“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,” [spokesman for the special counsel’s office Peter] 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 woman also told several journalists of the alleged plan, which she said involved being paid $20,000 to level fabricated claims against the special counsel.
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.
According to the woman’s account, told in an email to journalists that was obtained by The Atlantic, that a man “with a British accent” contacted her via phone.
She said he wanted to ask her “a couple questions about Robert Mueller, whom I worked with when I was a paralegal for Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro in 1974. I asked him who he was working for, and he told me his boss was some sort of politics guy in Washington named Jack Burkman. I reluctantly told [him] that I had only worked with Mr. Mueller for a short period of time, before leaving that firm to have my first son.”
She continued: “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 man “offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do” it, she wrote. “He knew exactly how much credit card debt I had, right down to the dollar, which sort of freaked me out.”
At around the same time the email was received by journalists, Burkman published a video to his Facebook page saying that Mueller “has a whole lifetime history of harassing women,” The Atlantic reported.
Burkman, a right-wing radio host known to traffic in conspiracy theories, then tweeted a similar allegation on Tuesday — the same day the special counsel’s office announced it had referred the alleged plan to the FBI for investigation.
In an emailed statement, Burkman denied knowing the woman who originally alerted journalists to the alleged scheme and called the FBI referral “a joke, mueller wants to deflect attention from his sex assault troubles by attacking me.” He added in a separate 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.