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tv   MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson  MSNBC  May 29, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT

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all eyes will be on that department of justice press conference and the one and only robert mueller will be speaking. that wraps it up for me in this exciting news hour. i am now turning over to my friend, chris jansing who picks up coverage. >> 10:00 on the east coast i'm chris jansing in for hallie jackson. what a huge breaking news story we're following for you at the top of the hour. robert mueller the special counsel in charge of the investigation is coming out at the department of justice. he is scheduled to make a statement on his investigation at the top of the next hour. his first public comments on the probe since he started as special counsel more than two years ago. a full team of reporters and experts who have been following this investigation throughout. let me start with ken delaney in
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our washington bureau. ken, this is someone throughout the investigation did a remarkable job of keeping things under wrap and stopping any leaks from coming out. we have not seen him. he is someone who has very specifically stayed a political, it stands to reason if he's coming out and speaking in public there is something he fe feels he needs to say. >> not only have we not seen robert mueller, but not heard his voice. he has been completely silent, even as others including notably the attorney general have been speaking about what his investigation found and what decisions he made. and, obviously, there are huge questions looming over that. questions that congressional democrats want to ask robert mueller in public under oath in a congressional format. and we're just speculating. i have been working the phones and no one seems to know what exactly robert mueller is going to say at 11:00 a.m., but it is
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possible he could be addressing this ongoing negotiation that he is having with democrats about whether he should appear publicly or as he prefers, should give most of his testimony behind closed doors. one thing i can tell you that this is not about, chris, is that report yesterday about michael wolff's book alleging that there was a draft indictment of donald trump for obstruction of justice. something that robert mueller's team denied the moment that story appeared. he will not be addressing that today. that is not what this is about. something bigger and broader potentially. we'll see robert mueller on the seventh floor facing reporters. he will not take questions but he will make a statement that the country will be seeing and watching. >> thank you so much for that. i want to bring ari back in. we heard ken bring up the fact that there was this question about the testimony that congress wants to hear from robert mueller.
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jerry nadler, the chairman of the judiciary committee said to rachel maddow last week, and he doesn't want to participate in anything that he might regard as political spectacle. it is hard to get more of a spectacle than people will see this as. they have desperately been waiting to hear from robert mueller himself. give us your big picture of this. what are we seeing here? >> what we are seeing here is significant because, as you say, any words that mr. mueller wanted to release to the public, he could do on paper or in a letter. indeed, that has been the special counsel's core practice on almost every issue, including the report itself. so, he is choosing to come out to speak to the nation through television, which we still know in this era, as in so many recent eras a significant and bigger way to address the
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american public. that tells me he may want to say something quite final and distin distinct. it may have to do with his tenure perhaps he wants to say what he thinks he accomplished and what is left undone or whether he needs to say something about why he's finished, basically. or what the last step is. negotiations with congress over how to testify and whether you say he prefers that in open or closed session and given what we know. what do we know? we know that bob mueller who thinks that his boss, up until right now is his boss, mr. barr, he did not capture the full context of the mueller report in his public statements. which is a very diplomatic way of saying what people have said more bluntly. we know they are at some tension but enough cooperation to do this. we have reporting from nbc as mentioned. the white house was notified last night and this is happening in an orderly way through the justice department. i would expect bob mueller has
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something particular he wants to say and maybe a final thing. may relate to try to make sure the pub ipublic knows where he s and if he were to testify, how he thinks it would best be done. >> it could be anything from it has been my great honor to serve this country and as of this moment no longer the special counsel all the way up to really telling the american public where we are with the russia investigation and what he found with the russia investigation. let's not forget that james comey put out an op-ed in "the washington post" calling president trump, saying he perpetrated lies attacking the fbi and the entire investigation in 2016 campaign. >> you make such a great, por important point, chris. this is not happening on a neutral playing field where congress may or may not make policy changes. this is happening among this political battle which includes mr. barr having new
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declassification authorities and not the white house says to help, you know, inform the public about future events or combat terrorism or all the things. they explicitly admitted they gave new powers to mr. barr to help further declassify and inform the public about the roots of the mueller investigation. many people, many credible and nonpartisan experts even say they view that as an effort to further discredit what mr. mueller has done. the big question to me as i watch this, again, you and i know as journalists there is a lot we don't know until we hear from him. one question we have hanging over all of this is what is it that mr. mueller has been through recently that makes him want to speak in public on television, in person now that did not elicit him to want to do this at earlier stages in the probe. even when they announced the indictments of russia. his supervisor rod rosenstein the acting attorney general at the time announced that from the
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same lector where he is speaking today. >> an important and critical question and we have a full slate of folks to talk about this. cynthia, former federal prosecutor and msnbc legal analyst, barbara mcquaid attorney and a.b. stoddard associate editor for real clear politics and philip rutker u.s. bureau chief for "washington post." cynthia, i'll start with you. i think that the sort of operating procedure under which robert mueller has conducted this investigation is, frankly, what a lot of prosecutors think. and that is that it's easier to be taken seriously when you're not grand standing. it's easier to be taken seriously when you stay off cable news. it's easiest to be taken seriously when you do your job away from the prying eyes of the public. away from the prying eyes of the
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cameras. so, barbara, what do you make of the fact that robert mueller is now, for the first time, going to go before the cameras? >> yeah. i think it's a very surprising development. as you mentioned, he has always shunned the public eye. he does not see the media as part of his job. he tunes it out. he has certainly testified publicly before congress many times. but it may be that he wants to seize control here. he sees himself perhaps as a bit of a pawn of is he going to testify? he is going to do it publicly? he required testifying behind closed doors. if he has something to say, maybe he wants to say it on his own terms. this would give him an opportunity to do that. i think the only hint we have about the content of any frustration he may be feeling comes in that letter he sent to william barr where he complained that william barr mischaracterized the content, nature and substance of his report. he may be frustrated that the content of his report has been lost and give himself a chance to explain what his top line
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findings were. i'd love to hear him say that so the american public who has not read the report can hear what it said, the very damming conclusions that he made about president trump. >> there was nothing unequivocal about the mueller report, even if you just read the summary of it. hans nichols at the white house. i understand you have new information for us. >> i was just speaking with the senior administration official, chris. the white house was given a heads up about this last night. what is unclear whether they know the subject and/or content. from talking to officials this morning, it doesn't appear the white house has settled on a strategy on whether or not they're going to respond to what mr. mueller has to say at 11:00. that's the indication. it's not proof, but an indication that the white house doesn't know what the subject and/or content is going to be from mr. mueller. it almost seems as though they're watching this with as much interest as we are. now, all this information takes place and gets conveyed at different levels. we have to be very careful about
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what we know and what we don't know. we know the white house was given a heads up on this. this is going through normal channels. if they didn't try or weren't able to stop robert mueller from making this statement. and we know what the president has said about mueller in the past. he's gone back and forth on whether or not he thinks mueller should testify. the most recent comments he made just on friday on the south lawn before he left for that trip was talking about how ridiculous it is for robert mueller to go ahead and testify. contrast that from an earlier in may he said, it's entirely up to william barr on whether or not mueller testifies. so, the president, we're going to get this statement and seems the white house is still weighing how they're going to respond. an indication they may not know what mueller is going to say. chris? >> phil, is that your interpretation or maybe you have some of your own reporting from the white house. but would it be your understanding based on what we know that there doesn't seem to be a strategy there that, frankly, they don't know what
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robert mueller is going to say 50 minutes from now. >> that does seem to be the case, chris. they do know, obviously, that the sament tatement is going to happening. it's noteworthy it's happening at the department of justs and came out in a press release. this is an authorized event. not robert mueller doing an interview somewhere or speaking on the steps of his house, for example. but my colleague matt at "the washington post" is reporting based on an official familiar with what is going on this will be a substantial statement. that is the word that this source used. substantial. >> when we say substantial, this is not him coming out saying, i am no longer special counsel, thank you for allowing me to serve our country. >> my interpretation is that it will be more than that. a broad statement about the russia investigation and the last indication that we had about what mueller believes is that letter that he wrote to attorney general bill barr that later came out in the press
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where he ejected to the way that barr characterized the work of the special counsel saying barr lacked the appropriate context. we know mueller and his team were very frustrated with the way barr presented the information before releasing the final report. that is sort of what we know at this hour. >> cynthia, former federal prosecutor. let me get your take on this and, do you have any anticipation for what you would expect from robert mueller having followed him so closely? >> i have hope and fear. my hope is that he answers the question, would you have indicted the president? do you agree with attorney general barr that the president has cooperated? and what is your opinion about whether obstruction can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt -- >> back to ari's question which is the key one. which is this. what is it that he has been through recently. what has he seen and heard and
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what has he read recently and experienced that said to him on this day i feel compelled to come out and speak for myself in public? >> well, exactly. i think the one thing we do know, he has been in negotiations whether he will speak publicly to the cameras or privately testifying with the congress. my fear is that he will explain why he will testify privately. i hope that isn't true because i think the american people deserve the answers to the questions that i delineated. >> let's go now to kelly o'donnell who is on capitol hill and, kelly, a key question that we were hoping to have answered is whether or not as the white house was, the president was, whether at least the chairs of key committees have been notified about this. >> well, i have been working sources and so far of the key committees i heard back from democratic aides who say they were not given a heads up beyond the notification from the justice department that went out
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publicly. because, of course, the administration is republican and the department of justice is run by republicans, i'm waiting to hear from republican members to see if they got a heads up. so, it is interesting. this might be something that is just within the executive branch in terms of the notification. doj, to white house and that members of congress are sort of watching this like the rest of us. one aide described it that way. not much different than the press in learning how this played out. it will, of course, be of high interest to those committees that have been working in a lot of different lanes to do work that either mirrors what the russia investigation has done or a parallel track for what it has done. the senate intelligence investigation has not yet concluded. for example, we know donald trump jr. has agreed to come back early next month for a follow-up interview. he is among many people who have been interviewed by the committee. we've also seen how on the house side there are with the power of the gavel now that they have
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over these last several months before in charge of the house committees are running a range of different investigations to go from everything involving the president's taxes to the russia investigation to oversight of all kinds. so, this will be high stakes, high interest. and as phil rucker was talking about a substantive comment from robert mueller. he has only spoken in substantive ways through the indictments he has put out and in the rare cases where he presumably has authorized his spokesperson at a couple junctures in this two plus year investigation to set the record straight on something or provide guidance or information. so, this is a high-water mark moment for the nation that is watching this unfold and the individual players who have been working the investigation here on capitol hill. and, certainly, for the public which in many ways are wary about this investigation, impassioned about it in other corners and at times saying to
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reporters like you and me, chris. tell me what happens when it's over. will today be a big marker in that path towards concluding this investigation and, of course, 2020 candidates out in the field doing their work. that, of course, brings up the issue of the danger to the next election of russia interference and the social media and hacking abilities of u.s. adversaries. chris? >> we have people out with some of the key players in 2020. we'll be looking for their reaction to this. obviously, and certainly, after we hear from robert mueller. in addition, you have over the last couple days the first republican justin who is breaking with the rest of his party calling for the impeachment of the president. i'm going to go back to you, phil rucker, because this relates to where we just saw kelly on capitol hill and the exhausting reporting that your pape paper, "the washington post" has done finding that more than a quarter of lawmakers haven't said that they have read the 448-page report.
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there is a lot of many questions and concerns we have seen in town halls and people are getting abbreviated understandings of what was in this report. we're not even clear that members of congress even key members of congress have read the entire report. >> yeah, that's an extraordinary fact, chris. just to underscore members of congress are the people now faced with some decisions about how to proceed with the special counsel's report in hand. whether to begin impeachment proceedings as some democrats in the house are urging. and many of them have not even read this report in full. one thing that is inest thering out of that town hall last night in michigan where justin amash called for the president's impeachment. one of the things he said fellow house republicans agree with his conclusions, with his statements about the mueller report. but are afraid to say so
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publicly. have not said so publicly. but he is indicating broader support within the republican ranks and the house than just him for proceeding with impeachment proceedings. >> barbara mcquaid, some criticism recently and i'm talking about on op-ed pages around the country from people who are concerned that robert mueller would not testify in public. that this is of such interest to the american people. obviously, this report was paid for with taxpayer dollars. when you're talking about potentially the impeachment of the president of the united states, you don't have to overstate anything other than to say that to understand how critical it is exactly what he found. having said that, would you suspect that whatever he has decided to say today and the reasons he's come out and is saying them have nothing to do with the politics of this? >> i don't know. you know, i think that it may
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relate to what he wants to say in terms of a message. this may be his opportunity to seize a moment to control the narrative. i think one thing he may be worried about in testifying publicly is the sort of circus-like atmosphere that we hear in those hearings where each party alternates and get five minutes to ask questions and then alternates to the other. it doesn't really lend itself to a lengthy explanation of nuance and detail. and it may be that is why he prefers to testify privately so he can tell his story in a narrative form where he gets longer than five minutes to answer a question. today may be his opportunity to control the timing, the way he speaks. he's not responding to questions. just giving a statement. that may be what this is about. this is a prelude to any testimony or maybe he is frustrated that people haven't seemed to have read the report and william barr set a narrative for people to believe that there is a hoax and nothing to cover up. and that the republicans simply
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want or the democrats simply want a doover. this may be just an opportunity to be able to control the narrative and say what he has to say. >> frustration you mentioned and i think we heard it a lot ari over the last several weeks since the negotiations ongoing. will he be in public? will he go behind closed doors? i want to play something that congressman connelly said this morning about hearing directly from robert mueller. >> undermines the argument of i can't do it before congress. if you're finally going to break your silence after two years and issue a statement, why wouldn't you come before congress and let the american people hear what you've got to say with respect to what that report means or does not mean? >> the plan right here, however, is for him to do exactly that. make a statement, not take questions. >> i think the congressman
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reveals the fact that bob mueller ultimately, whether he is in doj or out, is still a witness who is subject, obviously, to subpoena powers of the congress. if they want to force public testimony, they can do that. might put the democrats in a difficult position of putting more heat on mr. mueller than some other witnesses. as to what we are discussing. why is this happening? if you're turning on your tv and bob mueller is going to talk, everybody told me that bob mueller doesn't talk. you d the real key context here and i'll get into detail because i think it's relevant. on march 25th that mueller sent his first private letter to barr saying, i object basically to the way you're characterizing this. on march 27th that he sent a second letter to barr saying, hey, i sent you this first letter and i'm concerned about what's coming out. we understand you're reviewing the full report, but we want to alleviate, quote,
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misunderstandings. that misunderstands that have arisen and the nature and outcome of our investigation. we know that was now over a month ago that bob mueller was so concerned. he was going to say to his boss, hey, these misunderstandings, ie, what you have been telling people to thmake them misunderstand. >> i gave you a month and you mischaracterized and now you continued to, in my view, mischaracterized what i know my report says. could that be what we're looking at? >> as you and i know, i don't want to try to interpret what bob mueller will say in public any more than i want to interpret a silent meditation retreat because it's hard to interpret silence. what am i watching for at 11:00? i am watching for whether bob mueller goes beyond the words in the report, which people have if they want to read it and what was leaked to say something more direct and even more blunt the
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american people about all this. if he reiterates the letters that will be significant and the country will watch it. does he go beyond that? what was in the letter suggested that he has more cards to play. >> we'll let you take a little bit of a break and you'll come back and leading up our coverage in a short time. let me go to ken delanian and our reporter who has been following this throughout. i think it's instructive at this point to look at those key points in the first section of the mueller report, which are those that deal specifically with the russia part of the investigation. russia interfering. and which it was unequivocally stated that they did interfere with the 2016 investigation. but are there parts of that that you think are more open to interpretation or perhaps the better way to put it is misinterpretation that robert mueller would like to clarify? >> yes, absolutely.
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and to ari's point, that's exactly what i'm listening for, as well. will he go beyond the report? i personally don't think he will in this forum. but when it comes to volume one of the report, you know, he lays out an explanation of the various more than 100 contacts between trump campaign officials and associates and russians. and he explains that he didn't find a criminal conspiracy. but so much else, chris, is left out of that narrative. the counterintelligence implications of those contacts. what i mean by that whether those contacts threatened american national security. whether the fbi concluded that anybody else associated with donald trump or his campaign was compromised and unduinfluenced russia. also missing was whether anybody on the trump campaign notified the fbi of these approaches. we learned from jim comey's op-ed yesterday that didn't happen. so, no moral or ethical judgment
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was passed by robert mueller on what we saw there, which was a campaign flirting with the russians. whether it was a conspiracy or not. there are fbi counterintelligence reports that were classified and sent to headquarters that deal with those issues and that's what house democrats want to get their hand on. robert mueller may or may not be aware of the details of those. but he can tell the american people how they should think about what happened with the campaign. whether or not there was a criminal conspiracy. will he do that? i tend to doubt it. but that is a particular question he can answer about volume one. on volume two with obstruction, there are even larger questions, chris. principally, why did he decide that not only could he not charge the president with a crime under justice department doctrine, he couldn't even make a prosecutorial decision. he couldn't say, look, i find evidence of a crime here and it's up to congress to decide whether to impeach. he decided not to go down that road and said he presented ten instances of what they called
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obstructive conduct by president trump and those around him. congress wants to know why did you make that decision and is it true for that legal opinion that says you can't indict a sitting president, donald trump would have and could have been charged with obstruction of justice. >> talk to us really briefly, ken, because you know the players in this. most of the american people do not. know the players involved very closely with robert mueller in this investigation. how wide or how small is the circle of people he has likely discussed his decision with about, first of all, deciding to speak out to speak to the american people but also what he's going to say and, obviously, as lawyers, how exactly he's going to say it. >> you know, that's a more difficult question than you might imagine, chris. because many of the key figures on the mueller team, particularly andrew wiseman who
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was the number two have left the justice department and now in private practice. and unclear to me and my reporting to what robert mueller is still consulting these people. robert mueller is still a doj employee and he reports up the chain of command up to the attorney general william barr. as ari and others have discussed, there has been a disconnect about how barr has characterized mueller's work and mueller's opinion as evidence in that letter that barr wasn't getting it quite right. it's not clear to me anyway who mueller is consulting on these decisions about whether to go public. you know, he's got a circle of friends that goes back through 50 years of life. let's remember who robert mueller is. a man who volunteered for combat in vietnam as a marine and came back and became a prosecutor and prosecuted murder cases and led the fbi after 9/11. he has a circle of people to draw on who he decided to consult on this decision is unclear. >> look who joined me, tom
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winter nbc political reporter and somebody who has been following this throughout. have you gotten any indication at all of what we might expect to hear? we just saw the picture of that podium which in and of itself is just dramatic. >> sure. it's more of what it is not going to be than what it is. based on what i am hearing, this not going to be to correct the report that came out asand thiss going to address any other news report or any thing that we've seen. this is going to be a significant or a substantial statement, chris. that's the best we know at this point. but as far as the specific information, we don't have that yet. >> okay. so, here's where we are right now. we are now just about a little more than half an hour away from robert mueller taking the stand where you just saw the guy standing in front of the camera doing what we call light balance on the camera. that is where he is going to be.
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quite unexpectedly for us, but we understand the white house got a heads up prior to the public announcement this morning. within the last hour or so that robert mueller had a statement to make about the russia investigation. the white house got word of this last night. we also have heard from capitol hill that at least on the democratic side, the leadership of the key committees that have been investigating this, some of them, obviously, have said they want to hear from robert mueller have been in negotiations to hear from him. have not heard from him. let's go to the white house where hans nichols is standing by. what are you hearing there? >> chris, when the white house was initially told last night that this statement may be coming, senior administration officials that they made no attempt to stop mueller. it doesn't appear the content of
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what mueller is going to announce today at 11:00 was conveyed to the white house. now, i have been told to be careful that there could have been other conversations. so, we don't want to say definitively the white house or at least the president doesn't know what is coming, but at least that initial notification, the only thing that was conveyed was there may be a statement. it wasn't even certain and the white house didn't make after being given that information didn't make an attempt to stop or block mueller from coming to the cameras here in just about 20 minutes. chris? >> hans nichols on what is a dramatic morning in washington, d.c. there is the podium. right next to me. that is where robert mueller is going to be speaking in the next half hour. that is the seal behind the podium of the department of justice. he will be making public comments. his first public comments on the russia investigation. i'm chris jansing and my colleague ari melber picks up coverage from here. >> thank you, chris. a team effort as we go. 10:30 a.m. in new york and 10:30
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in washington at the justice department. as mentioned, you are looking at the room where special counsel bob mueller is scheduled and according to information from the justice department to come out and make a public comment of some sort on the russia investigation at the top of the hour. i'm ari melber and julie ansley arriving at washington and you see her out front and tell us what you know. when you look at this announcement, i know it was a surprise to you because you just got there and watching the report where viewers will hear from bob mueller for the first time ever. what do we know? >> well, it's a shock, ari. you're right. we rushed down here today. not only is this the first time we heard from bob mueller since he became special counsel over two years ago, but this also comes in the middle of ongoing pain staking negotiations to get him to testify on capitol hill. from what we know from our own
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nbc reporting, that has been primarily breaking down along the lines of what he can say because so much can be protected from the white house under executive privilege and he wanted to avoid the political spotlight. so, this decision is a big one to make today. to come here and to make a public statement. we know he will not be taking questions. that could also be to try to side step what could be seen as more of a political show. he doesn't want to take any questions. he has something so important to say that he didn't want to wait until the negotiations finished and he didn't want to put it in a written statement. his whole office let the report speak for itself. there's something missing. there is something the public doesn't know that robert mueller himself thinks we need to know today and he decided to make this extraordinary step to come here to the justice department. another thing i would say is
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interesting is the venue. the special counsel does fall under the justice department, but we know the special counsel's office and this justice department have been at odds. people from robert mueller's office who came to the justice department officials and said early on before the report came out, you're not characterizing this summary correctly by going off and saying that we completely cleared him of obstruction. that's not the case. so, we know there has been some friction so interesting they chose this venue. coming here to make this statement. i wonder if thal st signals the justice department knows what he's going to say and approved him to come here and make this statement. i am sure we can't emphasize enough how unusual this is and how important it is that he decided to make this decision today. >> julia, stay with me. i'll bring in matt zapatowski. good morning to you. we have recently heard from bob mueller beyond the report in
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written form. we know that he wrote two letters to bill barr. when you look at what we're going to hear this morning, do you expect in any way those disagreements and those unusual r letters, including this statement mueller saying to barr at the time a private letter that barr summary didn't capture the context, nature and substance of mueller's work and conclusions. do you see that as a jumping off point for today's remarks at 11:00? >> that i don't know. i mean, we have reported just recently that he's expected to deliver a substantial statement. that's a word that someone close to him used with us. and it's going to take about eight minutes or so. but the actual substance we don't know. the only detail that i have, it's not in response to these claims in michael wolff's upcoming book about a reported draft indictment for obstruction of justice against the president. that question about the letter is inest the interesting. will he air that out a little
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bit? explain his side of that. that is one of the big questions we don't know. we heard bill barr's account of that. we haven't heard robert mueller's account of that. i don't know -- >> you're telling us, just to be clear. you're telling us your sources have given you a ballpark of eight minutes on mueller's statement today? >> yes, correct. >> and those are sources i would imagine that you believe are in a position to know. >> yes. yes. absolutely. >> have you heard from anyone about whether this would be potentially mueller's final statement as an employee of the trump justice department? >> that's a question i wonder about. i don't know the answer to that. it was our understanding he would depart shortly after the report was submitted and that was a long time ago now. i mean, the end of march. he's still there. it's possible this would be sort of his farewell speech and maybe run down some points in the investigation that he feels the public does not understand and announce he is not going to be a justice department employee.
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that's just me speculating. >> i want to walk viewers through what you're looking at. a lectern on the seventh floor of the justice department with a few members and staff getting ready. this is the kind of room that agencies across washington have and they hold press conferences regularly that aren't covered like this. what will happen in this room in about 24 minutes. special counsel mueller will walk in and speak for the first time ever during his tenure as special counsel. what we don't know and what i want to ask my panel with julia and matt and legal analyst and barbara mcquaid and ab stoddard from real clear politics and philip rucker, white house bureau chief for "washington post." . we have a lot of knowledge here. as we look at this room, i want to ask the prosecutors first, what do you know about what it means when a special counsel comes out to address the press
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and the public in that room? do you have any indication of whether we would expect mr. mueller to come out there alone or whether mr. barr who is overseeing him still and who approved this. we got this through official doj channel may be in the room and behind him and what message that would send. your thoughts on those issues, as well as your thoughts on what we are going to hear. starting with barbara. >> i don't know. you know the fact that robert mueller is still an employee of the department of justice means to me we are not going to hear robert mueller unplugged. he is still an employee and speaking in the department of justice and william barr remains his boss. and, so, i would imagine anything that he is going to say today has been cleared with the justice department and their office of public affairs. that they've seen at least the content of what he's going to say and, so, i don't know that we're going to see something that is directly critical of william barr. i would hope that at the least,
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he does explain a little bit about his thinking and about the intent when he made his decisions on both conspiracy and obstruction of justice. but i don't know that he is going to upset the apple cart here in william barr's house, so to speak. >> cynthia? >> ari, i don't think that's in his dna at all to be disrespectful to the attorney general in the department of justice. i don't see that happening. my guess is he is going to discuss very briefly his conclusions. as much as i would give my right arm to ask him 15 questions about those conclusions and whether or not he expected barr to slam his final decision or whether or not he expected that to go to congress, i don't see him doing that. my guess is, he'll talk about and speak privately and talk about what an honor it has been. he may give some top line conclusions that we already read about and then we'll be back to
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reading tea leaves of what he really thinks. >> when you say what an honor it has been in past tense, you're implying what? >> i'm implying that this would be his swan song and he will be done. i think he will testify to the congress. i want him to testify publicly. i would do anything to see that. i don't see that as likely. it seems from the reporting that he wants to do it privately and my guess is he'll get to do what he wants. that is the kind of person he is. >> phil? >> yes. sorry. i thought you were going to someone else. i don't know what he is going to be saying and i don't want to speculate on that. we should keep in mind the backkeep drop to this moment. for the last two months the president has used every tool at his disposal. daily comments at the white house to claim that mueller provided total exoneration in this report. when you read the report itself, he does not draw that conclusion. and, yet, so many people, millions of people around the
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country are inclined to believe what the president has been saying about this report. and, so, it's really the first time mueller has gone before the camera to try to clear up that record and to correct that record and, you quo, peknow, peo see it will read it in the nuance of his language and narrative and they have not heard it from him and so much more power delivering about his statement on camera that could be lasting and that the american people can digest in a new way ask that may be motivating him to come forward now two months later. >> we talk about that motivation. barbara, i don't think it could be overemphasized. viewers who are following this and looking at this room who might be, you know, waking up depending on where you are in the country and learning, oh, bob mueller is going to speak. bob mueller who has stayed silent through every indictment and attack and every trump tweet, bob mueller is now going to speak today for some reason. we don't know exactly why. we have gotten a few clues from our talented panel, barbara. we also know from the last time
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that bob mueller, according to what has come out, was addressing bill barr. i read this to you, barbara. he said that he was basically worried about the way that his work was characterized and said it was time to alleviate the misunderstanding that have arisen about the mueller report. that was taken as a diplomatic way of calling out mr. barr for the way he characterized that report and that would be a floor for how mueller could speak about it today. >> yeah. and you raise a good point, ari. the mere fact that robert mueller put that in writing is a really deafening statement, even though it uses very restrained language. i have been in that room. i have participated in press conferences in that room and one thing that is interesting is before all the speakers go on stage, there is an assembly room behind there where people have an opportunity to get together and speak and make sure they're on the same page and come up with the run of show, so to speak. so, i'd be curious to see whether anyone else is there. whether william barr is with
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him. again, i don't imagine william barr is going to come out and shake his fist and talk about all the damage that william barr has done to the cause of justice here. but what we might see is robert mueller saying, you know, i'm done. i've been a justice department employee and i worked on this for two years and here is what i believe we found in our investigation. i expect him to do that in a respectful way and maybe he will at least amplify the message that has been in writing. but too few americans have really digested and that is what he truly concluded that he did not exonerate the president. so, perhaps if he were just to repeat what is written in his report, that would resonate with americans who have not had an opportunity or taken the time to read the report. >> thank you to barbara and my panel. stay with us. i want to bring in a new voice. someone who has literally overseen and organized these exact kind of briefings. matt miller served as chief spokesman to eric holder and
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also an analyst for us at msnbc. good morning, sir. >> goodern moin morning, ari. >> did you expect this when you woke up today? >> it seemed like it was going to be another slow news day but barbara was referencing the run of show and i've run a lot of those in my time at doj and oftentimes you spring these on the american public. that's the nature of this beast, i think. >> we look at this room that is not even fully filled up yet. seventh floor of the justice department. bob mueller scheduled to speak in just over 15 minutes. it will be the first time he has ever publicly spoken in his time as special counsel and speaks, matt, as i think our viewers know. at an extraordinary time where new powers have been consulid e consolidated to override the agencies in what the white house says is direct effort to explore the origins of the mueller probe. it comes at a time that the
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president's allies have openly attacked parts of the probe and also mischaracterized what is volume two of the report regarding the criminal evidence of obstruction against the sitting president of the united states. and it comes as congress ebbs and flows to discuss the impeachment hearings. i want to put to you, matt, four very short key questions as we look towards this address from mr. mueller today. number one, does he resign. number two, does he in any way go beyond the written text of his report. number three, does he address potential testimony before the congress. and number four, does he rebut depictions of his work? >> very good questions, ari. i think that lines up with what i would expect. you could think about these remarks today. some live issues that he can address. the status of his tenure at doj is one. the nature and timing of any testimony to congress and whether he is willing to answer questions in public and how he
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would deal with a subpoena if he got one from congress or others. and then there are these questions about the nature of his disagreement with bill barr that, you know, that he made clear in those letters that he sent to the attorney general where he described, you know, what in his view was a misstatement by bill barr about his report. and then there are kind of the last of the underlying factual things in his report. i would expect today you'll get a mix, probably something, addressing the live issue of upcoming testimony to congress and what he thinks will be appropriate. not entirely his decision. congress has a voice in it and then something about his report. even if he doesn't get into his disagreements with bill barr and that would be somewhat unusual. him just coming forward and talking about what was in his report is powerful. one thing to read it on paper and another thing for the american people to hear people like you and people like me and people like members of congress talking about it. another thing to hear the special counsel himself. who has marshalled his public
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remarks. i think that's the important thing. the fact that he has stayed quiet for so long for two years gives such power potentially to what he has to say today. >> absolutely. i mean, if there has ever been a wait and a restraint exhibited by a public official in law enforcement or really all the united states, obviously, bob mueller has convinced the country that he was not seeking air time. stay with me. i want to turn to peter alexander who is live for us at the white house. the president recently spoken about mr. mueller and the report when he was in tokyo. let's tee that up. >> never been a president more transparent. the mueller report came out, no obstruction. no collusion. no nothing. it's beautiful report. >> how does this square with what the white house is going to do today with the person that has given them some of the most trouble, in their view, mr. mueller. and when did they learn about this? >> ari, what is striking about this over the past couple months
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we heard from the president saying it would be up to the attorney general william barr whether or not robert mueller testified. he changed his tone on friday before he departed for that trip saying why would he need to testify? it is ridiculous. those are the words of the president of the united states. we are told by a senior white house official that they were alerted that robert mueller would be delivering a statement of some kind last night. that's when we learned the information. the president was also made aware of that. remains unclear and appears they do not know specifically what robert mueller will say today. but, ari, in conversations with those behind these doors who are generally in the know and informed about what is going on certainly as it relates to this investigation. what i hear in our conversations is that they think, at least the white house seems to think, that robert mueller wouldn't be speaking today if there had been some form of an agreement with the house judiciary committee, with the democratic chairman jerry nadler about his testimony. we heard from nadler within the last several days and his conversation with rachel maddow
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and now they're saying that mueller wanted to deliver some opening statement but that his testimony he wanted to take place behind closed doors and in the words of nadler, to avoid some form of a, quote, political spectacle. the officials here that i speak to anticipate, again, it appears they don't know what he will say. anticipate there is a good chance that robert mueller will wind down his investigation. perhaps the proper thank yous in the like. but whether he goes any further than that, that's what we wait to see and certainly the white house will be watching closely and be preparing its strategy to react to that. >> peter alexander live at the white house in a place that is going to be watching this along with a lot of other folks. we'll come back to you. thank you for your reporting. i want to bring back some of our experts. matt miller and i were discussing this and has managed rooms like the one you're looking at and barbara mcquaid a former federal prosecutor who knows bob mueller's work and his boundaries and cynthia also with
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us a former federal prosecutor. barbara, for viewers who are joining us, i want to point out what is happening. 10:48 a.m. in washington and looking at a room that is still slowly filling up based on annan announcement that came in late morning basically telling the world that bob mueller is going to do something he's never done before, which is speak as special counsel. i put to you the questions i raised earlier as we wait for this address at 11:00 a.m., will he resign? will he rebut depictions of his report? will he address his public testimony? >> i don't know, of course, but i think it may be the case that he is winding down his work at the department of justice as an employee. he agreed to stay on to help transition matters and maybe it is time for him to give his last remarks. part of this debate whether he testifies publicly before congress. i know we heard that he or someone in his office would prefer that he do so behind closed doors.
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and that may be an effort to avoid that circus-like atmosphere that we see when questions alternate between parties for five-minute increments. it makes it very difficult for a witness to really give a narrative. he wants the first bite at the apple before he goes into that very public circus-like atmosphere, an opportunity to own the podium for whatever it is, eight minutes or whatever it is. and have his say. i don't think he'll go outside his report but at least emphasize what it does say. >> we are watching the room where any minute bob mueller will speak for the first time. as lawyers we like to look at precedent, the most recent precedent, which i'm going to read to you, the baseline what we know, not speculation or characterization, but the baseline of bob mueller's written words to mr. barr during the crucial period where mr. barr and the president were claiming no collusion, no obstruction.
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we know that mueller wrote at the time privately and said there's public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our probe. this threatens to undermine the purpose of which i was appointed, quote, to ensure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigation. do you think from then to now that bob mueller's concern about that issue that he identified has increased or decreased? >> i think it's exactly the same. the public perception at the time he wrote those letters, at the end of march, the 25th and the 27th, was that the president was saying, and the attorney general was saying, that essentially there wasn't russian intervention. and there was. and i do think he will highlight the fact that there was russian intervention in the election. he can say that over and over and be quoting from his own report without dissing the attorney general at the same time in an overt way. >> again, just working off the
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facts we have. we do not know the contents. weave gotten sourcing and reporting that mueller may make a substantial statement, he'll say more than a line or two, but beyond that we don't know. to your point, sicynthia, i can read to viewers what the justice department described it as, mueller to make statement, quote, on investigation into russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which spor supports what you're saying that mueller wants more than anything to make sure people know the findings and you're saying his boss may have done less than a fair service to what he found. >> that's clear. bob mueller is a tas tern guy, the fact he wrote the letters you've been highlighting this afternoon, this morning, is like a big grenade in the department of justice room, it's not like him. the fact he did it shows how upset he was. so know that about him. and also know he's fundamentally
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a marine and it's a patriot issue for him. my hunch would be -- i don't know him really well, but i know him well enough to know that he would find it outrageous. my guess is he highlights that because he's ultimately a patriot. >> that would be striking. if you're joining our special coverage we're about to hear from bob mueller for the first time ever in this special counsel probe. he's going to speak from the room you see at the justice department, the seventh floor, within the next seven minutes according to the doj, and bob mueller is not known to run late. i'm ari melber, chief legal consult here at msnbc. i'm joined by craig melvin. when i look at an event like this, put aside the law. one of the questions we're going to answer the moment they step out there, is bob mueller alone or is bill barr behind him?
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is this a show of solidarity of some kind, and how does bob mueller begin? what are the words he's going to share on this momentous first experience. >> i believe it's been specifically two years 12 days since he was appointed special counsel. bob mueller has spoken through indictments, through the occasional statement but we have not heard bob mueller's voice about this, save that no comment on april 21st when approached by a reporter on the street. all of that changes roughly five minutes from now. ari melber our chief legal correspondent is going to stand by. also want to bring in reporter julia ainsley, she's at the justice department for us. analyst former chief spokesman for the justice department, matt miller also with me. matt, let's not speculation for five minutes here because five minutes from now we'll know what
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bob mueller has on his mind. but what would you surmise based on what you're hearing, reading about the possibility this could be a lengthy statement he's not going to be taking questions we're told. also word that bill barr, the attorney general, is going to sit for his first f network news interview here in the next couple of days. matt, 30 minutes from now, if you had to guess, what would you guess we're talking about? >> my guess is we're going to hear -- obviously it could be a wide number of things. i guess we'll hear some part of the statement where he walks through his findings and conclusions. it will be different to hear him talk about it because he's never talked, and never put out a public statement in the two years of his investigation. that's the first part. i would be surprised if there's anything new in there, we don't know, there could be. then i think we'll hear him say something about how he sees his role in terms of testifying to congress. we know there have been
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negotiations between his team and the house judiciary committee and whether he would come and whether he's willing to testify in public or not. i expect you hear him say something about that. then i would say there are these other questions that are outstanding that we probably won't hear from him on. does he want to speak anymore about his disagreement with bill barr and does he think that bill barr has continued to mislead the american public. i'd be surprised if we hear that. why didn't he make a determination on obstruction of justice, i would surprised if we hear that too, other than he says some kind of recitation of the language in the report. if this was a surprising news conference to be put on the schedule at all, he doesn't speak publicly often, that's always true. he didn't speak piublicly when e was at the fbi, unless it was the mandated testimony he had to do before congress. it's been more unusual, unprecedented at this job. all the things we expect him to
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say, i want to hold out the possibility we get a curveball that he throws out to the public in four minutes from now. you mentioned the house john dowd -- with you mentioned the house judiciary committee, we know that jerry nadler was made aware ahead of time, not much heads up according to the peter alexander a few moments ago. if bob mueller were to say my work is done, i'm going to step aside now, what would that mean moving forward? would it change anything in a remarkable way? >> it would mean that the justice department can't exercise any control over what he says to congress going forward. i think it's tough for them effectively to do that now, bill barr could order him to not testify about certain things. he could try to -- he could ignore that order if he wants, but it's more difficult when you're a justice department employee. once he walks out of the door
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he's not bound by instructions or orders that bill barr give. i don't think people should read that he's a complete free agent and can talk about whatever he wants. i would expect he would go by the guidelines, you don't go beyond the four corners of the indictments. i would expect if he goes before congress, he won't go beyond the four corners of the indictments and the report he wrote. his disagreements with the attorney general i don't think he would get into. as a former employee i wouldn't expect him to go much beyond it, but he has a lot more freedom. that's peter carr there, who's his spokesman, i suspect giving the two minute warning. >> we got that confirmed. that is the two-minute warning. you haven't been in justice for a long time, but you know how things work in the room.
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we're all watching and waiting, the same is the case from the white house as well. reporting from the white house, including kellyanne conway, mick mulvaney, some other communications officials are all huddled in sarah sanders' office, the press walking in and out ahead of the statement. ari melber, from a legal standpoint, just picking up on what matt miller said there, hypothetically, if bob mueller comes out, makes a statement, we're told -- scratch that. there are reports we haven't confirmed there, it will be a lengthy statement, but at the end of the statement where do we go from here? is it too early to tell? >> where we go is whether bob mueller says something that can be acted on, does he lay it out in public so it can't be debated further, new information about what he found, said, meant,
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there was substantial evidence of criminal intent by the president, in his view. we're going to see bob mueller walk out and we're going to be watching for is he alone, is mr. barr behind him or in the room, what are the first words that bob mueller wants to publicly utter? a man who is reticent, sometimes to a fault his supporters say. he clearly has something to say. does he in any way elude to or cite what we know to be major disagreements with mr. barr about what mueller found in his investigation and about evidence about sitting the president. >> here we have for the first time publicly in more than two years robert mueller. >> thank you for being here. two years ago the acting attorney general asked me to sv


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