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Two Jewish Conspiracy Theorists Go After Pete Buttigieg

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is the target of a smear being promoted by two self-styled “conservative activists” who recently tried to frame special counsel Robert Mueller, and one of whom came to national prominence by perpetuating Seth Rich conspiracy theories.

Player 1 is Jack Burkman, a Republican lobbyist who was briefly allied with the parents of the slain DNC staffer Seth Rich in helping to investigate his unsolved murder.

Player 2 is Jacob Wohl, a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist and former teenage hedge fund manager who is now banned for life from operating hedge funds.

According to The Daily Beast, the pair tried to recruit young Republican men to accuse Buttigieg, the first major openly gay presidential candidate, of sexually assaulting them.

The Daily Beast reported that Wohl called Buttigieg a “terminal threat” to President Trump’s reelection efforts, and so wanted someone to claim that Buttigieg had sexually assaulted him when he was too drunk to consent to sex. A claim to that effect made by an accuser last week was retracted within hours, after the man who supposedly made the accusation said that Wohl had written and published the fake account of the assault without telling him.

Burkman and Wohl had previously tried a similar tactic against Mueller. In that instance, Wohl made so many gaffes in covering his and Burkman’s tracks as the creators of the hoax that internet sleuths were able to determine that the “accusations” against Mueller were fake.

Burkman first emerged in national political as a partisan, if dedicated, sleuth working with Seth Rich’s parents to uncover information about his murder. But Burkman quickly turned his “investigation” into political theater, in one instance filming a staged reenactment of how Burkman supposed Rich’s killing went down. Rich’s parents eventually expressed their “fury” at Burkman for pushing a conspiracy theory about Rich’s death that linked it to Russia.

Wohl and Burkman announced that they will be holding a press conference Wednesday what they are calling the “Mayor Pete saga.”

The announcement included a threat to sue the Daily Beast for defamation for reporting that Wohl and Burkman were planning to accuse Buttigieg of a made-up sexual assault.

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman

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