Donna Brazile: What we really need to learn from the Mueller report

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report has now cleared President Trump and his campaign of any involvement in a conspiracy with Russia to win the presidential election, at least according to a summary of Mueller's findings by Attorney General William Barr. This is good news not only for President Trump, but also for our country.

However, Barr’s letter to members of Congress Sunday summarizing the Mueller report shows Trump did not receive a complete exoneration. Moreover, the report contains information we need to see in order to safeguard our election process from interference from foreign entities.

Regarding Mueller’s investigation into whether the president obstructed justice, Barr quoted Mueller as writing: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”


Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined the available evidence was not sufficient “beyond a reasonable doubt” to establish that the president obstructed justice.

We have the right to see all the facts so we can judge for ourselves if there has been significant wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt and equally – if not more importantly – what we can do to prevent future interference in our elections from foreign entities.

Barr should release as much of the Mueller report as possible, as soon as possible. Redactions should cover only sources and methods that need to be protected for national security reasons.

House Republicans joined Democrats in a 420-0 vote calling for the entirety of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election to be made public. We have infinitely more to fear from secrecy than from sunshine.

Foreign interference in our election process is nothing short of an existential threat to our democracy. Beyond having the right to read the Mueller report, we as citizens have a civic duty to read it.

For once in our national discourse, the phrase “our democracy depends upon it” is literally true.  We must learn the full extent of Russian interference during the 2016 election, what tricks are in the Russian playbook, what they are doing now, and what they are likely to do over the next 19 months to interfere in the 2020 election.

There is a pattern of secretive contacts between Trump’s inner circle, Russian agents and their allies, and WikiLeaks.

Yes, the Mueller report is about the 2016 election. But, more importantly, it’s about our upcoming elections. We can’t stop anything from happening again if we don’t know what happened before.

Four of Trump’s top aides have lied to federal officials about their Russian contacts: Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; Deputy Campaign Chairman Rick Gates; campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos; and Michael Cohen, who was Trump’s lawyer and “fixer” since 2006.

They lied to federal investigators. They lied to Congress. They even lied on their applications for security clearances. If there was nothing to hide, why did they lie so repeatedly and so pervasively?

We know for certain that the Russian government has been hacking into the American political process. Twenty-five Russian intelligence operatives and experts in social media manipulation – as well as three Russian business entities – are among those indicted in the Mueller probe.

I know something about those cyberattacks firsthand, since I was the chair of the Democratic National Committee when it was the Kremlin’s Target No. 1.

More than 60 years ago, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev vowed to America: “We will bury you.” Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin might as well be saying: We will hack you. And not just our emails but, more importantly, our elections.

We were able to stand up to the Soviet menace due to our loftier ideals and superior system of a democratically elected government. Now it is the foundation of our democracy the Russians are targeting.

The Russians are trying to undermine our faith in the very democratic institutions that led us to victory in the Cold War. And they are counting on the divisions between us to finish the job. Don’t let it happen.

Some people were looking forward to the Mueller report as some sort of salvation. Others have been looking for some kind of vindication.

Mueller’s report contains invaluable information. Our salvation lies in what we do with the information contained in the report. And the only vindication anyone will get is if we can use that information to prevent future election interference from Russia or any foreign entity.

Yes, the Mueller report is about the 2016 election. But, more importantly, it’s about our upcoming elections. We can’t stop anything from happening again if we don’t know what happened before.

Right now, Attorney General Barr is deciding what from the Mueller report can be shared. What absolutely must be shared is a commitment to making sure foreign interference in our elections never happens again.


The Mueller report undoubtedly contains information vital to safeguarding the integrity of our elections, which can’t be guaranteed without guaranteeing the integrity of this report. And the only way to guarantee that is to release the report in its entirety.

If the Mueller report results in a commitment to making our electoral systems safe and secure, then we’ve learned everything we need to learn by reading it.