The world anxiously awaited the end of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and a new eye-popping metric shows just how much that anticipation turned into actual downloads.
According to data obtained by POLITICO under the Freedom of Information Act, the special counsel’s final report was downloaded nearly 800 million times from DOJ’s website between its public release in mid-April and early July.
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Not surprisingly, the highest number of downloads came on April 18, the day Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of Mueller’s report. DOJ counted more than 644 million hits on that day alone.
But the traffic kept up after that, too. On April 19, there were more than 101 million downloads from people coming directly to DOJ’s webpage, as well as from links from other sources. Monster numbers continued each subsequent day too, with more than 25 million downloads on April 20, 10 million on April 21, and nearly 13 million on April 22.
Daily downloads of the Mueller report were largely in the tens of thousands after the initial week of its release and all the way through July 3, which is the cutoff day that DOJ stopped counting for POLITICO’s FOIA request. A couple of spikes happened surrounding Mueller’s first public remarks about his probe in late May, with more than 179,000 downloads the day of his remarks and more than 370,000 in the two days that followed.
The DOJ numbers released under FOIA do not account for multiple downloads from the same computer. The department also said that data on the amount of time anyone spent on the Mueller report was unavailable.
Still, the numbers reflect an overwhelming interest in obtaining a document nearly two years in the making that consumed Donald Trump’s White House and has since helped to kickstart a House impeachment investigation.
Amazingly, for all that traffic, the Justice Department website and the Mueller homepage did not go down during any of the peak periods. “We were ready to go that day,” said a senior DOJ official who added that the department “took appropriate measures” in anticipation of the high interest in the Russia probe. Another DOJ source explained that the department’s use of so-called “edge servers” helped relieve the strain on its primary justice.gov server.
Mueller’s report didn’t do so bad on the commercial side, either, even with the DOJ making the special counsel’s findings available for free. Several publishers have been selling their own versions of the report, including one published by the Washington Post that spent 15 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and only in recent days finally fell from its top 5 rankings.
More than 357,000 copies of the report released by three major publishers had sold as of late June, according to data from NPD Bookscan.