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Robert Mueller to help teach law school class on Trump-Russia investigation

Former special counsel Robert Mueller will help teach a University of Virginia Law School class on his...

Posted: Jun 2, 2021 4:36 PM
Updated: Jun 2, 2021 7:30 PM

Former special counsel Robert Mueller will help teach a University of Virginia Law School class on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the school announced Wednesday.

The course, titled 'The Mueller Report and the Role of the Special Counsel,' will be taught by three former senior members of Mueller's team and held over six sessions in the fall semester.

'I was fortunate to attend UVA Law School after the Marine Corps, and I'm fortunate to be returning there now,' Mueller said in a news release, which noted that he will lead at least one class. 'I look forward to engaging with the students this fall.'

The school said the course will focus on 'a key set of decisions made during the special counsel's investigation,' starting with Mueller's appointment as special counsel and ending with a focus on 'obstruction of justice, presidential accountability and the role of special counsel in that accountability.'

Appointed to the role of special counsel in May 2017, Mueller has been notoriously tight-lipped about his investigation, even after it concluded.

Ultimately, Mueller found several examples of Russian efforts to sway the election for the Trump campaign but did not find evidence that the Trump campaign knowingly took part in the allegedly criminal conspiracy, according to his 448-page report released in April 2019.

His office also thoroughly investigated 10 possible situations where Trump attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation, according to the report. He declined to decide whether Trump should be prosecuted, and instead outlined findings and his legal analysis regarding possible obstruction. Mueller left the Justice Department leadership to make the call not to charge the then-President.

In all, Mueller charged 34 people and three Russian companies with crimes. That included top Trump advisers: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Rick Gates and Michael Flynn, as well as two dozen Russians and the Russian companies.

Still, Mueller drew scrutiny for refusing to go beyond the bounds of his report during testimony on Capitol Hill, and one of his top prosecutors has openly criticized the decisions to not subpoena Trump for testimony or pursue a financial autopsy of his records during the probe.

Plus, Mueller's decision not to reach a conclusion on whether the then-President's actions to undercut the Russia investigation merited a criminal obstruction charge is still an active debate.

Instead of subpoenaing Trump for testimony, Mueller accepted written answers that raised even more questions for his team.

In his book, 'Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation,' Andrew Weissmann, a former lead prosecutor on the team, wrote: 'We still do not know if there are other financial ties between the president and either the Russian government or Russian oligarchs. We do not know whether he paid bribes to foreign officials to secure favorable treatment for his business interests, a potential violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which would provide leverage against the president.'

'We do not know if he had other Russian business deals in the works at the time he was running for president, how they might have aided or constrained his campaign, or even if they are continuing to influence his presidency ... The inability to chase down all financial leads, or to examine all crimes, gnawed at me, and still does,' he wrote.

Weissmann was especially critical of Aaron Zebley, Mueller's top deputy, who will be one of the course's teachers, prompting Mueller to publicly defend Zebley in a rare statement in September. The special counsel also spoke up after the White House announced Trump's clemency for Stone.

The law school course may provide Mueller another forum to reflect in hindsight upon Trump's pardons of Stone and others, like Manafort and Flynn, after the special counsel's report looked at how Trump's team hinting at pardons may have chilled potential key witnesses during the investigation.

The school makes specific reference to class sessions that will focus on 'the importance of the Roger Stone prosecution' along with 'navigating the relationship with the Justice Department and Congress' and 'investigative actions relating to the White House.'

Mueller, who began his career with the Department of Justice in 1976 as an assistant US attorney in San Francisco, will look to bring other prosecutors involved in his investigation into the classroom as well, the school said.

This story has been updated with additional information Wednesday.

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