The FBI has been asked to investigate claims that women have been offered money to fabricate sexual-harassment allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
An alleged scheme to pay off women to fabricate sexual assault allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been referred to the FBI for further investigation, according to a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, Peter Carr. “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” Carr said in a statement on Tuesday.
The special counsel’s attention to this scheme—which was brought to the office by a woman claiming she herself had been offered money to make up sexual harassment claims against Mueller—and its decision to release a rare statement about it to reporters indicates the seriousness with which the office is taking the purported scheme to discredit Mueller in the middle of an ongoing investigation.
The special counsel’s office confirmed that the scheme was brought to its attention by several journalists who were told about it by a woman alleging that she herself had been offered roughly $20,000 by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman “to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.” The woman told journalists that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974. The firm has not returned a request for comment about whether the woman actually worked there.
He “offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do one thing,” the woman wrote to the journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained. “In more of an effort to get him to go away than anything else, I asked him what in the hell he wanted me to do. He said that we could not talk about it on the phone, and he asked me to download an app on my phone called Signal, which he said was more secure. Reluctantly, I downloaded the app and he called me on that app a few minutes later. He said (and I will never forget exactly what it was) ‘I want you to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller, and I want you to sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.’”
The woman was not willing to speak to the reporters by phone, so portions of her story have gone uncorroborated. Around the time that the journalists began receiving the email, Burkman released a video on his Facebook page claiming, without evidence, that Mueller “has a whole lifetime history of harassing women.” On Tuesday, the day the special counsel revealed that it had referred the woman’s claims to the FBI, Burkman tweeted a similar allegation.
In a statement, Burkman denied knowing the woman who originally alerted journalists to the alleged scheme. But he told me in an email that “on Thursday 1200 NOON ROSSYLN HOLIDAY INN we will present a very credible witness who will allege that Mr. Mueller committed against her a sexual assault.” Mueller’s spokesman reiterated that the claims are false. Burkman, a conservative radio host, is known for spreading conspiracy theories. He launched his own private investigation into the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, and earlier this year offered $25,000 to FBI whistleblowers for any information exposing wrongdoing during the 2016 election.