Skip to main content

tv   MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi  MSNBC  April 18, 2019 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT

12:00 pm
framework, which was bob mueller saying, none of this is a pursuit of whether or not donald trump committed the crime of obstruction. not good news, not bad news. it's not the framework. when he says that, he says it is not chargeable, he doesn't just mean for mueller, tell me if you disagree, he means for anyone in the justice department. so the way that barr went out and said that it left it to him to make the decision, it seems that we are now at a point in the story where, on a minimum, obstruction, barr and mueller disagree. >> i think that is absolutely right. barr made clear in his press conference that he disagreed with some of mueller's legal theories. he didn't say what. mueller, in this report, very, i think, you know, pretty persuasively takes apart the argument that bill barr made in that 19-page mem ro he wrote before he was attorney general. it wouldn't be a crime if a president takes an act under authority for corrupt purpose. mueller's office concludes otherwise in the report. i think the way to read this report, when you take the
12:01 pm
introduction to the obstruction section, where as he says, they lay out why they're not making a determination, you have to then look at each of the ten acts they investigated. what he does, he goes through each one and lays out the elements. lays out the evidence, the analysis, and is leaving it to someone else to determine whether that constituted either a crime or an impeachment offense. it is quite obvious he was leaving that to congress. >> i absolutely agree. i mean, we know he wasn't looking at this from a prosecutorial standpoint. he giving the facts and nothing but the facts. we have to do something with those facts. they can't simply be there, just to be out in the world. the body that actually has the body to do something with those facts is congress. not saying what they should do or shouldn't do, but they are the ones that really have the power and authority to actually do something with those. mueller determined that because of the guidance, he did not have the authority to actually make a charging decision based on
12:02 pm
these, you know, ten instances of obstructive conduct. this is really left for congress. mueller was pretty explicit in the report, saying congress has the authority to consider that. i think that's where the ball passed to. >> he was so explicit that he wrote it in a manner that even mr. barr didn't find any way to redact. by putting it on page one or two in the introduction to obstruction, mueller was ensuring even if a few people tried to win a few news cycles with something less than that content, he created a legal guideline where it would be hard for mr. barr or anyone to redact page one of an introduction. what does it tell you that he did that? what does it tell you as a prosecutor that he wants congress or the public to know? >> it tells me that mueller found these to be significant acts. whether or not they rise to the level of crimes, he clearly goes
12:03 pm
through, you know, excruciating detail for all of these, like i said, the ten obstructive acts he details here. he would not have gone into so much detail had he not thought that these were important. i think he does not want all of, you know, his work product and all of the facts underlying that just to disappear. either somebody wanted to redact it or because somebody has a differing legal theory as to whether or not this reaches the level of a crime of obstruction. he clearly wanted that to be out there, and he clearly wanted, you know, all of the details that they'd uncovered to be known. i think that's why they included it, and i think he also clearly intended it to go to congress at this point. >> exactly. the panel stays with me. as part of our special coverage, we just heard from the chairman of the judiciary committee. we're keep aing an eye on other press conferences, and democratic leaders who only had a few hours to process this. adam shift expected to speak today. that is in contrast to, of
12:04 pm
course, the white house, which has "the new york times" reported and we confirmed had advanced notice, as well as the president's lawyers. that's part of the controversy with the way barr approached this. is it as the justice department or something closer to donald trump's defender? was it a goal of donald trump's, to find the enforcer, or some said a kind of fixer he could install at the justice department. as we keep an eye on all of that, i want to reset a little bit and tell you some of the facts and evidence we've learned. if you're joining us here, it is about 3:05 p.m. on the east coast. i'm ari melber leading the coverage. number one, what we learned in the report is bob mueller found a pattern of private and public evidence of donald trump's obstruction. he details it in this report. some of the quotes you've heard that are spicy, to say the least, like the president reportedly saying, according to the mueller report, this special counsel is, quote, the end of my
12:05 pm
presidency. i'm, quote, ff'd. that goes to the story mueller is telling. two. the mueller report shows attorney general bill barr was incorre incorrect. mr. barr famously released an unusual letter that we now know, that we can report for you, was false, at least in one key way. it was false in claiming that mueller had reached no con luk n conclusion on obstruction and left it up to barr. we know that is not the case. the mueller report, which america is just getting its eyes on, dramatically explodes attorney general barr's claims and reveals a very different reason. mueller viewed the rules that govern him, whether he liked them or not, as prohibiting the doj, meaning mueller, meaning barr, anyone who works at the doj, from indicting the president. thus, mueller used the report to outline evidence. the third thing we're learning, this detailed report has some good news for several prominent figures caught up in the probe. take donald trump jr., jared kushner, and ivanka trump. this report, and some people say
12:06 pm
this goes to mueller's fairness, but this report treats those individuals as people who effectively did not have the legal knowledge or criminal intent to become targets of the mueller probe. good news for them. four, the most important words we learned from team trump today, they're not his tweets. they're not the interviews his folks are giving, though we'll show those, in fairness. they're not donald trump's broader atmosphere. the quotes are from the mueller report, releasing donald trump's written answers. rather than the muscular, bold cry of no collusion, or a detailed rebuttal like the president and candidate we saw sometimes engage in all sorts of public media pbattles, this wasa very different president. a very different person we see in the mueller report. donald trump's words on everything that mattered most, they boiled down to, i don't recall. 37 times. five, this report uncorks what could be the next clash over all the unknowns.
12:07 pm
are these redactions mostly legitimate? are they suspicious? will congress accept this report in this form? we just got a preview of that from chairman nadler. most consequential for the trump presidency, will congress accept this view from mr. barr that the report tees up a decision only for mr. barr to make, and that he's made it? game over, so to speak. or will this congress, will america, look at what bob mueller has implied in this report, that whether you find this ultimately good or bad news for donald trump or his aides, anyone else mentioned, that it is traditionally congress and not donald trump's own appointee who decides what to do about it. caroline, your thoughts on any of the above? >> i think i was very pleasantly surprised to hear bill barr say that he had no issue with robert mueller testifying before congress. because i do still think that there are a lot of unanswered questions with regard specifically to this obstruction piece, to the way in which mueller went about it. you're right, the way we've been
12:08 pm
contextualizing it, with this backdrop of the olc memoranda, that the department of justice's belief is a sitting president cannot be indicted. he did not go as far as to say, were it not for that position, i would have charged obstruction of justice. he did not specifically say that. >> you know why he didn't say that? he didn't say that. he says, and i'm quoting mueller. people can disagree but what is new today is the mueller report. it's night somewhere. what is new is understanding what mueller says. he says the reason he doesn't say trump didn't commit the crime is not because he didn't find evidence or was held back. he said it'd be unfair when it is a congressional thing. i'll read for your analysis and then matt here. i'm reading from the mueller report. fairness concerns counsel against reaching a judgment that a president commits a crime when no charge can be brought. the ordinary means for an individual to respond to an o
12:09 pm
accusation is through a speedy and public trial. an individual who thinks he was wrongly accused can use that to clear his name. if crimes were committed but no charges are brought affords no opportunity for the public name clearing. >> right. >> does it concern you that the mueller report suggests that mr. barr mischaracterized that careful, fair approach, to make it look like the president was cleared? how is that good for america? >> absolutely, it concerns me. absolutely. we've had this debate before. there is absolutely, i think one of your congressmen kammentator word legal but awful conduct here. my issue is, i don't necessarily, you know, know what mechanism there is in the criminal justice system for a complete and total exoneration. that is simply not what the justice department is in the business of doing. they don't say, we hereby clear you of any wrongful conduct. they either decide to charge a crime or they don't. it is a binary decision.
12:10 pm
it is two sides of the same coin. people are using semantics to characterize it. >> who is using semantics? >> it is not a complete and total exoneration. certainly not. >> matt, the reason why i'm careful to note the good news for other people, for example, for donald trump jr., this report says clearly he didn't commit a crime. he didn't have the requisite knowledge. if you want to get into it, the dirt offered may not have been valuable enough to really charge. that's a legal analysis. that is not the language used about donald trump. do you view that as important? >> absolutely. caroline is right, the department usually doesn't say, someone didn't commit a crime. we have the evidence or not. that's what makes what the attorney general said this morning so disturbing. when the attorney general said, we now know that the conspiracy didn't happen, we you know russian collusion -- didn't use these words in this instance -- b didn't happen, when you read the report, it is not what mueller says on the conspiracy side. he said they are not charging a crime. he makes clear that, at one
12:11 pm
point, they're not able to obtain all of the evidence available because a number of people deleted records that were relevant. people used encrypted applications. it is impossible to get a full picture of what happened. of course, on the obstruction side, i think the attorney general's remarks, all along, from his letter three weeks ago to his comments today, all along, they've been to give the president this figure leaf of exoneration. in fact, the special counsel, after conducting a careful investigation, lays out a very damning account of the president's actions. i think not only a damning account but a count that he intended to be transmitted to congress for congress's adjudication. >> that seems to be the key here, of where was the report supposed to go, and what is the purpose? the panel in new york stays with me. i want to bring back berit for one more point. i had the opportunity to speak today with the president's lawyer as part of our coverage, jay sekulow. he revealed here, and he's
12:12 pm
mentioned this today, that he also got an early copy of the report before congress. for your analysis and what this says, again, about the doj's approach, and whether, in your view, it is different or not, take a look at that exchange which broke here on msnbc. >> the white house would have received it, and i don't know the details of how they received it, within the inter-departmentmeinter-depart t inter-departmental. it is all the executive. that's how they would have received it. >> suppose i'm looking for a date when you and they received it. >> i don't know when they received it. we put in a request, i believe it was thursday of last week, that since our client was the subject of the report, that we should be given an opportunity to review it. not to edit it, not to change it or redact it, to review it. as bill barr said, undpractices under the government of office ethics act, we were able to review it tuesday late afternoon and wednesday morning. >> berit, how traditional is
12:13 pm
that, and in your view, is it wise and appropriate to be giving some people who are subjects of the probe that report earlier than congress? >> yeah, i think this is just one more data point in sort of the questionable rollout of this report all together. i mean, from barr's four-page summary to this press conference to letting the president's legal team have a look at this first, nothing in this rollout process has given the american people any confidence in the integrity of this process, at all. i think, you know, when we hear the disconnect between a lot of the things barr said during the press conference this morning and what we actually read in the report itself, to hearing the white house legal team got this sort of advanced notice, i think people are very right to have questions about this whole process and to really wonder, you know, what is the integrity of this process, and was this done above board? >> yeah, above board. that really goes to something
12:14 pm
that is especially important, if what mueller was doing, as some experts told us, was explicitly trying to get this to congress because of the rules. then you see this, as you put it, somewhat selective timed disclosures. we're going to come back to you, berit, later in our special coverage. thank you for being here. i want to turn now to my colleague and host of "hardball," chris matthews. good to see you. >> how are you doing? i'm learning from you as we go. i want to add a couple points. >> sure. >> i think there's still questions here. it's almost like, how did we -- it is hard to keep in mind exactly what we went through that sunday afternoon, when barr gave his first four pager. his quickie synopsis of the whole thing. it was disorienting, distra distracting, and dishonest. he seemed to put out the word they didn't go by that attorney general guideline, that you don't indict a president. seemed that wasn't the reason he didn't indict. in fact, we get the full report today, the actual report from mueller, and it makes a couple points. one, i'm not going to indict because i'm following the
12:15 pm
guidelines. two, therefore, i'm not going to accuse, following what is, if you're not indict, don't accuse, which is what comey did to hillary, in a way that probably hurt her campaign in 2016. i think that's what -- we could have used this information amazingly well if we'd gotten it 48 hours after the mueller report was done. we didn't get it. what we got was a lie, basically. we got the lie, that he didn't make a judgment on obstruction, which he did. he deferred it because he thought congress should make the decision. and he wanted to follow the guidelines. >> again, to your point -- >> don't accuse if you're not going to indict. >> chris, to your point, isn't that where this turns, from being partly a legal story to being a classic power story? barr is a washington player. he knows what he is doing. he tried to insert himself as the arbiter of this early and then say to everyone, now, you're late and sour grapes.
12:16 pm
how can you be late when you just got the report? this turns to something that depends on what pelosi and nadler want to do, which i'm curious of your insights. chairman nadler, we heard from him before pelosi or schumer, discussing the attorney general. take a look. >> attorney general barr appears to have shown an unsettling willingness to undermine his own department in order to protect president trump. that is why i have formally requested that special counsel mueller testify before the house judiciary committee as soon as possible, so we can get some answers to these critical questions. because we clearly can't believe what attorney general barr tells us. >> what do you see next in the clash between these two? >> just to take it back a couple steps. first of all, if you listen to what barr said today in a dishonest fashion, saying, attempts by the russians,
12:17 pm
efforts by the russians, as if they didn't do it. he doesn't want toed eadmit the did interfere in the election because that would jeopardize his job. part of trump's religion is they had no fact on the election. it is important to him, nobody believes the russians had anything to do with him wenniin. by the way, mueller points it out in the report, he doesn't want anyone to think that, because it'd put a barry bonds asterisk next to his name in the history books. >> putin's steroids? >> exactly. i didn't know that phrase. let's go back to this, suppose barr said what he said this morning, four weeks ago. suppose he said, me and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein disagree with the judgment of obstruction of judgment on the mueller report. disagreed about the cases mentioned. disagreed about what the theory of the law is. the whole thing, the whole sha ba shabang. that would have been the reigning headline for the last
12:18 pm
four weeks. barr disagrees with mueller report. what they did is -- it is called rolling disclosure. bring it out for a soft landing effort today. bring it out in the morning. as your reporting has been chris c crystal clear, they disagree. >> bingo. >> it is interesting. >> what you're saying is where the legal story line connects with the pictures on television screens across america today. meaning, not everyone we know is going to read the whole darn thing. >> right. >> when you look on your screen and you see barr talking and nobody else, he name checks rosenstein, but he's talking, nobody else. bob mueller is not in the room. that's the picture for america. now, that doesn't mean there was some american side of the russian conspiracy. we've been reporting since day one, when mueller finished, there weren't indictments on that. doesn't that raise the question even further? what the heck are they hiding? why do you need to out-muscle
12:19 pm
nadler, the democrats, or the rest of it? if half of this report, you could argue, on the criminal level -- there's a lot of bad stuff below the reasonable doubt standard -- but criminal level, it was not an election charge conspiracy. yet, you're still out here playing games, trying to basically hide the fact that you out-muscled nadler and mueller. i'll gi yve you a piece of evidence for analysis of the answer. when you read what went down in this report, it makes the white house look not only incompetent, but at times, under donald trump, scary. here's don mcgahn's testimony in the mueller report, out today. mcgahn spoke with the president and under the directives, the orders, the same way both times, to fire mueller. he knew it was unlikely he misheard or misinterpreted the president's request. in response, mcgahn decided to quit. he didn't want to for tis pate participate in what he said was
12:20 pm
like the nixon issue. he gets his resignation letter ready and tells reince priebus the president asked him to do crazy expletive, and informed bannon he was leaving. what picture does that paint of this white house? >> how many guys have been stopped by police officers for speeding or a bad license plate or a bad taillight, and they go, oh, i'm stopped. they'll know i have dope in the car. there's weed in the glove compartment. oh, my god. they may be looking for guns. you don't know what they're looking for, but you damn well know what you have in the glove compartment. donald trump has a lot of stuff in the glove compartment. he doesn't want to get stopped. it is in the report, actually. there were all kinds of reasons for obstructing justice. not just that he didn't collude, or claims he didn't collude, but all the stuff in his business life. everything. >> doesn't that go -- chris, that goes to intent. first of all, you're talking about what officers do when they
12:21 pm
step up to the car. i mean, there's a famous legal expert who talked about, well, my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk in the back. you know my rights. you'll need a warrant. i'm talking about sean carter. but at the end of this obstruction section, he said, at times, donald trump was committing acts that were analyzed as evidence of obstruction. i'm being carefu fucareful. not the crime, but evidence of obstruction. he wanted to lie to investigators about other matters that were embarrassing or incriminating. the theory you put forward. mueller says here, that's not okay. you don't get to lie to the feds, not to hide one crime but hide something else. >> well, the difficulty you and i are facing, and i think history will face, is mr. mueller, a superb public servant, has thrown up the ball like in a basketball game, thrown the ball in the air to both sides. barr's grabbed the ball.
12:22 pm
now, it's up to nadler. you asked that question. jerry nadler is a fine fellow. this is the greatest challenge of his life. i watched this happen back in the nixon impeachment effort. he's taking on a responsibility that is enormous. nancy pelosi, a superb leader of his caucus, probably cautioning with a yellow flag, take it easy. >> let's get into this. this is a building -- chris, this is a building you worked in and you studied for your career. >> right. >> i see a couple lines here. there's the subpoena the rest of the report line. there is a subpoena mueller line, that pelosi backed up nadler on this morning. then there are these other mechani mechanisms, these secondary cases. there is a foia case about getting the report. what do you think, as a student of congress, is the most important step? we have the report and we'll tell people what's in it. as a student of congress, what is the next step for democrats? >> what i've come to realize, if you don't begin an impeachment process properly, if you don't commence that effort, you're not going to have the real power of
12:23 pm
a subpoena. you're the lawyer. but i've never seen such elasticity in the discussion about subpoenas, whether they can challenge them, resist them. i didn't realize this was in their tool kit, that the executive can decide whether they're going to wait. i remember how quickly the congress got their tapes back in '74 on nixon. he was gone by august, august 9th, as all remember. i don't know what the problem is, but i know the politics. the great cover for the democrats so far for two years is they're pursuing the truth. they're pursuing justice and accountability. limited government, which conservative republicans always believed in, before trump, limited government. they've been tloputting these l ideals above politics. now, they say, we have a case for impeachment, but we can't get republicans to go along with it, and therefore, it'll look like a partisan exercise so, therefore, we're not going to do it. that is scary.
12:24 pm
their standard was justice and truth. now, it's, what's going to be good for 2020? it's not going to look too good if they make that decision. i think after they have the hearing, if they get some unredacted look, perhaps the chairman of the major committees will get an unredacted look at the full report. i'm not sure it'll tell them much more. then you'll get mueller up there. he'll probably say no more than what he said in his report. once again, they're with a hot potat potato. what will jerry nadler do? get on the phone or in a meeting with the speaker. they'll decide, probably the speaker deciding, and it is a hot one, do they proceed or not? you're probably looking at, what, june, they have to make a call. after all the hearings and blah, blah, blah. >> right. >> congress has got to decide if they think impeachment is the right thing to do, and then think about the politics. if they think of the politics first, they're probably not going to do it. trump is going to walk. >> well -- >> that's the way it is going to be. >> you put it starkly. the question is not only the
12:25 pm
politics, though we're not naive, politics are the game in washington, but also the precedent. if this much conduct, if much evidence of obstruction can be outlined, telling people they are rats, telling people not to cooperate, telling people they've got to be loyal to the person in the white house and not the institution, and telling the don mcgahns of the world, who according to mueller did everything they could to save trump from trump, telling them, maybe you did a good job, but there's no real accountability because barr looks way more in the trump model of calling people rats and taking it my way or the highway than what mcgahn did. what is the precedent for america on that, i think, is a big question we'll be exploring in the days to come. i have to get one more thing from you. >> the last -- >> i'm going to read to you because we're in the evidence here, then we go to adam schiff. we're waiting on his presser. when we talk about all these
12:26 pm
stories, they're all human beings. donald trump, for all the controversy, is a human being. he made some very big human mistakes. one of them is detailed in the raw, unvarnished truth that mueller found in this report. i want to read it as our last question. according to notes written by a key aide, when jeff sessions told the president mueller had been appointed, the president slumped back in his chair and said, oh, my god. this is terrible. this is the end of my presidency. i'm f'd. the president became angry, blasting the attorney general for his decision to recuse from the investigation. stating, because it is always somebody else's fault, chris, how could you let this happen, jeff? what do you think of this? you could call it reporting, but it is backed up by a lot more than two sources. this story, what does it tell us about trump? why is it in the mueller report? >> well, you have to ask what it was like when he had his meeting with bill barr.
12:27 pm
was it like his meeting, as we've heard it described by comey, as a question of loyalty? do you have to swear loyalty almost on your knees to get the job or keep the job? is that what barr had to do? he's acted that way. that's what i think the message is. trump had a reason to be scared because he knows what he's done in his life. it is a complicated life. his tax returns are complicated. he is right not to turn them over to the brookings institution or the american enterprise. any institution is going to find a different interpretation of the law, and he's going to look like a crook by somebody else's interpretation. fair enough. i understand that part. all the bills he hasn't paid, all the enemies we has in new york, all the deals he's made with labor, getting construction going, cost a little extra money to get construction going on in new york, all the stuff you have to do to be a businessman in new york, he knows about all of that. i want to underline what you said. i was thinking when nixon went down. it was my wife's birthday. i remember all about it. later on, i found out it was her birthday, when we got together.
12:28 pm
the big message of watergate is not whether you hate nixon. i never hated nixon. it was about the fact that if he got away with it, all those guys, all those guys, the break-in guys, the cover-up artists, all that stuff, if they had gotten away with that, what would have been the next step they would have tried? where would that have taken us? what a lesson for future presidents. you hit it on the nail. you can't let people get away with it because the next people will be worse. >> that is such an important and, for many people, i think, chilling warning. you mention the watergate precedence. for those who are trying to evaluate whether mr. barr or mr. mueller has more credibility here, in watergate, it was not cox who issued an indictment on obstruction. they went to the judge, wrote up the facts, and congress dealt with it. if we're interested in what you said in the precedent, that can be a factual guide. chris matthews, great to have
12:29 pm
you. thanks for making time on a busy day on coverage. see you later tonight. >> thank you so much, ari. >> yes, sir. i'm joined by another colleague, who i think is making air for the first time today, prepping for his show, but called in with all the news, chris hayes, host of "all in" on msnbc. welcome to the coverage. chris, what do you see today? >> you know, i'm picking off of what chris just said. you know, i'm struck by -- when you go back to nixon, nixon probably wouldn't have been impeached or forced out if they didn't find the tapes. there was a lot of justice staring people in the face that was incriminating from the moment those men were arrested in watergate in the record. the most incriminating thing was nix p taon talking about it ora. he taped himself, and the tapes came out. one of the things in this mueller report is something mueller draws to things not in the report. messages that were deleted.
12:30 pm
messages that were messaging services. the president essentially never writing anything down. the president barking at his white house counsel for taking notes. that's how allergic he is to writing things down. what we have is the most complete picture that federal investigators were able to come up with, with their resources, which i think is a damning picture of the president and his associates' behavior. also, indications at every turn throughout the report that they were successful in covering some things up and keeping some things hidden from view. that kind of haunts the reaction to the entire thing for me. >> when you lay that out, we are talking about an individual in donald trump who is, as you say, chris, one of his core skill sets is his skill or obsession with media and presentation. someone who tweets, sometimes to his own risk, but tweets, but also has never knowingly, that we know of, operated an email
12:31 pm
account. >> yup. >> how do you think, at the level of evidence, that matters in whether congress looks at the intent of some of these actions? >> well, that's a great question. i mean, congress, i think, is ultimately going to make a political calculation. that's been clear from, you know, the entire time. from a sort ofperspective, just from anperspective, at a certain point, you have to acc acc assume a level of idiocy or naivety among so many of these associates, confederates, and the president himself, that really begs belief for them not to understand what was happening in front of their faces. that's also part of this. i mean, from the perspective of the russian operation, that is a professionalized intelligence service with dozens, if not hundreds, of people working on this operation, all of whom are attempting to create cutouts and plausible deniability throughout the entire chain of action. on the campaign side, it is directed by a man who operates
12:32 pm
much like a mob boss. that is not my phrase. that's what james comey said. it is basically what michael cohen described. it is what is displayed in his barking at his lawyer not to take notes. you have these enterprises that are extremely focused on essentially never creating the necessary connection to link the two operations, which are happening independently and in parallel towards the exact same goal, to elect donald trump president. >> before i let you go, i have one more question about the bill barr of it all. because people who aren't following this every day, like you might be on your newscast, but who look up today and say, oh, the mueller report is out, what is going on? might be really struck by the fact that a large part of the evidence that mueller has documented against donald trump involves his efforts to bend people, including the fbi director and the attorney general, towards his way.
12:33 pm
in the beginning, he deals with people that don't bend as much as he wants. >> yup. >> people like the fbi director and the deputy director, who were both fired in precedent setting events. people like the attorney general, who was berated and then ousted. people can debate whether they call it a firing or not. then the resolution of these open issues in the justice department, maybe not the congress but the justice department, is by a man, mr. barr, who does seen, and this could be the theme of the whole day, the week, or more, who does seem to bend exactly the way the president's initial acts, which are under investigation, demanded. to add evidence to that, for your analysis, because this has been the theme of the day, given it is a long report, something i haven't read in this hour with i want folks to bear with me on because it is important. if you're joining us, 3:30 on the east coast. reading from the mueller report. chris hayes on the phone with us. two days after donald trump made what his own lawyer believed to be an illegal order, two days after directing that person, don
12:34 pm
mcgahn, to have mueller removed, the president makes another attempt to affect the course of the mueller investigation. in june 2017, he meets with someone not in government, corey lewandowski, a loyalist, and dictates a message for lewandowski to deliver to sessions. lewandowski denied aspects of this. i'll note that in fairness and tell you what mueller found. sessions should, quote, announce the investigation was unfair to the president. the president had done nothing wrong. sessions planned to meet with mueller to let him move forward in a different way. lewandowski said he understood what the president wanted. when you look at that evidence, and that's one of several examples, and the fact that barr looks far more loyal, what is your bottom line takeaway, for folks who don't follow this every day? >> i think the bottom line is you cannot extend good faith or charitable interpretations to the actions of bill barr. there was an open question, i
12:35 pm
think, as he has gone on, colored by the incremental developments of his contact, about whether he was working fundamentally as a kind of lead blocker and flak for the president of the united states, whether he was the cohen the president mussed about wishing he had, rather than a jeff sessions, who recused himself. it is impossible to extend him charitable thoughts of his acting for good faith. i think the bottom line way you have to view the actions of the attorney general is with profound skepticism about whether his motives and loyalties lie with the department of justice and the constitution or with the president of the united states. >> chris hayes, who jumped on the phone while also prepping for his show, which should be interesting tonight, thank you. thank you, sir, for joining us. >> thanks, ari. >> "all in," 8:00 p.m. eastern, right after "hardball" and "the beat." i want to turn to a reset.
12:36 pm
we have new experts joining us. caroline is still with us. she's represented a witness defended in this probe. former u.s. attorney joins me, along with a former fbi official, clint watts. what i want to do is talk to you a little bit about one of the key things mr. barr did disclose today in this unusual press conference before anyone got the report. which is, he began to trickle out other things that may not make him look as good. he admitted there were, basically, disagreements with mueller, then he said there is this obstruction stuff, which turns out there's a lot more detail than his early letters at all acknowledged. here was that section of the unusual press conference this morning. >> the report recounts ten episodes involving the presid t president, his potential legal theories for connecting the activities to the elements of an obstruction offense. after carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories
12:37 pm
outlined in the report, and in consultation with the office of legal counsel, and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and i concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. >> barbara, i'm curious your only s analysis of what mr. barr was trying to do there. he certainly knows the report is coming out. he knows the action is not going to be uniformly positive on his record. another network the president seems to prefer featured anchors reacting to the press conference by saying, that looked way more like a criminal defense attorney's presentation than a non-partisan attorney general. they noted it was inappropriate. that's one example. what do you note for what he is doing there, and for viewers to fact check it, what is he doing and what is he doing wrong, perhaps? >> well, if you read the report, what robert mueller says isn't that he couldn't reach a
12:38 pm
conclusion. what he seems to be doing is, instead, deferring to congress to make the decision. because he concludes that a sitting president cannot be indicted. if that's the case, it would be unfair to even put that allegation out there, because president trump can't defend himself if he is not in the traditional adversarial setting. >> let's reverse that, just to keep it really, really clear. barr is the boss. mueller is the special counsel. mueller's view of the rules are, you can't charge a sitting president. that's what the rules say. i'm reading from page 2 of this section. fairness counsel is you have to be careful when, quote, no charges can be brought. if the roles were reversed, and mueller were the attorney general, as a thought experiment, would he come to the same conclusion? in other words, is the point that these are the rules, not which role you have? >> yeah. in fact, i think if robert mueller thought he could reach a conclusion, it appears to me, his conclusion may very well have been to charge obstruction of justice.
12:39 pm
he sets out these ten episodes, and the only thing preventing him from recommending charges are the fact that he believes he cannot incite a sitting president. >> you put it so sis sinuccincs you sometimes do. you're saying, the reason there is so much specific obstruction evidence against the president, combined with an explanation that you never charge a president, is bob mueller's way of saying, here's all the obstruction. everyone knows i can't charge the president. obviously, in your view, this is the case for obstruction. >> yeah. he said it is important to set it all out, to memorialize the record while we have it. it appears to me that this is a road map for congress to decide to do what they believe is appropriate, which could include impeachment. i think he didn't want to utter the words and prejudge the outcome. >> clint, would you go that far? >> yes. i'd add to that he basically says in that appendix c, i wanted to do an interview, but i didn't think i could outlast the judicial process long enough in
12:40 pm
this investigation to get an interview with the president. meaning, there are still open things involved in the investigation. i couldn't pursue it to its end. specifically, they talk about, we ask for written response to the questions, and many of the responses were "i don't know" or "i don't recall." you can't arrive at the end of the investigation. he didn't think he could pursue it the same way he might anybody else that's involved in the investigation. everyone else that came to the grand jury had to sit down, answer the questions the mueller team put to them. in this case, the president did not. then it points to, okay, who can do that? can the congress do that? this is really like -- i see it as he's trying to advance it in terms of charges and also, i cannot pursue this any further. >> since we're deep into the coverage, i'm going to ask you a question we haven't asked yet. how much of this is about mr. barr? if mueller had finished slightly earlier, do you think rod rosenstein would have reached
12:41 pm
this far, or would it have been more like when the mueller report comes out, it comes out? >> i think when the mueller report comes out, it comes out. they played a very successful doj chess game, essentially, from the trump team's perspective, from sessions to whittaker to barr. they delayed this down the road. i feel the special counsel got put into a position where it was, i can try to push this, and it becomes a three or four year debate, which goes to the supreme court maybe, about what is the special counsel allowed to do, or do i close this out and use the process, which i think was meant to be impeachment process, push it to congress as an institution and say, they can make a decision. if they want, they could potentially call the president to actually testify. or they could bring some sort of questions to him. seems so me it was all short circuited. >> many things about this today that are complicated and may be frustrating some people. one of the things that is very clear, and that may be useful,
12:42 pm
is the corroboration and fact checking we can do now that we have the report. we se the executive summaries. what does that tell you about whether or not those "new york times" articles said? does this go in that direction or not? >> i think it is very misleading in the fact that you can read those -- they could have produced the executive summaries right away, just a few weeks ago, and we'd have known essentially what we know today. we would have had the summaries and could have dodged this two or three weeks of did barr filter this report out? i find that very disappointing. it is why we have this. i am very interested about this tension, you know, between barr, rosenstein, the mueller team, and the senior people that brought this, about have we really gotten to the bottom of what's going on? in terms of obstruction, the danger to president trump has been, from the start of it, and i'm sure this is what his
12:43 pm
reaction was that we talked about with the f-bomb that was dropped in the report, which is, he's always been vulnerabledisc the course of the investigation. that's the number one danger to him. the second part is the on str k obstruction. >> i'll broaden it to the panel, including caroline, who dealt with someone like mr. papadopoulos, who look less vital, like they got caught up in something much larger than themselves. there isn't a charge conspiracy. we're careful to point out parts of this go different ways. i'd argue the papadopouloss, the carter pages, the don juniors of the world fair well here. >> thank you. >> but -- i don't say it as a thing you need to thank me more. it is a fact, based on what we're learning. but you still have what clint referred to, which is the mystery. there is language here on a broader level, not clients of yours i mentioned or the one, but mueller says multiple officials lied to us about
12:44 pm
russia and lied in a way that materially impacted the effort, the investigation, and that brings us back to why so many lies, if there was no conspiracy? clint's theory, which mueller eludes to, is donald trump had all sorts of things to hide. >> yeah. i mean, in my line of business, you come to understand very quickly that a lot of people lie a lot of the time for a lot of different reasons. so, you know, the talking point that, why would you lie if there wasn't any criminal conspiracy has always rung flat to me. there is, again, awful but lawful activity described in this report that people would be, you know, embarrassed by. the question now, this investigation has pivoted entirely from a question of a legal analysis to a completely political analysis, in that, there will be no further criminal indictments here. there will be no criminal indictments. you can argue about the law on the obstruction issue. the fact is, from this point
12:45 pm
forward, there will be no indictment for obstruction of justice. so now, it is going to be a political question. >> i don't disagree with the core of what you're saying. to put it differently, there will be no conspiracy indictment based off what mueller found. they handed off probes that are in various condition. craig was indicted after this closed from mueller. to your point, not the conspiracy. your view of the idea, that mueller was probing what he viewed as elements of obstruction without the underlying conspiracy. >> yeah. number one, you can certainly charge obstruction even if the underlying conspiracy doesn't come to fruition. let's not overstate what his conclusion is to no conspiracy. he couldn't find the legal elements, that there was an agreement, a meeting of the minds that was formed. there certainly was a lot of help offered and given from russia, and a lot of help dpladdplad gladly accepted from the trump campaign. i think people knew that and knew it could be problematic and
12:46 pm
might amount to a crime of obstruction or conspiracy, which caused them to lie about it. the mere fact that he ultimately concludes he has not established the essential elements of a crime of conspiracy really is irrelevant to the question of obstruction. if you're trying to keep people from discovering the truth, when there is an official proceeding, it is enough to amount to obstruction. >> that goes back to what mueller implies repeatedly, which is, if anyone else did this, they'd be busted and probably be in jail. it is different when it is the president. i want to tell the audience a few things. we'll have new guests joining us. also, any minute, congressman adam schiff, chair of the house intelligence committee, will take the mic for his first on-camera response to the mueller report. we're prepared to take that live, to get insights on what congress will do, now that a redacted version of the report is public. we'll bring that live when it happens. i also want to tell you, as we've been doing throughout the
12:47 pm
korn coverage, there is so much in here, wayne want to tell you a . it's 448 pages here. the report shows the president sent multiple public and private messages, for example, to his convicted former national security adviser, michael flynn, a cooperating witness with mueller, urging him to, quote, stay strong. there were the interactions with don mcgadc -- mcgahn, saying, y have to fire rosenstein. also, mueller has to go. what is important, mcgahn basically saved trump from trump. denying those orders from a president, no easy matter, and saying then he'd rather resign than take the action that he warned could lead to a saturday night massacre. the special counsel also describes, quote, public attacks on the investigation by president and non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. consider that the rat section. all of this leaves the door open
12:48 pm
for what our experts have said, which you can't report without noting the implicit rebuke here to what mr. barr has claimed, not that mueller couldn't make up his mind, but rather, this is all about congress moving toward making action. some of the most candid language the president of the united states quoted when he heard bob mueller was appointed and irreversible, quote, this is the end of my presidency. i'm f'd. adding to our panel of experts is frank, former fbi director, assistant director at msnbc and national security contributor. we'll start with you and add more experts as we go. what does it tell you, that mueller wanted to reveal with evidence this story of the way that donald trump appeared to obstruct aspects of the probe in public and in private? >> it tells me what i really was hoping we would not hear today. i was hoping we would not hear today that the president might
12:49 pm
indeed be a criminal. we did hear that today, the president might indeed be a criminal, but we couldn't act on it. the mueller report lays out obstruction case after obstruction case, elements of obstruction. we get the mindset of the president. we get the president telling his personal attorney. the personal attorney telling manafort, we'll take care of you. we see evidence after evidence of obstruction. look, the story today, as you've touched on, is not just about what we've learned about our president but what we've learned about our attorney general. i make the analogy, if you go to a sporting event and all you can talk about afterward is the officiating, the umpire, the referee, there is a problem. they screwed up. today, what are we talking about? we're talking about our attorney general and the role he's played in shaping this thing. >> right. >> and how it's spun.
12:50 pm
>> when you look at that -- >> that is a problem moving forward. >> if you're going to use sports analogies for attempted obstruction, there is the idea that you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. well, the problem here, according to the mueller report. the problem according to the mueller report is donald trump took a lot of shots at obstruction. i want to read more on that point it goes to where we're going as a country. i understand there are people who will look up and say this is it, we'll see what the congress does, what else is there to say. that's a short-term view, the long-term view is what are americans supposed to take from this. and what are the next generation, if i be so bold, of public servants supposed to take to this when it comes to consequence and accountability, especially when we heard on the campaign trail something about law and order. i want to read to you the notion that donald trump was trying to do bad things, according to the mueller report, and some of the people around him were
12:51 pm
preventing him. so he was taking the shots but people stopped him. he writes the president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful. sounds like a positive thing. here comes the negative for trump, quote, but that's largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or carry out his unlawful requests. comey did not end the investigation of flynn which resulted in flynn's prosecution and conviction. mcgahn did not tell the acting attorney general that robert mueller should be removed but was prepared to resigned. and mcgahn refused to recede from his recollections, that's a lawyer way of saying, wouldn't go along with lying to the probe, about the events in the president's direction to have mueller fired. consistent with that, mueller writes the elements we obtained
12:52 pm
would not support obstruction charges against the president's aides beyond those already filed. what does this section mean to you as an fbi person? >> i think it's clear. look, if you're thinking about robbing a bank and you have the plans and you issue the orders and yet it doesn't happen, you can still be guilty of conspiracy to commit a bank robbery. so what we're hearing from mueller is look, everybody around the president saved him from actually getting this done, but the intent was to obstruct. and then the second thing, ari, is even if you abide that argument that the crime didn't occur, the american people need to ask themselves, is this the conduct we accept of our president, is this acceptable behavior? >> isn't this the core point here? you're describing the analogy of a bank robbery, with clear orders and people not carrying it out. we're not talking about a random person. we're talking about the one
12:53 pm
person in the federal government who overseas a constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. is this type of conduct, in your view, more concerning if it's the president doing it rather than less concerning? >> well, i read the report and come away with one conclusion, which is this is conduct unacceptable of the highest office in the land. the question is, congress needs to wrestle with this now and the american people need to say where do we go from here with this conduct. it's unacceptable. and in my opinion, the clear take away from this report is that mueller felt constrained. we even see it in appendix c where he says, look, i was worried about delay and how long a battle all the way to the supreme court might take if i subpoenaed this president, if i demanded an in-person issue. these were issues that entered
12:54 pm
his mind so he was constrained in terms of following up on criminal -- >> that goes to the way he follows the rules rather than defies them. which is an issue throughout all of this. stay with me, i want to add another guest we haven't gotten to yet this hour. mimi rocah is a u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, a msnbc legal analysis. what to you is most important in this obstruction part of the discussion we've been having? >> so, ari, what's most important to me is the gap that you guys have been talking about between how barr portrayed mueller's conclusions, findings on obstruction and what they actually are now that we are seeing them. although, i know we're all still digesting it. it seems very clear to me that as many of us thought, and was discussed on your show and other shows on this new york, that mueller intended for this to go to congress.
12:55 pm
that seems even more clear now. and it seems even more clear that he thinks there was evidence of obstruction and that there was evidence of this corrupt intent. and, in fact, when he explains why he didn't go on to seek the interview which he knew would lead to a lengthy court battle, he essentially says, we already had evidence through other means, which is commonly how prosecutors obtain evidence of intent. i think he was essentially saying, it seems to me, i already had enough evidence that he had obstructive intent, i didn't need to get that through an interview. and barr just completely -- not just ignored but really misrepresented this. and made it sound like mueller couldn't come to a decision, as opposed to the decision mueller did make, which is because of the olc opinion, this should go to congress. i think there's evidence of obstruckive intent, it's complicated but it's there and we need to decide as american
12:56 pm
people whether to go forward on impeachment. >> stay with me, mimi. my thanks to frank who i know is moving on to deal with some other work today. thank you, frank. before we turn to "deadline: white house" and our continuing coverage. i want to go around the horn one more time. for folks joining us 3:56 on the east coast, the mueller report is out, it does not say what mr. barr said it said, which is significant. it details extensive evidence against the president. in a couple sentences, three max, what should people take from what is in the mueller report? starting with mimi. what did the mueller report tell you in its most important bottom line? >> well, i think we'll learn more every day, but right now the most important bottom line i think is that president trump did attempt to obstruct justice. he was unsuccessful in some ways because certain people didn't
12:57 pm
carry out those orders but he was successful in other ways and the report says it cannot conclude that some of the lies and efforts that were undertaken did not impact some of the ultimate conclusions of this report. >> i still have a lot of unanswered questions. i think that's why it's going to be so important to hear from mueller himself. and i'm very, very happy that bill barr stated he has no issue with mueller testifying to congress about this issue of the jump ball and the obstruction. >> we should not be distracted by the thought that robert mueller did not establish that crimes were committed here. so often when i was a prosecutor we would look at horrific conduct that did not meet the technical elements of an offense. there's a lot of conduct here that's deserving of further scrutiny by congress to decide whether this person is fit to serve as president of the united states. >> russia ran a full-scale influence campaign that touch,
12:58 pm
tainted, and nudged every key member of the trump team. and now we see so many were pushed to do something in terms of instruction or did not do it out of their choice. we should ask which is more dangerous, the president asked somebody to do something and they did not do it in pursuit of obstruction or they're not taking the president's orders at times. >> all very well put and worth consideration. my thanks to clint, barbara, caroline and mimi as part of our special coverage. you have been watching live special coverage here on msnbc. the attorney general of the united states came out to a podium and did what he had promised he wouldn't do in writing to congress on march 29th. he began to summarize piecemeal the mueller report. he also revealed in his presentation in the own way that there is now a disagreement in
12:59 pm
the public on record, between the attorney general and robert mueller. the good news is the attorney general is in charge, the bad news is he may not have the last word. there's already a public request on the table for bob mueller to testify, to give further insight into what are these disagreements as well as what he was thinking when mr. barr took 22 months of investigation and rushed out a conclusion over that weekend. what was mr. mueller and his team thinking when mr. barr said there were rules that had to be followed. and what is the congress going to do about the fact that we've learned and reported out over the past few days that this process, which is supposed to be independent oversight of the executive branch involved them getting an early look at this, the white house counsel and the president's lawyers, all before congress and you. these are all big questions that go to the heart of this. the good news for the president there's no chargeable conspiracy
1:00 pm
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. st


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on