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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  April 18, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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we've been reporting that. the bad news, which may explain mr. barr's conduct, people in his party, overwhelming evidence of what looks like obstruction by the president of the united states. thank you for watching our special coverage starting this morning. i hand it back to nicole. i'll see you 6:00 p.m. eastern on the beat. but nicole wallace starts right now. it's 4:00 in new york. we're covering that breaking news today. the release of a redacted version of the mueller report. special counsel robert mueller's findings from his 22-month-long investigation. if you've been -- if you've been -- if you're just joining us -- we've been here a long time, we've been searching through 400 plus pages of the obstruction of justice and some of it is just stunning. stunning the way the day
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started. the president's hand picked attorney general who was confirmed weeks before robert mueller's ended took to the doj briefing room and stressed at least five times that there was no collusion. >> the special counsel found no collusion by any americans in ira's illegal activities. there was no evidence of the trump campaign collusion with the russian government's hacking. the special counsel confirmed that the russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the trump campaign or other americans inclucollude those efforts. no underlying collusion with russian. there was no collusion. >> we showed you that for a reason. donald trump usually utters the no collusion refrain on twitter
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every day. it took over an hour for the justice department to release the redacted mueller report which never uses the term no collusion in it at all, except when quoting the president and his allies. also not included in the mueller report is the phrase total and complete exoneration occlusion and obstruction. inside on obstruction mueller details a list of what he calls obstruckive actions, which makes a case that does not exonerate the president. he lays out new details and flash points that we're learning about for the first time and confirms reports from the "new york times," "the washington post," nbc news and others, points that trump denied and smeared as fake news at the time. while the report states there wasn't enough evidence to charge trump on obstruction or trump and his campaign with any crimes related to russian interference, it lays out a worrying pattern
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about contact with russians and lies about those contacts. anything would be different if that effort to aid trump commenced anew or were ongoing. as jeremy bash said the mueller investigation is concluded but it now shifts to the house, where jerry nadler said he will subpoena all the evidence. the calls have come in from capitol hill for mueller to testify in public. here to help us sift through today's fireworks and to help me through the hour, chuck rosenberg, frank figliuzzi, mike schmidt, with us at the table, matt miller, and associated press white house reporter jonathan lemare.
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let me start with you mike schmidt your reporting and that of your counter parts at "the washington post," heavily cited especially in the obstruction section. what did you learn today in the release of the mueller report that bolsters some of the reporting that you and your colleagues have done around the question and the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice? >> well, the thing that the report really does is it takes us into this period of time in 2017 between when mueller was appointed in may and the rest of that summer. and all of these different things trump was doing to try and get ahold of the investigation. the most revealing thing to me was an anecdote and some details about how corey lewandowski, the president's campaign manager, tried to -- the president tried to use him to pressure jeff sessions to help clear his name. now if you remember, corey lewandowski has never worked in the trump administration. so the president was turning to
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someone outside of the government who he thought may be loyal to him and could help continue to pressure sessions, who the president was going after publicly, who he was asking privately to get him to unrecuse, the president was holding over him a resignation letter that sessions had given him. and here's corey lewandowski who has gone in and met with mueller and given up these details and is being used by mueller to tell the story of obstruction. and if you're the president and you look at that and think, man i thought a guy like corey was loyal to me but obviously there he gave up a lot to the investigators. >> someone else the president may or may not have found loyal is don mcghan, his former white house counsel who has an instantly famous quote we've been talking about all day. mcgahn was asked to do crazy bleep, referenced saturday night massacre. mcgahn's clear recollection was the president directed him to tell rod rosenstein that conflicts existed and also that
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mueller has to go. he spoke to the president twice and understood the directive both times. mcgahn decided to quit. he told reince priebus that the the president asked him to do crazy bleep, rhymes with hit. bannon. mike schmidt this attempted firing of robert mueller is something that you and your colleagues reported on, it turns out to be one of the central flash points in that obstruction investigation. talk about what you learned about that today. >> well, i mean, the interesting thing is sort of the guardrail that mcgahn looks like he was in the report. that the president wanted to do a lot of things. that if the people around him had followed through on them, the president would have created an even bigger problem for himself and maybe even greater legal jeopardy. here you have someone like don mcghan who did not follow through on what the president
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said when he said go and get rid of mueller. at the same time, you have mcgahn here who obviously cooperated extensively with mueller and the president's legal team claimed they had a full understanding of everything that mcgahn said, but this is something that mcgahn talks about here in the report that i don't think they had much of an idea about. it was not something that was in notes. it was just something that don mcghan relayed that he hadn't really told many people about. and that's just another thing that i think the president's legal team, which had thought it had a handle on everything that mueller knew about, my guess is when they saw the report, they learned things they did not know about. because of their position and because of where the president sits atop the executive branch and because he was under investigation, they could have learned more of these things along the way and they didn't. and now they're public and potentially politically damaging to the president. >> they're potentially heading to capitol hill where the democratic head of the house
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intelligence committee adam schiff is now speaking. let's listen to him. >> were designed to help one party, donald trump, and hurt another, hillary clinton. there were also efforts through any number of meetings between russians and trump campaign people to excerpt influence, a covert influence operation mounted by the russians that continued during the campaign as well as after the campaign. and i want to make several points about these findings. for what we can tell so far from the mueller report. first the attorney general did a grave disservice to the country by misrepresenting significant parts of the mueller report. by attempting to put a positive spin for the president on the special counsel's findings. the attorney general is not the president's personal lawyer, although he may feel he is. he is supposed to be the highest law enforcement officer in the land and he is supposed to represent the interests of the american people. but when the attorney general
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gives the perception that the president fully cooperated in the investigation, when he didn't, that they provided all the material, information, when they didn't. when the president, in fact, deprived the special counsel of perhaps the single most important piece of evidence, that is his own verbal testimony. when the attorney general suggests that the special counsel desired him to make the decision on the obstruction case, that the special counsel wasn't mindful of the office of council opinion that the a sitting president cannot be indicted. when he mischaracterizes the report in that way, he does a disservice to the country. a few things leap out on the obstruction of justice and conspiracy. on the issue of obstruction of justice. the report outlines multiple
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attempts by the president to mislead the country, to interfere with the investigation. to make false statements to the american people and to urge others to lie to the american people. to urge those of his staff to take actions to further obstruct the investigation, which may have been refused but they were not refused to any goodwill or good motive on the president's part, far to the contrary. that these actions had a material impact on the investigation. that, in fact, the special counsel was deprived of information, or at least the timely access to that information, as a result of things that the president did and said. it made our job certainly in our committee doing our investigation that much more difficult as it did the special counsel's investigation. those acts of obstruction of justice, whether they are criminal or not, are deeply alarming in the president of the united states. and it's clear that special counsel mueller wanted the
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congress to consider the repercussions and the consequences. it is clear the special counsel believed that no one was above the law, and that includes the president of the united states. the attorney general's actions would make the president above the law, would make the president such that he cannot commit the crime of obstruction of justice, that was not the special counsel's view. if the special counsel, as he made clear, had found evidence exonerating the president, he would have said so, he did not. he left that issue to the congress of the united states and we will need to consider it. on the issue of conspiracy, and again in contrast to what the attorney general represented. as i have said all along, each of the acts that i enumerated, each of the meetings, each of the contacts is not only spelled out in this report, corroborated in this report, but additional contacts and acts are also itemized. it gives us more information than the public knew about these elicit contacts between the trump campaign and the russians
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whether they rise to the level of criminal conspiracy or not. contrary to what the attorney general represented, the special counsel makes it clear he did not consider collusion as that term is understood, but rather whether the facts amounted to the crime of conspiracy. and on that issue, in fact, in the case of the trump tower meeting, he found that while there was evidence, he could not establish two parts of the crime, that, in fact, don junior did accept the offer of russian help but he could not establish with admissible evidence either the willful intent by kushner or don junior or man forth to violate the law or the material they received was damaging to meet the statutory definition. that's a far cry from saying there is no evidence. that is the special counsel's determination that notwithstanding the evidence on this issue involving trump tower and other interactions like the provision of polling data by manafort, which we learned today
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was far more ongoing than we knew. that the special counsel could not establish a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt and to the satisfaction of a jury. so these are the overall conclusions. but let me say to sum up and i'll be happy to go to your questions. as i said some time ago, whether these acts are criminal or not, whether the obstruction of justice was criminal or not, or whether these contacts were sufficiently elicit or not to rise to the level of a criminal conspiracy, they are unquestionably dishonest, immorale, unpatriotic and should be condemned by every american. that is the subject of condemnation. that is how we should view the mueller report. i'm happy to go to your questions. >> did the mueller report address your questions regarding conspiracy or conclusion or do you have additional questions you hope will be answered by your committee? >> there are sections certainly
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that are redacted in the report. some that clearly go to facts that are not being presented to the public that would shed like on additional elicit contacts or the nature of those contacts between the russians and the trump campaign. but other sections that are almost completely redacted go to the prosecutorial judgment. and that is when the special counsel looked at the evidence of conspiracy on these particular incidents, in particular wikileaks and the disclosure of that information, the contacts between the trump campaign and wikileaks, the sections on the exercise of that prosecutorial judgment, why the special counsel concluded what the counsel did have been largely redacted. and we need to know that information. so we will be seeking the complete and unredacted report again so that we can do our proper oversight. one other matter that is important to point out, and that is that as the special counsel
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makes clear in the report, the counterintelligence findings are not completely included in this report. that, in fact, they were fbi agents imbedded in a special counsel's team who were looking at the issue of compromise or counterintelligence. and that some of that information is not included. others, of course, it may be included but redacted. our committee, the intelligence committee, has requested that mueller come and testify. we want to understand exactly what was found in terms of any counterintelligence efforts, any efforts by the russians to make use of u.s. persons, particularly those affiliated with the trump campaign as whiting or unwitting agents of the russian government. >> we have been listening to congressman adam schiff, we will be rachel maddow's guest at 9:00. let me come to you frank figliuzzi, congressman adam schiff raising questions, the
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focus of his investigation around what are still unanswered questions about the why. robert mueller did not find that there wasn't collusion. in fact, there was plenty of collusion. what he answered was a very narrow question about whether the trump campaign knowingly and criminally participated in the conspiracy to meddle in the 2016 election. talk about the collusion findings in the 400-page redacted mueller report today. >> let's start by talking about how our morning began, which was a press conference with the attorney general, reminding us all he was using a criminal metric. he told us even in his early summary, i'm focussed with regard to the so-called collusion, no, no. it's going to be criminal conspiracy, coordination, we'll use those legal definitions and what did he do this morning? he repeated the president's
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mantra of there was no collusion. which is it? collusion is not a crime yet you're saying we found no collusion. the report tells us more than ever before about americans engaging with russians during the campaign, even though the attorney general said there was no evidence of that. the report tells us that manafort -- we all knew that manafort gave up internal polling data to kilimnik, a russian with ties to russian intelligence. but now we know they discussed swing states. they talked about the states by name in the context of this internal polling data. what would we expect a russian with intel affiliations to do equipped with the knowledge of the swing states that the campaign was trying to focus on. we also see really detailed information that might go to the heart of why the president is motivated to engage with russians. the details on trump tower
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moscow and the aspirations of what that building and project and value would bring to the table is laid out in really good detail in the mueller report. so mueller owes an explanation to the intelligence committees of the house and senate. i'm sure they're going to get that, but we've got more questions than answers today. and the biggest contribution of this special counsel to the country was indeed pointing out the degree of an adversary's interference with our election and i don't hear the president saying or this attorney general saying here's what we're going to do about that problem. >> chuck rosenberg, frank figliuzzi has led us to the second big headline and that is the roll of the attorney general. we played the sound bite of him five times saying no collusion. as frank pointed out collusion isn't a crime. and spying is something the attorney general has invoked in the last week, not an activity
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that our law enforcement agencies engaged in. so you have two sort of hum dingers from the sitting attorney general in a week's time. he's actually made three of the president's most sort of central political arguments around hard line immigration policies and an asylum ruling saying asylum seekers can be jailed indefinitely, around the wildest of all trumpian conspiracy theories, around spying, the campaign was spied on, that came out of the attorney general's mouth. and then today, doubling down on the president's refrain uttered by this president so often it's almost a nervous tick, wake and type out a no collusion tweet. i wonder what you make as someone who had given the attorney general the benefit of the doubt. this day which should have been about the presentation of a sacred and trusted investigator, robert mueller, presenting his 400 page report to the country was sullied before it began. >> bob mueller's report, nicole,
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was what you would expect. it was detailed, balanced, it was thoughtful, careful it was deliberate. it's not perfect, investigations never are but it was all you would expect it to be. so what you would expect the attorney general to do, any attorney general, is present it in a fair, neutral, even handed and balanced way. it seemed to me, and perhaps to others, that the attorney general was making an opening statement on behalf of the president. i have a hard time reconciling the attorney general of the last couple of weeks with the attorney general that i knew, the person i knew by reputation and personally -- slightly personally over decades of service to the department of justice. so i'm disappointed, i'm chagrinned. i defended him on your show and on others. calling him a principled institutionalist. and frankly i think i was wrong. there's still time for him to prove he's all of those things
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but the window is closing. we laid out the three big events that robert mueller was prepared to build an obstruction case and does not exonerate donald trump. occlusion this campaign was collusion curious i think one of the reporters described it. in terms of the role of this attorney general, clearly the gulf between what he's had to say about the mueller report and what mueller says in his own report widening by the who. there were five barr appearances about the mueller report before we saw the mueller report. now that we've seen it, it's clear why. where are we? >> i agree with frank figliuzzi, a lot of questions raised, issues that need further investigation. there is clarity today we learned a lot. the first thing, it relates to the attorney general, i believe on the show last week when i said it was clear he was a political actor, and not an
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attorney general. it turns out he's not only that but he's a liar. we saw him say things that were not just spin or misrepresentations otmn the, margins but he said things that were untrue. the repeating of the refrain no collusion when the report goes to such an extent so say collusion is not a legal concept and because it's not a legal concept we reject it as way of thinking about this. here's the narrow terms of coordination and conspiracy which we were making our judgments. the fact he said, i thought when i first heard it, it was interesting this morning when he said that one of the reasons that he and rod rosenstein had determined that obstruction of justice was the case not made was it was a dispositive that trump cooperated fully. and then you see in the report to which robert mueller says he didn't cooperate fully, he lied,
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he tried to obstruct. there were ways in which barr was flatly contradicting and misrepresenting what bob mueller did. not just hackish but acting as a fully owned subsidiary of the trump team and one that's dishonest as well. one other thing, to me if you look at the totality of this report and all things people have been saying all day about what mueller clearly was trying to do, he was trying to say, there were big problems here, there may be an obstruction case to make if you can do a proper investigation, if you weren't held back and hindered. he was clearly saying there are potentially high crimes and misdemeanors here. forget about criminal law we're not going to indict the sitting president. the congress now must look at these matters. do they rise to high crimes and misdemeanors? that means to me at the end of the day as we sit here, the question of impeachment is squarely on the table. not -- i'm not advocating the
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answer one way or the other. but right now democrats face a choice, looking at this report, you can make a solid intellectual political argument that it is time to go forward, and adjudicate and further investigate that question. do these -- the misdeeds rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors or not but that's a hard political choice for nancy pelosi and other democrats in the congress to make. >> on the politics, nancy pelosi has time and time again suggested that impeachment was not on the table. jerry nadler suggested it would something that perhaps should be looked at again. you're going to see democrats frustrated with barr's appearance that he was acting as trump's personal attorney. i think they're going to pour through the report that we are doing today and saying there are items that are troubling, this is something that the congress should look at. it's a political game and the white house is aware of that too. we've seen for weeks their
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attempts to get out ahead of it. to try to shape the narrative, frame the story. the incomplete version then. even today, in the hours before the -- minutes before barr came out to speak, the president had a dozen tweets. as soon as barr finished, it was the "game of thrones" thing, game over democrats or whatever it was. but after barr concluded, and while reporters were still looking at the report, he heard him at the white house again, he doesn't want any other president to go through this, he was vindicated, it was a witch hunt. we've all powered through the report as the hours have gone by, the president just left the white house to spend easter weekend in florida. when he does that, 95% of the time he stops and talks to reporters today he did not. he didn't want to be asked today
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about this. >> how long before the don mcghan tweets start? >> i couldn't get jay sekulow to say anything kind about don mcghan. >> we're lucky to be joined by congressman ted lieu, who's joining us on all the burning questions of the hour. i want to ask you where you take this, but i don't want to skip over the attorney general's attempt to frame the report today. it was the fifth time we've heard from the attorney general about the mueller report. it was purposefully done before the mueller report was available. and he seemed to say on obstruction that the president was very frustrated. and while he may have been obstructi obstruction-y. he did it because he was frustrated. what do you make of the attorney general putting his finger on the scale on a question that robert mueller and his investigators left unanswered? >> thank you nicole for your question. i'm a former prosecutor and you can't go through volume two
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without coming to the conclusion that donald trump met the elements of obstruction of justice. for example when he ordered don mcghan to fire robert mueller, it's irrelevant that mcgahn didn't execute the order because the obstruction of justice statue requires that you endeavor to obstruct justice you don't have to complete an act. bill barr's fringe legal theory is because donald trump didn't commit a second underlying crime he could not have done obstruction of justice. that's nowhere in the statute, most scholars reject it out of hand. bill barr is way out of the main stream in the legal establishment and looks more and more like a legal act. >> does the gravity of the president's conduct and what mueller details as an inability to ascertain a full and complete picture due to lack of access to a presidential intervow the lack of any answers at all, does that force your caucus and your party
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and leaders to reevaluate the consideration about impeachment? >> on the house judiciary committee we don't have a record yet. we have the redacted mueller report, we have interesting reporting by msnbc and others. we have people saying things on tv. what we actually need record. we're going to gather documents, interview witnesses under oath and we're going to exonerate donald trump on obstruction of justice or not. and then we'll have a discussion with the american people based on what the investigation shows. >> what would make you more able to exonerate or not than robert mueller? >> we're going to call in robert mueller to testify. my hope is that he actually does that. if you look at the mueller report, it looks like he said, basically, i can't indict a sitting president. i'm going to lay out what happened with the obstruction of justice, and now you, congress, or the institution that can hold donald trump accountable, that's what house democrats are going
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to do on the judiciary committee. >> did you hear in barr's testimony when he talked about the first release of the mueller report being a first pass, that they were getting on a war footing to fight with you about the underlying evidence or the unredacted version? i understand actually an unredacted version will be made available to some members of congress. but do you have suspicion about how transparent the department of justice will be or are you optimistic that you'll be able to obtain the underlying evidence and access to all of mueller's witnesses? >> based on bill barr's conduct i've lost faith and credibility in bill barr. he wrote a four page summary that was misleading. he then did a press conference where he made additional misstatements of facts related to the mueller report. we don't trust bill barr we need to see the full unredacted report and want to hear from robert mueller as well. >> congressman swalwell called for his resignation today. do you agree with that or are
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you not there yet? >> i know that bill barr took one oath and it was not to donald trump, it was to the u.s. constitution. i hope bill barr will act in the public's interests not in the interest of donald trump, that is not his job. he is not rudy giuliani. he is attorney general. he needs to act on all f on our interests, and uphold the u.s. constitution. i hope he continues to do that, but so far he really looks like a partisan hack. >> congressman thank you so much for spending time with us. we're grateful on a day like today. matt miller, an extraordinary amount of content made available today. i guess in olden days you'd say to congress, i guess now with republicans showing their hand and revealing themselves as human shields for the president we can say an amazing amount of content made available to the democrats. what do they do with it? >> they take the evidence and move forward with hearings. they have a hearing scheduled if r a week after next with bill barr.
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i'd cancel that, no point in hearing from bill barr. they might as well have a hearing with rudy giuliani. no reason to come in and give him the forum to be the president's personal attorney. i would instead move forward with the key witnesses. i'd subpoena don mcghan, corey lewandowski, all of the witnesses who gave evidence to bob mueller about the obstruction of justice piece of this investigation, i think the american people need to hear from them, they need to see them. there's been this question about what's the point of pursuing an impeachment investigation if the public isn't there, if the voters aren't going to be there. let's put these people on camera and let the american public hear what they said in this report hear them say it live b before congress. congress has a duty to do that. if they look at this report and there is no attempt to move forward with an investigation and a sanction of some sort of the president, then they are giving him license to continue to obstruct investigation about maybe the other criminal
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investigation of which he's a subject in the southern district of new york. they're given other presidents in the future, the license to interfere with the department of justice's investigation. they need to move forward and maybe at the end of the day it's not impeachment. maybe it's censure, they need something that the behavior outlined in this report is not acceptable. >> i want to get you on the record, chuck and frank. i worked in a white house where impeachment proceedings never commenced but i turned over all my emails around the task force, into the plane firing, around the -- you can be investigated by congress. it seems like the democrats have themselves in a bit of a box, impeach or not impeach. there's investigative conduct that goes on in congress that's short of that, no, frank? >> absolutely. the oversight function i think absolutely justifies deep hearings and i agree with matt.
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there's little value left in hearing more from this attorney general. the attorney general has essentially redefined the maga acronym to made allegations go away. we should be calling not only the witnesses reflected in the report but let's get the senior prosecutors and senior fbi personnel and let them explain what they did in the investigation and what was told to them and their intentions in the report. that's what we need to hear. that's all short of impeachment proceedings. it's something that needs to be aired out. but you're right, politically, this is a major decision. how much do the democrats focus as we approach an election cycle. how much do they focus on just seeming to want to take down a president versus just getting oversight and transparency out there. >> chuck, i want you to do something for me and our viewers. some of us have been talking about this for six, seven hours, in my case we are tongue tied by
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now. but some people are just tuning in. i want you to explain to our viewers how the obstruction of justice investigation ended. because we learned from the barr letter that robert mueller did not exonerate donald trump on the question of obstruction. but barr's emphasis there was that neither did he recommend criminal prosecution. you and i had conversations, everyone around this table has had conversations about looking forward to learning why. what did we learn today was behind robert mueller's conclusion, the way the obstruction of justice investigation ended with no recommendation for criminal charges but very clearly, very clearly absolutely no articulation that the president was in any way, shape or form exonerated in that probe? >> there's no exoneration here. what was interesting to me is how careful and principled mueller dissected this issue. it's not an easy one, but i think i can explain it. doj policy precludes charging a
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sitting president. the rational for that policy is you don't want to burden the president or stigmatize the presidency. that makes some sense to me. even if it didn't, it's the policy we're stuck with. so on that basis, the mueller team decided, and i think properly, if you can't charge a sitting president you ought not recommend charging a sitting president because that burdens the president and stigmatizes the presidency. so in no form or fashion does this report exonerate the president from obstruction of justice conduct. in fact, do this exercise, read the second volume -- in fact, read the executive summary to the second volume of the report which focuses on obstruction. every time you see the word president or trump, substitute it with ceo or smith or somebody else, somebody not cloaked in that article 2 protection of the constitution that the policy, you know, is meant to protect.
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when do you that, when you read it as somebody else, it's obstruction of justice. it really, truly is. >> and if you want to take someone else's word for it, even though there's no one with more credibility or wisdom than chuck rosenberg. i'm going to give you something from donald trump, which suggested he arrived at the same conclusion. here's the president on the appointment of special counsel mueller from the mueller report. when sessions told the president that a special counsel had been appointed, the president slumped back in his chair and said this is terrible, this is the end of my presidency, i'm f'ed. there you have it, donald trump, chuck rosenberg on the same page, kind of sort of. matt miller you've been with us on tv all day long. when we come back, the new details we're just learning. that's next. details we're just learning. that's next. embrace the chance of 100% clear skin with taltz, the first and only treatment of its kind
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people make up stories.
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this whole thing about flipping they call it. i know all about flipping. for 30, 40 years i've been watching flippers. everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on the next highest one or as high as you can go. it ought to be outlawed. it's not fair. >> i can't get enough of it. it's the craziest thing i've seen. ron klain is here and michael steele and kareem john pierre. we played that not because i can't believe it but it is in here in the obstruction of justice investigation. and as people like chuck rosenberg and frank figliuzzi told us at the time. the signal sent to any criminal insnared in an investigation by the man who sits atop the government when he trashes
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cooperating witnesses is remarkable. and it wasn't lost on robert mueller. what rings through to me is what a bunch of sort of unethical -- i want to use words that won't get me in laura ingram's opening montage today. what a group of unethical acting people. >> cally wags. >> yeah. >> sarah sanders smearing jim comey from the podium saying that -- talking about his leadership at the fbi when under questioning with mueller's investigators saying heat of the moment. you're the white house press secretary. >> heat of the moment i wasn't exactly truthful about that. yeah, nicole, this is why this team in the white house has been so nervous about this. not only about how this piece of the puzzle connects them to the
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president that may get them in trouble with the president, but how it fleshes out the story lines that our friend like mr. lemire and others have been tracking and following and reporting consistently like a drum beat, without fanfare, without hyperbole saying these are the facts as they're being developed and evolving right now. and now we get to sit back and go really? that dot connects to that dot and these people in between are cupable. it's that moment that's so compelling for the country but certainly this white house because this is one of those you got got. >> just to add to this. this report is a testament to good journalism, the number of stories cited in this report that the president denied, called fake news, people in the white house staff lied to rep t
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reporters about and they're valida validated. >> the thing is to have mueller come in and say they got that right. the "new york times" "the washington post," ap have the ultimate validation. >> just to add to that i was going to say we knew this already, but to your point all the dots are connected in 400 and some odd pages, which is wild to see and coming from robert mueller, we've been waiting for 22 months to see this. i'm going to state the obvious, this is a horrible day for donald trump. a very, very bad day. we see the abuse of power and even with the trump campaign at the very least we see they were useful idiots to russia as the russians were hacking our elections. i mean, this is just a mind blowing day. and we can't go past the collusion as well. because you see in the documents the inappropriate behavior they had with russia. and it's nonstop. you had the president who
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basically instructed people to lie on his behalf. this is why we're in the place that congress has to investigate. that's what i think the main thing that robert mueller tells us in this document is that congress needs to act because a lot of things he couldn't do, it was like beyond -- they're able to do -- go beyond the legal scope he was given. >> ron klain let me bring you into this conversation with a question. one of the most stunning excerpts i read was around the special counsel's inability to ascertain whether donald trump knew at the time about mike flynn's conversations with russian ambassador kislyak about sanctions relief. this was one of the original sins that led to flynn's downfall, trump's conversations with comey to let flynn go. the special counsel couldn't ascertain whether the president knew about them or not. what were the limitations on the
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special counsel without subpoenaing the president and getting an interview with him? >> obviously the consequences of them not getting an interview with president trump is clear in many places throughout the report. and the fundamental aspect that the special counsel pointed to about obstruction and inability to determine trump's intent on many acts was also impaired by that. i think prosecutors will tell you, it's common not to subpoena investigation target but what's unique here is that trump refused to cooperate. he refused to make himself available after saying many times during the first year of the mueller investigation, sure i'll answer the questions, bragging to talk about it, his refusal to do that is different than the experience you are for example with president bush who was willing to talk to investigators, the 9/11 commission and whatnot. so trump's not doing this is a shirking to his duty, to the constitution, and the american
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people's right to know the truth. this paints a picture -- if you were going to turn this into a movie about the white house, it would be good fellas meet the three stooges. >> not nearly as funny as the three stooges. >> no. i think the three stooges section has to include the president's written answer. it makes you want him to take that mocha test one more time. he doesn't remember anything. >> i do want to say this. obviously, i read the report today and watched the cov rang and you guys were doing such a great job with it. it's natural people are focussed on the obstruction piece because it's one mueller did not exonerate or bring a charge, but it's taken the focus away to some extent from the russia story which i found staggering to read the totality of what mueller found there. his definition of coordination
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and conspiracy is so narrow. and again, he knows -- bob mueller knows way more about the law than i ever will. but he literally says the russians were trying to help donald trump. donald trump's people knew the russians were trying to help donald trump and they were happy to have that help. but by a narrow definition that has a specific meaning of what coordination entails it doesn't rise to the crime of conspiracy. which again in a technical sense i suppose is true. but if you look at the context, many of the things we knew about previously, many we did not reading about rick gates in a car on the way to the airport with donald trump that they are looking for the wikileaks dumps, they know they're coming, they know -- this is september. they're going to be coming. they're starting to plan press strategy and communication strategy around the notion that there would be further dumps that would be damaging to hillary clinton. there are details and facts that
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make it so clear that there was not just some of the things we talked about on the show for a long time, the trump tower meeting, horrified they accepted the meeting, horrified they didn't call the fbi but it's not technical coordination. the degree of awareness of what was going on on both sides and the eagerness the trump campaign had that help and the attempts to get more help. it's a stunning thing and for anybody that has said this is something that goes on in any campaign, and it goes on in every campaign x, y, z. it's never happened in a campaign, and should never again. it's so far outside normal that it blows your mind. >> as we absorb the details of what russia did to us, tried to do to us with the social media and the hacking on the dnc side. let's not forget it's still
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happening. as we go home this evening and get on our social media, i'm telling you we should be looking for the bots and trolls out of russia who are going to spin this report and shape it away from them and just denigrate it and make it go away. the russians have still at it as we head into the 2020 election. you'll see it on your social media tonight. >> let me put up the collusion flash points. donald trump jr.'s interactions with wikileaks, jared kushner's attempt to set up a back channel. trump's request in front of god and country for the russians to hack hillary clinton's emails. manafort's briefings with kilimnik on the campaign and his hand off of polling data. you're so educated on a normal presidential campaign about the definition of coordination, not for the risk you might coordinate with a foreign adversary but you might illegally align with a friendly pack or national committee. and mueller does allege that a
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criminal conspiracy couldn't be proven but that coordination and collusion absolutely went on. >> that's part of this whole thing to john's point, which is so profoundly important. you're right. we're kind of focusing on the part ii, but it's the part i that really connects those dots that we were talking about before. and this is the kicker for me, in this whole thing at the end of the day. what mueller said was, but for an office of legal counsel letter, opinion, document, i would be indicting the hell out of this. i would be bringing every charge conceivable, because the fact pattern screams for it. but for the office of legal counsel. so, putting it where it is now, in the congress, was the only affordable option that he had, because legally, there was no other space to move into. so let's not get this twisted,
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folks, and think, oh, well, we're home free here. there's no legal -- no, the consequences of the behavior inside this report, the consequences of the fact patterns that both of you just laid out, that's the rub here. and that's where it's going to get sticky for congress and where you guys are going to do a whole lot of reporting in the next few weeks. >> i'm pretty tired already. >> chuck rosenberg, are you still here? let me ask you this question. we talked a little bit about one of the scenarios, given that mueller didn't have an underlying crime, so there's some reluctance to charge obstruction. he is an unindicted co-conspirator in an unindicted conspiracy crime. and the men who stood behind him were the men who sent the cohen cases to sdny for prosecution and sentencing for michael cohen. so the president, if the justice department is all one, which you make clear all the time for all of us, the president is, in the
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eyes of the united states department of justice, an unindicted co-conspirator, accused, credibly accused, with of an underlying felony in that cohen case. >> absolutely. so, a couple of points to that, nicole. first, when a trial jury acquits a defendant, they never make a finding of innocent. they simply make a finding of not guilty. so put recessing what michael steele just said, there's no exhortation or vindication here anywhere. this is bad behavior. and the mere fact that you can't charge someone with it is not a victory. number two, in the southern district of new york, they are conducting investigations that mueller could never conduct, because it wasn't within his remit. we've discussed this, as well. but mueller had a relatively narrow remit. he did a hell of a job, by the way, but it was relatively narrow, which was russian interference in the 2016 election. but, it was not trump foundation, trump organization, trump campaign finance violations and the like. and so, to quote my dear friend, preet bharara, the president was
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identified as individual one in publicly filed documents in federal court in manhattan, and thank god we live in a country where just about anyone can grow up to be individual one. >> it's a good reminder, ron klain, that so much of the story is still in front of us. i talked to a federal prosecutor this week, a former republican federal prosecutor, out of that southern district of new york, and i said, what do you think sdny is up to? and he said, listen, the michael avenatti case was sitting in a u.s. attorney's office in l.a. for a couple of years. it was at sdny for a much shorter amount of time. he got arrested the minute he walked into boy schiller. what do you think sdny is up to? >> i think they're up to a lot. but i want to disagree with the job that bob mueller did a great job. i think he wimped out here a bit. i think the case against don junior on campaign finance violations that's in the mueller report, i think the analysis of why that wasn't indicted wouldn't be a passing grade in a
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first year election law case. i think the analysis there is incredibly weak. i think the idea that don junior wasn't indicted for coordinating with wikileaks, for conspireing with wikileaks, really slides past the collusion, if you want to call it that, the conspiracy, that i think this document proves out. i think there was plenty of indictable conduct, with regard to both the coordination between the trump campaign and wikileaks and with regard to the campaign finance violation by the trump tower meeting that mueller did not press charges on. and i think that's disappointing. >> chuck, let me let you respond to that. >> it may be disappointing, but i trust mueller's judgment and i trust the judgment on his team. they have to apply the principles of federal prosecution. there has to be a crime and there has to be evidence to support that case. and you have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in court. so, look, this is an art, not a science. and i've sat around plenty of conference tables and plenty of offices in the justice department, where
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well-intentioned people vehemently disagreed about whether or not you could bring charges and make them stick. and so, you know, you're just seeing some of that being aired publicly. ron and i can disagree about whether or not mueller did a good job, and we can also disagree about whether or not there was an indictable case, but it doesn't change my opinion of the good work of the mueller team. >> kareem? >> i'm not a lawyer, but watching this for the last 22 months, i have to agree with ron a little bit, because it is -- one of the things i'm disappointed is that robert mueller didn't ask or force donald trump to be interviewed. and it's wild that didn't happen to me. and like, i know the legal people can speak more to that, but as a person that's just been watching this, i just didn't understand that. and yes, just like ron said, you had the three stooges, the useful idiots, they were colluding all over the place. that behavior was abhorrent. and for them to just not face consequences, real consequences, is just mind blowing. >> i want to -- can i ask chuck
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a question? hey, chuck, just on the question that karine just raised, and mueller talks a little bit about this, what do you think went on with mueller and why he ultimately decided not to try to force trump into testifying? do you think that in the end, it was that there was some communication with the trump legal team that he would have taken the fifth and it would have just been a waste of time in the long run? >> i was looking for that, john, in the report, and i didn't see it. that would have been an obvious one, if if trump's lawyers conveyed to mural that trump would take the fifth, mueller would not have asked. we don't ask when we know that a defendant -- or a target is going to invoke. mueller said something different. mueller said that they sort of had what they needed through other sources and that it would take a long time and they were near the end of their investigation. if i do have criticism for the mueller team, and i don't think it's a perfect report, i just think it's a very good one, it's that they didn't push this particular issue, because in order to gauge intent, in order
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to know if someone had sincerely-held beliefs, you want to talk to that person. and that may be something that is missing here. >> karine? >> really quickly, and chuck, i don't know what you think about this, but there's been sort of a conversation of, was robert mueller forced to end sooner than he needed to? and what do you think about that? >> yeah, i find that hard to believe. i think they would have raised holy heck and that we would have heard about it in one form or another or it would have been in the report. in other words, you would have to think that mueller was being disingenuous when he said that it would have prolonged the investigation, without explaining that he was told to cut it short. so i take it at face value. again, that's not to say that others on his team might have been pushing hard for that interview. if i were on his team, i would have been pushing hard for that interview, but that's how you gauge intent. but i'll take mueller at his word on that one. >> what we did hear from the president, of course, were these
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written answers, which we all poured through today, and it was striking how much they were just dotted with, "i don't recollect" or "i'm not sure" or "i don't remember." >> no joke about the mocha dust. this is guy in his own words have bragged about having the best memory ever. and these were written answers, you would have to imagine, written by his lawyers, the raskins down in florida who handled a lot of the lawyering, while rudy was being rudy. they basically amounted to, i barely remember anything about anything. never question. >> never met him, don't know him. >> i get that a lot. it goes to show you, that was the limit to what the lawyers were ever going to let him do. they knew that in-person interview was going to be very dangerous. we've discussed on this show for 22 months how he would walk in there and perjure himself seven times in the first 30 seconds. so they were never going to let him do that. and had mueller really forced it, i think he writes in the report, it would add to this
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really long drawn-out process that wouldn't be good for the presidency or the country. >> i want to go back to one of the points chuck is making. and this is important, because it does address what you were raising, karine. and that is, when mueller's looking at this and making decisions, for example, bring ngt president of the united states to ask questions to, rather, there is a whole lot besides the politics. the legal mechanisms in place to do that are profoundly important. and i think the -- i think this team got to the point where they realized, looking at everything else, and i go back to that letter from the counsel's office that said, you can't indict, what, then, is the point? what is the point to bring the president in, besides for political reasons. >> gerald interviewed president bush and dick cheney in the leak of valerie plame. >> true, but i think the bar is
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set a little bit differently in this case than in that situation, when you have behavior of the president that's under the microscope. that's different from a personnel or a political decision related to a personnel decision. and i think thfrom that standpoint, it makes sense. >> if you think about it this way, mueller had reached the point where he thought he had enough evidence to do what he needed to do. throw it to congress and have a debate over high crimes and misdemeanors. he might have thought that that was enough. >> all right. we are out of time. my thanks to -- was that the buzzer? i'm so sorry! my thanks to -- >> you are out of time! >> the three pointer. nothing but net! >> that's it for our hour. you can tell, we're done. we're so grateful to you for watching. i'm nicole wallace. "mtp daily" starts right now. i know you didn't do it. >> i think this is a brilliant new idea by phil griffin. >> there's a story there. george bush insisted on


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