House Democratic Chairs demand full Mueller Report. TRANSCRIPT: 3/25/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

David Cicilline, Marcy Wheeler, David Corn, Michael Isikoff, Cornell Belcher, Karine Jean-Pierre

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  – as of close of business on the East Coast

last Friday, it was time for the loyal opposition to open business in

saying what the Democrats are for.  The world knows that agrees with them

on what they`re against.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  “ALL IN” with Chris

Hayes starts right now.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President, you think Robert Mueller acted





HAYES:  Robert Mueller is finished.


TRUMP:  No collusion.  No collusion.


HAYES:  And the Barr report on the Mueller report is out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We don`t need the Barr report.  We need the Mueller



HAYES:  Tonight, what we now know about the 2016 election of Donald Trump

and the push to learn more by making the special counsel`s report public.


TRUMP:  It wouldn`t bother me at all.


HAYES:  Plus, Neal Katyal on his problems with the Barr letter, Mueller`s

punt on obstruction and no exoneration, and what all this means for the

candidates trying to take Donald Trump`s job.



chance to read the Mueller report.


HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.




HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  So we have

considerably more information today than we had Friday about what exactly

the Mueller report concludes though crucially it is far less than we need.


You`ve probably seen the top-line conclusions as filtered through the

President`s chose an attorney general who quotes only three sentences, two

of them partial from the actual report itself, a report whose length like

nearly everything else about it remains a mystery.


But before getting further into what William Barr says, the principal

conclusions of it are it`s probably worth taking a step back to ask the

question what exactly was the goal of this undertaking?  And here`s how

I`ve seen it and still see it.


For a million reasons having to do with polarization, the internet

monocultures of social media and a widespread campaign of sustained foreign

intervention, the 2016 election was I think a uniquely disorienting moment

in American history.  It was an election defined by disclosures and secrets

and informational sabotage at every turn.


We learn things that had been secret that were wrenched into public life

like through criminal theft and sabotage by Russian intelligence,

revelations that ended up generating enormous amounts of coverage and

having genuine real-world effects.  I mean heck, the chair of the DNC lost

her job on the first day of the party`s convention to name just one



It was also a campaign defined by what we did not learn.  For instance

there were active FBI investigations into both candidates the same time

including a counterintelligence investigation into Donald Trump`s campaign. 

And that, that was never leaked or disclosed during a time when the FBI

ignored protocol twice to give updates on its investigation into Hillary

Clinton`s e-mails.


So there`s always been a very simple question that really needed answering

about 2016.  What happened?  What are the facts of the matter?  Who did

what, when?  And answering that deceptively simple question was always

extremely difficult for a number of reasons.


You had a professional intelligence service attempting to manipulate

information, hide his tracks, a massively polarized electorate with deep-

seated political grudges towards the main players involved, and of course a

Trump campaign and administration that we know will just about lie about

everything all the time.


This is the reason for the Mueller investigation in the first place, to

create some entity with sufficient authority, access to intelligence,

subpoena power, and search warrants and political independence the

authority and resources to make a comprehensive finding of fact.  And the

completion of that task is an important one.


Which is why it`s rather ironic for the biggest critics of the entire

undertaking to take a four-page summary of what could be a thousand-page

report for all we know as total vindication.  It`s also more than a little

ironic that a president who has spent months berating Mueller and those who

work for him and those who covered him who tried to fire the man himself

now takes an appointees summary of a report that explicitly stated it does

not exonerate him as of course exoneration.


That even as the investigation`s public activities have already

demonstrated conclusively, the President was the beneficiary of two

separate criminal conspiracies undertaken for his benefit during the

campaign.  But it`s a good thing it was done whatever it shows because the

whole point here is that we need to know what happened.


It`s always been my personal investment and our collective one I think is a

democracy which is why of course we need to see the full report.  The facts

are what matter here.


Joining me now Julia Ainsley, NBC News National Security and Justice

Reporter who`s helped us navigate the submission of the Mueller report. 

Where are we now in terms of the negotiations between the White House and

Congress about next steps in seeing more of the actual report itself?



Chris, we know tonight that Congress wants to see at least the House side

or the demonstration control.  They want to see this report by April 2nd. 

That seems a little fast.


From what I understand inside the Justice Department, the Attorney General

is reviewing what he can put out to the public, but a lot of that depends

on Robert Mueller who will still have to continue working as he identifies

for the Attorney General what pieces of information are subject to grand

jury testimony exclusivity.  Meaning that they can`t go out and also what

pieces might need to be used in other investigations.


Remember, just because Robert Mueller is finished with him doesn`t mean

that lots of other investigations that spun off of those even some we might

not know about don`t need a lot of that information that he collected to

stay protected so there`s a lot of back-and-forth.


Today I was asking officials are we talking weeks, are we talking months,

are we talking a year.  And I was told gosh, not a year but we can`t tell

you weeks or months at this point.  So that certainly doesn`t tell me it`s

coming any day soon.


But you`re right there`s so much information especially if you get down to

what they say about obstruction, but even on the collusion question when

William Barr said that the Mueller report lays out many different ways. 

The Russians attempted to get in touch with the Trump campaign to meddle in

the election and that they were not successful.


We know of so many interactions between Trump campaign associates and

people with known ties to the Kremlin and what about those interactions

didn`t rise to the level of conspiracy,  We need more facts.  We need more

evidence to figure out why Mueller ultimately came to that decision and

then, of course, my Barr is characterizing that decision and the non-

decision on obstruction the way that he does in that letter we got



HAYES:  Do we even have – I mean, one just really basic question here.  So

there`s three different – you know, there`s two principal conclusions that

the president – that they did not find evidence there was any U.S. person

or member of the campaign that coordinated with the Russian government`s

attempts to influence the election and inconclusive finding about

obstruction with arguments presented on both sides.  Barr ultimately making

a unilateral decision about that.


Do we have any sense even just to the length of the thing?  I mean is it

like you know, Ken Starr, remember, you know these reports that were

stacked this high thousands and thousands of pages, is that what we`re

talking about?  Are we talking about 100 pages?  No one knows right?


AINSLEY:  No one knows.  I asked that question and in fact, from the very

beginning we were told they weren`t going to tell us the length.  I don`t

know if we`ll ever know the length of the Mueller report because we would

want to know how much they`re condensing here.  But they do lay out how

many subpoenas there were, how many interviews there were.  I mean, it was

hundreds, thousands of pieces of information that they`re collecting to

assemble into this report.


So to guess that it`s anything less than – I mean I`m going to be very

conservative here, like 20 pages, that would be pretty obscene for it to be

less than that.  So we know that the Attorney General had to do a lot of



The one thing I was told today was that the Attorney General did get a lot

of information about this report before Friday.  Yes, the full thing came

to him Friday afternoon.  We all scrambled out to the cameras.  But there

had been meetings between Mueller`s team and between – and with Barr`s

team for weeks now.


The special counsel actually came over to the Justice Department March 5th

and then told the Attorney General that he wouldn`t be making a decision on

obstruction.  And I was told that really took Barr and Rosenstein both by



HAYES:  All right, Julia Ainsley, thank you both.  We`re going to talk more

about that.  Joining me now Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode

Island.  He`s a Member of the House Judiciary Committee which just weeks

ago launched a sweeping investigation into the president and his

associates.  What is your game plan now, congressman?


REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND:  Well, Chris, I think at the

beginning of your show you really laid out an important reminder as to what

this investigation is about and how central it is that the American people

know the results of the investigation.  So we have forwarded a letter to

the Attorney General today signed by the six chairs of the committees of

relevant jurisdiction requesting the production of the full model report

and all the supporting materials and setting April 2nd as the deadline.


That`s sort of the next step.  Hopefully, the Attorney General will comply

with this request and the report will be furnished.  If not, obviously the

committee has the authority to issue a subpoena to compel its production. 

But the bottom line is the American people have a right to see the

conclusions contained in this report, that Congress has a responsibility to

see that report and then continue its oversight work.


So we`ve now seen the Barr report which is a partial summary or his take on

one piece of it and then his conclusions on another.  That is not a

substitute for the full release of the Mueller report that we were waiting

two years for.


HAYES:  I want to be clear about something here and get a clearer answer

from you which is are you satisfied for a process perspective that the

report had everything he needed, and had the authority it needed, the

political independence that needed, the budget and resources needed to

pursue this fact-finding mission, and ergo whatever is contained therein

once you get your hands on it, you are prepared to accept as the facts of

the matter without there being some countervailing revelation?


CICILLINE:  Yes.  I think that`s generally right.  I mean, obviously, we

fought hard to protect the special counsel, to protect his independence, to

make sure he was a permitted to complete his work.  Some of the events at

the very end of this where Mr. Barr made some conclusions about fact in law

that were not made by the Special Counsel are curious.


It`s also curious that the special counsel didn`t render a judgment on the

obstruction of justice provision.  You know one of the reasons the Special

Counsel was created and tasked with this is because of their independence

from the executive branch.  So he could make judgments based on fact and

law separate and apart from the president and the administration.


To then shift that responsibility to the appointee of the president who

essentially auditioned for the job by preparing this memo saying that

essentially a president can`t be charged with obstruction of justice

because he`s in charge of the Justice Department caught the president`s

eyes that you`re the man for the job, and then he delivered on it in 48



So I think there`s some concern about that process but I think we respect

the integrity of Mr. Mueller, the professionalism, his work.  We want to

see the evidence he relied upon, the judgments he made, the conclusions he

came to, and the American people have a right to see that as well.


HAYES:  I want to play something that the Chair of the Judiciary Jerry

Nadler had to say about testimony before committees which is obviously also

going to be something.  This is what he had to say about the Attorney






information can be – as can be made public should be made public without

delay.  I intend to fight for that transparency.  We will ask the Attorney

General to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.  We will demand

the release of the full report.




HAYES:  Do you imagine there will be more testimony on this?


CICILLINE:  Oh no question about it.  I expect that Mr. Barr will come

before the Judiciary Committee.  I expect we will have Mr. Mueller before

the Judiciary Committee to answer our questions about the contents of the

report, and Mr. Barr to answer questions about the decisions he`s made and

the judgments he`s made with respect to the obstruction of justice charge

in particular.


So yes, it`s important that the Attorney General could be prepared to come

before the Judiciary Committee to produce the report and answer our



HAYES:  Final question on that April 2nd deadline.  Given two sets of

concerns about grand jury, secrecy, and classification, do you think it`s a

realistic timeline and do you have any sense of what length – what length

of material we`re even talking about?


CICILLINE:  We don`t have a sense of the length of the report.  I do think

that it`s a reasonable timeline.  Presumably, they have done a fair amount

of review of this already.  And certainly, I think accommodations will be

made if they need additional time to scrub classified or protect sources

and methods.


But look, we want to push hard that this needs to be produced as quickly as

possible.  The American people have been waiting for 22 months for the

conclusions of this report.  We fought hard to protect the special counsel

so he could complete his work.  But the American people have a right to

know the truth.  They have a right to know what happened.


This was an attack on our democracy.  Everyone has a stake in understanding

what happened and making sure we prevent it from ever happening again.  And

Mr. Barr made a pledge during his confirmation hearing that he was going to

be as transparent as possible.  It`s time for him to make good on that



HAYES:  All right, Congressman David Cicilline, thank you very much. 

Joining me now is Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist running with

national security and civil liberties and Nick Akerman former Assistant

Special Watergate Prosecutor and an MSNBC Legal Analyst.


Marcy, let me start with you.  As someone who`s followed this extremely

closely, what stuck out to you about the encapsulation of the as yet to be

disclosed length report by Mueller or by Bill Barr?



memo, it just focuses on the part that`s not on obstruction, just focuses

on the two ways that the Russian government interfered in the election, the

trolling and the hack and leak.  And that`s really curious because as Julia

mentioned, when Rosenstein hired Mueller, he said we want you – we want to

know if there`s any coordination between the campaign and the Russian



And this memo by the way is limited at least as on its face to the Russian

government not to people like Konstantin Kilimnik who doesn`t work for the

Russian government but was right there in the loop between Paul Manafort

and hand it on polling data to others.  So that`s one issue.


But the other issue is when Rosenstein hired Mueller, he said go find out

the nature of links between Mueller`s people and these Russians which is

exactly what Julia raised.  It`s like what is the nature of the link

between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik or Oleg Deripaska to whom he

owed millions of dollars and therefore may have compromised the campaign

that way.


What is the link between the Trump family and the Agalarovs and Natalia

Veselnitskaya?  That may not be criminal but that is something that

Rosenstein included in his mandate to Mueller and it`s not in the Barr



HAYES:  Yes.  And even I would even say even – again, I`ve been tearing

this point.  Even if the information is all exculpatory, I still want –

I`m so curious about it, right?  So after the Trump Tower meeting, it`s

like well, maybe they said, man, that was weird.  What the heck was that? 

We`ll never deal with them again.  And there`s some e-mail sitting there

that shows them being you know, boy and girl scouts about the whole thing. 

Also, we should see that as well right?


NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  We should have that.  We should see all

of it.


HAYES:  Right.


AKERMAN:  I mean, we ought to know what the standard is that Robert Mueller

applied.  I assume that he said that he wasn`t charging because he didn`t

have proof beyond the reasonable doubt.  But that`s like a client of mine

has just been acquitted and says the jury find me innocent.  No, they

didn`t find you innocent, they just didn`t find you guilty beyond the

reasonable doubt.  So what`s the evidence?


HAYES:  Right.  Although it`s also possible, I just want to be clear right? 

It is possible the evidence in there is quite exculpatory possibly, right?


AKERMAN:  Possibly, sure.


HAYES:  I mean, we do – we do not know what the evidence is.  It`s the

point of the need to read the thing is it precisely on all these questions. 

And even Marcy`s questions having to do – nothing to do with the Trump

campaign.  I mean, something that I`ve sort of been thinking about and

focused on it`s just about you know, when we got the indictments on the

Russian side, there was a lot we learned but it was fairly limited about

like what exactly they were up to, and how they were doing it, and how the

information got his way in the WikiLeaks.  And all that stuff seems really

useful for everyone to just be able to have access to.


WHEELER:  Right.  And by scoping the coordination between the campaign and

the Russian government, it ignores the entire question of WikiLeaks which

of course Roger Stone is going to trial in November on.  It`s not a crime

necessarily to coordinate with WikiLeaks.  But we know that the campaign

was very actively involved in asking Stone to optimize the release of the -

- of the e-mails.  Is that in there?  That`s not included in the scope of

what Barr described as the – as the read.


And again, coordinating with WikiLeaks may not be a crime at all unless you

lie about it is Roger Stone is accused of doing, but it is something that I

think is important for people to understand.


HAYES:  How do you see in terms of this – you know the grand jury issue is

an issue that has been faced before.  How do you see the methods for sort

of making sure that as much the report is produced as possible?


AKERMAN:  Well, to me what the Barr is doing right now is a big scam.  He`s

basically put out a statement to exonerate Trump.  The fact of the matter

is he could take this entire report, bring it in to the grand jury, have

them approve it and ask the chief judge in the District of Columbia to

basically send this over to the House Judiciary Committee.


HAYES:  And that has happened before.


AKERMAN:  We did that in Watergate.  That`s exactly what we did.  So I –

this idea of waiting any kind of period for this is nonsense.  They could

do this immediately.  There is no reason for people to be waiting around in

the Judiciary Committee for this report.


HAYES:  It also seems obviously – I mean, Marcy, in a – in a moment of

rare public consensus on anything, you had a 420 to 0 vote.  A sense of

Congress (INAUDIBLE) made public.  Chuck Schumer attempted unanimous

consent for a similar resolution.  The Senate today was blocked by Mitch

McConnell who objected.  But it does seem like there`s collective

bipartisan trans-ideological interesting what actually happened.


WHEELER:  Yes.  I mean, one of the things I wrote before the report came

out is you know, whatever is in this report, it would be nice for the left

and the right to be able to move beyond Russia as their area of contention

because if we don`t do that, we`re not going to be prepared against the

next time Russia tries to interfere or tries to attack the country.


We have plenty to disagree about left and right without Russia really

ripping the country aside.  And I think by the way in which Barr wrote that

memo and specifically the way in which Barr inserted himself in what should

be the role of Congress to decide whether the president`s actions amount to

a high crime or misdemeanor, I think only exacerbates this tension in this

problem over Russia and that`s really unfortunate.  Because I think both

sides have said show us the report and instead Barr has thrown more fire on

to the – on to the –


HAYES:  We will see.  We`ll see if we get more from him.  I suspect we will

get some more.  It`s just a question of how much and in what short order. 

Marcy Wheeler and Nick Akerman, thank you both.


Coming up, from collusion two obstruction, Neal Katyal on why Robert

Mueller punted on the question of whether or not the President of the

United States obstructed justice and William Barr`s conclusion on that

matter raises red flags.  Neal joins me in just two minutes.




HAYES:  According to the Attorney General, Robert Mueller did not find that

the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to disrupt the 2016 elections, did

not find evidence that establish that.  The special counsel didn`t come to

any conclusions one way or the other about whether the president committed

obstruction of justice and said evidence was presented on both sides and

the decision was left to two individuals who are not exactly disinterested

in the matter.


Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein who wrote the letter giving the

president a pretext to fire then-FBI Director James Comey and Attorney

General William Barr who appeared to audition for the job he now has by

writing a memo last year arguing that Mueller`s theory of obstruction was

“fatally misconceived.”


That`s whose judgment we`re now being asked to accept at face value without

getting to see any of the underlying evidence.  For more of the questions

raised by Barr`s collusion, I`m joined by MSNBC Legal Analyst Neal Katyal,

former Acting Solicitor General under President Obama who wrote the special

counsel rules back in 1999.  He has a new op-ed in The New York Times, the

many problems with the Barr letter.


Let me start with this one.  What do you think of the decision to not make

a determination and is that then the Attorney General`s role to make it for



NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  I don`t think it`s the Attorney

General`s role.  So yesterday if you read Donald Trump`s tweets, you think

oh, this report by Mueller clears Trump of any wrongdoing.  And that is not

what the Barr letter – we don`t have the Mueller report but the Barr

letter even says with respect to obstruction of justice, Mueller basically

couldn`t decide.  He said he laid out the evidence on both sides.


Now Barr then takes it on himself and inserts himself into the process and

says oh, I`ll decide.  Now it`s not at all clear that Mueller wanted that

result.  Indeed if Mueller thought that the Attorney General should decide

this matter, I suspect that would be in the report and be one of the very

first things Barr would have quoted since that letter from four pages was

really an advocacy document yesterday, but we saw nothing like that.


So I think bar put himself in this process.  I have no indication

whatsoever that Mueller wanted that result.  And the result is a really

scary one.  The idea that you could have a 22-month independent

investigation in a matter of 48 hour – 48 hours have that just cut short

with an attorney general who says oh I don`t see anything there.


HAYES:  We should know that he says he was briefed on that part of it three

weeks ago.  That`s the word from the Department of Justice and that they`ve

been making that decision for a while.


KATYAL:  They – that`s not in the letter.  They`ve been leaking that today

that they knew about three weeks ago Mueller`s conclusion that he wasn`t

going to reach a conclusion.  Well that`s really nice.  All that meant is

that you know they knew that.  There`s no indication even in these leaks

that they had all the evidence right and the like.  And so you know, here

Barr says in his letter, I see no evidence that Trump had a corrupt intent

and therefore there`s no obstruction of justice violation.


Now, I don`t know how quickly he was able to review all of the reams of

evidence, but the one thing I do know is that they didn`t interview Donald

Trump about this.  And any reasonable prosecutor I think when faced with

the question does someone have corrupt intent, the first question is the

first thing you do is go ask that someone.


HAYES:  Well, maybe I`m dumb here but the weird thing about the whole

structure to me is this.  We`ve been talking forever about what the OLC

guidelines about to say indicting a sitting president which is it says you

can`t do it.  We`ve largely I think people think that Mueller would follow

those guidelines.  The question is like what`s even the determination being

made here right?


I mean if the Department of Justice can`t indict a sitting president, and

they say we don`t know if he committed the crime of obstruction of justice

or not, there`s evidence both for and against, what is the Attorney

General`s role in making the determination one way or the other?  Had he

found the other way, then what is that even amount to constitutionally?


KATYAL:  Exactly.  It`s a great question.  I think there`s basically two

ambiguities and we don`t know because we don`t have the Mueller report to

decide between them.  One is this question about whether or not a sitting

president could be indicted influenced Mueller`s thinking.  The Barr letter

said it didn`t influence him.


But for Mueller, you could see him saying look, obstruction of justice is a

crime.  I can`t indict a president of a crime under these OLC opinions,

therefore I`m leaving it up to Congress not the Attorney General.  Is that

in the Mueller report?  We don`t know.  That`s a crucial question because

it`ll guide how the next months should unfold.


The second thing is has the office of legal counsel at the Justice

Department effectively given the President a get out of jail free card not

on the “can`t indict a sitting president” but the bizarre interpretations

of criminal statutes that William Barr laid out in that 19 page ridiculous

memo last summer.


And you know – so even if they put aside the question of whether sitting

president could be indicted, they haven`t put aside this ridiculous Barr

theory and it does look like that`s part of what`s going on in this four-

page letter.


HAYES:  I mean it does also seem in the terms of precedent, right?  I mean,

the – when articles impeachment have been drafted against two – the last

two articles of impeachment both included obstruction of justice as one of

the are impeachable offenses, and in both those cases that`s the

determination the Congress made.  It wasn`t a determination that some of

the DOJ made.


KATYAL:  Chris, you`re 100 percent right.  In both those cases, the special

prosecutor both Jaworski in the Nixon case and Starr in the Clinton case

we`re expressly refused to decide whether or not there was an obstruct –

enough evidence for obstruction.  They said that`s a call for Congress to

make.  And here you`ve got the Attorney General jumping into the process in

a way that hasn`t been done historically before.  It really I think smells

bad and I think we need to see the Mueller report to know just how bad this



HAYES:  Yes.  There`s also this question too I have when I was reading

about you know, the evidence being putting you know, difficult questions

what it says.  The report sets out evidence on both sides of the question

leaves unresolved what the special counsel views is difficult issues of law

and facts concerning with the president`s actions and intent can be viewed

as obstruction.


One of the questions there is there`s a lot of reporting on this right, a

lot of publicly known things.  My questions is like what are – what are

those other things?  Like is it just that what we`ve publicly saw presents

difficult questions the law in fact which they do or was there other stuff

they found out in the course of doing this?


KATYAL:  Yes.  So there`s indication in the Barr letter yesterday.  He

says, look, I reviewed the evidence about obstruction of justice.  Some of

that is public, some of it is not.  And then there were – he says there`s

evidence on both sides that Mueller found.  You know, we don`t know what

that non-public – those non-public actions are.  Yet another reason why

you know, we`re so in the dark at this point and it is outrageous that the

president goes on-air and his press secretary and says total exoneration

and stuff like that.


If it is a total exoneration, then they should be the first ones to say let

us see the report.  You know before they had this argument oh it`s a witch-

hunt and so on, but now of a sudden, they`ve said no Mueller is great.  He

– the president said he`s an honorable man.  They said the investigation

worked the way it should.  If that`s the case, let the American public see

the report, decide for themselves.  I`d love to close the chapter on this

book as much as anyone.  But the only way to close that is to actually know

what happened.


HAYES:  All right, Thank you, Neal Katyal.  Next, the issue of the heart of

it all, the unprecedented Russian interference in an effort to get Donald

Trump elected.  David Corn and Michael Isikoff wrote the book on it.  What

they make of the Barr memo next.




HAYES:  Few have reported on Russian interference in the 2016 election and

its connection to

Donald Trump as comprehensively or as early as my next guest.  David Corn

was the first to report

on the Steele Dossier in October 2016, a week before the election.  Michael

Isikoff, a month prior, reported on U.S. intelligence officials looking

into ties between Carter Page, then on the campaign, or had been on the

campaign, and the Kremlin.


Isikoff interviewed Michael Flynn at the RNC.  It`s a great interview,

asked him about his paid 

speaking engagement celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT, Russian

Television.  And the couple`s book, “Russian Roulette, was a sharp

investigation of the unprecedented interference of a foreign power in an

American election, the election of Donald Trump.


Joining me now, Yahoo`s news chief investigative reporter Michael Isikoff,

MSNBC political analyst, Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn.


Gentlemen, having immersed yourself in the story for as long as you did –

and I`ll start with you, David – your reaction to the Barr letter?


DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES:  Well, I think the main point is that this isn`t

the full story, right.  I mean we have this tossed ball on obstruction, and

it is interesting that the prosecutor, that is Special Counsel Robert

Mueller, could not put it that to the side.  He couldn`t come up with


information to say there is no case here.  I mean, it is very unusual for

Robert Mueller or a special counsel to end up in a tie.  So there`s –

right?  So there`s more to be gotten from that and the public  deserves to



And on the coordination front, I mean I have to say that that was never a

big part of the book

“Russian Roulette.”  In fact, on the last page we say collusion or no

collusion it is clear that Donald Trump and his campaign aided and abetted

the attack, the Russian attack on the election.  And we still need to know

more about that.


And I watched your opening introduction to the show, Chris, and the one

thing I would take issue with you is that it was never Robert Mueller`s job

to give us the truth, to find out the whole story and present it, it was

his job to look for crimes and also to investigate the counterintelligence

side of  this, which is never going to be made public if it is classified



And so we always needed congress, an independent commission, to kind of

pick up where the book left off and dig deep and figure out what happened

and what those interactions meant if they  weren`t a crime.  They were

certainly acts of betrayal I think on the part of the Trump campaign, but

those might not have been criminal.


HAYES:  You know, Michael – yes, go ahead.


MICHAEL ISIKOFF, YAHOO NEWS:  No, I was just going to say, just picking up

on what David said, he`s right that it was not Mueller`s job to tell us the

truth, to layout everything he`s learned.  He`s – he was hired as a

criminal prosecutor, but it was his job to make the tough calls.


HAYES:  Right.


ISIKOFF:  And that`s why I find it completely baffling that on what was the

most crucial decision he had to make he punted.  I mean nobody has ever

described Robert Mueller as a Hamlet-like figure who has trouble making

decisions, and yet here he is, his biggest decision he had to make, it

bucks it to the political appointees at Justice.  It seems to me baffling

on so many levels.


The whole purpose of the special counsel is to insulate the process from,

you know, political appointees who could be perceived as having conflicts

of interest.


HAYES:  Right.


ISIKOFF:  And here, that`s exactly the opposite of what Mueller did. 


Until we hear from Mueller, I am just flummoxed about that part of the



HAYES:  Here is one set of factual matters I think is fairly established,

even with the thin

gruel that we`ve gotten, David and Michael, I`ll ask you both, starting

with you, David, which is that the most, say, in the Dossier, like, the

most sort of lurid ideas about collusion, conspiracy are not true

definitively, right?  I mean, the idea that like Michael Cohen went to

Prague and that there was this like extended and coordinated back and forth

that was happening as they were running this operation hand in glove, that

comes through in some of the dossier, like that just did not happen we know

pretty definitively at this point.  Would you be comfortable saying that?


CORN:  I think more or less.  I think there was never a need for there to

be that direct, you

know, a collusion or coordination as I think is the term that Mueller



HAYEWS:  Right.


CORN:  Because – I mean, the Russians knew how to attack the DNC.  They

knew how to dump documents.  They knew where the swing states were.  They

had that research agency knew what issues got American voters riled up. 

They didn`t need to sit down with Donald Trump and have Donald Trump tell

them how to get into the DNC servers. 


I always thought the collusion, or what was wrong here was that while this

is happening, Trump

keeps – and people connected to Trump, they keep meeting with the Russians

and they keep signaling to the Russians they don`t mind that the Russians

might be intervening, and Trump is even out there after it becomes a public

issue, after he`s briefed on this by the U.S. intelligence community and 

saying, “there`s nothing going on.”


HAYES:  Right.


CORN:  If you`re the Russians, it is like, this is a green light.


HAYES:  Right.


CORN:  And there were specifics like the Trump Tower meeting, the meeting

between Manafort and a Ukrainian-Russian business colleague who may be

connected to Russian intelligence, that are

particularly suspicious, Trump not telling anyone about the Trump Tower

project in Moscow, all of those things add up to, I think, the biggest

scandal in American political history without there having to be direct



HAYES:  Mike.


ISIKOFF:  All right, that said – and I agree with everything David said –

except that the dossier did set expectations, and it did shape what people

were looking for, what they thought might have  happened.  You know, it was

endorsed on multiple, multiple times on this network, people saying it is

more and more proving to be true, and it wasn`t.


And in fact, I think one of the reasons people were so surprised by the

Mueller finding is that

it undercuts almost everything that was in the dossier, which postulated a

well-developed conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign. 

That`s what got people worked up initially and we do have to acknowledge

that, you know, that which was alleged has not panned out.


HAYES:  That – the first appearance in the public domain, the document

that, you know, first begins this sort of real coverage of this during the

transition, which I think he was briefed on this document shortly

thereafter Buzzfeed publishes it, postulates in a series of memos, both a

well coordinated attack by the Russians, but a back and forth between –

actively between Trump world and the Russians, and that`s the introduction

to the notion of what happened that then, you`re right, I think sets a



CORN:  And can I just make one more point, Chris, because a lot of this was

– we could have – we did see, some of us, did see, just in the court

filings that Mueller was making, take the Roger Stone indictment. 

Everybody got worked up about the fact that the Trump campaign was trying

to use Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had.


HAYES:  Right.


CORN:  Well, go back to what the original allegation was in the dossier, it

was that it was all a  well-developed conspiracy.


HAYES:  Exactly.


CORN:  And the Trump campaign was in on it from the beginning.


HAYES:  Right.


CORN:  Which means they wouldn`t have needed Roger Stone to find out what

WikiLeaks had if the allegations in the dossier were true, they already

knew what they were.


HAYES:  Right.


CORN:  But those allegations were not true.


ISIKOFF:  There were a lot of different pieces to this, and the first memo

that Steele sent he said that Russians had had a long-standing campaign to

co-op and and cultivate Trump.  That was I think one of the big takeaways,

at least to me, when I was one of the first reporters to write about  that. 

And that seems to have born out in general, the Russians were trying to

cultivate Trump and make nice

with him while the Trump campaign was receptive to that, and they were

receptive to that knowing that the Russians were trying to mess in the



Now, you know, we don`t have them sitting down together, and in our book we

don`t have them

sitting down together and plotting this out.  I do think that the whole

focus on collusion or no collusion has distracted a lot of people from some

of these core elements of the scandal which I think Trump has never really

been called to task for.


HAYES:  All right, Michael Isikoff and David Corn, thank you, gentlemen,



Coming up, did Robert Mueller just ensure that 2020 will not be about 2016? 

Plus, the latest edition to the Trump dream team, is tonight`s Thing One,

Thing Two next.




HAYES:  Thing One tonight, Donald Trump`s propensity to hire the wrongest

people in the word, people like Kevin Hassett, coauthor of the book “Dow

36,000” which promised in 1999

the Dow Jones industrial average would hit 36,000 mark within five years. 

He was only off by about 26,000 points.  Now he`s Trump`s chairman of the

Council of Economic Advisors. 


Then there`s Larry Kudlow, the CNBC guy who famously said shortly before

the financial crisis that GOP economic policy will continue the Bush boom

for years to come.  Trump made him director of the National Economic



These guys insisted, of course, Trump`s tax cuts would not explode the

deficit and so naturally the government just posted the largest monthly

budget deficit in American history, at least in nominal terms.


Sometimes being that wrong is just right for Trump, which would make his

latest nominee a  perfect fit.  That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.




HAYES:  Donald Trump`s new nominee to sit on the board of the fed does not

necessarily hold all of the credentials you would want for someone in that

position, although he did co-author a book

called “Trumponomics” and he is fairly well-known for getting owned on

cable TV shows.




STEPHEN MOORE, FRM. TRUMP ECONOMIC ADVISER:  Both of the rate hikes were

unnecessary and caused deflation in the economy.  And I think there`s a



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wait, wait, wait, I want to stop you there.  I want to

st op you there, because you said this last time I was on with you.


MOORE:  Yes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There is no deflation.


MOORE:  Yes, there is.




HAYES:  There is not.


That was Stephen Moore being wrong about the state of the economy.  But

being wrong a lot  has had few consequences for Moore, although he does

hold the distinction of being banned from

the pages of one Midwestern newspaper for using misleading numbers in his



Recently Moore wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal insisting that the

fed is a

threat to growth, and reportedly apparently Larry Kudlow saw this, showed

the op-ed to the president, Trump`s reported response was why don`t we make

him fed chair.


Too late for that, so Kudlow suggested Trump can name him to one of the

open seats.  And now the man whom Republican economic Greg Mankiw says does

not have the intellectual gravitas for the job, is up for Senate



Moore has long cast himself as a real expert on the fed, has even called

for the firing of current fed chair Jerome Powell and the rest of the fed

board.  Now that he is poised to join them, he doesn`t suddenly sound so

expert anymore.




MOORE:  I`m kind of new to this game, frankly, so I`m going to be on a

steep learning curve myself about how the fed operates, how the Federal

Reserve makes its decisions.  And this is a real exciting opportunity for







HAYES:  These are pictures of Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska under water. 

Several buildings remain submerged today after more than a third of the

base, including the headquarters, and a large portion of the runway,

flooded last week.


Preliminary estimates to fully repair the base are in the tens of millions

of dollars and expected to take months.  And Offut is just one of the many

areas through America river and plain states devastated by recent flooding,

and now looking at a spring flood map that looks like this.


And then there was last October, this is what Tyndall Air Force Base in

Florida looks like

after Hurricane Michael.  That will take about $3 billion and up to five

years to repair, according to officials.  The damage at Tyndall included 17

F-22s that were left on base during the storm, representing 10 percent of

the military`s entire fleet of F-22s, which cost north of $300 million

dollars a piece.


OK, so that`s what our current climate reality looks like, after average

temperatures has risen just 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial

levels.  And we are on track for an up to five degree rise by the end of

the century unless we absolutely transform the way we do everything.


So when people say that the Green New Deal or tackling the climate crisis

would be expensive, just look at the alternatives.  That`s why this week

we`re hosting a special event on the Green New Deal with the freshman

congresswoman who has been one of its chief architects Alexandria Ocasio-

Cortez will be in my and her home borough of the Bronx, to talk about what

it would mean to take seriously the climate crisis and meet this

civilizational challenge.  Don`t miss it this Friday right here at 8:00



Meanwhile today, some breaking news out of New York.  Just under a year

ago, he was seen by many as a man who could bring down Donald Trump, but

today Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who formerly represented Stormy Daniels

in her hush money suit against the president was arrested, charged on two

different coasts almost simultaneously by two different sets of federal

prosecutors and jailed on charges of embezzlement and an attempt to extort



Federal prosecutors in southern California accused Avenatti of embezzling a

client and providing false tax returns to a bank while federal prosecutors

in New York say that Avenatti attempted to extract more than $20 million

from Nike and threatened the company if they didn`t pay his client, an

armature basketball coach.


In one exchange, recorded on audio by federal investigators, Avenatti

reportedly demanded to

be paid at least $10 million or more by Nike in return for not holding a

press conference.  He told Nike lawyers that if  they didn`t pay, quote,

“I`ll go take $10 million off your client`s marketcap, and I`m not F-ing



At 12:15 eastern today, Michael Avenatti announced he would hold a express

conference tomorrow, exposing Nike, and 15 minutes later he was arrested in

New York.


Tonight, he is out on bail on $300,000 bond facing the possibility of 97

years in prison if convicted in New York and California.  He addressed the

charges just moments ago as he left federal court in Manhattan.




MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER:  I am highly confident that when all of the

evidence is laid bare in connection with these cases, when it is all known,

when due process occurs, that I will be fully exonerated and justice will

be done.




HAYES:  Is that – I don`t know what the word is, remarkable turn of events

for a man who just eight months ago was trotting around Iowa and New

Hampshire exploring a run for president in the Democratic Party.


His attempt, we should note, went nowhere, partly because Avenatti fought

his role in the

Stormy Daniels suit would make him a much bigger star among the Democratic

base than prove to

be the case, which is probably a useful thing to remember on a day when

people are discussing the political ramifications of Bill Barr`s four-page

summary of the Mueller Report, because the actual politics of the

Democratic grass roots in the Trump era have been largely been disconnected


that investigation, they certainly were in 2018, and they look to be in

2020, as well.


Here to talk about what will matter in 2020, two MSNBC political analysts,

Democratic pollster and strategist Cornell Belcher, and MoveOn spokesperson

Karine Jean-Pierre.


Karine, there`s a lot of talk today about the political fallout of all of

this.  My general feeling is everything is sort of a recession or genuine

cataclysm in the world doesn`t move things that much at the margins.  What

do you think?




Look, the only way to beat Donald Trump is going to be at the ballot box. 

That was true a year ago, that was true last week, and it is true tonight.


Look, we have to remember that Donald Trump won in 2016 electoral college

votes to be clear, not the popular vote, he won by less than 80,000 votes

in three states.  So, for all the folks who thought

that the Mueller report was going to take down Donald Trump,here is what I

say to them, the advice that I give them is just go out there, organize

people, get them registered to vote, remind folks the type of things Donald

Trump has done for the last two years, which is separate children from

their families, which is banning people because of their religion, which is

Trump tax cuts.  And also don`t forget he tried to take health care from

tens of millions of people. 


So, these are the things that people care about.  They care about the

economy, they care about jobs, and they care about health care, and that`s

how we won in 2018.  And that`s what people cannot



If you go to any of the early states, the Mueller report is not a problem

for us.  No one is talking about that, thinking about that.  They care

about the issues.


HAYES:  Yeah, as Cornell, I always thought the downside risk, again, and I

always thought it turned on what the facts were, right.  The downside risk

was like if he had actually engage in something that flagrantly criminal

that could have some negative consequences, but short of that, it was not

what was driving conversation politically.  This piece for NBC News, it

says Democratic primary voters to get to what Karine was saying, ask

candidates about health care and not Mueller report, and that syncs up what

I`ve been hearing from you over the past two years.


CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER:  Yeah, I would also think – look, I

think we had an election, a midterm election we had close to, what, 10

million more people vote for Democrat and Republican, and it wasn`t just

about health care.  Health care was a big deal, but it was also about sort

of the direction of the country and the division.


The division that you`re seeing in the country, particularly with women

voters, it was something that was really impactful.  The Mueller report I

don`t think was ever going to change anything, because Donald Trump`s

support is baked is.  As he famously said, he could shoot someone and it

wouldn`t move. 


I would say to Democrats what I`ve said to challengers running 2018 in

suburban Republican-leaning district is don`t talk about Donald Trump. 

This is not about Donald Trump, this is about who we are, who Democrats

are.  You know, this is about how do we get those 4 million or so Obama

voters who sat out in 2015 back to the polls.  This is how we get those,

you know, six or seven percent of younger voters who once upon a time voted

for Barack Obama, who protested their vote, you know, not choosing between

the lesser of two evils and voting third party back into the fold.


This is really more, for me, about what Democrats` vision are, what they`re

going to tackle.


HAYES:  Here`s a broader question, though, Karine, which I think relates to

this political moment and into 2020, which is the worry about

demobilization, right.  I mean, you saw sort of hair on fire levels of

activism among a huge swath of the country just a day or two after the

president inaugurated, right.  The next day there is the Women`s March. 

There are people showing up at airports.  There`s people showing up to

protest child separation.  There`s the midterm turnout, all that – a

special  elections.


I think the question, right, is having a Democratic congress, and

particularly Democratic leadership that I think doesn`t want those people

too active against them, going to create a condition

of demobilizing folks.  You see this up close.  What do you see?


JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I see it differently, Chris.  I see that people are

energized and mobilized and the thing about it, though, is that voters are

smart.  They are not stupid.  They know what is going on and we can`t treat

them that way, but what they want to hear from these almost 20 candidates,

probably a dozen now, I think, is that they want to hear what is their

vision.  What are they doing for them? 


When you see the small town halls or when you see these candidates in the

different early states, that`s the questions that they are asking them.  So

I think the key is how do you keep that energy going?  And how do you keep

folks continuing to pay attention, and they are paying attention.  So you

have to inspire, you have to show a contrast to what we have now in this

presidency, and where we`re

taking the country.


HAYES:  You know, Cornell, it is striking there has been reporting about

attendance at events for 2020 candidates, and they have been much higher. 

I`ve heard this firsthand from folks that work the circuit in Iowa and New

Hampshire and South Carolina, would suggest there is still a high level of

interest happening here.


BELCHER:  I think that`s right.  And what I`ve heard is, you know, it`s not

2008, which we saw  interests really peak, but I think it`s moving towards

that direction.


I`m less worried about sort of based Democratic energy than I am about sort

of how do  Democrats hold on?  Look at the suburbs around Philadelphia

right now where they turn blue, how do we hold on to those moderate swing

voters while also energizing – while also keeping our base energy high?  I

think that is a tough line to walk.


HAYES:  Yeah, that`s always a tough line to walk for any coalition. 

Cornell Belcher and Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you both for being here.


That is All In for this evening.  The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.








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