A suspected hoax that aims to discredit Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign ties to Russia, has been referred to the FBI for further investigation.
The office of the special counsel said it recently found out about allegations in which women were offered money to say that Mueller had harassed them.
“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,” Peter Carr, spokesperson for the Special Counsel’s office, told Global News in an email.
The allegations were first revealed when a woman emailed several journalists saying she had been contacted by a man who offered her around $20,000 to “make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller,” according to the Atlantic and the Hill Reporter.
The woman said in the email that the man said he worked for Jack Burkman.
Burkman, who runs a right-wing podcast, has posted a video saying a woman will unveil “a very bad sexual assault” accusation against Mueller. Asked about the accusations of a hoax, Burkman told the Atlantic that he didn’t know the woman and that the FBI referral was “a joke.”
As the woman reportedly did not want to talk to journalists, her story has not been corroborated.
Mueller’s team is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence, and calls the investigation a “witch hunt.”
The political climate has reached new temperatures in recent days, in the leadup to the midterm elections on Nov. 6.