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Mueller speaks for the first time. TRANSCRIPT: 5/29/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Walter Dellinger, Joe Neguse, Cory Booker, Sheila Jackson Lee,George Will, Marcy Wheeler, Paul Butler

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  And thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL, RUSSIA PROBE:  If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

HAYES:  Robert Mueller finally speaks.

MUELLER:  We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.

HAYES:  And effectively tells Congress it is their job to deal with the criminal president.

MUELLER:  The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.

HAYES:  Tonight, what we learn from today`s statement from the special counsel.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  This is even stronger than the language in his report.

HAYES:  And what Democrats plan to do about it.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  We want to do what is right and what gets results.

HAYES:  Plus, how Robert Mueller`s statement underscores bill Barr`s deception.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  I said, Bob, what`s with the letter?

HAYES:  Senator Cory Booker on why he`s now for beginning impeachment proceedings.


HAYES:  And how Mitch McConnell and the White House are leaving America`s elections unguarded in 2020.

MUELLER:  There were multiple systemic efforts to interfere in our election and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  Today, for the first and possibly the last time, Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke in his own voice about his findings and told Congress and the American people in so many words, I`ve done what I can and it`s up to you now.

It was an unmistakable rebuke to Attorney General Bill Barr who in transparently bad faith misrepresented the report to clear the President in a way Mueller did and never intended to.  Mueller stressed his team`s inability either to clear the president of a crime since there was so much evidence of his criminality, and likewise their inability to charge him because they were barred by Department of Justice policy.

Ultimately, his appearance today before the cameras represented a kind of passing of the constitutional baton from Mueller`s office to Congress which Mueller noted pointedly, has the sole ability to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.


MUELLER:  As set forth in the report after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.  We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.  The introduction to the volume two of our report explains that decision.

It explains that under long-standing department policy a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.  The opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.


HAYES:  Mueller reiterated at times almost verbatim the main findings of his report that the Russians engage in a concerted, systematic, sophisticated attack to sabotage the American election and help Trump get elected, that Mueller was unable to establish sufficient evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign or U.S. persons with criminal conspiracy with that effort despite evidence that they actively encouraged and sought out that help from the Russians, and that the president and the people around him actively sought to obstruct the inquiry to the Russian government`s illegal help to the Trump campaign.


MUELLER:  As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.  The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign.

They stole private information and then released that information through fake online and identities and through the organization WikiLeaks.  The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.

The matters we investigated were of paramount importance.  It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned.  When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government`s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.


HAYES:  Robert Mueller said he doesn`t want to testify to Congress, that he`s returning to private life and has said his piece, it`s in the report.  But it does raise a question for everyone what to do with a clearly lawless president with a president who as illustrated in the report in great depth and detail obstructed justice.  A president who cannot be criminally charged according to Mueller and the current DOJ and a president who theoretically can break any law he wants going forward so long as 34 senators decide to stick with him.


TRUMP:  They say I have the most loyal people.  Did you have to say that?  Well, I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn`t lose any voters, OK.  It`s like incredible.


HAYES:  The President`s henchmen and women immediately lied about what Mueller said which is par for the course.  Many of the most prominent Democrats were left reading statements about the path forward that sounded like carefully worded deposition answers.  Journalist Garrett Graff who literally wrote the book on Robert Mueller Twitter today. Mueller is in his own Mueller-like way screaming for presidential impeachment proceedings but he`s too respectful to say it as directly as America and Congress evidently needs him to say it.  And it`s hard to argue.

Reading between the lines, Robert Mueller came before the American people today and said look, the president is a criminal and there`s not a damn thing I can do about it, but Congress can.  Joining me now for more on the Robert Mueller`s public statement today are Walter Dellinger, former Assistant Attorney General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel, and Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence under then-Director Robert Mueller and now an MSNBC Contributor.

Frank, let me start with you, and I -- we`re in a -- we`re in a position where we have the man`s words themselves but they`re all sort of carefully parsed and somewhat oracular and intended to sort of remain neutral.  What is your read of what he did today, the intent and purpose of it?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  So if you know Mueller, you know that today was remarkable for him.  And by that I mean, he had to make the decision that he would go outside the system.  He would not testify before Congress.  He would not file written reports.  He would stand inside the Department of Justice and make his own statement and take control and that for him is remarkable.

And his measured tone which frustrates many today I`m sure needs to be read through the lens of Mueller which is that he was openly and publicly rebuking the Attorney General of the United States and the way in which his work, Mueller`s work has been characterized by that Attorney General.

I also have many, many questions Chris tonight which is how we even got to this point at all.  By that, I mean there is a fundamental disconnect that`s apparent between the rules that Mueller was playing by and the rules that Attorney General Barr was playing by.

It would be like me inviting you to a football game and you show up with a soccer ball.  We didn`t coordinate what we meant.  And I that Mueller may have been played here by Barr.

HAYES:  You`re nodding your head, Walter.  Do you agree with that?

WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I certainly do.  I mean, finally today Mueller seems have come to the realization that surprisingly American public officials don`t read and don`t read a report.  And I think what was most telling was you know, what he chose to say and a little more than two pages out of 440-plus page report.  And he I think we decided to really slam down on the fact that we did not exonerate the president.

We could not find that he was innocent.  We could not under the rules declare him to be guilty.  We could declare him to be innocent but we did not have any basis for doing so.  And I think he also underscored the seriousness of the crimes.  This is not a president who is lying about a sexual encounter.  This is a Russian military attack on the country`s democratic processes and efforts by a President of the United States to obstruct that investigation.

HAYES:  You know, there`s some fundamental -- you just highlighted the sort of forced choice here and there`s some weird sophistry that`s going on that`s driving me a little insane.  Barr basically said you know, it`s a forced choice.  You either charge or don`t charge and they didn`t charge so that`s that.

And it seems like Mueller is coming forward to be like no, no, no.  We could exonerate -- we could say there`s not sufficient evidence to charge him of obstruction the way they say there`s no sufficient engines to charge people, a U.S. person is a conspiracy.  They did say that in volume one.  But we can`t do the opposite.

We cannot charge the President of the United States.  We cannot say the President made -- committed crimes.  Here`s an indictment we`re making a determination on this little report that he did that.  And the absence of that was taken by Barr to be like well, that`s that.  Mueller seems to be reiterating today Frank, no the absence of that is to Congress to basically do.

FIGLIUZZI:  You have to look at that report --

Yes, and that`s -- I`m sorry, Frank.  Go ahead.

FIGLIUZZI:  No, I was just going to say, that`s the key takeaway is that this can`t be read as anything other than referral for impeachment for Congress to do what they need to do.  Mueller couldn`t have said it any plainer today.

HAYES:  Walter?

DELLINGER:  And if you look back at the report, he sets out in clear detail with testimony from the White House Council, the White House chief of staff, and their deputies that the president tried to have the head of the investigation fired for no reason, there was no plausible conflict, and that he instructed the White House counsel to make a false document and to keep that document on file denying that the President had done just what I have said.

HAYES:  Right.

DELLINGER:  It is incredibly damaging it, it`s overwhelming.  How could you not proceed against a chief executive who had undermined the system of justice in such a profound investigation as this?

HAYES:  What do you think happens now, Frank, in terms -- I mean, Mueller said look, I don`t -- this is my last word.  I don`t want to say anything else about this.  Obviously, he`s a private citizen.  If he`s subpoenaed before Congress, he would go.  But this also seemed to be a sort of warning shot to Congress like you`re not going to get much out of me if you pull me up to the Hill.

FIGLIUZZI:  Yes.  This is a man who is saying you`ve got to read the report.  You`re not reading the report.  If you did, you`d understand what I`m saying.  And I`m not going to say much more than that.  But I`ve got to tell you, there`s still value in questioning him if he`ll simply be forthcoming.

And by that, I mean, we need to get in the weeds about what was communicated and transpired between DOJ and Mueller and what shaped his thinking with regard to not doing certain things.  And by the way, another statement that came up today in Mueller`s nine minutes was that the decision as to what of his work product is going to get released is being done completely without his team.

That he threw that in there and I think it`s important because every sentence in his statement is important.  And understand that to notes, surveillance logs, legal memos, and opinions, all are now in the hands of who, Attorney General Barr who gets to decide what Congress and the American people will see.

HAYES:  Walter, finally, you worked at OLC.  Do you have -- what do you think about the sitting precedent that he referred to about the president not being indictable?

DELLINGER:  Well, I think it`s a mistake.  I think that the unraveling of this shows that is a mistake.  Putting a president on trial would be an undue interference with his executive powers but merely indict him would clarify the circumstance.

In defense of the policy of Mueller, Mueller wants you to know that whether something is technically a crime has little to do with whether it ought to be the kind of wrongdoing which would lead to impeachment which is really much more profound.

HAYES:  I thought that his use of that word that it is only Congress that can formally accuse a president of wrongdoing, accuse a president wrongdoing was an interesting choice of words, not of a crime, not of violating a statute, of wrongdoing.  Walter Dellinger and Frank Figliuzzi, thank you gentlemen both.

DELLINGER:  You`re welcome.

HAYES:  Joining me now for more on Congress` role in holding the president accountable, Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.  One of two freshmen on the House Democratic leadership team.  As a member of Congress, did you interpret Mueller`s communique today as directed to you?

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO):  Yes, Chris.  Thanks for having me on.  I agree with your prior guests.  I think it`s hard not to see the special counsel`s comments this morning as anything but an impeachment referral to the Congress.  I think he is making clear that he believes that the next step is one for Congress to take and see, I believe that we ought to take that next step and open an impeachment inquiry.

HAYES:  I want to -- I want to play for you where Jerry Nadler had to say, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee of course which would have domain over this as a formal inquiry and if it were to proceed in response to Mueller.  Take a listen.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  With respect to impeachment question, at this point, all options are on the table and nothing should be ruled out.  What Special Counsel Mueller said loud and clear today for the American people is that President Trump is lying when he says no collusion, no obstruction, and that he was exonerated.

If Mueller wanted to exonerate the president from having committed the crime, he would have said so.  Instead -- and he says he would have said so.


HAYES:  I`ve known Congressman Nadler for a while now.  I`ve interviewed him a number times.  I saw a man who was being very careful in staying within the boundaries of what the current position of House leadership and the Speaker of the House is which is we are not moving forward to impeachment at this moment.

NEGUSE:  Look, Chris, I`m not going to speak for the Chairman.  I agreed with his statement particularly with respect to what he said regarding the special counsel and the fact that out of a 500-page report, the special counsel clearly also chooses his words carefully and decided in a ten- minute press conference to pull out several specific pieces that I think are of great importance to the American public.

With respect to your underlying question regarding kind of where the caucus is, I would say we are a big tent party, as you know.  We`re a diverse caucus, represent different areas of the country and we`re going to have differences of opinion with respect to both policy and oversight.

There are clearly some of us on the Judiciary Committee who feel like opening an inquiry is the most prudent and appropriate next step.  And part of that reason why is because we in some ways have been you know, closest in terms of witnessing the obstruction, right?

I mean the subpoenas that have been ignored by this Department of Justice were issued by our committee, the Judiciary Committee.  So I think we have an obligation in terms of those members on the committee who believe that opening an inquiry is the right next step to be able to educate our other members, to talk with them about why we`ve reached that conclusion.  Ultimately, people are going to reach you know, their own decisions on their own timetables.

HAYES:  You`re someone who I think has come -- has evolved and you`re thinking on this question.  Can you -- can you sort of just speak to the degree to which you own process has sort of evolved over time?

NEGUSE:  Sure.  I mean, look, I believed in reading the report.  It`s abundantly clear certainly to me at least that the president engaged in impeachable offenses and Representative Amash articulated that quite well just last week.

I think that there were a number of us that wanted to be able to ultimately review the underlying evidence, to be able to hear from the special counsel directly, to hear from some of these fact witnesses.  And so we`re proceeding on a very methodical path in the judiciary committee.

But it became pretty clear that this administration was going to continue the pattern of obstruction that is revealed in the report by obstructing and impeding Congress at every turn in terms of preventing us from being able to get to the bottom of it.

And so both the findings in the Special Counsel`s report coupled with the pattern of obstruction that the administration has engaged in since led me to the conclusion that we needed to open a formal inquiry.  And I believe many others over the course of the last seven days, you`ve seen a number of different members of the caucus.  You saw a number just today in response to the special counsel`s very important press conference this morning also joining that call.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Joe Neguse in Colorado, thank you very much.

NEGUSE:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Still to come, the growing calls to begin the impeachment proceedings of Donald Trump.  Presidential candidate Cory Booker on what he heard from Robert Mueller today that changed his mind.  The Senator joins me in two minutes.


HAYES:  Many people noted that Robert Mueller didn`t say anything in a statement today that wasn`t already in his report including the point that received perhaps the most attention that if he had confidence that President Trump clearly did not commit a crime, he would have said so.

But that said, the spectacle of the now-former Special Counsel declaring that in person on camera was pretty powerful and that led to a bunch of new calls for an impeachment inquiry including from several of the 2020 presidential candidates like Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker who said "Robert Mueller statement makes it clear Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately."

Joining me now from Los Angeles is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democratic candidate for president.  What changed today that you felt compelled to issue that statement?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ):  Well, it was more than just today.  It was an evolution of me witnessing what`s happening in the House.  You have house - - the House going in good faith trying to continue an investigation.  Nancy Pelosi in a very sobered fashion talking about let`s follow this evidence to the conclusions that it brings about.

But when you have a President that stonewalls Congress, that refuses to allow people to testify, refuses to allow the release of information, that is a serious undermining of what I believe their constitutional intent.  We did not elect an authoritarian in chief.  He should be subject to the checks and balances of the Constitution and in this case, he`s not doing that.

And then as you said today, the power of Mueller coming forward and reiterating the point that he did not in any way exonerate this president from wrongdoing, and then if you read the report in fact, there is considerable evidence in there that speak to obstruction.

And so now we have a point where we have a president refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation.  And I believe that expungement proceedings will strengthen Congress`s hand in getting the information and the responses that they need to come to a conclusion about ultimate impeachment.

HAYES:  So I want to give you a few arguments people make against impeachment or beginning impeachment proceedings and just sort of hear your response to them.  And I want to say that I have these arguments with people and correspondences and off the record with politicians and things like that.

I mean, one of them is the president is essentially baiting Democrats into a kind of high-stakes or a reality-show fight in which he will have an advantage and will be -- take them off the path of sort of kitchen table issues and substantive progress on the things they campaigned on in 2018.

BOOKER:  Look, I`ve had these moments a lot of times  in my political career where you look at a political lens and you get one view but then when you come back to what`s best for this nation or in my case my early days for my city, you come to another conclusion, and that`s the conclusion you have to go with.

I know the politics of this is it`s problematic, but this is a very deeply principled moral moment in America or are we going to let a president who has potentially broken the law, obstructed justice, lied and engaged in deceit and other conduct unbefitting his office.  Will we just let that go by without doing the right thing.

And clearly, in this case, I think the right thing above and beyond the politics of it is that we do what the framers intended which was to have oversight over the executive and hold them accountable because nobody is above the law.

And for a guy, just let me just be clear, who didn`t even win the majority of the votes in America, who won this through the mandates of our Constitution and the Electoral College.  I mean, dear God, this guy cannot in any way be allowed to be above the law, to be above the mandates of the Constitution.  And so that`s what I stand on.

I agree.  Anybody who looks at the politics of this, it`s a thorny path.  But I think history is going to look back at this moment and what we choose to do and see if we did the right thing.  And I think the right thing right now is to hold this president accountable for his actions.

HAYES:  This is a slightly different objection but it`s in the -- in the ballpark.  I think it goes to the core of some of what you talked about in your campaign as a U.S. Senator.  I mean, you live -- you live in Newark, you`ve lived there for years.  You`re the mayor there.  People in the neighborhood you live in are facing all kinds of challenges in their day to day life.

Wages, mass incarceration, air pollution from a nearby you know, polluters, things like that.  I guess there`s just this question right, does impeach him become this kind of concern of a small vanguard of the Democratic base that`s very focused on this and when you go back and you talk to your neighbors in Newark, they`re just thinking of a thousand things before they think of that?

BOOKER:  Yes, look, you know, people are a lot more sophisticated than folks give them credit for.  I always say I got my B.A. from Stanford but my Ph.D. from the streets of Newark.  And folks know we`ve got shootings in my neighborhood in the last month.  We`ve had real pressing challenges that I hope that this election -- these are the issues I hope we`re discussing.

But I do feel from my conversations with my community that there`s been a moral vandalism from this president that has so undermined our basic values which frankly if we surrender our values then so much of what this -- the hope of this nation is begin to be eroded.  So folks want this president to be held accountable.

Ultimately, I plan on doing that through the electoral process in beating him.  And every day I get more fired up to do just that.  But I cannot as a United States Senator that swore an oath to uphold this Constitution allow him to do things that I think are against that Constitution like stonewalling a legitimate congressional inquiry.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Cory Booker, also running for president, thank you for making some time this evening.  I really do appreciate it.

BOOKER:  Thank you very much, Chris.

HAYES:  Ahead, how Robert Mueller`s comments today laid bare the depth of his boss` deception.  What we learned about what Bill Barr did when Robert Mueller spoke out next.



MUELLER:  If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.  We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.

Under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.


HAYES: Robert Mueller`s very appearance today was a rebuke to Attorney General William Barr, and specifically a rebuke to what Barr told the American people and congress.  But somehow Mueller had decided on his own not to charge the president.


REP. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA:  If the special counsel found facts sufficient to constitute obstruction of justice, would he have stated that finding?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES:  If he had found that, then I think he would state it, yes.

GRASSLEY:  Was it Special Counsel Mueller`s responsibility to make a charging recommendation?

BARR:  I think the deputy attorney general and I thought it was.

But not just charging, but to determine whether or not conduct was criminal.


HAYES:  OK, that was not -- that may have been his understanding, but that was not Robert Mueller`s understanding.  Robert Mueller was operating under the Justice Department`s rules, not his own.  Today, after the Mueller speech, the special counsel`s spokesman took the extraordinary step of handing out a statement to the media, which featured Bill Barr`s words versus Mueller words to compare and contrast in case it wasn`t clear enough the first time that Robert Mueller was contradicting Barr.


MUELLER:  If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

Under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.


HAYES:  For more on Mueller`s rebuke of Bill Barr, let`s bring in journalist Marcy Wheeler of Empty Wheel, and MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor.

Marcy, you have been writing at length about this this for a very long time, extremely deep in the weeds of all this sort of Jesuitical parsing that we have gotten from Bill Barr.  And it really is remarkable, because in a technical sense, I don`t think he lied about things.  But the full cumulative effect was to communicate that had Mueller found sufficient evidence, he would have said so, or made a charging recommendation and Mueller very specifically today, it seemed to me, wanted to push back more on that than almost anything else.  What did you think?

MARCY WHEELER, EMPTYWHEEL:  Well, I think that`s true, although I think if we can get to the emphasis Mueller put on the other activities that Russia did, which are in volume one, which are outreaches to Trump, which are also part of the Russian effort. 

But on the obstruction thing, absolutely.  I mean, he made it -- Mueller made it clear today that it was about the OLC memo.  The OLC memo says you can`t charge a sitting president.  The OLC memo says you can investigate a sitting president, and that`s something that Barr has at times suggested that Mueller should not have done once he decided he wasn`t going to charge.

And then finally, Mueller said, well, you know, the other reason we`re not doing this is because it`s congress` job; and therefore, again, emphasizing which was in the report and not mentioned at all by Barr, which is that it`s now congress` job to do the work.

HAYES:  This is the line, Paul, that I keep coming back to.  I want to play this again, because it led to this crazy sort of joint statement today, but here is the sort of but for line that Barr kept using.  Take a listen to what he had to say.


BARR:  He was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime.  He made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.


HAYES:  So, he was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime, but he was also not not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime, because what he was doing was rejecting the hypothetical and saying I`m making no determination one way or another about a crime,because the constitution and the OLC bars me from doing so.

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  That`s right.  So, we know Mueller wrote Barr a letter criticizing the way that Barr had misrepresented Mueller`s report.  Now we know what that is about.  So, Barr said that he was going to exonerate Trump on obstruction.  Mueller said, well, the Justice Department won`t let me charge Trump with a crime if I thought he was not guilty, I would tell you.

HAYES:  That`s right.  Exactly.  Right, I can`t charge him, but I would tell you if he was not guilty.  Fill in the blanks.

BUTLER:  This was all about Mueller wanting to have the last word.  This is for history.  You know, Chris, sometimes employees fantasize about how on their last day at the job they will tell off the boss.  That`s kind of what Mueller did today about Barr.

HAYES:  That`s a good -- that`s well said.

Marcy, you just raised something about the volume one, the sort of other materials.  And I do want to return to that, because one of the things one of the things that was striking to me about Mueller compared to Barr is he leads with and ends with the fundamental substance of the issue, which was this coordinated, systematic criminal counterintelligence and intelligence sabotage of an American election and how important it was to get to the bottom of that.

WHEELER:  But he also said multiple systematic efforts, and numerous efforts emanating from Russia.  We have already -- we have always emphasized, and especially Barr -- because Barr didn`t mention the other stuff at all in his four page memo, it`s always been about two things -- the hack and leak and the trolls, and by mentioning numerous us and multiple and he makes reference in there to the other things our report describe.  Those are all about the outreaches to Trump.

HAYES:  Right.

WHEELER:  So, you know, when Barr is trying to find the conspiracy behind the conspiracy, I wrote something on George Papadopoulos` testimony in last October that is sort of the root of this deep state coup thing that we`re now pursuing.  He said then when I plead guilty, I thought it was a real conspiracy.  I don`t think it`s a real anymore.  What Mueller did today was to say, the outreach to Papadopoulos, the outreach to Manafort, the outreach to Don Jr., WikiLeaks, all of those things emanated from Russia, and all of those things were part of the effort to interfere in the election.  It`s not just number one and number two, it`s all of those little efforts.  Yes, there wasn`t enough evidence to charge, and that`s important, but they were part of Russia`s efforts, and that`s what we have been forgetting for past six weeks.

HAYES:  Paul, what do you think of that?

BUTLER:  You know, I think that`s right.  What Mueller emphasized is that the Russians attacked the United States.  They attacked our election.  That`s the word the he used: attacked.

And as to why he spent two years doing a report if he couldn`t indict the president, what he said is that the work was about, number one, a referral to congress.  When I was a federal prosecutor, and we declined a case, we often referred it to a civil agency like an inspector-general for them to take action.

The other reason Mueller said he spent two years on this work was to provide a record of evidence for a future prosecutor, because a president can be indicted when he leaves office.

HAYES:  All right, Marcy Wheeler and Paul Butler, thank you so much.

Next, one thing Robert Mueller wants America to know, Russia did try to interfere with our elections.  So, why is Mitch McConnell trying to block any efforts to prevent it from happening again?  We will talk about that next.



MUELLER:  Russian intelligence officers, who were part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system.  The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber  techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. 

And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election.  And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.


HAYES:  In addition to making it explicitly clear his report did not in any way clear Donald Trump, Robert Mueller opened and closed his remarks today by discussing Russia`s ongoing efforts to interfere in our election and undermine our electoral process.

Last month, FBI Director Chris Wray warned that Russian meddling is only ramping up.  Today, Clint Watts wrote the Kremlin already has its strategy to help Trump win in 2020: secure his base and split the opposition.

Democrats in congress, along with some Republicans, have sought to pass a bill to combat foreign interference in our elections.  But their efforts are being blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who is refusing to bring any election security bills up for a vote.

In doing so, the top Republican in congress seems to be effectively inviting Russia, or any other foreign government, to undermine our elections once again.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, a member of the judiciary and Homeland Security Committees, who has introduced a bill to combat foreign election interference.

Congresswoman, do you feel like Mueller`s statement today gives any new urgency or push to the kind of legislation you are proposing?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D) TEXAS:  Chris, absolutely.

First of all, let me say that the work that Democrats have been doing and doing and doing and doing by multiple number of committees was validated today with the loudest of resounding sound, and that was the sound of Mr. Mueller`s voice.  And the tape that you just ran and said that the American people should take notice, any process that holds the president accountable, and legislation, has to have a political element to it.  And that is the voice of the American people.

My legislation, HR-2353, is something that can be passed immediately and hopefully, not quashed into the Senate graveyard that most bills have gone, that this would actually go forward. 

This bill is simple.  It just says that if you have been contacted by foreign adversary or anyone as was evidenced by the report in volume one, it was overwhelming.  It was like a gusher.  It was like a tsunami of contacts with the Trump administration or Trump campaign.

Then you have 72 hours to report it to the FBI.  How simple can that be?  It`s a foreign adversary.  I have to report it.  Period.

Papadopoulos, the individuals who met in the Trump Tower, Mr. Trump himself, Manafort, everyone would have a right or responsibility to report that contact or any other election going forward.

HAYES:  With that, just to be clear, I mean, part of the sort of ingeniousness here of the effort was the use of cutouts, right, ostensibly independent third parties.  We don`t -- we haven`t established beyond a reasonable doubt that they are connected back to the Kremlin, although that`s clearly suggested.

I guess the question would be for you, like, how would that be established in the legislation about what folks would have to or not have to report?

LEE:  That`s why it`s very simple, they report the contact.  You are in contact with a foreign adversary, you report it.  The FBI can then be left to ultimately determine whether it was innocent, whether you passed by them on a subway train or whether or not you had actual discussions that would impact your opponent`s election, such as was very conspicuous with all the intentions of the Russians and contacts with the Trump campaign was to hurt former Secretary Hillary Clinton.  That`s very clear.  And it`s very clear in volume one as well.

Remember now, Mueller also said in his statement today, again, a voice that was loud that the  world could hear, is that he did not speak to collusion.  He said he couldn`t determine or could not do anything with criminal conspiracy, the idea of conspiracy.  That`s a criminal concept.  And I understand what he is saying.  He didn`t even use the word collusion.

HAYES:  Let me ask you, what do you think the ramifications are?  I mean, there is some bipartisan work on election protection bill in the Senate.  I know there`s bipartisan co-sponsors.   Roy Blunt, if I`m not mistaken, of Missouri and Amy Klobuchar and Dick Durbin have worked on some stuff.  McConnell is just not going to move on it. 

What are the implications of congress failing to act here on your legislation and others?  There`s a whole bunch of stuff having to do with, you know, the integrity of county electoral systems, et cetera.

LEE:  Well, Chris, first of all, I want to thank you for bringing this up.  It is an act of irresponsibility, it is a dereliction of duty.  And frankly, if there was a way to charge the congress, the senate under the leadership of Mr. McConnell, not the entire senate of course, because we know the bills are bipartisan and people are eager to pass these bills, should really be questioned as to the leadership that he has given.

I am baffled why a states person, a leader of the senate, irrespective of whether they are Republican or Democrat, would not want to protect any election, and particularly a federal election, in the aftermath of conspicuous documentation that not only did the Russians interfere and impact the 2016 election, many of us believe it`s well documented that it was stolen from the Democrats, but  also attempted to impact and did impact -- although elections obviously resulted in a Democratic house, but they also interfered with the 2018 election.

Do we think it will be less in 2020 and that it`s any less important?  The importance of the preciousness of the vote, of the sacredness of this process, the fact the world admires the process of election processes that we have in this country, the newness of new voters that are coming forward as such a huge number of young voters, you would think that the leader of the Senate would unshackle himself from partisan defense of this administration and go forward with reasonable debate and placement of these bills on the floor.  And I would hope that the president of the United States would sign these bills.

These bills do not have on them his name, or his administration, they are talking about protecting Republicans and Democrats and independents and anyone who goes to the polls in the coming years.

HAYES:  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you so much for being with me tonight.

LEE:  Thank you for having me.

HAYES:  Still to come, there is one person that could begin impeachment proceedings.  What House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after Robert Mueller`s statements ahead.



HAYES:  You have, I think, if I`m not mistaken, said that impeachment proceedings should begin. 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS:  Yes. \ HAYES:  What did you say to people who say that`s politically dangerous.  Public opinion is running like 56 to 38 opposed to impeachment proceedings, and you`re walking into a trap.

WARREN:  There is no political convenience exception to the constitution of the United States of America.


HAYES:  Senator Elizabeth Warren was out ahead of many other Democratic presidential  candidates in calling for Donald Trump`s impeachment.

The senator has also been ahead in another way, she released a very wide range of policy plans covering everything from student debt to housing to reproductive freedom, and we`ll be talking to her  about many of those proposals and more at a special live town hall event next Wednesday in Ft. Wayne, Indiana at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on MSNBC.  We will share details how you can join us for that event as soon as we have them.  Stay tuned for that.

Coming up, how Republicans are starting to crack over whether to impeach Donald Trump.  That`s next.



REP. JUSTIN AMASH, (R) MIGHICAN:  To me the conduct was obviously impeachable, so then the question is do you then move forward with impeachment proceedings?

I don`t think that you can just let that stuff go and say hey, it`s no big deal.  We`re going to have an election in two years and just let it go.  I think you have to have proceedings to deter this kind of conduct, even if ultimately the person is not convicted.


HAYES:  Yesterday, it was Republican Congressman Justin Amash, the lone Republican in congress calling for impeachment, making his argument directly to his constituents in his district.  Today, special counsel Robert Mueller essentially said that it is the job of congress to do what he could not do:  bring charges against a sitting president.  For his part, Amash agreed, tweeting a short time later, quote, the ball is in our court congress.

Yet even after Mueller`s remarks today, the one person who can greenlight impeachment proceedings still wouldn`t budge.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA:  Nothing is off the table, but we do want to make such a compelling case, such an iron-clad case, that even the Republican senate, which at the time seems to be not an objective jury, will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country.


HAYES:  To talk about navigating the political consequences of impeachment, I`m joined by George Will, MSNBC political columnist -- analyst, columnist for The Washington Post, author of the soon to be released book "The Conservative Sensibility."

George, the two different theories articulated there that I thought was interesting.  So,  Amash says impeachment itself is a kind of restraint on presidential power, an expression of disdain or judgment on the conduct, and Nancy Pelosi is saying what`s the point if you can`t get the senate to convict?  What do you think about those two ways of thinking about this?

GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST:  Well, Justin Amash is saying there is a deterrent theory of punishment in this, and impeaching him would be punishment enough, even we recognize, as Nancy Pelosi does, that the chance of a Republican senate removing the president are vanishingly small.

So, then you have to remember that the American people say overturning a presidential election is a very radical step, and it must not be disproportionate to the offense at issue here.

So are the democrats going to go to the country and say we really want to overturn this election, because the president, to take one example of what would be an obvious article of impeachment, exercised a clear presidential power in firing the director of the FBI, but did so with an unsavory, corrupt intention?  That seems to me to be a very thin read on which to go to the country of a radical remedy of overturning the election.

Furthermore, the law of scarcity obtains here that hours spent on X cannot be spent on Y.  So, when they`re talking about this, they`re not talking about prescription drug prices and all the rest.  And the question is does the country look upon this as another pathological Washington quarrel of little relevance to them?

HAYES:  So, you -- what I hear from you, because I think you have some admiration for Amash standing by principle in this.  There is no clear political upside.  But your determination, you think from a political standpoint, that the case would be opaque enough that Pelosi is actually making the correct call here.  Her judgment of the sort of weighing the balancing competing interests.

WILL:  Nancy Pelosi is a superb seasoned professional.  And she`s playing the long game.  And she`s looking ahead to an election not that far down the road, and I think sees that the disproportionate expenditure of energy on something that is known from the beginning to be futile in terms of removing the president is a losing game.

HAYES:  What do you think -- I think about this a lot in this shoe were on the other foot.  If a similar set of facts with President Hillary Clinton and a Republican House, it seems to me just not even a controversial statement to say in the hypothetical they would of course have impeached her like two years ago already, right?  That`s not crazy.

WILL:  Of course.  That`s true, and it would be folly on their part too.

HAYES:  You think it would be folly.  I mean, that`s the question, right?  Is the restraint here the  correct way to go or is the higher risk tolerance of that Republican caucus and the Republican Party at this moment, which does have very high risk tolerance, essentially getting them kind of political gains?

WILL:  Impeachment at this point is cathartic for the Democrats in the House, but that`s a very, very costly self-indulgence on their part.

HAYES:  How do you think about the conduct described here, right?  Part of the question here is about what do we mean by impeachment, what is our assessment of the president.  You say it`s a grave thing to do.

But when you take a step back and you say does this report reflect a man who has kept his oath of office, it just seems transparently evident that it does not.

WILL:  Well, there are two ways of looking at impeachment.  One, retrospectively, that it is  punishment for deeds done in the past.  In that case you have to go with an argument about Comey and all the rest.  Another is that impeachment is a prophylactic measure to protect the country from future abuses by the president. 

The problem is the way he is behaving, gross and crude and offensive as it, is pretty much  what he promised to do.  So it`s very hard to -- I mean, you say he is overturning norms.  He campaigned on the promise to overturn norms.

HAYES:  All right.  George Will, just so you know, the cubs are up 2-0 in the third, the Internet tells me.  I thought you would want to know that fellow Cubs fan.

WILL:  Life is good.

HAYES:  Yeah, maybe we can get off this losing run here.

Thank you very much.

That is ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.  Good evening, Rachel.