Vermont professor helps unravel alleged scheme to smear Mueller

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) A Vermont Law School professor is helping to unravel what appears to be an effort to smear Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Jennifer Taub received an unsolicited email last week that caught her attention; it was from a private intelligence company looking for dirt on Mueller. Our Neal Goswami spoke with Taub Wednesday about a political effort that has now caught the attention of the FBI.

Taub says the email is a mystery. She's never been in the same room as Mueller, let alone met him. But the email wanted her to dish out scandalous details on the man looking into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

"It began by saying that the person understood that I had encounters with Robert Mueller," Taub said. "My first thought was, 'I've never met Robert Mueller.' So, initially, I thought maybe I should email this person back and say, 'You know, I haven't met him, have a nice day.'"

Taub is a Vermont Law School professor and CNN commentator. She says she received that email Oct. 22. It came from Simon Frick of Surefire Intelligence. In the email, Frick says he is examining Robert Mueller's past. The New York Times is reporting that Frick appears to be a false identity.

"Sometimes I get unsolicited emails but this one was a little weirder than most," Taub said.

After reading the entire email referencing Mueller, Taub says she knew something was off.

"It appeared that it was some kind of setup and they were trying to find out anything they could that might have been bad about him," she said.

The email offered money for information.

"We'll pay you for your time to talk to us about these encounters, but it also says we'll also pay you if you give references," Taub said.

She thought the email was suspicious and sent it on to the special counsel's office. There was no response and Taub forgot about it until Tuesday, when The Atlantic released a story about another woman contacted by Surefire Intelligence. That article led to a rare statement from the special counsel's office. Spokesman Peter Carr said, "When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the special counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation."

Taub is supposed to be grading midterm exams but has spent the past 48 hours handling media inquiries. And she's prepared to work with the FBI if contacted.

"I would always cooperate with law enforcement in any matter," she said.

Taub says she faces negative comments on social media for her CNN commentaries but doesn't expect this incident to increase that.

According to The Atlantic, another woman, Lorraine Parsons, was offered $20,000 to make accusations against Mueller. Parsons' identity has not yet been confirmed, however.