Trump Russia: Bungled plot emerges to smear Robert Mueller

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The special counsel's office says it has referred an alleged scheme to make false claims against Robert Mueller to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mueller is investigating whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia's 2016 election interference and whether the president tried to obstruct the inquiry. The smear plot involved fake documents from a private investigations company called Surefire Intelligence, and women being offered money to make fake allegations against Mueller. The special counsel's office did not go into detail about the allegations or who is behind them.

But it is also around this time that reporters started receiving emails from a woman who said she had been approached by a person offering to pay her money to come forward with allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

He first claimed to have evidence of misbehavior by Mueller, including alcoholism and sexual assault, on October 20, two days after the mysterious woman emailed the reporters.

Burkman, the conservative activist and talk show host at the center of the alleged drama, claims that he has indeed been in contact with a woman claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Mueller - and has promised to reveal her name on November 1 at noon.

Burkman has a long history of promoting conspiracy theories, like claiming government agents killed Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

The probe has expanded to examine possible attempts by Trump himself to obstruct the investigation, which could - if proven - lead to the president's impeachment. I asked him who he was working for, and he told me his boss was some sort of politics guy in Washington named Jack Burkman.

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Mueller's office called for a probe to address an email sent to New York Magazine reporter Yashar Ali by a woman who claims to have worked with Mueller at the Pillsbury Madison and Sutro law firm in 1974. "So if the goal here was to get Robert Mueller fired, to prevent him from completing his work, then certainly that could be an accusation of obstruction of justice".

At least two conservative media personalities appeared linked to an apparent hoax that may have been created to ensnare Washington reporters, if not also cause political damage to Mueller. "It's my understanding that you may have had some past encounters with Robert Mueller", he told Taub, according to the email she forwarded to me on Tuesday afternoon.

"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", she said.

When contacted by NBC News, Wohl denied all involvement.

But reached for comment on Tuesday, Burkman told Fox News he does not know the woman who spoke with The Atlantic and has "never paid anyone to do such a thing".

"Mueller is a bad guy, not just because of what he does in the courtroom, but because of what he does outside of the courtroom", Burkman said.

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