"Thursday will be a sad, but hopefully, a very hopeful day. On Thursday, high noon at the Holiday Inn right here in Arlington, Virginia — right behind me — we will unveil the first of the sex assault victims of Robert Mueller," radio host Jack Burkman said Tuesday.
But as Burkman made his revelation, a chorus of other Washington journalists said on Twitter that they had over the past few weeks been sent information about a scheme to discredit Mueller — a woman had contacted them saying she'd been offered significant sums of money to make allegations against the special counsel. Most of those writers dismissed the email as a hoax, but the Mueller team announced Tuesday that it had referred those reports to the FBI.
"Mueller is a bad guy," said Burkman.
"It turns out, as many of you know, Robert Mueller is a bad guy — not just because of what he does inside a courtroom, but because of what he does outside of a courtroom. Mueller has done bad things to a number of women — the first of whom is coming out this Thursday," he said.
— Jack Burkman (@Jack_Burkman) October 30, 2018
"She will unveil a very bad sexual assault… More to come. We've interviewed many; the investigation is ongoing. This isn't something I take any delight in. This is something I wish I didn't have to do; but my viewers and the American people need the truth."
Critics write Burkman off as a conspiracy theorist, as he funded a private investigation into the murder of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was killed in Washington in July 2016 by an unknown assailant. Some suspect Rich sent the scandalous DNC emails to WikiLeaks, though Rich's family has sued news outlets who report these claims (including Fox News and The Washington Times). Washington, DC, police say Rich was on the wrong end of a random robbery; some conservatives have suggested he was killed as part of a political conspiracy.
Burkman also made waves when he offered a $25,000 cash bounty to FBI whistleblowers if they could shine a light on the bureau's alleged efforts to tamper with the presidential election. When arriving at the Key Bridge Marriott in Rossyln, Virginia, to pick up two stacks of printed emails concealed under a grey parking cone, Burkman's information pick-up went sour. As he lifted the cone to pick up the documents, he was shot in his thigh and buttocks, the Washington Post reported in March.
Burkman accused Kevin Doherty, a 46-year-old ex-Marine, of shooting and nearly killing him. Burkman hired Doherty to work on his "Profiling Project" to sketch a psychological portrait of Rich's assailant. The former marine became "angry" during the course of their work together, Burkman told the Post, because Doherty "thought the Profiling Project belonged to him." Police charged Doherrty with a felony for assault and two counts of malicious wounding.
US reporters including Scott Stedman, Yashar Ali, Marcy Wheeler and about two dozen others have reported receiving an email 13 days ago with the subject line "Urgent News Tip," according to a partial copy of the email viewed by Sputnik. The email was written by a woman who claimed that people had approached her offering to pay her $34,000 credit card debt and give her a check for $20,000. She said she had been approached by a political operative working for Burkman.
Burkman's operative, she wrote, asked her to download the app Signal, which allows users to send encrypted text messages that disappear after a short period of time. The woman downloaded Signal and then received a call from Burkman's operative, who said, "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," according to the portion of the email viewed by Sputnik. The woman claimed to have worked as a paralegal at Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro in 1974, which was the same firm where Mueller got his first job out of law school.
— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) October 30, 2018
"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," a spokesperson for the special counsel's office told The Atlantic on Tuesday. (Reporting by The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand has been central to propping up allegations of Russian interference in US elections and collusion between Russia and US President Donald Trump's campaign team, which Mueller's team is investigating. Bertrand was quick to publish a story on the special counsel's statement.)
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) October 30, 2018
Civil liberties proponents contend Mueller does not need to be cast as a sexual abuser in order to have his integrity and reputation degraded. Civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate, once Mueller's undergraduate classmate, said last October that Mueller sought to entrap him — to trick him into committing a crime as a way to secure his prosecution — during a drug case in which they found themselves going head to head. "This experience made me realize that Mueller was capable of believing, at least preliminarily, any tale of criminal wrongdoing and acting upon it, despite the palpable bad character and obviously questionable motivations of his informants and witnesses. (The lesson was particularly vivid because Mueller and I overlapped at Princeton, he in the Class of 1966 and me graduating in 1964)," Silverglate recollected.
Writing on Twitter, reporter Scott Stedman said he wasn't going to report the story about operatives allegedly offering money for allegations against Mueller, despite having received the initial email. "I found the woman to be unreliable, she wouldn't get on the phone, she wouldn't give me any other contact information. She did however give me the phone number of the intermediary who allegedly offered this money on behalf of Burkman," he wrote.
"Based on information 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," Stedman said. Dozens of other reporters similarly declined to report the story, suspecting it to be a hoax.
According to Stedman, the woman who wrote the emails to reporters was made up for Burkman to use as bait for duping the media. According to Burkman, the identity of the first accuser will be revealed Thursday.
Mueller's final report on collusion between Trump and the Russian government has yet to be released publicly. It's expected that Mueller's report won't be released until after the midterm elections on November 6.