The Slatest

Fabricated Mueller Smear Appears to Have Come From Comically Inept Far-Right Internet Person

Robert Mueller testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
A concerted attack on the integrity of Robert Mueller from the far right is as absurd as it is ham-handed.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The scurrilous attempt to smear special counsel Robert Mueller with accusations of sexual misconduct took a particularly delicious turn Tuesday afternoon, when scrutiny over the pretty clearly fabricated charges turned toward random right-wing Twitter nut and apparent disgraced hedge-fund bro, Jacob Wohl. The twentysomething Wohl and others in the MAGAsphere began cryptically tweeting hints Monday of a mega-scoop that was about to drop about Mueller, causing the story to flare into the public sphere, particularly on giddy right-wing sites. It quickly became clear that something was not right about the very thin, utterly sensational story being pushed by Wohl and fellow conservative political activist Jack Burkman, and emails emerged from women notifying reporters and the special counsel’s office that they had been approached by individuals saying they were investigators and offering tens of thousands of dollars to come forward with cooked-up allegations about the man investigating the president. The Mueller team got wind of the setup attempt last week and referred the case to the FBI for investigation.

Those are the nuts and bolts—that we know of so far—of this pretty pathetic attempt to harm the Russia investigation by impugning Robert Mueller’s character. The smear operation is likely not only against the law; the intent to derail a federal investigation into the president is beyond serious.

The details, however, of the sheer ineptitude of these two absolute jokers (and avowed conspiracy theorists), Burkman and internet person Jacob Wohl, who also writes for the far-right conspiracy site Gateway Pundit, are priceless—and hilarious.

Much of the ineptitude centers around the company Surefire Intelligence, which has a web presence, a LinkedIn page, and all of the sort-of trappings of a real business. Wohl says Burkman, who has simultaneously been dropping hints online of a Mueller bombshell, hired Surefire to help with the “investigation” into Robert Mueller. The investigation by Surefire was pretty much a fraud masquerading as reporting. Here’s how it worked, from the Atlantic:

Jennifer Taub, an associate professor at Vermont Law School, received an email from a man using a Surefire Intelligence email address around the same time, on October 22. “It’s my understanding that you may have had some past encounters with Robert Mueller,” he told Taub, according to the email she forwarded me on Tuesday afternoon. “I would like to discuss those encounters with you.” (Taub told me she has never had any encounters with Mueller, though she does appear on CNN at times as an expert commentator.)

“I believe a basic telephone call, for which I would compensate you at whatever rate you see fit (inside reason), would be a good place to start,” the man continued. “My organization is conducting an examination of Robert Mueller’s past. Tell me a decent method to contact you by telephone (or Signal, which would be ideal) and a beginning rate to talk with you about all encounters you’ve had with Special Counsel Mueller. We would likewise pay you for any references that you may have. Lastly, I would appreciate your discretion here, as this is a very sensitive matter.” Taub told me she forwarded the email to the special counsel’s office, noting that she did not plan to respond.

Surefire describes itself on its website as “a private intel agency that designs and executes bespoke solutions for businesses and individuals who face complex business and litigation challenges.” “Since-deleted Craigslist advertisements for the company said it ‘was founded by two members of Israel’s elite intelligence community,’” the Daily Beast reports. “The ads billed services including ‘counter intelligence,’ ‘private spies,’ and ‘ethical hackers.’ ” If the fact that the company was advertising on Craigslist wasn’t a big enough red flag, how about the fact that at least seven of the company’s supposed employees’ LinkedIn profiles use obviously fake headshots of supermodels and actors. The headshot of Surefire’s “Tel Aviv station chief” is a photo of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli; the “financial investigator” is played by Academy Award–winning actor Christoph Waltz; and on and on and on.

After the press started asking questions about the company, Wohl clammed up and denied having any ties to Surefire Intelligence.

Surefire’s website lists Wohl’s email address in the company’s domain records. NBC News found the phone number listed on Surefire’s website directed callers to another number that is listed as belonging to Wohl’s mom. Wohl likely needs a lawyer, but instead is busy tweeting trying to muddy the waters.

If the muddying doesn’t work out, there’s alway Wohl’s dad:

The tweet doesn’t fall far from the tree.