The Russia probe—yes, that’s still going on—took a rather bizarre and nutty turn when two women alleged that they were approached by a company run by an apparent conspiracy theorist to fabricate sexual misconduct allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is leading the Department of Justice’s investigation into whether the Trump team colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 election.
The payment amounts were reportedly staggering. One woman was offered $20,000 and to have her credit card debt paid off. Another woman was approached and was given the option of naming her price, within reason, for any juicy (and most likely fake) accounts of sexual misconduct.
Of course, these allegations, like the ones lobbed against Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his vicious confirmation battle, are not grounded in any evidence. It’s a total nut job conspiracy theory. The Atlantic reported last night that Mueller has referred the matter to the FBI. The identity of one woman, named Parsons, cannot be verified. The second woman, Jennifer Taub, is a professor at Vermont Law School. It’s plain loco, folks (via The Atlantic):
A company that appears to be run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist offered to pay women to make false claims against Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the days leading up to the midterm elections—and the special counsel’s office has asked the FBI to weigh in. “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,” the Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told me in an email on Tuesday.
The woman identifying herself as Parsons told journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained, that she had been offered roughly $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a firm called Surefire Intelligence—which had been hired by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman—“to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.”
Parsons wrote in her letter that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974, but that she “didn’t see” him much. “When I did see him, he was always very polite to me, and was never inappropriate,” she said. The law firm told me late on Tuesday afternoon, however, that it has “no record of this individual working for our firm.”
Parsons explained that she was contacted by a man “with a British accent” who 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.”
Surefire Intelligence was incorporated in Delaware less than three weeks ago, according to online records, and describes itself as “a private intel agency that designs and executes bespoke solutions for businesses and individuals who face complex business and litigation challenges.” Surefire’s domain records list an email for another pro-Trump conspiracy theorist, Jacob Wohl, who began hyping a “scandalous” Mueller story on Tuesday morning.
But she’s not the only woman who’s come forward: Jennifer Taub, a professor at Vermont Law School, received an email from a man using a Surefire Intelligence email address around the same time, on October 22. “It’s my understanding that you may have had some past encounters with Robert Mueller,” he told Taub, according to the email she forwarded to me on Tuesday afternoon. “I would like to discuss those encounters with you.” (Taub told me she has never had any encounters with Mueller, though she does appear on CNN at times as an expert commentator on the Mueller probe.)
“I believe a basic telephone call, for which I would compensate you at whatever rate you see fit (inside reason), would be a good place to start,” the man continued. “My organization is conducting an examination of Robert Mueller’s past. Tell me a decent method to contact you by telephone (or Signal, which would be ideal) and a beginning rate to talk with you about all encounters you’ve had with Special Counsel Mueller. We would likewise pay you for any references that you may have. Lastly, I would appreciate your discretion here, as this is a very sensitive matter.” Taub told me she forwarded the email to the special counsel’s office, noting that she did not plan to respond.
Around the time that Taub and Parsons say they began receiving these communications from Surefire, Burkman released a video on his Facebook page claiming, without evidence, that Mueller “has a whole lifetime history of harassing women.”
Tread VERY carefully with this, folks. Red flags are everywhere here—and it’s just not the hill to die on. Without evidence, we should all move along and let law enforcement do its job in fleshing out what seems to be a shoddy, unhinged conspiracy theory. The Russia probe has gone on for over a year…and there’s still zero evidence linking the Trump camp to the equally trashy Russian collusion allegations.