Press conference alleging Mueller sex assaults features no evidence, no victim

Jacob Wohl, a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist, 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 30's, was slated to attend the press 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 press 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.

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Former FBI director Robert Mueller attends the ceremonial swearing-in of FBI Director James Comey at the FBI Headquarters October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey was officially sworn in as director of FBI on September 4 to succeed Mueller who had served as director for 12 years. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama applauds outgoing Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) director Robert Mueller (L) in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington on June 21, 2013 as he nominates Jim Comey to be the next FBI director. Comey, a deputy attorney general under George W. Bush, would replace Mueller, who is stepping down from the agency he has led since the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller applauds key staff members during a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW HEADSHOT)
391489 03: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a conference as he stands with Justice Department veteran Robert Mueller, left, who he has nominated to head the FBI, and Attorney General John Ashcroft July 5, 2001 the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller stands for the national anthem during a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) reacts to a standing ovation from the audience, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (C) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (R) during Mueller's farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller gestures during his remarks at a farewell ceremony held for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
FILE PHOTO -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (R) and FBI Director Robert Mueller speak about possible terrorist threats against the United States, in Washington, May 26, 2004. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller reacts to applause from the audience during his farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., right, and FBI Director Robert Mueller make their way to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (C) delivers remarks at a farewell ceremony for him at the Justice Department in Washington, August 1, 2013. On Monday the U.S. Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Mueller, who has led the bureau since shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Also onstage with Mueller are Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole (FROM L), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director George Tenet and TSA Administrator John Pistole. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: (L-R) Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton attend the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol May 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder and other members of the Obama administration are being criticized over reports of the Internal Revenue Services' scrutiny of conservative organization's tax exemption requests and the subpoena of two months worth of Associated Press journalists' phone records. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. Mueller said on Thursday that the U.S. government is doing everything it can to hold confessed leaker Edward Snowden accountable for splashing surveillance secrets across the pages of newspapers worldwide. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (L) welcomes FBI Director Robert Mueller during their meeting in Kiev June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Efrem Lukatsky/Pool (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS)
FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) arrives for the Obama presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington. President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. Woman at right is unidentified. REUTERS/Win McNamee-POOL (UNITED STATES)
WASHINGTON, : FBI Director Robert Mueller answers questions before Congress 17 October 2002 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mueller was testifying before the House and Senate Select Intelligence committees' final open hearing investigating events leading up to the September 11, 2001. AFP Photos/Stephen JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) CIA Director Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
399994 02: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller visits the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller (L) stand during the National Anthem alongside Attorney General Eric Holder (R) and Deputy Attorney General James Cole (C) during a farewell ceremony in Mueller's honor at the Department of Justice on August 1, 2013. Mueller is retiring from the FBI after 12-years as Director. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
399994 01: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller greets American forces on the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of the Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: FBI Director Robert Mueller, center, talks with Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., right, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, talk before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 06: OVERSIGHT HEARING ON COUNTERTERRORISM--Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, before the hearing. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
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The conference was streamed by several reporters in the room. A pickup truck parked in the lot outside by protestors carried a giant inflatable rat wearing a blonde 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 press 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.

(Jack Burkman, a lawyer and Republican operative, and Jacob Wohl. Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

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 Cass'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."

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.

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