A notorious conservative 'sting' operation tried to embarrass The Washington Post with a fake Roy Moore story — and it backfired spectacularly

  • A woman approached The Washington Post claiming to have had a sexual relationship with Roy Moore, the embattled Republican Alabama Senate nominee whose campaign has been roiled by multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
  • During interviews, the woman insisted on getting a guarantee that Moore would lose the December 12 special election if The Post reported her story.
  • The Post conducted an extensive background check and investigation, during which the woman's claims were debunked.

A woman who posed as a victim of Roy Moore, the embattled Republican Alabama Senate candidate whose campaign has been roiled by multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault, appeared to be involved in a sting operation meant to disgrace The Washington Post, the newspaper reported Monday.

During a two-week period, the woman, who said her name was Jaime Phillips, reportedly contacted two of The Post's reporters shortly after the newspaper broke the initial story on the sexual harassment allegations against Moore. Phillips' account went beyond The Post's original reporting and alleged that, in 1992, she had a "secret" sexual relationship with Moore and became pregnant when she was 15.

"I knew it wasn't right, but I didn't care," Phillips reportedly told The Post's reporters during an interview.

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Women who have accused Roy Moore of sexual assault
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Women who have accused Roy Moore of sexual assault
Beverly Nelson (L) shows a school year book with attorney Gloria Allread during a news conference announcing new allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican congressional candidate Roy Moore, in New York, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Gloria Deason
Wendy Miller
Gloria Deason
Wendy Miller
Gloria Deason
Accuser Beverly Young Nelson, reacts while reading a statement claiming that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore sexually harassed her when she was 16, in New York, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Attorney Gloria Allred stands with accuser Beverly Young Nelson, holding a sketch of herself made when she was 16 after reading a statement claiming that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore sexually harassed her when she was 16, in New York, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Beverly Nelson (L) reacts as she reads a statement to reporters with attorney Gloria Allred during a news conference announcing new allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican congressional candidate Roy Moore, in New York, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Beverly Young Nelson (L) speaks to the media with her lawyer Gloria Allred, at a news conference where she has accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually abusing her when she was 16 on November 13, 2017 in New York City. Moore, a controversial politician who recently won a run-off against Luther Strange for Alabama's Senate seat, is currently fighting accusations alleging that he pursued sexual relationships with teenagers -- including a 14-year-old -- when he was in his 30s. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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Phillips reportedly asked for a guarantee that Moore would lose the special election if she told her account.

"So my whole things is, like, I want him to be completely taken out of the race ..." Phillips reportedly said to The Post. "And I really expected that was going to happen, and now it's not. So, I don't know what you think about that."

Beth Reinhard, one of the reporters who interviewed Phillips, said in a text message that "she could not predict what the impact would be," according to The Post.

Phillips then alleged in a text message that she felt "anxiety & negative energy" after a meeting with Reinhard, and said she wanted to meet with Stephanie McCrummen, a Post reporter who reported the first allegations against Roy Moore.

"I'd rather go to another paper than talk to you again," Phillips said to Reinhard, according to The Post.

Suspicions arose after a Post researcher discovered that a GoFundMe.com fundraiser from someone Jaime Phillips was soliciting donations to fund a move to New York, to a "work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceit of the liberal [mainstream media]," the GoFundMe page described.

"Um, yeah, I was looking to take a job last summer in New York, but it fell through," Phillips said after she was confronted with details about the GoFundMe.com page. "Yeah, it was going to be with the Daily Caller, but it ended up falling through, so I wasn't able to do it."

Representatives from the Daily Caller denied having interviewed anyone named Jaime Phillips, The Post reported.

"I think I probably just want to cancel and not go through with it at this point," Phillips said to McCrummen. "I'm not going to answer any more questions."

Martin Baron, The Post's executive editor, made the decision to publish Phillips' comments, which were previously off-the-record.

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Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe
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Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe (R) holds a news conference at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe (R) holds a news conference at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe (L) is photographed by Project Veritas Action Senior Communications Strategist Stephen Gordon during a news conference at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe (L) is photographed by Project Veritas Action Senior Communications Strategist Stephen Gordon during a news conference at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe (R) holds a news conference at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Project Veritas Action lawyer Benjamin Barr (L) speaks during a news conference with conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe (L) is photographed by Project Veritas Action Senior Communications Strategist Stephen Gordon during a news conference at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe (R) holds a news conference at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 01: Project Veritas Action lawyer Benjamin Barr (L) speaks during a news conference with conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Keefe released a video of that accuses the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's director of marketing and FEC compliance director of breaking the law by allowing a Canadian tourist to buy $75 of campaign swag using the Project Veritas Action journalist as a straw purchaser. O'Keefe promised that people will resign from their jobs as his 'Army of Exposers' record and release more undercover videos during the 2016 campaign. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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"We always honor 'off-the-record' agreements when they're entered into in good faith," Baron said in The Post. "But this so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us. The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap."

"Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren't fooled, and we can't honor an 'off-the-record' agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith," Baron said.

On Monday afternoon, James O'Keefe, Project Veritas' founder, defended the group by launching a series of attacks against The Post.

"Hitting export on hidden camera footage into Washington Post shortly," O'Keefe wrote on Twitter. "Project Veritas vs Bezos 100mm monopoly. Fasten your seat belts."

Read The Washington Post's full report here » 

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