Attorney General William Barr
Credit: The United States Department of Justice/WikiMedia Commons

The paperback version of Old Man and the Sea is 128 pages. The paperback version of The Great Gatsby is 180 pages. The paperback version of Catcher in the Rye is 240 pages. The Mueller Report is reportedly over 300 pages. Yet, our Cliffs Notes of the Mueller Report are only four-pages long.

The still-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election submitted by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, last week was more than 300 pages long, according to the Justice Department, a length that raises new questions about Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page summary.

As Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog points out, the public isn’t buying this whitewash. Public opinion surveys by Reuters/Ipsos, Politico/Morning Consult, and CNN have unanimously found that a plurality still believe Trump colluded with the Russians and obstructed justice. Huge majorities want to see the full report. And, according to CNN, “nearly 6 in 10 Americans want to see Congress continue to pursue hearings into the findings of Mueller’s report.”

It sounds to me like there is a lot of information in the report about both obstruction (which Mueller specifically said does not exonerate the president) and Russia’s interference in the election, which Congress needs in order to legislate. It’s as if someone tried to explain three of the most iconic American novels by telling us nothing more about them than sharks ate Santiago’s marlin, Jay Gatsby died in his pool, and Holden Caulfield took his sister to the zoo.

By contrast, the Watergate “road map” sent to Congress by the grand jury investigating President Richard Nixon and his associates was only 62 pages. Sent to lawmakers in 1974, the court report was not unsealed by a federal judge and made public until last year.

Mr. Mueller probably collected and generated hundreds of thousands if not millions of pages of paper in his investigation. Congress has made clear it would eventually like access to all of them…

The key point with the Watergate “road map” document is that it was turned over to Congress. The road map contained “97 documents supporting…53 statements of information,” and the reason that the public did not see the document until 2018 is because the supporting evidence was all produced by a grand jury. There is no sufficient reason why Congress cannot see the grand jury evidence from Mueller’s investigation, and see it promptly after it has been scrubbed for any sensitive information that could put sources or methods at risk.

William Barr is like the guy who doesn’t want you to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great book because it’s crap. Just trust him, the hero is a bootlegging crook who doesn’t get the girl and, in his opinion, it’s just fine if Meyer Wolfsheim doesn’t gets punished for fixing the 1919 World Series.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at