For many Americans, the incremental progress of the Mueller investigation has made it a challenge to keep the probe’s big-picture narratives straight. The charges and revelations have emerged in a slow trickle, to be met by a media frenzy in which each revelation is imbibed and weaponized.
This week, the brains at Lawfare have released an antidote: a 20-odd minute podcast that serves as a digest of the concrete claims the special counsel investigation has made so far about Russia’s subversive acts during the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign’s Kremlin connections at the time. This effort is unique for one remarkable reason: The thing is told entirely through quotations from Mueller’s indictments. No editorializing here. The various chapters are read by John Legend, Rachel Maddow, The Bulwark‘s own Charlie Sykes, Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes, and others.
“We decided to distill it, to organize it, to put it all in one place, to tell the story of the Russia investigation orally,” Wittes wrote. “What you’re about to hear is all taken nearly verbatim from actual Bob Mueller filings. We’ve cut a lot, moved stuff around, and changed a few words here and there to make it sound more like a narrative. We have changed the meaning not at all.”
The details of the story that emerges are already familiar to anyone who has followed Mueller’s progress over the last two years. But the story itself still packs a wallop. It’s all laid out in the special counsel’s own words: how a foreign adversary made a deliberate attempt to undermine the integrity of our election process, how at precisely the same time Donald Trump and multiple members of his campaign were trying to develop relationships with that adversary to advance either their own personal interests or the political interest of the campaign, and how many of those same people later lied to Congress, law enforcement, or both about those relationships to stifle investigations into them. The whole rogue’s gallery is here—the Russians, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone. Listen below.