Like many Americans, I eagerly awaited and read started to evaluate the Mueller Report on activities of President Trump and his associates. While there are many people evaluating the report and summarizing the contents, this evaluation attempts to quantify the report to describe its content. There are two means to evaluate the report. First, the New York Times provided an indexed and searchable copy of the report. Second, I personally attempted to count the hundreds of redactions in the report.
The New York Times searchable report also provide an index of topics that might interest its readers. The index includes key witnesses, social media and other topics. The whole list was too unwieldy for analysis so it was consolidated as such:
- Donald Trump: a category by itself.
- Trump Associates: Those currently in the Trump administration including his family and his property.
- Trump Former: People who used to belong to the Trump administration, business associates, or campaign.
- Russians: People that are Russian politicians or connected people.
- Online services: Facebook, Twitter, and Wikileaks.
- Democrats: Clinton, Obama, and Democratic National Committee.
- Other: People or countries that did not apparently fall into other categories.
The numbers represent the number of time each topic was referenced in the report. The topics do not exclusively imply testimony but rather subjects of interest in the report. The numbers of far greater than the number of pages due to multiple references per page and represent the number of NYT references NOT the volume of material. Clearly and appropriately, people in the Trump administration made up the largest share of the references accounting of 60% of the indexed citations.
Anyone looking through the report is struck by the number of redactions. It as been the source of news coverage and comedy. The next section looks at the distribution of the redactions. First, most of the redactions occur in the first of three parts including Part 1 concentrating on conspiracy claims (199 pages), Part 2 concentrating on obstruction of justice (182 pages) and Appendices (39 pages excluding header and blank pages).
The redactions were counted by eye and it is possible that the count is not entirely accurate or that there are other ways to consider the count. For example, this count included each time a name of the type of redaction was indicated. In some cases nearly and entire page was redacted with one indication. In other cases, multiple redactions occured on top of each other. In the case of “harm to ongoing matter,” the redactions were abbreviated to HOM due to the small space. In addition, footnotes associated with redacted material were also redacted. Without knowing the cause of the redaction, I made the decision to count each individually.
The vast majority of the redactions occurred in part one or conspiracy section of the report accounting for 86% or all redactions. Only 9% occurred in part two which concentrated on obstruction of justice. The relatively short Appendix section contained many redactions as well considering the length.
The second takeaway of the redactions is that redactions concentrated heavily on “harm to ongoing matters.” Not only were there marginally more redactions than “grand jury” (especially in part 1) the redactions for harm were much longer sections of the report. If it were possible to count words under the redactions, it might seem very different by volume.
Redactions by part of the report were very different. Part 1 of the report saw more redactions for grand jury than harm to ongoing matters. As noted above, harm redactions were visibly longer — often accounting for whole are vast majority of pages. This is an important difference as many have pointed out multiple other investigations. Investigative techniques redactions only appeared in Part 1 and personal privacy redactions were not present in the appendices. The number of redactions in Appendices were were someone inflated because many were apparently list items.
Quantitative evaluation (and some qualitative) will be facilitated by text version of the report that are being produced by several news and public interest groups. The original version of the report was released as a not searchable PDF — essentially photographs of the report pages. The current evaluation provided by the Modern Media Barn and Modern Metrics Barn is a valuable first step to understanding the report and academic evaluation of this historic document.