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Posted: November 13, 2018
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Special counsel witness says he expects to be charged in Mueller probe










PHOTO: Jerome Corsi arrives at the immigration department in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 7, 2008.PlayAP, FILE

WATCH Acting AG criticized Mueller probe, recounts possible for midterm elections




The former Infowars Washington bureau chief, who recently testified before a federal grand jury in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, tells ABC News that after two months of closed-door talks with investigators, the special counsel has now indicated he will be charged within a matter of days.

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“I don’t know what they’re going to charge me with,” said Jerome Corsi in an interview with ABC News on Monday. “I think my only crime was that I support Donald Trump. That's my crime, and now I'm going to go to prison for the rest of my life for cooperating with them,” he later added.

Corsi is one of more than a dozen individuals associated with political operative Roger Stone -- a longtime and close ally of President Donald Trump -- who have been contacted by the special counsel. The witnesses, many of whom have appeared before the grand jury impaneled by Mueller’s team, have told ABC News they were asked about Stone’s dealings during the 2016 election and what if any contact he may have had with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange through an intermediary, which Stone denies.

Much remains unknown about Mueller’s interest in Stone. But Corsi has emerged as a central figure of interest to Mueller as he builds his case, sources confirm to ABC News. Corsi, who Stone told ABC News he has known for years, has frequently appeared with Stone on-air for Infowars, where Stone currently serves as a contributor.

Corsi described his experience with the investigation as “a horror show” and “a nightmare,” telling ABC News the special counsel’s probe, “Is an inquisition worthy of the KGB or the Gestapo. I feel like I've been through an interrogation session in North Korea in the Korean war.”

PHOTO: Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser and friend to President Donald Trump, speaks during a visit to the Womens Republican Club of Miami, May 22, 2017, in Coral Gables, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser and friend to President Donald Trump, speaks during a visit to the Women's Republican Club of Miami, May 22, 2017, in Coral Gables, Florida.more +

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on Corsi’s remarks to ABC News.

In recent weeks, ABC News reported that Corsi returned to Washington, D.C., again for more closed-door meetings with special counsel investigators, and was scheduled to make a second appearance before the federal grand jury in the probe. However, Corsi’s second grand jury testimony was ultimately canceled, and Corsi says prosecutors with the special counsel’s office told his attorney to expect forthcoming charges.

Reached by ABC News on Monday, Corsi's lawyer, David Gray, declined to comment on the matter.

Shortly after his interview with ABC News, Corsi hosted a live stream on his YouTube page in which he reiterated his expectation to be indicted, telling supporters; “I fully anticipate in the next few days to be indicted by Mueller.”

Mueller’s interest in Corsi is believed to stem from his alleged early discussions about efforts to unearth then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails. The special counsel has evidence that suggests Corsi may have had advance knowledge that the email account of Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, had been hacked and that WikiLeaks had obtained a trove of damning emails from it, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told ABC News.

Corsi’s account to ABC News of his time spent with investigators also identifies Wikileaks’ release of Podesta’s hacked emails as key to the special counsel’s inquiry of him.

In response to ABC News’ interview with Corsi, Stone defended Corsi as “a man who has been squeezed hard but refuses to do anything but tell the truth,” and called into question both his and Corsi’s alleged connections to Wikileaks.

“Where is the Russian collusion? Where is the Wikileaks collaboration? Where is proof that I knew about the theft or content of John Podesta's emails or the content or the source of any of the allegedly hacked or stolen e-mails published by Wikileaks?” Stone asked, rhetorically.

“They seem to think you know that I knew in advance what Assange was going to do; I'm not going to go into details at this point, but that was the basis of it,” said Corsi. “And as far as I can recall, I had no contact with Assange. And that didn't seem to satisfy them.”

In response to ABC News’ interview with Corsi, Stone defended Corsi as “a man who has been squeezed hard but refuses to do anything but tell the truth,” and called into question both his and Corsi’s alleged connections to Wikileaks.

Corsi said he was first approached in late August by FBI agents at his home in New Jersey, who presented him with a subpoena to testify before Mueller’s grand jury. Corsi added that over the last two months, he’s spent 40 hours with investigators over the course of six meetings, which he says have included special counsel prosecutors and an FBI agent.

After the subpoena was served, Corsi said that he decided to cooperate with the special counsel’s office.

“I had two computers that I used, I handed them both over, a time machine that recorded all the emails in my computer in a contemporaneous state 2016 -- completely unaltered,” he said. “I worked with the FBI at Quantico so that they could easily recover all my tweets and my Google account. My Google account they could see every place I've been, every click I've made, everything Google records.”

After the FBI’s visit, Corsi said, he and his attorney agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office and proffered to meet with special counsel investigators to answer their questions. “They have everything: Electronic surveillance -- everything electronic probably that I ever did in my life if they wanted -- every credit card, every phone call, every email, and I turned it all over to them as well,” he added.

Declining to give specific details on the matter until Corsi learns what he’s potentially charged with, he said the special counsel initially wanted him as a witness and told him he had not committed any crimes.

“And then it blows apart...at the end of two months...this deteriorates, and after a while, my mind became mush,” he said. “And every time I'm scared to death.”

Corsi said that from there, after two months of questioning, things deteriorated between him and investigators.

“They make it sound like it all fell apart and they were constantly pressing me on did I have a contact with Assange, and -- to the best of my knowledge -- I never had a contact with Assange,” Corsi said to ABC News. “And they just couldn't believe that because they said I seemed to know too much about what Assange was going to do. And I said you know that's what I do in my business: I try to connect the dots.”

While Corsi is not a widely-recognized figure, his handiwork in the political arena has at times become very well known. He has served as the pioneer of several enduring political smear campaigns during national campaigns throughout the 2000s.

Corsi’s most penetrating smear campaign is the same one that helped forge his bond with Trump. He is widely considered one of the early promoters of the so-called “birther” movement, which pursued the idea that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not in America. The theory was debunked and widely denounced as baseless, racist vitriol. Corsi and Trump have long been blasted for not walking back their claims even after Obama produced his long-form birth certificate. In fact, it was only in the final stretch of his successful 2016 presidential bid that Trump finally acknowledged that Obama was born in the U.S.

Corsi has also been cited as one of the architects of a 2004 effort to bring then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s war record into question through a 527 political organization called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The group attempted to cast doubt on Kerry’s Vietnam War record and question the injuries he sustained when he earned decorations that include a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts.

Corsi claims that his work is part of the reason he believes investigators are probing him.

“My conclusion was as much as they say they want only the truth, I believe that they have a narrative and they’re looking for fast facts to fit their narrative,” he said. “I've written 20 books since 2004 and I have reason to believe...that this is payback for those books.”

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, when Corsi joined the controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ right-wing outlet, Infowars, Jones reportedly boasted that Corsi “had a history” with Trump, and that the two had been acquainted for “40-plus years.”

When ABC News asked if he would be open to making a plea deal with the special counsel’s office should they charge him in coming days, Corsi replied, “What’s there to be a plea deal with?” and expressed his suspicions about the possible charges investigators may claim against him.

“They said I didn't commit any crimes. I can't remember all my emails I can't remember all my phone calls, [and] I tell them that. It's impossible; it's a perjury trap from the moment you get going,” Corsi said.

“My crime is that I didn't tell them what they wanted to hear. They won't believe it, but this is the most frightening experience of my lifetime. I'm being punished for trying to cooperate with them in a game that I was set to lose,” he added. “I couldn't win this game...it wasn't a game; I was trying to tell them the truth. But you forget that somebody was in a meeting and you lied to them.”









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PHOTO: The Camp Fire burns along a ridge near Big Bend, Calif., Nov. 10, 2018. PlayStephen Lam/Reuters

WATCH California wildfires grow as 2 new blazes break out; dozens remain unaccounted for




Fueled by blustery winds and parched vegetation, two massive fires burning in California both grew overnight, leaving thousands of exhausted firefighter battling to stretch containment lines around the raging blazes that have killed at least 44 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

Adding to the turmoil were two new fires that broke out within five minutes of each other Monday morning near the massive Woolsey Fire burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Chief Mark Lorenzen of the Ventura County Fire Department said the first blaze started at 10 a.m. near the city of Thousand Oaks, quickly spread and was threatening homes. The second fire ignited about five minutes later in the Rocky Peak area near a densely populated area of Semi Valley on the Los Angeles-Ventura County line. It grew to 105 acres and prompted the closure of Highway 118 in both directions for more than an hour, but the forward progress of the fire had been stopped by 2 p.m. PT.

PHOTO: Firefighters battle the Peak fire in Simi Valley, Calif., Nov. 12, 2018. Eric Thayer/Reuters

Firefighters battle the Peak fire in Simi Valley, Calif., Nov. 12, 2018.

Fire crews rapidly raced to both fires, battling them from the ground and air with helicopters. Firefighters were able to control the blazes and stop them from spreading to nearby populated areas, officials said.

"It just hits home that we are still in significant fire weather and the existing fire is not our only concern," Lorenzen said.

PHOTO: The Camp Fire burns along a ridge near Big Bend, Calif., Nov. 10, 2018. Stephen Lam/Reuters

The Camp Fire burns along a ridge near Big Bend, Calif., Nov. 10, 2018.

Meanwhile, the Camp Fire ravaging Nothern California's Butte County, now the most destructive and deadliest fire in the state's history, grew by 4,000 acres between Sunday and Monday morning as firefighters struggled to get a handle on the flames spreading into rugged, hard-to-reach terrain in the Sierra foothills.

Two prison inmate firefighters were among three injured fighting the Camp Fire, a Cal Fire officials told ABC News.

The fire, which is just 30 percent contained, has now burned 117,000 acres and destroyed 7,177 homes and businesses, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire. The fire protection agency has created an interactive website for residents to check on the damage of their home or business.

The blaze has killed 42 people, topping the 1933 Griffith Park Fire in Los Angeles, previously the state's deadliest inferno, by more than 13.

The California wildfires, as shown in the map below, have burned more than 200,000 acres across the state.

PHOTO: A locator map of the California wildfires distributed by Newscom, Nov. 11, 2018.TNS/Newscom

A locator map of the California wildfires distributed by Newscom, Nov. 11, 2018.

The Woolsey Fire, one of two blazes wreaking havoc in Southern California, grew to 93,662 acres on Monday after it hopscotched through Los Angeles and Ventura counties over the weekend, leveling homes in the celebrity enclaves of Malibu, West Lake Village, and Calabasas.

The number of structures destroyed, which includes homes, grew to 435 on Monday, up from 177 on Sunday, according to Cal Fire.

The Woolsey Fire, which killed two people in Malibu, was 30 percent contained on Monday, officials said.

No rain is forecast before Thanksgiving


The next rain event isn't expected any time soon, National Weather Service meteorologist Aviva Braun told reporters Monday evening. There is no indication of precipitation in the next week and through Thanksgiving, she added.

Dry and near-critical conditions are expected to continue overnight Monday into Tuesday as breezy, northwest winds kick up again. However, the winds won't be nearly as strong as in the past few nights, so no red flag warnings were issued for Monday night.

The winds on Tuesday will be "much lighter," Braun said.

Neil Young loses home


Singer Neil Young, 73, confirmed Sunday that his Malibu home was among those destroyed in the fire.

"We are up against something bigger than we have ever seen. It's too big for some to see at all," Young wrote on the Neil Young Archives page on Facebook. "Firefighters have never seen anything like this in their lives. I have heard that said countless times in the past two days, and I have lost my home before to a California fire, now another."

The monstrous fires were threatening to destroy up to 57,000 more homes in Southern California and another 15,500 in Northern California as blustery winds are expected to deal firefighters a menacing challenge throughout the state over the next two days, Cal Fire officials said.

Officials remained concerned the death toll could rise as search and rescue crews reach areas previously unreachable because of fire danger. There were more than 100 people missing in the Butte County fire zones, though officials were working to track them down.

The Butte County Sheriff's Office has received 1,513 calls for welfare checks, and authorities had located 231 people safely by Monday night, officials said.

The Butte County Sheriff's Office has activated a call center for the public to provide and receive information about those thought to be missing.

The bodies of most of those who perished were found in Paradise, the Sierra foothills community that was almost completely destroyed by the Camp Fire.

149,000 evacuated


More than 149,000 people throughout the Golden State have evacuated as a result of the fires, outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters Sunday afternoon.

The threats from the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire aren't expected to diminish anytime soon, as gusty weather ramped back up Sunday throughout the state. Red flag warnings signaling extreme fire danger have been issued from California's border with Oregon to its border with Mexico.

Batallion Chief Lucas Spellman said Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that fires were being fueled by an abundance of vegetation that grew during a spike in precipitation last year only to wither during a new dry spell that has hit the state.

"So, it's just a recipe for destruction," Spellman said.



Wind gusts could reach 50 mph across the eastern foothills and western slopes of the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range through today, as well as parts of the Sacramento Valley.

Officials are warning evacuees eager to return home to stay away, emphasizing that many of the damaged areas are still not safe.

Harrowing escape


Nichole Jolly, a nurse at Feather River Hospital in Paradise, said she was nearly killed twice Thursday by the Camp Fire after helping to evacuate critically sick patients.

"I called my husband and I just said, 'I don't think I'm gonna make it out of this. It's coming in too fast, I don't even know where to go,'" Jolly told ABC News.

She said she tried to drive out of the harm's way only to have her car fill up with smoke and get rear-ended by another panicked driver.

"I knew I was gonna die if I stayed in my car," she said, so she jumped out and ran.

She said her pants were on fire by the time she was rescued by two firefighters.

PHOTO: Leveled residences line a mobile home park on Edgewood Lane after the Camp Fire burned through Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2018.Noah Berger/AP

Leveled residences line a mobile home park on Edgewood Lane after the Camp Fire burned through Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2018.more +

"Everybody I know lost everything.


Paradise resident Brad Weldon told ABC News that his home was one of four still standing on a mile-and-a-half stretch in his neighborhood.

Weldon woke up Thursday morning to fire reports in Pulga -- about a 30-mile drive east of Paradise -- but stayed at his home with his 90-year-old mother, Norma Weldon, who is blind and refused to leave.

Once Weldon noticed that the fire was coming toward his home with 60 mph winds, he witnessed a firenado change the course of the blaze.

"And a fire tornado, like a big firestorm, started right up there, and it kind of turned the fire away from us," he said. "I believe that was the angels."

When asked what was left of the town of Paradise, Weldon replied, "Nothing."

"It's gone," he said, holding back tears. "Everybody I know lost everything. It's real sad."

PHOTO: As the Camp Fire burns nearby, a scorched car rests by gas pumps near Pulga, Calif., Nov. 11, 2018.Noah Berger/AP

As the Camp Fire burns nearby, a scorched car rests by gas pumps near Pulga, Calif., Nov. 11, 2018.

"Our entire five-member council is homeless."


The home of Melissa Schuster, councilwoman for the town of Paradise, was among the 6,453 single-family residences destroyed in Butte County in the Camp Fire, she told ABC News.

Schuster was at her home Thursday morning when Paradise Town Manager Lauren Gill called her, telling her that "the fire situation had changed," and she and her family barely made it out alive.

The fire progressed "so rapidly," Schuster said, adding that she’d never heard of "a fire that has impacted an entire community."

More than 50,000 Butte County residents are currently displaced, Schuster said. The homes of all five of Paradise’s councilmembers were also incinerated in the fire, she said.

"Our entire five-member council is homeless," she said.

PHOTO: Firefighters Jason Toole, right, and Brent McGill with the Santa Barbara Fire Dept. walk among the ashes of a wildfire-ravaged home after turning off an open gas line, Nov. 10, 2018, in Malibu, Calif.Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Firefighters Jason Toole, right, and Brent McGill with the Santa Barbara Fire Dept. walk among the ashes of a wildfire-ravaged home after turning off an open gas line, Nov. 10, 2018, in Malibu, Calif.more +

While firefighters struggled to get a handle on the Woolsey Fire, another blaze burning in the Southern California, the Hill Fire, was 85 percent contained Monday after it consumed 4,531 acres in Ventura County near Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people Wednesday night at a country bar before taking his own life.

The infamous Santa Ana wind in Southern California began kicking up again on Sunday with gusts of up to 40 mph hitting the fire zones, officials said. The winds are not expected to calm down until Tuesday.

Two people were found dead in Malibu from the Woolsey Fire, officials from Cal Fire said.

Detectives believe that the victims, found in a vehicle off the Mulholland Highway, were killed after the driver became disoriented while evacuating and the car was overcome by fire, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Cmdr. Scott Gage said in a press conference Sunday afternoon.

More than 3,200 firefighters are battling the Woolsey Fire, while another 4,500 are fighting the Camp Fire. Firefighters are also tending to at least another 12 smaller fires burning throughout the state.

PHOTO: A list of the top 10 deadliest California wildfires as of Nov. 12, 2018. TNS/Newscom

A list of the top 10 deadliest California wildfires as of Nov. 12, 2018.

"We need to make sure that all citizens are diligent to making sure that they do nothing to start a new fire," Chief Scott Jalbert of Cal Fire said at a news conference Sunday.

Burning ice plant


Lorenzen implored people to leave evacuation zones. He said the fire was burning everything in its path, including ice plant.

"Ice plant is not supposed to burn," Lorenzen said Sunday. "So my message to the community today is maybe 10 to 20 years ago you stayed in your homes when there was a fire and you were able to protect them. Things are not the way they were 10 years ago. The rate of spread is exponentially more than what it used to be."

The governor-elect of California, Gavin Newsom, has issued an emergency proclamation for Butte County due to the Camp Fire.

On Sunday, Gov. Brown requested that President Donald Trump issue a Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the ongoing emergency response and aid residents in their recovery from devastating fires throughout the state.

"We have the best firefighters and first responders in the country working in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable," Brown said in a statement Sunday. "We're putting everything we've got into the fight against these fires and this request ensures communities on the front lines get additional federal aid. To those who have lost friends and family members, homes and businesses, know that the entire state is with you. As Californians, we are strong and resilient, and together we will recover."

Late on Friday, Trump declared a state of emergency for California, freeing up federal resources to supplement local response efforts. The declaration allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts to help alleviate the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, provide support for emergency measures and free up federal resources.

PHOTO: Capt. Adrian Murrieta with the Los Angeles County Fire Dept., looks for hot spots on a wildfire-ravaged home, Nov. 10, 2018, in Malibu, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Capt. Adrian Murrieta with the Los Angeles County Fire Dept., looks for hot spots on a wildfire-ravaged home, Nov. 10, 2018, in Malibu, Calif. more +

But on Saturday morning, Trump threatened to pull federal funding for California wildfires if the state didn't "remedy" its poor "forest management."

"Our focus is on the Californians impacted by these fires and the first responders and firefighters working around the clock to save lives and property — not on the president’s inane and uninformed tweets," Brown's press secretary, Evan Westrup, told ABC News on Sunday.

Brian Rice, president of California Professional Firefighters, called Trump's threat to slash funds for battling California wildfires "ill-informed, ill-timed, demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines."

Rice said Trump's assertion that California's forest management policies are to blame for the catastrophic wildfires is "dangerously wrong."

"Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography," Rice said.

On Tuesday, Trump approved an emergency request for a major disaster declaration in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

ABC News' Karma Allen, Brandon Baur, Will Carr, Stacy Chen, Matthew Fuhrman, Bonnie Mclean, Daniel Peck and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.







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