Just kidding — that never happened, and I’m pretty sure that when special counsel Robert S. Mueller III sees this, he won’t say, “The president makes a good point. I guess it’s time to shut this investigation down.”
It’s not immediately clear what caused the president to offer up this lamest of defenses, but it may have to do with the fact that Mueller looks like he’s about to obtain either another indictment against or another guilty plea from someone around President Trump, the author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.
Corsi testified before the grand jury about his activities during the 2016 campaign, particularly with regard to longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone and their possible involvement with Wikileaks in its release of emails stolen by Russian intelligence and intended to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. At the end of last week, Corsi told The Post that he was negotiating a plea deal with Mueller. Today, the Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand reports that Corsi says Mueller is pressuring him to plead guilty to a count of perjury regarding his statements about whether he knew in advance that WikiLeaks was going to release emails belonging to John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, and what he told Stone about the subject.
This particular corner of the Russia scandal is complicated by the fact that most of the people involved are fabulists, nutbars or both, making it difficult to trust anything they say. But what it comes down to is the question of what exactly happened when Russia stole emails from the Democratic Party and Podesta; those emails were passed to WikiLeaks; and then WikiLeaks released them in a carefully timed sequence designed to do maximum damage to Clinton’s campaign. Specifically, what Mueller would like to know is who in the United States was coordinating with Wikileaks and perhaps even the Russians. Or as you might put it, colluding.
If you’ve heard Corsi’s name before now, it’s likely because he co-wrote “Unfit for Command,” the scurrilous 2004 book that was at the heart of the “Swiftboat” campaign to smear John F. Kerry over his Vietnam service. He penned a far less influential book about Barack Obama in 2008 that was intended to achieve the same effect, and he has spent the time since writing for some of the most unhinged conspiracy-theory publications on the right, including WorldNetDaily and InfoWars.
Roger Stone has said that in 2011, Trump told him that he had been talking with Corsi; it was presumably about their shared interest in the racist conspiracy theory that Obama was actually not an American. (Corsi wrote a book that year called “Where’s the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is Not Eligible to Be President,” and Trump turned himself into the country’s most prominent birther around the same time.) Stone also says that Corsi met with Trump during the 2016 campaign. As a general rule, if Stone tells you two plus two equals four, you should seek corroborating evidence before believing it, but it’s certainly an intriguing possibility.
Does this bring us any closer to understanding the full scope of the Trump campaign’s cooperation with Russia in 2016? Let’s not forget that while this was all going on, Trump publicly encouraged Russia to hack Clinton’s emails and repeatedly praised WikiLeaks, while Donald Trump Jr. was privately communicating with the group.
What we can say for sure is that Donald Trump gathered around him an unusual collection of criminals, liars and grifters. So far, prosecutors have obtained convictions against or guilty pleas from Trump’s personal lawyer, his campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman, his national security adviser and one of his foreign policy advisers. Corsi’s name may soon be added to the list.
So why would anyone believe that such a group of honest, ethical people, led by such a paragon of virtue as Trump, could possibly have cooperated with a foreign power in its attack on the integrity of the U.S. political system? It’s just crazy. Surely we should just stop asking questions and forget the whole thing ever happened.