Jerome Corsi, an associate of former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, has decided to reject a plea deal he says was offered to him by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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In an interview with ABC News on Monday, Corsi said the special counsel offered to allow him to plead guilty to one count of lying to federal investigators in exchange for cooperation in the probe and leniency at sentencing.
He provided ABC News with copies of a plea agreement he says was drafted by Mueller’s prosecutors that would have exposed Corsi to a prison sentence of up to five years for “knowingly [making] materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI about communications with an unidentified “associate’s request to get in touch with an organization that he understood to be in possession of stolen emails and other documents pertaining to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The unknown associate mentioned by Mueller matches the description of Roger Stone, who hired Corsi to do research for him during the 2016 election.
Corsi, a former Infowars bureau chief known for promulgating political smear campaigns and conspiracy theories, told ABC News that he could not sign on to a plea deal for a crime he says he did not commit.
“If I have to go to jail for the rest of my life, so be it,” Corsi said. “Have at it. I will not tell a lie to a federal judge or anybody else. They will not get me to commit a crime.”
A spokesperson for the special counsel declined to comment.
Over the course of his 18-month long probe, Mueller and his team of prosecutors have indicted 32 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to conspiracy and financial crimes.
Earlier this month, Corsi told ABC News that he expected an indictment from Mueller to be imminent, but was unaware of what crime he might be charged with committing. Last week, Corsi confirmed to ABC News that after two months of closed-door talks with investigators, plea negotiations between his legal and the special counsel were underway.
In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, “Silent No More: How I Became a Political Prisoner of Mueller’s ‘Witch Hunt’,” Corsi describes feeling “incensed” by the special counsel’s plea deal offer, which he says was drafted by Mueller’s “henchmen.” After reading the proposed deal, Corsi wrote a memo to his attorney maintaining that he “never ‘willfully and knowingly’ gave false information to the FBI or the Special Counsel.”
As one of more than a dozen individuals associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel’s office, Corsi’s involvement in Mueller’s probe is believed to be related to the hacking and leaking of emails between Democratic National Committee insiders meant to undermine then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Stone has been under scrutiny from the special counsel in part because of statements he made in August of 2016 which critics allege showed he knew that WikiLeaks was going to leak damaging information on Clinton before it was released.
“Trust me, it will soon (sic) the Podesta's time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary,” Stone tweeted on Aug. 21, 2016. Seven weeks later, WikiLeaks released a cache of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's private emails. In a report released in January 2017, the U.S. intelligence community concluded “with high confidence” that the information was provided to WikiLeaks by a hacker with ties to Russian military intelligence.
Several individuals, many of whom have appeared before the grand jury impaneled by Mueller’s team, have told ABC News they were asked about Stone’s activities during the 2016 election and what, if any, contact he may have had with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange through an intermediary.
According to an email correspondence between Stone and Corsi, obtained exclusively by ABC News, Stone sought to connect with Assange in July 2016 using Corsi and London-based conservative author Ted Malloch. Stone told ABC News that the message "proves I had no advance knowledge of contents of WikiLeaks' DNC material, and like every politico and journalist in America, I wanted to know what the content matter was."
Corsi insists he simply forgot about email exchanges with Stone and only remembered them after turning over evidence and communications, including his laptop, to federal investigators.
“When I got my laptop back from the FBI, I reloaded 2016 and found the email dated July 25, 2016, in which Roger Stone asked me to ‘Get to Assange.’ I had passed that email onto Ted Malloch in London, as I explained earlier,” Corsi wrote in his book. “I had totally forgotten about this email, as it turned out I forgot about virtually all my 2016 emails in the intervening time.”
Stone has told ABC News multiple times that he had never met or spoken with Assange. In Monday’s interview with ABC News, Corsi also said he has had no contact with the WikiLeaks founder.
“I have never spoken with Assange, I've never seen Assange, I've never been in any contact with Assange,” Corsi said. “And I did not work with anyone who was in touch with Assange that was giving me information.”