Rightwing attempt to smear Mueller collapses

Robert Mueller’s office confirmed Tuesday it has asked the FBI to investigate whether GOP activist and self-styled “lobbyist” Jack Burkman offered to pay a woman to make up false stories about “the special counsel harassing them sexually” to discredit his investigation. This much is true. Read this story here and here.

But Tuesday night, Mother Jones questioned whether the woman exists and suggested the story may be a fabrication intended to embarrass the media (read their story here), Huffington Post labeled the story a “hoax smear” (read their story here), and multiple other mainstream media outlets were reporting the story as a probable hoax (read NBC’s story here and Washington Post’s story here).

It wouldn’t be the first time. During last year’s Alabama special election pitting Republican Roy Moore against Democrat Doug Jones, a woman named Jaime T. Phillips (real woman, real name) working for notorious rightwing trickster James O’Keefe tried to lure the Washington Post into publishing a fabricated story in order to discredit the Post’s reporting about Moore’s real victims. The newspaper wasn’t fooled and instead ran a story exposing O’Keefe’s and Phillips’ trickery (read it here).

O’Keefe has a long and sordid history of trying to set up “liberal” targets, always with the aim of influencing elections, but it’s unclear whether he’s involved in the Burkman situation, which Mother Jones describes as “murky.” Mother Jones suggested Burkman is the instigator by saying, “It is unclear what Burkman is up to with his latest stunt.”

Mother Jones added, “There is no evidence that the unnamed woman accusing Burkman of soliciting false accusations actually exists. There’s also reason to believe that the email ‘she’ sent to multiple reporters about the alleged payoff scheme may have been designed to trick the media into reporting a made-up allegation against Burkman.” When contacted by Mother Jones, Burkman said the woman doesn’t exist, denied having anything to do with the email, and also denied “offering anyone money to falsely attack Mueller.”

Mother Jones questioned Burkman’s credentials as a “lobbyist,” described him as an attention-seeker; and by Tuesday night, a New Yorker writer was calling the story “fishier than a tuna sandwich.”

Update: By Wednesday afternoon, CNN had identified the actors in an apparent attempt to smear Mueller and discredit his investigation by instigating false rape accusations against him. At this point, it doesn’t appear that O’Keefe or his organization were involved. Read that story here.

Photo: Jack Burkman

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