Mueller objected to Barr’s summary. TRANSCRIPT: 4/30/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, you weren`t going to sleep anyway.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: I know.
O`DONNELL: You`ve got that big hearing coming up tomorrow. Come on. Come
MADDOW: And with the news today –
MADDOW: I mean, even if you`re only talking international news, I probably
wouldn`t have slept today. But with the number of things that have broken
over the course of the day and the drama behind them and the promise that
more details are going to be coming out within the next 12 hours, which
means the overnight, it`s just –
O`DONNELL: Here`s – here`s what I could spend an hour talking about that
we won`t because we`re going to talk about what`s actually developing, what
we know in the news, but William Barr himself, the what was he thinking?
O`DONNELL: That`s an hour of TV right there, what was he thinking? He
knew – he knew that we were at some point going to know about this letter.
O`DONNELL: And in government, when you – when someone in government
writes a letter to someone else in government, it`s not because they`re
trying to communicate with that person who is receiving the letter, OK?
O`DONNELL: It`s I need this letter to live after this moment. And so
Robert Mueller knew what the life of this letter was going to be. Robert
Mueller knew it was going to be a night like this that was about this
But most importantly, William Barr knew and he still went out there and
said all of the things that he said and actually gave these answers in
House and Senate testimony about, I don`t know if Mueller`s OK. I don`t
know what Mueller thinks.
O`DONNELL: You know?
MADDOW: He knew exactly what Mueller thinks. And I will say, I mean, this
is coming out ahead of that testimony tomorrow before the Lindsey Graham-
led Senate Judiciary Committee. Who knows what that`s going to be like?
Barr is very capable at spinning stuff.
MADDOW: I would not be surprised if he wanted this out ahead of that
testimony and that friendly environment so he can spin his testimony,
particularly under Republican questioning, spinning out his own yarn about
how this is all some anodyne thing and nobody needs to worry about it.
But, boy, does this call to question as to whether or not Mueller needs to
And one of the most important things may be the late breaking story from
“The Daily Beast” that the Justice Department won`t allow Mueller to set a
date for his testimony in the House. Mueller`s testimony is worth 10,000
times what Barr`s testimony is worth at this point, and that question is
call more than ever.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Let me read you something, Rachel, that the great Michael
Beschloss tweeted while you were on tonight.
O`DONNELL: It`s about William Safire, who was a columnist for “The New
York Times” and a Republican. He worked – he was a – went into politics
to write for Richard Nixon`s –
O`DONNELL: – 1968 campaign. So he knew – Bill Safire knew all the
Republican players. He knew all the players, but the Republican players,
he knew them very well.
In 1992, thanks to Michael Beschloss, Bill Safire`s column refers to then
Attorney General William Barr, then Attorney General William Barr as the
cover-up general. Bill Safire was quite the phrase maker, and that was his
view of William Barr then.
MADDOW: How do you think they found William Barr for this gig?
O`DONNELL: Yes, they googled cover-up general.
MADDOW: Exactly. Who is famous for cover-up as attorney general? Right.
O`DONNELL: OK, Rachel. Go home and don`t sleep.
MADDOW: I will do.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: Senator Elizabeth Warren is going to join us later in this
hour, and it`s on a day when she`s enjoyed a significant bump in the polls,
including one poll where she comes in second behind Joe Biden, just ahead
of Bernie Sanders in third place. We will get her reaction to what Joe
Biden said today about impeachment.
At the end of the hour, we will take a look at what the outlaw Trump White
House got away with today in the White House driveway. Kellyanne Conway
actually broke the law in the White House driveway, on video in front of a
group of reporters who didn`t seem to notice that she broke the law, and
that might be because there is so much other seemingly bigger potential law
breaking going on in and around this president of the United States.
First, tonight, we go to the breaking news about the break between special
counsel Robert Mueller and his boss, Attorney General William Barr.
And we begin with new video tonight of the attorney general not telling the
truth about special counsel Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don`t know whether Bob Mueller supported
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The video is, of course, not new, but our knowledge, our
understanding of that video is completely new, our knowledge that the
attorney general was not telling the truth. That is what`s new tonight.
We also know tonight that the attorney general did not tell the truth about
the special counsel in the House of Representatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Reports have emerged recently, General, that
members of the special counsel`s team are frustrated at some level with the
limited information included in your March 24th letter. That it does not
adequately or accurately, necessarily, portray the report`s findings.
Do you know what they`re referencing with that?
BARR: No, I don`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Two weeks before William Barr answered those questions in the
House and the Senate, he received a letter from Robert Mueller. “The
Washington Post” read that letter today and broke the news about it tonight
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March,
complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to
Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into
President Trump, quote, did not fully capture the context, nature and
substance of Mueller`s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed
Tuesday by “The Washington Post”.
The timing of the leaking of this letter on the eve of the attorney
general`s testimony tomorrow to the Senate Judiciary Committee will surely
change the dynamic of what was already expected to be a highly
confrontational hearing that will include three Democratic candidates for
president in the committee`s questioning of the attorney general, Amy
Klobuchar, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
“The Washington Post” quotes Robert Mueller`s letter of complaint to the
attorney general saying: The summary letter the department sent to Congress
and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24th did not
fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office`s work and
conclusions, Mueller wrote. There is now public confusion about critical
aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a
central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel to
assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.
Robert Mueller`s letter made a key request, that Barr release the 444-page
report`s introductions and executive summaries and made some initial
suggested redactions for doing so, according to Justice Department
“The Washington Post” reports that Justice Department officials were,
quote, taken aback by the tone of Mueller`s letter.
The very next day, William Barr wrote another letter to Congress, this time
saying that his earlier letter was not intended to be a summary of the
Mueller report. Chairman Jerry Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee,
which has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice, and the impeachment
process, issued a statement today saying that he shares the concerns
expressed by Robert Mueller in his letter to the attorney general.
Chairman Nadler says: The special counsel`s concerns reflect our own. The
attorney general should not have taken it upon himself to describe the
special counsel`s findings in a light more favorable to the president. It
was only a matter of time before the facts caught up to him.
Attorney General Barr also should not have withheld this letter from
Congress for as long as he has. I have demanded a copy from the Department
of Justice. I have asked that it be delivered no later than 10:00 tomorrow
The attorney general has expressed some reluctance to appear before the
House Judiciary Committee this Thursday. These reports make it that much
more important for him to appear and answer our questions. The Department
of Justice has also been reluctant to confirm a date for special counsel
Robert Mueller to testify, given this evening`s reports, I will press the
department to schedule that hearing without delay.
And joining us now by phone is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.
She`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be questioning
Attorney General William Barr tomorrow.
Senator Hirono, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI) (via telephone): Good evening, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Part of our reporting should include that you have now tonight
sent a letter along with some of your colleagues, about 11 fellow senators
have signed it, to the Justice Department inspector general, asking that
the inspector general of the Justice Department on the basis of what you`ve
learned tonight and other issues investigate William Barr`s handling of the
What are you hoping to hear from the inspector general about that?
HIRONO: Well, let me clarify that I sent the letter before this bombshell
was dropped tonight about the letter that Mueller sent to Barr about his
concerns about – of what Barr said in his four-page letter. So, it just
lends even more concerns to the request that we sent to the I.G. So, what
I hope to get is for the I.G. to take on the investigation and to tell us
one way or the other whether or not this attorney general is acting
impartially as the people`s attorney general and not the president`s.
So, all of the indications are that Barr is acting as the lawyer for the
O`DONNELL: What do you want to ask the attorney general about in
HIRONO: I have serious concerns already whether I was going to get any
kind of unvarnished truth from Barr. This is before this letter – the
information regarding this letter came forward.
Clearly, Barr has lied to both the house and the Senate committees because
he was asked, knowing full well that Mueller did not agree with how Barr
characterized his report in the four-page Barr letter, knowing that he
still testified before both the House and the Senate to indicate that he
really didn`t know how, you know, Barr felt about the four-pager.
So that`s a lie. It`s a lie. Let`s call it what it is. So I don`t know -
O`DONNELL: And –
HIRONO: –whether it`s going to be – whether I`m going to get anything
that is not more spin from this person. I fully intend to use my seven
minutes to make my concerns known, however.
O`DONNELL: And do you expect any Republicans tomorrow to be troubled by
what they`ve learned now tonight about Robert Mueller`s objections to the
way William Barr characterize the Mueller report?
HIRONO: I would be very surprised if any of them step forward with raising
any concerns because they have not expressed concerns up to now, knowing
full well that Barr auditioned for this job and all of his subsequent
actions have indicated that he is not impartial, and, therefore, he should
not be attorney general, as far as I`m concerned. If he wants to be the
president`s lawyer, he should have taken the job, when it was offered to
O`DONNELL: Will you be focusing your questions tomorrow on the
disagreements with Robert Mueller?
HIRONO: As I said, whatever questions I will ask him, I have no idea
whether I`m going to get a straightforward answer.
I`m not particularly interested in giving Barr more minutes to spin. He is
not forthcoming. He wasn`t forthcoming during his hearing, and that`s one
of the major reasons that I did not support him for attorney general`s
And, you know, you look at this previous tenure as attorney general and you
noted that he was called the cover-up general. He had recommended pardons
for people who were involved in Iran-Contra, so his past record as attorney
general was already concerning, but his recent actions only lent further to
my concerns that this is not a guy who is going to be impartial. Quite to
O`DONNELL: Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you very much for joining us by
HIRONO: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: We really appreciate it. We`ll be watching you in the hearing
And joining our discussion now are two Democratic members of Congress,
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. He is a member of the House
Oversight and the House Intelligence Committees.
And Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He`s a member of the House
And, Congressman Khanna, let me start with you. Your reaction to this new
development that Robert Mueller expressed basically immediate disagreement
with the way William Barr characterized his report.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, this is not a complex legal issue. It`s
actually common sense. If a law student engaged in this kind of
dishonesty, they would be kicked out for academic fraud. If a lawyer
engaged in this kind of dishonesty, they would be disbarred.
Bill Barr needs to resign and he needs to resign tomorrow, but I think he
knew that he was going to have to resign and he said it was worth the cost
of obfuscating and giving the president breathing room, and he
intentionally took that hit to put a false narrative out there.
O`DONNELL: Presidential candidate Julian Castro has also called for Barr`s
Congressman Krishnamoorthi, your reaction to this breaking news tonight?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Well, I think that at this point, it`s
all the more reason why we need the full unredacted Mueller report. We
need this letter. I don`t want a summary of this letter –
KRISHNAMOORTHI: – from Mr. Barr. I want the letter from Mr. Mueller.
Then, finally, we need Mr. Mueller to testify himself. As you know, the
House Intelligence Committee has also requested his testimony.
The fact that the Justice Department may be standing in the way of his
testifying is yet another act of obstruction, in my opinion, and now we
need to vindicate our rights to investigate, whether that means going to
court or not.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more of William Barr`s testimony with Charlie
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRIST: Did you contemplate having the special counsel`s office help you
with the preparation of your March 24th letter or did you?
BARR: We offered to have Bob review it before putting it out and he
CRIST: I didn`t ask you about reviewing. I asked if you thought about
having them help prepare the March 24th letter. I mean, they did the
report, after all.
BARR: No, I didn`t think about it.
CRIST: Why not?
BARR: Because it was my letter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congressman Khanna, when you watch these, these answers take on
KHANNA: Well, and he`s trying to be so slippery.
KHANNA: And trying to obfuscate. But it`s not going to work.
I mean, the American people have common sense. They know that he went
before the Senate and he lied. I mean, he said that Bob Mueller didn`t
give him any indication of disagreement. That is just untrue.
And at some point, we have to distinguish fact from spin, truth from
untruth. And this is obvious a case as you can get.
O`DONNELL: What can Jerry Nadler do to get Robert Mueller`s testimony if
the attorney general is standing in the way?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, he would subpoena Robert Mueller. And, again, from
Supreme Courts down to lower courts, they`ve all said that, A, Congress has
the right to investigate, B, they have the right to issue subpoenas, and,
C, they have the right to hold people in contempt.
And so I think those are all rights that now we have to exercise because at
this point, we know that the president has already challenged the power of
the purse by declaring an emergency with regard to spending money on a
border wall, and now he`s challenging it on a right of oversight. And he`s
not the king. He`s the president. And the president is accountable to the
people and to the representatives, namely in Congress.
O`DONNELL: And, Congressman Khanna, the standoff that we`re seeing here is
something that we really haven`t seen. There was a very kind of a brief
version of this during the Nixon investigation, but what was – what was so
unique – is so unique about the Trump administration is it seems
impervious to political pressure, because it was, in fact, political
pressure that forced a lot of the cooperation from the Nixon
It also forced certain forms of cooperation out of Bill Clinton when he was
being investigated. Political pressure has always been a factor in every
other administration during any investigation. It doesn`t seem to be a
factor here. They don`t seem to care at all about the political pressures.
KHANNA: Well, you`re right. I mean, Sam Erwin, who was chairing the
Senate Select Committee famously threatened to send the sergeant at arms to
get some of Nixon`s White House aides and that shamed them enough that the
White House aides complied.
But here you`re talking about an administration that has no shame. People
view as being held in contempt as a badge of honor as opposed to a career
ending embarrassment then what do you do? My view is similar to
Representative Krishnamoorthi, there is only one person who this country
will trust, and that`s Bob Mueller.
We need to bring him in front of congress, let him tell the facts on live
television, and I think that`s the only thing that`s going to resolve this.
O`DONNELL: And Mueller`s complaint to Barr was that what Barr`s summary
did was it undermined, it undermined the public confidence in the special
counsel, and that`s what the special counsel is all about.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: That`s right. He complained about the fact that it didn`t
capture the context, nature or substance of the Mueller report. Apart from
that, he had no problems with the Barr summary, apparently.
But, you know, the point – the point of this whole situation is that at
this point we don`t want anymore filters. We want the Mueller genuine
draft. We want the full unredacted report. We want Mueller on the Hill
and we want this letter before us by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, I think
Mr. Nadler has asked for.
I think that`s very reasonable. I think we should have it tonight. But no
more filters. We don`t want –
O`DONNELL: “The Washington Post” saw it but Congress hasn`t.
O`DONNELL: We are joined now by Neal Katyal, Justice Department veteran,
former acting solicitor general and MSNBC legal contributor. He wrote the
Justice Department rules governing the special counsel.
Neal, very eager to get your reaction to what we`ve learned about the
communication now between Robert Mueller and Attorney General Barr.
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Thank you, Lawrence. I
guess my reaction is dios mio.
I mean, like, I can`t even imagine where to start. I mean, it`s not just
the fact that there are disagreements between Barr and Mueller. We kind of
knew that. It`s not just the gravity of the disagreements and it`s not
even just the fact that Mueller decided to go to paper to create a
To me, the most significant thing, and you just heard it at the end of your
segment, is this line from the Mueller letter which “The Washington Post”
The Barr letter threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the
department appointed the special counsel to assure full public confidence
in the outcome of the investigations.
That`s a quote from Mueller`s letter to Barr that “The Washington Post”
unearthed, and it`s significant because the whole point of the special
counsel regulations when we wrote them back in 1999 was to say, look, you
can never get the attorney general out of the process in our constitutional
system, but you can either ensure an independent investigation or if the
attorney general interferes in it that it`s going to become public, and
that is what we are seeing now.
We are seeing interference by the attorney general becoming a matter of
public record, and that means there`s only one failsafe option, and that is
what we anticipated in 1999, and that is a congressional investigation that
may culminate in impeachment. This has set up – everything Barr has done
has now set up Congress to have to investigate. They have no choice
because there can`t be public confidence when you have an attorney general
effectively superseding or trumping the independent investigation by Bob
O`DONNELL: “The Washington Post” is also reporting tonight that after
Attorney General William Barr received Robert Mueller`s letter of
complaint, that the two then spoke on the telephone for about 15 minutes.
“The Washington Post” reports that in that call Mueller said he was
concerned that media coverage of the obstruction investigation was
misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office`s work,
according to Justice Department officials.
In their call, Barr also took issue with Mueller calling his memo a
We are joined now by David Frum. He`s the senior editor for “The Atlantic”
and author for “Trumpocracy”. He`s a former speechwriter for President
George W. Bush.
And, David, your reaction to what we`re learning about Robert Mueller`s
very quick complaint to William Barr, about William Barr`s very first
public statement on the Mueller report.
DAVID FRUM, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH SPEECHWRITER: “The New York Times,”
which got the story second, has a line in its story that I think gives a
piercing shot of light as to what this dispute is ultimately about. “The
Times” got a comment from people around Barr that was Barr was angry with
Mueller about was that the Mueller report, Barr felt, was written for
Congress, and not for him.
So why would that bother him? Well, because the issue of the Mueller
report is was there obstruction?
And Mueller sets up facts that say if this were anybody but the president,
obviously yes. However, this department has rules that say I can`t charge
the president. And since I can`t charge the president, I`m going to follow
this department`s rules, therefore, I`m not going to make any
recommendations to anybody. I`m going to pass this over to the people who
have the power and the right to make this decision. And that is not you,
Mr. Barr, that is Congress.
And that is what Barr was angry about, that Mueller was forcing his hand by
taking a decision that Mueller wanted to make away from him and giving it
to these gentlemen to say if you all think there has been obstruction of
justice then you have remedies this department does not. And Barr is
saying, I am going to take the fact that I don`t have a remedy to say there
isn`t a problem when there was a problem.
O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, to that point, it seems that that interpretation
of the Mueller report then suggests that what William Barr did was in
effect intercept it. If the report was intended to be delivered to the
body that can make a judgment about obstruction of justice, it was then
intercepted by an attorney general who, according to the department`s own
rules, actually can`t make a decision about obstruction of justice, and
then he made a decision about obstruction of justice.
KATYAL: Exactly. I mean, the whole thing is so snowflakey, just like much
of the Trump administration. They have all these, like, fake complaints.
I mean, you know, how can Barr complain about Mueller not reaching a
conclusion about obstruction of justice? That`s after all what happened in
Whitewater with Jaworski – Whitewater with Ken Starr and Watergate with
Jaworski. They just sent the information up to Congress and said you
I agree with David Frum entirely. The whole idea that you can`t indict a
sitting president, every scholar, even the Office of Legal Counsel memos
and even the Mueller report all say the reason for that is because you have
to impeach first. You`ve got to have a congressional determination first.
So how Barr can sit there and complain about this when after all it`s what
he wanted, which was the non-indictment of his boss, the president, is
And then, you know, the special counsel regulations did exactly what we
hoped they would do here, which is force sunlight on Barr. If he`s going
to interfere, we`re going to find out about it, and that`s exactly what
we`re finding out tonight, massive interference by the attorney general in
an ongoing investigation of his boss, the president of the United States,
and you cannot trust an attorney general who interferes in such a way with
an independent investigation.
O`DONNELL: Neal, let me ask you about one other point of interference with
your experience in the Justice Department, and that is can the attorney
general prevent William Barr from testifying? Because we have a breaking
news report tonight in “The Daily Beast” saying that House Democrats told
“The Daily Beast” they`ve been told special counsel Robert Mueller is
willing to testify before them about his report on Russian interference in
the 2016 election, but that the Department of Justice has been unwilling to
set a date for it to happen.
Neal, can the attorney general prevent William Barr from testifying –
prevent Robert Mueller from testifying?
KATYAL: No, I mean – no, I mean, these folks at the Trump administration
are so afraid of the truth. They`re afraid to testify. Barr is afraid to
testify in the House of Representatives on Thursday because he might get
more than five minutes of questions in a row. And now they`re trying to
prevent, according to “The Daily Beast”, Mueller from testify.
It`s not going to work. It`s not going to work because we wrote the
special counsel regulations anticipating a nefarious attorney general like
what evidently it seems we have. And the failsafe was to appoint somebody
from outside the Justice Department. So Robert Mueller was outside of the
He was brought in to be special counsel, but he can leave tomorrow, leave
government service tomorrow and the attorney general and the president will
not be able to stop him from testifying. That was our break glass in case
of emergency option. I sure hope we don`t have to use it, but everything
that this administration has done to try to squelch the truth leads me to
believe we might have to cross that bridge.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Krishnamoorthi, Rachel Maddow reported in the
previous hour that her staff contacted the spokesperson for the special
counsel`s office and once again they said that Robert Mueller`s departure
is days away, but that`s something they`ve said weeks ago, that it`s days
away. So it may be that that`s what we`re waiting for in order for him to
KRISHNAMOORTHI: It may be that, but on the other hand, I still think that
Mr. Mueller should express himself publicly on this, whether he should
testify or not. I think that his taciturness at this point is perhaps
I think that on the one hand, he has to show deference to the Department of
Justice, but on the other hand, he is the special counsel. He needs to
exercise some independence. And at least through his spokesman, he should
express his desire to testify and make it known that if at that point, the
Justice Department formally says no, then he formally has to leave.
But we have to remember, you know, the Trump administration is now trying
to get even former officials from testifying, prevent them from testifying.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Such as Mr. McGahn, the White House counsel.
Again, I have to say Congress has the ability to subpoena people in their
individual capacity and hold them in contempt in their individual capacity,
and we have to vindicate the right of the people to have oversight of this
O`DONNELL: And Don McGahn`s personal lawyer now has been showing some
deference to the notion that the White House might still have control over
the testimony of a former White House staffer.
I just want to bring in this new call for the attorney general`s
resignation. It comes with some weight from Senator Chris Van Hollen
because he is using the testimony that Robert Barr gave to him in a Senate
hearing as the reason.
He`s saying tonight, Senator Van Hollen is saying: On April 20th, I asked
Barr, did Robert Mueller support your conclusion? His answer was I don`t
know whether Mueller supported my conclusion. We now know Mueller stated
his concerns on March 27th and that Barr totally misled me, the Congress
and the public. He must resign.
So, Congressman Khanna, the calls for resignation increase as you sit here.
I mean, you led off with one, but there`s going to be more before this
hour`s out, I`m sure.
KHANNA: Well, the irony is of all the obstruction, Bill Barr may have
committed the gravest offense in obstructing justice.
And it`s important to realize Bob Mueller is not Ken Starr. I mean, he was
so careful. He made a conclusion not to go after Trump on the collusion
issue. He has been bending over backwards to not go after the president.
And that`s why I think he has so much credibility – frankly, more
credibility than people who are Democrats or Republicans than we have on
The American people have a sense of judgment, and they`re going to look at
this person as nonpartisan, as having done his duty, has putting country
above party, and I think he`s the only person, really, who can help us heal
when he comes in front of Congress.
O`DONNELL: David, I read at the beginning of the hour, Bill Safire`s 1992
column where in Bill Barr`s first tour of duty as attorney general,
Republican columnist who worked for a Republican President Richard Nixon,
referred to him, gave him the label of cover-up general in those days.
What does this do to the future of Attorney General William Barr?
FRUM: Well, I think many people who are watching this program and
listening to you tonight maybe feeling a little bit anguish, maybe even
And I think that they should know that we are here in the last hours before
this dam cracks that the White House yesterday served a letter on Deutsche
Bank saying we don`t want you to cooperate with the congressional subpoena.
That letter is – you read it, I mean, it`s been a long time since I read
law, but you read it and you think, this is poor work.
But sometimes when you have no facts and no arguments on your side, the
best work you can do is pretty poor. In which they are saying, you know,
Deutsche Bank, you can refuse this subpoena for a whole list of reasons
that every Supreme Court case on the congressional subpoena power says they
They`re going to try to interfere with other congressional subpoenas, but
the law is clear. If Congress can legislate on something lawfully, so they
can`t ask you to produce something that would violate your First Amendment
or Fourth Amendment rights, but if they can legislate, they can get the
material they need or the information so you can legislate.
And these cases are going to be lost. The Trump administration is praying
for time. They`re hoping to push this beyond November 2020. That will be
up to the courts but they`re going to lose and lose and lose.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And I think public opinions with us, Lawrence, I think on
this particular issue, the president –
O`DONNELL: The polls show that. But what does that matter in the way this
administration conducts themselves? They don`t seem – they`ve never cared
about public opinion. They only care about Trump base opinion, which they
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think that this is all the more reason why we have to go
to the mat on this particular issue. We have to go to the mat in
exercising our right to subpoena and to potentially holding people
individually in contempt with regard to this particular investigative right
of Congress. If we can`t do this, we might as well just go home.
O`DONNELL: But Congressman Khanna, it`s my sense that this administration
is happy to watch you use all those tools and contempt and anything you
want to do because the only thing they care about is how many days it eats
up on the calendar and they simply want to push this thing.
They don`t have to push it all the way to November of 2020, they just need
to push it well into 2020 so that the whole political community just kind
of throws up their hands and says, oh, OK, it`s too close to the election
for us to try to do anything conclusive, anything like an impeachment
KHANNA: I think you`re absolutely right. I mean their hope is that Trump
becomes the Republican nominee and then they`ll say, oh, how unfair. You
can`t disqualify the Republican Party`s nominee.
And they just need to push this out until January, until the Iowa caucuses.
That`s why the thing they`re petrified of is someone coming before live
television, the president understands that. He didn`t care if Don McGahn
was talking to Mueller in a confidential 448-page report, but the president
understands television, and what he is scared of is that Mueller or McGahn
or these folks come and testify on live T.V.
I mean, you saw the impact of the Kavanaugh hearing where the president
actually first thought that Christine Blasey Ford had won the day. And I
think that`s the only thing that can change public opinion.
O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, is there any tactic available that can somehow
speed up these processes to kind of make the subpoena process move more
quickly for the Democrats in the House?
KATYAL: I do. I think that they can have expedited proceedings in court
if the administration decides to try and block people from testifying and
the like. So I do think that that`s possible.
But I think, Lawrence, there are really two fundamental issues, apart from
the politics or even the law. One is, what does it say about us if we
don`t launch investigations and subpoena people right away? I think it
just says that we`re also in some sense, you know, weak and too afraid to
get at the truth.
The other thing is what it says about them. Because even if they can
stretch this out a little bit, maybe they`ll even stretch it out to next
year`s election cycle, there is now a damning historical record, not just
about the president but about his Attorney General Bill Barr.
And I used to walk down the Justice Department on the fifth floor and see
the portraits of legendary attorneys general, Griffin Bell, Robert Jackson
and people like that. Bill Barr will not be like that.
There is no chance anymore. He has fundamentally sullied his reputation
and his legacy with the way he`s acted. And, you know, in the history
books these folks will go down for what they are.
O`DONNELL: And David Frum, whoever Donald Trump chose as his next attorney
general at that moment in time knew that he or she was going to take a very
significant place in history. History`s being handed to that attorney
This was not going to be a forgotten attorney general. And Bill Barr has -
- seems to have made his choice for history.
FRUM: Well, he may just have made a bad calculation. People sometimes do.
He may have thought maybe I can do this for a little while, return to my
law firm, eat lunch in Washington, be a big man. A former attorney general
is one of the greatest jobs in the American legal profession if you don`t
disgrace yourself. And maybe it will work.
But there are too many cracks in the dam. The emoluments case cracking
just as we speak. The tax returns case, they are able to slow that one
down. But the Deutsche Bank subpoena, Deutsche Bank wants to release those
documents because Deutsche Bank has important reputational risk.
They don`t want to be seen as stooges for Russian money launderers and I
don`t know that they`re going to be able to resist having the people in
this White House case refuse subpoenas from Congress, from the House of
Remember also, only one House needs to vote to hold someone in contempt,
O`DONNELL: Go ahead.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And at the end of the day, you know, Lawrence, the option
is either to proceed with our strategy of issuing subpoenas and holding
people in contempt or doing nothing. That`s it.
And we can`t afford to do nothing at this point. We have to continue. And
if there is some delay, fine, but we have to do this for the purpose of our
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to squeeze in a break in our breaking news
coverage. Congressman Ro Khanna, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Neal
Katyal, David Frum, thank you very much for joining our discussion and
starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back after this break, Elizabeth Warren was the first
presidential candidate to call for impeachment of the president immediately
after she read the Mueller report. And today, Elizabeth Warren`s
presidential campaign got a significant boost in a new round of polls.
Senator Warren will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Impeachment has never been an issue in a presidential campaign
before, but now it is. And the new front-runner in the Democratic
presidential primaries was asked about impeachment today. Three new
presidential polls show Joe Biden with a strong lead.
And those three polls also have good news for another candidate, Senator
Elizabeth Warren, who finished in the top three in all of those polls. And
in one poll, she came in second, just one point ahead of Bernie Sanders,
which is actually a statistical tie, within the margin of error.
Elizabeth Warren`s move up in the polls has come after months of
campaigning on a near constant rollout of new policy proposals that have
made her the recognized new policy leader in the campaign. And her move up
in the polls came after she announced in no uncertain terms that she is in
favor of the impeachment of President Trump, the day after the Mueller
report was released, two weeks ago.
Here is what the new frontrunner in the Democratic field Joe Biden said
about impeachment today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBIN ROBERTS, ANCHOR, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: The Mueller report. What was
your initial reaction to the findings?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One, there was Russian interference.
Without any question, Russian interference. Number one.
Number two, there are elements of the report in the second phase of the
report, about seven or eight things that are left undone. He was not
within his purview to investigate, he thought. The Congress is attempting
to take that up.
And what the Congress should do and they are doing is investigate that.
And if in fact, they block the investigation, they have no alternative to
go to the only other Constitutional resort they have is impeachment. But
my job in the meantime is to make sure he`s not back as president of the
United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We recorded our interview tonight with Elizabeth Warren before
the breaking news of Robert Mueller`s letter of complaint to Attorney
General William Barr. Here is that interview.
Joining us now, the senior senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren,
who is also a Democratic candidate for president. Thank you very much for
joining us tonight, Senator.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for having
me. I`m glad to be here.
O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to what Vice President Biden said
this morning about impeachment.
WARREN: So, look, I read the report, as you said. And when I got to the
end of the report, there were three things that were very, very clear. The
first is that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election with
the purpose of helping Donald Trump.
The second is Donald Trump welcomed that help. And the third is that when
our federal government tried to investigate after Donald Trump was
inaugurated, he did everything he could to try to stop that investigation,
to try to derail that investigation, to try to send that investigation
And the actions that he took are well documented. It`s all right there in
the report. I got to the end of that report and I said, look, this is not
about politics, this is about the responsibility of Congress as a co-equal
branch of government, and I think it`s time to open impeachment
O`DONNELL: And there is a difference there. Because the vice president is
saying that the House should investigate and then – but he`s also saying
if the president blocks the investigations, then they have no choice. That
actually puts him in a slightly tougher sounding position, let`s say, than
the House leadership, which continues to want to hold to the idea that it
has not yet developed the information necessary for an impeachment hearing.
WARREN: So, you know, look, I just don`t know how anybody reads that
report and reads the documentation of the president trying to get the White
House counsel to fire Mueller. And when Mueller refuses to do that, tries
to get the – the president tries to get the White House counsel to lie
And when he refuses to do that, the president tries to get the White House
counsel to write a letter lying about it. And then when he won`t do that,
the president castigates, goes after the White House counsel for having
taken notes about what he had tried to get him to do.
You know, it`s that way over and over and over through that report. There
are 10 separate instances that are fully documented. There`s plenty of
testimony about it, plenty of documentary evidence about it.
There is enough there that we should open the impeachment proceedings now,
in my view. You know, look, opening the proceedings doesn`t mean that you
stop an investigation, it means that you can continue an investigation.
But, look, that`s how I read it. I read that report, the Mueller report.
And when I got to the end, it is perfectly clear to me that what Donald
Trump has done are impeachable offenses and that it`s now up to Congress to
step up. And stepping up, in this case, means opening an impeachment
O`DONNELL: I don`t want to belabor impeachment because it amounts to the
O`DONNELL: But I just want to ask you one more thing. You say that`s how
I read it.
O`DONNELL: And it sounds to me that I`m hearing it – this is how I read
it as a Harvard law professor, as a trained lawyer. And I`m wondering if
you feel as if you have certain advantages, legal experience, and
advantages in reading it over some of your colleagues?
WARREN: No. I mean, yes, those things are all true that I am a lawyer
and, yes, I`ve taught at law school, but this isn`t hard to read. I mean I
really want to be blunt about this.
I do not understand how somebody could read 448 pages of the Mueller
report, and Mueller lays out in pretty clear terms exactly what the grounds
are for obstruction of justice and what the documentation is for each piece
along the line. This is not hard to follow.
In fact, most of the pushback that I hear is about the politics of it. And
for me, this is a point of principle. This is about whether or not each
person in the House and then if the House votes it over to the Senate takes
a vote and says that those efforts to obstruct justice are OK or they are
And I think everyone in Congress should be called on to take that vote and
then to live with that vote for the rest of their lives.
O`DONNELL: One element of the politics of it are the presidential
politics. And there is a belief – or I shouldn`t – let`s call it a fear
instead of a belief among some Democrats, Democratic strategists and some
Democratic officeholders, both in the House and the Senate, who worry that
impeachment proceedings could help empower President Trump in his re-
election campaign, especially if there`s no hope of removing him in a
And you could be on the ticket running against President Trump for re-
election next September. Don`t you have any concern that the – that some
kind of impeachment process might actually help energize his campaign
against the Democrat in November?
WARREN: Look, there are some issues that are bigger than politics. And
one of them is whether or not a president of the United States is above the
You know, I understand that in a dictatorship, everybody circles around the
president and protects him. But that`s not the way the Constitution
divides power in our country. It says that no one is above the law and
that includes the president of the United States.
And the tool to make sure that the president is not above the law, the tool
given to Congress is an impeachment proceeding. This is serious. This is
about a foreign – a hostile foreign government that attacked our election
system and an investigation into that that was blocked by the president for
his own political purposes.
This is a moment when we have to stand up in Congress. It`s not a question
of political party or the next election, it`s about what we think is right.
And I didn`t go into this thinking, oh, great, you know, let`s see if we
can stir up a big impeachment fight. It`s the conclusion I`ve reached by
reading the whole report.
And I urge everybody to read that report. I urge all of my colleagues to
read that report and tell me how they can stand by and say, you know, that
kind of behavior may be just fine in a president of the United States.
It`s not fine. No one`s above the law. Not even the president.
O`DONNELL: Thanks to Senator Elizabeth Warren who joined us earlier. We
pre-recorded that interview before the breaking news tonight that has kind
of taken over this hour.
And after this break, we will take a look at the outlaw Trump White House.
The way the Trump White House actually breaks the law every day and no one
even bothers to mention it anymore because of all of the bigger stuff in
the Mueller report. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know whether
Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now by phone, the senator who asked that question,
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight. You have tweeted your
reaction to the breaking news tonight about Robert Mueller`s letter. But
please expand on that for our Audience tonight.
HOLLEN: Well, Lawrence what we saw is Attorney General Barr`s response to
my question was another in a series of blatantly misleading comments in
order to protect the president, to serve not as the attorney general but to
serve as the chief propagandist for the president and the Trump
administration that came on the heels of the four-page letter where he
mischaracterized entirely Mueller`s findings, especially with respect to
obstruction of justice.
And I`ve been asking the attorney general in that hearing series of
questions on obstruction of justice how he reached the conclusion he did.
He refused to answer those so I simply asked him, did Bob Mueller agree
with his conclusion and he gave the answer you just play. And now we know
that he already received the letter from Bob Mueller taking issue with the
way the attorney general had characterized the conclusions.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Bob Mueller`s letter to quote it as it appears in the
Washington Post says that the – that what Attorney General Barr wrote
about the Mueller report “did not fully capture the context, nature, and
substance of this officer`s work and conclusions.”
And that`s something that Attorney General Barr knew when he gave you that
answer which seemed to, I guess, feign ignorance about Robert Mueller`s
thinking on this.
HOLLEN: Well, that`s exactly right because he had to know in the back of
his mind that he gotten this letter from Bob Mueller which as you just
quoted said that Attorney General Barr`s conclusion did not have substance
of Mueller`s work and conclusions.
I asked him whether or not Mueller agree with his conclusion and he used
the same word was at the Mueller letter. And Barr clearly and deliberately
I believe misled not just me but misled everybody. And Lawrence, this is a
pattern of behavior which is why you know when the attorney general can no
longer be trusted by the public, it is time for the attorney general to
O`DONNELL: Senator, when you ask that question, did you have any knowledge
or information about what the answer to that question should be?
HOLLEN: I did not. I was growing very frustrated with the fact that the
attorney general refused to let me know how he had reached the different
conclusions with respect to the obstruction of justice charges or how he
had reached the conclusion to exonerate President Trump when Mueller in his
report had expressly not exonerated Mueller – exonerated the president on
obstruction of justice.
And so when I grew very frustrated with his refusal to tell me how he
reached that conclusion, I just asked him if he had any reason to believe
that Mueller agrees with this conclusion and he said no, I did not know.
Lawrence, at that moment, the attorney general knew and was already in
possession of this letter from Mueller.
O`DONNELL: I have to say when you ask the question, it seemed like a
logical question to me at the time without any other surrounding knowledge
about it. It is a normal question to ask.
Senator, you are not a member of the Judiciary Committee where William Barr
will be testifying tomorrow. But I have a feeling you`re going to play a
very large role in that hearing. I assume more than one of your colleagues
will be quoting you, be quoting that exchange to the attorney general.
Is there something the attorney general can possibly say that you think
could reasonably explain the answer that he gave to you?
HOLLEN: I can`t think of any plausible explanation, Lawrence. But I do
believe that this exchange that I have with the attorney general will come
up. I am confident that my colleagues will pursue that line of questioning
because it leaves everybody scratching their heads to that response.
But, of course, that fits the pattern of deception that we have seen from
the attorney general. Very disappointing but anybody who still believes
that the attorney general is acting as the public`s lawyer I think had a
wakeup call from both the letter and sort of this misleading exchange that
he had with me.
O`DONNELL: Senator, you shared my view base on my experience in
government. You have more experience in government than I do. That when
someone like Robert Mueller writes a letter like that to the attorney
general, it is for the attorney general but the author of that letter knows
that the letter is going to live in history, knows that eventually that
letter is going to be revealed to Congress and knows that that letter on
some news night like this is eventually going to be the big story of the
HOLLEN: Yes, I believe strongly that Mueller was very disturbed and upset
with the way the attorney general had characterized this report when the
attorney general put together a four-page letter and Mueller wanted in his
views, Mueller`s views, clearly documented for the reasons you are saying.
It is an important historical record and he wanted to go on record on this
O`DONNELL: Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you for joining us on this very
important night. We really appreciate you joining us. Thank you, Senator,
Well, that`s not exactly the program we scheduled even at the beginning of
this hour, a lot of things have to change during the course of that hour
including getting Senator Van Hollen on the phone for us tonight which we
Senator Van Hollen gets “Tonight`s Last Word.” “The 11th Hour” with Brian
Williams starts now.
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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