Politics & Polls: The Mueller Report Book Club

May 09 2019
By Sarah M. Binder
Source Woodrow Wilson School

Episode #138: Volume I Featuring Marcy Wheeler

Hundreds of former federal prosecutors asserted in a recent statement that, were Donald Trump not the President, he would have been charged with obstruction of justice based on findings contained in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's (Class of 1966) report. As the aftermath of the report continues to unfold, what should Americans retain and understand from the document itself?

In part one of a three-episode series, independent journalist Marcy Wheeler joins Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang in a deep-dive look at Volume I — which examines whether there was conspiracy or coordination between Trump’s associates and the Russian government on its election interference efforts, and describes in detail activities not deemed criminal but likely to be considered political graft.

Marcy Wheeler writes about national security and civil liberties at her eponymous blog, emptywheel. She also publishes at outlets including Motherboard, the New Republic, and Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. Blogging full-time since 2007, Wheeler was declared an internet human rights hero by Access Now. She serves on the advisory committee for the House Fourth Amendment Caucus and as a senior fellow at GWU’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. She holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Michigan.

Episode #139: Volume II Featuring Quinta Jurecic

Last week, former White House Counsel Don McGahn — a key figure in Volume II of the Mueller Report — reportedly was instructed by the Trump administration not to comply with a subpoena from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler for documents and testimony related to the Committee’s obstruction of justice investigation. 

Continuing our Mueller Report book club, journalist Quinta Jurecic joins Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang to give listeners a roadmap to Volume II. They examine the elements comprising obstruction of justice, instances of the President’s conduct Mueller weighed against the criminal statutes (including previous orders he gave McGahn), and why Mueller felt barred by existing Justice Department policy from indicting Trump — yet explicitly states the report does not exonerate him.

Jurecic is the managing editor of Lawfare and a contributing writer to The Atlantic. She writes about politics, legal issues, and the rule of law. She previously served as an editorial writer for The Washington Post and as Lawfare's associate editor.

Episode #140: Volume III Featuring Marty Lederman

Following the release of the Mueller Report, much of the media and the public’s focus has been on potential obstruction of justice. Yet, argues Georgetown University’s Marty Lederman, more attention should be paid to whether President Trump’s conduct violated his Constitutional oath of office and undermined the counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference.

As Democrats continue debating whether to file articles of impeachment, Lederman joins Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang to discuss how the report transcends Mueller’s decision-making on obstruction of justice. Lederman was deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2009 to 2010, and an attorney advisor in the OLC from 1994 to 2002.


Zelizer has been among the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN political analyst. He has written more than 900 op-eds, including his popular weekly column for CNN.com and The Atlantic. This year, he is the distinguished senior fellow at the New York Historical Society, where he is writing a biography of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for Yale University's Jewish Lives Series. He is the author and editor of more than 19 books including, “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society,” the winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. In January 2019, Norton will publish his new book, co-authored with Kevin Kruse, “Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974.” In spring 2020, Penguin Press will publish his other book, “Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party.” He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and New America.

Wang is a professor at Princeton University, appointed in neuroscience with affiliate appointments in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Center for Information Technology Policy. An alumnus of Caltech, where he received a B.S. with honors in physics, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Stanford University School of Medicine. He conducted postdoctoral research at Duke University Medical Center and at Bell Labs Lucent Technologies. He has also worked on science and education policy for the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He is noted for his application of data analytics and poll aggregation to American politics. He is leading an effort at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project to build a 50-state data resource for legislative-quality citizen redistricting. His work to define a state-level legal theory to limit partisan gerrymandering recently won Common Cause’s Gerrymandering Standard Writing Contest. His neuroscience research concerns how the brain learns from sensory experience in early life, adulthood and autism.