tv Deadline White House MSNBC April 26, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
in. "deadline: white house" with nicole wallace starts right now. hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york where we're coming to you with breaking news from "the washington post" that may call into question rod rosenstein's role in overseeing the mueller investigation. this new report details attempts by rosenstein to keep his job in the cake of a news account that suggested he was willing to wear a wire to secretly record donald trump. based on this investigation, rosenstein telling the president he would make sure trump was treated fairly, quote, this is rod rosenstein, i give the investigation credibility, rosenstein said, in the words of one official, quote, i can land the plane. these comments were made in september of 2018, a full six months before robert mueller would tell the justice department that he was finished with his probe. for six more months under
rosenstein's supervision, mueller would continue interview witnesses and bringing cases. this took six months before mueller decided he could not exonerate trump on obstruction of justice. six months before bill barr decided he would let trump off the hook anyway. that's where we begin with our favorite reporters and friends, ashley parker who just broke this story. former u.s. attorney and msnbc contributor joyce vance joins you, and national analyst john hileman -- joyce is not with us. we're going to start with you, ashley. i'm going to read more of your colleague's report, which crossed our wires a few minutes ago. rod rosenstein was in danger of losing his job. the "new york times" had just reported that in the heated days after james comey was fired as fbi director the deputy attorney general had suggested wearing a wire to record president trump. now trump, traveling in new
york, was on the phone, eager for an explanation, rod rosenstein, who by one account had gotten teary eyed just before the call sought to disfuse the volatile situation and assure the president he was on his team. that's according to people familiar with the matter. he criticized the times report published in late september and blamed it on former fbi director andrew mccabe. and told the president he would make sure trump was treated fairly. i give the investigation credibility rosenstein said. quote, i can land the plane. ashley pa ashley parker, it is a stunning piece of reporting from your colleagues. and it is a stunning piece of timing. it was just last night at an event that rod rosenstein took the rather extraordinary step of
accusing everyone from the obama justice department to the media, to cable news pundits, of their trespasses and holding himself out as a one-man rule of law beacon. this story calls his role in the mueller probe into question. >> well, the story is a great deep dive. what it does is it goes behind the scenes and sort of chronicles all of his moves and his roles and what he said throughout this whole process. and one thing it takes you in to see is the way that people who work for the president, work for that administration, often found themselves scrambling to fight for their jobs. to try not to get fired by a tweet. and to sort of balance these two often competing directives, one of which is carrying out their own job, what they were directed to do, and the other is pleasing that most important audience of one. if you read this piece one thing
you see is rosenstein is doing what a bit what the president does. the president goes in a room and people often hear what they want to hear. you can have dreamers think he's supporting them and hard line immigrations think he's supporting them. and you have that with rod rosenstein, where the president seems to think rosenstein says i will treat you fairly, but then giving himself plausible deabilid dekneeabilid deniability by doing his job. the devil is in the details. >> rod rosenstein told trump he was not a target of mueller's investigation. using law enforcement jargon that can refer to people about whom the justice department has gathered substantial evidence of criminal wrong doing. mueller's report makes clear that investigators focussed on trump. his attorneys were informed he
was a subject, a different bureaucratic term, meaning his conduct was being investigated. and mueller's report has language that could constitute obstruction of justice. this seems like what you're describing there, ashley. that he was managing the president using the word subject, which i understand was always used because of the memo and special counsel mueller's commitment to not indicting the president so if they treated him or classified him as a target it would have been irrelevant in this case because they didn't plan on indicting him. but it goes to the theme mull fieing the president. is there a suggestion in this account that landing the plane, is something that the president's close ally, chris christie, said matt whitaker was brought in to do. landing the lane is what we know donald trump wanted done with
the mueller probe. the timing of this reporting is a stunner. this took place in september. robert mueller didn't walk into the attorney general's office until march of 2019 to say that he was finished. >> yeah, there's a lot to unpack there, but going briefly to the first point, what you read, that's a bit of slight of hand, linguistic jiu jitsu. so you have a president able to hear exactly what he wants to hear. he wants someone to land the plane, and he can believe that rosenstein is doing that sort of in a way that the president believes is landing it in a way that protects him. where again he may just mean, it's unclear which side meant what, or maybe trump hears what he wants to hear, he's landing it by in his eyes performing the duties of his job fairly, efficiently and reasonably and
that's what's allowed him to survive this far. >> joyce vance joins us now. let me read to you a piece of this reporting from ashley and her colleagues at "the washington post." the headline is i can land the plane how rosenstein tried to moll fie trump protect mueller and safe his job. rosenstein got teary eyed just before a meeting with the president, and sought to assure the president he was on his team. according to people familiar with the matter. he criticized the times report, the one that reported that rod rosenstein was willing to wear a wire and talked about wrangling votes for the 25th amendment that published in the "new york times" in late september. and blamed it on former fbi director andrew mccabe. then he talked about special counsel robert mueller's investigation of russia's interference in the 2016 election and told the president he would make sure trump was
treated fairly. quote, i give the investigation credibility, rosenstein said. i can land the plane. joyce, the post not alleging that rosenstein did anything unseemly or untoward but this reporting taken with what we know rod rosenstein's role was with attorney general barr in making that declination decision on obstruction of justice, something that robert mueller did not do, and a very angry speech from deputy attorney general rod rosenstein at an event last night definitely paints a different picture than the one we have seen prior to those three occurrences. >> you know, it is very difficult to know what to make of those two events happening so closely together. this new reporting and last night's speech. and in the speech last night, rosenstein hammered some rule of law themes. he talked about how important it
was to understand that government existed to serve people. and that everyone was entitled to the protection of the rule of law. so there's a possible read on the story that says that rosenstein was just trying to let mueller finish doing his work. and, of course, there's a darker possibility here that mueller actually did something that no prosecutor should do, saying he was on the team of a target or a subject of an investigation. so it's troubling. we'll need to look further into this to see exactly where it lands. >> joyce, i listened to that speech last night and thought it was stunning that of all the men and women on planet earth that a sitting deputy attorney general, who has just made the decision that robert mueller, after 22 months, wouldn't and couldn't make to exonerate donald trump on the question of obstruction quoted donald trump on the rule of law in that speech last night. that was not rod rosenstein as a neutral arbiter finding someone
that everyone can agree on as a beacon of the rule of law is donald trump. >> that was my initial reaction, too, nicole. and i spoke to half a dozen people in the room last night and they told me it came across a little differently. so i went back and reread it. i suppose there's a possibility, giving the speech a very ge generous reading that rod rosenstein, instead of vouching for the president was in some way holding the president's own words up to the president, that would be generous at best. and the thought that donald trump stands for the rule of law is abhor rant after we recei've him trash the rule of law every day. >> people maintain there is something in the dna that they're loyal to the
institutions. but as an outsider it doesn't come across. you see bill barr talk about spying occurring, and you see donald trump as an echo of bill barr's testimony in the news -- in an interview on hannity last night. you hear rod rosenstein quote someone who under no objective analysis stands for anything close to the rule of law. it was eight days ago where the report came out robert mueller wrote if i could clear him of crimes, i would. that came out eight days ago. rod rosenstein last night, he could have quoted anyone from roman times, he could have quoted anyone on the rule of law, quoting trump, this stunning reporting from "the washington post" of rod rosenstein in so many of these people, so many of these actions take place when they're crying, he's crying again, the third news account of rod rosenstein crying. i love a man who can cry. but the idea he said i can land the plane, i'm on your team, as
an outsider that doesn't look remotely objective. >> no. i've -- one of the things in this whole story of donald trump and the mueller investigation, rod rosenstein's been one of the most interesting characters and one of the most difficult to get a bead on because he's been a hero of the left, a hero of the right. he's behaved in inconsistent ways. in the middle of the story has been a mystery. the mystery has been how did he survive that "new york times" story, the story that talked about him wearing a wire and wrestling up votes for the 25th amendment. this reporting in "the washington post," it seems to be credible, we now have an answer. he survived by kissing donald trump's ass. you read this reporting. you have this quote from a senior administration official,
who -- where trump -- trump ended the call with rosenstein thinking he was on the team after all. so trump, who doesn't -- he doesn't have a great grasp of subtly and nuance. something was said that made him think that rod rosenstein was on the team after all, so one can conclude from that, that rosenstein went pretty far to do that. that is a ridiculous thing to do. it's an unethical thing to do, an immoral thing to do. i don't care if he was alleged trying to protect the mueller investigation. maybe he was, wasn't, maybe he was making himself more central to this than need be. matthew miller said many times on this show and elsewhere, that his weakness is weakness and apparently he was willing to do things wildly inappropriate for someone overseeing this investigation, someone on who in this matter was the highest ranking official in the land because jeff sessions was
recused. you read through the rest of your story to get to the rule of law speech, what's it say here? it says on multiple occasions rod rosenstein reassured trump he was not a target. he talked about he agreed with trump he was being treated unfairly. unfairly in what sense we don't know, perhaps by the media. later we have him standing behind barr, defending barr on the ways in which barr wildly mangled mueller's -- what was in the actual mueller report. the ways in which barr acted as a political character. rosenstein signed onto that, he stood behind him in the press conference. now you have him citing trump as a pair gone as the rule of law, but he's criticizing the obama administration about not publishing the story about russian hacking and launching blistering attacks on the media. he sounds in a weird way like bill barr, all of a sudden rod rosenstein is starting to sound like a full-blown trump-kin.
especially in the wake of this criticism. i think many of the mysteries about rod rosenstein are becoming less mysterious and they are not painting a pretty picture. >> we brought in everyone you would want to hear from with a story like this. msnbc justice and security analyst matt miller is here, as well as jeremy bash. and there's matt zapatowski, bring him back. congratulations on the scoop. i want to go back in time with you because you're writing about a moment almost six months ago. before we get lost in that bizarre -- at least optically bizarre dynamic of what happened last night, rod rosenstein quoting donald trump on the rule of law eight days after robert mueller said we can't say he didn't commit crimes. i want to go back to this period. i remember this week, i remember
talking to sources close to rosenstein and sources close to the white house that monday, which was the first work day after the "new york times" had reported that rosenstein had been willing to wear a wire and was talking about the 25th amendment with other cabinet secretaries. the justice department affairs offices worked overtime to push back about the story. some of it was he was being sarcastic. they worked over the weekend -- make me in, i'm sure your reporting was better than mine was. but rosenstein was ready to resign. i think this is the third news account of rosenstein crying. i don't say that to mock or humiliate him. but just a window into his state of mind during these episodes. and you're reporting today he got on the phone with the president, the president was in new york, he went and met with kelly, what happens next? >> he goes and meets with kelly
and his job is in the offing here. the "new york times" just reported this explosive story, you mentioned the impact it had publicly. of course it had that times ten on rosenstein. so he goes over to the white house and kelly is sort of saying, what's going on? explain this story to us? did you want to record the president? what's happening here? rosenstein won't get into any details. he's very emotional. one person very familiar with what's happening says he has tears in his eyes. rosenstein today, a person familiar with his account disputes that. but anyway that meeting wraps up. rosenstein goes to another meeting at the white house and then he has this call with trump. again, his job is kind of in the balance here, at least from his perspective, he feels like he might be getting forced out of being the deputy attorney general. but he talks to trump and he kind of convinces the president that he's on his side. now we don't know, i think as the panel has pointed out, if he
said anything that would objectively be viewed as inappropriate. we don't know if he said, don't worry i'm going to make sure you're not charged or something like that. certainly his statement to us today would dispute that he says anything like that. but he does assure the president that mueller is going to be fair to him and he's going to make sure of that and that he's on the president's team. this kind of inconjunction with the relationship he's developed with the president and the president's aides sending nice notes to white house staffers when it's their birthday or they've been quoted in the media, on tv, showing up at a lot of white house events. he's worked to make nice with the white house and he sort of uses all that capital in the call with the president and critically talks about mueller's investigation and at the end of the day, he's saved. it does take some time. he doesn't leave this call with the president thinking i am in the clear. in fact, sort of that whole weekend it's like, will he be
forced out? won't he be forced out? everyone remembers there was supposed to be a high stakes meeting with the president but it kept getting put off because rod rosenstein had really kind of saved himself. >> let's go back in time as well and remind people what rosenstein was subjected to daily in the prime time hours on fox news, there was nightly coverage of the effort from jim jordan and mark meadows and others. there were articles of impeachment drafted for rod rosenstein by the then republican-led, devin nunes led house intel committee. and there was a real prospect, the dag's office, which had taken oversight of the mueller probe after sessions recused, worked all day, every day, to hold at bay the president's republican allies in the house committee. who had drafted articles of impeachment for rod rosenstein.
so when this timed story about rosenstein's willingness to wear a wire and his emotional state after the firing of comey and the use of his five-page memo as a justification for having done so. when that reporting came out, rosenstein already had his back up against the wall from the president's allies. the reporting, though, that he told the president he would land the plane and that he was on his team, is it your sense that robert mueller knew that's what the person overseeing his probe had assured someone who was at least a subject of the obstruction investigation at that point and possibly the conspiracy investigation? >> i'm not sure what robert mueller knows about any of this. i don't know that rosenstein, aside from what we can read in the mueller report about what rosenstein told robert mueller about the firing of jim comey, which is a separate issue. i don't know that we know what rosenstein told mueller if
anything about his later interactions with the president. this is like september of 2018, long after the firing of comey, which is described in mueller's report, and i also don't know how interesting it would be to mueller. not to pull a mueller here, but i'm not trying to make a conclusion one way or the other about if what rosenstein said to the president was inappropriate. we're just reporting what he said. but it's interesting he's talking with the president at least in broad terms about the mueller probe because like you said, the president was a subject. even though rosenstein is going over there and using this legal jargon, don't worry you're not a target. mueller's team had told the president -- the president's lawyers, excuse me, he was a subject. you can see from mueller's report, who cares what word we use, mueller was investigating the president of the united states personally and he had a lot, a lot of evidence about all these obstruckive episodes. so clearly rosenstein is trying
to calm the president by getting him attached to this bureaucratic jargon that at the end of the day doesn't mean much. i'm sure defenders would say that's so he would lay off the probe. his detractors would say he knew this was the way it was going to go and it was rigged in some way. >> jeremy bash joins us by phone. if you take matt's excellent reporting and mash it up against the result, the word he just used, rigged, you can't help but ask the question. we're not making that allegation, nobody is. it certainly calls into question, if rod rosenstein assured the president at the end of september 2018, that he, as the man -- the one man overseeing the plumueller probe his office was the one office at main doj through which any information from robert mueller flowed. and that went on for days and
weeks before robert mueller finished interviewing witnesses and came to his conclusion on a conspiracy that there were no charges to be brought and on obstruction that despite the ten incidents of obstructive behavior he could not exonerate or recommend criminal charges for the president. rod rosenstein six months before that told the president he would land the plane, he was on his team and he wasn't a target. your thoughts? >> this cries out if anything could for a congressional investigation. it requires rod rosenstein to come to capitol hill and to testify. it certainly requires the attorney general to testify as well. i think the conduct of the justice department, its leadership, in receiving the mueller report, in shaping the way the public viewed it, in writing that four page quote/unquote summary, having the press conference when the mueller report was being d distributed and the role of the
attorney general and the deputy attorney general all of that is necessary for the public to understand for congress to investigate. i think there will be inspector general investigations and this will be an important lasting legacy. people shouldn't lose sight of the bigger pictures, which is the reason why rod rosenstein is put in this pinched position between the target of an investigation or the subject of an investigation and the investigator is because the president of the united states, as mueller said in volume two, didn't not commit obstruction of justice. meaning he did. so it's really the president's conduct that i think needs to be the continued focus of congressional oversight, but rod rosenstein's role merits scrutiny, certainly. >> jeremy, just to follow-up with you. i was reminded that rosenstein is a witness in many of the flash points that you're talking about on obstruction. he's a witness in the conversations around the comey firing.
it was his memo and robert mueller writes about it extensively in volume two, as you just referenced. he now also took on the role, he and his office, oversaw and was likely aware of the goings on more than anybody else, and then at a moment when he thought he would lose his job, he went over there and offered the president a window into his own status, telling him he wasn't a target. if you mash that role as a witness with also a role as an instigator, rod rosenstein named robert mueller as the special counsel. are there questions about whether he had prejudged the outcome as a witness in that actual investigation? >> well, i don't know if it means he prejudged the outcome, but i think the fact that he's the witness means he couldn't also be a lawyer in the case. that's kind of the core tenant of legal ethics, professional ethics which is a lawyer can't be a witness in the same case.
so i think probably, nicole, your point is taken that rod rosenstein should have stepped aside, should have recused himself once he was used as the justification for the firing of comey. >> matt miller joins us. matt we've had a lot of conversations about the curious twists and turns of rod rosenstein's, i believe it's multiple tours of duty at the u.s. justice department. i'm guessing this one was surreal even for him. but this reporting in "the washington post" that describes a conversation that he had with the president when, as i said before, his back was against the wall, thought he would be fired. if you take that again and hold it up with the way it ended, with rosenstein and barr being the two men who decided, after robert mueller wouldn't or couldn't, that the obstruction case didn't amount to criminal conduct, it certainly makes this reporting from matt and his colleagues all the more
intriguing. >> it is a deeply disturbing report. what it shows is unethical conduct by the deputy attorney general. even without the way the investigation ended. just having this conversation with the president himself and giving the presidential this assurance is unethical for the deputy to do. he shouldn't be talking to the president about an investigation into the president under any circumstances and shouldn't be giving him assurances about how that investigation will end and shouldn't be doing it at a time when he's begging and pleading for his own job. this goes to this question about people trying to understand rod rosenstein for several years. i think most people have gotten it wrong. the way to understand rod is he's weak, has always been weak. he was weak in the beginning when he signed off on the comey firing, despite having read the mueller report that he knew why the president was firing comey, it was over the russia investigation. he was weak when the president pressured him to open a counter investigation into the investigation how it started.
he did that despite being no predicate, knowing it was the president trying to undermined the investigation. and he was weak when he signed onto bill barr's dishonest press conference and letter about the end of the investigation. he didn't have to do any of those things. when you take the fact he gave this assurance to the president and he did land the plane in a way acceptable to the president despite the underlying facts being almost in some cases being the opposite of how he and the attorney general portrayed them, i think it raises real questions about the way the deputy attorney general has performed his job. >> matt miller let me ask you a question my 7-year-old asks me every day. what happens next? are you with jeremy this calls out for congressional hearings. >> it does. he's only going to be there a month but it's plenty of time to go up and explain himself to congress. he talked about the conversations with the president in this story, he tried to explain those, he needs to
explain those under oath to congress and explain did he give the president this assurance? when you say i'm going to land the plane, that's a reassuring comment, the president can only take it one way, i'm going to land it in a way that's acceptable to you. not that i'm going to land it in a way that you're going to be unhappy with it. then he needs to explain why he signed off on the end of the investigation the way he did. you asked a minutan ago if this raises questions that he prejudged the investigation, of course he did. we've known that for a while. there's never been anyway in 48 hours they got this deep, complicated report, they judged all the different legal arguments, judged the facts, didn't do what an attorney general and deputy attorney general usually do, sit down with the prosecutor and have a back and forth why they came to that judgment. but in 48 hours they digested that entire thing and wrote a letter to clear the president. there's no question that he and
the attorney general prejudged it. the question is did he prejudge it because he gave the president an assurance he would. >> there are a lot of things discussed here that are super important. i agree with matt miller about questions that should be posed to rod rosenstein by congressional investigators but there are other questions that should come up as well. these are driving to larger questions. we have puzzled over -- we have yet to hear from bob mueller, we have not had an explanation from bob mueller about why his investigations were circumscribed in some respects in the ways they were. why he felt he had to end up where he ended up on obstruction of justice. >> and not interview the president. >> and why he backed off from interviewing the president. in the end the one thing we know is that bob mueller's boss through the entirety of the investigation was rod rosenstein. and so now the questions of in what ways, beyond what rod rosenstein was saying to donald trump, what was rod rosenstein saying to bob mueller? what ways was rosenstein not
only was he not as he tried to portray himself, safeguarding the mueller investigation, there are many questions -- i'm not prejudging the outcome but we now urgently need to know what was the interaction between rosenstein and mueller? given some of the hints we're getting, some of the suggestions, implications we're drawing out of this, it is really disturbing and beyond a source of concern. i think a sense -- i have a sense of creeping darkness about what we would learn if we understood the nature of the relationship between rosenstein and mueller. and i don't mean the personal relationship. i mean the ways in if which rosenstein would have been working subtly but clear ways he could prejudge the outcome because he knew what limits he placed on the conduct of the investigation and the parameters in which it was drawn. this is a thing that i think gets to the very heart of what
the mueller report ended up being. a lot of the anxiouses a answere going to lie in rod rosenstein. so it's important to get him in front of congress. >> jeremy, this gets complicated and dicey for someone like me, a nonlawyer. we know one of the mysteries of the end of the mueller investigation was that we never figured out why he didn't interview the president. you couldn't answer intent around obstruction without interviewing the president. we now know that rod rosenstein told the president he wasn't a target. he was never going to be indicted he wasn't a target of that. why not let robert mueller or green light any effort to have robert mueller interview the president, or does that render the whole thing moot and pointless and rigged? a question that matt asked, it came up in the reporting. >> i think you're right, nicole. if you read the written responses that the president
wrote on the conspiracy issues, they were a joke. basically he said, i don't recall over and over and over. and he provided no responses on the obstruction matters. and if you recall, obviously, in the -- our most recent example in history of independent counsel activities not only did independent counsel ken starr interview then president bill clinton, he drew blood. literally, the guy rolled up a sleeve, they injected a needle and drew blood from his arm. our president wouldn't answer the questions of the special counsel. it was a stone wall. i think the answer is if you dodge the special counsel you can get away with a lot. >> matt, i want to give you the last word, i want to underscore this is an analysis that people
read, but you've also written about and reported on the sort of ongoing saga during much of the mueller report about that presidential interview. does this, in your mind, offer any new information or any new window into the thinking of the man at doj who oversaw the mueller probe about why that landed where it did, with no interview for the special counsel, the president, and written answers that are as jeremy bash says, a lot of i don't know, i don't remember. >> that's the critical question. rosenstein would have played an instrumental role in deciding whether the department would authorize a subpoena of the president. that's a close kind of legal question that i don't think mueller could decide on himself. and if mueller had decided, he would have put rosenstein in the position of potentially having to veto him. one of the other panelists raised this great question, we want to know what were mueller and rosenstein's interactions throughout this process.
rod rosenstein until recently supervised the whole thing, that's a critical question but i can't shed any light on that with today's reporting. >> rome wasn't built in a day, matt. >> get back to work, brother. >> you gave us an incredible new wrinkle. grateful for your reporting and timing, thank you. matt miller and jeremy bash, thank you both too. we know you had other things to do we're glad you scrambled the jets to join us. when we come back, more on the story with one of the lawmakers investigating the president. and congressman eric swalwell joins us next. and trump taking joe biden's bait on racism and doubling down on one of the most inflaming moments of his presidency. but what i do count on... is staying happy and healthy. so, i add protein, vitamins and minerals to my diet with boost®. delicious boost® high protein nutritional drink
right before we came on the air. i'm going to read a little bit from that headline we've been covering all hour. i can land the plane, how rod rosenstein tried to moll fie trump, protect mueller and save his job. rod rosenstein was in danger of losing his job, the "new york times" just reported that the deputy attorney general suggested wearing a wire. rosenstein who by one account had gotten teary eyed just before the call in a meeting with the trump's chief of staff sought to defuse the situation and assure the president he was on his team. he went on to tell the president, quote, i can land the plane. joining me now is congressman eric swalwell, a 2020 presidential candidate. your reaction to this breaking news? >> good afternoon, nicole. wrong team, deputy attorney general. the team he's supposed to be on is america's team. and america was attacked.
we were attacked by the russians. we are in an information war and our job is to respond. and the people who we are asking to respond put our country first. they don't put politics first. they don't put their job first. when you read stuff like this, it's maddening because he is putting his job first. he was worried about going out on a tweet. you know who was not worried about going out by tweet? preet bhar, sally yates. and history will regard them as people who put our country first. we'll see rod rosenstein in congress and have a lot of questions for him. >> what tools do you have to bring him before congress and ask what he meant when he told the president he wasn't a subject, when we learned that an interview with the president was never pursued. when we learned from "the washington post" reporting that he told the president i can land the plane, i'm on your team. how will you get rosenstein
before you to answer these questions? >> we're not powerless anymore, nicole. we have the subpoena power. and for two years the voters went through abuses of power, where mueller and rod rosenstein and others were threatened to be fired and they had enough. i'm not going to speak for the chairman of our committee but i can expect that rod rosenstein will be subpoenaed and brought before the committee. when he says i can land the plane, again you have to ask, what plane is he talking about? is the plane his job? is the plane the president's reputation? or is the plane our democracy, one that has had its rule of law continued to be battered and continued to have these wrecking balls taken to it. we needed him to land that plane no other plane. >> does it call into question to you this reporting of a conversation that took place at the end of september, robert mueller was interviewing witnesses until throughout the end of 2018, presumably throughout the beginning of
2019. robert mueller didn't walk into main doj and present his conclusions on the conspiracy investigation or the obstruction investigation until early 2019. he made these commitments to the president in the fall of 2018. what does -- does that raise any additional concerns for you? just the timing? ? >> a lot more concerns. there should have been a wall between rosenstein and the president. one, because of the independence of the department of justice. second, because rosenstein already was in this odd possibly conflicted area because we wrote the memo to fire comey. he never should have been talking to the president at all about his status as a witness or subject or possibly a target. the final say for the american people is not going to be attorney general barr. we will hear from him next week. it's not going to be rod rosenstein. it's going to be the person who conducted the investigation, bob mueller. one question i have, because when you read the 200 pages of
the links between the russians and the trump campaign and bob mueller did not find collusion, remember he was not allowed to pursue any money laundering or any follow the money type of investigation. the question will be why wasn't he allowed to do that? was that rod rosenstein protecting the president by not allowing that to be part of the investigation. >> you're joining us from iowa, we're grateful to have you, we were going to talk about other things today and this story broke. we appreciate your flexibility. do you think about how to communicate what this picture looks like to voters in a way that's meaningful to them. i think voters are very smart. i spent more time in politics than television. it's not that they can't make sense of this. i think it's stitching this together, rolling like you're above the law, this corrupting absolutely everybody around you, how does that manifest itself in the kind of conversations you're having on the campaign trail? >> the wisdom inside washington
is people outside washington don't care at all about the russia investigation and what the president did with the russians. that's not true. people have told me in new hampshire and iowa, we do care. we recent when we hear people say we don't care about that. the way i talk to them about it, what is the cost to our country if the president draws us close to the president, if we act like the russian leader where we attack the press, and the top gets the best. and the president tells agents i'll pardon you if you break the law. and that means your hard work here in america doesn't add up to what it's supposed to add up to. but people in tough times like of this of corruption are looking for leadership. they want to know if you are in a position of power like mr. rosenstein that you will risk everything to do your job ethically and with integrity and
you would be willing to lose it if you were asked to do otherwise. what did he do to show he was willing to lose his job, as deputy attorney general or all the members of congress who tell me they're afraid of the president but want to do the right thing, are you otherwise employable? i hope you are. >> it's always great to have you. thank you for spending time with us. >> thank you, nicole. >> when we come back, the president's comments about fine people on both sides, misremembering his words after the joe biden video reignited the charlottesville controversy. 300 miles an hour,
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and in that moment, i knew the threat to this nation was unlike any i had ever seen in my lifetime. >> joe biden's candidacy blasted out of the gate with a sharp, direct, and emotional attack on one of donald trump's worst moments as president. and donald trump took the bait. today standing by the comments on the charlottesville tragedy. >> mr. president do you still think there were very fine people on both sides of charlottesville? >> i've answered that question. if you look at what i said, you will see that question was answered perfectly. i was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to robert e. lee. he was one of the great generals. i spoke to many generals here at the white house. and many people thought of the generals he was maybe their favorite general. people were there protesting the taking down of the monument of
robert e. lee. everybody knows that. >> the president's monument story from this morning does not match any of the president's story at the time. >> you had a group on one side and you side and you had a group on other and they came at each other with clubs and it was visual and a horrible thing to watch. there was a group on this side, you could call them the left, you've just called them the left, that came, violently attacking the other group. so you could say what you want but that is the way it is. >> it is on both sides. you said there was hatred and violence on both sides. >> i think there is blame on both sides. you look at -- you look at both sides, i think there is blame on both sides and i have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either. >> joining the conversation, jason johnson from the root and charlie sykes from the bulwark and the rev al sharpton and
president of the national action network and hallman and joyce are still here. rev. >> not ome has he changed his story, he made it worse. because for him to stand there and traz -- to praise a confederate general and there are generals inside who i would like to have the names of them that felt he was a great general. we're talking about a man that led an army to overthrow the united states government, the building he was pointing to, who is guilty of treason. there is no head of state that i could think of in the world that would be praising someone that led an insurrection army against their state that they are not a president of -- it is outrage -- he's made a statement today, nicolle, worse than what he said that joe biden quoted him. >> what was revealed was so abhorrent not just to us but to his staff.
jerry cohn drafted a resignation letter and we've heard from accounts how others have reported on what that moment was like. as you said not just to double down but to make his own horrific story worse today, tells you everything you need to know about the size of the nerve joe biden hit yesterday. >> well, yes. and speaking of joe biden. he successfully on day one trolled the president of the united states. who did take his bait. but there is a whole group out there in trump land that are the charlottesville hoax truthers who are trying to rewrite and pushing this line on the federalist or fox news and so the president is counting on this revisionist or orwellian history to wipe out what he said. and there is no question about and erin blake has it in "the washington post" on the bull wart that walks through what the president said and he talks about that rally on friday night where the guys were marching with the tiki torches and saying jews will not replace us and
this is what he's referring to as the peaceful demonstration with all kinds of good people. there is no way to whitewash this. >> i was there on the one year anniversary. i'm a uva alum. the amount of trauma that has been inflicted on that community, that is still there for the students, the citizens, i will even say for some of the police, it ist heather heyer died or people marching with tiki torches it is deandre harris being beaten in broad daylight and dozens of other people attacked with bats and sticks and whips by the people who came to that town. the fact that joe biden wants to start his campaign at the low point of trump's presidency is good strategy. i hope that he can take the disgust that he reminds us of and remind us why he will do things better. we know trump is a tear ishl person but we need to be reminded what could lift us back. s in not just a matter --
campaigns are about change is more of the same or turning back the clock to 2015 before trump got there, it is digging out the roots of the men and women who engaged in those kind of activities going forward and i hope that is what biden is shooting for. >> and he's appealing who what we describe is the coalition of the decent and that is revealing that joe biden is launching a kind of appealing to that fundamental bipartisan decency. >> and i think it makes poli polipolic -- it makes political sentence and if you are joe biden, you want to raise a point where age and old god and new god doesn't matter because if i could have us discuss what we are talking about, what is civil, what is something that the united states should stand for, then all of this young old and young god old god becomes a side issue and now we're dealing with the country should stand for and the values are. i thought it was not only the right thing to do, i think it was politically smart to raise that issue because it is an area
where he could play at a better level. >> there is also one kind of comforting element of this, which is that we are reminded again that donald trump is like pavlov's dog on steroids. you could get him to take the bait on anything. literally the stupidest, most im-impolitic and almost everyone in the country -- unless you are like a reader of the daily storm or a neo-nazi, pre -- pretty mu everyone republicans and democrats alike say that was pay huge mistake that trump made and it is queasy and disgusting and horrible. you could get him to say it again by just poking him a little bit. and i think -- yes, it proves again that trump will take the bait on anything but it is an important lesson for democrats to learn. i don't know that biden expected he could get trump to take the bait that quickly on something this aberrant but then get him to the bait on anything and that
is important for the democrats to know. >> are you surprised that no other democrat launched their campaign contrasting with the vision of the country from what we saw in trump. >> i am. i think they are not benefiting -- they are not joe biden. it is like i could bring us back. a lot of democrats are introducing themselves. i know who beto o'rourke is but my friends in cleveland don't and they have to explain themselves. but this is critical, the danger here even for joe biden is we can't center trump in the 2020 election because he will always win that conversation. he will always find a way to draw attention back to him. you have to have a campaign that is simplest thing in the world, it has to be vote for something and not just against somebody and that is the risk that he runs. >> but biden did set him up as me versus trump. >> making it about the country. >> and i think that elevated him to remind us what an alternative would -- would look like and it is a long campaign. >> and the country will stand
for it. and i think by the reaction of the -- of this president is ab old muhammad ali strategy, lay on the ropes and call himself and they call it rope-a-dope, i'm not calling the president a dope but i am saying -- >> so this conversation is to be continued. we have to sneak in a break. we'll be right back. one's still nervous about buying a new house. is it that obvious? yes it is. you know, maybe you'd worry less if you got geico to help with your homeowners insurance. i didn't know geico could helps with homeowners insurance. yep, they've been doing it for years. what are you doing? big steve? thanks, man. there he is. get to know geico and see how much you could save on homeowners and renters insurance.
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