So says the Daily Mail, and it might make a few people uncomfortable if true — William Barr among them. According to their source, Maxwell spent $25,000 to retain the services of Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, the men behind an alleged attempt to smear Robert Mueller (and others) with false sexual-harassment claims. The idea was to attack Jeffrey Epstein’s victims in order to end any prosecution efforts against her — as well as getting US Attorney Geoffrey Berman fired before he could indict her.
If true, what would be more pathetic — Maxwell’s choice of operatives, or the paltry sum she offered?
Ghislaine Maxwell hired fake news purveyor Jacob Wohl to smear her and Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, a former friend has told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
As part of a $25,000 deal made in June, Wohl and his lobbyist colleague Jack Burkman also allegedly pushed to get New York US Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who had led Epstein’s case, fired in order to stall or stop the criminal investigation into Maxwell. …
One of the women they tried to use for their smear plots, Maryland model and paralegal Kristin Spealman, told DailyMail.com the men had been hired by Maxwell, who currently faces trial over charges she and Epstein trafficked underage girls for sex. …
Wohl and Burkman told Spealman that Maxwell also used the secretive LLC to hire them as lobbyists around early June, the model claimed.
‘Her company Granite Realty LLC hired them to first get rid of the US attorney Jeffrey Berman,’ the paralegal said.
‘She wanted him fired. And then I guess she assumed the charges would go away or maybe she wouldn’t be prosecuted. I think that was the goal.’
That could be a problem for Barr, who actually did fire Berman — although for reasons not related to the Maxwell probe. The White House wanted to move someone else into Berman’s position and offered Berman a couple of other slots if he resigned. Berman refused to do so, and House Democrats now say they want to know why the White House pushed Berman out the door. They assume that Berman’s enthusiasm for investigating corruption among Donald Trump’s friends might have been the reason, but they’ll likely want to pull the Epstein thread now too — especially if they can tie Wohl and Burkman to Barr.
Of course, the indictment of Maxwell came two weeks after Berman got canned, which tends to negate the idea that the Epstein case had much to do with that decision. It also points up how idiotic the idea of targeting Berman would have been, if this story is true, let along using Wohl and Burkman to do it. Regardless of who the US Attorney was, Maxwell was the top target after Epstein committed suicide (well, officially) and short-circuited justice for his victims. In fact, the idea that embarrassing Berman out of office alone would secure Maxwell’s freedom is so absurd that this story can’t possibly be on the level. Right?
Er … not so fast, says Law & Crime’s Colin Kalmbacher. The core of the story — Maxwell’s connection to Wohl and Burkman — is legit:
Jeffrey Epstein‘s former girlfriend and alleged groomer Ghislaine Maxwell appears to have hired conservative activist and would-be smear artist Jacob Wohl for unknown reasons, according to a lobbying disclosure form filed with the U.S. Congress.
According to an LD-1 Disclosure Form filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate, J M Burkman and Associates–a lobbying firm owned by far-right activist Jack Burkman and co-run by Wohl–were hired by “Granite Realty [sic] LLC” in order to lobby on “[i]ssues relating to US DOJ, Senate Judiciary, [and the] House Judiciary.” …
To be clear, Maxwell’s alleged shell company is “Granite Reality” (as in the “quality or state of being real“). However, the official form on file with congress lists a company named “Granite Realty” (as in real estate). The LD-1 does, however list the address for the Boston-based company that federal prosecutors have tied to Maxwell.
In other words, the lobbying form has the address of Maxwell’s said-to-be affiliated company, Granite Reality, and it appears the name of the company is simply misspelled on the congressional documents.
Say what? As the Daily Mail notes, Wohl and Burkman have a reputation as laughing stocks. Mueller’s not the only faceplant the two have made; their targets have reportedly ranged from Ted Cruz to Nancy Pelosi and even to Anthony Fauci. They’re more like comic relief rather than successful oppo-research experts, or even effective character assassins.
You just can’t hire good help these days!
Of course, just because Maxwell hired Wohl and Burkman doesn’t prove that she was ordering smear campaigns against victims and Berman. It certainly suggests something nefarious, and it might also suggest something else — that Maxwell didn’t have too many resources left. If all she could muster was $25,000 to pay Wohl and Burkman, Maxwell must be close to tapped out, both financially and socially.
Legally, she might be tapped out as well, Bloomberg reported this morning:
The deposition, done over two days in April and July 2016, offers the only substantive public record from Maxwell about what she did for the sex offender. It’s also part of the reason why she was arrested earlier this month — prosecutors allege she lied nine times while giving her answers under oath. The questioning was part of a defamation lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre, who has said she was abused by Epstein and Maxwell.
An appeals court unsealed 40 of the 613 transcript pages of her deposition last August. In the portion that’s publicly available, Maxwell is asked at least five different times if she believed that Epstein sexually abused minors. She doesn’t give a yes or no response, instead attacking Giuffre as a liar. The most she says in the public transcript: “You are asking me to speculate and I won’t speculate.” …
The indictment, unsealed on July 2, includes two counts of perjury based on her deposition. Prosecutors say she lied about her knowledge of Epstein’s activities, including denying knowledge of his recruitment of underage girls and his interactions with underage women at his properties.
The defamation lawsuit, which was settled for an undisclosed amount, was brought against Maxwell because she denied Giuffre’s account of abuse in print. A day after portions of Maxwell’s deposition were made public last August, Epstein died of an apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges involving underage girls.
This will be one hell of a circus when Maxwell gets to trial. Assuming she makes it to the trial, that is.
Update: A great point from our friend J.E. Dyer:
Hmm – when they start alleging Maxwell got Berman fired, that sounds a bit too pat.
Indictment for Maxwell was announced same 24-hr period Berman abruptly agreed to resign (20-21 Jun). Indictment written for Audrey Strauss signature; she became Acting that day.
— J.E. Dyer (@OptimisticCon) July 21, 2020