CHRIS MATTHEW, MSNBC HOST: I doubt history will see it as anything better. And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The special council made clear that he did not exonerate the President and the responsibility now for us to Congress to hold the President accountable for his actions.
HAYES: The redacted Mueller report is finally released to the public.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The report outlines multiple attempts by the President to mislead the country.
HAYES: It reveals a president who knew what he was doing.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you`re listening.
HAYES: A president who asked his subordinates to lie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did make efforts to get his own staff to lie about the investigation.
HAYES: And thanks to his new Attorney General.
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: No collusion, no underlying collusion. No collusion.
HAYES: A president who may be getting away with it.
TRUMP: This should never happen to another president again.
HAYES: Tonight, Senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar on this lawless President. How he may have successfully obstructed justice and why the Mueller report could be a roadmap for impeachment,
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: To have Congress say we`ve got to take this on ourselves at this point.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. In an alternate timeline from our own in which this president`s behavior and character wasn`t essentially understood by everyone, supporters and opponents alike to be what it is, in which the reporting of what he`s been up to hasn`t been as good as it is, this would possibly be the most cataclysmic document in American presidential history
This would be way worse than the Starr report, that`s for sure. It would be a bomb detonating on Capitol Hill. It would begin immediate impeachment proceedings. But the thing is we know exactly who the president is. That`s been apparent from the beginning. And Trump acts and the pages of the redacted Mueller report in the way that you would expect him to act and his associates act the way you expect them to act and the broad outlines of what was done in front of all of us don`t deviate significantly for the content of this report though there are shocking new details which we`re going to get to.
But generally Trump is who we thought he was because he is who we thought he was because he assembles cronies around himself who feed the narratives of fake news who will lie on his behalf because his own attorney general had the brazenness to come out and say this document which is a damning indictment of the President`s behavior cleared him. The report contained therein will almost surely not be received in good faith by a substantial portion of Americans.
The report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election isn`t a bombshell so much as a compendium and confirmation of who the man is and how he conducts himself. And what emerges in this document are three strings are really troubling even outrageous and sometimes obviously criminal behavior.
One of them which we should not lose sight of is the foreign entity, the adversarial foreign entity that systematically attempts to sabotage an American presidential election with tremendous success. The next is the Trump campaign who was more than happy to essentially give them winks and nudges and sometimes outright I love that encouragement while they undertook said sabotage.
And third is a president who when that last behavior was investigated what exactly his campaign was doing and what they knew attempts to use his power at nearly every turn to obstruct the inquiry and cover it up. The crazy part about it is it kind of worked. I mean those aren`t my words. Here`s Robert Mueller saying we couldn`t find everything. We don`t know.
Remember, Paul Manafort giving Trump polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik. Robert Mueller says "the office could not reliably determine Manafort`s purpose in sharing internal polling Kilimnik during the campaign period. Manafort didn`t really even tell. Manafort, the guy who lied, who took a bullet metaphorically for the president who`s headed to jail, well, that seems to have worked.
Remember, that weird Seychelles meeting between Erik Prince, Blackwater guy and the head of the Russian direct investment fund? Will Erik Prince and Steve Bannon apparently deleted all their texts about it so really who knows what happened there. All of these actions, all these lies had an impact on the investigation. They prevented, Mueller says, from getting to the bottom of everything.
Don`t take it from me, take it from Mueller who writes, the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign lied to the office and to Congress about their interactions with Russian affiliate individuals and related matters. Those lies, and this is important, materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.
What we know it`s the President was desperate, absolutely desperate to stop this inquiry and to cover it up. That is clear on its face. So desperate he was recklessly directing his subordinates to commit what they thought were crimes. And these weren`t Boy Scouts to be clear. Corey Lewandowski of all people was basically like whoa, that`s too much. I can`t do it. Whatever happened in 2016, we still have all the answers. The President really didn`t want anyone getting to the bottom of it.
Joining me now are two people uniquely qualified to speak about today`s model report Frank Figliuzzi who`s former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI where he directed all espionage investigations across the U.S. government under then FBI Director Robert Mueller. He`s now NBC News National Security Contributor and Neal Katyal former Acting U.S. Solicitor General under President Barack Obama. He wrote the special counsel regulations as a Justice Department lawyer and is now an NBC News Legal Analyst.
Frank, I know that you have a lot of thoughts about what happened today but I want to start at the broadest level and I want to ask you and Neal both this. The charge of the President of the United States is to take care that laws are faithfully executed not to not be a criminal, not to avoid violating federal statutes, but to take care of the laws are faithfully executed. And against that standard, how do you judge the actions in this report?
FIGLIUZZI: All right, that`s the standard by which the American people should be assessing this report and my answer to that is that the President hasn`t met the standard. And we see evidence throughout the report that he has flagrantly looked, at least looked the other way, if not tacitly acknowledged if not reported properly things like he knew that Michael Cohen was giving false testimony, things like asking don McGahn to lie on his behalf, and to fire Mueller to the point where McGahn felt it`s necessary to resign over that.
So we have a president who has demonstrated through this report a disregard for the law and then attempts to actually obstruct justice when he was being looked at.
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I agree with Frank entirely. I think you`re asking the right question. Article Two of the Constitution requires the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. This report today paints a devastating picture of a president who didn`t care about that at all. And I want to pick up on Frank`s point about Don McGahn. So who is that guy? He`s the White House Counsel, the top lawyer for the president.
He`s not someone who`s known as being a stickler when it comes to the rule of law. But even McGahn had to resign. That`s what`s in this report because Trump ordered him to try and fire Mueller -- try and fire Mueller, and he says that -- that`s crazy s-word expletive. I mean that`s a pretty striking thing.
And then you`ve got the President`s defenders today, the President saying, oh, total exoneration, even the Barr press conference today. And the most striking thing about that is Barr and the defenders never told us the very first couple of pages of the Mueller report which say two important things.
Number one, I would have loved to exonerate the president if I could find the evidence to do so, I can`t. And number two, if I found evidence that was really directly implicating the president and he`s guilty as sin, I`m not going to tell you because I`m bound by an office of legal counsel opinion that says I can`t indict a sitting president.
So if this is Trump`s best day of his presidency as he`s claiming, I think that just says a lot more about the presidency than anything else.
HAYES: There`s one more thing I would add and I don`t know if I have it here because of a million different excerpts of this 500 or so page report. But in the famous line that Barr quotes in the letter where he says it does not establish a conspiracy between the Russian government and U.S. persons, there`s a -- there`s a blocking around right to make it a complete sentence. And the first clause is "although."
And the "although" which Barr could have quoted basically says, although the Russians really wanted this guy elected, and although Trump`s campaign had to kind of know that and figure where they were sort of moving in the same direction, it doesn`t establish this. I mean, that to me is amazingly telling about the level of dishonesty and bad faith that came from Barr.
KATYAL: Totally so. I mean, it has the feel of like those movie -- you know, posters that say, greatest movie ever.
KATYAL: And the first lines of that in the original source are this is not the greatest movie ever, and so you spiel that in the report. But I think the most important point is the first couple of pages because Mueller set out really clearly here`s what this report can do and what it can`t. It can`t implicate the president and the crimes and it can`t exonerate him and Mueller pointedly doesn`t either.
HAYES: I mean, Frank, as someone who worked in the FBI, who worked inside the Department of Justice who worked with Robert Mueller, the behavior that is described here -- and we can talk about the behavior during the campaign and the behavior while he was president. Let`s talk about the behavior while he was president.
I mean, you know, chapter and verse 11 different instances of possible obstruction that are recited here depending on the sort of state of mind. As a lawyer, as someone who is sort of serious and faithful about execution of the law, what do you see there?
FIGLIUZZI: Well, I see Mueller telling us look, I`ve got the evidence here. And even by the way in Appendix C Mueller telling us, hey one of the reasons I didn`t demand the in-person interview, he tried to insist on it, he thought about grand jury subpoena for the president, but he says one of the reasons I didn`t was because I think I have the evidence. I think I`ve got it here.
And so Mueller is telling us through this report today there`s obstruction -- if I could exonerate the President, I`d do it, but I can`t. And now we have insight into Mueller`s mind and why he didn`t go ahead and charge and that`s because he`s saying I was constrained. I`ve got a DOJ policy that tells me I shouldn`t be doing this. I don`t want to engage in a long protracted constitutional battle over this. Now we know why we`re here.
HAYES: Yes. And basically the report walks up to this line and he lays the report down and says this is everything that we have and I -- it is above my pay grade to make the call here because the Constitution more or less says the call has to be made by Congress.
KATYAL: Yes. And it`s really interesting Frank`s point about the criminal intent here because Trump says you know, this is all a hoax, this is all made up, blah, blah, blah, I didn`t do any of this. And he says this in tweets and in press conference and the like. But the one place he didn`t say it is under oath to Robert Mueller. And if he really believed it and there was nothing to fear, why didn`t he go in?
Now, Mueller has this interesting other theory. He says, well one reason why I didn`t find obstruction of justice is because he says and this is at page 158, "the President`s efforts were unsuccessful but that`s largely because the persons declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.
Now, I think I run one of the most creative legal teams in the country. I`ve never heard of such a defense which is I`m too incompetent actually, and my staff is too -- doesn`t trust me enough to carry out my orders.
HAYES: When I read that sentence, I thought of -- and that`s you know, that`s after he`s talked about all these different times where he tries to get McGahn to lie and he tries to work over Sessions and he pulls Sessions to side and tries to get him unrecused. And he talks to another guy in the White House being like, your girlfriend works at the Department of Justice, maybe she wants to be A.G. What do you think about that? I want to talk to her.
I mean over, and over, and over, this kind of behavior. And I my thought was, you know, a moment in a movie where someone pulls a gun at someone and the gun goes click because there`s no bullets or malfunctions, and he`s -- the President is doing that with the obstruction gun over, and over, and over in plain daylight in in the reporter.
KATYAL: 100 percent. And in our criminal law, it generally does have a way of dealing with that. So if I pull a gun out and try and hit you but I miss, I don`t get to say no harm no foul. It`s an attempt to commit a felony. That`s itself a felony. And similarly here, the report paints a devastating picture.
And whether or not Mueller could indict the president, this is a picture that shows someone who just is not bound by the rule of law.
HAYES: Frank, finally this last line which I think a lot of people have seen and run a lot of big headlines of it which is that according to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President the Special Counsel been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said oh my God, this is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I`m effed. It doesn`t look -- he may have saved his presidency despite that feeling. What do you think?
FIGLIUZZI: Well, first of all, that expletive, that`s -- that comment that I`m effed, I`m done is not -- are not the words of an innocent person. Throughout my 25-year career, no innocent person told me I`m effed because you`re looking at me right? So with regard to whether he got off on this, I`ve got to emphasize the role of the Attorney General of the United States. And I said earlier today this Attorney General made it quite clear today who he is and we need to pay attention to that.
He is not the people`s attorney. He is more the counsel for the President. And he`s turned that acronym MAGA into "made allegations go away." So is the president off criminally? He appears to be. Now Congress has left to wrestle with this, and the American people are left to decide is this the new standard in our presidency. He`s something less than a crook so, therefore, he`s still my guy. That`s what we need to ask.
HAYES: All right, Frank Figliuzzi and Neal Katyal, that was great. Thank you both. I want to turn now to a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who is both a former prosecutor and the former attorney general of the state of California, uniquely positioned to comment on today`s events. Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris joins me now.
Senator, your broad takeaway, reaction to what you have or having -- I don`t know if -- how much you`ve gotten to read today. You`re a very busy person, but your reaction to the report.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, my reaction begins with the first events of this morning which were that that press conference. And you know, as a former attorney general, I ran, Chris, the second largest Department of Justice in the United States, the California Department of Justice, second only to the United States Department of Justice.
And I take seriously as I know most prosecutors do the responsibility that we have to be impartial and to do the work of justice and do it on behalf of the people. And that means understanding in this case and General Barr which I believe fail to understand that he is not the President`s personal lawyer. He represents us, the American public.
But what we saw today was a display of anything but impartiality. What we saw was a display of I think partisanship, and he might as well have been in the White House press conference room as the spokesperson for the president when he -- when he introduced the subject of today`s discussions.
You know, Thomas Jefferson is quoted on the front page of the Department of Justice`s Web site talking about the importance of impartiality and the importance of the integrity of our justice system. And so one of my big takeaways from today is that there has been a great disservice done to what is otherwise a source of pride for us as a democracy which is the integrity of our -- of our justice system.
I think that our justice system and the integrity of that justice system took a real blow today with the presentation of General Barr and also his four page summary weeks ago.
HAYES: Well, part of that four-page summary was the Attorney General stepping in to reach conclusion on obstruction. It`s clear from the report that was not what the report does, right. It sort of leaves it open and it says this --
HAYES: Page 22 of the report. I`ll read you this and I want to get your response as a Member of the United States Congress. The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President`s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law. What do you see as Congress` role in light of this report?
HARRIS: Well, Congress has many rules but first and foremost the role of oversight. And I am looking forward to General Barr coming before the Judiciary Committee. I think that`s been scheduled for May 1st. I strongly believe that also Bob Mueller should be requested to come before Congress and testify about the process of that investigation and share with us the underlying facts that support his summary because we have a responsibility as an independent co-equal branch of government, the United States Congress to make sure that the American public is receiving justice and fairness through this process.
HAYES: I want to read you something Steny Hoyer who`s the number two in the House, a colleague of yours a Democrat on the other side of the Capitol had to say. He said this today. Based on what we have seen to date going forward, an impeachment is not worthwhile at this point very frankly. There`s an election in 18 months. The American people will make a judgment. Do you agree with him?
HARRIS: Well, I think it`s -- I think that there`s definitely a conversation to be had on that subject but first I want to hear from Bob Mueller and really understand what exactly is the evidence that supports the summary that we have been given today.
HAYES: What is your understanding of this President`s execution of his oath of office and his relationship to the law based on what we have learned publicly and what is contained in the report today?
HARRIS: I think that this President has not fulfilled the responsibilities of the President of the United States to use his position in a way that is about elevating public discourse in a way that is about projecting the values and priorities of us as a nation. We have seen incredible acts of self-service but very few acts that have been in the interest of public service from this President and I think he`s a grave disappointment.
HAYES: Finally I guess a question of how you see this -- obviously you`ve decided to run for president. Should you win you would have the role this president has. How does this inform how you think about the campaign in terms of how central you see the president`s actions here, the case you`re making to the American people, and how you would conduct yourself in office?
HARRIS: You know, Chris, I`ll tell you, I was actually talking with my team about it. And one of the things that I think is critically important is that we elevate public discourse and really have a conversation that is about the ideals and the goals and the values of who we are as a country. And so part of how I think about what we have just witnessed is that we have a lot to do to restore the importance of truth and justice in our country. It`s taken a real beating.
And when I think about what we need to do going forward, any of us as leaders whether one is running for president of the United States or not, any member of Congress, we have got to acknowledge the truth that right now there are a lot of Americans who are extremely distrustful of our government, it`s institutions and leaders and there`s a lot of work to do to restore that trust.
What we have seen in the last -- today and then frankly in the last two years and some months has I think done real harm to the importance of the American public and our allies around the world trusting us and that we will always defend concepts of justice and democracy.
HAYES: All right, Senator Kamla Harris of California, thank you so much on a very busy day for making time.
HARRIS: Thank you. Chris, thank you.
HAYES: Here with me now, two veteran Watergate prosecutors, you know him, you love him, MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman and Jill Wine-Banks who have been with us throughout this journey.
There`s a lot to talk about partly I think -- again, we talk to you partly because the last template we really had for anything like this was Watergate right? You know, a break-in of the Democratic Party and the possible implication of the sitting president and whether what he knew and when he knew it.
So I want to talk about the sort of what Mueller doesn`t get to hear. Because one of the things I think is interesting is you know, when I reemerge myself in the Watergate stuff, Nixon doesn`t go down unless they find the tapes. Wouldn`t you say that`s true?
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: That`s absolutely true.
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely.
HAYES: I mean, the tapes are -- they`ve literally called it the smoking gun tapes, and they`re sort of found by accident, and it`s -- you could imagine a universe in which he didn`t choose to tape himself and would he have gone down?
AKERMAN: Probably not because it really wasn`t until the end when that June 72 tape came where he wanted the --
HAYES: He`s literally on tape saying I do crimes.
AKERMAN: Yes. There he tells -- he wants the CIA to tell the FBI to stop the investigation just like Trump told Comey to stop the FBI investigation except that wasn`t on tape.
BANKS: The crimes were there. The problem was that it would have been he said and John Dean said. And then it was John Dean said and it`s corroborated by all the tapes.
HAYES: And so here`s why that came to mind because this little thing jumped out of me. So we`ve got the Trump Tower meeting, right. We know about the Trump Tower meeting in public reporting. There`s a long section on the report. And there`s always this question, did the president know about it or not, right?
Does Don Jr. run to dad and say hey dad, I got this meeting the Russians want offer dirt. Does he say thing afterwards? And here`s what the report says. The office found no documentary evidence showing that he is made aware of the meeting or its Russian connection before it occurred.
AKERMAN: Well, I think that`s consistent with what Mueller says in the beginning that there are a lot of holes as evidence. I mean the best evidence to contradict Barr that there was no spying on the Trump campaign is simply to compare the Russian indictments with what Mueller was named --
HAYES: That was a great point. Right, right, they have eyes into that Russian operation. They show up in the indictment. They don`t have eyes, very clearly don`t have eyes into the campaign.
AKERMAN: Exactly. I mean, that`s why they don`t have it. I mean, right in the outset, Mueller makes it clear that people were taking the Fifth Amendment, that they -- when they talked, they lied. They disassembled. They did all kinds of things to cover up. There were witnesses overseas, there were documents overseas.
I mean, this could not be a perfect investigation in the sense of learning everything that was out there. And if you really read between the lines, I think you realize that Paul Manafort who they really targeted as the guy who knew everything basically was told by Trump don`t worry about it. I`ll take care of you.
BANKS: But it`s also true that if Trump had been right about any of his accusations against the FBI, they would have said during the campaign, we`re investigating the President as a Russian asset and they didn`t. They did it to Hillary Clinton but they withheld that information from the public which proves that he is not telling the truth when he says this is a witch-hunt and they were after me.
HAYES: So I want to talk about malevolence tempered by incompetence which is a phrase I think Benjamin Wittes has used as sort of the bumper sticker for the Trump administration which appears often as a through-line not actually those words for that theme in the report. And this is -- this is a key element I want to talk about.
Mostly unsuccessful, the President`s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his request, right. So time and time again, he tries to do things like essentially the Saturday night massacre. He tries to order his cronies to do these things that would cover things up and they say no. And that`s essentially another place where he`s different than Nixon and ends up saving him.
AKERMAN: But not really. Because first of all, Nixon tried to get people to audit to his enemies list.
HAYES: That`s true.
AKERMAN: People in the bureaucracy said we`re not going to do this.
HAYES: Right. That`s true.
AKERMAN: We`re going to put our names all over this paper.
HAYES: He said to Fred Malek to count up the Jews in the Labor Department.
BANKS: But you know what this reminds me of, is I once had a hard decision to make and was seeking advice and I was said, well I don`t have proof beyond a reasonable doubt to make this decision. And the advice was, in your life you do not need proof beyond a reasonable doubt to make a decision. And I think right now Congress and the American people do not need proof beyond a reasonable doubt that might establish crimes and the elements of a crime satisfied.
They can see in plain sight. You laid it out in your opening statement. There is absolute evidence that he has done wrong or to use Joyce Vance I think is the one who says awful but lawful.
BANKS: It may be lawful but it is awful. And the bar for being president should be a lot higher than it is than -- well I didn`t get indicted.
BANKS: If you do bad things, you should not be the president. And I think that raises the question of is it time now for Congress to take action and is this going to ever be successful given the divide in in the Senate?
HAYES: There`s one -- there`s -- there are many threads here that are not yet filled out right, because there`s ongoing material that`s redacted and we know Roger Stone and the section of WikiLeaks is heavily redacted. There`s also a bunch of criminal referrals. I`m curious what you made of this part, right.
AKERMAN: Well, I think a lot of that is in the Southern District of New York.
HAYES: Right. So there`s like 14 -- I think there`s 14 criminal referrals and we only see two names. There`s 12 redacted names of criminal referrals.
AKERMAN: I think those are all in the Southern District of New York. They all come from Michael Cohen and that stuff is ongoing. I mean, we don`t know if those names are Ivanka or Don Jr. whoever they are, but they`re in the Southern District right now and we`ll find out as time goes on.
HAYES: All right, Nick Akerman and Jill Wine-Banks, thanks for your time tonight.
BANKS: Thank you.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Next, Donald Trump`s Attorney General Bill Barr used the boss` no collusion line repeatedly this morning when that is not at all the Mueller report says. What we rarely learned about the connections between Trump and Russia right after this.
HAYES: In his press conference this morning, Attorney General William Barr parroted the same refrain repeated over and over and over again by the President, no collusion. But the Mueller report states explicitly that collusion, that word, that concept was never the investigation`s focus because it is not an actual legal term.
Instead, investigators were looking for evidence of a criminal conspiracy as strictly defined under U.S. law and they did not find enough evidence to establish that a crime was committed in pursuit of that conspiracy. It doesn`t mean they didn`t find any evidence at all. On the contrary, the report contains extraordinary amount of information about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians and efforts at various points before and after the election to communicate back and forth about their strategies, in other words, to collude.
Much of it is already been uncovered in court filings and press reports but a lot of the details are new and highly incriminating. Here`s one example. It turns out that a Republican operative Peter Smith, do you remember this guy? He was trying -- he was going around trying to get Hillary Clinton`s deleted emails from Russian hackers as The Wall Street Journal reported in 2017, shortly before he killed himself, that he was, in fact, not just freelancing, but instead he was acting on orders from Michael Flynn as part of the Trump campaign. The efforts just didn`t get very far, according to the report..
While the investigation did not turn up sufficient evidence to meet the definition of a crime, the reports lays out what was, in effect, an implicit quid pro quo between Trump -- Russia and the Trump campaign, whether they entered into it knowingly or not.
Here`s a quote, although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that the members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
I`m joined now by two journalists who know the ins and out of this better than just about anyone else, Marcy Wheeler, independent journalist writing about national security, and civil liberties at Emptywheel.net, and Julia Ainsley, NBC News`s own national security and justice reporter.
Marcy, you have been doing close readings of all the court documents of the report itself. You know, one of the things that -- there are all these dots, right, we know all this back and forth between the Russians and the Trump campaign, it`s all weird -- there was always this question of was there more that we didn`t know? And there is some of that in the report, but what is your sort of general takeaway about what you learned about the nature of that relationship from this report?
MARCIE WHEELER, JOURNALIST: Well, both of Trump`s most criminally targeted aides of Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, who -- both of them are still under ongoing investigation, according to filings in the last week, both of them, what we knew is not as bad as what we learned.
For example, Paul Manafort, we knew he had shared polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik knowing that it would be shared on with Oleg Deripaska and two Ukrainian oligarchs, we didn`t know that he discussed the swing states, including my state, Michigan. He discussed the swing states with Kilimnik right before he was giving information to Oleg Deripaska . We also learned that he was sharing that polling data throughout the campaign, which is -- sounds pretty incredible, and yet, you know, it`s just a blip.
And then with Roger Stone, we don`t yet know how he was coordinating with Wikileaks, and I assume we will learn with his trial in November, but we did learn that Trump is the one who was pushing him to go find out what they had. We do know that in addition to Michael Cohen, there was another witness to a conversation where Stone called up, gave him information -- or apparently Stone l and Trump then shared nonpublic information about Wikileaks.
So, the evidence on Stone`s collusion, and I never use that term, but I will here, because as Barr kind of pointed to in his press conference and was made clear here, it`s not illegal to try and optimize Wikileaks release of stolen emails, right? So, that gets you beyond the whole conspiracy and coordination, that gets you beyond the question.
Plus, it`s not with Russia. And so Barr did back flips this morning to say there was no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. It`s like it`s right there. It`s Roger Stone.
And if you look at Trump`s answers to Mueller, the most obstinate, the most ridiculous non-recall of those answers has to do with Roger Stone and Wikileaks.
So, you know, do you know that Roger Stone was going after Wikileaks? I don`t recall. There are witnesses.
WHEELER: So, that`s...
HAYES: Yeah, it`s a pretty salient, mnemonically salient event obviously - - and we should say the president`s answers are tons of I don`t recall, tons of I don`t remember. I can`t recall when he actually ends up giving the written answers.
I want to just read one section on that, the heavily redacted section, that the campaigns efforts to coordinate with Wikileaks, a lot of it redacted.
According to Gates, Manafort expressed excitement about the release. Manafort, for his part, told the office that shortly after Wikileaks` July 22nd release, Manafort also spoke with candidate Trump [redacted]. Also, [redacted] want to be kept apprised of any developments of Wikileaks, separately told Gates to keep in touch with [redacted] about future Wikileaks releases."
Like, again, Julia, part of what we`re seeing here -- and this has always been the question is -- you`ve got two different campaigns that are both being run to the same end. The Russians are running a campaign to get Donald Trump elected president. Donald Trump is running a campaign to get Donald Trump elected president. And all the ores are pointing in the same direction as they row down the water side by side.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS: Right, so they both would benefit from a relationship with the other, but then Robert Mueller is conservative, not in the political sense of the word, but in the judicial sense of the word is how I`m using that, and that he wants to show that it had to be a quid pro quo.
We have seen other cases have a really hard time establishing a quid pro quo. You can look at the Governor McDonald Virginia, and they did not prove a quid pro quo in that case.
On the Wikileaks piece, though, there is even more of that of other people who are involved. And a big one is the president`s son, Donald Trump, Jr. He was asked by Wikileaks to have his dad tweet a link to their work. He also was asked if he could disseminate a link alleging that Clinton, Hillary Clinton, had advocated a drone strike against Julian Assange. I mean, some pretty wild things.
They were in such close contact that he was actually giving things back to him, back to Wikileaks.
So, there was an exchange. The quid pro quo thing gets tough, and there was one piece here that was really kind of minute and in the weeds, but I think tells us more about -- it helps me understand why we see so much about Wikileaks in that exchange and why there wasn`t conspiracy or coordination charged, and that`s because Robert Mueller says that because Wikileaks was not actually doing the hacking and we have seen that in the Assange indictment, somehow their behavior lets the Trump campaign off the hook. And I thought that was really interesting.
HAYES: Well, what are we have got -- I mean, to Marcy`s point here, and what the sort of picture is it sort of is that you have got cut outs upon cut outs upon cut outs such everybody has plausible deniability which of course is what an intelligence agency is designed to do, right. I mean, the intelligence agency isn`t going to send people out who are like, hi, I`m from the GRU. Can we talk to you about -- you know, they`re going to send out some random professor who talks to a person, or they are going to send a DM underneath an assumed name -- like all of this is done for precisely the purpose that it ends up playing here, which is plausible deniability.
And yet, there`s also this other really damning part, when you think about quid pro quo, or what does Russia want, Marcy, and this is the fact that Kilimnik discusses yet another -- this is like the third or fourth Ukraine peace plane. This is essentially wanting the U.S. to give a green light to cooptation and acquisition of Ukrainian national territory, right.
The plan Manafort later acknowledged consisted of back door means for Russia to control eastern Ukraine. That`s what Kilimnik is talking about while Manafort is giving him data on Michigan.
WHEELER: Right. Paul Manafort sold Michigan to Konstanin Kilimnik in hopes of getting a Ukrainian peace deal.
Yeah, and those conversations about Ukraine, which we knew about from the Breech Declaration, those conversations continued through 2018. So, you know again, it`s interesting and important to remind people both Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, according prosecutors in recent filings, they`re both still under active investigation.
I mean, what Stone is still under investigation for sort of makes sense to me. Paul Manafort, aside from the kickback system that he seems to have used to get paid for, it`s not entirely clear, and it may go to those ongoing discussions about Ukraine.
One of the really interesting detail, though, the one question that Mueller asked Trump that I did not -- that I was surprised by was did he offer a pardon to Assange before he became president? Didn`t know that question got asked, but it`s really interesting one when you talk about quid pro quo.
HAYES: That is a fascinating one.
One last thing, and this jumped out because of course the steel dossier, which lurks over all of this -- it`s how many people came to know about the theories, it contains things that have borne out, it contains a lot of things that have borne out. It was a sort of mix of fact and speculation in many respects.
But this, on October 30, 2016, Michael Cohen received a text from a Russian businessman that said stop flow of tapes from Russia, but not sure if there was anything else just so you know. He said that the tapes referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the Miss Universe pageant. Cohen said he spoke to Trump about the issue after receiving the text.
What did you make of that?
AINSLEY: So that shed light on the most salacious details that we heard from the dossier. It turns out later if you read down I think just another sentence that they actually -- the person who had these tapes actually said that was not true, that these were fake tapes. But Cohen thought that they were real, and so -- it at least put something in the camp that if you think about that really awkward conversation between Jim Comey and Donald Trump, there is a good chance that Donald Trump knew there was something to this.
HAYES: Right, that`s exactly right. He doesn`t know what he did is a big theme throughout this. And maybe someone has documented a thing that he doesn`t remember doing.
Marcy Wheeler and Julia Ainsley, thank you both.
Next, in his confirmation hearing Trump`s Attorney General Bill Barr dodged questions from Senator Amy Klobuchar about what would constitute obstruction of justice by the boss. Well, Barr answered today. And Senator Klobuchar will tell me what she thinks of his actions right here right after this.
HAYES: One indisputable take away in the Mueller report is that Russia interfered in our last presidential election, in systemic and sprawling fashion. It`s something the 2020 presidential candidate and Senate Judiciary Committee member Amy Klobuchar was quick to point out, quote, "first page of Mueller report says the Russia government interfered in 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. So despite the endless doubts cast by the president, this happened. A case made for backup paper ballots and post- election audits."
And Senator Amy Klobuchar joins me now.
Senator, let`s start to talk about that. The part of the report that just collusion aside or coordination or obstruction or the president`s actions, just what Russia did, your reaction to that part of the report, and what you think it means for how congress and the president should act going forward.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA: This is an intense part of the report. And I hope people read it. If you are not into getting into single every legal detail, you can get into this, because this shows that Russia, maybe they didn`t use tanks, maybe they didn`t use missiles, but they invaded our election. They invaded our democracy.
And my problem is when you look at what they did with the problem propaganda they put out and tried to sow discord among people, about what they did when they tried to break into our election equipment and then actually did break into Hillary Clinton`s campaign and leaked those emails everywhere to stop their momentum, all of that happened.
But what I want to know now is why the Trump administration has been stopping the bipartisan bill the Secure Elections Act that can fix this going forward with back up paper ballots and audits of our election? We were ready to go. I have that bill with Senator Langford. He`s a conservative Republican and the White House made calls and stopped that bill from advancing. That`s wrong.
HAYES: The White House made calls and stopped the bill from advancing? Why did they do that?
HAYES: Tell me, because there is another election coming up in 2020. So, when you read that report, and this is why I think it is so important that we have Robert Mueller come before the Judiciary Committee so we can make clear what went on here, so at the very least in addition to everything else that`s going on and other investigation that we can fix this going forward and that they can`t hide behind this report anymore.
And if you notice, part of the redactions are interestingly enough with this. And that means there are national security concerns. And the congress should see the entire report.
HAYES: You have talked about Mueller and you`ve talked about Barr. You had an interesting exchange with him when he came before your committee seeking the position. I want to play it for you, because it`s an exchange about obstruction, what ends up being sort of the core or the heart of the matter, get your reaction to what has developed since then. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KLOBUCHAR: In your memo, you talked about the Comey decision and you talked about obstruction of justice. You wrote on page one that a president persuading a person to commit perjury is obstruction, is that right?
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes. Any person who persuades another.
KLOBUCHAR: OK, you also said that a president, or any person convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction. Is that right?
KLOBUCHAR: OK. So, what if a president told a witness not to cooperate with an investigation, or hinted at a pardon?
BARR: I would have to know the specifics -- I`d have to know the specific facts.
So, what if a president drafted a misleading statement to conceal the purpose of a meeting. Would that be obstruction?
BARR: Again, I would have to know the specifics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, he tipped his hand a bit. What do you think?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I was thinking about some of those questions and what the report showed, right, that he changed the press release to take things out, that he tried to get his counsel to make things up. And those were all the things I was getting at, and of course Barr didn`t answer them at the time, but I think this report answers them.
HAYES: Well, what is your level of confidence in Bill Barr after his performance?
KLOBUCHAR: Again, I did not vote for him. I did not support him. I voiced these concerns at the hearing. I voiced them on the senate floor. I think that he does not see himself as the people`s lawyer, which he should be under our laws and under the constitution.
Instead, he seems to think that he is the president`s lawyer, that`s why he did that 17-page job application to when he applied to talk about the executive power of the president and how the president literally can do anything he wanted. Well you see that reflected in how he handled this from the very beginning.
He didn`t put the report out first, no, he put out this four-page summary, and then today with the press conference.
We need to hear directly from Robert Mueller, the former Republican appointed FBI director, that clearly had issues with what the president did when you read this report.
HAYES: I had -- your colleague on Senate Judiciary Committee, Kamala Harris on earlier, and I asked her about this, and I want to get your reaction to it. It is a statement from the number two in the House, Steny Hoyer, the house majority leader, who says based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment.
Do you agree?
KLOBUCHAR: We are in the senate, both Senator Harris and I, and so our job if there is impeachment brought, and that is up to the House, our job is to be the jury. So, I have been really careful about talking about what we would do if an impeachment came before us.
But I will tell you this, Chris, this is deeply troubling. There are investigations going on around the country that we have to make sure continue, specifically in New York. And of course the concern that Barr is going to do something to impede those investigations and we have to get the facts out before congress in a public manner.
HAYES: Well, the president took an oath to take care the laws are faithfully executed. What is revealed in the report and in public reporting, is that he is fundamentally lawless in some way. He does -- he is careless about the law. He does not take care.
Do you have any confidence that`s changed, or that will continue and perhaps bring about a larger crisis?
KLOBUCHAR: I don`t have confidence in that. As you`ve noted, it`s like he kept trying to get people to do things that were illegal and they didn`t do them. And I was thinking as you have been asking questions about what would you do as president, I was thinking about what one of my mentors, Walter Mondale, said when he looked back at his four years with President Carter, it wasn`t a perfect four years, but one thing he said which was true, he said we told the truth, we obeyed the law, we kept the peace. That is the least we should expect from a president of the United States, that they tell the truth, obey the law, that they try to keep the peace, and that is not what we are seeing with this president.
HAYES: All right, Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, 2020 presidential candidate, thanks for making time on a busy day. I really appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Chris, it was great to be on.
HAYES: There is a great moment in the Mueller report, it might be my favorite moment, the most sort of illuminating moment, is when the president of the United States asked his own lawyer, Don McGahn, why Don McGahn is taking notes on a conversation. Quoting here, "the president then asked, what about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don`t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes. McGahn says he keeps notes because he`s a real lawyer and notes create a record. The president said, I`ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes."
That`s how this man operates, the man who is the president of the United States. He is so used to acting in sketchy, possibly lawless, possibly criminal or fraudulent ways, he is freaked out by the mere presence of a man taking notes as he`s talking. And it tells you a lot about who this guy is.
And stuff like that appears over and over throughout the report. Do you remember when James Comey said Trump and his team were like the New York mafia organizations he prosecuted?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR FBI: I don`t mean that President Trump, like a mafia boss, is breaking people`s legs or blowing up grocery stores, what I mean instead is that his leadership is all focused on what is best for the boss, loyalty to the boss, and not connected to any of the ethical values outside of the boss, that`s very much like a mob family, and it`s a style of leadership he`s adopted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Remember, Michael Cohen testified about how the president talks in code.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: He doesn`t give you questions, he doesn`t give you orders, he speaks in a code. And I understand the code because I`ve been around him for a decade.
REP. JUSTIN AMASH, (D) MICHIGAN: And it`s your impression that others who will work with him understand the code as well?
COHEN: Most people, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: At this point, it`s basically a cliche to talk about the Trump administration the way you talk about organized crime, but it`s a cliche for a reason. A, they really do act that way. And, b, they act that way because it`s an effective technique to avoid prosecution. If a guy says, give your brother my regards and it`s understood the brother better pay up this week, it`s useful to be able to send the message that way, because it`s hard to use those words, "give your brother my regards, in a court of law as evidence of wrongdoing. That`s why mobsters do it that way.
Everywhere you look in the Mueller report, you see the president and his people acting like that, like when in January 2018, Paul Manafort told Rick Gates he had talked to the president`s personal counsel and they were, quote, going to take care of us, so don`t plead guilty.
When Trump told then FBI Director Comey, I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go, he`s a good guy. I hope you can let this go.
Or when Trump asked Rob Porter if he thought associate AG Rachel Brand was, quote, on the team and then asked if Brand was interested, perhaps, in being responsible for the special counsel`s investigation, and whether she would want to be attorney general one day.
Trump doesn`t have to say go lie for me for it to be a crime, he doesn`t have to say let`s obstruct justice for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct not magic phrases.
Just ask Lindsey Graham in 1999.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: He doesn`t have to say go lie for me to be a crime. You don`t have to say let`s obstruct justice for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct not magic phrases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Trump has always had a kind of feral intelligence, and he`s canny enough to avoid the magic phrases. He doesn`t write things down, doesn`t want his lawyers writing things down, and he maintains at all times plausible deniability.
And people act in ways that shield them from the eyes of law are it turns out people that are difficult to prosecute.
Joining me now to discuss, Attorney Lisa Green and Attorney Elie Mystal, executive editor for Above the Law and contributor to The Nation.
I mean, again, as I said at the top of the show, the behavior exhibited here is not surprising, and yet it is still shocking.
ELIE MYSTAL, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW: Yeah, so you`re exactly right that he`s talking like mobsters talk because it`s effective. But the people who hunt mobsters like are also effective and they use every tactic possible. And when I read the Mueller report, I do not see the use of every tactic possible.
MYSTAL: I see Mueller letting these people off the hook time and time again. There is no excuse. You were talking about mobsters, how do you get them? You go after their kids. And there is no excuse that I read in the Mueller report that explains him not bringing Don Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner in for an interview. There is just no excuse for that.
HAYES: It is surprising, I will say, that Don Jr. is all over this report in many respects. He never sat for an interview with the counsel?
MYSTAL: Yeah, and they never subpoenaed him. I don`t understand why that is.
LISA GREEN, ATTORNEY: There was a certain delicacy, for lack of a better word on the part of -- you see it in the interview, you know, the Trump lawyers were able to delay for more than a year. I recall being here with you as we all awaited what seemed like an almost inevitable subpoena to get him to the table never happened.
MSYTAL: But this is where we fail. I mean, there`s an aspect where like, you know, somebody`s is telling the bus driver, if this bus goes below 55 miles an hour it`s going to blow up. And bus driver says, the speed limit says 40. We`re all going to die. I`m an institutionalist. I mean, that`s what we -- all these institutionalists are only interested in protecting their institution.
HAYES: So, that`s interesting. So, you`re reading the Mueller report and the Mueller investigation is that it`s thorough up to a point of not crossing these kinds of lines that might imperil the DOJ, the FBI and things like that -- that`s what you see in this report?
MYSTAL: The deference that Mueller gave to Trump saying that he couldn`t charge a sitting president, for some reason that deference extended to even I can`t even ask the sitting president a question, and I can`t ask his family a question.
HAYES: Lisa, doesn`t agree.
GREEN: Well, there`s an element of the report deep within that actually shows the opposite, and that`s where Team Mueller says in no uncertain terms the president is capable of being prosecuted. We`re not going to do it for obstruction of justice.
Go back to Barr`s 19 page tryout memo, and read his view about obstruction of justice, and that`s Team Mueller setting up the stage for a family feud in DOJ for the foreseeable future.
HAYES: Well, and they also say, quite explicitly in this -- explicitly in there that, look, it`s also the case that impeachment is a remedy -- as our understanding of the guidance of DOJ, impeachment is remedy for the president while he`s president, but criminal lie applies to the president after he leaves office.
MYSTAL: Yeah, but then he in the same -- in the same breath basically, he says that he`s not having a sealed indictment against Trump, because, oh, that might leak. And again this is Mueller trying to hard to be by the book.
I mean, if you look at -- if you look at what Eliot Ness did to get Capone, it wasn`t all like daisies and roses.
HAYES: Well, but part of the -- but the response to that is that this isn`t Al Capone, this is Donald Trump, right. As far as you -- I`m serious. I`m serious about that. I mean, as far as you want to carry the analogy, right, the way that he talks and all the kind of capo (ph) stuff and the -- he`s not Al Capone, right. I mean, that`s -- that is sort of the point here.
GREEN: Yeah, I mean, the report does one interesting thing, which is it just leads up, right. And to me one area of interesting discussion is when Mueller says, well, you know, we`re not going to prosecute someone who can`t be defended in a neutral court, or suggests that someone should be. On the other hand, we can`t exonerate him.
Everyone is in limbo now.
HAYES: Right, to your point about these interviews, right. So, the president, he provided 33 paragraphs of answers to Mueller. His memory failed 34 times, right. So, there are all these questions about the state of mind of the president, which you can`t get at because you never get an interview.
But then there`s Don Jr, this is one of the most amazing things, the office did not obtain admissible evidence likely to meet the government`s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these individuals willfully, with general knowledge to the active willfully, with general knowledge the illegality of their conduct, that`s how Don Jr. set up the meeting and whether there`s a thing of value that he`s seeking to get. And essentially they`re he didn`t know what he was doing, he was too dumb to break the law.
MYSTAL: Yeah, the lawyer term for that is mens rea. He didn`t have the requisite criminal intent to break the law, but what they`re basically saying, Don Jr. is too stupid to know what he was doing. And I believe that. Don Jr. seems very dumb to me. I totally believe that.
But again you can`t know how dumb Don Jr. is until you sit him down and ask him, were you this stupid or were you -- the other thing, right -- and I hate to -- like, if you`re exerting this report and you`re a Michael Cohen or you are Paul Manafort or you are Rick Gates or you are one of these people that Mueller has put the wood to, and you are going to jail largely for lying to Mueller, how do you feel right now reading this report and realizing the five principles, Trump and his family, are not going to jail, they`re not convicted for lying to Mueller because Mueller never asked them a question. How do you feel about that?
HAYES: The person I thought about, too, thinking about this was Bill Clinton. No, seriously, who managed through this incredible machination by Ken Starr, through a Rube Goldberg machine, that, you know, started with a ball over here and ended with a shoe over there, to get him in front of -- under oath in a deposition while sitting president that included a unanimous Supreme Court decision to make him do so, that was the thing that provided the predicate for impeachment fundamentally, right, it`s not about sex, it`s about lying. And this guy, who we did all this stuff that we now see managed to wriggle out of that.
GREEN: He just waited it out. It was really unbelievable.
Hey, by the way, a quick shoutout to some of the lawyers in the report who actually take notes: Don McGahn and I think Chris Christie, a shout for him, who told Trump famously -- now famously, you can`t make an investigation shorter -- I`m paraphrasing, but you can definitely make it longer.
HAYES: Well, that`s -- I mean, one of the themes here is the man is fundamentally lawless. And I don`t mean criminal, that`s different. Criminal and lawless are different. He is lawless in the sense that the law matters not at all to him one way or the other. You know what I mean, he is going to do what he was going to do, whether the law says he can do it or not, and he bumps up against the law from time to time and he`ll redivert like a Roomba, but he doesn`t -- he fundamentally doesn`t even see it or appreciate the law as a binding constraint.
MYSTAL: One of the bad talking points I`ve seen a lot in this day has been basically that Trump didn`t obstruct justice because the people around him wouldn`t let him obstruct justice, like they were too good to let this happen. Attempted obstructed of justice is obstruction of justice, it`s the same part of the crime.
HAYES: And one of the things that fingered Nixon was the pardons that Cohen discussed pardons with the president`s personal counsel, believed to (inaudible) he`d be taken care of. According to Cohen, the president`s personal counsel, responded that Cohen should stay on message, the investigation was a witch hunt and everything would be fine.
Again, that comes back to that code that we talked about at the top of this, everything would be fine, stay on message.
GREEN: It`s not very subtle.
HAYES: No, it`s not very subtle.
Lisa Green and Eli Mystal on a very, very busy day, thank you for being here on Mueller report day. I really appreciate it.
It has been a very busy day and fascinating day. And I have been looking forward to two things all day -- number one was my show, and then after my show, I`ve been looking forward to "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" which starts right now, which I`m going to go watch.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END