SEASON 1, EPISODES 1-5
On April 18th 2019, The Justice Department released the redacted Mueller Report to the public. The 448 page document details a story that has captured America’s attention. From Russian plots to interfere in our election to constitutional questions of executive power, the Mueller Report is potentially one of the most important and consequential documents of our time. But there’s a problem: Very few people have read it.
There is still so much confusion about the Report. What it says, who it implicates, and what it means for our country. At Lawfare, we are distilling the report into a multi part audio narrative series, telling you the story of what is in this document, the story Mueller wants you to understand.
Part I: Active Measures
It is 2014 in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the heart of the city, a small nondescript office building sits beside the Bolshaya Nevka River. Inside, workers stare at computer screens open to Facebook and Twitter, furiously typing. Their task: Sow discord, disinformation, and doubt. Their target: The United States of America. Through fake social media accounts and armies of bots, they are flooding online media with disinformation. This is a Troll Farm. It’s name: The Internet Research Agency.
Part II: Hack. Dump. Divide.
It’s March 2016. John Podesta is sitting at his computer. He opens an email. Something’s wrong with his password, it says. It looks a little fishy, but IT says it is legit. And so he clicks. He follows the prompt. inputs his old password, resets a new one. And just like that hackers from a Russian military intelligence unit are in. It barely takes a minute, one click and a few keystrokes and there is no going back.
This is Episode 2 of The Report: Hack. Dump. Divide
Part III: The Campaign & The Leaks
It’s July 27, 2016. Donald Trump has just given a press conference during which he suggests that Russia hack Hillary Clinton and release the 30,000 allegedly missing emails from her private email server. The Russians, unbeknownst to people in the United States, appear to take the request seriously and hour later begin cyber-attacking Clinton’s private office for the first time.
Privately, Trump has instructions for his top aides: He repeatedly asks individuals affiliated with his Campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails too. His national security adviser, Michael Flynn, says Trump made this request repeatedly. And so Flynn acts on it, teaming up with a shadowy Republican political operative in an ill-fated attempt to track down a trove of Clinton emails from Russian hackers
Part IV: A Tale of Two Trump Towers
As the Russians were engaged in operations to hack and dump emails, the Trump campaign and its associates were in communication with Wikileaks about the distribution of stolen materials. But that’s far from the whole story of the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia during the 2016 election.
As Special Counsel Robert Mueller began to piece together the rest of that story, his investigation came to focus on two Trump Towers.
The first is Trump Tower Moscow. Beginning all the way back in 2013 and through the spring of 2016, the Trump organization is pursuing a project to build a skyscraper in Russia. For a long time, the plans for Trump Tower Moscow had gone nowhere. But when Donald Trump announces he is running for president, things start to get interesting.
Part V: Russian Overtures
It’s the morning of April 25, 2016. At a hotel in London, a Maltese professor meets with a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. The two have been in touch over the past few weeks; the professor has been helping the young man connect with Russian officials. Now, over breakfast, the professor lets him in on a secret. On a recent trip to Moscow, high-level government officials told him that the Russians have “dirt” on Trump’s opponent. What was the “dirt” in question? “Emails,” he says. They have “have thousands of emails.”