Redacted Mueller Report will be public tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT: 4/17/19. The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Hakeem Jeffries
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”:  – given the fact there are four

separate categories that the attorney general has already said he`d be

redacting.  But there will be revealing details with the obstruction of

justice investigation.

 

Caroline, thank you very much. 

 

That is “ALL IN” for this evening. 

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.  Good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Chris Hayes, thank you very much for being my

water cooler friend today taking me through this crazy news night. 

 

HAYES:  What a bizarre set of decisions that have been issued today from

the attorney general of the United States of America. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes, and this was like – this was one of those news days that had

like a 40,000 foot long runway where it was put put put put –

 

HAYES:  Exactly. 

 

MADDOW:  It took off and got nuts at the end of the day.  Thanks for

talking me through it.  Thanks.

 

HAYES:  Thanks.

 

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 

 

Honestly, it has been a little nuts today, and particularly, this evening

the way the news has been breaking.  But you know what?  You can sleep

later. 

 

For now, there is way too much to do, way too much to sort of absorb and

get our heads around.  But it is on.  It is all happening now. 

 

Contrary to assertions earlier this week from the office of newly appointed

attorney general William Barr, we apparently will not be getting some

version of Robert Mueller`s report from the Justice Department tomorrow

morning.  Instead, that will come later.  What we`re going to get in the

morning is just more William Barr talking about Mueller without us having

any access to what Mueller`s actually found. 

 

It was first announced by the president oddly on a random talk radio show

where he was doing an interview.  But soon thereafter, there was an

official Justice Department press release announcing that tomorrow morning,

9:30 Eastern Time, there will be a press conference led by Attorney General

William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, just the two of

them.  No Robert Mueller. 

 

It is worth pointing out right at the outset that Robert Mueller will not

be there at the press conference tomorrow because that`s weird.  The

announced, the declared purpose of the press conference is to discuss

Robert Mueller and his findings.  So, it`s therefore a little weird that

he`s not invited.  It`s like a surprise birthday.  What the surprise is,

you don`t get to come, even though it`s your birthday. 

 

Mueller submitted his report on the findings of his investigation 26 days

ago.  Since then, William Barr has released his own descriptions of what he

says are Mueller`s findings.  He has released his own instant prosecutorial

conclusion that what Mueller turned up in terms of evidence should

definitely not be used to bring any charges against the president. 

 

After press reports from “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” and

NBC News, all turned up that members of Mueller`s team felt blindsided by

those declarations from William Barr, they were angered by him

misrepresenting the findings of their investigation in order to downplay

the seriousness of what that investigation turned up about the president. 

After those press reports citing members of Mueller`s team, Attorney

General William Barr went out of his way in a new letter he wrote to

Congress and subsequent congressional testimony, he went out of his way to

insist that he really wished people would stop saying that he had

summarized Mueller`s findings, even though he said what he was releasing

was a victim of Mueller`s principle conclusions, he wanted people to stop

calling it a summary.  OK. 

 

He also took pains to explain that he was working hand in hand with

Mueller, that members of Mueller`s team were themselves involved in

whatever this post submitting the report redaction process is that`s been

going on in Barr`s office ever since Mueller`s report was completed and

submitted. 

 

Well, if that is true, if Barr is not summarizing Mueller`s findings for

him, if Mueller`s findings are going to be allowed to speak for themselves,

if Mueller himself is absolutely right there leading this process right

now, of preparing his own findings for release to Congress and to the

public, then you might expect Robert Mueller to be there tomorrow.  What

they`re saying are his findings are going to be released at a big Justice

Department press conference.

 

But Mueller is apparently not invited.  Nobody knows where Mueller is now,

nor where he is expected to be when William Barr gives his press conference

about Mueller in the morning.  CNN was first to report tonight that neither

Mueller nor any member of Mueller`s team will be at that press conference

about Mueller`s finding tomorrow, red flag. 

 

I mean, why would you not involve any of the people who did the work when

it comes time to explain what their work was?  I mean, this is not like a

posthumous report.  The dude`s around. 

 

We did get a hint as to what might be going on here not long after we

learned about this press conference, not long after we got this surprise

announcement from the justice department about the press conference about

Robert Mueller that won`t involve Robert Mueller. 

 

Very soon thereafter, Congressman Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the

Judiciary Committee confirmed publicly that that press conference is going

to be convened by the justice department in the morning well before any

material is released from Mueller`s report at all.  As Chris Hayes was

noting last hour, as journalists and as people involved in public affairs,

it is not an unusual thing for a press conference, some sort of press

availability to be called with officials to discuss a newly released

document. 

 

I don`t know of any instance in which there is a press conference, a press

availability that is convened to discuss a newly released document that`s

coming out later that you`re not allowed to see yet.  I mean, they`re

holding a press conference about Mueller without Mueller there, with no one

having had the chance to view anything produced by Mueller or read anything

from his minds before they`re supposed to form their questions for Attorney

General Barr about whatever it is he is going to say are the results of

Mueller`s investigation. 

 

Oh, I see what`s going on here.  When nobody has seen this report, they`re

going to convene this press conference where they`ll once again have

William Barr say stuff about Mueller without any actual appearance by

Mueller, only after that, only after whatever it is they`re going to do at

9:30 tomorrow morning will they release whatever it is they`re going to

release from Mueller`s findings, minus the redactions that William Barr

insists upon. 

 

And then we got more.  Less than an hour after they announced this press

conference, this press conference before people are even allowed to see the

report, less than an hour after that announcement from the Justice

Department, we also got a new court filing in the Roger Stone case, which

had another surprise about what`s going to happen tomorrow.  It turns out

we learned in this court filing today it`s not just one version of the

redacted Mueller report that`s being prepared by the Justice Department. 

 

In this government notice to the court, this file by prosecutors in the

Roger Stone case today, the U.S. attorney`s office for D.C. tells the judge

in the Roger Stone case this, quote, once the redacted version of Mueller`s

report has been released to the public, the Justice Department plans to

make available for review by a limited number of members of Congress and

their staff a copy of the special counsel`s report without certain

redactions.  Quote, including removing the redaction of information related

to this case.  This version of the report will not be made available to the

media or in public settings. 

 

Really?  This is a surprise.  What the Justice Department is saying in this

court filing is among the material that`s going to be redacted from the

public version of Mueller`s report that will be released tomorrow, among

the stuff that`s going to be cut out of it is stuff that concerns this

ongoing case related to Roger Stone.  However, that Roger Stone stuff isn`t

going to be cut out of a less redacted version of Mueller`s report that

they`ll give to Congress, but not to all of Congress.  Just to a limited

number of members of Congress and their staff. 

 

The filing goes on the say that that less redacted copy of Mueller`s report

won`t just be given out to limited numbers of members of Congress and their

staff, quote, rather the Justice Department intends to secure this version

of the report in a appropriate setting that will be accessible to a limited

number of member and their staff. 

 

So, unknown number of members of Congress and their staff will get access

to a less redacted version of Mueller`s report.  But they will not be

allowed to hold it and take it back to their office and have copies of it. 

They`ll only be allowed to look at it in some sort of secure environment. 

They have to leave it there when they go, so says this somewhat random

filing in the Roger Stone case today. 

 

And that`s how we learned from the Justice Department that there is going

to be multiple versions of Mueller`s report.  This is news.  We did not

know that there was going to be different versions of Mueller`s report for

the public and the Congress.  This is the first time there has ever been

any public notice of that. 

 

We didn`t know that some members of Congress are going to be allowed access

to some less redacted version of the report.  We can surmise who they might

mean.  Oftentimes when the Justice Department or other national security

agencies try to make distinctions like that where some members of Congress

are allowed to see stuff and others can`t, usually they`re referencing the

top leadership of Congress and also the intelligence committees. 

Sometimes, it`s also the leadership of other committees that have specific

oversight responsibilities related to the matter in question. 

 

We don`t know exactly who they mean when they say a limited number of

members of Congress will get this less redacted version.  But given what is

usually the case, given the limited audience in Congress that`s usually

intended when they try to narrow it down like this, we contacted the office

of Senator Mark Warner today.  He is the top Democrat on the intelligence

committee to say hey, in your role as the top Democrat on intelligence, did

you know this was coming?  Did your office have any idea that there is some

less redacted version of Mueller`s report that`s going to be made available

to you presumably, to some small number of members of Congress? 

 

Mark Warner`s office told us tonight it`s news to them.  They had no idea. 

Quote: While we have seen the filing, meaning the filing from the Stone

case, quote, DOJ has not communicated this to us. 

 

Likewise, after we got that comment from Senator Warner`s office, the

office of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told us tonight that they

have heard nothing specific about this beyond reading what they read in

today`s filing. 

 

Also within the last hour, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the

House, Jerry Nadler, held a sort of makeshift last-minute press conference

in New York in which he said that his committee also was able to read that

filing from the Roger Stone case today.  And so they saw it.  They know

what it says.  But other than what`s in that filing, his committee, quote,

has no knowledge of this.  And he added that his committee has agreed to no

such arrangement. 

 

So this surprise declaration in this random court filing today about there

being multiple copies of Mueller`s report with multiple different levels of

redactions that are targeted towards specific members of congress, but not

all of them, and there is plans to allow them to review it in a special

room but not – I mean, this all came in a response to a motion that was

filed by Roger Stone`s lawyer, one of a gazillion motions that stone`s

lawyers filed late on Friday night asking for everyone everything,

including the moon. 

 

In this big raft of filings they filed on Friday night, Roger Stone`s

lawyers, among other things, demanded an unredacted copy of the Mueller

report for themselves.  They said they needed for mounting a legal defense. 

I am not a lawyer.  I don`t think that`s going to happen.  I don`t think

Roger Stone`s lawyers are going to get a full unredacted copy of the report

if nobody else gets it. 

 

But it was that request for them that resulted in this response of filing

today by these prosecutors, which revealed that Barr is going to produce

different copies of the report for different audiences there will be a

secure room somewhere in Congress where some members of Congress may be

invited to see a less redacted version, although apparently nobody in

Congress, including the chair of the – chairs of the ranking members of

the relevant committees has been consulted about this plan. 

 

In this court filing tonight, though, prosecutors from the D.C. U.S.

attorney`s office also sort of warned the judge in Stone`s case that these

– this small number of members of Congress, this limited number of members

of Congress that they planned to show the less redacted version of the

report to, they warned in this filing tonight that those members of

Congress might not be content with this arrangement.  They might not be OK

with just reviewing the document in a SCIF somewhere in some sort of secure

room.  They may want to try to obtain copies of the document for

themselves. 

 

If so, prosecutors warn in this filing to the court tonight that there is a

possibility that if that happened, a less redacted version of Mueller`s

findings might leak to the public.  Quote, if those members of Congress ask

to be provided with copies of this less redacted version of the special

counsel`s report or portions of it such that there exists a reasonable

likelihood that the information related to this case may be available to

the media or accessible in a public setting, the Justice Department would

seek guidance from the court prior to acting on that request. 

 

So this today, this filing today, this is the prosecutors in the Stone case

saying there is going to be multiple versions of Mueller`s report. 

Congress is going to get more of it than the public does.  We`re going to

try to keep what we show to Congress from leaking to the general public. 

But if it looks like there is a risk that might happen, we`ll come back to

the court and get advice. 

 

This is all new information today, right?  It`s Mueller eve, this is all

being sprung in D.C. district court.  The judge in the stone case

incidentally who`s going to be considering this filing today is Judge Amy

Berman Jackson. 

 

She is also the judge in D.C. who had the D.C. part of the Paul Manafort

case and the Rick Gates case.  She had the Alex Vander Zwaan case which

also came out of the Mueller investigation.  She`s now got the Roger Stone

case, which continues which is due to go to trial this fall, which today

led to this revelation about how the Mueller report is being redacted or

not. 

 

Interesting, though, in that same courthouse, in the same courthouse where

Amy Berman Jackson sits, there was another curveball that just arrived at

the last second before whatever it is that William Barr is going to do

tomorrow, and this other curveball is also from the D.C. federal district

court.  It`s not Amy Berman Jackson, though.  This last-minute curveball

also in that courthouse came from a different judge in that same district

named Reggie Walton. 

 

Judge Reggie Walton was a George W. Bush appointee.  He sits in the same

courthouse, the same district as Amy Berman Jackson.  Judge Walton has been

assigned the two most high profile cases by First Amendment and media

groups that are seeking to have Mueller`s findings released to the public

and to the press without redaction. 

 

And now at the last minute, right before whatever it is Barr`s going to try

to release tomorrow, Judge Reggie Walton has also now made clear that he

thinks he has a role in this part of the process.  Judge Walton is now

saying that attorney general William Barr alone will not be the sole figure

who decides what gets cut out of Mueller`s findings. 

 

According to Judge Walton, the courts will have a say.  He personally will

have a say in what the public sees and what we do not. 

 

The Freedom of Information Act requires public disclosure of certain

government documents, and it`s a fascinating area of law.  FOIA is

obviously a fundamental tool for government accountability, for journalism,

for research.  There`s a whole rich vein of litigation in case law around

the Freedom of Information Act and what it requires in terms of disclosure

by the government and what are its limits when pushed by people who want

more information than the government wants to give. 

 

In these FOIA cases about the Mueller report, Judge Walton is proceeding on

the basis of the contention that Mueller`s report is exactly the type of

government document that will be subject to public release under the

Freedom of Information Act.  Now, if a document is liable to release under

FOIA, the government, of course, can still try to keep such a document

under wraps, or they can try to keep parts of it under wraps. 

 

But FOIA isn`t just like a principle.  FOIA is a law, and therefore federal

judges get to rule on whether or not those types of assertions by the

government are valid.  If the government wants to hold something back, a

judge will sometimes get involved and say whether or not the judge –

whether or not the government is right in trying to hold bacterial that

somebody else says ought to be released. 

 

Well, Judge Walton now says that`s what he`s going to do when it comes to

Mueller`s report.  He`s going to weigh in here on the redactions. 

 

Yesterday afternoon in federal court, Judge Walton asked prosecutors from

the Department of Justice, from the D.C. U.S. attorney`s office for a

definitive answer as to whether this document that Barr is planning on

releasing tomorrow is the same thing the justice department would plan to

release in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. 

 

So he`s saying, listen, let me know, what you`re going to release on

Thursday morning, is that also what you would release in response to FOIA

requests?  If so, if the government is planning on redacting all of the

same stuff from Mueller`s report when they`re eventually required to

release it under the Freedom of Information Act – well, Judge Walton now

says that he may insist on reviewing exactly what those redactions are.  He

may insist on personally reviewing what it is the Justice Department is

trying to cut out from Mueller`s findings. 

 

Judge Walton is saying he may insist on reviewing the full unredacted

document himself so he can see what the redactions are and what supposedly

justifies those redactions, because under the Freedom of Information Act,

he says that he, the judge, should be the one to decide whether those

redactions are valid and legal, or whether that redacted stuff should also

be released under FOIA.  Judge Walton is asserting his own ability to do

that in court and right away. 

 

At the hearing yesterday, we got the transcript of it today, he wants them

back in court by May 2nd, which is two weeks from tomorrow, and he says he

is planning on handling this on a fast track.  So, think about what that

means – put yourself in William Barr`s shoes right now.  If you are newly

appointed Attorney General William Barr, and tonight you are planning on a

big day tomorrow, you are planning on making yet another William Barr

public declaration of what you say Mueller found, and you`re planning on

doing that tomorrow without anybody being allowed to read what Mueller

found, and without Mueller being allowed to explain himself what he found,

and without Mueller or anyone on his team being available to answer

questions about what they found, no, you are planning on you handling all

of that in your own terms and nobody being able to check you against the

real record. 

 

You`re William Barr tonight.  You`re planning on one or two or multiple

versions of different reports, Mueller`s report being released minus

everything you want taken out of it.  Heading into that bold plan for

tomorrow morning, you now know that at least one federal district court

judge in Washington, D.C. is planning on checking your work soon.  And that

judge is already expressing concerns in open court about how you are

handling this matter and why he might need to correct for it. 

 

This was Judge Walton in open court yesterday afternoon.  We just got the

transcript.  Are you ready? 

 

Quote: Obviously, the judge says, there is real concern whether there will

be full transparency.  And I hate to say it, but unfortunately the attorney

general has created an environment that I think is going cause a

significant portion of the American people to be concerned about whether

there is transparency, and that puts the court obviously in a very

difficult situation.  But I have dealt with difficult situations before,

and, you know, I`m of the view that there is going to have to be some type

of probing on my behalf as to whether or not appropriate redactions have

been made. 

 

I do not know the best way to do that.  There have been several occasions

where the courts have had to do an in-camera inspection of the withheld

documents to make an assessment as to whether or not the withholdings of

that information is appropriate under the statute.  That`s something we`ll

have to work through.  It`s something I`ll have to think about as to if

there is a challenge to the appropriate of the withholdings, how do I best

assess whether the government`s position is correct. 

 

Robert Mueller`s prosecutors, people working on the Mueller team have

already expressed frustration and anger that Attorney General William Barr

has misrepresented Mueller`s findings, and in particular he has downplayed

the seriousness of what the Mueller investigation discovered about the

president.  Mueller`s report in its unredacted form presumably lays bare

exactly what they found without sugarcoating it.  If not, they wouldn`t be

upset, right? 

 

If Barr is trying to sugarcoat it, or if he is trying to cut out the worst

stuff, he as of tonight has to know that he`s going to be found out.  That

either through the Judiciary Committee subpoenaing the unredacted report

and getting it that way, or some judge ordering the release of the 6E, the

grand jury material that he`s withholding, ordering that release of that

material to Congress, or some other judge like Judge Walton say reviewing

all of Barr`s redactions and saying which of them he thinks are bogus. 

 

Whatever it is, there is multiple paths now.  Ultimately, the distance

between what William Barr releases tomorrow and what Mueller actually

concluded will be known, and it`s starting to feel like it`s not going to

be known in some history book down the way.  It`s going to be known like

next month. 

 

I mean, despite the pressure that has to put on William Barr in terms of

what he`s going to release heading into tomorrow, there is a million red

flags flying about how Barr intends to proceed.  I mean, Barr holding his

press conference before the report is released to anybody is itself a red

flag.  Barr holding his press conference about Mueller without Mueller or

anybody on Mueller`s team, that`s a huge red flag. 

 

Barr`s initial decision within 48 hours of receiving Mueller`s report in

the first place that he would release his own exculpatory summary of what

he said were Mueller`s conclusions despite the fact that Mueller reportedly

prepared his own summaries of his own work intended for public release. 

Barr ignoring those summaries written by Mueller and instead releasing his

own, I mean, that was a red flag big enough to use as a bed sheet. 

 

But now on top of all of that, tonight, “The New York Times” reports this. 

Ahead of whatever is going to happen tomorrow, “The New York Times” reports

that Barr has already given the White House access to Mueller`s report

before it has been shown to Congress or before any version of it has been

shown to the public, they have already been talking it through with the

White House.  “The New York Times” reports tonight, quote, Justice

Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House

lawyers about the conclusions made by Robert Mueller, the special counsel

in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. 

 

The talks have aided the president`s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal

to the report and strategizes for the coming war over its findings.  Quote:

The discussions between Justice Department officials and White House

lawyers have also added to questions about the propriety of the decisions

by Attorney General William Barr since he received Mueller`s findings late

last month.  Yes, you think? 

 

We can sleep next week.  For now, this is what`s happening.  This is a

story that is now officially flipped on.  It`s developing further every

five freaking minutes tonight, which is part of the way you can tell. 

 

But they are going to try to pull this thing off somehow tomorrow morning. 

I mean, even at this late date, it still seems quite clear they still are

not sure exactly what they can get away with and exactly what they`re going

to try, but it`s on now.  This is it. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Tonight, we are fielding multiple breaking news stories ahead of

the Justice Department`s planned release of some version or versions of

Robert Mueller`s report tomorrow morning.  At the top of the list is this

provocative new story from “The New York Times” saying the Justice

Department officials have had extensive discussions about Mueller`s

findings with the White House ahead of tomorrow`s planned release.  There

have been, quote, numerous conversations with White House lawyers well

ahead of the report`s release. 

 

Is that what you`re supposed to do with the special counsel`s report on

alleged criminal acts by the president?  You`re just supposed to give that

to the president before you show any version of it to anyone else?  Is that

how this is supposed to go? 

 

Joining us now is Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general in the Obama

administration.  He is the author of the Justice Department regulations

that define the special counsel.  Neal is joining us on the phone about 30

seconds before he has the get on to a plane. 

 

Neal, thank you for making time for us. 

 

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION (via

telephone):  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  First, let me first ask you about this report from “The Times”

that Justice Department officials have been briefing the White House on

Mueller`s findings ahead of releasing it to anybody else?  Is that what the

regulations spell out they should be doing here? 

 

KATYAL:  Oh, gosh, Rachel, I mean, I think the technical term I learned in

law school for this kind of behavior is super extra stinky.  You know,

there are very careful rules that have been around for generations for

governing the White House, its contacts with the Justice Department in

general, and that`s because our country`s founders understood the

prosecution power is massive, both because the president`s enemies can be

indicted and the president`s friends, their wrongs can be covered up. 

 

So, even in just an ordinary case, there is a very, very careful set of

rules, and it`s extremely rare to get the president any knowledge

whatsoever of criminal cases.  And this is that problem on steroids.  The

president is the subject of the investigation, and honestly, I`ve never

heard of such a thing. 

 

It`s a complete breach of precedent.  It`s a breach of common sense, and

indeed, it makes Trump look blatantly guilty. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of the decision to do this within the Justice Department,

would you have expected that somebody in the Justice Department would have

played a bit of a gatekeeper role here?  Would have tried to say this is

inappropriate and is out of keeping with Justice Department principle as

you described, isn`t there somebody in the Justice Department who would

have tried to stop this or would have raised the alarm about doing this? 

 

KATYAL:  I would have hoped so.  But, you know, this Justice Department

would have purged anyone who thinks independently or frankly who is

consistent with the traditions of the department.  And look, I guess I

could have imagined an argument, Rachel, that says something like this. 

 

This report is going to be so damaging to the president, we need to give

him a heads up.  But the weird thing is that Trump himself took that off

the table.  He said the report totally exonerates him.  So, either that`s

wrong and the report doesn`t exonerate him, or he is just willing to trash

decades of DOJ precedent for nothing.  Either way, it stinks to high

heaven. 

 

MADDOW:  Neal, the other decision that William Barr apparently has made

today that`s received a lot of criticism including from U.S. former

attorneys and former U.S. Department of Justice officials is that he is

going to be giving a press conference tomorrow again apparently describing

Mueller`s findings.  He is doing that before there is going to be any

planned release of Mueller`s findings, and he is apparently doing that

without Robert Mueller.  It will be Barr and Rosenstein, not Mueller

himself, and again, nobody having access to any of Mueller`s accidents

before that press availability convenes. 

 

Do you have any response to that? 

 

KATYAL:  Yes, I mean, at this point, enough with William Barr already.  I

mean, he`s already once issued a summary/non-summary that cleared Trump in

48 hours after Mueller took two years and didn`t do that.  And now, it just

looks like he`s trying to get out in front of the Mueller report. 

 

And I honestly don`t recall the Justice Department ever doing something

like this and first giving a press conference and then later having the

documents and giving the press conference without the investigators there

like Mueller, and certainly not in a high profile case like this.  And,

again, all of this together is just a complete breach of precedent, and it

leads me to think, boy, there is actually not just smoke there, there must

be some fire. 

 

MADDOW:  Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general of the United States,

wrote the special counsel regulations – Neal, if you miss your flight

because you were on the phone with me, I`m going get you a huge book of

drink tickets.  I`m really sorry. 

 

KATYAL:  Thanks. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Neal.  Bye. 

 

We just got actually – while I was talking to Neal Katyal, we just got a

little more news about this roll-out of the Mueller report, new news that

has developed while we were on the air.  As I told you, this is now

happening.  The light switch is on.  So, the news is just going to keep

developing. 

 

We`ve got a new demand on the attorney general from people he should

probably listen to.  We will have that story for you right after the break,

just developing news. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  It was not in his plan for this evening, but we saw that he was in

place at a hastily convened press conference tonight with the chairman of

the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler.  And we saw Congressman Hakeem

Jeffries there, member of the Judiciary Committee and chair of the House

Caucus, we wrangled him and asked him to come to the studio to talk about

some of this breaking news tonight. 

 

Congressman Jeffries joins us now.

 

Thank you.  I know you weren`t planning on being here.  Appreciate you

being here, sir.

 

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY):  Good to be here.

 

MADDOW:  We did just get breaking news I want to ask you about, and this

happened since the press conference.  The chairs of all of the key

committees on these topics in the House, the Judiciary chairman, Jerrold

Nadler, intelligence chairman, Adam Schiff, the Oversight Committee, the

Elijah Cummings, the Financial Services chair, Maxine Waters, Foreign

Affairs chair, Eliot Engel, they all released a joint statement calling on

William Barr to cancel his presence conference on Special Counsel Mueller`s

report which is as the chairs note is scheduled to take place before

Congress is set to receive the report tomorrow morning. 

 

I`ll just read you in part of it, quote: These new actions by the attorney

general reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump. 

The attorney general previously stated I don`t believe it would be in the

public`s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or release

it in serial or piecemeal action.  We agree.  He should let the full report

speak for itself.  The attorney general should cancel the press conference

and provide the full report to Congress as we have requested with the

special counsel`s fact gathering work concluded, it is now Congress`

responsibility to discuss the findings and evidence and proceed

accordingly. 

 

This is essentially the chairmen, and including the chair of your

committee, Judiciary, telling the attorney general to get out of the way

here. 

 

JEFFRIES:  That`s correct.  Under no circumstances should the attorney

general proceed with that press conference tomorrow.  It`s wholly

inappropriate. 

 

Bob Mueller is a well-respected law enforcement professional.  He conducted

a 22-month investigation.  He wrote a report that`s approximately 400 pages

long. 

 

The Mueller report should speak for itself, period, full stop.  No

misdirection, no manipulation, no misinformation coming from the so-called

attorney general. 

 

It`s not acceptable.  He`s acting more like a house counsel to an organized

crime boss as opposed to the people`s attorney.  And it`s got to end. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of – I`m going ask you something that I don`t think

you`re going to answer, but I`m going ask you anyway and I`m going to

bother you about it.  During the course of the Mueller investigation, we

understood that some committees in Congress, including the intelligence

committee, potentially the Judiciary Committee, at times had to deconflict

with the special counsel`s office to make sure that what they were pursuing

in terms of their congressional investigations wasn`t going to mess up the

investigation that the special counsel was carrying over.  That requires

some sort of communication with the special counsel`s office. 

 

Since Robert Mueller`s investigation has come to a close and since this

report has been handed over to the Justice Department, has there been

ongoing communication between the special counsel`s office and the

congressional committee`s that might give you in these key committees some

insight into what`s going on between Mueller and Barr? 

 

JEFFRIES:  Well, not to my knowledge, but Chairman Nadler indicated even

earlier today that he expects that Bob Mueller testify before the House

Judiciary Committee sooner rather than later, as well as other individuals

who are involved in the Mueller investigation.  We can`t trust anything

that`s coming out of the Department of Justice.

 

And all we want is the facts.  All we want is transparency.  All we want is

disclosure so that the American people can evaluate the four corners of the

Mueller report on their own. 

 

MADDOW:  We don`t know what`s going to be redacted tomorrow when it comes

out, and we don`t know based on the way in which it`s redacted if we`ll

even be able to tell quantitatively how much has been cut out of it.  I

mean, unless you`ve got physical black boxes over lines of text, you can`t

tell how much he is going to cut. 

 

Given that, I wonder if the prospect of Mueller testifying assuages any of

your concerns about what Barr might cut.  If Mueller is subpoenaed to

testify, if he is requested to testify, is he at liberty to appear?  Is

there anybody who can block him?  And will he be able to testify what might

have been cut of that report if it was improperly redacted in Mueller`s

eyes by Barr? 

 

JEFFRIES:  He is certainly at liberty to appear.  He is an American

citizen.  He is not an employee of the Department of Justice at this

particular point in time.  They can`t block him.  And we fully expect that

he would want to be cooperative, particularly if Bob Barr has engaged in a

sustained campaign to try to color in inappropriate ways the findings of

the Mueller investigation. 

 

MADDOW:  If Barr is going to release a report that raises concerns for you

tomorrow.  Obviously, Chairman Nadler has secured the authorization from

the committee to issue a subpoena, how do you think that will go?  I mean,

for those of us who don`t know congressional subpoenas versus grand jury

subpoenas versus who enforces that sort of thing, what is your best guess? 

Not what you`re hoping, but the way you think it will actually unfold at

that point. 

 

JEFFRIES:  Well, I think in my view, first we want to evaluate carefully

whether the report has been overly redacted.  We`ve agreed from the

beginning that sources and methods should not be disclosed.  We don`t want

to jeopardize any national security concern as it relates to the safety and

security of the American people, but we also have this concern that I think

is justified by the behavior that we`ve seen from the attorney general over

the last few weeks where he seems to be acting like the president`s

publicist as opposed to facilitating the disclosure of this information. 

 

Seventeen different intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered

with our election, attacked our democracy to artificially try and place

Donald Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  This is a serious investigation. 

We need to figure out what happened why, did it happen, how did we prevent

something like this from happening again, and we have to get the four

corners of the report and the underlying documentation. 

 

So, I think the initial step is to evaluate the appropriateness of the

redactions. 

 

MADDOW:  One last question briefly.  There was court filing today in the

Roger Stone case, of all places, surprise, in which the Justice Department

said there is going to be multiple versions of Mueller`s report prepared

for release.  Whatever they`re going release to the public tomorrow, there

will be some less redacted version that will be made available to some

members of Congress in a secure facility inside Congress. 

 

Did you have any idea that they were planning on doing that before the

court filing came out today? 

 

JEFFRIES:  I did not.  And Jerry Nadler asked that question and he

indicated there has been no agreement, no cooperation with the Department

of Justice as it relates to any underlying redactions that may or may not

be communicated.  Again, this came out of left field.  And, you know, it

was just another example of sort of the strangeness that is unfolding out

of the Department of Justice. 

 

MADDOW:  It does seem like they are feeling their way along here and making

it up as they go. 

 

JEFFRIES:  I think that`s right. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, member of the House Judiciary

Committee, he and other members of that committee held a press conference

with their chairman tonight.  He`s also chairman of the House Democratic

Caucus, which means he is in-house leadership. 

 

Thanks for changing your plans. 

 

JEFFRIES:  Great to see you. 

 

MADDOW:  We appreciate it.

 

All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  In 1973, Richard Nixon needed a new attorney general because he

had fired his old one.  Along with the deputy attorney general, on a

Saturday night in October of that year, 1973, Richard Nixon axed his way

through the upper echelons of the Justice Department until he found

somebody who would fire the special prosecutor who was investigating

Watergate.  That of course was – came to be known as the Saturday night

massacre. 

 

And you can imagine Nixon was like whoo, that was tough.  But at least the

Watergate prosecutor is gone. 

 

The country was really mad about what happened there, and very soon after

that whole conflagration, we ended up getting a new Watergate special

prosecutor, a man named Leon Jaworski, and, of course, Richard Nixon had to

appoint a new attorney general to lead the Justice Department.  As the new

attorney general, that nominee would of course become the boss for the new

Watergate special prosecutor. 

 

For that job, for the A.G. job, Nixon picked this man, sitting U.S. senator

named William Saxbe.  At William Saxbe`s confirmation hearing with the

Watergate investigation hanging by a thread, as you might imagine,

confirmation hearing focused on exactly that.  William Saxbe was asked

essentially the same question over and over and over again, will you

interfere with the Watergate investigation, will you interfere with the

Watergate investigation, will you, will you, will you?

 

And William Saxbe over and over again said, no, no, I promise.  I won`t.  I

will not interfere with the Watergate investigation or with the Watergate

special prosecutor.  And then to get right to the point, they actually

during his confirmation hearing, they brought the Watergate special

prosecutor himself, they brought Leon Jaworski himself into the hearing

room to sit down right next to William Saxbe, to assure senators that there

was nothing to worry about. 

 

They have Leon Jaworski, the special prosecutor vouch for the new attorney

general as part of his confirmation process.  Yes, we get along.  See me

sitting here?  The two of us, you`ve got us both here at this hearing.  I

vouch for him. 

 

He is not going to mess with me.  He says he`s not going to mess with me. 

I won`t let him.  They even did kind of a buddy-buddy process conference

about it. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Senator Saxbe, the question being explored at great length here

today is whether Mr. Jaworski will have full authority to investigate and

prosecute the full Watergate affairs without any interference from you. 

Will he? 

 

WILLIAM SAXBE, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE:  And the answer is an unqualified

yes. 

 

REPORTER:  What would you do, Mr. Jaworski, if the new attorney general,

not the attorney general designate, tried to interfere in any way with your

pursuit of the investigation? 

 

LEON JAWORSKI, WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I`d march him down to this

congressional committee if he and I couldn`t work it out among ourselves. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  That is what it looked like when the country was in crisis, when

the Watergate investigation was in jeopardy and people needed to be assured

that there was no cover-up under way.  There was no effort at the top of

the Justice Department to protect the president from an investigation into

his alleged crimes. 

 

Here`s the two guys, key guys together, standing up saying don`t worry, we

got this. 

 

Hold that thought. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  And what would you do, Mr. Jaworski, if the new attorney

general, now the attorney general designate, tried to interfere in any way

with your pursuit of the investigation? 

 

JAWORSKI:  I`d march him down to this committee if he and I couldn`t work

it out among ourselves. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  So you could put the special counsel, the special prosecutor right

there is with the attorney general.  You could put them together to assure

everybody ha there wasn`t something going on between them where the

attorney general was quashing the work of the special counsel, the special

prosecutor.  You could do it that way.  There`s precedent for it.

 

Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the Attorney General William Barr will

hold a press conference about the release of the redacted Mueller report

alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  Both men are appointees

of President Trump. 

 

Typically, press conferences are the type of thing you hold when you want

to answer questions about the thing you`re there to talk about, but

tomorrow we know nobody will have the opportunity to as much see Robert

Mueller`s report before that press conference about it.  Barr will hold

that press conference before the report is released. 

 

And again, it`s the Robert Mueller report.  Mueller was the person in

charge of the investigation.  He`s the guy who wrote this report, but

tonight, the Justice Department confirms Mueller is not going to be at that

press conference tomorrow to answer questions about his findings, which no

one has been allowed to see. 

 

Saxbe and Jaworski was one thing.  Barr and Mueller apparently will never

be seen in the same room.  When will we see Mueller at all again?

 

Joining is now is NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss. 

 

Michael, thank you for being here. 

 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Love being with you

but maybe not on such a dark night. 

 

MADDOW:  Does it feel like a dark night? 

 

BESCHLOSS:  It does, it does. 

 

MADDOW:  What about this issue of tomorrow`s planned press conference and

the fact it`s going to be Barr and Rosenstein but not Mueller? 

 

BESCHLOSS:  I think it`s blatant.  I mean, what you`re seeing is an

attorney general saying I`m not going to be an independent general of the

kind that Americans have come to expect in the last half century. 

 

You were just talking about Richard Nixon.  Richard Nixon`s first attorney

general as you well know was a guy named John Mitchell. 

 

MADDOW:  His campaign manager, yes. 

 

BESCHLOSS:  His campaign manager and close friend.  And what did that mean? 

When Nixon was in the White House plotting to send burglars into various

places and opening people`s mail and violating other civil liberties, he

knew he didn`t have to worry about an attorney general who would hear about

this and call his investigators or quit and have a press conference and

say, this is what your president is doing, American people.  You should

know about this. 

 

Since the offenses of Watergate, we have come to expect that that`s the

kind of attorney general that we will have.  What we`ve seen with William

Barr in the last month from that four-page letter to his parroting Donald

Trump about spying to this whole display that we`re about to see tomorrow

where the White House gets to see this report before we do and this press

conference once again, Barr is going to be out in public telling us what to

think. 

 

What he`s basically telling us is I`m not going to be an independent

attorney general of the kind that you Americans have come to expect.  I

think that`s really dangerous. 

 

MADDOW:  You reference John Mitchell.  Of course, the way that John

Mitchell attorney general saga ended was with Mitchell serving a prison

term. 

 

BESCHLOSS:  Yes. 

 

MADDOW:  Nixon`s second attorney general, Kleindienst, also ended up being

implicated in Watergate. 

 

BESCHLOSS:  Another lap dog. 

 

MADDOW:  Then he got to Elliot Richardson who he had to fire in order to

try to get rid of the Watergate prosecutor.  Elliot Richardson seems to be

the pivot point at which the United States of America by hook or by crook

decided we weren`t going to put up with the kinds of things Nixon was

trying to get away with.  That means we had Elliot Richardson and William

Saxbe after him who starred modeling the kind of behavior we have seen ever

since. 

 

BESCHLOSS:  That`s it.  And every president since then more or less has had

to worry about the fact that if he`s plotting to do something bad in the

White House, that his attorney general will make big trouble for him.  What

William Barr has shown us during the last month and maybe tomorrow even

more than anything else in public is he`s saying I`m going to be a

different kind of attorney general. 

 

And remember something else.  You were talking last night about how Barr

made himself very useful for President Bush 41 in 1989.  More than that, at

the end of 1992, he was the one who said to President Bush, pardon six

Reagan era officials in the Iran Contra investigation. 

 

The result of that was the independent counsel Lawrence Walsh said this is

a Saturday night massacre.  You`ve just killed my investigation.  This is

something that Barr has done before. 

 

MADDOW:  Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, on nights like

this nobody I`d rather talk to.  Thank you.

 

BESCHLOSS:  Thank you.  Thank you so much.

 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  What are you going to do tomorrow?  I don`t know, what are you

going to do tomorrow?  I was thinking about taking the morning off and

going fishing. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow.  I can`t even

say when. 

 

But now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.

 

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

 

END

 

 

                                                                                                               

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