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A leaked Mueller draft document provides a glimpse into the investigation’s future

Jerome Corsi leaked the document, which outlines a potential charge against him.

Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

It’s quite rare that we get to see an internal document from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe before Mueller wants us to. But on Tuesday, conservative commentator Jerome Corsi decided to give us a glimpse of a draft document outlining a potential criminal charge against Corsi himself.

The six-page document was written for a potential plea deal that Corsi now says he’ll reject. Corsi shared it with several news outlets, including the Washington Post. And it’s a fascinating read, because it gives us a glimpse into Mueller’s thinking about a part of the probe that hasn’t resulted in any charges yet: Trump associates’ contacts with WikiLeaks.

The special counsel has alleged that Russian intelligence officers hacked leading Democrats’ emails (most notably the DNC’s and John Podesta’s), and provided some of that material to WikiLeaks. But whether Trumpworld had any role in this hasn’t been clear — and has been the focus of intense investigation of late, particularly pertaining to Roger Stone.

Though we should keep in mind that this document is just a draft, and surely isn’t revealing the full scope of what Mueller knows, there’s some interesting material in here nonetheless. (You can read the whole thing at this link.)

The big picture

First off, here’s how Mueller characterizes the big picture.

  • The document says that the special counsel’s office is investigating “the theft of campaign-related emails and other documents” by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.
  • It also says the GRU provided “certain” documents to “Organization 1” — WikiLeaks — “for public release.” And it outlines a motive for this: “to expand the GRU’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.”
  • Then, it says they are also investigating “the nature of any connections between individuals associated with the U.S. presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” and the Russian government or WikiLeaks.

This is one of the clearest statements of how Mueller views all this so far: a Russian interference operation in which the GRU “provided” documents to WikiLeaks, with the open question being whether Trump campaign associates were involved.

Roger Stone and his contacts with Trump

Second, there’s the description of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. He is identified as “Person 1,” but more revealingly described as a person “Corsi understood to be in regular contact with senior members of the Trump Campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump.”

Trump’s legal team told the Washington Post that they complained to the Justice Department that Trump was mentioned by name here. (How they got ahold of the document isn’t entirely clear, but Corsi’s lawyers may have provided it to them.)

“It’s gratuitous. It’s not necessary,” Giuliani told the Post. “If you read out of context, it creates a misimpression that they were in contact with the president during this critical time.”

Yet the thing is that Stone regularly said publicly that he was in contact with Trump during this critical time (summer 2016). And Mueller’s mention of this in the document may suggest he thinks it’s important.

Corsi’s WikiLeaks information

The document goes on to reveal part of the reason Mueller has focused so intensely on Stone and Corsi in recent months: email evidence. It claims:

  • On July 25, 2016, Stone emailed Corsi, telling him to “get to” Assange in the “Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending” WikiLeaks “emails.”
  • Corsi forwarded this email to an “overseas individual.” Reportedly, this is Ted Malloch, a UK-based Trump supporter and author.
  • On July 31, 2016, Stone wrote to Corsi that Malloch “should see” Assange.
  • On August 2, 2016, Corsi emailed Stone claiming knowledge of Assange’s plans. “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back [from a trip in Europe]. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging..” Corsi continued: “Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke — neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus, setting stage for [Clinton] Foundation debacle.”

The document is silent on what, if anything happened after that during the campaign.

Corsi’s purported attempts to thwart the investigation

Next, Mueller’s team describes Corsi’s purported conduct after Trump won. The document claims:

  • That in early 2017, Corsi “deleted from his computer all email correspondence that predated October 11, 2016.” (This date is a few days after WikiLeaks started posting the Podesta emails on October 7, 2016.)
  • That Corsi counseled Stone when congressional investigators were looking into his knowledge of WikiLeaks. “You may be defending yourself too much — raising new questions that will fuel new inquiries,” Corsi wrote. “This may be a time to say less, not more.”

Then, in September 2018, Corsi was interviewed by Mueller’s investigators. The special counsel’s team writes in the draft that Corsi knowingly made several false statements. This is the actual criminal conduct that would be charged here:

  • Corsi is said to have told investigators he declined Stone’s request to get in touch with WikiLeaks. (He actually forwarded the request to Ted Malloch.)
  • Corsi is said to have told investigators that Stone never asked him to put anyone else in touch with WikiLeaks. (Stone actually told him Malloch should see Assange.)
  • Corsi is said to have told investigators he “never provided” Stone “with any information” about WikiLeaks, “including what materials” the group possessed or what they “might do with those materials.”

Keep in mind that these are not even allegations yet, but rather potential allegations in a draft document. Corsi has essentially admitted giving false information to the Mueller team, but claimed that he did so due to a bad memory, not due to intentional lying.

Also keep in mind this document was written for a potential plea deal — a deal Corsi now says he won’t take. If Mueller does decide to move ahead and indict Corsi, the eventual charging document could look far different and provide a good deal more detail. But regardless, the document gives us a glimpse into what Mueller was prepared to say about an important part of the investigation at this point.

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