“Carolyne Cass” was the name that Internet personalities and conspiracy theorists Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl gave to the news media at a November 1, 2018 press conference, alleging that she is a woman who is accusing special counsel Robert Mueller of rape. However, the woman herself did not appear, and the account – which has been widely mocked online and in the news media – remains uncorroborated.
Reporters aggressively challenged the credibility of Burkman and Wohl – who are political partisans on the right who have championed other conspiracy theories in the past – and indicated that an old Washington Post story shows Mueller was on jury duty on the date given out by the two men.
Now, Carolyne Cass has come forward to Hill Reporter, which reports, “Carolyne Cass opens up and tells us that she does not know if Mueller was actually the person who raped her and that both Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman published and shared, against her will, ‘inaccurate‘ statements during a November 1st press conference.” She claimed to Hill Reporter that she was raped by a man who resembled Robert Mueller but never provided his name or identification. “Everything in the document is not accurate, and that’s why I didn’t want the document coming out,” Cass told HillReporter of the document circulated at the press conference.
“Carolyne Cass” was a complete no show at the Wohl/Burkman press conference as the bizarre tale underwent more unusual twists. (Snopes has already dubbed it a “comically flawed attempt to smear Robert Mueller.”) The men blamed Carolyne Cass’s non-appearance on the “circus” surrounding their allegations, but Burkman has previously held a press conference on a supposed accuser of a congressman who didn’t show up, so reporters have gotten used to that kind of thing.
During the press conference, one reporter labeled Burkman and Wohl “very non-credible” and others challenged why Wohl was not forthcoming previously about his involvement with a company called “Surefire Intelligence” that was allegedly involved in a scheme to pay women for false information about Robert Mueller. Wohl had denied being behind the company but now admits it, saying at the press conference, “The investigation at that point was still in flux. It was important that I preserve my anonymity.”
However, reporters then asked why he was giving a press conference now if he wanted to preserve his anonymity. (Some have noted that people claiming to be employees of Surefire Intelligence online actually used the photos of famous actors and models who aren’t associated with any such company.) You can read more about the background of Jacob Wohl here. The New York Daily News calls him a “pro Trump troll.” On Twitter, some have made fun of Wohl. One person joked, “The very credible Carolyne Carolyn Caroline Carolina Coraline Cass, everybody.”
A document containing details of the accusations shows the two men are claiming that Mueller assaulted a woman at St. Regis Hotel in New York City “on or about August 2 2010.” However, here is the Washington Post article dated August 3, 2010, the following day. It states, “Robert Mueller dutifully doing his jury duty in D.C. Superior Court on Monday. The FBI director (with an ear-pieced security guy in tow) made it all the way into the jury box for voir dire on a gun-possession case and got a warm smile from the judge … but he was quickly excused (the ‘work in law enforcement?”‘question seemed to do it).”
One incredulous reporter asked, “A Washington Post story from that day says someone saw him at jury day at that day – are you suggesting the special counsel planted a story in the Washington Post?” The response was that sometimes a person goes “to jury duty but they’re also somewhere else.”
Mueller’s office had announced earlier this week that the special counsel in the Russia investigation has asked the FBI to investigate allegations that people tried to pay women to falsely accuse the former FBI director of sexual misconduct. Burkman and Wohl have adamantly denied trying to pay women to do such. The Mueller referral appears to stem, at least in part, from a shadowy email sent to various journalists from a person calling herself “Lorraine Parsons” who then refused to get on the phone with reporters. Burkman and Wohl claim she doesn’t exist, and she hasn’t come forward, either, beyond electronic communications with journalists.
Reporters pressed Wohl and Burkman for details on “Carolyne Cass,” asking whether her name is spelled Caroline or Carolyn. The men stated that her name has the unusual Carolyne Cass spelling. Online records do indicate a person in the country with that name, and Heavy has reached out to the person through social media (there is a real account with someone bearing that name containing photos dating to 2015 and so forth) for comment. This story will be updated if any is received. Wohl and Burkman further gave an age, occupation and hometown for the woman (Heavy is withholding it at this time because it’s not proven they know her). There’s an almost blank IMDB and LinkedIn profile in the name also. However, the two men did not prove that they know this woman or any woman named Carolyne Cass or that they actually represent her. In other words, there is information, including a court record, that backs up the fact that there is a woman with that name matching some of the details given out in the press conference, but there is not proof that she is alleging what Wohl and Burkman say she is alleging or has anything to do with them.
Will Sommer, Daily Beast reporter, wrote on Twitter, “Burkman and Wohl appear to have no idea how to spell their client’s first name. They insist it’s Carolyn — but then after reporters ask them, they say it’s Carolyne with an E.”
The men have not presented any corroboration on their claims against Robert Mueller.
Here’s what you need to know about the background behind the press conference and men pushing the accusation:
Robert Mueller Has Referred Allegations That ‘Women Were Offered Money’ to the FBI
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 was at that press conference that the two men released the name Carolyne Cass.
At the press conference, which was streamed live on Twitter, Burkman claimed the “Special counsel was at a cyber conference in New York” on the date in question.
Jacob Wohl added, “Miss Cass hired my firm, Surefire Intelligence, to handle an estate matter for her” involving a “matter of a dishonest accountant; we dealt with it… On Sept. 15, she saw a news report in which Bob Mueller was featured.” (He previously denied that Surefire was his firm). He claimed she was “not a person in politics. Never voted. Not a political person. Upon seeing his face, she knew that that was the man whom she met at the St. Regis hotel during the week of Aug. 2, 2010. She then reached out to me because she knew I had the wherewithal to parse through this and see if anything was to this.” The men claim that Carolyne Cass wasn’t at the press conference because she has received threats and is afraid for her life.
He claimed that the woman was vetted extensively because Wohl alleges he thinks the burden is on the accuser in such cases. “I’m a political person. It’s about getting the truth out,” he said, accusing Robert Mueller of asking the FBI “to go after his own accusers.” Wohl and Burkman claimed they have other accusers but did not name them.
“She’s been ruthlessly attacked, her integrity has been attacked, she’s been made to look like someone accepting payment. This is a person of unimpeachable character. A prominent person. Not a political stooge,” said Wohl. The man then released a graphic description of what they say the woman is alleging against Mueller and claimed she is considering going to the police. The men claimed that a friend of Cass can verify some of her account because she was in the bar but did not provide that person’s name.
When it learned of the alleged scheme to pay off women to lie about Mueller, the special counsel’s 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 reported that journalists brought the matter to the attention of Mueller’s office after the woman (using the name Lorraine Parsons, according to multiple news sites) 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.'”
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.”
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’ or Jack Burkman’s names.
“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.
Burkman told The Daily Caller that it is “totally false” that he was involved in any scheme to pay off women to smear Mueller.
Jack Burkman Was Involved in Peddling Conspiracy Theories Against DNC Staffer Seth Rich & Made Unproven Allegations Against a Congressman
A 2017 article in Mother Jones on Jack Burkman described him as a “lobbyist detective” and detailed his efforts to look into the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, who has been the subject of unproven conspiracy theories among some on the right. In 2016, Rich was shot and killed in an unsolved murder along a Washington D.C. street. The notion that Rich was killed because he was somehow involved in leaked and/or hacked emails to hurt the Hillary Clinton campaign is the fodder of online conspiracy theorists, but there’s no evidence backing up any of the theories.
The Mother Jones story reports that Burkman “managed to put himself at the center of it all,” offering a $100,000 reward to find Rich’s killer and staging a reenactment of his murder. The Washingtonian reports that Rich’s parents now “want nothing to do with him” and have asked the public to stop spreading conspiracy theories about his death, with police indicating it could be the result of a robbery attempt.
Daily Beast reports that Burkman previously claimed he had a witness in the Rich case but none materialized.
You can see a listing of Burkman’s lobbying efforts here. Open Secrets.org lists Burkman’s educational background as: “1988, B.A., University of Pittsburgh, PA; 1992, J.D., Georgetown University, DC, summa cum laude; 1992, M.S.F.S., Georgetown University, DC, magna cum laude.”
In 2017, Jack Burkman drew top news outlets to a press conference promising sexual harassment allegations against a congressman, the Washingtonian reported. However, once they arrived, Burkman called off the whole thing, saying his client, who was named, “is just unfortunately not able to join us this morning. I apologize to you so greatly for wasting your time.”
The Washingtonian reports that Burkman tried to get involved in the #metoo movement in other ways, offering free legal representation to the accusers of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. He once said he was involved in a reality show on lobbyists but it never happened, the site reports.
According to Mother Jones, Burkman went to law school and then worked for then New York Republican Rep. Rick Lazio before becoming a lobbyist at the Smith-Free Group and later his own firm, J.M. Burkman & Associates. The magazine reports that Burkman went on TV to push the Whitewater theories against the Clintons.
He’s styled himself as a conservative pundit. He has a YouTube channel and a radio show, but the videos on his YouTube site don’t have many hits. The videos are called things like “The Mob Mentality of The Left – Behind the Curtain with Jack Burkman” and “Rant Of The Week: Christine Ford’s story Is a Scam!”
On YouTube, Burkman wrote, “Welcome to a different kind of political talk show. Jack Burkman is a Washington DC lawyer and a lobbyist who has been working K Street and the halls of Congress for over 30 years. Now he brings his connections and insight to today’s top news stories and gives you not only the – what – but also the why! What is driving the issue in DC and who is driving the issue?” He said that he went to parties and balls and heard things other people don’t.
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).
In 2014, The Hill reported that Jack Burkman, labeled a “Washington lobbyist” by the publication, had announced that he was “preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League.”
Burkman said he was inspired by Michael Sam’s coming out, according to the Hill, and released a statement reading, “We are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”
At the time, reported the Hill, Burkman was serving “as founder and president of his own lobbying firm, Burkman Associates. He has also worked as of counsel at law firm Holland & Knight,” but the latter firm condemned Burkman’s efforts on the NFL to The Hill, saying he worked at that firm from 1998 to May 2002.
Rolling Stone reports that Jack Burkman has not always been a firm supporter of Donald Trump. He supported Jeb Bush in the Republican primary for president and “took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Daily News calling Trump a ‘joke’ with ‘no moral compass'” but then said he would raise $200 million for Trump when Trump became the Republican nominee. According to Rolling Stone, Burkman then cancelled a fundraiser “on receipt of a threatening letter from the candidate’s attorneys.”
Burkman told Rolling Stone of Trump at that time, “His temperament and his intellect are lacking in the ways needed to be president.”
‘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. The email was from someone named Simon Frick, whom reporters later said was using a photo of actor Christoph Waltz as a profile picture online. Jack Burkman claims Frick and Parsons are fake.
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.”
However, Daily Beast reported that some supposed employees of Surefire use fake headshots of a model, actor and others.
Wohl initially 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.” Wohl now admits he’s behind Surefire, and the documents he and Burkman handed out relating to Carolyne Cass have Surefire’s name at the top.
Professor Jennifer Taub says she was contacted by “Simon Frick” from Surefire who asked about past “encounters” she had with Robert Mueller (she denies having any) and raised the idea of payment. However, some reporters have noted that the photo Simon Frick uses online appears to be Christoph Waltz, the famous actor.
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.”
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!” 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.”
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!”