Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Books: The Mueller Report, Presented by The Washington Post

The Mueller Report - Presented With Related Materials By The Washington Post
Introduction and Analysis by Reporters Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky
Scribner; trade paperback; $15.00

The Mueller Report, with the findings of the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Donald J. Trump's campaign, was released last month.
This book is the only one with exclusive analysis by the Pulitzer Prize–winning staff of The Washington Post, who have covered the story from the beginning.

This edition from The Washington Post and Scribner contains the long-awaited Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election in its entirety; an introduction by The Washington Post titled “A President, a Prosecutor, and the Protection of American Democracy;” a timeline of the major events of the Special Counsel’s investigation from May 2017, when Robert Mueller was appointed, to the report's delivery; a guide to individuals involved, including in the Special Counsel’s Office, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Trump Campaign, the White House, the Trump legal defense team, and the Russians, and all the key documents in the Special Counsel’s investigation, including filings pertaining to General Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, and the Russian internet operation in St. Petersburg. Each document is introduced and explained by Washington Post reporters.

One of the most urgent and important investigations ever conducted, the Mueller inquiry focuses on Donald Trump, his presidential campaign, and Russian interference in the 2016 election, and draws on the testimony of dozens of witnesses and the work of some of the country’s most seasoned prosecutors.

In the introductory essay, “A President, a Prosecutor, and the Protection of American Democracy," Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky write, "The special counsel investigation that threatened Donald Trump's presidency was born of the commander-in-chief's rage.
"In his first months in office, Trump had seethed over FBI director James B. Comey's refusal to tell the world that the president was not being scrutinized personally as part of the bureau's investigation of whether the Trump campaign had coordinated with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential race.
"On May 9, 2017, Trump snapped. In a sharp break from Washington norms that afford FBI directors ten-year terms to give the bureau independence from politics, the president unceremoniously fired Comey. He conveyed the news in a terse letter, hand-delivered to the FBI headquarters by his former personal bodyguard.
"Trump's closest aides had warned him that the move could trigger a political uproar and lead to an expansion of the Russia inquiry- and it did.
"Lawmakers on Capitol Hill cried foul. The FBI, already deep into its investigation of election interference, now feared that the most powerful man in the country was trying to obstruct its work. And Rod J. Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, who had written a memo supporting Comey's dismissal, was incensed about the way the White House was pinning nearly all responsibility for the firing on him. He briefly considered resigning. Instead, Rosenstein turned to Robert S. Mueller III.
"The deputy attorney general announced on May 17, 2017, that he had appointed the then-seventy-two-year-old Vietnam veteran and former FBI director to lead an independent investigation into interference in the 2016 election and other matters that might stem from the inquiry.
"It was a broad mandate.
"Over the next twenty-two months, Mueller, who led the FBI through the attacks of September 11, 2001, and embodied the bureau's straight-arrow traditions, quietly and methodically investigated Trump and nearly everyone in his orbit, trying to determine whether they had conspired with the Kremlin to tilt the election, and whether the president himself had tried to obstruct justice.
"The investigation culminated on March 22, 2019, when Mueller formally concluded his work and submitted a final report to Attorney General William P. Barr.
"Barr held a press conference on April 18, less than two hours before the two-volume Mueller findings - Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election - would be turned over to Congress. The attorney general noted repeatedly there was no 'collusion' - a word Trump had popularized as he attacked the investigation - and Barr revealed how the White House and Trump's personal lawyers had been given an advance look at the redacted document.
"Barr's description of Mueller's report was favorable to Trump. In addition to finding no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, the attorney general said, Mueller had declined to reach a conclusion on whether the president had obstructed justice.
"But the anodyne description belied what would soon be released. Mueller's report, despite redactions, offered a stunning account of how Russia worked to help the Trump campaign and how Trump's associates were willing to accept Russian assistance, and it presented an explosive and detailed narrative of how Trump sought to shut down the investigation as he worried about its impact."

There are also essays on the background of people involved, including "Mueller and Trump: Born to Wealth, Raised to Lead. Then, Sharply Different Choices," Marc Fisher and Sari Horwitz write, "They are the sons of wealth, brought up in families accustomed to power. They were raised to show and demand respect, and they were raised to lead.
"They rose to positions of enormous authority, the president of the United States and the special counsel chosen to investigate him. They dress more formally than most of those around them; both sport meticulously coifed hair. They have won unusual loyalty from those who believe in them. They attended elite all-male private schools, were accomplished high school athletes and went on to Ivy League colleges. As young men, each was deeply affected by the death of a man he admired greatly.
"Yet Robert Swan Mueller III and Donald John Trump, born 22 months apart in New York City, also can seem to come from different planets. One is courtly and crisp, the other blustery and brash. One turned away from the path to greater wealth, while the other spent half a century exploring every possible avenue to add to his assets.
"At pivotal points in their lives, they made sharply divergent choices - as students, as draft-age men facing the dilemma of the Vietnam War, as ambitious alpha males deciding where to focus their energies.
"Now, they each face each other in a slow-moving, long-running confrontation that could end in anything from deeper political discord to a fatal blow to this presidency. For the two-plus years of the Russia investigation, Trump, 72, and Mueller, 74, have behaved much as they have throughout their lives: As the president fumed about a 'witch hunt' and took his frustrations to his supporters, the special counsel remained publicly mute, speaking through inquiries, indictments, and, finally, a report."

The Mueller Report is essential reading for all citizens concerned about the fate of the presidency and the future of our democracy.

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