Government shutdown won’t delay hearing in lawsuit against Robert Mueller, judge rules
A federal court judge ruled Thursday against letting the ongoing partial government shutdown delay conservative author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi’s lawsuit accusing special counsel Robert Mueller of “illegal and unconstitutional surveillance” and leaking to the media.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon denied a motion to stay sought by the Department of Justice, rejecting the government’s request to postpone a court hearing in Mr. Corsi’s case over the partial shutdown that started Saturday.
The hearing “shall take place as scheduled,” Judge Leon ordered from D.C. federal court.
Mr. Corsi, 72, applauded the ruling a series of Twitter posts.
“I plan to be in court,” he tweeted.
A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment on the judge’s order.
Lawyers for the Justice Department requested the stay on Wednesday, potentially delaying next week’s court date indefinitely.
“The Department does not know when funding will be restored by Congress,” James Gilligan, acting director of the federal programs branch of the Justice Department’s civil division, wrote in the motion. “Absent an appropriation, Department of Justice attorneys are generally prohibited from working, even on a voluntary basis, except in very limited circumstances,” Mr. Gilligan added, including “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”
Mr. Corsi’s lawyer, conservative watchdog Larry Klayman, cried foul in a response filed in court within hours.
“Defendants’ motion is, in practice, proffered tactically for delay,” argued Mr. Klayman. “Indeed, the so called ‘government shutdown’ is only partial, and Defendants Robert Mueller and the Office of the Special Counsel, which is an integral part of the U.S. Department of Justice, is excepted in any event. Thus, Special Counsel Mueller’s prosecutors and legal counsel can, at a minimum, be present at the hearing on January 3, 2019.”
“Furthermore, it is highly doubtful that U.S. Department of Justice attorneys are actually prohibited from working,” Mr. Klayman continued. “By counsel for Defendants’ own admission, any furlough does not apply across the board and is not applicable in compelling circumstances,” Mr. Klayman wrote.
A conspiracy theorist best-known for propagating falsehoods involving former President Barck Obama, Mr. Corsi said last month that he was questioned by members of the special counsel’s office as part of their probe into the 2016 race, and that he was subsequently accused of lying to investigators and offered plea agreement copping to one count of perjury.
Mr. Corsi said that he refused to sign the plea agreement, and he sued Mr. Mueller, among others, this month for allegedly conducting “illegal and unconstitutional surveillance” of his phone and electronic records.
“Defendant Mueller and his prosecutorial and media staff, acting in their official capacity and personally, also illegally released grand jury information to harm Plaintiff Corsi by attempting to destroy his reputation and personal and professional well-being and livelihood, thus also attempting to drive him into bankruptcy,” Mr. Klayman wrote in the lawsuit.
Mr. Corsi is seeking $350 million in punitive damages from Mr. Mueller, the FBI, the National Security Agency, CIA and Justice Department.