Last night it was revealed that two right-wing grifters, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, were reported to the FBI for a hasty, rushed-together conspiracy that involved forcing women to make false claims of sexual assault against Robert Mueller.
For those unfamiliar with either Burkman or Wohl, Burkman is a right-wing radio host known for his "press conferences" where he threatens to reveal something juicy - i.e., proof that the government really did murder DNC staffer Seth Rich - and comes up with nothing. Wohl is a 20-year-old who destroyed his short-lived career as a venture capitalist when he was accused of fraud, and is now famous for his repetitive, much-maligned tweets about LA coffee shop hipsters who love Trump:
Last week, a British man named "Bill Christensen," representing an agency called "Surefire Intelligence," called a Florida woman who supposedly had worked with Mueller at a law firm in the 70s. The woman, who has not been identified and has not talked to any reporters over the phone, said "Christensen" told her he had been employed by Burkman "to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Mueller," and that if she came out as a victim of his advances, she would be rewarded with an erasure of all her credit card debt, plus a $20,000 bonus. “He knew exactly how much credit card debt I had, right down to the dollar, which sort of freaked me out," the woman wrote in an email that got circulated among journalists at several prominent outlets.
Reporters who investigated this woman's claims discovered that the law firm in question had no record of her ever working there, and since she wrote the letter under a pseudonym, it's possible that she never existed at all. However, Wohl and Burkman made a mistake in targeting law professor Jen Taub, who found an email from Surefire financial investigator "Simon Frick." Frick told her that he was "conducting an examination of Robert Mueller's past," that she'd be compensated for her participation, and closed by saying, "I would appreciate your discretion, as this is a very sensitive matter."
"I have no idea why they came to me," Taub said on The Beat with Ari Melber last night. "Certainly I’m the last person you’d want to send something to. At the end of the email they said...‘please be discreet’ and I found that so amusing." Taub immediately forwarded the email to the FBI, not expecting to hear back.
Around the time the emails went out, Burkman posted a video to his Facebook page where he teased viewers that he was investigating Mueller's "sexual and alcoholic misadventures," saying that he had talked to seven women who claimed they'd been harassed and that they were coming close to getting one of them to go public. He tweeted this today as another tease:
However, journalists revealed today that the FBI was opening an investigation into him, Wohl and their fake intelligence firm, which they barely tried to give the appearance of legitimacy. The profiles for its staff members are clear fakes, using photos of existing people. Take "Simon Frick," their financial investigator who emailed Jen Taub. The photo of him in this LinkedIn profile is actually that of Academy-Award-winning actor Christoph Waltz:
And this photo of Surefire managing partner "Matthew Cohen" is none other than Wohl himself, as The New Yorker's Jane Mayer revealed today:
In addition, while the company claims to have offices in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York, and Irvine, California, when The Daily Beast tried to call their numbers, they found that they were all Google Voice contacts that corresponded to an Orange County area code, the Southern California area that Wohl's family comes from. When they finally got through to them, it turned out Surefire's phone number went straight to his mother's voicemail.
These amateurish mistakes will no doubt cost Burkman and Wohl their livelihoods, as they don't have a leg to stand on. Like all convicted criminals, they thought they could get away with their misdeeds, but they managed to be so stupid in their cover-up that their crime became entertaining. As John Oliver likes to say, the ever-expanding web of scandals related to Trump should be called "Stupid Watergate," because "It's like Watergate, only everyone is stupid." Add Burkman and Wohl to the list of the very stupidest players on the team.