Please Join Me In the Weird, Spiraling Rabbit Hole That Is This Fake Robert Mueller Assault Story
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.
Some sad news. On Thursday, November 1, at the Rosslyn
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
— Jack Burkman (@Jack_Burkman) October 30, 2018
Except according to a number of actual journalists, Burkman had been passing around this unfounded story before being forced to break it himself.
I wasn’t going to report on this, but I think my fears are coming true. Based on information that I am privy to, I believe false accusations will be spread about Mueller in order to discredit him and possibly the journalists who are preparing this story. https://t.co/HQXTvPYirD
— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) October 30, 2018
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.
— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) October 30, 2018
Folks: I got the same hoax as Stedman did.
Given that it was fed to prolly 30 journalists with no takers, what seems to have happened instead is it failed. https://t.co/5Ne1mIKylV
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) October 30, 2018
FBI is already on this, investigating Jack and his cohorts for approaching women with money, some of who apparently rejected the offer to make false claims for pay.
Jack is likely heading towards an indictment, now, as is anyone else connected to his scheme. https://t.co/SYfE4hVtGc
— Eric Schmeltzer (@JustSchmeltzer) October 30, 2018
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.
Several media sources tell me that a scandalous story about Mueller is breaking tomorrow. Should be interesting. Stay tuned!
— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) October 30, 2018
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.”
NEW: Another woman, @jentaub, was contacted on October 22 by a man claiming to work for Surefire Intelligence, who offered to pay her to discuss her “past encounters” with Mueller. (She’s never met Mueller.) Story has been updated: https://t.co/D84d2d82Nl
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) October 30, 2018
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.
Surefire Intelligence’s “Financial Investigator” in Zurich is Christoph Waltz. What a great hire! pic.twitter.com/Leu1KLe0XC
— Aric Toler (@AricToler) October 30, 2018
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?
It’s almost as if making up fake sexual assault allegations isn’t as easy as it sounds and women who come forward with credible allegations should be given the benefit of the doubt.
(PS POTUS has 19 accusers that he never gets asked about for some reason)
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) October 30, 2018
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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