“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in sweeping and systematic fashion”: the long-awaited and much-debated report by Mueller appears between covers, albeit in heavily redacted form.
When it was released in March, the report made headlines for many reasons. For one thing, it depicts a White House in which an unmoored, raging chief executive constantly made demands that his staff and government officials disregarded: “[Chris] Christie had no intention of complying with the President’s request that he contact [James] Comey”; “[Rod] Rosenstein told other DOJ officials that he would not participate in putting out a ‘false story.’ ” It also made a stir because Attorney General William Barr immediately declared that there was no evidence the president had committed a crime, although the report does not say so; its closing words are, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Both matters, as well as the Russian interference that set the report in motion, continue to make headlines, and readers seeking to understand the back and forth will want to have these documents at hand and read between the lines, at least the ones that aren’t blacked out. It’s telling, for instance, that the report leaves open the possibility that the firing of FBI director Comey constitutes obstruction of justice, notes that Comey’s “recollections…have remained consistent over time” (as, it’s implied, against a constantly changing narrative on the part of the White House), and insists that “we had a valid basis for investigating the conduct at issue in this report.” This edition, it should be noted, is the Mueller Report unadorned; because it provides context in the form of timelines, summaries, and commentaries, readers will find the Washington Post edition the more useful one.
Future historians are likely to see the Mueller Report as an essential document at an inflection point. For the moment, it's necessary and urgent reading.