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Mueller testifies Trump misled probe. TRANSCRIPT: 7/24/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: John Flannery, Sophia Nelson, Gene Rossi, David Kelley, JaySekulow

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD):  We have got to guard this moment this is our watch. And again, I am so, so very proud of Judiciary Committee. I am so very, very proud of the Intelligence Committee because they went in and tried to pull out the facts, so they could paint the picture, so that America could see it.

And hopefully they will not be ladies like the lady at Amash`s town hall meeting, who says they didn`t know that there was something wrong that Trump did with regard - in this Mueller report.

And so again, we - the Speaker is absolutely right. She told us a little bit earlier that she wants to gather all the information and make sure that we have everything we need to paint that picture.

Now what the American people do it, that`s another thing. But we will not stand by and fail to give them - let them see the total picture. I want to thank to Mr. Mueller for coming forward for his service to our country.

But, last month at least, it is so interesting that when Mueller would make a decision that they liked, they said, "Oh, we love you, we love you, you`re the greatest thing since ice cream." But then as soon as he - he says something they don`t like, "You are bum". Come on. Now we have to see through that. Thank you.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Thank you very much. As we acknowledge the greatness of our Chairs Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff, I also want to acknowledge the greatness of Elijah Cummings, the Chair of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

He has really won the first case, the major decision, which - his research enabled us to take the court. We won the case. The decision was a complete, beautiful statement on the ability of Congress to have oversight.

CUMMINGS: That`s right.

PELOSI: --it`s just a remarkable decision, and now of course, the administration is appealing it. But I thank you too Mr. Cummings for your great leadership and where we`re going next. Because, as you know, the Mueller investigation could not do the President`s personal or business connections, and one of those connections could be to the Russians and that`s what we want to find out.

So as we as we go to questions, I just want to say, that I think I do believe that what we saw today was a very strong manifestation. In fact, some would even say indictment, of this administration`s cone of silence and their cover-up.

This is about the oath we take to protect and defend the Constitution. But some of the actions that the administration may have taken and we will see through our investigation, they have jeopardized our national security by strengthening Russia`s hand and interfering in our elections, undermining democracy not only in our country but in other countries as well, upsetting our preeminence as a democracy in the world.

This is very serious. Today was very important. Again, salute our Chairman all of our six Chairmen who have been involved in this and we can take some questions.

Yes, so who do you want to hear from first, you guys decide.


PELOSI: Wait a minute, how about a new person? OK, she is having a baby. We have to go there first. As a mother of five--

REPORTER: Thank you. Madam Speaker, what you saw today, did it change whether or not you think the House of Representatives should launch impeachment proceedings?

PELOSI: My position has always been, whatever decision we made in that regard would have to be done with our strongest possible hand and we still have some outstanding matters in the courts. It`s about the Congress, the Constitution and the courts, and we are fighting the President in the courts.


PELOSI: Excuse me.

REPORTER: Can I just hope one of your members hold us over the course of today that they were expecting imminent of some kind--

PELOSI: No, I don`t know why did.

REPORTER: What are the very--

PELOSI: I don`t know why they thought that. But they came to me and I said I don`t know why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very next step is the lawsuit.

PELOSI: Yes. So, again, the lawsuits as - we have a number of lawsuits. You want to speak to that Jerry?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Well the very next step - I`m not going to talk longer-range. The very next step either tomorrow or Friday is we`re going into court to enforce - to ask for the grand jury material, and to enforce the subpoena against Mr. McGahn.

And that`s particularly important, because the excuses - and I won`t call them reasons, the excuses that the White House gives for McGahn not testifying and the nonsense about absolute immunity et cetera, are the same excuses for all the other fact witnesses and if we break that, we`ll break the logjam.

REPORTER: Madam Speaker what about - where you stand right now? What do you need to know on impeachment to say, "OK, we don`t know enough yet--

PELOSI: Did I just not say we were waiting to hear the from the courts, so we have our subpoenas in the court for - and the subpoenas are for information. And we - and when we get that information we can make a judgment.

REPORTER: So there would the telltale sign about whether or not you--

PELOSI: Well, we have several considerations. It`s about what information is there. And this isn`t endless - this isn`t endless - understand that. But we have live cases in the courts. We have some that are going forward that Mr. Chairman Nadler just mentioned. This isn`t endless, but what strengthening our hand to get that information.

Remembering that in the Watergate was when they got the information and the tapes that broke the case. So isn`t just about changing public opinion - that helps change public opinion. But it`s not about me. It`s about our caucus, it`s about our country.

As I say, there`s a cone of silence in the White House that has engaged in a massive cover-up and the obstruction of justice. Those obstruction of justice charges has been demonstrated today in the hearings are could be indictable offences by anybody else, not the President of the United States and the President when he`s no longer President.

But the American people - I think that if we go down that path, we should go in the strongest possible way and that`s all I`m going to say. That the subject - we have our distinguished--

CUMMINGS: Let me - may I say something? And I know Chairman Schiff and Chairman Nadler wouldn`t repeat what I`m saying. The American people in the last election - even from Trump districts said, we want to make the President accountable.

A lot of people loved him. They like him, but they want to make him accountable. And we have been stonewalled with regard to getting information, access to witnesses and getting documents - all of us have. Remember, the President said I`m not - you know, I`m not going to give you anything really.

And so, again, the Speaker is absolutely right. We - we`re going to - we`re gathering information and we are met with significant force. But we`re on our way through. But all of that information, piece-by-piece just like that mosaic, paints the picture.

REPORTER: But you`ve long said that there is no point in moving forward with impeachment inquiry because republicans control the Senate. It`s going to die in the Senate. Is that no longer--

PELOSI: I have never long said that. I have never long said that. If we have a case for impeachment, that`s the place we will have to go. The fact that why I`d like it to be a strong case is because I don`t - it`s based on the facts - the facts and the law that`s what matters. Not politics, not partisanship, just patriotism.

I don`t care - I mean I`d like the Senate to be responsible and honor their Oath of Office to protect and defend the Constitution, to see the challenge this is to our national security, the Russians trying to do to our country.

But the stronger our case is. the worse the Senate will look for just letting the President off the hook.

REPORTER: Speaker Pelosi, even--

PELOSI: We have this great Chairman here know so much, please. I`m going to start asking them questions - a few of them.

REPORTER: Even after these hearings the President said he is completely exonerated.

PELOSI: Please, come on, come on, come on.

REPORTER: What findings--

PELOSI: Let me just say this. You give me the opportunity to say this and then I invite my Chairman to close.

We want to have the strongest possible case to make a decision as to what path we will go down and that does - is not endless in terms of time or endless in terms of the information that we want.

But if it comes to a point where the cone of silence and the obstruction of justice and the cover-up in the White House prevents us from getting that information, that will not prevent us from going forward, in fact, it`s even more grounds to go forward. My colleagues?

CUMMINGS: I just want to just echo that. You know Martin Luther King said something that I - that it`s in the DNA, so in my brain, particularly right now. He said there comes a point when silence becomes betrayal. And we refuse to betray generations yet unborn and the American people, we`re not going to betray them.

And the more - we are just - we`re accumulating information and doing the best we can. Again, with a force as great - I don`t know how many lawyers the president has, but he`s got a lot of them. And they go against every single thing we do.

And so again, we all - we`re going to - we`re not going to betray America. We`re going to do our part to make sure that we have a democracy that`s intact.

PELOSI: Jerry -- Mr. Nadler.

NADLER: The United States is a democracy. It must remain a democracy. A democracy acts through the elected officials with the consent of the people. The people cannot give that consent unless they know the facts.

Today was a watershed day and telling the facts to the American people. With those facts, we can proceed and we face the time of great danger. Richard Nixon said, he thought that the President was a dictator. He said if the President does it. That means it`s not illegal.

President Trump echoed that yesterday. He said under Article II, I that is he, can do anything I want. That is a totalitarian picture, not a democratic picture. The United States must be saved from this.

So we have to paint the picture of what`s going on. A picture of someone who gladly accepted help from a foreign power interested in subverting our election - our democratic election process, and that`s what it is.

Subverting our election process and taking the choice of our President to some extent away from the American people. That`s what the Russians attempted to do and that`s what the Trump campaign welcomed them in doing.

A President who engages in crimes, repeated crimes to cover up these unpatriotic and dictatorial actions and this cannot go on and it`s up to Congress to safeguard the Constitution and we will do it.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): As I mentioned today during our hearing. I think the story of the 2016 election is really a story of disloyalty to country, about greed and about lies. And if there`s anything that, I think, symbolizes those three strands of the 2016 election, it was Moscow Trump Tower.

It was this massive real estate project that the President was trying to consummate, while he was running for President and concealing it from the country. This, I think, demonstrated disloyalty to the country, by deceiving the American people about this massive business opportunity he was seeking while he was running for President.

Certainly a vivid example of the greed of people involved with that campaign and an ample demonstration of all the lies that permeated the campaign and it`s aftermath. That to me is the story of the 2016 election. We need to make sure that is not the story of the 2020 election.

And I`ll say this on the issue of impeachment, which I view in very much the same way as the Speaker. Maybe I`m just an old prosecutor, but before I brought a case to indictment, I want to make sure that I had the strongest evidence possible. I want to understand my case. I want to be able to make my case.

Now I tried an impeachment case in the Senate about 10 years ago, a corrupt federal judge who was convicted. So I have some understanding of what it takes to get a conviction in the Senate and I have no illusions about getting a conviction in the Senate.

But there are two juries in an impeachment. There is the jury which is the Senate, which decides removal from office and then there is the jury that is the American people. And I`m most concerned about the jury that is the American people.

And before we embark on a course as significant to the country as the impeachment of a President, I want to make sure that we can make that case to the jury of the American people.

PELOSI: One of the guide - and I think our distinguished Chairmen, so proud of all of them. But just following up on the last statement by Chairman Schiff, "E pluribus unum", that`s the guidance our founders gave us.

They could imagine how many we would be or how different we`d be from each other. They wanted us to remember that we are one. So when we go down this path, we want it to be as unifying for our country, not dividing. And that`s why we want it to be the strongest possible case.

Lincoln said - President Lincoln said public sentiment is everything. Well, in order for the public to have the sentiment, the public has to know. So I hope you will be messengers of the truth to the public. We think today was really a milestone in making that sentiment be more informed. Thank you all very much.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We have been listening to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the top Democrats on each of the relevant Committees, on this historic day - Mueller Day in Washington.

The Speaker they`re tamping down questions about impeachment, while her Committee Chairs were vigorous on what they think Mueller`s testimony meant and what they`ll continue to do.

We have a big show, including a breakdown in a moment, on some of the most important things the Bob Mueller testified, breaking his silence, testifying under oath today for the first time about the Russia probe.

But given that press conference, I want to bring in right now former US Attorney Joyce Vance and former federal prosecutor John Flannery. Before I get into the rest of it, what was important to you about that press conference?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: This conference gave us a roadmap for where Democrats are headed and that`s in the court on Friday, seeking the subpoena grand jury or get the court to order the release of grand jury information, but also to issue a subpoena to Don McGahn.

And if he comes into court - comes in to Congress and tells the story to the public that he apparently told in the Mueller report, that could be the breakaway moment.

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I see the duel between Nadler and Pelosi. Nadler has been taking a stronger turn toward impeachment. Pelosi he`s still giving the buzz kill. I think the drift is toward Nadler and it can`t happen soon enough for the public, for the base and for the independence and others who saw what happened today at the hearings.

MELBER: And as you say watching that, you could see some of the daylight there between the questions. That the press were most interested in what are the stakes, what`s the outcome of this? Chairman Nadler, who did cast a vote for impeachment last week and Speaker Pelosi, so we wanted to give everyone a little context for that.

And now I turn to the reset tonight, the most important news in America on this special edition of "THE BEAT". Former Special Counsel Mueller making history here in Washington today, taking a turn that - remember he`d long resisted from prosecutor to witness, addressing Congress and the nation about ongoing Russian meddling, the President`s quote "unpatriotic actions".

And Mr. Mueller believed that the rules prevent him from ruling and forming a public judgment on Trump`s criminal culpability for obstruction or this question of impeachment. So let me show you exactly what the highlights were.

On the substance today was split between two different Committees - Judiciary and Intelligence, which made for two very different prisms - one about the law, the other about national security.

And Mueller began the day carefully taking those legal questions on obstruction. But often deflecting and paring them. And I`m told, we counted here at NBC, he declined to answer a 198 question today.

And when the legal questions boiled down to is President Trump a crook? Bob Mueller would answer; it`s not for him to say. When those security questions, particularly in the second hearing, boiled down to should the President act better than a crook? Mueller`s answer was under oath and in public today to America, yes, he should.

Have you listened closely when Mueller was asked direct questions about this criminal evidence on Trump, like did he interfere with the probe? He did say, yes. In fact, some of the most important answers today were those short confirmations from fact-checking Trump to stating under oath that welcoming Russia`s meddling is unpatriotic.




MELBER: Absolutely. If you listen closely what you heard there was Bob Mueller forming a judgment of Donald Trump and it was not a positive one. So as we dig into the substance tonight on what is one of the most momentous days of this era, consider this next thing we learned.

After all the people indicted or convicted of obstructing this probe and lying to the feds, including several Trump advisors, note what I`m about to show you. Today you can hear Bob Mueller for the first time say in his own words under oath that Donald Trump followed the same path that those others were indicted for.

Let me repeat before you see this, Bob Mueller referring to Donald Trump following that same illegal path making false, untruthful statements to Mueller`s investigators.




MELBER: Generally untruthful is worse than rarely or what you`d want, if you were any other normal non-President witness, which is a no. Mr. Mueller did not go beyond the limits that he set for himself, because they`re not just laws he said he wouldn`t go beyond his report, other prosecutors have.

He told everyone he wouldn`t go beyond his report, so everyone including the press, was on notice. And Mr. Mueller I want to be clear and this is in fairness to the White House as well, Mr. Mueller never explicitly built up a case for impeachment today. But he did confirm serious evidence against the sitting President and he confirmed DOJ can indict an ex-President.




MELBER: True. And Mueller implored Americans to take Russia`s ongoing attack seriously and dug into several other issues that as I mentioned we`re going to get into methodically and substantively in the special coverage on THE BEAT tonight.

But now I want to bring back in two of our analysts Joyce Vance and John Flannery. John, what was important about those passages?

FLANNERY: Well, what was important is it put the lie to the public story that the public perceives not as political obsessives. They have this story - this false story that the investigation didn`t show us anything.

In fact we have a whole series of things in chronological and significant order, telling us that from the treachery of a foreign nation state involved in an election and the combine with the campaign of Mr. Trump. And then the effort to cover all of it up afterwards is a real thing. That he was not exonerated. And in fact, in several cases, based on the questions he got, he stretched out a little bit and suggested I have the evidence here. But he didn`t say that.

And it was very interesting, at one point he was asked when he was before the Intelligence Committee, so what are you suggesting would be the alternatives? And he suggested the word impeach, which clarified in a way his report didn`t that he thought the next logical step for the Congress was to impeach, and that`s the issue I think.

MELBER: And Joyce on the substance, today is also a test for America in the body politic, how do we deal with all the information coming at us. How do we deal with it being delayed? I don`t think there`s any doubt some of this would have been useful earlier and for that I`m going to play you another example.

For the months the Donald Trump was saying witch-hunt, Bob Mueller could have rebutted that earlier. As I mentioned, other prosecutors have rebutted in real-time. It took a subpoena, because he`s so by-the-book to get this.




VANCE: Bob Mueller has never pretended to be anything other than a prosecutor. He`s not a politician. He`s not making a case for impeachment. He`s fair. He wasn`t theatrical. He told us today that he bent over backwards to present evidence that was favorable to the President. So that`s what should really hit everyone tonight.

Is that with that commitment to fairness, he makes a remarkable case today, both on the obstruction prong and also on the threat to the country regarding Russia. We should pay attention to Mueller when he says this.

It`s hard to watch this full day, because I think in many ways it`s a long day. It`s not easy watching the sausage get made. But when you show these short takes and we put them together, it`s clear that Mueller in his own way is telling us this President obstructed justice. And people who have struck justice do it because they`re concerned about whether or not they`re guilty.

Trump may not have known whether or not he committed a collusion conspiracy with Russia, but he was scared that that might be the outcome and he didn`t want Mueller investigators to have full access to everything, that`s why they obstructed.

And you just put your finger on something that is both legal, but also broadly understandable, which is; if you`re not guilty, why are you acting so guilty? If you`re not scared, why do you look so shook? And you said, it`s useful to go into the hearing. We`re really going to do that throughout our special hour tonight.

And so the panel stays and I`m going to bring in another special guest, a former counsel, to a top Congressional Committee here to dig into this. Why this exchange with a Mueller fact-check of Trump was so pivotal today.




MELBER: No. I bring in has promised, Sophia Nelson, a regular on our show who was relevantly counsel to a top House Committee - the Oversight Committee on the Republican side, although you have outlined many concerns with this President`s conduct.

When you look at that exchange, which really boils down to Bob Mueller saying no to Trump a few times, and it took a subpoena to get there, what does it mean to you?

SOPHIA NELSON, COUNSEL, GOP HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Well let me start with this and say, it was a disappointing day for me as a Republican committee counsel to see no Republican on either Committee today stand up for justice for the Constitution, to ask probative questions to actually inquire about facts, that`s the first problem.

MELBER: You`re saying you don`t think that the Republicans used this to do fact-finding or on the Intel side deal with the profound national security question?

NELSON: Right. That was most disturbing. You can see on the Judiciary Committee I kind of get the politics of that. But when you`re dealing with Intelligence and a Russian cyber-attack against America, Republicans should have had as many concerns as their Democratic colleagues.

But back to your question about this exchange with Chairman Nadler and Mueller, I think that what you saw today was exactly what Joyce said. Mueller`s not a movie star. He`s not a theatrical guy. He`s not someone that`s going to get us excited. He didn`t want to be there today. But he answered the questions to the best of his ability. And what he said in that exchange was alarming.

MELBER: Let me ask you that, because you mentioned that and I`m listening close to you, and this has been a debate in legal circles, political circles, maybe all circles given how big this is.

When you witness this - and you have been through these hearings before - did you see Bob Mueller warm up over the course of the day? You say didn`t want to be there. By the end of the day, did he decide wait a minute, I`m here maybe there`s some things I do want to get across.

NELSON: He is definitely better in the second--

MELBER: Or do you think it was a prism, because what one view is he warmed up, simple. The other view is, on Judiciary, he was still trying to defend these very serious rules and on Intel he`s like, "Look, we didn`t say Trump conspired. So having closed that out, what we will say is, all of this stuff was concerning and unpatriotic". And he sort of was unbridled by the rules, what do you think?

NELSON: He was on two different playing fields. To your point, the Judiciary Committee is a little bit more difficult, because he knows ultimately they want to go towards impeachment.

MELBER: Right.

NELSON: On the Intel Committee, you could tell he was much more passionate about Russia having attacked our country and that we ought to be alarmed about it and doing something about it and I think he did feel more unconstrained, unbridled where he could actually get into more of - you know, some of his exchanges were unbelievable.

He actually woke up - I think he definitely woke up in the second part. He took some Red Bull probably.

MELBER: Are you saying the Bob Mueller in your view is woke?

NELSON: No, he woke for sure. He tried.

MELBER: Let me bring in John Flannery. The other thing here - and we`re not pulling punches one way or the other, right - which - how we try to do it.


MELBER: The other reason that the Judiciary hearing was harder for Mueller was that he had more turf to try to defend and more decisions. There were Democrats who disagree with certain things, but wanted to get facts out of him.

There were Republicans who raised things, that as I`ve reported today, actually are at least valid or potentially legitimate critique so that we don`t know everything that the investigators know. We don`t have the grand jury material. We weren`t in the room, so as journalists, we`re at a distance.

But let me play an exchange that I know you agree with the premise of the critique--


MELBER: --which is why didn`t they go harder and get an interview with the President. Take a look.

FLANNERY: All right.




FLANNERY: I think he did something very interesting there though. He spoke about weighing things. The expedition that he wanted to finish the investigation and what he had suggesting, he had enough for obstruction and didn`t need more. And he did have that false statement in the answers.

So I think that that was critically important and it meets the issue of Trump saying, I am not a witch, basically. And he doesn`t really get away with it after this hearing. So he looks kind of foolish--

MELBER: But he says here, well we were almost towards the end of our investigation.


MELBER: You have argued on this show--

FLANNERY: He should go further.

MELBER: You can`t say whether you`re at the investigation if you haven`t done everything possible to get the facts about the criminal intent of the individual who is being scrutinized in Volume 2, the President.

FLANNERY: And in his testimony, he took us down the corrupt intent thing when he was asked about the three elements that`s necessary - the checklist. I thought that was excellent. And even when he shaded a little bit that he was still pushed on it I think effectively to say it was made out.

MELBER:  And you -- Joy spoke earlier about a roadmap, you`re speaking about the checklist.  I have -- I have a news alert for everyone.  It`s legal, it`s a little scoop, but the checklist today is the roadmap.  So if you`re into that kind of thing, we actually have a special report on that later in the hour.

FLANNERY:  I`m into that.

MELBER:  The panel stays with me.  We`ll come back to you.  I turn now to a very special guest.  I`m about to go to Malcolm Nance.  Let me give you the context.  There was hours of careful and legal testimony today.  And then there was a kind of a wow moment when Mueller took out his version of his careful methodical rhetorical two-by-four and said Donald Trump was boosting illegal activity linked to Russia.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL:  This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove.  Donald Trump October 31st, 2016, boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.  Donald Trump November 4th, 2016, would any of those quotes disturb you.

ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL:  Problematic is an understatement in terms of whether to play -- this plays in terms of giving some -- I don`t know -- hope or some boost to what isn`t should be illegal activity.


MELBER:  I am joined by intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance.  What did that moment mean?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYSTS:  That moment meant that three years ago and one day today, WikiLeaks was the leading edge of an attack on the United States and Robert Mueller recognized that Donald Trump`s amplification, praise of WikiLeaks, and encouragement within his campaign, using people who were in communications with them knowing that this was already popularly being called in media a Russian intelligence operation, that he didn`t care and that his actions were unpatriotic and certainly they didn`t fall in the realm of criminality within this probe but certainly not something any American should engage in.

MELBER:  And you lay it out like that, and this is why we wanted to turn to this piece because so much in Washington is about does it hurt or help a given side, and how does it look, and how does it play.  And Bob Mueller from covering him strikes me as someone who doesn`t care which is precisely why he is credible on these issues over the long haul and has disappointed various political factions at various moments.

So with that in mind, Malcolm, take a look at this exchange where what does Bob Mueller really care about, where does he become more animated is the idea that Russia continues to do this during a backdrop where everyone knows the current administration isn`t exactly out there preventing it at all times.


REP. WILL HURD (R-TX):  Is this -- in your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election or did you find evidence to suggest they`ll try to do this again?

MUELLER:  It wasn`t a single attempt.  They`re doing it as we sit here and they expect to do it during the next campaign.


MELBER:  Give us the intelligence reasoning why again as I`ve mentioned tonight Bob Mueller can sit there and actually making what we would call forward-looking statement an estimate or a prognostication here in the intelligence section which I know you know he would never do during the obstruction hearing.

He would never say well, if someone lied to us a bunch, I predict they`ll commit a crime again.  Such a different approach, walk us through the Intel of that.

NANCE:  You know, they`re -- part of this report that none of us truly knows the depth of is the intelligence, the counterintelligence component of this.  And the reason that a lot of questions weren`t answered today, and I saw them, they were black holes as we call in the intelligence community, information that should be there, all the gravities moving towards it and we`re not seeing that answer like the discussion about Professor Joseph Mifsud.

Mueller didn`t want to touch that because out there, there is this FBI apparatus that is still hunting spies or suspected spies within the -- within this investigation.  So that being said, he was animated on this point because these are real threats to the United States.  These are things which can actually hurt us.

He was hobbled on the legal side.  There was only so much he can do.  He`s an institutionalist.  He played to that institution with regards to the OLC memo.  But with regards to counterintelligence, he doesn`t want to talk about it.  He just wants the National Security Division of the FBI to go out and start rolling up people or start breaking up plots which we may never hear about.

MELBER:  Stay with me.  I see John Flannery nodding to what you`re saying.

FLANNERY:  Well, I think that what he`s saying is spot-on.  You asked about his energy about that issue.  I think that he feels that it`s urgent because it is now.  And I thought he broke a little bit with his pattern by saying this is going on now.  That`s certainly beyond his report.

So it is an emergency and it makes you understand that if this is going on now and 2020 is approaching us, then the obstruction makes a lot of sense because we have to keep a lead on this so we can steal the next election.

MELBER:  And Malcolm, there`s another thing that happened here where a lot -- you know, they say sometimes the most interesting stuff can be in the footnotes because it`s where there`s a little more reaching.  There was also what was unsaid but implied and I`d like your analysis on this because look, Director Mueller is not interested -- former Director Mueller, former Special Counsel Mueller isn`t interested in holding forth on his views of everything Donald Trump has ever done.

That makes him different for example than others senior federal officials including James Comey who`ve really given their views as private citizens.  He didn`t want to do that.  And yet look at this exchange where he seems to from a security perspective, very clearly say, oh it matters if Donald Trump was actively campaigning for a huge rush and business deal and hid it and lied about it, and did that, and this is where -- I said in fairness the White House earlier here, in skepticism of the White House, you can`t complain about an investigation taking time when you`re lengthening it by piling up the lies.  Take a look.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  When the President said he had no business dealings with Russia, in fact, he was seeking to build a Trump Tower in Moscow is he not?

MUELLER:  I think there`s some question about when this was accomplished.

SCHIFF:  Well, you would consider $1 billion deal to build a tower in Moscow to be business dealings wouldn`t you Director Mueller?

MUELLER:  Absolutely.


MELBER:  Malcolm?

NANCE:  Yes.  He`s absolutely right.  What Robert Mueller was not tasked within this investigation was determining whether Donald Trump was compromised by Vladimir Putin himself, whether he`s being handled by Russian intelligence, whether all of this was an elaborate 30-year dangle which was being used because of Donald Trump`s interest since 1988 to get a Moscow tower where he would make hundreds of millions, perhaps as much as $1 billion in profit.

Mueller was not tasked with sussing that out, but he obviously has an opinion about it because that would go to all of the things which were alleged here and as he mentioned in part two of the report, why he would lie about it and obstruct justice when it was not under his purview.

MELBER:  Right, which is the connective tissue between the morning in the afternoon.  As you say not in his purview, volume one, of course, doesn`t close the circle on some of what you just alluded to and yet we just came out of a press conference with the Speaker of the House saying this is precisely some of the financial stuff still under investigation.

And we`re speaking on a week where the president rather blatantly openly is saying foreign governments should give his companies money by hosting the G7 Summit.  I mean, that would be a huge scandal for any other president.

Obviously, we`re just mentioning it in passing with a lot of other scandals.  Malcolm Nance, thank you.  My special thanks to Joyce Vance, John Flannery, and Sophia Nelson, part of our special coverage tonight, really invaluable.

Now, as we`ve been reporting Mueller hit hardest on this Russia stuff.  There was also the grilling going in the other direction with questions about how Mueller might have pushed harder including on something I mentioned before that really hangs over any analysis of what was in Donald Trump`s mind.  Did he commit a crime?  Did he have criminal intent?  Well, would you have wanted an interview with Trump?


REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY):  What did you think of the President`s written responses, Mr. Mueller?

MUELLER:  Certainly not as useful as the interview would be.

MALONEY:  Did you have sufficient evidence of the President`s intent to obstruct justice and is that why you didn`t do the interview?

MUELLER:  There`s a balance.  In other words, how much evidence you have that satisfied the last element against how much time are you willing to spend in the courts mitigating the interview with the president.


MELBER:  And that wasn`t the only unanswered question here that both sides -- and this is pretty interesting -- both sides got into.  It was also this question that I`m sure if you`ve followed our coverage of the Mueller report you heard about which is was the obstruction analysis clear enough.  Could Bob Mueller like other prosecutors, like Ken Starr have said more clearly what Donald Trump did and whether it amounted to criminal conduct?  And we saw lawmakers of all stripes demanding more clarity on these points.


REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX):  For the non-lawyers in the room, what did you mean by "potentially preempt constitutional processes."

MUELLER:  I`m not going to try to explain that.

REP. JIM SENSENBRENNER (R-WI):  Now, since you decided under the OLC opinion that you couldn`t prosecute a sitting president, meaning President Trump, why do we have all of this investigation of President Trump that the other side is talking about when you knew that you weren`t going to prosecute him?

MUELLER:  You don`t know where the investigations is going to lie.


MELBER:  I want to bring in a very special guest, former U.S. Attorney David Kelly.  If you`ve watched THE BEAT before, you`ve seen him.  He was the chief of the Southern District of New York, the very office that has graduated people like James Comey, Preet Bharara, and Rudy Giuliani, he also is my former boss in-law.  Nice to see you, sir.

I should mention for everyone, I can`t hear David yet.  I`m going to -- I`m going to pull -- stay with me, I`m going to pull an audible and say, Gene Rossi, I can hear you because you`re sitting next to me.


MELBER:  While we work on that, I begin with the same question I want to ask both of you --

ROSSI:  Sure, sure.

MELBER:  -- which is what does it tell you that one of the only areas of logical overlap, whatever you think of motives, was members of both parties and the Judiciary Committee saying gosh, would have been helpful.  At one point, a Republicans said straight up -- and I was sitting at the back when I was watching, Mueller back of his head and Republican sense of Brenner says Starr told us what was impeachable, why can`t you.

ROSSI:  Well, that`s one of the things I criticize Robert Mueller about and I have the utmost respect to him --for him.  But what he should have done today is clarified a question that everybody has been asking.  You said you could not exonerate him, you say the OLC memos prevents you from indict, but give us the punch line.  Do you have enough evidence to charge him with obstruction of justice?  I think there is --

MELBER:  So our -- now, our viewers are familiar with you saying a lot of things that kind of go at Trump.  It sounds to me like --

ROSSI:  Hard, hard.

MELBER:  It sounds to me like your bottom line is some of the Republicans had a point on that today.

ROSSI:  Absolutely.

MELBER:  All right, let me play one of them.  Congressman Ratcliffe -- and David Kelly, I think we`re all squared away so David, take a good listen to this as well.  Let`s look at that.


MUELLER:  I`m not going to get into that.  I`m not going to go beyond that.  I`d refer you to the court proceedings on that issue.  I don`t recall that one.  I`m not going to answer that.  I`m not going to talk -- I`m not going to talk about that -- about that issue.  I`m not going to comment on that.  I`m not going to try to explain that.


MELBER:  David?


MELBER:  Your view on the same issue Gene just discussed.  Should M r. Mueller in the report today been more clear?

KELLEY:  Well, I can take the other side but I can see him not pushing it that far.  Because once you take off the table the indictment by the OLC memo, then what you`re really doing is throwing into a political process for impeachment.  And he has spoon-fed Congress in the public.

I mean, I agree with Joyce Vance, if you take all those clips together, that cuts out a lot of the garbage and focuses on what he actually said.  Then you really see a composite of information that gives plenty of information for congressional impeachment proceedings recognizing that it`s not really so much as a criminal law standard because you don`t have to meet the elements of a criminal offense for impeachment.

High crimes and misdemeanors really means abuse of power, abuse of trust, and he doesn`t have to meet the elements of offense.  I think the elements of an obstruction offense for Congress which kind of set some sort of context for what they should be looking for but not the requirements of what they need to find for impeachment.

And I think from Bob`s perspective, once you focus on this purely being more of a political issue because OLC is taken off the table and indictment as it relates to the president, then I think he`s given them enough.  And I don`t -- I can see him as being kind of the epitome of all prosecutors what a prosecutor should be not going beyond the four corners of the document and let the political folks figure it out because that`s the arena in which it now falls.

MELBER:  So David, should we take you to mean that people are kind of being daft, that he laid it out and he just didn`t use the I word and it`s good enough?

KELLEY:  Look, I think -- I think the public and Congress need to work a little bit not like there`s an important issue.  Laziness is really not acceptable here and people should really dig into it and see all the gems that are there.

I mean, he`s identified -- look, they`re talked about ten instances of obstruction of justice, right?  But recognize that it when we`re talking about a criminal law, what we`re talking about obstruction is not actually obstructing something, it`s endeavoring to impede or obstruct.  You don`t really have to succeed.

And so when you`re talking -- and you just mentioned a minute ago, Ari, about whether or not there is intent.  And if you have ten instances of endeavoring to obstruct, somewhere in there you`re going to find intent if you walk into a courtroom.

MELBER:  Thatƒ_Ts fair, and I plugged earlier our roadmap checklist which is our special report later in the hour.  Hakeem Jeffries really makes that argument.  Let me play a little more what I mentioned which is this Republican Congressman Radcliff in the exchange though taking the other side of David`s point.  Take a look.


REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX):  The very first line of your report, the very first line of your report says -- as you read this morning, it authorizes a special counsel to provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.  That`s the very first word of your report, right?

MUELLER:  That`s correct.

RATCLIFFE:  Here`s the problem, Director.  The special counsel didn`t do that.  On volume one, you did.  On volume two, with respect to potential obstruction of justice, the special counsel made neither a prosecution decision or a declination decision.  You made no decision.  Volume two of this report was not authorized under the law to be written.  It was written to a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department.


MELBER:  David, you worked at the Justice Department.

KELLEY:  I did.

MELBER:  Your response.

KELLEY:  Look, if it wasn`t specifically authorized, I think that`s kind of a silly argument.  But everybody knows and everybody would expect you let the facts take you where they lead you, and that`s what he did.

And so if he`s diving into the whole Russian issue and that leads him into obstruction issues which it did, then he`d be yelling for not pursuing that.  I mean look, if it was -- if it was a president on the other side of the aisle, you can bet Ratcliffe would be maybe screaming bloody murder if he left that out of his report, right?

MELBER:  Sure.  Well, and that`s why I kept referring David to logical overlap.  Meaning, the Republicans are saying something that some Trump critics said which is gosh, if this looks and walks and seems like a crime, why didn`t you call it a crime.  They`re using it to bloody Mueller.

Gene, of course, they -- as David just said, they would have gone ten alarm fire if he handed over something that attacked Trump without the benefit of trial and they would have said oh you`re worse than Comey and all that/

So I don`t say that as often the case in Washington that all the motives are clear, but I refer to the logic.  Before I let you go I want to let you weigh in on something else this has been buzzed about all day.

It wasn`t our lead story, it wasn`t our second story, it wasn`t our third, but I want to get you in on it which is the criticism that compared to past hearings and compared to other times when Bob Mueller has really wanted to make a point, he did seem to be bobbing and weaving a lot.

We played earlier some of the evasions at times.  He just seemed to not be into it.  Is that in your view relevant, is that a fair criticism, or is that kind of not the point of today?

ROSSI:  I think of Charles Dickens you had two hearings.  The first hearing, he had no energy.  He has low energy, no pun intended.  And for some reason he felt -- my view is, he felt that that report established obstruction of justice, no doubt.

And I want to add this.  Bill Barr told CBS News in a May 30 interview that Mueller had the right to decide yes or no on that.

MELBER:  The fireside chat interview.

ROSSI:  Exactly.  The second thing I want to say is the afternoon hearing, I don`t know what happened.  Maybe they gave him Red Bull, maybe they gave him a cup of coffee, but I just was thinking about this waiting to come on.

He`s a marine, decorated.  It is the American flag that he is protecting.  And when he got to that here in the afternoon, he is defending the United States of America.  That`s why his energy level got up versus the morning.

MELBER:  I heard that from other people around him that as much as he talks about the rules and he clearly followed them.  I mean, nobody has suggested otherwise, he`s a human being still.  He is not a robot.


MELBER:  And you could see the passion about taking on America`s enemies and the -- I would argue barely veiled disgust, what he called unpatriotic behavior by the President of the United States welcoming it.  I got to fit in a pause, so I want to thank Gene Rossi and David Kelley, as always, great to have you both.

KELLEY:  Thanks very much.

MELBER:  Thank you.

ROSSI:  Thank you.

MELBER:  We now turn to the special report I`ve been promising.  This was a historic hearing today and there were big issues teed up.  Is President Trump`s conduct impeachable?  As we were just discussing Mueller won`t say.  Was Trump wrong to welcome Russia`s hacking?  Yes.  He testified it was unpatriotic.

But is there evidence that Trump committed obstruction of justice?  That is actually one of the most fascinating important exchanges occurred and I want you to see it in context.  This was under questioning by Democratic Congressman Jeffries.

And maybe it`s not a coincidence that this is the topic where Mueller is very careful, very lawyerly confirming troubling evidence against Trump and saying that Jeffries may be in the ballpark while stressing he won`t co- sign the whole analysis.


MUELLER:  I don`t subscribe necessarily to your -- the way you analyze that.  I`m not saying it`s out of the ballpark but I`m not supportive of that analytical charge.


MELBER:  What got Mueller speaking so carefully?  A damning section of the Mueller report teeing off one of the most counterproductive tweets Donald Trump ever sent admitting he was under criminal investigation.  So now let`s look at this morning`s exchange in the news at the time.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY):  President Trump tweeted on June 16th, 2017 "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director, witch hunt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The President of the United States now confirming that he is under investigation along with his son-in-law.

JEFFRIES:  Constitutes a public acknowledgment by President Trump that he was under criminal investigation, correct.

MUELLER:  I think generally correct.


MELBER:  Mueller confirms that Trump was tweeting scared and was upset about the investigation which can make Trump look guilty because it speaks to his motives when he tried to get Mueller fired which happened the very next day after the tweet.  Now, Jeffries asked Mueller about that which was huge news when that broke.


JEFFRIES:  On Saturday, June 17th, President Trump called White House Counsel Don McGahn at home and directed him to fire the special counsel, true?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Another damaging report link to the Russia probe that Mr. Trump gave an explicit order to have special counsel Robert Mueller fired just a month after he was appointed.

MUELLER:  I believe to be true.


MELBER:  That was big.  Trump is printing towards the kind of Saturday night massacre that led to the end of the Nixon presidency.  Now, that a Mueller says under oath what his report documented that Trump did try to take that potentially illegal act, something Trump would then reportedly try to do even more than once.

Now, today Mueller spoke to the checklist required to prove whether there is a crime of obstruction.  You have to say well, is there a probe to obstruct in the first place?  Check.  Is there an obstructive act?  Check.  And then the hardest to prove, was their criminal intent in taking that act?  It goes to that last box to check criminal intent showing that not only someone tried to obstruct but why, something we`ve been discussing in our coverage tonight.

And this is when Jeffrey`s highlights an important part of the Mueller report.  There`s no Watergate taping system but Mueller came somewhat close going into the inner sanctum of the Oval Office.  Trump is saying when he learned at the Special Counsel`s appointment, oh my God, this is terrible.  It`s the end of my presidency.  I`m effed.

The suggestion is that maybe his motive wasn`t Mueller`s alleged conflicts but stopping the whole probe.  It was a substantive moment by the time you had those different boxes checked.  If Congress accepts Representative Jeffries logic, it would find the elements of this alleged crime.  And that`s why I want you to see something.

One of the most iconic moments when today may not be an individual sound bite but this news photograph capturing each of those checked boxes on obstruction regarding the effort to fire Mueller with the committee`s legal analysis right inside the room.

You`ll notice those checkboxes are in sharp focus.  Mueller positioned the way he actually prefers out of focus.  And ultimately you`re looking at a snap portrait in the spirit of Mueller because it focuses on the evidence that was uncovered and leaves Mueller and his investigators where he thinks they belong, how to focus.

Let`s remember Mueller has already said the evidence should speak for itself, a classic maxim in law.  And while adhering always is going to have these reactions to the witness and how he sounded, for one moment tonight, before I bring in another special guest, it is worth reflecting on this substance from today.


MUELLER:  When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government`s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.  The work speaks for itself and the report is my testimony.


MELBER:  There you have it.  Now I turn to as promised a special guest on this historic day when a former special counsel testifies about a probe of the sitting president, very newsworthy guest is the current counsel for that president Jay Sekulow who represented President Trump in the Mueller probe.  Hi, Jay.  Thanks for doing this.


MELBER:  Let`s begin with something very relevant to your client.  Here is Mueller fact-checking Trump today.


TRUMP:  There was no collusion with Russia.  There was no obstruction and none whatsoever and it was a complete and total exoneration.

NADLER:  Did you actually totally exonerate the president?



MELBER:  Jay, will you and the president now acknowledge Mueller did not conclude a total exoneration?

SEKULOW:  No, I`m not going to acknowledge that because I`ve said on your program before and others that this exoneration standard is absurd.  Prosecutors do not exonerate.  They determine whether there`s culpability move forward or not.

And what did Bob Mueller say to me when he had to correct his testimony on the issue of the OLC opinion and Congressman Lieu had asked him earlier in ordinary committee hearing, hey but for the OLC opinion, what would -- have you would have gone with an indictment, and he came back and said no that wasn`t correct because we never made a legal determination on criminal culpability.

Now, here`s what did happen.  They did not make a determination, that became clear and then it ultimately went to the Department of Justice.  And the Department of Justice inside, the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Office of Legal Counsel reviewed Bob Mueller`s evidence through the lens of Bob Mueller and concluded there was no obstructive intent.

MELBER:  That`s true that Barr did that, but the President said Mueller`s report was a total exoneration and Mueller today said under oath that`s not true.  You`re not suggesting the Mueller was lying today are you?

SEKULOW:  I`m telling you what I`m thinking.  I think Bob Mueller has conflated and does not understand the burden of proof.  And you`re a good lawyer, Ari.

MELBER:  You think Bob Mueller doesn`t understand the legal burden of proof?

SEKULOW:  I do not.


SEKULOW:  Well, here`s why --

MELBER:  I got to keep moving.

SEKULOW:  Hold it, hold it --

MELBER:  That`s you -- go ahead.

SEKULOW:  OK, it`s your program.

MELBER:  No, go ahead.

SEKULOW:  Let me just say this really, really quickly.  Here`s the issue.  You and I both know that the term exoneration is not a legal term of art, that in a case, any case where there`s a criminal matter, a prosecutor either moves forward with the prosecution or declines.  And this in a sense became a declination and certainly became a declination we went to Department of Justice but it`s your program your question.

MUELLER:  I appreciate it.  Look, we want to get jargony.  It`s certainly in ways look like a declination, but the President claimed it was a total exoneration putting words in Mueller`s mouth.  Today is the first time Americans have heard Mueller under oath stay the president was wrong about that so I want your response to that.

Let me also show you something that`s even I think more concerning for your client.  You obviously never want to be in a situation where prosecutor, former prosecutors suggesting your client committed perjury.  Take a look at this today.


REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):  Isn`t it fair to say that the president`s written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete, but his answers show that he wasn`t always being truthful?

MUELLER:  I would say generally.


MELBER:  Generally untruthful.  What`s your response to Mueller suggesting that there may have been untrue statements made by the President, as you know that`s a potential violation of federal law?

SEKULOW:  Yes.  Well, there`s only two groups that know what the correspondence was between the Office of Special Counsel and the President`s where my team on this.  And I will tell you this the phrase untruthful never came up in that correspondence.  I want to be very clear on that.

So their issue, I think again, I`m not trying to say anything negative about Bob`s performance today but I think that whole response to go generally in the delay --

MELBER:  But you kind of did.

SEKULOW:  Well, because I think look, you said it earlier, I listen to you earlier --

MELBER:  You said he doesn`t understand the burden of proof.

SEKULOW:  You said it today earlier.  You said it was not a good day.  This -- I heard you this morning after the Judiciary Committee meeting so I think that`s the consensus with everyone.  Why wasn`t it a good for the Democrats?

MELBER:  As they say, Jay, this is --

SEKULOW:  Because it didn`t move -- it didn`t move the case forward.

MELBER:  As they say, Jay, this is -- this is why you watch.  I`m glad you were watching.  I did call like I saw it on some of the issues in the hearing.  I do think Bob Mueller for my viewers understand is a seasoned prosecutor who understands what burden of proof is.

The other thing that was really striking and I want to make sure to get you on the record on this was Mueller discussing the potential prosecution of an ex-president.  Take a look.


SCHIFF:  Knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do.

MUELLER:  And a crime.

SCHIFF:  We can agree that it`s also unpatriotic.


QUIGLEY:  Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.  Donald Trump -- would any of those quotes disturb?

MUELLER:  Problematic is an understatement.

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO):  Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?


BUCK:  You believe that he committed -- you could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?



MELBER:  You get the final word on THE BEAT tonight, your view of Mr. Mueller using his testimony to say your client acted unpatriotically and leaving the door open to a potential prosecution of an ex-president.

SEKULOW:  Look, the unpatriotic comment I thought was gratuitous and unnecessary.  With regard to future prosecutions, let`s not forget that the Department of Justice concluded there was no obstructive intent so I don`t buy any of that.  I`m not concerned about that.

I think this was a very good -- if this was the Democratic Party`s best case to put forward today, as many of your friends have said, they did not move the needle.  This was a good day for the president.  Thanks for having me, Ari.

MELBER:  Always great to have you.  Have you spoken to the President about this today?

SEKULOW:  I would never discuss the conversations I`ve had with the president but needless to say it was a good day.  He was happy.

MELBER:  Well, I thought -- you know, with most clients, you`ll never know because he was explicitly re-tweeting you.  It seemed like you guys were on the same page today.  I got to say it`s a news -- a big news day.  You represent the sitting president.  I really appreciate you coming back on THE BEAT.

SEKULOW:  Thanks, Ari.  I appreciate it.  My pleasure.

MELBER:  As always, thank you, Jay Sekulow.  We have had quite a show.  We started here talking about what Bob Mueller did and didn`t do today and why in the morning when he began he was so careful, so circumscribed and didn`t ever say anything was really a crime or impeachable with regard to the President.

And yet by the afternoon as I was just discussing, with basically the lawyer for the sitting President of the United States, Bob Mueller did open up to say that he saw something wrong with the way that Donald Trump welcomed Russian interference which is, of course, is part of the thing that launched this probe.

I really appreciate you staying with us on the special edition of THE BEAT.  I`ll be back here at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow.  But don`t go anywhere, MSNBC coverage continues with "HARDBALL" right now.