Several weeks ago, a woman contacted the Washington Post alleging Alabama Republican candidate Roy Moore impregnated her and forced her to have an abortion when she was 15, in 1992. She was lying for money — and her paycheck came from an organization that counts President Trump as one of its supporters.
The woman went by the name Jaime Phillips and emailed Post reporter Beth Reinhard — one of the reporters who broke the story on sexual misconduct allegations against Moore — saying that she had something to share about the Senate candidate privately.
The story she told over multiple interviews at first glance appeared in line with recent allegations made against the GOP lawmaker, but her account became inconsistent and her background information didn’t check out — in one instance, a Post reporter called the employer she said she worked for and they said they had never heard of her.
With a bit more digging, the Post discovered Phillips had created a GoFundMe about getting a job with a “conservative media movement.”
“I’m moving to New York!” the GoFundMe page stated. “I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM. I’ll be using my skills as a researcher and fact-checker to help our movement.”
It turns out that the allegations were entirely fabricated and the woman was actually an operative for a right-wing activist group undertaking an unsuccessful undercover operation to discredit the national news outlet, the Post revealed in an expansive exposé Monday. The story also featured footage of a Post reporter confronting Phillips, who floundered under questioning before deciding to stop answering.
That right-wing group, Project Veritas, has a history of trying to dupe reporters, liberal groups, and Democrats into “gotcha!” moments — in this case, an apparent attempt to undermine the Post’s previous reporting on Moore’s sexual misconduct.
And that’s also where Trump, who has refused to condemn Moore and railed against Moore’s opponent on Twitter this week, comes in. Trump has long supported the so-called activist group, donating $10,000 to Project Veritas through the Trump Foundation in May 2015, and mentioning the group’s videos in various speeches — including one he says proved that Clinton and Obama conspired to pay people $1,500 to “be violent, cause fights, do bad things” at Trump events. And Project Veritas videos routinely appear on Breitbart, a site run out of the home of Steve Bannon, the Trump administration’s former chief strategist.
On Monday, Phillips was seen by Post reporters walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas. Asked by reporters whether she worked for the company, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe declined to comment.
He did use it as an opportunity, however, to ask for money.