A far-right website run by a gay man published an accusation of rape against Robert Mueller Tuesday, only to take it down when the allegations were called into question, given the news that Mueller is the target of a smear campaign.
The original post on The Gateway Pundit, run by Jim Hoft, carried this headline: "EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS** : Special Counsel and Former FBI Director Robert Mueller Accused of Rape By 'Very Credible Witness ' --MUCH MORE TO COME #BelieveAllWomen." Within a few hours, it was taken down and replaced with a note that the site was looking into "serious allegations" about Jacob Wohl, apparently the post's author, Talking Points Memo reports, linking to this tweet.
\u201cEven Hoft calls no joy, takes down Wohl's debunked post smearing Mueller, and writes in its place he's looking into allegations against his own contributor. https://t.co/i0lnWi9DxM\u201d
Several media outlets have tied Wohl, a conspiracy theorist and fan of Donald Trump, to a plot to discredit Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign organization colluded with Russian operatives.
At least two women have said they were contacted by a firm called Surefire Intelligence and offered money to make claims of sexual misconduct by Mueller. One, Lorraine Parsons, said she worked with him briefly in 1974 and he never did anything inappropriate; another, Jennifer Taub, said she never met him. Parsons would interact with reporters only through email, so her identity has not been independently confirmed, but Taub is a well-known law professor and CNN legal analyst. Mueller has asked the FBI to look into the campaign against him. He says he has never engaged in inappropriate or criminal sexual behavior, and even political adversaries such as Rudy Giuliani said it was hard to believe he would.
Wohl has denied involvement with the firm, even though its website domain records included his email address, and a voicemail referred callers to a phone number belonging to his mother. Another pro-Trump conspiracy-monger, lobbyist Jack Burkman, has acknowledged hiring Surefire Intelligence to investigate Mueller. He claims the allegations of payoffs for false accusations were a "hoax" designed to draw attention away from a press conference he plans to hold Thursday to bring forth a woman accusing Mueller of sexual assault, TPM reports. However, Burkman's promises of sensational stories on various topics have fallen through on several occasions.
Hoft came out as gay shortly after the June 2016 mass shooting at Orlando nightclub Pulse, which had a mostly LGBTQ clientele. He said at the time that gay people should "come home" to the Republican Party, which would protect them against Islamic extremists, and painted President Obama as soft on extremism. He and other gay conservatives hosted an LGBTQ party at the 2016 Republican National Convention. He has employed fellow gay right-winger Lucian Wintrich, creator of Twinks4Trump, as a reporter.