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Trump DOJ holding Mueller Report presser. TRANSCRIPT: 4/17/19. The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Paul Butler; Jason Johnson; Elie Mystal; Ken Dilanian; Gene Rossi;Bill Kristol; Aisha Moodie-Mills

CHUCK TODD, HOST, MTP DAILY:  Anyway, you`re not impressed, come on.  Maybe you were expecting Hallie`s comment?  That`s all we have for tonight.  We will be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.  Good evening, Ari.  Apparently, Bill Barr, has he briefed you yet on the Mueller report?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  He hasn`t briefed me.  The new report tonight that the briefings are beginning.  They`ve been talking to the White House and then we have a press tomorrow.  It`s huge.

Hearing your beat there above the sky makes me think of the famous gang star song, Above The Clouds, which for political junkies, samples John F. Kennedy`s great speech of that aerospace.

TODD:  Nice.  Well done, then.  That`s a good one.

MELBER:  It all makes it together.  Yes.

TODD:  You put it all in there.

MELBER:  It`s all in there.  It was a non-redacted song as they say.

TODD:  Nice.

MELBER:  We`ll be seeing you tomorrow with the coverage.  I think you`ll be busy, I`ll be busy.  We`re all looking forward to learning facts.

TODD:  That`s for sure.  I hope so.

MELBER:  I`ll see you then.

TODD:  I hope we get to see them all.

MELBER:  Yes, sir.  Chuck Todd, thank you.

We begin here on THE BEAT with breaking news.  Hours before the release of this Mueller report expected tomorrow morning, the Trump DOJ has made this announcement.

You may have heard about it.  It is new.  It is not what we knew would happen but it is now the plan.  Trump Attorney General Bill Barr holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m., with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

What I can`t tell you is what they`re going to do about the redacted report.  We know that we`re going to see some attempted continuity.  Barr and Rosenstein together, no word on whether Bob Mueller would be in the room but all of this comes weeks, weeks into Barr`s process of basically delaying when the redacted report would come out, after issuing some conclusions and summaries that he did not want called summaries.

Now, when we get a press conference, we`re going to get something about the Mueller report.  The key here to think about, both with this morning press conference that`s been announced, as well as whatever tomorrow turns out to be is we`ll be dealing with primary sources with facts when we see the "report" or deal with evidence about the report or that material is presented in context, whether it`s by the press or other experts on the Internet.

We won`t automatically be getting facts about this report.  When we hear from government officials, whoever they may be, or politicians in whatever party, or the president who of course has a vested interested as a subject.  We`re going to hear a lot of depictions when this all breaks tomorrow morning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You`ll see a lot of very strong things come out tomorrow.  Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a press conference.  Maybe I`ll do one after that.  We`ll see.  But he has done -- he`s been a fantastic attorney general.  He`s grabbed it by the horn.


MELBER:  Grabbed it by the horn.  Also breaking tonight, "The New York Times" reporting on details that DOJ officials under Barr have been briefing the White House on Mueller`s conclusions, "citing numerous conversations just this week in these recent days."

We have a lot to get to so I want to bring in our expert panel.  Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor with Washington experience.  Jason Johnson, politics editor for "Theroot".  And Elie Mystal, editor of "Above the Law" and a contributor to the nation and an analyst we`ve relied on here as we look at the intersection of the law and the narrative around the law, wherever that comes from.

Paul Butler, I begin with you.  Your reaction to the fact that while Mr. Barr has obviously taken scrutiny and heat for the way that he has selectively managed this process, clearly with an eye on headlines and narrative and media.  Now, is not going to let the report speak for itself even for a few hours but he`s going to get out and hold this press with Rod Rosenstein tomorrow morning.

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  So Bill Barr is the new Michael Cohen.  He`s acting like Trump`s lawyer and fixer.  And we should be very concerned.

So this was the most consequential investigation of an American president in history.  Three thousand subpoenas, 500 witnesses, 500 search warrants, a 400-page document, and the attorney general gets to decide how much we get to see.

The question is, is he going to scrub the document so much that there are going to be all these black and red and yellow lines through it that it will be a literal and symbolic cover-up?

MELBER:  Jason, when you look at this as a reporter who`s interested in the facts, and as we`ve emphasized on this show, there have been facts that alone, I mean without summary, I mean without hype, have been positive for Donald Trump and his team.  Don Jr., not only never indicted but never interviewed.  Positive fact.

Then there are other facts in evidence that have been very negative.  Highest indictment rate of presidential advisors in American history.  Either way, what does it tell that you that Donald Trump is out there today praising Mr. Barr`s P.R. strategy, which Donald Trump as president, appeared to know about in advance?

The quote I just played was the president getting ahead of the DOJ`s announcement of a presser.  What does all that tell you about the space between the facts, wherever they lead, and some of this very aggressive attempt to set them up by the Trump administration in coordination with DOJ?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM:  Well, here`s the thing, Ari.  The president does love a good story.  You notice that he`s come out and say maybe I`ll do a press conference.  He hasn`t just boldly said, aha, I`m completely exonerated tonight because perhaps having learned some more of the tales, he knows this is going to be embarrassing.

What is going to be key and what may actually influence how the president sort of lays out whatever facts he could do in his press conference, is this sort of -- it`s an iTunes out and believe where everybody is going to hear everything or is it more like Title, there`s still going to be exclusive things that we don`t really know.

That`s what no one knows yet.  That`s what the president actually knows right now.  And that`s going to determine what facts we end up hearing about.

MELBER:  Well, and you`re not even bringing up --

JOHNSON:  This fight is not yet over.

MELBER:  Jason, you`re not even bringing up the Sound Cloud rapper section, that would be Rudy Giuliani --

JOHNSON:  Exactly.3

MELBER:  -- freestyling online that people try to understand what it means.

JOHNSON:  Exactly.  He is just trying to get his links out there so we pay attention.  So we still don`t know which facts are going to be looked at.  And again, as Paul mentioned before, I mean the whole thing could be exed out and black and white like an old prison uniform.  So I think this is just sort of narrative building and the president is going to be selective with his facts as he always is.

MELBER:  Elie?

ELIE MYSTAL, EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW:  Yes.  And this is embarrassing.  Obviously, the attorney general of the United States thinks that his job is to be Trump`s security wooby as opposed to the actual people`s lawyer.

We should not take anything that Barr says.  You said it exactly right at the open.  We should not take anything that Barr says tomorrow as anything other than performative culinary.  We should not take anything that the president says tomorrow as anything other than spin.  The only --

MELBER:  Let me draw your attention specifically to the "Times" reporting on that.  Because I think that the attorney general always, if you want to be as open-minded as possible, always plays two roles.

There is a part of the attorney general that does represent the policy and the administration at that high level.  And then there`s the independent investigative part.

What the "Times" story does tonight, in addition to President Trump pre- announcing what DOJ is doing, is make it look like on this issue of the, basically what comes out of the Mueller report, that Barr is leaning in and that they are coordinating.  Do you view that as potentially inappropriate?

MYSTAL:  I think it`s entirely inappropriate.  This isn`t briefing the president on what`s happening.  This is prepping the president.

MELBER:  Right.

MYSTAL:  So that the DOJ and the executive branch have a coordinated strategy.  You remember, Bill Barr is the guy that as a lawyer doesn`t think it`s possible for the president to obstruct justice.  And I think that`s one of the reasons why he feels so comfortable helping the president of obstruct justice.

What we need right now, what we would have needed right now is somebody with credibility to tell us what the official DOJ position is.  But credibility is earned and Barr has done nothing since he got the job to earn any credibility or respect.

MELBER:  Let me bring in Paul Butler on that other piece of this, which is there`s been a lot of talks, all jokes aside about Rudy Giuliani about the so-called counter-report that he`s building.  Now, one of the obvious questions was, with the DOJ emphasizing that no one had seen the Mueller report.  It would be basically released in a fair fashion to all redacted, what kind of counter-report can you write?

And so I wonder, Paul, what you think.  I`m going to read from the "Times" story again, right came out -- coming to press, coming to the newsroom.  Justice Department officials have had "numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mueller in recent days.  The talks have aided the president`s legal team as it preps a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.

A, if this is appropriate, why are they hiding it?  They were suggesting this wasn`t happening.  And B, as a prosecutor who`s been in other cases, do you view this as the normal way DOJ operates or something different?

BUTLER:  This is different.  This is again the Department of Justice losing its good name as an objective upholder of the rule of law and becoming a partisan advocate for the president, at least the leader.

But we know that the president has reason to be concerned about obstruction.  We know from what`s in the public record, that he fired James Comey because of the Russian investigation.  He fired Michael Flynn even though he knew he`d been lying about the Russians.  The president lied about the meeting with the Russian invest -- with the Russian lawyer and the president tried to -- he wanted to fire Mueller and Don McGahn talked him out of it.

MELBER:  Now, let me pin you on the new part.  I mean everything you just said is true context.  But the new part appears to be the idea that the timing matters.  That sooner or later, if the DOJ is fair, if they release material for example to Congress and the White House, that`s fair, that`s the same time.

The idea that they are acting as Elie was saying, leaning into helping the White House by giving them a jump on this.  Is that unfair to a degree that concerns you?  Or is that just sort of the benefits of incumbency?

BUTLER: It is unfair in a way that makes us doubt how much faith we should put in the report that comes out tomorrow.  It is of a piece with the attorney general last week, repeating Obama`s lie.  I mean I`m sorry, Trump`s lie about the Obama administration spying on the Trump campaign.

MELBER:  Which he said on the notes, yes.

BUTLER:  Yes.  the attorney general sounding like he`s spouting off talking points from "Fox News".  He doesn`t sound like an independent arbiter.  So I don`t know why we should trust him to provide us with the kind of information that we need to make a judgment about the president.

MELBER:  Everyone, hang with me.  As I`ve mentioned, we`ve been jugging breaking news.  "The New York Times," the DOJ announcement, Donald Trump previewing the DOJ announcement potentially, much a bit Mr. Barr should grin.

My panel stays with me.  But for more on this breaking story, I want to bring in NBC`s investigative security reporter, Ken Dilanian, who has been covering this story.  Ken, what are you hearing out of DOJ tonight?

KEN DILANIAN, INVESTIGATIVE SECURITY REPORTER, NBC NEWS:  Ari, this announcement really took people who have been following this closely by surprise.  It was not expected and it is raising a host of questions.

And I think your panelist articulated it very well that a torrid of questions and criticism about what exactly Barr is up to here.  I mean Barr has already released the conclusions of the Mueller report.  There is no one that I`ve talked to --

MELBER:  His depiction, you`re saying.

DILANIAN:  His depiction of the principal conclusions of the Mueller report.  And so there is nobody that I`ve talked to that can think of a good reason why Barr and Rosenstein have to get up and give a news conference.  Particularly, if they`re speaking before the report has been released.

Now, the DOJ will not say whether we will see the report before they get up and talk to the press or not.  But I think Paul`s point about --

MELBER:  Well, wouldn`t that alone -- I mean again, I`m not going to put any words in your mouth.  But I would wonder whether if there is an effort to come out and do another preview-ish summary before people have had time to digest the report, whether that looks like what really Mr. Giuliani`s role should be.

Everyone is free to make their case.  But the notion that the Justice Department which oversees the independence and integrity of this probe could be getting involved in the spinning.  It does seem like overreach, unless they are so concerned about what is in the report and what is not redacted that they would rather take the hit for that than the hit for hours of coverage of just the words in the report.

DILANIAN:  Look, I agree.  I think that`s where most people come out.  When they look at this, the idea that Barr is putting himself between the Mueller report and the public yet again, if that`s the way it transpires tomorrow, it does long like he`s doing the president`s bidding and it is part of a pattern.

It`s calling what happened with the Trump campaign spying was feeding into what the president has been talking about.  When the president said, the attorney general is going to come out strong tomorrow, there`s been some speculation that he may announce.

Remember, he said he was going to review the origins of the Mueller investigation.  He`s going to appoint a panel to do that.  That`s one possibility.  He comes out tomorrow and announces the members of that panel which will sort of further the Trump narrative that there`s something wrong at the heart of this probe, something to investigate.

MELBER:  Are you hearing from anyone, that the announcement or press conference tomorrow may be doing more than just discussing the Mueller report but maybe adding other things?  Which again would look like a distraction going into the holiday weekend but is a classic Washington move.

DILANIAN:  We just heard that speculation, that that`s one of the things on the table for Barr, related to the Mueller report but also very much in White House wheelhouse but things, I mentioned, as they want to get out there which is the appointment of a panel to investigate the origins of the Mueller investigation.

MELBER:  Right.  Right.  Stay with me, Ken.  Jason and our whole panel is here.

Jason, I want to ask you.  Sometimes the jokes in this business reveal truths.

JOHNSON:  Right.

MELBER:  I think it is well-known at this point in this era that sometimes our friends and colleagues and late night comedy are nailing this stuff better than we might.  I certainly feel that way a lot of the time.

And Mr. Stephen Colbert made the point in a very funny way, his words, not ours, that if this is all a strategy to bury something going into the holiday weekend, it may not work.  Take a look.


STEPHEN COLBERT:  The report was originally supposed to be released Tuesday, today.  But the Justice Department delayed with it no explanation.

I have a feeling they`re hoping to bury it over the holiday weekend.  Because if there`s one thing Easter is famous for, it is things staying buried.


MELBER:  Jason?

JOHNSON:  Yes.  Yes.  Look, this is just the beginning.  This is all going to be resurrected.  Because no matter what it is that we get tomorrow, we know it is not the full complete report.

We know that Democrats are still going to sue for the complete report.  We know that Democrats in Congress are still going to try and find the underlying information for the report.  So all this administration is doing is attempting to put on another dog and pony show to distract the public from what they ultimately want.

And here`s the other thing, and I think this is really key when we talk about Giuliani and Barr, in coordination with the White House.  Look, I think Rudy Giuliani is probably a very smart guy but he is not a speed reader.  There is absolutely no chance that he is already preparing a counter-response to this Mueller report if important sections of it haven`t been already linked to this administration.   He can`t read it any faster than anybody else.

DILANIAN:  Ari, I have some insight to that.  I`ve spoken to members of the Trump legal team.  What they envision in that report as being as an attack on the investigation along the lines of it was partisan, it was biased.  The struck in pain`s text.  The many ways in which they think the investigation was illegitimate.

MELBER:  So let`s do a little live legal analysis, Ken if you`ll join me.


MELBER:  You are on THE BEAT.  If that`s what they`ve already landed on, that would suggest in conjunction with the new report out of "The New York Times" late today that they must think the rest of what`s in there is pretty bad.

Because If they thought that it was more in line with Mr. Barr`s depiction, basically, hey, there`s not a lot here.  Not that bad, not really crimes committed, then they would be going towards, if that was what their heads up told them, they would be going towards supporting the credibility.

DILANIAN:  Right.  A shorter way of saying that is why do you need to rebut a report that exonerates you?  And in fact, when Barr issued his letter, I was hearing a talk from the White House, hey, we may not need to release this counter-report after all.

But now, you`re absolutely right.  The worm has turned and they`re thinking about how damaging this could possibly be to the president.

MYSTAL:  I have to wonder.  Why are people always surprised by these people when they do this?  In Ken Dilanian`s report, you just said the DOJ is surprised that Barr is making this press conference.

Like we have to stop being surprised when these people act in corrupt or unethical manners.  Like how many times do you have to go out in the rain - -

MELBER:  Well, I`ll tell you what.  Look, Jason, you`re there.  I can`t speak for everyone.  Jason, I`m going to say this to Jason.  The reason Jason and I get surprised is we just don`t know what we`re doing.

JOHNSON:  I`m just freestyling it.

MELBER:  You just nailed it.  I think though I`m going to take your -- having made a joke, I`m going to take your premise seriously.

I think what happens sometimes, a night like tonight, we`re on the eve of the Mueller report.  Barr has again done something to basically try to upend what would have been the normal process of following the evidence and what`s in the written report.

When people sound surprised -- I understand your frustration.  I think part of what goes on is people are accustomed to trying to give the benefit of the doubt to public officials, up and until they lose it.

And that was a system that held I would say across the parties to a certain degree.  And when you have a president who has been caught and busted lying more than any other politician ever in history, that alone aside from everything else is a big deal.

And the people around him, one of our guests was just discussing that Mr. Barr saying things about spying, that quite frankly was not the way he always testified in the Bush era.  Now, we`ve covered his approach to the pardons.  We`ve covered other controversies but I will tell that you that the Trump version of Barr does actually look in many evidence-based ways, worse than the previous era.

So part of the "surprise" you`re discussing, and I welcome your response, is people saying, "Oh, wow, it has gotten worse.  People don`t deserve the benefit of the doubt."

MYSTAL:  The man auditioned for the job with a discredited legal theory that the president cannot commit obstruction of justice.  It is that theory that got him the job.  And I feel that given that he got the job under those pretenses that the benefit of the doubt should never have been extended to him in the first place.  And certainly, everything he`s done since he got the job has deepened my cynicism and distrust of this man.

MELBER:  I think that`s well put.  And we appreciate your vigor.  Stay with me as well as other experts are going to stay with me.

What I`m going to do is take one turn now as part of our breaking coverage.  Bill Barr has made these series of moves trying to frame the public understanding of the Mueller report before you see it before the public gets any of it.

And this is important as we get ready for this press conference that everyone is going to take tomorrow.  This will be national and international news.  So what do you need to know?

Barr`s four-page summary claimed it was all about telling you what was in the Mueller report but only quoted 75 words.  And as I noted that night immediately in our breaking coverage, not a single complete sentence of Mueller`s.

And then he went on to add his own additional conclusion on obstruction.  Then Barr later took this unusual step of saying that he disagrees with public reaction and accounts.  And then told Congress, before again anyone saw the facts of the probe, the results of the probe, the words from Bob Mueller and his team, before all that, he rushed to Congress to announce a review of the origins of this probes.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, DOJ:  I think there`s a spying did occur.  Yes, I think spying did occur.  Spying on a political campaign is a big deal.

They were a lot of rules put in place to make sure that there`s an adequate basis before our law enforcement agencies get involved in political surveillance.  I`m not suggesting that those rules were violated but I think it is important to look at that.


MELBER:  To probe this issue, I turn to former Prosecutor Gene Rossi.  And Bill Kristol, long-time conservative journalist, director of the group Fighting Democracy Together, and a former Bush White House official who knows some of these key players.  Good evening to both of you.



MELBER:  Gene, your reaction to both what it means to have a Barr- Rosenstein press conference tomorrow morning around the release of the redacted Mueller report.  And second, a narrower item but one that I think our viewers who have been following this if they`re watching the show, who are reasonably intelligent consumers of the news understand right out the gate which is we didn`t get a DOJ independent announcement.

We got President Trump shooting off at the mouth that DOJ was going to do a presser.  And then we got this rushed announcement.  Do either of those elements look concerning to you?  Or should we all take a breath and see what happens tomorrow morning?

ROSSI:  I am taking a deep breath.  And I got to tell you this.  In the 30 years I was with the DOJ, I never saw a report or process like the one that we`ve been witnessing in the last two weeks.  Regarding the press conference, didn`t Jim Comey have a press conference?  That didn`t go very well.

So when Department of Justice officials, whether it is the attorney general and or Rod Rosenstein, have a press conference regarding a report that in terms of historical proportions, is off the chart.  To have them give us the cliff notes, if you will, the prologue of the report before it comes out, that smells given that Donald Trump is crowing that the attorney general is going to do blocking for him and it smells of politics.  I don`t like it.  It stinks.

MELBER:  Bill Kristol?

KRISTOL:  I think it is foolish, actually, from Barr`s point of view.  Bill Barr may have tilted things more to Trump than I would like and others would like.  I`ve always thought at the end of the day, he would let us see a responsively redacted report and sort of stay within the four corners of the law, even if he regards himself more as the president`s cabinet secretary than some of us would like and a little less as kind of neutral so to speak attorney general but staying within the bounds.

This feels to me like a very foolish decision.  If Barr is a smart guy, I don`t think he would make it.  It`s not going to work.  It`s going to backfire.

Look what we`re already talking about.  It`s not just us.  Everyone is saying, what is going on?  Are you kidding?  They`re releasing the report and he`s now having a press conference a day later.

He`s not putting out a statement to explain how the redactions were done.  That would be uncontroversial, write a couple of pages, say here are the lawyers who did it.  Here are the processes we followed.

He`s going to have a press conference and the president is the one who turns out as sort of touting it before the Justice Department announces it?  Here`s what I think.  I think Trump ordered Barr to have this press conference.  I think Trump knows the report is damaging.

He`s gotten enough briefings.  The White House counsel has heard enough from Barr about what`s in there.  And Trump and his way is just saying well, you go out there and spin it the other way.  And Barr for whatever reason, instead of saying, no, Mr. President, that would be inappropriate, is going to do it.

Now, we`ll see what he says.  And maybe he`ll stand up there and take three minutes and say this is how the process worked.  The following 14 lawyers worked on it.  They worked in this room.  Here`s the color code of the redactions.

MELBER:  Although that itself --

KRISTOL:  You will read the report.

MELBER:  That benign view is a little bit what he already did in the first letter, where he said we have 500 witnesses.  We have a lot of foreign government request.

KRISTOL:  Yes, but I --

MELBER:  I`m interjecting to that.  Also, I have breaking news.  Both of you, stay with me.

Bill mentioned, well, did the president order it?  We`re not reporting that.  NBC doesn`t have that.

But we do have fresh handed to me a brand new report from a key player here.  Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler who says two key things here.  One, "I`m deeply troubled by reports the White House is being briefed on the Mueller report ahead, all caps, of its release."  that`s "The New York Times" account.

And this is new, "DOJ is informing us, we will not receive the report until after 11:00, 12:00 tomorrow afternoon.  After Barr`s press conference, this is wrong."

Let me explain to viewers exactly what we`re seeing because this is news in real-time.  This is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  Not just stating a view, although he also said his opinion.  But he is stating "DOJ is informing us we won`t receive the report until tomorrow afternoon."

So take it together what we have as an on the record statement from DOJ, they`re doing this in the morning with a big press conference to drive understanding, a sort of a second version, an oral version of the now infamous four-page summary letter.  Don`t call it a summary.

And now, Chairman Nadler saying the DOJ has informed him.  That`s an on the record account that DOJ has told him.  You don`t get anything until later in the afternoon.

So we`re going to have -- and I bring back the panel.  We`re going to have according to Chairman Nadler`s description, and again, feeding into the view of this being a controversy.  Paul Butler, hours of DOJ trying to drive a view in the mood of the Mueller report`s out when apparently, according to Nadler, they`re being told, it won`t really be out.  And everyone will only be living off maybe the revenge of the summaries.

BUTLER:  This is highly irregular.  The Department of Justice likes to let its actions and its documents speak for itself.  So presumably, releasing the report and allowing the American people to digest it should be enough.

But again, this seems like an attempt to frame the narrative.  It`s shortly before a lot of people are going to be observing Good Friday and Passover.  Again -- and once again, the attorney general seems like a partisan advocate for the president.

He didn`t need to see the Mueller report to exonerate Trump of obstruction.  And he exonerated him even before he read the report.  And now, whatever else is in the report about obstruction, Barr does not want the American people to focus on that.

MELBER:  Bill Kristol, since I was picking up off of you when I added to that, your view of what we`re hearing from Chairman Nadler.

KRISTOL:  I think I`m actually shocked if they are going to try to have a press conference two hours before they release the report.

MELBER:  You`re shocked?

KRISTOL:  Yes.  And I think it`s not going to work.  I think they`re just heightening suspicion.  How do you succeed in spinning?  Seem incredible and then suddenly perhaps tilting it a little bit.  That`s the way where Barr tried to do in my view in the four-page letter.

This is just flat out.  I mean I totally agree.  If there`s a report, put out the report.  Put out whatever you need to do to explain just the process and how we got to where we are.  And then you can -- and you can then try a day later just put your -- or even two hours later to put your thumb on the scale so to speak and you can get your own interpretation.  Maybe you`re even entitled to this as the attorney general.

MELBER:  But also --

KRISTOL:  But you`re not entitled, an hour and a half before everyone sees it I think --

MELBER:  Also, I just --

KRISTOL:  -- to discuss it.

MELBER:  Gene, I hate to get into the depth of the Passover eve and Good Friday eve of it all.

ROSSI:  Sure.

MELBER:  But let`s just look at the timeline.  Now, what we`re seeing is Barr, according to Chairman Nadler and according to the press notification we`ve been given by DOJ tonight, things can always change.  But right now, Barr and Rosenstein coming out.  There is no claim that Mueller will be with them.  To say what Mueller did without showing or allowing people to see what Mueller did, and driving that for hours.

Then according to Nadler, breaking in this hour, later the report goes to Congress and potentially the public the redacted report.  That would seem for anyone who`s, I don`t know, vaguely familiar with Washington and press coverage to give Barr, Rosenstein, and Trump hours to set the narrative and drive this home.  And then by the end of Thursday, you`re getting into the eve of the holiday weekend.

ROSSI:  OK.  Tomorrow is Holy Thursday.  And there`s absolutely nothing holy about the process used by the Department of Justice, point one.

Point two, the attorney general of the United States has one duty, to enforce the rule of law and Lady Justice.  And the appearance now is that Bill Barr is protecting the president.

And the third and last thing is this.  Fear.  The reason you`re doing it this way is that Trump is deathly afraid of what the American public are going to see and read.  That`s why they`re doing this.

KRISTOL:  Didn`t Nixon at one point late in Watergate try to say we`re going to summarize the tapes for you.  We`re going to like meet with two senators (CROSSTALK) --


KRISTOL:  Trust us.  Senator Stennis from Mississippi was a friend of his.

MELBER:  Hearing problem I can remember.

KRISTOL:  This is not going to work.  This is not going to work.  I don`t care if it`s Holy Thursday.  I don`t care if it is (INAUDIBLE).  People are not going to --

MELBER:  Bill, you don`t care if it`s (INAUDIBLE)?

KRISTOL:  I deeply care, Ari.  I feel bad.  Any realtors watching, I apologize for that.  It is not going to work.

MELBER:  I`m having fun with you along the way.

KRISTOL:  I know. The report is going to be there and it`s going to swamp all these efforts that --

MELBER:  Well, that`s to be questioned.  The whole panel stays with me.  I want to bring in another expert that we have lined up to discuss this as well.  The congressional response included Democrats.  Aisha Moodie-Mills, a Democratic strategist, a fellow at Harvard Institute of Politics.  Thank you for standing by.  How are you doing?


MELBER:  Good to see you.  We`ll pick up on the point that Bill Kristol and I -- and again, T.V. is funny.  People quote things that Bill and I were having a joke about the holiday.

But the more serious implication is Bill mentions that at one point the standoff over the Supreme Court fight over the Nixon tapes was over summarizing them.  Having a trusted member of the Senate do that, whether that was enough and that was negotiated the highest levels other than prosecutor.

Rachel Maddow, Professor Ryan Goodman, and others have been covering the way Mr. Barr used the summary technique on a smaller issue when he was head of the office of legal counsel at DOJ.  Taking us to what I plan to speak with you about tonight, how do the Democrats deal with this?

Reports they could issue Subpoenas for the full Mueller report as soon as Friday and another angle being this freedom of information request that might get the whole report.  But walk us through what you`re seeing and what you know from your contacts.

MOODIE-MILLS:  Well, look, I think the short answer, Ari, is probably going to be all of the above.  I suspect that no matter how Congress request information, there`s going to be some reason why it doesn`t come to them in a timely fashion.  And so I think that the Democrats up on the Hill are prepared to go every route.

I want to get back to this trust issue though.  We are in a position right now where the American people don`t buy and don`t believe a summary. We don`t believe what Donald Trump`s agents are saying about him or about this report because the President himself has created a climate where we can`t trust.  He`s done all that he can to really dismiss the media, to really turn the conversation about formerly trusted institutions like the federal government the agencies, the Department of Justice that has always independently done its job.

What he`s done is he`s created a distrust out there in the country to his benefit I think.  And so I don`t want us to lose that because this game that is being played right now by Barr and by the President is very much calculated.  And so what I`m hopeful of is that the Democrats -- that the Democrats are really savvy and they use all the tools in their arsenal to go in every direction to try to gather information and to not get kind of to chase tails essentially.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Well, to the extent to your point, to the extent that one of the tools in their arsenal is going to court and proving -- having to prove to independent judges that something is off here, either this is not the normal course of for example protecting grand jury material, Bill, which is fine but rather is something else.

The suspicions that are being lit up tonight in the New York Times account in the way Donald Trump talked about this and Barr announcing this press conference, all of that could help the Democrats.  And put that up against what Bill Barr said in his testimony which is hey after the Ken Starr debacle we have a much more confidential process for this.  That`s been his argument.  Take a look.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  It`s interesting because this whole mechanism for the Special Counsel as I said was established during the Clinton administration in the wake of Ken Starr`s report.  And that`s why the current rule doesn`t say that the report should be kept confidential because there was a lot of reaction against the publication of Ken Starr`s report.  And many of the people who are right now calling for a release of this report were basically castigating Ken Starr and others for releasing the Starr report.


MELBER:  Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD:  It`s an interesting question.  And whatever you think of the behavior of congressional Republicans -- and it`s been pretty appalling in some ways, they have most -- many of them said we need to have the Mueller report rather investigation completed.  A lot of them have said we do need to see the report, maybe with some modest redactions but nothing you know, dramatic and so forth.

I really -- this is putting -- if you are a swing Republican so to speak, who wants to support Trump because your voters like about all this but that`s of some concern for the rule of law and for actually getting to the truth here.  If you`re a Lamar Alexander, if you`re a Chuck Grassley, if you`re a Ben Sasse, I really think you have a problem now.

I mean are you going to defend this process if Barr -- if bar goes out, we don`t know what he`s going to say and really tries to spin something before it`s been released.  I really think this -- and as with Nixon, what was the effect of Nixon`s cover-up.  Ultimately the Republicans defendants, they left him.

You know, obviously, I think like me, I`ve kept thinking Republicans should leave Trump and they don`t.  But I really wonder of the accumulation of what`s happened over the last couple of weeks especially this news tonight.  I really wonder whether it doesn`t increase the chances of some Republicans saying enough is enough.  We`re supposed to -- we need to see this report and see it an honest and straightforward way.

MELBER:  Jason, what do you think of that point in the notion that this is another test of whether facts matter?  I mean, Mr. Barr`s defense up to this point of what he has done with his letters was well, I don`t want to summarize this in piece mule fashion.  We`ll wait, we`ll do it right -- we`ll do it the right way, and then we`ll have the redacted report.

Chairman Nadler again, I`ll read from his report for those joining us tonight.  The news tonight is the Mueller report supposed to come out tomorrow with a DOJ press conference tomorrow morning, Chairman Nadler says DOJ has told us we won`t receive the report until tomorrow afternoon after Barr`s press conference.  This is wrong.

How much does that then color or taint the rollout of what has been now a 23 month -- 2o months -- 23-month long report waiting in the making?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM:  Well, Ari, it hurts in two ways.  I mean first off, all of these distractions, all of these delays have just made this administration look guilty it makes Bill Barr look guilty.  But also we have to remember that what we`re finally going to get right, like we`re about to get the radio version with all the good words beeped out.  Like we know and at the end of the day that this is going to be redacted in ways that are supposed to be protecting the President of the United States.

Ultimately what would have made the most sense would have been to deliver the entire Mueller report honestly, openly and allow the public or at least give it to the Judiciary Committee and allow them in conjunction with perhaps even the White House in the DOJ to do redactions but that`s not what`s happening.

And I have to say this as I think this is really important.  The Republicans are not going to leave Trump over this.  The Republicans have signed up for this for years.  If babies in cages, and Charlottesville, and lying, and prostitutes, and multiple people in your administration being indicted isn`t enough for you to leave this president, a report that will be bad news is not going to be enough to change any Republicans mind.

So I don`t really think that`s in play.  What`s in play right now is how aggressive the Democrats get and what kind of facts we will see under the beeps tomorrow.

MELBER:  Aisha?

MILL:  Yes, I totally agree.  I mean, I think the Republicans are just going on kind of way off of the deep end at this point.  Here`s something else I wanted to bring up that we haven`t talked much about.  I wonder if the Democrats in Congress would consider really digging into Barr.  It is obvious in his testimony he all but told us that he was going to start a witch-hunt of an investigation into a hunch that he had that perhaps the president was wiretapped or spied on or whatever he said it was.

He`s clearly told us in multiple ways that he was going to be doing the President`s bidding and politicizing this role.  And I wonder if there`s an opportunity there to get to the heart of the heart of that because at the end of the day, we cannot have an actor in place the Department of Justice who`s going to act like the new Michael Cohen and essentially serve as the President`s attorney as opposed to the attorney of the people.

MELBER:  It`s well put and I have something that is also rare which I think folks will know and that is a very terse statement being reported now tonight in this hour from Bob Mueller`s long-standing spokesperson of special counsel`s probes, someone named Peter Carr.  I`ve told viewers before when I call him, he often refrains from saying anything certainly about matters that go outside of his ambit.

And Gene, you`re still with me, right?


MELBER:  Gene, take a listen to this statement that says much and what it doesn`t say.  Quote from political reporter Darren Samuelson neither Mueller nor anyone else from the special counsel`s prosecution team will be in attendance at the Barr press conference.  Mueller spokesman Peter Carr tells Politico.  Carr says, he`ll be there in the role because he`s no longer technically a Mueller spokesperson, the role that he`s returned to which is being a generalist DOJ criminal spokesperson. 

Gene, your view of that confirmation that neither Mueller nor anyone with Mueller in that capacity will be there at the again, to state the obvious, the alleged unveiling of the 23-month results of the Mueller probe.

ROSSI:  I had the great honor of working with Peter Carr in the Eastern District of Virginia.  He has more integrity than any person I`ve ever worked with.  And that statement is so profound it`s beyond belief.  it`s like having a wedding and one side of the wedding doesn`t show up.  That`s basically what`s going to happen tomorrow.

MELBER:  Elie?

KRISTOL:  And don`t you think Carr saying it now, is very interesting if I could -- I mean --

MELBER:  Go ahead.  Bill and then Elie. 

KRISTOL:  It`d be one thing if Mueller just doesn`t show up.  If Carr to go out of his way, he didn`t have to take this call from the reporter to say today -- obviously was to check with Mueller.  For Carr to go out of his way to say tonight that neither Bob Mueller or anyone who seems going to show up is itself a statement.

MELBER:  I agree with that.  Let`s build on that Bill, and then to Elie.  I mean, Bill, again sometimes it may sound like we`re getting into very specific particulars but they what matters.  If you take the vague generalist view you go, I heard Barr wrote a letter.  I heard it`s all good.  And you get the particulars and you find the different story.

And to your point a Bill, what all contribute is in my experience when it comes to what Mueller is doing or not doing, Peter Carr does not say anything on the record without being 100 percent clear that Mueller is doing it or not doing it, and that Mueller wants it on the record, Bill.

KRISTOL:  Yes, you know, you`ve dealt with them more than I so that`s -- I do think that`s significant that Peter Carr is saying that tonight.

ELIE MYSTAL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Can we just start -- everybody on this panel is saying that the press conference tomorrow is a farce.  So can we please just look at the man in the mirror.  Can we please look at the media for a second.  Is it too much to ask the media the press conference is going to go up -- go up at 9:30, the Congress isn`t going to get to report till 12:00.  It takes what, let`s say credibly an hour and a half to read the whole thing.

Could we just hold off on repeating the lies coming out of the Trump administration and Bill Barr`s mouth?  Could we wait five hours?  Could we just wait until we`ve actually read it ourselves because the only way this Trump strategy works and I agree with Bill Kristol that it`s not really going to work, but the only way that the Trump strategy works is if the media keeps repeating the lies that they hear at the press conference before they have the opportunity to read it from themselves.

State-sponsored media is going to do whatever they want.  But like the rest of us, we don`t have to.

MELBER:  Two things.  Let me -- let me speak to that point from Ali with some of Mr. Barr`s own words and then we`re going to a White House report that I`m excited to get from Hallie Jackson.  But for the panel here, to Elie, first of all, only Elie Mystal could make a plea for calm with such an energetic voice.  But second of all, in the spirit of that, first of all, I will mention as Elie knows, we began our broadcast talking about the difference between the primary sources and the facts you may get when the report comes out ultimately unredacted or in its redacted version.  That`s different from what political people say tomorrow.

The second point is I want to read from Mr. Barr`s words as we think about what he`s now announced he`s going to do according to the Chairman Nadler tonight, breaking news, a press conference on the Mueller report before anyone sees the Mueller report.  And yet reading from the March 24th letter, Mr. Barr said: "everyone will soon be able to read the report on their own."  "I do not believe it would be in the public`s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report in serial or piecemeal fashion."

Looking at that, Jason, before I go to the White House for reporting, by that Barr standard, what I would call the March 24th Barr standard, do you think that holding a press conference tomorrow according to Chairman Nadler before the report is available would potentially violate the public interest of Barr attempting to summarize it in a cereal or piecemeal fashion.

JOHNSON:  Completely, Ari, because it`s not the public.  The public will still not see it.  The public will not see it possibly for hours, and the public still won`t see it even after it goes to members of Congress because they will not see the whole report.  I mean, but Bill Barr has been nothing, absolutely nothing but essentially sort of the legal Baghdad Bob for this administration the entire time so no one should be surprised that he`s lying and hiding for.

MELBER:  Baghdad Bob reference from the corner.  The whole panel -- the whole panel stays with me without breaking coverage.  I want to thank Elie Mystal who`s been here for much of the hour. as we turn to bring in another attorney, the rest of the panelists stay.  But now as promised I turn for live reporting at the White House from my colleague NBC`s Hallie Jackson who has been all over this story.  What an interesting day to be there.  What are you learning?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, interesting to say the least, Ari.  It`s been a little bit of a firehose these last few hours.  So here`s the deal.  Here`s where we know.  We`ve been in conversations today with members of the President`s outside legal team who tell us they do have this counter report ready to go, this rebuttal to whatever Robert Mueller releases tomorrow.

They may or may not make their counter report public though.  It depends on what Mueller -- what the report at least has to say.  So here`s what I think you can look for, Ari, a couple of things and then I want to go through when you might hear from the President and what you might hear from him.

If the president`s legal team goes ahead and releases this counter report tomorrow, that is an indication that they are gravely concerned about whatever is in the Mueller report.  Because for weeks -- and my conversations with sources close to that team, we have been hearing that they may not release it especially after they got that four-page summary of principal conclusions.  It felt very much like folks on that team had been riding high, right.

And so now if they do decide to go ahead and release this 30 plus -- 30 to 40-page report on Friday perhaps or even maybe as early as tomorrow afternoon, then I think it is a sign of the concern among the President`s allies and aides.  We know there is already anxiety among some in the West Wing who are worried about what this report says, not necessarily because of the piece on any evidence of conspiracy with Russia because the Attorney General has already said Robert Mueller didn`t find any, but it`s about damaging details potentially that could be in this thing that could reflect very poorly on President Trump, and the wild card is how he reacts to this.

So how might you react?  When might we hear from him?  You probably saw, Ari, that radio interview in which the President said hey, Bill Barr is going to have a news conference, 20 minutes before Bill Barr say he was going to have a news conference.  The president also said he might take questions.

I would caution you that this is going to be some big formal like Rose Garden news conference.  I don`t know that that will happen.  What I think is very likely is that -- go ahead.

MELBER:  Let me ask you on that though because you`re getting ahead to what he may do.

JACKSON:  Right.

MELBER:  How do you as a journalist who`s so close to these matters understand or interpret that announcement that the President made that turned out to happen because I could tell you typically a Justice Department press conferences on any matter are announced by the Justice Department, not the President.

JACKSON:  I`ll be honest, Ari, I think this is a president who based on what I have seen in my years covering him likes to share a juicy scoop when he has one.  And I think he was on the line with a conservative radio host and felt like giving him a little something there, and that`s how I read that revelation.

MELBER:  Juicy.  I have a congressperson from the Jewish Committee on the line so I ask you as our final report from you, in a couple of sentences, what else do we need to know heading into tomorrow?

JACKSON:  Watch for the President`s departure on the White House South Lawn before he heads to Florida.  He may take questions there and there`s also a chance he may say hey, I want to talk about this come on up to the Oval and let me hold a little mini impromptu session with reporters.

MELBER:  Fascinating stuff.  Happy to have your reporting.  Hallie Jackson at the White House, thank you.  As promised we turn to Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who serves on the Judiciary Committee.  Thank you for hopping on the line on this breaking news story, Congresswoman.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX):  Ari, thank you so very much for having me this evening.

MELBER:  We`re happy to have you.  We have reported out what your Chairman Nadler has said about this.  What else can you tell us from him or your committee about what you have heard from the Justice Department today and your view of what we`re now seeing which is the plan by the Attorney General according to your chairman to hold a press conference to discuss apparently the Mueller report without yet releasing it to you in Congress?

LEE:  Well, first of all, Ari, I think it`s very clear that Director Mueller and his team have washed their hands of Attorney General Barr.  I don`t think they believe that there`s any pathway forward in joining him and press conferences or supporting what is clearly actions that throw us and undermine the public interest to release these documents.

The Judiciary Committee and Chairman Nadler and myself are consistent.  We want the report released and we want it released without redactions.  We`re already disappointed with this (INAUDIBLE) explanation that General Barr will give us a report that has redactions from 6E, that`s the grand jury testimony, classified information that he alleges when members of Congress, by the way, have the highest level security clearance.  The investigation so alleged and ongoing investigations and then finally on the grounds of privacy.  And I`ve heard a lot of discussion on that as well.

But we know well that limit of Congress can receive this information and continue their work with parameters of making sure that elements that should not be released or not.  On behalf of the American people, there is a commitment to release to them as much as possible.  And I don`t believe the redacted document, Ari, is going to be there.

So we`re going to be very studious and we`re going to use the subpoena power to reconstruct what is actually truth in the Mueller report.

MELBER:  And Congresswoman, based on what has been happening just in the past few hours, has it changed your view at all of what you expect in terms of the credibility of what we hear from DOJ tomorrow and the credibility as you mentioned of the underlying redactions?  Has it -- has it made no difference improved or discouraged?  Your view of that.

LEE:  You know, Ari, I still believe in the integrity of the Mueller report.  And I also believe that there are hardworking people at the Department Justice as the senior memo and judiciary has worked with department justice personnel for a very long time including the FBI and other law enforcement.  But I am very concerned that General Barr -- it`s interesting that General Barr did this before some years back under George W. Bush`s administration with reporting that got altered.

So I`m not interested in General Barr`s press conference.  I`m not interested in his subsequent interpretation.  We want the raw data and we want the summaries that were provided as well by Director Mueller that we never received.  I wonder why those were never produced.  And again, we will see Director -- General Barr on May 2nd before the House Judiciary Committee.

We have subpoenas out to 81 different persons.  Some of them may be mentioned in this report and we are also going to at some point called Director Mueller.  That is the way that we will construct what the truth and the basis of his conclusions are, and that`s all that we need to hear to which is inconsistent or consistent with the rule of law.

We`re not going to spend time on what director -- general -- Attorney General Barr will be saying tomorrow, and we are certainly frustrated by the fact that there is a press conference before the members of Congress receive it and also before the general public will receive it.

MELBER:  Congresswoman, on a -- on a very big night hearing from your chairman online with what he posted and perhaps more from other members of Congress over the course of what looks to be a quite a big eve of the planned release of the redacted Mueller report, thank you for jumping on the line with us, congresswoman.

LEE:  I certainly do appreciate.  And may I just say one moment, Ari, that we are certainly concerned to find out that they`ve been dialogue between the White House and of course the Department of Justice.  That`s going to be investigated as well.  Thank you.

MELBER:  Very - thank you.  Very interesting.  I`m just speaking with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee about a lot of the reporting night including she and her chairman have mentioned the New York Times report that says that for all the talk about a uniform process where the DOJ would release the redacted version the Mueller report effectively to everybody, The Times reporting the White House has had a jump on special consultations, multiple conversations, according to The New York Times, a story breaking late tonight.

Our live coverage here on THE BEAT continues and I bring in a new guest former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirchner.  Good to see you.


MELBER:  You have been here -- I think viewers have come to know you as one of the legal voices that we rely on.  And then there are many of us who are journalists who bring that perspective.  My colleague Rachel Maddow you`ve provided analysis for doesn`t constantly tweet about every story, I think it`s fair to say.  But she has posted something just now that I want to share with viewers because I think it`s a striking set of clear points.

She quotes as we`ve been reporting Jerry Nadler saying that Barr now is planning to hold his own press conference about Mueller without Mueller there.  That`s been confirmed by Mueller`s former spokesperson just this hour.  And Rachel notes, "Well before anyone will be allowed to access even Barr`s redacted version of molars findings.  Why?  Where`s Mueller?"  I put her simple questions to you.

KIRCHNER:  I think Bob Mueller is biding his time.  What I`ll say, Ari, is that those of us who work for the Department of Justice for decades, those of us who are actually Institutionalists who care about the rule of law, who care about serving the American people honestly and honorably and call it right down the middle the way we see it, many of us had high hopes for Barr that he was going to be that person in the time of crisis for our country and unfortunately he has disappointed at every turn.

I think tomorrow will be another opportunity for him to do the right thing.  But I think if the lessons we have learned in recent months tell us anything, we are going to get more redactions than are necessary and they`re going to be designed to protect the president.  Mueller --

MELBER:  You say -- let me put your lines though.  You say the right thing which people debate about.  Then there`s the Barr thing.  Because one of things I do around here is I keep a binder as many lawyers do, of everything that`s happened so far that`s key.  And in the binder, we have the letter from Mr. Barr on March 29th.  And in the letter, he puts out his standard.  He didn`t have to but he did.

And he said, "everyone will soon be able to read the Mueller report on their own.  I do not believe would be in the public`s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or release it in a piecemeal fashion.  That was him on defense for what he said people had overreacted to in his initial letter.

If as Chairman Nadler asserts, the DOJ has briefed them that they do this press conference tomorrow before releasing the report.  And Mueller`s folks say he`s not there tomorrow.  Is that not a failure -- not of the right thing, but even what Mr. Barr so recently claimed he would not do?

KIRCHNER:  He`s speaking out of both sides of his mouth.  And you know Bob Mueller is the consummate Institutionalist and we`ve heard so little from Bob Mueller and his team, his spokesperson.  And what did we hear tonight basically in those very few words, that terse statement as you put it, Ari.  He said we`re not coming.  We`re not co-signing this.  We`re not giving it our stamp of approval by standing behind Barr with hostage`s eyes and breathing life into whatever it is he`s going to report out to the American people.

MELBER:  And isn`t that important because what we`re being told is tomorrow without the Mueller report coming out, you have Barr and Rosenstein there.  Rosenstein was Mueller`s boss.  He also was the guy who oversaw the firing of Comey.  As I`ve reported, Rosenstein has played different roles at different times.  He also has a new essay out in the time 100 just this week praising his boss Mr. Barr.

So that`s what Rosenstein is right now. That seems to be an attempt to grab the credibility of that in the same way that Mr. Barr has been named checking Mueller for some of the redactions while going forward on a plan that appears to be driven by the Trump agenda of defending the White House, of owning the news cycle, of driving it forward, so the whole day is about their first draft of history, don`t call it a summary.

And then later as you can do holidays or whatever, other things come out.  At what point does the establishment legal community when we often ask what where are the Republicans, where is the Congress, what is the -- when does he establish legal community says the respect and esteem that Mr. Barr had throughout his tenure previously is now -- is now gone?

KIRCHNER:  It`s hanging on by a thread if at all.  And I think tomorrow once we see whether this is a fair -- a fair shot at redacting out what must be redacted -- and I think we can all agree, we don`t want to compromise ongoing investigations so some things need to be redacted out.  But will there be enough substance there that it is a fair reading of what in the world has been going on with this president and in this administration?  One thing I`ll --

MELBER:  Have you ever -- let me ask you this because I`ve been waiting to get you here you know, as one of our prosecutors.  Have you ever seen the president announce a Justice Department press conference about the findings of an investigation into a White House?

KIRCHNER:  No.  And we as prosecutors don`t typically do that.  But --

MELBER:  Isn`t that alone -- there`s so many details here for folks watching.  You know, we came on the air and we said new.  There`s a press conference tomorrow.  Rosenstein will be there, Mueller won`t.  Middle of the hour, Chairman Nadler announces DOJ told me they`re doing the presser without giving us the report.

On top of all that though, if nothing else, why was the president United States appearing to manage the announcement strategy of the very investigation that ensnared six of his aides and indictments, some of those trials pending.  Is that in your view an appropriate role for the President?

KIRCHNER:  No, it`s a conflict of interest.  And they`re dealing with a crooked deck right now.  But here`s what I`ll say at the end of it all, I still have faith in Bob Mueller, perhaps selfishly he taught me how to be a federal prosecutor in Washington D.C.

MELBER:  Sure.  But we`re talking about whether your faith involved Mueller will ultimately be information that is revealed or hidden.

KIRCHNER:  I don`t think Bob Mueller will let injustice stand and he took one step on the road to correcting the record when his spokesperson announced we aren`t coming.  We`re not going to be there.  We`re not going to cosign whatever Barr says tomorrow.

If Barr continues down the road of deception, I do not believe Mueller will let it stand.

MELBER:  Right.

KIRCHNER:  When the time is right, he`ll stand up and he will tell the American people the truth.

MELBER:  And that`s the fascinating point of why there is more leverage because Mr. Mueller leaves the DOJ.  He can comply with a lawful request to testify.  There was a lot more we can learn.  Well, we might even learn whether he was invited to this press conference or was he invited a non- speaking role.  Stay with me.  What I want to do is keep Glen and talk to the panel here.  We have a tradition sometimes on big news nights where we get a final thought, lightning round from everyone.

And to set that up, we want to mark something that we prepared for tonight which is it`s been actually if you count, 23 months since Mueller was first appointed, and there`s a lot of information and a lot of developments we learned that the 400-page report will cover.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Justice Department has just announced a Special Counsel.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI:  It`s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why the President`s son, son-in-law, and his then Campaign Chairman met privately in June 2016 at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign Chairman is now a criminal defendant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  George Papadopoulos has admitted that he was in touch with Russians during the campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Headline, Trump ordered Mueller fired.

MELBER:  This is the biggest thing to happen in the Russia probe since Donald Trump fired Jim Comey.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  The indictment charges 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The FBI has raided the office of Donald Trump`s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.

ROGER STONE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN:  I will plead not guilty to these charges.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP:  Individual Number One is President Donald J. Trump.

MELBER:  Special Counsel Bob Mueller has finished his Russia investigation.


MELBER:  He`s finished it, we`ve been tracking it, but we don`t know what`s in the report and we may not know what`s in the full unredacted report.  With a few moments we have left at the end of our special coverage, I want to go around the horn in max one or two sentences what is the most important thing on your mind for tomorrow.  Aisha.

MILLS:  The special prosecutor was appointed so that there would be an independent investigation.  Everyone should be reminded that Barr is doing everything he can to undermine the independence of this investigation and the outcome.

MELBER:  Jason?

JOHNSON:  This is inherently a political process.  We can`t ever forget that.  I`m very fascinated to see what Buttigieg, Harris, Booker, members who are running for president in 2020 have to say about what comes out in this report tomorrow.

MELBER:  Bill?

KRISTOL:  I think we`ve protected the Mueller investigation.  I think we will see the Mueller report and the cover-up won`t work.

MELBER:  Gene?

ROSSI:  Tomorrow was Holy Thursday but there`s nothing holy about the Justice Department process.

MELBER:  And Glenn Kirchner, here.

KIRCHNER:  This is a dangerous game Barr is playing and he will lose.  I throw my lot in with Bob Mueller.

MELBER:  Very well put from our experts.  I will close with a final thought.  I want to thank Aisha, Jason, Bill, gene, and Glen Kirchner for being part of our special coverage.  If you`ve been watching tonight, this is one of those nights where it may feel like so much has happened it`s hard to track.

I want to close by telling you a couple of things that matter.  Number one, the reporting matters because we have been indebted to the New York Times journalists that blew a lid off what up until tonight really may have been a theory, may have been a suspicion, but now is in print that the Barr Justice Department has repeatedly been briefing officials at the White House about the conclusions of the Mueller reported, an apparent end-run according to The Times around the process.

You see the headline.  White House Justice Department officials discussed Mueller report before release.  It`s also I would note in contrast and in potential contradiction to both of our public statements and potentially things he committed to Congress with regard to maximum transparency, telling one side that is the subject of a probe what`s coming before the other or the public or the oversight committees, not full transparency.

The other thing you have to keep in mind is that tomorrow is another test.  It`s a test of the journalists and the narrators as some of my guests pointed out, how will we cover this tomorrow, how many traps might we fall into while they are set.  It`s a test of the political system in the branches and it`s also a test of you, your ability and I say this earnestly, to listen, to be patient, to be thoughtful because it`s going to take time.

I`m planning I like so many people of getting up, getting ready, covering the facts, following the evidence and reading the hundreds of unredacted pages of the report, comparing them to what else we know and keeping an eye on the future.  We won`t know what matters tomorrow in an hour or even a day.  So let`s not pretend that we would.

Let`s work on it together.  We`ll try to do our part here at MSNBC and I`ll mention in closing if you watch MSNBC, there is a lot more to watch tonight.  Tomorrow morning, I`ll be on the "TODAY`S SHOW" and "MORNING JOE" as part of our special coverage with Brian Williams throughout the day. 

That does it for me.  Thanks as always for watching THE BEAT.  Thanks to our panelists tonight.  Ills see you tomorrow.  And don`t go anywhere "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews --