CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- as of close of business on the East Coast last Friday, it was time for the loyal opposition to open business in saying what the Democrats are for. The world knows that agrees with them on what they`re against. And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you think Robert Mueller acted honorably?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, yes.
HAYES: Robert Mueller is finished.
TRUMP: No collusion. No collusion.
HAYES: And the Barr report on the Mueller report is out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t need the Barr report. We need the Mueller report.
HAYES: Tonight, what we now know about the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the push to learn more by making the special counsel`s report public.
TRUMP: It wouldn`t bother me at all.
HAYES: Plus, Neal Katyal on his problems with the Barr letter, Mueller`s punt on obstruction and no exoneration, and what all this means for the candidates trying to take Donald Trump`s job.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everyone needs to get a chance to read the Mueller report.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. So we have considerably more information today than we had Friday about what exactly the Mueller report concludes though crucially it is far less than we need.
You`ve probably seen the top-line conclusions as filtered through the President`s chose an attorney general who quotes only three sentences, two of them partial from the actual report itself, a report whose length like nearly everything else about it remains a mystery.
But before getting further into what William Barr says, the principal conclusions of it are it`s probably worth taking a step back to ask the question what exactly was the goal of this undertaking? And here`s how I`ve seen it and still see it.
For a million reasons having to do with polarization, the internet monocultures of social media and a widespread campaign of sustained foreign intervention, the 2016 election was I think a uniquely disorienting moment in American history. It was an election defined by disclosures and secrets and informational sabotage at every turn.
We learn things that had been secret that were wrenched into public life like through criminal theft and sabotage by Russian intelligence, revelations that ended up generating enormous amounts of coverage and having genuine real-world effects. I mean heck, the chair of the DNC lost her job on the first day of the party`s convention to name just one example.
It was also a campaign defined by what we did not learn. For instance there were active FBI investigations into both candidates the same time including a counterintelligence investigation into Donald Trump`s campaign. And that, that was never leaked or disclosed during a time when the FBI ignored protocol twice to give updates on its investigation into Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
So there`s always been a very simple question that really needed answering about 2016. What happened? What are the facts of the matter? Who did what, when? And answering that deceptively simple question was always extremely difficult for a number of reasons.
You had a professional intelligence service attempting to manipulate information, hide his tracks, a massively polarized electorate with deep- seated political grudges towards the main players involved, and of course a Trump campaign and administration that we know will just about lie about everything all the time.
This is the reason for the Mueller investigation in the first place, to create some entity with sufficient authority, access to intelligence, subpoena power, and search warrants and political independence the authority and resources to make a comprehensive finding of fact. And the completion of that task is an important one.
Which is why it`s rather ironic for the biggest critics of the entire undertaking to take a four-page summary of what could be a thousand-page report for all we know as total vindication. It`s also more than a little ironic that a president who has spent months berating Mueller and those who work for him and those who covered him who tried to fire the man himself now takes an appointees summary of a report that explicitly stated it does not exonerate him as of course exoneration.
That even as the investigation`s public activities have already demonstrated conclusively, the President was the beneficiary of two separate criminal conspiracies undertaken for his benefit during the campaign. But it`s a good thing it was done whatever it shows because the whole point here is that we need to know what happened.
It`s always been my personal investment and our collective one I think is a democracy which is why of course we need to see the full report. The facts are what matter here.
Joining me now Julia Ainsley, NBC News National Security and Justice Reporter who`s helped us navigate the submission of the Mueller report. Where are we now in terms of the negotiations between the White House and Congress about next steps in seeing more of the actual report itself?
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Chris, we know tonight that Congress wants to see at least the House side or the demonstration control. They want to see this report by April 2nd. That seems a little fast.
From what I understand inside the Justice Department, the Attorney General is reviewing what he can put out to the public, but a lot of that depends on Robert Mueller who will still have to continue working as he identifies for the Attorney General what pieces of information are subject to grand jury testimony exclusivity. Meaning that they can`t go out and also what pieces might need to be used in other investigations.
Remember, just because Robert Mueller is finished with him doesn`t mean that lots of other investigations that spun off of those even some we might not know about don`t need a lot of that information that he collected to stay protected so there`s a lot of back-and-forth.
Today I was asking officials are we talking weeks, are we talking months, are we talking a year. And I was told gosh, not a year but we can`t tell you weeks or months at this point. So that certainly doesn`t tell me it`s coming any day soon.
But you`re right there`s so much information especially if you get down to what they say about obstruction, but even on the collusion question when William Barr said that the Mueller report lays out many different ways. The Russians attempted to get in touch with the Trump campaign to meddle in the election and that they were not successful.
We know of so many interactions between Trump campaign associates and people with known ties to the Kremlin and what about those interactions didn`t rise to the level of conspiracy, We need more facts. We need more evidence to figure out why Mueller ultimately came to that decision and then, of course, my Barr is characterizing that decision and the non- decision on obstruction the way that he does in that letter we got yesterday.
HAYES: Do we even have -- I mean, one just really basic question here. So there`s three different -- you know, there`s two principal conclusions that the president -- that they did not find evidence there was any U.S. person or member of the campaign that coordinated with the Russian government`s attempts to influence the election and inconclusive finding about obstruction with arguments presented on both sides. Barr ultimately making a unilateral decision about that.
Do we have any sense even just to the length of the thing? I mean is it like you know, Ken Starr, remember, you know these reports that were stacked this high thousands and thousands of pages, is that what we`re talking about? Are we talking about 100 pages? No one knows right?
AINSLEY: No one knows. I asked that question and in fact, from the very beginning we were told they weren`t going to tell us the length. I don`t know if we`ll ever know the length of the Mueller report because we would want to know how much they`re condensing here. But they do lay out how many subpoenas there were, how many interviews there were. I mean, it was hundreds, thousands of pieces of information that they`re collecting to assemble into this report.
So to guess that it`s anything less than -- I mean I`m going to be very conservative here, like 20 pages, that would be pretty obscene for it to be less than that. So we know that the Attorney General had to do a lot of convincing.
The one thing I was told today was that the Attorney General did get a lot of information about this report before Friday. Yes, the full thing came to him Friday afternoon. We all scrambled out to the cameras. But there had been meetings between Mueller`s team and between -- and with Barr`s team for weeks now.
The special counsel actually came over to the Justice Department March 5th and then told the Attorney General that he wouldn`t be making a decision on obstruction. And I was told that really took Barr and Rosenstein both by surprise.
HAYES: All right, Julia Ainsley, thank you both. We`re going to talk more about that. Joining me now Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He`s a Member of the House Judiciary Committee which just weeks ago launched a sweeping investigation into the president and his associates. What is your game plan now, congressman?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Well, Chris, I think at the beginning of your show you really laid out an important reminder as to what this investigation is about and how central it is that the American people know the results of the investigation. So we have forwarded a letter to the Attorney General today signed by the six chairs of the committees of relevant jurisdiction requesting the production of the full model report and all the supporting materials and setting April 2nd as the deadline.
That`s sort of the next step. Hopefully, the Attorney General will comply with this request and the report will be furnished. If not, obviously the committee has the authority to issue a subpoena to compel its production. But the bottom line is the American people have a right to see the conclusions contained in this report, that Congress has a responsibility to see that report and then continue its oversight work.
So we`ve now seen the Barr report which is a partial summary or his take on one piece of it and then his conclusions on another. That is not a substitute for the full release of the Mueller report that we were waiting two years for.
HAYES: I want to be clear about something here and get a clearer answer from you which is are you satisfied for a process perspective that the report had everything he needed, and had the authority it needed, the political independence that needed, the budget and resources needed to pursue this fact-finding mission, and ergo whatever is contained therein once you get your hands on it, you are prepared to accept as the facts of the matter without there being some countervailing revelation?
CICILLINE: Yes. I think that`s generally right. I mean, obviously, we fought hard to protect the special counsel, to protect his independence, to make sure he was a permitted to complete his work. Some of the events at the very end of this where Mr. Barr made some conclusions about fact in law that were not made by the Special Counsel are curious.
It`s also curious that the special counsel didn`t render a judgment on the obstruction of justice provision. You know one of the reasons the Special Counsel was created and tasked with this is because of their independence from the executive branch. So he could make judgments based on fact and law separate and apart from the president and the administration.
To then shift that responsibility to the appointee of the president who essentially auditioned for the job by preparing this memo saying that essentially a president can`t be charged with obstruction of justice because he`s in charge of the Justice Department caught the president`s eyes that you`re the man for the job, and then he delivered on it in 48 hours.
So I think there`s some concern about that process but I think we respect the integrity of Mr. Mueller, the professionalism, his work. We want to see the evidence he relied upon, the judgments he made, the conclusions he came to, and the American people have a right to see that as well.
HAYES: I want to play something that the Chair of the Judiciary Jerry Nadler had to say about testimony before committees which is obviously also going to be something. This is what he had to say about the Attorney General.
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REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: As much information can be -- as can be made public should be made public without delay. I intend to fight for that transparency. We will ask the Attorney General to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. We will demand the release of the full report.
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HAYES: Do you imagine there will be more testimony on this?
CICILLINE: Oh no question about it. I expect that Mr. Barr will come before the Judiciary Committee. I expect we will have Mr. Mueller before the Judiciary Committee to answer our questions about the contents of the report, and Mr. Barr to answer questions about the decisions he`s made and the judgments he`s made with respect to the obstruction of justice charge in particular.
So yes, it`s important that the Attorney General could be prepared to come before the Judiciary Committee to produce the report and answer our questions.
HAYES: Final question on that April 2nd deadline. Given two sets of concerns about grand jury, secrecy, and classification, do you think it`s a realistic timeline and do you have any sense of what length -- what length of material we`re even talking about?
CICILLINE: We don`t have a sense of the length of the report. I do think that it`s a reasonable timeline. Presumably, they have done a fair amount of review of this already. And certainly, I think accommodations will be made if they need additional time to scrub classified or protect sources and methods.
But look, we want to push hard that this needs to be produced as quickly as possible. The American people have been waiting for 22 months for the conclusions of this report. We fought hard to protect the special counsel so he could complete his work. But the American people have a right to know the truth. They have a right to know what happened.
This was an attack on our democracy. Everyone has a stake in understanding what happened and making sure we prevent it from ever happening again. And Mr. Barr made a pledge during his confirmation hearing that he was going to be as transparent as possible. It`s time for him to make good on that promise.
HAYES: All right, Congressman David Cicilline, thank you very much. Joining me now is Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist running with national security and civil liberties and Nick Akerman former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor and an MSNBC Legal Analyst.
Marcy, let me start with you. As someone who`s followed this extremely closely, what stuck out to you about the encapsulation of the as yet to be disclosed length report by Mueller or by Bill Barr?
MARCY WHEELER, JOURNALIST, EMPTYWHEEL BLOG: As it was presented in bars memo, it just focuses on the part that`s not on obstruction, just focuses on the two ways that the Russian government interfered in the election, the trolling and the hack and leak. And that`s really curious because as Julia mentioned, when Rosenstein hired Mueller, he said we want you -- we want to know if there`s any coordination between the campaign and the Russian government.
And this memo by the way is limited at least as on its face to the Russian government not to people like Konstantin Kilimnik who doesn`t work for the Russian government but was right there in the loop between Paul Manafort and hand it on polling data to others. So that`s one issue.
But the other issue is when Rosenstein hired Mueller, he said go find out the nature of links between Mueller`s people and these Russians which is exactly what Julia raised. It`s like what is the nature of the link between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik or Oleg Deripaska to whom he owed millions of dollars and therefore may have compromised the campaign that way.
What is the link between the Trump family and the Agalarovs and Natalia Veselnitskaya? That may not be criminal but that is something that Rosenstein included in his mandate to Mueller and it`s not in the Barr memo.
HAYES: Yes. And even I would even say even -- again, I`ve been tearing this point. Even if the information is all exculpatory, I still want -- I`m so curious about it, right? So after the Trump Tower meeting, it`s like well, maybe they said, man, that was weird. What the heck was that? We`ll never deal with them again. And there`s some e-mail sitting there that shows them being you know, boy and girl scouts about the whole thing. Also, we should see that as well right?
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: We should have that. We should see all of it.
AKERMAN: I mean, we ought to know what the standard is that Robert Mueller applied. I assume that he said that he wasn`t charging because he didn`t have proof beyond the reasonable doubt. But that`s like a client of mine has just been acquitted and says the jury find me innocent. No, they didn`t find you innocent, they just didn`t find you guilty beyond the reasonable doubt. So what`s the evidence?
HAYES: Right. Although it`s also possible, I just want to be clear right? It is possible the evidence in there is quite exculpatory possibly, right?
AKERMAN: Possibly, sure.
HAYES: I mean, we do -- we do not know what the evidence is. It`s the point of the need to read the thing is it precisely on all these questions. And even Marcy`s questions having to do -- nothing to do with the Trump campaign. I mean, something that I`ve sort of been thinking about and focused on it`s just about you know, when we got the indictments on the Russian side, there was a lot we learned but it was fairly limited about like what exactly they were up to, and how they were doing it, and how the information got his way in the WikiLeaks. And all that stuff seems really useful for everyone to just be able to have access to.
WHEELER: Right. And by scoping the coordination between the campaign and the Russian government, it ignores the entire question of WikiLeaks which of course Roger Stone is going to trial in November on. It`s not a crime necessarily to coordinate with WikiLeaks. But we know that the campaign was very actively involved in asking Stone to optimize the release of the - - of the e-mails. Is that in there? That`s not included in the scope of what Barr described as the -- as the read.
And again, coordinating with WikiLeaks may not be a crime at all unless you lie about it is Roger Stone is accused of doing, but it is something that I think is important for people to understand.
HAYES: How do you see in terms of this -- you know the grand jury issue is an issue that has been faced before. How do you see the methods for sort of making sure that as much the report is produced as possible?
AKERMAN: Well, to me what the Barr is doing right now is a big scam. He`s basically put out a statement to exonerate Trump. The fact of the matter is he could take this entire report, bring it in to the grand jury, have them approve it and ask the chief judge in the District of Columbia to basically send this over to the House Judiciary Committee.
HAYES: And that has happened before.
AKERMAN: We did that in Watergate. That`s exactly what we did. So I -- this idea of waiting any kind of period for this is nonsense. They could do this immediately. There is no reason for people to be waiting around in the Judiciary Committee for this report.
HAYES: It also seems obviously -- I mean, Marcy, in a -- in a moment of rare public consensus on anything, you had a 420 to 0 vote. A sense of Congress (INAUDIBLE) made public. Chuck Schumer attempted unanimous consent for a similar resolution. The Senate today was blocked by Mitch McConnell who objected. But it does seem like there`s collective bipartisan trans-ideological interesting what actually happened.
WHEELER: Yes. I mean, one of the things I wrote before the report came out is you know, whatever is in this report, it would be nice for the left and the right to be able to move beyond Russia as their area of contention because if we don`t do that, we`re not going to be prepared against the next time Russia tries to interfere or tries to attack the country.
We have plenty to disagree about left and right without Russia really ripping the country aside. And I think by the way in which Barr wrote that memo and specifically the way in which Barr inserted himself in what should be the role of Congress to decide whether the president`s actions amount to a high crime or misdemeanor, I think only exacerbates this tension in this problem over Russia and that`s really unfortunate. Because I think both sides have said show us the report and instead Barr has thrown more fire on to the -- on to the --
HAYES: We will see. We`ll see if we get more from him. I suspect we will get some more. It`s just a question of how much and in what short order. Marcy Wheeler and Nick Akerman, thank you both.
Coming up, from collusion two obstruction, Neal Katyal on why Robert Mueller punted on the question of whether or not the President of the United States obstructed justice and William Barr`s conclusion on that matter raises red flags. Neal joins me in just two minutes.
HAYES: According to the Attorney General, Robert Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to disrupt the 2016 elections, did not find evidence that establish that. The special counsel didn`t come to any conclusions one way or the other about whether the president committed obstruction of justice and said evidence was presented on both sides and the decision was left to two individuals who are not exactly disinterested in the matter.
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein who wrote the letter giving the president a pretext to fire then-FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General William Barr who appeared to audition for the job he now has by writing a memo last year arguing that Mueller`s theory of obstruction was "fatally misconceived."
That`s whose judgment we`re now being asked to accept at face value without getting to see any of the underlying evidence. For more of the questions raised by Barr`s collusion, I`m joined by MSNBC Legal Analyst Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General under President Obama who wrote the special counsel rules back in 1999. He has a new op-ed in The New York Times, the many problems with the Barr letter.
Let me start with this one. What do you think of the decision to not make a determination and is that then the Attorney General`s role to make it for him?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I don`t think it`s the Attorney General`s role. So yesterday if you read Donald Trump`s tweets, you think oh, this report by Mueller clears Trump of any wrongdoing. And that is not what the Barr letter -- we don`t have the Mueller report but the Barr letter even says with respect to obstruction of justice, Mueller basically couldn`t decide. He said he laid out the evidence on both sides.
Now Barr then takes it on himself and inserts himself into the process and says oh, I`ll decide. Now it`s not at all clear that Mueller wanted that result. Indeed if Mueller thought that the Attorney General should decide this matter, I suspect that would be in the report and be one of the very first things Barr would have quoted since that letter from four pages was really an advocacy document yesterday, but we saw nothing like that.
So I think bar put himself in this process. I have no indication whatsoever that Mueller wanted that result. And the result is a really scary one. The idea that you could have a 22-month independent investigation in a matter of 48 hour -- 48 hours have that just cut short with an attorney general who says oh I don`t see anything there.
HAYES: We should know that he says he was briefed on that part of it three weeks ago. That`s the word from the Department of Justice and that they`ve been making that decision for a while.
KATYAL: They -- that`s not in the letter. They`ve been leaking that today that they knew about three weeks ago Mueller`s conclusion that he wasn`t going to reach a conclusion. Well that`s really nice. All that meant is that you know they knew that. There`s no indication even in these leaks that they had all the evidence right and the like. And so you know, here Barr says in his letter, I see no evidence that Trump had a corrupt intent and therefore there`s no obstruction of justice violation.
Now, I don`t know how quickly he was able to review all of the reams of evidence, but the one thing I do know is that they didn`t interview Donald Trump about this. And any reasonable prosecutor I think when faced with the question does someone have corrupt intent, the first question is the first thing you do is go ask that someone.
HAYES: Well, maybe I`m dumb here but the weird thing about the whole structure to me is this. We`ve been talking forever about what the OLC guidelines about to say indicting a sitting president which is it says you can`t do it. We`ve largely I think people think that Mueller would follow those guidelines. The question is like what`s even the determination being made here right?
I mean if the Department of Justice can`t indict a sitting president, and they say we don`t know if he committed the crime of obstruction of justice or not, there`s evidence both for and against, what is the Attorney General`s role in making the determination one way or the other? Had he found the other way, then what is that even amount to constitutionally?
KATYAL: Exactly. It`s a great question. I think there`s basically two ambiguities and we don`t know because we don`t have the Mueller report to decide between them. One is this question about whether or not a sitting president could be indicted influenced Mueller`s thinking. The Barr letter said it didn`t influence him.
But for Mueller, you could see him saying look, obstruction of justice is a crime. I can`t indict a president of a crime under these OLC opinions, therefore I`m leaving it up to Congress not the Attorney General. Is that in the Mueller report? We don`t know. That`s a crucial question because it`ll guide how the next months should unfold.
The second thing is has the office of legal counsel at the Justice Department effectively given the President a get out of jail free card not on the "can`t indict a sitting president" but the bizarre interpretations of criminal statutes that William Barr laid out in that 19 page ridiculous memo last summer.
And you know -- so even if they put aside the question of whether sitting president could be indicted, they haven`t put aside this ridiculous Barr theory and it does look like that`s part of what`s going on in this four- page letter.
HAYES: I mean it does also seem in the terms of precedent, right? I mean, the -- when articles impeachment have been drafted against two -- the last two articles of impeachment both included obstruction of justice as one of the are impeachable offenses, and in both those cases that`s the determination the Congress made. It wasn`t a determination that some of the DOJ made.
KATYAL: Chris, you`re 100 percent right. In both those cases, the special prosecutor both Jaworski in the Nixon case and Starr in the Clinton case we`re expressly refused to decide whether or not there was an obstruct -- enough evidence for obstruction. They said that`s a call for Congress to make. And here you`ve got the Attorney General jumping into the process in a way that hasn`t been done historically before. It really I think smells bad and I think we need to see the Mueller report to know just how bad this is.
HAYES: Yes. There`s also this question too I have when I was reading about you know, the evidence being putting you know, difficult questions what it says. The report sets out evidence on both sides of the question leaves unresolved what the special counsel views is difficult issues of law and facts concerning with the president`s actions and intent can be viewed as obstruction.
One of the questions there is there`s a lot of reporting on this right, a lot of publicly known things. My questions is like what are -- what are those other things? Like is it just that what we`ve publicly saw presents difficult questions the law in fact which they do or was there other stuff they found out in the course of doing this?
KATYAL: Yes. So there`s indication in the Barr letter yesterday. He says, look, I reviewed the evidence about obstruction of justice. Some of that is public, some of it is not. And then there were -- he says there`s evidence on both sides that Mueller found. You know, we don`t know what that non-public -- those non-public actions are. Yet another reason why you know, we`re so in the dark at this point and it is outrageous that the president goes on-air and his press secretary and says total exoneration and stuff like that.
If it is a total exoneration, then they should be the first ones to say let us see the report. You know before they had this argument oh it`s a witch- hunt and so on, but now of a sudden, they`ve said no Mueller is great. He -- the president said he`s an honorable man. They said the investigation worked the way it should. If that`s the case, let the American public see the report, decide for themselves. I`d love to close the chapter on this book as much as anyone. But the only way to close that is to actually know what happened.
HAYES: All right, Thank you, Neal Katyal. Next, the issue of the heart of it all, the unprecedented Russian interference in an effort to get Donald Trump elected. David Corn and Michael Isikoff wrote the book on it. What they make of the Barr memo next.
HAYES: Few have reported on Russian interference in the 2016 election and its connection to Donald Trump as comprehensively or as early as my next guest. David Corn was the first to report on the Steele Dossier in October 2016, a week before the election. Michael Isikoff, a month prior, reported on U.S. intelligence officials looking into ties between Carter Page, then on the campaign, or had been on the campaign, and the Kremlin.
Isikoff interviewed Michael Flynn at the RNC. It`s a great interview, asked him about his paid speaking engagement celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT, Russian Television. And the couple`s book, "Russian Roulette, was a sharp investigation of the unprecedented interference of a foreign power in an American election, the election of Donald Trump.
Joining me now, Yahoo`s news chief investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, MSNBC political analyst, Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn.
Gentlemen, having immersed yourself in the story for as long as you did -- and I`ll start with you, David -- your reaction to the Barr letter?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, I think the main point is that this isn`t the full story, right. I mean we have this tossed ball on obstruction, and it is interesting that the prosecutor, that is Special Counsel Robert Mueller, could not put it that to the side. He couldn`t come up with enough information to say there is no case here. I mean, it is very unusual for Robert Mueller or a special counsel to end up in a tie. So there`s -- right? So there`s more to be gotten from that and the public deserves to know.
And on the coordination front, I mean I have to say that that was never a big part of the book "Russian Roulette." In fact, on the last page we say collusion or no collusion it is clear that Donald Trump and his campaign aided and abetted the attack, the Russian attack on the election. And we still need to know more about that.
And I watched your opening introduction to the show, Chris, and the one thing I would take issue with you is that it was never Robert Mueller`s job to give us the truth, to find out the whole story and present it, it was his job to look for crimes and also to investigate the counterintelligence side of this, which is never going to be made public if it is classified information.
And so we always needed congress, an independent commission, to kind of pick up where the book left off and dig deep and figure out what happened and what those interactions meant if they weren`t a crime. They were certainly acts of betrayal I think on the part of the Trump campaign, but those might not have been criminal.
HAYES: You know, Michael -- yes, go ahead.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, YAHOO NEWS: No, I was just going to say, just picking up on what David said, he`s right that it was not Mueller`s job to tell us the truth, to layout everything he`s learned. He`s -- he was hired as a criminal prosecutor, but it was his job to make the tough calls.
ISIKOFF: And that`s why I find it completely baffling that on what was the most crucial decision he had to make he punted. I mean nobody has ever described Robert Mueller as a Hamlet-like figure who has trouble making decisions, and yet here he is, his biggest decision he had to make, it bucks it to the political appointees at Justice. It seems to me baffling on so many levels.
The whole purpose of the special counsel is to insulate the process from, you know, political appointees who could be perceived as having conflicts of interest.
ISIKOFF: And here, that`s exactly the opposite of what Mueller did.
Until we hear from Mueller, I am just flummoxed about that part of the letter.
HAYES: Here is one set of factual matters I think is fairly established, even with the thin gruel that we`ve gotten, David and Michael, I`ll ask you both, starting with you, David, which is that the most, say, in the Dossier, like, the most sort of lurid ideas about collusion, conspiracy are not true definitively, right? I mean, the idea that like Michael Cohen went to Prague and that there was this like extended and coordinated back and forth that was happening as they were running this operation hand in glove, that comes through in some of the dossier, like that just did not happen we know pretty definitively at this point. Would you be comfortable saying that?
CORN: I think more or less. I think there was never a need for there to be that direct, you know, a collusion or coordination as I think is the term that Mueller prefers.
CORN: Because -- I mean, the Russians knew how to attack the DNC. They knew how to dump documents. They knew where the swing states were. They had that research agency knew what issues got American voters riled up. They didn`t need to sit down with Donald Trump and have Donald Trump tell them how to get into the DNC servers.
I always thought the collusion, or what was wrong here was that while this is happening, Trump keeps -- and people connected to Trump, they keep meeting with the Russians and they keep signaling to the Russians they don`t mind that the Russians might be intervening, and Trump is even out there after it becomes a public issue, after he`s briefed on this by the U.S. intelligence community and saying, "there`s nothing going on."
CORN: If you`re the Russians, it is like, this is a green light.
CORN: And there were specifics like the Trump Tower meeting, the meeting between Manafort and a Ukrainian-Russian business colleague who may be connected to Russian intelligence, that are particularly suspicious, Trump not telling anyone about the Trump Tower project in Moscow, all of those things add up to, I think, the biggest scandal in American political history without there having to be direct coordination.
ISIKOFF: All right, that said -- and I agree with everything David said -- except that the dossier did set expectations, and it did shape what people were looking for, what they thought might have happened. You know, it was endorsed on multiple, multiple times on this network, people saying it is more and more proving to be true, and it wasn`t.
And in fact, I think one of the reasons people were so surprised by the Mueller finding is that it undercuts almost everything that was in the dossier, which postulated a well-developed conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign. That`s what got people worked up initially and we do have to acknowledge that, you know, that which was alleged has not panned out.
HAYES: That -- the first appearance in the public domain, the document that, you know, first begins this sort of real coverage of this during the transition, which I think he was briefed on this document shortly thereafter Buzzfeed publishes it, postulates in a series of memos, both a well coordinated attack by the Russians, but a back and forth between -- actively between Trump world and the Russians, and that`s the introduction to the notion of what happened that then, you`re right, I think sets a framework.
CORN: And can I just make one more point, Chris, because a lot of this was -- we could have -- we did see, some of us, did see, just in the court filings that Mueller was making, take the Roger Stone indictment. Everybody got worked up about the fact that the Trump campaign was trying to use Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had.
CORN: Well, go back to what the original allegation was in the dossier, it was that it was all a well-developed conspiracy.
CORN: And the Trump campaign was in on it from the beginning.
CORN: Which means they wouldn`t have needed Roger Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had if the allegations in the dossier were true, they already knew what they were.
CORN: But those allegations were not true.
ISIKOFF: There were a lot of different pieces to this, and the first memo that Steele sent he said that Russians had had a long-standing campaign to co-op and and cultivate Trump. That was I think one of the big takeaways, at least to me, when I was one of the first reporters to write about that. And that seems to have born out in general, the Russians were trying to cultivate Trump and make nice with him while the Trump campaign was receptive to that, and they were receptive to that knowing that the Russians were trying to mess in the election.
Now, you know, we don`t have them sitting down together, and in our book we don`t have them sitting down together and plotting this out. I do think that the whole focus on collusion or no collusion has distracted a lot of people from some of these core elements of the scandal which I think Trump has never really been called to task for.
HAYES: All right, Michael Isikoff and David Corn, thank you, gentlemen, both.
Coming up, did Robert Mueller just ensure that 2020 will not be about 2016? Plus, the latest edition to the Trump dream team, is tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, Donald Trump`s propensity to hire the wrongest people in the word, people like Kevin Hassett, coauthor of the book "Dow 36,000" which promised in 1999 the Dow Jones industrial average would hit 36,000 mark within five years. He was only off by about 26,000 points. Now he`s Trump`s chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.
Then there`s Larry Kudlow, the CNBC guy who famously said shortly before the financial crisis that GOP economic policy will continue the Bush boom for years to come. Trump made him director of the National Economic Council.
These guys insisted, of course, Trump`s tax cuts would not explode the deficit and so naturally the government just posted the largest monthly budget deficit in American history, at least in nominal terms.
Sometimes being that wrong is just right for Trump, which would make his latest nominee a perfect fit. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Donald Trump`s new nominee to sit on the board of the fed does not necessarily hold all of the credentials you would want for someone in that position, although he did co-author a book called "Trumponomics" and he is fairly well-known for getting owned on cable TV shows.
(BEIGN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN MOORE, FRM. TRUMP ECONOMIC ADVISER: Both of the rate hikes were unnecessary and caused deflation in the economy. And I think there`s a danger...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, wait, wait, I want to stop you there. I want to st op you there, because you said this last time I was on with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no deflation.
MOORE: Yes, there is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There is not.
That was Stephen Moore being wrong about the state of the economy. But being wrong a lot has had few consequences for Moore, although he does hold the distinction of being banned from the pages of one Midwestern newspaper for using misleading numbers in his writing.
Recently Moore wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal insisting that the fed is a threat to growth, and reportedly apparently Larry Kudlow saw this, showed the op-ed to the president, Trump`s reported response was why don`t we make him fed chair.
Too late for that, so Kudlow suggested Trump can name him to one of the open seats. And now the man whom Republican economic Greg Mankiw says does not have the intellectual gravitas for the job, is up for Senate consideration.
Moore has long cast himself as a real expert on the fed, has even called for the firing of current fed chair Jerome Powell and the rest of the fed board. Now that he is poised to join them, he doesn`t suddenly sound so expert anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: I`m kind of new to this game, frankly, so I`m going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions. And this is a real exciting opportunity for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: These are pictures of Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska under water. Several buildings remain submerged today after more than a third of the base, including the headquarters, and a large portion of the runway, flooded last week.
Preliminary estimates to fully repair the base are in the tens of millions of dollars and expected to take months. And Offut is just one of the many areas through America river and plain states devastated by recent flooding, and now looking at a spring flood map that looks like this.
And then there was last October, this is what Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida looks like after Hurricane Michael. That will take about $3 billion and up to five years to repair, according to officials. The damage at Tyndall included 17 F-22s that were left on base during the storm, representing 10 percent of the military`s entire fleet of F-22s, which cost north of $300 million dollars a piece.
OK, so that`s what our current climate reality looks like, after average temperatures has risen just 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. And we are on track for an up to five degree rise by the end of the century unless we absolutely transform the way we do everything.
So when people say that the Green New Deal or tackling the climate crisis would be expensive, just look at the alternatives. That`s why this week we`re hosting a special event on the Green New Deal with the freshman congresswoman who has been one of its chief architects Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez will be in my and her home borough of the Bronx, to talk about what it would mean to take seriously the climate crisis and meet this civilizational challenge. Don`t miss it this Friday right here at 8:00 eastern.
Meanwhile today, some breaking news out of New York. Just under a year ago, he was seen by many as a man who could bring down Donald Trump, but today Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who formerly represented Stormy Daniels in her hush money suit against the president was arrested, charged on two different coasts almost simultaneously by two different sets of federal prosecutors and jailed on charges of embezzlement and an attempt to extort Nike.
Federal prosecutors in southern California accused Avenatti of embezzling a client and providing false tax returns to a bank while federal prosecutors in New York say that Avenatti attempted to extract more than $20 million from Nike and threatened the company if they didn`t pay his client, an armature basketball coach.
In one exchange, recorded on audio by federal investigators, Avenatti reportedly demanded to be paid at least $10 million or more by Nike in return for not holding a press conference. He told Nike lawyers that if they didn`t pay, quote, "I`ll go take $10 million off your client`s marketcap, and I`m not F-ing around."
At 12:15 eastern today, Michael Avenatti announced he would hold a express conference tomorrow, exposing Nike, and 15 minutes later he was arrested in New York.
Tonight, he is out on bail on $300,000 bond facing the possibility of 97 years in prison if convicted in New York and California. He addressed the charges just moments ago as he left federal court in Manhattan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER: I am highly confident that when all of the evidence is laid bare in connection with these cases, when it is all known, when due process occurs, that I will be fully exonerated and justice will be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Is that -- I don`t know what the word is, remarkable turn of events for a man who just eight months ago was trotting around Iowa and New Hampshire exploring a run for president in the Democratic Party.
His attempt, we should note, went nowhere, partly because Avenatti fought his role in the Stormy Daniels suit would make him a much bigger star among the Democratic base than prove to be the case, which is probably a useful thing to remember on a day when people are discussing the political ramifications of Bill Barr`s four-page summary of the Mueller Report, because the actual politics of the Democratic grass roots in the Trump era have been largely been disconnected from that investigation, they certainly were in 2018, and they look to be in 2020, as well.
Here to talk about what will matter in 2020, two MSNBC political analysts, Democratic pollster and strategist Cornell Belcher, and MoveOn spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre.
Karine, there`s a lot of talk today about the political fallout of all of this. My general feeling is everything is sort of a recession or genuine cataclysm in the world doesn`t move things that much at the margins. What do you think?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON SPOKESPERSON: That is spot on, Chris.
Look, the only way to beat Donald Trump is going to be at the ballot box. That was true a year ago, that was true last week, and it is true tonight.
Look, we have to remember that Donald Trump won in 2016 electoral college votes to be clear, not the popular vote, he won by less than 80,000 votes in three states. So, for all the folks who thought that the Mueller report was going to take down Donald Trump,here is what I say to them, the advice that I give them is just go out there, organize people, get them registered to vote, remind folks the type of things Donald Trump has done for the last two years, which is separate children from their families, which is banning people because of their religion, which is Trump tax cuts. And also don`t forget he tried to take health care from tens of millions of people.
So, these are the things that people care about. They care about the economy, they care about jobs, and they care about health care, and that`s how we won in 2018. And that`s what people cannot forget.
If you go to any of the early states, the Mueller report is not a problem for us. No one is talking about that, thinking about that. They care about the issues.
HAYES: Yeah, as Cornell, I always thought the downside risk, again, and I always thought it turned on what the facts were, right. The downside risk was like if he had actually engage in something that flagrantly criminal that could have some negative consequences, but short of that, it was not what was driving conversation politically. This piece for NBC News, it says Democratic primary voters to get to what Karine was saying, ask candidates about health care and not Mueller report, and that syncs up what I`ve been hearing from you over the past two years.
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Yeah, I would also think -- look, I think we had an election, a midterm election we had close to, what, 10 million more people vote for Democrat and Republican, and it wasn`t just about health care. Health care was a big deal, but it was also about sort of the direction of the country and the division.
The division that you`re seeing in the country, particularly with women voters, it was something that was really impactful. The Mueller report I don`t think was ever going to change anything, because Donald Trump`s support is baked is. As he famously said, he could shoot someone and it wouldn`t move.
I would say to Democrats what I`ve said to challengers running 2018 in suburban Republican-leaning district is don`t talk about Donald Trump. This is not about Donald Trump, this is about who we are, who Democrats are. You know, this is about how do we get those 4 million or so Obama voters who sat out in 2015 back to the polls. This is how we get those, you know, six or seven percent of younger voters who once upon a time voted for Barack Obama, who protested their vote, you know, not choosing between the lesser of two evils and voting third party back into the fold.
This is really more, for me, about what Democrats` vision are, what they`re going to tackle.
HAYES: Here`s a broader question, though, Karine, which I think relates to this political moment and into 2020, which is the worry about demobilization, right. I mean, you saw sort of hair on fire levels of activism among a huge swath of the country just a day or two after the president inaugurated, right. The next day there is the Women`s March. There are people showing up at airports. There`s people showing up to protest child separation. There`s the midterm turnout, all that -- a special elections.
I think the question, right, is having a Democratic congress, and particularly Democratic leadership that I think doesn`t want those people too active against them, going to create a condition of demobilizing folks. You see this up close. What do you see?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, I see it differently, Chris. I see that people are energized and mobilized and the thing about it, though, is that voters are smart. They are not stupid. They know what is going on and we can`t treat them that way, but what they want to hear from these almost 20 candidates, probably a dozen now, I think, is that they want to hear what is their vision. What are they doing for them?
When you see the small town halls or when you see these candidates in the different early states, that`s the questions that they are asking them. So I think the key is how do you keep that energy going? And how do you keep folks continuing to pay attention, and they are paying attention. So you have to inspire, you have to show a contrast to what we have now in this presidency, and where we`re taking the country.
HAYES: You know, Cornell, it is striking there has been reporting about attendance at events for 2020 candidates, and they have been much higher. I`ve heard this firsthand from folks that work the circuit in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, would suggest there is still a high level of interest happening here.
BELCHER: I think that`s right. And what I`ve heard is, you know, it`s not 2008, which we saw interests really peak, but I think it`s moving towards that direction.
I`m less worried about sort of based Democratic energy than I am about sort of how do Democrats hold on? Look at the suburbs around Philadelphia right now where they turn blue, how do we hold on to those moderate swing voters while also energizing -- while also keeping our base energy high? I think that is a tough line to walk.
HAYES: Yeah, that`s always a tough line to walk for any coalition. Cornell Belcher and Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you both for being here.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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