An alleged scheme targeting special counsel Robert Mueller has been referred to the FBI.
"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,” said special counsel spokesman Peter Carr in a Tuesday statement.
Last week, several journalists received an email from someone claiming to have been offered money in exchange to make sexual harassment claims against Mueller.
“Two weeks ago, I was contacted by a woman who claimed to be a former associate of Mueller who said that she got a phone call from a man working on behalf of a GOP operative who was paying women to come forward to make up sexual assault allegations,” tweeted independent investigative journalist Scott Stedman.
Two other journalists have said the same, including The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand and The New Yorker’s Jane Meyer.
It’s just a stupid hoax.— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) October 30, 2018
The Washington Examiner did not receive such an email.
Ed Krassenstein, who writes for The Hill Reporter, detailed the claims, which include a woman alleging she was offered roughly $20,000 through a middle-man hired by Jack Burkman, a Republican lobbyist and lawyer based in Washington.
The woman told journalists that she worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974.
In order to get the money, she would have to "make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.”
The woman said the man, acting as an intermediary for Burkman, “offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do one thing,” she wrote.
“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,” said the woman.
Journalist Yashar Ali, like Krassenstein, also revealed he received a similar email.
13 days ago I received this tip alleging an attempt to pay off women to make up accusations of sexual misconduct against Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Other reporters received the same email. Now the Special Counsel's office is telling us they've referred the matter to the FBI pic.twitter.com/oqh4Fnel5u— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 30, 2018
On May 11, the Washington Examiner did receive an email promoting a joint press conference with Burkman and former Justice Department prosecutor Larry Klayman to announce they would be offering a reward “for any whistleblower with credible evidence willing to come forward.”
According to a tweet from Burkman on Tuesday, he said they will reveal “the first” of Mueller’s “sexual assault victims” on Thursday at a hotel outside Washington.
Some sad news. On Thursday, November 1, at the Rosslyn— Jack Burkman (@Jack_Burkman) October 30, 2018
Holiday Inn at noon, we will reveal the first of Special Counsel Robert
Mueller's sex assault victims. I applaud the courage and dignity and
grace and strength of my client. pic.twitter.com/wZVQeHD45r
Stedman detailed more of the the woman’s story on Twitter, saying: “I found the woman to be unreliable, she wouldn't get on the phone, she wouldn't give me any other contact information. She did however give me the phone number of the intermediary who allegedly offered this money on behalf of Burkman.”
Stedman also released screenshots of the intermediary who was acting as the go-between for the woman and Burkman, which confirm the story.
The intermediary, in messages to me (see attached) confirmed the story. I don't know the true identity of this person OR the person who sent the original email. pic.twitter.com/enmGokk0vM— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) October 30, 2018
Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 to investigate Russian election interference and possible connections to the Trump campaign.
President Trump, who has routinely railed against Mueller's investigation as a "hoax" and a "witch hunt," maintained as recently as Monday night that it is an illegal inquiry.
"I do get along [with Rosenstein], but ... there should never have been a special counsel, in my opinion," Trump said in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham. "It's an illegal investigation totally. A lot of people agree with me. A lot of people on your show and other shows agree. There was no collusion. There was never any collusion ... But with all of that being said, I do get along and I have made everything available. You know why? Because I have nothing to do with Russia. Hillary was a lousy candidate and I did a very good job."