Democrats call for Barr to resign. TRANSCRIPT: 5/1/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Cory Booker, Charlie Crist, John Flannery, Christine Quinn,Christian Farias

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  The Oath.  This is exciting.  It`s the brand new MSNBC podcast hosted by another Chuck, former U.S. attorney and an MSNBC contributor, Chuck Rosenberg.  First two episodes are out.

It features these guys.  Somebody you may have heard of, former FBI Director James Comey and former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.  It is worth listening to both.

That`s all for tonight.  We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.  "THE BEAT" starts right now.  Stephanie Ruhle is in for Ari. 

Cory Booker will be your guest.  Well, there you go, Stephanie.  You don`t need me.  Go to it.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST:  Indeed, he will.  It is going to be a busy day.  Thank you so much, Charles.

I am Stephanie Ruhle, in for my friend, Ari Melber.

And we start this evening with breaking news tonight.  Jerry Nadler speaking at this moment.  We`ll take you there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Accommodation and access to the full report and the underlying evidence, but not for much longer.  Complaints with congressional subpoenas is not optional and if good faith negotiations don`t result in a pledge of compliance in the next day or two, the next step is seeking a contempt citation against the attorney general.

There are many questions that must be answered.  The committee will convene at 9:00 tomorrow morning as planned.  My colleagues will be present.  I hope and expect that the attorney general will think overnight and will be there as well.  Are there any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Will you issue a subpoena for Mr. Barr in the morning?

NADLER:  We will issue a subpoena -- no, in the morning.  Tomorrow, we`ll not issue a subpoena.  But the first thing is to get the unredacted report and we will negotiate on that for another day or two.  And if necessary -- now, remember, that was subpoenaed.  If necessary, go for contempt citation shortly thereafter.  We will also start a process to get Attorney General Barr there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What is your response to the ranking member who says you`re torpedoing this hearing?

NADLER:  We`re not torpedoing this hearing.  The committee has the right to determine its own procedures.  The attorney general has a nerve to try to dictate.   The administration has a nerve to dictate our procedures.  It`s simply part of the administration`s complete stonewalling of Congress, period.

And what the ranking member is saying is that by determining how we`ll proceed, we are stonewalling as if it is our choice that he should not come.  He is trying to blackmail the committee into not following what we think is the most effective means of eliciting the information we need.

And the Congress cannot permit the executive branch, we cannot permit the administration to dictate to Congress how we operate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Chairman, some of your colleagues have called for Barr to resign today.  Do you join them in that sentiment?

NADLER:  Well, I think he`s going to have to answer for apparently testifying untruthfully in both the Senate and the House and that is certainly one option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So will you start contempt proceedings about not --

NADLER:  I`m sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Will you start contempt proceedings for not getting the unredacted Mueller report?

NADLER:  That`s what I said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What about not appearing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What about not appearing?

NADLER:  That`s down the road.  That`s down the road.  We haven`t issued a subpoena for him to appear yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You`re not planning to do that?

NADLER:  I did not say that.  We will -- we may issue a subpoena but the first -- our first priority is to get the unredacted Mueller report.  And by the way, we`re looking to get Mueller before the committee on May 15 which is another priority.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Have you had any conversations with Mueller?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  May 15?

NADLER:  That`s the day we`ve been talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Have you (INAUDIBLE)?

NADLER:  Not yet.  Well, they`ve announced that they have no -- the department has announced they have no objection.  They were seeking to firm up the date.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Last question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you really need committee lawyers to ask questions tomorrow?  Do you think that`s one of the reasons why he`s not coming?

NADLER:  I think that is the reason he is not coming.  He is terrified of having to face a skilled attorney.  The problem is -- I mean, in fact, we`ve also seen congressional hearings.  We have very talented members.  They ask very good questions but a five-minute rule is not conducive to follow-up.

Now, we`ve seen repeatedly administration witnesses including Attorney General Barr spend the first four-and-a-half minutes filibustering.  The second -- the last half minute getting a nonresponsive answer and then it`s on to the next person.

It is very valuable as any lawyer will tell you to have somebody, in this case, a staff lawyer, who can follow up, take up loose ends that were suggested by questions from members, and follow up when he gives an unresponsive answer.  And say, but wait a minute, you said this last week.  How can you say this now or whatever?

That`s effective -- the most effective way of getting at the facts and getting at the truth.  And given -- I can understand, given how dishonest he has been since March 24 at the earliest -- since March 24 at the latest, I can understand why he is afraid of facing more effective examination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How does this affect the impeachment --

NADLER:  I`m finished.  Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler talking about Attorney General Bill Barr refusing to testify before his committee tomorrow.  Nadler now saying they could eventually hold him in contempt.

We`re going to be covering every angle of the story today.  And in just a moment, I`ll speak to Senator Cory Booker who questioned Barr and now says Barr should resign.

And we begin where Barr`s Senate testimony ended today.  Barr forced to defend himself after the release of a letter Robert Mueller wrote him in March suggesting Barr misled the public with that four-page summary.  And today, Democrats, they certainly let Barr have it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VERMONT):  I feel your answer was purposely misleading.  And I think others do too.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI):  You lied to Congress.

KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA):  The American public has seen quite well that you are biased in this situation and you`ve not been objective.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT):  I think history will judge you harshly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  Today, Barr over and over, almost like a defense attorney for the president, doing just that, defending Donald Trump and dodging questions about the interactions between Bill Barr and the president himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS:  Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?  Yes or no, please, sir.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES:  The president or anybody else.

HARRIS:  It seems you`d remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR:  Yes.  But I`m trying to grapple with the word suggest.  I mean there have been discussions of matters out there that they`ve not asked me to open an investigation but --

HARRIS:  Perhaps they`ve suggested?

BARR:  I don`t know.  I wouldn`t say suggest.

HARRIS:  Hinted?

BARR:  I don`t know.

HARRIS:  Inferred?  You don`t know.  OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  Barr also hitting Bob Mueller, Bob Mueller for declining to make a decision on obstruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR:  I think that if he felt that he should not go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision, that he shouldn`t have investigated.  That was the time to pull up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  But Mueller was very clear in his report.  He did not make a finding on obstruction because he thought it should be up to Congress to do just that.  Barr today repeating over and over, he did not think that was Mueller`s choice to make.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR:  Bob Mueller is the equivalent of the U.S. Attorney.  He is part of the Department of Justice.  His work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general.

At that point, it was my baby.  And it was my decision how and when to make it public, not Bob Mueller`s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  Joining us now, New Jersey, my home state senator and presidential candidate, Cory Booker who questioned Attorney General Bill Barr today.

Senator, I want to start by playing part of your questions earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I fear that you are adding normalcy to a point where we should be sounding alarmed as opposed to saying that there is nothing to see here.  You seem to be excusing a campaign that literally had hundreds of contacts with a foreign adversary.  Your conduct seems to be trying to normalize that behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)3

RUHLE:  Senator, you clearly say that Bill Barr at this point should resign.  But given that you are in the minority, what can you do about it?

BOOKER:  Well, I mean come on.  At this point, it is kind of absurd.  He showed a level of cowardice today as opposed to standing behind the plate like an umpire calling balls and strikes.  He was over there hiding in the dugout with team Trump and representing a president as opposed to doing his job as an independent attorney general.

It is inexcusable.  Anybody who reads that point just wants to be objective.  It is a report that describes deceit, lies, instructing people to falsify documents.  There is so much outrageous behavior in that document that is creating a normalcy in our country of behavior that in any other time period before this, would have had both sides crying foul.

And in fact, showing that you`re endangering this nation.  Just think about this -- go ahead.  I`m sorry.

RUHLE:  Without a doubt, this is 2019.  And Barr`s performance today surely pleased the president and you saw Lindsey Graham and an entire squad of human shields defending the president and Bill Barr.

So you and I might think it`s absurd and historically would have been absurd.  But we`re living in the present.  So what is the reality in terms of consequences?  Bill Barr is not even going to show up tomorrow.

BOOKER:  Well, again, the consequences, I am still a believer that you speak truth to power.  I am still a believer that you call it like it is.

And we have an obligation.  I don`t care if you`re a Democrat or Republican.  To call this out for what it is.

The way that Barr described this report so angry even Mueller that Mueller did something that was unusual to put it in writing his calling into question, the role that Barr was playing and how he was misleading the American public to believe that there weren`t objectionable things in that report that are tantamount to obstruction.

And so this is more my concern right now is that this Mueller report now is almost like a playbook telling the Chinese or the Russians and future campaigns that want to put their own ambition in front of their patriotism in this country about how to try to subvert our elections.

Because this campaign -- and I`ve heard people on both sides of the aisle even if foreign operatives and foreign adversaries reach out to a campaign, everybody down here in Washington knows what they`re supposed to do which is call the FBI.  Here is a campaign that delighted in those -- them being reached out to.  They called upon foreign adversaries to break the law and that did things to collude with them in order to win an election.

And on top of that, then you have a presidency that literally engage in deep levels of deceit and deep levels of trying to obstruct an investigation, from threatening to fire people, trying to change public documents, and ultimately, lie continuously to American public.

Those are -- that`s not my description.  That`s the facts that were presented in this Mueller report.  For us not to say time out for a second.  Let`s call this like it is to me is unforgivable.  And that`s why I`ve called upon Barr to resign.

Because remember, there`s ongoing investigations that he now gets to oversee.  There`s more than a dozen ongoing investigations and information that Mueller found in the course of this investigation that didn`t directly relate to him but indications of potential criminal activity that now Barr is expected to be an objective independent attorney general and oversee those investigations.  I really think not.

He has burned through any credibility he had in that role and he should resign.

RUHLE:  So what does that mean for all of those ancillary investigations?  Seeing that Barr is the attorney general, are they all tainted now?

BOOKER:  Well, it casts a serious shadow.  But I have a lot of faith in some of the leadership in places like the Southern District of New York.  I have a lot of faith in those people that continue those investigations.

And I think now Barr, should he stay in that job, and I think he should resign, should he stay in that job, he needs to know that he is going to have the fierce eye of history on him and he is going to be held accountable for anything he does in protecting a president whose behavior has been described by Mueller as at least strong evidence, 10 different counts of potential obstruction of justice.

And things that did he in the campaign that even in the American context would be viewed as illegal.  Remember, sharing polling information within an American super PAC is against the law.  And they shared polling information with a foreign adversary in order to advantage their campaign.

  RUHLE:  Think about the irony.  We look at the report and what`s the takeaway?  That we didn`t put America first.  One of the president`s favorite slogans.

Tell me about Republicans.  Your colleagues on the other side of the aisle.  And I don`t mean those who we necessarily heard from today who you`ve worked with time and again.  Are they saying something else behind the scenes?  Because most rational people think, at least those who read all 400-plus pages that those 400-plus pages are not reflected in the four-page summary.  Are Republicans behind the scenes, are you seeing any cracks that they`re seeing that?

BOOKER:  Listen, I have real friends across the aisle that I`m very proud of, that helped me get a lot of the legislation passed.  And I`ve been hearing about condemnations of this president`s moral vandalism in private from his failure to condemn Nazis, putting children in cages, refusing to accept a bipartisan Senate, a unanimous vote to keep the government open and instead shut it down.

RUHLE:  But I mean in terms of this.

BOOKER:  Well, that`s what I`m saying.

RUHLE:  This is where the rubber hits the road.

BOOKER:  Well, no.  I actually think that we hit the road a long time ago.  I think this president has been engaged in the undermining of our democratic institutions and our democratic norms in a way that should have called more and more people to speak publicly about what they say in private.

And this clearly, clearly is a case.  Because if this doesn`t account for obstruction, where the attorney general would bring these charges, then just think about what`s going on in this Mueller report that the next president now believes that they can do, ordering their White House counsel to manufacture documents, ordering the firing people for the sole purpose of stopping an investigation.

This attorney general is now saying that`s OK.  That`s now the norm.  That`s all right.

Not to mention a campaign that was literally calling for the violation of American laws by a foreign adversary.  We cannot normalize this.  All of us have an obligation to say what`s in this report is wrong.

And for him to characterize this report saying that the American public should be grateful, was the words he used, that somehow we should be grateful that there was no so-called collusion, which is not a legal term.  To me, this is really low in terms of the erosion of our democratic norms.  And unfortunately, a road map for anybody watching for the future that could continue this descent into the undermining of the principles of our democracy.

RUHLE:  What do you think Bob Mueller is going to do?  It is truly out of character for him to write a letter like that.  For the press to get that letter, he`s a true chain of command type of guy.

We heard from Lindsey Graham today who we have to note in the past has called the president unfit, a disaster, a cook.  Now, Lindsey Graham defending the president and Bill Barr over and over.  At the end of the day, he said he doesn`t even think they need to call Robert Mueller to testify.  Do you think Bob Mueller is going to want to, going to insist upon it?

BOOKER:  Well, again, I think Lindsey who I`ve worked with on legislation of criminal justice reform, for example, I think he is wrong in this case.  I think clearly anybody who reads this report, for all the resources we put into it, at the very least, the author of the report who understands all the underlying documentation should come forward and answer the questions of the body that now has the obligation to hold to president accountable and provide oversight.

So it would be a serious mistake again.  History will not look kindly on it and I know the House of Representatives will be calling Mueller to testify, as I am calling for the Judiciary Committee to do as well.

RUHLE:  Senator, thank you so much for joining me tonight.  Senator Cory Booker from the City of New Jersey.

BOOKER:  Thank you.

RUHLE:  All right.  I want to bring in Nick Confessore, political reporter for the "New York Times," and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance who has been working overtime today.

Joyce, we have spent -- you have spent hours in this chair.  Now that you have watched it, you`ve thought about it, you`ve observed, you`ve absorbed, what is your takeaway?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  I think it was disappointing performance.  It was a bad day for the Justice Department because we saw an attorney general who perhaps did not commit outright perjury but who was willing to slice things very narrowly, cut his responses close to the bone in order to support this president.

And as I think you pointed out in opening, by the end of the day, you have the feeling that you had been listening to the president`s defense team, not the attorney general of the United States.

RUHLE:  Then Nick, what comes next?  If Barr refuses to testify tomorrow, where do we go from here?  This is a massively important issue for those in Washington.  It`s a massively important issue for those of us covering it.

But when you go out on the trail, right, Elizabeth Warren just said it in a recent town hall, she and Beto O`Rourke, of the 75 questions they were asked, only two were about this.  It is important for our democracy, for rule of law but it doesn`t seem to be a priority yet for the American people.  So what happens tomorrow?

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  The problem we have right now is we`re now talking about the process of the investigation.  And a substance of it is resilient.  It was good for Trump and good for his team, be good for his campaign.

That`s why they`re slow-rolling everything.  You can see in the approach of Bob Barr, the overall strategy, which is to interpret questions as narrowly as possible.  To answer them with the fewest amount of facts.  To talk about the process of the investigation but not the underlying instances of wrongdoing and bad behavior that Mueller had documented.

And, that`s going to push all of this unfortunately into a partisan dog fight.  It`s going to be a talk about he said and she said.  It`s very hard to keep the public focused on the underlying things revealed.

And you were talking there in very lofty terms about democratic ideals and accountability.  I think a lot of that is dead.  This is a power struggle pure and simple.  And if Bob Barr had a mission and it was a movie, it would be saving private Donald.

RUHLE:  But it`s unfortunate use at the end of the day, we should put decency, civility, and the rule of law first.  I want to play Bob Barr -- Bill Barr specifically being pressed on incidents of potential obstruction of justice.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MINNESOTA):  The report found that Michael Cohen`s testimony to the House before it, that the president repeatedly implied that Cohen`s family members had committed crimes.  Do you consider that evidence to be an attempt to convince a witness to change testimony?

BARR:  No.

KLOBUCHAR:  The report found that after Manafort was convicted, the president himself called him a brave man for refusing to break.

BARR:  Yes.  And that is not obstruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  Joyce, what is your reaction?  Eric Holder said on Twitter, Donald Trump would absolutely be charged with obstruction had it not been for a flawed restriction against indicting a sitting president.

VANCE:  So I think virtually every experienced federal prosecutor who`s looked at the evidence in the Mueller report has concluded just that.  But for the prohibition of indicting a president, Donald Trump would now be defendant Donald Trump.

But leaving that aside for a moment, what is distressing about Barr`s testimony here, it is as though he is saying, you know, the only barrier, the only bar that a president has to clear is criminality.  And as long as the president`s conduct isn`t an outright criminal violation, then no harm, no foul.  I think we`re entitled to expect more of a president.

RUHLE:  But then did Robert Mueller almost set Congress up to fail?  If he went all the way up to the line but said it`s not my call to make, I hand it to you, Congress.  And Congress -- listen, we just talked to Corey Booker, would sure like to get something done but they don`t have the ability to.  Then what?

Look, I think Bob Mueller is operating in a world in which institutions have power and guard their own prerogatives.  And that the House as a whole will take this up in a non-partisan way.  I`m not sure that is true anymore.

He clearly wrote a road map to impeachment proceedings in his report.  It is an open invitation to look at the evidence and say, if you think this is obstruction, it is up to you.  It was always going to be about that.  I think what`s fascinating --

RUHLE:  And he can`t help that the system is now warped.

CONFESSORE:  That`s correct.  I was fascinated to watch Bob Barr trying to have it both ways.  He says, look, kind of once he handed off the report, it was my baby.

RUHLE:  My baby.

CONFESSORE:  But in the same turn, he is attacking Mueller for not coming to a decision.  It`s obvious what he wanted was for Mueller to take this decision off of his hands and let the president off the hook so he wouldn`t have to.

RUHLE:  Last point, Joyce.

VANCE:  I think that`s absolutely right, Nick.  This was a binary choice.  And the choice was Mueller was supposed to clear the president or Mueller was supposed to clear the president.  He didn`t do that so Bill Barr had to.

RUHLE:  My goodness.  Nick, Joyce, thank you so much.  Stay with me.  We`ve got a lot to cover in this hour on this major day.

Next.  Did Bill Barr mislead Congress?  His answers are raising a lot of questions today.  And what does misleading exactly result in?  We`re going to speak live to the congressman who put him on the spot.

Also, where exactly is Bob Mueller?  New reporting tonight on when Mueller might tell his side of the story.  And Nancy Pelosi unveiling a top new stance against Trump and what she calls his unconstitutional obstruction.

I`m Stephanie Ruhle, in for Ari Melber.  You know what you`re watching.  This is THE BEAT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE:  Welcome back to THE BEAT.  I am Stephanie Ruhle.

Bill Barr now facing calls to resign.  The attorney general under fire from Democrats saying he deceived and purposefully misled Congress to shield President Trump.  Much of this centering around a moment at a hearing last month when Congressman Charlie Crist confronted Bill Barr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLIE CRIST, (D-FL):  Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel`s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24 letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the court`s findings.  Do you know what they`re referencing with that?

BARR:  No, I don`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  I don`t?  For real?  Well, Democrats are saying that answer looks more and more suspect after Mueller`s letter to Barr has emerged saying Barr`s four-page summary did not fully capture the special counsel`s work and conclusions.  Here is Barr under fire on that very exchange with Chris today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL):  I cannot imagine that you receive that letter on March 24 and could not answer Congressman Crist directly when he asked you whether there were concerns about representations being made on these findings.

BARR:  My understanding was his concern was not the accuracy of the statement of the findings in my letter but that he wanted more out there to provide additional context.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist.  Congressman, your reaction to Barr`s answer on your question from last month, when it sure seemed like he didn`t know anything back then.

CRIST:  It`s remarkable.  It really is, Stephanie.  And when you take into account that when I asked those questions back on April 9, the attorney general knew that he had received a letter from Bob Mueller.  I didn`t.  I was really innocently asking the question based on some news accounts that had reflected the fact that Mueller`s team had been frustrated or concerned about the summary that had been put out by the attorney general in his four-page letter.

And so when I asked him if he had any insight or any idea about what they were reflecting upon and he said "No, I don`t."  That`s just not the truth.

He had this letter.  Bob Mueller sent it to him.  He received it on March 28, I believe.  And the fact that he would say that to us and then sort of double down on it if you will the very next day to the Senate Appropriations Committee for Senator Van Hollen of Maryland, it is just incomprehensible that the attorney general of the United States of America would misrepresent himself so much before the United States Congress.

And in essence, what he`s doing is he`s lying to the American people.  That`s beyond disappointing.  It is unconscionable.

RUHLE:  It is beyond disappointing but if he lied to Congress and the American people, and there are no tangible consequences, isn`t the biggest risk that here we are in 2019 and it is a big so what?

CRIST:  Well, it is not a big so what to most people who watched it, witnessed it.  I`m sure it`s not a big so what to you.  It`s a concern to all of us.  And what it does is it erodes the confidence in the office of the attorney general and the Justice Department to have the chief legal officer of the United States of America being untruthful to Congress.

Listen, I used to be an attorney general for the State of Florida. the third largest state in the country.  And I understood the role.  And I think you`re held to a higher standard when you`re the chief legal officer of the state of the country at least.

And it seems to me that Mr. Barr doesn`t appreciate or understand that.  The people expect honesty, trustworthiness, transparency, particularly when it comes to the highest legal office in the land, and he just failed on all three fronts.

RUHLE:  Well, I`m not sure he was speaking, or performing, or answering for the people.  He seemed to be doing it for an audience of one, President Trump.  And I`m guessing that President Trump was happy with Barr`s performance today.  Do you believe he should resign?

CRIST:  I do believe he should resign.  I mean, as I said, you know, acting -- as you have put it, and I would agree with you, and Senator Booker said before, he doesn`t seem to understand the distinction of the role he has which is amazing because he was the Attorney General before.  But he`s acting as though he`s the personal attorney for the president.

The Attorney General is the attorney for all the people of our country and that`s why he should resign.  He doesn`t understand the role and he`s not acting appropriately.

RUHLE:  But he is not naive.  He knows exactly how to do the job, so we need to wonder why isn`t he doing it.  Congressman, please stay with me.  I want to get another moment -- I want to get to that moment that you just referenced from a hearing back in April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?

WILLLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  I don`t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  He did know because he had Mueller`s letter.  He had spoken to him on the phone.  Joining me now former Federal Prosecutor John Flannery.  John, what on earth do you make of that moment?  Bill Barr has had a long esteemed career.  He`s had this exact job before.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, I think the mistake is assuming the essence of the man was so good and then trying to squeeze everything he`s done that`s bad into a foregone conclusion that he`s a good man.  I don`t believe he is a good man, and there are things in his history that suggest that.

His performance today was a shame and a disgrace.  And I couldn`t say I believe more strongly in what Congressman Chris said that he`s failing the country.  He`s supposed to be the top law enforcement officer.  And it`s very interesting in that quote that you had from the Crist interview.  He says no, I don`t know, but then right after that he says I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view, I was not putting out summaries or trying to summarize.

He says that despite the fact that what started this was his March 24th letter which on the second page he says below, I summarized the principal conclusions set out in the special counsel`s report.  And too many people have overlooked as far as I can tell today other content in Mueller`s letter.

Mueller said we had a meeting on March the 5th in the third full paragraph.  He also said they met on the afternoon of the 24th, the Sunday that that letter came out.  What was that conversation about?  And he said that they discussed the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume report that they wanted Mr. Barr to put out.

But he didn`t put him out because it didn`t serve their purpose.  His purpose was the deal he had with Trump which was to protect him and to wipe away the entire investigation.  And the rest of that interview by Mr. Crist or I should say hearing.  If you look at it, there`s a whole series of things that are said like he doesn`t know what exoneration means.

This esteemed lawyer, thought so highly by so many doesn`t know what exoneration means.  And he misstates the whole purpose of the report which is Mueller didn`t believe he could say whether or not he committed a crime.  He said that because of the OLC Office of Legal Counsel memo.  So what could he do?

And he didn`t want to say that even if we can`t prosecute him, he committed a crime.  So he handed it to Congress without predetermining how they should handle it, but obviously said he couldn`t exonerate him.  So his suggestion was this is worth your consideration.  These ten instances that I`m telling you are obstruction of justice.

Kids on the street know that this President is a shame and disgrace like his Attorney General.  And resignation impeachment or prosecution doesn`t seem out of the balance, out of consideration given his conduct today and before this.

RUHLE:  Ten instances, one of which was the President asking Corey Lewandowski, a private citizen to take action and fire the Attorney General.  Just get your head around that.  Congressman, Judge Napolitano on Fox News said today that he didn`t think Bill Barr lied to Congress, he just misled Congress.  Help me understand what the difference is between the two.

I mean that is almost a response that my twelve-year-old son gives me and no matter whether it`s lying or misleading, he still gets in trouble.

CRIST:  It`s a distinction without a difference, Stephanie.  They`re the same thing.  I mean, misleading being untruthful, lying, you know, whatever you want to call it, it`s not being honest, it`s not being transparent, it`s not being appropriate with the American people.

And when you`re before Congress, it`s not so important how they you know, comport themselves to us and my colleagues.  Through us, their representatives if you will, or their senators, they`re communicating with the American people.  We`re asking questions on behalf of the American people to get to the truth of what happened here.

And so when I ask the question you know, did you realize why there may have been concerns from Mueller`s team, you know, and then he sort of partially answered saying you know, I thought he was asking meaning me about the team members of Mueller`s investigation.  Well, if Bob Mueller isn`t a part of that team, my god he`s the quarterback of that team.

And so for him to try to distance himself from it in that way and take it out of that kind of context, that was shocking and disturbing and condescending, frankly.

RUHLE:  Misleading --

FLANNERY:  I think he understood -- I think I understood your question because guilt spills itself or fears being spilled said, one of Shakespeare`s characters.  And he tells, oh I think they wanted their summaries which is it precisely what`s in that letter from Mueller.  So he knew exactly what you were talking about.

RUHLE:  Congressman Crist, John Flannery, thank you both so much.  Whether it`s misleading or lying, remember, the first Sunday after President Trump was inaugurated, it was Kellyanne Conway on Meet the Press saying no they`re just alternative facts.  Alternative facts and misleading are also known as lying.

Ahead, Chairman Nadler working to firm up a date for Bob Mueller to testify.  We have new reporting on that.  You don`t want to miss it.  But first, the Barr revelation has Speaker Pelosi ratcheting up the rhetoric on stonewalling.  We`ll be back with that in 30 seconds.  Do not move.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE:  We are back with furor from Democrats over Bill Barr, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi now escalating her attacks on Donald Trump.  Pelosi who has tamped down impeachment talk in recent weeks is sending a blistering new message this evening accusing Trump of stonewalling congressional probes, calling his actions unprecedented, unwarranted, unconstitutional, saying they form a growing pattern of obstruction and that the only -- that the only thing Congress can do to prevent the rise of a tyrant.

Pelosi writing that all of this before Bill Barr announced his refusal to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, that refusal only adding fuel to the fire for Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  Complaints with congressional subpoenas is not optional.  And if good-faith negotiations don`t result in a pledge of compliance in the next day or two, the next step is seeking a contempt citation against the Attorney General.

He is trying to blackmail the committee into not following what we think is the most effective means of eliciting the information we need and the Congress cannot permit the executive branch, we cannot permit the administration to dictate to Congress how we operate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  So what happens with all of this politically?  With me now is Zerlina Maxwell, Political Strategist who worked on the Clinton campaign and is now at Sirius XM and Christine Quinn, Vice Chair of the New York State Democratic Party and former New York Council Speaker.  Thank goodness, we have two women to solve this.

Christine, take us out of Washington into the kitchen table.  So when people are eating dinner tonight and they say what exactly happened today and what`s supposed to happen tomorrow?  What are people to think?

CHRISTINE QUINN, VICE CHAIR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY:  What people think as they`re sitting around the dining room table tonight is the government is a mess.  The government doesn`t know lying from telling the truth, right from wrong.  And if they`re all so messed up in all of this cover-up, how is anybody worried about whether I have enough money to pay for the food we just ate?

The American people are being let down by the Trump administration yet again.  And what I worry about is how deeply is this eroding the public`s confidence and belief in government as a whole because that`s a very dangerous thing.

RUHLE:  The Republicans are well aware of that.  So today, to bring up Hillary Clinton and bring up her e-mails, they know and invest -- a new investigation isn`t going to get launched, but exactly to Christine`s point, the people who are watching at home just start to say, they all stink.  I can`t stand this government.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING, SIRIUS XM:  Well, I think that`s a sad reality, but I also think that I would encourage everyone watching to go on Audible and download the free Mueller Report audiobook because if you don`t have time to read the 448 pages, you definitely --

QUINN:  Like the chair of the committee.

MAXWELL:  Like the chair of the committee or the Attorney General based on his testimony today.  You as a citizen needs to know what`s in it.  So maybe --

RUHLE:  I think Hillary Clinton should read it and it should be a podcast.

QUINN:  I think --

MAXWELL:  Yes, she should -- she should do the audiobook.  And you know, when I was reading it, and I read it on a plane with no Wi-Fi, and as a citizen, you know, obviously we`re all thinking about our daily responsibilities and our bills and all of that.  But as I read it, as an American citizen, I couldn`t help but get the word cheating out of my head.

Volume one is the Trump campaign cheating to win the election and volume two is all the steps Donald Trump took to cover up the fact that they cheated in the election.  And I think that as an American voter, that`s something that you know, it gives me incredible pause because it`s not something that should go without any accountability.

And this was the process through which or at least one of the processes through which we were supposed to get some more information, transparency, and accountability because we can`t have this happen again.  Not the cheating part but the attack of the foreign hostile government part of the story.

RUHLE:  Did you read it on a plane because you know you can`t jump out the window of the plane?

MAXWELL:  No, no, it just -- it was completely random.

RUHLE:  It`s just coincidence.

MAXWELL:  I was taking off at 10:45, it came out at 11:00.  We were a little late and I downloaded it and got it right in time.

RUHLE:  Christine, do you believe Nancy Pelosi has changed her position because I want to share what she said just a couple of weeks ago and she seemed pretty cool on the idea of impeachment.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  I do believe that impeachment is one of the most divisive force -- paths that we could go down to in our country.  But it`s a fact -- the past -- the fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice, but we`re not there yet.  Impeachment is a step that you have to take with bringing the American people with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  Have things changed?  She`s in a tricky position.  Because whether or not the American people like it, as a lawmaker, it`s her job to protect our democracy.

QUINN:  Yes, I mean, I don`t think her position is changed because if you hear what she was saying and in that clip, she`s saying we have to see where it goes.  We have to see what we found out.

RUHLE:  It`s gone darker.

QUINN:  It`s gotten worse.  It`s gotten worse, right.  So I think that`s very relevant to the speaker and her posturing as all of this moves forward.  You know, when she made that comment, she didn`t have the Attorney General saying I`m not going to come to Congress and testify thumbing its nose at the House of Representatives.  She didn`t have that information.

So I don`t -- I think everyone agrees with Speaker Pelosi that taking this step towards impeachment would be an enormous issue that needs to -- can only happen if the facts fully support it and you have good political support behind you.  Because remember, impeachment is a political act and that can`t be forgotten.

But let`s not forget that if you were to look at Watergate, almost days or weeks before things fully fell apart and the President had to resign, very few Americans believe that he should be impeached, not so different than where we are today.

RUHLE:  Zerlina, before we go, is Nancy Pelosi playing smart politics against the President?  Because it was just yesterday she and Chuck Schumer were at the White House, shook hands with the President and said we had a very productive meeting and agreed on a $2 trillion infrastructure package on the same day when Mick Mulvaney is in L.A. saying yes, that`s probably not going to happen, and we heard the same thing from Mitch McConnell.

So is Nancy Pelosi playing her cards right that when the President says, they`re just obstructionist, they just want to focus on this witch-hunt, she`s going to say no, we`re going to focus on these hearings and we`re going to agree on an infrastructure package.  What do Republicans going to do?

MAXWELL:  Well, women know how to multitask.

QUINN:  You know that`s right.

RUHLE:  We have no choice.  We have no choice.  Yes.

MAXWELL:  So I think that`s part of -- part of what she`s doing in this moment is she`s doing her job as Speaker and the leader of the Democratic Party and trying to do things for the American people while she`s also essentially opening the door for impeachment.  I think that you know, whether or not you agree that today we should start the proceedings, he`s definitely leading us down that path.

I mean, the things that they have done since the report became public, the redacted report, have let -- have had pushed us closer to that being the inevitable conclusion of this drama because he`s obstructing today.  They`re obstructing today.

I mean, the fact that they won`t come and testify, he`s saying I`m not giving over any documents, you know, F your subpoena.  I don`t care about your subpoena.  I mean, we`re in a dangerous moment.  I mean, I think people have used -- overused the term of constitutional crisis but we`re in it.  This is it.  This is what it looks like.  It`s when there isn`t a lever of -- or mechanism to hold another branch of government accountable.

We don`t know what to do in this moment and that`s a crisis.  So as a voter, read the report because we all need to have the information so that we can make informed decisions at the ballot box to potentially vote some of these Republicans out.  Because yes, it`s a political conversation, but they also have to have a loyalty to the country and their oath of office, and they`re not doing that.  We skip over them like they don`t have a responsibility here and they do.

RUHLE:  I told you.

QUINN:  I just want to say, thank God for Nancy Pelosi and she is the bomb.

RUHLE:  The bomb.  See, I just told you.  Leave it to the ladies.  They had all the answers and just honored one on their way out.  Zerlina Maxwell, Christine Quinn, thank you both so much.  Ahead, it is Bill Barr versus Bob Mueller, longtime colleagues I believe possibly friends, and now these two men at odds.  We`ve got new reporting on Mueller possibly testifying.  I get a sinking feeling he wants to.  That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)]

RUHLE:  Breaking this hour.  House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler now saying he`s looking at May 15th for Robert Mueller to testify before his committee, but that nothing is firm yet.  In the meantime, Bill Barr is now refusing to testify before Nadler committee tomorrow after telling the Senate today the Mueller report is his baby, not Mueller`s.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR:  Bob Mueller is the equivalent of a U.S. Attorney.  His work concluded when he sent his report to the Attorney General.  At that point, it was my baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  Baby.  It is now Bill versus Barr, it`s extraordinary, former colleagues.  Barr`s first tenure as Attorney General in the 90s overlapped with Mueller`s tenure as Assistant Attorney General for the criminal division.

Now Barr could be playing with fire appearing to break with Mueller, a man who earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam and who says Barr`s four-page letter caused public confusion.  Today Barr took every opportunity to throw shade at Robert Mueller/

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT):  A career prosecutor rebuking the Attorney General of the United States memorializing in writing, right.  I know of no other instance of that happening, do you?

BARR:  All right, I don`t consider Bob at this stage of career prosecutor.  You know, the letters a bit snitty and I think it was probably written by one of his staff people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE:  He doesn`t consider him a career prosecutor.  I wonder if he considers him a great American.  Back with me Joyce Vance former U.S. Attorney of Alabama and Christian Farias an Editorial Board Member for the New York Times.

Joyce, Jerry Nadler now saying they`re in talks for May 15th.  That sounds great, but do you buy it?  Jerry Nadler is the same guy with a subpoena and a deadline that the White House blows their nose with.

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  It`ll be a little bit of his dance and at least for now Mueller appears to be a federal employee.  So DOJ despite Bill Barr`s assurances that he`ll let Mueller testify could decide to pull the plug on that.  Once Mueller is a private citizen, he has a little bit more latitude, but I think it would be a mistake to think that we will hear a lot more than what`s in the report from Mueller.

He`ll still be prohibited from disclosing, for instance, grand jury or classified information.  And so I think we`ll hear a lot about Mueller saying well, you know, that`s presented in the report.  I wouldn`t expect to see a lot more.

RUHLE:  But if Mueller really wanted to testify, couldn`t he terminate his employment with the Department of Justice and show up?  I mean, you`ve got Bob Mueller -- I mean, excuse me, you`ve got Bill Barr at this point calling the letter snitty, taking jabs.  If you`re a Bob Mueller, don`t you want to show up?

CHRISTIAN FARIAS, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Bob Mueller is an Institutionalist.  I don`t think he`ll bend the rules just to get his way.  But one thing is clear.  That letter that he sent in March just days after Barr mischaracterized his findings with a damning letter.  You don`t do that.  As Joyce has said, you don`t go to a paper on things like this.

You don`t question the chief legal officer in the United States and that`s precisely what Bob Mueller did.  And the letter is -- speaks for itself.  He said, hey, look, what I sent you, the summaries at least should be released at this time.  And yet what did Bill Barr do, he took three more weeks to just hang on to those summaries, hang on to the rest of the report.

And in the meantime, the public was confused.  Congress didn`t have the information and Mueller and his team, we saw a leak perhaps or we saw our report saying hey, look, we`re not happy with the way Bill Barr has been spinning this, let`s set the record straight.  And that letter pretty much laid it out all on the table.

RUHLE:  Joyce, in April, a former FBI chief told the Atlantic the dynamic between Mueller and Barr is one of a Boy Scout Mueller versus a street fighter Barr.  Would you compare the two?

VANCE:  You know, it`s hard to know if that`s absolutely accurate.  But I think to the point that`s being made, this is such an unusual relationship.  Inside of the Justice Department, everybody`s on the same team, right, Boy Scouts and street fighters.  It takes all kinds to have one of those people though go and put down on paper essentially to make book on the Attorney General of the United States.  Because you have come about the action he`s taking, that I think speaks to a breakdown and a mismatch between the two of them.

RUHLE:  Well, Barr said today, if Mueller knew he was not going to make a call on obstruction, he should have stopped the investigation.  Are more people thinking that?

FARIAS:  I think Bill Barr is the only one who`s thinking that.  And the reason is --

RUHLE:  Maybe Rudy Giuliani in the President.

FARIAS:  That`s right.  And one thing that Mueller made clear also in his report is that he rejects wholesale Bill Barr`s theory of obstruction which is very limited, it is very hungry and deferential to the President and his power to control and shut down investigations.

Mueller doesn`t buy that.  He believes that if you have a corrupt intent in leading the nation, you should be subject to the rules.  No man is above the law, he said it.  And as a result, because there`s that constitutional clash between Barr and Mueller, I think that perhaps Barr is a bit hurt that this underling as he suggested earlier is going against his constitutional thinking.

These dinosaurs of DOJ don`t like to be contradicted on these things and that`s precisely what Mueller did and I don`t think Barr is too happy with that.

RUHLE:  Amazing.  Lindsey Graham said he sees no need to call Mueller.  Assuming he doesn`t, what other avenues can be taken to get him to testify?

VANCE:  Well, certainly the House can call him to testify, and that`s where perhaps it`s more likely that we`ll hear him.  But look there -- Bill Barr brings some issues to the table today and talks about his view of phone calls that he had with Mueller.  I think increasingly people will want to hear from Mueller and we may well see him in the Senate too before this is over.

RUHLE:  He calls the report his baby, a 400-page report that covers the 2016 campaign and foreign interference.  It doesn`t seem like anyone`s baby.  Joyce Vance, Christiane Farias, thank you so much.  We`ll be right back with a note on this very big night on MSNBC.  If you are planning on going out to dinner, catch a movie, see a friend, cancel.  Invite everybody you know over and stay right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE:  All right, now, pour yourself a drink, order dinner in and put your kids to bed early because we have a huge night on MSNBC coming up in the next hour.  2020 candidate and Senator Kamala Harris who ripped into Bill Barr today will be joining Chris Matthews on "HARDBALL."

And at 8:00 p.m., another 2020 contender, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joins Chris Hayes on "ALL IN."  And at 9:00 p.m., the only person on Earth who read the Mueller report more carefully, maybe more times than Rachel Maddow, Secretary Hillary Clinton be joining Rachel.

And then at 10:p.m. the House Intel Chair Adam Schiff joins Lawrence O`Donnell on "THE LAST WORD."  Today, Schiff said Barr should never have gotten the job.  The question to Adam Schiff will be, well, he`s got the job, now what are democrats going to do about it?

That does it for me.  I will see you back here at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

I now hand you off to my friend and colleague, Chris Matthews.  "HARDBALL" starts right now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END