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What should Democrats do next, after Mueller's report?

“Should I be as depressed as I think I should be?” the text message asked me, shortly after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE’s report was delivered to Attorney General William Barr at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday. 

It came from a progressive activist who I admire, someone who has devoted herself to supporting Democrats to check President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE.

And it accompanied an absolute frenzy of tweets from the left and the right, drawing conclusions from an investigative report that only a handful of people have seen in its entirety. Strangely, the most obsessive tweeter on earth, Donald Trump, was silent.

The most honest tweet came from Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program: “Nobody knows anything.”

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That’s why the report must be released publicly: every word of it. The American people have a right to know what’s in it. In the event that intelligence sources could be compromised, the public draft can be minimally redacted, so long as the “Gang of Eight” — the congressional leadership of both parties with the highest level of access to classified materials — approves.

And, as former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Joe Biden's continued 'Russian misinformation' defense of Hunter is conspiracy-level laughable Tyson fires 7 after probe into managers coronavirus betting MORE notes, if the report contains evidence about impeachable conduct or offenses, they must be shared with Congress. “It would be irresponsible for DOJ to hold on to this kind of information — for any reason.”

Then there’s the political fallout. Both Democrats and Republicans who have been obsessed with the Mueller investigation have been drawn into a potentially dangerous position: the inflating of expectations. No matter what’s in the report, it will be predictably received: Trump’s base will continue to defend him, while the left will continue a push to impeach him.

After all, members of the Trump movement have turned on no less of an American hero than the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe best way to handle veterans, active-duty military that participated in Capitol riot Cindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake MORE (R-Ariz.). They’d do the same in an instant to a condemnatory report by Mueller.

Politically, the important point is this: What’s in the report is completely out of the control of Democrats and Republicans alike. What is in their control is the winning of elections. And the 2020 election will be won somewhere between Trump vindicators and Trump resisters. It will be won not in reports on the attorney general’s desk but on the turf of battleground counties in battleground states; it will be won in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Arizona and other states that will tip the electoral college. And it will be won by whichever party can claim the swing voters who supported President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama'Nationalize' Facebook and Twitter as public goods Millennials and the great reckoning on race Biden's chief aide says president wants teams, no rivals MORE in 2012, President Donald Trump in 2016, and a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives in 2018.

Last year’s midterm election proved that the president is suffering an erosion of support from those very same swing voters, even as the left continues to maintain its progressive energy.

Meanwhile, no matter how the pages of the Mueller report unfold, Congress should remain focused on its constitutional oversight responsibility to assess every word.

But first, where are the words?

Steve Israel represented New York in Congress for 16 years and served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. You can find him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.