Redacted Mueller Report expected tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT: 4/17/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Oh, I know exactly what you`re going to be
doing tomorrow morning. Rachel. And I`m going to be doing it, too. We`re
going to read as soon as we get it in our hands, sounds like noontime-ish,
maybe. Something like that.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: We`ll see. I mean, if it`s the length
of a pamphlet, do you know what I mean? Like if it fits on a bumper
sticker, no collusion, then we won`t have much more work to do. But we`ll
O`DONNELL: Rachel, I`m sure Google will confirm this, but from my own
personal memory of the government of the United States, I`m about to boldly
assert that we have never before in history seen a group of House committee
chairman call on the attorney general of the United States to cancel a
O`DONNELL: Attorneys general don`t have a lot of press conferences and
tend not to be controversial. So that was one of the items of breaking
news during your hour. And this is one of those situations that chaos has
broken out really since the attorney general – actually the president
announced on a radio show the attorney general was going to have a press
conference. Then the attorney general had to hustle out his announcement
that he`s going to have a press conference.
MADDOW: From all of your time covering the news, from all of your time in
government, have you ever heard of high ranking government officials
calling a press conference to discuss a report, to discuss document that
nobody`s allowed to see?
O`DONNELL: I think that`s a first also. I`m going to defy William Barr
overnight to find us any precedent for what he`s doing tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, does it mean, does it simply mean that the
attorney general of the United States of America is actually afraid, afraid
to have a press conference after the report comes out, to have a press
conference a few hours later, he`s afraid of that?
MADDOW: I mean, what, they could only book the room before the report? I
mean, it doesn`t – honestly, there`s no – it`s not just like this isn`t
precedent or specific to the law or to investigations or to the way
prosecutors deal with things. Just as a matter of logic, it makes no sense
they would be convening this event it discuss something that hasn`t
happened yet and they haven`t let anybody see.
The question will come as I think – the really interesting question will
be, does he make himself available to reporters for questions on this
matter once reporters have had a chance to read what it is? I mean, I know
he`s going to end up in Congress, but will he submit himself to public
questioning as well? That will be worth seeing.
O`DONNELL: It`s – if the attorney general is trying to spin, if what he`s
been trying to do since he first started writing publicly about the Mueller
report, he`s been doing a terrible job of spinning, just a terrible job.
It`s the Sarah Sanders version of this from the attorney general.
MADDOW: Well, I mean it may be an audience of one, though. You know, I
mean, it may be that the only person whose opinion he cares about here is
Donald Trump. And so, therefore, he`s getting out there saying, yes, the
Trump campaign was spied on. I`m not going to say this wasn`t a witch
hunt. And, you know, this is a summary of what Mueller said and, no, you
can`t see what Mueller actually said. I`m going to hold a press conference
telling you what to think about it. You can`t see for yourself what it is
so you can come to your own conclusions.
I mean, personally, he`s not speaking to history, because he likes how this
is going to be portrayed down the line when he`s written about attorney
general in a long line of them. Presumably, the only person he`s writing
for here is the president himself and why he feels like that`s the man he
needs to please here, that`s for him to say.
O`DONNELL: Well, we are now less than 12 hours from hearing from the
attorney general. We`ll both be listening.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: See you, Rachel.
So where does the investigation of the president of the United States stand
tonight, tonight, as the breaking news about the release of the redacted
version of the Mueller report has been cascading this evening, news upon
news? That`s the question I`ll answer at the end of this hour. The
question of where do we stand tonight after we deal with all this breaking
news happening earlier in the hour.
Now, it may seem like the end of a story because it appears to be the end
of the Mueller investigation. But I don`t think that it`s the end of
anything. I think to borrow Winston Churchill`s phrase, it`s the end of
the beginning. I will explain why at the end of this hour.
But, first, there is so much breaking news for us to be covering in this
hour. We now know why Attorney General William Barr refused to answer the
question in both a House hearing and a Senate hearing has anyone in the
White House seen the Mueller report or been briefed on the Mueller report.
The breaking news of the night is the “New York Times” reporting Justice
Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House
lawyers about the special counsel`s conclusions in recent days.
According to people with knowledge of the discussions, the talks have aided
the president`s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and be
strategize for the coming public war over its findings. Last night, the
president`s public spokesperson about the Mueller investigation, Rudy
Giuliani, said that the Trump`s team counter report to the Mueller report
has been edited already and is, quote, “now at 34 or 35 pages.”
And I asked last night on this program, how could they have done that 35-
page report without knowing what`s in the Mueller report?
Tonight, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The attorney general appears to be waging a
media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of the
investigation at the heart of the Mueller report. Rather than letting the
facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken
unprecedented steps to spin Mueller`s nearly two-year investigation. One,
he summarized the report and cherry-picked findings in his March 24th
letter to Congress. Two, he withheld summaries written by the special
counsel that were intended for public consumption. Three, he has briefed
the White House on the report before providing Congress a copy which has
helped them prepare a rebuttal response for the president.
And now, the evening before the report`s scheduled release, the Department
of Justice has informed the committee that it will receive a copy between
11:00 a.m. and noon well after the attorney general`s 9:30 a.m. press
conference. This is wrong. It is contrary to the attorney general`s own
words to the committee, quote: I do not believe it would be in the public`s
interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in
serial or piecemeal fashion, close quote.
It now appears the attorney general intends to once again put his own spin
on the investigative work completed by the special counsel and his team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And congressional hearings, the attorney general`s answer to
the question has anyone in the White House seen the Mueller report or been
briefed on the Mueller report should have been a simple no. When you look
at the attorney general`s answers now, it is obvious that he could not
simply say no. He would have said no if he could. That`s the best answer
he could have offered. And he certainly did not want to say yes, and now
we know why.
And so, the attorney general refused to answer those questions, just
refused to answer the questions and in the place of the answer he actually
rambled on about landing a plane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Who if anyone outside the Justice Department has
seen portions or all of the special counsel`s report? Has anyone in the
White House seen any of the report?
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`m not going to, you know, as I say,
I`m landing the plane right now. You know, I`ve been willing to discuss my
– my letters and the process going forward. But the report`s going to be
out next week. I`m just could not going to get into the details of the
process until the plane`s on the ground.
REP. NITA LOWEY (D-NY): Did the White House see the report before you
released your summarizing letter? Has the White House seen it since then?
Have they been briefed on the contents beyond what was in your summarizing
letter to the Judiciary Committee?
BARR: I`ve said what I`m going to say about the report today. I – I
issued three letters about it, and, I was willing to discuss the historic
information of how the report came to me and my decision on Sunday. But
I`ve already laid out the process that is going forward to release these
reports, hopefully within a week. And I`m not going to say anything more
about it until the report is out and everyone has a chance to look at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so, the attorney general of the United States is going to
have a press conference tomorrow morning about a report that no one has
read when he`s having that press conference. And then, at least an hour
later, the attorney general will send that report to Congress, the author
of the report, Robert Mueller, will not be present at tomorrow`s press
“The New York Times” reporters and other members of the Washington news
media have already been complaining publicly on twitter with the attorney
general having a press conference before anyone has seen the report. The
Washington press corps seems ready for the attorney general`s press
conference to be the most absurd press conference they have witnessed since
the last White House press conference two months ago.
The only conceivable point of such a press conference is for the attorney
general to in effect write those banners that you see on your cable news
screens, banners that can only last a couple hours until reporters catch up
with the actual text of the redacted Mueller report tomorrow or is the
object of the of attorney general`s press conference tomorrow even more
narrowly targeted than that? Is he just trying to give his boss Donald
Trump something to tweet tomorrow morning before the day turns much worse
for the president as America reads William Barr`s redacted version of the
Donald Trump knew about the William Barr press conference before it was
publicly announced today because it was actually Donald Trump himself who
surprised everyone in the Trump administration including at the Justice
Department by announcing it himself on a radio show today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This should never happen to
a president or to this country again, what took place. And you`ll see a
lot of very strong things come out tomorrow, Attorney General Barr is going
to be giving a press conference. Maybe I`ll do one after that. We`ll see.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And more breaking news tonight, “The Washington Post” is
reporting the Justice Department plans to release a lightly redacted
version of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III`s report Thursday,
offering a granular look at the ways in which President Trump was suspected
of having obstructed justice, people familiar with the matter. The report
– the general outlines of which the Justice Department has briefed the
White House on will reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a
conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to
determine Trump`s intent. And some of his actions could be interpreted
innocently, these people said.
But it will offer a detailed blow by blow of his alleged conduct analyzing
tweets, private threats and other episodes at the center of Mueller`s
inquiry they said.
What does it all mean?
For that, we turn to three members of Congress who served on committees
with jurisdiction that will rely on the Mueller report.
Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He serves on the
Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida. He`s a senior member of the
Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committees.
And Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. He serves on the
Judiciary Committee and Foreign Affairs Committees.
But to begin our discussion, we are first joined by phone by Rosalind
Helderman. She`s a political investigative reporter for “The Washington
Post”. She`s one of the reporters who broke tonight`s story about the
Mueller report in the “Washington Post.”
And, Rosalind, you`re reporting, the essence it is going to be a lightly
redacted report. That`s what your sources are telling you about this
ROSALIND HELDERMAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Yes,
and, of course, likely, it could be in the eye of the beholder. So, we`ll
have a conversation tomorrow night at this time. I want to be clear, I
have not read the report and have not seen this yet. But we`ll see
tomorrow night exactly what happens.
But our understanding is that the redactions are especially light in the
section about obstruction of justice. So, that this report is really going
to contain a very, very detailed and specific look at the president`s
activities and various episodes both ones known publicly before and some
that were not. That looked like efforts to undermine this probe.
And so, I suspect we`re going to have a lot to read and process and there
about in that section about the president`s behavior in office.
O`DONNELL: And, Rosalind, it seems like the Justice Department has had a
rocky day. The president announcing the attorney general`s press
conference before the attorney general`s office was able to announce
itself. Is it your sense or reporting at this point that the attorney
general has been rocked by the public reaction and the Washington reaction
tonight including demand by chairman of House committees that he not have
the press conference tomorrow?
HELDERMAN: I – I don`t have a good sense of what their reaction to the
reaction is. Just logic tells you that it was not their preferred course
of action to have the president announce the attorney general`s press
conference before he announced it. You know, I do feel like something
about some pieces of this plan have been very much in flux and you know, I
wouldn`t be at all surprised if the times and other things work out a
little differently tomorrow, you know, if for instance, you don`t see an
effort to get that report out more quickly after the press conference.
But, you know, currently, the Congress has been told it`s not going to be
arriving on the Hill until sometime between 11:00 and noon. There`s going
to be an odd lag time where all the public knows what`s in the report is
what the attorney general has told us.
O`DONNELL: Rosalind Helderman, thank you very much for joining us with
this breaking news tonight. I really appreciate it.
And now to our congressmen it, all members of the House Judiciary
Committee, the committee that has jurisdiction over impeachment.
Ted Deutch, you`re here in New York with us, you were in New York earlier
tonight with the chairman of your committee, Jerry Nadler. He seemed
outraged that the attorney general is having a press conference about the
report before even Chairman Nadler or you are able to see this report.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): He is. I am. And we all should be.
It`s bad enough, Lawrence, that it`s been three and a half weeks since we
received this summary four-page summary of a 400-page document so that he
could try to drives the narrative. We`ve had to wait now to get the
But this is even more pernicious. The contempt that the attorney general
is showing to the press, to members of Congress, and to the American people
by scheduling a press conference before anyone has had a chance to review
it is outrageous. It shouldn`t be acceptable.
He ought to cancel the press conference. This is an effort to drag this
out by the time the report drops, we`re almost into a holiday weekend
between Passover and Easter. Maybe they`re hoping the story gets lost.
He ought to get us the report first. Let us review it and not just go and
spin but actually answer questions what`s in that report.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Cicilline, is there anything you can imagine the
attorney general saying at 9:30 tomorrow morning before anyone on your
committee including the chairman has seen this report that will be okay,
that will make sense as a press conference for him to have are before the
report is released?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): I mean, the only thing he could a is the
press conference is cancelled.
Ted Deutch is absolutely right. This is as effort by the attorney general
to shape the narrative. He gave what was really a misleading four-page
Now, he`s scheduled a press conference before anyone will have had a chance
to read the report to give a summary apparently so he can again begin to
try to shape the narrative. It shows complete contempt for the truth, for
the process, for the integrity of this report.
And, you know, we should remember president Trump said he wanted his own
Roy Cohn. He thinks the attorney general should defend and protect him,
not the Constitution. He got his Roy Cohn with Mr. Barr.
And when he auditions for the job by doing that memo on his own that
basically said you can`t be charged with obstruction if you`re the
president, the president said, you`re my guy. He hired him and he`s
delivered on that.
And we should all be outraged. The press conference should be cancelled.
The report should be released. Reporters should you have an opportunity to
read it and study it as well as members of Congress and then Mr. Barr
should answer questions.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Lieu, we now know why the attorney general refused
to answer the question in the House and Senate, does the White House know
anything about the Mueller report, have they been briefed in any way on the
Mueller report? Reporting tonight indicates yes, the attorney general has
been briefing the White House about the Mueller report.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Lawrence, for your question. It`s an
honor to be on your show before Representatives Deutch and Cicilline.
Look, Bill Barr took one oath, and that was not to the Donald Trump. It
was to the U.S. Constitution. He is not the PR firm for Donald Trump. His
job is to serve the public and to have his Justice Department coordinate
with the White House and to give them a heads-up about this report so they
can write a counter report is exactly the wrong thing to do.
It`s why we have a special counsel statute, regulation in the first place
to avoid coordination between the president`s political appointee and the
White House. Bill Barr should cancel tomorrow`s presser and he needs to
really be the public instead of serving Donald Trump in this contemptible
O`DONNELL: Congressman Deutch, the reason we have three judiciary members
here tonight is that we know that all the focus tomorrow, most of the focus
tomorrow is going to be on the obstruction of justice passages.
“The Washington Post” is reporting to us tonight that there`s very little
redaction in that area. And so you might get a very full view of what the
special prosecutor saw in obstruction of justice. And you are the
committee that has responsibility to consider the issue of impeachment.
Is there a different bar in your mind, a different threshold to meet for
proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime that the special prosecutor was
looking for or what an impeachment count would require in the House of
Representatives for obstruction of justice by a president?
DEUTCH: Sure there is. And it`s not up to the attorney general to tell us
whether or not there was obstruction of justice. It`s not up to the
attorney general to interpret this particularly as Congressman Cicilline
pointed out, this is an attorney general who got this job going in because
it was his belief that the president could not be found guilty of
obstruction of justice.
So we know where he stands. It is our job now to study this report. It`s
up to the American people, as well to look at this report and if there was
obstruction of justice, then it is this committee that makes the decision
to show that no person in America least of all the president of the United
States is above the law.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the chairman your committee said tonight
about Robert Mueller testifying to your committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, everybody.
REPORTER: Are you going to ask Mueller to testify?
NADLER: I`ll answer that. We probably – I assume we`ll probably find it
useful to ask Mueller to testify and I assume we may ask members of his
team to testify. But we`ll have to make those decisions after reading what
we get as inadequate as that may be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congressman Cicilline, what will you be reading when you get
your hands on that report sometime around noontime tomorrow?
CICILLINE: Well, I blocked out the entire afternoon so I can read the
entire report. Obviously, we`ve all been asking for the report to be
furnished to the Judiciary Committee in an unredacted form, do not keep any
secrets from us. We have the ability to look at classified materials in a
classified setting. We ought to be able to see the entire report.
You know, Ken Starr is the most recent example. He turned over the entire
report including grand jury proceedings and 17 boxes of documents. He went
to court to get permission to release the grand jury testimony without even
being asked by Congress to do it. That`s the sort of disclosure we should
have, the sort of transparency that should be available.
I`m going to read the entire report, focus on the obstruction of justice
issues as well as the participation by the Russians in an attack on our
democracy and the context with members of the Trump campaign. So I`m going
to read it all.
But we need to see the entire report and all the supporting documents. Mr.
Barr should not be allowed to keep things secret from the Congress of the
United States that has the responsibility as Congressman Deutch said to
make the final determination as to whether or not the president committed
an offense or the removing him from office.
O`DONNELL: You all as members of the Judiciary Committee voted to give
your chairman subpoena power for the Mueller report. Listen to what he
said about that tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Congressman, do you plan to subpoena Mueller or anyone else for
NADLER: Well, we`ll have to take the time over the next couple of days to
carefully read the redacted report., so that we – so that we don`t find
out in fact, there`s very little left out. But on the assumption that it`s
heavily redacted, we will most certainly issue the subpoenas in very short
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congressman Lieu, he has the subpoena power for witnesses but
also for the report. If you don`t have the Mueller report, if that becomes
– if the full report becomes a matter of protracted litigation, would you
expect that Robert Mueller would be able to come to your committee and
testify about the – about the report without any restrictions, that he
would not be restricted in his testimony by redactions made by the attorney
LIEU: I do. And if Mueller is concerned, we could also do it in closed
I think it`s important to note there is a court case on this exact issue.
During Watergate, Leon Jaworski completed his report and the White House
cited the same exact rule of grand jury secrecy to try to suppress the
report to Congress. Congress issued a subpoena, took it to the court. And
the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for Congress and said that the
House Judiciary Committee is entitled to the full unredacted report. We
believe that same precedent holds here and that we will eventually get the
full unredacted report.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Deutch, you are the impeachment committee. You
have known since the night the Democrats won the election that the burden
of impeachment could easily fall to your committee because you`ve been
watching this president from the start. This is the – we`ve never seen
such reckless public behavior by a president.
Richard Nixon who was, who, got in such grave trouble he had to leave the
presidency did not have public behavior that was out of control in any way
as Donald Trump. Do you feel that you are now a big step closer to the
possibility of considering impeachment?
DEUTCH: Well, we`re a big step closer to understanding what it is that the
Mueller team has uncovered over the past two years. You`re right. There`s
so much that has taken place in plain sight that is not just alarming but
that has to be viewed as a threat to our democracy, to our institutions,
the regular attacks on the institutions of our government by this
There`s enough that we`ve seen already that will lead to a whole series of
investigations and hearings that we`re already moving forward on. What`s
contained in this report all of it, not what the attorney general thinks we
ought to see but all of it will then set an additional course. The
attorney general of the United States has spent the past three and a half
weeks preventing this information from coming forward, covering up
whatever`s in that report.
Now it looks like through the reliance on rules of secrecy which should not
stand in the way, he`s going to attempt to further cover-up what`s in this
report. We will get the truth. And we will use that to proceed in order
to insure that there`s full accountability.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Cicilline, do you believe you can objectively read
the findings of this report tomorrow?
CICILLINE: Of course. And you know, Lawrence, it`s important to remember,
this is not about some personal indiscretion of the president. This
investigation began because our democracy was attacked by a foreign
adversary. This investigation was done on behalf of the American people.
They paid for this investigation. They`re entitled to see the results.
And we have a responsibility to make sure that nobody is above the law.
And that we follow the truth, follow facts wherever they lead us. So we
can do it objectively. We take this responsibility seriously but we have
to have the information necessary to do our job.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to take a break there.
Congressman David Cicilline, Congressman Ted Lieu, Congressman Ted Deutch,
all members of the House Judiciary Committee, all will be facing the
question where does the investigation go from here after they finish
reading this report tomorrow and they uniquely as a committee have
jurisdiction over the question of impeachment.
Gentlemen, thank you all very much for starting us off tonight. This has
been an invaluable beginning of our discussion tonight. Really appreciate
The obstruction of justice section of the redacted Mueller report will
probably get the most attention tomorrow in William Barr`s letter about the
report, it quotes the special counsel saying this about obstruction of
justice: While this report does not conclude that the president committed a
crime, it also does not exonerate him. That means the Mueller report has
evidence that the president committed the crime of obstruction of justice
but simply does not have evidence that the special prosecutor believes
amounts to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The Washington Post” is reporting tonight that the Mueller report will be
lightly redacted as we said. And it will contain, quote, a granular look
at the ways in which president Trump was suspected of having obstructed
justice. People familiar with the matter said the report the general
outlines of which the Justice Department has briefed the Justice Department
has briefed the White House on would reveal that Mueller decided he could
not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was
difficult to the determine President Trump`s intent and some of his actions
could be interpreted innocently, this people said.
But it will offer a detailed blow by blow of his private contact and other
episodes at the center of Mueller`s inquiry, they said.
Joining our discussion now is Elliot Williams. He`s a former deputy
assistant attorney general under Obama and a former judiciary committee
council to Senator Chuck Schumer.
Also joining us, Lisa Graves. She`s the former deputy assistant attorney
general in the Clinton administration and a former staff member of the
Senate Judiciary Committee.
And, Lisa Graves, let me start with you, first of all, with your reaction
to the way the attorney general has handled the release tomorrow scheduling
the press conference before he releases the report.
Well, it`s astonishing that the president would actually announce that the
attorney general`s press conference before he does. It goes to the heart
of the level of cooperation and coordination between the nation`s top law
enforcement officer and a subject of a criminal investigation. That`s
really unprecedented what`s happening here.
And I remember going into the Justice Department on the Pennsylvania Avenue
doors where it said the place of justice is a hallowed place. That`s
what`s carved above the doors. I think Mr. Barr has brought deep dishonor
to the Justice Department through his behavior, in coordinating with this
president, the subject of a criminal investigation, before providing those
materials to Congress in full and before providing them to the American
O`DONNELL: And, Elliot Williams, the reason I needed both of you Justice
Department veterans here tonight is to get your reactions first of all to
the way the attorney general has been handling this today and let`s not
forget that we discovered that he was going to have a press conference when
the president simply blurted it out on a talk radio appearance this
afternoon. I`m sure the president wasn`t supposed to do that, because the
attorney general would, of course, want to make that announcement, his
office wanted to make that announcement himself. That`s how close the
communication has been between the attorney general and the president.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF
JUSTICE: You know, look, Lawrence, the interesting thing is we`ve finally
found the collusion we were looking for, but it turns out it`s between the
attorney general of the United States and the White House.
Now, here`s the thing. It`s not uncommon for the Justice Department I
think Lisa would have seen this back in the day, as well. It`s not
uncommon for the Justice Department to give the White House a heads up of a
major action like if you`re indicting a big city mayor or something like
that that the White House need to know about, that might be of interest to
the White House.
But when you`re talking about tipping off individuals who are the subjects
of investigations, when you`re talking about allowing people to prepare
this deep state – anti-deep state counter-report that they`re putting
together, you know, and people who are also going to be named or identified
and allowing them to prep their legal strategy, you`re giving them a heads-
In no other circumstance would law enforcement give a clear heads-up like
this to individuals who are likely to be identified and likely to be named.
So it is a little suspect and given all of the questions about Barr`s
impartiality that have sort of dogged him through this going back to his
audition memo, the 19 pages where he laid out his views on obstruction of
just – 18 pages back before he was nominated and on through this entire
So he hasn`t done himself a lot of favors. I also think it`s striking that
the deputy attorney general would be there tomorrow. I think – part of
that I think is damage control as well as because I think broadly speaking
he has I think a better image right now than the attorney general does with
respect to all of this. That`s why they had him out with “The Wall Street
Journal” about a week ago.
But it is just very suspect and just doesn`t smell particularly good. And
it`s just time to get the report out. All of this you know, the leaks, the
press conferences and so on, it`s just time for them to release the report
that Congress voted 420 to nothing to see and that the public
overwhelmingly wants and needs to see made public.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Graves, what would be you looking tomorrow – looking for
tomorrow in the obstruction of justice section which according to “The
Washington Post” reporting tonight might not be heavily redacted?
GRAVES: Well, one of the things I`ll be looking for is where the
appendices are. Because so far we`ve only been hearing about redactions to
the primary report but we haven`t heard anything about the hundreds of
pages of appendices of testimony and evidence that Mr. Mueller and his team
provided to the attorney general.
I think that it`s important to see Mueller`s summaries in full. It`s
important to see all of the evidence against the president as well as any
evidence that might show some sort of difficulty in determining his intent.
I think the American people, a lot of them have a pretty clear
understanding of his real intent in terms of his firing of Mr. Comey and
But I think what we`re going to need to see is the other details of that
evidence. Where are those appendices going to be?
O`DONNELL: Elliott Williams, is it possible that Robert Mueller would at
the conclusion of the obstruction of justice portion of the report say
something to the effect that this part of the investigation should be
referred to the House Judiciary Committee?
WILLIAMS: Yes, he could. You know, it`s – there`s an open question as to
why it sort of happened the way it did with Barr making the ultimate
conclusion as to obstruction of justice. So he very well might. That
might have been left out of the “summary” that we saw.
You know the problem – and you know Lawrence, you got into this in your
tease in this segment. We know that there is evidence in there of an
intent to obstruct justice. We know that for a fact.
Now, you couldn`t necessarily charge it criminally or at least based on
what we know right now, based on what we`ve read or heard or someone, we
know that. We know it doesn`t “exonerate” the president.
But we`ve gotten caught in this binary of whether there`s a chargeable
crime or not and not the fundamental question of, was there misconduct by
the president of the United States or by a campaign for the presidency or
the people around the president.
And we should demand more of our leaders that – you know, the question is
well, if he can walk out holding a not guilty sign that somehow he`s
absolved of all responsibility. And that`s just yet another norm of
government that we just sort of seen upended here that we`re getting hung
up on this question of “no collusion” and not the fundamental question of
did people behave badly.
And it`s abundantly clear based on the hundred words that we`ve seen from
this report that people did. And even if they can`t be charged with them,
the American people need to know about it.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Graves, what do you expect the Chairman Jerry Nadler at
the Judiciary Committee will be looking for in the obstruction of justice
section of the report?
GRAVES: I think he`ll be looking for sort of the balance of evidence and
what`s redacted. Because Mr. Nadler has a right to see the entire report.
I`m not even – not a slightly redacted report, not a lightly redacted
report. He has a right as the chairman of that committee to see the entire
report and to see all of the evidence.
And so I think he`ll be looking for how much of a redaction there is. But
that`s not really enough because he has a right to see the underlying
evidence, the evidence before the grand jury, the evidence from subpoenas,
to see it all.
He`s the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and he has that right on
behalf of the American people to conduct the investigation that our
Constitution entrusts him with which is to look into whether there`s an
impeachable offense here and I think that there may well be.
O`DONNELL: We have to squeeze in a commercial break here. Lisa Graves,
Elliot Williams, thank you both for joining us on this important night.
And when we come back, the focus tomorrow will also be on the part of the
report that deals with the Russian government`s conspiracy to interfere
with our election and support the candidacy of Donald Trump. How much
evidence will we see of how the Trump campaign was knowingly or unknowingly
manipulated by the Russian government?
And at the end of this hour, we will consider where the investigations of
the president of the United States stand tonight and where they go from
here. The release of a redacted version of the Mueller report will not be
an end. It will be the end of the beginning.
O`DONNELL: Attorney General William Barr`s letter about the Mueller report
quotes a portion of one sentence in the Mueller report that refers to what
has commonly been called collusion in the media coverage of the
investigation. The line from the Mueller report about collusion that the
attorney general quoted in his letter says the investigation did not
establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired
or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference
Did not establish simply means did not prove. It`s basically the same
thing that the attorney general quoted the Mueller report staying about
obstruction justice. Not that there was no obstruction of justice but
simply that obstruction of justice could not be proved beyond a reasonable
That`s also what the attorney general`s letter says about collusion. It
says the investigation did not prove that the Trump campaign conspired with
the Russian government. We might find out tomorrow depending on the
redactions just how much evidence the special prosecutor found about a
Russian conspiracy even though it was not enough evidence to charge anyone
in the Trump campaign with the crime of conspiring with Russia.
After this break, we will review the evidence of Russian interference in
the presidential campaign to support Donald Trump with two people who have
been studying that evidence, former Undersecretary of State Richard Stengel
and Professor Jed Shugerman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The
central concern here is that the Attorney General Barr is not allowing the
facts of the Mueller report to speak for themselves but is trying to bake
in the narrative about the report to the benefit of the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We will see just how much the Mueller report is allowed to
speak for itself tomorrow when we see how much of it has been redacted. We
can expect most of the redactions to probably come in
the section dealing with the Russian interference in the election because
presumably some of that material will be classified.
Joining our discussion now, Richard Stengel, former undersecretary of state
in the Obama administration. He`s now an MSNBC political analyst. We`re
also joined by Jed Shugerman, professor of law at Fordham University who
closely follows the investigations and the Mueller investigation in
And Rick Stengel, I know you`ve been studying the Russian interference in
the election because it was your job in the State Department to actually be
trying to monitor what`s happening online out there, whether it be from
terrorist organizations or foreign bad actors in our country.
RICK STENGEL, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Yes,
so we actually started monitoring the Russian Internet Research Agency in
St. Petersburg. And in fact, Mueller gives a preview of the larger report
in his indictment of the 13 members of the IRA, which was this troll
factory in St. Petersburg that was creating American personas that
supported Trump, that were against Hillary, that were trying to suppress
the black vote, trying to get people to vote for Jill Stein.
There`s one incredible detail in the indictment, and I`m not making this
up, is that two Russians from the Internet Research Agency organized
rallies for Donald Trump in Florida and hired an actress to portray Hillary
Clinton on the back of a flatbed truck in a prison uniform.
I mean, this is the extent of the relationship between the Trump campaign
and the Russians. But as you said –
O`DONNELL: So there`s a local campaign event in Florida that looks local
to anyone who is looking at it and in fact, the Russians are creating this
campaign event for Donald Trump in Florida.
STENGEL: The Russians organized it on Facebook. They bought cutouts of
American service so it would look like it was coming from America. They
adopted American personas.
I mean remember, they started Tennessee GOP and things like that. And they
organized this rally. They paid the actress to pretend to be Hillary
Now, but as you said, in the beginning, the issue about whether it was a
conspiracy is whether the Trump campaign officials knew they were dealing
with Russians. It`s unlikely that they were.
But what I think you`ll see in the larger report is chapter and verse of
how many occasions there was a collaboration like this, whether it was
unwitting or witting so people would see like, boy that sounds like
collusion in my book. It may not rise to the level of conspiracy because
the Trump people didn`t know but it`s certainly working together.
O`DONNELL: Jed Shugerman, what would be the legal elements of conspiracy
that would be necessary here? I mean it is possible that people in the
Trump campaign did take some active steps involving Russians knowing that
it involved Russians but it might not quite reach that level that,
threshold that a prosecutor is looking for of proof beyond a reasonable
doubt of a crime?
JED SHUGERMAN, PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. So there are two
legal questions that come up with conspiracy. The first kind of conspiracy
is a conspiracy to commit another kind of crime. And so you need a
conspiracy, for example, to commit computer hacking or to traffic in stolen
goods. Those are some of the questions that came up with the Julian
Assange indictment as an actual crime.
The other kind of conspiracy is the standalone conspiracy to defraud the
United States, 18usc371. But the larger context here is I think that tying
into the Russian conspiracy as a crime, I think there are three things to
look for in the report tomorrow.
First, the Julian Assange connection with WikiLeaks. We know that from the
Stone indictment, there was a cryptic line that said a senior campaign
official was directed to get in touch with Roger Stone.
I think they know who that was. They just didn`t put it in the indictment.
So we want to find out and maybe that`s redacted. That`s something to look
Number two, the Manafort meeting on August 2, 2016, with Konstantin
Kilimnik where he gave him 70 pages plus of polling data which Andrew
Weissmann on the Mueller team called at the heart of the investigation. So
we want to see more context to that particular contact.
And number three, there is a lot we want to learn about Michael Flynn who
had Russian contacts, not only during the campaign but also during the
transition and up through the administration. Those Russian contacts were
enough for Flynn to get a cooperation deal we suspect and get a
recommendation for no jail time which is remarkable. We`ve heard very
little from Flynn. We want to learn a lot more.
O`DONNELL: Richard Stengel, Michael Flynn is almost the forgotten man of
this investigation because he`s one of the very first big breakthroughs in
the investigation. And then he went completely silent. Then the special
prosecutor went virtually silent about Michael Flynn`s part of this case.
STENGEL: And you could argue that he is by far the highest official who
has been convicted of a crime, the national security adviser. In fact, why
he lied about his conversations with Kislyak, which as a national security
adviser, he absolutely could do. I`d actually add two more things that I
would hope to find out.
O`DONNELL: Meaning he as a national security adviser, he had legitimate
possible reasons for having a conversation with a Russian official.
Therefore, why would he lie about that?
STENGEL: Yes, I mean –
O`DONNELL: And that is an explanation we`ll be looking for tomorrow.
STENGEL: Absolutely. I mean there was absolutely no reason for him to lie
for it. It was part of his job to do that kind of thing.
What I would also add is why the Trump campaign amended the GOP platform
for the convention to try to not do sanctions on Ukraine.
And the one that I always was amazed by was in June in that summer when
candidate Donald Trump said the Crimeans want to be part of Russia. So
Russia wasn`t annexing them. They were just taking the people that were
already part of Russia. Where the heck did that come from?
O`DONNELL: And Jed Shugarman, do you expect that kind of explanation, do
you expect there will be explanations for certain things like that in this
report that are kind of non-legal points?
SHUGERMAN: Frankly, Lawrence, I think this is all going to be redacted
tomorrow. This is – I think I want to tell the viewers to look for these
things and then when they don`t find them, they`ll know that they`re
These are things that Mueller has told us in – or his team has told us in
various places in different indictments. If they`re there, I think it
would be great to read about those details but I suspect that Barr has
given himself so much flexibility about declaring which of these topics are
part of ongoing investigations and his conduct over all that they`ll be
I think it`s important to know that there`s this background, these details
that are in that report that Mueller gave us. And that`s what will be
covered up by black or purple or orange lines tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
tweeted tonight, “Just been informed by DOJ that we`ll receive Mueller`s
report only after Barr gives a press conference. Once again, Barr wants to
shape the public perception of the report. This is on top of reports DOJ
secretly briefed the White House. This is not justice. Just P.R.”
And then after that, Chairman Schiff joined four other chairs in the – of
House Committees saying this press conference should be canceled.
STENGEL: Yes. I mean it`s a complete violation of norms. He`s putting
his finger on the scale. He`s being – as someone said earlier, this kind
of Trump`s Roy Cohn.
At the same time, I would say about the redactions, I don`t think people
should over-rely on the fact that if something is missing, it`s probably
redacted. I think they`re going to try to go light on the redactions. And
there`s some classified information that has to be redacted.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there. Rick Stengel, Jed
Shugerman, thank you both for joining us on this important coverage.
And when we come back, our last word of where we stand tonight in the
investigations of the president of the United States. We are, as Winston
Churchill once put it, at the end of the beginning.
O`DONNELL: And so depending on what`s in the Mueller report, this could
be, to borrow Churchill`s phrase, the end of the beginning. Special
Prosecutor Robert Mueller finished his investigation of the president
relatively quickly. Some other special prosecutors have spent several more
years conducting their investigations.
One of the pressures on Mueller to finish his investigation came from Nancy
Pelosi and the Democrats in the House of Representatives, including the
chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who all said the Judiciary
Committee couldn`t even begin to think about impeachment until they had the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: Initiating a formal impeachment inquiry is a very serious step.
We`re going to have to look at all the evidence, all the evidence that the
special counsel comes up with. The things that are being done in public
being, the things that we find out that are being done, and make decisions.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, ANCHOR, TODAY: You said it would be sad and divisive for
the country to pursue impeachment. Are you willing to rule it out?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, we`ll have to see
what happens with the Mueller report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Robert Mueller certainly heard many of those comments by the
Democrats that they could not do the job of fully investigating the
president and considering possibilities like impeachment until they saw the
Robert Mueller always knew that it is Justice Department policy not to
indict the president, which means he always knew that the ultimate judgment
of the president`s conduct would be Congress` responsibility. And
tomorrow, Congress will be handed its responsibility in the form of William
Barr`s redacted version of the Mueller report.
If Robert Mueller believes that President Trump should be impeached, then
he needed to end his investigation as quickly as possible and get out of
Congress` way so they could do their duty. Especially when Democrats in
Congress were publicly announcing they would not consider impeachment until
they read the Mueller report.
Many scholarly authorities on impeachment believe that there is already
enough in the public record to proceed to impeachment of this president.
Presidential Historian Jeffrey Engel who appeared on this program last
“The Constitution`s authors wouldn`t have needed any summary of the special
counsel`s report to know it was time to impeach the president. Neither
would they have waited to see whether its full text provided evidence of
criminal wrongdoing. The group that created our nation`s founding document
would already have judged Donald Trump unfit for office and removed him
because he`s repeatedly shown a dearth of the quality they considered
paramount in a president, a willingness to put national interest above his
And so whatever happens tomorrow will not be an ending. It will not be the
end of Robert Mueller`s responsibilities. Robert Mueller will eventually
testify to Congress about his findings.
Congress is going to continue to investigate the president of the United
States either in impeachment hearings or in other investigative hearings of
the president`s conduct. And they will use the Mueller report now as a
road map for their continued public investigations of the president.
And so that`s why Winston Churchill`s quote comes to mind tonight. Three
years into World War II, after the British won their first major victory in
battle, Winston Churchill said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINSTON CHURCHILL: This is not end. It is not even the beginning of the
end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so that is where we are tonight with the multiple
investigations of candidate Donald Trump and President Donald Trump,
including the federal investigation in the Southern District of New York in
which Donald J. Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator with Michael Cohen
accused by federal prosecutors of committing crimes to win the presidency
in what the prosecutors call a conspiracy against the United States of
From the Southern District of New York to the committees of the House of
Representatives, the investigations of Donald Trump will not only continue,
they will actually pick up their pace because for them tomorrow`s release
of the redacted version of the Mueller report is not the end. It`s not
even the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning of the
investigations of Donald Trump.
That is tonight`s last word. “THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS” starts
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
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