At long last, Brent and Dylan end their Russia investigation journey, ending just after the 2018 midterm election. Will Congress get their fill of documents? Should they be a major or minor character in #ThatThing? Will Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl ever be allowed in a Holiday Inn again? Find out the answers to (some) of these questions in Part 4 of the Russia investigation series!
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December 1, 2017
Michael Flynn pleads guilty.
December 6, 2017
In a closed session Donald Trump Jr. testifies to the House intelligence committee. He says to the committee that he spoke to his father regarding a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer just two days after the NYT had reported about this meeting on July 8, 2017. Trump Jr. declines to disclose the content of the conversation he had with his father.
January 3, 2018
Paul Manafort files a lawsuit against the Dept. of Justice which requests that the court set aside the criminal charges brought against him by the special counsel’s office. According to factcheck.org, “The suit alleges that Mueller’s investigation “is completely unmoored from the Special Counsel’s original jurisdiction to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.’” The charges brought against Manafort stem from “unrelated, decade-old business dealings” that had “no connection whatsoever to the 2016 presidential election or even to Donald Trump,” the suit states. The Justice Department called the suit “frivolous.””
January 8, 2018
According to the NYT the President’s attorney’s and the Mueller team discuss again the possibility of the President testifying
Sometime in mid-January
George Nader, who was involved in the Seychelles meeting on Jan. 11, 2017, begins to cooperate with Mueller.
Erik Prince, a Trump associate and Blackwater founder, met with Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian wealth fund manager with ties to V. Putin. They met in Seychelles which is an island chain off the coast of E. Africa. When the story first broke the meeting’s purpose was revealed to be to set up a back channel between Russian officials and the Trump team. Prince denied this report and in November testified under oath to Congress that he traveled to Seychelles to follow up on a business venture “with potential customers” from the United Arab Emirates, who suggested afterwards that he meet with Dmitriev. He claimed it was impromptu and just a short sit-down at a hotel bar, insisting he did not travel there on behalf of the Trump team. George Nader is the cooperating witness who claims that the meeting was preplanned to set up communications with Trump and Moscow.
January 24, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed by the special counsel’s office the week prior as part of its Russia investigation.
January 25, 2018
According to Factcheck.org,
Trump’s private attorney, John Dowd releases a one-page memo that says the Trump campaign turned over 1.4 million pages of documents to the special counsel’s office and the White House provided over 20,000 pages. (Comey’s ears are burning right now!) The memo also says that the special counsel’s office to date has interviewed more than 20 White House staffers, 17 Trump campaign workers and 11 others affiliated with the Trump campaign.
January 29, 2018
Trump attorney’s Dowd and Sekulow write in a letter to special counsel Robert Mueller that the president “dictated” a July 8, 2017 statement to the NYT about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russian lawyer Natalie Veselnitskaya and top Trump campaign aids. The letter says, “You have received all the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to the NYT article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.” This admission contradicts statements made the previous year by Sekulow and White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that the president did not dictate the letter.
February 2, 2018
A memo is released by the House intelligence committee written by the Republican committee staff that accuses the FBI of political bias. The memo states that the federal law enforcement officials abused their authority when they sought court approval to surveil a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign Carter Page.
Trump approved the release of the memo despite the FBI’s objections. The FBI said,
As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.
February 16, 2018
Mueller charges three Russian organizations and 13 Russian nationals with violating U.S. criminal laws to interfere with the 2016 US Presidential elections. The indictment states that the defendants conspired to defraud the United States. According to factcheck.org, “The conspiracy involved using the names of U.S. citizens and companies to illegally buy political ads on social media and stage political rallies. Some defendants also “solicited and compensated real U.S. persons to promote or disparage candidates,” according to the indictment.
The defendants are alleged to have employed hundreds of people for its online operations, “ranging from creators of fictitious personas to technical and administrative support personnel, with an annual budget of millions of dollars,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says.
By early to mid-2016, the defendants’ operation included supporting Trump and disparaging Clinton, the indictment says. “Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities,” the indictment says.
In announcing the indictments, Rosenstein says,
There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in this indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 elections.
The Internet Research Agency, an online Russia propaganda operation based in St. Petersburg, was among those indicted.
The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft,” the special counsel’s office says.
February 20, 2018
A former associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom named Alex van der Zwaan who also happens to be the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan pleads guilty to making false statements to federal investigators. Alex Van der Zwaan admitted that he lied about conversations he had with Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates regarding Skadden’s report on Ukraine’s former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko. Van der Zwaan also “deleted and otherwise did not produce emails” that a law firm and/or special counsel’s office requested, according to court documents.
February 22, 2018
The Mueller team brings a second indictment including 32 accounts of tax fraud against Rick Gates and Paul Manafort.
February 23, 2018
Rick Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy as well as making false statements to federal investigators. To rehash, Gates was originally indicted on Oct. 30, 2017,on tax evasion and money laundering charges related to business he and his associate, Paul Manafort, did for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Gates admitted he participated in the financial conspiracy with Manafort.
Also, he admitted that he lied to prosecutors about a 2013 meeting involving Manafort and a congressman. This congressman was identified by NBC News as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that chairs the panel’s subcommittee on European affairs.
Gates misled investigators by saying that Ukraine was not discussed at the meeting.
In exchange for dropping other criminal charges which include tax evasion and money laundering in the original indictment, Gates is cooperating with federal investigators.
According to factcheck.org,
Mueller’s team files a superseding indictment against Paul Manafort. The new charges include the allegation that “Manafort, with the assistance of Gates, … secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States.” The indictment says, “The plan was for the former politicians, informally called the ‘Hapsburg group,’ to appear to be providing their independent assessments of Government of Ukraine actions, when in fact they were paid lobbyists for Ukraine.” In his plea agreement, Gates acknowledges participating in that conspiracy.
Somewhere between this date and April 2018
According to PBS,
Manafort and Kilimnik allegedly attempted to tamper with witnesses involved in Mueller’s case, according to Mueller’s team.
February 24, 2018
A memo written by the Democratic staff of the House intelligence committee is released on this date. Because this memo was released to counter the Republican committee staff memo released Feb 2 that stated that the DOJ and FBI abused their authority when seeking court approval to conduct surveillance on Carter Page. The Democratic memo contends the “FBI and DOJ officials did not ‘abuse’ the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, “ saying the DOJ “cited multiple sources to support the case for surveilling Page.”
March 12, 2018
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence states it has ended its Russia investigation. According to factcheck.org, “The Republicans on the committee release a one-page summary of their draft report. It says, “We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” The full report has not yet been released.”
March 16, 2018
Andrew McCabe, the FBI director is fired, officially due to actions connected to the Clinton investigation. However, McCabe asserts he is fired due to the Russia investigation.
March 17, 2018
John Dowd, Trump’s personal attorney, says he hopes Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein shuts down the Mueller investigation.
March 18, 2018
Vladimir Putin is “elected” to six more years in office.
March 20, 2018
Trump’s staff warns Trump to not congratulate V. Putin on election victory. Trump congratulates Putin on election victory.
March 22, 2018
Remember John Dowd, Trump’s personal attorney? Well on this date he resigns.
March 28, 2018
From the PBS timeline:
DOJ inspector general launches investigation of FBI, DOJ and possible abuse of FISA/surveillance powers, including with the Carter Page wiretaps.
April 3, 2018
Amy Berman Jackson, a U.S. District Judge sentences Alex van der Zwaan to 30 days in prison. This is the first sentence to be handed down in the Russian investigation.
April 4, 2018
Felix Sater, who worked on Russia deals with Trump, is interviewed by the Senate intelligence committee.
April 6, 2018
According to PBS,
the US newly sanctions seven Russian oligarchs including Oleg Deripaska, who formerly worked with Manafort, and Viktor Vekselberg, who was at Trump’s inauguration.
April 9, 2018
The FBI raids Michael Cohen’s home, hotel room, and office seizing records. Reports indicate that Cohen is under investigation for campaign finance, bank fraud.
April 16, 2018
President Trump halts plans for economic sanctions on Russia.
April 17, 2018
Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader says he will not allow a floor vote on a bill to protect special counsel Mueller.
April 19, 2018
The Dept. of Justice turns over seven memos that Comey wrote to Congress. These were the memos Comey wrote immediately after each encounter with Trump from Jan. 6, 2017 - April 11, 2017.
April 25, 2018
Cohen asserts his 5th Amendment right not to testify in the Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) case.
April 26, 2018
In a Fox News interview President Trump rails against the FBI, DOJ, and Mueller. He also confirms Cohen worked for him but was a “tiny, tiny, fraction” of his legal work.
April 27, 2018
According to factcheck.org,
The Republican-controlled House intelligence committee issues a majority report on its Russia investigation along with a 98-page dissent from the Democrats. Both reports were redacted to protect classified information.
The majority report says, “In the course of witness interviews, reviews of document productions, and investigative efforts extending well over a year, the Committee did not find any evidence of collusion, conspiracy, or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians. While the Committee found that several of the contacts between Trump associates and Russians — or their proxies, including WikiLeaks — were ill-advised, the Committee did not determine that Trump or anyone associated with him assisted Russia’s active measures campaign.
The minority report says that Democratic members “remain committed to continuing the investigation.” It says, “Although important evidence has been found on the issues of collusion and obstruction, much work remains on these and other vital lines of inquiry and key unanswered questions.
April 30, 2018
The NYT reports that the special counsel’s office has “at least four dozen questions on an exhaustive array of subjects he wants to ask President Trump to learn more about his ties to Russia and determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself.” The list of questions were published by the Times.
May 2, 2018
Emmet Flood replaces Ty Cobb, the lead Russia probe lawyer for Trump.
May 16, 2018
The Senate intelligence Committee concludes that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win.
The Senate Judiciary Committee releases transcripts of interviews of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer.
May 17, 2018
Manafort’s ex-son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai agreed to a plea deal in real estate case, may have to cooperate with Mueller.
May 20, 2018
Trump demands that the DOJ investigate whether the FBI or DOJ spied on his campaign for political purposes. He tweets,
look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!
May 21, 2018
The Justice Dept. makes announcement that it has asked the department’s inspector general to conduct a review at the president’s request. The deputy attorney general overseeing the Russia investigation, Rod Rosenstein stated,
if anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.
May 30, 2018
Trump tweets out to the world that he wishes he had picked someone other than Jeff Sessions as his attorney general.
May 31, 2018
Despite saying the exact opposite in an interview with Lester Holt after he fired Comey, Trump tweets “he never fired James Comey because of Russia.”
June 2, 2018
The NYT publishes Jan. letter by Trump’s lawyer asserting obstruction of justice charges could not apply to the president. This letter also indicates that Trump dictated the statement by his son, Donald Trump Jr. regarding the 2016 Trump Tower/Russia lawyer meeting.
June 4, 2018
Trump tweets that he has the right to pardon himself and that the appointment of Mueller is unconstitutional.
June 7, 2018
President Trump says that the G7 summit nations “should let Russia come back in.”
June 8, 2018
A third superseding indictment against Manafort is issued by the special counsel. This indictment adds an obstruction of justice charge for alleged witness tampering. Also, it accuses Konstantin V. Kilimnik, Manafort’s aforementioned business associate, with obstructing justice.
June 11, 2018
US issues new sanctions on a few Russian companies and individuals for cyberattacks against US energy and other interests.
June 15, 2018
Citing the new obstruction of justice charges, a federal judge orders Manafort to be held in federal custody until the trail begins in September.
June 18, 2018
Trump states he “feels badly” for Manafort and Flynn and others in court and investigations.
Trump criticizes the FBI raid on Cohen’s office saying he “feels badly” for him and others under prosecution.
Trump also states that Manafort only worked for him a “short” time, later he defends Manafort in a tweet saying that the FBI raid of Cohen’s office was wrong and that “it turns out maybe he [Flynn] didn’t lie.”
According to PBS,
Judge orders Manafort to jail to await trial, ending house arrest. This is due to charges of witness tampering.
July 13, 2018
The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein announces the indictment of 12 members of the Russian military intelligence agency the GRU. Saying, the GRU “engaged in a sustained effort to hack into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, and released that information on the internet under the names ‘DCLeaks’ and ‘Guccifer 2.0’ and through another entity.” Here are the names of those who were indicted: Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev.
July 16, 2018
According to Factcheck.org,
The Department of Justice announces the arrest of Maria Butina, a Russian national, on charges that she conspired to act as a Russian agent to influence U.S. politics and advance Russia’s interests. The government says she “worked at the direction of a high-level” Russian official from as early as 2015 through at least February 2017. The official described in the Justice Department press release matches the description of Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April.
In a sworn affidavit, FBI special agent Kevin Helson says Butina sought “to establish a ‘back channel’ (is there really any other kind of channel?!) communication for representatives of the Government of Russia” and “American politicians” in the hopes of advancing Russia’s interests. She did so by trying to infiltrate organizations active in U.S. politics, including “an organization promoting gun rights,” which has been identified in media reports as the National Rifle Association.
In Helsinki, at a joint press conference with Russia President V. Putin, President Trump is asked by reporter, “who do you believe” the U.S. intelligence agencies that have found Putin ordered an extensive covert campaign to assist Trump in winning the 2016 presidential election or Putin’s denial that Russia was not involved in any way.
I don’t see any reasons why Russia would interfere.
I have confidence in both parties. I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
Putin was asked if he wanted Trump to win in the Presidential race against Clinton. Putin said,
Yes I wanted him to win. Because he talked about bringing the U.S. Russia relationship back to normal.
July 17, 2018
Trump says he misspoke in his press conference with Putin. He said he meant to say he didn’t see why Russia “wouldn’t” have meddled in the election.
July 27, 2018
Special counsel Robert Mueller and Donald Trump Jr. were spotted both waiting for their flights this morning at the 35X gate at DCA.
July 31, 2018
Manafort trial BEGINS! Special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors painted former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in opening arguments Tuesday as a man with no qualms about committing tax evasion to fund his "extravagant lifestyle" by hiding at least $15 million in income earned from consulting work in Ukraine.
August 13, 2018
A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump ruled Monday that special counsel Robert Mueller's probe is constitutional and legitimate, rejecting an effort by a Russian company -- accused of financing a massive political influence operation in the United States -- to stamp out the ongoing investigation.
August 19, 2018
President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Sunday claimed “truth isn’t truth” when trying to explain why the president should not testify for special counsel Robert Mueller for fear of being trapped into a lie that could lead to a perjury charge.
When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth,” Giuliani told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning
“Truth is truth,” Todd responded.
“No, no, it isn’t truth,” Giuliani said. “Truth isn’t truth.”
August 21, 2018
Cohen and Manafort plead Guilty.
Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, was convicted Tuesday on eight felony counts after a trial on charges of bank and tax fraud brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. The federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 charges, but the 69-year-old Manafort still faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.
Five of the guilty verdicts were for filing false tax documents, and the other three involved bank fraud and foreign bank account registration.
Jurors couldn’t decide on three counts of failure to file reports on foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy and two counts of bank fraud.
“Mr. Manafort is disappointed at not getting not-guilties all the way through or an acquittal or hung jury on all counts,” said his lawyer, Kevin Downing. “He is evaluating all his options at this point.”
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s combative former personal lawyer, on Tuesday implicated the president in hush money payments he said were designed to sway the election, as part of a plea deal he struck with federal prosecutors on fraud charges.
The statement came as Cohen formally entered his plea at a Manhattan federal court, in which he admitted guilt to a slate of eight tax evasion, financial fraud and campaign finance charges.
“I participated in the conduct for the purposes of influencing the election” Cohen said about his payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump in the past. Trump denies the claims.
August 24, 2018
In what may be the biggest legal blow yet to President Donald Trump, federal prosecutors in New York have granted immunity from prosecution to Allen Weisselberg, the man who knows Trump’s financial secrets — and those of his family and his global business empire.
At the very least, Weisselberg — the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer — has provided key information to federal prosecutors in their case against former Trump lawyer and self-described fixer Michael Cohen and his hush-money payments to two women during the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the matter.
September 6, 2018
This is when according to unofficial DOJ regulations, Mueller would maintain radio silence regarding findings about the investigation.
September 14, 2018
Manafort agrees to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller under a plea agreement.
The deal dismisses deadlocked charges against Manafort from an earlier bank- and tax-fraud trial in Virginia, but only after "successful cooperation” with Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow on its efforts.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Manafort is agreeing to "cooperate fully and truthfully" with the investigation.
Separately, the agreement puts a 10-year cap on how long Manafort will be sent to prison in the D.C. case, involving foreign-lobbying and money-laundering charges, according to a source close to the case. The deal also calls for Manafort to serve time concurrently with any sentence from his convictions in Virginia, although that will ultimately be up to the judges involved. But the agreement will not release Manafort from jail, where he has been held since Mueller's team added witness tampering charges during the run-up to the longtime lobbyist's trial.
Manafort's sentencing will not occur until after the midterm elections. Both sides are scheduled to file a written report in his case on Nov. 16, although the sentencing will likely happen at a later date.
“Mr. Manafort has accepted responsibility,” Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing told reporters after the hearing. “He wanted to make sure his family was able to remain safe and live a good life. He’s accepted responsibility and this is for conduct that leads back many years, and everybody should remember that.”
September 19, 2018
Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, is set to be sentenced on Dec. 18, following months of delay after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials during the transition. Jesus, what is this the final season to game of thrones here?! Why we gotta wait so long?
September 21, 2018
According to the NY Times, Rosenstein suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.
September 24, 2018
The political world went into a frenzy as various reports suggested Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — special counsel Robert Mueller’s boss — was out. Some reports claimed he had resigned, and some that he was about to be fired.
But as of early Monday afternoon, Rosenstein was still in his job. And apparently, he’ll be there for at least a few more days — the White House has said he’ll meet with President Trump on Thursday.
October 11, 2018
Gates’ attorney Tom Green filed the unopposed motion Thursday asking a federal judge to let the longtime Republican operative remove his electronic GPS monitoring device, eliminate his 11 p.m.-7 a.m. curfew and allow him to more freely travel to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
October 15, 2018
A federal judge on Monday approved a request to end GPS location monitoring of Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign deputy chairman who is a key cooperating defendant in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted Gates’ request, allowing him to be relieved of a bracelet that tracks his movements as he awaits sentencing and continues to meet with prosecutors. She also agreed to allow Gates, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, to travel freely in the area around his home, northern Virginia and Washington, and to end a nightly curfew.
October 17, 2018
A federal judge on Wednesday rejected Paul Manafort’s request to wear a professional suit during a hearing later this week about his sentence, noting the former Trump campaign chairman is now a felon who has lost the right to wear street clothing in all his court proceedings.
Several journalists received emails from a person claiming to be named "Lorraine Parsons" that asserted conservative lobbyist Jack Burkman had hired a man with Jacob Wohl’s firm, Surefire Intelligence, to offer her more than $20,000 to sign an affidavit falsely accusing Mueller of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment.
“Parsons” told the reporters she had worked with Mueller at the law firm Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in 1974, and that the man from Surefire had asked her to falsely accuse Mueller of engaging in misconduct during that time.
Mueller worked at Pillsbury in 1974, but the firm told reporters they had no record of any "Lorraine Parsons" ever working there.
“Parsons” declined reporters’ requests to speak on the phone, and none of the reporters published the story until the alleged scheme became evident.
Wohl initially denied being involved with Surefire Intelligence at all.
From NBC News,
Wohl declined to comment on his involvement with Surefire Intelligence. However, his email is listed in the domain records for Surefire Intelligence's website and calls to a number listed on the Surefire Intelligence website went to a voicemail message that provided another phone number, listed in public records as belonging to Wohl's mother. Wohl stopped responding to NBC News after being told Surefire's official phone number redirects to his mother's voicemail.
November 1, 2018
These geniuses have a press conference about all this. The only way to really capture it is to literally just read this article by Brandy Zadrozny from NBC News:
Jacob Wohl, a pro-Trump fan of conspiracy theories, and Jack Burkman, a conservative lobbyist and radio host, stood in front of a half-full room of reporters and activists at a D.C.-area Holiday Inn Thursday to detail their allegations of sexual misconduct against Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The woman who they said has made those allegations, a Los Angeles native in her 30s, was slated to attend the news conference and give her own account. But, Wohl said, she feared for her life and on arriving in Washington, "panicked and boarded a flight to another location." Burkman promised she would appear at another news conference in the near future.
Wohl and Burkman took turns speaking at the podium, detailing the allegations, complimenting each other, and defending their professional records against charges of conspiracy peddling and political bias.
The conference was streamed by several reporters in the room. A pickup truck parked in the lot outside by one of the activists in attendance carried a giant inflatable rat wearing a blond Trump toupee.
Earlier this week, several journalists reported on Twitter that they had received suspicious emails from a woman claiming someone had offered to pay her for making sexual misconduct allegations against Mueller. The journalists said those offers had come from SureFire Intelligence, a company NBC News connected to Jacob Wohl through telephone and domain records. Their claims were later bolstered by a second woman who came forward with an email offering similar payments in exchange for smearing Mueller, signed by a SureFire agent.
Burkman opened the news conference by addressing the controversy.
"None of this is true," Burkman said of the allegations he and Wohl had been involved in a plot.
"There were no offers of payment, there was no wrongdoing, there was no bribery, there was nothing illegal or untoward or unethical that took place here," Wohl said.
The special counsel's office asked the FBI to investigate the matter last week, after learning of the alleged plot to smear Mueller. Burkman and Wohl said they had not been contacted by the FBI. "I don't think the bureau would embarrass itself by calling us, talking about people that don't exist," Burkman said.
Wohl told reporters the woman making allegations had contacted Wohl with claims Mueller had sexually assaulted her in a New York City hotel room in August of 2010.
Explaining that his "default position" is "to not believe" women who come forward with allegations of sexual assault, Wohl told reporters that he found the woman now accusing Mueller credible. Wohl said that he met her after she hired his company SureFire Intelligence to handle "an estate matter." She later came back to him with the allegations.
Little is known about the woman allegedly making these allegations. After Wohl and Burkman went back and forth on the exact spelling of her name, Wohl described her as a fashion designer, who was "well-educated and comes from a good family."
"She is a gal who has an illustrious background and she is not politically oriented," Wohl said.
"We went through every meticulous detail of her allegation, we cross-referenced it with public records, we joined historical societies to get some of those records," he said. Wohl said they were "in the process" of going to police with the woman's allegations and would file a report by the end of next week.
Burkman then stepped in and said the decision would be "up to my client," and the evidence-gathering process was mid-investigation. "We have tentacles out in all directions gathering evidence," Burkman said.
They further claimed to have more victims whose stories they were currently vetting. "Hundreds of people have contacted us" this week, Wohl said.
Burkman is well-known for peddling baseless conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of Democratic aide Seth Rich and promoting bombshell information that never materializes. Last November — again at a Holiday Inn — Burkman sent reporters home without making good on what he had advertised as new allegations of sexual harassment against a member of Congress.
Likewise, Wohl, a former hedge fund manager now banned from the financial industry, has amplified prominent conspiracy theories as a writer for The Gateway Pundit, an often-inaccurate right-wing website.
When Wohl and Burkman opened the floor to questions, the assembled reporters were unrestrained.
Wohl was asked about his political bias, specifically for his tweets attacking Mueller, including one where he wrote the special counsel should be sent to Guantanamo Bay. Wohl said his personal opinion had no effect on his professional handling of the investigation.
Other reporters questioned 20-year-old Wohl's experience in the intelligence gathering business and why he had lied to reporters days earlier when he denied having any part in the investigation. Burkman responded, calling Wohl "a child prodigy who has eclipsed Mozart." On piano?
At one point, Will Sommer from The Daily Beast said, "No one is discounting [the woman's] account. We didn't know her name until 20 minutes ago. We're questioning both you two very un-credible people."
NBC News has elected not to publish the woman's name because she has not gone public, and because of concerns about Wohl and Burkman's credibility.
When questioned about a Washington Post account of Mueller at jury duty in D.C. on the date of the alleged incident in New York, Wohl accused the paper of reporting the story to discredit the woman.
When reporters laughed at Wohl's suggestion that "sometimes people go to jury duty, but they're also somewhere else," Wohl admonished the audience. "It's not funny. It's not a laughing matter," he said.
As the hour they had booked was almost up, Burkman announced he would take one more question. Someone from the back shouted, "Are you both prepared for federal prison?"
"No we are not," Burkman answered.
If you want to know more about Jacob Wohl’s character, just check out this wonderful tweet:
Most of the wildfires are started by illegal alien arsonists! One of the facts that the media loves to sweep under the rug
November 6, 2018
Midterm elections! As predicted, Republicans keep control of the Senate while Democrats gain control of the House. As of this recording, the house is 225/197, with 13 races outstanding. The Senate is 51/44(+2 indies who caucus with dems), with 3 seats outstanding.
November 7, 2018
Sessions resigns, Whitaker is acting AG, Rosenstein no longer supervising special counsel. Whitaker is very opinionated on what he thinks about the Mueller investigation. He has previously said, “The Mueller investigation is going to far.” Also saying,
It does not take a lawyer or even a former federal prosecutor like myself to conclude that investigating Donald Trump's finances or his family's finances falls completely outside of the realm of his 2016 campaign and allegations that the campaign coordinated with the Russian government or anyone else.”
He also has publicly defended the controversial meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russians at Trump Tower in 2016. Currently Democrats are demanding he also recuse himself from the Russia investigation due to his outspoken bias
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell stands by his statement that the Mueller investigation doesn’t need protection and refuses to let a bill go through to protect the investigation because it is unnecessary.
Trump has said he will appoint a permanent AG down the road. Meanwhile Republicans control both chambers of congress until the beginning of next year.