Jerome Corsi, Julian Assange and the attempt to blame the DNC hack on the Democrats

Yesterday, Jerome Corsi, the man who once held the hilariously ridiculous title of “InfoWars DC Bureau Chief,” publicly apologized for his role in spreading the disgusting conspiracy theory that 27 year old Seth Rich, an employee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), had been murdered in Washington, DC the early morning of July 10, 2016, not by an unknown assailant in a robbery gone wrong, as reported by the police, but by someone affiliated with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as payback for his role in leaking stolen Democratic emails to Wikileaks. This, of course, was total bullshit. And, as we learned several months ago, when email exchanges between the far-right conspiracy theorist and Trump associate Roger Stone were made public in Department of Justice court filings, they knew it as well… In an August 2, 2016 email between the two Trump supporters, Corsi conceded that “hackers” were behind the WikiLeaks releases… But this knowledge didn’t stop Corsi from pushing the false narrative about Rich having been the Wikileaks source, and having been killed for it.

According to the ridiculous theory advanced by Corsi, Rich was a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, and he stole the Democratic emails as an act of revenge against the DNC, which, in his view, had unfairly treated his candidate for president. Corsi, in his posts on the subject, referred to Rich as the “likely perpetrator” of the theft, and said that he’d been “implicated in breaches of email systems.” Rich’s parents, through their spokesperson, called Corsi and his fellow conspiracy theorists “disgusting sociopaths” for using their son’s death in order to obfuscate the fact that the DNC hack had been perpetrated by the Russian government in order to aid the Trump campaign. [For those who may still doubt who was responsible for the hack, I’d encourage you to read Robert Mueller’s July 13, 2018 indictment of the 12 Russian military intelligence agents who conducted the operation.]

So, all of this begs the question… If Corsi and Stone knew that Rich wasn’t responsible for stealing the emails and delivering them to Wikileaks, why did they go to such lengths to push this false narrative? Could they have been doing this on someone’s behalf? Well, maybe there’s a hint to be found in the fact that, according to former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer John Schindler, the story, as put forward by Corsi, was “scripted” by the SVR, the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia.

I don’t know that hard evidence exists that this lie — that it was Rich and not the Russians who gave Wikileaks the stolen DNC emails — was actually written out by SVR officers, but it certainly seems likely. After all, the whole thing started with Russian asset Julian Assanage, who first floated the idea in August 2016 on Dutch television…. The following comes by way of an opinion piece in the Washington Post by former CNN producer Frida Ghitis.

…That has prompted some observers to recall a remarkable appearance by Assange on Dutch television in August 2016. At the time, Trump’s campaign was foundering, even after Russian intelligence agencies had mounted a campaign to help him by stoking U.S. divisions on social media, promoting fake stories and hacking into the servers of the Democratic National Committee.

Assange was asked whether WikiLeaks had material that could help Trump. He responded by detonating a conspiracy theory, despite knowing it to be untrue. “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the DNC who was shot in the back, murdered for unknown reasons,” Assange said. He was referring to Seth Rich, killed in a robbery, whose death has since been weaponized by anti-Clinton activists.

Assange was in a unique position to energize the notion of a politically-motivated assassination. “What are you suggesting?” the Dutch interviewer asked. Assange coolly replied: “I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.” Though declining to confirm Rich was a source, he did manage to imply that Rich had handed WikiLeaks the documents. Assange’s remarks fueled countless far-right conspiracy theories used by Trump and his defenders to divert public attention from the compromising findings of Mueller’s investigators and the U.S. intelligence community.

The GRU (Russian military intelligence) created a character it called “Guccifer 2.0,” an alleged Romanian hacker, to divert attention away from the Kremlin after the DNC and U.S. intelligence officials discovered Russian fingerprints on the cyberintrusions. Four days after the DNC hack, WikiLeaks became the beneficiary of Guccifer 2.0’s work. Assange told Britain’s ITN that “WikiLeaks has a very big year ahead,” acknowledging it had “emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication.”

Guccifer 2.0 confirmed he was working with Assange, and Wikileaks became an important tool in the Russian operation. Oddly enough, Assange’s quest for documents never extended to the Trump campaign, which was more secretive than any in recent U.S. political history. WikiLeaks didn’t appear to have much interest in Trump’s tax returns, or in any of the communications between top campaign officials and Russian figures. Nor has WikiLeaks ever provided any sensational revelations from the databases of the Kremlin.

WikiLeaks became fully engaged in helping Trump and Russia. In July 2016, just before the Democratic Convention — the launch of the final stage of the Clinton campaign — WikiLeaks released DNC emails that suggested the party had favored Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders. The timing roiled the convention, forced resignations among top Democratic officials, and unquestionably hurt Clinton’s efforts to gain the support of Sanders’s supporters…

Oh, and I should add that, while Corsi did put out a statement yesterday saying that, “Dr. Corsi acknowledges that his allegations (about Rich’s involvement) were not based upon any independent factual knowledge,” he’s still toeing the MAGA party line, saying that the DNC hack was an inside job, with the implication being that the Russians weren’t involved, in spite of the voluminous evidence to the contrary. For what it’s worth, it sounds as though the family of Seth Rich has accepted Corsi’s apology, and shifted their attention toward those conspiracy theorists who have yet to recant. According to a statement released by the family today, while they see Corsi’s retraction being an “important step toward obtaining justice,” they still plan to “litigate (their) defamation claims against conspiracy theorists who refuse to retract and apologize for similar false statements.”

I could go on, but I think you probably get where I’m headed with this… For all that we talk about the now well-established fact that Russian military officers hacked the email accounts of Democratic Party officials in order to aid the Trump campaign, and the fact that Donald Trump and his enablers in the Republican Party continued to deny this fact long after the evidence became irrefutable, we talk very little about the cover-up, and the role played by people like Jerome Corsi who, either wittingly, or unwittingly, helped the Russians obscure their tracks… by socializing fairy tales intended to sew doubt in the minds of America’s least sophisticated consumers of information. And one hopes that Corsi, and others who joined him in this task, will eventually pay the price. What they did was beyond disgusting, and it’s incumbent upon to us to make an example of them, in hopes that doing so might help ensure that something like this never happens again.

One last thing… In writing tonight’s post, I had cause to revisit the Washington Post timeline of the 2016 Russian election interference operation, and it’s really incredible to see just how well all of the pieces fit together… Here, for those of you who haven’t seen it, are just a few highlights, assembled by the Washington Post from those court filings and government reports that have already become public.

March 15, 2016. The Russian hackers allegedly begin trying to identify vulnerabilities in the network of the Democratic National Committee.

March 19, 2016. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and others are sent “spear-phishing” emails meant to steal the login credentials for their email accounts.

March 21, 2016. Hackers allegedly gain access to Podesta’s account and steal over 50,000 emails.

March 25-28, 2016. Hackers allegedly target a number of additional campaign staffers with spear-phishing emails. That effort apparently included researching staff on social media.

…Spring 2016. From April through June, hackers allegedly install malware on DCCC computers that allows them to steal information and maintain access to the network. Information from this breach, including screenshots and keystroke information is sent to a server in Arizona via an overseas connection. Files were compressed and then transferred allegedly to a server based in Illinois. Hackers allegedly went back and deleted log file of their activity.

June 3, 2016. Donald Trump Jr. receives an email from a publicist working for a Russian pop star named Emin Agalarov offering to set up a meeting to “provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level,” the email reads, “and sensitive information but is part of Russia and it’s government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

June 8, 2016. DCLeaks launches. The site will eventually publish material allegedly stolen by the hackers including emails, DNC files and information stolen from Republicans in 2015. The same day, the hackers allegedly also create Twitter and Facebook pages for DCLeaks. The computer used to operate the Twitter account was also used to operate Twitter accounts associated with the Russian effort to influence the campaign over social media.

June 9, 2016. Trump Jr., Manafort and Jared Kushner meet at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked attorney.

June 12, 2016. In an interview with ITV, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange says the organization has more emails from Hillary Clinton.

June 14, 2016. With the public revelation that the DNC network had been hacked, the Russians allegedly created the “Guccifer 2.0” persona, mimicking a prominent Romanian hacker from several years prior.

July 27, 2016. At a news conference, Trump dismisses the idea that Russia is behind the hacking — and makes a request.

“If it is Russia — which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is — but if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything,” he said. “But it would be interesting to see — I will tell you this — Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing [from Clinton’s private server]. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be next.”

Trump’s press conference began in the morning in Florida, late afternoon in Russia. The same day, the GRU hackers allegedly try to access Clinton’s personal email server in addition to targeting 76 more email addresses within the campaign. The indictment doesn’t mention any other attempt to access the server.

July 31, 2016. The FBI begins investigating possible links between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign. The investigation is triggered when Australian authorities contact the agency to say that Papadopoulos had mentioned stolen material in a May conversation with one of their diplomats…

I’ve said it before, but we really are living in a nightmare world.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Hyborian Warlord on December 3, 2018: “No coincidence Seth Rich was murdered July 10. It’s true and President Trump knows it, watch.”

    Still watching.

  2. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Look how fast you have to deal with the terrible reality.

    “Late Monday night Wikileaks tweeted a full federal court filing the Trump campaign dropped onto the heads of the DNC and Russiagate. In short, it blows the DNC assertions out of the water that it was the victim of a computer hack.

    Did Russia hack the DNC? No, according to the filing, which asserts the DNC fabricated the hack.”

  3. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 5, 2019 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Check it out. I have only begun to read it yet but it looks like about what I said all along. No hack.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Why do all these guys look like Myrtle the turtle?

  5. Anonymous
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    One only has to read the first page of the memorandum to see the argument is that Trump wasn’t involved in Russian hacking and interference of the election, but does not dispute in any way Russian interference. It acknowledges it.

  6. wobblie
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    don’t worry folks, bi-partisanship is on the rise, As Rand Paul correctly points out, ““What is the one thing that brings Republicans and Democrats together?” Paul asked. “War. They love it, the more, the better. Forever war, perpetual war.” The killings in Afghanistan and Syria will continue, also better start brushing up on your Spanish.

  7. Alfie
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Has anyone considered the possibility that Rich was killed by the Russians to help them sell this story that the DNC hack was an inside job?

  8. iRobert
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I liked Mark’s blog better when it wasn’t a continuous stream of conspiracy theory posts.

    The blog peaked on the topic of ball-shaving.

  9. wobblie
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    As we continue down the rabbit hole of Russiagate, the foreign powers that actually call the shots in the US get everything they want.

    Of course the Republicans love the Saudi’s but other than Elijah Cummins, where are the Democrats? Oppose the Republicans on policy and we will end this travesty. Oppose the Republicans because of “Trump” and we will simply have four more years of Trump.

  10. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Trump’s motion acknowledges that the DNC alleges there was a hack by Russia. That’s it.

  11. iRobert
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Agreed, wobblie. And I think it’s becomming pretty clear that the plan is to focus on Trump personally and lose the election. It should help Dems win more legislative offices in 2022 and 2024, but that’s only if we are all still here then.

    Those who keep us perpetually at war feel they can manage it completely, but the truth is that things can escalate completely beyond their control. It’s a dangerous game they play, which costs millions of innocent lives and severely damages the lives of many times more, even if by luck it doesn’t escalate to global war.

    But this blog isn’t the place for serious discussion. It’s all about mockery and trivializing everything here. Nihilism is the culture here. You should accept that.

  12. Bob
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Let’s not forget that this turd was the architect (which makes him sound smarter than he is) of the swift-boating of John Kerry.

  13. Jean Henry
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Yes HW but it asserts none of the Seth Rich bs you were seeking validation for. Not a word. The motion does not assert that the dnc fabricated the hack, as you said above. That’s inaccurate.

  14. iRobert
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Speaking of crazy conspiracy theories, how many people here have heard the one that suggests Mark is paid through the university to maintain this blog as a social experiment?

  15. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t say it does have to do with Seth Rich. It’s bad enough for you the President’s Counsel just dropped a bomb on the tale the DNC wove about being hacked by Russia with the President as their confederate.

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    When the motion is dismissed, will you recant, HW? Or blame the deep state? Thought so. The motion reads like partisan bullshit to me, not a legal document that anyone would take seriously. There’s no basis in fact or legal precedent. It’s just noise. Made for people like you.

    IRobert, you have too much time on your hands.

  17. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Why would it be dismissed? The DNC has nothing. All they and the FBI had was CrowdStrike’s word. That fact is more relevant than what the court does with the motion.

  18. iRobert
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    As do you, Jean.

  19. iRobert
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    By the way, Jean, have you heard the conspiracy theory circulating around town that Mark is paid through the university to maintain this blog as a social experiment?

  20. iRobert
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

  21. iRobert
    Posted March 7, 2019 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    The guy who is circulating the conspiracy theory that this blog is a sociological experiment was at the gathering last night. He apparently is one of the many people who comment on the blog as “Anonymous,” or at least he claims to be anyway.

  22. John Brown
    Posted March 7, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    What a bunch of garbage.

    Mark, how about an update on your weight loss and fitness training program? You can “couch” it in the Classical Western expectations of a Citizen, fit mentally and physically, ready to be an asset to your society in anyway needed (updated for those evil archaic patriarchy, classist, and racist exclusions of course).

    “Ask not what your country can do for you, but get off your ass and be ready for action” -JFKish

  23. I bet HW that McCabe wouldn’t be fired and all I got was this stupid name
    Posted February 25, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Aloha, I realize there is a bi-partisan consensus to lock Assange in Gitmo for 175 years, but those of us who remain sane believe it is important to defend freedom of speech and the press.

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