CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And all the people around him were having all those meetings with Russians and doing what they wanted done because why did we change the Republican platform, why did all this happen, why was the president so gung-ho pro-Moscow all these years now.
Thank you David Corn, thank you Joy Reid, thank you Charlie Sykes, and my friend Michael Beschloss, thank you, sir. That`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Tonight the breaking news that the political world has been anticipating for weeks. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has now submitted his final report to the Department of Justice and concluded his investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign.
We got word at 5:00 p.m. today that Mueller had delivered his report to the current Attorney General William Barr, recently confirmed, for Barr`s review. In a letter then to the bipartisan leaders of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr said he`s reviewing Mueller`s report and may be able to advise them of its principle collusions as soon as this weekend.
The Attorney General told the members of Congress he`s committed to as much transparency as possible. In the year and ten months since he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein, Mueller has achieved a remarkable record of charges and convictions. 13 Russian nationals indicted for waging a digital influence campaign to disrupt the 2016 election, perhaps most importantly 12 Russian military intelligence officers indicted for that seminal moment. The hacking of Democrats and distributing the stolen materials.
He`s also uncovered an extraordinary ring of criminality surrounding the current president of the United States. The President`s fixer and lawyer pleaded guilty. His national security adviser on the campaign and in the White House pleaded guilty. A campaign foreign policy aide pleaded guilty. His longtime friend and advisor indicted. His deputy campaign manager pleaded guilty. His campaign manager convicted, pleaded guilty, currently serving a 7.5 year sentence.
According to reports, Mueller is not planning to recommend any further indictments which is interesting and we`ll get to that. Nonetheless, a lot of questions remain about what happens next. Individual aspects of the Mueller investigation are still unresolved like the prosecution of Roger Stone and Rick Gates and Michael Flynn`s cooperation deals.
Other investigations that started in the Special Counsel`s Office have already been farmed out to other parts of the Justice Department and their status is still unclear. And then of course there`s the content of Mueller`s report itself which remains as of this moment the biggest mystery of all.
Joining me now Julie Ainsley, NBC News National Security and Justice Reporter who`s been staking out the Justice Department for days keeping us updated on every Mueller report development and MSNBC`s Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber who is host of THE BEAT right here on this network every day, weekday at 6:00 p.m.
Julia, I`ll begin with you. So it was transmitted today. How did that go down?
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Let`s see. It things started to get really tense. It seemed like something as happening right around 4:00. And now we know because we`re able to get the tick-tock and the behind-the-scenes that at that time shortly before 4:00, the report was delivered in person from the Special Counsel`s Office over to the Justice Department.
And in around 4:30, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called Mueller and thanked him for his work over these past 22 months. At that same time around 4:30, Barr`s chief of staff called over to the White House. We wondered if they would give them a warning. They did. Called over to the White House to Emmet Flood on the legal counsel over there and said that the report -- that the investigation had concluded and he read him that letter that they would be then transmitting to Congress.
And then this is the part that I think is a most magical. At 5:00, the congressional liaison at the Justice Department knew his job would be to go brief the committees but he didn`t want to have any jealousy about who might get this first and how this might go down so they dispersed a team to the Democrat and Republican side of both the House and the Senate Judiciary to make sure that the letters that I`m holding here now, mine is a little weathered from being outside, that that was put down in front of both committees all for a Republican-Democrat Senate and House Judiciary at the exact same time at 5:00.
At that point, we got the word of the Justice Department, ran to the camera and now we all have this letter and we are waiting for the next step which is what are those principle conclusions.
HAYES: So let`s talk about that, Ari, the next steps. What is the guidance here in terms of what the regulations say and what can we expect based on what Barr has said.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Here`s what we know. The regulations state that Mueller would put forward a confidential report on who we charged and who we didn`t. And that is the exact reference that Barr makes in this letter basically saying that as soon as this weekend potential he could transmit to Congress those principle conclusions.
That could be something as short and as unsatisfying as the list of indictment we already know about and some other names that are redacted or it could be more. But that is the immediate term. I think it is fascinating that Barr has decided to give himself a week and time frame.
It would have been totally reasonable, Chris, as you know, for him to say three business days or by the end of next week.
MELBER: Because there`s no automatic assumption of misconduct here. Indeed one thing we should all remember in America tonight is that 22 months ago Donald Trump fired Jim James Comey, said he did it because of Russia, and thought I dare anyone to deal with that. We do it my way. And Rod Rosenstein and some other I think, nonpartisan people in Justice Department said no. And they basically held the line.
And then later when he tried to fire Mueller, his own White House Counsel held the line. And tonight if we know nothing else, we know the Donald Trump failed in his efforts to remove Comey without accountability or to stifle this probe and instead has the highest indictment rate for presidential advisors of any president of American history, six in about two years.
Other presidents have had that only in the second term of Barack Obama when eight years and none of his advisers were indicted. So all of that becomes official tonight because we didn`t know until as Julia just outlined, until late in the day today around 5:00 p.m. that Bob Mueller was going to finish his entire probe without incident.
HAYES: You know, we should -- we should note something here, I think that`s important, Julia, which is a note that Barr makes right? Aside from talking about the principal conclusions, he says this and this is -- this is sort of directed by the regulations at issue.
It says, the special counsel regulations require. I provide you with the description and explanation of instances if any in which the Attorney General concluded that a proposed action by a special counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted that it should not be pursued. There were no such instances during the special counsel investigation which is essentially Barr saying what, Julia?
AINSLEY: He`s saying that no one should be worried that this Justice Department under his watch or even before he came that this Justice Department sought to shut down or limit the scope of Robert Mueller`s investigation. He`s saying that Robert Mueller is letting them off the hook. That there wasn`t someone that they wanted to charge and the Justice Department wouldn`t let him.
And that`s a key question he was smart to answer right off the bat because you wouldn`t want the American public tonight to say well, can we trust this report because really it was under the purview of a Justice Department and officials at the President himself appointed.
So he wanted that transparency, and you see that throughout the letter. He also says he`s going to consult with rod Rosenstein and with Robert Mueller as he decides what else he can make public.
HAYES: You know, there`s also -- and we should note the fact that Robert Mueller ending his work here doesn`t mean that he disappears as a human being which is to say were there something untoward, he`s still there, right? I mean -- and Congress, of course, can call him to testify.
HAYES: I guess what I`m trying to say here is the whole question here, the origin of this happens with Comey`s firing and it`s a factual question of what happened. Someone figure out what happened here. What happened in the during the election. What did the Russians do and what did they do it, what if any did the campaign know about it, what ultimately everyone has been working to get to whatever the facts indicate is what the facts of the matter were.
MELBER: Well, and let`s be clear. Donald Trump fired James Comey and lied about it.
MELBER: And that was exposed. And then he admitted that the letter that said that they had to fire James Comey because he was mean to Hillary Clinton --
HAYES: Too mean to Hilary Clinton.
MELBER: Too mean to Hillary was false and it was really because he had Russia on his mind. So that`s an established public fact not necessarily evidence of a crime by itself, but a fact that he lied about something that central.
And according to the New York Times and sources close to Don McGahn, his White House Counsel, he also tried to have Bob Mueller fire. Unlike Comey that could have been a crime if he pulled it off and that is presumably also part of this investigation.
Another really interesting thing that I`m sure you`ll get to because I don`t have a lot of great experts tonight. Isn`t it interesting Chris that Barr goes beyond the requirements tonight yep and puts is you just alluded to Mueller`s name in the process going forward?
I mean, this is a big headline. 22 months in Mueller finished tonight. Mueller stops being special counsel in an operative way tonight. The Mueller probe ends tonight. And what`s the first thing Barr does, he doesn`t say goodbye, good riddance, were done with Mueller, he says in paragraph three Mueller is going to consult with me on an ongoing basis about what else we release.
So you have the weekend release, that`s a little -- probably a little bit of stuff, and then you have the wider release and he`s name checking Mueller on that which is a fascinating thing.
HAYES: Yes, we should have read that here. He says, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress in the public consistent with the law.
We should say we just -- we just got this from Jerry Nadler who of course is the Judiciary Committee Chair in the House. He says, we`ll see what has been made public. We`ll react to that. Take a listen to what he has to say.
No, we don`t have that yet. Let me know when you do have that. That`s Nadler reacting to what has just come out from the Department of Justice.
MELBER: Right. And so I`m going to be very clear about what we`re hearing there in that Barr statement. Either he`s name-checking Mueller on good faith basis that he wants to finish this out in a great and cooperative way. Or he knows what you just pointed out I know you`ve pointed out to viewers before which is Bob Mueller has a lot of leverage as a former FBI director and now tonight as of tonight a former Special Counsel because if you cut him out of the process in ways that are in his view unfair to the outcome of the probe or the conclusions and evidence that he`s amassed, he can lawfully respond to a subpoena and tell the Congress.
So we don`t know tonight. I`m not one to say I assume the worst of Barr or assume the best. It`s not really our jobs. We just don`t know whether he`s doing this to try to finish this out in the best way possible or whether as a smart lawyer who by the way had managed the Iran-Contra ending. He knows that Bob Mueller, unlike any other prosecutor, has some other cards he can play.
HAYES: Well, and just final thought here, Julia, is that one of the things we`re seeing already get to some of the reaction is remarkably and I think this is because there`s a lot of hope on the part of Republicans that this is -- this won`t be some sort of definitive smoking gun that has the President texting Vladimir Putin about when they can coordinate --
MELBER: Or WhatsApp.
HAYES: Or WhatsApp. But there is at least a unanimity and I think this is actually sort of the important point from the beginning here right? There was some independent integrity put into a system that was corrupted from the beginning or perceived to be corrupted, and that the results have some integrity that can be shared by all sides. And what you`re seeing right now is sort of bipartisan unanimity on yes, show what`s what is inside the box, Julia.
AINSLEY: Yes. I think everyone wants to see what`s in it. And I think that -- I mean, we have to remember. The first thing we see is really going to be bare-bones. It`s going to be the conclusions. It might really just be a regurgitation of a lot of the indictments we`ve already seen. Although the line that stands out to me is that they will also have to look at declination decision. So they`ll have to explain why they decided not to prosecute some people.
So I`d like to see how far William Barr goes in explaining those decisions. But then it`s what comes next. And I don`t know if it will be in the same period again where we wonder when he`ll release those or if we`ll have a timeline on that, but it`s what comes next. It`s when he gets into other pieces. And they should be able to go further than you normally would at the Justice Department which does not typically talk about people who are just doing wrongful behavior but not indicted. But in this case, he said he`s going to go far enough to what`s in the public`s interest because that`s outlined in the Special Counsel Regulation.
HAYES: You know, there`s something Neal Katyal said to me the other night and we`re going to hae him in just a moment. You know, he talked about Ferguson. In the case of Ferguson there were two reports released. One was the investigation in the Police Department and the sort of -- sort of systemic civil rights violations. The other though was an explanation of their decision to not indict the officer in question under federal civil rights charges which was quite lengthy.
Even though they were saying we`re not indicted him, they gave a lot of exposition about what they saw as the evidence as a possible model for something that we might see in this report.
MELBER: Yes. There`s the Ferguson example, here`s Anthrax, there`s Iran- Contra. There are plenty of cases where you get real details about that, particularly when there`s public interests at stake that go beyond just one private potential defendant. The other thing I`ll mention is you know, declination is just a fancy lawyers word for decline. It`s the who he declined to charge.
HAYES: Thank you for that.
MELBER: And -- no because it`s going to be coming up all weekend.
MELER: What are we waiting on? We`re waiting on -- and so is that a list of people that`s redacted and it`s three names or ten, and all you know is ten redacted names but that alone is interesting that they declined to charge ten people for something else.
And I think it`s going to be interesting to see whether Democrats dig in if Donald Trump`s trying to spike the football because it appears as if tonight after 37 indictments, there`s not chargeable collusion, then why would you fight to get any of this out. What are you afraid of right with any of these reports or information let it all come out?
HAYES: Julia Ainsley and Ari Melber, thank you so much for joining me. I want to bring in the aforementioned Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General the United States and NBC and MSNBC Legal Analyst. He`s the man who wrote the Department of Justice`s Special Council Regulations back in 1999. And Neal, your reaction to what we`ve seen so far in terms of the latitude that`s afforded to the Attorney General here and how he`s conducted things thus far.
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think it`s looking pretty good right now at this sure. So I mean, what happened today is really the close of a chapter, the Mueller investigation piece. And now Mueller is kind of like a relay racer handing off the baton to other folks, to Congress, to state attorneys general, to the Southern District New York, to other prosecutors investigating various things.
But part of this investigation looks like it may be closed as well. There`ll be those aforementioned declination decisions and the like. And what Barr did today in his letter was pretty significant. He said he`s committed to transparency, that he wants to provide as much information as possible, and you know, that`s something that the President himself hinted out a couple days ago. And so I think the signs right now are all very positive.
HAYES: Let me get -- let me ask you this. Will it be the case that some members of Congress will get to see the whole thing or does you know, in a legal sense officially, Barr really control access to the report unilaterally?
KATYAL: I think one way or the other, members of Congress and ultimately the American public are going to see almost everything. There could be some redactions for classified sources and methods and maybe if there`s some intimate private conduct or something like that, I could see those being excised. But the rest -- and Ari, I think said this so well, the touchstone here is public confidence in the administration of the rule of law.
And any sort of hint of a cover-up, anything that tries to prevent that material from coming out I think will be inconsistent with everything our Constitution and system of laws based on.
HAYES: I want to play what Jerry Nadler who is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee just had to say about the report being transmitted to the Department of Justice. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We`ll see what is made public. We`ll react to that. And as I said, if it is not made public its entirety, we take -- we`ll use a compulsory process, we`ll subpoena the report, and if necessary we`ll reserve the right to call Mueller before the committee or maybe even Barr before the committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s the sort of backstop here, right? I mean, I guess the idea is as a sort of insurance against something being choked off the public could see, it is the case of course, that House Committee can call any of those people as witnesses.
KATYAL: Absolutely. They can call them and maybe the president might try and block it on executive privilege or other grounds like that. But I think given the magnitude of the public`s interest at stake, any attempt to squelch Mueller or that basic -- everything in the report except for classified material like that will be a red line. I think this Congress will fight that tooth and nail because it is fundamentally a betrayal of American principles.
And so you know that`s a red line that I think I really hope this President doesn`t cross. I give him credit this week. He said he wanted the report to be public. That`s what Barr`s statement today also suggests so I think right now at least we`re in a good trajectory.
HAYES: Yes. I should -- I should say in the opening statement, of course, William Barr has came before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation sort of in the midst of all this while the -- of dubious constitutional authority Matt Whittaker was occupying that position. And this is what Barr had to say in his opening statement about what he saw as his role in terms of public transparency. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the Special Counsel`s work. My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law. I can assure you that where judgments are to be made, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and I will not let personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What are you looking for to make sure that that is the case basically as we go forward here?
KATYAL: I think it`s got to be almost the entire Mueller report except for those limited exceptions that I said about classified information and intimate conduct. I think anything short of that will be seen as smacking of a cover-up and inconsistent with the transparency that he promised. And there`s certainly no regulation, the Special Counsel Regulations don`t forbid it, and nothing in DOJ policy that forbids a more fulsome explanation when you have really a unique case of which this is.
I mean this is Ferguson times a million and obviously in Ferguson, as you were just saying, there was a lot of information about the declination decision that was revealed. And you know, look, if they don`t do that, if they try and suppress that, then Congress is just going to have to reinvent the entire Mueller investigation. This is going to drag things out but they`re going to get this material one way or the other.
HAYES: That`s well said. Neal Katyal, as always, thank you for joining me.
KATYAL: Thank you. Thank you.
HAYES: Now we`re joined by Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland, Member of the two House committees that are currently -- or two of the House committees currently investigating the president, Oversight and Judiciary. We just played that your chair Jerry Nadler is response to this. What`s your response so far?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, we are determined indeed to get the complete unedited Mueller report turned over to the Congress and turned over to the American people. And we want not only the report except for whatever might be top-secret, classified, but we want all of the underlying evidentiary materials upon which this special counsel made his judgment.
And there`s excellent precedent for that the Department of Justice turned over more than 880,000 related to Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and that of course did not result in a prosecution. And we know that there have been prosecutions and many guilty pleas related to the Mueller investigation but we want all of the material turned over to us.
HAYES: I don`t think I quite realized that. Well, you`re -- so what you`re calling for and what your committees contention is that in addition to as public and airing of the actual report, Congress should be transmitted the full evidentiary record upon which the report was based?
RASKIN: Absolutely right. I mean, of course, we`re an independent branch of government. We are the lawmaking branch of government charged with the duty of constitutional oversight over the executive branch.
And so we have the power to receive all of these documents and this has been the pattern that the Department of Justice has turned over to Congress when asked for it not just conclusory findings and basic you know, the factual or legal judgments, but the underlying materials upon which it`s based because we, of course, have an independent Constitutional role to play and we`re looking at a whole set of question that may be completely different from what they`re looking at.
For one thing, justice takes the position that they cannot indict the President of the United States so obviously they may not be looking for that. But we have a much broader responsibility in order to vindicate democratic confidence in the rule of law in the Constitution.
HAYES: And you`re saying there`s precedent for that than in the case of just the recently conducted investigation into the e-mail use of the former Secretary of State that after that decision 880,000 documents were handed over to the Congressional Committee?
RASKIN: Sure. I mean, we`ve seen tons of documents turned over from the Department of Justice related to the Mueller investigation. And Peter Strzok and all of the e-mails, remember the late night emails and so on, all of those were asked for by Republican chairs of the various congressional committees. They were turned over by the Department of Justice. So we`re just looking for the exact same treatment.
We want to see yes, what did the Special Counsel say but what`s underlying it. What are all of the documents and the facts and the evidentiary basis for their decisions and then we`ve got to make decisions of our own of course?
HAYES: What do you do when -- I mean, this is a situation right now wherein in various document requests not only has various federal agencies declined to give you that information whether it`s the Oversight Committee particularly or Judiciary Committee, they have simply not responded.
When, the Department of Justice tell you to take a walk off a short pier when you ask them for those -- that evidentiary record, what do you do?
RASKIN: Well, first of all, I don`t think that that`s going to happen precisely because we can ask the former Special Counsel and Mr. Mueller to come in. We can subpoena him and we can begin to ask people to come in to testify about it. So we have every expectation --
HAYES: I see. That`s the alternative?
RASKIN: Yes. That is the alternative. We have the subpoena power. But we are shocked to tell you the truth that the White House has been failing to turn over documents requested by Elijah Cummings, the Chair of the Oversight Committee. That`s not true of everybody who received the document requests, thousands and thousands of documents have come in but not from the White House.
And so we hope that the lawyers in the White House will prevail upon the president to comply with his legal duty to turn over documents that have been requested by the Oversight Committee.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you so much for making the time. Joining me now, Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee where she voted against the nomination of current Attorney General Bill Barr.
Senator, obviously, you had doubts about Mr. Barr. I think they were broader than just his behavior vis a vis the Mueller report. Your reaction to the letter he`s transmitted to Congress?
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: I think that in his letter he says that he`s going to be as transparent as possible so he certainly will be held to it. And I agree with Jamie that we need to get the underlying material upon which the Mueller report is made their conclusions. There`s more to come.
HAYES: Yes. I mean what how do you view -- if I am not mistaken and I don`t believe I am, the chair of your committee Lindsey Graham is down at Mar-a-Lago right now I believe with the President of the United States. How do you view obviously Jerry Nadler in the House have their role in this but your serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee that`s chaired by Mr. Graham who counts himself a staunch ally of the president, how do you view the Senate Judiciary`s role on this?
HIRONO: Yes. Of late, he is a staunch ally of the President. That was -- it was not always that.
HAYES: No, but people change, Senator.
HIRONO: I hope that our chairman will do his job you know, for the public good because I know that during the course of Barr`s hearing that there were a number of us who asked about the transparency that will be attached to the Mueller report and even Lindsey asked the question, Chair Graham asked the question.
So that`s good. But as I say, this is a the way I look at, it this is the end of the beginning of the Southern District of New York. There are a number of other entities that will be looking at other aspects of the Trump Organization`s practices, money laundering or a tax evasion insurance fraud, etcetera. So there`s more to come. I think the President should be concerned.
And if we look at his tweets of late where he has been all over the place with regard to Poland Heights and Korea, North Korea, and all of that it seems like it`s -- the President is very concern in spite of saying that oh, the Mueller report, oh, I really don`t know about that.
HAYES: I want to tell you -- give you the argument that I think we`re starting to hear from Republicans and possibly we`ll hear that again stipulating no one knows what`s in the report. What we do know at least is reported number 17 here about no more indictments is that Robert Mueller is not recommending any further indictments according to a senior Justice Department official. I`ve seen that reported in a number of places.
What are you going to say to people that say look, the bar here was whether there were chargeable criminal acts of conspiracy with the Russian conspiracy to sabotage the election. There are no indictments on that, ergo this is totally exculpatory for the President and clear so.
HIRONO: When you talk about a criminal indictment, the bar is very high. Well, that was -- it`s beyond a reasonable doubt. And you can look at the evidence and concluded that while there being a criminal charge, a criminal charge may not lie. There may -- there may be other avenues accountability to pursue.
HAYES: That is how you`re thinking about it going forward?
HIRONO: First of all, I`d like to see what the underlying basis is and I would very much like to see what kind of analysis or discussion was done with relating to -- relating to obstruction of justice. Because as we all know the president tried to have Mueller fired through Don McGahn. He was very upset with his Attorney General Sessions of recusing himself, he fired Comey. So in my view, there were quite a lot of factors that could that one could conclude there was obstruction of justice. So I want to know what the analysis was by the Mueller team on that aspect.
HAYES: All right, Senator Mazie Hirono, I think you will get a chance to see it probably soon. Thank you very much.
HIRONO: Yes. Thank you.
HAYES: To help parse out exactly what we can expect from the Mueller report I`m joined by Benjamin Wittes an MSNBC Legal Analyst and editor in law -- Editor-in-Chief of Lawfare and Frank Figliuzzi NBC News National Security Contributor, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence under Robert Mueller. And Frank, let me start with you because you work for Robert Mueller, and talk a little bit about loose ends which I think is part of what people are trying to get their head around.
There are -- there are parts of Mueller`s case that are still in motion. There`s a company that is unnamed that is owned by a sovereign government that is unnamed that has been fighting a subpoena. There`s an associate of Roger Stone`s named Andrew Miller who`s been fighting a subpoena who recently said he`s been informed that the Mueller people want him to testify before a grand jury.
There is a trial set for Roger Stone sometime I think later this summer in the fall. Someone is going to have to prosecute him. And then there`s a whole bunch of you know, status hearings and so forth. We still haven`t gotten a sentence from Michael Flynn, there`s been no sentence for Rick Gates. Konstantin Kilimnik is still on the lam as it were. What do you make of the fact that there are all these loose ends on the table tonight here as the special counsel`s investigation has apparently concluded.
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: So what I know about Bob Mueller is that he`s not a loose ends kind of guy. He`s going to have things wrapped up. So what does that mean now? It means he had a strategy. He`s got the plan. He`s worked out the loose ends so that someone else is going to wrap this up.
But what do we -- what do we draw from that? It`s likely that those loose ends don`t really point to criminal conspiracy with the Russians regarding the campaign or he wouldn`t be walking away from it.
Now I`ve also articulated another insight about Bob Mueller which is that it would be very much like Mueller to say I`m all about our system of justice. I`m all about the rule of law. You don`t need me anymore but the system will take care of what remains. We`re going to let the very people who Trump may have appointed as U.S. attorneys elsewhere around the country handle up -- handle out what I have farmed out to them. I think that`s one of the possibilities here, Chris.
HAYES: Ben, what is your -- what`s your sort of expectation. How do you understand where we are at this moment?
BEN WITTES, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So look, I think there`s a few things that are sailing out. One of them which Frank just said is that you know, there are these referrals back to other entities. And Mueller, you know we know of some of them. There are probably some that we don`t know. And so usually when we say a special counsel investigation is wrapped up, what we mean is that the entire investigation is done, but that`s clearly not what we mean here. What we mean here is that Mueller has decided that his role in this investigation is done, that he`s answered the principle questions he was asked to address.
HAYES: What do you understand as those principal questions?
WITTES: I understand them to be what Jim Comey testified in March of 2017, which was that, and I`m go to get the exact words here wrong, but they investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election and any effort on the U.S. side to coordinate with or assist that interference.
In addition, they added to that any efforts to obstruct the investigation as an original matter.
HAYES: And I -- and this is a factual question that I`m going to ask and I`m -- because I have so many things in my head. Did anyone ever get charged with the Podesta hack? I know that the DNC hack was the subject of the GRU indictments, was it both of those hacks, or is that also still hangout out there, because I cannot remember for the life of me?
WITTES: I believe, and someone`s going to tweet at me that I`m wrong about this, but I believe that the Podesta hack is incorporated in the GRU indictment.
And apologies to anyone who knows but that`s incorrect. But I believe that that`s correct.
HAYES: So Frank, the process now goes through William Barr. I wonder what you think the folks in, say, the Southern District of New York, who still have what we know to be a live investigation about sort of the inaugural committee. We know that the deputy national finance chair for the RNC, Elliott Broidy was raided. We know that others have been talked to as part of that investigation, how they`re thinking about their role now in the court, more normal parts of DOJ going forward?
FIGLIUZZI: Well, there`s no question now that the spotlight`s going to be on the Southern District of New York, no question about that. My to what degree the Mueller team has coordinated with them and deliberately passed on something strategic to them.
But let`s get back to the seminal question Russia -- it`s all about Russia, right, it`s all about what Mueller was going to find out about Russia and criminality.
And let me pause at a couple of things knowing how Mueller works. First, he`s not guy that`s going to throw across William Barr`s desk what we call a raw intelligence report without some finished intel product. So by that I mean I think Ari touched on this earlier about whether or not invoking Mueller and Rosenstein`s name today by Barr was a PR thing, and yes, it is a PR thing, but it also means to me that he`s already consulted, or likely Rod Rosenstein has consulted with Mueller on what is the declassification picture here?
Declassification can take forever. It`s very complicated at times. And so I don`t think Mueller would just throw something raw on the AG`s desk without saying I have a version of suggested declassification here, otherwise we`d be into weeks of declassification arguments between DOJ and FBI. I don`t think that`s going to happen. I think that`s largely already done, and I think that`s a good thing for America.
HAYES: You know, Ben, it`s interesting to me as I go through the statements here from Sarah Sanders, who says we look forward to the process taking its course, that the White House hasn`t been briefed on it or told about it. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi who basically say they want to not give into President Trump, and -- not be allowed to interfere with the decision.
But what you see from McConnell and Jack Reed, a sort of call for transparency, a weirdly unanimous call for transparency, which I think is an interesting moment in the narrative arc of this story.
WITTES: So, I agree with that. And I think there`s a layer of transparency that everyone is skating over, but I think is initially very important. Everyone is assuming that when Bill Barr says in this letter that he intends to release the principal conclusions of the report as early as this weekend, that he just means here`s how many people we indicted, here`s the cases we brought, etc. I`m not sure why people should assume that. I mean, to me that sentence read like maybe they prepared an executive summary that identifies the principal conclusions at a high level of altitude without getting into some of the more detailed material, and he`s going to review that.
I`m just making this up.
And so I could imagine some pretty substantial disclosures happening relatively quickly that could either be very exculpatory with respect to the president, i.e. we have found no evidence that the president engaged in any coordination with the Russians, right? Or could be completely devastating with respect to the president.
The other end of the spectrum is we found the president obstructed justice serially and we are not bringing a case against him, because DOJ policy bars indictment of the president of the United States. So, you could -- I mean, you could imagine the principle findings being very dramatic in one direction or another, and I`m not sure why those wouldn`t come out relatively quickly.
HAYES: All right, Benjamin Wittes and Frank Figliuzzi, thank you both on this big night for taking time for us.
We`ve got much more on tonight, this big night, when the Mueller report has been transmitted to the Department of Justice and all of us are waiting to see what it says. Don`t go anywhere. We`ll be back.
HAYES: I want to turn two veteran Watergate prosecutors, and MSNBC legal analyst Nick Ackerman, and Jill Wine-Banks, who have been with us through this ride throughout and know a little something about, well, I guess independent counsel investigation, or special counsel investigations, or special counsel investigations, actually, it was Department of Justice you were under. Your reaction to what happened tonight
NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR AND MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I was surprised it was a report. I really thought that Mueller`s report was going to be one indictment at a time, as it has been, and I was surprised that there were no other indictments if that`s true, because there are so many loose ends out of this whole Russia investigation.
I mean, just to give you an example, we don`t really know what happened between the time of the Goldstone email to Don Jr., where he loved it when they were getting all that dirt, which was the emails, up to the time it goes to WikiLeaks. I mean, there`s a lot that happens in between there, including Trump`s own statement about making comments about the Clintons the following Monday after the June 9 meeting, yet we don`t know anything about that.
HAYES: Well, I mean, that`s the question, Jill, right, is there`s -- to me, at the center of this whole thing, as I said at the top, was always just a factual inquiry, without fear of favor, independent of political interference, which are all important things that weren`t happening necessarily, of what the actual facts of the matter are.
And I guess the question is the expectation here I have, right, is some laying out of the factual matter. This was -- I remember when the 9/11 commission report came out, that was a huge part of what that report was. Obviously, that`s a different sort of situation, but it laid out a lot of just the factual matter of what happened when and where.
Is that your expectation for what is partly contained in the report?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I think that will definitely be in the report, just a chronology of all the evidence that we now have or that has been discovered through the course of this grand jury investigation will be a compelling read to find out about.
I share Nick`s sort of surprise that they wrapped up without really wrapping up. I mean there is the trial still to come, and certainly at least one or two of the prosecutors can stay on board to handle that case. You wouldn`t normally turn over to a whole new prosecutor a case that you`ve investigated and indicted. So it would be surprising figure if someone from the special counsel`s office didn`t try that case.
But there are a lot of unanswered questions. Now they could be answered in this special report. It could say what about Cohen`s phone in Prague, was it there or wasn`t it there? It could say, yes, there is a phone call, and yes we know that Donald Trump Sr. knew that Donald Trump Jr. was meeting, and he knew what the purpose of the meeting was in June in Trump Tower, but these things...
HAYES: Or the other, right -- or the opposite. I mean, it could also be like we found no evidence, or we found evidence showing definitively we don`t think he did. I mean, again, whichever way it goes is the Prague question, which Michael Cohen answered under oath, and I`m inclined to take him at his word, even if he`s lied under oath before.
But on all these matters, again,what matters is what actually happened more than anything else. And, you know, today`s the day -- I`ve been thinking about this, Michael Beschloss tweeted this, he said "the Mueller report has been delivered on the 46th anniversary of the secret Watergate tape in which Nixon tells John Mitchell I want you all to stonewall it, let me plead the Fifth amendment, cover-up or anything else, if it`ll save it -- save the plan."
Richard Nixon would have finished out his term if not for the tapes.
ACKERMAN: I think that`s right.
HAYES: He would not have been impeached, or he -- or they would not have moved to impeach him. They probably wouldn`t have -- he probably wouldn`t have resigned without the tapes?
ACKERMAN: Well, I think that`s right. He might have been impeached as he was by the House, but would you have gotten two-thirds of the senate to remove him...
HAYES: Without the tapes?
ACKERMAN: Without the tapes? I`m not so sure about that. I mean, keep in mind the that evidence that Robert Mueller has brought with the indictments has really been very direct slam dunk evidence. If you look at the Roger Stone indictment, it`s on tape. There he is saying it in text messages, you know, take the fifth, obstruct, lie.
Manafort, all kinds of documents show that show that he lied, and it`s all right out there. You`re not seeing a lot of circumstantial cases being brought, and so the question is, is what we have on the rest of this circumstantial such that Mueller didn`t feel comfortable brining criminal charges? I mean, that may be the answer.
Again, I`m just speculating. I don`t know what`s in that report. But that may be one reason there`s so many unanswered questions that we don`t have at this point answers to.
HAYES: And it`s a good point that beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the threshold for bring a prosecution, and a bunch of sketchiness around a public figure are just different standards, right. I mean, that goes for everything. There`s all sorts of figures who have done things that maybe they can`t be prosecuted for, but have still suffered reputational costs in the public eye that goes for Democrats, Republicans up and own the chain.
ACKERMAN: But even so, you can still convict somebody beyond a reasonable doubt on purely circumstantial evidence.
HAYES: That`s right.
What is your anticipation, Jill, of what congress does with -- if they are -- if they do get the record, right. So, in the case of Nixon, right, the grand jury evidence was all transmitted, and that was sort of an important step. If the hundreds of thousands of documents presumably in Mueller`s -- the sort of evidentiary basis for his findings is transmitted to that House Judiciary Committee, what is your expectation for what gets done with that?
WINE-BANKS: There`s a very different role for congress to play. The indictment has to be elements of a crime that exists that is a statute, whereas impeachment is a very ill-defined thing and relates to is the president a threat to national security? Is he corrupt? Is he somehow done something that is a high crime or misdemeanor, which has yet to be defined?
And so they can take the same evidence and reach a conclusion that there is a threat to national security from the president, that he has been compromised by the Russians. They may follow the money in a way that was not appropriate within the jurisdiction of Mueller investigation who is looking at interference in the election by the Russians and then obstruction of that.
And so they have a different role and they can save a lot of time by getting release of the grand jury testimony, which can be done as we did our trial team went to the judge through the grand jury. The grand jury has the authority to ask the chief judge to release grand jury evidence in the public interest and the judge approved releasing it to the Judiciary Committee for its ongoing impeachment inquiry. It could be for just a fact finding hearing.
We need a public hearing where people can assess the honesty of the witnesses, the credibility of the witnesses, where they can support the conclusion of the Mueller case.
Reading the transcripts isn`t enough. You don`t get the same feeling. I did a poll today at a luncheon about people -- how they felt about Cohen and his credibility. And after his testimony, they all believed he was credible. Before that, they didn`t. And if they had read the transcript, they wouldn`t have believed he was credible.
HAYES: All right, Nick Ackerman and Jill Wine-Banks, thanks for being here.
I want to bring in Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn Civic Action, MoveOn has done a lot of -- you`ve been doing sort of parallel work, right, so there`s been a lot of activism on substantive issues of the Trump presidency whether it was child separation or health care, and also you`ve organized movements around sort of saving Mueller. I wonder where you see your organization, the sort of progressive grass roots at this moment?
ANNA GALLAND, EXECUTIVE MOVEON CIVIC ACTION: Oh, boy, it`s one of those moments where you have to walk and chew gum and juggle and fight for the soul of our democracy all at the same time, right.
So, this is a moment, look, where -- it`s very clear what the next step is. There`s a broad base set of people across the political spectrum, actually, who have been very clear for a long time now that we need to fight for the soul of our democracy, that we need to find out the full truth of what has happened, what Trump and his associates have done, and who have been -- you know, we saw 100,000 people march two days after the midterm election when Jeff Sessions was fired, who is no one`s hero, but it was because we could tell that Trump was trying to position himself as being above the law.
So, there is -- in the context of a moment that has been fighting to defend immigrant communities, that has been fighting to defend other communities that are under attack, that`s been fighting to project a real clear vision of what we`re going to stand for together, things like the Green New Deal and all these other big, bold ideas that you`re hearing on the campaign trail in sort of a parallel track we`ve been fighting for the rule of law.
There was this incredible moment where at one of our rallies in D.C. I remember one of our staff was standing outside the White House leading a chant, rule of law, rule of law, which is not what you`d usually expect to hear from a kind of progressive grass roots organization, but that`s where we are. And we`re going to fight on that track too.
HAYES: Quickly, do you think that essentially getting to this point marks some success, that essentially the various institutions that attempted to restrain a president who clearly did want to get rid of this inquiry, who, in fact instructed his White House counsel to get rid of it, was unable to because of accommodation of Civic Action and other binding institutions?
GALLAND: Yeah, absolutely. I think this is an important point, the fact that we are here, the fact that the investigation was defended successfully is not a result of courts, it`s not a result at all of the Republican Party as a brave and principled institution, just to be clear. It`s not a result of, it`s the result a lot of things, but a foundational essential element was people organizing and speaking up locally time and time again. 450,000 people RSVP`d to the Nobody is Above the Law network, for hundreds of events around the country so that we could be ready to march at a moments notice to defend the Mueller investigation itself.
That kind of organizing, showing up certainly the signal sent in the midterm election itself so that voting, right, has been a kind of preventive force that has gotten us to this point, gotten these dozens off indictments, these hundreds of charges that have been already leveled. And now with the release of the report moment, we`ll be able to see the full truth of what`s in there, but that`s the next project coming right up.
HAYES: All right, Anna Galland, as always, thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it.
GALLAND: Thank you.
HAYES: We`ve got much more. I`m going to talk to some folks who used to work at The Justice Department and the Southern District of New York about where they see things at this moment. Don`t go anywhere, we`ll be right back.
HAYES: I want to bring in Elliott Williams, former deputy assistant attorney general for Legislative Affairs at the Department of Justice, Glen Kirschner, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst, Carol Lamb, former United States attorney for the Southern District of California, and Harry Litman who is a former U.S. attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General and now a contributing columnist at The Washington Post. It`s a lot of resume firepower there, and lot of experience in the various institutions that are sort of tasked now.
As a former FDNY prosecutor.
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: D.C., U.S. attorney`s office.
HAYES: I`m sorry, D.C. U.S. attorney`s office, tell me, Glenn, how you make sense of this timing, and particularly the point Nick said about the fact there are in -- as a matter of public record other loose strings that have not been tied down.
KIRSCHNER: For a former career prosecutor, really hard to understand all of these loose ends, because we seem to have been witness to so much crime in plain sight, obstruction and otherwise, that it leaves us wondering how could it be that Mueller wrapped up his investigation without bringing additional charges.
Now, I think it`s worth talking about the standard by which we decide whether to bring a charge or not, and this is the standard Mueller operates under, and we all operate under. We have a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. It `s a mouthful, but that`s the standard.
And what that means, we have to have a level of confidence that we can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. A court has never put a numeric number on what beyond a reasonable doubt means, but it`s about 95 percent of the evidence showing criminality.
Now, you know, maybe Bob Mueller found that this was the gang that couldn`t shoot straight. Ironically, if irony is still a thing these days, it could be that he found that they colluded. Why? Because collusion, it`s not a legal term, it`s a layman`s term, but people get together to deceive or defraud somebody else. But maybe he couldn`t get over the hurdle of finding an actual agreement to commit a crime and an overt act toward committing that crime.
Now that could be.
Now I will say, all the people who worked with and learned from Bob Mueller, in Bob we trust. So, I think I`ve heard others -- Chuck Rosenberg and Jim Comey, say it`s about the process, and we`re all confident that Bob Mueller has engaged in the process the way it should be handled, so I think we`re going to have to wait for the results and hopefully we`re all going to have confidence in the results.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, DOJ FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: So, you know, I think what is striking, Chris, is how much energy the president has devoted to undermining the very institution of the special counsel and frankly law enforcement in general. And if you think about it, like if you remember the TV show Madmen one of the main lines was if you don`t like what people are saying change the conversation.
And so rather than address any of the legal issues on the merits, it`s attack the fact that Bob Mueller and Rod Rosenstein weren`t a elected officials, and that he won a big election.
This is all part of a long now two, three-year process of undermining institutions. He`s gone after congress. The president has gone after, now, you know, the special counsel. We`re going to see much more of that in the next few days. And it`s undermining the very, very nature of our system of government.
And I think, you know, in many respects this is a 20/20 strategy far more than legal one. It`s getting people behind the fact that our institutions are worthless and that the president can just attack them and that this is all one giant deep state conspiracy, that it`s worthless.
HAYES: Although, what is fascinating now, Carol, as I watch -- as I watch reaction come in from say, like, you know, here is Mitch McConnell saying I am grateful we have experienced and capable attorney general in place to review the special counsel`s report, and Attorney General Barr now needs the time to do that.
You`re going to see -- I mean, after all of the undermining, right, depending on what the contents are and how much they are spinnable in favor of the president`s innocence, ultimately, you`ll see a whiplash turn to bolster and celebrate the findings of what was, what has been told to the base for 22 months is a totally corrupt witch hunt.
CAROL LAM, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA: Yeah, and that`s what is so very unusual about this whole situation. I mean, everybody on this panel knows that the lack of an indictment is not an affirmation of innocence, but one of the things that really strikes me about this whole scenario is that the special counsel regulations usually has to anticipate a situation where the special counsel, there is some antagonism or a lot of difference of opinion between the special counsel and the attorney general. But with Bill Barr and Bob Mueller, I don`t think you have that situation, these two gentlemen are really cut from the same cloth. And you can see it in the way the delivery of the report was done, the careful coordination, you know, almost like a Japanese tea ceremony. Everything is planned down to the second and these two men respect each other.
And most of all, I think they are really concerned about the stability of the government. And you`ll notice that the people who have been indicted, of the people who have been indicted, none of them were active members of the president`s inner circle actively working in the government at the time. And so again, I think everyone on the panel knows the kind of scrutiny that would go into a decision to indict somebody who is actively at the highest levels of government. And I think, you know, the likelihood is that both gentlemen here agreed that that was not the case that there should be indictments at this point in time.
HAYES: One other sort of loose thread I`m thinking about, Harry, again as someone who ran the U.S. attorney`s office at one point in your life, cooperation agreements.
So, Michael Flynn has a cooperation agreement obviously, and, you know, I think a lot of people thought, well, people cooperate and then it`s in order to cooperate towards someone bigger then them.
Michael Flynn is a pretty big fish in this whole thing. It doesn`t seem that he played any part in Manafort, which is sort of the biggest prosecution, and yet he got a cooperation agreement that`s sort of going to end up with him probably getting a fairly reduced sentence. What do you make of that?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yeah, the loose ends here are in someways mysterious, because they go to the heart of his investigation. Nothing bigger than Stone. Ben Wittes made this point a few minutes ago for you, it`s one thing to give material to other offices, it`s another when it seems central to your mission.
Three kinds of information that we don`t know what`s going to happen with: and anything about the counterintelligence investigation, anything about declinations and what that was, and anything about the president.
When Barr says in the third paragraph of his letter, there is other information besides prosecution and declination that Rosenstein and he and Mueller will decide on, that`s presumably the body of it. Mueller did not just give him a little list of whom he indicted and whom he declined to indict.
HAYES: Is that your sense, as well, Glenn?
KIRSCHNER: It is. So, you know, I had the privilege of actually trying a case, prosecuting a case that Bob Mueller investigated and indicted. It was the shooting of a police officer in Washington, D.C., he then passed it off to me because he became chief of homicide in D.C. And I can tell you, this is not hyperbole, when I looked into those investigative boxes, I thought I knew how to investigate a case. I was a prosecutor for 10 years at that point in time, and this was investigative genius. He literally started with the defendant`s birth certificate and investigated everything moving forward, probably learning things about the defendant that he had forgotten about himself. Bob Mueller is thorough personified.
WILLIAMS: And I think the greatest testament to that is the fact that we got a notification today that no major decision that he made was overruled by the attorney general.
Now this is all in the attorney general`s hands. And he made that firm commitment to err on the side of public disclosure. Congress voted -- you know, a very partisan congress, 420-0.
WILLIAMS: ...to see that these findings be made public.
Now it`s really in William Barr`s hands. And is he going to live up to the commitment that he said that he would...
LITMAN: Le`s left himself room to go either way.
HAYES: What`s that, Harry?
LITMAN: He`s left himself room to go either way. He can say I`ve done it all by the regs, which doesn`t require much to disclose, or he can give the bigger stuff about the investigation, the declinations.
HAYES: Although, we should say, Carol, that all the folks in the House, and Jamie Raskin made this point, and Jerry Nadler has made this point, and I should say that Jack Reed in his statement says that he urges Mr. Mueller to testify before congress about the evidence he gathered, the scope of his work and his findings, which I think is going to be a call you`re going to hear from a lot of Democrats no matter what the report says.
But Carol, that is a sort of backstop I think that Democrats in congress are banking on should they feel that Barr essentially is a bottleneck here?
LAM: They can do that. But, you know, neither Barr nor Mueller are individuals who call a lot of attention to themselves, and, you know, I don`t know that they are going to get a lot more out of Bob Mueller then he`s putting in that report. So, you know, but again, I don`t see a lot of tension between these two. I could be wrong, but they may have some professional disagreements about the scope of executive privilege or the strength of the executive branch, but, you know, I think they are both extremely professional. And if Bob Mueller is called to testify, he`ll testify. But he`s probably put everything he can into that report.
And I wouldn`t be surprised, frankly, if they coordinated with respect to, you know, maybe creating a section that Bob Mueller thinks can be disclosed. And then a section that has information he doesn`t think can be disclosed. I mean, he could have put the report together that way.
HAYES: Yeah, that`s what Frank Figliuzzi sort of said having worked with him, that he understood from the beginning what he was working towards that a document that may have to have some sort of compartmentalization.
KIRSCHNER: Yeah, he may have scrubbed it and given it to William Barr ready for disclosure.
WILLIAMS: And that`s not uncommon.
HAYES: What do you mean?
WILLIAMS: I don`t think it`s uncommon to compartmentalize -- there are portions that, either for national security reasons or criminal justice reasons or public sensitivity reasons we might not want to disclose, you know, so we see that sometimes.
HAYES: All right, Elliott Williams, Glenn Kirschner, Carol Lam, and Harry Litman, thank you all on this big day for making time to come on by here.
That does it for us here at ALL IN this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW," starting with the one and only Rachel Maddow, begins now.
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