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tv   MTP Daily  MSNBC  May 1, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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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 president found his roy cohn?
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good evening. i'm chuck todd here in washington. welcome to "meet the press daily." we begin tonight with an attorney general who sounded like he was speaking as the president's personal lawyer, not the country's attorney. in his first public testimony since the release of the mueller report, barr repeatedly backed up the president's talking points about the russia investigation and backed up the president's mischaracterizations of mueller's findings. let's go through some of the big ones. number one, mueller laid out evidence the president and his campaign basically tried to collude with the russians, were open to it. mueller noted he was using the framework of conspiracy law, not making a judgment about collusion. but the president claims mueller made the determination there was no collusion and now so is barr. >> do you think the president's campaign in 2016 was thoroughly
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looked at in terms of whether or not they colluded with the russians? >> yes. >> and the answer is no, according to bob mueller? >> that's right. >> that is just not what the mueller report says. number two, mueller laid out evidence that the president directed his white house counsel to have mueller fired. that's the word mueller uses. the president claims he did no such thing, and now this is what barr is claiming. >> the president never directed him to fire. and there is a distinction between saying to someone go fire him, go fire mueller, and saying have him removed based on conflict. >> three, mueller laid out evidence indicating that the president tried to remove the special counsel with the corrupt intent of curtailing the investigation. the president has suggested he could have fired mueller because he thought it was a witch hunt. and now so does barr. >> if the president is being falsely accused and he felt that
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this investigation was unfair, propelled by his political opponents and was hampering his ability to govern, that is not a corrupt motive for replacing an independent counsel. >> four, mueller laid out multiple ways in which the president did not cooperate with this investigation, including sitting for an interview. the president claims he somehow fully cooperated. and now so is barr. you can see where i'm going here. the president claims his campaign was spied on, and now so is barr. the president claims that russia investigators should themselves be investigated, and now so does barr. and barr's credibility may have been further undermined by the release of a letter bob mueller sent him sounding the alarm about barr's initial summary of his investigation, not to mention the misleading testimony barr then gave to congress after receiving that letter. bottom line is buckle up. we've got a lot to get to from this hearing on capitol hill. we've got nbc news capitol hill
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correspondent kasie hunt. for more we've got peter baker of "the new york times," and to help navigate barr's testimony i've got two legal beagles here, barbara mcquade, former u.s. attorney and msnbc contributor and ben wittes, an msnbc legal analyst as well. well, kasie, let me start with you. the hearing itself, i have to say it was even more partisan than i expected. the reason i was semi surprised how partisan this was, this is the senate. i expect this partisanship, particularly on the republican side from the house. this was extraordinary coming from the united states senate. >> it was extraordinary, chuck. but i think lindsey graham set the tone for it. we have really watched his evolution over the course of the last few years from, you know, somebody who was running against
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donald trump in the 2016 primary and using words that i can't say on television in private conversations about what it would mean if donald trump won the presidency. and now, you know, you have him opening the hearing before it even started with the words, "it's over." and i think that set the tone for the entire enterprise and gave us a window, chuck, into how deeply dug in the republican party is in defending this president of the united states. and i think everything that happened today really underscored that. now, i will say there was a moment with ben sasse that was a little bit outside of this mold. but on the whole, i absolutely agree with you. i do think there were a couple of rough moments for barr in the hearing that were generated bipartisanship on the other side but simply by sharp questioning, whether it was -- i believe he said i'm trying to understand
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the word "suggest" when he was questioned by kamala harris. >> yes, i'm going to get to that. >> i'm sorry if i'm jumping ahead of your rundown. >> no, you're fine. finish your thought. but that partisanship on the democratic side manifested itself in several cases as very sharp questioning of the attorney general. you also had mazie hirono straight up calling him a liar, which was also a remarkable moment, chuck. >> peter baker, bill barr is basically throwing himself in front of the president and the entire republican party and essentially willing to take every arrow, willing to be the person everybody hides behind. like half of america obsessed with "game of thrones," he is like hodor. he's holdings the door as everybody is coming and barr is willing to do it. >> look, he came at this from that point of view to begin with. he sent a memo to the white house last summer when he was
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not attorney general and had no business other than being a private attorney who happened to agree with the president's position on the question of whether or not a president can commit obstruction of justice. his philosophy of executive power has been consistent even going back to his first stint as attorney general back in the george h.w. bush administration. so he came at this with a point of view. his point of view is even the questions being asked as part of this investigation were not in some ways legitimate because a president is entitled to fire an fbi director. a president is entitled to do other things that would seem to impede the investigation. he had this fascinating back and forth with pat leahy where he basically said you can fire -- the difference between firing a special counsel and saying i'm going to get rid of you for cause or for conflict, that seems like a pretty interesting distinction there. >> you know, barbara mcquade, i'm just curious, do you feel as if he is still able to be the
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chief law enforcement officer of the country in that he's got a rationale for everything that he's done. he really believes he is protected here. his decision to basically preclear trump from a charge on obstruction. he made the decision on his own. he's technically right, he could make that decision. he issued a four-page report, which he was certainly the law said he was supposed to issue something to congress. how he chose to spin it is his. his actions feel as if he's putting the thumb on the scale. but has he done anything technically that would make him unfit? >> i don't know that he's done anything technically to make him unfit. but as a former career department of justice attorney, i feel like he's lost the moral authority to lead. i think that he could have come out with integrity said robert mueller has said he's reached the following conclusions. he can't decide on obstruction of justice, but this is his legal theory and then he could have said but i disagree with that legal theory and because
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i'm the attorney general, i control and my decision is that there is no crime of obstruction of justice here. i think if he had done that, people might have disagreed with it, there might have been some controversy, but it would not have seemed dishonest. the way this spun out by announcing his own decision within 48 hours of receiving robert mueller's report and allowing it to simmer there for three weeks until we saw the truth was an effort to spin it in a dishonest way and for that reason i think he's lost the moral authority to lead the department of justice. >> i started by asking has the president found his roy cohn. you were alarmed very quickly after an exchange between mr. barr and senator kamala harris. take a listen. >> attorney general barr, has the president or anyone at the white house ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? >> i wouldn't -- i wouldn't -- >> yes or no. >> could you repeat that
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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. >> it seems you'd remember something like that and 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 have suggested? >> i don't know. i wouldn't say suggest. >> hinted? >> i don't know. >> my god, i felt like i'm watching "a few good men." >> it's a painful experience. >> it's painful. i'm grip ling with suggest. >> i'm trying to grapple with suggest. >> he just said the president has been trying -- he might as well have said, of course he's been asking me to do these things. >> look, we're joking about it, but this is deadly serious. these, there are several,
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singularly alarming abuses in the mueller report is the suggestion that the asked, suggested, recommended, pressured the attorney general, then jeff sessions, to open an investigation on his political opponents, hillary clinton in particular. and what happened today was that the current attorney general was asked a direct question by a senator. has anything like that happened when you've been attorney general? and the answer, which you just heard, is this very uncomfortable fumbling and inability or unwillingness to say yes, absolutely, i've been under pressure to open investigations on the president's political opponents. >> it wasn't kamala harris' only sort of -- i hate to say perry mason moment because that's going to go way over the heads of people under the age of 50. but it was pretty close. here's another interesting
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exchange, again with kamala harris, having to do with whether he read the report. take a listen. >> my question is in reaching your conclusion, did you personally review all of the underlying evidence? >> no. we took -- >> did -- >> we accepted. >> did mr. rosenstein? >> we seaccepted the statementsn the report as the factual record. we did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurate. we semd accepted it as accurate >> barbara mcquade, you ever made a decision whether to bring a charming or not without seeing underlying evidence. >> i'm going to defend william barr on this. he entrusted robert mueller to dig into the facts. so what he's saying is i will take all of robert mueller's factual conclusions as true. he's interviewed hundreds of people. he's put people on the grand jury, i'll take that as true. where i really quibble, strongly
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disagree with william barr is in his mischaracterization of what robert mueller found. when he wrote that initial letter, he led the public to believe that what robert mueller found was, huh, too close to call, just can't decide. william barr said, tell you what, bob, i'll take the hit and say there's no obstruction there. that is not what robert mueller found at all. in fact on three or four occasions, he absolutely found substantial evidence to support obstruction of justice. what william barr is saying as a matter of law based on my constitutional interpretation, the president cannot obstruct justice and he did not say that. that's why i think robert mueller wrote that letter disagreeing and complaining about the way that william barr was characterizing his conclusion. >> peter baker, and kasie hunt, peter, i'll start with you. the bottom line here is that bill barr is essentially admitting the president has tried to at least ask him
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questions about various other pieces of investigations that are still happening, maybe with sdny, maybe with the unknown investigations that we know were spun off of the special counsel. has the justice department -- this feels like one of those where barr is going to know he's got to do some cleanup tomorrow on this one. or is this opening the door for i think more investigations into presidential interference at justice? >> yeah, it's a great question. look, how do we know the president of the united states has suggested that the attorney general investigate his political opponents? because he's told us so. he's told us so again and again and again. >> he tweets it. >> every day, every week, whatever. if you go back the couple of months that bill barr has been attorney general and count the number of times he's said it at a public rally or on twitter, i would suggest that it's more than on one handi. the question is does he do it behind closed doors. we're in this very unusual
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situation where we don't know whether to take the president at face value seriously when he says things in public, right? does it make a difference if he does it in private? is it somehow a different category of order or direction or instruction or suggestion or whatever word you want to use if it's done behind closed doors as opposed to in front of all of our faces. >> kasie, i know there's resignation calls for barr, but that may not go anywhere. the more realistic ask of barr will be to have him recuse himself of overseeing any mueller report-related investigations. whether barr will agree to do that is another story. i've got to assume capitol hill democrats are just on fire on that exchange. >> they absolutely are, chuck. the problem is there's almost nothing they can do about it. the way that -- it used to be that the senate in particular where this all played out today was protective of its own prerogatives, had rules in place that meant that the majority, if it was only 50 plus one couldn't do things by itself, that they needed buy-in.
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that senators in many cases were willing to be generally protective of their own rights in the body and that's simply not the case. the partisanship that has defined the trump presidency, especially here, especially resonates here in the senate because of what it used to be. a lot of that is mitch mcconnell. i don't think the attorney general, i don't have his actual vote count but if i'm remembering the way that vote played out, he doesn't get to attorney general if mitch mcconnell doesn't change the rules so they can put him there with 51 votes. that is a fundamental different reality for shaping how our government looks. it's one of those small things around these norms that have been in place over many years that have huge impacts quite frankly. >> well, no, it was a way to at least cut down on the number of political sycophants you end up with. okay, they're political
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appointees, but -- all right, let's go to the final point of the barr testimony and ben and barbara, i want you to begin with this. did barr perjure himself. this is the letter on march 27th, as we stated in our meeting on march 5th and reiterated march 24th, the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume report accurately summarize this office's work and conclusion. the summary letter sent to congress did not fully capture the context, narlt and -- nature and substance of this office's work. we communicated that 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 assure full public
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confidence in the outcome of the investigations. barr himself says he read this letter on the 28th. had a phone call on march 28th. these dates are important. here is barr with charlie crist april 9th. >> reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your march 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings. do you think what they're referencing with that? >> no, i don't. i think -- i think -- i suspect that they probably wanted, you know, more put out. >> we now know that aside is a well informed speculation now in hindsight by the attorney general there. here is the attorney general this morning defending himself from the idea he perjured
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himself in that crist exchange. >> why did you say you were not aware of concerns when weeks before your testimony, mr. mueller had expressed concerns to you. that's a fairly simple -- >> i answered a question. and the question was relating to unidentified members who were expressing frustration over the accuracy relating to findings. i don't know what that refers to at all. i talked directly to bob mueller, not members of his team. and even though i did not know what was being referred to and mueller had never told me that the expression of the findings was inaccurate -- >> would you concede that you had an opportunity to make this letter public on april 4th and representative crist asked you a very related question? >> i don't know what you mean by related question. it seems to me it would be a very different question.
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>> i can't even follow that down the road. i mean, boy. that's a masterful hair splitting. >> barbara mcquade, you're the prosecutor here. is that perjury? >> i think it's probably not. i think he is guilty of a lack of integrity by purposely deflecting and maybe even misleading. but to charge someone with the crime of perjury, you have to show that the person then and there knew what they were saying is false. it's clear to me that he spent some time thinking about his answer to this question. he anticipated being asked about it and he was very careful and had lots of reasons about why the question was unclear. that is often a problem in perjury, that it wasn't a black-and-white question with a black-and-white question that you can prove was false. people talk past each other all the time. but it says to me he was worried about it, he knew that question was coming and spent some time preparing for it which i think demonstrates a consciousness of guilt of a lack of integrity. >> ben wittes, i'm sorry, the
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fact that he volunteered, well, maybe they were thinking there could have been more information, that's exactly the kind of conversation that you have, right? >> who is connected to people on the bob mueller team? >> bill barr decided mueller didn't write this letter because it's snitty. >> i agree with barbara completely. the perjury statute -- >> barr knows what he's doing here. he went suggests, i better be careful. >> not all dishonesty under oath in front of a committee is perjury. this was not perjury, it was deeply dishonest. >> so where do we go from here? this is the situation. i think as kasie and peter have pointed out, democrats really have nowhere to go. >> so i actually don't agree with that. >> what would you do if you were in their shoes? >> first of all, democrats in the senate judiciary committee
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cannot call bob mueller without the involvement and consent of senator lindsey graham, who's not going give it. but the house judiciary committee, which is controlled by democrats, can and will. eventually they're going to get it. and they can also call don mcgahn. now, that's a fight that they're going to have to have, but i think it's a fight that they win. and they can go after the substance of what happened and they can also hear the other side of this story from mueller about how he regards barr's presentation of his material. >> well, i'm going to leave it there. this is the legal conversation, and of course there's the political conversation, which is a whole other story that the democrats have to deal with. for now, kasie, peter, barbara, ben, thanks for breaking it down. what a day with mr. barr, we'll have more later. coming up we'll get reaction from mr. barr's testimony.
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plus up ahead i'll speak with one of the lawmakers who questioned barr today. first, that letter mueller sent to barr expressing concerns about how is findings were being portrayed. i give you a hint, but here's what the attorney general had to say about that letter. >> you know, the letter is a bit snitty and i think it was probably written by one of his staff people. probably written bs staff people some things are out of your control. like bedhead. hmmmm. ♪ rub-a-dub ducky... and then...there's national car rental. at national, i'm in total control. i can just skip the counter and choose any car in the aisle i like. so i can rent fast without getting a hair out of place. heeeeey. hey! ah, control. (vo) go national. go like a pro.
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bob mueller is the equivalent of a u.s. attorney.
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he was exercising the powers of the attorney general subject to the supervision of the attorney general. he's part of the department of justice. his work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general. at that point, it was my baby, and i was making a decision as to whether or not to make it public. i effectively overrode the regulations, used discretion to lean as far forward as i could to make that public. it was my decision how and when to make it public, not bob mueller's. >> welcome back. that was the attorney general, bill barr, today defending his handling of the mueller report. joining me now is a member of the senate judiciary committee who questioned the attorney general earlier today, louisiana republican senator john kennedy. senator kennedy, always good to have you on the show, sir. >> thanks, chuck. >> so i know you are somebody that's downplaying the mueller letter to barr. that because we've eventually seen it all, this is much ado about nothing. but let me ask you this.
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that three-week gap where the only words we had were barr's, not mueller's, did that mean barr had issued a legal document or political document considering that it certainly looks like a spinning -- sort of something that was a bit spinning now in hindsight than what we saw at the beginning when we were told that it was more of a legal document? >> regardless of how you characterize it, chuck, what the attorney general did, and i've read the letter a number of times, as have you, is state the conclusions of mr. mueller. now, it turns out when this subject came up yesterday, when i heard about the mueller letter, i was curious. some of my democratic friends were -- were doing old man back flips. they said mueller is crossways with barr. it turns out that's not the case. mr. mueller said i don't disagree with your conclusions
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in the letter, attorney general. he was upset because he didn't think that the barr letter was nuanced enough. that's academic now because the report is out. and mr. mueller was upset at the news coverage. frankly, i don't know what he expected the attorney general to do about the news coverage. >> actually it was an easy decision, senator. nothing in the regulations said he should hold a press conference. nothing in the regulations said he should make his own decision about whether to bring a charge or not, considering that the report itself said mr. mueller was operating under justice department guidelines when it comes to indicting a sitting president, all but saying this is not up to the justice department. >> that's not accurate. >> this is likely a question for congress. he did not -- but that's the point. he did not make this saying this was a definitive conclusion. >> chuck, with all due respect i don't think that's accurate. now, this is what bill barr told us today. he said he had a meeting with
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mr. mueller. mr. mueller said categorically, unequivocally that my decision about reaching no decision on obstruction of justice had absolutely nothing to do with the doj policy that it doesn't indict a sitting president. and he said that several times. so what you just stated there -- >> well, that's not what the mueller report itself said. the mueller report itself said it was operating under the guidelines of the justice department, which state a sitting president can't be indicted. >> but the mueller report does not say that the reason i, bob mueller, could not reach a decision on obstruction of justice is because of the doj policy. it does reference the doj policy, but it doesn't say it's because of the doj policy. >> it didn't say either way, that's the point. but once you state at the beginning in fairness here, senator, if you state i'm operating under this policy,
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then you're already telling the reader there won't be a conclusion at the end because that doesn't belong in the hands of the justice department. if it belongs anywhere, according to the constitution, it belongs in congress. >> well, i understand your point, chuck. i do. but this is what prosecutors do. they do one of two things. they indict or they don't indict. now, as i read the report, bob mueller, and he hasn't changed his mind to my knowledge, says i'm not going to indict on collusion, i'm not going to indict on conspiracy, and i'm not going to indict on obstruction of justice. now, everything else is just cottage cheese. and if mr. mueller wants to come in front of the committee, i'm happy to hear him, but that's going to be my question. have you changed your mind? because if he hasn't changed his mind, this thing is over.
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and i understand -- >> actually if you read the declinations, for instance on the issues of conspiracy, mr. mueller says our laws are out of date. they couldn't figure out -- the campaign finance laws. this wasn't a declination of we didn't find anything. this was a declination saying there's not a law that covers what we found. in fairness, that's a different tone than saying no collusion. >> chuck, i have great respect for you. if you are right, i would agree with you. but let me say it again. i don't think you're right. prosecutors either do one of two things, they indict or they don't indict. now, if mr. mueller has changed his mind and is going to indict, he needs to step up to the plate in front of god and country and tell us. but i think my democratic friends -- here's their theory now. this is what they're down to. not all of my democrat friends but many of them, their theory of the case now is that trump covered up a crime that nobody
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ever committed. now that's what they're down to. let me say it again. you either indict or you don't indict. mueller says no indictment. as far as i'm concerned, this is over. the issue is dead as fried chicken. it's time to move on. >> let me ask you this. given the fact that the president -- that the attorney general seemed to imply that the president or somebody close to him has certainly inquired about other investigations, should bill barr recuse himself from overseeing mueller-related investigations considering how much the president apparently can't keep from trying to get his attorney general to at least give him updates? >> no. and i realize i'm biased here. i'm a bill barr fan. i think based on some of the conductive seen, he's one of the few sane people over in the department of justice. look, let me say this again, and i say this on behalf of republicans and democrats,
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because there were two investigations in 2016. one was of donald trump, but the other one was of hillary clinton. and i think they hare may have some people and perhaps still are over there at fbi and justice who acted on their political beliefs. and some of them were for trump and some of them were for clinton. they both went through it. we need to find out who they were and get rid of them because that's not what they're supposed to do. >> senator graham -- go ahead. sorry, finish your thought. >> i bet if you checked with secretary clinton today, i certainly don't speak for her, she's not real happy with the treatment she got by the fbi and the department of justice either. >> there's no doubt, the clintons don't like the new york fbi office and trump doesn't like the d.c. fbi office. is senator graham making a mistake by saying he doesn't want to hear from bob mueller? in all fairness, my goodness, all this money, why wouldn't you want to hear from bob mueller? >> well, i'm labor, i'm not
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management. so that's lindsey's call, he's chairman of the committee. >> if you were chairman, would you call him? >> i believe in the full monte. i say let it all hang out. if bob mueller wants to come up here, i'll be happy to listen to him. but my first question is going to be, because it's the only question i'm interested in, have you changed your mind. if he says no, this thing's over. >> all right, senator kennedy, we'll leave the full monte visual to others. as usual, thanks for coming in and sharing your views. up ahead, the latest on the fight to get the attorney general to appear before a democratic-led house committee tomorrow. plus, should democrats focus their fire on barr or the president? we'll talk to democrat jerry connelly when we come back. we cw 2019 ford ranger, it's the right gear. with a terrain management system for... this. a bash plate for... that. an electronic locking rear differential for...
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welcome back. over a dozen democrats are now calling on attorney general barr to resign. some of those calls came last night after news broke of robert
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mueller's letter officially objecting to barr's early description of his findings. some have come today during and after barres testimony. joining me now from the other side of the aisle, democratic congress ann jerry connolly of virginia. congressman, i know you're oversight and we've got judiciary. we are just hearing there are reports that apparently the attorney general is refusing to come sit with the house for tomorrow because of this decision by the house judiciary committee to have staff and members question the attorney general. what can you tell us about this and what have you heard? >> i just saw a tweet saying the same thing, chuck. i don't know if it's accurate or not. i've got to say after his performance today i'm not surprised that he doesn't want to repeat it again tomorrow. a pretty sorry performance before the senate judiciary committee. but this dispute about whether he would be subjected to questioning by counsel, not just members, you know, frankly it's not up to the attorney general
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to decide the rules of the house and how we comport our business. many, many times various and sundry witnesses have in fact been queried by counsel. robert kennedy was not an elected official, he was counsel to the committee. sam dash questions witnesses, including the former attorney general of the united states. ironically it was the republicans who insisted on outside counsel querying christine ford rather than doing it themselves. so this is just a fight he's not going to win. it's an excuse for not appearing before the house where he would face even tougher questioning i think tomorrow. >> given your spidey sense that he's looking for an excuse after today, after basically admitting that the president is asking him constantly about various
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investigations, should the democrats basically say fine, we're not going to let staff tomorrow, your subpoena still holds. should they back down for tomorrow or do you think they should go and win the technical legal argument here? >> at this point given the context, chuck, which is that the president has directed none of his staff to cooperate with house subpoenas across the board, whether it's about the mueller affair or not, i don't think we can back down. i think he's going to have to agree to the rules of the house and to the procedures of the judiciary committee. >> what should democrats do here? there's both a -- i feel as if you've got legal obligations you have to think about perhaps, perhaps what history will say about constitutional norms, and then you've got political reality. so should -- where do you go from here? do you force an impeachment
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discussion? do you force a censuring hearing? do you start arresting people that don't show up? what is the best avenue here? >> i think we're on safest grounds in proceeding with the investigations that are under way and enforcing the right of the legislative branch of government to enforce its own subpoenas, whatever that means in terms of enforcement mechanisms, some of which could mean criminal penalties and incarceration. certainly fines or contempt of congress and possible contempt of court, once a court enforces the subpoena. hopefully it won't come to that. hopefully the administration will see that they need to back down from that across the board defiance. but if they don't, this is a test of our constitutional framework. will we defend the framework envisioned by our founders, written into the constitution, or will we roll over and play dead? your previous guest, senator
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kennedy, apparently is quite happy with rolling over and playing dead. here in the house, we're not so happy with that and we're not going to do that. >> are you hamstrung by the fact that the president and republicans don't view any penalty, political penalty among their own for essentially fighting all of these legalities? >> i think that's a real problem. i think that is probably a cynical calculation, the constitution be damned, their requirements to cooperate be damned. even richard nixon sent all of his key officials before the congress. we've never seen this across-the-board defiance. i think it's going to put the trump presidency in peril. i think it's going to jeopardize his re-election chances. but the congress right now has to institutionally enforce its writ. we took an oath to defend the constitution of the united
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states. not our party, not the politics of the moment, not president trump. >> do you think bob mueller is ever going to testify in front of the house? >> i do. i think after today that's now inevitable because we have bob barr characterizing mueller's letter, which everyone can read. we have bob barr clearly egregiously distorting what was in fact in the mueller report. we have mueller saying virtually that, complaining about it. we have barr splitting hairs so he didn't quite perjure himself presumably to evade the underlying facts here that mueller's report is much more damaging and devastating to trump personally and legally an he heretofore admitted by barr. to settle that alone we've got to hear from mueller. and we want to hear from mueller's own lips what did you mean when you wrote x, y and z in the report. >> congressman jerry connolly, i'm going to leave it there.
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thank you for coming on and sharing your views. the attorney general faces duff questioning from democratic presidential candidates. boy, did things get heated. >> do you accept them recommending a charging decision to you if they had not reviewed the evidence? >> well, that's a question for bob mueller. he's the u.s. attorney. he's the one who presents the report. >> but it was you who made the charging decision, sir. you made the decision not to charge the president. >> in the memo and in the declination memo. >> you said it was your baby. yy
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welcome back. a bit of breaking news we all expected was headed our way. we now can confirm that a house judiciary aide is telling nbc news that the attorney general, bill barr, will not be coming to testify before the committee tomorrow. barr had objected to the interview format planned by the committee which would have included questioning from committee lawyers in addition to members. as you heard congressman connolly talking about. jerry nadler said he would subpoena barr if he failed to show. we are waiting to hear his reaction to barr's decision. here we go. back with more right after this. o back with more right after this. l walk it off look. one more mile look. reply all look. own your look with fewer lines. there's only one botox® cosmetic. it's the only one fda approved to temporarily make frown lines, crow's feet and forehead lines look better.
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belcher. we've done all the legal arguments and the constitutional arguments. let's just have a straight-up political discussion here. first, i just want put up these poll numbers. this is the box the democratic party is in. 70% of democrats support impeachment. ann gearrin, but overall, i believe it is 40% overall support impeachment. that's where the democratic party is right now. the country wants to move on. which is what republicans are jumping on in some form. democrats don't. >> well, not all democrats. >> 70% is a big number wanting impeachment. that's not a small number. >> yes. and it is a number that nancy pelosi is paying very close attention to. certainly the 2020 democratic candidates are paying very close attention to it. but the tension remains the same after the bar hearing as it did
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before. democrats risk and they know it, lucas if they are chasing the same rabbit down the same hole over and over and over again with little to show for it. and that is going to be a dialogue that plays out to the republicans' advantage, the farther down that rabbit hole it appears the democrats are going. >> i was listening, barr decided not to go, which to me was very predictable. and you sit there and you're like, democrats will be angry, so yeah, they're going to subpoena. in a weird way politically, it is exactly what the republicans want. make democrats constantly stay on the story in process form. not in russia interference form. >> i think the key numbers are the ones you mentioned on impeachment. and the sense of, historically, every incoming house majority tends to overreach. and if there is a place where
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this house majority will overreach, it will be on the investigations and it will be the general public, not the democrats, but the general public a expense they aren't accomplishing their agenda. i thought it was interesting this week. we had the report from one of the caucus meetings where pelosi was saying, it is about the agenda. there's a worry that the investigations are overpowering the actual reasons that these democrats were elected to congress. >> cornell, yes, chuck and nangsy walked away with a $2 billion infrastructure deal. i'm guessing the president agreed to something the conservative there's never agree to but that was yesterday. >> it's a tough place. i'm going to trifle with that 70% number. so yes, while the majority of democrats want the president impeached. if you look at the top issue concerns, impeachment falls five or six down. it's not the number one issue. when you talk to regular democrats, impeachment is not
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the first and top priority. i do want to separate that, from what is, congress's constitutional duty. the majority of americans aren't for impeachment. they certainly were not for impeachment of bill clinton. however, republicans did it anyway. if you look at what has been laid out to us today, clearly congress has a duty to check the president. madison talked about when they came and said, what about a runaway president? madison pointed to the power of impeachment as congress's check on that. and this is a runaway president and congress has a job. yes, it's politicized but congress has to be able to do its job. >> and when i think democrats seem to be missing here, they haven't found a way to make congressional republicans uncomfortable with this position. and as long as they make it about impeachment and process, it is easy to side with the president. let's say you decided to tighten up campaign finance laws, to make cyber crimes criminal or
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taking hacked material and created votes that suddenly, then you focus on the actual issue. russian interference. then you potentially create uncomfortable moments. >> i would love the hear lindsey graham anxious that set of questions. >> you read the mueller report declination report part 1, there is a lot saying, our laws are behind the times when it comes to cyber. okay. introduce new laws. let's go. >> the first volume of the mueller report details any number of things that actually are sort of amateurish attempts that worked pretty well. >> like peter smith and all that. they were technically illegal. boy, should it be? >> well, sure. that's something that congress could address. and you're right that democrats haven't forced that issue. but i think it is related to the reason that they are going, if you want to say that, running
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with the process part of it. which is that is what congress does. i mean, they pulled hearings. it is a lot of process. and the tools are limited. and the larger argument about what did russia do, are they planning to do it again, what is within congress' pdo, what is within the power of congress and what is not, for republicans, the key part will be, where is the president on this? >> and matthew, a lot of republicans ought to be paying attention on what russia is doing right now to policy in venezuela. >> i thought there was an interesting moment where klobuchar mentioned she has something on some of these bills. she said that jim langford is with her so there is bipartisan support. >> they should be focusing this out there. >> to focus on the russian activities. the problem is democrats are
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trying to link the russian activities to trump. and as soon as you introduce the trump thing, then the republicans don't want anything to do with it. >> no one seems to want to accept, if the president would accept, yeah, the russians did, they were trying to help me. and i don't like it either. we would be in a different place. >> two things. one is, the democrats are linking it to trump because there's a link. literally they were giving the russians their polling information so there's a link there. but broader on the barr thing. this is what is important. the bar. it makes what mitch did to get him if breaking the norls really, really important. because barr won politically for them. why i say that is, politics 101.
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what does that mean in real life? he said that 61% majority of republicans think what barr did, i mean, the mueller report cleared him. almost a third of independents cleared him. so it is hard to put the genie back in the bottle once it is out. >> that's the thing here. barr didn't do anything illegal. he just took advantage of the power that he had and he pushed the envelope. >> which is exactly what mueller could tell he was doing. which is why he complained two days later. and he knew exactly what that very brief memo was going to do. the effect it was going to have. and if you read between lines of mueller's letter to barr, he seems to be separating the fact that this short summary had been put out from the possibility, which came true, that much, much more of the report would soon be
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released. which shows you that he understood the value of that narrative. setting that narrative early. >> do you think it is a mistake for lindsey graham to say, forget mueller, we don't want him? the house is going to get him. you would think at a minimum, and john kennedy sounded like a guy who would rather have them. >> you might find a situation where if mueller appears before the house and the testimony goes badly, then senate republicans, oh, we've got that. they have it together, right? i would be able to present a united front. >> it is hard to say. i think all of this, it illustrates how important the elections are. you can see immediately whether -- are they going to connect witnesses? who has one power on one side
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we're at a pert where it does feel like the party that has the power just -- >> and graham is up for election this year. >> he has avoided the primary which is very important. he has moved to become -- >> he is not mccain. he is trump now. >> he was leading things out loud today that sounded exactly like what he said about trump in 2016. >> it was interesting. good to see you all. sorry we only got one block of hard core politics. if it's wednesday, there is a new podcast. subscribe today wherever you get your podcast. yes, there will be "game of thrones" spoilers in there so
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just suck it up. while you're there, subscribe to the oath. this is exciting. the brand new podcast hosted by another chuck podcast. it features these guys, somebody you may have heard of, the former fbi director james comey and preet bharara. corey booker will be your guest, stephanie. you don't need me. >> it is going to be a busy day. i am stephanie in for my friend ari melber. we start this evening with breaking news tonight. jerry nadler speaking. >> the underlying evidence, but not for much longer. it is not optional and if good faith negotiations don't result in a pledge of compliance in the next day or two,


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