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Please Join Me In the Weird, Spiraling Rabbit Hole That Is This Fake Robert Mueller Assault Story

robert mueller sexual assault

Earlier today, a conservative lobbyist, news commentator, and racist meme poster named Jack Burkman tweeted that he had information about sexual assault claims being made against special counsel Robert Mueller.

Except according to a number of actual journalists, Burkman had been passing around this unfounded story before being forced to break it himself.

Hill Reporter shared an email they received two weeks ago from a woman claiming to have been offered a large sum of money by someone working for Burkman, asking her to make accusations of sexual misconduct against Mueller dating back to a period in the 1970s when she says she worked in his office as a paralegal. The woman wouldn’t talk to reporters on the phone, though, and background checks, as well as calls to the office where she says she worked with Mueller, made it clear that she likely didn’t exist.

So from the looks of it, Burkman tried to leak a fake story about a made-up or at least unidentified woman whom he had paid to say she was sexually assaulted by Mueller. Presumably, the story was designed to both smear Mueller and overshadow his ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as to discredit any journalists who reported on it, if Burkman’s plan was to later reveal the hoax. When there were no takers, though, he had to push the story himself, along with ultra-conservative writer Jacob Wohl.

Except that Burkman and Wohl, it turns out, are very bad at crime.

To start, the former head of the FBI is probably not the easiest guy to create a fake smear campaign around. That didn’t stop these two from naming their fake corporation–and I wish I were kidding–”Surefire Intelligence.”

Surefire is the company that allegedly offered money to women in exchange for making accusations, which was then “hired” by Burkman.

Wohl has denied having anything to do with Surefire Intelligence, but his email address and Google storage account are clearly linked to the site. Even better, according to NBC, the company’s official phone number redirects to Wohl’s mother’s voicemail. (They say he stopped responding to questions after they told him that.)

But wait, there’s more! This doofus has apparently never heard of a reverse image search, and he filled his fake company’s staff page with pictures of random people, including a stock photo model, Sigourney Weaver’s husband, and Christoph Waltz.

The scheme has already been turned over to the FBI, as you would expect. This likely won’t have any effect on Mueller and his investigation. It’s still an infuriating and disappointing tactic to see these rightwing men using. I’m not sure what the preferred endgoal was here. To bury Mueller? To discredit journalists? To Own the Libs if we didn’t properly condemn Mueller? Many on the right seem to think we don’t want to see fellow liberals punished for sexual misconduct, as if they’re willfully forgetting about the existence of Al Franken and, you know, bascially every man in Hollywood.

Men like these are incapable of believing that we actually care about women and about seeing perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault face consequences for their actions. That’s not surprising because to them, this is just a new fun tactic, a weapon to use against your enemies. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t even Burkman’s first time attempting and failing to weaponize women’s pain. Last year, he declared he had knowledge of claims of sexual harassment regarding a sitting Congressman. That turned out to be a straight-up lie.

Burkman has a history of pushing conspiracy theories, most notably the Seth Rich murder conspiracy. When #MeToo went viral, he offered his services to women accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, despite never having handled a sexual harassment case. Basically, he wants attention, he wants to be at the center of an important trending story, and he doesn’t care what it is. People like this usually don’t believe women when they come forward with stories of their own sexual assault–they view accusations as another form of conspiracy theory–so why not cash in on the movement and make up some stories of your own?

To them, women are just props to help discredit liberals and launch them to fame, and they truly can’t understand anyone who doesn’t share that view. Well guys, have fun explaining that to the FBI.

(image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.