WASHINGTON — Conservative author Jerome Corsi said Monday that he has rejected a deal offered by special counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to one count of perjury,saying he would have been forced to untruthfully say that he intentionally lied about his interactions with WikiLeaks.
In interviews with CNN, NBC and other news organizations, Corsi said he was merely forgetful when investigators spent hours pressing him about his contacts with WikiLeaks, which released hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign. He said that he does not want to plead guilty to intentionally lying.
Corsi’s apparent rejection of a plea offer is the latest twist in a months-long effort by Mueller’s team to secure the cooperation of the author and conspiracy theorist.
Corsi provided research during the 2016 White House race to Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Donald Trump. For months, the special counsel has been scrutinizing Stone’s activities to determine whether he coordinated with WikiLeaks in its release of Democratic emails. Stone and WikiLeaks have repeatedly denied any such coordination.
Stone has said that Corsi also has a relationship with President Donald Trump, built on their shared interest in the falsehood that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
“They want me to say I willfully lied. I’m not going to agree that I lied. I did not. I will not lie to save my life. I’d rather sit in prison and rot for as long as these thugs want me to,” Corsi told NBC News.
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment, as did David Gray, an attorney for Corsi.
Prosecutors have spent the past two months examining Corsi’s communications, seizing two of Corsi’s computers and interviewing him for more than 40 hours in six sessions, Corsi has said.
On Nov. 12, Corsi said that his initial cooperation with the special counsel had collapsed and that he was expecting to be charged.
“I anticipate being indicted on a charge of some form of lying,” he said on his daily live-streamed web program. “Trying to explain yourself to these people is impossible. … I guess I couldn’t tell the special prosecutor what he wanted to hear.”
But days later, Corsi reopened negotiations with Mueller’s office, as The Washington Post first reported.
After Corsi predicted he would be indicted, Stone suggested that the special counsel had “squeezed poor Dr. Corsi to frame me.”
Appearing on his show on the Infowars website, Stone also seemed to lay the groundwork for an effort to undercut Corsi’s credibility as a witness. “He has his own demons,” Stone said of Corsi.
During the 2016 race, Stone made public comments suggesting that he had inside information about material held by WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
Since the election, Stone has said repeatedly that his comments were exaggerations or came from tips from associates and that he had no advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’s plans.
Stone has said one of his most intriguing pre-election comments was inspired by material provided by Corsi.
On Aug. 21, 2016, Stone tweeted that “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Six weeks later, WikiLeaks began to publish online emails hacked from the account of John Podesta, chairman of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Stone has said his tweet had nothing to do with WikiLeaks.
Instead, he has said he was referring to research material he had discussed with Corsi about links between Russia, Podesta and his brother, lobbyist Tony Podesta.
In 2017, Corsi wrote a column in which he, too, said he believed Stone’s tweet was prompted by his research.
However, he told the Daily Caller this month that he had told Stone in early August 2016 that he believed WikiLeaks had John Podesta’s emails and planned to publish them before the election. He said that he had surmised WikiLeaks had the correspondence and that he did not have a contact with WikiLeaks, but he said that Mueller’s team did not believe him.
On his live-streamed program this month, Corsi said he had never met Assange and had no connection to him — “to the best of my recollection,” he added.
Stone has disputed Corsi’s account and insisted the author never suggested to him that WikiLeaks might have Podesta’s emails.
Corsi, 72, has published numerous books and was a leading proponent of the false theory that Obama was not born in the United States and was therefore not qualified to serve as president.
Stone has previously told The Post that Corsi developed a relationship with Trump over their shared interest in that theory.
Corsi and Trump met during the 2016 campaign, according to Stone.
Stone recalled that Trump asked him around that time, ‘Who is this guy, Jerome Corsi?’” Trump then informed Stone that he had been discussing the subject of Obama’s birth certificate with Corsi.
Washington Post writers Carol D. Leonnig and Manuel Roig-Franzia contributed to this report.