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House Democrats Subpoena full Mueller Report. TRANSCRIPT: 4/19/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: David Corn, EJ Dionne, Mary Gay Scanlon, Elie Mystal, DavidIgnatius, Carter Page

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  Will join Chuck.  Plus he`ll have an exclusive interview with Congressman Jerry Nadler, chair of the Judiciary Committee.  That is on your local NBC station, and "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now. 

Good evening, Ari. 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Steve.  Thank you very much.  And welcome to you at home to a special edition of THE BEAT, on the first full day since the redacted Mueller report came out. 

What`s next in the battle?  Well, a top Democrat joins me later on why they are subpoenaing the entire report today.  That`s big news. 

Also, a headline that would scare any White House.  Fourteen new investigations that Mueller handed off.  Many of them unknown.  We`re going to get into that. 

And later, you know we cover all the evidence here on THE BEAT.  Well, we begin tonight`s show with some of the truly damning evidence of obstruction against Trump in this report.  But I want you to know at the end of this hour, we will turn to a witness who faced off against the Mueller probe and came out in the clear.  Carter Page, one of the Trump advisers, first caught up in this probe will join me later live. 

But we begin with the news rocking Washington even as the Trump administration tries to distract you from it. 

Tonight it is official.  House Democrats formally demanding Bill Barr hand over the full unredacted Mueller report by May 1st.  Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler issuing this former subpoena today.  The move telegraphed during the past three weeks of sparring between Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, given his aggressive and we can now report often proven to be misleading handling of the conclusion of the Mueller probe. 

But let me tell you this, as we get into this news tonight, telegraphing you might do something and negotiating about it with the White House or the DOJ is different than action.  Tonight is action.  The first time the Trump DOJ is now staring down the pressure of a subpoena from Mueller`s report. 

And that`s not all.  Democrats demanding that Bob Mueller himself testify by May 23rd.  They are seizing on Barr`s terse statement yesterday in what was of course his first major press conference as attorney general, that Barr said he didn`t object to Mueller addressing Congress. 

Speaker Pelosi clearly authorizing Chairman Nadler to take the lead on what is now the biggest fight of the Trump era right now.  Tonight he says Mueller`s report busts President Trump for, quote, "serious instances of wrongdoing." 

So what comes next?  Well, I can tell you this because it is a very live story.  DOJ has now responded late here tonight on the East Coast saying the subpoena is, quote, "premature and unnecessary."  That is a sign of the battle ahead.  That`s the DOJ not saying we`ll work with you on this.  We want to give you more.  They`re saying it`s unnecessary, aka, get ready for a big subpoena fight. 

It`s especially important because remember Donald Trump went along with a House vote where he said oh, all the Republicans are fine with getting the full Mueller report.  Tonight the DOJ is basically either showing that that was bull, not true, or the DOJ is just breaking with what was the Republican position.  A kind of a claimed bravery in the face of the Mueller report.  Well, they`ve seen some of it.  Apparently they don`t want everyone to see all of it. 

And that`s not all.  This Trump administration strategy as you know by now has been to undercut the Mueller roadmap by falsely suggesting that it`s all up to Barr to decide what happens with these findings. 

Well, tonight, what we`re seeing is Chairman Nadler saying, no, Congress itself will consider the, quote, "full scope," according to Nadler, of what is released here including what he calls Donald Trump`s misconduct. 

And I`ll tell you something else, because America has been doing this, maybe we`ve been doing it together.  I`ve been reading this thing.  It takes more than a day for the 400-page findings of a 22-month investigation to be clearly and fairly and accurately processed.  And I mean that regardless of what you think is in here or what you want to be in here.  It takes more than a day or two for this to set in.  You can`t debate what people haven`t even digested. 

Now This may sound like a challenge for the media era we live in.  I admit it.  Maybe a challenge for the Trump era.  But what we`re seeing tonight, what I`m reporting to you is that Chairman Nadler is leading a wing of the Democratic Party that is suggesting there are choices between do nothing over here and a rush to the I-word over here. 

The Dems also invoking Mueller`s own words in the report which showed that even if one did agree with Bill Barr`s conclusion, meaning he is the attorney general, you can look at what he said and decide whether you agree or not, there is something that everyone can now see.  And that Mr. Barr, perhaps in his cynicism, doesn`t care if you can see, that he was mischaracterizing Mueller`s conclusion and letting that sit out there for the past three weeks. 

So here it is, quote, "The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president`s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law." 

Mueller wrote that up for a reason and he wrote it up in a way that it would be released, not easily redacted.  In a moment I will talk about all of this with the deputy to Chairman Nadler, the vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.  I`m excited about that. 

I begin with analysis from David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones."  We`ve been covering this from the start.  And EJ Dionne, a columnist from the "Washington Post." 

David, what do you see is significant about the way the Democrats are taking both Mueller`s findings and also Mueller`s admittedly intricate discussion of the inter-branch powers here and who ultimately deals with potential misconduct by a president? 

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  You know, I hate to agree with you, Ari, but you`re right.  This report, over 400 pages long, does take more than a day to absorb fully.  I`ve written a couple of stories off it already.  I`m still going through it line by line through footnotes, looking for things I might have missed or that need further amplification. 

I think if you`re running Congress, if you`re the chair of the Judiciary Committee, or the Intelligence Committee, or the Oversight Committee, you need to go through this really carefully and see what here can we look at further, needs further investigation.  What can we amplify for the public.  Because there is a lot here that if you actually had people coming before committees to testify, it would mean a lot more. 

Hearing Don McGahn talk about how he had to put off what he considered to be improper or illegal instructions from the president. 

MELBER:  Illegal. 

CORN:  Would be really instructive for the public at large.  And so I think taking a moment to figure out, OK.  Between doing nothing and rushing to impeachment, what is the right course here is exactly what Democrats should be doing and there are leads here to investigate and aspects of the story, and constitutional principles which you`re so good at elucidating, that need to be brought before the American public.  And Mueller has done a good job in that regard of laying out those issues. 

MELBER:  EJ, I want to play something from my colleague, Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman.  He, like many people in Washington, began by noting that Mr. Barr did have a respected reputation in the mainstream conservative legal establishment.  And yet, and yet, we do need to assess him by what he`s doing now and not by the reputation he may have built in the past.  Because now is the news, now is, according to some, according to Don McGahn, forget the Democrats. 

According to Don McGahn, now is, what do you do about the constitutional crisis of a president of the United States who insists and repeats illegal orders? I pause because I want to be precise.  But I`m quoting Don McGahn.  And he did think they were so illegal that he would sooner resign rather than carry them out.  And with that in mind, EJ, when we think about Barr, here`s Scarborough on Barr. 


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC`S "MORNING JOE" HOST:  He is not an attorney general in the common sense of the word.  He is a political act.  When this presidency is over, John Mitchell will not be sitting alone as the worst attorney general in modern American political history.  He will be side by side by William Barr. 


MELBER:  EJ, tough but fair or too far? 

EJ DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST:  No, I think that`s been true from the start.  And I wrote at the time when he was before the committee in January that there were all kinds of red flags there.  And that establishment Washington just can`t possibly see how an establishmentarian would become a Trump enabler.  But he gave signal after signal that he was ready to do whatever Trump wanted him to do.  And it goes back to that memo he wrote that many have called an application to be Trump`s attorney general. 

But in the spirit of the holiday, and Happy Passover and happy Easter to everybody, I want to agree with you on something, too.  And I thought you made a really important point on the way forward when you said, it`s not just do nothing or go straight to impeachment.  I think it`s a mistake to take impeachment off the table because that would say this is not serious.  But there is absolutely no need to rush for impeachment now.  Because the Judiciary Committee, and also the Intelligence Committee and the Government Reform Committee can do all the hearings that you need to do that would be in preparation for impeachment without having people think that you`re rushing off prematurely. 

Because I think the argument that needs to be had is with that 10 percent to 15 percent of Americans who are not hardcore anti-Trump or hardcore pro- Trump.  And as David that, they need to see some of these witnesses.  They need to hear just what a horror show the Mueller report describes the Trump presidency as, and I think these hearings are going to have a great educational value for the American people. 

MELBER:  Well, when you say that, I mean, part of my job is to try to fairly cover the law and present the evidence, and let people make up their own mind.  But the other part of the job, right, is being real about what is in here.  And as I was going through more of this today, and like any serious legal document, just like a Supreme Court opinion, you read it more than once.  And as you get deeper into it, understanding the holistic findings, you can understand the other parts of it better. 

David, not unlike a novel, I know that you`re big into literature.  But more important than a novel. 

DIONNE:  Well, a great book David wrote. 


MELBER:  But more important than a novel right now because it`s true.  The other thing that comes through in here, and I`m going to bring in our member of Congress on, is the issues of what the first year the Trump presidency looked like according to the people who were in it.  This is not according to critics and it`s not according to, quote-unquote, "observers" who are out of it. 

The people in here, Priebus, Bannon, Rob Porter, Christie, after having private meetings with the White House, every single interview, and the footnotes there thankfully are not redacted, is a portrait of a presidency hanging by a thread because of the lunacy and attempted illegal orders of the commander-in-chief. 

This is something that it would seem people should care about even if the legal questions are more arcane.  And so for that, I want to ask you both to stay but bring in, as promised, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon from Pennsylvania, the vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee which just subpoenaed the full Mueller report. 

First of all, thank you for making time for us this evening. 

REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA):  Thank you.  It gave me a little break from my reading. 


MELBER:  OK.  Right.  I think everyone is doing the reading.  I want to get your views on all the big issues but I will begin as we do with the breaking news from the Justice Department, which is not engaging Chairman Nadler and your -- as vice chair, your subpoena as a kind of debate over how to do it, but rather saying, blank it tonight, immediately it`s unnecessary.  Your response. 

SCANLON:  My understanding, I haven`t seen their response.  But I`ve read a tweet about it which seems to be how we get so much of our news these days.  And I saw that they said it was premature which obviously we disagree with. 

MELBER:  Yes.  Let me say for your analysis, we could put up I believe on the screen, we`ll pull it up because we had it in our newsroom.  Premature and unnecessary was part of the way DOJ details it.  So yes, your response to that. 

SCANLON:  Well, it`s obviously very necessary.  We`re looking at two different things here.  We`re looking at what the Department of Justice and Mr. Barr, as now apparently a defender of the president rather than acting as the attorney general, has decided to do.  I mean, the Mueller report lays out very clearly that there are serious issues here particularly around the issue of obstruction of justice.  He gives us a roadmap in what Congress has to do.  And we need the full report and the underlying evidence in order to be able to follow that roadmap. 

MELBER:  And let me ask you, when you look at the obstruction section of this report, at the risk of oversimplifying it but for people who aren`t following every little moment.  You could describe -- I`m talking about the criminal level.  Not other opinions.  I just mentioned some.  But at the criminal level, the conspiracy section of the report I think looks broadly good for the president because at the criminal level of the high beyond a reasonable doubt standard, there is no finding of a conspiracy. 

The obstruction section lists several incidents that look very bad for the president because by the same criminal analysis they appear to find evidence of obstruction.  Are you ready tonight, and I`m not rushing you because I know it may take more time.  But are you ready tonight to say, do you view -- speaking for yourself and not the whole committee -- that section as a finding that Donald Trump did commit obstruction?  Or how would you put it? 

SCANLON:  Well, I think what you have to do when you look at that section is look at how Mueller frames it.  I mean, I`ve gained -- I always had respect for the man.  I didn`t know him personally.  But now as we sort through this very intricate document, as you mentioned, he`s really done a brilliant job of laying out the issue here. 

And if you look at the first page of Volume II, which is the obstruction volume, he says exactly what he`s doing and why.  He says first of all I went into this knowing that there`s a Department of Justice rule that you cannot charge a sitting president.  So I`m not going to make any conclusions about charging this president.  Second of all, that`s Congress`s job.  If a president were to obstruct justice and the criminal justice system can`t deal with it, then it`s Congress`s job to deal with it. 

Then he goes on to say, if I had found conclusive evidence that this president had not obstructed justice, I would say so.  Unfortunately, I cannot and there is no exoneration in my report.  No exoneration.  And then the fourth thing he does is say, OK, I`m going to lay out everything we found so that we can preserve the evidence.  And whether that`s for Congress or for some sort of post-presidency indictment, he lays out exactly the evidence, including 10 separate incidents -- 

MELBER:  What do you -- 

SCANLON:  -- which look like obstruction of justice. 

MELBER:  What do you mean by that, Congresswoman?  You read Mueller as holding out the legal possibility of indicting the president for the obstruction evidence after he leaves office? 

SCANLON:  He certainly seems to suggest that`s an option. 

MELBER:  David? 

CORN:  Yes.  I mean, I was very impressed with that part of the report because he does walk, I`ll read it through, some very complicated constitutional issues.  But ultimately, I think this is the right position.  He says there has to be a way for the government, for one branch of the government, to make sure that the pursuit of justice cannot be corrupted, even by the president of the United States.  And if the Justice Department can`t go after him directly, that job is left to Congress.  Like the congresswoman here. 

He is very clear on that.  It makes Barr`s letter, in which he took it upon himself to exonerate Trump on this, seemed rather silly.  Mueller is saying per Justice Department policy, I can`t indict.  But Barr says, per me, I can exonerate?  And if you look at the whole report, you know, from the first volume on two, you see just this miasma of lies and deceit.  And Barr -- excuse me, Mueller portrays it in a very just the facts manner.  But putting it all together there. 

MELBER:  Right. 

CORN:  I think it`s pretty stunning the portrait of the presidency, the president, and the campaign he ran. 

DIONNE:  And if I can just say quickly, I think that`s why -- 

MELBER:  Yes, EJ, I`m going to give you time.  I want to throw one idea at you in addition to your final thought, EJ. 

DIONNE:  OK.  Go ahead. 

MELBER:  Which is a lot of last night`s initial understanding of the report required fact-checking Mr. Barr because he had been so blatantly false in letters, in formal statements to Congress, which matters, the congresswoman knows, and then in a press conference he insisted on holding yesterday before people saw the report, that that became part of it. 

I wonder what you think, EJ, in addition to whatever else you`re going to share with us and your insights about what people see on their screen right now.  If you read the headline on the screen.  This is the news.  And the headline is Mueller`s bottom line was that Trump, according to his own aides, was pursuing more than one Saturday night massacre, which is what ended Nixon.  And the only reason he didn`t pull it off was because there were people around him who defied him.  EJ. 

DIONNE:  Well, I think one of the reasons it`s so important for Mueller to testify is that line in the report when he says no person is above the law.  And what the congresswoman and David both said is that on the obstruction, he is sending a signal that I didn`t say that he was innocent.  I was bound by these Justice Department rules. 

MELBER:  Yes. 

DIONNE:  But I really think that he needs to be held accountable.  And I think that Mueller needs an opportunity to expand on that and talk about how radically Barr distorted what the report was.  I was really struck when that letter came out that the report, the part he quoted, said that they couldn`t establish collusion. 

MELBER:  Right.  Sure. 

DIONNE:  And then Barr rendered it as you couldn`t demonstrate or whatever conclusion.  It was a very different word.  And just those two sentences showed how much Barr was rewriting this for the president`s purposes. 

MELBER:  Yes. 

DIONNE:  And you saw that in, right, an hour before the report came out. 

MELBER:  I have to fit in a break given all the other guests.  And Congresswoman, because you`re a sitting member of Congress, and because we`re out of time, I`m going to end with my bad holiday joke for David Corn instead of for you, with your blessing. 



MELBER:  David -- 

CORN:  Here we go. 

MELBER:  David, we have so much to talk about.  I didn`t even get to ask you why this night is different from all other nights. 

CORN:  Well, this is the first night of the day after we`ve had a report demonstrating that the president -- you know, just can`t not lie about so many different things.  I mean, it`s historic.  You know, I don`t want to end with a joke on this but the good thing is, I think it has reset the debate, despite what Barr tried to do.  And the congresswoman and others, and other Americans are going to continue absorbing this and following where it should go. 

DIONNE:  And we will reach the promised land at the end of all of this. 


CORN:  EJ is the Catholic optimist here. 

MELBER:  EJ rose in the spirit of the question more than you, David, which was surprising but that`s why we don`t profile people.  I would say that this -- for some of us, this is a holiday where you say, look.  Let my full report go.  Let`s see the whole thing. 

Congresswoman, we`re leaving you out of this because of our respect for your seriousness and your position. 

SCANLON:  That`s OK. 


MELBER:  My thanks -- 

SCANLON:  I appreciate that. 


MELBER:  I appreciate you being on the show and I appreciate everyone making time on what is a busy news night and a busy weekend. 

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, thank you.  David Corn, EJ Dionne, we have so much more on THE BEAT tonight. 

It is Mueller mystery.  A dozen cases under seal.  One of the startling revelations.  We`re going to get into all of that.  Also later in the show, the obstruction roadmap.  I`m going to show you now that I`ve had more time with this report, point by point what Mueller is doing in giving what some call overwhelming evidence against Donald Trump for the crime of obstructing justice. 

We also will speak to the journalist whose reporting sent Donald Trump down some of these paths.  And later at the end of the hour my interview with former Trump aide, Carter Page.  There are eight Mueller pages devoted to him in the report.  He`s mentioned dozens of times.  He is clearly a part of this whether people like it or not.  And I`m proud to say he joins us again tonight on THE BEAT. 

I`m Ari Melber, and we will be right back. 


MELBER:  Among the many misperceptions that are still out there about the Mueller report has become a surprise, which is how much of the work that Mueller began is still ongoing.  And that doesn`t mean it`s good or bad for any particular group of people because we literally don`t know who most of these people are.  But consider this fact that the "New York Times assembled out of the primary source material of the report. 

Sixty-nine percent of the redactions are related to what are called ongoing matters.  Criminal investigations.  And these are mysteries.  So we don`t know and Mueller does not say in here what these matters are about.  Take Appendix D, which we`ll put on the screen.  It lists the criminal cases that Mueller has handed off.  The redactions that you see there in part of the (INAUDIBLE) at the right side of your screen, these are active cases.  Two unknown cases Mueller was ordered to investigate in which he`s now transferred back to the DOJ.  These cases that we know about in this category of course include Roger Stone pending trial. 

You also have of course what happened with Paul Manafort.  But then there are the cases where Mueller uncovered other types of criminal activity or evidence of criminal activity that just aren`t in the probe.  That of course the most famous example was Michael Cohen.  Everybody by now knows they handed that to New York. 

So think about the Cohen case as example for what you see here.  Twelve unknown other cases referred to other jurisdictions.  So that`s like potentially 12 Michael Cohens in maybe overlapping jurisdictions or maybe 12 different places, depending on the evidence that Mueller found.  That gives us a clue of how much of this work could continue in the DOJ if there`s no interference in the months ahead. 

To dig into just this piece, which is so newsy and so mysterious, I bring on Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor, and Elie Mystal, editor from "Above the Law." 

Glenn, what does it mean that there are 12 unknown handoffs?  Is that more than you expected? 

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  It`s a lot.  And it signals a couple of things to me, Ari.  First of all it signals that Bob Mueller took his jurisdictional mandate very seriously.  And you know, I think it would help if we went back to his original appointment letter in May of 2017 and look at the three things that he was actually empowered to investigate.  And we talk a lot about the first two but less about the third because the first one, and I have it in front of me here, is any links between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

The second is anything that arises directly from investigating those links.  And the third we haven`t talked about all that much but the third paragraph says any other matters within a particular section of the CFR, the Code of Federal Regulations.  Section 600.4 A.  The number is not important.  But when we look at that, that talks about how Bob Mueller is empowered to try cases.  To actually prosecute people in court.  So he can further his investigation of points one and two. 

And it actually cites things like obstructing justice, lying, committing perjury.  And it`s not an exclusive or an exhaustive list.  But that third paragraph says he can bring prosecutions that will help him get to the bottom of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

MELBER:  Right.  And so with that in -- excuse me, with that in mind, Glenn, isn`t it important to understand that what we do have in the Mueller report are patterns of lying and deception that clearly impeded the probe at times?  Some of it done by an individual who can`t be indicted., the president.  And some allegedly done by all these other people.  Some of them redacted.  And I think about that because those are some of the hanging matters. 

Mr. Craig, who happens to be a Democrat, was ultimately pursued on similar lines to Flynn and Manafort, although narrower but similar lines being, no, you didn`t go out and do the worst crime in the world but yes, you slowed and impeded this investigation by not being straight with the feds and Mueller is not going to tolerate it.  He doesn`t care what party you are, he doesn`t care how senior you were in the White House. 

And so I put that in the context of Elijah Cummings who referred to this Mueller finding in the report that so many people were trying to hide what they were doing, or using encryption or destroying evidence.  Take a look. 


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD):  There apparently has been some disruption of evidence.  That`s another thing that we want to look into.  Again, you know there`s a Presidential Records Act.  And I want to know who was destroying evidence.  That`s another thing that stopped Mueller from being able to complete his job.  And a lot of this stuff may have been directed by the president. 


MELBER:  Elie, who could that apply to? 

ELIE MYSTAL, ABOVE THE LAW EDITOR:  Oh, destruction of evidence?  I mean, we saw so much of Trump`s associates or hangers on trying to prevent the president from doing further bad things, that, you know, if one of -- could one of them have done what Congressman Cummings was saying?  I don`t know.  It`s possible.  I mean, I think that I`m glad that Glenn brought up what he did.  Because I think that Mueller did frustratingly to me view his mandate very narrowly. 

And what we`ve seen is that he is already referred out cases basically involving financial crimes.  All of the money stuff, he`s thrown out to other people. So when I came across Appendix D, I heard the you know, WWE oh my God, that`s SDNY`s music come on, because I think that most of the financial crimes that Mueller did not feel he was empowered to investigate got pushed out, and that`s what`s in the -- that`s what`s in the 12 redactions.

MELBER:  Glenn?

GLENN KIRCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Yes.  So I think Elie makes a great point.  And the other thing I`ll say, Ari, is we have two cases referred to unknown cases and 12 investigations referred out to other offices.  In my book as a former prosecutor, that is 14 potential cooperating witnesses.

And that`s why I don`t think this is over by a long shot because with respect to every one of those 14 referrals, you can bet the prosecutors who are now digging into those cases are going to try to debrief, interview, and bring onboard every one of those 14 people, and I`ll bet every one of them you can then sort of finger out into other potential misconduct by other folks.  That`s how we build cases.  So I think there`s a lot of investigating that is going to spin out of these 14 referrals.

MYSTAL:  There`s another --

MELBER:  Well, it`s -- briefly Elie.

MYSTAL:  There`s another huge gap here and it`s the inauguration committee.  I think that was outside of Mueller`s scope and I think that it could be in these indictments.  And this might be -- I mean, you know that I care about this, I need some prosecutor go find me a subpoena for Don Junior and Ivanka and Eric and this might be where we find that.

MELBER:  Well, I know you feel that way.  I also hold you accountable.  You are one of the guests that we`ve had who`s talked about whether or not the Mueller probe was getting closer to and stirring them.  And as I`ve reported since yesterday, it is very clear that not only were they not indicted, we already knew that, but the reason that Don Jr. wasn`t interviewed by Mueller is that he was not seen as a potential target on the conspiracy.

That doesn`t clear him like any other human being of any other a million things, but it is important as we cover these stories to note that as well.  And we always a benefit from the legal insights of both of you.  I got to fit in a 30-second break, so Glenn and Elie, thank you.

Let me tell you what happens here.  We`re going to speak later in the show to a key Mueller witness who has named checked over and over, 30 times in this report.  But first, something that I`ve been asked about over and over we`re going to get into it.  Why does the Mueller report layout facts rather than charges on obstruction and is it overwhelming evidence of obstruction when we`re back in 30.


MELBER:  Staring at us in black and white with some color coding, but when you look at what`s in the Mueller report that pertains to Donald Trump`s future and not his past, there is this headline.  Bob Mueller doesn`t say that Donald Trump committed a crime and he explains why he can`t.  But there is as legal experts are basically making clearer and clearer since we`ve had time to digest this, a damning roadmap.  Bob Mueller following DOJ rules which as you know so you can`t charge a sitting president.

Bill Barr obviously talked a lot about that.  But what Mueller provides is factual conclusions about obstruction in multiple incidents, and that`s something Barr tried to get ahead of before the report was released yesterday.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  The Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense.  He made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.


MELBER:  It`s not quite right though.  In fact, the report lists basically eleven incidents, total ten of Donald Trump as president and goes through whether they constitute obstruction.  And I want to be very clear because this is actually super interesting no matter where you come down.  Some of them end with Bob Mueller being very fair and appearing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt and key elements.

For example, when Mueller concludes the Comey firing section, he basically says this may not meet the standard for obstruction of justice because "the evidence does not resolve whether Donald Trump`s "real reason for the firing" was corrupt or not."  It could have been personal, political, or both.  Others end with Mueller detailing the case against Trump.

Mueller concluding the Trump`s demand that Sessions take over the probe and prosecute Hillary Clinton which would be unconstitutional as a political request was for the "elicit purpose of restricting the probe and trying to shield the president from the investigation.  Now that`s obstruction.

And we should be clear, the Mueller report shows Donald Trump tried to commit this type of obstruction.  That is very important because corrupt intent combined with overt actions for any citizen for anyone who`s doesn`t happen to be President, is obstruction of justice.

Mike Flynn lied to the FBI.  Did he pull off the cover-up?  Did he fool the FBI?  Was he "successful?"  Obviously not.  That`s how we know about it and that`s not a debate.  He admitted to it.  That`s an obstruction related crime and he failed in his goal.

What we see in the Mueller report is Donald Trump failing in some of these goals but that doesn`t mean he didn`t fail to obstruct justice by the criminal standards.  I want to bring in Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney to discuss this road map.  Good evening to you.


MELBER:  When you see these call them ten incidents relating to Donald Trump being president, what is your understanding of what Mueller is doing and does he in your view provide enough information to make a conclusion about each of them?

VANCE:  So more lays out the legal standard that he uses to assess obstruction of justice and then he lays out fact and he holds those facts up to the legal standard.  And as you point out and I think accurately and very importantly, he bends over backwards to give the president the benefit of the doubt.  Because in criminal justice assessments the tie goes to the runner and you don`t charge a defendant unless you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he`s guilty.

That said in a number of these cases, Mueller`s bottom line assessment appears to be that there is substantial evidence of obstruction of justice.

MELBER:  So let`s use the hypothetical which is to follow Mueller`s care because of the unique issues around a sitting president.  If a non- president was faced with the evidence you just described, say substantial evidence on five, could they be charged?

VANCE:  I think they would be charged.  And of course, one important difference here is that Mueller doesn`t even engage in that calculus out of fear that it would be improper.

MELBER:  It`s fascinating.  So with that framework, you`ve helped us get the legal framework.  Stay with me and I want to bring in David Ignatius from, of course, The Washington Post and a long time at Washington expert.  He has a column about Michael Flynn`s secret contacts with Russia that actually sparked some of the very first moves towards both this probe as well as I mentioned, obstruction crimes, and is a great guest for us on that content.

Good day to you, sir, as well.


MELBER:  David, what do you think about the interpretive side of this?  So Joyce and I just talked about the law, then there is how Washington understands this.  Ken Starr took the role of prosecutor and was obviously seen -- I don`t think anyone really disagrees with this -- as putting his thumb on the scale of what he thought was wrong with Bill Clinton.

Mueller is doing what actually you`re supposed to do as Joyce just mentioned.  How will that affect what people understand this report to say in the Congress?

IGNATIUS:  Ari, if people read the report, the fact that Mueller has been so meticulous and fair and balanced in how he weighs the evidence should convince them in the instances that you`re describing.  I count of the 11 possible obstruction of justice issues, at least five of them Mueller comes down basically saying there was obstruction here.  There is a case that you could take forward.

If people read that evidence and by people I mean not people who are already convinced of Donald Trump`s bad acts, bad intentions, but Republicans in Congress and around the country if they read that language I think they`re going to find it very powerful.  Somehow that reading has to come from the country I think more than from the Congress right now.  People have to say hey, wait a minute, I`ve read this report and I`m troubled by what I saw.

MELBER:  David, does it matter that he ultimately found the Comey firing less concerning because of Donald Trump`s -- the nicest way you could say it is unique approach as opposed to things where it was a glaring evidence of obstruction like his attempt to fire Mueller and his attempt to have Sessions take back over and prosecute Hillary because you can`t even in the best reading of it, you can`t find an innocent way to explain that you want your Attorney General to jail your political opponents, something more familiar with the foreign policy wing of your -- of your reporting that our viewers are also familiar with.  Something we know about from other countries.

So I -- like you, I was a little surprised that he didn`t find in the -- in the Comey case evidence of obstruction firing the man who`s was leading the investigation that you so opposed.  But again, the very fact that he bent over so far backwards in the case of Comey makes the other cases all the more convincing, the firing -- the attempted firing of Mueller himself,  the scenes involving his White House Counsel Don McGahn call him again and say I want to hear from you when you fired him, when you`ve done this.  You just -- you feel for Don McGahn.

The very interesting thing that Mueller says that here is that he his attempts to interfere with the investigation were in many cases not successful because his subordinates simply refused to carry out his orders.  I find that one of the most damning statements of all.

MELBER:  Exactly.  There was so much in there.  I`m running over on time so I`m going to thank David and Joyce.  We`re going to fit in a quick break but up ahead, Carter Paige a key figure in the Mueller probe joins me for his first interview since the report came out.  Carter, I`ll see you on the other side of this break.


MELBER:  Former Trump Foreign Policy Advisor and a key figure in the beginning of the Russia probe Carter Page joins me.  Carter, we have interviewed you before and I told you when it was all over we`d have you back.  I`m glad you`re back tonight.


MELBER:  When you look at this report, in a sentence or two, what is your bottom line.

PAGE:  Bottom line, Ari, the last 24 hours or 36 hours since it came out, I`ve been working on my second circuit reply brief which is focused on another instance.  You were just talking about Joyce about obstruction of justice.  You know that`s what I`ve been focused on.  I did -- I gave it a quick skim so I haven`t really studied it too much.  But from all the -- my quick look and what I`ve heard summarized sounds pretty you know, as we said a nothing-burger from the beginning so yes.

MELBER:  Well, not a nothing-burger on everything, but your burger is fine.  You are not -- you`re not well done, you`re not medium well, you`re in the clear and we and we acknowledge that.

There are some interesting parts in here so maybe we`ll talk about them and get your honest fresh reaction.  Let me read --

PAGE:  It`ll be very fresh since I haven`t --

MELBER:  That`s the best way.  You`ve got nothing to hide.  You`ve made it in the clear, as I say.  Let me read to you an interesting part of what Mueller found with documentary evidence.  In December 2016 e-mail intended for Manafort has an alleged Russian asset who Mueller indicted Kilimnik saying "Carter Page is in Moscow today sending messages.  He`s authorized to talk to Russia on behalf of Donald Trump on a range of issues of mutual interest including Ukraine.  Did you know that Kilimnik knew you were there and was telling Manafort?

PAGE:  I -- that`s preposterous to me.  I`ve never heard anything --

MELBER:  That`s news -- that`s news to you?

PAGE:  Yes.  That`s -- I got to look up that page.  It`s interesting.

MELBER:  Did you ever -- did you ever deal with Kilimnik directly?

PAGE:  I don`t think I`ve ever met him.  That name does not sound familiar, yes.

MELBER:  And so --

PAGE:  Other than you know, being on the news all the time, I don`t -- I don`t think we`ve crossed path, yes.

MELBER:  Well, sure.  So the implication there for Mueller is that while you may have been minding your own business so to speak, that this Russian intelligence linked asset had knowledge of your whereabouts and what you were doing and was telling Manafort.  Does that concern you given that he and Manafort were both indicted by the probe, not concern you about you, but concern you about them?

PAGE:  Well, I mean given the accuracy of that statement, that sounds somewhat concerning I guess on that level.  The fact that he -- you know, there was some news reports that I happened to be over there and you may look at those types of things so not too big of a surprise on that front so --

MELBER:  Another thing that jumped out again because it`s weird not because it`s a crime is this account in the Mueller report that a very senior Kremlin person asks you for Trump contacts in December 2016.  Deputy Prime Minister "asked Page if he could connect the prime minister with individuals involved in the transition to discuss future cooperation.

And I guess I`m wondering why were they thinking they needed you when Donald Trump was president-elect and they had presumably very high-level contacts?

PAGE:  I`d need to see the full context of that, Ari.  I did have a conversation with him very briefly while I was over there in December, you know, about the -- primarily about this school where I gave a graduation speech he`s a graduate at school and been on the board for some time. 

MELBER:  And --

PAGE:  But yes, we did -- we did talk about sort of some policy related stuff but nothing --

MELBER:  Right, so the -- so you`re saying that there was some interaction there.  That`s what they were thinking of you from that connection.  I also want to throw up something from Hope Hicks.  A lot of the people who speak for Donald Trump had been caught in lies that basically he ordered them to tell.  One of them appears to potentially be about you.

March 2016 as I think so many people now know, you were announced as this informal advisor to the campaign, doesn`t have to be a big deal, but then we see in the Mueller report that Hope -- this is a high-level thing.  Hope Hicks who you know deals with Trump personally tells Conway and Bannon in September, inquiries about Page should be answered that he was announced as an informal advisor since then he has had no rule or contact with the campaign.  Was that true or didn`t you have some contact?

PAGE:  You know, listen, Ari, the craziness if you look at what had happened over the last two months going to that defamatory report on September 23rd, 2016, poor Hope was getting these insane number of calls from Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, you know, at least those are the ones that were calling me.

And based on this defamatory, dodgy, dossier which this guy -- the DNC consultant was trying to pass around and finally he finds someone in late September and it was just complete chaos so it`s just --

MELBER:  So you`re not --

PAGE:  You want to talk about the election interference, that is massive election interference and hopefully we get to the bottom of it some time.

MELBER:  Well, but just so I get a straight answer from you, if she was not telling the truth, your view is you understand why because you think she was under a pressure of media campaign?

PAGE:  No, I wouldn`t say that and I don`t -- I don`t know the full context.  And again, I haven`t -- I`m not familiar with that piece and I haven`t seen any reports on it.  But you know, I feel my heart is -- just feels really bad of everything that Hope went through based on its election interference calendar.

MELBER:  Understood, and I know you guys we`re colleagues.  Final question to you because I`m late on time.  They`re telling me I got to go.  But I got one more question for you which is do you think this should all rest here and the country should move forward once Congress decides whether or not they want to do anything about the results of the report, or are you looking for the Barr Justice Department to begin new proceedings or investigations?

PAGE:  Ari, I haven`t over the last decade -- I can`t think of one time I`ve agreed with former Ambassador Mike McFaul, but on the last hour he said that you know, they should look into what happened around the election with the Obama admin stration, you know, as a former Obama administration officials.

So I`m in full agreement with him and you know, again, mostly -- and he kind of a comparison to the 9/11 Commission etcetera, you know, we really need to find out what happened you know, just to sort of get the full story.  And unfortunately, from what I`ve seen you know, it`s not really the full story from the brief clips that I`ve read from that report.

MELBER:  Well, yes, and I give you time and you`re busy, but I will tell you there`s a lot of the story in here so it is something everyone can read.  I think it will be interesting if people who`ve said that it was not a good use of time to look backwards then want to relook backwards again, I think there are some potential contradictions there.  But we`re going to be covering all of it.  Carter Page as always, thank you for taking the question, sir.

PAGE:  Thanks Ari.  Great to see you.

MELBER:  Great to see you.  And when we come back, one more thing.


MELBER:  If you have been watching our coverage of this battle since Mueller finished about three weeks ago until we got this report yesterday, one of the things we pointed out is there are a lot of people who don`t want you to know what`s in here or want you to move on or want you to forget about it over the weekend.

Well, I could tell you from an informational perspective, I`m happy to announce that MSNBC is going to devote a two-hour special on Sunday night to probing what is in the Mueller report, the facts and the evidence no matter where they lead.  So you can join me and Neal Katyal and some of our special experts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00-11:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Pacific a full-blown MSNBC expert laden special.

I hope you mark your calendar.  I hope you have a great holiday weekend.

And hope you`ll join us this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.  We`ll be right back.