The apparent plot to bring down Robert Mueller by bribing women to make false sexual misconduct claims against him appears to have fallen apart, after emails revealed startling details about the conspiracy.
On Tuesday, Jennifer Taub, an associate professor at Vermont Law School, made public an email she received earlier this month in which the sender asked to speak to her regarding “past encounters” with Mr Mueller, who is investigating possible election collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to The Independent.
Her disclosure of the message came after Mr Mueller’s office announced – in a rare public statement – that it had asked the FBI to probe allegations that another woman was offered $20,000 to make false accusations against the investigator.
Mr Mueller’s team were made aware of the allegations by several journalists, who received emails by someone calling herself Lorraine Parsons. She claimed she used to work with Mr Mueller at law firm Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro in the 1970s.
In the email, which has also been made public, Ms Parsons said she was offered $20,000 by a man who said he worked for Surefire Intelligence to make false sexual assault allegations. The man also offered to pay off her credit card debts, the email claimed.
Jack Burkman matches the name of a right-wing conspiracy theorist and prominent Trump supporter, who claims he is about to make public the testimony of a woman alleging Mr Mueller sexually assaulted her.
“Some sad news. On Thursday, November 1, at the Rosslyn Holiday Inn at noon, we will reveal the first of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sex assault victims,” Mr Burkman wrote on Twitter. “I applaud the courage and dignity and grace and strength of my client.”
In her email, Ms Parsons added that Mr Mueller was “always very polite” and “was never inappropriate” during their alleged time together at the law firm, and that she would not be part of a “Washington DC drama for any price”.
However, Ms Parsons’ identity could not be verified, and she refused to speak to reporters by phone. The law firm, Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro, also said it had no records of her having worked there.
When the Hill Reporter news site rang a phone number the woman had provided, it reported it received a text message back that read, “You’re in over your head…. Drop this”, alongside the home addresses of journalists working there.
The news outlet also said it later received a phone call from another number claiming to be a Surefire employee called Mike Wilcox. He allegedly told journalists to “stop communicating with” Ms Parsons.
The identity of Ms Taub, however, is not in doubt and like Ms Parsons’ allegations, the email she received also purportedly came from a Surefire employee.
NBC News reported domain records for Surefire Intelligence – which was incorporated less than three weeks ago – are associated with the email address of Jacob Wohl, a far-right Twitter conspiracy theorist best known for his rapid responses to Mr Trump’s tweets and his penchant for visiting hipster coffee shops.
Mr Wohl, who has also touted a “scandalous story” about Mr Mueller in recent days, has repeatedly denied involvement with Surefire Intelligence, despite the fact his picture appears on the LinkedIn page of the firm’s alleged managing partner, Matthew Cohen.
On Tuesday, right-wing news outlet The Gateway Pundit, for which Mr Wohl writes, published allegations of sexual assault “on or around” August 2, 2010, by Mr Mueller, citing documents from a firm with the tagline “International Private Intelligence” – the same tagline used by Surefire Intelligence.
Gateway Pundit later deleted the story, issuing an update that they were “investigating” accusations regarding the veracity of the documents, and “very serious allegations” against Jacob Wohl.
It is not clear exactly what those behind Surefire Intelligence are trying to achieve, but the bogus firm appears to be responsible for both the allegations against Mr Mueller, and at least one email attempting to muddy the waters.