Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team asked Jerome Corsi about his interactions with Roger Stone surrounding the “Access Hollywood” tape in October 2016 and whether he had helped Stone cover up his motivations for his now-famous tweet about the Podestas in August 2016, Corsi told CNN in an interview Tuesday.
WikiLeaks dropped a batch of emails less than an hour after the “Access Hollywood” recording of Donald Trump speaking in vulgar language was made public in October 2016, prompting questions about whether anyone had guided WikiLeaks on its timing to help mitigate the fallout for the then-presidential candidate.
Corsi, a conservative author and Stone associate, told CNN that Stone had called him three times on October 7, 2016, the day the tape was released. His recollection is the calls came early in the day. The tape wasn’t released publicly until the afternoon.
“Now, my recollection is that Roger is saying, ‘You know this Billy (Bush) is going to be dropped and Assange better get going. Why don’t you get to your buddy Assange and tell him to start,’” Corsi recalled in his interview with CNN, referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “Well, I didn’t have any contact with Assange.”
Billy Bush was the then-“Access Hollywood” star who was recorded speaking with Trump in 2005.
“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them,” Trump said on the tape released in 2016. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.”
Stone vehemently denied Corsi’s claims about their conversations surrounding the “Access Hollywood” tape.
“It is pure, unadulterated, unmitigated BS,” Stone told CNN on Tuesday. “And why would I ask him to contact Assange, who even today he says he does not know? Neither logical or true.”
Corsi confirmed that he had shared information about his conversations with Stone with investigators and the grand jury, an account he also shared in his upcoming book, “Silent No More.”
While Corsi acknowledged his past communications with Stone may have given him the impression he was in touch with Assange, Corsi insists he never spoke with Assange.
“I never have met Julian Assange, never spoken to him. I’ve never been in direct contact with him,” Corsi said. “I don’t believe I had an indirect contact with him either.”
In another instance, Corsi said he had helped Stone come up with a handy explanation for a troublesome tweet. On August 21, 2016, Stone tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel.”
But after firing off the tweet, Corsi said, Stone grew concerned that people would believe he had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks was in possession of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, and he wanted to clarify that his tweet was about the Podesta brothers’ business dealings.
“Roger was saying, ‘I want you to help me figure out a way to make it sound like I didn’t know these were Podesta’s emails that Assange had, that wasn’t what I was referring to,’ ” Corsi told CNN.
“And I said to Roger, basically, ‘Why don’t we say it was my research on Podesta that you were referring to?’ Of course, I hadn’t been doing any research on Podesta, but the next day I went to opensource and wrote him this memo so he had a basis for it.”
By late August 2016, Corsi said, he had crafted a research memo on the Podestas’ business dealings that Stone could point to as the basis for his tweet.
The timing of the conversation between Corsi and Stone is particularly curious because WikiLeaks did not begin releasing John Podesta’s emails until months later. Stone insists he had no advance knowledge that Podesta’s emails had been hacked. Corsi said he determined by himself that WikiLeaks must have obtained a tranche of Podesta’s emails.
Corsi told CNN he viewed his effort as “covering up” for Stone but saw it as little more than good old-fashioned politicking.
“Political campaigns frequently develop alternative explanations for clients. And I was doing that,” Corsi said, explaining what he had told investigators. “They said, ‘Is it lying?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, it’s lying, but it’s pretty normal practice in politics.’ “
The Podesta tweet and “Access Hollywood” tape mark just two of the moments the special counsel’s team seized on as they investigated possible connections among Stone, Corsi and WikiLeaks.
Corsi recently said he will refuse to sign a deal with the special counsel’s office pleading guilty to perjury because he doesn’t believe he knowingly lied.
“My attorney said that the special counsel wasn’t very pleased and they said, ‘We’ll take it from here,’ ” Corsi said. “So I really don’t know what they are going to do.”