Review by Frank Plowright
The Mueller Report is named after Robert S. Mueller, commissioned to investigate to what extent Russia interfered with the 2016 US Presidential Election, and whether President Donald Trump and those associated with his campaign had colluded in any way. It was then expanded to incorporate an investigation into the methods used by Trump and his allies to obstruct the investigation. The 448 page report was published in 2019, meaning Oregonian journalist Steve Duin and cartoonist Shannon Wheeler worked rapidly to have a graphic novel version issued just over a year later.
They do a phenomenal job of making often complex situations comprehensible. Reaching the substance of any official report regularly requires wading through page after page of qualifications and contextualisations, and Duin has done that, providing the essence of the findings in easily understood chunks. He points the finger where it was intended to be pointed, and delivers the information almost as a spy story complete with all the genre trappings and a viable cast of shady individuals in suits.
Wheeler plays a significant part also, his unambiguous illustrations ensuring there’s clarity, while still dropping in a few little jokes. Eric and Donald Trump Jr. as Beavis and Butthead is a funny comment, as is those convicted of crimes always dressed in jailbird stripes, and Trump is frequently pictured having discussions in his swimming pool.
To the outsider, other responses may be as ridiculous as the buffoons Trump surrounds himself with and their behaviour. The FBI codename investigations after Rolling Stones lyrics, and having orchestrated a frankly very effective disinformation campaign, Vladimir Putin and his agents then thrash around attempting to contact those close to Trump. However, in the light of what’s happened since, the report drawing attention to Russian desire to control Eastern Ukraine is notable.
The most depressing aspect? For all his idiocy, Trump’s deceit, claims of no recollection and destruction of documents means there can never be any clarity about exactly how much he personally knew of anything, but the evidence permitted after Attorney General William Barr’s redactions weights the balance of probability. The report can’t say that, though. Trump no doubt equates a lack of proof with innocence, whereas the report ensures the cloud of suspicion will hang over him long after his death. Whatever the report may not be able to clarify, it reveals Trump as a petty, vindictive man at all times considering what he wants at any particular moment more important than honesty.
Long after Trump is dead and the current batch of right wing Republicans are history the Mueller Report will remain as testament, and Duin and Wheeler’s accessible version illuminates and explains the essence.