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Democrats still weighing impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 4/22/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Rashida Tlaib, Richard Blumenthal, Quinta Jurecic, Eric Swalwell,Elizabeth Holtzman, Curt Bardella

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  How much sunlight would it be left in that park if Trump`s tractors were allowed in?  Today, Earth Day, Trump said what he had to say about climate change.  He said nothing. 

That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Nancy said we`re not looking to impeach you.  I said, that`s good, Nancy, that`s good.

REID:  Democrats debate impeachment.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK:  We may get to that we may not.

REID:  As Speaker Pelosi holds an all-hands-on-deck meeting.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND:  I`m not there yet but I can foresee that possibly coming.

REID:  Tonight, what we know about the new Democratic strategy with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN:  We`re going to go in there and we`re going to impeach the mother (BLEEP).

REID:  Plus, a new guide to finding Donald Trump`s prosecutable crimes as detailed by Robert Mueller.  Why Democrats afraid of impeachment overreach are taking the wrong lessons from the 90s?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Impeachment is about cleansing the office.

REID:  And congressman Eric Swalwell on new subpoenas from his committee and why he thinks he should be the next president, when ALL IN starts now.


REID:  Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes.  Donald Trump has officially changed his tune to a less happy one.  He`s no longer claiming total exoneration on the Mueller investigation since a redacted version of the investigative report was released last week rendering the summary by Trumpian Attorney General William Barr moot.

With more and more damning information emerging from even the redacted Mueller report by the day, Trump is back to attacking the Mueller investigators on Twitter and ranting about why he should definitely not be impeached.

It`s a revealing sign of where the President`s head is in the wake of documented evidence that his campaign sought to benefit from Russia`s attack on our election, and evidence the President himself obstructed justice in trying to shut the investigation down.  The question now is what Democrats in Congress are going to do about it.

Earlier this evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a 90-minute conference call with her caucus to discuss that very question.  And according to reports, some members said that they were struggling to justify not impeaching the president.

Pelosi is said to have stuck to the same message that she conveyed in a letter to her colleagues earlier today.  "While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller Report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth.  It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings."

Well, today the House Judiciary Committee subpoena testimony and documents from former White House Counsel Don McGahn, a key witness in the obstruction case.  So far, Elizabeth Warren has been the lone Senate Democrat in one of just two 2020 candidates to call for impeachment proceedings since the Mueller report was released telling Rachel Maddow it`s a necessary step to defend the rule of law.


REP. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I get it that there are people who think politically no, it`s going to be too hard to do this.  This isn`t about politics.  This isn`t even specifically about Donald Trump himself.  It is about what a president of the United States should be able to do and what the role of Congress is equal justice under law.  No one is above the law and that includes the President of the United States.  It is the constitutional responsibility of Congress to follow through on that.


REID:  Warren said impeachment is the right thing to do even if it doesn`t result in the President being removed from office, and that is the most likely outcome.  In the history of the United States, only two presidents have actually been impeached and neither was convicted by the Senate in an impeachment trial and removed.

The one president who was removed, removed himself.  Richard Nixon stepped down to avoid an impeachment and likely conviction.  Which means as columnist Charles Blow pointed out in yesterday`s New York Times, that an impeachment vote in the House has to this point been the strongest rebuke America is willing to give a president. 

And if the conducts described in the Mueller report doesn`t deserve that strongest rebuke, then what does?  A small number of House Democrats have not been shy about demanding impeachment proceedings including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Congressman Al Green, and Brad Sherman who`ve introduced previous articles of impeachment that drew little support.

REID:  First-term Congressman Rashida Tlaib introduced an impeachment resolution of her own last month before the Mueller report came out.  And after it was finally released last week, she circulated the proposal again, earning support from a small but vocal contingent of the House freshman class including Ihan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

And Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib joins me now.  And Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here.

TLAIB:  Thank you for having me.

REID:  So let`s first talk about this conference call that the speaker held today.  In your view, what did that accomplish and were you a participant in it?

TLAIB:  No.  I mean, I was not on the call so I can`t really talk about it.  But one of the things I want you all to know is you know, the resolution that I introduced, it holds the president accountable to anti-corrupt laws that are in the United States Constitution.  Because even prior to Mueller`s report, before it came out, I think one of the things that I kept hammering down on is the fact that we have a president, the first time ever in history that hasn`t divested in his domestic and foreign businesses.

Why that`s important is to understand that when he makes decisions, when the president, the person that`s in the Oval Office makes decisions on behalf of the American people, it can`t be in direct conflict with his businesses.  And that`s why they have the emoluments causing the United States Constitution.

So in the same breath that we have companies like T-Mobile who wants to merge with Sprint is spending you know, close to $200,000 at the D.C. Trump Hotel in lobbying the federal government at the same time you know, there are worries that that is corruption.  And that`s some sort of way to what I call, the upgraded version of pay-to-play into the corridor of power.

And the fact that we have a sitting CEO that is the President United States it`s like a corporation is running our country and it`s lawlessness that we constantly see.  And for folks that are concerned obviously about what`s in the Mueller report, they should be even more concerned about the fact that the President of the United States after he took the oath of office, after he said he`s going to uphold the United States Constitution still to this day hasn`t divested in his businesses and has made profits like $40 million in 2017 while he`s sitting as a sitting president.

I don`t care for your Republican or Democrat, you should be worried about this because this sets the precedent, that precedent that it`s OK that you have these conflicts, that there is this corruption that`s happening, and that businesses and including foreign governments can just go stay at the Trump Hotel and lobby our government to support certain positions.

And it`s wrong because this will not be the last CEO that runs for president in the United States and we need to send a strong message that you won`t do that.  You will not corrupt our democracy and you will not use the most powerful position in the country for your benefit and putting profits before people.

REID:  Well, also, Congresswoman, it sounds like you`re making a case for impeachment based on potential violations of the Emoluments Clause, potential corruption involving Donald Trump`s businesses.  That is not what was covered by Robert Mueller`s investigation.  So would you then to the position of a lot of members of your leadership who say that there should be hearings that then draw out things like what you just talked about and draw out other cases that could potentially lead to impeachment but that are not impeachment right now.

TLAIB:  Absolutely.  So my resolution is what we you know, President Nixon and what happened there, same thing.  It was a resolution to investigate whether or not there has been impeachable offenses.  So my resolution that was introduced and that`s gaining some supported and I`m trying to encourage our folks to use this process, use a congressional committee process to actually investigate this president and his actions.

You know, if folks want to focus on before that`s great.  But I also say, let`s see if how much of what Mueller is talking about has seeped in to the Oval Office, seeped in to the White House administration, and we`ve already seen that in the Mueller`s report that it has seeped into our democracy in a way that I feel like goes way beyond what Nixon and any other person that was being investigated -- any other president before him was being investigated on.

You know, we can`t sit back and do nothing because if anything, even if he`s not impeachable at that time, if he`s doesn`t -- if we`re not successful in impeaching him, at least we`re investigating it, doing our due diligence to hold him accountable.  And you never know.

One, a lot of people laugh at me when I say maybe he`ll try to comply and actually do what he`s supposed to do.  But second of it, we`ll look at the Mueller report and look at some of the actions over a thousand contacts between the Trump Organization and the Trump administration since he`s been in office, that alone gets you into criminal corrupt activities that I think as a sitting member of Congress I couldn`t get away with.

So we can`t let him get away with not holding them accountable.  Let`s do the process of the committee and investigate and dig deeper into this.  And again we can`t focus on these around political strategy.  It`s around putting our country first.

REID:  Well, a lot of your colleagues and it sounds like your leadership are concerned that what Rudy Giuliani said is actually true, that impatiens would be the best thing that happened to Donald Trump.  It`ll make him -- it`ll make his base more fired up for the 2020 election.  What do you make of that argument that is being made by a lot of folks in your own leadership?

TLAIB:  Look, at home right here in the 13th Congressional District, you know what I hear people is how come he can get away with that.  How come you guys are not looking into this deeper?  You know, put character flaws aside and this president has a lot of character flaws.  Put it aside.  Look at specifically the actions he`s done.

Because a lot of the things we were fighting for, access to health care from holding you know, for corporations accountable, to pushing back on the high rates of insulin, all of those things are directly connected to how this president acts on these policy areas.  And if we have outside you know, corporations and those folks using this upgraded version of pay-to- play knowing that this guy has not, this president, the sitting president has not divested in his business, they know how to get to him and they`re getting to him through his businesses.

And that to me is dangerous and we need to hold him accountable to that.  And I`ll tell you, many, many residents are sitting back asking why aren`t we doing more.  And I`ll tell you more and more people when it comes out of the committee process, not through the media, not through articles, not through social media, but through the official United States Congress congressional committee hearing, people will start understanding that this is so much more and so much bigger than being a Republican or Democratic issue or whether that`s a 2020 issue.

They`re going to see that this is the United States of America issue and again we can`t set a precedent to allow this president to get away with violating the United States Constitution any longer.

REID:  Congressman Rashida Tlaib, thank you very much for joining me.

TLAIB:  Thank you.

REID:  Thank you very much.  I really appreciate your time.  And for more on this impeachment debate, I`m joined by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut who`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  So, Senator, you heard that very passionate, the Congresswoman.  She`s got three co-sponsors for her resolution which is impeachment proceedings not based on what`s in the Mueller report but based on alleged conflicts of interest with Donald Trump`s businesses.

What do you make of that argument?  How do you argue that any president can be impeached if the collection of facts that we now know about Donald Trump both through the media reporting and through the Mueller report do not result in impeachment?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT):  Well, let`s begin with a Mueller report.  It presents an indictment in all but name.  It is a chilling portrait of massive criminal misconduct and abhorrent wrongdoing.  And the American people need to understand it the President must be held accountable for this wrongdoing either through Congress and hearings there or through the ballot box which we`ll have an opportunity to do very soon, or through the courts.

REID:  Well, let me ask you this because here`s the challenge with that argument.  The election process was not foreseen in the Constitution as a process by which a president who has ongoing wrongdoing is held accountable right?  He`s either elected or he`s not.  That`s the people`s job.

Only Congress can really hold the president accountable for wrongdoing, alleged wrongdoing and the only way the Constitution gives the Congress to do that is impeachment.  Just having hearings, how is that accountability?

BLUMENTHAL:  Hearings give us the opportunity to present this case to the American people and that`s the important point here, Joy, I think in the next steps ahead, presenting our case to the American people so they can understand not only the corruption -- and by the way I know something about that corruption because I have sued the President the United States.  It`s called Blumenthal versus Trump.

Jerry Nadler is a co-plaintiff as are almost 300 of my colleagues in the Congress saying he`s violating the Emoluments Clause, but also as an investigation, follow the money, and making sure that we present to the American people this really chilling portrait so they understand.

And one more point is very important here, Joy.  You`re asking Democrats what are you going to do.  The nation ought to be asking Republicans.

REID:  Well that would be in the -- Laurence Tribe, obviously a very respected constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe tweeted today.  Impeachment hearings now, yes.  Voting to impeach now, no.  Hearings first, voting after.  But don`t pretend it`s just oversight as usual.  That sends an awful signal not just to foreign countries but to everyone including all future presidents.

If Congress doesn`t use the one sanction allowed to you, meaning impeachment, and that includes Republicans as well, then why shouldn`t any future president simply go and get information from foreign governments, violate the Emoluments Clause.  If there`s no penalty, then why shouldn`t any future president just behave like Donald Trump?

BLUMENTHAL:  Impeachment has to be on the table.  It has to be a potential remedy here.  There have to be hearings to present this case to the American people just as in Watergate.

REID:  Right.  And those were impeachment hearings, by the way.  That`s what the Watergate hearings were.

BLUMENTHAL:  And they were impeachment hearings, exactly right.  So oversight as usual.  We`re talking about a number of House Committees doing oversight here which concern not only violations of the constitutional provision on the Emoluments Clause and other wrongdoing like obstruction of justice which is presented in more than ten specific episodes and which may have impacted the collusion investigation.  We`re also talking about oversight hearings that will protect our national security.

REID:  Let me ask you this question because for a lot of people listening to this and listening to you and some of your colleagues on the Democratic side, what they hear is saying, we`ll do oversight which is a sort of amorphous term that isn`t very meaningful to most people.  Impeachment is an actual sanction against the president.  It`s an actual act of oversight that the American people understand to be -- to be taking a strong stance that is in the Constitution.

On the other side, while Democrats seem to be being very magnanimous and said we`re just going to keep on investigating, the other side on your very committee, your chair -- the chairman of your committee Senator Lindsey Graham is saying well, what we`re going to do is we`re going to investigate the FBI, we`re going to investigate the investigators.  They`re not being as sort of you know, congenial.

They`re saying that they are going to use their investigative authorities to try to go after who know, Hillary Clinton.  So the other side has been going to play the same way.

BLUMENTHAL:  I`m really deeply disappointed in my Republican colleagues.  Barely a handful if that many have spoken out in criticism let alone outrage.  And outrage is what they and we ought to feel because Russia attacked our country.  They literally committed an act of war against the United States of America.  And the president, then-candidate accept it happily.

REID:  Should he be impeached for that then?

BLUMENTHAL:  That is a step that we need to take if we take it after being very deliberative, nothing wrong with being deliberative.  There`s no deadline for reaching that decision.  There should be hearings and we need Mueller and his team along with Don McGahn and others and the unredacted report, and the evidence and the facts underlying that report in presenting our case to the American people.

Ultimately they need to hear this case and be educated because very few are going to read this whole report.  And here`s the really important point that I think ought to be bipartisan.  We need to protect America against the continuing attack.  And the president`s saying he believes Vladimir Putin that he didn`t attack this country.

REID:  Let me ask you -- we are out of time but the person who runs the Senate right now Mitch McConnell, when this attack was ongoing warned the President of the United States that if President Obama were to come out forward and tell the public what was going on, that he would deem that to be partisan.  He expressed doubt himself about the Russian attack.

Why should the American people believe that the Republican side of the aisle in the United States Senate is going to do anything to help in that regard?  It sounds like what they`re gearing up to do is to go after Democrats while Democrats are saying no, no, no let`s play within the rules.

BLUMENTHAL:  The American people say have no trust and the Republican leadership or in the Republicans in the United States Senate or the Congress, if they fail to act in this moment of national peril and crisis literally, the Russians are continuing to attack us and on the stage in Helsinki.  The President of the United States, he said -- he believed Vladimir Putin over our intelligence community.

And that fits the mosaic the criminal mosaic of wrongdoing in the Mueller report because the president continued to accept Russian help knowing that it consisted of hacked e-mail.

REID:  Right, and I`m we are out of time and Senator Richard Blumenthal given what you just said, how do you then argue that this president then should not be subject to the hearings which impeachment is not removal, it`s simply hearings?

BLUMENTHAL:  Well, it is more than hearings, just as a trial is more than hearings, and any proceeding may begin and it has to have a conclusion but we shouldn`t in this sense, abandons the opportunity to present this case to the American people.

REID:  Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much.  I really appreciate your time.  Thank you.  And still to come, what Robert Mueller`s own findings say about the President`s actions a handy guide to what are at least four clear cases of criminal obstruction as laid out by the special counsel.  That`s in two minutes.


REID:  As some Democrats debate whether or not there`s enough evidence to proceed with impeachment, it`s worth remembering that Robert Mueller has already done most of the heavy lifting.  Lawfare`s Quinta Jurecic has laid out this handy heat map simplifying Mueller`s own analysis of whether or not Trump`s actions meet the legal definition of obstruction of justice.  An act must meet three criteria to count as obstruction that needs to be an obstructive act, a nexus between the act and an official proceeding and corrupt intent.

Each of these columns is one area of possible destruction that Mueller investigated.  Three orange boxes in a row means that Mueller found there was substantial evidence on all three counts.  And as you can see, there are four different areas that hit the trifecta, the President`s -- the President`s efforts to remove the special counsel, the President`s efforts to curtail the Special Counsel investigation, the President`s ordering don McGahn to deny that the president tried to fire the special counsel, and the President`s conduct directed at Paul Manafort.

And here to help explain Mueller`s findings is Quinta Jurecic Managing Editor of Lawfare and creator of that great explainer.  OK, Quinton, thank you very much for being here.


REID:  So how did you decide -- and to sort of explain to me a little bit why three of the four areas that hit all three elements of obstruction, of those four, three of them actually have to do with Donald Trump`s actions against Mueller himself.  Please explain.

JURECIC:  Yes, that`s correct.  So when I was going through, I was looking not only for areas in which to me it seemed like Mueller was describing the evidence in such a way that the special counsel was suggesting that that element of the obstruction offense was met, but also particularly for areas in which he seemed very competent.

Now to be clear, he doesn`t state that explicitly.  He`s very clear at the opening of volume two on obstruction that he`s not reaching a conclusion.  But if you parse it closely, I would argue that you can kind of see what direction he`s headed.

And as you know, there are these instances related to trying to fire Mueller, trying to limit the scope of the probe and trying to cover up that he tried to fire Mueller.  And in all those cases Mueller seemed very confident that he had substantial evidence that the president did indeed meet the elements of the obstruction effect.

REID:  And I wonder if because in the in the case of firing Jim Comey which a lot of people think of as the first time and then admitting it to Lester Holt as being something that was sort of a clear-cut case of trying to obstruct the Russia investigation, why would for three areas in which Donald Trump was thwarted by his aides in which he asked people to do something toward the firing of Robert Mueller but they didn`t listen to him be more sort of spot on in terms of your chart in terms of saying this is more indicative of real obstruction than for instance firing Jim Comey?

JURECIC:  Sure.  So an important thing to keep in mind is that legally speaking for obstruction of justice purposes, if I try to obstruct justice and fail, that could still be obstruction.  And you really wouldn`t want it any other way because otherwise you`d just be encouraging everyone to do their level best to obstruct justice so then they could never be caught.

And so once you look at that in that light I think the instances regarding Mueller are pretty clear.  Regarding Comey it`s interesting because I agree with you, when I first looked at the way Mueller had written that section, I read it as a pretty clear-cut obstruction offense.  That said if you look at the way Mueller presents the evidence, he seems to be less certain in the way he lays out the evidence for and against that this is obviously an obstruction offense fits all the elements of the offense.

And what`s interesting is that in the intent section, he actually says well, we don`t know if the president`s intent here showed that he was trying to obstruct justice, but it is relevant to understanding how he understood the Russia probe more broadly and that he was frustrated by it, he wanted to shut it down.

REID:  Right.

JURECIC:  And so in that sense, it can help us understand the President`s broader pattern of conduct relating to the investigation.

REID:  Noting that being frustrated is not an actual defense against committing crime -- committing obstruction of justice.  Quinta Jurecic, thank you very much.  I really appreciate it.

JURECIC:  Thanks.

REID:  Thank you.  And next, did Republicans really ever pay a price for impeaching Bill Clinton?  Why Democrats concerns about impeachment overreach may be overblown?  That`s next.



REID:  So if you believe that he deserves it --

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY):  Wait, wait, wait.

REID:  Hold on.  If you don`t do it for this president, then what president would be eligible for impeachment?  What do you have to do?

MALONEY:  Joy, ask yourself this question.  Why are the Republicans so eager for us to impeach the president?  And it doesn`t say I have a duty to impeach the president, that`s not the --

REID:  If you believe he committed high crimes and misdemeanor. 

MALONEY:  Excuse me.  That`s -- I don`t believe the word duty is in the Constitution.  I think that I`m elected to use my brain and to be smart about this.

What I`m telling you is I want to play chess not checkers.  I don`t want to engage in some exercise that feels good for five minutes and gets our heads handed to us because the American people aren`t there yet.


REID:  That was Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney on Friday.  He`s one of the Democrats warning against impeachment.  But as Jamelle Bouie writes in the New York Times, either the President is above the law or he isn`t.  Voters can`t determine this.  Elections aren`t actually the venue for adjudicating that kind of conflict. 

The Constitution to sign that job to Congress, but House Democrats like Maloney and others in leadership seem particularly leery.  Some might say they remain snake-bitten from Bill Clinton`s impeachment in the 1990s, an impeachment that did not result in Clinton being removed from office. 

He was almost through his second term, but which many Democrats and Republicans claim hurt the GOP.

But it`s worth asking, if Democrats are misremembering the full outcome, which included Clinton`s approval rating indeed spiking during impeachment, but eventually fading sharply.  Clinton`s would-be successor Al Gore avoided using Clinton on the campaign trail, and while Republicans lost some seats, they held on to the House and Senate, while Democrats in 2000 did not hold on to the White House.

To talk about what kind of affect impeachment might have on an extraordinarily unpopular president, I`m joined by Liz Holtsman, former congresswoman who served on the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Richard Nixon, and whose book is called "The Case for Impeaching Trump."

Curt Bardella, NBC News think and USA Today contributor and former spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee who has a piece out today entitled, What would Republicans do with a Mueller report? Build an impeachment case;" and Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst and columnist for The Daily  Beast.

All right, thank you all for being here.  I`m just going to go in order of the impeached, or the almost impeached.  I`m going to go right back to the Richard Nixon impeachment.  The idea that somehow impeachment confers positive political benefits on a president who is subjected to it, what do you make of that argument?

ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN:  Well, I just want to go back to the Nixon impeachment, because people go to the Clinton impeachment, because people go to the Clinton impeachment and they stop there, and they don`t remember about Nixon.  The fact of the matter is that congress was initially very reluctant to move forward with the Nixon impeachment.  It started as an impeachment inquiry.  Nobody even knew what the grounds for impeachment were when we started.  It was because the president fired the special prosecutor.  And the American people said, congress, you got to do something.  Nobody quite knew what to do.  They didn`t know what the constitution provided.  They didn`t know what a high crime and misdemeanor was.  They didn`t know what the case against Nixon was.

So, when we started we had to educate ourselves and then bring the American people along.  I mean, this is not a situation where it`s all wrapped up like a present with a bow, it`s more like a jury trial.  It`s like saying, well, you know, we can`t take a case to a jury because maybe we`ll lose.

REID:  Right.

HOLTZMAN:  But the point is if you do it the right way, and you e have a strong case, and you are fair in the process, you can educate the American people along the way, and that`s what happened in the Nixon impeachment.

So when we started with, as Jonathan reminded me, with less than 50 percent of the American people supporting impeachment, by the time it was finished we had huge support.  And by the way, nobody was thinking about the political outcome, because we didn`t know what the political outcome was going to be, nobody took a poll of the House members when we started impeachment.  Nobody took even a poll of the House Judiciary Committee members when we started our inquiry, and nobody did a poll of the Senate.  We didn`t know where we were going to wind up.

But we knew, because the stakes were so high, because Richard Nixon was such a threat to the country, that we had to do it in the right way.  Doing it in the right way,  having hearings, have the senate had the hearings, the American people could see what was happening, could see the faces, judge the demeanor, judge whether the witnesses were lying, John Dean, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Nixon`s aides, that`s what made the difference.

And so we have to have a process that`s fair, that educates the American people.  And I think Mr. Maloney, with all due respect is wrong.  Congress was given the responsibility to protect the Republic through the impeachment power from a president who is rogue.  You can`t walk away from i t.

REID:  Right.  And then hand it off to the American people.

Let`s go to the Clinton impeachment, because I think that is a very good place to start with the Nixon impeachment where he knew -- or potential impeachment -- he knew he was going do be convicted and resigned.

HOLTAMANN:  No, no, he knew he was going to be convicted.  There was no probably.

REID:  He was going to be convicted and resigned.

With Bill Clinton, it was a very different matter.  Bill Clinton was a very popular president.  He was in the 60s.  The republicans had been making it pretty clear they were looking for a reason to impeach him.  And they went hunting and hunting and hunting until he found -- until wound up in the affair with Monica Lewinsky, and having Betty Currie, his secretary, lie about the Lewinsky affair, they (inaudible), aha, obstruction of justice.

Why is it that Democrats have taken from that experience that impeaching Bill Clinton was great for Bill Clinton and terrible for Republicans?

JONATHAN ALTER, THE DAILY BEAST:  Well, I think people are fighting the last war without having learned the actual details of the last war.

REID:  Right.

ALTER:  So there is an assumption that Clinton was impeached and then the Democrats did very well in the 1998 midterm election.  That was actually not the sequence.  They did very well in the 1998 in the midterm elections, in part because people realize that the Republicans were off the rails.  They should not be going down this path.

Elections take place then after the elections in 1999.  Clinton is impeached.  He`s tried and acquitted in the senate.

So according to the logic, the conventional wisdom now, this was then sort of good for Bill Clinton, the backlash.  But there actually wasn`t a backlash at that point.  Clinton`s numbers went down.  And having prosecuted the case against Bill Clinton actually helped Republicans in the next election in 2000.  And they will tell you that, because what they did is they kept the heat on Bill Clinton, and that hurt his Vice President Al Gore when he was trying to succeed him.

So, if the Democrats don`t do this, don`t keep the heat on President Trump over this, they face a situation where they go into the next election in a good economy with less of a chance of winning the White House.  They have to make sure that they continue to prosecute the case against  Trump all the way.  And the best they do that is with an impeachment process.

HAYES:  Let me go to you, Curt Bardella.  And I`m going to do a WWRD, what would Republicans do, if they had this same hand to play?  Because in the same case of the Nixon impeachment hearings, everyone who had a television was watching that.  It was must-see TV.  Those hearings were riveting to the country.

Same thing with the Clinton impeachment.  Even though people were aghast at the fact it was so clear that this was partisan and that it had nothing to do with, you know, protecting the country from what?  From a presidential affair.  But the Democrats are convinced somehow that if they were to impeach this president, who is the most unpopular president, I believe in modern American history, that somehow they are the ones who will be punished.

If Republicans had this hand to play, what would they be doing?

CURT BARDELLA, NBC NEWS:  Well, I can dell you, Joy, if Republicans -- if Donald Trump were a Democrat and Republicans had control of congress, they`d be impeaching him right now.  There would be no, well, let`s deliberate, let`s consider the political ramifications.  They would move full throttle, full steam ahead.  And I know that because when we were at the oversight committee, when I worked as a Republican at the oversight committee during the Barack Obama presidency, all we did was issue subpoenas, hold hearings.  Heck, Benghazi alone, we created a special select committee to specifically focus on that issue, that controversy, and we wouldn`t shut up about it day in and day out, for five years we talked about these things.

And so I think, you know, what I always observed about how Republicans view Democrats during those times was that we thought Democrats are big wimps.  They`re afraid to their own shadow.  They`re afraid to action.  They`re afraid to stand up.  They don`t have the backbone to do anything to stop us.  And we would just think that we could run roughshod over them.

And what I see happening right now, Joy is that once again, there is a moment that has come.  The voters have given Democrats a clear mandate for oversight.  Republicans have set the precedent for aggressive oversight.  Jim Jordan, the ranking Republican on the oversight committee, he said when he was voting to hold various Obama officials in contempt of congress the only route to the truth is  through the House of Representatives.

The table is set, Joy, for Democrats to use all of those things that Republicans did against them, and yet it seems like they`re too afraid of their own shadow to do what they should.

ALTER:  They don`t want to act like Jim Jordan.  That would not be a good role model for Democrats.

REID:  But would it be the same if -- I mean, it wouldn`t be the same at all if you`re talking about the national security of the country and suborning help from a foreign power.

HOLTZMAN:  Yeah, but let`s go back to Nixon for one second.  Nixon was an extremely popular president, more popular than Bill Clinton.  He was elected with one of the biggest landslides in history.

REID:  Yeah.

HOLTZMAN:  And the impeachment process, because it educated the American people, changed people`s minds.  Democrats can`t walk away from that.

REID:  Did Bill Clinton wear his impeachment as a badge of honor and see it as a victory?


REID:  There we go.

ALTER:  You know, this will help Democrats if they get these folks on stage -- Don McGahn in there in the congress with a lot of ratings.

REID:  It`s the biggest stage.  It`s the biggest national stage.

ALTER:  But you`ve got to do that with impeachment.

REID:  Liz Holtzman, Curt Bardella, Jonathan Alter, thank you guys.  Really appreciate you joining us.

And coming up, there is only one 2020 candidate right now who could vote to begin the impeachment of Donald Trump, one of the candidates.  And I will ask where he stands on the issue.

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.


REID:  Thing One tonight, millions of Americans celebrated Easter this weekend.  And so of course the country was filled with giant easter bunnies, like this one who showed up in John Legend and Chrissy Teagan`s L.A. backyard.  Or this adventurous sky diving Easter Bunny who made an exciting entrance to an egg hunt in Pennsylvania.

And of course Florida, where every now and then the Easter Bunny`s got to throw down outside the bar.  And of course every year Buzzfeed will post a collection of the creepiest easter bunnies of all time.

Easter 1975 was clearly a different time.  I would not want to run into that one on the street.

And I think this guy would be better off in a horror movie.

But the fine folks at Buzzfeed missed a really creepy bunny.


TRUMP:  And do we love our military?  Our military is building -- literally being...


REID:  Ah, yes, the one at the White House.  Hello, doc.

It must be time for the big annual Easter egg roll.  And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


REID:  Ah, yes, today was the annual Easter egg roll at the White House, a tradition going back 140 years, which means the South Lawn was filled with children, and all sorts of strange characters, like these big eggs and Jeffrey the Giraffe, mascot of the now defunct Toys R Us, and Kellyanne Conway and Rod Rosenstein, and a military band doing a dead-on James Brown cover song.


REID:  Ah, yes, the godfather of soul would be so proud.

But, of course, the star of the show is the Easter Bunny.  In previous years, we know it was actually former Press Secretary Sean Spicer in the bunny suit, but he lost that job.  Ah, poor Spicy.

And we don`t think current Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replaced him, because the Easter Bunny`s mouth is open, but it`s not lying -- ba dum bum.

Whoever it is, job number one is to stand alongside the president of the United States as he addresses all the gathered children with his annual totally appropriate Easter message.


TRUMP:  Our country is doing fantastically well, probably the best it`s ever done  economically.  We`re setting records on stock markets.  We`re setting records with jobs, and unemployment numbers are the lowest they`ve ever been.  We are completely rebuilding our military.  It was very depleted, as you know.  A lot of the military folks can tell you.  And it is being rebuilt to a  level that we have never seen before.  All with great product, the best product in the world.  And you know where it`s made?  In the USA.  That`s where it`s made.  It`s all made right here.

So, again, Happy Easter...



REID:  A high-profile member of the Donald Trump`s cabinet has been named in a new lawsuit brought against the former CEO of Sears.  The longtime American institution and department store, whose declaration of bankruptcy last year brought great sadness to the president.


TRUMP:  Somebody that is of my generation, Sears Roebuck was a big deal.  So it`s very sad to see.  Sears has been dying for many years.  It`s been obviously improperly run for many years, and it`s a  shame.


REID:  It is indeed sad that a company as iconic as Sears is struggling for survival.  Once the world`s largest retailer, Sears was woven into the fabric of American life for more than a century.  The everything store that would sell just about everything to just about everyone.

The celebrated Sears Roebuck catalog even helped black Americans circumvent Jim Crow laws at a time when they were treated as second class citizens in retail stores.  Historian Louis Hyman notes that the catalog undid the power of the storekeeper, and by extension the landlord.  Black families could buy without asking for permission without waiting, without being watched.

It was inevitable that Sears would struggle amid the rise of online retailers like Amazon, but it may have gotten a big push on its way to the brink of extinction.  Sears is now suing its former chairman, billionaire hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert, and other top managers, claiming they illegally siphoned billions of dollars of assets from the retailer before it went bankrupt.  Lampert denies the allegation.

And guess who else is named in the lawsuit, none other than Donald Trump`s own Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs banker, mortgage lender and Hollywood financier.  Mnuchin also served as a board member for Sears, and Lampert`s hedge fund.  And he allegedly helped Lampert siphon $2 billion from the company.

The Treasury Department is not commenting.


TRUMP:  Sears has been dying for many years.  It`s been obviously improperly run for many years, and it`s a shame.


REID:  Well, it may not be surprising that the man known as the foreclosure king of America is named in a lawsuit like this.  But all of this does feel like a perfect distillation of modern capitalism, where men like Mnuchin and Lampert thrive despite being accused of helping to bring down an iconic American retailer that once gave some of the poorest Americans a chance at something more.


REID:  Of the 19 Democrats running for president so far, only one sits on the House Judiciary Committee, the committee that could first consider the question of impeaching Donald Trump and that congressman, Democrat Eric Swalwell of California joins me now.

Thank you for being with me, congressman.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D-CA) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Hi, Joy,  Thanks for having me.

REID:  Great to see you.

So, let`s talk about impeachment.  It is a very -- it`s a divisive issue in the sense that the base of the Democratic Party seems very much in favor of proceeding to that step, particularly after the Mueller report came out, but leadership does not seem in favor of it.  Were you on that call today with Speaker Pelosi?

SWALWELL:  Yes.  And I`m someone who thinks we`re headed that way.  But I want to get it right.  And I`m one of the persons that`s going to have to prosecute this case, and so when I was a prosecutor for seven years, before I went to court, I had my pencils sharpened, my subpoenas ready, my witnesses in the waiting room, and the exhibits ready to be presented.

So, we only get one shot.  I want to make sure when we do that, if that`s what it`s going to take, that we get it right.

So, first things first.  Bring Mueller in.  I think that`s going to be illuminating for the American people.  Get the full unredacted Mueller report, which we`ve also asked for.

We`re not going to do Donald Trump justice, you know, just reach a conclusion and then, you know, back into the evidence.  We`re going to do this the right way.  And I`m confident that he`s going to be held accountable.  He`s not going to be president in 2021.  He`s going to be removed by the voters or by congress, but his days are numbered.

REID:  So, you think impeachment will happen?

SWALWELL:  I think we`re headed that way.  We`re closer to that than we were before the report came out.

REID:  Right.  And Elizabeth Holtzman, who was on earlier, who was in congress during the Nixon era, and then that impeachment was rolling along, she made the point that Nixon started very popular and that over time the country was sort of educated through the impeachment hearings.

So, you think that those hearings themselves could be the place where -- I mean, Donald Trump is already very unpopular, but where people could really learn even more about..

SWALWELL:  Seeing is believing.  And what`s why I think Bob Mueller coming before the committee, the American people trust him.  And when he lays out how close this president got us to the Russians -- and even today, Joy, never in that report the 200 pages on collusion did he say, oh by the way, these relationships stopped.  Like, they might be still ongoing.

When he lays that out and then the 10 different ways he tried to obstruct, because he has a guilty conscience, I think the American people are going to be quite concerned.

REID:  You`re running for president.  You`re running for Donald Trump`s job.  And I guess the -- one of the questions that a lot of voters ask me, and I don`t know if they ask you about this when you are on the campaign trail, is are Democrats actually tough enough to beat Donald Trump?

\Democrats tend to be gentile.  They want to play by the rules.  They want to be nice. Donald Trump is not going to play nice.  Are Democrats tough enough to beat this president?

SWALWELL:  Yeah, I`m tough enough.  I think there`s others in the field who are.  I beat a 40-year incumbent in my own party just to get to congress. 

People like me aren`t supposed to be in congress.  My parents didn`t know what congress meant until their son got elected.  And I fought my way there to represent a generation that I thought needed that.

The case I would make to the American people with Donald Trump, without having to get in the mud every single issue he wants to, is that this person may have been right in identifying that you need higher wages, lower health care costs, a brighter future.  He`s utterly failed you in every single way to deliver.  Here`s my viable plan to do that.

I think that wins.  I don`t think you have to accept the premise of some of these arguments that he makes that, you know, immigration is the most important issue facing us, or that we`re drifting towards socialism.  I`m not going to take that bait, and I think I can punch right back when I need to.

REID:  But you`ve also said that you put Republicans in your cabinet.  Is that a message Democrats are going to want to hear?

SWALWELL:  I think most of us country wants to see us united.  We may have to send a search party out to find Republicans who will put country over party.  But when it comes to some of the Democratic reforms we`re going to have to make immediately, because of the corruption and the graft and the nepotism this president has brought into our country, I want to have some Republicans that give me credibility.

I don`t think I`m going to find them in the congress, but I do believe that there`s some out there.  And I`m confident saying that I can lead the country...

REID:  Aren`t most Republicans essentially Donald Trump Republicans at this point in the country? 

SWALWELL:  You know, what`s interesting, when you look at those polls, the number of Republicans is probably going down.  So he`s more popular among those who have stayed.  A lot of people, David Jolly left the Republican Party.  He was a colleague of mine.  But there are a lot of people like him.

REID:  He did. 

I have to ask you this question, you`re running -- you are from the great state of California.  We know that Senator Kamala Harris is also running from the great state of California.  A lot of consternation among women who are looking at this field that has got a lot of diversity in it -- African- Americans, women, but the white guys are all polling at the top.  The current polling average has Biden, Sanders, O`Rourke, and then Kamala Harris, Senator Harris, in fourth place.  Why does the field need yet another, to be blunt, another white guy in the field?  I mean, there are a lot.

SWALWELL:  Yes.  And Kamala Harris and I come from the same district attorney`s office, so I have great respect for her.

I don`t think anyone`s identity should hold them back, but I think the next president should  see all races, all identities, but recognize where you can`t speak for someone`s experience and pass the mic to someone who can.

I have pledged I would ask a woman to serve as vice president.  I would put forward a diverse candidate.  And I would put forward policies that would make sure that inherent bias that exists or discrimination that exists in communities would be eliminated and that we would make sure everyone, everywhere has opportunities.

REID:  How do you get the nomination?  How do you get the nomination?  Which of the first four primaries or caucuses are you going to win?

SWALWELL:  Iowa.  I was born there.  I understand why people there work hard and what they want in the next president.

REID:  Your strategy is an Iowa-based strategy?

SWALWELL:  Well, it`s actually a nationwide strategy.  I went to Alabama, Indiana, Texas last election, so I`m going to go everywhere.

REID:  All right.  We are out of time.  Thank you very much.  Good luck on the campaign trail.  Appreciate it.

That does it for us ALL IN this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.