Special counsel Robert Mueller asked the FBI to investigate a claim that a conservative commentator was offering to pay women to accuse him of sexual assault, a spokesman for the office said Tuesday.
That claim appears to come from a woman who reached out to reporters in an email in which she said a conservative activist and commentator offered her about $20,000 to “make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.”
“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 spokesman said in the full statement.
On Twitter, journalist Yashar Ali shared a photo of an that email he said he and other reporters received on Oct. 17.
In to the email, the woman says she was contacted by someone claiming to work for a conservative political activist named Jack Burkman. The person asked her to do “one thing” in exchange for the money. After she responded to ask for more information, he had her download the encrypted communication app Signal. He then asked her to make the accusation against Mueller and sign a sworn affidavit with the claim. Reporters have not been able to reach the women to further investigate her story, and according to the Atlantic, Burkman said he did not know the woman from the email.
Three days later, on Oct. 20, Burkman published a video on Facebook in which he said that on “Thursday at high noon,” a “first” person would come forward to accuse Mueller of sexual assault. He called Mueller “a bad guy not just because of what he does inside the courtroom, but because of what he does outside the courtroom.”
Burkman is a conservative radio host who in the past spread conspiracy theories—most notably pushing those related to the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich and paying for his own private investigation into the right-wing conspiracy—and offered money for evidence of unethical or illegal behavior by the FBI during the 2016 election, according to the Atlantic.
In a tweet Tuesday, he promised “we will reveal the first of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sex assault victims” on Thursday.
The spokesperson for the special counsel’s office did not specify if the allegation of a scheme against Mueller referred to Burkman’s claims.