Collusion is not the only thing Special Counsel Robert Mueller was looking into.
Collusion is not the only thing Special Counsel Robert Mueller was looking into. Alex Wong / Getty Images

A bit lost in all the coverage of Mueller, obstruction, and collusion is this: the "Mueller Report" contains a description of how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

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President Trump has repeatedly ignored the findings of his own intelligence agencies and suggested that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when Putin claims that no interference ever happened.

But according to Attorney General William Barr, the Mueller report makes clear—once again—that Russia did interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. (And, as other government reports have made clear, that interference was intended to help Trump.)

So the Mueller Report—particularly if it runs to thousands of pages, as some are speculating—could provide something far beyond the facts related to Mueller's collusion and obstruction investigations.

It could provide, for the first time, a clear narrative description of how Russian operatives used American social media companies against American democracy in 2016, and how Russia also weaponized the fruits of its hacking operations against the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.

"The Special Counsel's investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election," Barr wrote in his short summary of the Mueller report. "The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.

"The second element," Barr continued, "involved the Russian government's efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks."

As the Washington Post editorial page notes today, a different type of president would read this summary and take action to defend American democracy from foreign interference.

It's now been well over two years since the 2016 election interference took place and major 2020 races—including Trump's reelection effort—are coming right up.