- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Jerome Corsi was wondering whether he would be indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller when he learned from a Friday news report the Russia probe concluded without new charges. He and his wife dropped to their knees, cried and thanked God.

George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his time with the Trump campaign, revealed Tuesday he’s formally asked for a presidential pardon.

Michael Caputo, who also worked on the Trump campaign, was at a police station Tuesday reporting his latest death threat — one of the hundreds he’s received since he was first connected to the Mueller probe two years ago.

And another campaign official, J.D. Gordon, is mulling a defamation lawsuit against media outlets that mentioned his name while promoting now-discredited claims that members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Now that Mr. Mueller has ended his probe without finding any conspiracy to subvert the 2016 election, those who became collateral damage along the way are now trying to pick up the pieces.

“This is the most traumatic experience of my life,” Mr. Corsi, a conservative author, told The Washington Times. “My wife and I are trying to reconstruct our lives and it is not over yet because I’m still dealing with the aftermath. I’ve lost my job, I have no income, I have $100,000 in legal bills, and Mueller couldn’t care less.”

While the special counsel did win a number of convictions and guilty pleas, including from Papadopoulos, they stemmed from financial crimes that predated the campaign or from people lying during the investigation about their behavior.

Mr. Mueller did not win any charges linking anyone to the central claims involving the Russian conspiracy. Indeed, while he says Russians did offer to assist the Trump campaign, he apparently has concluded there is no evidence to be found that any campaign officials accepted the offers.

Now those who faced the prosecutors’ hardball tactics are wondering why they had to go through it.

“I am happy they didn’t indict me, but I am not happy about the situation,” Mr. Corsi said. “They never should have threatened to indict me at all.”

For some, Friday’s revelation that there would be no more indictments brought unexpected relief.

“Best birthday present ever,” said Mr. Caputo, whose Saturday birthday landed just after Mr. Mueller submitted his report, and a day before Attorney General William P. Barr revealed the conclusions.

He said one of his gifts was a T-shirt that said, “I survived the Mueller investigation, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

Although he was merely a witness, he said he had still feared ending up in the crossfire.

“It doesn’t matter how much they assure you that you are not a subject or target, because it is a very aggressive prosecution team,” he said. “They can turn a witness into a target in the blink of an eye. When I see what happened to other witnesses like Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, every single one us was in peril.”

Mr. Gordon said he was so angry Sunday he could “barely speak.” He compared his experience to the infamous Red Scare of the 1950s, saying it was two years of being terrorized by the media and others — and suddenly the terror ends.

Even as Mr. Mueller’s team packs up its Washington, D.C., office, some of those dragged into the probe say they’re still living with the consequences.

Mr. Caputo said threats aimed at his family, which had diminished, ratcheted up after Friday’s announcement that the probe had ended. By Monday, he said the threats and personal attacks swelled into the hundreds.

He said his security adviser had warned him that might happen.

“He told me when the report comes out and completely absolves the president and his team, the most broken crackpots will see it as a time of desperation and will be most inclined to act violently,” Mr. Caputo said.

Now Mr. Caputo is looking to rebuild his public-relations business, which has lost 50 percent of its revenue since being linked to the Mueller probe.

“The challenge I have is that I am in the public relations business, and it’s not clear how long the stink this politically commissioned investigation is going to hang around,” he said. “There are people who tell me that I’ll never work again. I’m about to find out if they are right.”

Mr. Caputo has vented his frustration on Twitter in recent days.

Mr. Gordon, meanwhile, says he is exploring a defamation lawsuit against print and cable news outlets and individual reporters who linked him to Russian collusion.

He pointed to similar cases brought against the media by one-time Olympic Park bombing suspect Richard Jewell, who was later cleared.

He said he worries that people will view the Mueller report as a whitewash, and he’ll always be seen as “a villain.”

Mr. Corsi already has a $350 million lawsuit against Mr. Mueller and his team, alleging illegal surveillance and leaking grand jury information.

“I want that case to be heard, and it now has merit given that they did not indict me,” he said.

Papadopoulos said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday that he is considering withdrawing his guilty plea. Now he says that he misspoke while being grilled by FBI agents, contradicting his statement to a federal judge that he deliberately lied to the G-Men.

Mr. Gordon, Mr. Caputo, Mr. Corsi and Papadopoulos do still have to deal with some fallout. They’ve all been asked to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee. Several told The Times they don’t have the documents requested and are prepared to tell that to lawmakers.

Mr. Caputo says he’s worried about longtime Trump associate Roger Stone, who faces a trial in November on charges of witness intimidation and lying to Congress. Mr. Mueller lodged those charges.

Mr. Caputo described Mr. Stone as a “dear friend,” adding he is helping raise funds for his $5 million in legal fees.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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