A New York-based doctor and recent right-wing star has reportedly drawn the scrutiny of federal prosecutors after a former Mueller probe character accidentally emailed one of Mueller’s deputies about the doctor’s work.
The doctor, Vladimir “Zev” Zelenko, has championed the same anti-malaria drug that the President has speculated for weeks could be a COVID-19 cure: Hydroxychloroquine.
But when Jerome Corsi — who prosecutors suggested was Roger Stone’s back channel to Wikileaks — tried to send an email to Zelenko about his work, Corsi accidentally contacted the wrong person: Aaron Zelinsky, a former prosecutor on Mueller’s team who’s now investigating coronavirus-related crimes in the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s office.
The Washington Post got the story of the unfortunate mix-up Thursday night.
The two are quite familiar with each other. Zelinsky investigated Corsi and interviewed him extensively as part of the Mueller probe. At one point, prosecutors reportedly drafted a plea agreement for Corsi in which he would have admitted to lying about Wikileaks, but Corsi said he refused to sign it.
Zelinsky was one of several prosecutors to withdraw from the federal case against Roger Stone after Attorney General Bill Barr intervened in order to reduce the department’s recommended prison sentence for Stone.
The email that Corsi accidentally sent Zelinsky, according to the Post, said that Zelenko had “an FDA approved randomized test of HCQ underway.” Except that’s not the case. After prosecutors expressed their curiosity, Zelenko told Corsi that he really was referring to a study that had been approved by a hospital panel, not the FDA, Corsi said.
“I pointed out to Zelenko, ‘But it’s not registered as an FDA test, and you can’t say it is,’” Corsi said in a recent YouTube video, the Post reported. Corsi told the Post he didn’t believe Zelenko was trying to mislead anyone — but rather that he didn’t know what it meant to have an FDA-approved test. Corsi’s lawyer, David Gray, declined TPM’s request for comment on the matter Friday.
Zelenko, for his part, has kept his head down. A lawyer working with him told the Post that he hadn’t heard anything from the feds. Zelenko told Corsi on a recent podcast that Zelenko and two German scientists would soon publish data on his use of hydroxychloroquine, the Post noted.
“The difference between me and Dr. Fauci is only about 100,000 dead people,” Zelenko said, referring to the government infectious disease expert who’s cautioned against using the drug.
Corsi said he complied fully with Zelinksy’s request for documents — “everything he asked for,” including emails, text messages, and marketing materials for a website he’s starting to connect people with doctors via telehealth. Zelenko is listed as an unpaid medical adviser for the site, the Post reported.
“I did nothing wrong,” Corsi told the Post. “Zelenko made a mistake. He’s got no case. And we’re following all the rules.”
Zelenko’s advocacy of hydroxychloroquine, which has not been established as an effective COVID-19 treatment, has landed his work on Fox News and gotten him in touch with the White House.
It’s also led to some embarrassing mix-ups like Corsi’s. Another member of Trump’s circle, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, also acknowledged mucking up the doctor’s name in an interview with The New York Times last month.
Giuliani, an advocate of hydroxychloroquine himself and a fan of the doctor’s, told the Times he had accidentally referred to Zelenko as “Dr. Zelensky,” confusing his name with that of the man he last spent months researching: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
This post has been updated.
Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously reported that Zelenko had been on Fox News. While the doctor’s work has been discussed on the network, he has not appeared as a guest.