GOP Rep. Justin Amash defends his support. TRANSCRIPT: 5/29/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Adam Schiff, Mazie Hirono, Richard Blumenthal, Neal Katyal, Tom Coleman
Transcript:

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

 

We have a great lineup tonight to analyze what Robert Mueller had to say

today.  We`re starting off with Adam Schiff.  We`re going to be joined by

two senators, Senator Blumenthal and Senator Hirono.  Neal Katyal will be

here with his in-depth analysis. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Wow.

 

O`DONNELL:  But there`s something coming up right at the end of this hour

which I think we really need, because I`m going to be using what Robert

Mueller said today very similarly to the way you did, the stashed way we

use in these kinds of shows.  We take a piece of it, run it, get a reaction

to that piece, we talk about that piece.  We`d show another piece, we run

it.

 

Brian Williams at 11:00 p.m. is going to do us all a service at the end of

this Mueller surprise day and run the whole 9-1/2 minutes uncut – the 9

1/2 minutes because most people were at work.  Most people weren`t there to

watch the unfolding of it, the drama, the way it you be folded in that room

end to end.  Brian`s going to do that. 

 

It`s one of the great things about having these sequences of our hours that

we can rely on what each other are doing in these situations.  I heard

about this from Brian a few hours ago.  I`m relying on that here, knowing

that this audience, stick around – 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  – and watch the whole thing the way, it should be presented.

 

MADDOW:  And I will just say, stick around to the very end because there`s

this is great unscripted moment at the very end where he gives the

assembled reporters in the room the hand.  And it is like, in case what

just happened here wasn`t clear before then, the little pantomime at the

end is worth seeing in real-time. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Teamwork.  That`s what we`re about here.  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Rachel.

 

O`DONNELL:  Appreciate it. 

 

After Robert Mueller finally spoke today, the one Republican member of

Congress who supports impeachment tweeted: The ball is in our court,

Congress. 

 

A former Republican member of Congress has also come out in favor of

impeachment.  Tom Coleman served eight terms in the House of

Representatives and he now says that Democrats who believe that impeachment

would help Donald Trump win a second term are completely wrong.  He

believes the exact opposite.  He says if Democrats do not impeach Donald

Trump, that would help President Trump win a second term. 

 

Tom Coleman is going to join us at the end of this hour tonight to give us

that alternative view of the politics of impeachment.  And Tom Coleman has

much more to say about what he calls the illegitimate presidency of Donald

Trump and the illegitimate vice presidency of Mike Pence.  You have not

heard a Republican like Tom Coleman talking about these issues.  You`ll

want to hear what he has to say at the end of the hour tonight right before

Brian. 

 

But, first, it was a day of Robert Mueller surprises.  First came the

sudden surprise that Robert Mueller had something to say.  The news media

was alerted about 90 minutes ahead of time that the most anticipated public

comments of the Trump era were about to take place.  Special counsel Robert

Mueller was going to speak. 

 

No public figure of Robert Mueller`s level of importance in Washington

history has ever remained silent as long as Robert Mueller has.  That

silence ended today on his last day of service as special counsel. 

 

Here is the very first thing he wanted America to know. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL:  Russian intelligence officers who were

part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political

system.  The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber

techniques to hack into computers used by the Clinton campaign.  They stole

private information and then released that information through fake online

identities and through the organization WikiLeaks.  The releases were

designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a

presidential candidate. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  And here is the other big thing that Robert Mueller wanted

America to know today. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  We investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation.  The

matters we investigated were of paramount importance and what`s critical

for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we

questioned.  When a subject of an investigation obstructs that

investigation, or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the

government`s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. 

 

The report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice

investigation involving the president.  If we had had confidence that the

president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.  We did

not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a

crime. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Robert Mueller explained that Justice Department policy

prevented him from even considering charges against the president. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  Under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be

charged with a federal crime while he is in office.  That is

unconstitutional.  Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from

public view, that too is prohibited. 

 

The special counsel`s office is part of the Department of Justice and by

regulation, it was bound by that department policy.  Charging the president

with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.  The

department`s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important

points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  So it seems that Robert Mueller was saying that the Justice

Department`s rule against indicting a president was at least a major factor

if not the decisive factor in the outcome of his vision of the president,

and then Robert Mueller added this. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal

justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  That process is, of course, impeachment.  After Mueller spoke

today, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has

jurisdiction over impeachment, was asked about impeachment. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  With respect to impeachment question at this

point, all options are on the table, and nothing should be ruled out.  What

special counsel Mueller said loud and clear today for the American people

is that President Trump is lying when he says no collusion, no obstruction,

and that he was exonerated.  If Mueller wanted to exonerate the president

from having committed a crime, he would have said so. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this about impeachment. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Nothing is off the table.  But we do want to

make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case that even the Republican

Senate which at the time seems to be not an objective jury will be

convinced of the path that we have to take as a country. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Robert Mueller stressed that nothing in the Mueller report

exonerates the president, including volume one of the Mueller report that

describes account Russian attack on our election. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating

from Russia to influence the election.  This volume includes a discussion

of the Trump campaign`s response to this activity as well as our conclusion

that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Insufficient evidence, not no evidence of a broader conspiracy,

just insufficient evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.  That

phrase insufficient evidence is nothing close to exoneration.  But it was

good enough for Donald Trump today.  After Robert Mueller spoke, the

president tweeted nothing changes from the Mueller report.  There was

insufficient evidence and therefore, in our country, a person is innocent

the case is closed!  Thank you. 

 

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of

California.  He is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. 

 

Chairman Schiff, thank you very much for joining us on this important night

tonight. 

 

And I want to begin with what Donald Trump said there about inefficient

evidence.  It is striking that the president of the United States is

claiming that there is just insufficient evidence to find that he

participated in an international conspiracy with Russians to attack the

presidential campaign in a way that would benefit him and work toward his

election.  The president then says that inefficient evidence equals

innocent, which I don`t think is true in anybody`s legal definition of

these terms. 

 

But your reaction to that.  Let`s start with that, Congressman, that the

president is standing on the point tonight of inefficient evidence.  That`s

good enough for him. 

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  Well, first of all, both Barr and the president

make the same misdirection, that is they say because the president wasn`t

charged, that means he`s innocent. 

 

Well, here, we`re in a circumstance where the president cannot be charged. 

So he`s not a typical defendant.  He is very atypical one.  In fact, he`s

the only one in that position and so that line of reasoning doesn`t work at

all. 

 

Rather what Bob Mueller said and I think the most important points he

wanted to get across today were the Russians` effort to interfere in our

affairs was systemic, it was sophisticated and all Americans need to pay

attention to it.  That is we need to protect the country going forward and

there`s a lot more that we need to do that first begins by understanding

what the Russians did.

 

But second, and contrary to what Bill Barr has been suggesting for weeks

and weeks now, if we could have exonerated the president, we would have. 

We didn`t intend for the attorney general to arrogate it to himself, to

declare the president had not committed the crimes of obstruction of

justice.  We intended this to be presented to Congress and more than that,

to preserve the evidence for other potential actions, and I think that

should be read as meaning so the department can consider when he leaves

office whether the president should be charged. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Robert Mueller began today talking about what is basically

volume one of his report which is his initial declared responsibility

investigating the Russian attack on our election.  That`s your jurisdiction

in these investigations as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. 

You have been seeking Robert Mueller`s testimony about this. 

 

What did Robert Mueller say today that has changed or has it in any way

changed your view of your committee`s need to hear from Robert Mueller? 

 

SCHIFF:  It hasn`t changed it in any way.  I think Bob Mueller, as

reluctant as he clearly is to testify, has one more duty to perform for the

country, and that is to come before the Congress and answer the questions

the American people about his report. 

 

There is a lot we still do not know.  We don`t know, for example, what

happened to the counterintelligence investigation into what people were

compromised, whether there were crimes that were committed or not. 

 

And, Lawrence, you pointed out exactly right and this is a point that the

president tries to obscure, the Department of Justice policy as Mueller

makes clear in his report but didn`t get a chance to talk about today

requires before any charging decision is made and clearly here he couldn`t

make a charging decision, to be able to satisfy a jury beyond a reasonable

doubt. 

 

So when he talks about there being insufficient evidence, he also makes

clear in the report that the fact they couldn`t establish something beyond

a reasonable doubt doesn`t mean that there wasn`t evidence of that fact. 

And here, there`s a lot of evidence of these illicit contacts with the

Russians, compromising contacts that Mueller should testify about. 

 

We should have questions answered why he didn`t press for the president`s

testimony, why he didn`t seek to press to determine whether counsel for

these other people were participating in the lie Michael Cohen told to the

Congress.  There are a lot of unanswered questions that Mueller should come

in and answer for the American people. 

 

O`DONNELL:  I want to – let`s listen to Robert Mueller referring to one

point I know you`re interested in and Chairman Nadler`s interested in.  And

that is the underlying work product, the information that went into

building those paragraphs of the Mueller report. 

 

Let`s listen to what he said about. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR:  Access to our underlying work product

is being decided in a process that does not involve our office. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Are you involved in that process? 

 

SCHIFF:  Yes, I am.  I`m a little surprised to hear him say that his office

is not involved in that because it was certainly our impression that there

were discussions between his office and the Department of Justice about

what they should turn over to Congress or what might be privileged.  But

now that that office is shutting down, it`s certainly going to be true that

this will be left entirely to the Department of Justice. 

 

We reached an agreement to provide initial documents on a rolling

production basis to our committee.  We`re getting and have received already

some documents as a part of that production and we`re going to press to

make sure that we get all the information that we need. 

 

But again, that supplying of underlying evidence to our committee doesn`t

relieve Bob Mueller of the obligation I think to testify to the American

people.  There`s nothing as powerful as hearing from both Mueller and other

witnesses directly, their observations, their findings in terms of

percipient witnesses, what the president asked them to do and how he asked

them to do it, the lies he wanted propagated to try to obstruct the

investigation – all of that should be brought out and not simply provided

in documentary form. 

 

O`DONNELL:  What happened to the impeachment process in the House of

Representatives today as a result of Robert Mueller going public? 

 

SCHIFF:  I don`t think that there`s anything in his statements today that

really moves the needle in one direction or the other.  A lot of what he

said was really to underscore what he had said in the report to dispel some

of the confusion that Bill Barr tried to create.  He certainly I think made

it clear again that this is being left to Congress now because he didn`t

have the power to indict. 

 

But he was also not willing to say Congress should impeach.  I think that`s

consistent with his fairness argument that he made that if he wasn`t going

to say the president should have been indicted and notwithstanding the

department policy, then he probably wasn`t going to say the president

should be impeached but rather that Congress should consider what

repercussions should follow, what course to take, whether it`s through an

impeachment enquiry or through its oversight function.  He left that to the

Congress. 

 

O`DONNELL:  I just want to close our discussion with Robert Mueller`s final

words today that were – he addressed them to the country but they were

definitely aimed at you because you have jurisdiction over of these

elements that he was talking about in his final words of the day.  Let`s

listen to that. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our

indictments that there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our

election.  And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. 

Thank you. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Your reaction to that, Chairman Schiff? 

 

SCHIFF:  Well, I`m glad you brought that up because this is where he began

and this is where he ended.  And I have to think although I don`t know this

to be the case, that he and his team may be frustrated with all of the

focus on Donald Trump, and his conduct, and not as much focus on what the

Russians did to interfere in our affairs. 

 

Part of his discussion of obstruction today was the reason why the

obstruction was so serious is, it was obstructing an investigation into a

hostile powers interference in our democracy and he is effectively saying

at the beginning, at the end of his remarks today, let`s not lose sight of

what this adversary did, and I think implied there is, let`s not lose sight

of what they may do to us again. 

 

O`DONNELL:  House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff – thank you,

Mr. Chairman, very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

 

SCHIFF:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, two members of the Senate Judiciary

Committee will join us, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Senator Richard

Blumenthal of Connecticut.  We`ll get their reaction to what Robert Mueller

had to say today. 

 

And Neal Katyal will join us.  He wrote the Justice Department rules for

special counsels and he has much to say about Robert Mueller`s 9-1/2

minutes at the microphone today.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  At one point today, Robert Mueller seemed to be speaking

directly to Attorney General William Barr who has announced that he has

launched his own investigation of the beginnings of the investigation of

the Russian attack on our election. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  The indictments allege and the other activities in our report

describe efforts to interfere in our political system.  They needed to be

investigated and understood and that is among the reasons why the

Department of Justice established our office. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of

Hawaii.  She is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

 

Senator Hirono, has – did Robert Mueller`s public speaking today change

the direction of Congress on these issues? 

 

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI):  I think it moves Congress to – toward in my

view opening an impeachment inquiry because there`s nothing like hearing

from the investigator himself.  There aren`t very many people who are going

to read his report but to hear him focus the fact on very critical parts of

the report I think also focuses our minds and our efforts.  And that`s why

today, I called for the House to open an impeachment inquiry. 

 

And I know, Lawrence, that out of this whole report that Mueller focused on

three things.  One, very clearly the Russians interfered with our elections

and our democracy big-time on behalf of Donald Trump. 

 

Two, the Office of Legal Counsel`s memorandum memo prohibited a sitting

president from being indicted or even charged.  He made that very clear in

spite of the fact when Barr talked about his report, he totally gave the

impression that the OLC memo had very little part to do with Mueller`s

conclusions really into obstruction of justice. 

 

And the third is once again turning to the OLC memo.  There are other

constitutional processes to hold the president accountable.  And that`s

what we need to do. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, did you – so you interpreted that part about other

constitutional processes which is just another phrase for impeachment.  You

interpreted that to be basically Robert Mueller handing it to the House

Judiciary Committee? 

 

HIRONO:  I think a lot of us conclude that, because if you can`t indict or

even charge a sitting president, how are you going to hold the president

accountable?  You have it use these other processes of which impeachment

starting an impeachment inquiry is one.

 

O`DONNELL:  There`s also a striking point in Robert Mueller`s statement

where he says when, when someone obstructs an investigation.  He doesn`t

say if someone obstructs an investigation.  We showed that video earlier in

this hour. 

 

And he could have left it as a the hypothetical, but he made it as a

statement of something that actually has occurred in his work. 

 

HIRONO:  I think that he certainly contemplates that someone else, i.e.,

Congress, the U.S. House to start, would look at his report as he kept

referring to the report speaking for itself.  There`s a lot of as far as

I`m concerned, evidence that should lead to at least an open of an

impeachment inquiry. 

 

But, again, Lawrence, I cite these are not normal times.  Under normal

times as 800 former prosecutors have said, they would look at the evidence

in the Mueller report and conclude that this president obstructed justice. 

These are not normal times.  And that is why is an impeachment in inquiry

that brings a lot more what I would call ammunition to the table would be

what I`d like to see happen. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Mazie Hirono of the Senate Judiciary Committee – thank

you very much for joining us tonight on this important night.

 

HIRONO:  Aloha.

 

O`DONNELL:  Appreciate it.  Thank you, senator. 

 

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.  He

is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

 

Senator Blumenthal, your reaction to Robert Mueller`s statement today. 

 

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT):  Robert Mueller`s statement issued a really

stunning rebuke to president Trump in two ways. 

 

Number one, his message to Donald Trump was you would be in handcuffs,

criminally charged if you were not a sitting president.  And I was one of

those more than 800 prosecutors who said as much that he would be literally

criminally charged but for that Office of Legal Counsel policy memorandum

that said a sitting president can`t be charged. 

 

Second, Robert Mueller issued a warning, really a plea for action in the

face of continuing Russian threat to our democracy that has been denied by

Donald Trump inexplicably and unjustifiably denied in the face of his own

intelligence community and everyone else of any credibility saying that the

Russians attacked our democracy, that his campaign welcomed and accepted

assistance that was damaging to Hillary Clinton and his continued denial of

that basic fact that really has bipartisan acceptance is a, itself, a

danger to our democracy. 

 

We need to take action.  It should be bipartisan.  We`re under continuing

attack.  The Russians are preparing in effect using the last election as

merely a dress rehearsal. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what your Democratic colleague in the Senate,

Elizabeth Warren, had to say today. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There`s no way

around this.  These are impeachable offenses.  It is our constitutional

responsibility as members of Congress to bring a judgment of impeachment

against this president. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  As a former Harvard law professor who read every word of the

Mueller report she said, basically as soon as it came out, do you agree

with Senator Warren? 

 

BLUMENTHAL:  I read every word of the Mueller report.  In fact, I read it

twice.  Most American people will never read the Mueller report.  They need

to see the movie because they`re not going to read the book.  And that`s

why we do need hearings now. 

 

And I agree completely with Senator Warren that president needs to be head

accountable.  We share that goal and that accountability is going to come

through an impeachment proceeding or alternatively, through the courts and

a criminal prosecution after he leaves office.  And my hope is also in the

court of public opinion, at the ballot box in 2020. 

 

O`DONNELL:  There`s been a lot of talk about the house and guesses

basically public guesses about how many Democrats in the House support

starting an impeachment inquiry, how many Democrats are opposed to that,

how many Democrats think it`s bad politics, how many Democrats don`t care

about politics.

 

What about the United States Senate?  What about Democrats in the United

States Senate?  Is there a dominant feeling among Democrats in the United

States Senate about the house moving toward impeachment? 

 

BLUMENTHAL:  At this point, there`s probably no dominant feeling.  But

here`s what`s really important, Lawrence – the hearings in the House and

maybe in the Senate because Robert Mueller should testify before the Senate

Judiciary Committee as well as the House, and my hope still is that maybe

our chairman, Lindsey Graham, will call him as a witness fully, fairly,

publicly.  The American people deserve to hear from him. 

 

And one point that I think is very, very telling today.  There was nothing

new in what Robert Mueller today told the American people.  He cut and

pasted parts of his report.  He highlighted and read.  He drew great big

circles around it with exclamation marks. 

 

But the words themselves had power coming from his mouth on television. 

And that`s the face and voice that the American people need to hear. 

That`s the case that needs to be presented to them. 

 

And that`s the kind of case that will move the needle both in Congress and

among the American people just as it did in Watergate where the percentage

of American people favoring impeachment doubled after the hearings began in

the Watergate proceeding. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Richard Blumenthal, we`re really grateful to you

bringing your Senate and prosecutorial experience to our very important

discussions tonight.  Thank you, Senator, for joining us.  Really

appreciate it. 

 

BLUMENTHAL:  Thank you. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, former acting Solicitor General Neal

Katyal tweeted today that Mueller`s statement was devastating to Donald

Trump and that it undermined the president`s attorney general.  One of the

many reasons you should be following Neal Katyal on Twitter but you`re

going to hear him, next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Robert Mueller hopes that we will not hear his voice again

speaking about his investigation of the president of the United States

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to

you in this manner.  I am making that decision myself.  No one has told me

whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter.

 

There has been a discussion about an appearance before Congress.  Any

testimony from this office would not go beyond our report.  It contains our

findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made.  We chose

those words carefully and the work speaks for itself.

 

And the report is my testimony.  I would not provide information beyond

that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  The most pointed and eloquent response to that today was

another Mueller surprise.  It was another surprise in this day of

surprising Mueller news because it came from Oscar Winner Robert De Niro

who plays Robert Mueller on “Saturday Night Live.”

 

In an open letter addressed to Robert Mueller published in “The New York

Times”, Robert De Niro wrote, “You said that your investigations work

speaks for itself.  It doesn`t.  It may speak for itself to lawyers and

lawmakers who have the patience and obligation to read through the more

than 400 pages of carefully chosen words and nuanced conclusions.

 

You`ve characterized the report as your testimony.  But you wouldn`t accept

that reason from anyone your office interviewed.  The country needs to hear

your voice, your actual voice.

 

This is the report your country asked you to do and now you must give it

authority and clarity.  If in fact you have nothing further to say about

the investigation for your public testimony, you could just read from the

report in response to questions from members of Congress.

 

Your life has been a shining example of bravely and selflessly doing things

for the good of our country.  I urge you to leave your comfort zone and do

that again.

 

You are the voice of the Mueller report.  Let the country hear that voice.”

 

Joining us now is Neal Katyal, a former acting U.S. solicitor general who

wrote the Justice Department rules governing the special counsel.  He`s

also an MSNBC legal contributor.

 

Neal, I never expected to lead off with this question for you.  What is

your reaction to what Robert Mueller had to say – I`m sorry, what Robert

De Niro had to say about Robert Mueller today?

 

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL:  Well, look, I think if Mr. De

Niro said that a few weeks ago, I think that that sentiment makes sense. 

But I think today, we really did actually hear from Robert Mueller and we

heard from him in a very powerful way.

 

I think the most important thing we heard from him – because remember,

he`s dealing with a several-hundred-page report and what does he choose to

pluck out in his press conference today?  He plucks out the fact that he

said, “Look, if I could clear the president, I would.  I have the raw legal

power to do so if I thought he was innocent.”  He pointedly does not do

that.

 

And then second, he said, I couldn`t indict him.  I didn`t have the power

to.  And so because of that, he says it would be unfair to do what Mr. De

Niro says which is to label Mr. Trump a criminal when Mr. Trump has no way

to defend himself.

 

And look, I understand it`s frustrating for a lot of people.  And it`s

frustrating for me too.  But there`s at least – I can understand what Mr.

Mueller is saying here.

 

And at the same time, I think what the ultimate implication of what Mueller

said today, and it doesn`t require a fancy lawyer or anything liking that

to figure it out is, Congress, this ball is in your court right now.

 

And I`ve done the investigation.  I`ve spent a long time, two years,

interviewed hundreds of witnesses and the like and I have found many

instances and they`re detailed in the report of obstruction of justice and

indeed almost a thousand former federal prosecutors have now read that

report and said yes, if this were anyone but the president, I would indict.

 

So at this point, Mr. Mueller has given what in basketball we call an

assist, he`s thrown the ball up in the air and now it`s up to Congress to

bring it home.

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Robert Mueller said about the right that

he had to investigate the president even though he didn`t have the right to

the charge the president with a crime according to the Justice Department

rules.  Let`s listen to this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  The opinion explicitly precipitations the investigation of a

sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while

memories are fresh and documents available.  Among other things, that

evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged

now.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Neal, co-conspirators like Michael Cohen who has been charged

now, who is serving time now, and with whom Donald Trump was identified as

a co-conspirator in the New York case, where the federal prosecutor said –

and Michael Cohen said that Michael Cohen`s crimes were committed at the

direction of Donald Trump.

 

KATYAL:  Right.  What Mr. Mueller said there was I think very, very

worrisome to Mr. Trump and the reason for that is it`s actually cut off

right before that clip, the first words of the clip were the opinion says.

 

What he`s talking about – what Mueller is talking about is a DOJ opinion

which precludes the indictment of a sitting president.  And Mueller goes on

to say two things about that.  Number one, it doesn`t preclude our

investigation right now of a sitting president.  And number two, the remedy

– a remedy in our Constitution because we can`t indict a sitting president

is impeachment.

 

And Mueller says all of that today effectively in the press conference. 

And so either of those options is very bad if you`re Donald Trump.

 

Option one is, you`re looking at a criminal indictment in 2020 when you

lose the election or possibly earlier if he`s impeached.  And option two is

impeachment.  Either of those, not a pretty picture for the president.

 

And again, that`s why I understand De Niro`s concern and it`s a concern

shared by many but Mueller has given Congress the tools to investigate this

and the resources and background in order to bring this thing home.

 

O`DONNELL:  Neal, we have to squeeze in a commercial break.  Can you stay

with us because there is one more thing I`d like to cover if you can stay

with us?

 

KATYAL:  Of course.

 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  Thank you.  We`re going to be right back with Neal Katyal.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Here is something that Robert Mueller`s team waited two years

to hear publicly.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MUELLER:  And before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the FBI

agents, the analysts, the professional staff who helped us conduct this

investigation in a fair and independent manner.  These individuals who

spent nearly two years with the special counsel`s office were of the

highest integrity.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Neal Katyal is back with us.  Neal, as I heard that, I just

thought, is that enough?  Is that enough for what those people have been

through and what they`ve been put through by President Trump, the attacks,

the personal attacks on them, attacks on many of them by name, lies about

many of them delivered publicly by name from the president of the United

States?  Was that enough, Robert Mueller`s few seconds saying thank you,

publicly?

 

KATYAL:  Well, I think I`d say two things about that.  Number one is who

wasn`t mentioned in there in that long list of thank you`s?  The attorney

general wasn`t mentioned or the acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

 

That to me is pretty significant.  I mean the whole very fact that there is

this press conference by Mueller today to me indicates some very serious

tension.  And I`m sure it stems from the fact Barr tried to spin the

Mueller report in all sorts of ways a couple of months ago and has

continued to do so until this day.

 

Number two, I do think it`s actually sufficient.  What Mueller is doing

this there is standard Mueller, standard DOJ procedure which is

understated.  You say it once, you don`t have to repeat it or put

exclamation points and caps on Twitter.  That`s just how they roll.

 

And so I suspect that the men and women of that office are very comfortable

with what was said today.

 

O`DONNELL:  Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us in this

important night.  We really appreciate it.

 

KATYAL:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Neal.  And when we come back, a Republican says, if

the House does not impeach Donald Trump, that will help Donald Trump win

re-election.  That Republican will be our next guest and he has much more

to say about what he now calls the illegitimate presidency of Donald Trump

and the illegitimate vice presidency of Mike Pence.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  After Robert Mueller spoke today, the only Republican member of

Congress who supports impeachment of President Trump tweeted, “The ball is

in our court, Congress.”  Republican Congressman Justin Amash held a town

hall meeting in his Michigan congressional district yesterday where some

Trump supporters were outraged and others confused.

 

One Republican who attended the congressman`s town hall said that she

didn`t know there was anything negative about President Trump in the

Mueller report until Congressman Amash started talking about it.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CATHY GARMAAT, MICHIGAN RESIDENT:  I was surprised to hear there was

anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump.  I

haven`t heard that before.  And I mainly listen to conservative news and I

haven`t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump had

been exonerated.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  At his town hall, the support for Congressman Amash easily

drowned out the opposition.  Here`s how the questioning began.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  First, I want to salute your courage.  And next –

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Amash said impeachment is not a partisan issue.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI):  I`m confident that if you read Volume II, you`ll

be you appalled at much of the conduct and I was appalled by it.  And

that`s why I stated what I stated, that`s why I came to that conclusion

because I think we can`t go – we can`t let conduct like that go unchecked.

 

Congress has a duty to keep the president in check.  And that`s why I took

the position I did and I would do it whether it was a Democratic president

or a Republican president.  It doesn`t matter to me.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Former eight-term Missouri Republican Congressman Tom Coleman

wrote an op-ed for the “Kansas City Star” making the case for impeachment

of the president.  And he argues against the Democratic leadership`s

conventional wisdom that impeachment would help President Trump.

 

Former Congressman Coleman says if the Democrats do not start impeachment

proceedings against the president, they would be handing Donald Trump a

second term.  Congressman Coleman will join us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Here is Republican Congressman Justin Amash responding to House

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy`s attacks on him after Congressman Amash

announced his support for impeachment of President Trump.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

AMASH:  You saw what happened to me from our so-called leader Kevin

McCarthy.  I read the Mueller report.  I`m sure he did not read it.

 

I stated what it actually says and he just resorted to ad hominin attacks

and other various attacks that have nothing do with the Mueller report. 

This is the kind of leadership in quotes that we now have in Congress.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now is Tom Coleman, a former Republican

congressman from Missouri who supports the impeachment of President Trump. 

Congressman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  We really

appreciate it.

 

And I want to get your reaction to what Congressman Amash has done and do

you expect he will be joined eventually or at any point by any other

Republicans in the House?

 

TOM COLEMAN, FORMER CONGRESSMAN:  Well, it is a brave move that he is

making and you hope that if you were in that position that you`d be able to

rise to the occasion, as well.  And I think that you got to start

somewhere.

 

I don`t have a whole lot of hope for the Republicans in the House.  I do

hope eventually if there are impeachment proceedings that go forward in the

House Judiciary Committee and pass the House, that the Senate and the

Republican senators over there who have the actual authority and

responsibility to convict a president, remove him from office.

 

That`s where the real key decisions will be made and where I think we need

to see some profiles encouraged.

 

O`DONNELL:  You make a point that I haven`t heard anyone else make.  You

believe that the Mueller report shows that the Trump presidency is an

illegitimate presidency, which also means that the vice presidency of Mike

Pence is illegitimate in your reading of it because the Russians interfered

to help Donald Trump win the presidency and it worked.  And that`s your

basic case about the illegitimacy of it.

 

And so you argue the point that if it ever got to the point where Donald

Trump was removed through the impeachment process, it would be wrong to

install Mike Pence as the president because of that illegitimacy you

identify?

 

COLEMAN:  That`s right.  They run as a ticket, obviously.  And the Russians

– I mean Putin himself said in Helsinki that he wanted Trump to win so he

also wanted Pence to win as well because they came very tight.  You

couldn`t separate them.

 

So we have an illegitimate president and illegitimate vice president.  If

we remove the presidency and end up with Pence, we still have an

illegitimate president.  That`s unacceptable.

 

So I would call on, at that point, Mr. Pence to resign or have him

impeached like the president.  If for no other reason he`s been like the

number one enabler of this dangerous president that we`ve seen the last

three years.

 

O`DONNELL:  And Congressman Coleman, at Justin Amash`s town hall, a few

different kinds of Republicans including one who accused him of being a

Democrat and having drunk the Kool-Aid and he`s trying to insist that no,

no, no, I`m as conservative as I`ve ever been on all policy issues.  This

isn`t about partisanship.

 

Other Republicans stood up and said I`m a republican but I see your point

and I`m on principle in favor of going ahead with impeachment even if the

Senate wouldn`t act to remove the president.  What is your sense of

Republicans out there and what the range of opinion is, how much Republican

support or at least agreement acquiescence might there be if the House

Democrats were to impeach?

 

COLEMAN:  Well, I think if the House Democrats were to impeach, they would

have to go through the entire hearing process, television coverage, gavel

to gavel just like Watergate.  We both lived through that, Lawrence and we

know that public opinion can change.

 

The polls are not that far apart right now but something as serious as

this, you cannot blindly follow polls.  What you need to do is follow the

evidence and if you`re a member of Congress, your conscience.

 

I think once the public is informed and understands what all went on, just

like that lady you had on up there in Amash`s district, she didn`t know

anything that was wrong, that the president did wrong.  That`s going to

come out.

 

Now, Robert Mueller today said that he was not going to testify before the

Judiciary Committee.  I think that`s wrong in a sense.  I believe he owes

it to the nation and to future generations to go up there and tell the

story that he wrote up.

 

It`s not going to be the circus that he anticipates.  If the Republicans

get out of hand, they will be looked at as that, out of hand.  And I think

that he would provide the credibility to the report that, as we all know, a

lot of people are not reading.

 

O`DONNELL:  And the other point that is made by that woman who is at Justin

Amash`s town hall, she`s interested in government and politics enough to go

to a town hall.  She had no idea there was anything negative in the report. 

I mean I don`t know how Robert Mueller can think tonight that the report

speaks for itself if people aren`t reading it.

 

COLEMAN:  Exactly.  And I think he could probably read the New York

telephone book and get a lot of people looking at him.  Today, he spent

nine minutes, I mean, it`s covered – it`s wall to wall coverage.

 

That`s what he can command.  That`s the integrity and that`s what we need.

 

O`DONNELL:  Former Republican Congressman Tom Coleman gets tonight`s LAST

WORD.  Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

 

COLEMAN:  Thanks for having me.

 

O`DONNELL:  We appreciate it. And coming up, you`re going to see the fall 9

1/2 minutes of Robert Mueller`s statement today on “THE 11TH HOUR with

Brian Williams, which starts now.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.                                                                                                    

END

 

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