A woman who accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of sexual assault has come forward to allege that the accusation was a hoax in an effort to discredit and denigrate President Trump’s administration and handling of the coronavirus.
"Hi Nancy, I hope you are having a nice weekend. I feel very bad about lying to you and others about Dr. Fauci. I took it upon myself to call Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman and record them (see attached) … Many thanks and again, I feel very bad about all this. I apologize to you, the other reporters and Dr. Fauci."
This was an email Nancy Rommelmann received from a woman who called herself Diana Andrade. Rommelmann mentioned that she had spoken with Andrade 10 days earlier, when she knew her as “Diana Rodriguez.” It was at that time that Rodriguez alleged that when she was 20 years old, in 2014, she had been sexually assaulted by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the most prominent faces in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Wohl and Burkman, who are pro-Trump provocateurs who have somehow found a niche in drumming up fake sexual harassment allegations that usually end badly, have a decorated past of exploits, including charges against former FBI Director Robert Mueller (who, it turns out, was serving jury duty the day he was supposed to have committed the assault) and Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren (the press conference for which took place on Burkman’s stoop, and whose presumed victim, a 24-year-old marine, failed to show up.)
Dr. Fauci rose to stardom in March when he appeared in Covid-19 briefings, day after day, outshining Trump in many instances. Wohl and Burkman believed this was the perfect opportunity to act on someone who they perceived to be Trump’s newest enemy, and therefore needed to be taken down.
But the rollout of Wohl and Burkman’s has turned into a complete mess, with a series of “media alerts” announcing press conferences without start times, while the public relations contact and company Rodriguez worked for did not appear to exist, and finally a “statement” from Rodriguez.
Sally Quinn recently confessed that she based a thinly veiled DC heartthrob in her 1991 bestseller Happy Endings on Fauci. Wohl and Burkman are clearly not the first to take this route.
“He looked rich and powerful, and I love smart men with grey hair. He told me all about his fantastic career in medicine, so I went upstairs," Rodriguez wrote of her fake meeting with Fauci at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in DC. After going into detail about ineffective hotel wrestling and managing to get away with her honor intact, Rodriguez concluded the statement with, “Now, when I see him on TV touted as some kind of hero, I want the nation to know the truth. This is my truth. This is my story.”
Several journalists called into a conference call to hear Rodriguez’s story, but were instead met with Wohl and Burkman on the line, stating they had been invited on the fly to represent Rodriguez, who haltingly shared a story that varied significantly from the media alert and, when asked questions for clarification, was spoken over by Wohl.
“People come forward against figures that are considered media darlings with very credible allegations and are attacked by the media,” he told the journalists. “And you see the same sort of victim-blaming here.”
But the journalists were not fooled. Wohl and Burkman attempted to dissemble past there not being one verifiable fact or person in their most recent confection, invoking Kevin Spacey as someone would speak on their behalf, and then confirmed for reporters that the original location of the press conference was being held at the Chinese Embassy.
“They were kind enough to offer the venue and there's not a lot of open venues these days,” said Burkman during the call. (He had “a contact there.”) “Can you just tell us you're pulling a prank here?”
No news outlet was willing to tackle the story, save for The Daily Dot, which only addressed it to debunk the absurd claims.
And this would have been the end of the fake story—that is, until Rommelmann received an email on Saturday, which included Andrade (“Rodriguez”) writing, “The reality is that I’ve known Jacob since 2018 and that he charmed me into taking money to do this (see attached picture of us together),” which was apparently taken when they were dating. She added that Wohl and Burkman “had me do something like this… back in January.”
“And I understand they're trying to get another girl to do it, too,” Andrade said. “They asked me if I knew anyone to do it.”
Andrade was telling the truth, as another press release, by Burkman, cited a new accusation by “Karen Draper,” a “former assistant” of Fauci.
But one is forced to ask what kind of message Wohl and Burkman are trying to communicate with all these false accusations. “They are interested in one thing: power,” Andrade wrote.
Andrade, wanting to get out of the mess she had gotten herself into, felt that the only way to escape would be to capture the absurdity on tape, which would come in the form of Wohl asking Andrade if she could provide a name for someone else who would be willing to make more false accusations.
“I ignored his inquiry about this,” she writes. “But it led me to feel like I needed to blow the whistle.”
During a nine-minute, 35-second call, Wohl and Burkman do not present themselves in the most positive light. They bullied Andrade when she said she was paranoid and simply wanted reassurance that everything was going to be okay.
“What could be wrong, Diana?” Wohl asks. “You did a good job, you got paid. What's the problem? What seems to be the issue? You're freaking out. You're texting me late at night. What's the issue?”
“What's the problem? What's your problem?” Burkman echoed. “Tell me what the problem is? What's your problem?”
Andrade responds by saying that she is uncomfortable with the money they gave her, some guy showing up, claiming to be a lawyer, with his face hidden by a cap.
“Is he even a real lawyer?” she asks. “I looked him up.”
“Yeah, he's a real lawyer,” Wohl says. “He's a good lawyer,” and then goes on to brag about the lawyer’s connections to the White House.
Rommelmann makes the point that it is possible that a White House-connected lawyer hand-delivered five figures in cash to Andrade in Los Angeles, but it is also possible Wohl made up the whole thing. Andrade did say she received the money.
Andrade proposed on the phone to Wohl and Burkman that she could just return the cash and instead receive a wire transfer (which would create a reliable trace), a proposition Burkman immediately shoots down. “Cash is best,” he told her. “We don't want any records of this nonsense.”
She tries to get the men to admit they are trying to bring down a man they know did nothing wrong.
“Let me tell you something, Diana,” said Burkman. “This guy shut the country down. He put 40 million people out of work. In a situation like that, you have to make up whatever you have to make up to stop that train and that's the way life works, okay? That's the way it goes.”
Andrade countered by saying he and Wohl were not taking Covid-19 seriously. “It's not just any virus. I mean, it's a huge deal….I think you guys think it's something made up, and it's not.”
“Mother Nature has to clean the barn every so often,” responded Burkman. “How real is it? Who knows? So what if 1 percent of the population goes? So what if you lose 400,000 people? 200,000 were elderly, the other 200,000 are the bottom of society. You got to clean out the barn. If it's real, it's a positive thing, for God's sake.”
“So, what? Survival of the fittest?” Andrade inquired, but Wohl was not having it.
“Diana, look, can you just do this for me?” he says. “Can you just keep your mouth shut and just…just do it for me.”
“Oh Jacob, come on,” she said. “You have a way of charming people…and there are a lot of things I don't want to say in front of Jack but I am so done with you. I do not want to deal with this anymore. I think you're actually an evil person…you're just, you're just so charming until you get me cornered. I don't know how you do it, but you find a way to make me go along with your little plans.”
The two men talk over one another, telling Andrade she “readily volunteered” and asked who cares if she “made up a story. Grow up, for Christ’s sake.”
When she asked about the harassing phone calls she had received since the conference call, Wohl simply replied, “Probably telemarketers.”
Andrade ended the call right there, and decided to reach out to Rommelman.
“I'm sure you noticed I wasn't following the script,” Andrade said.
There was “no preparation!” she said. Wohl “just told me, because he knows my other story, he just said, ‘Use the same stuff.’”
The “same stuff” mentioned here refers to a sexual assault Andrade experienced when she was still in high school, when she was attacked in a cary by a much older man. She felt shame about having been assaulted by someone she barely knew and also “because I lied to my mom about where I was when this happened.”
“For many reasons, I couldn't talk about it,” she said, noting that she had told Wohl about it back when they were still dating. Though it made him angry on her behalf, he still asked her to fake being assaulted.
“He said, ‘Well, you know you don't want to talk about this, but maybe this could be another way of talking about it.’” He then asked her to recraft her lived experience into an accusation against an Academy Award-winning actor. And Wohl said he would pay her to do it.
“He said, ‘We actually need someone like this, and maybe it'd be good practice for you to be able to talk about this,’” she recalled. “‘Just talk about how you feel about the real thing, but take it out against this other person.’” Andrade did this, but after Wohl was displeased with the result, he asked her to take aim at Dr. Fauci.
“I don't know how they do all these things and why they do all these things,” Andrade said. “Also, he tried to frame Mueller … I'm like, how is he not in jail?”
When contacted about the story, Wohl simply responded "no comment" and Burkman replied with “We stand by Diana and her allegations.”
When asked, Andrade was not convinced that Wohl would retaliate by blackmail, but she was confused “how he doesn’t get in trouble.”