The Russia Connection

The Report, Episode Nine: Honest Loyalty

By Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittes
Friday, September 27, 2019, 11:37 AM

Today, we released the ninth episode of Lawfare’s narrative audio documentary, The Report, which tells the story Robert Mueller lays out in his nearly 500-page report.

This episode covers President Trump’s early efforts to stymie the FBI investigation of his National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, and his interactions with FBI Director James Comey in the period surrounding his inauguration as president and Flynn’s dismissal. These events include some of the earliest conduct that Mueller evaluates as possible obstruction of justice:

The first seven episodes of The Report are devoted to Volume I. Episode 1 covers the Russian social media campaign and the activities of the Internet Research Agency. Episode 2 focuses on the Russian hacking operation; the stealing of documents and emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and figures associated with the Clinton campaign; and the leaks of the stolen materials timed to affect the U.S. election. Episode 3 covers the Trump campaign’s involvement in the distribution of hacked materials. Episode 4 tells the story of Trump Tower Moscow, which Donald Trump sought to build even as he was denying having any business in Russia, and Trump Tower New York, where Russian representatives showed up promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Episode 5 recounts the tale of three men associated with the Trump campaign: George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Paul Manafort. Episode 6 details backchannel attempts by the Russians to influence the Trump campaign and transition on policy matters—an effort to reboot U.S.-Russia relations one secret meeting at a time. Episode 7 covers the special counsel’s charging decisions—which individuals Mueller decides to prosecute, whose prosecutions and declines, and the reasons for his decisions.

We turned to Volume II in Episode 8, which offers the necessary legal and factual context to understand this second half of the report on possibly obstructive activity: Why was President Trump nervous about an investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russia? What is obstruction of justice?

In this episode, we tell two interrelated stories. The first deals with National Security Adviser Flynn’s lie to federal investigators about his phone call with the Russian ambassador and the White House response to being notified about the interview. The second deals with how the president’s turbulent relationship with Comey led to a fateful Oval Office encounter after acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House lawyers of Flynn’s misdeeds.

This episode features Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Preet Bharara.

In the past few weeks, The Report has well surpassed one million downloads. We hope you’ll continue to subscribe, rate and share it widely.

We are grateful to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Fund for their support for this project. If you want to support work of this type at Lawfare, please consider becoming a monthly donor by clicking here: