “alternative facts.”
.. Likewise, George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and initially cooperated with the special counsel, has shifted in recent months to an aggressively conspiratorial posture. In tweets and appearances on Fox News and other pro-Trump media, he has accused American, British and Australian intelligence agencies of fabricating the Russia scandal.
The allure of a Mueller report lies in its imagined promise of a single, definitive truth capable of cutting through the haze of lies, confusion and “alternative facts.” But Mr. Corsi’s and Mr. Papadopoulos’s antics are a warning that this hope will inevitably fall short. Conspiracy theorists and prosecutors live in different worlds: The first, unmoored from truth; the second, devoted to proving facts beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. Mueller has the power to charge Mr. Corsi for lying; he has already done so to Mr. Papadopoulos. Rather than crumbling, though, their falsehoods have continued to spread and grow — and they’ve taken root in the media ecosystem in which the president chooses to spend his days.
In a blockbuster interview, key Mueller witness and Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi admits to MSNBC’s Ari Melber that he lied to Congress, that he tried to get stolen Clinton emails back to the Trump campaign in 2016, that he “absolutely” intended to help the Trump campaign by doing so, that he told Roger Stone about John Podesta’s emails and that his lawyers are still communicating with Trump’s legal team “as if” there is a joint legal defense. Ari Melber also presses Corsi on being a leader of the “birther movement” which Ari describes as a “total and complete lie” and asks him whether he is auditioning for a Trump pardon by bringing the subject of pardons up during the interview.
Rudy Giuliani has confirmed that Manafort’s team has been feeding information about the Mueller investigation to Trump’s team.
.. Corsi — who has spent the past few weeks in a panic, clearly calling reporters repeatedly in an effort to spin his legal situation — looks an awful lot like he’s squealing on his buddy Stone to the press.
.. obtained court documents that appear to show Corsi communicating with Stone about working with WikiLeaks to publish stolen Democratic Party emails online during the 2016 campaign, in a deliberate effort to hijack the news scandal and create a fake air of scandal around Hillary Clinton. These hacked emails, as earlier reporting has demonstrated, were stolen by Russian intelligence services.
.. A betting woman would say that this is Corsi’s attempt to get the heat off him by throwing Stone under the bus. If so, it’s a poor attempt: The emails make them both look guilty and Mueller’s office appears confident that Corsi’s cries of innocence are so many lies.
.. there’s an upside to the fact that Trump has attracted a bunch of sleazes with no loyalty to anyone but themselves. Once things start really going south for such folks, they tend to turn on each other. Hell, Corsi appears to be turning on Stone for no discernible reason, beyond a general feeling that throwing bodies under the bus will slow it down long enough for him to escape
.. Trump, on the other hand, has been close to Roger Stone for years, and the latter had encouraged Trump to run for president as far back as the late ’90s.
.. It seems likely that Stone, his old lobbying partner Manafort and Corsi saw Trump as their ticket out of the sidelines and back into the mainstream of Republican politics. After all, Trump was not only mainstreaming the filthy, conspiracy theory-laden side of Republican politics, he was rapidly displacing what little was left of respectable Republican politics with circus antics. It’s hard to imagine that men so eager to ingratiate themselves would be anything less than eager to impress their boss and benefactor with news of their corrupt shenanigans involving stolen emails.
.. That Manafort and Corsi both appear to be leaking information about the investigation to Trump is just another reminder that conspiracy is second nature to these folks. Trump may act like a doddering old fool in public, but as the recordings of his discussions about paying off women to cover up affairs make clear, in private he likes to conduct himself like a high-level mafioso. No wonder Trump’s starting to panic, spraying more defensive nonsense about the “Angry Mueller Gang” on Twitter. Because the people he’s surrounded himself with, who are all amoral and self-serving, realize that they’re no longer outrunning the law.
Mueller’s team says in the court papers that Corsi scrubbed his computer between Jan. 13, 2017, and March 1, 2017, deleting all email correspondence that predated Oct. 11, 2016, including the messages from Stone about WikiLeaks and Corsi’s email to Malloch.
.. Corsi remained in contact with Stone in 2017 when the former Trump adviser’s connections to WikiLeaks came under investigation by the FBI and congressional committees, according to the draft court papers.
On Nov. 30, 2017, Stone emailed Corsi asking him to write about a person whom Stone had told congressional investigators was his “source” or “intermediary” to WikiLeaks, according to the draft court papers.
Corsi and Stone have identified that person as Randy Credico, a radio host and one-time friend of Stone.
“Are you sure you want to make something out of this now?” Corsi responded, according to the draft court papers. “Why not wait to see what (Credico) does? You may be defending yourself too much — raising new questions that will fuel new inquiries. This may be a time to say less, not more.”.. Corsi, the former Washington bureau chief of the conspiracy theory outlet InfoWars, has told NBC News that he had no direct or indirect contact with WikiLeaks. Corsi claims to have anticipated WikiLeaks’ release of the hacked emails by “connecting the dots” between public statements from Assange and other available materials... But in a letter drafted by Gray and addressed to Mueller’s team, Corsi’s lawyer argued that he should not be charged with a crime based on a faulty memory.
“I understand that this plea to making a false claim is predicated on the fact that Dr. Corsi had emails and phone calls wherein he was in fact interested in WikiLeaks,” Gray wrote... Gray also noted that if Corsi were to plead guilty, he would have to give up his securities license and cease his online chats until sentencing, depriving him of crucial sources of income.
Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who is now a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, said the documents suggest that Mueller has more on Corsi than is laid out in the draft court papers.
.. “Based on reviewing these documents, I believe that the office of the special counsel may have more evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Corsi beyond the false statements, and that is why they engaged in plea negotiations,” Goldman said.
“He is a clear target of the investigation,” Goldman added.
.. “Since when did gossip become a criminal offense? Where is the WikiLeaks collaboration? Where is the evidence that I received anything whatsoever from WikiLeaks and passed it on to Donald Trump? These emails prove nothing other than the fact that Jerry Corsi is an aggressive investigative reporter.”