5 minute read
After years of investigation, the Department of Justice released a redacted copy of the Mueller Report on Thursday April 18, 2019. The report weighs in at a hefty 448 pages, and covers everything from Russian interference in 2016 presidential election, to the private testimony of Michael Cohen, and whether or not President Trump may have obstructed justice.
I don’t have all day to read this report, but I am interested to see what I can learn in a short afternoon by scraping the report and doing a cursory text and sentiment analysis.
First, let’s grab the raw text from the file, and replace line break characters
\r\n with spaces.
Each page is an element in the vector
d, so we can easily access any page by indexing it.
##  " U.S. Department of Justice Ma1:ertalPrn1:eetedUAder Fed. R. Crhtt. P. 6(e) AttarAe:,c\\\\'erlc Predtiet // Mtt; CeA1:ttiA Report On The Investigation Into Russian InterferenceIn The 2016 PresidentialElection Volume I of II Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III Submitted Pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c) Washington, D.C. March 2019 "
##  " U.S. Department of Justice AtterAey Wark Pret:ittet// Ma)'' CeAtaifl Material Pl'ateetet:iUAt:ierFee. R. Criffl. P. 6(e) investigation and any grand jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry. Even if the removal of the lead prosecutor would not prevent the investigation from continuing under a new app ointee, a factfinder would need to consider whether the act had the potential to delay further action in the investigation, chill the actions of any replacement Special Counsel, or otherwise impede the investigation. A threshold question is whetherthe President in fact directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed. After news organizations reported that in June 2017 the President had ordered McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed, the President publicly disputed these accounts , and privately told McGahn that he had simply wanted McGahn to bring conflicts of interest to the Department of Justice 's attention . See Volume II, Section II.I , infra. Some of the President's specific language that McGahn recalled from the calls is consistent with that explanation. Substantial evidence , however , supports the conclusion that the President went further and in fact directed McGahn to call Rosenstein to have the Special Counsel removed. First, McGahn's clear recollection was that the President directed him to tell Rosenstein not only that conflicts existed but also that \"Mueller has to go .\" McGahn is a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House. 601 McGahn spoke with the President twice and understood the directive the same way both times , making it unlikely that he misheard or misinterpreted the Presid ent 's request. In response to that request, McGahn decided to quit because he did not want to participate in events that he described as akin to the Saturday Night Massacre . He called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told Priebus that the President had asked him to \" do crazy shit,\" and informed Priebus and Bannon that he was leaving. Those acts would be a highly unusual reaction to a request to convey information to the Department of Justice. Second, in the days before the calls to McGahn , the President, through his counsel , had already brought the asserted conflicts to the attention of the Department of Justice. Accordingly , the President had no reason to have McGahn call Rosenstein that weekend to raise conflicts issues that already had been raised. Third , the President's sense ofurgency and repeated requests to McGahn to take immediate action on a weekend- \" You gotta do this. You gotta call Rod.\"-supp0ti McGahn's recollection that the President wanted the Department of Justice to take action to remove the Special Counsel. Had the President instead sought only to have the Department of Justice re-examine asserted conflicts to evaluate whether they posed an ethical bar, it would have been unnecess ary to set the process in motion on a Saturday and to make repeated calls to McGahn. Finally, the President had discussed \"knocking out Mueller \" and raised conflicts of interest in a May 23, 2017 call with McGahn , reflecting that the President connected the conflicts to a plan to remove the Special Counsel. And in the days leading up to June 17, 2017, the President made clear to Priebus and Bannon, who then told Ruddy, that the President was considering terminating 60 1 When this Office first interviewed McGahn about this topic, he was reluctant to share detailed information about what had occurred and only did so after continued questioning. See McGahn 12/14/17 302 (agent notes). 88 "
Let’s do some light cleaning and formatting: tokenize all words, index the postion of each word within its page and the document overall, remove stop words, and remove numeric tokens.
text_df <- tibble(page = 1:length(d), text = d) df <- text_df %>% unnest_tokens(word, text) %>% group_by(page) %>% mutate(page_ind = row_number(page), page_length = length(page)) %>% ungroup() %>% mutate(pos_page = page_ind/page_length, doc_ind = 1:nrow(.), pos_doc = doc_ind/nrow(.)) %>% anti_join(stop_words) %>% filter(!str_detect(word, "[:digit:]"))
Now, I join sentiment scores (either positive or negative) for every word in the doc, using the sentiment lexicon from Bing Liu and collaborators, calculate the number of positive and negative words on each page, and normalize this score across the document. I had to remove the string “trump” because it’s used so much in the document, and actually classifies as a positive word, which is misleading. As expected given the nature of the investigation, the Mueller report is a pretty negative document.
p <- df %>% inner_join(get_sentiments("bing")) %>% filter(word != "trump") %>% count(page, sentiment) %>% spread(sentiment, n, fill = 0) %>% mutate(sentiment = positive - negative, sentiment = sentiment/max(abs(sentiment)), dir = ifelse(sentiment >=0, "up","dn")) p %>% ggplot(aes(page, sentiment, fill = dir)) + geom_col() + labs(title = "The Mueller Report is generally negative", subtitle = "Relative sentiment per page", x = "Page number", y = "Normalized sentiment") + coord_cartesian(ylim = c(1,-1)) + theme_minimal() + theme(legend.position='none')
We can see what’s going on in the most negative and positive pages like so.
Ironically, according to the words themselves, the most “positive” page of the report (247) concerns former FBI director James Comey’s private dinner with Trump, where Trump allegedly requested him to pledge loyalty to him. This old story was covered in everything from the Times to the Washington Post and Economist.
##  " U.S. Department of Justice // ~b,. Attel'fte'.>'1.\\'e,rk Pre1:h:1et Cet1tait1Material Preteeteti Ut1tierFet:i.R. Griff!.P. 6(e) President said, \"That's what I want, honest loyalty. \" 181 Corney said, \"Yo u will get that from me. \" 1s2 After Corney's account of the dinner became public, the President and his advisors disputed that he had asked for Corney's loyalty. 183 The President also indicated that he had not invited Corney to dinner, telling a reporter that he thought Corney had \"asked for the dinner \" because \"he wanted to stay on.\" I84 But substantial evidence corroborates Corney's account of the dinner invitation and the request for loyalty. The President's Daily Diary confirms that the President \"extend[ed] a dinner invitation\" to Corney on January 27. 185 With respect to th e substance of the dinner conversation, Corney documented the President's request for loyalty in a memorandum he began drafting the night of the dinner; 186 senior FBI officials recall that Corney told them about the loyalty request shortly after the dinner occurred; 187 and Corney described the request while 181 Corney 1/28/17 Memorandum, at 3; Corney 11/ 15/17 302, at 7; Hearing on Russian Election Interference Before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, I 15th Cong. (June 8, 2017) (Statement for the Record of James B . Corney, former Director of the FBI, at 4). 182 Corney 1/28/17 Memorandum, at 3; Corney 11/15/ 17 302, at 7; Hearing on Russian Election Interference Before the Senate Select Intellig ence Committee , I 15th Cong. (June 8, 2017) (Statement for the Record of James B. Corney, former Director of the FBI, at 4). 183 See, e.g., Michael S. Schmidt, In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty . Corney Demurred., New York Times (May 11, 2017) (quoting Sarah Sanders as saying, \"[The President ] would never even suggest the expectation of personal loyalty\") ; Ali Vitali, Trump Never Asked for Corney's Loyalty, President's Personal Lawyer Says, NBC (June 8, 2017) (quoting the President 's personal counsel as saying, \"The president also never told Mr. Corney, ' I need loyalty, T expect loyalty ,' in form or substance.\"); Remarks by President Trump in Press Conference, White House (June 9, 2017) (\"I hardly know the man. I' m not going to say ' I want you to pledge allegiance.' Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath?\") . In a private conversation with Spicer, the President stated that he had never asked for Corney's loyalty, but added that if he had asked for loyalty, \"Who cares?\" Spicer 10/16/17 302, at 4. The President also told McGahn that he never said what Corney said he had. McGahn 12/12/ 17 302, at 17. 184 Interview of Donald J Trump, NBC (May 11, 2017). 185 SCR012b_OOOOOI(President's Daily Diary, 1/27/17) (reflecting that the President called Corney in the morning on January 27 and \"[t]he purpose of the call was to extend a dinner invitation\"). In addition, two witnesses corroborate Corney's account that the President reached out to schedule the dinner, without Corney having asked for it. Priebus l 0/13/17 302, at 17 (the President asked to sched ule the January 27 dinner because he did not know much about Corney and intended to ask him whether he wanted to stay on as FBI Director); Rybicki I 1/2 1/18 302, at 3 (recalling that Corney told him about the President ' s dinner invitation on the day of the dinner) . 186 Corney l l /15/17 302, at 8; Hearing on Russian Election Interference Before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, 115th Cong. (June 8, 2017) (Statement for the Record of James B. Corney, former Director of the FBI, at 4) . 187 McCabe 8/17/17 302, at 9-10; Rybicki 11/21/ 18 302, at 3. After leaving the White House, Corney called Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe , summarized what he and the President had discu ssed, including the President's request for loyalty , and expressed shock over the President's request. McCabe 8/17/17 302, at 9. Corney also convened a meeting with his senior leadership team to discuss what the President had asked of him during the dinner and whether he had handled the request for loyalty properly. McCabe 8/17/17 302, at IO; Rybicki 11/2 1/18 302, at 3. In addition , Corney distributed his 35 "
The most “negative page” of the document (378) addresses legal definitions of collusion, obstruction, and so on. With sentences the following, it’s easy to see why this page scores high on negative sentiment.
"[a]s used in [S]ection 1505, the term ‘corruptly’ means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including by making a false or misleading statement, or withholding, concealing, altering, or destroying a document or other information.
##  " U.S. Department of Justice Atteme)' Werle Predttet // Ma) Centain Material Preteeted Under Fed . R. Crim . P. 6(e) Aguilar, 515 U.S. at 599-602 . In several obstruction cases, the Court has imposed a nexus test that requires that the wrongful conduct targeted by the provision be sufficiently connected to an official proceeding to ensure the requisite culpability. Marinello, 138 S. Ct. at 1109; Arthur Andersen, 544 U.S. at 707-708; Aguilar, 515 U .S. at 600-602 . Section 1512(c)(2) has been interpreted to require a similar nexus. See, e.g., United States v. Young, 916 F.3d 368 , 386 (4th Cir. 2019); United States v. Petruk, 781 F .3d 438, 445 (8th Cir. 2015); United States v. Phillips , 583 F.3d 1261, 1264 (10th Cir. 2009); United States v. Reich , 4 79 F .3d 179, 186 (2d Cir. 2007). To satisfy the nexus requirement , the government must show as an objective matter that a defendant acted \"in a manner that is likely to obstruct justice,\" such that the statute \" excludes defendants who have an evil purpose but use means that would only unnaturally and improbably be successful.\" Aguilar, 515 U.S. at 601-602 (internal quotation marks omitted); see id. at 599 (\"the endeavor must have the natural and probable effect of interfering with the due administration of justice \") (internal quotation marks omitted). The government must also show as a subjective matter that the actor \"contemplated a particular, foreseeable proceeding. \" Petruk, 781 F.3d at 445 . Those requirements alleviate fair-warning concerns by ensuring that obstructive conduct has a close enough connection to existing or future proceedings to implicate the dangers targeted by the obstruction laws and that the individual actually has the obstructive result in mind. b. Courts also seek to construe statutes to avoid due process vagueness concerns. See, e.g., McDonnell v. United States , 136 S. Ct. 2355 , 2373 (2016) ; Skilling v. United States , 561 U.S. 358, 368 , 402-404 (2010). Vagueness doctrine requires that a statute define a crime \" with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited \" and \" in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. \" Id. at 402-403 (internal quotation marks omitted). The obstruction statutes' requirement of acting \"corruptly\" satisfies that test. \"Acting 'corruptly' within the meaning of§ 1512(c)(2) means acting with an improper purpose and to engage in conduct knowingly and dishonestly with the specific intent to subvert , impede or obstruct\" the relevant proceeding. United States v. Gordon, 710 F .3d 1 124, I 151 (10th Cir . 2013) (some quotation marks omitted). The majority opinion in Aguilar did not address the defendant's vagueness challenge to the word \"corruptly, \" 515 U .S. at 600 n. 1, but Justice Scalia's separate opinion did reach that issue and would have rejected the challenge, id. at 616-617 (Scalia, J., joined by Kennedy and Thomas , JJ., concurring in part and dissenting in part) . \"Statutory language need not be colloquial ,\" Justice Scalia explained , and \"the term ' corruptly' in criminal laws has a longstanding and well-accepted meaning. It denotes an act done with an intent to give some advantage inconsistent with official duty and the rights of others. \" Id. at 616 (internal quotation marks omitted; citing lower court authority and legal dictionaries). Justice Scalia added that \"in the context of obstructing jury proceedings, any claim of ignorance of wrongdoing is incredible.\" Id. at 617. Lower courts have also rejected vagueness challenges to the word \"corruptly. \" See, e.g ., United St ates v. Edwards, 869 F.3d 490, 501-502 (7th Cir. 2017); United States v. Brenson, 104 F.3d 1267, 1280-1281 (11th Cir. 1997); United States v. Howard, 569 F.2d 1331, 1336 n.9 (5th Cir . 1978). This well-established intent standard precludes the need to limit the obstruction statutes to only certain kinds of inherently wrongful conduct. 1083 1083 In United States v. Poindexter, 951 F .2d 369 (D.C. Cir. 1991), the court of appeals found the term \"corruptly\" in 18 U.S.C. § 1505 vague as applied to a person who provided false information to Congress. After suggesting that the word \"corruptly\" was vague on its face, 951 F.2d at 378, the court 166 " ##  " U.S. Department of Justice Attet'fley Werk Pre,duet // Mft; Ce,HtftiHMateriftl Preteetee UHeer Fed . R. Crilfl. P. 6(e) c. Finally, the rule of lenity does not justify treating Section 1512( c )(2) as a prohibition on evidence impairment, as opposed to an omnibus clause. The rule of lenity is an interpretive principle that resolves ambiguity in criminal laws in favor of the less-severe construction . Cleveland v. United States , 531 U.S. 12, 25 (2000). \"[A ]s [the Court has] repeatedly emphasized,\" however, the rule of lenity applies only if, \"after considering text, structure , history and purpose, there remains a grievous ambiguity or uncertainty in the statute such that the Court must simply guess as to what Congress intended.\" Abramski v. United States, 573 U.S . 169, 188 n. 10 (2014) (internal quotation marks omitted) . The rule has been cited, for example , in adopting a narrow meaning of\"tangible object\" in an obstruction statute when the prohibition's title, history, and list of prohibited acts indicated a focus on destruction of records . See Yates v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1074 , 1088 (2015) (plurality opinion) (interpreting \"tangible object\" in the phrase \"record , document, or tangible object\" in 18 U.S.C . § 1519 to mean an item capable of recording or preserving information).· Here, as discussed above, the text, structure , and history of Section l 5 I 2(c)(2) leaves no \"grievous ambiguity\" about the statute's meaning. Section l 512(c)(2) defines a structurally independent general prohibition on obstruction of official proceedings. 5. Other Obstruction Statutes Might Apply to the Conduct in this Investigation Regardless whether Section 1512( c)(2) covers all corrupt acts that obstruct , influence, or impede pending or contemplated proceedings, other statutes would apply to such conduct in pending proceedings, provided that the remaining statutory elements are satisfied. As discussed above, the omnibus clause in 18 U.S.C. § 1503(a) applies generally to obstruction of pending judicial and grand proceedings. 1084 See Aguilar, 515 U.S. at 598 (noting that the clause is \"far more general in scope\" than preceding provisions). Section I 503(a)'s protections extend to witness tampering and to other obstructive conduct that has a nexus to pending proceedings. See Sampson, 898 F.3d at 298-303 & n.6 (collecting cases from eight circuits holding that Section 1503 covers witness-related obstructive conduct, and cabining prior circuit authority) . And Section 1505 broadly criminalizes obstructive conduct aimed at pending agency and congressional proceedings. 1085 See, e.g., United States v. Rainey , 757 F.3d 234, 241-247 (5th Cir. 2014). concluded that the statute did not clearly apply to corrupt conduct by the person himself and the \"core\" conduct to which Section 1505 could constitutionally be applied was one person influencing another person to violate a legal duty. Id . at 379-386. Congress later enacted a provision overturning that result by providing that \"[a]s used in [S]ection 1505, the term 'c orruptly ' means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including by making a false or misleading statement, or withholding, concealing, altering, or destroying a document or other information.\" 18 U.S.C. § 1515(b). Other courts have declined to follow Poindexter either by limiting it to Section 1505 and the specific conduct at issue in that case, see Brenson, 104 F.3d at 1280-1281; reading it as narrowly limited to ce1tain types of conduct, see United States v. Morrison , 98 F.3d 619, 629-630 (D.C. Cir. I 996); or by noting that it predated Arthur Andersen 's interpretation of the term \"corruptly,\" see Edwards , 869 F.3d at 501-502. 1084 Section \\ 503(a) provides for criminal punishment of: Whoever ... corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice. 1085 Section 1505 provides for criminal punishment of: 167 "
We can take a closer look at the words that contribute towards positive and negative scores.
bing_word_counts <- df %>% inner_join(get_sentiments("bing")) %>% filter(word != "trump") %>% count(word, sentiment, sort = TRUE) %>% ungroup() bing_word_counts %>% group_by(sentiment) %>% top_n(10) %>% ungroup() %>% mutate(word = reorder(word, n)) %>% ggplot(aes(word, n, fill = sentiment)) + geom_col(show.legend = FALSE) + facet_wrap(~sentiment, scales = "free_y") + labs(y = "Contribution to sentiment", x = NULL) + coord_flip() + theme_minimal()
And view the top 100 words in the document, colored by sentiment.
That’s all that quick and dirty analysis will allow. Enjoy reading the full version of the report in your copious free time!