Nov 29, 2018

Another possible solution to the Jerome Corsi-WikiLeaks puzzle

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

As pundits try to update their timeline for the 2016 Russia hacking scandal based on new emails and information from Roger Stone associate and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, they are missing a key piece of the puzzle.

Background: This week, Corsi blew apart plea arrangements with the Mueller investigation, and now he publicly denies being an intermediary between Stone (a would-be proxy for the Trump campaign) and WikiLeaks or having any advance knowledge of the site's leak schedule.

  • According to a draft plea agreement, Corsi emailed Stone that he did have that advance knowledge: "Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back [from a vacation in August]. 2nd in Oct."
  • But there was no August Wikileaks dump.

The big question: What was Corsi referring to with the leak planned for when he got back?

  • Corsi claims he was guessing, but armchair investigators note it doesn't seem like that's what he was saying.
  • "Word is" seems a little specific to have been referring to a guess, and "Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC ... has stroke. ... I expect that much of next dump focus," seems to predict Podesta emails would breathe life into baseless rumors about Clinton health problems.

So, what gives? Independent intelligence pundit Marcy Wheeler suggests Corsi may have been referring to a leak from Guccifer 2.0 in August that did materialize rather than a leak from WikiLeaks.

But there's an easier explanation: WikiLeaks, I'm told, was consistently behind schedule in releasing leaks, or at least behind the schedule Russia appears to have set for the site.

  • In fact, you can see that in the way Guccifer 2.0 acted in the previous month. When I started receiving leaks — before WikiLeaks began publishing — Guccifer 2.0 made a point of telling me, "WikiLeaks is playing for time" with documents sent to the site.
  • In Guccifer 2.0's first document dump on his own site he quietly picked only documents culled from the Democratic National Committee emails that Wikileaks had received but had not begun publishing yet.
  • At the time, only WikiLeaks would have known this. In retrospect, it appears to have been a hurry-up notice.

Maybe Corsi's "friend in embassy" didn't leak documents in August because he was running late.

Go deeper: Why press fears on Assange charges are premature

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump tweeted late Sunday, "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools despite NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month and as the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to rise, along with the death toll — which is nearing 100,000 in the U.S.

In photos: Authorities issue warning as Americans venture out for Memorial Day weekend

Venice Beach in Los Angeles on May 24. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Authorities urged Americans to maintain social distancing and wear masks against the coronavirus amid reports of packed beaches and bars during the Memorial Day weekend.

Driving the news: Law enforcement stepped up beach patrols, authorities on Florida's Gulf Coast closed parking lots because they were full and there were crowded scenes at Lake of the Ozarks bars in Missouri, per AP, which reports a shooting injured several people at a packed Daytona Beach in Florida.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,405,029 — Total deaths: 344,997 — Total recoveries — 2,168,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,642,021 — Total deaths: 97,698 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy