The special counsel’s office on Tuesday announced that it has referred allegations that a woman was offered money to falsely accuse Robert Mueller of sexual harassment to the FBI for investigation, in a rare public acknowledgement.
“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,” Peter Carr, the spokesperson for the special counsel’s office, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.
The statement, made to several outlets on Tuesday, followed an apparent effort by a woman to connect with journalists — including BuzzFeed News — about the financial offer.
The story became public on Twitter overnight Tuesday after Jacob Wohl — a far-right Trump supporter who is most recognizable as being in President Donald Trump’s replies — tweeted that he expected “scandalous” news about Mueller to be forthcoming.
That prompted Scott Stedman, an investigative journalist who has been active on Twitter tracking the Mueller investigation and related Russia topics, to respond to Wohl and detail on Twitter that he believed “false accusations” were forthcoming against Mueller.
He cited contact from “a woman who claimed to be a former associate of Mueller” who said that she was offered money “to come forward to make up sexual assault allegations.” He continued that further efforts to investigate the matter raised questions about the reliability of the woman as a source.
On Oct. 18, BuzzFeed News received the same email from a woman with the subject line, “Urgent News Tip.” The woman, who did not request confidentiality, said she’d been contacted by a man who offered her money to accuse Mueller of sexual harassment when she and the now-special counsel worked at the same law firm. The man told her he was working on behalf of Jack Burkman, an attorney who is best known for promoting conspiracy theories about the death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich and offering tens of thousands of dollars in reward money for information on the case.
The woman, whom BuzzFeed News is not naming, said the man knew details about where she lived and the exact amount of her family’s credit card debt. The man offered to help her pay it off in exchange for signing an affidavit that Mueller sexually harassed her. She wrote in the email to BuzzFeed News that she did not interact with Mueller much when they worked together, but he “was never inappropriate.”
BuzzFeed News asked to speak with the woman, but she did not respond. Four days later, she emailed that she was “working with someone at the New Yorker to expose these hucksters.” She identified the reporter as “Jane.” The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Oct. 29, the woman emailed BuzzFeed News to say that earlier in the day, “a man with a Russian or Eastern European (not sure) called me up from a blocked number, saying that it was my final chance, to take the offer and make the accusations.” The woman did not return a request to speak further about this.
Natasha Bertrand from The Atlantic responded to Stedman’s initial tweet on Tuesday morning, writing, “Can confirm.” Mayer then responded that the whole thing is a “stupid hoax.”
Shortly after the first report of the statement from the special counsel’s office, Burkman announced plans to provide more information about the allegations on Thursday, claiming to have a client who would reveal sexual assault allegations at a news conference.
Burkman did not immediately respond to requests for comment through a public relations firm that he has worked with in the past or through his radio website.