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Conspiracy theorist sues Mueller alleging illegal leaks and surveillance

POLITICO logo POLITICO 12/10/2018 By Josh Gerstein
Jerome Corsi wearing a suit and tie: Jerome Corsi is demanding $100 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages for injury to his reputation. © AP Photo Jerome Corsi is demanding $100 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages for injury to his reputation.

An author and conspiracy theorist who says he’s being threatened with indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the Trump-Russia probe filed a federal lawsuit Sunday night accusing Mueller of constitutional violations and leaking grand jury secrets.

Jerome Corsi’s new suit against Mueller also accuses the special prosecutor of trying to badger Corsi into giving false testimony that he served as a conduit between Wikileaks found Julian Assange and Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump.

“Defendant Mueller and his prosecutorial staff have demanded that Plaintiff Corsi falsely testify that he acted as a liaison between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange concerning the public release of emails downloaded from the DNC’s servers,” the complaint says.

Corsi is demanding $100 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages for injury to his reputation.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, is just the latest maneuver in a public campaign against Mueller by Corsi and his attorneys. Last month, they gave reporters copies of draft court documents showing that Mueller wanted Corsi to plead guilty to a false statements charge.

Prosecutors from Mueller’s office proposed that Corsi admit that he repeatedly lied to investigators about his interactions with Stone about his interest in emails WikiLeaks could release that would be damaging to Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. In the draft plea documents, Corsi was to concede that his falsely said he rebuffed Stone’s attempt to go through him to make contact with WikiLeaks; falsely denied that Stone asked him to enlist someone else in the effort; and falsely denied conveying information about what hacked emails WikiLeaks had.

Corsi is represented in the suit by his defense attorney, David Gray of New Jersey, and longtime conservative gadfly and Judicial Watch founder, Larry Klayman. The suit takes some unusual tacks, accusing Mueller of conducting unconstitutional surveillance of Corsi through the National Security Agency’s PRISM program, a digital snooping program exposed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

“Defendants Mueller, DOJ, NSA, CIA, and FBI have engaged in ongoing illegal, unconstitutional surveillance on Plaintiff Corsi, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the USA FREEDOM Act as well targeted ‘PRISM’ collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Sovereignties Immunity Act at the direction of Defendant Mueller,” the suit says, with the latter reference apparently intending to invoke a different statute, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The suit blames Mueller and his team for disclosures about Corsi’s role in the investigation, although Corsi has granted numerous interviews about his predicament. The court complaint notes that records released through a Freedom of Information Act suit Klayman brought show that Mueller spokesman Peter Carr held numerous in-person meetings with individual journalists who requested them.

The records don’t indicate that Carr or anyone else in the office, which is generally regarded as tight-lipped, disclosed secret grand jury information at these sessions.

Corsi’s suit also levels harsh invective at the special counsel’s team, at one point referring to “Defendant Mueller and his leftist and Democrat partisan prosecutorial and ethically and legally conflicted staff.”

Last week, Klayman filed on Corsi's behalf what he called a "criminal complaint" with the Justice Department over Mueller's conduct. It accused Mueller and his staff of a range of ethical violations as well as crimes, including treason.

Mueller is a lifelong Republican who was initially appointed as FBI Director by President George W. Bush and later reappointed by President Barack Obama. Several of his attorneys are registered Democrats, although at least one of the key FBI agents involved in the probe is a registered Republican. Federal law prohibits the Justice Department from considering partisan affiliation in hiring decisions for prosecutors or investigative staff.

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