Prosecutors tap Hollywood firepower. TRANSCRIPT: 5/30/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests:
Brad Sherman, Juanita Tolliver, David Frum, Rob Reiner, Michael Tomasky, Jonathan Chait, Leana Wen, John Hickenlooper
Transcript:

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  This is – we created this.

 

DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST:  And I also think that

the reaction to this sends the other signal that counters.

 

TODD:  It does, it does, which is why we discussed it.  Anyway, Dan, Donna,

and Alfonso thank you.

 

That`s all we`ve for tonight.  We`ll be back tomorrow, more MEET THE PRESS

DAILY.  “THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER” starts right now.  Good evening, Ari.

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chuck.  Thank you very much.

 

There are Democrats responding to Mueller`s new statement tonight by

pushing for impeachment.  We have that story.

 

Also, the man who played Mueller himself, Robert De Niro, teaming up with

prosecutors in a bid to get public attention for what Mueller said and what

to do next.  The director of that very video joins me later on THE BEAT

this hour, Rob Reiner.

 

But our top story tonight, the day after Bob Mueller broke his silence is

something that you may have seen before.  It is a pattern the Trump

administration has settled on when dealing with Bob Mueller`s sometimes

explosive and negative findings.

 

Let me tell you exactly what this is.  I call it the Mueller sandwich. 

Like any sandwich, the title comes from the meat.  In this case, Mueller.

 

But team Trump figured out a way to blunt what they may view as the bitter

taste of Mueller`s meaty evidence by sandwiching him with a lot of Barr. 

If you remember, there was a lot of Barr before any of the Mueller report

came out.  There was more Barr during that unusual press conference to

upstage the report on the very day it came out.

 

And now that Bob Mueller has spoken for what he says he hopes to be the

last time, well, guess what, Mueller sandwich.  Barr out today again

muddying Mueller`s careful explanation of how the rules prohibit indicting

a president.

 

Because, true to the sandwich, Barr is making his own news and he is the

attorney general so what he says matters.  And he is claiming that Mueller

could have reached a decision on that very indictment point.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES:  I personally felt he

could have reached a decision.

 

NORAH O`DONNELL, CO-ANCHOR, CBS THIS MORNING:  In your view, he could have

reached a conclusion?

 

BARR:  Right.  He could have reached a conclusion.  The opinion says you

can`t indict a president while he`s in office, but he could have reached a

decision as to whether it was criminal activity.  But he had his reasons

for not doing it, which he explained, and I`m not going to argue about

those reasons.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Just think through Barr`s claim right there.  He`s saying he would

prefer that Bob Mueller conclude that Donald Trump committed criminal

activity on obstruction without indicting him.

 

How can I say this nicely?  That`s very hard to believe.

 

And also, if that is what Barr preferred and demanded, he could have

demanded it.  Barr was Mueller`s boss until yesterday.

 

He could order Mueller to update the report with that very decision if he

wanted.  He didn`t.  He made the decision for himself.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BARR:  But when he didn`t make a decision, the Deputy Attorney General Rod

Rosenstein and I felt it was necessary for us as the heads of the

department to reach that decision.

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, I mean he seemed to suggest yesterday that there was

another venue for this and that was Congress.

 

BARR:  Well, I`m not sure what he was suggesting, but, you know, the

Department of Justice doesn`t use our powers of investigating crimes as an

adjunct to Congress.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  That`s the sound of a very smart, very informed lawyer claiming to

be confused, unsure.  He just doesn`t get what Mueller suggested yesterday. 

That is a tell.

 

By proclaiming his confusion, Barr can claim he`s not even really taking a

position, that Mueller`s remarks went over his head.  But all Mueller did

was quote the DOJ`s own rule that the president`s employees don`t accuse

him of wrongdoing.  That`s the role of Congress.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL PROSECUTOR:  The opinion says that the

Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to

formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  And the number of Democrats tonight now pushing to make that

formal accusal, to use Mueller`s words, is growing.  The calls for

impeachment have hit 50 now.

 

The chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee breaking with Pelosi and

echoing Mueller`s implication that the time for talking is over.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE:  I believe quite

frankly that the next step is for the House Judiciary Committee to open an

inquiry to formally begin considering whether impeachment is warranted.  I

think we`re at that point.

 

Quite frankly, we`re beyond talking about this in terms of political

implications.  I mean we have to do what`s right.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  President Trump took the debate head-on today telling reporters

Mueller`s new remarks were the same as the report.  That part is true.  And

then stating his revulsion at the very word “impeachment.”

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Do you think they`re going to impeach you?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t see how.  They can

because they`re possibly allowed, although I can`t imagine the courts

allowing it.

 

I`ve never got into it.  I never thought that would even be possible to be

using that word.  To me, it`s a dirty word.  The word impeach, it`s a

dirty, filthy, disgusting word.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Filthy.  I`m joined by the Center for American Progress Action

Fund`s Juanita Tolliver, David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush

and a senior editor at “The Atlantic”, and Congressman Brad Sherman who`s

calling for impeachment and introduced an impeachment resolution this year.

 

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA), CALLING FOR IMPEACHMENT:  Ari, I`m not sure

you`re describing my position accurately but we`ll get to it.

 

MELBER:  We`ll get to it right now.  Go for it.

 

SHERMAN:  Look, the president obstructed justice.  That was apparent to me

in July of 2017 when I introduced articles of impeachment. But I knew those

articles couldn`t lead anywhere without bipartisan support because, of

course, Republicans were in control.

 

Prosecutors don`t indict unless they think they can get a conviction.  We

need to change public opinion so that we`ll get a fair hearing in the

United States Senate –

 

MELBER:  What was –

 

SHERMAN:  – because impeachment without removal is –

 

MELBER:  What was inaccurate about mentioning that you were for

impeachment?

 

SHERMAN:  Well, certainly, I think he should be – well, impeachment and

removal is a package.  And to impeach without removal is, I think, a

mistake.  It has some advantages but it has some disadvantages.

 

MELBER:  But it is correct to say you`ve been pushing towards impeachment?

 

SHERMAN:  I have been pushing towards impeachment. –

 

MELBER:  OK.

 

SHERMAN:  – but I want impeachment on a bipartisan basis, yes.

 

MELBER:  Great.  But I`ve got to correct your correction then.

 

SHERMAN:  Oversimplification perhaps.  I think I`ve expressed enough.

 

MELBER:  No, I mean you`re – I don`t know what you`re doing, sir.  You`re

advocating for impeachment.  You introduced a resolution for impeachment. 

Now, you`re the politician.

 

I want to get the other panelists in.  You can use your time as you see

fit.  I appreciate you coming on the show.  Do you want to talk about the

case that you`re making for impeachment?

 

SHERMAN:  Actually, I`ve been trying to get on your show to talk about the

Saudi nuclear program.  And if it was my time, we`d be talking about

efforts to control drug prices.  There`s this image in the country that

Congress is focused only on impeachment.  That`s the only thing I can get

on T.V. to talk about but it`s not really what I`m working on.

 

MELBER:  Interesting.  Well, look, we do a lot of subjects here.  We can

get into that stuff.

 

Bob Mueller broke his silence yesterday and said this is an issue for the

Congress if there`s a wrongdoing to be accused so it is a big news story, I

don`t think that`s in debate.

 

Before I move on to the panelists, sir, what do you think is the most

important thing for Congress to do now given what Mueller said and that

he`s resigned?

 

SHERMAN:  Investigate.  Do what Sam Irvin did with his Investigatory

Committee in the Senate in 1973.  Show the American people what the facts

are.  Have Mueller testify but also reveal other facts beyond what`s just

in the narrow confines of the Mueller report.

 

MELBER:  Yes.

 

SHERMAN:  And hope that we can get a change in public opinion that will

lead to a change in the attitude of Republican senators.  It`s a tough

thing to do but if we just expose Trump for what he`s done.  If we`re

unable to remove him now, we`ve got next year.

 

MELBER:  And Juanita, having listened to the congressman there, he`s

talking about of course the divide when you talk about anything that

requires a supermajority.  But listen to what the president said this

morning.

 

It is sometimes common to point out everything he says that`s wrong and he

lies more than any president we`ve had.  But he did say something that is

both true and that I think will resonate with his supporters, that

basically, while yesterday was dramatic and important and the first time

you hear from Bob Mueller, you`re going to talk about it, the president

underscored the idea that there was nothing new yesterday that wasn`t

already in the report.  Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  It was to me the same as the report and there`s no obstruction. 

You see what we`re saying.  There`s no obstruction, there`s no collusion,

there`s no nothing.

 

It`s nothing but a witch hunt.  I think he is a total conflicted person.  I

think Mueller is a true never Trumper.  He`s somebody that dislikes Donald

Trump.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Juanita, your view of what the president is arguing and how that

connects with any larger attempt to shape public opinion?

 

JUANITA TOLLIVER, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION

FUND:  Yes.  Look, first and foremost, in his mind, this is case closed. 

But the reality is Mueller just reiterated what he wrote in the report and

referred the matter to Congress.

 

He said there was insufficient evidence to make a broad claim of conspiracy

here but that there is something that needs to be looked into.  I think the

other thing that Mueller raised yesterday that really piqued my interest

was confirming that Russians interfered in the election, something that

essentially Trump admitted to and agreed with today.  Though he backtracked

quickly, said that Russia interfered and helped him win.

 

So I think what he`s trying to do is, of course, get his base to believe

that the case is closed here, which is ultimately a lie and his effort to

really distract attention away from a bigger matter here that needs to be

dug into in Congress.

 

MELBER:  David, you`ve been unsparing in your criticism of what you see as

many failures of Donald Trump, policy, ethical and otherwise.  But you have

a different view about how to deal with all of this.  What is that?

 

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC:  I think I agree with Congressman

Sherman.  What Congress needs to do is get to the bottom of many facts that

either Robert Mueller didn`t answer or didn`t investigate.

 

For example, Robert Mueller did not look at the whole question of why.  Why

would Russia take these enormous risks to help elect Donald Trump?  What

was in it for them?

 

Why did they have so much confidence that he was a better choice for them

than Hillary Clinton?  Bob Mueller didn`t really look at that question.

 

But the answers may be, for example, in Donald Trump`s accounting documents

or in his income tax returns.  But to proceed now with an impeachment is to

go down a path which President Trump is surely going to win.  That he has

the votes in the Senate.

 

And if the Senate rebuffs the House, then Donald Trump is going to claim

before the 2020 election, I got my hearing, my critics did their worst and

I was acquitted.  It is – that`s the wrong way to go.

 

What you want to do is go down a path that will lead to success, that will

get information, and as the congressman said shape the mind of the country

simply to understand what they`re dealing with.

 

Very few people read the Mueller report.  That`s one of the things that Bob

Mueller is complaining about.  But to help the mind of the country

understand what kind of person this president is, what his connections are,

how he became the president in the first place.

 

This is an educative task that calls for those kinds of hearings, not an

argument about the technicalities of obstruction and what the appropriate

penalty is for facts that the public still doesn`t know of fully.

 

MELBER:  David, does it matter to you, does it – should it matter that

Attorney General Barr as we just showed, and I`ll play a little more in

this brand new interview, the most careful way I can say it is, seems to be

willfully muddying the public understanding and he is the attorney general

of the United States.

 

So it should matter even if people have maybe perhaps lower expectations

given the conduct thus far.  Take a look at him and compare it to Mueller

right here.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BARR:  We specifically asked him about the OLC opinion and whether or not

he was taking the position that he would have found a crime but for the

existence of the OLC opinion.  And he made it very clear several times that

that was not his position.

 

ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL PROSECUTOR:  So that was Justice Department

policy.  Those were the principles under which we operated.  And from them,

we concluded that we would, would not reach a determination one way or the

other about whether the president committed a crime.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  As I reported last night, David, a Mueller spokesperson personally

assured me that those two things are not in any conflict and that Mueller

is this team player.  A lot of other people see conflict.  Do you think

that A.G. Barr here has been on the level?

 

FRUM:  Of course not.  If he were an honorable and forthright person, he

wouldn`t have gotten the job in the first place.  The most important

bonafide job qualification for this job in President Trump`s eyes is to be

a dishonorable person.

 

And when he discovered that Jeff Sessions was more honorable than Donald

Trump could stomach, he campaigned against him.  But these intellectual

assessments, these moral assessments should not drive your political

judgment of what are going to be the probable political consequences of

walking down a certain path.

 

Politicians have to be judged by results in the end, and the results of

commencing impeachment now are going to be to Donald Trump`s benefit, not

to the country`s.

 

MELBER:  Juanita?

 

TOLLIVER:  Yes, I think one additional thing about Barr, not only is he

just this person who seems to lack a degree of integrity but he is

extremely loyal to Trump and has played to Trump repeatedly, whether it`s

in congressional hearings, whether it`s in the summary letter where he

announced this was a total exoneration, which is a jarring juxtaposition to

what Special Counsel Mueller said repeatedly.

 

And even in the letter when Special Counsel Mueller challenged Barr because

he said his summary did not capture the context or the substance of the

report and he actively was working to mislead the American people, which is

something Trump actively is doing.

 

MELBER:  Juanita, you`re putting your finger right on it as you often do. 

Did that surprise you that we know Mueller disagreed with Barr about that

and yesterday, he clearly tried to steer clear that?

 

TOLLIVER:  He tried to steer clear of it because he`s a man of integrity

and he`s hyper-focused on his mission.  I think that`s one thing that you

can take away from his comments yesterday related to the fact that you

cannot indict a president.  So of course, I was not going down that route.

 

MELBER:  Correct.

 

TOLLIVER:  And I think that Barr nor Trump know what to do with that.  They

don`t know what to do with a person who operates with that degree of

integrity.  And so you have Trump going on multiple rants today, tweeting

up a storm, again distracting from his failures as a leader but really

working actively to mislead the American people.

 

MELBER:  Juanita Tolliver, David Frum, and Congressman Brad Sherman, thanks

to each of you for kicking off our coverage tonight.

 

TOLLIVER:  Thanks, Ari.

 

MELBER:  We have a lot more to get to.  We`re going to go inside Mueller`s

endgame strategy as well as why he is concerned that you may not have read

the full report yet.  We`re going to get into that and I`m going to speak

to legendary activist and Director Rob Reiner who`s working right here with

Robert De Niro on this new impeachment push.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ROBER DE NIRO:  In the words of the Mueller report, no person is above the

law.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  And later, an important story, the president of Planned Parenthood

joins me tonight on this abortion ban and why there could be no more

abortion allowed in the entire state of Missouri by tomorrow.  We`ll

explain.

 

And later, a look at how the 2020 contenders are shifting on impeachment. 

Presidential Candidate John Hickenlooper with a new position now today and

he joins me.

 

I`m Ari Melber.  You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  As we saw at the very top of tonight`s broadcast, there are

Democratic members of Congress who twist themselves up in knots over how to

approach Donald Trump and the potential impeachment and whether they

support it.

 

Our next guest, though, has no doubts.  Acclaimed filmmaker, actor, and

political activist Rob Reiner is in the impeachment column.

 

Good evening to you, sir.  And I want to show our viewers you`re directing

this new video which features Robert De Niro and former federal prosecutors

arguing the Mueller report shows Donald Trump obstructed justice.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DE NIRO:  Recently, over a thousand former federal prosecutors who served

under both Republican and Democratic presidents have united to sign a

statement to help Americans understand what`s actually in the Mueller

report.  Their conclusion should trouble us all.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If you or I did what President Trump did, we`d be

facing prison.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And no one, not even the president, should be above

the law.

 

DE NIRO:  In the words of the Mueller report, no person is above the law.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Nice to see you, Rob.

 

ROB REINER, ACTOR, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER:  Nice to see you, Ari.  Thanks for

having me.

 

MELBER:  Yes.  There are people who say you`re a good storyteller.

 

REINER:  Some people.  Other people say I stink.

 

MELBER:  And you`ve decided to use your firepower here to tell a story. 

Anyone watching that recognizes some of the faces.  Others are there for

their expertise and their knowledge but are not as famous as De Niro.  What

story are you telling here?

 

REINER:  Well, you know, it`s been very frustrating for those of us who are

following this story from the time that we heard about the Russians

intruding into the election until now and are into the weeds on this, we`ve

got to have a picture of what actually happened.

 

And it`s all summed up there in the Mueller report.  Unfortunately, most

people don`t know what`s in the Mueller report, haven`t read it, and are

really not following it.  So what I`m trying to do is get the information

out to the American public so once they hear it, they`ll have a better

picture of what actually happened.

 

Yesterday, for instance, you had Bob Mueller go on television for eight

minutes.  And for the next two days, all that you hear talked about on

cable news is that eight minutes because it`s very powerful to see

something on television actually tell the story.

 

And that`s what I want to do.  And that`s what Congress needs to do at this

point.  They need to get people in front of the camera on television under

oath, to tell the truth.  And once that happens, you`re going to see a big

change in how people view what should happen to this president.

 

MELBER:  Well, and as you say, the whole reason that trials are important

is they don`t work off the paper evidence.  The paper is there, they work

hard on it, but the trial, the evidence, what the jury sees is the people

in the room.

 

And you can confront your accuser, you can hear everyone talk, and you make

a judgment.  So your video here, of course, is tapping someone who has been

personified comedically as Bob Mueller.  Let`s take a quick look at De Niro

as Mueller.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DE NIRO:  On the charge of obstruction of justice, we have not drawn a

definitive conclusion.

 

AIDY BRYANT:  But I have.  And my conclusion is Trump`s clean as a whistle.

 

ALEC BALDWIN:  Free at last, free at last.

 

DE NIRO:  In conclusion, it is my hope that this report will be made public

with a few redactions.

 

BRYANT:  Hello, redactions.

 

BALDWIN:  We`re going to black out everything except the words “no” and

“collusion.”

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Why did you think to tap De Niro in this project?  Do you think

people look at him a little differently having watched him play Mueller? 

And what kind of rate did he charge you here for an activist video as

opposed to a movie?

 

REINER:  Well, he charged zero, which is the going rate for doing these

kinds of things.  No, the reason I chose him is because I`m trying to draw

attention.  I mean Bob Mueller going on television yesterday, that got

everybody`s attention.

 

And what I`m trying to do is draw attention to what is actually in the

report.  We have over a thousand federal prosecutors both serving

Republican and Democratic presidents who basically say with what they have

seen in the Mueller report, President Trump would have been indicted and he

would be facing jail time.

 

That`s – you know, that`s not a small thing.  I mean we have a president

who has committed crimes, he`s already been indicted, an unindicted co-

conspirator in the Southern District of New York for conspiracy to cover up

payments to a porn star.

 

MELBER:  Beneficiary.  He wasn`t technically an unindicted co-conspirator.

 

REINER:  Yes, unindicted co-conspirator but the point is Mueller said very

clearly he couldn`t indict a sitting president.

 

MELBER:  Right.

 

REINER:  But yet he laid out unequivocally crimes that this president

committed.

 

MELBER:  Right.

 

REINER:  And we need to make sure the public understands that.

 

MELBER:  Well, it`s interesting.  And because the probe is closed, we are

in the communications battle period of it.

 

And you`re someone who`s clearly communicating.  Rob, thanks for telling us

about your project tonight.  Love to have you back on THE BEAT soon.

 

Still to come, the president of Planned Parenthood will be here on this

abortion ban in Missouri.  First, we go inside Mueller`s strategy and this

endgame and we`re going to show you why there is so much confusion about

what`s in the Mueller report when I`m back in 30.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  If you believe Bob Mueller, the report will set you free.  Read it

and you`ll get the evidence, you`ll know what happened.

 

That was the essence of his plea to America yesterday as he resigned, a

belief in evidence and detail and thoroughness.  That is a total contrast

to a president who rose to power with bursts of words and tweets and who

managed his own supporters` view of Mueller`s remarks today with what you

see here, a very simple piece of sloganeering.

 

Case closed, a picture of Trump ascending and Mueller shrinking offstage. 

This is communication for an era where emojis and memes and pictures move

people far more than paragraphs.

 

Mueller`s belief in reading the report is also a contrast to the lawyer who

stood between Mueller and Trump, ridging a remixing air worlds with his own

legal version of a tweet storm, the infamous summaries and letters that Mr.

Barr designed for not only a legal audience or for court or Congress, but

designed to drive tweets and TV Chiron`s and headlines to define the

Mueller report not only before it would be read, this is vital, to define

the Mueller report instead of it being read.

 

Barr got his results working on Trump`s vision to dominate this buzzy world

where people don`t even finish articles, let alone government reports. 

Barr put his summary out there which became his tweet storms and replace

from any people the report.

 

Did that work?  And is it useful at this juncture to understand how this

system was worked?  How Barr maybe outworked Mueller?

 

Even for those who wish Barr was not as effective as he is, consider that

as all this news was breaking, just hours after Mueller spoke, we got some

historical perspective form Pulitzer-Winning author John Meacham about how

Mueller`s communications tools may have been outgunned, a point we

discussed.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JON MEACHAM, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR:  Mueller and his team are in a

knife fight and Barr and Trump brought a gun to that knife fight.  One of

his main points this morning is read what we said.  And fewer people do

that.

 

MELBER:  Let me build on your point and hand it back to you because you put

it very well.  And another way to say it is Bob Mueller brought a book to a

Twitter fight and the books –

 

MEACHAM:  Yes.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Now, that backdrop helps explain why a citizen who was interested

enough to attend a town hall in person, which is something actually we know

from data most people never do, was still surprised that the Mueller report

had anything bad on Trump in it.

 

I want to show you this brief, interesting, and honest exchange from a

voter at a town hall with the lone Republican congressman to say Trump

committed impeachable offenses.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I was surprised to hear there was anything negative

in the Mueller report at all about President Trump.  I hadn`t heard that

before.  And I mainly listen to conservative news and I hadn`t heard

anything negative about that report and President Trump had been

exonerated.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Let`s get into it with “The Daily Beast” Michael Tomasky who

writes in “The New York Times” Mueller reiterates he wants the evidence to

speak for itself but the evidence wasn`t allowed to speak for itself.  As

he knows, Barr spoke for it.  And Jonathan Chait from “New York Magazine”

who`s been writing about the reaction among conservatives to Mueller`s

approach.

 

What do you think, Michael, of what you just saw there and how this relates

to what people are really learning?

 

MICHAEL TOMASKY, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST:  That was staggering.  Not

surprising, but staggering and depressing to see.  But there are millions

of people out there like her.

 

Well, Ari, as you know, I mean you quoted from my piece, thank you for

doing that.  But what I tried to say in that article was that Bob Mueller

has this quite admirable in many ways, in almost every way, sense of

rectitude and propriety.

 

But for these times, for the times we`re in, it`s a little anachronistic

and it`s a little old-fashioned and it`s not up to the fight.  He wants to

remain apolitical here.

 

I understand why, given his history, given his sense of what constitutes

his duty.  But – and he wants to remain above the fray.  But if ever there

was a time in American history when the facts demanded that you be in the

fray, I think it`s now.  So I appreciate what he`s done –

 

MELBER:  Do you think Barr outworked him in public?

 

TOMASKY:  Well, yes, I do I have to say.

 

MELBER:  Let me get Jon on that same question.

 

JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE:  I think there`s little question that

Bob Mueller took a very fastidious approach to this question.  He decided

that not only can he not charge the president because of Department of

Justice policy with a crime, he can`t even say I would have charged him

with a crime if not for this policy.

 

So he`s being extremely cautious, even though he laid out obviously

criminal behavior in this report.  And Barr took advantage of Mueller`s

silence and his – and his fidelity to this principal –

 

MELBER:  Exactly.

 

CHAIT:  – to misinform the public what Mueller did.

 

MELBER:  And that`s – as you put it that way, Jon, that`s when Tomasky is

almost being extra careful and saying oh well maybe you have to get

political.  It`s not political if Mueller had just noted well, the letters

tried to mislead the public about my evidence and it`s concerning what an

A.G. does that full stop.

 

TOMASKY:  Full stop.  And you know, Mueller has done this himself, Ari, as

you well know, the letter that he wrote to the Attorney General in late

April directly right from Bob Mueller to Bill Barr saying you have left out

the context.  You know the picture better than I do, but it`s very clear

that letter.

 

MELBER:  Exactly.  Let me – let me show you both – let me show you both

something because you guys both believe in print, right?

 

CHAIT:  Yes.

 

TOMASKY:  Yes, sure.

 

I want to go through and be clear with viewers because a lot of folks

watching THE BEAT may be very versed on this stuff and follow the story and

the OLC opinions and all that, but the panel stays with me but take a look

at how newspapers around the nation are reporting right now on Mueller`s

new remarks.

 

Here`s the Charlotte Observer, Mueller refuses to clear Trump of

obstruction.  That`s similar to what you`ve heard on television.  But

here`s the Connecticut Post, Mueller reignites impeachment debate.  OK,

that`s one view marching towards Congress.  Mueller, no exoneration for

Trump in the Washington Times, a Conservative paper a little.  A little bit

more of the jump ball.

 

And then you have the San Francisco Chronicle.  Take a look at this and we

leave this on the screen.  If you`re having trouble noticing where the

Mueller news is, that`s because in this big California paper, I wouldn`t

say they`re somehow doing defense for Trump but unlike many papers we

surveyed tonight, it`s in the very bottom, below the fold, a little squib,

with a little highlight we showed you there because this was not the

biggest story today in San Francisco, not by a longshot.

 

Take a look at another local paper, same deal, not on the – not on the

front page at all.  New York Times, of course, front page, but still on the

right, not the far left where, Tomasky, where you`d want a big story of

yours to land.  What do you make both of you in order starting with Michael

of the very divergent responses out there and the worst response you can

have no important story which is it not make the front page at all.

 

TOMASKY:  Yes.  Well, that`s the most important part and those little

squibs at the bottom of the San Francisco Chronicle and others.  You know,

there`s great anticipation among Liberals inside the beltway and who are

you know very tuned in whose heads are inside the beltway wherever they may

live.

 

There`s great anticipation that this is going to move the needle in a big

way Mueller speaking and that it`s going to change public opinion and it`s

going to change numbers on impeachment.  I`m not so sure.  I`m not so sure. 

I`m not so sure how big a story this is out there across the country.  I`d

like – I`d like it to be.  I`d like to think it would be.

 

But again, and I trace this back to Mueller`s reticence to just say what he

means and speak more directly about what he`s putting out there.

 

CHAIT:  You know, I noticed that people like us who follow this very

closely we`re not surprised by what Mueller said but conservatives not just

like that woman at the town hall that you showed but professional pundits

seem to be shocked and outraged by Mueller`s comments because I think they

actually believed Barr`s spin and were stunned when Mueller contradicted it

even though everything he said was in the report.

 

MELBER:  Yes.  I mean, what you`re saying is that even the people you`d

think are supposed to do the reading or not – and Mueller may have been

speaking to them as well, Jonathan.

 

CHAIT:  Right.  I mean, I really don`t think many people on the

Conservative side actually dug into the Mueller report itself which is why

Justin Amash was so unusual not only in his conclusion but I think in the

method he took to get there which is read the report.

 

HAYES:  Final thought, Michael.

 

TOMASKY:  My final thought is that you know, if the Democrats want to

pursue impeachment hearings, pursue an inquiry, they need to do more of the

work to massage public opinion.  They`re not going to get any more out of

Robert Mueller and they`re not going to get any more out of him.  He may go

testify, maybe, but you know, he`s pretty made it pretty clear what would

the point be.  So the ball is completely in the Democrats Court right now.

 

MELBER:  Yes.  And the larger point here that is – that is where the

Constitution meets the public discussion is, this isn`t the first

communications revolution we`ve lived through, it probably won`t be the

last.  As soon as you get out to what`s the Congress going to do, you`re

talking about a jury that has constituents.

 

And so at a certain point, Mr. Barr and I think the Trump White House were

very prepared to try to work the constituents about all this and that was

something that Ken Starr and other prosecutors have also thought about.

 

Archibald Cox held a big press conference and one of the key inflection

points when he was warning over the Nixon tapes.  In other words, other

prosecutors have seen that larger role precisely because you don`t invite

the president.

 

Mr. Mueller has a narrower view and in that sense seated a lot of the

communications ground.  I think that`s clear.  Michael Tomasky and Jonathan

Chait, thanks to both of you.

 

CHAIT:  Thanks.

 

MELBER:  I appreciate it.  Up next for the first time, women in an entire

state could lose access to abortion tomorrow.  We`re going to explain why

that matters and we`re joined by the president of Planned Parenthood

organization.

 

Also later, the impeachment debate upending the 2020 debate.  I have a BEAT

interview with Governor John Hickenlooper tonight later in the hour.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  Big news out of Missouri right now.  GOP leaders cracking down on

the sole abortion provider remaining in the state potentially forcing its

last abortion clinic to cease providing abortions tomorrow.  If Missouri

succeeds, May 31st will mark the first time in 45 years that a state in

America will prevent medical abortion services.

 

Planned Parenthood is suing to try to keep the clinic open.  A judge could

rule on that by tomorrow.  Meanwhile, protestors are making it clear to the

governor they do not support this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

AMERICAN CROWD:  Governor Parson, shame on you!  Governor Parson, shame on

you!  Governor Parson, shame on you!

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  I`m joined tonight by President of Planned Parenthood Dr. Leana

Wen.  Thanks for being here.

 

LEANA WEN, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD:  Thank you.

 

MELBER:  If the judges intercede, what happens tomorrow?

 

WEN:  Well, this is a real state of emergency that we are in for women`s

health.  We`re talking about 1.1 million women of reproductive age in

Missouri who after tomorrow could have no access to essential health care,

abortion care in their own state.  And we know that banning abortion is not

going to stop abortion, but it will stop safe legal abortion.  This will

endanger women`s health and lives.

 

MELBER:  So what happens tomorrow?

 

WEN:  What happens tomorrow is that our only remaining Health Center in

Missouri that provides abortion care, our Planned Parenthood health center

in St. Louis will no longer be able to provide abortion care leaving

Missouri as the only state in the country that has no provider of abortion

care, the first time in almost 50 years.

 

MELBER:  And we were looking at this today, for example, people under 25 in

Missouri make about $500 a week median.  So does this functionally mean

those people, many people would not be able to obtain that what is still

currently a legally protected right to abortion because they can`t afford

to go – even travel for it.

 

WEN:  That`s exactly right.  A right on paper is not worth very much if you

literally cannot access the services that you need.  Right now already

there`s only one health center left in Missouri and women have to travel

hundreds of miles making repeat trips, getting child care, time off from

work just to obtain a medical procedure.

 

And the people who are affected the most by these terrible laws that are

closing down our health centers, they`re women with low income, they`re

women who live in rural areas for the most affected by these owners

restrictions.

 

MELBER:  So at what point do you – do you think the Supreme Court has to

pick up these kinds of cases if it`s – if it`s your argument that this is

an excuse, that this isn`t about paperwork or the admitting privileges of

these things.  If the – if the result of a policy is to eliminate all

abortion in the state does that itself in your view violate Roe v Wade?

 

WEN:  Absolutely.  Which is the reason why we are suing the state of

Missouri.  And what they`re doing is unconstitutional, it is illegal, it`s

dangerous, and it`s part of a trend that we`re seeing across the country

with anti-women`s health politicians not only in Missouri but in Georgia,

in Alabama, in Mississippi and all over who are passing one extreme ban

after another with no exceptions for rape or incest, putting doctors in

jail for up to a lifetime as in the case of Alabama for providing medical

care.

 

MELBER:  Dr. Wen, thank you very much.  We`ll be staying on the story and

we`ll see what happens tomorrow.  When I come back I`ll be joined by 2020

Democratic candidate.  I`m going to say, John Hickenlooper, come on in.  I

know you`re running for office and we`ll see you when we come back after

the break.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It is time to start the

impeachment process.

 

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This is as close to an

impeachment referral as you could get under the circumstances.

 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I believe that the

Judiciary Committee should begin impeachment inquiries.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Some top 2020 Democratic candidates reacting to Mueller`s first

public comments of course about the probe yesterday.  I`m joined right now

by a Democrat running for president, former Colorado Governor John

Hickenlooper.  Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

 

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You bet.  Thank you, Ari.

 

MELBER:  Is it time to impeach Donald Trump?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Well, I wanted to – you know I called myself sometimes an

extreme moderate and I wanted to hear what Mr. Mueller had to say

yesterday.  But based on that I think we`d be crazy not to open an

impeachment inquiry and get the real facts.  And I don`t –

 

MELBER:  So last week, were you for an impeachment probe?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  No, I was still holding back.  I want to hear what Mueller -

-

 

MELBER:  So this week is the week that you`re saying start an impeachment

probe.

 

HICKENLOOPER Start the inquiry.  It doesn`t mean we`re going to impeach him

tomorrow, or maybe ever, and let`s not be naive, right.  I don`t think

there`s – anybody thinks that Mitch McConnell is going to allow President

Trump to be impeached.  Democrats have to keep our eye on the prize.  We`re

going to have to beat Trump at the ballot.

 

MELBER:  But substantively do you think he obstructed justice?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Probably.  I think there`s a high probability.  But what I

want is the facts.  And I think the American people want the facts and I

think we have a constitutional obligation to follow those facts wherever

they lead.

 

MELBER:  Should the Democrats nominate someone who can`t say what you just

said, who doesn`t think that the way to stand up to Donald Trump is to have

an impeachment probe?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  No, I don`t think that`s – that should not be the litmus

test.

 

MELBER:  Why not?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Well, because I think that there are much bigger issues than

that.  We`ve got to create a vision for America that`s based on kitchen

table economics.

 

MELBER:  Let me press you on that.  Donald Trump according to your party,

your base poses a unique and dangerous threat to America.  You`ve heard

that from many of your voters.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  No question.

 

MELBER:  And Donald Trump has and publicly exposed according to the Mueller

report in ten different incidents of various ways that he was potentially

betraying his oath of office.  Why shouldn`t your party have a clear

position on that?  I mean is Joe Biden wrong to say it`s not time to

impeach?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  I think – again, this is my – Joe Biden`s got his own

universe of reasons.  My feeling is that the inquiry – the inquiry is not

the same as the filing the you know, articles of impeachment.  That`s the

next step.  But I think everybody should agree that we want to get the real

facts.

 

And if you have to open an impeachment proceeding to provide more weight

behind the subpoenas to make sure that those facts come to light then we

have to do it.  I mean, we have to do it.

 

MELBER:  Do you think holding back on a probe would help Donald Trump cover

up what he did?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Yes, I think that getting the facts allows, A, allows the

American people to have some confidence of what they`re dealing with.

 

MELBER:  So final question on this before I turn to some other topics.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Sure.

 

MELBER:  If Joe Biden is again starting that probe, then by your logic, he

would be helping Donald Trump.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  No, I think I would want to hear what his reasons were and

make sure that you know, he is – now I`m going to get myself in trouble. 

I think that we all should have –

 

MELBER:  Why are Democrats so afraid of getting in trouble?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Yes, well because there`s –

 

MELBER:  People are looking for leadership, right?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  I understand that.

 

MELBER:  And Donald Trump, we`ve heard from Bob Mueller, was trying to

obstruct a criminal probe.  That`s a substantial evidence.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  If that is true –

 

MELBER:  I mean, I read the report, that`s what I read, and so I`m not

taking a position but I`m asking for the Democrats what are you afraid of?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  I`m not afraid of that at all.  I`m saying right out that

we`ve got to go out and get the facts.  We`ve got to open an impeachment

inquiry and make sure that we get the facts on the table.  What I`m holding

back –

 

MELBER:  So Joe Biden –

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Wait, wait, what I`m holding back –

 

MELBER:  No, wait, wait, wait –

 

HICKENLOOPER:  You`re trying to lure me into attacking my opponents which -

-

 

MELBER:  It`s not a lure.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  – if the time is right, that will happen.

 

MELBER:  No, I didn`t say attack.  I`m not asking you to criticize him as a

person.  I`m trying to and this is part of my job, governor.  I`m trying to

understand where the differences are and whether you invite and have a

difference on that or not.  I think that`s a reasonable question.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Well, clearly we have a difference in opinion.  I want to

open an inquiry to try and get the facts on that and so far he has not come

to that decision.  He probably will, maybe he won`t.

 

MELBER:  In the interest of time, I want to hit some other stuff.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  OK.

 

MELBER:  As governor, you backed a women`s health care plan that your

administration argued was good for women and lowered unwanted pregnancies

by providing support and funding.  Explain.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Well – and I see what`s going on in in Alabama and Indiana

and even Missouri as an assault on women`s rights, right?  And I think

women have an inalienable right to control what happens to their body.

 

In Colorado, we took a different direction.  We expanded health care

access, provided women with long-acting reversible contraception, IUDs and

(INAUDIBLE) and in the process we reduced teenage abortion by 64 percent

and teenage pregnancy by 54 percent and save the Colorado taxpayers $70

million.

 

MELBER:  And you did that with what you`re saying is also still a pro-

choice policy.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Absolutely.

 

MELBER:  Very interesting.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  We`re out giving women access to make their own decisions.

 

MELBER:  Right.  And that comes against what we`ve been covering on the

show tonight which is these crackdowns.  We also want to have fun.  We

don`t want to just ask you about your opponents.  We want to have a little

fun.  Would you do a lightning round with us?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Sure.

 

MELBER:  All right, hit it.  Favorite T.V. show,

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Cheers.

 

MELBER:  Favorite –

 

HICKENLOOPER:  I was in the departments just like I said.

 

MELBER:  Favorite President.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Lincoln.

 

MELBER:  If you could have anyone for your running mate living or dead.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  Well, that`s a tough one.  I guess I take – I would take

Harry Truman just as he did such a great job if someone`s going to – if

I`m going to lead this earth.  It`s good to have someone who`s so

experienced in making that transition.

 

MELBER:  James Lee sat in that chair and said Washington State is the best

pot.  Do you agree or disagree?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  No, I think we have more experience.  So if you`re actually

looking at quality and not quantity, I think that we eclipsed their

efforts.

 

MELBER:  You like squash.  What has squash, the game, taught you about how

to excel in politics?

 

HICKENLOOPER:  It`s relentless and it`s filled with strategy.

 

MELBER:  Favorite band.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  You know right now – right now it`s the – I think the

Lumineers although Nathaniel Rateliff and Night Sweats, these are two

amazing Colorado bands there.  (INAUDIBLE) and you know, Old Crow Medicine

Show.  Don`t get me started, Joe.  We don`t have enough time.

 

MELBER:  We have time.  Kurt Vonnegut is the name that comes up famous

writer.  Take a look, I`m going to play for you, your father has joked

about this or your father was a friend of Vonnegut and here he is joking

about who your real dad is.  Take a look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KURT VONNEGUT, AMERICAN WRITER:  John, as you know, the man you`ve always

believed to have been your father also named John Hickenlooper was my

brother Intel Delta Upsilon fraternity at Cornell University in Ithaca, New

York.  That trip was not your father.  I am your father.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Vonnegut meets Darth Vader kind of thing.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  He was – you know, my father died when I was eight.  So

Kurt Vonnegut told me more about my father than I learned probably from my

family.

 

MELBER:  Wow.

 

HICKENLOOPER:  And if you go to his chapter 44 of his last book Timequake,

there`s a whole piece in there about my father and myself and how he got to

know us.  But the great thing about Kurt was when I called him and said, I

was going to run for mayor in 2003.  I`d never run for anything.  I was a

successful businessman and I asked him if he did endorse me.

 

And he said, if I endorse you.  I have to endorse everybody.  Why would I

do that?  And I said no, no, don`t do it, Kurt, no problem.  The next day I

got a fax.  He didn`t like e-mails.  He sent me a fax saying, I don`t

believe in endorsements.  I believe in hope.  I hope John Hickenlooper is

the next mayor of Denver.

 

So we put – we put on bookmarks and got our volunteers to hand it out

libraries, you know, for the seven weeks before the election.

 

MELBER:  Well, hope is something I think everyone could agree on across the

political spectrum.  John Hickenlooper, governor, thank you for being on

the show and we will be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  THE BEAT goes on but it also ends.  I`ll be back here tomorrow at

6:00 p.m. Eastern.  But meantime, don`t go anywhere.  “HARDBALL” with Chris

Matthews is up next.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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