One on one with Elizabeth Warren. TRANSCRIPT: 4/19/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Elizabeth Warren, Eric Swalwell
Transcript:

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  That is ALL IN for this evening.

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. 

 

And good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I am the Rachel Maddow.  I`m going to start

right now.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

REID:  Riding (ph) slowly to the pedal toward, oh, oh, oh, two more seconds

– bam!

 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Joy.  Great to see you, my friend.  Thank you.

 

REID:  Bye.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.  Happy

Friday. 

 

Why did the president`s daughter Ivanka Trump enter into a proffer session

with prosecutors during the course of the Mueller investigation?  Why did

one of the Republicans who received a top level confidential intelligence

briefing on the FBI`s investigation of the president and his campaign turn

right around after receiving that confidential presidential briefing and

take that information straight to the White House to let them know the

state of the FBI`s investigation and who that investigation was targeting? 

 

Why did a Trump cabinet official tell prosecutors that President Trump had

not asked him to intervene to try to stop the FBI`s investigation, when

that same Trump cabinet official told multiple members of his own staff

that the president had done just that?  And I could go on.  I mean, it

turns – It turns out even the redacted version of the Mueller report is

like a really good ragu.  It`s just better the second day. 

 

You know, the same thing about like– sometimes Chinese takeout, too.  It`s

good when you get it.  But after it sat overnight in the frig chilling for

a while?  Next day, tastier!  Maybe less overwhelming than when it first

came off the stove, you get more out of it on day two. 

 

We`ve got a lot going on this hour.  We`re going to talk about all those

questions I just raised right at the top here.  But I want to start with

one aspect of the part of Mueller`s report that led to dramatic headlines

like this all across the country today.

 

“The Fresno Bee” in Fresno, California, Mueller: Trump tried to thwart

inquiry.  “The Tuscaloosa News” in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Trump attempted to

thwart probe.  “The Wichita Eagle” in Wichita, Kansas: Mueller reveals

Trump`s efforts to thwart inquiry. 

 

“The Washington Post,” Mueller details Russian interference, Trump`s

attempts to disrupt probe.  “The Portland Press Herald” in Portland, Maine:

Mueller lays out evidence of obstruction against Trump.  “The Sentinel

Record” in Hot Springs, Arkansas: Mueller reveals Trump`s attempt to choke

off Russia probe. 

 

Those were the headlines in papers large and small across the country

today.  And one of the things we got from Mueller, in the section of his

redacted report that assesses that, subject to all of those headlines, that

assesses the potential criminal liability for the president specifically on

the issue of obstruction of justice. 

 

One of the things we got is a really specific factual account of multiple

instances of the president`s behavior that might fall under the rubric of

obstruction of justice.  And it is all stuff that is based on sworn

statements and evidence.  We`ve got references to exactly where they got

all the evidence they got that supports the narrative that they laid out. 

 

We`ve got full names of the people who provided them with that evidence. 

We get places, times, we get any corroborating evidence, we get dates for

everything.  It`s like a full blown receipt, an itemized receipt for

exactly what happened. 

 

And we get that on all of them.  I mean, just pick your favorite here.  I

mean, there are ten broad categories of obstruction of justice that are

described in volume two of Mueller`s report.  Each of those ten broad

categories has multiple components and multiple acts by the president.  I

mean, just pick one. 

 

I mean, here, I`ll show you what I mean about the details here.  In the

table of contents, this is just picking one almost at random.  This is the

first item under the heading the president`s efforts to curtail the special

counsel investigation.  You see there, subsection one, the president asks

Corey Lewandowski to deliver a message to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to

curtail the special counsel investigation. 

 

I mean, I could have picked any of them.  Literally, just the table of

contents for the obstruction of justice actions is three pages long, single

spaced, small font.  But I like this – I like this example in particular,

not because it is the best or the worst, in the middle of the narrative,

the detailed narrative of this one, you can tell there`s this moment where

the president thinks he has come up with a genius idea.  Eureka!  He has a

capital “I” idea that will solve everything.  And it base which I leaps off

the page that the president thinks he has nailed this one. 

 

Here`s how it starts.  On June 19th, 2017, the president met one-on-one in

the Oval Office with his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.  Senior

advisers describe Lewandowski as a devotee of the president and said the

president – excuse me, and said the relationship between president and

Lewandowski was close. 

 

During that June 19, 2017 meeting, Lewandoski recalled that after some

small talk, the president brought up Jeff Sessions and criticized his

recusal from the Russia investigation. 

 

The president then asked Lewandowski to deliver a message to Sessions and

said, quote, write this down.  This was the first time the president had

asked Mr. Lewandowski to take dictation and Lewandowski wrote as fast as

possible to make sure he captured the contend correctly. 

 

So, here`s the president having a brain wave.  He has come up with

something that will solve the Jeff Sessions being recused from the Russia

investigation thing once and for all.  Corey, write this down.  Get a pen. 

Bite off the tip of your finger and write in it blood.  I just got a

thought.  Get this down, I got something here. 

 

Quote: The president directed that Sessions should give a speech, publicly

announcing, I know that I recuse myself from certain things having to do

with specific areas but our POTUS, our president of the United States, is

being treated very unfairly. 

 

He shouldn`t have a special prosecutor/counsel because he hasn`t done

anything wrong.  I was on the campaign with him for nine months.  There

were no Russians involved with him.  I know it for a fact because I was

there.  He didn`t do anything wrong except he ran the greatest campaign in

American history. 

 

That is the speech that Jeff Sessions was supposed to give.  Mueller says,

quote, the dictated message went on to state Jeff Sessions would meet with

the special counsel to limit jurisdiction to future election interference. 

 

Now, a group of people – this is what Sessions is supposed to say.  Now a

group of people want to subvert the Constitution of the United States.  I

am going to meet with the special prosecutor to explain this is very unfair

and let the special prosecutor move forward with investigating election

meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future

elections. 

 

Aha, see?  You can just see like the president thinking this out.  You can

see the smoke coming out of his ears.  You can almost smell it, right?  I

mean, you can see him thinking. 

 

This is not firing the special counsel.  Two days before the meeting with

Corey Lewandowski, two days previous of that meeting, he had told White

House counsel Don McGahn that Don McGahn should fire Robert Mueller, should

fire the White House special counsel.  That`s detailed in here, too. 

 

Don McGahn refused that demand from the president, said he would quit.  He

was a big pain in the neck.  But this, you can see the president thinking

his way you through this.  This is genius. 

 

What he`ll arrange through Corey Lewandowski, private citizen at this

point, no role in the administration whatsoever.  He`ll arrange with Corey

Lewandowski, he loves Corey.  He`ll arrange that the Attorney General Jeff

Sessions will unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation.  He will

rescind his recusal. 

 

And then once he`s unrescused, Jeff Sessions won`t fire Mueller.  Now, he

knows that would be a problem.  Instead, Jeff Sessions will just tell

Mueller, hey, from here on out, I`m redirecting your investigation. 

 

So, from here on out, it is only about crimes in the future.  You, Robert

Mueller, you have to leave all the crimes in the past alone.  You`re so

unfair.  You can only investigate future crime from here on out. 

 

Quote: The president said that if Sessions delivered that statement, he

would be the most popular guy in the country.  Corey Lewandoski told the

president, he understood what the president wanted Sessions to do.  Write

this down, Corey.  I`ve got a great idea! 

 

The redacted report then goes on to explain that Corey Lewandowski, in

fact, doesn`t go deliver this message to Jeff Sessions.  He tries.  He

makes an appointment with Jeff Sessions.  But Jeff Sessions cancels and

then Lewandowski doesn`t really know what to do. 

 

So, he puts the thing that he dictated from Trump in a safe.  One thing we

learned in this report is that lots of people around President Trump not

only have safes at home.  They use them whenever the president asks them to

do something that really seems illegal. 

 

But after Corey Lewandowski doesn`t give the message to Jeff Sessions and

instead gives the message to a locked safe, the president asked Lewandowski

again, calls him back in for a one-on-one meeting.  Did you tell Sessions? 

They have another meeting where the president asks Corey Lewandowski to

deliver this message to Sessions again or else.  And the “or else” here is

similarly genius. 

 

Now, back to the report.  In the follow-up meeting, quote: in the July 19th

meeting with Lewandowski, the president raised his previous request and

asked if Lewandowski had talked to Sessions.  Lewandowski told the

president that the message would be delivered soon, soon, boss, soon. 

Lewandowski recalled that the president then told him if Sessions did not

meet with him, Lewandowski should tell Sessions that he was fired. 

 

So, you go meet with the attorney general.  You giver him this message from

the president, that tells the attorney general that he needs to unrecuse

himself.  He needs to give a speech about how terrible the special counsel

is and about how Donald Trump ran the greatest presidential campaign in

history, and then he needs to announce that now that he`s unrecused, he is

changing the mandate of the special counsel.  So from here on out, Robert

Mueller can only investigate any crimes that are going to take place in the

future.  Nothing that already happened. 

 

And, Corey, if Jeff Sessions won`t meet with you to receive this message

about what he`s going to do, well, then, you, Corey, you fire him.  You

political consultant who used to work for my campaign who is now just a

random private citizen, you fire the attorney general.  You say, I, Corey

Lewandowski, fire you. 

 

This is how it`s going to work, right?  Genius plan. 

 

After that point, more hilarity ensues, including Lewandowski then trying

to make somebody else to do this.  He taps somebody else to give this

message to Jeff Sessions about what Sessions is supposed to do.  He taps

the deputy White House chief of staff, Rick Dearborn, to do it.  Mr.

Dearborn does not do it.

 

But then, I mean, we get all of this very specific narrative of when and

how that all happened, and how we know it all happened.  You know, we get

the date of the first demand.  Hey, Corey, write this down.  That`s June

19, 2017. 

 

We get the date of the president meeting with Lewandowski again to

reiterate the demand and to say, the back-up plan, if this doesn`t work, is

the attorney general being fired by a random citizen.  That`s July 19,

2017. 

 

We get footnote after footnote after footnote in the section of the report

saying exactly which FBI interview and which day and which page of the

FBI`s record of that interview Corey Lewandowski provided this to the

investigation.  Also, Rick Dearborn, too, the White House deputy chief of

staff, the guy who Corey Lewandowski tried to hand off this cockamamie plan

to.  We get all of this details, including specific references to their FBI

interviews and the 302s, the 302 forms which the FBI used to memorialize

those interviews. 

 

And then we get, I mean, as cockamamie as this was, as ridiculous as this

was as a scheme, we then get Mueller and his team in all seriousness

explaining, how you would charge something like this as a crime.  And they

do this for all of these instances of potential criminal obstruction by the

president, under the heading, analysis.  In analyzing the president`s

efforts to have Lewandowski deliver a message directing Sessions to

publicly announce that the special counsel investigation would be confined

to future election interference, the following evidence is relevant to the

elements of obstruction of justice. 

 

And then the first discussion is of the obstructive act, what constitutes

the obstructive act.  There`s a long discussion of all the elements of what

the president did exactly, concluding, quote, the president`s directives

indicate that Sessions was being instructed to tell the special counsel to

end the existing investigation into the president and his campaign.  Then

the next element of obstruction of justice as a criminal matter is nexus to

an official proceeding.  But you have to show if you`re going to show this

is criminal obstruction of justice. 

 

In this case, they`re very blunt and they say yes, there`s a nexus to an

official proceeding.  Quote: By the time the president`s initial meeting

with Lewandoski on June 19, 2017, the existence of a grand jury

investigation was public knowledge. So, that`s a nexus to an official

proceeding.

 

And then there`s one last element, there`s the third element you need to

establish criminal obstruction of justice, and that is intent.  Quote:

Substantial evidence indicates that the president`s efforts to have

Sessions limit the scope of the special counsel`s investigation to future

election interference was intended to prevent further investigative

scrutiny of the president`s and his campaign`s conduct.  The president knew

that the Russia investigation was focused in part on his campaign and he

perceived allegations of Russian interference to cast doubt on the

legitimacy of his election. 

 

The president further knew that the investigation had broadened to include

his own conduct and whether he had obstructed justice.  Those

investigations would not proceed if the special counsel`s jurisdiction were

limited future election interference only.  I mean, which is obvious as a

logical matter right.  You and me, we`re not lawyers, just look in at this

stuff, like, yes, duh. 

 

If you can only – if the investigators are only allowed to investigate

stuff that hasn`t happened yet, right?  I mean, it seems obvious, but

you`re spelling out intent here for why an alleged perpetrator could be

charged or should be convicted of this as crime and as such, you belabor

the point.  You spell it out. 

 

Quote: The manner in which the president acted provides additional evidence

of his intent rather than rely on official channels, the president met with

Lewandowski alone in the Oval Office.  The president selected a loyal

devotee outside the White House to deliver the message, supporting an

inference that he was working outside White House channels, including that

of White House counsel Don McGahn who had just two days previously resisted

contacting the Justice Department about the special counsel. 

 

The president also did not contact the Deputy Attorney General Rod

Rosenstein, the acting attorney general on the Russia matter, who had just

testified publicly that there was no cause to remove the special counsel. 

Instead, the president tried to use Jeff Sessions to restrict and redirect

the special counsel`s investigation when Sessions was recused and could not

properly take any action on it. 

 

Quote: The July 19, 2017 event, the second meeting, provide further

evidence that the president`s intent, the president followed up with

Lewandowski in a separate one-on-one meeting, one month after he first

dictated the mention for Sessions, demonstrating that he still sought to

pursue the request. 

 

You do not need this level of detail.  You do not need this much chapter

and verse on intent.  And all of this overt spelling out of three elements

that constitute criminal obstruction of justice, right, obstructive, nexus

to an official proceeding, intent, you don`t need all of that, if you`re

don`t need if it you`re just trying to inform what the president is like

behind closed doors or how this plot unfolded. 

 

I mean, you certainly don`t lay all that out in order to show that the

president definitely didn`t obstruct justice here.  I mean, this is laid

out to show that did he and to lay it out specifically as a predicate for

criminal charges.  This is laid out so that this can be charged. 

 

And it`s not brought here in this report, in the form of actual criminal

charges being unveiled against the president.  There is no accompanying

indictment that goes along with this, right?  And Mueller spells out why,

right?  Mueller explains explicitly in his redacted report that he is bound

by Justice Department policy that does not allow for the indictment or

prosecuting of the president. 

 

And so, therefore, he could not bring charges, he couldn`t bring a

prosecution.  He couldn`t say explicitly, here, this is a crime, because if

the president cannot be brought into court to face charges, he can`t avail

himself of the court either to prove his innocence.  And so, instead, we

get this road map from Mueller, explaining in detail precisely what the

president did and the evidence that proves it, the admissible evidence that

proves it, how it fits every element you need to prove under criminal law

in order to support a criminal charge of obstruction of justice for this

type of behavior.

 

About which former Attorney General Eric Holder was quite blunt today. 

Looking at this evidence and the way that Mueller laid this out, this is

what Holder said today.  Quote: Any, all caps, any competent public

corruption prosecutor would bring obstruction charges against Trump and

win.  Only reason Mueller did not was because of the flawed Justice

Department restriction against indicting a sitting president. 

 

Well, flawed or not, that is a Justice Department policy.  Mueller felt

bound by it.  And so, now, instead of an indictment of the president, we`ve

got his road map for how one might prosecute this behavior by President

Trump. 

 

But who is supposed to follow this map?  Why lay it out like this with all

the different elements that you need to show in order to bring charges? 

With all the evidence laid out, not just the factual record but how it fits

the statute.  Who is this road map for? 

 

Mueller explicitly raises two possibilities.  And it`s funny.  Only one of

these is being discussed in the wake of the report.  In the report, there

is clearly two. 

 

The one that nobody is talking about is from page one of the obstruction

section of the report.  It is explicit.  It`s not even legalese.  While the

OLC opinion, Justice Department opinion concludes that the sitting

president may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal

investigation during the president`s term is permissible, an investigation

during the president`s term is permissible. 

 

The OLC opinion also recognizes that a president does not have immunity

after he leaves office.  And then there`s a footnote just to put the second

exclamation point on that.  Citing the OLC memo that says you can`t bring

charges against a sitting president, but quoting this exact part of it,

quote: Recognizing an immunity from prosecution for a sitting president

would not preclude such prosecution once the president`s term is over. 

 

And this is something nobody is talking that in the wake of the Mueller

report.  At least nobody is broadly talking about it.  But this is why

Mueller says he did his report this way, right?  If you uncover crimes, but

there can be no charges, why bother uncovering the crimes, right? 

 

Well, he says because the immunity that prevents the perp from being

charged in this case, that`s a fleeting thing.  It doesn`t last forever. 

And so, it`s not only worth investigating, it`s worth laying down what

looks like chargeable conduct here and why. 

 

As Mueller says it, quote: Given those considerations, the facts known to

us and the strong public interest in safe guarding 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. 

 

Why are you preserving the evidence?  Preserving it for whom?  Here`s your

road map. 

 

Because as Mueller says explicitly, when Donald Trump is no longer

president, there`s no restriction on charging him.  And here`s how you do

it on these charges. 

 

By the way, the statute of limitations on obstruction of justice is five

years.  Five years from the last criminal act that would be, could be

charged.  So how long would prosecutors have here?  How long does the

president have to make sure he stays in office to avoid these potential

charges? 

 

Well, I mean, we get a lot of detail including a lot of specific dates in

this narrative.  It is not just a book about the presidency.  It is

receipts, right?  

 

So the president directs K.T. McFarland to write an email swearing that

Trump didn`t tell Mike Flynn to call the Russian government about

sanctions.  That was on February 23rd, 2017.  Add five years, OK, statute

of limitations there extends to February 23rd, 2022. 

 

The president personally directed that a public statement about the Trump

Tower meeting, delete a proposed line that acknowledge that Don Jr.

expected at that meeting to obtain information helpful to the Trump

campaign.  That, we know from the Mueller report, was July 8, 2017.  When

will the statute of limitations expire on that?  Add five years, July 8th,

2022. 

 

The president cleared everyone except James Comey out of the Oval Office

before, asking Comey, I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go,

to letting Flynn go.  He`s a good guy.  I hope you can let this go.  That

was February 14, 2019, excuse me, 2017.  Statute of limitations expires on

that one February 14th, 2022.  Happy Valentine`s day. 

 

The president called Don McGahn and directed him to contact Attorney

General Jeff Sessions and have him relayed the message that Special Counsel

Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed.  That was June 17th,

2017.  Add five years, statute of limitations expires, June 17, 2022.

 

The president met with Corey Lewandowski and dictated a message for him to

give to Sessions, saying that Sessions should publicly announce the

investigation was very unfair to the president.  From then on, the special

counsel should only move forward investigating election meddling for future

elections.  That initial meeting was June 19th, 2017. 

 

Then, there was a follow-up meeting a month later in July.  July 2017, add

five years, July 2022. 

 

The special counsel laid out the obstructive act, the nexus for an official

proceeding and the evidence for intent on all of these.  If President Trump

is not reelected, he will be out of office in January, 2021.  At that

point, he will no longer be immune from prosecution.  He will still be well

within the statute of limitations on all of the alleged felony counts of

criminal obstruction of justice that are laid out in this report.  Those

don`t expire for more than a year after he leaves office. 

 

If he is reelected, he will definitely still be in office while the statute

of limitations on all those potential crimes expires and he can no longer

be prutd for them.  How is that for a re-election bumper sticker, right? 

 

Four more years!  Four more years!  So he can run out the statute of

limitations on multiple felony charges.  Over and above named individual

one in SDNY and two campaign finance felonies already.  Four more years for

that! 

 

That will fit.  They`ll make it rhyme.  They`ll fit it on a hat.  Of

course, in the United States, we have never had a situation where a

president left office and then was charged with crimes he committed while

being president.  Ford pardoned Nixon as soon as Ford was sworn into office

so we never got to test that when it came to Nixon.  One of the senior

Watergate prosecutors resigned in protest that day. 

 

Bill Clinton entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the successor to

Ken Starr on his final day in office as president to avoid being charged

with like to investigators about his extra-marital affair.  They were

actively working with a grand jury to consider indicting Bill Clinton as

soon as he left office for lying to investigators about his affair.  On his

last day in office, they came to a deal, a non-prosecution deal. 

 

He would not be charged once he was no longer president.  But he had to pay

a $25,000 fine and give up his law license for five years.  That deal was

announced on his last day in office. 

 

So, we have been very close to charging ex-presidents with crimes they

allegedly committed while in office as president.  But so far, we haven`t

got this. 

 

Robert Mueller, however, has laid out a 182-page path for doing just that,

even just on obstruction of justice.  Unless, of course, President Trump is

going to face the music on this stuff the other way that is late out in the

Constitution, that is envisioned by the Justice Department regulations that

prohibited him being charged while he is a sitting president.  The other

way that is laid out elegantly in Mueller`s report in the introduction to

the obstruction section. 

 

Quote: The conclusion that Congress may apply to obstruction laws to the

president`s corrupt exercise of the powers of the office accords with our

constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no

person is above the law. 

 

That, of course, is about impeachment, right?  That`s the other way the

president could be effectively prosecuted for these alleged crimes.  Using

the road map and using the evidence laid out by Robert Mueller in this

report. 

 

That remedy, the impeachment remedy, is broadly viewed as politically

impossible.  Not the least of which because Democrats don`t want to go

there.  Maybe.

 

Today that started to change and in one way in particular, that could end

up being a very big deal.  And that is the subject of our next segment and

our next interview. 

 

We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  A new phase of the 2020 presidential campaign and an important new

phase of the response to the redacted Mueller report began this afternoon

at 4:05 p.m. Eastern.  And this was a surprise. 

 

Quote: The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign

government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump

welcomed that help.  Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the

investigation into that attack.  Mueller put the next step in the hands of

Congress. 

 

Quote: Congress has authority to prohibit a president`s corrupt use of his

authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of

justice.  The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment. 

 

To ignore a president`s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into

his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this

country.  And I would suggest that both the current and future presidents

would be free to abuse their power in similar ways. 

 

The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both

parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional

duty.  That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against

the president of the United States. 

 

Signed, Elizabeth Warren, senator of Massachusetts, candidate for president

in the Democratic primary. 

 

Joining us now is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who as of tonight, is calling

for the impeachment of the president. 

 

Senator, thank you very much for being here.  I really appreciate your

time.  I know you made time for us on short notice. 

 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Yes.  It`s good to

be here.

 

MADDOW:  So, you are the first Democratic candidate calling for the start

of impeachment proceedings.  Other Democrats have been saying it`s not

worth the political cost.  It`s not worth the civic cost or, it`s arguably

just too soon. 

 

What made you decide to take this step today? 

 

WARREN:  Well, I read the report.  I was on an airplane yesterday and

started reading it.  I read it way into the night last night, and I got to

the end and realized. 

 

This is about a point of principle.  The report is absolutely clear, that a

foreign government attacked our electoral system to help Donald Trump.  He

welcomed that help and then when it was investigated by our own federal

authorities, Donald Trump took multiple steps to try to obstruct justice. 

 

You know, this is one of those moments when I get it, that there are people

who think politically, no, it`s going to be too hard to do this.  This

isn`t about politics.  This isn`t even specifically about Donald Trump

himself. 

 

It is about what a president of the United States should be able to do and

what the role of Congress is in saying, no, a president does not get to

come in and stop an investigation about a foreign power that attacked this

country, or an investigation about his own wrongdoing. 

 

Equal justice under law.  No one is above the law and that includes the

president of the United States.  It is the constitutional responsibility of

Congress to follow through on that. 

 

MADDOW:  If you had a crystal ball and you could see into the future, and

you could see if the argument you`re making carried the day in the House

and impeachment proceedings began in the House.  It was an investigation in

the Judiciary Committee, they referred articles of impeachment to the

House, the House voted essentially to indict the president, and then the

Senate didn`t act, or the Senate voted and decided that the president

should not be removed from office on the basis of those articles of

impeachment. 

 

If you could see into the future and that`s how it would go, the House says

yes, the Senate says no – would you still think it was the right thing to

do for the country and it was a worthy use of resources and time? 

 

WARREN:  Yes, it would.  I think that each person has to stand up and be

accounted in a democracy.  I think that`s why we`re elected into the House

and to the Senate.  And there are times when it`s beyond politics, when it

is a point of principle to stand up and say, no president can do this. 

Because it matters, not just for this president, it matters for the next

president and the president after that and the president after that.

 

You know, I get it.  In dictatorships, the government coalesces around the

one person in the middle and does everything to protect that one person. 

But that`s not where we live.  We live in a democracy and it is controlled

by a Constitution.  And the way we make that democracy work is with checks

and balances. 

 

And a president who says, I don`t have to follow the law, and nobody can

touch me on criminal acts – that`s not right.  The Constitution says that

the House and the Senate can do this. 

 

And look, this is not something I want to do.  That`s not the point.  It`s

a point of principle and every member of the House and every member of the

Senate should be called on to vote.  Do you believe that that constitutes

an impeachable offense? 

 

I do believe that the evidence is just overwhelming that Donald Trump has

committed these offenses.  And that means we should open proceedings in the

House.  And then the House can take a vote. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator, I feel like I`ve been following your campaign closely

enough that I feel somewhat confident in saying that you did not plan to be

calling for Donald Trump`s impeachment in the middle of your presidential

campaign.  It`s not that – 

 

WARREN:  No.

 

MADDOW:  It`s not the style that you`ve been – that you`ve taken to this

campaign thus far.  It`s not – it`s not the sort of thing that you seem to

be building around. 

 

But I take you at your word that you were struck by reading the report. 

You were moved by the evidence.  I will tell you, I haven`t thought much

about impeachment at all.  I`ve been watching the Democrats in the House

for one say that the ones in leadership positions, who have a say saying

no, no, they don`t want to do it or not any time soon. 

 

When I read the report, the one thing I made sure to watch on TV, I took a

break to watch – see what Jerry Nadler would say, because I had read

enough of the report that day.  But by the time he was speaking, I was

1,000 percent sure that what he was doing was getting in front of the

cameras to announce that he was opening an impeachment inquiry.  And I

would not have expected before reading the report myself.

 

Because of what I experienced, because of what you`re saying you just

experienced, I wonder if you think more of your colleagues than people are

expecting might come around to this, that this report might have actually

jarred something significantly loose compared to how people felt about this

issue before? 

 

WARREN:  Yes, I think that`s a good point.  And it very well may have. 

 

You know, I hope everybody in Congress actually reads the report.  I think

it`s important.  But it is exactly where you started this question, that

this isn`t what I had planned to do. 

 

I got into the race for president because my life`s work about what`s

happening to working families across this country and how it is that the

road is getting rockier and steeper for working families.  We have a

government that works better and better for those at the top and worse and

worse for everyone else, particularly for families of color. 

 

I got in it to talk about things like a wealth tax and universal childcare

and universal pre-K and student loan debt and all those things are there at

elizabethwarren.com.  I hope lots of people will go and look at them and

volunteer and be part of that campaign. 

 

But we`re not an America that can be politics all the time.  It can`t be a

race all the time.  There come moments that are serious enough and what`s

happened that we have to stop, take a deep breath and be willing to say

that`s wrong.  And I`ll stand up and say so.  And I hope a lot of other

people will, too. 

 

MADDOW:  Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, candidate for

president in 2020 – Senator, I know your time is at a premium and the heat

of this campaign.  Thank you for making time to explain this to us tonight,

and much appreciated.

 

WARREN:  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Much more ahead tonight, including actually another

presidential candidate. 

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  There is an element of the redacted Mueller report that involves

Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate

Intelligence Committee and I think this one is going to leave a mark.  The

Mueller report says in March 2017, so, two months after Trump was sworn in,

the FBI director, James Comey at the time, briefed Richard Burr and other

members of the Gang of Eight on the status of the FBI`s Russia

investigation, including looking at the President Trump`s campaign. 

 

After receiving that confidential briefing from the FBI director, that was

a briefing given only to the very top congressional leadership and the

intelligence chairs.  That`s it.  After getting that exclusive high level

briefing, quote, the White House counsel`s office was in contact with

Senator Richard Burr about the Russia investigations and appears to have

received information about the status of the FBI investigation. 

 

The intelligence chairman in the Senate apparently went and briefed the

White House on the status of the FBI`s Russia investigation, chug looking

into the president`s campaign, including who specifically were targets of

that investigation.  I don`t think that`s what you`re supposed to do with

your confidential briefing from the FBI.  Like I said, I think that`s one

going to leave a mark. 

 

But hold on.  There`s more on that coming up.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of

California.  He is on the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary

Committee.  He`s also a candidate for president of the United States. 

 

Sir, thanks for making time tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Of course.  Good

evening, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  Senator Elizabeth Warren was just here saying that she believes

the behavior described in Mueller`s report is serious enough that she now

believes an impeachment investigation should start in the House.  That is

not a position she had before this report came out. 

 

I know you have not called for impeachment in the past.  But did the report

change your mind on that, too? 

 

SWALWELL:  It certainly takes us closer there, Rachel, and as a member of

the House Judiciary Committee that would start on our committee.  And the

way I see it, as a former prosecutor who tried nearly 40 cases, I knew

every time I walked into the courtroom, in my evidence file, that evidence

is going to be air tight.  The witnesses better be ready, the subpoenas

better be ready to go, because you only get one shot. 

 

And so, there are a couple of way points that I see right now.  The first

one is to get all of the documents.  Now, we`ve requested the full Mueller

report, because about 12.5 percent was held back.  That is about an eighth

that we haven`t seen yet. 

 

Then, to bring Bob Mueller before the American people to testify before

Congress. 

 

I think those are two key wait points that get us to holding the president

accountable.  I`m not taking it off the table one bit. 

 

MADDOW:  Tonight, Democrats have made cheer that this offer from the

Justice Department that the Gang of Eight plus Judiciary Committee chairman

and ranking members, I guess, less than a dozen members, would be allowed

to see a version of the report where all the redactions were dropped except

for those that pertain to grand jury material.  Democrats are rejecting

that, turning down that report. 

 

I wonder if you support that decision, or if you think there would be some

value to the chairman of the intelligence, Adam Schiff, the chairman of the

Judiciary, Jerry Nadler, and these other congressional leaders being

allowed to see what`s behind the bulk of those black boxes. 

 

SWALWELL:  I`m with them, and the reason I`m with them, Rachel, is because

Congress can`t do our duty to protect future elections unless we know what

the Russians did.  If it is only a close hold, then they can`t come to us

and tell us, look, we still have an ongoing threat from Russia.  When you

read the 200 pages that described collusion, nowhere does Bob Mueller say,

oh by the way, all of these conversations and relationships have now

ceased, so don`t worry about them for the 2020 election. 

 

We have every reason to believe that Russians are going to still do this. 

So, how do we protect ongoing threats to our democracy? 

 

But also, if anything this report showed that there was a failure of

imagination by prior Congresses to ever think that a campaign would conduct

itself the way this president and his team did.  So the president, yes, has

escaped criminal liability.  But I don`t think you can read this report and

say, well, let`s have that happen again and that would be great for our

democracy. 

 

Now, there`s going to be new laws we`re going to have write to make sure it

doesn`t happen again.  The only way to do that is to fully understand what

the Russians did, who they worked with, what the failures were in our own

government to stop them. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman, the only other awkward question that I have arrived

at, and I`m not quite sure what to do with here, is that I feel like the

way that Robert Mueller laid out the findings of his investigation,

specifically on obstruction, was that he was laying out a road map for

prosecution of the president on obstruction.  And either that will be done

through impeachment proceedings or he explicitly says it will be done when

the president leaves office. 

 

The prospect of prosecuting an American president for crimes he committed

in office as soon as he leaves office is something that we have never

confronted before.  But the way I read this and I know you`re a former

prosecutor yourself, I feel like that is what Mueller is explicitly

suggesting.  Is that how you read it? 

 

SWALWELL:  That is how I read it.  And I do not believe that jeopardy has

attached in a legal sense, meaning that the president by the Barr letter

now escapes liability when he leaves office.  But, you know, I approach

this not in how I can harm Donald Trump.  But every day, what can I and

others do in Congress to prevent Donald Trump from harming America.  That

has to always be a priority. 

 

And once he`s out of office, that`s going to be in January 2021, at the

very latest, then he`s going to have to answer in one way or another for

what he and his team did. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman Eric Swalwell, member of the Intelligence Committee,

the Judiciary Committee, 2020 presidential candidate – sir, thank you for

joining us.  I know your time is tight. 

 

SWALWELL:  My pleasure.  Thanks, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  Appreciate it.

 

All right.  Much more to get to.  Busy Friday night.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  I have a couple of really specific questions about stuff that was

laid out in the Mueller report for which I need legal advice.  Here with me

on set is Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of

Alabama burning the midnight oil. 

 

Thank you, Joyce.  It`s great to have you here. 

 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Good to see you.

 

MADDOW:  I want you to be my legal index here. 

 

VANCE:  OK.

 

MADDOW:  One of the things that comes up here is that – that I did not

expect is that a whole bunch of people it`s described in footnotes gave

proffer sessions to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, including some people

you wouldn`t expect like, for example, you know we knew about Paul Manafort

doing proffer sessions like that.  That makes sense, right?

 

We did not know about Ivanka Trump doing a proffer session.  From talking

to all you guys, I thought I understood that a proffer session is something

you do once you are cooperating with prosecutors.  It`s something that

comes up after a plea agreement or something.  Why would people like the

president`s daughter be doing a proffer session? 

 

VANCE:  Proffers can happen in a couple different postures.  It can be once

you`re cooperating.  But it can also be the initial step that brings you in

to cooperate. 

 

You know, prosecutors don`t like to buy a pig in a poke.  So, they want to

see what you have.  And a proffer is a way you can come in at no risk and

tell prosecutors what your testimony would look like if you were

cooperating.  So, that could account for someone like Ivanka Trump coming

in if her lawyer believed she had some criminal exposure and needed

protection. 

 

MADDOW:  So, you would do that essentially to offer prosecutors information

under terms where you would not get in trouble for telling them what you

know? 

 

VANCE:  That`s right.  There`s usually a letter agreement, and that

protects the person who is coming in and proffering.  If they lie during

the proffer session, then everything that they`ve said is fair game and

prosecutors can use it against them. 

 

MADDOW:  Were you surprised to see references to proffer sessions in the

footnotes in terms of citing Ivanka, Steve Bannon, Erik Prince, all these

other people? 

 

VANCE:  We assumed all along that Mueller would be using proffer sessions

but we didn`t know the details.  Those are some obvious names.  It`s

interesting that so little word has leaked out.  We don`t know whether or

not Ivanka`s proffer session was productive.  Did she become a cooperator? 

Did she testify in front of the grand jury or did prosecutors decide she

had nothing to offer?

 

MADDOW:  One of the other questions I have involves a process question

around a controversy in the report involving the Director of National

Intelligence Dan Coats.  Dan Coats is described by special counsel`s office

as having had an encounter with the president that bothered him

essentially.  The president definitely asked Dan Coats to make public

statements exonerating the president with regard to Russia. 

 

Potentially, the president also asked Dan Coats to talk to the FBI director

about ending the investigation.  I say potentially because as the special

counsel lays out, he told his own staff, people who were with him right

after that meeting that`s what the president had done.  Two different of

staffers who were with Dan Coats that day say he came out of that meeting

and said the president just asked me to talk to Comey. 

 

Nevertheless, when Dan Coats went in and talked to the special counsel`s

office, he told them the president did not making that request of him.  So,

they have corroborating testimony from two witnesses contemporaneous to the

supposed request that defy what he told them happened with the president. 

 

How would you maneuver through that as a prosecutor? 

 

VANCE:  So, I would – and this is nothing other than speculation – say

that the devil is in the details.  And perhaps there`s something limiting

in the request that the president made, how specific it was, it`s possible

that Coats may have made a comment to his support folks that exceeded what

the president actually said or that it was misinterpreted in the moment. 

 

But I would say that Mueller would have been very careful to corroborate

the details here and to have an authoritative version the best possible

version of the evidence.  That`s what he tells us he`s done.  He`s put

together evidence that`s reliable and excluded accounts that can`t be

corroborated. 

 

MADDOW:  We`re going to do everything we can to chase this down in part

because Dan Coats is a serving official and this is a troubling account. 

 

VANCE:  It is. 

 

MADDOW:  Joyce, thanks so much for being here.  It`s great to have you

here. 

 

VANCE:  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  Joyce Vance is former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of

Alabama. 

 

We`ll be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Just to recap something that happened on our air this hour,

Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts senator, Elizabeth

Warren, tonight becoming the first 2020 presidential candidate and she`s a

leading candidate to call for impeachment proceedings to begin in the House

specifically on the basis of the evidence produced in the Mueller report

about the president and obstruction of justice. 

 

Elizabeth Warren is not the kind of candidate who would build a campaign

around this.  This is not the way she has been campaigning thus far.  She

says she told me here on the air she came to that revelation after reading

all the way through the report and finding evidence overwhelming. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again on Monday. 

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

                                                                                                               

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