CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Did you actually totally exonerate the president?
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: No.
HAYES: The Special Counsel testifies.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, your investigation is not a witch-hunt isn`t it?
MUELLER: It is not a witch-hunt.
HAYES: And gives voice to his devastating report for the president.
MUELLER: The President was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.
HAYES: Tonight, what the nation learned when Robert Mueller faced Congress.
SCHIFF: Knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do.
MUELLER: And a crime.
HAYES: How the Special Counsel views the President`s behavior?
MUELLER: Problematic is an understatement.
HAYES: And what he says about remedies in Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Impeachment, correct?
MUELLER: I`m not going to comment.
HAYES: The stakes for Donald Trump after the White House --
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): -- could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?
HAYES: And what we know about what Democrats will do next.
NADLER: Any other person who acted in this way would have been charged with crimes?
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. After two years of investigations and three months of negotiation, the American people finally got to hear from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller today. And in every conceivable way, Mueller is the opposite of the man who sits in the White House Donald Trump.
The President who luxuriate in chants of amped-up crowds, who will say anything at any time no matter how vile or how true or false, and who loves nothing more than to have the attention of the nation upon him.
The polar opposite of that man was in front of Congress today. Someone who very clearly almost painfully wants zero attention on him, who didn`t want to be there and simply wants to have the facts entered into the record. But the facts have always been damning.
Today we heard a blunt if sometimes halting recitation of those facts. Facts that have been twisted beyond all recognition by the President`s henchmen the Department of Justice, by the propagandists on Trump T.V., by the wannabe Trump T.V. hosts who make up an alarmingly sizable portion of the United States Congress, and of course most fluent by the President himself.
Here are the basics of what was established. Russia criminally sabotage the U.S. election in a systematic and sustained fashion to get Donald Trump elected president. Donald Trump and his campaign knew Russia was seeking to help him win. Donald Trump in his campaign solicited and encouraged that help in public and in private. And then they tried to lie about and cover up the fact that they had done just that.
They lied about and tried to cover up the fact that they had financial ties that may have compromised them. And Donald Trump used the power of the presidency to attempt unsuccessfully somewhat remarkably, in the final analysis, to subvert and disrupt a federal investigation.
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NADLER: The President has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that had completely and totally exonerated him, but that is not what your report said is it?
MUELLER: Correct. Is not what the report said.
NADLER: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the president?
NADLER: Now, in fact, your reports expressly states that it does not exonerate the president.
MUELLER: It does.
SCHIFF: Your investigation is not a witch-hunt, is it?
MUELLER: It is not a witch hunt.
SCHIFF: Your investigation found evidence that Russia wanted to help Trump win the election right?
MUELLER: I think generally that would be accurate.
SCHIFF: Russia committed federal crimes in order to help Donald Trump?
MUELLER: When you`re talking about that computer crimes charge in our case, absolutely.
SCHIFF: The Trump campaign officials built their strategy, their messaging strategy around those stolen documents?
MUELLER: Generally that`s true.
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HAYES: That`s the story of what happens. That is a story of what Robert Mueller said today. It`s what`s in the report. Now, whether it`s high crimes and misdemeanors, whether it`s federally indictable if the president were indictable, it`s obviously painfully clear the behavior is a violation of the president`s oath of office, of his constitutional responsibilities. The behavior is indefensible, unethical, it is in the words of Robert Mueller himself unpatriotic.
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SCHIFF: I gather that you believe that knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do.
MUELLER: And a crime.
SCHIFF: And a crime.
MUELLER: Circumstances, yes.
SCHIFF: And to the degree --
MUELLER: And a crime given certain circumstances.
SCHIFF: And to the degree that it undermines our democracy and our institutions, we can agree that it`s also unpatriotic.
SCHIFF: And wrong.
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HAYES: Unpatriotic and wrong, true, true. Robert Mueller as you can see in these clips, if you didn`t get a chance to see the hearing today was evasive and restless and sometimes he did not appear to have full command of the report that he issued. But it seemed that above all else, Mueller wanted to make sure that he did not overstep the constraints and the boundaries of his role as he understands it.
He is clearly someone who believes there is literally one legal and constitute remedy for a president who violates the law. One, he set up multiple times, while he bent over backwards to avoid saying the word impeachment, Mueller did confirm the president can be prosecuted after he leaves office.
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BUCK: Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?
BUCK: You believe that he committed -- you could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Earlier today and throughout the day, you have stated the policy that a seated president cannot be indicted, correct?
QUIGLEY: And upon questioning this morning, you were asked could that -- could a president be indicted after their service, correct?
QUIGLEY: And your answer was that they could.
MUELLER: They could.
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HAYES: Mueller also seemed to indicate Trump should be prosecuted but for the office -- but for the office that he holds before he sort of walked that back.
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REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): I believe a reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met. And I`d like to ask you the reason again that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?
MUELLER: That is correct. I want to add one correction to my testimony this morning. I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said and I quote, you didn`t charge the president because of the OLC opinion. That is not the correct way to say it.
As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.
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HAYES: Despite the correction, it`s somewhat hard not to see his first answer is revealing. We`ve already seen over a thousand former prosecutors agreed that Trump would have been indicted if he wasn`t the president. Now, after seven hours of testimony, Robert Mueller has finished speaking. It`s very unlikely we will hear from him again. The big question is what now?
I want to turn now to someone uniquely qualified to talk about what happened today, former Acting Solicitor General and MSNBC Legal Analyst Neal Katyal who helped write the current special counsel regulations. What was the most important thing that you heard today?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think the most important thing occurred in the first three minutes of each of the two hearings. So in the first hearing, we saw Representative Nadler say the President says this report exonerates you, clears you, no collusion, no obstruction, and Mueller absolutely said hey, that isn`t my report, it doesn`t say anything like that, put into the lie to what Trump has been claiming but also to what Attorney General Barr has been saying which is hey, this report totally exonerates the president and the like. So I think that`s number one.
Then with respect to the second hearing, Representative Schiff, I thought it was devastating the line of questioning in the first three minutes to Mueller. In the first three minutes, Schiff basically said and Mueller agreed that Russia massively interfered with the presidential election in 2016, that Russia did it to help Trump, that that was their preferred candidate, that the Trump campaign welcomed all of this assistance, that the president`s son even said, he loves it, this Russian assistance. And then that Trump sought to make financial profits off of his Moscow Tower deal.
I mean, altogether the picture that`s painted, whether you want to call it a high crime and misdemeanor, whatever you label you want to call it, a felony, it is someone who is utterly not befitting the presidency.
HAYES: This question of exoneration I found kind of maddening, right. So there`s this little bit of sort of logical trickery going on here. So it goes like this. Under DOJ policy, the President cannot be indicted, clause one. Clause two, under DOJ policy, you can`t say anything derogatory about a person you haven`t indicted. Therefore, conclusion, you can`t say anything about the president.
HAYES: This is the line as someone who worked on the special case regulations, does -- is that -- is that a reasonable reading of this situation?
KATYAL: No, the whole thing was insane. I mean, first of all, the idea the Republicans are saying Mueller you`re not allowed to exonerate a president or anyone else when that`s of course what President Trump himself been claiming totally exhonerated --
HAYES: I`m exonerated, yes, right. Yes.
KATYAL: -- makes it you know -- but look, I think Barr himself after the report was turned in said hey actually, Mueller could have reached a conclusion about -- could have exonerated or could have indicted, you know said this person committed a crime.
And so I was a little surprised the Democrats didn`t push on that. I think there`s a tremendous missed opportunity. I think in the first hearing we saw lots of missed opportunities. The second hearing I thought the Intelligence committee -- the Intelligence Committee did a great job.
HAYES: It just seemed to me that we`re sort of -- we`re up at this sort of boundary of the kind of institutional structure of the nation at this moment.
KATYAL: Yes, yes. And I think the fundamental question is do we let the Democrats continue with seeing this as a political thing. That`s a mistake. This is a rule of law and this is about the heart and soul of our country.
When you have a president who like yesterday said Article Two of the Constitution allows me to do anything and he acts this way cozying up to the Russians, doing all of this stuff, I mean, this is precisely what the whole tradition is country rebels against. It`s indeed why we had the revolution. It`s why my parents came from India, you know, because we don`t act this way.
And now you got a president who`s doing it. I mean it`s Nixon, perhaps it`s even worse than Nixon. And I think the Democrats make a real mistake when sitting there thinking, oh, polling for this or that. This is fundamentally about is this person fit for office and if he`s not there`s one remedy Mueller didn`t want to use the word. It was that word that shall not be named but it is the word that is what our founders gave us.
HAYES: All right, Neal Katyal, thank you so much for your time tonight.
KATYAL: Thank you.
HAYES: I want to turn out to Elizabeth Holtzman, former congresswoman who serve on judiciary committee that voted to impeach Richard Nixon, author of The Case for Impeaching Trump. So you had -- there`s a special counsel under Nixon, then we had the independent counsel and under Ken Starr which was part of a whole set of reforms that happened after Nixon, right.
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: In response to Nixon.
HAYES: In response to Nixon. And I --
HOLTZMAN: It`s to make sure there was an independent investigation.
HAYES: Right. And then that sort of overreaches by broad acclamation across party lines in the personage of Kenneth Starr who you know, goes after a Bill Clinton for lying about a consensual sexual affair. Where are we now in the sort of pendulum of constitutional restraint on the president and the law?
HOLTZMAN: Well, I think prior guests put it properly, we`re really at crossroads here. We`re at the edge of the Constitution. Remember, the framers overthrew a monarchy. They did not want a king. They`ve tried very hard not to have a king.
And so they created the system of checks and balances but the balance they gave against a president who was a rogue president, abusing the power was a power of impeachment. And they thought about it hard and they said OK, we`re giving it to you Congress.
And you know, there was a question that was raised. People say well, we shouldn`t do impeachment now because we can solve it in the next election. That was exactly the issue that arose on the floor of the convention in Philadelphia.
And people said -- because people proposed a power of impeaching, they said you know, we can`t have a president who`s going to destroy our democracy. and very estimable delegates got up and said, oh no, oh no, well solve the problem the next election.
HAYES: Elections solve the problem.
HOLTZMAN: Election will be the solution.
HOLTZMAN: And that argument lost. The Framers said oh no, we can`t trust our democracy to somebody who is going to destroy it for any period of time.
HAYES: I mean --
HOLTZMAN: And so we the point of that is politics is not just the way to look at this. We have to look at -- Congress has a responsibility to save the country.
HAYES: We`re constantly toggling between a sort of legal framework and the sort of more political framework of impeachment. And so what you get is this crazy standoff between Robert Mueller and Congress in which he`s saying, I can only walk this far.
I can`t tell you what you want me to tell you which is that he committed a crime even though reading between the lines of the report that seems like very clearly the conclusion that he would come to specified. And suddenly the questions becomes like what kind of Republic do we have in the absence of that checking power?
HOLTZMAN: And that -- in absence of the checking power, we have what Nixon said which is if the president does, it`s legal per se. And we -- that`s exactly what the framers never said. And you mentioned it before, the president takes an oath of office to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, not for him to rewrite the laws, not for him to break the laws, for him to faithfully execute the laws.
And that`s what this president is not doing. And you don`t need a crime for impeachment. You don`t.
HAYES: To me there`s also a sort of -- sort of element of this larger the Donald Trump`s behavior and it`s about the power of the executive and how presidents will act in the future. I mean, Nixon`s downfall and the subsequent reforms to everything from campaign finance law to the architecture or the intelligence oversight, created a period that -- created new structures of restraint on the that have been plucked and pulled away over time and are now made manifest in the person of Donald Trump and you really got to wonder what do you think about what happens after him should there be essentially no formal rebuke to his actions.
HOLTZMAN: Wait a minute. What happens if he`s re-elected and there is no impeachment? What does he do in his next term? I mean how are you going to be working with a foreign government to get elected which itself could be impeachable offenses, failure to protect us against the Russian further interference is also a potential impeachable offense.
All the obstruction of justice that was mentioned -- excuse me -- in the Mueller report, it`s also an impeachable offense. If we don`t deal with that now, who knows what he will do?
HAYES: I mean, the president tonight, the news today, the President vetoed very quietly a blockage of arms sales to the Saudis that was passed in both houses of Congress by bipartisan majorities. He vetoed that.
We do not have a full accounting of what business the president has done with the Saudis. In fact, we know they have spent a lot of businesses at his hotels. Bribery is literally in the claws of impeachment, of course. And also a federal judge has issued an injunction for the sort of unilateral rewriting of the nation`s asylum laws which were flatly and plainly in contra. I mean, breaking the law and let someone stop you is the M.O. of the man for 40 years.
HOLTZMAN: Right. And he`s done that in other ways, build a wall. Congress won`t give me the money, I`m just going to take it. This is not what the framers had in mind. And if impeachment isn`t used now, what is the check? There is none. And we are well on our way to a dictatorship, some kind of tyranny, something that`s not what we ever envision in this country.
HAYES: It also seems to me like there`s a lot -- there`s a long way to go between those two things and that`s part of the problem, is that the liminal space of in creating presidential power creates norms and expectations and traditions that are the opposite of what came after Watergate which is restraint.
HOLTZMAN: Correct. Well, no president wants restraint.
HOLTZMAN: In fact, no Congress wants restraint. What the framers understood is that no branch of government wants to be constrained. That`s why we`ve got three bounces of government fighting each other all the time. But if you take Congress out of the mix, if you say to the president listen, whatever you want happens, then the whole structure has fallen down.
HAYES: Were there people -- a final question on this. Were there people back during Nixon and Watergate when you`re on the House Judiciary Committee, your Democratic colleagues who said this is too risky, this will create political backlash, I don`t want to do this?
HOLTZMAN: Well, you know, something -- when we first started, nobody understood whether there were risks or not. We didn`t take polls before we started. We started because of the Saturday night massacre and the American people said enough is enough. Congress have to do something.
Nobody on the committee understood what impeachment was. Nobody -- we didn`t -- there was no headcount. Nobody knew whether we had enough votes in the House Judiciary Committee much less the Senate. So we started this thing --
HAYES: As an inquiry.
HOLTZMAN: An inquiry, what does impeachment mean, how does it apply to this president, what is the case against him? Do we have the votes, we don`t know. What`s the public going to say, we don`t know. What was our reaction, the only way to impeach him was to do it the right way? So, Rodino, the chair did it a fair bipartisan way so no one considered a risk.
HAYES: All right, Elizabeth Holtzman, thank you so much for sharing your time with us.
HOLTZMAN: My pleasure.
HAYES: Coming up, two of the Judiciary -- House Judiciary members who just questioned Robert Mueller, what they learned today, and whether they successfully made a case for impeachment effectively. That`s ahead.
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REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): You found evidence that the president engaged in efforts and I quote, to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. Is that right?
MUELLER: That`s correct.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): And when someone tries to stop another person from working with law enforcement and they do it because they`re worried about what that person will say, it seems clear from what you wrote that this is a classic definition of witness tampering.
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HAYES: Special Counsel Mueller`s marathon day of testimony in the Hill started with the House Judiciary Committee this morning where members were largely focused on volume two of the report and the ten instances that Mueller lays out of possible obstruction of justice by the president.
I`m joined now by two members of the House Judiciary Committee who questioned Robert Mueller this morning as you just heard, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington. Congresswoman, how did you view your goal today going into this?
JAYAPAL: I think the goal, Chris, really was for us to lay out all the different -- the most compelling pieces of obstruction of justice, to get Mueller to actually testify to them, that is what was in his report, and in many ways re-educate the public about what was actually in the report.
And I think what came out was overwhelming evidence of obstruction of justice committed by the president, acts that if any other person in the United States did those acts they would be criminally prosecuted.
HAYES: Congressman Raskin, I`m going to give you an argument that I`ve seen some make both sort of mainstream pundits and conservatives as well at the White House that this was not you know, a sort of showstopper in terms of the performance of Mueller himself.
Obviously, he was sort of reticent, at times seemed not to have full command of the report. And as such, if the whole point was a kind of illustrative show that it didn`t do what you wanted it to do. What do you think of that argument?
RASKIN: I disagree with that. You know, maybe it wasn`t a showstopper by the witness but I think it was an absolutely breakthrough a moment for the Judiciary Committee and for Congress and for public sentiments which Abraham Lincoln said was everything.
You know, what we did was we took this abstraction of obstruction and we made it real in the case of tampering with particular witnesses like Manafort, like Stone, like you know, the Flynn case. In my case, I was talking about Michael Cohen, we talked about the president trying to get people to lie, trying to get people to cover up evidence, trying to fire the prosecutors.
We really brought it down to the level of factual detail. And I think we did break through the sound barrier and we dispelled the fog of propaganda that Attorney General Barr and Donald Trump had been laying down over the country ever since the report came out.
HAYES: If there`s evidence of obstruction of justice that congresswoman as you just said, which I think both of you agree with and I think many of the -- in the caucus and certainly on the committee, congresswoman, isn`t that on its face, just that, meets the facial threshold for opening and impeachment inquiry if there is sufficient evidence the President himself obstructed justice?
JAYAPAL: Absolutely. And I think Jamie and I both came out along with several of our other colleagues on judiciary months ago for an impeachment inquiry. I will tell you that what we are doing right now in many ways is the heart of what we need to continue to do.
And what we -- what we hope to be able to do soon is be able to use all the tools in our toolbox because there is still a little bit of information that we need like the grand jury information in order to continue.
And remember that the Mueller report is not the only thing that constitutes impeachable crimes, high crimes and misdemeanors. There are other things including financial issues, Emoluments Clause that need to be a part of our investigation and that`s what I think we hope we can get to. But this was obviously a ground-breaking moment for us with the Mueller report.
RASKIN: Can I add one thing to that, Chris.
HAYES: Yes, please.
RASKIN: Just -- it`s not only grounds for launching the impeachment inquiry. the reality is that obstruction of justice was the heart of the Nixon impeachment and it was the heart of the Bill Clinton impeachment.
Congress has established through history and through its own precedents that obstruction of justice is right up there with bribery and treason as a betrayal of the basic oath of office and that`s what Trump did.
His duty is to take care that the laws are faithfully executed but he tried to sabotage the laws, he tried to tamper with witnesses, and he tried to obstruct justice. And we saw it in case after case that we laid out in painstaking detail today.
JAYAPAL: And, Chris, you might have noticed that after almost every one of our testimonies, we ended with if anybody else had committed these same crimes, they would be prosecuted, nobody should be above the law and I think that was a theme throughout the hearing.
HAYES: So two questions. One I guess is -- I`m hearing you and I`m nodding along. I mean, you know, this seems generally persuasive to me. But it just seems like OK, so then I watched Democratic leadership come out and say we`re going to go to court, we`re going to keep trying to track down this information.
I guess for you Congressman Raskin, and then I`ll come to you Congresswoman, you know there`s a really remarkable moment in the second hearing when Robert Mueller basically said look, we wanted the president to sit down for an interview but we had to weigh the fact that it would drag things out verse the probative value of actually getting an interview.
They`re trying to do the same thing with the subpoenas and everything with you here. Like don`t you run the same risk that Donald Trump has spent 40 years tying things up in the courts and he`s going to try to do that again?
RASKIN: Absolutely. And contempt of Congress is itself an impeachable offense. That was also in the Nixon case. But look there`s a material that we`re going to go and fight for that we have every right as the Article One branch to get. The grand jury material under 6E, we`re going to be fighting for.
We want to see that Tom McGahn comes in to testify. He`s a critical witness since he was told to go out and sack the special counsel. We`ve got a right to all these people`s testimony. We`ve got a right to all the documents we`re asking for. If they don`t give it that in itself escalates the constitutional confrontation with Congress.
HAYES: So then do you understand your role, Congresswoman, as being part of a project now that is engaged in building evidence sufficient enough for impeachment?
JAYAPAL: Well, what I would say to you, Chris, is I think that today was ground-breaking and imminently I think you will see a number of actions that will reflect the seriousness of where we are and the inevitability of the path that we are on.
And I think you know, probably it feels like a long time to wait but certainly, it feels that way for us too, but we do have to follow a couple of steps. But I would just say imminently I think we`ll see some steps that will reflect the seriousness of the path that we`re on.
HAYES: The inevitability. That`s a very interesting word in a bunch of different directions. Congressman Jamie Raskin, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you both for joining me.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Chris.
RASKIN: Thanks for having us.
HAYES: Coming up, the stark warning from Robert Mueller about Russian interference in 2016 and 2020, and the serious threat it poses to American democracy. That`s next.
HAYES: Today Democrats chose to question Mueller about his report in reverse order, addressing obstruction first and then in the afternoon session Russian interference and collusion.
And it was on this subject, which is the core purpose of the investigation, particularly when it began, that Mueller seemed considerably more comfortable and forthcoming. There are many illuminating momentums about the nature of what Russia did and the Trump campaign`s relationship to it.
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MUELLER: Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government`s efforts to interfere in our election is among the most serious. It was not a hoax. The indictments we returned against the Russians, two different ones, were substantial and this in their scope, using the scope word again. And I think one of the -- we have underplayed, to a certain extent, that aspect of our investigation that has, and would have, long-term damage to the United States that we need to move quickly to address.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This just came out. WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks. Donald Trump, October 10th, 2016.
This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You got to read it. Donald Trump, October 12th, 2016.
This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove. Donald Trump, October 31st, 2016.
Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks. Donald Trump, November 4th, 2016.
Do any of those quotes disturb you, Mr. Director?
MUELLER: I`m not certain I would say...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you react to them?
MUELLER: Well, it`s problematic is an understatement in terms of whether to display, in terms of giving some -- I don`t know, some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D) CALIFORNIA: So National Security Adviser Flynn lied about discussions with Russian ambassador related to sanctions, is that right?
MUELLER: That`s correct.
SWALWELL: Michael Cohen lied to this committee about Trump Tower Moscow, is that correct?
SWALWELL: The president`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about meetings that he had with someone with ties to Russian intelligence. Is that correct?
MUELLER: That`s true.
REP. WILL HURD, (R) TEXAS: In your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election, or did you find evidence that suggests they`ll try to do this again?
MUELLER: Oh, it wasn`t a single attempt, they`re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: From your testimony today, I gather that you believe that knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do?
MUELLER: And a crime.
SCHIFF: And a crime.
We should hold our elected officials to a standard higher than mere avoidance of criminality, shouldn`t we?
SCHIFF: The need to act in an ethical manner is not just a moral one, but when people act unethically, it also exposes them to compromise, particularly in dealing with foreign powers. That true?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The long-running issue the president refusal to submit to an interview was addressed, along with the president`s insufficient written answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY, (D) NEW YORK: And in fact you did go with written questions after about nine months, sir, right? And the president responded to those, and you have some hard language for what you thought of those responses. What did you think of the president`s written responses, Mr. Mueller?
MUELLER: Certainly not as useful as the interview would be.
MALONEY: In fact, you pointed out, and by my count, there were more than 30 times when the president said he didn`t recall, he didn`t remember, no independent recollection, no current recollection. And I take it by your answer that it wasn`t as helpful, that`s why you used words like "incomplete, imprecise, inadequate, insufficient." Is that a fair summary of what you thought of those written answers?
MUELLER: That is a fair summary.
MALONEY: By the way, the president didn`t ever claim the fifth amendment, did he?
MUELLER: I`m not going to talk to that.
MALONEY: Well, from what I can tell, sir, at one point it was vital, and then at another point it wasn`t vital. And my question to you is why did it stop being vital? And I can only think of three explanations. One is that somebody told you couldn`t do it, but nobody told you couldn`t subpoena the president, is that right?
MUELLER: No, we understood we could subpoena the president.
MALONEY: Rosenstein didn`t tell you? Whitaker didn`t tell you. Barr didn`t tell you you couldn`t..
MUELLER: We could serve a subpoena.
MALONEY: So, the only other explanation -- well, there are two others, I guess. One, that you just flinched. That you had the opportunity to do it and you didn`t do it. But sir, you don`t strike me as the kind of guy that flinches.
MUELLER: I`d hope not.
MALONEY: Well, then the third explanation -- I hope not too, sir. And the third explanation I can think of is that you didn`t think you needed it. And in fact what caught my eye is page 13 on volume two where you said in fact you had a substantial body of evidence, and you cite a bunch of cases there, don`t you, about how you often have to prove intent to obstruct justice without an in-person interview. That`s the kind of nature of it. And you use terms like a substantial body of evidence, significant evidence of the president`s intent.
So my question, sir, is did you have sufficient evidence of the president`s intent to obstruct justice? And is that why you didn`t do the interview?
MUELLER: Well, there is a balance. In other words, how much evidence you have to satisfy the last element against how much time you are willing to spend in the courts litigating a -- the interview with the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, Mueller also suggested that the counterintelligence investigation into Trump and his campaign officials might be ongoing. Two Democrats from today`s second hearing join me next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VAL DEMINGS, (D) FLORIDA: There were many questions that you asked the president that he simply didn`t answer. Isn`t that correct?
DEMINGS: And there were many answers that contradicted other evidence you had gathered during the investigation. Isn`t that correct, Director Mueller?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI, (D) ILLINOIS: Individuals can be subject to blackmail if they lie about their interactions with foreign countries, correct?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Part II of Robert Mueller`s testimony took place in front of the House Intelligence Committee this afternoon and focused on the second volume of Robert Mueller`s report with the former special counsel -- I`m sorry, the first volume -- details Russian interference in the 2016 election.
I`m joined now by two members of the House Intelligence Committee who you just saw questioning Robert Mueller earlier today, Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.
Congresswoman Demings, you focused on the president`s truthfulness, or frankness, in the answers he gave. Did you feel like you learned something new about the process by which Robert Mueller came to the decision to ultimately not to seek a live interview?
DEMINGS: Well, yeah, I mean, you know that the special counsel tried almost a year to get the president to sit down. He refused to do that. And so when we asked today about the president`s written responses, the special counsel Mueller was really loud and clear that the president`s answers contradicted much of the other evidence in the case and also that his answers were not always truthful.
And so I do believe that that was something additional that we did here with the special counsel`s day today.
HAYES: I think you`re right about that. I think that was one sort of piece of genuine new news today, his characterization under your questioning.
The other thing that I thought was new news came out of, congressman, your questioning about the ongoing FBI investigation as regards counterintelligence. I want to play that exchange and get your response to it. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Since i t was outside the purview of your investigation, your report did not address how Flynn`s false statements could pose a national security risk because the Russians knew the falsity of those statements, right?
MUELLER: I cannot get into that mainly because there are many elements of the FBI that are looking at different aspects of that issue.
(END IVDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What is your understanding of what that means?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, it was a little bit of a surprise when you said that. I wasn`t expecting it. It sounds like there may be people -- he said many elements within the FBI -- who actually looking to see whether there are counterintelligence risks associated with Flynn`s lying and that raises the question who else are they basically assessing from a counterintelligence standpoint.
It goes to the issue that even though they may not have committed crimes in their interactions between themselves and Russians, the relationships between those entities may have been embarrassing, but they may have liked about them such that they will be subject to manipulation or compromise by the Russians to the detriment of our national security.
HAYES: Congresswoman, did anything your hear today change your assessment of the exposure that we have to something like this happening against in 2020?
DEMINGS: Well, I also think Director Mueller was quite clear on the Russians have never really gone away. And why would we be surprised by that? Because the president has made no serious attempt to hold them accountable. But he said they haven`t really gone away and that they are preparing for 2020 and beyond.
And so it`s really incumbent upon us to look at, continue to investigate, Russia`s interference in our election, harden our election systems, and hold this administration, and other people who played in that process, accountable.
HAYES: Do you think that they have been held accountable, congressman?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think yes and no. I think with regard to these counterintelligence risks, let`s just take Jared Kushner, for example. I believe that he`s a walking, talking counterintelligence risk, given his numerous unreported contacts with the Russians and others, given a tremendous leverage that they have over him due to his debts and so forth. And yet in his particular case, not only has he not been held accountable, but he`s actually been given top secret security clearance. That makes no sense.
HAYES: As far as I can tell, he`s running American foreign policy.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Oh, among other things. I think he has domestic and foreign policy, possibly.
So, this is an individual with a wide portfolio.
HAYES: I mean, -- I guess I -- on a scale of 1 to 10, congresswoman, like how worried are you, right? I mean, we all watched this unfold in real- time in front of our faces. We watched the president say Russia, if you`re listening. We watched the DNC hack be rolled out to be maximally damaging to the Democratic Party and the first DNC. We watched the Podesta WikiLeaks emails rolled out to be maximally helpful to the day the Access Hollywood tape. We all saw it in person. And what is your level of concern that we will literally see the same play run again?
DEMINGS: I think that certainly Russia will try to run the same play again.
But, Chris, I`m really thankful when I look at local communities all around the nation, certainly in Florida, who have taken substantial steps to harden their own targets to replace antiquated voting equipment, to make sure that they are protecting voter roles and to make sure that vendors play a major part in protecting our voting systems.
So I feel hopeful that we`re going to be okay, because of the steps that I know that local supervisor of election offices have taken.
HAYES: So I guess the other questions in terms of accountability, congressman, is where does this go? Obviously, there`s something -- I think north of 90 to 100 members of the Democratic House caucus who have said they favor the opening of an impeachment inquiry. Do you view your work today as part of assembling the facts necessary or entering them into the record to provide sufficient predicate for the opening of an impeachment inquiry?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Possibly. I think that we have to go back and see what are the nuggets that came out of the Judiciary as well as the Intel Committee hearings. We have to continue with the investigation this information about the counterintelligence side of the investigation is brand-new. And I believe that exposing the wrongdoing and issues there is vital not only from the standpoint of making sure people are held accountable, but also protecting our American democracy at this point, because these folks are currently in government, and they pose a risk to our national security now.
HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Val Demings and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, both of the Intelligence Committee, thank you both very much.
DEMINGS: Thank you.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you.
HAYES: Democrats spent seven hours taking Robert Mueller through his report and making the case against President Trump, so what is congress going to do about the lawless president? That`s next.
HAYES: Democrats tried very hard to get Robert Mueller to say one word in particular today, a word he bent over backward to avoid. Even when Democrats drilled into the question, Mueller went out of his way not to say that one specific word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR, (D) TEXAS: At your May 29, 2019 press conference, you explained that, quote, the opinion says that the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing, end quote. That process, other than the criminal justice system, for accusing a president of wrongdoing, is that impeachment?
MUELLER: I`m not going to comment on that.
ESCOBAR: In your report, you also wrote that you did not want to, quote, potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct, end quote. For the non-lawyers in the room, what did you mean by, quote, "potentially preempt constitutional processes?"
MUELLER: I`m not going to try to explain that.
ESCOBAR: That actually is coming from page one of volume two in the footnote is the reference to this. What are those constitutional processes?
MUELLER: I think I heard you mention at least one.
ESCOBAR: Impeachment, correct?
MUELLER: I`m not going to comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, come on!
After making the case against Trump for nearly seven hours today, Democratic leadership came out and said they were still waiting to decide on possible impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: My position has always been whatever decision we made in that regard would have to be done with our strongest possible hand and we still have some outstanding matters in the courts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: To talk through what happened today and what didn`t, I`m joined by Josh Marshall, publisher and editor of Talking Points memo, Jason Johnson, the political editor for The Root and MSNBC political analyst, and Michelle Goldberg and op-ed writer for The New York Times and also an MSNBC political analyst.
Michelle, let me start with you. You and I have talked a lot about the way that leadership has navigated this. What was your impression of the hearings today and the sort of political consequences there of?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think the gap between the seriousness that leadership, with which leadership talks about Donald Trump`s various crimes both with regard to the Mueller investigation and other sorts of crimes, violations of the emoluments clause, et cetera, the gap between how they talk about that and what they are willing to do about it has been unsustainable for quite some time and I think that press conference just underlined how unsustainable it`s become, right.
You had Congressman Elijah Cummings speaking quite passionately and eloquently about the challenge to our democracy and how we`re not going to let it go on our watch. And people are going to be studying what happens 300 years from now. If something is that grave and of that historic import, then how do you justify saying, but we are not going to start impeachment proceedings because we don`t feel like our hand is strong enough now?
HAYES: Jason, what do you think?
JASON JOHNSON, EDITOR, THE ROOT: I watched this hearing, Chris, and it was like the worst episode of Wheel of Fortune ever. Like every Democrat was like we`ve got an I and an M and a P and they`re asking Mueller to say the clue. He`s not going to say impeachment.
And so I don`t know if the expectation is that he was suddenly going to say it. He was going to have some big closer moment. The leadership I have always felt, has been standing in the way of what a lot of the public -- the public is now 40, 45 percent. It`s higher than it was before the Nixon impeachment hearings. I don`t know what the apprehension seems to be from Speaker Pelosi. In her press conference didn`t make it any clearer.
HAYES: Well, John Harwood just published an interesting piece I just saw, which I think basically spells out what it is. And this has been sort of what I have heard from folks that I`ve talked to, which is basically like Dem leadership aide explaining why Pelosi resists impeachment says too many of the 31 members representing districts Trump won can`t support it. There will never be 218 in the House, the aide tell me.
Like they just view this as a raw political calculation. They`ve got 31 members. They`ve got 40 front-line districts they want to protect. They can`t make them walk the plank on the vote, because they think it will cost them, or diminish their chances in the election. And basically that`s the calculation.
JOSH MARSHALL, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Well, I think there`s an additional calculation, and that is in Pelosi`s mind, he is not going to be removed anyway, because of the senate so why do we make these people walk this plank.
HAYES: Right. That`s true. That`s well said.
MARSHALL: So, I think it`s the combination of those two. And, you know, I was talking to, you know, former long-time senior Democratic staffer a week or so ago, and he made the point, like their thinking is, you know, six months from now the presidential cycle takes over. Everything is presidential. And kind of like that`s coming, so we are just going to kind of wait and get to that.
That`s not a great answer, but that I think is the answer.
HAYES: This, to me, is the problem. Michelle, this goes back to what you call untenable.
And again, I think that strategy, a raw political calculation is utterly defensible, and someone can make an argument for it. And Nancy Pelosi knows the votes in her caucus certainly better than I do. But the problem is the kind of what feels essentially fundamentally disingenuous about it, which is the -- it feels like there`s a clock running out that`s happening. And it`s unclear whether like that`s transparently what`s happening. They really are just running out the clock because they think, you know, restraint is the better part of valor, or whether they`re actually like going to go through the court system. And that, to me, is what`s -- part of what`s unsustainable -- Michelle.
GOLDBERG: Right, and they do -- I mean, they obviously think that like part of this is going to go through the court system. But now, but Nadler himself has said that opening an impeachment inquiry strengthens their hand.
HAYES: Yes, said it on my show.
GOLDBERG: When they went through the court system. So the idea that you kind of need to go through the court system first and then open an inquiry, I don`t think -- it`s not valid, it just seems like another excuse.
And the same thing that Josh just said about, you know, putting this off because in six months nobody is going to care, obviously I don`t want to second-guess Nancy Pelosi`s skill at defending her membership, but it also seems to me if you are going to make people take a hard vote, make them do it now, because in six months it probably is true that we`ll have moved on to other sort of outrage and people are not going to be voting on the basis of a vote that their congress person took right now.
JOHNSON: Yes, I completely agree. It doesn`t make any sense. If you say it`s not going to matter, then what`s the problem with doing the vote now.
And I think Pelosi has a perfect example here. You had Democrats take a huge hit in 2010 for voting for the health care, you know, the Affordable Care Act, and it was a huge problem. Does anyone actually think the 31 Democrats are going to lose their seat for voting for impeachment? I doubt it. Impeachment is not as unpopular as the Affordable Care Act was nine years ago.
So, given the constitutional needs, I don`t understand this calculation.
MARSHALL: I`ll tell you this, though, here is the thing -- this is -- I think this is what they think, and it`s not a bad point, they took a hit. They lost the majority over the Affordable Care Act.
HAYES: But they got the Affordable Care Act.
MARSHALL: ...they got health care. They still have health care even with all we have been through in the last 10 years. So, I do -- again, I`m not defending that logic.
HAYES: No, but that is a distinction. And I think to Jason, to your point, I mean, having covered that fight extremely closely, Pelosi was the one with basically the knife in people`s back, pushing them off the plank.
MARSHALL: Yeah, Barney Frank...
HAYES: Knowing that she was, because she cared that much about getting that thing passed.
MARSHALL: People like Barney Frank were like, OK, I guess it`s not going to happen after, you know, the election in Massachusetts.
And the thing is, you win majorities to do big things. And with the Affordable Care Act, it happened. It`s not perfect, but millions got care. I think she sees this differently.
HAYES: And I think it`s also frustrating to govern from the House, which John Boehner and Paul Ryan learned, John Boehner particularly.
But, Michelle, there is also, then, the question of like, OK, so the Democratic Party and all those folks that you covered in columns in the run up to 2018 who were motivated in sort of the volunteer class, let`s say. People that were going and knocking on doors, which was like I need to be rid of Donald Trump.
There is a real question about what are you doing with that energy?
GOLDBERG: Right, and not just I need to be rid of Donald Trump, but I need to kind of get up and save our democracy, because clearly nobody else is coming to save us, right?
And so what happens, you know, middle age women who are sort of used to going into the breech in their communities when nobody else is there did that for our community writ-large.
And so I think it`s less ideological, because although you certainly see people on the left, you know, members of the Squad pushing impeachment, I think there is also just a lot of outraged women in middle America who are not particularly ideological, but are so -- you know, abhor -- let`s not forget what we just saw today. We just saw today, if you take away all of the talk about the theatrics and people`s performances, another reconfirmation that Donald Trump invited Russia`s help, that Russia committed felonies to help Donald Trump win, that Donald Trump accepted that help, and that Donald Trump still possibly stands to profit from his relationship with Russia.
That is laid out. And that kind of gets lost when we are having these process conversations. We are still in an emergency, and nobody on our side, maybe except for the Squad, really seems to be rising to the occasion.
JOHNSON: Yeah, that`s where the rage and disappointment comes from. You can`t, on the one hand, say this guy is a threat to our democracy, but I don`t feel like doing that about it for a political calculation. That is the kind of swamp-like behavior that people didn`t like from the Republicans or the Democrats.
HAYES: And there`s always the possibility that you send the message that what he did was OK, which is clearly what Trump wants to turn it into.
MARSHALL: I think the thing that I, you know, I`m more focused on is they really are pushing these legal battles forward.
HAYES: They are, yes.
MARSHALL: But they`re pushing them forward not quite to the emergency level. And to me, the fact, what is almost a bigger deal right now is they have said we are not going to do any oversight. And that`s not just acceptable. They can`t accept that.
HAYES: Josh Marshall, Jason Johnson, Michelle Goldberg, thanks for sharing your time.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END