In a rare public statement from the office of the man investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, it said it had been notified of the accusations last week, apparently by journalists.
“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,” spokesman Peter Carr said in an emailed statement.
US media said the announcement from Mr Mueller, came as Jack Burkman, a conservative talk show host and conspiracy theorist who previously pushed unproven accusations about the death of Democratic aide Seth Rich, announced he was to hold a press conference in Arlington, Virginia, where he was produce the first of several women who were going to make allegations against the 74-year-old Mr Mueller.
“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,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I applaud the courage and dignity and grace and strength of my client.”
In a video posted on Facebook, he added: “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. Mueller has done bad things to a number of women, the first of whom is coming out this Thursday."
Reports said a woman who worked with Mr Mueller as a paralegal for Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro in the 1970s, had claimed she had been offered tens of thousands of dollars to make allegations against the special counsel, who was appointed to head the investigation into Russian interference after Donald Trump fired then FBI director James Comey in May 2017.
“He said [ . . .] ‘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’,” she alleged.
The Atlantic, among others, reported that the woman had worked as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm but that she “didn’t see” him much.
“When I did see him, he was always very polite to me, and was never inappropriate,” the woman added.
It said the woman said that she was contacted by a man “with a British accent” who wanted to ask her “a couple questions" about Robert Mueller.
Mr Burkman did not immediately respond to enquiries. However, he told The Atlantic he denied knowing the woman, who originally alerted journalists to the alleged scheme, and termed the referral of the matter to the FBI “a joke…. Mueller wants to deflect attention from his sex assault troubles by attacking me”.
Supporters of Mr Mueller’s investigation, which has now lasted almost 18 months, have long been concerned about efforts to smear the probe and its findings, whenever they are released. Mr Trump has often called the probe “witch hunt” and denied there being any collusion with Russia.
Bloomberg News said the attempt to spread what Mr Mueller’s office said were false claims about him, appeared to be an effort to discredit the former FBI director as his team entered a critical stage of its investigation.
It has previously been reported Mr Mueller is expected to announce some of his key conclusions shortly after the midterm elections.
Mr Mueller’s office has so far charged 32 people, with four former associates of the president pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate with investigators. A grand jury in recent weeks has heard testimony centred on another former Trump aide, Roger Stone.
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