Democrats call for Barr to resign. TRANSCRIPT: 5/1/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: The Oath. This is exciting. It`s the brand new
MSNBC podcast hosted by another Chuck, former U.S. attorney and an MSNBC
contributor, Chuck Rosenberg. First two episodes are out.
It features these guys. Somebody you may have heard of, former FBI
Director James Comey and former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. It is worth
listening to both.
That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS
DAILY. “THE BEAT” starts right now. Stephanie Ruhle is in for Ari.
Cory Booker will be your guest. Well, there you go, Stephanie. You don`t
need me. Go to it.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Indeed, he will. It is going to be a busy
day. Thank you so much, Charles.
I am Stephanie Ruhle, in for my friend, Ari Melber.
And we start this evening with breaking news tonight. Jerry Nadler
speaking at this moment. We`ll take you there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Accommodation and
access to the full report and the underlying evidence, but not for much
longer. Complaints with congressional subpoenas is not optional and if
good faith negotiations don`t result in a pledge of compliance in the next
day or two, the next step is seeking a contempt citation against the
There are many questions that must be answered. The committee will convene
at 9:00 tomorrow morning as planned. My colleagues will be present. I
hope and expect that the attorney general will think overnight and will be
there as well. Are there any questions?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you issue a subpoena for Mr. Barr in the
NADLER: We will issue a subpoena – no, in the morning. Tomorrow, we`ll
not issue a subpoena. But the first thing is to get the unredacted report
and we will negotiate on that for another day or two. And if necessary –
now, remember, that was subpoenaed. If necessary, go for contempt citation
shortly thereafter. We will also start a process to get Attorney General
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your response to the ranking member who says
you`re torpedoing this hearing?
NADLER: We`re not torpedoing this hearing. The committee has the right to
determine its own procedures. The attorney general has a nerve to try to
dictate. The administration has a nerve to dictate our procedures. It`s
simply part of the administration`s complete stonewalling of Congress,
And what the ranking member is saying is that by determining how we`ll
proceed, we are stonewalling as if it is our choice that he should not
come. He is trying to blackmail the committee into not following what we
think is the most effective means of eliciting the information we need.
And the Congress cannot permit the executive branch, we cannot permit the
administration to dictate to Congress how we operate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman, some of your colleagues have called for
Barr to resign today. Do you join them in that sentiment?
NADLER: Well, I think he`s going to have to answer for apparently
testifying untruthfully in both the Senate and the House and that is
certainly one option.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So will you start contempt proceedings about not –
NADLER: I`m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you start contempt proceedings for not getting
the unredacted Mueller report?
NADLER: That`s what I said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about not appearing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about not appearing?
NADLER: That`s down the road. That`s down the road. We haven`t issued a
subpoena for him to appear yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re not planning to do that?
NADLER: I did not say that. We will – we may issue a subpoena but the
first – our first priority is to get the unredacted Mueller report. And
by the way, we`re looking to get Mueller before the committee on May 15
which is another priority.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you had any conversations with Mueller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May 15?
NADLER: That`s the day we`ve been talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you (INAUDIBLE)?
NADLER: Not yet. Well, they`ve announced that they have no – the
department has announced they have no objection. They were seeking to firm
up the date.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you really need committee lawyers to ask questions
tomorrow? Do you think that`s one of the reasons why he`s not coming?
NADLER: I think that is the reason he is not coming. He is terrified of
having to face a skilled attorney. The problem is – I mean, in fact,
we`ve also seen congressional hearings. We have very talented members.
They ask very good questions but a five-minute rule is not conducive to
Now, we`ve seen repeatedly administration witnesses including Attorney
General Barr spend the first four-and-a-half minutes filibustering. The
second – the last half minute getting a nonresponsive answer and then it`s
on to the next person.
It is very valuable as any lawyer will tell you to have somebody, in this
case, a staff lawyer, who can follow up, take up loose ends that were
suggested by questions from members, and follow up when he gives an
unresponsive answer. And say, but wait a minute, you said this last week.
How can you say this now or whatever?
That`s effective – the most effective way of getting at the facts and
getting at the truth. And given – I can understand, given how dishonest
he has been since March 24 at the earliest – since March 24 at the latest,
I can understand why he is afraid of facing more effective examination.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does this affect the impeachment –
NADLER: I`m finished. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler talking about Attorney
General Bill Barr refusing to testify before his committee tomorrow.
Nadler now saying they could eventually hold him in contempt.
We`re going to be covering every angle of the story today. And in just a
moment, I`ll speak to Senator Cory Booker who questioned Barr and now says
Barr should resign.
And we begin where Barr`s Senate testimony ended today. Barr forced to
defend himself after the release of a letter Robert Mueller wrote him in
March suggesting Barr misled the public with that four-page summary. And
today, Democrats, they certainly let Barr have it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VERMONT): I feel your answer was purposely
misleading. And I think others do too.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): You lied to Congress.
KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): The American public has seen quite well that you are
biased in this situation and you`ve not been objective.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I think history will judge you harshly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Today, Barr over and over, almost like a defense attorney for the
president, doing just that, defending Donald Trump and dodging questions
about the interactions between Bill Barr and the president himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or
suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please,
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: The president or
HARRIS: It seems you`d remember something like that and be able to tell
BARR: Yes. But I`m trying to grapple with the word suggest. I mean there
have been discussions of matters out there that they`ve not asked me to
open an investigation but –
HARRIS: Perhaps they`ve suggested?
BARR: I don`t know. I wouldn`t say suggest.
BARR: I don`t know.
HARRIS: Inferred? You don`t know. OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Barr also hitting Bob Mueller, Bob Mueller for declining to make a
decision on obstruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: I think that if he felt that he should not go down the path of
making a traditional prosecutive decision, that he shouldn`t have
investigated. That was the time to pull up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: But Mueller was very clear in his report. He did not make a
finding on obstruction because he thought it should be up to Congress to do
just that. Barr today repeating over and over, he did not think that was
Mueller`s choice to make.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: Bob Mueller is the equivalent of the U.S. Attorney. He is part of
the Department of Justice. His work concluded when he sent his report to
the attorney general.
At that point, it was my baby. And it was my decision how and when to make
it public, not Bob Mueller`s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Joining us now, New Jersey, my home state senator and presidential
candidate, Cory Booker who questioned Attorney General Bill Barr today.
Senator, I want to start by playing part of your questions earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I fear that you are
adding normalcy to a point where we should be sounding alarmed as opposed
to saying that there is nothing to see here. You seem to be excusing a
campaign that literally had hundreds of contacts with a foreign adversary.
Your conduct seems to be trying to normalize that behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)3
RUHLE: Senator, you clearly say that Bill Barr at this point should
resign. But given that you are in the minority, what can you do about it?
BOOKER: Well, I mean come on. At this point, it is kind of absurd. He
showed a level of cowardice today as opposed to standing behind the plate
like an umpire calling balls and strikes. He was over there hiding in the
dugout with team Trump and representing a president as opposed to doing his
job as an independent attorney general.
It is inexcusable. Anybody who reads that point just wants to be
objective. It is a report that describes deceit, lies, instructing people
to falsify documents. There is so much outrageous behavior in that
document that is creating a normalcy in our country of behavior that in any
other time period before this, would have had both sides crying foul.
And in fact, showing that you`re endangering this nation. Just think about
this – go ahead. I`m sorry.
RUHLE: Without a doubt, this is 2019. And Barr`s performance today surely
pleased the president and you saw Lindsey Graham and an entire squad of
human shields defending the president and Bill Barr.
So you and I might think it`s absurd and historically would have been
absurd. But we`re living in the present. So what is the reality in terms
of consequences? Bill Barr is not even going to show up tomorrow.
BOOKER: Well, again, the consequences, I am still a believer that you
speak truth to power. I am still a believer that you call it like it is.
And we have an obligation. I don`t care if you`re a Democrat or
Republican. To call this out for what it is.
The way that Barr described this report so angry even Mueller that Mueller
did something that was unusual to put it in writing his calling into
question, the role that Barr was playing and how he was misleading the
American public to believe that there weren`t objectionable things in that
report that are tantamount to obstruction.
And so this is more my concern right now is that this Mueller report now is
almost like a playbook telling the Chinese or the Russians and future
campaigns that want to put their own ambition in front of their patriotism
in this country about how to try to subvert our elections.
Because this campaign – and I`ve heard people on both sides of the aisle
even if foreign operatives and foreign adversaries reach out to a campaign,
everybody down here in Washington knows what they`re supposed to do which
is call the FBI. Here is a campaign that delighted in those – them being
reached out to. They called upon foreign adversaries to break the law and
that did things to collude with them in order to win an election.
And on top of that, then you have a presidency that literally engage in
deep levels of deceit and deep levels of trying to obstruct an
investigation, from threatening to fire people, trying to change public
documents, and ultimately, lie continuously to American public.
Those are – that`s not my description. That`s the facts that were
presented in this Mueller report. For us not to say time out for a second.
Let`s call this like it is to me is unforgivable. And that`s why I`ve
called upon Barr to resign.
Because remember, there`s ongoing investigations that he now gets to
oversee. There`s more than a dozen ongoing investigations and information
that Mueller found in the course of this investigation that didn`t directly
relate to him but indications of potential criminal activity that now Barr
is expected to be an objective independent attorney general and oversee
those investigations. I really think not.
He has burned through any credibility he had in that role and he should
RUHLE: So what does that mean for all of those ancillary investigations?
Seeing that Barr is the attorney general, are they all tainted now?
BOOKER: Well, it casts a serious shadow. But I have a lot of faith in
some of the leadership in places like the Southern District of New York. I
have a lot of faith in those people that continue those investigations.
And I think now Barr, should he stay in that job, and I think he should
resign, should he stay in that job, he needs to know that he is going to
have the fierce eye of history on him and he is going to be held
accountable for anything he does in protecting a president whose behavior
has been described by Mueller as at least strong evidence, 10 different
counts of potential obstruction of justice.
And things that did he in the campaign that even in the American context
would be viewed as illegal. Remember, sharing polling information within
an American super PAC is against the law. And they shared polling
information with a foreign adversary in order to advantage their campaign.
RUHLE: Think about the irony. We look at the report and what`s the
takeaway? That we didn`t put America first. One of the president`s
Tell me about Republicans. Your colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
And I don`t mean those who we necessarily heard from today who you`ve
worked with time and again. Are they saying something else behind the
scenes? Because most rational people think, at least those who read all
400-plus pages that those 400-plus pages are not reflected in the four-page
summary. Are Republicans behind the scenes, are you seeing any cracks that
they`re seeing that?
BOOKER: Listen, I have real friends across the aisle that I`m very proud
of, that helped me get a lot of the legislation passed. And I`ve been
hearing about condemnations of this president`s moral vandalism in private
from his failure to condemn Nazis, putting children in cages, refusing to
accept a bipartisan Senate, a unanimous vote to keep the government open
and instead shut it down.
RUHLE: But I mean in terms of this.
BOOKER: Well, that`s what I`m saying.
RUHLE: This is where the rubber hits the road.
BOOKER: Well, no. I actually think that we hit the road a long time ago.
I think this president has been engaged in the undermining of our
democratic institutions and our democratic norms in a way that should have
called more and more people to speak publicly about what they say in
And this clearly, clearly is a case. Because if this doesn`t account for
obstruction, where the attorney general would bring these charges, then
just think about what`s going on in this Mueller report that the next
president now believes that they can do, ordering their White House counsel
to manufacture documents, ordering the firing people for the sole purpose
of stopping an investigation.
This attorney general is now saying that`s OK. That`s now the norm.
That`s all right.
Not to mention a campaign that was literally calling for the violation of
American laws by a foreign adversary. We cannot normalize this. All of us
have an obligation to say what`s in this report is wrong.
And for him to characterize this report saying that the American public
should be grateful, was the words he used, that somehow we should be
grateful that there was no so-called collusion, which is not a legal term.
To me, this is really low in terms of the erosion of our democratic norms.
And unfortunately, a road map for anybody watching for the future that
could continue this descent into the undermining of the principles of our
RUHLE: What do you think Bob Mueller is going to do? It is truly out of
character for him to write a letter like that. For the press to get that
letter, he`s a true chain of command type of guy.
We heard from Lindsey Graham today who we have to note in the past has
called the president unfit, a disaster, a cook. Now, Lindsey Graham
defending the president and Bill Barr over and over. At the end of the
day, he said he doesn`t even think they need to call Robert Mueller to
testify. Do you think Bob Mueller is going to want to, going to insist
BOOKER: Well, again, I think Lindsey who I`ve worked with on legislation
of criminal justice reform, for example, I think he is wrong in this case.
I think clearly anybody who reads this report, for all the resources we put
into it, at the very least, the author of the report who understands all
the underlying documentation should come forward and answer the questions
of the body that now has the obligation to hold to president accountable
and provide oversight.
So it would be a serious mistake again. History will not look kindly on it
and I know the House of
Representatives will be calling Mueller to testify, as I am calling for the
Judiciary Committee to do as well.
RUHLE: Senator, thank you so much for joining me tonight. Senator Cory
Booker from the City of New Jersey.
BOOKER: Thank you.
RUHLE: All right. I want to bring in Nick Confessore, political reporter
for the “New York Times,” and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance who has been
working overtime today.
Joyce, we have spent – you have spent hours in this chair. Now that you
have watched it, you`ve thought about it, you`ve observed, you`ve absorbed,
what is your takeaway?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think it was disappointing
performance. It was a bad day for the Justice Department because we saw an
attorney general who perhaps did not commit outright perjury but who was
willing to slice things very narrowly, cut his responses close to the bone
in order to support this president.
And as I think you pointed out in opening, by the end of the day, you have
the feeling that you had been listening to the president`s defense team,
not the attorney general of the United States.
RUHLE: Then Nick, what comes next? If Barr refuses to testify tomorrow,
where do we go from here? This is a massively important issue for those in
Washington. It`s a massively important issue for those of us covering it.
But when you go out on the trail, right, Elizabeth Warren just said it in a
recent town hall, she and Beto O`Rourke, of the 75 questions they were
asked, only two were about this. It is important for our democracy, for
rule of law but it doesn`t seem to be a priority yet for the American
people. So what happens tomorrow?
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: The problem
we have right now is we`re now talking about the process of the
investigation. And a substance of it is resilient. It was good for Trump
and good for his team, be good for his campaign.
That`s why they`re slow-rolling everything. You can see in the approach of
Bob Barr, the overall strategy, which is to interpret questions as narrowly
as possible. To answer them with the fewest amount of facts. To talk
about the process of the investigation but not the underlying instances of
wrongdoing and bad behavior that Mueller had documented.
And, that`s going to push all of this unfortunately into a partisan dog
fight. It`s going to be a talk about he said and she said. It`s very hard
to keep the public focused on the underlying things revealed.
And you were talking there in very lofty terms about democratic ideals and
accountability. I think a lot of that is dead. This is a power struggle
pure and simple. And if Bob Barr had a mission and it was a movie, it
would be saving private Donald.
RUHLE: But it`s unfortunate use at the end of the day, we should put
decency, civility, and the rule of law first. I want to play Bob Barr –
Bill Barr specifically being pressed on incidents of potential obstruction
of justice. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MINNESOTA): The report found that Michael Cohen`s
testimony to the House before it, that the president repeatedly implied
that Cohen`s family members had committed crimes. Do you consider that
evidence to be an attempt to convince a witness to change testimony?
KLOBUCHAR: The report found that after Manafort was convicted, the
president himself called him a brave man for refusing to break.
BARR: Yes. And that is not obstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Joyce, what is your reaction? Eric Holder said on Twitter, Donald
Trump would absolutely be charged with obstruction had it not been for a
flawed restriction against indicting a sitting president.
VANCE: So I think virtually every experienced federal prosecutor who`s
looked at the evidence in the Mueller report has concluded just that. But
for the prohibition of indicting a president, Donald Trump would now be
defendant Donald Trump.
But leaving that aside for a moment, what is distressing about Barr`s
testimony here, it is as though he is saying, you know, the only barrier,
the only bar that a president has to clear is criminality. And as long as
the president`s conduct isn`t an outright criminal violation, then no harm,
no foul. I think we`re entitled to expect more of a president.
RUHLE: But then did Robert Mueller almost set Congress up to fail? If he
went all the way up to the line but said it`s not my call to make, I hand
it to you, Congress. And Congress – listen, we just talked to Corey
Booker, would sure like to get something done but they don`t have the
ability to. Then what?
Look, I think Bob Mueller is operating in a world in which institutions
have power and guard their own prerogatives. And that the House as a whole
will take this up in a non-partisan way. I`m not sure that is true
He clearly wrote a road map to impeachment proceedings in his report. It
is an open invitation to look at the evidence and say, if you think this is
obstruction, it is up to you. It was always going to be about that. I
think what`s fascinating –
RUHLE: And he can`t help that the system is now warped.
CONFESSORE: That`s correct. I was fascinated to watch Bob Barr trying to
have it both ways. He says, look, kind of once he handed off the report,
it was my baby.
RUHLE: My baby.
CONFESSORE: But in the same turn, he is attacking Mueller for not coming
to a decision. It`s obvious what he wanted was for Mueller to take this
decision off of his hands and let the president off the hook so he wouldn`t
RUHLE: Last point, Joyce.
VANCE: I think that`s absolutely right, Nick. This was a binary choice.
And the choice was Mueller was supposed to clear the president or Mueller
was supposed to clear the president. He didn`t do that so Bill Barr had
RUHLE: My goodness. Nick, Joyce, thank you so much. Stay with me. We`ve
got a lot to cover in this hour on this major day.
Next. Did Bill Barr mislead Congress? His answers are raising a lot of
questions today. And what does misleading exactly result in? We`re going
to speak live to the congressman who put him on the spot.
Also, where exactly is Bob Mueller? New reporting tonight on when Mueller
might tell his side of the story. And Nancy Pelosi unveiling a top new
stance against Trump and what she calls his unconstitutional obstruction.
I`m Stephanie Ruhle, in for Ari Melber. You know what you`re watching.
This is THE BEAT.
RUHLE: Welcome back to THE BEAT. I am Stephanie Ruhle.
Bill Barr now facing calls to resign. The attorney general under fire from
Democrats saying he deceived and purposefully misled Congress to shield
President Trump. Much of this centering around a moment at a hearing last
month when Congressman Charlie Crist confronted Bill Barr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE CRIST, (D-FL): Reports have emerged recently, general, that
members of the special counsel`s team are frustrated at some level with the
limited information included in your March 24 letter, that it does not
adequately or accurately necessarily portray the court`s findings. Do you
know what they`re referencing with that?
BARR: No, I don`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: I don`t? For real? Well, Democrats are saying that answer looks
more and more suspect after Mueller`s letter to Barr has emerged saying
Barr`s four-page summary did not fully capture the special counsel`s work
and conclusions. Here is Barr under fire on that very exchange with Chris
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I cannot imagine that you receive that letter on
March 24 and could not answer Congressman Crist directly when he asked you
whether there were concerns about representations being made on these
BARR: My understanding was his concern was not the accuracy of the
statement of the findings in my letter but that he wanted more out there to
provide additional context.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist.
Congressman, your reaction to Barr`s answer on your question from last
month, when it sure seemed like he didn`t know anything back then.
CRIST: It`s remarkable. It really is, Stephanie. And when you take into
account that when I asked those questions back on April 9, the attorney
general knew that he had received a letter from Bob Mueller. I didn`t. I
was really innocently asking the question based on some news accounts that
had reflected the fact that Mueller`s team had been frustrated or concerned
about the summary that had been put out by the attorney general in his
And so when I asked him if he had any insight or any idea about what they
were reflecting upon and he said “No, I don`t.” That`s just not the truth.
He had this letter. Bob Mueller sent it to him. He received it on March
28, I believe. And the fact that he would say that to us and then sort of
double down on it if you will the very next day to the Senate
Appropriations Committee for Senator Van Hollen of Maryland, it is just
incomprehensible that the attorney general of the United States of America
would misrepresent himself so much before the United States Congress.
And in essence, what he`s doing is he`s lying to the American people.
That`s beyond disappointing. It is unconscionable.
RUHLE: It is beyond disappointing but if he lied to Congress and the
American people, and there are no tangible consequences, isn`t the biggest
risk that here we are in 2019 and it is a big so what?
CRIST: Well, it is not a big so what to most people who watched it,
witnessed it. I`m sure it`s not a big so what to you. It`s a concern to
all of us. And what it does is it erodes the confidence in the office of
the attorney general and the Justice Department to have the chief legal
officer of the United States of America being untruthful to Congress.
Listen, I used to be an attorney general for the State of Florida. the
third largest state in the country. And I understood the role. And I
think you`re held to a higher standard when you`re the chief legal officer
of the state of the country at least.
And it seems to me that Mr. Barr doesn`t appreciate or understand that.
The people expect honesty, trustworthiness, transparency, particularly when
it comes to the highest legal office in the land, and he just failed on all
RUHLE: Well, I`m not sure he was speaking, or performing, or answering for
the people. He seemed to be doing it for an audience of one, President
Trump. And I`m guessing that President Trump was happy with Barr`s
performance today. Do you believe he should resign?
CRIST: I do believe he should resign. I mean, as I said, you know, acting
– as you have put it, and I would agree with you, and Senator Booker said
before, he doesn`t seem to understand the distinction of the role he has
which is amazing because he was the Attorney General before. But he`s
acting as though he`s the personal attorney for the president.
The Attorney General is the attorney for all the people of our country and
that`s why he should resign. He doesn`t understand the role and he`s not
RUHLE: But he is not naive. He knows exactly how to do the job, so we
need to wonder why isn`t he doing it. Congressman, please stay with me. I
want to get another moment – I want to get to that moment that you just
referenced from a hearing back in April.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?
WILLLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: I don`t know whether Bob
Mueller supported my conclusions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: He did know because he had Mueller`s letter. He had spoken to him
on the phone. Joining me now former Federal Prosecutor John Flannery.
John, what on earth do you make of that moment? Bill Barr has had a long
esteemed career. He`s had this exact job before.
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think the mistake is
assuming the essence of the man was so good and then trying to squeeze
everything he`s done that`s bad into a foregone conclusion that he`s a good
man. I don`t believe he is a good man, and there are things in his history
that suggest that.
His performance today was a shame and a disgrace. And I couldn`t say I
believe more strongly in what Congressman Chris said that he`s failing the
country. He`s supposed to be the top law enforcement officer. And it`s
very interesting in that quote that you had from the Crist interview. He
says no, I don`t know, but then right after that he says I suspect that
they probably wanted more put out, but in my view, I was not putting out
summaries or trying to summarize.
He says that despite the fact that what started this was his March 24th
letter which on the second page he says below, I summarized the principal
conclusions set out in the special counsel`s report. And too many people
have overlooked as far as I can tell today other content in Mueller`s
Mueller said we had a meeting on March the 5th in the third full paragraph.
He also said they met on the afternoon of the 24th, the Sunday that that
letter came out. What was that conversation about? And he said that they
discussed the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume
report that they wanted Mr. Barr to put out.
But he didn`t put him out because it didn`t serve their purpose. His
purpose was the deal he had with Trump which was to protect him and to wipe
away the entire investigation. And the rest of that interview by Mr. Crist
or I should say hearing. If you look at it, there`s a whole series of
things that are said like he doesn`t know what exoneration means.
This esteemed lawyer, thought so highly by so many doesn`t know what
exoneration means. And he misstates the whole purpose of the report which
is Mueller didn`t believe he could say whether or not he committed a crime.
He said that because of the OLC Office of Legal Counsel memo. So what
could he do?
And he didn`t want to say that even if we can`t prosecute him, he committed
a crime. So he handed it to Congress without predetermining how they
should handle it, but obviously said he couldn`t exonerate him. So his
suggestion was this is worth your consideration. These ten instances that
I`m telling you are obstruction of justice.
Kids on the street know that this President is a shame and disgrace like
his Attorney General. And resignation impeachment or prosecution doesn`t
seem out of the balance, out of consideration given his conduct today and
RUHLE: Ten instances, one of which was the President asking Corey
Lewandowski, a private citizen to take action and fire the Attorney
General. Just get your head around that. Congressman, Judge Napolitano on
Fox News said today that he didn`t think Bill Barr lied to Congress, he
just misled Congress. Help me understand what the difference is between
I mean that is almost a response that my twelve-year-old son gives me and
no matter whether it`s lying or misleading, he still gets in trouble.
CRIST: It`s a distinction without a difference, Stephanie. They`re the
same thing. I mean, misleading being untruthful, lying, you know, whatever
you want to call it, it`s not being honest, it`s not being transparent,
it`s not being appropriate with the American people.
And when you`re before Congress, it`s not so important how they you know,
comport themselves to us and my colleagues. Through us, their
representatives if you will, or their senators, they`re communicating with
the American people. We`re asking questions on behalf of the American
people to get to the truth of what happened here.
And so when I ask the question you know, did you realize why there may have
been concerns from Mueller`s team, you know, and then he sort of partially
answered saying you know, I thought he was asking meaning me about the team
members of Mueller`s investigation. Well, if Bob Mueller isn`t a part of
that team, my god he`s the quarterback of that team.
And so for him to try to distance himself from it in that way and take it
out of that kind of context, that was shocking and disturbing and
RUHLE: Misleading –
FLANNERY: I think he understood – I think I understood your question
because guilt spills itself or fears being spilled said, one of
Shakespeare`s characters. And he tells, oh I think they wanted their
summaries which is it precisely what`s in that letter from Mueller. So he
knew exactly what you were talking about.
RUHLE: Congressman Crist, John Flannery, thank you both so much. Whether
it`s misleading or lying, remember, the first Sunday after President Trump
was inaugurated, it was Kellyanne Conway on Meet the Press saying no
they`re just alternative facts. Alternative facts and misleading are also
known as lying.
Ahead, Chairman Nadler working to firm up a date for Bob Mueller to
testify. We have new reporting on that. You don`t want to miss it. But
first, the Barr revelation has Speaker Pelosi ratcheting up the rhetoric on
stonewalling. We`ll be back with that in 30 seconds. Do not move.
RUHLE: We are back with furor from Democrats over Bill Barr, and Speaker
Nancy Pelosi now escalating her attacks on Donald Trump. Pelosi who has
tamped down impeachment talk in recent weeks is sending a blistering new
message this evening accusing Trump of stonewalling congressional probes,
calling his actions unprecedented, unwarranted, unconstitutional, saying
they form a growing pattern of obstruction and that the only – that the
only thing Congress can do to prevent the rise of a tyrant.
Pelosi writing that all of this before Bill Barr announced his refusal to
testify before the House Judiciary Committee, that refusal only adding fuel
to the fire for Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Complaints with congressional subpoenas is not
optional. And if good-faith negotiations don`t result in a pledge of
compliance in the next day or two, the next step is seeking a contempt
citation against the Attorney General.
He is trying to blackmail the committee into not following what we think is
the most effective means of eliciting the information we need and the
Congress cannot permit the executive branch, we cannot permit the
administration to dictate to Congress how we operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: So what happens with all of this politically? With me now is
Zerlina Maxwell, Political Strategist who worked on the Clinton campaign
and is now at Sirius XM and Christine Quinn, Vice Chair of the New York
State Democratic Party and former New York Council Speaker. Thank
goodness, we have two women to solve this.
Christine, take us out of Washington into the kitchen table. So when
people are eating dinner tonight and they say what exactly happened today
and what`s supposed to happen tomorrow? What are people to think?
CHRISTINE QUINN, VICE CHAIR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: What people
think as they`re sitting around the dining room table tonight is the
government is a mess. The government doesn`t know lying from telling the
truth, right from wrong. And if they`re all so messed up in all of this
cover-up, how is anybody worried about whether I have enough money to pay
for the food we just ate?
The American people are being let down by the Trump administration yet
again. And what I worry about is how deeply is this eroding the public`s
confidence and belief in government as a whole because that`s a very
RUHLE: The Republicans are well aware of that. So today, to bring up
Hillary Clinton and bring up her e-mails, they know and invest – a new
investigation isn`t going to get launched, but exactly to Christine`s
point, the people who are watching at home just start to say, they all
stink. I can`t stand this government.
ZERLINA MAXWELL, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING, SIRIUS XM:
Well, I think that`s a sad reality, but I also think that I would encourage
everyone watching to go on Audible and download the free Mueller Report
audiobook because if you don`t have time to read the 448 pages, you
QUINN: Like the chair of the committee.
MAXWELL: Like the chair of the committee or the Attorney General based on
his testimony today. You as a citizen needs to know what`s in it. So
RUHLE: I think Hillary Clinton should read it and it should be a podcast.
QUINN: I think –
MAXWELL: Yes, she should – she should do the audiobook. And you know,
when I was reading it, and I read it on a plane with no Wi-Fi, and as a
citizen, you know, obviously we`re all thinking about our daily
responsibilities and our bills and all of that. But as I read it, as an
American citizen, I couldn`t help but get the word cheating out of my head.
Volume one is the Trump campaign cheating to win the election and volume
two is all the steps Donald Trump took to cover up the fact that they
cheated in the election. And I think that as an American voter, that`s
something that you know, it gives me incredible pause because it`s not
something that should go without any accountability.
And this was the process through which or at least one of the processes
through which we were supposed to get some more information, transparency,
and accountability because we can`t have this happen again. Not the
cheating part but the attack of the foreign hostile government part of the
RUHLE: Did you read it on a plane because you know you can`t jump out the
window of the plane?
MAXWELL: No, no, it just – it was completely random.
RUHLE: It`s just coincidence.
MAXWELL: I was taking off at 10:45, it came out at 11:00. We were a
little late and I downloaded it and got it right in time.
RUHLE: Christine, do you believe Nancy Pelosi has changed her position
because I want to share what she said just a couple of weeks ago and she
seemed pretty cool on the idea of impeachment. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I do believe that impeachment is one of the most
divisive force – paths that we could go down to in our country. But it`s
a fact – the past – the fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice,
but we`re not there yet. Impeachment is a step that you have to take with
bringing the American people with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Have things changed? She`s in a tricky position. Because whether
or not the American people like it, as a lawmaker, it`s her job to protect
QUINN: Yes, I mean, I don`t think her position is changed because if you
hear what she was saying and in that clip, she`s saying we have to see
where it goes. We have to see what we found out.
RUHLE: It`s gone darker.
QUINN: It`s gotten worse. It`s gotten worse, right. So I think that`s
very relevant to the speaker and her posturing as all of this moves
forward. You know, when she made that comment, she didn`t have the
Attorney General saying I`m not going to come to Congress and testify
thumbing its nose at the House of Representatives. She didn`t have that
So I don`t – I think everyone agrees with Speaker Pelosi that taking this
step towards impeachment would be an enormous issue that needs to – can
only happen if the facts fully support it and you have good political
support behind you. Because remember, impeachment is a political act and
that can`t be forgotten.
But let`s not forget that if you were to look at Watergate, almost days or
weeks before things fully fell apart and the President had to resign, very
few Americans believe that he should be impeached, not so different than
where we are today.
RUHLE: Zerlina, before we go, is Nancy Pelosi playing smart politics
against the President? Because it was just yesterday she and Chuck Schumer
were at the White House, shook hands with the President and said we had a
very productive meeting and agreed on a $2 trillion infrastructure package
on the same day when Mick Mulvaney is in L.A. saying yes, that`s probably
not going to happen, and we heard the same thing from Mitch McConnell.
So is Nancy Pelosi playing her cards right that when the President says,
they`re just obstructionist, they just want to focus on this witch-hunt,
she`s going to say no, we`re going to focus on these hearings and we`re
going to agree on an infrastructure package. What do Republicans going to
MAXWELL: Well, women know how to multitask.
QUINN: You know that`s right.
RUHLE: We have no choice. We have no choice. Yes.
MAXWELL: So I think that`s part of – part of what she`s doing in this
moment is she`s doing her job as Speaker and the leader of the Democratic
Party and trying to do things for the American people while she`s also
essentially opening the door for impeachment. I think that you know,
whether or not you agree that today we should start the proceedings, he`s
definitely leading us down that path.
I mean, the things that they have done since the report became public, the
redacted report, have let – have had pushed us closer to that being the
inevitable conclusion of this drama because he`s obstructing today.
They`re obstructing today.
I mean, the fact that they won`t come and testify, he`s saying I`m not
giving over any documents, you know, F your subpoena. I don`t care about
your subpoena. I mean, we`re in a dangerous moment. I mean, I think
people have used – overused the term of constitutional crisis but we`re in
it. This is it. This is what it looks like. It`s when there isn`t a
lever of – or mechanism to hold another branch of government accountable.
We don`t know what to do in this moment and that`s a crisis. So as a
voter, read the report because we all need to have the information so that
we can make informed decisions at the ballot box to potentially vote some
of these Republicans out. Because yes, it`s a political conversation, but
they also have to have a loyalty to the country and their oath of office,
and they`re not doing that. We skip over them like they don`t have a
responsibility here and they do.
RUHLE: I told you.
QUINN: I just want to say, thank God for Nancy Pelosi and she is the bomb.
RUHLE: The bomb. See, I just told you. Leave it to the ladies. They had
all the answers and just honored one on their way out. Zerlina Maxwell,
Christine Quinn, thank you both so much. Ahead, it is Bill Barr versus Bob
Mueller, longtime colleagues I believe possibly friends, and now these two
men at odds. We`ve got new reporting on Mueller possibly testifying. I
get a sinking feeling he wants to. That is next.
RUHLE: Breaking this hour. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler now saying
he`s looking at May 15th for Robert Mueller to testify before his
committee, but that nothing is firm yet. In the meantime, Bill Barr is now
refusing to testify before Nadler committee tomorrow after telling the
Senate today the Mueller report is his baby, not Mueller`s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: Bob Mueller is the equivalent of a U.S. Attorney. His work
concluded when he sent his report to the Attorney General. At that point,
it was my baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Baby. It is now Bill versus Barr, it`s extraordinary, former
colleagues. Barr`s first tenure as Attorney General in the 90s overlapped
with Mueller`s tenure as Assistant Attorney General for the criminal
Now Barr could be playing with fire appearing to break with Mueller, a man
who earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam and who says Barr`s four-page letter
caused public confusion. Today Barr took every opportunity to throw shade
at Robert Mueller/
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): A career prosecutor rebuking the Attorney
General of the United States memorializing in writing, right. I know of no
other instance of that happening, do you?
BARR: All right, I don`t consider Bob at this stage of career prosecutor.
You know, the letters a bit snitty and I think it was probably written by
one of his staff people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: He doesn`t consider him a career prosecutor. I wonder if he
considers him a great American. Back with me Joyce Vance former U.S.
Attorney of Alabama and Christian Farias an Editorial Board Member for the
New York Times.
Joyce, Jerry Nadler now saying they`re in talks for May 15th. That sounds
great, but do you buy it? Jerry Nadler is the same guy with a subpoena and
a deadline that the White House blows their nose with.
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`ll be a little bit of his dance and
at least for now Mueller appears to be a federal employee. So DOJ despite
Bill Barr`s assurances that he`ll let Mueller testify could decide to pull
the plug on that. Once Mueller is a private citizen, he has a little bit
more latitude, but I think it would be a mistake to think that we will hear
a lot more than what`s in the report from Mueller.
He`ll still be prohibited from disclosing, for instance, grand jury or
classified information. And so I think we`ll hear a lot about Mueller
saying well, you know, that`s presented in the report. I wouldn`t expect
to see a lot more.
RUHLE: But if Mueller really wanted to testify, couldn`t he terminate his
employment with the Department of Justice and show up? I mean, you`ve got
Bob Mueller – I mean, excuse me, you`ve got Bill Barr at this point
calling the letter snitty, taking jabs. If you`re a Bob Mueller, don`t you
want to show up?
CHRISTIAN FARIAS, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Bob Mueller
is an Institutionalist. I don`t think he`ll bend the rules just to get his
way. But one thing is clear. That letter that he sent in March just days
after Barr mischaracterized his findings with a damning letter. You don`t
do that. As Joyce has said, you don`t go to a paper on things like this.
You don`t question the chief legal officer in the United States and that`s
precisely what Bob Mueller did. And the letter is – speaks for itself.
He said, hey, look, what I sent you, the summaries at least should be
released at this time. And yet what did Bill Barr do, he took three more
weeks to just hang on to those summaries, hang on to the rest of the
And in the meantime, the public was confused. Congress didn`t have the
information and Mueller and his team, we saw a leak perhaps or we saw our
report saying hey, look, we`re not happy with the way Bill Barr has been
spinning this, let`s set the record straight. And that letter pretty much
laid it out all on the table.
RUHLE: Joyce, in April, a former FBI chief told the Atlantic the dynamic
between Mueller and Barr is one of a Boy Scout Mueller versus a street
fighter Barr. Would you compare the two?
VANCE: You know, it`s hard to know if that`s absolutely accurate. But I
think to the point that`s being made, this is such an unusual relationship.
Inside of the Justice Department, everybody`s on the same team, right, Boy
Scouts and street fighters. It takes all kinds to have one of those people
though go and put down on paper essentially to make book on the Attorney
General of the United States. Because you have come about the action he`s
taking, that I think speaks to a breakdown and a mismatch between the two
RUHLE: Well, Barr said today, if Mueller knew he was not going to make a
call on obstruction, he should have stopped the investigation. Are more
people thinking that?
FARIAS: I think Bill Barr is the only one who`s thinking that. And the
reason is –
RUHLE: Maybe Rudy Giuliani in the President.
FARIAS: That`s right. And one thing that Mueller made clear also in his
report is that he rejects wholesale Bill Barr`s theory of obstruction which
is very limited, it is very hungry and deferential to the President and his
power to control and shut down investigations.
Mueller doesn`t buy that. He believes that if you have a corrupt intent in
leading the nation, you should be subject to the rules. No man is above
the law, he said it. And as a result, because there`s that constitutional
clash between Barr and Mueller, I think that perhaps Barr is a bit hurt
that this underling as he suggested earlier is going against his
These dinosaurs of DOJ don`t like to be contradicted on these things and
that`s precisely what Mueller did and I don`t think Barr is too happy with
RUHLE: Amazing. Lindsey Graham said he sees no need to call Mueller.
Assuming he doesn`t, what other avenues can be taken to get him to testify?
VANCE: Well, certainly the House can call him to testify, and that`s where
perhaps it`s more likely that we`ll hear him. But look there – Bill Barr
brings some issues to the table today and talks about his view of phone
calls that he had with Mueller. I think increasingly people will want to
hear from Mueller and we may well see him in the Senate too before this is
RUHLE: He calls the report his baby, a 400-page report that covers the
2016 campaign and foreign interference. It doesn`t seem like anyone`s
baby. Joyce Vance, Christiane Farias, thank you so much. We`ll be right
back with a note on this very big night on MSNBC. If you are planning on
going out to dinner, catch a movie, see a friend, cancel. Invite everybody
you know over and stay right here.
RUHLE: All right, now, pour yourself a drink, order dinner in and put your
kids to bed early because we have a huge night on MSNBC coming up in the
next hour. 2020 candidate and Senator Kamala Harris who ripped into Bill
Barr today will be joining Chris Matthews on “HARDBALL.”
And at 8:00 p.m., another 2020 contender, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joins
Chris Hayes on “ALL IN.” And at 9:00 p.m., the only person on Earth who
read the Mueller report more carefully, maybe more times than Rachel
Maddow, Secretary Hillary Clinton be joining Rachel.
And then at 10:p.m. the House Intel Chair Adam Schiff joins Lawrence
O`Donnell on “THE LAST WORD.” Today, Schiff said Barr should never have
gotten the job. The question to Adam Schiff will be, well, he`s got the
job, now what are democrats going to do about it?
That does it for me. I will see you back here at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
I now hand you off to my friend and colleague, Chris Matthews. “HARDBALL”
starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the