Barr releases 448 pages of Mueller Report. TRANSCRIPT: 4/18/19. The Rachel Maddow Show.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: And I have been looking forward to two things all
day. Number one was my show, and then after my show, I`ll be looking
forward to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, which starts right now, which I`m going
to go watch.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Well, I have a favor to ask –
MADDOW: Would you mind doing your show for another 90 minutes or so?
Because I still have some reading.
HAYES: I know. I saw your staff like bleary eyed and papers all over the
place and I was thinking about, how do you eat the elephant one bite at a
time as I watching it.
MADDOW: Yes, it didn`t make – you know, when they – I got up and I
watched Barr give his press conference this morning, and we had a little
interregnum between the press conference about to report, and when the
report came out.
At that time, my whole plan had been like, you know what, I`m going to work
out, I`m going to have an extra long shower, make sure I`m Zen. All I did
was run straight to the office.
HAYES: Yes, yes.
MADDOW: I cannot help it.
Anyway, thank you.
HAYES: I`ll be watching.
MADDOW: Much appreciate it.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Let`s just jump right in, shall we? That`s the only way to do this. As
Chris said, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? Bite one,
starts on page one.
Quote: The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election
in sweeping and systematic fashion.
Quote: The special counsel`s investigation established that Russia
interfered in the 2016 presidential election, principally through two
operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign
that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged
presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer intrusion
operations against entities employees and volunteers working on the Clinton
campaign and then released stolen documents.
The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian
government and the Trump campaign. The investigation established that the
Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and
worked to secure that outcome. And that the campaign expected it would
benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian
In terms of how the Russians did what they did and why they did it
precisely the way they did it?
This part right at the start of the report stands out to me still like it
is written in light in the night sky. The Internet Research Agency, IRA,
carried out the earliest Russian interference operations identified by the
investigation. A social media campaign designed to provoke and amplify
political and social discord in the United States. The IRA used social
media accounts and interest groups to sow discord in the U.S. political
system for what it termed information warfare.
The campaign evolved from a generalized program designed in 2014 and 2015,
to undermine the U.S. electoral system to a targeted operation, that by
early 2016 favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate Clinton.
OK, just think about that evolution for a second. Think about what
Russia`s doing and why they did it? I mean, why was Russia bothering to do
We now know from this unredacted part of Mueller`s report, that Russia
doesn`t start out trying to figure out a way to make Donald Trump
president. That`s not their project here. They start out trying to sow
discord in the U.S. political system. They start out trying to undermine
the U.S. electoral system.
They`re trying to hurt the United States in those specific ways. And
somehow, that evolves seamlessly into Russia trying to help candidate
Donald Trump get elected president.
Why were those two things on the same continuum according to the Russian
government? I mean, what the Mueller report spells out today from page
one, is that Russia started off with a plan to hurt America, to undermine
American democracy. I mean, including sending employees from this internet
troll farm over to the United States as early as mid-2014 on an
intelligence gathering mission in the United States.
Donald Trump was nowhere near any presidential politics in 2014. But they
already literally had operatives here on an intel gathering mission for
this ongoing Russian effort. The Russian government was already working on
this years-long effort to try to hurt us, to try to somehow specifically
infect and rot our electoral system and faith in U.S. democracy.
They started working on it, 2014. Then they get their vehicle to glom that
on going operation on to. And that vehicle is the candidacy of Donald J.
Quote: By February 2016, internal IRA documents referred to support for the
Trump campaign as early as March 2016. They are purchasing online ads that
overtly oppose the Clinton campaign.
Quote: For example on March 18th, 2016, the IRA purchased an advertisement
depicting candidate Clinton and a caption that read in part: If one day God
let`s this liar enter the White House as president, that day would be a
real national tragedy.
At the same time they go all in for Trump. Quote: The first known IRA
advertisement explicitly endorsing the Trump campaign was purchased April
19th, 2016. The IRA bought an advertisement for its Instagram account Tea
Party News, asking U.S. persons to help them make a patriotic team of young
Trump supporters by uploading photos with the #KidsforTrump.
It`s Russia who was trying to get the #KidsforTrump trending, using their
Tea Party fake online avatars. Which were actually operated from St.
Petersburg in Russia, because that #KidsforTrump, that was the spring 2016
evolution of the overall long running – by that point, years-long running
effort to do whatever they could, to try to destroy American democracy.
Why did they think supporting candidate Donald Trump would do that? I
mean, Russia presumably is not trying to make America great again, right?
They`re running an op, an on going op that well-preceded the Trump effort
to try to weaken us as much as they can. When Trump came along, they
decided Trump was the perfect vehicle to continue and expand that work.
We learn from Robert Mueller`s report today a few things that were total
surprises at least to me. We learned from Mueller`s report today that it
was not just the Internet Research Agency, this online troll farm that was
doing all the online propaganda and social media stuff. Mueller says they
obtained evidence that it was other Russian entities that were also running
similar active measure campaigns to try to help Trump win and to try to
hurt Hillary Clinton`s chances.
Oddly, they say, quote: This office, meaning the special counsel`s office,
has shared that evidence with other offices of the Department of Justice,
and the FBI. What other offices? Is somebody else working on that now?
Other entities in Russia besides the Internet Research Agency that were
doing this online and propaganda and disinformation stuff to try to infect
the U.S. election on behalf of the Russian federation to benefit Trump?
There were other entities doing that part of it?
Apparently, and those have been referred to in other entities and the FBI
and the Justice Department. Who are they? What are they investigating?
What does it relate to?
That`s actually a surprisingly recurring theme throughout the Mueller
report. I mean, we`re going to talk tonight about the 12 cases that
Mueller has referred for prosecution, referred to other law enforcement
entities for prosecution, 12 of the 14 of them are blacked out in this
report. We are not allowed to know who they are or if they`re yet being
prosecuted or whom. We just know that those dozen cases have been referred
by Mueller for potential prosecution. Who are those?
We`ll also talk about the two active cases that Mueller apparently started
prosecuting, that have now been handed off to other prosecutors. But those
are cases where we don`t know who the defendants are, there`s a big long
list in the report of all the cases that we know about, that Mueller has
handed off, right? Manafort, Flynn, Gates, Bijan Kian, Roger Stone, the
GRU case, Sam Patten, Konstantin Kilimnik, it`s big long list.
But then there`s other two cases that Mueller has handed off. Not referred
them for prosecution, but transferred the handling of those extant
investigations and prosecutions to other law enforcement entities. But
those extant cases, they`re redacted, we don`t know who they are. We`ll
talk about that later this hour, in terms of figuring out, what is the
scale that the special counsel has been doing here?
But check this out too – I mean, here`s a whole other category of
information Mueller appears to have developed in this investigation that is
also somewhere else at this point.
Quote: For more than the past year, the FBI embedded personnel at the
special counsel`s office, who did not work on the special counsel`s
investigation, but whose purpose was to review results of the
investigation, and send summaries of foreign intelligence and counter
intelligence information to FBI headquarters and FBI field offices. Those
communications and other correspondents between the special counsel`s
office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not
all of which is contained in this volume.
In other words, hey, intelligence committees, come and get it, all of the
foreign intelligence and counter intelligence stuff that has turned up in
this investigation that is not in this report, we`ve had FBI agents
operating in this office, committing all that stuff in writing, conveying
it to other elements of U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence work,
and that`s not here, but we`re letting you know that exists, so that you
can go get it. OK.
We saw Adam Schiff and other members of the Intelligence Committees asking
how the counterintelligence part of this investigation would be handled in
terms of this public- facing report. Now we know, at least a categorical
designation of that evidence, they just didn`t put in here, but they let us
know that it exists, so that the intelligence committees can go and obtain
I mean, that said, there is a ton of material here. There`s so much more
here than I thought we would get. I mean, just like scraping the surface,
just top of my head, not even the most important stuff, but we finally get
the explanation for the whole Peter Smith story.
Remember that story? The guy who killed himself, Republican activist who
killed himself after telling a reporter for “The Wall Street Journal” that
he had been contacting hackers online, to try to get Hillary Clinton`s
emails to benefit the Trump campaign. It turns out that effort, according
to the special counsel`s office actually started with a request from Donald
Trump himself. He requested to members of his campaign that they needed to
figure out ways to find Clinton`s emails. Soon-to-be national security
adviser, Mike Flynn, took that request from Donald Trump himself and
pitched that request to Peter Smith, and that`s how that whole effort
started which ended with Smith`s suicide.
It also turns out that the Trump Tower meeting offer to give the Trump
campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian sources, turns out that was
not the only offer of Russia related dirt on Hillary Clinton. Turns out
Jared Kushner fielded another previously unreported offer of Russia-related
Hillary Clinton dirt from yet another source, this time, in a meeting in
his New York office, in August 2016. Turns out Jared Kushner also had an
American friend of his sit down with a representative from Vladimir Putin`s
office, whereupon the two of them wrote up a plan that would result in
dropping sanctions on Russia.
They gave this plan to Jared Kushner, he received it and then – he
received it from his friend who was working with Putin`s guy, and Jared
personally delivered it both to the White House and to the U.S. State
Department, because sure, that`s how that kind of material should be
We also got a national security horror movie plot when it comes to Paul
Manafort, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence. In the
report, we learn that Trump hired as his campaign chairman a man who by
then had spent more than a decade working to provide, quote, “political
risk insurance” for a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin. The
oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, quote, used Manafort to install friendly
political officials in countries where Deripaska had business interests.
Manafort`s job for more than a decade before he started working for Trump
was that he installed friendly political officials in office on behalf of a
Kremlin-connected oligarch. The oligarch paid him to install people in
high office in foreign countries for the convenience of the Kremlin. That
was Donald Trump`s campaign chair.
And incidentally, that “Associated Press” story from the spring of 2017
turns out to be right, the explicit terms of Manafort`s arrangement with
this oligarch referenced the need to brief the Kremlin and referenced the
benefits that the work could confer on the Putin government. Well, the
benefits for the Putin government, they need to be kept fully apprised on
Manafort`s work to bring about those benefits by installing friendly
officials in foreign countries. That`s who Trump brought on to run his
campaign. And we`re going to be talking about this for a long while yet.
There is a ton here.
But I mean, just for the purposes of tonight, you should know that Manafort
did repeatedly send detailed internal polling data from the Trump campaign
to a Russian guy who it was understood would also send that information to
this Kremlin connected oligarch. He repeatedly provided internal polling
data, to that Russian guy, at an in person meeting in August 2016, Manafort
provided this Russian intermediary, this Russian guy who was his
intermediary with Deripaska. He was also got a linked to Russian
intelligence who is elsewhere described in Mueller`s report today, as
acting on behalf of the Russian government.
Manafort in August 2016 provided him in person a briefing on the state of
Trump`s campaign, Manafort`s specific plan as Trump`s campaign chairman for
how Trump could win the election. The Trump campaign`s planned messaging
for the end of the presidential campaign, yet more internal polling data
from the Trump campaign, although he had been feeding him that for months.
Plus, quote, a discussion of battleground states, which Manafort identified
to his Russian contact as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
So, Manafort, according to Mueller, repeatedly lied, including to
prosecutors with whom he had entered into a plea agreement, repeatedly lied
about his contacts with that Russian guy, who was his intermediary with the
oligarch. He repeatedly lied about his contacts with him, repeatedly lied
about what he gave that guy from Trump`s campaign, repeatedly lied about
their ongoing work and discussions on yet another plan that would result in
the U.S. dropping sanctions against Putin`s government.
Because Mueller`s team was unable to rely on anything that Manafort told
them, because he was constantly lying to them, and without them being able
to access many of Manafort`s communications, many of which were sent in
encrypted applications. Without them being able to track that valuable
campaign information that Manafort sent to his Russian contact, with the
understanding he would send it on to this Kremlin-connected oligarch,
without the ability to follow this to its end, the special counsel say they
come to no conclusions as to what happened with all that stuff that Trump`s
campaign chair sent over to Russia, and whether or not that stuff really
was a help or not, in Russia`s then vociferous and robust efforts to help
Trump target and turn out his voters and to target and suppress Hillary
So, I mean, like I said, we`re just scratching the surface here. If
nothing else ever happens in the news in the next year, I will be busy for
the next year, at least. I mean, these 448 still redacted pages we got
today, is like walking into a vineyard and you just like eat the skin off a
single grape. Like honestly, we could spend a week here just with what
happened with Erik Prince and Steve Bannon, and the how it is that either
of them has thus far avoided being charged.
But honestly, the real shock of what we got today, volume one is about the
Russian interference in the election and contacts, the myriad and many
previously unexplained contacts between Russian individuals and people
associated with the Trump campaign. That`s volume one. The shock of what
we got today I think is volume two. It`s 182-page-long case essentially
that the special counsel laid out for charging the president of the United
States with obstruction of justice.
And honestly, that`s what it is. That`s what volume two of this report is.
It`s a road map for how to charge this president with multiple felony
counts of obstruction of justice.
Contrary to the direct assertions from Attorney General William Barr, the
special counsel didn`t just inexplicably decide that they weren`t going to
decide whether the president criminally obstructed justice. It`s amazing
that William Barr lied about that so many times and so blatantly, when in
this report Mueller actually spells out exactly what he was doing about his
charging decisions on obstruction.
And it`s not – it`s not even in legalese, it`s totally clear, blunt
understandable by those of us who are not lawyers. And it is a case that
makes sense and that Barr lied about, that Barr presented to the public in
a way diametrically opposite to what Mueller says here himself.
Check it out, this is what Mueller actually says. Quote: A traditional
prosecution or declination decision entails a binary determination to
initiate or decline a prosecution. But we determined not to make a
traditional prosecutorial judgment when it came to obstruction of justice.
The Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice has issued an
opinion, finding that the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting
president would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive
branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. So, the OLC has
a Justice Department policy which says, you can`t indict or prosecute a
Quote: Given the role of the special counsel as an attorney in the Justice
Department, given the framework of the special counsel regulations, this
office accepted OLC`s legal conclusion for the purpose of exercising
So, yes, that`s written by lawyers but it`s not legalese, we can get that,
right? That`s Mueller`s office saying, hey, we recognize and we appreciate
and we accept that we are bound by Justice Department policy, Justice
Department policy for good or ill, it says you can`t prosecute a sitting
president. So, because of that, because we accept that, we`re constrained.
We`re constrained. We in this report can`t say, OK, based on X conduct by
the president, we believe he should be charged. They say, we feel
constrained, we cannot do that for one, they argue and say, that would not
be fair to the president.
Quote: Fairness concerns counseled against potentially reaching the
judgment that the president committed crimes when no charges can be
brought. The ordinary means for an individual to respond to an accusation
is through a speedy and public trial with all the procedural protections
that surround a criminal case. An individual who believes he was wrongly
accused can use that process to seek to clear his name. In contrast, a
prosecutors judgment that crimes were committed but that no charges will be
brought, affords no such adversarial opportunity for public name clearing
before an impartial adjudicator.
That`s a fair enough argument, right? What Mueller`s saying here is in the
normal course of events, the prosecutor says, you should be charged, you
committed a crime. Well, if you shouldn`t be charged, if you didn`t commit
a crime, you didn`t dispute that, you rebut that assertion from the
prosecutors in court. That`s the judicial system, right? You can go to
court. You get your day in court. You get to disprove that allegation.
But if it`s not the normal course of events, because you`re president, and
Justice Department policy says you can`t actually be prosecuted. Well, in
that case, if a prosecutor comes out and says, you ought to be prosecuted,
you committed a crime, you`re never going to go to court. They`re not
going to actually prosecute you, that means you`ll never have a fair
opportunity to rebut such an accusation.
It`s a simple idea. If you can`t be prosecuted, the prosecutors say, you
can`t be accused of a crime by prosecutors either.
That said, Mueller`s office contends it`s not like you get off scot-free.
Quote: While the OLC opinion concludes that a sitting president may not be
prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the
president`s term is permissible. We may not be able to prosecute you, but
we can investigate you.
Quote: The OLC opinion also recognizes that the president does not have
immunity after he leaves office. So, even if you can`t be charged as
president, because you can`t be prosecuted as president, we can darn sure
investigate you, and you can darn sure be charged when you`re out of
office. You can darn well be charged based on the factual record that we
turn up investigating you, while you`re in office.
And then this is just – this to me is just remarkable. Quote: Given those
considerations, the facts known to us, and the strong public interest in
safeguarding the integrity of the criminal justice system, we conducted a
thorough, factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence, when
memories were fresh and documentary materials were available. If we had
confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president
clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.
Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are
unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the
president`s actions and intent presents difficult issues to determine that
no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not
conclude that the president committed a crime, it also doesn`t exonerate
This is just astonishing, right? I mean, this is happening. You`ll always
be able to say this happened in your lifetime.
This is the special counsel saying, we are not allowed by Justice
Department policy, to say if the president committed crimes here, but we
would tell you if we figured out that he didn`t commit any crimes, because
we did a thorough examination here. If our thorough examination turned up
a conclusion that the president committed no crimes, we would tell you he
committed no crimes. We`re not in the position to say that. We can`t tell
you that, given what we turned up in our investigation.
Now, we`re not allowed to prosecute him now. He can be impeached. He can
be prosecuted when he leaves office. But they say, here is the factual
record of what he did, and how all these multiple instances have
obstruction of justice by the president, basically fit the predicates for
prosecution. And then it`s 180 pages of this stuff.
In conclusion at the end of volume two, they say, our investigation found
multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue
influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian
interference and obstruction investigations. The incidents were often
carried out through one on one meetings in which the president sought to
use his official power outside of usual channels. These actions range from
efforts to remove the special counsel, and reverse the effect of the
attorney general`s recusal, to the attempted use of official power to limit
the scope of the investigation, to direct and indirect contacts with
witnesses, with the potential to influence their testimony.
The president`s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly
unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the
president declined to carry out his orders or accede to his requests.
Comey didn`t end the investigation into Flynn, which ultimately resulted in
Flynn`s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. McGahn didn`t
tell the acting attorney general that the special counsel must be removed,
but was instead planning to resign over the president`s order.
Lewandowski and Dearborn didn`t deliver the president`s message to Sessions
that he should confine the Russia investigation to only future election
meddling. McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about the events
surrounding the president`s direction to have the special counsel removed,
despite the president`s multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with
that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential
obstruction charges against the president`s aides and associates beyond
those already filed.
And what is left tacit there, is the evidence they obtained would support
potential obstruction charges against the president himself, if only he
weren`t the president. But they also note, he won`t be forever, and part
of the way he could leave the presidency is via impeachment if Congress
chose to follow this road map, where it quite obviously leads.
Like I said, this is like grape one in the vineyard. There`s a lot to get
to, and we have some very special guests here tonight to help us get
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Ever since Robert Mueller submitted the report that we got the
redacted version of today, submitted it four weeks ago, we have seen
Democrats in Congress going full bore trying to get various financial
information about the president and about the president`s business history.
That`s been happening in Congress since Mueller submitted this report in
the first place.
Now, we have a good angle on why, because for everything that is in the
Mueller report today – my copy of it is already a total mess. For
everything that`s in this today, you want to know what`s not in here at
all? Anything having to do with Donald Trump`s finances, anything about
following the money trail, anything about whether or not any potential
compromise on the part of him or somebody else in his orbit or in his
campaign, might be traceable to finances or business interests –
potential, you know, tax shelters, money laundering, any of that, they
don`t appear to have pursued any of that in the special counsel`s office.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has been saying all along for
months, that he believed that Mueller and Mueller`s team were not following
the money, that they were not looking into finances, potential money
laundering or potential financial motives. Now we know that Adam Schiff
was right all along about that.
Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House
Sir, I really appreciate you being here. I know this is a really big
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You bet.
MADDOW: Let me ask about that point I was just making. You have been
saying for months now, that you didn`t believe that Mueller and his team
were looking at potential financial motivations, potential financial ties
that might explain either compromise or any other element of the Russia
scandal that would have ongoing implications for the country.
My reading of this report tonight suggests you`re right. Do you think that
that`s the case?
SCHIFF: I think that is the case. There`s certainly no discussion in the
report of whether he looked into those allegations. He did look at the
effort to build a Moscow Trump Tower. That certainly was a form of
financial entanglement and a deep conflict of interest by the president.
But in terms of the issue of money laundering, there`s no indication he
looked at that, unless that`s part of the counterintelligence findings that
he alluded to. And you mentioned that earlier, he said was not going to be
a part of this report.
But I have to imagine, frankly, that Mueller did not follow the money in
that respect. And that`s very important for our committee as well as the
Financial Services Committee to make sure there`s no financial leverage or
other leverage that the Russians or the Gulf or anyone else have over the
president of the United States.
MADDOW: In terms of those counterintelligence findings, that was another
thing we didn`t know heading into this, in terms of how it would be
structured, and indeed, what the Justice Department would allow to be
released. It seems to me what we`re allowed to see in Mueller`s findings
today that there is a whole separate set of documentation related to things
that were turned up in the investigation that inside the Justice
Department, inside the special counsel`s office, they decided to handle
separately from everything they reported today. It`s foreign intelligence
information, and it`s counterintelligence information.
Did you know that before seeing those references in the report today? And
do you expect that you`ve already been briefed on some of that stuff? Or
will that be stuff you`re pursuing?
SCHIFF: It will be stuff that we are pursuing. It really was my
expectation that because this report was largely about a criminal
investigation, and the prosecutorial decisions we decided to prosecute
here, we did not decide to prosecute there, it would be unlikely to go into
all the counterintelligence findings, and Mueller as you say, I think was
pointing this out quite explicitly for Congress, that, hey, if you want
this foreign intelligence, counter intelligence information, it is there
for the asking.
And we made that request. And I`ll tell you, Rachel, as you know from the
last two years, there is not much that my ranking member Mr. Nunes and I
agree upon. But we do agree upon this, the law requires the Department of
Justice to provide that foreign intelligence and counterintelligence
information to our committee. In fact, we did a bipartisan letter two
weeks ago, demanding all that information.
And we`re going to get it. There`s I think no way for the department to
avoid it, and I think that was a tip-off by the special counsel that we
needed to pursue that lead.
MADDOW: You were one of six committee chairman who have responded to the
report, the publication of this report tonight, expressing real concern
about what was described here as the president`s behavior. And obviously
the special counsel goes into great detail into the report as to how he
approached the issue of whether specific allegations of criminal activity
by the president could fairly be included in this type of report, given
Justice Department policy that says a president can`t be indicted.
The way I read that, the way I think that the special counsel`s office
spelled out their findings here is, I feel like they have provided a road
map to Congress – or alternately to any prosecutors who may still have
jurisdiction and may be operating within the statute of limitations with
the president once he`s no longer president, that the president could be
charged for obstruction of justice, on any number of these activities that
are described such detail.
That`s how I see it as a layman. I know you`re a former prosecutor. I
know you`re a powerful committee chairman right now.
Is that how you receive it?
SCHIFF: It is. I think it`s pretty clear and contrary to what the
attorney general was trying to spin in his memo, and during his press
conference. But the special counsel intended to leave that question to
Congress. Special counsel felt bound by those OLC opinions that he could
not indict a sitting president, and wanted to preserve that evidence for
Congress. And frankly, until we see all of that, including the grand jury
material, we take nothing off the table.
I view this as right now in the position of preliminary to a judicial
proceeding. It cannot be the position of the Justice Department – hey,
we`re not going to give you evidence – grand jury material as to a
president who may have violated the law and allow you to determine whether
an impeachment is warranted on one hand. And, on the other hand, we
believe we can`t indict the president, that`s effectively immunity.
And one thing Bob Mueller made clear is, he doesn`t believe this president
or anyone else is above the law. So, we need to get all the unredacted –
we did get all redacted material, we need to get all the intelligence and
foreign intelligence information from Bob Mueller, from the Justice
Department, these underlying documents so we can make an informed judgment.
But, yes, I think Mueller intended that for Congress to oversee and
MADDOW: Briefly, sir, do you anticipate you`ll be speaking with Robert
Mueller soon? Do you anticipate he`ll be testifying in intelligence in
short order? We`ve heard Congressman Nadler ask for him to testify before
the Judiciary Committee before the end of May. What`s your anticipation in
terms of your committee?
SCHIFF: We have the same expectation, and I think as much as that
testimony ought to be public testimony, perhaps all of it in the judiciary
committee, and perhaps a bifurcated hearing in the Intelligence Committee.
We want to make sure the department of justice doesn`t hide behind the Gang
of Eight or anything else to try to prevent the American people from seeing
this evidence, because it is damning. At the end of the day, when you read
this lengthy report, you learn that the president has repeatedly misled the
country. He`s urged others to mislead the country. He`s tried to dangle
rewards behind those that tow his line, even if it`s at odd to the fact
he`s tried to insinuate he would punish those who go against him.
There were countless contacts between the Trump people and the Russians
that they sought to conceal and lie about. All of this is damning and we
all ought to, I think, expect more from our president than merely the
protestation that he`s not a crook.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee – sir, I know your time is at a premium tonight. Thank you for
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Up next, we`re going to be joined here on set with
someone I`m looking forward to talking to, somebody you have not heard
weigh in on this subject. He`s the man who ordered the obstruction of
justice and counterintelligence investigations into the president in the
Andrew McCabe was thrust into the role of acting FBI director after the
president fired James Comey, explaining he did so because the Russia
investigation was on his mind. Andrew McCabe is going to be joining us
here live for his first interview since this redacted report came out,
next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight, we are lucky enough to be joined by somebody who played
an absolutely central role in the Russia investigation, particularly in its
early days. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe took over leadership
of the FBI after President Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey.
Shortly thereafter, it was Acting Director McCabe who ordered obstruction
of justice and counterintelligence investigations into the president,
saying he wanted to put the Russia on absolutely solid ground, should he
also be removed by President Trump.
Andrew McCabe has since published this book, it`s called “The Threat: How
the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump”.
Former Director McCabe joins us now here live on set.
Sir, thanks for being here.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: I have to ask you – there`s a million things I want to ask you –
but given your role in initiating these investigations, do you feel like
this public facing document by Robert Mueller and his office today directly
and aptly explains why those investigations were started and whether the
predicate was sound?
MCCABE: I think it does. I think it validates the decisions that we made,
certainly in July of 2016, to start the initial Russia-focused
investigation, and then, of course, the decisions that we made in May of
2017 to include the president in that investigation personally.
As you know, Rachel, the FBI, the standard for predication to open an
investigation in the FBI is an articulable factual basis to believe that a
threat to national security might exist, or that a federal crime might have
been committed. We have been saying as much as we can publicly in the last
few months, that those are the reasons, looking at the facts that we had
before us, that we opened the case on President Trump in May of 2017.
MADDOW: One of the things that is explained in volume one of the report is
that nobody associated with the Trump campaign was charged with being a
foreign agent acting on the behest of Russia. And there`s a reference in
that part of the to the fact that there were FISA warrants that were
obtained including on Carter Page, who was – after he left the Trump
campaign, and the Mueller report today – this redacted version of the
report we got, essentially tries to address the controversy a little bit
over what it would take to get a FISA warrant on somebody, for which you
have to prove to the court that somebody may be acting as a foreign agent -
MCCABE: That`s right.
MADDOW: Versus no prosecutorial intention to charge that person as a
MADDOW: Tell us about the distinction.
MCCABE: Sure. So, the standard, the FISA – you have to prove to the FISA
court that – to a – not a preponderance of evidence, but beyond a
reasonable doubt, that this individual may be acting as an agent of a
foreign power. You do that to enable yourself to conduct the sort of
investigation that will ultimately lead you to the position where you think
you can or should charge someone with a crime.
So, the FISA warrant is not the end of the process, it`s the very beginning
of the process, it`s what opens up access to that person`s communications
or other activities that help you understand whether or not they are in
fact an agent of a foreign power.
MADDOW: And when it comes to charging someone as being an agent of a
foreign power, that`s a different standard of evidence.
MCCABE: Well, it is. And the charge for someone in that position could be
very different. It could be charging someone with espionage or it could be
charging someone with mishandling classified evidence, or there`s all sorts
of different ways that you think someone might be acting on behalf of a
foreign power, might have violated the law.
MADDOW: Well, how – given the timing of you leaving the FBI, your
involvement in the initiation of these investigations, the fact that you`re
out of the bureau now. You read this today along with the rest of us
MCCABE: I did.
MADDOW: What do you make about what`s described between the Trump campaign
and Russia during this Russian attack? Obviously, there`s a decision made
by Mueller and he and his team were overt about it, that although they were
identifying lots of ties, lots of links, they factually describe lots of
interactions, they were unable to find anything that they felt should be
charged as what we`ve come to call collusion between the Russian government
and the Trump campaign.
That said, we get factual descriptions of the Trump campaign chair offering
on an on going basis, internal campaign polling data, to somebody who`s
assessed to be working on behalf of the Russian government, tied to Russian
intelligence, who`s thought to be passing that information on to someone
who`s linked to the Kremlin. I mean, how do you feel about what was turned
up in national security terms between links between Trump and Russia?
MCCABE: Well, first of all, I have tremendous faith on Mueller and the
team he had working on this issue. And I`m sure they have uncovered
whatever evidence was there for them to uncover.
But I agree with you, it is – it`s almost tantalizing, right? You have
two sides that are working toward a common goal, that is getting President
Trump – or then candidate Trump elected.
What we clearly have is those two sides are working to mutual benefit. The
Russians absolutely wanted Trump to be the victorious candidate in the
election, and certainly the campaign had the same desire. But what
Director Mueller has told us is, that`s not enough, simply the fact that
both sides acted to benefit each other, is not enough. You have to show in
the words of criminal prosecution for conspiracy, an agreement between the
And that was the last piece of evidence, it`s the final kind of keystone in
the bridge, if you will, that the team didn`t seem to feel confident that
MADDOW: It seemed like the closest they got to finding someone that could
be criminally charged in that whole section about the links between Russia
and the Trump campaign, was the possibility of charging, oddly enough,
campaign finance violations from accepting a thing of value –
MADDOW: – from a foreign entity for the purpose of influencing the
So, there were two reasons they didn`t get there. Number one, they
couldn`t prove that people involved in that from the Trump campaign knew
there were laws against it, effectively, which is an excellent, you know,
case for never going to school. It makes you less culpable.
But the other part of it was that they said they couldn`t put, essentially,
a financial value on the anti-Clinton information they were seeking, they
were trying to get from these Russian sources. Again, not approaching this
from a law enforcement`s perspective at all – it seems bizarre to me that
it would matter whether they were getting something that was 25 cents in
value versus $25,000 value. Why would that be part of the calculus?
MCCABE: I`m not so sure that`s the defining piece of the calculus, right?
MCCABE: Because, of course, the law says you can`t take anything of value,
it doesn`t say only things more than 25 cents or less than 25 cents. It`s
anything of value.
In this case, I think what Director Mueller and the team have laid out all
the problems they would have encountered trying to put forward a case to
prove that. So, you have a campaign that desperately wants that material.
It`s not clear that there was ever an actual connection with those folks
that are delivering those results – the Internet Research Agency, the GRU
And it`s just – again, it`s like – it`s like the cart missing one of the
four wheels. It`s just one step short of that connecting those two parties
and their intentions and what they provided to each other. That connection
is just not there.
MADDOW: There`s one other element about this that I`d like to ask you
about, but I have to stay with us for a second.
MADDOW: We`ll take a quick break.
We`ll be right back with former FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back with the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Mr. McCabe, thank you again for being here.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about something that was described around the
question of the president being charged for obstruction of justice.
There`s a lot of legal discussion there about whether or not the president
can be essentially accused by Mueller and his office of having committed
crimes given that Justice Department policy says he can`t be tried which
means he can`t rebut those assertions in court, and maybe that wouldn`t be
That said at special counsel`s office goes out of their way to describe the
president`s motives and how those might go toward justifying charges
essentially for obstruction of justice. I see this, I was talking with
Congressman Schiff about this earlier, I see this essentially as a road map
for prosecutors after the president has left office or for the Judiciary
Committee while the president is still in office to essentially pursue
those charges in a trial after he`s no longer president or an impeachment
proceedings while he`s in Congress. Otherwise, you wouldn`t go to the
length they go to in order to explain the president`s state of minds.
Is that how you read it?
MCCABE: It`s absolutely how I read it. You know, the Bob Mueller that I
know, the Bob Mueller that I worked for for many years is not a guy who is
going to write a report that contradicts can existing DOJ policy. So, he`s
not going to write a report that says the president should be indicted
knowing that`s not a possibility under the current policy.
But what Director Mueller has done here is he`s provided an avalanche of
facts that clearly indicate obstructive activity on the part of the
president. He calls it out plainly in ten different sections in volume two
of the report and he lays out why he believes in many of those cases the
intent is present, why he believes that, you know, the nexus to the
contemplated or ongoing matter is present.
So the analysis is extraordinary. The scope is incredibly damning for the
MADDOW: When you say the analysis is extraordinary, you mean it is laid
out in the way a prosecutor would need to lay it out in order to justify
MCCABE: Exactly. And I would add, done fairly, right? There are places
in the report where Director Mueller evaluates the evidence they have and
says, you know, it is not clear to us that the intent to obstruct was
present in this particular circumstance. So, he very much gives the
president the benefit of the doubt when it`s a ball up in the air and it`s
a 50/50 call, he comes down clearly on the side that it`s not all there.
MADDOW: Last question for you.
MADDOW: Looking at this with all of your experience in the FBI, is this
type of work product that you expected both in terms of its coherence, but
also just in terms of its quality?
MCCABE: It is, absolutely. From Director Mueller, this is the work
product you expect. It is broad. It is professional. It is
dispassionate. He`s incredibly factual.
And from the men and women who worked on this investigation, many of whom I
personally and worked with for many years, this is an extraordinary work
product produced under incredible stress and during tough times and I`m
incredibly proud of them.
MADDOW: Some of the stress and tough times you can attest to personally.
Andrew McCabe is former deputy director and former acting director of the
FBI. His book is called “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the
Age of Terror and Trump” – it`s an honor to have you here with us tonight,
MCCABE: Thank you so much. An honor to be here.
All right. More ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us now is the great Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney
in the state of Michigan.
Barb, thank you for being with us tonight. Looking forward talking to you.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Honored to be here on Mueller
MADDOW: I have a specific legal question. At the end of appendix D,
there`s a list of cases that have been referred for prosecution. There`s
14 of them.
Twelve of the 14 are totally blacked out. Those are cases that Mueller has
said we`ve identified – we`ve identified evidence that criminal activity
may have happened, you other law enforcement entities should consider
prosecution. That`s what referral means in that context?
MCQUADE: Yes, it doesn`t just mean we notice something minor. This is a
very significant matter. We perceived it to be beyond the scope, and we
know Robert Mueller took a narrow view of his scope of investigation. So,
some other entity ought to investigate it.
You know, for example, we know in the college bribery scheme, that case
started because a cooperator in a securities fraud case talked about bribes
from a coach. And that`s how that began.
So when you have that kind of thing, you find out, you sort of stumble upon
evidence of a case while you`re investigating another, you don`t ignore it
if it is significant. So, the fact he referred it to others says to me it
was beyond the scope, his narrow scope and it was significant.
MADDOW: OK. Right before that, in Appendix D, there`s a different section
that isn`t things that have been referred for prosecution by Mueller, they
are cases that have been transferred. So this is cases, a whole bunch of
them. It`s Manafort, Gates, Bijan Kian, GRU, IRA, blah, blah, blah. All
these cases we knew were ongoing.
Two of those cases are redacted. Now, I understand the name being redacted
when it`s being referred to prosecution and no charges have been brought
yet. But when it`s an ongoing case transferred, how are we not allowed who
those defendants are?
Those are sealed cases? Those are people who`ve been indicted that the
indictment hasn`t been unsealed? Those people are still at large? I mean,
what does that mean?
MCQUADE: Not clear. But it does suggest to me it was within and what
Mueller perceived to be his narrow scope.
MCQUADE: So, they`re somewhere in the pipeline unrelated to the specific
scope of links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but
things that came up he was investigating along the way and has now
transferred. It could be Russians who are overseas and are fugitives.
MADDOW: But it would be – there`s no reason they would be redacted in
this report if we`ve had their names publicly made available. So, there
are two ongoing cases where we don`t know who they`re against.
MCQUADE: Absolutely right.
MADDOW: Do you also agree that this is essentially a road map on
obstruction stuff for either prosecutors after the president has left
office or Congress now to pursue those in court and through impeachment
MCQUADE: Yes, that`s the way I read what Robert Mueller wrote about it
would be unfair to charge somebody, to talk about charges now when it can`t
defend himself. It`s not appropriate to charge a sitting president. I
don`t think he anticipated that William Barr would jump in and say that
leaves it to me the attorney general to decide there will be no obstruction
of justice charges.
But there`s nothing to stop Congress for picking this up now, and nothing
to stop a subsequent Department of Justice from charging in 2020.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade, thank you for being here. You`ve been a clarion
voice throughout this entire process. Stay with us forever.
MCQUADE: My pleasure to do so. Thanks, Rachel. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. That does it for this second. We`ll see you again
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the