Lorraine Parsons, of Fort Myers, Florida, is the name and location being used by a person who alleged in an email to multiple national journalists that she was offered money to falsely accuse special prosecutor Robert Mueller of sexual misconduct.
That’s according to several major news outlets, including Politico and the Daily Beast, which said the name “Lorraine Parsons” was used on an email sent to various reporters. “The woman, Lorraine Parsons of Fort Myers, Florida, said a man named Bill Christensen knew exactly how much credit card debt she had and was willing to orchestrate paying off $34,000 — in addition to cutting a check for $20,000 if she made allegations,” reported Politico.
However, “Lorraine Parsons” declined to speak by telephone to various journalists, who could not confirm information about her, including whether that’s the real name of the person emailing journalists or whether a Lorraine Parsons exists at all.
The plot thickened as the Lorraine Parsons name broke when it was revealed that Mueller’s office has referred a plot to the FBI involving alleged attempts to pay women to make false sexual misconduct accusations against the special prosecutor investigating the Donald Trump campaign and Russian collusion. Robert Mueller accusations are being pushed by conservative Internet personalities and a lobbyist involved in peddling conspiracy theories before, although they deny participating in a scheme to pay off people to make stories up.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mueller’s Office Has Referred an Alleged Scheme to Pay Women to the FBI
When it learned of the alleged scheme to pay off women to lie about Mueller, his office referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to The Atlantic.
“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,” the spokesman for Mueller, Peter Carr, told the Atlantic on October 30, 2018.
The Atlantic article alleges that journalists brought the matter to the attention of Mueller’s office after the woman alleged to them in writing that “she herself had been offered roughly $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a GOP activist named Jack Burkman ‘to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.'”
(Update: On November 1, 2018, Burkman and Jacob Wohl released a woman’s name at a press conference but she didn’t show up. You can read all about that here. Wohl now admits he is behind a company called Surefire Intelligence after previously denying it.)
Scott Bixby, national reporter for the Daily Beast, also attached the name Lorraine Parsons to the story, writing on Twitter, “A person who identifies herself as Florida resident ‘Lorraine Parsons’ claims Jack Burkman and his associates are pressuring her to ‘make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller’ in exchange for a five-figure sum.”
The office of Mueller, the former FBI director, did not release further details and did not use Lorraine Parsons’ name.
2. ‘Lorraine Parsons’ Allegedly Sent Journalists an Email Saying a Man Offered to Pay Her Credit Card Debt Off
Journalist Yashar Ali posted a partially blacked out version of the woman’s email to journalists on Twitter, which you can read above. Ali wrote on Twitter, “13 days ago I received this tip alleging an attempt to pay off women to make up accusations of sexual misconduct against Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Other reporters received the same email. Now the Special Counsel’s office is telling us they’ve referred the matter to the FBI.”
The email was titled “Urgent News Tip.” Although Ali blacked out the names in it, as noted, other journalists say the woman claimed to be Lorraine Parsons.
This is what the email reads, per the Ali post:
Hi, My name is (blacked out). I was contacted via phone call by a man named Bill (blacked out) who had a British accent, and said that he would like to ask me a couple of questions about Robert Mueller, whom I worked with when I was a paralegal for Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro in 1974 (now called Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman). I asked him who he was working for for (sic), and he told me his boss was some sort of politics guy in Washington named Jack Burkman (or Berkman..not sure how it’s spelled). I’m not sure how he knew that I ever worked there or worked with Robert Mueller. I reluctantly told Mr. (blacked out) that I had only worked with Mr. Mueller for a short period of time, before leaving that firm to have my first son. Mr. (blacked out) then changed his tone, and mentioned that he might be able to help me pay off some debt. He knew exactly how much credit card debt I had, right down to the dollar, which sort of freaked me out. (My late husband was quite a big spender, and we had run up about $34,000 on our credit cards.) I askd (sic) him, why exactly he would do something like that? He said it’s not that simple. And that he wanted to come meet with me at my home here in (blacked out) to discuss the matter. (Again, I had no idea how he knew where I live.)
I told him that I wasn’t interested in whatever he was looking for and I hung up the phone and didn’t think about it anymore. Two days later, Bill called again. He told me, ‘I’m just going to cut straight to the Chase (blacked out).’ He then offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do one thing. In more of an effort to get him to go away than anything else, I asked him what in the hell he wanted me to do. He said that we could not talk about it on the phone, and he asked me to download an app on my phone called Signal, which he said was more secure. Reluctantly, I downloaded the app and he called me on that app a few minutes later. He said (and I will never forget exactly what it was) ‘I want you to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller, and I want you to sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.’ He said that he would arrange an additional $10,000 bonus from his client, who he said wqs (sic) a man named Jack Burkman, if I could sign the documents immediately.
I don’t know who these people are or why they want this stuff. I immediately hung up the phone and deleted that app. I didn’t see Robert Mueller very much when I worked at Pillsbury, but when I did see him, he was always very polite to me, and was never inappropriate. I don’t know what these people are looking for, but I’m not going to be part of some kind of Washington DC drama for any price.
The email contains several typos.
Scott Stedman, who also received the email from the woman, posted a lengthy thread about the situation on Twitter. He wrote, “I wasn’t going to report on this, but I think my fears are coming true. Based on information that I am privy to, I believe false accusations will be spread about Mueller in order to discredit him and possibly the journalists who are preparing this story.”
Stedman has posted screenshots he says are messages from the intermediary to him. He added, “2 weeks ago, I, along with other journalists were set an email from a woman who alleged that she was a former colleague of Mueller. She said that Jack Burkman, via an intermediary, offered her tens of thousands to make up sexual assault claims against Mueller. I found the woman to be unreliable, she wouldn’t get on the phone, she wouldn’t give me any other contact information. She did however give me the phone number of the intermediary who allegedly offered this money on behalf of Burkman.”
The Atlantic reported that a second woman, Jennifer Taub, who is a Vermont Law School professor, says she received an email from a man “using a Surefire Intelligence email address around the same time, on October 22,” that indicated, “It’s my understanding that you may have had some past encounters with Robert Mueller.” Taub told journalists she had not had contacts with Robert Mueller.
According to the Atlantic, the email also said, in part, “My organization is conducting an examination of Robert Mueller’s past. Tell me a decent method to contact you by telephone (or Signal, which would be ideal) and a beginning rate to talk with you about all encounters you’ve had with Special Counsel Mueller.”
Taub retweeted the story mentioning her. “Law prof and author of financial crisis book ‘Other People’s Houses’ and White Collar Crime casebook,” her Twitter profile reads.
Surefire Intelligence features into this story in several murky ways.
According to Daily Beast, Jacob Wohl, a conservative writer, claimed “Burkman had told him he had hired Matthew Cohen, who is a managing partner at the private investigations company Surefire Intelligence, to assist with the investigation.” You can read more about the background of Jacob Wohl here.
However, Daily Beast reported that some supposed employees of Surefire use fake headshots of a model, actor and others.
Wohl denied being tied to Surefire to Daily Beast, but the site reported, among other details you can see here, that “Surefire’s website domain data lists an email address bearing Wohl’s name and that of a legally suspect financial firm he led, NeX Management.”
3. Lorraine Parsons Remains a Mysterious Figure
Does Lorraine Parsons really exist or did the email writer just use that name? So far, Lorraine Parsons has not come forward through other means, such as telephone.
Politico reported that Lorraine D. Parsons of Fort Myers, Fla. was the name the woman gave. Datamining sites do indicate people with that name in Florida, but it’s not clear at all whether they are the same person. Politico reported that it could not independently confirm the email or that an actual Lorraine Parsons sent it (Heavy has also not been able to do so at this point). Daily Beast reported of Lorraine Parsons, “Parsons repeatedly declined to talk to The Daily Beast on the phone, and internet searches have failed to provide any background on her.”
Politico further reported that Parsons wrote an email declining to speak with Politico reporters by telephone. She forwarded “a screen shot from a text message she said came from a person with a Northern Virginia area code that said, ‘Lorraine, we need to get this done. Last chance,'” the site reported.
Jane Mayer, of the New Yorker, wrote on Twitter: “This started w/ a person claiming to be ‘Lorraine’ emailing that ‘she’ worked with Mueller at a law firm in 1974. The law firm she named, Pillsbury, says no Lorraine worked in its S.F. office with Mueller in the 1970’s. That’s a fact. The rest seems fishier than a tuna sandwich.”
Stedman, also a journalist, retweeted the above Mayer post and wrote, “The ‘woman’ who started this entire thing doesn’t appear to exist. The law firm says she never worked there. The phone number of the intermediary who allegedly offered the cash has been disconnected.” He added, “I want to make this entirely clear: There is ZERO evidence that a woman actually exists in this story. The only people known to be involved are Wohl and Burkman.”
Mayer also wrote, referring to the sexual assault accusations being peddled against Robert Mueller, “Just re-upping. It’s baloney. They can serve whatever they want, but we don’t have to bite.” She added, “It’s just a stupid hoax.”
4. Jack Burkman Says He’s Revealing the Name of a Woman Accusing Mueller
The same day that the journalists were revealing Lorraine Parsons’ name and Mueller’s office was announcing it had referred a matter to the FBI, Burkman announced on Twitter on October 30, 2018, “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. I applaud the courage and dignity and grace and strength of my client.”
It’s not clear whether this “client” is related to the Lorraine Parsons matter.
Burkman told The Daily Caller that it is “totally false” that he was involved in any scheme to pay off women to smear Mueller. Daily Caller notes that Burkman fueled unproven conspiracy theories into former DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was murdered on a city street in an unsolved homicide. Politico further reports that Burkman organized a legal defense fund for once Paul Manafort ally Rick Gates (who was charged as a result of the Mueller probe) and is a Republican lobbyist.
Daily Beast reports that Burkman previously claimed he had a witness in the Rich case but none materialized. The site reports that Burkman previously claimed to represent a sexual harassment accuser against a congressman but never produced the person. According to Daily Beast, he also championed legislation to ban gay athletes from the NFL. Burkman has offered no evidence or name to back up his claims against Robert Mueller.
Burkman wrote on Twitter, “The allegations of paying a woman are false. The left is trying to defend Mueller against sex assault allegations so they attack me in desperation. The establishment media knows that Mueller may go down over this–they want to deflect attention.” On Twitter, Burkman’s profile reads, “Host of Behind the Curtain, national radio and TV talk show on @newsmaxTV Sat A.M. Registered lobbyist. Conservative News & Commentary.”
5. Jacob Wohl Has Been Tweeting Vague Accusations Against Robert Mueller
Jacob Wohl, who is also a writer for the conservative site, Gateway Pundit, tweeted on October 29, 2018, “Several media sources tell me that a scandalous story about Mueller is breaking tomorrow. Should be interesting. Stay tuned!”
Wohl wrote on Twitter on October 30, “I’ve counted more than 25 news outlets who have reported allegations against me, claiming that I offered to pay women to make accusations against Mueller I’ve looked into this ‘Lorraine Parsons’! Looks like she doesn’t even exist! IT’S A FAKE NEWS CON JOB!”
He added, “Very credible allegations are set to be made against Robert Mueller — The MSM is scrambling! They’re accusing me of offering to pay accusers with ZERO PROOF and ZERO EVIDENCE!”
On Twitter, Wohl describes himself as “20 Year Old Financier and Political Commentator | Conservative, Trump Supporter, Zionist | Writer for” Gateway Pundit.
Wohl also wrote, “All of a sudden, when @Jack_Burkman reveals that there are credible accusations against Robert Mueller, the media spins up a narrative that ‘women’ were offered payment. Who are these women that say they were offered payment? It looks like they DON’T EVEN EXIST.” He added, “As always, the MSM spins up FAKE NEWS to protect the Mueller Witch Hunt!”
He further insisted, “The MSM has launched a coordinated smear campaign against me, claiming that I offered money to a woman to make accusations against Mueller? Their claims are BASELESS! Who is this ‘woman’?”
He linked to a Gateway Pundit story that accused Mueller of sexual misconduct against a woman in 2010 in New York City. The story doesn’t name her or present any corroboration. Gateway Pundit wrote, “We took the documents down and we are currently investigating these accusations. There are also very serious allegations against Jacob Wohl. We are also looking into this.”