Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the FBI to investigate a scheme in which women were offered money to fabricate sexual harassment allegations against him, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Several journalists received an email almost two weeks ago from someone claiming she was offered $20,000 and other benefits if she would sign a sworn affidavit accusing Mr. Mueller of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment.
“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,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel.
Mr. Mueller, who is leading the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, has been the target of attacks by President Trump and other Republicans who accuse the former FBI director of running a partisan investigation. Mr. Trump has called the Russia probe a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
One of those critics, GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman, said in a Tuesday tweet that “we will reveal the first of special counsel Robert Mueller’s sex assault victims” Thursday. Mr. Burkman repeated the promise in a Facebook post Tuesday.
“Robert Mueller is a bad guy not just because of what he does inside the courtroom but because of what he does outside the courtroom,” the Facebook post stated.
A press conference has been scheduled for noon Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C., to announce the accusations against Mr. Mueller, according to Mr. Burkman’s tweet.
Mr. Burkman has repeatedly called on Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe.
In February, Mr. Burkman offered a $25,000 to reward to any whistleblower who could offer concrete evidence of FBI malfeasance in the Mueller investigation. He also established a defense fund for former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates after he was indicted by prosecutors working with Mr. Mueller.
The special counsel’s office said it learned about the plot from journalists who had asked about the woman claiming she had been offered $20,000 by Mr. Burkman to “make allegations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.”
Some media outlets, including the Atlantic and Politico, have identified the woman as Lorraine D. Parsons of Fort Myers, Florida. She said she worked with Mr. Mueller in 1974 when the two were at the law firm Pillsbury Madison and Sutro. In her email, which has been published by multiple media outlets, she said a man named Bill Christensen contacted her by phone, asking questions about Mr. Mueller.
Mr. Christensen told her he could pay off her credit card debt and write her a check for $20,000 if she made up sexual harassment claims against Mr. Mueller, she said in the email. “He knew exactly how much credit card debt I had, right down to the dollar, which sort of freaked me out,” the email said.
In addition, Ms. Parsons said she was offered another $10,000 from Mr. Burkman, said to be among Mr. Christensen’s clients.
Although Ms. Parsons said she barely remembered working for Mr. Mueller for a short time, she described him as “polite” and “never inappropriate.”
She said she was asked to download an app called Signal so they could communicate securely, according to emails posted by journalist Yashar Ali.
“Reluctantly, I downloaded the app and he called me on that a few minutes later,” the email said. “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.’ “
Mr. Ali posted a screenshot of the email on Twitter. He said he received the email 13 days ago. Attempts by the The Washington Times to contact Mr. Burkman were unsuccessful, but on Twitter late Tuesday, he insisted the allegations he paid a woman are false.
“Special Counsel once again has abused his power,” Mr. Burkman tweeted. “He ordered the FBI to investigate whether I paid a certain woman. The only [thing] is that this woman — Lorraine Parsons — doesn’t exist. Mueller acted without doing the slightest bit of research. He has but one goal: deflect attention from him on to me. Well Bob, by week’s end our nation will know you as nothing but a sex offender.”
On Tuesday, conservative website the Gateway Pundit published what it says is a copy of sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Mueller.
But another publication that received the email, HillReporter.com, said “it looked into this woman, as did many other journalists … and we have all reached the conclusion this was likely a hoax of some sort. No one by the name given lived in Fort Myers.”