April 24, 2019

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What to Read While You’re Waiting to Read the Mueller Report

What to Read While You’re Waiting to Read the Mueller Report
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On Friday afternoon, Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, delivered his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election — and whether Donald Trump and his associates conspired with Russia or obstructed justice — to Attorney General William P. Barr.

It’s still unclear how much of the report Barr will share with Congress, and with the public. Those who are eager to read it could be in for a wait.

Not to worry, there’s plenty to read in the meantime.

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When Trump fired F.B.I. director James Comey in May 2017, it triggered a rapid cascade of events within the Department of Justice that ultimately led to Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. In this mega-best seller, Comey describes his role in the high-stakes investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Writing in the Times, Michiko Kakutani praised Comey’s eye for detail, referring to him as “what Saul Bellow called a “first-class noticer.”

“Comey’s book fleshes out the testimony he gave before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 with considerable emotional detail, and it showcases its author’s gift for narrative — a skill he clearly honed during his days as United States attorney for the Southern District of New York,” she wrote.

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This scathing indictment (no, not in the technical sense) of the Trump administration is from the former deputy director of the F.B.I., who was fired last year right before his planned retirement. McCabe is unsparing in the book: “The work of the F.B.I. is being undermined by the current president.”

Our critic Dwight Garner took appreciative note of McCabe’s “lean” prose: “The first sentence demands to be read in the voice of Jack Webb from “Dragnet”: “Between the world of chaos and the world of order stands the rule of law.”

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Bharara, the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was also fired by Trump in 2017, which seems to be a great way to get a book deal. (His book is one of our most anticipated titles of March.)

Bharara oversaw a significant investigation into insider trading by Wall Street executives, and also investigated Russian money laundering. Lately, he has become an omnipresent commentator on the myriad investigations into Trump (in addition to his new book and regular TV appearances, he has a popular podcast, “Stay Tuned With Preet”).

But when it comes to the timing and content of the Mueller report, he’s as much in the dark as the rest of us, apparently.

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Harding, a correspondent for The Guardian, explores Trump’s decades-long entanglements with Russia in what his publisher describes as a conspiracy “so huge it involves international espionage, offshore banks, sketchy real estate deals, the Miss Universe pageant, mobsters, money laundering, poisoned dissidents, computer hacking, and the most shocking election in American history.” Harding delves into Trump’s deals with Deutsche Bank and examines Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort’s extensive ties to Russian and Ukranian oligarchs.

(It’s an exhaustive account, but by now, it’s a bit out of date: The book came out in 2017, many indictments and plea deals ago.)

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Isikoff and Corn, two veteran journalists in Washington, lay out how Russia unleashed hackers and internet trolls to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. They also explore the puzzling ties between Trump and his associates and Russian officials.

In a review for The Times, the Times journalist Steven Lee Myers, the author of “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin,” wrote: “For anyone who believes in the better angels of American politics, ‘Russian Roulette’ is a depressing book. The Russian hacking, it is now clear, simply exploited the vulgarity already plaguing American political campaigns, which churn on spin and strategy (and money) far more than vision or values.”

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In “The Apprentice,” Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has covered national security for The Washington Post, details how Russia exploited American technology platforms to spread misinformation, damaging Hillary Clinton and boosting Trump, while at the same time hacking and releasing Democratic emails, further inflaming partisan divisions in an already nasty campaign. He also explores links between Trump and his associates and Russia, but steers clear of speculation about what the ultimate revelations regarding Trump’s possible complicity might be.

“Miller makes no pretense about knowing the end of the story and acknowledges that at this point he does not know whether the special counsel, Robert Mueller, will accuse the president of any crimes,” a critic wrote in The Washington Post.

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This is the definitive account of the explosive investigation that brought down President Richard Nixon, by two now-famous reporters from The Washington Post.

More recently, with his latest best-seller, “Fear,” Woodward has unleashed his investigative skills on the Trump administration.

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It took Kenneth Starr, a former special counsel, around four years and $40 million to complete his investigation into President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, and whether Clinton committed perjury and obstructed justice in an effort to cover up the scandal. The salacious account is a door-stopper, almost 500 pages long.

Several publishers, including Skyhorse and Scribner, have already announced their plans to publish the Mueller report and have made the books available on Amazon for pre-order even though there’s no guarantee the report will be made public. (Presumably the pages are still blank.)

Or, if you can’t wait, you can always reread some of Mueller’s vividly detailed indictments. Those documents lay out contours of the investigation so far, which has led to 199 charges against 34 people and three companies.



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