- Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal is citing right-wing author Jerome Corsi to make the case that President Donald Trump and Roger Stone coordinated with WikiLeaks.
- Blumenthal cited an interview that Corsi gave in which he claimed that Stone asked him to contact WikiLeaks ahead of the publication of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape.
- If true, Corsi’s allegation would be a major development in the Russia probe. But Corsi says he has no proof to back up his claims.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal is touting claims made by conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi as evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign and that President Donald Trump has some “criminal exposure.”
Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who has recently been the target of Trump’s ire, tweeted a segment from an interview that Corsi gave on Monday on MSNBC.
Corsi claimed in the interview that Trump confidant Roger Stone asked him to contact WikiLeaks on Oct. 7, 2016, to ask for the release of John Podesta’s emails in order to distract from the impending publication of an “Access Hollywood” video showing Trump speaking crudely about women.
Corsi said that he “can’t prove … at all” his allegation, but insisted that he is willing to testify against Stone, who was indicted on Friday on seven charges related to his testimony to Congress in 2017.
“If I am on the stand, I’m going to tell the truth, as I did the grand jury,” Corsi told MSNBC’s Ari Melber.
In his book “Silent No More,” Corsi writes that he did not recall anything about his alleged interactions with Stone on the day of the tape release until he was asked about it by prosecutors working for the special counsel.
The Washington Post published the tape at 4:02 p.m. on Oct. 7, 2016. WikiLeaks began releasing Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails at 4:32 p.m. Democrats have long questioned whether the Trump campaign coordinated with WikiLeaks to release the emails in order to blunt the impact of the “Access Hollywood” tape.
Blumenthal pushed that same theory on Tuesday in his tweet citing Corsi.
“More H & WikiLeaks coordinated. Criminal exposure grows for Individual-1,” Blumenthal said, referring to Trump.
ICYMI, last night Jerome Corsi admitted to @AriMelber that Stone urged WikiLeaks to release a tranche of hacked emails the SAME DAY as the damaging Access Hollywood tape. More evidence the Trump campaign & WikiLeaks coordinated. Criminal exposure grows for Individual-1. https://t.co/W2V9rtwtOD
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) January 29, 2019
Corsi’s comments about Stone could lead to further legal problems for the GOP operative, who pleaded not guilty on Tuesday during his arraignment in Washington, D.C. Stone has pushed back on Corsi’s assertions, accusing his former associate of being a “Judas.”
Corsi has said that he had three phone calls with Stone on the day that the tape and emails were released. Stone told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Corsi’s claims are “absurd” and that having phone calls with him is not proof they discussed “Access Hollywood” or WikiLeaks.
Solid proof could come by way of Corsi’s former colleagues at World Net Daily (WND), a conservative website where Corsi worked through 2017.
Corsi has said that during a conference call with his WND colleagues, he asked for help reaching out to WikiLeaks. In “Silent No More,” Corsi said he called into WND’s editorial meeting at 1:08 p.m. and “briefed the WND staff on Roger Stone’s urgency to get Assange to start publishing the Podesta emails.”
Corsi said he provided similar testimony to a Washington, D.C. grand jury being used in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Two of Corsi’s former colleagues who say they usually took part in WND’s editorial conference calls told TheDCNF that they do not have a recollection of what Corsi describes.
“It’s likely I was on an Oct. 7 call, as I attend most of them. But I do not remember discussion about ‘Access Hollywood,’ Roger Stone or WikiLeaks,” one of Corsi’s former colleagues told TheDCNF through email.
A second Corsi colleague who took part in WND’s editorial meetings told TheDCNF by phone that he would likely have remembered any discussion like the one described by Corsi. But the WND staffer said he recalled no discussion about releasing WikiLeaks emails or the impending “Access Hollywood” release.
Both WND employees said that Corsi never asked them to make contact with WikiLeaks.
Corsi wrote that a prosecutor on Mueller’s team, Aaron Zelinsky, told his attorney, David Gray, that prosecutors had evidence “that I played a role in timing Assange’s release of the Podesta emails” in order to compete with the “Access Hollywood” news cycle.
“That is exactly what happened,” Corsi writes in his book, referring to Zelinsky’s assertion.
Corsi does not reveal whether Zelinsky described what evidence prosecutors have showing he played a role in the release of Podesta’s emails. Gray declined comment for this article.
It is unclear whether Corsi’s grand jury testimony will factor into any trial that Stone may face.
The indictment does not accuse Stone of having contact with WikiLeaks or Russian government operatives.
None of the allegations mirror what Corsi is claiming, though it does cite a text message that an unidentified associate of a Trump campaign official sent Stone after the release of Podesta’s emails.
“Well done,” the message stated.
Stone is mainly charged with lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his communications with Corsi, left-wing activist Randy Credico, and unidentified Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks.
According to the indictment, Stone told senior Trump campaign officials that WikiLeaks had Clinton-related materials and planned to release them close to the election. Campaign officials also contacted Stone “to inquire about future releases by [WikiLeaks],” prosecutors allege.
Stone has come under scrutiny because of his public comments suggesting he had contact with WikiLeaks and had insight into the group’s plans. But Stone has denied having contact with WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange. He also said that he was not aware that WikiLeaks had Podesta’s emails until they were released on Oct. 7, 2016.
He has said that he had a general idea that WikiLeaks would release Clinton-related documents because of Assange’s public assurances that he would release material that would hurt Clinton’s campaign. He also said that Credico was a back channel or confirming source for him about WikiLeaks’ plans.
Text messages show that Credico provided Stone with vague tips regarding WikiLeaks’ maneuverings.
“[B]ig news Wednesday,” Credico wrote on Oct. 1, 2016. “Hillary’s campaign will die this week.”
Corsi has said that Mueller’s team believes that he could have also been a link between Stone and WikiLeaks. Both Corsi and Stone deny that claim, with Corsi insisting that he has never met or spoken with Assange.
Corsi does claim that he deduced in early August 2016 that WikiLeaks possessed Podesta’s emails. He has also claimed he told Stone and other associates about his theory, which he says he derived without help from an outside source.
The 72-year-old Corsi has pointed to an email he sent Stone on Aug. 2, 2016, as evidence that he told Stone that WikiLeaks had Podesta’s emails. The email mentions Assange’s plans to release two tranches of emails in October while also referring to Podesta. But Stone disputes Corsi’s interpretation of the email, saying that Corsi doesn’t say anywhere in the document that WikiLeaks had Podesta’s communications.
Corsi has not identified any other associates with whom he claims to have shared his insight into Podesta emails. His lawyer declined to identify those other associates.
The timeline of events that transpired in the lead-up to the “Access Hollywood” and Podesta email releases could shed light on the accuracy of Corsi’s memory.
Corsi said he first spoke with Stone about WikiLeaks and the forthcoming “Access Hollywood” tape at 11:27 a.m. But according to a tick-tock report about The Post’s process of reporting out the “Access Hollywood” story, the Trump campaign was not contacted about the tape until 12:30 p.m.
Washington Post reporter David Farenthold contacted campaign official Hope Hicks to request comment about the tape. That set off a mad dash at campaign headquarters, where Trump was preparing for his debate with Hillary Clinton, which was scheduled for two days later.
Stone insists that he was not aware of the “Access Hollywood” tape until it was released. He has told TheDCNF that, in addition to his phone calls with Corsi on the day of the release, he believes he talked with Corsi the next day. He’s said it’s possible he discussed the fallout from the “Access Hollywood” tape given the presidential debate that took place the following day.
Stone has also denied speaking with Trump about WikiLeaks in general.
Corsi’s next call was at 1:08 p.m. to take part in WND’s daily editorial meeting, which was conducted remotely.
“I believe this was the WND editorial meeting when I asked WND staff attending the editorial meeting if anyone had a contact where they could reach Assange to urge him to start publishing the Podesta emails,” Corsi writes in “Silent No More.”
One WND source who spoke to TheDCNF said that around six or eight people typically take part in the conference calls.
Corsi writes that Stone called at 1:42 p.m. and the pair spoke for 18 minutes. He said Stone “was anxious to know if I had reached Assange.” He said he believes that he told Stone that he had asked WND staff for assistance in contacting WikiLeaks.
Trump was reportedly in debate preparations with campaign advisers Reince Priebus and Chris Christie until 2 p.m. Corsi says he spoke with Stone again at 2:18 p.m. and that he told Stone that he had no way to contact Assange.
The Post contacted the Trump campaign again at 3 p.m., this time to provide a copy of the “Access Hollywood” video to seek comment. The newspaper published its report at around 4 p.m., and WikiLeaks published Podesta’s emails at 4:32 p.m.
Two Trump campaign officials who were present when the Post’s request was received were reached for this story. Neither provided insight into whether someone contacted Stone about the “Access Hollywood” tape before it was published.
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