Special counsel Bob Mueller has referred a scheme to make him the target of false sexual assault allegations to the FBI, his spokesman Peter Carr said Tuesday.
“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,” Carr said in a statement.
The news came after several journalists revealed on Twitter that they had received false accusations trying to discredit Mueller.
“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,” investigative journalist Scott Stedman tweeted.
“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,” he explained.
Stedman wrote that he “chased down leads” but did not find the accuser reliable. He then got in touch with the person offering money to the accusers.
“He was extremely willing to confirm that he was indeed paying women to tell stories about Mueller,” Stedman wrote. “I concluded that this was an effort to discredit journalists working on the Trump-Russia story by planting a false story and see who would print it.”
“She wouldn’t get on the phone, she lied about journalists she was working with, etc. Furthermore, I got in contact with the man who allegedly was offering the money,” he added.
The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand and The New Yorker's Jane Mayer confirmed that they had received similar reports.
The Atlantic reports that GOP activist Jack Burkman had offered $20,000 to the woman.
Would-be accuser comes clean: The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, admitted to The Atlantic that 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.”
“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,’” she said.
Burkman in hiding: Burkman has not responded to any reporters' requests for comment. The Atlantic reports that around the time journalists began to receive the reports, Burkman posted a video on his Facebook page claiming that Mueller “has a whole lifetime history of harassing women.”