Anatomy of the Mueller Report

Part 2 of the 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.

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

The Mueller Report consists of two volumes detailing the investigation—the way I see it: crime and coverup. Think of the volumes as two separate yet related parts reporting the results of investigating different aspects of wrongdoing: Volume I, the crime; and Volume II, the coverup. I don’t qualify my opinion as possible crimes or alleged coverups because of the confessions and convictions that have already come to pass.

The report itself explains it 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 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.

Following a Table of Contents, Introduction to Volume I, and Executive Summary to Volume I, the actual Volume I report begins 20 pages in on page 11, but don’t blink, there’s no fanfare, simply a boldface heading like other section headings. (Other than Volume I and Volume II, I’ve used numbers, though the report uses Roman numerals.)

  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 covers the Obstruction-of-Justice investigation.

It begins with its Title Page on page 208 (of the 448 pages), followed by its Table of Contents, Introduction to Volume II, and Executive Summary to Volume II. Pssst … it’s the same title as Volume I except for the Volume II numeral.

Four sections comprise Volume II, 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

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


More than two thousand footnotes reveal additional notes, comments and tidbits; most are mundane, but some are juicy. I read them all. The image of Vol. I page 29 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.

Anatomy of a Footnote: Footnote #26 Cohen 8/7/18 302, at 8.

An FD-302 form, or more commonly known as “302,” is the report or summary of information from an FBI agent’s interview with a subject. Footnote 26 indicates that Michael Cohen on August 7th, 2018 was interviewed, information used in the Mueller Report is documented in that interview’s 302 report.

You’ll also see emails, tweets, Facebook ads, and more.


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 is also a clue to reading time. True, that once you discount the redactions and footnotes you’re left with only two paragraphs of text, page 29 is a light example. 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 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 Department of Justice Order No. 3915-2017 calls for 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 appendix begins on page 401 and includes about 10 pages of alphabetically listed Referenced Persons mentioned in the report include brief descriptions of who they are.

We’ve heard of the Kremlin and WikiLeaks. The list of lesser known Entities and Organizations fills two pages.

We all know the FBI and NATO, but the report is riddled with many more acronyms from across the globe. The Index of Acronyms clears confusion.

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 includes its title page, one blank page, and six pages of documentation. The appendix 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). Therefore, page D-6 is the last page of the 448 page report.


Phew! That about covers the report’s structure and content. Easy. Thanks for your interest in the Anatomy of the Mueller Report. You can do it. My next post will suggest What You Can Skim or Skip.


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

Tune in for the next episodes of this 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 3- or 4-part series by the time former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies in an open session of congress scheduled for July 17. Testimony has recently been postponed one week to July 24.

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

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