tv Deadline White House MSNBC May 1, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. we're still covering the breaking news on capitol hill today. some of us still picking our jaws up off the floor from what we have witnessed. let me reset the day's dramatic events for anyone joining the coverage. attorney general william barr was on capitol hill all day testifying before the republican led senate judiciary committee on the mueller report. that testimony commenced this morning. just hours after explosive reporting broke in "the washington post" and the "new york times" about a rift between special counsel robert mueller and attorney general barr over mueller's concerns that the attorney general had mischaracterized the special counsel's findings. that rift revealed in two never before reported letters written by bob mueller to william barr.
the second of those letters sent by mueller reads in part, quote, the summary letter the department sent to congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of march 24th did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions. we communicated that concern to the department on the morning of march 25th. there is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. this threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. mueller also asked for barr to immediately release more of the report executive summaries the special counsel team's had prepared for public release. barr declined to do so. today barr had to answer to
accusations he worked to skew the narrative in trump's favor by announcing a decision on obstruction weeks before he released the full body of evidence which turned out to be more damning than bar suggested. this exchange with senator chris coons, under scores the conflict. >> i made it clear in the march 24th letter that bob mueller didn't make a decision, but that he felt he could not exonerate the president. >> that's right. >> i wasn't hiding from the public interest standpoint, i felt there should be one thing issued, it should be the complete report. as complete as it could be. >> you somehow concluded the president didn't obstruct justice and you announced you cleared the president 25 days before the public could read the mueller report for themselves. i think it's no wonder special counsel mueller thought your four-page letter created public confusion about critical aspects of the results of the investigation and that threatened to undermine the
central purpose for which he was appointed. >> remarkably when pressed by richard blumenthal, barr saying he did not exonerate the president. >> you, in fact, exonerated or cleared the president -- >> no, i didn't exonerate. i said that we did not believe that there was sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction offense, which is the job of the justice department. and the job of the justice department is now over. that determines whether or not there's a crime. the report is now in the hands of the american people. everyone can decide for themselves. there's an election in 18 months. that's very democratic process, but we're out of it. we have to stop using the criminal justice process as a political weapon. let's jump in with our favorite reporters and friends with us at the table, matthew miller, john hileman, joyce
vance and chuck rosenberg, and mike schmidt washington correspondent for the "new york times" and reporter for "the washington post" matt zapakowski joins us. matt, i have not heard from you all day long, i want to start where that earned. it's like everything is opposite. what was that today? >> i'm surrounded by great legal analysts. people of great probative and analytic -- >> and i started with you. >> -- and judgment. i will say i watched a lot of today and throughout the day i kept thinking about bob carey who said bill clinton was an unusually good lawyer. bill barr is a bad liar. he lied a lot today. i think lie is the only right word. there's been all over the place instances of testimony that he
previously had given to chris van hollan, that seems to be blown out of the water by this exi existence of these letters by bob mueller. he was asked if bob mueller supported his characterization of the report. and now we know he didn't. when chris previously said, did you know what the press reports were about that said that some of mueller's people were upset about his characterization of the report. he said i don't know what that's referencing, how much more glaring can the inconsistency be? and today over and over again, he said alice in wonderfulland up is down, down is up things he said. on the time line, i don't believe they stand up today, and will be exposed to be flagrant lies over the course of the next few weeks. >> just on the time line what he
said to charlie krist, he had no knowledge of mueller being upset was something he said after he received a letter that he today described as snitty. >> yes. >> but we also know he lies with ease to congress. >> i know you were discussing the last 15 minutes of the last hour, the characterization of the call where he claimed that bob mueller is concerned about the press coverage just seems on its face implausible given what we know is in the letter, what we know about bob mueller, the nature of what has occurred over the course of the last two years in american life over this subject, it seems bob mueller was saying i was watching fox news and the way hannity talked about it was not great i'd like to clear it up. it rings hollow. >> one of the big moments today came from kamala harris, let's play that. >> has the president or anyone
at the white house ever asked or suggested that e you open an investigation of anyone? >> i wouldn't -- i wouldn't -- >> yes or no? >> could you repeat that, question? >> i will repeat it. has the president or anyone at the white house ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? yes or no, please, sir? >> the president or anybody else? >> seems you'd remember something like that and would be able to tell us. >> yeah, but i'm trying to grapple with the word suggest. there have been discussions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open an investigation. >> perhaps they suggested? >> i wouldn't say suggest. >> hinted? inferred? you don't know. okay. in reaching your conclusion, did you personally review all of the underlying evidence? >> no.
we took -- >> did -- >> we accepted -- >> did mr. rosenstein? >> no. we accepted the statements in the report as the factual record. we did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurate. we accepted it as accurate. >> so you accepted the report as the evidence? >> yes. >> you did not question or look at the underlying evidence that supports the conclusions in the report? >> no. >> matt, the attorney general, at best on his heels there, but he started the day or went to bed last night on his heels from the reporting that you and your colleagues did, and mike schmidt and his colleagues. take us inside what you uncovered about that rift, some of which william barr discussed today in his testimony. >> you heard barr lay it out. so mueller sends this letter, remarkable thing for him to do to memorialize in writing his frustration with how barr is characterizing his work. today barr tried to spin it like
well, mueller is upset about the press coverage, not the way i characterized mueller's findings. but the press coverage was of the way he characterized mueller's findings. mueller's letters doesn't say i'm mad at "the washington post" or the "new york times" for how they're reporting on barr's letter. it was sort of mad at how barr was describing his work. this is a remarkable rift. we're kind of in another interesting spot. barr now offers this characterization today, mueller is famously silent. will he dispute that? does he dispute that? lindsey graham suggested he was open to hearing from mueller and he would reach out on that question. but the moment for him to dispute it, if he does, is now. and so far he hasn't said anything. we've reached out to his people, expecting a no comment like we always do. we have a lot of barr's account
now. i wonder if and when we'll hear from mueller. >> chuck, a source close to robert mueller told me last night when the stories broke he found it highly unlikely that the source or inspiration for mueller's peak was media coverage. it was far more likely and we learned since the letters came out, that he was concerned about the part of the letter we read, there was a distortion and the purpose of the special counsel investigation was to take a probe out of the political arena and in this administration and others, it couldn't be more partisan. so what do you think your friend robert mueller is thinking about all of the projection that william barr has put on his thoughts, on the tone of his letters as snitty, his job performance as incomplete. there's two sources in mike schmidt's story that describe the state of mind of the attorney general that they viewed mueller as not finishing the job. his job was to recommend charge
or issue a declination letter? >> unlike the attorney general, i read the report -- >> you agree he hasn't read it? >> it seems that way. either he didn't read it or he's not terribly conversant with it. granted he runs the united states department of justice so busy guy. >> i guess we know the answer. >> probably a nonzero number. but here's how i think bob would think about it. he doesn't care about the press coverage. he's not at home biting his names worried about what they might say about him on fox or msnbc or cnn. doesn't care. what he cares about is that he spent 22 months with a team of professional agents and prosecutors and analysts trying to get to the truth. and then the truth was distorted. and it was distorted by the way
his boss, the attorney general -- let's be clear, barr is absolutely his boss under the special counsel regs, presented it to the public. that's got to be disappointing and disheartening. the reason i think bob mueller wrote those letters, we talked about it, it seems remarkable, is that because his work was mischaracterized. it wasn't that the press mischaracterized his work. the attorney general mischaracterized his work. and that has to be very disappointing. in fact, i'm reasonably confident that's why he wrote the letters. >> have you heard from him? >> have i heard from bob mueller? >> yes. >> no. nor do i expect to. >> i know you have a vast fan base that exceeds ours. >> as a member of the media now, i'm probably persona non grata. >> mike schmidt you have talked
a lot and reported on what the special counsel investigation was sort of before barr and what it became the moment barr issued his four page summary of the ultimate conclusions or whatever they want to call it. they debate what a summary is. but you talked about the taint it got the moment it was characterized by barr, the moment that always softened the mueller report were sentence fragments, not even a complete sentence. that seems to have only deteriorated from the time you first reported flashing yellow lights around that. where does it stand right now? >> i think the most important thing we have to remember about what barr did is that it really set the narrative. it was the sequencing. it was the sequencing of the report not being there for four weeks and allowing the president to go out and say he was exonerated based on that letter. and that is really -- was a powerful thing for the president and for the republicans.
because it allowed them to slightly move past this and to allow the notion that nothing had gone wrong here to cement itself. and even though the report paints a different picture and mueller's folks came to a different place than barr did, it's fighting uphill. that part of the story is fighting uphill to try and break through because the idea that the attorney general cleared the president is so powerful. >> it was allowed to sit a long enough time that mueller was concerned by march 24th when he wrote his first letter and march 27th, three days later. do you have any idea what happened in those three days, between mueller's letters? did he feel ignored? get blown off? did the press coverage get worse? what happened in those days between the mueller letters? >> i think there was a lot of frustration there and mueller was not the only person on the team that felt that way. i think he felt it more from
underneath him than anything else. he may have been pushed to do this. i don't think he did anything he didn't want to do, but my guess is that he heard a lot about it. and that, you know, this frustration bubbled up certainly to his level. i think as barr said today, he thought the letter had been written by the team or by the folks underneath him. and, you know, i don't know who wrote the letter, but you can easily sort of see that happening and mueller feeling he was in a place and had to do that and had to memorialize that. there were these several conversations about this, and it did appear that barr had no interest in putting out the summaries that he wanted to wait to get the entire report out and he didn't want to do it in piecemeal fashion. >> one of the criticisms of attorney general barr today was that he seemed to act as a defense counsel for president trump. this is a case where he appeared to do that, defending the actions with his white house counsel, don mcghan. i think this was around an
incident he asked don mcghan to push back against a story written by mike and his colleagues in the "new york times" about efforts to fire special counsel robert mueller. let's watch that. >> you still have a situation where a president essentially tries to change the lawyer's account in order to prevent further criticism of himself. >> that's not a crime. >> so you can, in this situation, instruct someone to lie? >> no. it has to be -- well, to be obstruction of justice, the lie has to be tied to impairing the evidence in a particular proceeding. mcgahn had already given his evidence. and i think -- i think it would be plausible that the purpose of mcgahn memorializing what the president was asking was to make
the record that the president never directed him to fire. and there is a distinct between saying to someone go fire him. go fire mueller. and saying, have him removed based on conflict. >> this is not -- this is what the mueller report said. chris christie recalled a telephone conversation with the president in which the president asked what he thought about firing the special counsel. christie advised against doing so because there was no basis to fire the special counsel. this is the mueller report, the word fire is in there, and because the president would loose support from republicans in congress if he did so. the headline is around donald trump's efforts to fire the special counsel. >> that was answer. one way to look at barr's answers today. ever answer he was looking for, what is the thing the president would want me to say? what would most help the president? you saw him giving the benefit of the doubt to the president and others that the department
would never give to others. you saw it in the question about paul manafort and his conduct towards paul manafort when he said he wasn't just attacking flippers, it's only flipping if you lie, that's what he didn't want you to do. >> aren't flippers usually liars who find religion -- >> you saw him questioning the origins of the investigation. saw him twisting himself into a pretzel and refusing to condemn things the attorney general would always condemn, like the president encouraging someone to lie because he wanted to defend the president. to bring mueller back into it -- the attorney general's letter on may 24th so much there was a phone conversation, two letters that went back and forth. he was per it shaturbed he was misleading the american people. what has the attorney general did since then? he held a press conference to
double down, and he did it today saying the report showed nothing wrong occlusion. that's not what the report shows. it said it didn't establish a crime was committed. doesn't clear the president and say he did nothing wrong. if mueller comes and testifies, if the attorney general allows that happen, he says he will but they haven't agreed to a date. i wonder if mueller comes in more forcefully because he thinks i need to correct the record because the attorney general continues to lie about what i said and what i did. >> for someone like mueller to go in and simply -- chuck was sitting next to me, we were up there, we flipped over and found this incident and found it right away, there were five witnesses that are quoted here. we don't know if there were others, but that was precisely what the president sought to do, fire special counsel mueller. why would someone like barr try to parse that out and lie about it today? >> i think that's what we're all struggling with. why does someone who's been attorney general in the past,
who's had a really successful career, come in this late in the game and leave as his legacy the fact that he is now the man who has presented the best defense case donald trump can hope to get. that's what we all heard today, this is trump's defense. this is what i find inexplica e inexplicable. when barr was saying i looked at the stuff in the report and decided there wasn't efficient evidence to file an obstruction charge and when i did that, i took everything in the report as true. i used that evidence at face value, even when i disagreed with it. here we have him contradicting himself, when he discusses the incident he's saying i don't agree with the evidence and these five witnesses you can throw out their testimony and the president wasn't trying to fire him to end the investigation. there are contradictions, lies, it's a mist fieing performance. >> can i say one thing? this is a conversation joyce and i have had, matt and i have had.
chuck and i haven't, but i'm sure we will. we've all been discussing this question because people of goodwill across the spectrum coming into this said about bill barr, we got some questions, the job application memo is problematic, some of the things he said in his confirmation testimony is problematic but maybe he's an institution list. the question is why? everything he's done since the mueller report came in, everything he's done has been pure political hackry and filled with lies, misrepresentations. now i think there are cases we can point to that people will say are perjury, that he should be -- there's grounds for impeachment, certainly many democrats calling for resignati resignation. all of this is consistent. we ask the question again and again, what's to a man -- what does donald trump do to these people's souls. it's an interesting question.
i don't care anymore. it's not -- someone will write a great book about this some day and maybe we'll understand how it is donald trump addresses this today, how he chips away at people's souls, turn them into trump-fied zombies. in the end, though, it's not relevant because what we have now is an attorney general who has presented himself in a way that is not refutable anymore, he is fully obviously corrupted and everything that comes out of his mouth over the course of the last month has demonstrated that he is not acting as the attorney general of the united states anymore. he is only acting as a paid fully bought and paid member of donald trump's political team. and i think we have to see everything that comes out of his mouth from this point forward through that prism. it's the only conclusion we can draw. motives we'll figure out later maybe. but they're not relevant. >> before we lose matt and mike,
i follow you and your colleagues on twitter. matt, where do you see this day ending up? what do you see breaking when we get off the air and look at our phones? and what happens tomorrow? >> i don't know about tomorrow. i think it would be surprised if the house doesn't want their shot at barr while the iron is hot. i think it was a pretty remarkable event. we learned for the first time barr is on the record kind of side of this dispute with mueller. he aired it out in great detail. including the epic detail of him calling mueller and saying, why didn't you call me? why did you put this in writing, which i thought was noteworthy. we heard as your guests have talked about today, barr operating as like a person who gives trump the benefit of the doubt in all situations. when he was going through these obstruction episodes, i was stunned. for a defense attorney to say
that, absolutely. i can see someone trying to defend their clients saying look at it this way favorable to him, look at it this way. but barr is like the chief prosecutor of the united states and he wasn't talking like a prosecutor. every set of facts he viewed in a way favorable to trump. including i think a lot of people said he's shading the facts. but he sort of out and out said president trump could fire mueller and that wouldn't be obstruction because president trump was essentially falsely accused. so he'd be shutting down a wrong headed investigation that was ruining the country. that's a remarkable thing to say for the attorney general of the united states. remarkably under cutting to the mueller folks and you can see how that upsets them. >> barr did what matt just described and played the role of media critic. calling into question some of the incidents you and your colleagues have covered.
some of the things that mueller also dove into, any thoughts about what you saw today and what you think happens next? >> barr's candor today was pretty interesting how he spoke repeatedly about how he did not understand bob mueller's rational. he spoke negatively about the letter. he implied that it may have been written by his staffers. those are not kplcomplimentary things to say about someone. i don't understand what the calculus is. is it to follow through on what the president wants? does he think politically this is the best way to deal with the problem? does he feel the president was so wronged by the cloud of the russia investigation and he de s
deserves this to balance it out? >> thank you for starting us off. when we come back, the president has what he wanted, his own roy cohn in ag barr. but where do we go from here? do today's hearings move democrats closer to talks of impeachment? jim comey said that donald trump eats the souls of people who get close to him and agree to be on team trump. stay with us. team trump. stay with us this daughter was home visiting when mom saw a chip in her windshield. >> mom: honey is that a chip? >> tech: they wanted it fixed fast so they brought it to us. >> mom: hi. >> tech: with our in-shop chip repair service, we can fix it the same day... guaranteed. plus with most insurance a safelite chip repair is no cost to you. >> mom: really? drive safely. all right. ♪ acoustic music >> singers: ♪ safelite repair, ♪ safelite replace.
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from that james comey op-ed in the "new york times," amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. but more often proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. think that's at least part of what we've seen with bill barr and rod rosenstein, accomplished people lacking inner strength can't resist the compromises necessary to survive mr. trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. comey ends the piece, quote, of course to stay you must be seen as on his team, you make further compromises, use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values. and then you are lost. he has eaten your soul. wow. joining the conversation, former chief of staff ron klain.
youo you got me on twitter about being overtired and overcaffeinated. i'm both. >> i don't care about bill barr's soul one way or the other. but what we saw today reminded me today of the reverse of a famous scene of "a man for all seasons". you watched bill barr cut down a lot of laws to defend a guilty person, donald trump. he said it was okay to take foreign assistance in a presidential campaign. it was okay for a presidential to shutdown a special counsel investigation. it was okay for the president trump to manipulate the evidence put forth before the public. you saw again and again the chief law enforcement officer of the united states suggest laws and legal protections for our system just could all be wiped out by a president. and that, that slashing of the laws to defend trump, i think was one of the most upsetting
things i saw today. >> it's also the slashing of a lot of people well known and highly regarded in republican circles. not to harp on that. but robert mueller is -- dare i say was revered for the years after 9/11 for the man that led the fbi at a time it wasn't a matter of whether or not there would be another terror attack. it was where that terror attack would be. he is well known to the republicans who today didn't seem to hold his concerns as expressed in these two letters in very high regard. he's also -- really seems to be prejudice and it seems to have affected all of barr's decision making on this, by the questions that were agreed upon by a lot of individuals in law enforcement, including rod rosenstein. rod rosenstein is described in the nine days between comey's firing and mueller's appointment as being glassy eyed, near tears, offering to wear a wire to record the president, being
willing to whip votes for the 25th amendment. so he's really taking the credibility of a whole lot of career-long public servants, throwing it under the bus and driving back and forth over it. >> i once had a professor who said to our class, never hire anybody who's desperate for the job. what good leaders need and watch is somebody with professional detachment. if something is wrong they tell you. if they can't do what you tell them to do because it's amoral, immoral, you have the detachment to walk away. if you don't have that detachment, the independence then your soul gets eaten like jim comey said. that's sad. i can't believe there's not a member of the united states senate who deep down in their gut doesn't believe that robert mueller is a man of tremendous integrity yet the things he wrote in his report and his
letters seem to now not matter at all. how can that be? it's only if you let your soul get eaten. i imagine we'll use jim's formulation because it's dramatic but also telling. >> who has come down on the soul eating questions other than comey and mattis? >> probably others at other levels. >> who? >> of the high profile ones? james mattis and jim comey. jim comey would not pledge his loyalty and james mattis walked away. >> he walked away because lives were at risk with the syria decision. what happens to these other men and women? >> it's incredible we know someone, a good friend of ours, who walked away from the administration, the highest ranking person in the justice department who left after the president suggested it was appropriate for law enforcement agents to rough up defendants as
he was arresting them. he sent a letter to his employees worldwide, chuck rosenberg did, saying this is not what we do, and then he resigned. chuck rosenbergs are in short supply in this administration. >> you're kind to say that. it's not as uncommon as we imagine. i like to think there are lots of folks who have done or would do it. >> call me if you're out there and chuck is right, we'll put you at the table next to him. >> three quick quotes. >> please. >> donald trump is not a conservative republican. he's an opportunist, he's not fit to be the president of the united states. when you think it can't get worse, a leading american didn't is praising putin. who said those? >> lindsey graham. >> lindsey graham chairman of the committee. i raise it because it goes to chuck's point, which is you look at all those republicans, many of whom in 2016 publically, in
lindsey graham's case or privately said this is a disaster. they were worried about the putin connections, his not knowing how to do the job, his lack of respect for the rule of law. many of those people on that committee, to reporters privately and publically, this is what's going to happen if we get donald trump as president. yet they sit in that room and not only are they on trump's side, they sold their souls, their political lives for him. but they look at a guy like bob mueller -- i guarantee every guy on that committee -- and woman on that committee -- every republican in that committee would have been the charter fan club of bob mueller five years ago and now they sit there and watch trump and his toadies, including the toad we saw today in the attorney general, run rough shod over bob mueller and not only do they not raise a peep of objection, they're on
the cheering squad for that basement of bob mueller. it's an astonishing thing. it's not individuals. it's a collective thing that happened. when we look back on this era, that's -- that kind of corruption, i don't mean necessarily pay for play corruption but the kind of ethical, moral corruption of the entire republican party at the foot of this man is going to be one of the most historical facts of this era. >> i think people make bargains. they bargain with themselves. they say, look, i can hold my tongue and i can live with this because i'm doing x and x is more important in the long run. once you start making those bargains, once you start rationalizing the tradeoffs, you're done. >> that's right. the thing i found compelling about comey's op-ed, we expect that from people on the hill at the justice department you expect from the hill. it's not supposed to be the doj,
it's absent from your thinking. and you have sally yates, who couldn't carry out an illegal order, like chuck rosenberg, like jim comey who wouldn't shut down an investigation that the president wanted him to. what we've seen over the last two years is the leadership at the doj getting eaten away by the president. if it happens there, it corrupts the entire system. >> i think something we're doing here that we don't mean to do but we're doing, is we're removing blame from the shoulders it belongs on. that's donald trump's shoulders. the fact that no one saw this coming at the beginning of the administration. i talked to u.s. attorneys who said it doesn't matter who the president is, that never influenced the cases we indicted. that's changed the expectation. trump changed it. >> of course it's his fault.
he's now an unindicted co-conspirat co-conspirator. you think if they woke up and said, mr. barr, we don't mean to be snitty about it but can we chitchat about that memo that you can't indict a sitting president, we think he's really bad. yes, trump should get the blame, but it would seem that when the people around him become polluted by his lack of any sort of character, that there's reason to worry just as much about those people. >> i agree with that 100%. i just think we need to make sure that we appreciate that it's not just these people acting on their own. that the president, too, is blameworthy. >> if i went five minutes without blaming the president, sorry. >> first time at this table, it wasn't said, there's not enough focus on what donald trump is done. >> i didn't expect more from the
president. i expected more from people like rod rosenstein who hasn't delivered. >> absolutely. when we come back, bill barr's human shields, the office defensive republican party. the defensive republican party but you're not, because you have e*trade, which isn't complicated. their tools make trading quicker and simpler so you can take on the markets with confidence. don't get mad. get e*trade. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance, hmm. exactly. so you only pay for what you need. nice. but, uh... what's up with your... partner? not again. limu that's your reflection. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty ♪
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well, democrats today were focussed on getting answers from the ag, the republican counter parts seemed determined to circle the wagons instead. >> do you share my concerns about the counterintelligence investigation how it was opened and why it was opened? >> yes. i do have people in the department helping me review the activities over the summer of 2016. >> was any other trump campaign official under surveillance during that time period to your knowledge? >> these are the things that i need to look at. and i have to say that, as i've said before, the extent that there was any overreach, i
believe it was some -- a few people in the -- in the upper echelons of the bureau and perhaps the department. but those people are no longer there. >> joining us now white house bureau chief of "the washington post" phil rucker. ron klain and the table are still here. before this started, they put up a picture of the republicans in the judiciary committee and i gasped. you couldn't find a trumpier group than the republicans on this committee. >> that's right. these were all allies of the president's and they were singing from the president's song book, as it were. it was like watching two entirely different hearings back and forth when the questions were being asked by the republican senators they focussed on the origins of the investigation, the steele dossier, alleged corruption at the leadership level of the fbi. and when democrats were asking
questions of barr, it focussed on the mueller report and barr's conduct in handling the public release of that report and on the obstruction of justice examples involving the president. two entirely different hearings that i think speakand frankly, chamber we're going to see play out over the next several days where the president and his republican allies in congress will be communicating to the conservative base through fox news, through talk radio, an entirely different set of facts than the ones that are being discussed in the main stream right now. >> ron klain i thought of you when i watched this. you and i have both been involved in efforts where, as a white house, you coordinate, message-wise, with you but i've never -- i mean, in the white house i worked in, there were multiple investigations into energy task force, wmd commission, whatnot, but we at
least were talking about the energy task force or wmd, we weren't having two totally different conversations. the republicans were bringing up fbi agents that were investigated early in the process that mueller fired them. what do you make of the complete departure from reality? the republicans have gone to a land only familiar to die-hard viewers of fox news prime time. >> i think what they were doing weren't just defending the president as kind of like political allies, but trashing federal law enforcement and suggesting that america should keep its guard down when foreign powers try to influence our elections. it goes beyond merely trying to rally behind the flag of the president of the united states. and to really -- you know, really cut away at our counterintelligence protections against foreign influence, and to spread really conspiracy theories on behalf of the
president of the united states. that struck me today. there could have been a very reasonable debate about what mueller did or didn't conclude, why he did or didn't conclude things about some of the ambiguities and uncertainties in mueller report's all fair game, good discussions. instead republicans ran a playbook of conspire theory and fox news outtakes basically to try to, you know, distract the conversation and basically say what the president wanted and j chuck. the coverage and the investigation into the attacks between the two fbi agents raised today, pete struck and lisa page. that was covered on all news organizations. that it's still talked about by republicans in congress more than two years later is the piece that's part of the fox news narrative. i want to ask you about something else from earlier in the day, president trump
describing the fbi as skunked. when their conduct has been scrutinized in a way that i would argue none of our conduct, those of us who served in government, were ever scrutinized. what do you make, and do you fear with this attorney general, this president with poll numbers as tight, and to be frank, crappy, as his are, do you think they're talking about moving towards a second special counsel? >> it smells that way, seems that way. i sure hope they don't. here's why, nicole. what the former leadership of the fbi did, you can criticize them, you can question them, you can second guess them. but these were people, jim comey, andy mccabe and the like i think of tremendous integrity, calling them scum is not -- when people hear that, they're not thinking maybe jim made a decision with which they disagree.
they're hearing the leader of the free world denigrate the world's premier law enforcement agency, call into question all of their work, all of their good deeds. they have 37,000 employees in the fbi. one of them is politically appointed. the rest are not. the base of that pyramid is so broad and the work they do so important that when you randomly denigrate people, particularly without foundation, you call into question the work of everyone. and that's dangerous. >> it's not the scum language, although it's obviously abhor rent and horrible. it's not the language that troubles me the most. it's the language of a coupe. the president is setting up, whether there's a second special counsel or not, he's setting up the information to there's a coup attempt. this coup was engineered by a bunch of demons to help hillary clinton become president, barack
obama, now apparently bob mueller, life long republican, jim comey life-long republican. a bunch of other people in the fbi life-long republicans, all got together and coup d'etat. this is purely a political -- politically motivated part of the president. a president who has historically bad approval numbers over the course of the first two years in office, who recognizes that for a sitting president looking at the data in front of him that re-election will be extraordinarily difficult. in order to in his mind to win, he's going to need an enthusiasm that he was able to get in 2016 by shouting "lock her up." he doesn't have hillary clinton to lock up anymore. it's going to be lock barack obama up, lock jim comey up, i swear we will get there. second special counsel or not, this is going to be a core element of the president's re-election strategy and we'll
hear it from now until november of 2020. it is to your point way more dangerous kind of rhetoric than personal invective. this is incredibly destabilizing to the united states. >> i just want to add a personal note. i worked for bob mueller for parts of two years. i never knew he was a republican, had no idea. never came up nor would it ever come up because in these institutions we are steadfastly apolitical. what you do in the voting booth is your own damn business. so to even hear it described in that way is jarring. >> well, we have to sneak in a break, but if he were anyone but the president talking about a coup, we'd talk to him in soft voices, bring him juice and take him to a doctor. when we come back, more about today's hearing. me back, more a today's hearing. [ alarm beeping ]
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anyone on your staff, memorialize your conversation with robert mueller? >> yes. >> who did that? >> there were notes taken of the call. >> may we have those notes? >> no. >> why not? >> why should you have them? >> oh, i don't know. maybe to understand why the special counsel was mad at you for lying about his report? that was one of the final exchanges at today's hearing, raising a question about where we go next. phil rucker, i'm coming right to you. >> the one person we haven't heard from yet in this whole saga is robert mueller. he's actually said nothing throughout this investigation other than at the various indictments that he served up. i would love to hear his characterization of that conversation, because attorney general barr contended there in his testimony this afternoon that mueller was not bothered with barr's characterization of
the report in his summary letter but rather with the press coverage of it. it would seem that mueller would probably contest that based on what we saw in the letter that he then wrote to barr, but we haven't heard mueller speak yet. surely the senate committee is going to want to have him come up and testify. barr actually indicated in his testimony today that he would be okay with mueller doing that, so we'll see if that happens. >> phil rucker, can you imagine the drama the first time mueller contradicts attorney general barr? >> it would be extraordinary. you know what else would be extraordinary would be the line of questioning from some of the republican senators of mueller. i mean mueller is somebody who has drawn very little criticism other than from president trump himself, but the republicans on the dais will be under extraordinary pressure from the president and from the white house, i would think, to contest and ask tough questions of mueller and sully his reputation
in the way that the attorney general tried to do today. >> ron klain, what sticks out for you about what we've seen today and what do you think happens tomorrow? is barr back on capitol hill in front of the democratic-led house judiciary committee tomorrow? >> yeah, you know, barr said that mueller's letter was a bit snitty. and there was only one witness up there today who was completely full of snit, if you know what i mean. i think barr will skip tomorrow at the house. we'll he'll go, maybe he won't. he had a disastrous day today. he and his people have to go back and look at this and figure out. i mean maybe they're just going to plow forward. maybe he's made his choice. maybe he's picked his direction, and it's to basically just be a defense lawyer for the president and hope that republicans on the hill, who should have some conscience and some character, just jump in and rally. if that's the way they go, maybe they'll repeat this act tomorrow in the house. it will be harder if they do it in the house because that's a committee controlled by
democrats, not by republicans. everything we saw today is just a prelude for an even tougher time for him tomorrow. >> i kind of hope tomorrow's hearing doesn't happen. i think there's some danger for democrats here getting lost in the sideshow. bill barr is a sideshow. he's not the target, donald trump is the target. after seeing the mueller report, the hearings we need to say are the witnesses in that report. we've mostly seen what mueller had to say. it's time to hear from don mcgahn -- >> the five witnesses that contradict what barr said today? >> i think the judiciary committee is working on that. there's some issues the president is asserting executive privilege. but i'm much more interested in hearing from them and hearing about donald trump's culpability than i am hearing any more about the attorney general. >> the attorney general is looking for a way out of the thursday hearing even before the reporting on the mueller letter and the phone call and even before yet today's performance.
i would be shocked if he actually goes and performs there tomorrow. i agree with matt in the sense that it will be entertaining political theater, but the political theater we need now, and just from the pure standpoint of, you know, someone who cares about political narrative, the buildup now to mueller, we're building towards a genuinely extraordinary day. jim comey testified a fair amount before congress. i remember sitting 20 feet behind him the day early in february, i believe it was, of 2017 when he gave before the house intelligence committee gave probably the most historic of his testimonies. that was a moment with incredible electricity. mueller will be 10x that. i think we'll inevitably get there. i don't think there's a world we don't get to hear from bob mueller under some circumstances and it will be one of the most memorable days in our political
lifetimes. >> family field trip when that happens. you have something else you all need to do other than watching but we're so grateful that you did. you have to go listen to chuck rosenberg's podcast called "the oath." see, i'm not snitty nor am i podcast savvy. it's on our website, so listen to it. that does it for this hour. "mtp daily" starts right now. hi, chuck! we missed you! >> you're not snitty at all. >> i think you learn snit in high school and i don't know what i was doing. >> i enjoyed the fact that you were the mueller ombudsman today. that was awesome. >> i was like page 87. i've got my whole copy. >> here's what i think we know. you've read more of the report than the attorney general or at least how he wants to portray himself. thank you, nicolle. if it's hump day, has the presiden