Redacted Mueller Report expected tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT: 4/17/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Elliot Williams; Lisa Graves; Rick Stengel; Jed Shugerman
Transcript:

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

see. 

 

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

press conference. 

 

MADDOW:  Right. 

 

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. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

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

conference. 

 

“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

Mueller report?

 

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

Judiciary Committee. 

 

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

report. 

 

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

report. 

 

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

summary. 

 

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

way. 

 

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

that matter? 

 

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

order. 

 

(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

general? 

 

LIEU:  I do.  And if Mueller is concerned, we could also do it in closed

hearing. 

 

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

president. 

 

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

it. 

 

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

people. 

 

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-

up.

 

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

process.

 

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

more.

 

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?

 

GRAVES:  Yes.

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

activities.

 

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

doubt.

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(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

particular.

 

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

Clinton.

 

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

for tomorrow.

 

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

redacted.

 

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

redacted.

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

Mueller report.

 

(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

Mueller report.

 

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

night wrote.

 

“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

own.”

 

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

America.

 

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

now.

 

 

 

 

 

END   

 

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