IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Nadler demands copy of Mueller letter. TRANSCRIPT: 4/30/19, The 11th Hour w. Brian Williams.

Guests: Matt Zapotosky, Sam Stein, Katie Benner, Anita Kumar, TimothySnyder

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Senator Chris Van Hollen gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Robert Mueller has supplied our new bombshell and this pertains to our Attorney General Bill Barr.  In plain English, it sure seem to a lot of people this past few weeks that Trump`s new attorney general may have shaded the truth of the Mueller report from the gip go (ph), may have cherry pick the facts in it.  He certainly tailored his words to please his boss and he certainly seem to give Donald Trump air cover, plenty of it to say as Trump did loudly and proudly and incorrectly that he`d been totally vindicated, no conclusion, no obstruction.

And tonight now we learn Robert Mueller had some of those same concerns as well.  Both the major newspapers relentlessly covering the story are on the board tonight with different versions of the same big story.  Mueller was bothered by what he saw and heard, enough to write a letter to Barr objecting to how his 22-months worth of work was being portrayed.

The two men spoke on the phone and yet all the while the Attorney General continued to verbally carry the President`s water.  The story first broke tonight in "The Washington Post," notably this comes out on the eve of Barr`s appearance before Senate Judiciary tomorrow.  "The Post" reports Mueller laid out his concerns in a letter to Barr on March 27th, there was about Barr`s four-page, now famous summary for Congress that had been released just three days prior.

"The Post" has quotes from Mueller`s letter, this was Mueller to Barr, and we quote, "The summary letter the Department of Justice sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon, March 24th did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office`s work and conclusions.  There is now public confusions about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.  This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department of Justice appointed the special counsel, to assure public confidence of the outcome of the investigation."

Mueller did not stop there, according to "The Post," "The letter from Mueller to Barr made a key request that Barr release the 448-page report`s introductions and executive summaries, and made some suggested redactions for doing so."

"The Washington Post" continues here, "A day after the letter was sent, Barr and Mueller spoke by phone for about 15 minutes.  Mueller said he was concerned that news coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings.  When Barr pressed him whether he thought Barr`s letter was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not.  Mueller`s main worry was that the public was not getting an accurate understanding of the obstruction investigation."

"The New York Times" version of the story reads in part, "A rift between the men appeared to develop in the intervening months as the special counsel wrapped up his inquiry.  Mr. Barr and senior Justice Department officials were frustrated with how Mr. Mueller ended his investigation and crafted his report.  They expressed irritation that Mr. Mueller fell short of his assignment by declining to make a decision about whether Mr. Trump broke the law.  That left Mr. Trump to clear Mr. Trump without the special counsel`s backing."

Tonight, House Judiciary Chairmen, Jerry Nadler, democrat of New York is requesting the Justice Department give his committee a copy of Mueller`s letter by no later than 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.  Earlier just this evening, House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff and Senate Judiciary Member, Amy Klobuchar had this to say about the Attorney General.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN INTELLIGENCE CMTE.:  I don`t think the country can have confidence in its top law enforcement official.  It`s hard to see how he can justify to himself as continued service in that position.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA:  This attorney general is gone way out on a limb here and to the point where he`s not allowing the report, the 400-page report speak for itself.  And that`s why we will continue to demand, we hear from Director Mueller as well as the other witnesses.


WILLIAMS:  Well, that brings us to our lead-off discussion on this Tuesday night, and there is one of the by lines on this breaking news tonight, Matt Zapotosky, National Security Reporter for "The Washington Post."  Notably, he also contributed to "The Washington Post" edition of "The Mueller Report" that`s already in bookstores.  Chuck Rosenberg is back with us, former U.S. Attorney, former Senior FBI official who served as counselor to Robert Mueller for a time.  Notably, he is the host of our newest and podcast "The Oath with Chuck Rosenberg."  First two episodes are now available featuring interviews with none other than James Comey and Preet Bharara.

Also, back with us, former U.S. Attorney Joy Vance who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor.  And Philip Rucker Pulitzer Price-winning White House Bureau Chief for "The Washington Post."  Good evening and welcome to you all.

Matt, take us through your reporting.  The tension is so clarifying now.  This explains la lot.  It also, I`ll say this and not you tells us that those around Mueller are not above apparently dropping something like this on the eve of the AG`s hearing.  But what if anything surprise you in the course of your reporting?

PATT ZAPOTOSKY, THE WASHINGTON POST NATL. SECURITY REPORTER:  Well, look, we knew that Mueller`s report was not sort of completely represented by Barr`s four-page letter that just said, you know, shorthand would be no collusion and a shrug on obstruction.  We knew Mueller`s report was way different than that because we can all read Mueller`s report.

But now we know that Bob Mueller when he saw Bill Barr offered that kind of overview or summary, even though Barr doesn`t like to call it summary anymore, that he was really upset, so upset that he memorialized in a letter, in the days after he saw Bill Barr`s kind of own missive, his displeasure with this, he said this was threatening public confidence in the special counsel investigation.  That`s a witty thing to say.  And then particularly witty thing to say for somebody who, you know, is by book guy, a chain of command guy for him to object how his boss was characterizing his work and put it down on paper so that one day it could come out as it has today is really remarkable.

We knew there was some displeasure about that letter, the Barr letter from some members of the Special Counsel team, we and "The New York Times" had reported that before today.  What we didn`t know is that Robert Mueller was willing to kind of sign his name to a very forceful voicing of this displeasure in a letter.  And that to me was probably the most surprising thing about tonight.

WILLIAMS:  Spectacularly well put, Matt.  Before I bring in the two former Feds we have in our studio here in New York, let`s listen to this exchange from the Barr`s hearing on the Hill.


SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D) MARRYLAND:  Did Mueller support your conclusion?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I don`t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.


WILLIAMS:  So, as a result of that exchange, Chuck Rosenberg, Senator Van Hollen who was on the other end of that is tonight calling the resignation of the Attorney General.  It appears the Attorney General did know Mueller`s opinion at that time.

Matt, stole my phrase, I was going to say Mueller`s three rules of operating, are chain of command, chain of command, chain command.  What did it take for him to write a letter like this in your view?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  And if he had a fourth ruling it would be chain of command.


ROSENBERG:  It`s really remarkable.  Here is why, Brian, and Joyce and I were talking about this just before the show.  We`re part of the same team, the same family in the Department of Justice.  And so before you go to paper, before you write a letter memorializing your views, you want to try everything possible, right, to make your point, to win your argument, to stir the policy of whatever direction.  We don`t like to write to one another.

And so the notion of Mueller, not just writing, but writing to his boss and contradicting him and doing it in a forceful way was really something you don`t see often.

WILLIAMS:  And that phrase, you Feds use, most of us think memorializing means sending flowers.  Memorializing is intentionally putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard to memorialize a moment or a conversation.

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, it is.  And I think chuck is absolutely right, it`s not a step Mueller would have taken lightly.  None of us would have taken lightly, being so directly confrontational and critical of a boss.

And what Mueller in essence saying here is, you Mr. Attorney General have diminished the public`s confidence in DOJ`s integrity.  And DOJ is valued to the public as its integrity, so he obviously felt very strongly.

WILLIAMS:  Joyce, what about benefit of the doubt?  We`ve had a number of former Feds on this broadcast going back to the naming of Bill Barr saying, "I  believe he`s an institutionalist, I believe that good guys win in Bill Barr world at the end of the day."  Then came things like his use of the word spying, then came his incursion of no collusion at that news conference.  Knowing that he was about to reveal a report to the public that specifically said collusion is not a thing in our world, what about that benefit of the doubt now?

VANCE:  So, you know, I was in the camp that had difficulty giving it to him from the get-go after giving the 19-page memo that somehow found its way into the White House prejudging the obstruction issue.  But I think any good faith that he deserved from any of us because of his prior services has long since evaporated well before tonight.  And this is just very much the nail and the coffin.

So many people on the Hill are now calling for his resignation.  And when you think about it whether this is technically perjury or not, that`s something that will be debated.  But this notion that the Attorney General could be disingenuous in such an important manner -- matter in portraying it to the public, I think is impossible to stop him.

WILLIAMS:  Chuck, same question.

ROSENBERG:  Yes.  So, I started in a slightly different camp and Joyce, I believe he was a principled institutionalist, I said that.  That was certainly his reputation in our department.  But, there are things have shaken my view, and you alluded to them.

And I don`t know quite what to make it.  If you hear these discordance notes, right, it just doesn`t make sense.  But the only view I can have now, really is the one that Joyce just articulated so well.  He has undermined confidence in the Mueller report and then by extension in the department itself, and that is deeply unfortunate.

WILLIAMS:  Phil Rucker, I note that Rudy Giuliani is making the rounds phone calls with reporters.  He already told a reporter from CNN tonight that Mueller should stop, I believe the quote was "whining and complaining," that won`t go over well among the remaining institutionalist in Washington.  How -- what`s the reaction likely to be from the President?

PHILIP RUCKER, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF:  Well, one thing, Brian, with regard to the comment that Rudy Giuliani has been making about Mueller whining and complaining.  Mueller actually has not whined or complained and it actually worked to his detriment throughout this two-year investigation that he has not said anything publicly.  He has let his work speak through the indictment and through the narrative that he has built in his 448-page report.  But you do not see him on Twitter, you do not see him at news conferences speaking about any of this.

And in fact, you do see President Trump repeatedly everyday complaining and whining about the investigation.  So, setting that aside, I think the President  is going to be upset that this letter came to light but I think he`s going to have it.  It`s going to reaffirm his belief that Bill Barr is the attorney general he has been looking for.

He complained when he had Jeff Sessions as the attorney general.  That he wasn`t tough enough defending the President, that he was not Rory Cone (ph) who was the President`s sort of former personal attorney and mentor who actually was disbarred because of his unethical conduct.

But Trump will see in Bill Barr somebody who is willing to bend the norms and to really shape a public narrative and to focus on headlines and focus on public relations which is what Trump cares most intimately about to try to make the boss look good.

WILLIAMS:  Watt, we have been told as part of the kind DOJ folklore that these men, Mueller and Barr had perhaps been guests at the weddings of each other`s children, that they`d had a close social relationship over several decades.  So it was with surprise that people initially learned any hint of tension between the two men.  Among your sources at DOJ, I`m imagining that`s becoming memorialized and now it`s less surprising to people.

ZAPOTOSKY:  They absolutely are or at least were friend.  I think Bill Barr testified, I forget if it was in his confirmation hearing or another hearing that they were friends.  They were friends before the special counsel investigation and they would be friends long after that.  I think their wives are friends, too.  They come from the same generation at the Justice Department when Bill Barr was the attorney general before, Robert Mueller was the chief of the Criminal Division there.

We`ll see if that friendship kind of stands the test of this intense political fire that`s burning around them and this subject, the Mueller investigation and Bill Barr`s handling of it is clearly a sticking point.  I`d point out too that that press conference that you sort of just referenced where five times Bill Barr says some iteration of no collusion.  That came after he knew about Mueller`s displeasure with the way that Bill Barr was characterizing his work.  So, I don`t think we`ve heard the last about the tension between these two men over the special counsel investigation despite the fact that they`re friends.

WILLIAMS:  That is the definition going out on a limb for viewer number over at the White House, his repeated use of no collusion.

Joyce, if you were Senator Vance of Alabama on the Judiciary Committee, what would your first question be?  What would you want answered from Bill Barr tomorrow morning when our coverage begins?

VANCE:  Well, you know, one thing that prosecutors don`t like to do is asking witnesses open ended questions or questions that they don`t know the answer to.  I understand that Congress maybe has a little bit more of a fact finding mission here.  But, I think the important questions with Barr who is very smart and very capable of dodging questions is to simply confirm the facts so that he`s pinned down.  It will be important, I think moving forward out of this sort of mini crisis that we`ve seen tonight to have Barr commit to what happened, when it happened, when he spoke to Mueller, what he learned from Mueller and what he knew when he made these statements in his prior testimony.

WILLIAMS:  Chuck, let me go a little darker, have we just witnessed a successful campaign?  To sit on this report long enough to maybe advance spin its details early on enough to cloud the actual findings and blunt the impact of the Mueller report.

ROSENBERG:  Well, it did and it did, right?  I mean, the narrative was defined when Mr. Barr came out and said that there was no collusion and he`s exonerated and we don`t believer that the evidence establishes that he obstructed justice.

And in order to unwind that narrative, people would have to read the 448- page report --


ROSENBERG:  -- carefully, and that`s a hard thing to do.

And so, you know, even a head star of five minutes, Brian, accomplishes that goal, if that in fact was his goal.  I still have this hope it wasn`t nefarious.  But as I mentioned earlier, I think that has really faded.

WILLIAMS:  Phil Rucker, let me play for you what is being said as of the 9:00 p.m., our Eastern Time on network across the street from us here in New York City.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  No collusion, no obstruction, no conspiracy but the radical left, the media mob disparately, breathlessly continued to pursue a fraudulent hoax.  And if that doesn`t work, well, we see what their plan b is.  You got people like Nadler, and Schiff and they want to get on Trump.  Now they`re going after some type of conspiracy theory, financial crime --


WILLIAMS:  Phil Rucker, in the military they call it close air support, that is what close air support looks like and I guess we`ll see more of that.  bu that was the summation of the reporting tonight of your newspaper in "The New York Times."

RUCKER:  Yes, Brian, and that came from one of the President`s friends and in formal advisers, Sean Hannity, and I imagine we`re going to hear that same line, that same narrative coming from a number of other hosts on Fox.

You know, look, they`re trying to speak to the President`s base, and they are joining the President in creating sort of their own reality about this report.  They`re not looking at the 448-page report which does detail extensively, you know, 10 examples of -- that were reviewed for obstruction of justice and instead pointing to no collusion and no obstruction which is what Bill Barr, the attorney general, said in that four-page letter that is now we learned thanks to Matt`s good reporting was seriously questioned by the special counsel.

And so look, I think the President is going to continue to spin this the way he has and he`s going to get a lot of air cover on Fox and elsewhere in the conservative media as well as, frankly, by Republicans in Congress and in the Senate who are probably going to hear from in the judiciary committee tomorrow including possibly Chairman Lindsey Graham.

WILLIAMS:  I really can`t think our front four enough for adding to our understanding on a big night, to Matt Zapotosky, Chuck Rosenberg, Joyce Vance, to Phil Rucker, thank you all for coming on.

And coming up, our next guest has broken news tonight that Robert Mueller wants to testify but Barr`s DOJ is getting in the way.  Will that still hold?

Plus, tomorrow`s Barr testimony may become one of those mandatory live T.V. viewing moments, we`ll get a preview of that.

And later as Barr and Mueller battle it out, a look at a fringe player watch closely by our U.S. government for real good reasons who plays a key role in the Mueller report.  We`re just getting started on a busy Tuesday night.



REP. CHARLIE CRIST, (D) FLORIDA APPROPRIATION CMTE.:  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 reports findings, do you know what they are referencing with that?

BARR:  No, I don`t.


WILLIAMS:  And of course, right there according to tonight`s breaking news, the Attorney General did know about Mueller`s frustration.

Overtime as "The New York Times" pointed out that Bill Barr`s assessment of Mueller`s investigation seem to change.  They pointed that this exchange with Barr during his confirmation hearing back in January.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM. (R) SOUTH CAROLINA CHAIR. JUDICIARY CMTE.:  Do you believer Mr. Mueller would be involve in a witch hunt against anybody.

Barr:  I don`t believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt.


WILLIAMS:  Well, those comments now stand in sharp contrast to what Barr would go onto say this month.


SEN. JACK REED, (D) RHODE ISLAND APPROPRIATION CMTE.:  Do you believe that the investigation that Director Mueller under took was as witch hunt or illegal as been asserted by the President?

BARR:  As I said during my confirmation it really depends on where you are sitting.  If you are somebody who`s been falsely accused of something, you would tend to view the investigation as --

REED:  Well, you`re sitting --


WILLIAMS:  You would not be alone for asking what`s going on here.  And with us for more, two people who know a thing or two because they have seen a thing or two in this area.  Sam Stein, Politics Editor for The Daily Beast and Katie Benner, Justice Department Reporter for "The New York Times."

So, Sam, talk about your reporting tonight, what is or was Mueller prepared to say?  What was just as trying to do to him if anything to prevent him from testifying?

SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST POLITICS EDITOR:  So, our reporting is a little limited on that first front.  What we know is that Mueller had given indications to people on the Hill that he was ready to testify about his report.  We don`t know if it was going to be a public testimony or private testimony or the length of contrast of what kind of hearing it could be.  But the indications were given.

And then, subsequently, what we are reporting tonight is that the Department of Justice has dragged its feet on scheduling such a hearing or testimony, siting the fact that Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, continues to be an employee of the Justice Department.  And so there is a mounting sense of frustration on the Hill that the star witness, the literal author of the Mueller report can`t be brought up yet to answer questions even as there is mounting missed information confusion with what is actually portrayed in his report and how he, Mr. Mueller, related -- and relate it to Attorney General Barr.

WILLIAMS:  Second question, Sam, can anyone --

STEIN:  Sure.

WILLIAMS:  -- prevent Robert, fill in the blank, Mueller a, Bronze Star recipient --

STEIN:  That`s a good question.

WILLIAMS:  -- marine combat captain in the Vietnam War from testifying before Congress.

STEIN:  So, that is a good question, I am not a lawyer.  And also Mr. Mueller will not remain an employee of the Justice Department forever.  So, the likelihood that he will testify before Congress is exceedingly high.  It`s just a question of how much tension will there be between the administration and when it happens and what he`s allowed to say and whether or not he ends up just taking matters into his own hands.

But I believe that tonight`s episode in which it was strategically, I believe, led out there that he was dissatisfied with Bill Barr`s summary of his findings, really reflect a sense of frustration, not just from Democrats but from the people on Mueller`s team that he has -- had to have watched other people talk about what he has produced and been silent himself.  And you get the sense that that will soon change.

WILLIAMS:  Katie, I`m going to play an exchange with Barr at the hearing about the letter he wrote and then I`m going to ask you when we come back what makes it notable.  Here it is.


BARR:  The letter of the 24th, Mr. Mueller`s team did not play a role in drafting that document, although we offered him the opportunity to review it before he sent it out and he decline that.


WILLIAMS:  So, Katie, why is it notable and knowing what we know tonight?

KATIE BENNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES JUSTICE DEPT. REPORTER:  Sure.  It becomes part of a pattern for Bill Barr of not lying per se but omitting extraordinarily important details such that the public is misled and in narrative hardens.

So, when he said that the Mueller team didn`t want to see the draft of the four-page letter, in that -- in large part that was to make people feel confident that Bob Mueller had confidence in him, that they trusted his judgment and that there were no objections to that four-page letter.  What we discovered tonight, thanks to the reporting, is that in fact there were objections to letter and he knew that at the time that he gave the testimony, and yes, just omitted that inconvenient fact.  We`ve seen it happen again and again even in his response to the reporting about this letter and Mueller`s discontent.

You know, Bob Mueller said the words, the content, the nature, the characterization is off.  And Barr responses, well, he didn`t technically say that I was -- I mean, he`s looking out, he didn`t technically say that I was inaccurate.  So he`s lying on a very narrow point in order to try to ignore the larger issue and we`ve seen this again and again.

WILLIAMS:  Sam, what people are reacting to in part, his confirmation hearing, the portrait he painted for himself was a guy who had really been looking forward to going to Florida or where ever, enjoying retirement.  He mentioned his age, he introduced his family, the portrait being -- A.G. inside, bare-knuckle, political operator, and pro-Trump attorney general who is playing to an audience of one despite having the United States as a client.  What is tomorrow`s hearing going to be like you think?  Three of those Democrats are candidates for the president.

STEIN:  It`s going to be messy.  It`s going to be emotional.  People are going to be upset with what is a consisted misrepresentation of information that he had so or near so a possession of and highly sensitive public information at that point too.

And so, yes, I expect it to be very contentious.  And I do expect Bill Barr to mount a defense that is essentially quibbling with words saying "I didn`t misrepresent anything.  It was -- none of this was inaccurate.  It`s just they were worried of the public portrayal."  That seems to be the defense that his team has foreshadowed tonight.

Buy, yes, Brian, you are absolutely right.  One of the -- keep in mind the context of the confirmation hearing was deep concerns over the interim appointment of Matt Whitaker, the possibility that a true Trump`s ally, someone who is sick of him will be put in his position and basically end the probe.  And Bill Barr gets put out there presented as someone who actually could land the plane, a phrase.


STEIN:  And do so admirably.  And what we found out is that, every step along the way he has made a choice that has been highly controversial, if not done right, misleading.  And he`s going to have to answer for that tomorrow.

WILLIAMS:  So, Katy, how do we now think about Thursday, Democratic control of House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee, everyone is acting like staff have never asked questions before, of course, it`s been a tradition, ask Fred Thompson and Sam Dash who made their bones at the Watergate hearings as staff counsel.

So do you think, I guess this calls for an opinion, we will see Barr before House Judiciary on Thursday?

KATIE BENNER, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, sure.  I love to address that question.  I mean, Jerry Nadler`s gambit was, we`re going to force Barr to do something that could also set a precedent so we can continue to use House counsel in questions going forward around the Mueller report.

Now, Nadler can do that and he can fight it and he can subpoena Barr and Barr can`t shrug on Thursday.  But in doing so, Chairman Nadler would lose an extraordinary opportunity to press Barr in the moment when he is at a disadvantage, when public opinion is turning against him, and what Nadler would have a rhetorical advantage.

So to lose that opportunity could be huge.  And so, does Nadler really want to make the calculation I`m going to subpoena Barr and fight this, and then maybe asking questions about this matter weeks or month from now when people aren`t paying attention or don`t care?  I think there is a chance that we could see Nadler change course.  And I think that he could use the breaking news tonight and say, "You know what, the situation has changed.  It is essential that we get him before the committee right now in a timely fashion."

And in addition of what Sam was saying about how messy it`s going to be.  We also need to step back and take a look at what Barr represented, not just in terms of integrity and restoration integrity to the department, he represents a sort of a turning point in the course of the presidency.

We have a President, President Trump, who`s changing what it means to be president of the United States.  He`s busting through norms.  And right now it looks like he has an attorney general who`s inclined to help him do that.  That, you know, if that is the case, we could be in for a very long two years in the office of presidency itself could be completely transformed by the time we get to 2020.

WILLIAMS:  Wow.  Well, there`s a reason people look for and read these two by lines.  Our thanks to these two very thoughtful journalists, Sam Stein and Katie Benner.

STEIN: Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you both for coming on again on this consequential Tuesday night.  Coming up for us, Donald Trump once named him as a top foreign policy adviser to the campaign.  That man still wants to meet Donald Trump.  We go deep inside the Mueller report with new reporting from our series called "Uncovered," when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  That man, Carter Page, who you were supposed to hear mentioned in that little clip is back in the news.  The President first mentioned him at an editorial board meeting with the Washington Post.  Anita Kumar of Politico reports that even after getting caught up in the Russia investigation, Carter Page is still eager to meet President Trump.

"After hearing that Trump reached out last week to another former campaign adviser, Michael Caputo, following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation, Page said he had not heard from Trump but said he would like to talk to him."

In a series of reports we`re calling Uncovered, where we dig in the parts of the Mueller reports that haven`t yet received wide media coverage, tonight we cover Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The Mueller report says Page had previously lived in and worked in Russia and had been approached by Russians intelligence officers several years before he volunteered for the Trump campaign.  The report reads, "During his time with the campaign, Page advocated pro-Russia foreign policy positions, and traveled to Moscow in his personal capacity.

"Russian intelligence officials have formed a relationship with Page in `08 and 2013.  And Russian officials may have focused on Page in 2016 because of the affiliation with the campaign.  However, the investigation did not establish that page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election."

Back with us tonight, the aforementioned Anita Kumar, one our regulars, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor for Politico.  And we have Chuck Rosenberg in to sticking around.

Anita, I had to write down some of this to remember to ask you, how is it that Carter Page and Donald Trump haven`t met?  Is Carter Page out of jeopardy if you ask him and what might he want from the sitting president?

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO:  Well, if you ask him, he is out of jeopardy.  He feels vindicated much like President Trump.  He was recently on Capitol Hill sort of doing a victory lap.

It`s very interesting that he says he has not met Donald Trump.  He has said this before and he said this also to me just in the last couple of days.  This is a man who worked for the campaign, he worked in Trump Tower in New York.  He also had a business venture where he says the building was attached to Trump Tower by an atrium.  So -- but in all that time he and President Trump never met at all.  Of course, the President also worked in Trump Tower.

This was surprising but he has said it before and he says he`s looking forward to the day he can meet the President after he gets out of office.

WILLIAMS:  Chuck Rosenberg, so much of this refers to your formal beat.  Here`s a guy swimming in Russians as is his rights.  He lived in Russia as was his right.  It gives our government kaleidoscopic reasons to light him up and watch what he`s doing.  You have detailed how difficult it is other reporting to the contrary to get a FISA report.

Let me ask you about that and in your view, should he be walking around thinking he`s out of jeopardy?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL:  The man has nothing to celebrate.  The report, seven pages of it are dedicated to him.  That`s never a good thing, by the way.


ROSENBERG:  You don`t want to be mentioned in that report.  All that found as you articulated was that, there was not evidence to establish that he had coordinated or conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.  It didn`t say anything else other than detailing those seven pages, series of contacts with Russian intelligence officers dating back to at least 2008.

There were four FISA warrants, three or four FISA warrants on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants issued by the FISA court to surveil him according to reporting.  That means -- and this is really important trend.  It was probable cause to believe as authorized by a federal judge that Carter Page was an agent of a foreign power.  Which foreign power?  Russia.

That`s not a good thing and that is not an exoneration, and there`s nothing for him to celebrate.

WILLIAMS:  You`ve told me that the FISA applications are as thick as your wrist?

ROSENBERG:  That`s right.  And they go through a very careful process between lawyers and the Department of Justice and the FBI, and between FBI agents.  Before they`re certified by the director of the FBI, before they`re signed off by the attorney general of the United States, before they are appointed, I`m sorry, before they are presented to a federal court judge for authorization.

And so, the process is a caricatured by certain people, and so deeply unfair to that process, is excruciating careful.  And when I worked for Bob Mueller, one of my jobs was to review a FISA warrant or every FISA warrant each morning before he certified it

WILLIAMS:  Anita, Trump got his attorney general who was willing to call all this spying, how can Carter Page perhaps still be of help to the boss, Donald Trump?

KUMAR:  Oh I think he will because as we`ve seen President Trump is campaigning on this Mueller report now, saying, obviously, saying he`s vindicated.  But more importantly saying, this was all, you know, shouldn`t have happened in the first place, right.  He should have been investigated, there was surveillance going on alluding to this, right, that it was all illegal, shouldn`t have been done, unwarranted, whatever word you want to use.

And so, he`s going to be campaigning on this literally for his reelection.  He`s talking about it and he`s trying to get public opinion on his side to, you know, sort of go with what he`s been saying the last two years which is, there`s so many people in this country, Democrats, the media, mainstream media that are against him, the deep state.  This kind of goes into that.

And he`s using this as a way to say, "I was right, all these people are against me and I have won and I`m going to be OK.  And so, just look what I`ve come up against."  And so, he`s going to be talking about this surveillance.  And as you know, he asked for the attorney general to go and investigate this situation and how this happened.

WILLIAMS:  Chuck Rosenberg just casually mentioned that for a time he was the one who brought FISA cases to Bob Mueller, it`s more of evidence of the fact that Chuck is among our most learned and experienced guests on this broadcast and at this network.  And now, you have a podcast of your own.  I want to know what your goals are, I have a long plane flight coming up and I will be current by the weekend.

ROSENBERG:  Well, thank you, first of all, for giving me chance to talk about it.  The goal, Brian, was to talk to fascinating people, friends and colleagues of mine over the years about their lives in the Department of Justice and the FBI, and to bring viewers in so they can sit with me and ask questions they would have wanted to ask and get the answers they would have wanted to hear.

We talk about hard things.  We talk about dilemmas and problems and how we try to resolve them.  It was more art than science, how (inaudible) that we make mistakes but what we try do is get it right.   And we call it "The Oath" because we take an oath not to a particular person or party or president, but to the constitution of the United States.  And I guess, as I did, I`ve taken that oath.

WILLIAMS:  So far, Preet Bharara and James Comey, and those are just the first two episodes.  Veteran journalist Anita Kumar, veteran fed and brand new podcaster, Chuck Rosenberg, our thanks for joining us again on the broadcast tonight.

And coming up, his modest book received giant attention because of its 20 simple rules to avoid tyranny.  Tonight, we will ask the author how Trump is doing, where those rules are concerned, when we come back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  It was just announced, there was no collusion with Russia, the most ridiculous thing I`ve ever heard.  There was no collusion with Russia.  There was no obstruction and none whatsoever, and it was a complete and total exoneration.


WILLIAMS:  That was our President the day of the attorney general released that four-page summary letter, that`s what led Mueller to write about the public confusion that was being let loose, effective that moment.  Of course, as we`ve been reporting, the report did not declare total exoneration.

Our next guest writes in his book on tyranny, "On Tyranny," and we quote.  "You submit to tyranny when you renounced the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case."

And so we welcome back to the broadcast Timothy Snyder, Yale University Professor.  Professor Snyder was actually a Marshall Scholar, educated in the Ivy League and in Oxford specializing in Europe and the Holocaust.  He happens to be the author of two books of note in this area.  The first we just mentioned "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century."  The second, "The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America."

And, professor, from the distance of Austria, you`ve been listening to our broadcast tonight.  Just the news we`re covering tonight, how do you believe it fits into the thesis?

TIMOTHY SNYDER, PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY:  Well, unfortunately, it fits extremely well.  The foundation of Russian foreign policy towards us and towards everyone is to try to get rid of factuality of such, to turn everyone into people of opinions, to turn politics into a matter of spectacle.

We are now in the middle of that.  We have a president and attorney general who are lying about an underlying reality.  The underlying reality is that Russia in 2016 carried out a comprehensive campaign as shown in the Mueller report and elsewhere to get Mr. Trump elected.  That is the underlying factual reality.

What we are seeing is an attempt to turn underlying facts not just into spin but into fiction.  This isn`t just a problem because the facts are so important.  It`s a problem because facts themselves are the basis for a rule of law state.  And so your coverage tonight about a crisis in the Department of Justice is about a crisis in the rule of law.  It`s about the kind of country that the United States will be.

WILLIAMS:  I first saw you in an interview with Bill Marr that stopped me in my tracks.  And that very night, you talked about as one of your points, the importance of listening for dangerous words.  With that in mind listen to this from our President, we`ll discuss on the other side.


TRUMP:  They tried for a coup, didn`t work out so well.  And I didn`t need a gun for that one, did I?

There were really -- there was coup.  That started long before Mueller.

This was a coup.  This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government.  This was a coup.  This wasn`t stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments.  This was an attempted coup.


WILLIAMS:  Professor, no one needs to remind you that word while powerful is also a term of art in geopolitics.  How does that fit in your list of rules?

SNYDER:  Well, by saying -- by using that word "coup," by suggesting the other side has already carried out a coup or tried to carry out a coup, what Mr. Trump is doing is saying that I would be within my rights if I also did something extraordinary.

So he`s trying to move politics from something normal into where states of exception, coup d`etat and so on would be thinkable.  And of course, he is already blamed the other side, although in fact what has happened is that he himself, as the Mueller report says, has been the beneficiary of a very strange intervention in American politics by a foreign power.

WILLIAMS:  Normalization comes through repetition, does it not, and is that what we`re seeing with no obstruction, no collusion, total vindication?

SNYDER:  Yes.  I mean that`s right out of the middle of the authoritarian play book.  It`s everything we know from George Orwell and all the smart commentator as of 20th century totalitarianism.  You repeat something which you know is simple and which you know is wrong over and over again in the hope that, you know, as if you had a machete, you could clear out all of the underbrush of the facts.

The underbrush of the facts indicate that there was a campaign in 2016 to elect Mr. Trump, that it came from Russia, that Mr. Trump and his campaign knew about it, that they supported it, that they expected it to help him.  Those are the facts.  Repeating these things over and over again is an attempt to make people feel comfortable in a reality which should make us highly uncomfortable.

WILLIAMS:  The need to speak to you was urgent and we appreciate the fact that you are with us at 5:54 in the morning in Vienna, Austria.  Professor, come back anytime.  It`s pleasure to have you as always.  Again, the professor`s latest book is "The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America."  Prior to that the book is "On Tyranny."  Our thanks.

When we come back, we`ll explain how it is that three Democrats running for president are going to encounter this President`s attorney general tomorrow.


WILLIAMS:  As Mr. Jefferson listens, the last thing before we go tonight is a quick reminder of what we`re going to witness tomorrow.  We will all be back in this studio tomorrow morning for our live coverage of what in normal times would be a perfectly ordinary Senate committee hearing, but nothing about tomorrow, nothing about our times is normal.  Attorney General Bill Barr is going to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow.

Here`s a reminder.  Here are the players.  First the Democrats on the left there but also the Republicans, we last saw this group during Barr`s confirmation.  We saw them during the Kavanaugh confirmation.  Note among the Democrats they include three presidential candidates, Klobuchar, Booker, and Harris.

Now we know that Mueller objected to how Barr sold his report, his work of 22 months.  Now that it`s clear, Barr has been choosing his words to please his boss, no collusion, tomorrow just became very important.

We`re going to treat it as such.  I`ll be here with Nicolle Wallace and assorted former feds including Chuck Rosenberg and Joyce Vance who were here with us tonight.  And we begin all that right after "Morning Joe."  We will cover everything as it happens throughout the day and, of course, we`ll see you right back here at the same time tomorrow evening.

For now that is our broadcast for this Tuesday night.  Thank you so very much for being here with us.  Goodnight from NBC News Headquarters here in New York.

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