Dec 13, 2017

Schumer calls cops after forged sex scandal charge

Mike Allen, author of AM

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he was the victim of a fake news hit on Tuesday, and has turned over to Capitol Police a document that purports to detail lurid sexual harassment accusations by a former staffer.

Why it matters: This was an apparent effort to dupe reporters and smear a senator — both symptoms of an amped-up news environment where harassment charges are proliferating and reporters have become targets for fraud.

  • The former staffer told me in a phone interview that she did not author the document, that none of the charges ring true, and that her signature was forged.
  • She said she had never heard of the document before Axios took it to Schumer's office for comment on Tuesday.
  • Matt House, Schumer's communications director, told me: "The document is a forged document and every allegation is false. We have turned it over to the Capitol Police and asked them to investigate and pursue criminal charges because it is clear the law has been broken."
  • House continued: "We believe the individual responsible for forging the document should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to prevent other malicious actors from doing the same."

The backstory:

  • A password-protected PDF of the 13-page document was shopped to Axios and other outlets. The document, which is dated 2012 and has the file name "Schumer_Complaint," looks like a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
  • One of many red flags: No lawyer for the staffer is named.
  • The woman named in the document was a legislative staffer for Schumer from 2009 to 2012, and is now a career employee of the federal government.
  • The former staffer said she took the matter to Washington, D.C. police on Tuesday. She said the police told her they were unsure of their jurisdiction in the case. She said she now plans to go to Capitol Police.
  • She told me in a statement: "The claims in this document are completely false, my signature is forged, and even basic facts about me are wrong. I have contacted law enforcement to determine who is responsible. I parted with Senator Schumer's office on good terms and have nothing but the fondest memories of my time there."
  • Axios agreed to her stipulation that she not be named, because she said she is the victim of a crime.

A source close to Schumer said the document is full of errors:

  • "The document contains an allegation of inappropriate behavior on September 16th 2011 in Washington, but Schumer was in New York City."
  • "It contains an allegation of inappropriate behavior by Schumer on August 25th 2011 in Washington, but Schumer was in France."
  • The source tells Axios that reporters from the Washington Post, CNN, BuzzFeed, The New Yorker and ABC all inquired about the document Tuesday.

Be smart: Look for more hits like this, aimed at victimizing both reporters and public figures.

Sign up for Axios newsletters to get our smart brevity delivered to your inbox every morning.

Go deeper

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

Protesters gather at Hennepin County Government Plaza on Thursday in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Protests in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died shortly after a police encounter in Minneapolis, are ongoing as the nation waits to see if the officers involved will be charged with murder.

The state of play: Minnesota's governor on Thursday activated the state's national guard following violent outbreaks throughout the week.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has a single novel coronavirus case after reporting a week of no new infections, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday local time.

By the numbers: Nearly 6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.3 million have recovered from the virus. Over 357,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.6 million.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,803,416 — Total deaths: 359,791 — Total recoveries — 2,413,576Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,720,613 — Total deaths: 101,573 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: The mystery of coronavirus superspreaders.
  4. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  5. World: Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S.
  6. 2020: The RNC has issued their proposed safety guidelines for its planned convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  7. Axios on HBO: Science fiction writers tell us how they see the coronavirus pandemic.
  8. 🏃‍♀️Sports: Boston Marathon canceled after initial postponement, asks runners to go virtual.
  9. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.