tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC May 29, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
counsel bob mueller stepped to the microphone and said he was stepping away from the special counsel's office to return to private life. did not take any questions -- did not take any questions but left a number of questions out there. andrea mitchell will try to answer them. i'll see you tomorrow morning. good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington continuing our breaking news. our coverage here in washington where after more than two years robert mueller just broke his silence announcing his resignation as special counsel. saying he hopes and expect this is will be his last spoken word onto subject, but not exonerating the president. >> as said forth in the report after that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. we did not make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. >> in that excerpt from the
report, mueller saying for the first time that from the out set of the probe under justice department rules, his office could not indict a sitting president but indicating that now it's up to congress. >> the opinion says that the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrong doindoing and beyond department policy we were guided by principles of fairness. it would be unfair to potentially -- it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge. that was justice department policy. those were the principles under which we operated and from them we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. that is the office's final
position. we will not comment on any other con clclusions or hypotheticals about the president. >> mueller made it clear he does not want to testify before congress. >> i hope and expect this will be the only time i will speak to you in this manner. i am making that decision myself. no one has told me whether i can or should testify or speak further about this matter. there's been a discussion about testimony before congress. any discussion would not go beyond our report. it contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. we chose those words carefully and the words speak for itself. the report is my testimony. i would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before congress. i do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak
further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the justice department or congress. it's for that reason i will not be taking questions today as well. >> after that dramatic statement, pete williams, was in the room. let's get the very latest from our justice correspondent pete williams. nbc justice and national correspondent julia ainsley outside as well. at the white house we have peter alexander, kasie hunt, matt miller and jeremy bash. pete, first to you. you've known robert mueller for a long time. you've covered him for a very long time. this was very dramatic. his statement appeared halting. you can understand the pressure he's under. your first impressions, your headlines? >> reporter: well, i think you've hit the high points.
number one, he made it clear he doesn't want to testify before congress. he said there's no point of it. he's not going to go beyond what's in his testimony. i hope this is my late statement about it. quite clear he's laying a marker down. he doesn't want to testify before congress. the report speaks for itself. this was an important inflection point in the career of this special counsel investigation. it's now completely over. the report, largely ended it. he had some finishing up to do. now he's no longer or shortly will no longer be the special counsel. he goes back to private life. the second point i thought was interesting today is, and you touched on it as well. it seemed pretty clear now that in terms of the process, the special counsel's office made the decision from the outset that they could not charge the president with a crime even if they found evidence of it. we had thought reading the
report, that maybe they assembled it all and said can we charge him with a crime. i guess we can't. it's quite clear they knew that going in. his summary of the report though doesn't go an inch beyond what the report says. it is a very accurate summary of what the report said. i did think it was interesting that given this report is 440 plus pages long, he did choose to pull out of it what is a very brief mention plus a footnote in section two of the report on obstruction when he said the opinion meaning, the justice department opinion you can't charge the president with a crime. the opinion says the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrong doing. back to your original question. yes, i remember when bob mueller first came onto the job and the days before 9/11 following him through his remarkable 12 year career as director of the fbi.
he's 74 years old now. i would say today he showed every evidence of being a 74-year-old man who is probably eager to return to private life. >> indeed. also, pulling out his emphasis on how russia did have a widespread conspiracy, a russian conspiracy to attack our election. something that should be of concern to all americans. he is certainly signaling something. >> reporter: he came to that at the beginning -- >> go ahead. >> reporter: said that at the beginning and came back to the end. almost as if to say, in all the politics here, don't forget somebody tried to interfere in our election and that should be the big take away. his office did distribute the sort of its final report card as though the report doesn't say it, the list of all the charges they filed. key among those are the two charges against the russians for the hacking and the social media
interference in the election. >> that is what he read from when he began talking about that first indictment, a year ago, june. peter alexander, the president tweeted and now sarah sanders issued a statement. the tweet nothing changes from the mueller report. there was insufficient evidence and in our country a person is incident. the case is closed. thank you. now sarah sanders statement and it seems to me she is certainly putting her own spin and cherry picking what has happened here today. >> i think you're exactly right. it's clear the president was watching, not in the west wing but in the residence as robert mueller, for the first time in the course of this investigation, finally spoke out. putting out that tweet. the president's tweet ignores one of the key take aways that the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrong doing. he wants to say the case is closed. robert mueller said it wasn't up
to me. the case really isn't closed just yet. congress will have the final say on that.
from sarah sanders just moments ago, we got the following statement. she just said the special counsel has completed the investigation, closed his office, and has closed the case. mr. mueller explicitly said he has nothing to add beyond the report and therefore does not plan to testify before congress. sanders adds the report was clear there was no collusion, no conspiracy and the department of justice confirmed there was no obstruction. specific counsel mueller sated that attorney general barr acted in food good faigood faith. he concludes the special counsel is moving on with his life and every one else should do the same. those are the words of sarah sanders just moments ago. a couple other things that struck me as you consider the president's frequent attacks on the course of the investigation. how many times did we hear the president call it a hoax or a witch hunt where robert mueller
said the matters they investigated were of paramount of importance. that appears to be a rebuttal from the building from behind me and the president of the united states. all those attacks that robert mueller and his team, mueller said those individuals in advance of his resignation from the office of special counsel, from the department of justice, he said they were of the quote highe highest integrity. the on the words we have heard from robert mueller combatting the attacks that came his way over the course of this time. the biggest take away was for all the the efforts this white house has made, the president through the megaphone of twitter, aides, public events where he said no obstruction and no collusion. we didn't hear either of those words from robert mueller today. certainly didn't hear total exoneration. robert mueller said the opposite of what the president said which is that there's still potentially more to be done. it just isn't going to be done by the office of the special
counsel. >> peter, all of those points so interesting. joining us by phone is former acting solicitor general of the yi united states who helped write the original legislation that enabled this investigation. neil, your take away. >> i think two things. it was classic mueller. just by the book. exactly sticking to what the report said but number two, what he chose to pull out of the report and emphasize. the idea if he could clear the president, he would. that the office of special counsel has folks of the highest integrity and the like he couldn't charge the president under doj guidelines. all of that taken together is a very damming portrait of the president. what this is all about is one thing, the next step. what mueller is saying between the lines is that next step is the congress of the united
states which is charged under the constitution with the duty of impeachment. i don't think there's any other way to read what was said today than that. >> thank you. kasie, pick it up from there. this will clearly increase the pressure on congress. the president that nancy pelosi has been trying to hold back from members of her caucus to do something especially now that it might seem unfair and burdensome to bring robert mueller in after he said that he does not want to testify and would only stick to the report. this would seem to lead to them rethinking impeachment. >> i think you're already seeing that pressure build. there is this big question as to whether in wake of this, the house judiciary committee would subpoena robert mueller. he was trying the make clear he doesn't have anything to add. the only way in which this would add to our sort of national discourse about this is frankly
with the dramatic spectacle of having him appear in public. i do think the broader point about pressure for impeachment has already sharply escalated just in the hour or so since robert mueller concluded his remarks. there was a piece of the judiciary committee chairman jerry nadler statement that really stood out to me. he said given the special counsel mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the president, it falls to congress to respond to crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of president trump. we will do so. jerry nadler has been very careful to adhere closely to what nancy pelosi has laid out on impeachment. the idea that the president is goading them into this. they would be handing the president re-election and dividing the country unnecessarily. this, to me, really feels like a significant step in the
direction of impeachment. cory booker who is on the senate side is out calling it a moral imperative now. i think that idea is likely to snowball in the wake of what robert mueller said. he did not specifically say, hey, congress, you make this decision but it was written all over the remarks that he made today. he was clear, finally, about what his intentions were in laying out and not being able to charge the president and saying this is out of our hands at the department of justice. this is up to you, the united states congress. congress is away this week for the memorial day recess. we're hearing from members one by one in a piecemeal way. i think over the next couple of weeks, you're really potentially going to see the pressure build and get a sense of whether or not these impeachment proceedings are inevitable. >> i wanted to come here to
jeremy bash. you were general counsel at the house intelligence. it struck a lot of people in the last few weeks that you've got so many different committees. you've got financial services and oversight and judiciary and intelligence and maybe it would have been a lot cleaner and easier for nancy pelosi if she had earlier went to a special select committee and that would have called the flurry of subpoenas and perhaps brought the non-kentucky fried chicken eating members in on that committee and elevated the level of this inquiry so they could proceed now in a more organized fashion. >> i think she has a lot of confidence in the judiciary chairman, jerry nadler. let's translate what bob mueller said. if you know bob mueller, the way you know him, he was foot stomping the podium pretty hard today. he took out the report and he highlighted the sentences that said the president did obstruct
justice. i cannot charge him because the office of legal counsel policy says i cannot. there's only way under our constitution for the president to be held accountable for wrong doing and that is under article one that says the sole power of impeachment rests with the house of representatives. he was making the constitutional plea to the nation and the congress to read the report, focus on its findings and do its job. i agree with the sentiment this will build pressure in house and in the congress more generally for impeachment. >> if i could add one other element. he really emphasized that russia attacked us because of all this talk. you have the president of the united states standing next to vladmir putin and taking putin's point of view rather than our intelligence agencies and now we have the attorney general going into re-litigation through a very serious investigation. grabbing declassification abilities from the intelligence,
from the dni and the cia and into the origins of the russia probe and this brings it right to the fore that russia attacks us. this is serious. that all americans should be concerned about it. >> i agree with jeremy's analysis. one way to look at what bob mueller did today was really devastate the account that bill barr has given to the american public without saying so and contradict what the white house press secretary said. that statement had two parts. the first part is this is what the report found. that's a lie. the report did not find there was no collusion despite the attorney general saying that publicly and bob mueller made very clear today from the report using the same language that when we investigated the russian conspiracy, what we found is there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. that's different than saying there's no evidence of collusion. the statement that the department of justice confirmed
there was no obstruction. that's because we have two department of justices. we have the department of justice led by bill barr who made his own determination of obstruction of justice and then we have what bob mueller found. he made very clear today that he was not saying that the president did not obstruct justice. he said if i could tell you the president didn't commit a crime, i would say so. the fact i haven't is only because of this constitutional restriction that the department of justice has imposed on me. >> the fact they did not have testimony from the president aside from the written answers. they didn't push that. ken, pick this up here. there's a lot they could not get to both because of the refusal of the president to testify, other witnesses not being able. people changing their story. manafort and the problems that they had with him as a witness. there are a lot of reasons why they could not reach conclusions about what did or did not
happen. >> that's correct. including the destruction of e-mails and other evidence. it's also the case because of the regulations under which robert mueller was operating, the special counsel rule is very different than the independent counsel rules that govern ken star, this whole thing transpired in a much different way than it might have. i'm seeing some criticism of robert mueller on my twitter feed. more than i have before after this statement because this is very frustrating to the resistance and to some democrats who hoped that robert mueller would get in there and get the truth about what happened with donald trump and his campaign in russia. not just the narrow question of whether crimes were committed but what were the moral and ethical obligations of trump team had when they were approached by those russian operatives. did they call the fbi. was national security harmed and the fact that mueller is not able to speak to that nor is he
able to say clearly whether he believes donald trump obstructed justice is really frustrating to a lot of people. yes, people can say it's over to you congress but your point about a select me is interesting. we don't have a select committee. we have congressional investigations. the democrats have been unable to put a narrative in front of the american public. they are being blocked. one of the key witnesses on obstruction is don mcgahn. he will fight tooth and nail testifying. it's unclear whether they can get a narrative that drives to impeachment in front of the american public. as we all know there aren't the votes in the senate to convict the president. >> julia at the justice department, bill barr probably has to feel relieved that the words that were spoken about him were that the attorney general has been fair about the way he's turned over the redacted report
but that said, the underlying message here as matt and jeremy and others have been pointing out, is that the justice department is not being straightforward. >> that's right. he said that william barr acted in good faith when he decided to put forward what is largely the report. i couldn't help but see this presser through william barr's eyes today to see what he might have taken away. one of those things would be the idea that since the report has come out, the attorney general has appointed someone to look into the origins of this investigation and whether or not there was unauthorized surveillance of members of the trump campaign. i think today and subtle is about as what we get in usual terms from robert mueller is that he did say that this had a very important mission. they went out there to find
something critical to our democracy and they found systematic interference from a foreign government and private internet people who were coming in to influence our election and our opinions via social media. we saw that in the indictment. he wanted to emphasize that. other things that have happened since his report was this idea that there is another process in order to find the president wrong doing. in order to investigate criminal wrong doing by the president. it shouldn't be through the criminal justice system. that seems like something that is going directly against what william barr said when this justice department countless times said it's not the olc opinion that caused the special counsel's office not to have an opinion and not to make a decision when it came to obstruction of justice. you can take away some good things. he also said there was knnobody
keeping him from testifying. it does seem like there are some take aways where robert mueller was pushing back slightly on what we have heard from this justice department. >> julia, joining us now, former fbi assistant director for count counter intelligence and maya wiley. let me ask whether you agree with giving barr a pass. >> mueller did say very clearly that he did not doubt the attorney general's good faith as he rolled out the mueller robert to the public. i have difficulty accepting that conclusion. it was very clear today that barr did not engage in good
faith conversations when he discussed his quote, principle conclusions about the report the weekend it was released. >> frank, let's talk about what he emphasized from that original indictment against the russians. >> he opened his statement and he closed his statement with the russian problem. he reminded all americans that we should all be concerned about this. we have to ask ourselves just as we're asking the question, what next with regard to obstruction? what next with regard to congress and potential impeachment? we should also be asking ourselves what next with regard to protecting the 2020 election from any foreign power that wants to interfere with it and are we doing enough. it's a choice that has to be made here. the white house, the department of justice, they've got to decide are we going to go ahead and make significant initiatives
against foreign powers with elections or are we going to fall into a trap where we can see a foreign power medal somehow the president's election was ill legitimate. mueller said today, let's put all of politics aside. every american needs to be worried about what a foreign add v adversary has done to our election process. >> i want to recap what mueller said about william barr and the release of the report. >> at one point in time i requested that certain portions of the report be released. the attorney general preferred to make the entire report public all at once. we appreciate public. i'm not questioning the attorney general's good faith in that decision. >> maya wiley, your take on that part of what he said as well. >> i think very clearly what he said is, i don't question the
good faith of william barr's releasing the full report. the letter that bob mueller sent to william barr after william barr released the summary statement that had us all scratching our heads a bit when we saw some of the ways that barr articulated the findings, particularly when he was not quoting fully from bob mueller's report. remember suggesting that there was no conclusion even though there was the statement in his own summary that bob mueller did not have evidence to establish which is very different legally, to establish conspiracy. i kind of read bob mueller as being very careful about what parts of william barr's actions he was ascribing good faith to. i think it goes to the fact that bob mueller doesn't have a strong argument for not
testifying to congress for this very reason. essentially, he himself, in his own report lays out questions that he himself and footnote number 1,091 says congress should interrogate to consider whether to legislate. that means it should have the opportunity to ask him questions about his perceptions of the law and how he interpreted given the facts that he outlines in his report. >> fair point indeed. stay with us with all of our experts here for more of our special coverage. you're watching andrea mitchell reports. stay with us on msnbc. g andrea reports. stay with us on msnbc.
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joining me now is nbc's vaughn hillard where kamala harris has been campaigning. >> kamala harris is speaking at her first campaign event of the day. we caught her on her way in and asked the specific question when it comes to what she heard from bob mueller, where does the senate, the house, congress take this from here. >> this is what she told us. >> the bottom line is we have got to let the process start its course around congress acting on what we know is essentially indictable evidence and information. i think it's fair inference from what we heard that bob mueller was referring impeachment to the united states congress. >> reporter: harris is
consistently called for impeachment proceedings to begin. last night at a town hall and msnbc, she acknowledged to the crowd that it was unlikely that senate republicans would vote to ultimately convict the president but she said it's still the perogative of congress to go through the proceedings. i asked her about doj policy that prevented, according to rob mueller, if he so desired to press charges against this president for obstruction of justice. i asked whether she believed that doj policy should stand. she said if she were president, she said her attorney general who she referred to as a woman, she said she would call on that attorney general to review the policy. she said the attorney general has turned into somebody that is there to defend the president, not to ultimately serve the people. andrea. >> thank you very much from south carolina. chris matthews host of hardball here on msnbc joins us now as
well. it's now over to jerry nadler. he will be speaking in the 2:00 hour. you'll be hosting that. what is the pressure on nancy pelosi now? >> the bombshell story today was mueller's report in person trying to clear up and sharpen some of the points made in the report. the big news is he's not going to testify, certainly not of his own will. that means by mid afternoon, maybe not be 2:00 but all the story will move to the hill because mueller is finished. he's done what he can do. he said i didn't indict because i'm not allowed to. it was so clear and not put out by the report by barr. in fact, it was blurred over. in terms of obstruction, i didn't do it but i can't. hear is all my report for use for congress to do what they are constitutionally allowed to do and perhapsed require to do in the sense of taking the responsibility for not doing it. in other words, pelosi has to make the move now. you can't say -- for months we said we want to hear from this
or just want to hear from the senate. we need a republican senator or we want to hear from another witness. we want to hear from papadopoulos. they're not going to hear from mueller in is it. the train whistle is blowing and pelosi has to make a decision. it can't be waiting game like i'm being audited. it's now or never. i think that's the tough question for her. it's always been. are you willing the say no to impeachment? i think it's up in the air what she's doing to do. >> i think chris is right. if this were purely a legal matter then what bob mueller wouldn't have mattered at all. there's nothing sub stan sieve he sa -- substantive about what he said. i think for the special counsel to come out and say what he did on television, that was the
important thing. what the american people, those that didn't read the record have heard was largely the attorney general and the president saying no collusion, no obstruction. now you have the special counsel coming out and saying a different thing. i didn't make this call because i wasn't allowed to. if i could have said the president didn't commit a crime, i would have done so and the constitution leaves that question to somebody else. that makes quicks can to somebody else. i don't see how they can leave that hope question and just pursue hearings without knowing whether they are getting to impeachment or not. >> joining us by phone is one of the someone else. congressman, from what you heard from robert mueller, do you think your colleagues and the speaker will have to pick this up now and go down the road toward impeachment? >> i think it moves the need l as i did last week when we
learned that the president was, in my words, weaponizing the intelligence community to go after his political enemies. hey i didn't complete this investigation over two years and have the attorney general misrepresent it, redact it, hide the underlying materials, keep it from congress and shout down a well. it has to have some meaning. it's clear he left it to congress as you suggested. now it becomes a legal matter. >> congressman, he also said that the negotiations or the process of getting the underlying materials over to congress is a separate process that his work has done.
intelligence aspects that were not tech nically part of mueller's work. >> that was a small victory, an important one. we have broad sweeping powers. that's a long way from getting the unreducted report and the underlying materials to the mueller report. i've never taken impeachment off the interneat. speaker pelosi can clearly still count and it's still a fair question. the senate does not go forward
with impeachment and then what do you do? for me, the value remains getting the rest of the materials. i've liked to think the courts wouldn't wait as to file the articles of impeachment to force the administration to turn all this information over because how do you make the determination that special counsel has said he left it to us. how do you make that determination if you don't have all the the materials as to whether crimes were committed. >> congressman, thank you very much. democrat from illinois. let's talk about for a moment the fall out here. the president, his press secretary, lindsey graham, his private attorney, rudy giuliani, are saying case closed. no collusion. no obstruction. what robert mueller did is am y amplifying their statements about it.
at the same time we have this new investigation by william barr for yell parallel or expan investigation and importantly on holiday weekend eve getting the power to supercede and supplant is director of national intelligence to decide what can be declassified about the origins of the russia probe. >> it's clear the only reason you would have an executive order giving the attorney general the power to declassify intelligence if there was a mass ifr fight. if barr was investigating, there's no reason to have the power to declassify. the only reason you have the power to declassify is to make a public, political argument.
i think bob mueller shredded the credibility of the president. bob mueller said there was sufficient evidence. that's exactly what bob mueller said. the only reason i could not bring charges is because i could not under policy under the way we operate and the constitution requires that the house now act. >> how should they about their source and methods and david's report on saturday in the new york times. what is known publicly about a key russian source close to putin that helped lead to that original assessment that putin ordered this attack on our
election. >> it's not over stating it to note that lives are at stake. when people risk their lives and the lives of their family to provide information on what an adversary nation is doing to the united states, we have to do everything we can to protect them. the gathering capabilities, that's putting lives at stake just for a political purpose. >> frank, this used to be your job full time as counter intelligence. what about getting future cooperation from our allies, from the brits and australians and others about russia and other poimportant sources. >> there's a fallout. when you give this much power to one initial to declassify things for partisan purposes, you risk the fact that our allies will think twice before they share sensitive intelligence with us.
that relationship with ve wie h our allies is crucial to our national security. if they even skip one moment in a decision that needs to be made timely to share intelligence with us because they fear it will be released by the white house or by the attorney general and similarly if an intelligence officer can't recruit a source because he can't look that source in the eye and say i am going to protect your identity, then national security is eroded. >> chris matthews, you heard the congressman saying that nancy pelosi has so think about the senate and the fallout if the senate fails to convict if the house has articles of impeachment and turns it over to the senate. doesn't that -- s >> you and i know how hard it is to over take the will of the american people in the electoral college. with all the arguments about the electoral college, that's how we pick our president.
to over turn a decision like that is a humongous lift. it requires evidence, politics and political power. back in the days of nixon you had the kennedy subcommittee that did all the investigation. they didn't wait for somebody at the justice department. they dug all the dirt up. they handed it over. pushing them every day to do it and get going. all the politics was there. nixon saw it. he said i knew i was in trouble. he didn't know what kennedy was up to behind the scenes. to upset the american people's will is an awesome task. right now you have a weaponized republican senate who will do anything this president wants. there are no people there that will say maybe i should use my conscious in there. there's nobody like that. they are not holding back. they will do the latest polling
is nine out of ten. it's better than it's been. republicans supporting this president. down the line there's no political push. he's already saying we're going to pick another one next year if they get an opportunity. the power and the weaponization of the republican senate is something speaker pelosi thinks about. she also has a young party who is driven with young people and people of color that are ready to move against this president. they see themselves humiliated by the president. the fact a president with this point of view on race and gender is there they find awful. they have the chance with this document. he says here is the evidence to impeach. he said it today. >> what you just said, the most remarkable thing is you have one republican, justin amash, one in the house saying at this stage, that the evidence is there. i want to throw to something
that chuck schumer issued a statement saying there is an obl gag obligation to move forward. he is in a minority and mitch mcconnell has the rules. pete buttigieg was just with harry smith. let's listen to one of the candidates. this will be an overriding issue during the 2020 campaign. >> the message really is over to you congress. this is as close to an impeachment referral as you could get under the circumstances. >> that's pete buttigieg. chuck schumer's statement saying mueller made it clear that the russians interfered in our elections. if trump and congress don't do anything it will be worse in 2020 and they are blocking legislation, bipartisan legislation to have election security despite democrats
repeated calls. mr. mueller's statement made it clear that congress has the right and we believe obligation to continue our constitutional mandate oversight without interference and stone walling and following the facts where they may lead. >> at this stage, we still have subpoenas being ignored. don mcgahn refusing to testify. we don't know yet what hope hicks and others will do. their only agreement is on the intelligence committee to have controlled, some sort of controlled interview in private with don junior. how can they proceed when they can't get any cooperation on documents or testimony from this white house? >> they can proceeds by going to court and asking the court to decide quickly. it's one of the things we saw in the nixon process. it's one of things that because of the very things that chris matthews is speaking to in terms
of pelosi's message has held them back from being quite as aggressive as they have the ability to be in court. one of the reasons it's so important is we have to remember for the democrats the coalition that got barack obama elected is made up of the same people who would be convicted of crime on less evidence that is available right now on donald trump on obstruction of justice. that is actually a signal that while the job of the president is to faithfully execute the laws of the nation, part of what robert mueller said today is there will serious questions about whether that's happening both from the national intelligence perspective as well as obstruction. going to court and saying let congress do its constitutional job is something congress can do right now and can do it quickly. >> matt miller, if jerry nadler
and nancy pelosi decides one way to delay this process is to issue a subpoena to robert mueller, he made it very clear that he was not going to go beyond the four corners of his report. knowing him and knowing the way he would behave he would not defy a subpoena. >> i doubt he would defy it. i think he wouldn't be able too be ordered by the justice department. the justice department wouldn't be going to court to block him. i think it's unlikely he would say much more than what he said today. the question is do they want to go through that hearing or move onto some of the other witnesses. i think the decision that jerry nadler and nancy pelosi face is difficult and complicated. i doubt there's anyone that doesn't believe that the president committed crimes that merit removal from office. the question for them and it's a political question and i think it's a difficult one is does
impeaching him and failing does that make his removal from office more likely or less likely. if you believe that an impeachment battle that he wins because he's not convicted by the senate, empowers him, then i don't think it's necessarily an inappropriate political consideration to say we shouldn't go forward because we will only strengthen him and make that removal that we all agree is more appropriate more difficult to achieve. that said, it's very hard to see how you look at the crimes that are outlined in the report and concludes there shouldn't be some sanction, at least by one house of congress because if not, you have told the american public, you've told this president and you've told future presidents that this kind of behavior is appropriate and that just cannot stand. >> one final point before we go to a quick break. one consideration is that the statute of limitations would ek expire in 2022. if you you ever wanted to pursue a prosecution of a former
president, it would not be possible if he's re-elected. >> this is new to us all. i think the constitution, it would have been helpful, i think a lot of us been very supportive of mueller and what he's done. supportive of mueller. he could have told us months ago that he wasn't in a position to indict and that would have been clarified. the house of representatives, the politicians over there, were able to say for months now, especially last october, november, it's in the hands of robert mueller and his people, we can wait for that. no, no, the constitution allows the executive branch to do the investigating. the prosecution team, that's their job, not mueller. they were asking for him to be the prosecutor. and i think that was the big mistake everybody made here waiting on him to do the job that the house of representatives has to decide to do or not. now they're going to have to do it. i don't think he will testify because he doesn't wait to face
the senate judiciary committee and what they'll do to him. they're going to take him to the roots to this thing and try to destroy his credibility. i watched jerry nadler. he's a good guy. i look at him sweating this thing out. this is really tough. this is a tough one. we just heard from quigley. nobody wants to cross pelosi on this. you can ask him 50 times and they're going to say i defer to the speaker. it's up to her. >> i should also point out, anyone who doesn't know it, you worked for a former speaker and a powerful speaker of the house. >> and in many ways she's better. but i've never seen a more strong-willed, effective leader of either house than her. she's able to make people fear her, which you must do in politics, without hating her. that's genius. but people are afraid of her but nobody says a word against her ever.
she's a great leader and now she has a great decision to make. >> i would say that the president may be one of those people who is at least a little bit afraid of her. >> he's a little afraid of the nicknames with her. she's giving her old, used nicknames. crazy, he's been using that for everybody. >> chris matthews, i know you've got to prepare for your 2:00 special report. it's great to hear from you. editor chief of the bulwark, "washington post" opinion writer, and "washington post" white house correspondent are joining us. out in the heartland, what temperature are you taking as to people's interest in all of this, their focus on it, having not read the report, most americans have not, do you think they will take the headlines from robert mueller or take the synopsis coming out of the white
house? >> the shorter version of robert mueller is, there was no hoax, there was no witch-hunt, there was no attempted coup and there was no exoneration and now the ball is in the hands of congress. and i agree with what chuck todd said earlier this morning about this, there's a one-two punch when you think about it, you have a republican congressman from the midwest who is making a stronger case for impeachment than you're hearing from the democrats right now. and he is not being destroyed. he got a standing ovation at a town hall meeting in michigan. so you wonder whether or not, with mueller coming out and making it absolutely clear that now it is up to congress to pursue what he uncovered in that report and a republican-elected official like justin amash who is saying, look, i may be alone right now, but you can actually take this position without
committing political suicide. >> it was very interesting. i was watching that town hall in michigan. joining us now by phone is the cochoir of the senate intelligence committee. >> caller: i was struck by the fact that both muellerer's opening comments and closing comments were on the seriousness of the russian intervention and the fact that they will be back. the biggest tax break away from me, if congress does not act to protect our elections, to put some ground rules around our social media is used and misused and i would argue also try to make at least an affirmative requirement that if a foreign agent contacts individuals in the 2020 campaign, there ought to be an obligation to turn that information over to law enforcement. if we don't act in those three
areas, we're not doing our job. and clearly this white house will not act because as we saw, the former secretary of homeland security, when she wanted to have a cabinet meeting around election security in 2020 was told not to do it because it might offend donald trump. so this is now -- it's been teed up for congress to act. if we don't heed robert mueller's warnings, shame on us. >> what kind of cooperation are you getting, you and your republican chair on intelligence in the senate on the counter intelligence that was unearthed by the fbi agents working in parallel with the mueller russia probe? >> we need to receive that evidence. ours was not a criminal investigation. it was a counter intelligence investigation. we will start receiving some of those documents this week. i'm proud of the fact that there's bipartisan legislation around election security. there are a series of bills around some guardrails around social media and if we need any
further evidence of how social media may be manipulated in this election, look at last week when there was manipulation of the nancy pelosi video that was not even a deepfake manipulation. but it is the ability to show how this kind of information can be misused. and i'm still looking for some bipartisan support on making sure that if foreign agents contacts members of any campaign, there ought to be an obligation to report that to the fbi. folks haven't stepped up on that one, but i still remain hopeful. >> if president has taken control on declassification from the dni, do you still have oversight from that and can you create some guardrails to make sure that those secrets are not disclosed improperly and politicalized? >> i put on notice last week from the attorney general and the dni and others that work in unchartered territory.
if this attorney general who's at least so far shown he's more interested in protecting donald trump then protecting the rule of law, if he takes this information and politically uses it and reveals sources and methods, we're in totally unchartered territory. i'm glad to see the dni, direct dan coats has indicated that he'll try to work with him. but he'll protect sources and methods. if there's one thing we've learned throughout this russia investigation, some of the sources are some of the most extraordinary the united states government has and if they are politicized by bill barr in an effort to try to protect donald trump, that would be outrageous. >> senator mark warner, thank you so much. the president and sarah sanders are signaling lindsey graham, rudy giuliani and other allies that they believe they're home
free? >> by the way, it was echoed not word for word but pretty close by the campaign that the trump 2020 campaign and its chairman on twitter. that message is nothing to see here, folks, move along. and i expect that that will continue to be their message and that is their message to congress right now. you're not going to get anything out of special counsel mueller if you call him, you're only inviting a bunch of frustration and an anti-climax, so don't do it. this -- and obviously, the president is reframing it at what mueller said today in terms of most flattering to him, repeating the idea that he was exonerated which of course mueller was pretty careful to say he was not exonerated. >> thank you. jonathan, finally, just wrapping this up here in this brief
moment, your thoughts? >> i think that if bob mueller were to testify before congress and stick to the strict confines of his report, it will be as -- it will be damning for the president in the same way that it is damning right now. if he were to testify before congress, every democratic member of congress should get him to read from the report what he said to the american people with his own voice today, that if he had the evidence to show that the president had not committed a crime, he would have said so. so the trump administration understandably is trying to say nothing to see here. but the fact that special counsel robert mueller came forward and made a point of saying that in his own words and his own voice lifted directly from the report he told everyone to read, but we all know, most people haven't, that should -- that's got the white house scared. and it should have them scared. they're in trouble. >> jonathan, thanks to you and
ann and matt miller. and chris matthews. and that wraps up this portion of the continuing coverage of the robert mueller final statement, at least if he has his wish. here is ari melber with our continuing coverage. >> good day to you. our special coverage is continuing right now. special counsel bob mueller's extraordinary statement, his first ever as special counsel. a public address, and this is the first time we've heard from him of course since the release not only of his report but since this entire investigation began. it comes amist growing pressure. and mueller providing his first oral summary ever as he formally resigned from his post at the department of justice. >> i have not spoken publicly during our investigation. i'm speakin