People For the American Way

Celebrities are Speaking Out About the Mueller Report

News and Analysis

The Mueller report, officially titled Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, is a stain on the Trump administration and a reminder of Trump’s ongoing corruption. Upon its release in April 2019, Attorney General William Barr tried to control the narrative by downplaying some of Mueller’s most damaging conclusions and falsely claiming that the report had cleared the president of any wrongdoing. However, this portrayal does not depict the factual reality of the report or the true nature of Mueller’s conclusions. Unfortunately, the false narrative continues to dominate, and polling shows that only three percent of the public has actually read the report in full.

To help publicize the Mueller report and break down its conclusions in a way that is accessible to everyday Americans, a group of celebrities is using their talents and influence to help the public understand what the report actually says. Robert Schenkkan, a Pulitzer Prize winner, adapted the 448-page report into a play titled “The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in Ten Acts.” On June 24, a powerful live reading of the play was performed by several well-known actors at Riverside Church in Manhattan, including John Lithgow, Jason Alexander, Annette Bening, Kyra Sedgwick and Alyssa Milano. The performance was also livestreamed across multiple coalition pages on social media, garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

Schenkkan’s play focuses primarily on Mueller’s findings regarding obstructions of justice, countering the narrative set by the president and his administration about the harmlessness of the report’s conclusions. It’s broken down into ten acts, each with a title corresponding to an act of potential obstruction committed by Trump, with names like “President Trump Directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to Create False Documents That Covered Up the Truth From Investigators” and “President Trump Prevented the Public Disclosure of Evidence.”

Although many celebrities and public figures have been outspoken against Trump, this play is situated within the context of a larger wave of well-known artists using their creativity to highlight the current administration’s corruption. For example, the popular video sharing outlet NowThis put out a video on June 25 featuring a number of other celebrities, including Robert De Niro, Martin Sheen, Sophia Bush, and George Takei, explaining the details of the Mueller report and outlining the specifics of how Trump clearly obstructed justice throughout the investigation. Another example: New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler and journalist Steve Duin announced that they are working on a satirical graphic novel of the Mueller report set to be released in April 2020.

While these artistic campaigns will not turn the tide of public opinion on their own, they are a step in the right direction before Mueller testifies publicly in front of two House committees on July 17. A fuller public understanding of the Mueller report’s findings is of utmost importance as Congress continues its investigation into these allegations and determines its next steps in holding President Trump accountable.