On Thursday, Christine Pelosi was on stage at Manny's, a cafe, events space and bookstore in San Francisco, reading aloud from an enormous white paperback.
Few People Are Diving Into It. So S.F. Authors and Politicos Read the Full Mueller Report Out Loud
“Manafort met with Kilimnik a second time at the Grand Havana Hotel Club in New York City,” read the Democratic Party political strategist and daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a purposeful voice. “Kilimnik wrote to Manafort requesting that they meet ..." Pelosi paused for effect. "... Using coded language.”
The lines sound like they could be ripped from a spy thriller by John le Carré. But they aren't. They're from "The Mueller Report," the findings of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Pelosi was among more than 40 local luminaries who took turns reading the report in full at Manny's over a span of 16 hours. Other readers on the roster included bestselling author Dave Eggers, New York Times writer Kate Conger, activist Cleve Jones, California Deputy Attorney General Leif Dautch and State Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks.
The founder of Manny's, Manny Yekutiel, said he rallied the readers at only two days' notice after writer and friend Cary McClelland suggested the idea of a live reading. McClelland lent his reading skills as well.
"I feel a sense of civic responsibility to do this," said Yekutiel. "The fire of San Francisco burns bright. People are looking at us to see our reaction to what's happening in our politics and in our capital today."
The reading in San Francisco's Mission District follows on the heels of a similar event in New York last weekend. That 24-hour marathon took place at The Arc, a venue in Long Island City. Its theater-heavy cast included Taylor Mac, Oskar Eustis and Eisa Davis, among others.
Attendees in San Francisco said hearing the report aloud was helpful. With its 444 heavily redacted pages — not including appendices — Mueller's findings are a tough read.
"I had so much trouble reading the report," said San Francisco resident Rod Neves. "I just thought, I'll come listen to it."
Thousands of other people watched the reading remotely via a livestream on Facebook.
Even though The Washington Post's print edition of the Mueller Report is currently in the top 10 on Amazon's bestseller list, and the report is also available from many other sources, including free ones online, polls and media reports say readership of the hefty document has been relatively low so far.
"This report is the most important document in our politics right now, and almost no one's read it," said Yekutiel. "I want to know what the guy wrote."
San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen hadn’t read the report until she joined in the proceedings at Manny’s. She said she has followed media coverage closely, but that going to the source is a game changer for her.
"I read for 30 minutes and it's altered my feelings about this entire situation," Ronen said, adding she was planning to read the report's sections about obstruction of justice at home.
"I've been worried about impeachment proceedings and what that will do for the Democratic chance of taking back the White House. But once you read even a little bit of this text, there really isn't another option here."