Corsi's lawsuit against Mueller hits hurdle in first hearing

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon on Thursday rejected a request from conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi for the judge to preside over Corsi's lawsuit against special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

Leon, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, said a provision that would otherwise have him take up the case did not apply in this instance since Corsi's lawsuit was not related to previous cases he has heard.

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Corsi, who is suing Mueller over alleged illegal surveillance and leaks from the special counsel's office, went to court to request that Leon preside over his case.

Instead, Senior U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huevelle, who was appointed by former President Clinton, will now oversee the case, according to a filing made early Thursday evening.

Corsi's attorney, Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch founder Larry Klayman, argued during Thursday's hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that Corsi's lawsuit was related to earlier ones presided over by Leon that alleged illegal surveillance, and that Leon should oversee this one as well due to a provision that allows judges to hear similar cases.

Corsi, an ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE's longtime adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneTop GOP Judiciary rep: 'At this point the president has been proved right' about no collusion Trump breaks 40-hour silence on Twitter Mueller figures celebrate end of probe MORE, emerged as a key character in Mueller's investigation of Stone over the past few months.

Klayman had been highly complimentary of Leon in statements issued ahead of the hearing, calling him "one of the few jurists in the nation who has the nonpartisan independence and courage to stand up to and hold legally accountable Special Counsel Mueller."

Attorneys for the Justice Department’s civil division argued that the previous cases cited by Corsi and Klayman did not apply because they did not have similar subject matter or the same parties as required under the rule, an argument that Leon sided with.

Leon said that having the case assigned to him would “undermine” the process in which cases are randomly assigned to judges operating within the district court.

He also had some criticism for Klayman for previous allegations he had made against the judge. Klayman suggested in a previous filing regarding a class-action lawsuit against the NSA that Leon had been “coopted by the so-called 'Deep State.'”

Leon referenced those past comments during Thursday's ruling.

In a press conference after the hearing, Klayman called the decision “dead wrong,” while Corsi described it as a "victory," saying he will continue to push the lawsuit through the highest levels of the court system if necessary.

"We'll find the next judge and see how fair the next judge is," Corsi said.

Mueller has scrutinized Stone over comments that suggest he had prior knowledge of the WikiLeaks' release of emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Ex-Clinton aide: Dems should make 2020 'about integrity' Trump mounts Rust Belt defense MORE's campaign chairman, John Podesta, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Stone has said he did not have insider knowledge of WikiLeaks' actions, but rather that a source tipped him off that the group would release damaging information.

Corsi was questioned last year by the special counsel over his communications with Stone, and first revealed late last year that he had been offered a plea deal by Mueller for making a false statement to investigators.

He denied he had made a false statement, arguing he did not review his emails and other documents before his questioning and then amended his testimony after doing so.

He rejected the initial plea deal offer, and is now alleging that Mueller is “harassing” his family.

Corsi last month sued Mueller for $350 million in damages, alleging illegal surveillance and attempts to coerce false testimony from the witness in the special counsel’s investigation.

Corsi last year also filed a complaint about the special counsel with the Justice Department and other federal offices, requesting that the office face criminal and ethical investigations for its conduct.

Legal experts have cast doubt on the allegations in that document, saying it appeared to be more of a last-ditch effort by Corsi to halt potential charges and is unlikely to lead to any ramifications.