When Robert Mueller submitted his report a few weeks ago, some interested parties declared it a witch hunt that had wasted time and money. Except, it had done the opposite of that. It had laid bare Russia’s interference in our elections and the contacts between Russian government and quasi-government officials and Trump campaign officials. Said officials then lied about their contacts and, along with other crimes discovered during the course of the investigation, either pleaded guilty or were convicted. And while a few trials are still underway, we also now know 12 other cases have been referred to prosecutors but they remain under wraps.
At the time of submission, the New York Times was able to create this front page graphic.
It highlighted the key figures in the report’s investigation and identified their current status. Many of those charged, essentially all the Russians, are unlikely to ever stand trial because Russia will not extradite them.
Inside the piece we had two full pages covering the report. The graphics were rather simple, like this, although as these were black and white pages, colouring the photographs was not an option. Instead, the designers simply used headers and titles to separate out the rogues’ gallery.
This wasn’t a complicated piece, but it made sense as one of the first pieces. For months we had been told the investigation was “wrapping up soon”, or words to that effect. Then, out of nowhere, it finally did. In one day, and crucially without the actual report yet, work like this reminded us that the report had, in fact, achieved its purpose.
Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.
So today’s piece is not a revolutionary piece of information design, but it is fascinating. For two or so years now, we have all heard about the Robert Mueller investigation into potential contacts between the Trump campaign, early administration, and the administration of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
To be clear, thus far, this has been an incredibly productive special counsel.
34: the number of indictments
6: guilty pleas from associates of the Trump campaign
But what happens when the whole thing is done, especially since prevailing Justice Department rules state sitting presidents cannot be indicted? Well to answer that, we have this piece from the Washington Post.
Ultimately it is nothing more than a flow chart broken into pieces, separated by a textual narrative explaining the process. Now, I’m not certain how critical to the design each headshot is—especially Barr’s that looks especially frowny faced. However, the context in the above screenshot is crucial. The public does not necessarily have the right to the findings of the report if individuals in the report are not charged.
This means that design wise, we are looking at snippets of a larger chart interspersed with text. I would be interested to see the entire thing stitched together, but the textual breaks make a lot of sense. Overall, much like the sports pieces we looked at recently, this does a nice job of weaving textual story together with information design or data-driven content.
Credit for the piece goes to Dan Keating and Aaron Steckelberg.
Yesterday the New York Times published a fascinating piece looking at the data on how often President Trump has gone after the Special Counsel’s investigation. (Spoiler: over 1100 times.) It makes use of a number of curvy line charts showing the peaks of mentions of topics and people, e.g. Jeff Sessions. But my favourite element was this timeline.
It’s nothing crazy or fancy, but simple small multiples of a calendar format. The date and the month are not particular important, but rather the frequency of the appearances of the red dots. And often they appear, especially last summer.
Credit for the piece goes to Larry Buchanan and Karen Yourish.
So last week the House of Representatives published a highly controversial memo by Representative Devin Nunes. Why controversial? Because it is apparently missing dozens of pages of additional facts, data, and context. But what the memo does contain are connections between people and things. And this Friday piece from the Washington Post does a good job of trying to explain those connections.
Credit for the piece goes to Darla Cameron, Julie Vitkovskaya, Reuben Fischer-Baum, Ann Gerhart, and Kevin Uhrmacher.
I miss the days when I could design a weekly content strategy. Well, at least sometimes I would design a weekly content strategy. Nowadays I find that what I want to do is often trumped by news out of Washington and the administration.
And that news is the abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey. There is a lot more to this story than I can type up this morning. (But I am sure we will get to it in the coming days and weeks.) But I saw this image in a tweet this morning and it sort of sums up my concerns.
Between travelling and being ill, I apologise for a lack of posting the last week or two. But as promised, we are back with a small update to the Trump–Russia ties. It turns out that shortly before the Syria air strikes, news broke that Jared Kushner omitted dozens of contacts with foreigners on his security clearance form. One, of course, is Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But the other was Sergey Gorkov, who runs Vnesheonombank, which is a bank owned by the Russian government, which is obviously headed by Vladimir Putin. Both Gorkov and Putin share a second tie as they were both trained by the KGB/FSB.
There is also news out of the UK today, via the Guardian, that British and other European intelligence agencies began, in summer 2015, to note contacts between Russian agents and persons of interest and people within the Trump campaign. And these European agencies were the ones that alerted American agencies, because American agencies are not allowed to collect intelligence on American citizens. More smoke and people who saw it earlier than we previously knew.
I am in Chicago today, visiting friends and former coworkers. Generally taking a break from my team’s recentfantasticwork at my new gig. But don’t think that I wouldn’t leave you without some sort of light-hearted Friday content.
My Tuesday post was about Monday’s news about another connection between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Today’s post is a screen capture from the Late Show with Stephen Colbert from last week. Do you recall the weird story about Devin Nunes, Republican Chair of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and, don’t forget a member of the Trump transition team, receiving news from the White House about the White House to tell to the President (of the White House) before telling members of his own committee? Yeah, it was weird.
Colbert put together a great little monologue segment about the entire thing. And that’s what I’m going to share with you today. You should watch the entire thing, but I’ve keyed you into the referenced segment.
I suspect this won’t be the last time over the next four years we take a look at what the Figure-It-Out-a-Tron is telling us…
Credit for the piece goes to the graphics department of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Well, this wasn’t what I was expecting to post today. But that’s okay, because it’s big news all the same and allows me to get my hands dirty. Yesterday the Washington Post broke news that the United Arab Emirates, specifically Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the UAE’s national security advisor, arranged a meeting between an official reportedly close to Vladimir Putin and Eric Prince.
Who is Eric Prince? Besty DeVos’ brother for starters. But more importantly for the story, a major donor and supporter for and of the Trump campaign. He also has ties to Stephen Bannon, Chief Strategist for the President. Most importantly, the article alleges, potentially damningly, that Zayed would not have arranged the meeting without “the nod” from both Trump and Putin.
What was discussed? Allegedly the strategic aim of separating Russia from Iran. Yeah, that’s probably a good thing. But given things like the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, the Bushehr nuclear generating station, and the ongoing support of the Iran-Assad-Hezbollah faction in Syria, it is highly unlikely that Putin would be very willing to suddenly drop his support for Iran.
Why is this on my blog today? Well, I have been increasingly curious about all the stories about how various people and organisations are linking Trump and Putin. To be fair, a link is not inherently, necessarily nefarious let alone illegal. But, given the intelligence collected that Russia was attempting to influence the election in Trump’s favour, and given his electoral college win, and given the known connections, it is important that we look at the breadth and depth of the unknown connections.
And that is what this graphic will be. For now it will be a static graphic that I update whenever news breaks—and when I have time to go cite previous news articles—about unveiled connections. Ideally in the future I can turn this into a more dynamic and interactive piece.
Credit for the news goes to the Washington Post. Graphic is mine.