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Robert Mueller Targeted in Trump Devotee's Sexual Harassment Plot

Robert Mueller

An antigay conspiracy theorist is involved in the alleged scheme to discredit the man investigating the Trump-Russia connection.

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There is reportedly a scheme afoot to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller with false accusations of sexual misconduct.

"A company that appears to be run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist offered to pay women to make false claims" against Mueller, The Atlantic reports in an article posted today. Now Mueller's office has asked the FBI to look into the situation, which involves another pro-Trump conspiracy-monger who's also antigay .

"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," Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told The Atlantic via email. The special counsel has also said he's never committed sexual harassment or assault.

Several journalists notified Mueller's office after being contacted by Lorraine Parsons, who said she was offered money to accuse the special counsel, who is currently investigating whether Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election -- and whether Donald Trump's campaign organization colluded with Russian operatives. Another woman, Jennifer Taub, had contacted Mueller's office with a tale of a similar scheme.

Parsons told journalists she was offered more than $20,000 by a firm called Surefire Intelligence "to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller." She said she worked for Mueller briefly as a paralegal at the law firm of Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro in 1974; she saw little of him, "but he was always very polite" and "never inappropriate" when they did interact. The firm, however, has no record of her working there.

She received a call from a man with a British accent who "offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do" it, she told reporters in an email. "He knew exactly how much credit card debt I had, right down to the dollar, which sort of freaked me out."

Surefire Intelligence is a private intelligence firm that takes on jobs for businesses and individuals. Its domain records include an email address for Jacob Wohl, described by The Atlantic as a Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist. The firm was hired by Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman, who is also known for embracing conspiracy theories, such as the idea that Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich was killed by operatives from the party or the federal government. Rich was shot to death in Washington, D.C., in 2016 in what police say was a failed robbery attempt.

"Burkman has proved eager to attach himself to a wide array of causes that have the possibility of getting him on cameras," The Daily Beast reports. "He once introduced legislation (which lobbyists don't formally do) to get gay players banned from the NFL -- a campaign that sparked a sharp rebuke from his gay brother."

Burkman confirmed that he hired Surefire Intelligence but denied there is any plan to pay women for false allegations against Mueller. Instead, he will bring out real accusers, he said, promising to introduce the first at a press conference Thursday. But Burkman has repeatedly promised sensational stories that failed to materialize. In 2017 he scheduled a press conference for a woman who he said would accuse a congressman of sexual assault, but she failed to show up. He also once offered reporters access to someone he said had evidence to support his theories about Rich's death, but the supposed whistle-blower would not appear in person but instead phoned in without revealing his name.

Even Mueller's political opponents have trouble seeing him as a sexual harasser. "Something like this would be totally inconsistent with what I know of him," former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who heads Trump's legal team, told the Beast. Giuliani also was Mueller's supervisor when both worked for the Department of Justice in the 1990s. "I've never had any issue with Bob's character," he said. He added that he had not been contacted by Burkman.

As for Parsons, "portions of her story have gone uncorroborated, and her identity has not been independently confirmed," The Atlantic reports, as she is unwilling to speak to reporters by phone. Burkman denied knowing Parsons and called her story "a joke." But Taub, an associate professor at Vermont Law School, has said she's also received an offer of compensation for an accusation.

She said she received an email October 22 from a Surefire Intelligence address offering to pay her "whatever rate you see fit (inside reason)" to discuss her "encounters with Robert Mueller," according to The Atlantic. But she told the publication she's never had any encounters with him, although she sometimes discusses his investigation as a legal expert fir CNN. She did not respond to the email but instead forwarded it to Mueller's office.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.