The Slatest

Documents Reveal Trump Allies Jerome Corsi, Roger Stone Knew Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory Was False Before Promoting It

Roger Stone looks warily toward an interviewer holding a microphone.
Roger Stone on July 30, 2017, in Pasadena, California. Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images

Tuesday’s news that Trump associate Jerome Corsi emailed Roger Stone about the hacked Clinton campaign emails before they were published also revealed another telling piece of information about the Trump allies: Corsi and Stone were aware that a conspiracy theory they peddled about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer was false.

The email Corsi sent Stone, made public in documents prepared by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller and dated to Aug. 2, 2016, showed that the two privately acknowledged that the Democrat emails published on WikiLeaks during the 2016 election had been obtained by Russian hackers and not stolen by DNC staffer Seth Rich, even as they publicly pushed the conspiracy theory that Rich had been murdered for leaking the emails, as the Daily Beast noted.

The revelation shows the clear-eyed and cruel ways the two right-wing pundits propagated falsehoods for political gain, even as Rich’s parents pleaded for the conspiracy theorists to drop discussion of their son’s murder.

Corsi sent the email to Stone at a time when security experts had already identified the hackers as Russians. “Time to let more than [the Clinton Campaign chairman] to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton],” Corsi wrote. “That appears to be the game hackers are now about.”

But in 2017, Corsi would appear in a three-part series for Alex Jones’ Infowars explaining that the hackers were not behind the email leaks and that it could instead be attributed to Rich, whom he and other conspiracy theorists portrayed as a disaffected staffer silenced for turning on his party. Before Corsi’s appearance on Infowars, Rich’s parents had begged him and other right-wing amplifiers of the theory to leave them alone to grieve.

Stone, too, supported the theory, and tweeted eight days after receiving the email from Corsi that Rich had “ties to DNC heist.”

Rich had been murdered in July 2016 in Washington, in an early morning shooting that police have theorized was a failed robbery. The DNC murder theory quickly sprang up in conspiratorial right-wing discussions, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange actively encouraged it. The theory entered the mainstream when Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman, who allegedly worked with a wealthy former Morgan Stanley executive to craft the story about Rich’s assassination, published a report on Fox News’ website in May 2017. Other television reports then echoed the theory, and Fox News later retracted the story without an apology or explanation. Since then, Corsi has continued to promote the theory, which still circulates in some right-wing corners of the internet.