Judge denies special counsel Robert Mueller's request to delay hearing in Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi's lawsuit over government shutdown
- A federal judge on Thursday denied a request by special counsel Robert Mueller and several other federal agencies to delay an upcoming hearing in a lawsuit brought by Roger Stone-linked conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.
- Mueller and the FBI, CIA, NSA and DOJ cited the ongoing government shutdown in their request for a delay.
- A lawyer for Corsi says that the request for a delay was being "proffered tactically," and asserted "it is highly doubtful" that DOJ attorneys "are actually prohibited from working."
A federal judge on Thursday denied a request by special counsel Robert Mueller and several other federal agencies to delay an upcoming hearing in a lawsuit brought by Roger Stone-linked conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.
Government attorneys had argued in a United States district court filing Wednesday that the ongoing government shutdown hamstrung their lawyers by cutting off funding to the Justice Department.
"Absent an appropriation, Department of Justice attorneys are generally prohibited from working, even on a voluntary basis, except in very limited circumstances," they claimed in the filing in Washington, D.C., District Court.
A lawyer for Corsi, 72, retorted that the request for a delay was being "proffered tactically," and asserted that "it is highly doubtful" DOJ attorneys "are actually prohibited from working."
Judge Richard Leon denied the request for a stay in proceedings, and reaffirmed that a hearing will be held in a Washington, D.C. courthouse next Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
Corsi said in a tweet that he plans to attend the hearing.
A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined CNBC's request for comment on the judge's order.
The suit is one of a number of cases that have recently seen government lawyers asking for delays in light of the partial shutdown, which began at midnight Friday after President Donald Trump and U.S. lawmakers failed to hash out a deal on funding for a border wall.
The lawsuit brought by Corsi, a leading promulgator of the Obama "birther" conspiracy and the "Swift Boat" campaign, accuses the defendants of illegally searching his phone records.
He also accuses the special counsel of attempting to coerce him to say under oath that he was a liaison between Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in the publication of emails stolen from Democrats.
For more than a year and a half, Mueller has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between the Kremlin and Trump campaign-related figures.
Mueller also has reportedly investigated for months whether Corsi knew in advance about WikiLeaks obtaining Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. Troves of those and other Democratic National Committee members' emails, which U.S. intelligence services have concluded were stolen by Russian intelligence officers, were published by WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign.
Corsi, an avid Trump supporter, has denied that he knew ahead of time about the hacking and release of Podesta's emails.
A reported draft court filing from an aborted plea deal with Mueller alleges Corsi told people in 2016 that he knew about WIkiLeaks' plans to release damaging information about Clinton before the election.
In his lawsuit, Corsi is now demanding $100 million in "general and compensatory damages" and $250 million in "punitive damages" from Mueller and the other agencies.
Judge Richard Leon had scheduled a Jan. 3 hearing for Corsi's lawyer, Larry Klayman, to explain why this case against Mueller — and the FBI, the CIA, the DOJ and the National Security Agency — was related to other suits he had filed in recent years, against defendants including former President Barack Obama and former FBI Director James Comey.
Klayman argued in a Wednesday filing that the most recent complaint "is intricately related" to those past cases "as it involves a continuing pattern and practice of illegal and unconstitutional misconduct ... that has been ongoing for nearly over half a decade now."
Other lawsuits have recently seen government lawyers asking for delays in proceedings in light of the partial government shutdown.
On Wednesday, Trump administration attorneys reportedly sought to delay a lawsuit about claims that the president is violating the U.S. Constitution by profiting from his Washington hotel's business with foreign countries.
Government lawyers made the same request in another case brought in June over the administration's policy that led to the separation of immigrants parents who crossed the U.S. border illegally from their children.
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