Hoaxer Tricks Prominent Trump Critics Into Spreading False Allegations On Twitter

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Outlandish claims about President Trump that were spread by two prominent Twitter users were hoaxes, according to a damning new report by The Guardian.

Louise Mensch, a former British parliamentarian, and Claude Taylor, a former Bill Clinton White House staffer, have for months made sensational claims about Trump and the ongoing federal investigations into his campaign and financial dealings.

With a steady stream of juicy allegations — such as that sealed indictments have been handed down for Trump associates and that arrests of Trumpworld figures were imminent — the duo have developed a massive following on Twitter and among liberals who hope to see Trump impeached.

Mensch — the founder of the now-defunct website, Heat Street — also parlayed her popularity into writing an op-ed for The New York Times about the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential campaign. (RELATED: Liberals Turn To Never Trump Conspiracy Theorist To Push Trump-Russia Narrative)

But at least some of the claims spread by Mensch and Taylor came from a hoaxster, The Guardian revealed on Monday.

According to the newspaper, a person posing as an attorney in the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman fed Taylor false information about money laundering and sex trafficking investigations targeting Trump. Mensch retweeted Taylor’s fake scoops at least 18 times to her 270,000 Twitter followers.

The hoaxster, who went by the name “Caitlan,” began emailing Taylor on July 20, just after MSNBC host Joe Scarborough praised Taylor on his TV show.

Claiming to be an investigator with Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force, “Caitlan” told Taylor that a modeling agency once operated by Trump was the subject of a sex trafficking investigation.

Mensch circulated Taylor’s claims on Twitter, and on Aug. 15 published an article at her website, Patribiotics, claiming that sources within the intelligence community have told her that Trump is being investigated for trafficking underaged girls. (RELATED: Dem. Senator Uses Info From Conspiracy Blogs To Push Trump-Russia Claims)

In one email, “Caitlan” told Taylor that Schneiderman’s office had handed down sealed indictments for executives at the Trump Organization, the Trump family’s real estate company.

“I am aware of at least one preliminary sealed indictment in that case targeting multiple Trump Org principals,” reads one email to Taylor, a Washington, D.C.-based photographer who worked in the Clinton White House in the early 1990s.

On July 23, “Caitlan” told Taylor that the Organized Crime Task Force’s investigation was targeting 78 people in an investigation into Russian organization crime, including up to 40 targets in Trump’s orbit.

Taylor shared those false claims on Twitter as well, and Mensch also passed them along to her followers.

On July 26, Taylor passed on a false tip from “Caitlan” that former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump confidante, was seeking a plea deal with Schneiderman’s office. The next day, “Caitlan” told Taylor that a money laundering investigation being led by Schneiderman was targeting 15 Russian nationals as well as Trump and his children.

The emails show that Taylor not only passed on “Caitlan’s” claims without doing his own investigating, but that he also sought out information that would be as damning as possible for Trump.

“Is there anything you have heard that’s really going to shock people? An ‘Oh my god’ sort of thing?” Taylor wrote to “Caitlan.” In another email, Taylor said that he was “going farther than I should” with the information from his phony source.

In emails to The Guardian exposing Taylor’s gullibility, “Caitlan” said that Taylor did not try to verify her identity before circulating the outlandish claims.

“Taylor asked no questions to verify my identity, did no vetting whatsoever, sought no confirmation from a second source — but instead asked leading questions to support his various theories, asking me to verify them,” the hoaxer told The Guardian.

Mensch is defending herself against the Guardian expose by claiming that her information about a sex trafficking investigation of Trump — which has not been reported by any other news outlet — was based on different sources than those used by Taylor.

“I don’t think anybody can vet anybody else’s sources,” she told The Guardian.

For his part, Taylor has acknowledged being taken in by a hoaxster.

“As a ‘citizen journalist’ I acknowledge my error and do apologize,” he wrote on Twitter.

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