Anatomy of the Mueller Report.

Part 2 of a series: How to Read the Mueller Report: A Primer for the Rest of Us.

Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election

Before reading Anatomy of the Mueller Report, you might want to check out Part 1. Why I read the Mueller Report and why everyone should.  I read the Mueller Report and offer several reasons why you, and every American, should too.

Structure and Content

The report is divided into two distinct Volumes. Read one or both—but read something. It’s not as intimidating as you might think.

Think of the volumes as two separate yet related parts reporting the results of investigating different aspects of wrongdoing: Volume I, Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible connections to the Trump campaign; and Volume II, possible actions of the the president to obstruct justice (interfere with the investigation).

The report explains itself this way, word for word, in the Introduction to Volume I:

The report on our investigation consists of two volumes:

Volume I describes the factual results of the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and its interactions with the Trump Campaign. Section I describes the scope of the investigation. Sections II and III describe the principal ways Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Section IV describes links between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign. Section V sets forth the Special Counsel’s charging decisions.

Volume II addresses the President’s actions towards the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and related matters, and his actions towards the Special Counsel’s investigation. Volume II separately states its framework and the considerations that guided that investigation.

Anatomy of the Mueller Report

Volume I begins on page 1 of 448 pages and is numbered page 1.

Volume II begins on page 208 of 448 pages though it is also numbered page 1.

There is no universal preface for both volumes.

Each Volume has its own:

  • Table of Contents
  • page numbering beginning with #1
  • Introduction to Volume
  • Executive Summary to Volume
  • a detailed report of the investigation with corroboration

Appendices A, B, C and D conclude the report.

Inside Volume I

Volume I details Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election in five sections:

  1. The Special Counsel’s Investigation
  2. Russian “Active Measures” Social Media Campaign
  3. Russian Hacking And Dumping Operations
  4. Russian Government Links To And Contacts With The Trump Campaign
  5. Prosecution and Declination Decisions

Most or all sections and subsections begin and end with introductory and summary paragraphs.

Table of Contents — Volume I outlines its contents and looks like this:

Mueller Report, Volume 1, Table of Contents

Inside Volume 2

Volume II begins on page 208 (of the 448 pages) and covers the Obstruction-of-Justice investigation in four sections filling 186 pages (though some are redacted and some are blank):

  1. The Special Counsel’s Investigation
  2. Factual Results of the Obstruction Investigation
  3. Legal Defenses to the Application of Obstruction-of-Justice Statutes to the President
  4. Conclusion

Table of Contents — Volume II outlines its contents and looks like this:

Mueller Report, Volume 2, Table of Contents

Anatomy of the Mueller Report. The rest of it for the rest of us: Footnotes, Redactions and Appendices.


More than two thousand footnotes provide additional notes, comments and tidbits; most are mundane, but some are juicy. I read them all. The image of Vol. I page 29 (below) illustrates a good example of typical footnotes. I added the yellow highlight to show the report text and its corresponding footnote. Read this sample and you’ll see how footnotes add context and enhance the story.

You’ll also see emails, tweets, Facebook ads, and more. Many refer to the exact message ID numbers: Footnote #45 on page 22 of Vol. I: See, e.g., Facebook ID 100011390466802 (Alex Anderson); Facebook ID 100009626173204 (Andrea Hansen); Facebook ID 100009728618427 (Gary Williams); Facebook ID 100013640043337 (Lakisha Richardson).


The Department of Justice and Attorney General William Barr decided on redactions, which portions of the text that would be obscured by black out. Of the 448 pages, about one third had at least one redaction, including about a dozen pages entirely redacted.

You’ll see four categories of redactions. (My list is alphabetical.) Color-coded type against black defines each category:

  • Grand Jury, red type: information presented to a grand jury that cannot be made public (unless released by a judge)

  • Harm to Ongoing Matter (HOM), white type: information that if made public could compromise ongoing inquiries, investigations, court cases

  • Investigative Technique (IT), yellow type: classified information that would reveal intelligence-gathering methods or sources, or put someone’s life at risk

  • Personal Privacy (PP), green type: information that might unfairly damage the reputation or violate the privacy of individuals not central to the investigation (they may be under investigation though not charged)

A page with typical footnotes and redactions looks like this (page 29 of Volume I). I chose one random point and its corresponding footnote to highlight with yellow:

Mueller Report, Vol I, pg 29 example of typical footnotes and redactions

This page 29 is a light example and a clue to reading time. Don’t be scared off when you hear 448 pages, as illustrated, they’re not all full text pages like a novel (though I highly recommend reading novels).

Read my forthcoming post: Part 3, What You Can Skim or Skip in the Mueller Report (in my opinion, sorry Mr. Mueller). And read the report.

Appendices—all the extra stuff at the very end of the report

Appendix A: The Department of Justice Order No. 3915-2017  

The Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election and Related Matters. Appendix A beginning on page 395, is simply the image of the actual letter appointing the Special Counsel, and signed by Acting Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein on 5/17/17.

Appendix B: Glossary

“The following glossary contains names and brief descriptions of individuals and entities referenced in the two volumes of this report. It is not intended to be comprehensive and is intended only to assist a reader in the reading the rest of the report.”

The Glossary includes three categories:

  1. Referenced Persons
  2. Entities and Organizations
  3. Index of Acronyms

Referenced Persons:

The Glossary appendix begins on page 401 and includes about 10 pages of alphabetically listed Referenced Persons and brief descriptions of who they are. Example:

Erchova, Lana (a/k/a Lana Alexander) Ex-wife of Dmitry Klokov who emailed Ivanka Trump to introduce Klokov to the Trump Campaign in the fall of 2015.

Entities and Organizations:

We’ve heard of the Kremlin and WikiLeaks, and they’re included. A list of lesser known Entities and Organizations fills two pages. Example:

Alfa-Bank Russia’s largest commercial bank, which is headed by Petr Aven.

Index of Acronyms:

We all know the FBI and NATO, but many more acronyms from across the globe riddle the report. An Index of Acronyms clears confusion. Examples:

FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation

FSB Russian Federal Security Service

Appendix C:  Written Questions to be Answered Under Oath by President Donald J. Trump

Introductory Note

“The President provided written responses through his personal counsel to questions submitted to him by the Special Counsel’s Office. We first explain the process that led to the submission of written questions and then attach the President’s responses.” 

Beginning on page 415 of the report, Appendix C includes the Special Counsel’s questions and Trump’s answers. This appendix has several blank pages and ends on page 440.

Appendix D: Special Counsel’s Office Transferred, Referred, and Completed Cases 

“This appendix identifies matters transferred or referred by the Special Counsel’s Office, as well as cases prosecuted by the Office that are now completed.”

Beginning on page 441 of the report, the 8-page Appendix D lists eleven case Transfers and their status, fourteen Referrals that are mostly redacted, and three Completed Prosecutions (at the time of the report’s completion).


Phew! That about covers the report’s structure and content. Easy. Thanks for your interest in the Anatomy of the Mueller Report.
Read the report. You can do it. It’s free online right now. I read the PDF document at NPR (National Public Radio)

Listen to the report. A free serialized narrative podcast is online at

Introducing “The Report”: A Podcast Series from Lawfare


How to Read the Mueller Report: A Primer for the Rest of Us

Thank you for your interest in this non-political how-to series.

Part 1: Why I read the Mueller Report and why everyone should.
Part 2: Anatomy of the Mueller Report. Structure and Content.
Part 3: What You Can Skim or Skip in the Mueller Report.

I plan to post this 4-part series around the time former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies in an open session of congress on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

I offer no conclusions, political or otherwise. That’s my point. Read the report and form your own. I simply offer encouragement and based on my experience, I hope to make the reading easier—for the rest of us.

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