The report from FBI particular counsel Robert Mueller was launched to the general public Thursday — and, as anticipated, massive chunks of his findings are redacted.

In idea, the federal government has to launch as a lot because it presumably can. However as former White Home lawyer Andy Wright informed Vox’s Alex Ward, “A redaction is kind of a compromise between withholding a doc solely versus releasing the complete doc.” For what it’s value, Legal professional Normal William Barr mentioned the White Home didn’t play a component within the redaction course of — and that as an alternative, it was DOJ legal professionals, Mueller’s group, and members of the intelligence group.

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So what was redacted?

We are able to’t see behind the black bars. However we will study some issues from the place they’re positioned — and what number of there are.

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Probably the most redacted sections had been on Russia’s hacking and election interference

One technique to see which sections are blacked out most is by simply trying on the pages.

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However to get just a little extra perception, we tried to approximate how a lot every web page was redacted by part.

We wrote a pc program to take a look at the hundreds of thousands of pixels on every web page and discover what number of of them had been black. (Extra about methodology on the backside.) This evaluation discovered that about 7 % of the complete report was redacted — however some sections had been withheld rather more than others.


Right here, it’s fairly clear that the part titled “Russian ‘Energetic Measures’ Social Media Marketing campaign” was among the many most redacted. From the unredacted parts, we will inform that it’s about Mueller’s findings on Russia’s efforts to sow discord across the election utilizing social media.

One other closely redacted part is the one known as “Russian Hacking and Dumping Operations,” which explains Mueller’s findings on Russia’s function in hacking high Democrats’ emails and releasing them to the general public.

The first cause for these redactions was that it might trigger a “hurt to ongoing matter,” with a faraway second being info that might reveal investigative strategies. Considered one of these issues is probably going the trial of Roger Stone, the Trump affiliate who allegedly sought out these emails and lied to Congress about it. It additionally seems the small print of investigations into Russian election interference have been withheld. For instance, a bit describing the construction of the Web Analysis Company, which tried to sow political discord on social media, was nearly solely redacted.

Why components of the Trump-Russia collusion part had been redacted

There are 4 causes Barr gave for why sure sections could be redacted, and good causes for them:

  1. Revealing it might hurt an ongoing matter. Ward writes, “Some redactions within the report will exist primarily to permit different associated circumstances to proceed unimpeded.”
  2. It reveals investigative strategies. Ward writes that “it’s extremely doubtless the US authorities had to make use of delicate spying strategies — like, say, an secret agent or top-secret surveillance expertise — to analyze.”
  3. It reveals non-public info of third-party people. Ward writes the “Justice Division has lengthy had a coverage of not divulging individuals’s names throughout an investigation except they’re indicted.”
  4. It was obtained through grand jury testimony. That is secret by legislation.

We ran an identical pixel evaluation (and double-checked it manually) to see what sort of redaction rationale was most typical in every part:


This reveals that many of the ongoing matter redactions had been in sections about Russian election interference and hacking.

There’s additionally a good portion of fabric redacted as a result of the “Justice Division has lengthy had a coverage of not divulging individuals’s names throughout an investigation except they’re indicted,” Ward writes.

However when it got here to the part on the Trump marketing campaign’s hyperlinks and contacts with Russia, the first redaction rationale was as a result of the knowledge was obtained by grand jury testimony.

Many of those redactions conceal particulars about Trump associates’ interplay with Russian officers, just like the part concerning the notorious Trump Tower assembly with Russia lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

There’s a good quantity of redactions, however we will learn sufficient to know Trump and his associates had been open to Russia’s assist

Barr, the Trump-nominated legal professional basic, initially launched a abstract of Mueller’s findings. After which he tried to characterize the report as one that claims Trump didn’t “collude” with Russia.

However it seems Barr overlooked some essential info.

Vox’s Zack Beauchamp lays out among the damning issues the report reveals about Trump’s motion throughout the election. This contains Trump directing an adviser to search out the hacked Hillary Clinton emails, and approving one other adviser’s efforts to arrange a gathering between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And there could be extra below these black bars.

It’s simple to joke about whole pages which might be redacted. In any case, 40 % of pages have redactions!


However that shouldn’t be the main target of this report. A lot of it — together with 96 % of the part on Trump and his associates’ connection to Russia — is unredacted. From what we will collect from surrounding context, there don’t look like any egregious, politically motivated redactions. (Home Democrats have subpoenaed the unredacted report.) However even when there have been, there’s greater than sufficient info to see that Trump and his associates knew about Russia’s makes an attempt to assist him win the election — and had been keen to obtain that assist.


Methodology: We wrote a pc program to show every web page of the report into a picture. Then we analyzed every pixel of the picture to see whether or not it was black. Clearly, each the textual content and the redactions are black, which makes this train a bit laborious. However we discovered {that a} web page that’s unredacted however stuffed with textual content is about 3.5 % black, and a web page that’s solely redacted is about 34.5 % black (due to border and imperfections within the redaction). So we had been in a position to make use of these baselines to estimate how a lot every web page was redacted. To find out the rationale for redactions, we used an identical methodology to depend the variety of occasions every rationale was utilized by counting pixel colours — after which double-checked it by going to every web page by hand and recounting.

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