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By Anna Schecter

Two months before WikiLeaks released emails stolen from the Clinton campaign, right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi sent an email to former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone anticipating the document dump, according to draft court papers obtained by NBC News.

“Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps,” Corsi wrote on Aug. 2, 2016, referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to the draft court papers. “One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.”

The email was revealed in a draft court document, known as a statement of the offense, sent to Corsi by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. Mueller also sent Corsi a draft plea agreement stipulating that the special counsel would not oppose Corsi requesting a sentence of probation if he agreed to plead guilty to one count of lying to federal investigators.

As NBC News reported on Monday, Corsi said he has rejected the deal. He has described Mueller’s team as “thugs” and insisted that he did not “intentionally lie” about his communications related to WikiLeaks.

The draft court documents obtained by NBC News provide the most extensive account to date of Corsi’s contact with Mueller’s prosecutors.

The interviews began on Sept. 6 when Corsi told investigators that an associate, identified by Corsi as Stone, asked him in the summer of 2016 to get in touch with an organization, identified by Corsi as WikiLeaks, about unreleased materials relevant to the presidential campaign, the draft court papers say.

“Get to (Assange) [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending (WikiLeaks) emails,” read the email to Corsi dated July 25, 2016, according to the draft court documents.

Corsi said he declined the request and made clear to Stone that an attempt to contact WikiLeaks could put them in investigators’ crosshairs, according to the draft court documents.

But Mueller’s team said that was a lie.

Instead of turning down the request, Corsi in fact passed it along to a person in London, according to the draft court documents. Corsi said that person was conservative author Ted Malloch.

Eight days later, Corsi sent the email to Stone saying that WikiLeaks possessed information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and planned to release it in October.

Jerome Corsi during an interview at NBC News in New York on November 27, 2018.
Jerome Corsi during an interview at NBC News in New York on November 27, 2018.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

“Time to let more than (Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta) to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton),” Corsi added in the Aug. 2, 2016, email, according to the draft court papers. “That appears to be the game hackers are now about.”

On Oct. 7, 2016, WikiLeaks released the first of two batches of emails that Russian hackers stole from Podesta, altering the trajectory of the presidential race.

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.”

Stone responded by telling Corsi that Credico will “take the 5th — but let’s hold a day,” the draft court document says.

The draft court documents says that Corsi met with the special counsel’s office for several additional interviews and provided access to his email accounts and electronic devices.

In the interviews, the draft court papers say, Corsi said that his claims to Stone, beginning in 2016, that he had a way of obtaining confidential information from WikiLeaks were false.

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.

“Why did I think they were coming out in October? Because I said to myself if I had these emails I’d use them as the October surprise,” Corsi told NBC News on Tuesday. “And why did I think they would come out serially, drip by drip? Because Assange is very strategic. He understands the news cycle.”

A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined to comment. Corsi’s lawyer, David Gray, also declined to comment.

Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call,Inc. file

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.

“He had not had the benefit of reviewing all of his emails prior to the interview and you graciously allowed him to review his emails and amend his statements — which he did. Now, after various amendments to his statements, Dr. Corsi is being asked to affirmatively state that he lied to FBI agents. The issue is that the statements that Dr. Corsi made were, in fact, the best he could recall at the time.”

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.

Goldman also said that the documents indicate that Mueller and his investigators are “really circling Stone.”

“He is a clear target of the investigation,” Goldman added.

Stone, who has repeatedly insisted that he had no advanced knowledge of the WikiLeaks email dump, said Tuesday that the newly-released emails don’t suggest otherwise.

“None of these emails provide any evidence or proof that I knew in advance about the source or content of any of the allegedly stolen or allegedly hacked emails published by WikiLeaks,” Stone said.

“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.”

Rich Schapiro contributed.

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Trump calls on U.S. allies in Europe to take back 800 captured ISIS fighters

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By Linda Givetash

LONDON — President Donald Trump called on European countries to take back captured Islamic State fighters late Saturday as U.S.-backed forces in Syria closed in on the extremist group’s final sliver of territory.

“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said on Twitter.

“The caliphate is ready to fall,” he added.

After years of global effort to combat the group, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic forces have cornered remaining militants in a village near the Iraqi border, under fire from all sides.

The final assault has been prolonged because ISIS fighters have been using civilians as human shields, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told NBC News.

“In the coming few days, in a very short time, we will spread the good tidings to the world of the military end of Daesh,” he said Saturday, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.



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‘It's PREPOSTEROUS’ Hannan blasts left-wing critics of Churchill as ‘VIRTUE-SIGNALLING’

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CHARACTERISATIONS of Sir Winston Churchill as a racist and imperialist, as exemplified by Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s recent criticisms, have been savaged by Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, who dismissed them as “left-wing virtue signalling”.

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Ahead of 2020, warning signs grow for historic economy

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By Dante Chinni and Sally Bronston

WASHINGTON – Through the first two years of his presidency, Donald Trump has had one very reliable ally: an excellent economy. Now, as the presidential campaign approaches, there are growing questions about what the economic landscape may look like in November 2020.

By some measures, the nation’s economic outlook is positively sunny, but on the horizon, there also seem to be gathering clouds.

From a positive point of view, you can start with the historically low unemployment rate.

By some measures, the nation’s economic outlook is positively sunny, but on the horizon there also seem to be gathering clouds.

That January figure, 4 percent, matches roughly where the number has been since January 2018. In that time, unemployment has been bouncing between 4.1 and 3.7 percent. That’s a solid stretch of low numbers.

The last time the unemployment number was in that ballpark? Late 2000, when the rate rang in at 3.9 percent. Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to the late 1960s.

When people have jobs and they know jobs are available they tend to feel good about their current economic situation and the times ahead. And poll data from Gallup show that is the case today too.

A January Gallup survey found that 69 percent of Americans believe they will be better off financially next year than they are currently.

A January Gallup survey found that 69 percent of Americans believe they will be better off financially next year than they are currently.

The last time the “better off next year” number was that high was back in May 2002, when 69 percent of Americans had the same positive feelings about the year ahead. And the figure has been higher only once, in March of 1998 when it peaked at 71 percent.

Low unemployment. Good feelings. Those are things that matter to voters on Election Day.

But Election Day is still 21 months off and if there are economic concerns at the White House, they likely center on the future. The U.S. economy is cyclical. And though the nation is still in the midst of a remarkable economic expansion – it’s been some 116 months since the last recession ended in 2009 – there are warning flags in some of the latest data.

This week the New York branch of the Federal Reserve Bank announced that about 7 million Americans were delinquent by 90 days or more on their auto loans. That number was a record high, and the rate of auto loan delinquencies was the highest it has been since 2010, just as the Great Recession ended.

Some analysts worry about the increase because car payments are usually a top priority for consumers.

Some analysts worry about the increase because car payments are usually a top priority for consumers. In most communities cars are essential for getting to and from work and around town. Skipping a payment or two is not something consumers tend to do casually.

The spike in delinquencies may signal a cooling off in automobile manufacturing if consumers are less able to afford new cars and more used cars become available. Remember, the vote out of automobile manufacturing states was crucial for President Trump in 2016.

And beyond automobiles, there is the broader increase in revolving debt (usually credit card debt) that Americans are carrying.

Beyond automobiles, there is the broader increase in revolving debt (usually credit card debt) that Americans are carrying.

As of December 2018, Americans held a total $1.044 trillion in unpaid revolving debt. That’s a record and it was up $20 billion from the end of 2017. Overall the number has been rising pretty consistently since 2013, but it crossed the $1 trillion mark in September 2017 and has not since dropped below.

The number may be meaningful because the last time the amount of unpaid revolving debt sat over that $1 trillion line was in January of 2009 when people drew heavily on credit during the recession. After that, there was a retrenching among consumers who paid down their credit card debts to about $830 billion in 2011. That trend seems to have reversed.

Of course, there are more people in the United States today, so there are more people with credit cards and adjusted for inflation the 2019 figure is still below the 2009 number. But the steady increase is worth noting – as is the slow but steady increase in credit card delinquencies over the past few years.

These figures carry special weight because they center on consumer spending, the force that drives the U.S. economy, making up 68 percent of all economic activity. If consumers have less to spend at the mall or online that’s likely to have an impact on the broader economy, potentially a big impact.

There may already be some signs in that regard. This week the Census released data showing retail sales declined 1.2 percent from November to December, the largest drop in more than nine years.

Does that mean the economy is headed south? That’s a big leap. Some analysts are skeptical of the sales figures drop and there’s still a lot of good economic news out there. But after 116 months of growth, the numbers show some warning signs emerging.

And when the 2020 presidential race arrives, the story around the economy could look and feel very different than it does today.

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