What we know about the shady ‘intel agency’ behind an alleged GOP scheme to pay women to falsely accuse Mueller of sexual misconduct
- The office of the special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the FBI to investigate a plot reportedly led by conservative activists Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl to offer women large sums of money to lie under oath about Mueller committing sexual misconduct.
- As part of the ploy, Wohl is accused of creating a completely bogus company, “Surefire Intelligence,” to pose as a private investigative agency to frame Mueller.
- The domain name for their website is registered to Wohl, a phone number on the site directs to his mother’s voicemail, and LinkedIn profiles for supposed employees use edited photos of celebrities.
The office of the special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the FBI to investigate a suspected plot linked back to GOP activists Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl to pay women large sums of money to lie about having been sexually harassed by Mueller.
The special counsel’s office was also contacted by several reporters who were told about the alleged scheme by a woman identifying herself as Lorraine Parsons, who said a man working for the agency Surefire Intelligence and Burkman offered her around $20,000 “to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller,” according to a copy of the email obtained by Business Insider.
It’s unclear whether the woman’s story is entirely factual. The freelance journalist Scott Stedman, who first reported on the scheme, wrote that after Parsons contacted him, “she wouldn’t get on the phone” to discuss her claims and “lied about journalists she was working with.”
The Atlantic followed up on Stedman’s reporting later Tuesday, detailing another instance in which someone who worked for Surefire Intelligence, named Simon Frick, contacted the Vermont Law School professor Jennifer Taub and asked her how much money she would want in exchange for discussing her “past encounters” with Mueller. Taub told The Atlantic she has never met Mueller.
According to its website, Surefire is a “private intel agency that designs and executes bespoke solutions for businesses and individuals who face complex business and litigation challenges.”
Several journalists on Tuesday said that Wohl was involved in Burkman’s and Surefire Intelligence’s alleged scheme.
When contacted by NBC News, Wohl said he didn’t have any role in the matter.
But the outlet reported that Wohl’s email address is the one listed in the domain records for Surefire Intelligence’s website. Calls to a number on the website also reportedly went to a voice mailbox belonging to Wohl’s mother.
On Tuesday evening, Stedman tweeted that he visited the address listed on Surefire Intelligence’s website in Irvine, California.
“A representative of the office tells me they have nothing to do with the company and have no information about it,” he wrote. The representative added that “we have absolutely nothing to do with that company.”
And The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer found that a LinkedIn profile for a Surefire employee identified as “Matthew Cohen” appears to be a heavily edited photo of Wohl himself.
It soon emerged that the LinkedIn profiles for several Surefire employees appeared to be poorly edited photographs of actors or models.
The LinkedIn profile of Frick, who contacted Taub, identifies him as a “financial investigator” for the company. It features a photograph of the actor Christoph Waltz. Meanwhile, the profile for Surefire’s “Tel Aviv Station Chief” features a photograph of the Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli.
Wohl and fellow conservative activist Jim Hoft reportedly wanted the women contacted by Surefire Intelligence to sign sworn affidavits saying Mueller assaulted them at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City on August 2, 2010.
But The Washington Post reported that on that day, Mueller was summoned to Washington, DC, to perform jury duty. He was also FBI director at the time and traveled everywhere with an FBI detail.
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