CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": -- given the fact there are four separate categories that the attorney general has already said he`d be redacting. But there will be revealing details with the obstruction of justice investigation.
Caroline, thank you very much.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris Hayes, thank you very much for being my water cooler friend today taking me through this crazy news night.
HAYES: What a bizarre set of decisions that have been issued today from the attorney general of the United States of America.
MADDOW: Yes, and this was like -- this was one of those news days that had like a 40,000 foot long runway where it was put put put put --
MADDOW: It took off and got nuts at the end of the day. Thanks for talking me through it. Thanks.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Honestly, it has been a little nuts today, and particularly, this evening the way the news has been breaking. But you know what? You can sleep later.
For now, there is way too much to do, way too much to sort of absorb and get our heads around. But it is on. It is all happening now.
Contrary to assertions earlier this week from the office of newly appointed attorney general William Barr, we apparently will not be getting some version of Robert Mueller`s report from the Justice Department tomorrow morning. Instead, that will come later. What we`re going to get in the morning is just more William Barr talking about Mueller without us having any access to what Mueller`s actually found.
It was first announced by the president oddly on a random talk radio show where he was doing an interview. But soon thereafter, there was an official Justice Department press release announcing that tomorrow morning, 9:30 Eastern Time, there will be a press conference led by Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, just the two of them. No Robert Mueller.
It is worth pointing out right at the outset that Robert Mueller will not be there at the press conference tomorrow because that`s weird. The announced, the declared purpose of the press conference is to discuss Robert Mueller and his findings. So, it`s therefore a little weird that he`s not invited. It`s like a surprise birthday. What the surprise is, you don`t get to come, even though it`s your birthday.
Mueller submitted his report on the findings of his investigation 26 days ago. Since then, William Barr has released his own descriptions of what he says are Mueller`s findings. He has released his own instant prosecutorial conclusion that what Mueller turned up in terms of evidence should definitely not be used to bring any charges against the president.
After press reports from "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" and NBC News, all turned up that members of Mueller`s team felt blindsided by those declarations from William Barr, they were angered by him misrepresenting the findings of their investigation in order to downplay the seriousness of what that investigation turned up about the president. After those press reports citing members of Mueller`s team, Attorney General William Barr went out of his way in a new letter he wrote to Congress and subsequent congressional testimony, he went out of his way to insist that he really wished people would stop saying that he had summarized Mueller`s findings, even though he said what he was releasing was a victim of Mueller`s principle conclusions, he wanted people to stop calling it a summary. OK.
He also took pains to explain that he was working hand in hand with Mueller, that members of Mueller`s team were themselves involved in whatever this post submitting the report redaction process is that`s been going on in Barr`s office ever since Mueller`s report was completed and submitted.
Well, if that is true, if Barr is not summarizing Mueller`s findings for him, if Mueller`s findings are going to be allowed to speak for themselves, if Mueller himself is absolutely right there leading this process right now, of preparing his own findings for release to Congress and to the public, then you might expect Robert Mueller to be there tomorrow. What they`re saying are his findings are going to be released at a big Justice Department press conference.
But Mueller is apparently not invited. Nobody knows where Mueller is now, nor where he is expected to be when William Barr gives his press conference about Mueller in the morning. CNN was first to report tonight that neither Mueller nor any member of Mueller`s team will be at that press conference about Mueller`s finding tomorrow, red flag.
I mean, why would you not involve any of the people who did the work when it comes time to explain what their work was? I mean, this is not like a posthumous report. The dude`s around.
We did get a hint as to what might be going on here not long after we learned about this press conference, not long after we got this surprise announcement from the justice department about the press conference about Robert Mueller that won`t involve Robert Mueller.
Very soon thereafter, Congressman Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee confirmed publicly that that press conference is going to be convened by the justice department in the morning well before any material is released from Mueller`s report at all. As Chris Hayes was noting last hour, as journalists and as people involved in public affairs, it is not an unusual thing for a press conference, some sort of press availability to be called with officials to discuss a newly released document.
I don`t know of any instance in which there is a press conference, a press availability that is convened to discuss a newly released document that`s coming out later that you`re not allowed to see yet. I mean, they`re holding a press conference about Mueller without Mueller there, with no one having had the chance to view anything produced by Mueller or read anything from his minds before they`re supposed to form their questions for Attorney General Barr about whatever it is he is going to say are the results of Mueller`s investigation.
Oh, I see what`s going on here. When nobody has seen this report, they`re going to convene this press conference where they`ll once again have William Barr say stuff about Mueller without any actual appearance by Mueller, only after that, only after whatever it is they`re going to do at 9:30 tomorrow morning will they release whatever it is they`re going to release from Mueller`s findings, minus the redactions that William Barr insists upon.
And then we got more. Less than an hour after they announced this press conference, this press conference before people are even allowed to see the report, less than an hour after that announcement from the Justice Department, we also got a new court filing in the Roger Stone case, which had another surprise about what`s going to happen tomorrow. It turns out we learned in this court filing today it`s not just one version of the redacted Mueller report that`s being prepared by the Justice Department.
In this government notice to the court, this file by prosecutors in the Roger Stone case today, the U.S. attorney`s office for D.C. tells the judge in the Roger Stone case this, quote, once the redacted version of Mueller`s report has been released to the public, the Justice Department plans to make available for review by a limited number of members of Congress and their staff a copy of the special counsel`s report without certain redactions. Quote, including removing the redaction of information related to this case. This version of the report will not be made available to the media or in public settings.
Really? This is a surprise. What the Justice Department is saying in this court filing is among the material that`s going to be redacted from the public version of Mueller`s report that will be released tomorrow, among the stuff that`s going to be cut out of it is stuff that concerns this ongoing case related to Roger Stone. However, that Roger Stone stuff isn`t going to be cut out of a less redacted version of Mueller`s report that they`ll give to Congress, but not to all of Congress. Just to a limited number of members of Congress and their staff.
The filing goes on the say that that less redacted copy of Mueller`s report won`t just be given out to limited numbers of members of Congress and their staff, quote, rather the Justice Department intends to secure this version of the report in a appropriate setting that will be accessible to a limited number of member and their staff.
So, unknown number of members of Congress and their staff will get access to a less redacted version of Mueller`s report. But they will not be allowed to hold it and take it back to their office and have copies of it. They`ll only be allowed to look at it in some sort of secure environment. They have to leave it there when they go, so says this somewhat random filing in the Roger Stone case today.
And that`s how we learned from the Justice Department that there is going to be multiple versions of Mueller`s report. This is news. We did not know that there was going to be different versions of Mueller`s report for the public and the Congress. This is the first time there has ever been any public notice of that.
We didn`t know that some members of Congress are going to be allowed access to some less redacted version of the report. We can surmise who they might mean. Oftentimes when the Justice Department or other national security agencies try to make distinctions like that where some members of Congress are allowed to see stuff and others can`t, usually they`re referencing the top leadership of Congress and also the intelligence committees. Sometimes, it`s also the leadership of other committees that have specific oversight responsibilities related to the matter in question.
We don`t know exactly who they mean when they say a limited number of members of Congress will get this less redacted version. But given what is usually the case, given the limited audience in Congress that`s usually intended when they try to narrow it down like this, we contacted the office of Senator Mark Warner today. He is the top Democrat on the intelligence committee to say hey, in your role as the top Democrat on intelligence, did you know this was coming? Did your office have any idea that there is some less redacted version of Mueller`s report that`s going to be made available to you presumably, to some small number of members of Congress?
Mark Warner`s office told us tonight it`s news to them. They had no idea. Quote: While we have seen the filing, meaning the filing from the Stone case, quote, DOJ has not communicated this to us.
Likewise, after we got that comment from Senator Warner`s office, the office of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told us tonight that they have heard nothing specific about this beyond reading what they read in today`s filing.
Also within the last hour, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House, Jerry Nadler, held a sort of makeshift last-minute press conference in New York in which he said that his committee also was able to read that filing from the Roger Stone case today. And so they saw it. They know what it says. But other than what`s in that filing, his committee, quote, has no knowledge of this. And he added that his committee has agreed to no such arrangement.
So this surprise declaration in this random court filing today about there being multiple copies of Mueller`s report with multiple different levels of redactions that are targeted towards specific members of congress, but not all of them, and there is plans to allow them to review it in a special room but not -- I mean, this all came in a response to a motion that was filed by Roger Stone`s lawyer, one of a gazillion motions that stone`s lawyers filed late on Friday night asking for everyone everything, including the moon.
In this big raft of filings they filed on Friday night, Roger Stone`s lawyers, among other things, demanded an unredacted copy of the Mueller report for themselves. They said they needed for mounting a legal defense. I am not a lawyer. I don`t think that`s going to happen. I don`t think Roger Stone`s lawyers are going to get a full unredacted copy of the report if nobody else gets it.
But it was that request for them that resulted in this response of filing today by these prosecutors, which revealed that Barr is going to produce different copies of the report for different audiences there will be a secure room somewhere in Congress where some members of Congress may be invited to see a less redacted version, although apparently nobody in Congress, including the chair of the -- chairs of the ranking members of the relevant committees has been consulted about this plan.
In this court filing tonight, though, prosecutors from the D.C. U.S. attorney`s office also sort of warned the judge in Stone`s case that these -- this small number of members of Congress, this limited number of members of Congress that they planned to show the less redacted version of the report to, they warned in this filing tonight that those members of Congress might not be content with this arrangement. They might not be OK with just reviewing the document in a SCIF somewhere in some sort of secure room. They may want to try to obtain copies of the document for themselves.
If so, prosecutors warn in this filing to the court tonight that there is a possibility that if that happened, a less redacted version of Mueller`s findings might leak to the public. Quote, if those members of Congress ask to be provided with copies of this less redacted version of the special counsel`s report or portions of it such that there exists a reasonable likelihood that the information related to this case may be available to the media or accessible in a public setting, the Justice Department would seek guidance from the court prior to acting on that request.
So this today, this filing today, this is the prosecutors in the Stone case saying there is going to be multiple versions of Mueller`s report. Congress is going to get more of it than the public does. We`re going to try to keep what we show to Congress from leaking to the general public. But if it looks like there is a risk that might happen, we`ll come back to the court and get advice.
This is all new information today, right? It`s Mueller eve, this is all being sprung in D.C. district court. The judge in the stone case incidentally who`s going to be considering this filing today is Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
She is also the judge in D.C. who had the D.C. part of the Paul Manafort case and the Rick Gates case. She had the Alex Vander Zwaan case which also came out of the Mueller investigation. She`s now got the Roger Stone case, which continues which is due to go to trial this fall, which today led to this revelation about how the Mueller report is being redacted or not.
Interesting, though, in that same courthouse, in the same courthouse where Amy Berman Jackson sits, there was another curveball that just arrived at the last second before whatever it is that William Barr is going to do tomorrow, and this other curveball is also from the D.C. federal district court. It`s not Amy Berman Jackson, though. This last-minute curveball also in that courthouse came from a different judge in that same district named Reggie Walton.
Judge Reggie Walton was a George W. Bush appointee. He sits in the same courthouse, the same district as Amy Berman Jackson. Judge Walton has been assigned the two most high profile cases by First Amendment and media groups that are seeking to have Mueller`s findings released to the public and to the press without redaction.
And now at the last minute, right before whatever it is Barr`s going to try to release tomorrow, Judge Reggie Walton has also now made clear that he thinks he has a role in this part of the process. Judge Walton is now saying that attorney general William Barr alone will not be the sole figure who decides what gets cut out of Mueller`s findings.
According to Judge Walton, the courts will have a say. He personally will have a say in what the public sees and what we do not.
The Freedom of Information Act requires public disclosure of certain government documents, and it`s a fascinating area of law. FOIA is obviously a fundamental tool for government accountability, for journalism, for research. There`s a whole rich vein of litigation in case law around the Freedom of Information Act and what it requires in terms of disclosure by the government and what are its limits when pushed by people who want more information than the government wants to give.
In these FOIA cases about the Mueller report, Judge Walton is proceeding on the basis of the contention that Mueller`s report is exactly the type of government document that will be subject to public release under the Freedom of Information Act. Now, if a document is liable to release under FOIA, the government, of course, can still try to keep such a document under wraps, or they can try to keep parts of it under wraps.
But FOIA isn`t just like a principle. FOIA is a law, and therefore federal judges get to rule on whether or not those types of assertions by the government are valid. If the government wants to hold something back, a judge will sometimes get involved and say whether or not the judge -- whether or not the government is right in trying to hold bacterial that somebody else says ought to be released.
Well, Judge Walton now says that`s what he`s going to do when it comes to Mueller`s report. He`s going to weigh in here on the redactions.
Yesterday afternoon in federal court, Judge Walton asked prosecutors from the Department of Justice, from the D.C. U.S. attorney`s office for a definitive answer as to whether this document that Barr is planning on releasing tomorrow is the same thing the justice department would plan to release in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
So he`s saying, listen, let me know, what you`re going to release on Thursday morning, is that also what you would release in response to FOIA requests? If so, if the government is planning on redacting all of the same stuff from Mueller`s report when they`re eventually required to release it under the Freedom of Information Act -- well, Judge Walton now says that he may insist on reviewing exactly what those redactions are. He may insist on personally reviewing what it is the Justice Department is trying to cut out from Mueller`s findings.
Judge Walton is saying he may insist on reviewing the full unredacted document himself so he can see what the redactions are and what supposedly justifies those redactions, because under the Freedom of Information Act, he says that he, the judge, should be the one to decide whether those redactions are valid and legal, or whether that redacted stuff should also be released under FOIA. Judge Walton is asserting his own ability to do that in court and right away.
At the hearing yesterday, we got the transcript of it today, he wants them back in court by May 2nd, which is two weeks from tomorrow, and he says he is planning on handling this on a fast track. So, think about what that means -- put yourself in William Barr`s shoes right now. If you are newly appointed Attorney General William Barr, and tonight you are planning on a big day tomorrow, you are planning on making yet another William Barr public declaration of what you say Mueller found, and you`re planning on doing that tomorrow without anybody being allowed to read what Mueller found, and without Mueller being allowed to explain himself what he found, and without Mueller or anyone on his team being available to answer questions about what they found, no, you are planning on you handling all of that in your own terms and nobody being able to check you against the real record.
You`re William Barr tonight. You`re planning on one or two or multiple versions of different reports, Mueller`s report being released minus everything you want taken out of it. Heading into that bold plan for tomorrow morning, you now know that at least one federal district court judge in Washington, D.C. is planning on checking your work soon. And that judge is already expressing concerns in open court about how you are handling this matter and why he might need to correct for it.
This was Judge Walton in open court yesterday afternoon. We just got the transcript. Are you ready?
Quote: Obviously, the judge says, there is real concern whether there will be full transparency. And I hate to say it, but unfortunately the attorney general has created an environment that I think is going cause a significant portion of the American people to be concerned about whether there is transparency, and that puts the court obviously in a very difficult situation. But I have dealt with difficult situations before, and, you know, I`m of the view that there is going to have to be some type of probing on my behalf as to whether or not appropriate redactions have been made.
I do not know the best way to do that. There have been several occasions where the courts have had to do an in-camera inspection of the withheld documents to make an assessment as to whether or not the withholdings of that information is appropriate under the statute. That`s something we`ll have to work through. It`s something I`ll have to think about as to if there is a challenge to the appropriate of the withholdings, how do I best assess whether the government`s position is correct.
Robert Mueller`s prosecutors, people working on the Mueller team have already expressed frustration and anger that Attorney General William Barr has misrepresented Mueller`s findings, and in particular he has downplayed the seriousness of what the Mueller investigation discovered about the president. Mueller`s report in its unredacted form presumably lays bare exactly what they found without sugarcoating it. If not, they wouldn`t be upset, right?
If Barr is trying to sugarcoat it, or if he is trying to cut out the worst stuff, he as of tonight has to know that he`s going to be found out. That either through the Judiciary Committee subpoenaing the unredacted report and getting it that way, or some judge ordering the release of the 6E, the grand jury material that he`s withholding, ordering that release of that material to Congress, or some other judge like Judge Walton say reviewing all of Barr`s redactions and saying which of them he thinks are bogus.
Whatever it is, there is multiple paths now. Ultimately, the distance between what William Barr releases tomorrow and what Mueller actually concluded will be known, and it`s starting to feel like it`s not going to be known in some history book down the way. It`s going to be known like next month.
I mean, despite the pressure that has to put on William Barr in terms of what he`s going to release heading into tomorrow, there is a million red flags flying about how Barr intends to proceed. I mean, Barr holding his press conference before the report is released to anybody is itself a red flag. Barr holding his press conference about Mueller without Mueller or anybody on Mueller`s team, that`s a huge red flag.
Barr`s initial decision within 48 hours of receiving Mueller`s report in the first place that he would release his own exculpatory summary of what he said were Mueller`s conclusions despite the fact that Mueller reportedly prepared his own summaries of his own work intended for public release. Barr ignoring those summaries written by Mueller and instead releasing his own, I mean, that was a red flag big enough to use as a bed sheet.
But now on top of all of that, tonight, "The New York Times" reports this. Ahead of whatever is going to happen tomorrow, "The New York Times" reports that Barr has already given the White House access to Mueller`s report before it has been shown to Congress or before any version of it has been shown to the public, they have already been talking it through with the White House. "The New York Times" reports tonight, quote, Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Robert Mueller, the special counsel in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
The talks have aided the president`s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming war over its findings. Quote: The discussions between Justice Department officials and White House lawyers have also added to questions about the propriety of the decisions by Attorney General William Barr since he received Mueller`s findings late last month. Yes, you think?
We can sleep next week. For now, this is what`s happening. This is a story that is now officially flipped on. It`s developing further every five freaking minutes tonight, which is part of the way you can tell.
But they are going to try to pull this thing off somehow tomorrow morning. I mean, even at this late date, it still seems quite clear they still are not sure exactly what they can get away with and exactly what they`re going to try, but it`s on now. This is it.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight, we are fielding multiple breaking news stories ahead of the Justice Department`s planned release of some version or versions of Robert Mueller`s report tomorrow morning. At the top of the list is this provocative new story from "The New York Times" saying the Justice Department officials have had extensive discussions about Mueller`s findings with the White House ahead of tomorrow`s planned release. There have been, quote, numerous conversations with White House lawyers well ahead of the report`s release.
Is that what you`re supposed to do with the special counsel`s report on alleged criminal acts by the president? You`re just supposed to give that to the president before you show any version of it to anyone else? Is that how this is supposed to go?
Joining us now is Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration. He is the author of the Justice Department regulations that define the special counsel. Neal is joining us on the phone about 30 seconds before he has the get on to a plane.
Neal, thank you for making time for us.
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION (via telephone): Thank you.
MADDOW: First, let me first ask you about this report from "The Times" that Justice Department officials have been briefing the White House on Mueller`s findings ahead of releasing it to anybody else? Is that what the regulations spell out they should be doing here?
KATYAL: Oh, gosh, Rachel, I mean, I think the technical term I learned in law school for this kind of behavior is super extra stinky. You know, there are very careful rules that have been around for generations for governing the White House, its contacts with the Justice Department in general, and that`s because our country`s founders understood the prosecution power is massive, both because the president`s enemies can be indicted and the president`s friends, their wrongs can be covered up.
So, even in just an ordinary case, there is a very, very careful set of rules, and it`s extremely rare to get the president any knowledge whatsoever of criminal cases. And this is that problem on steroids. The president is the subject of the investigation, and honestly, I`ve never heard of such a thing.
It`s a complete breach of precedent. It`s a breach of common sense, and indeed, it makes Trump look blatantly guilty.
MADDOW: In terms of the decision to do this within the Justice Department, would you have expected that somebody in the Justice Department would have played a bit of a gatekeeper role here? Would have tried to say this is inappropriate and is out of keeping with Justice Department principle as you described, isn`t there somebody in the Justice Department who would have tried to stop this or would have raised the alarm about doing this?
KATYAL: I would have hoped so. But, you know, this Justice Department would have purged anyone who thinks independently or frankly who is consistent with the traditions of the department. And look, I guess I could have imagined an argument, Rachel, that says something like this.
This report is going to be so damaging to the president, we need to give him a heads up. But the weird thing is that Trump himself took that off the table. He said the report totally exonerates him. So, either that`s wrong and the report doesn`t exonerate him, or he is just willing to trash decades of DOJ precedent for nothing. Either way, it stinks to high heaven.
MADDOW: Neal, the other decision that William Barr apparently has made today that`s received a lot of criticism including from U.S. former attorneys and former U.S. Department of Justice officials is that he is going to be giving a press conference tomorrow again apparently describing Mueller`s findings. He is doing that before there is going to be any planned release of Mueller`s findings, and he is apparently doing that without Robert Mueller. It will be Barr and Rosenstein, not Mueller himself, and again, nobody having access to any of Mueller`s accidents before that press availability convenes.
Do you have any response to that?
KATYAL: Yes, I mean, at this point, enough with William Barr already. I mean, he`s already once issued a summary/non-summary that cleared Trump in 48 hours after Mueller took two years and didn`t do that. And now, it just looks like he`s trying to get out in front of the Mueller report.
And I honestly don`t recall the Justice Department ever doing something like this and first giving a press conference and then later having the documents and giving the press conference without the investigators there like Mueller, and certainly not in a high profile case like this. And, again, all of this together is just a complete breach of precedent, and it leads me to think, boy, there is actually not just smoke there, there must be some fire.
MADDOW: Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general of the United States, wrote the special counsel regulations -- Neal, if you miss your flight because you were on the phone with me, I`m going get you a huge book of drink tickets. I`m really sorry.
MADDOW: Thanks, Neal. Bye.
We just got actually -- while I was talking to Neal Katyal, we just got a little more news about this roll-out of the Mueller report, new news that has developed while we were on the air. As I told you, this is now happening. The light switch is on. So, the news is just going to keep developing.
We`ve got a new demand on the attorney general from people he should probably listen to. We will have that story for you right after the break, just developing news.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: It was not in his plan for this evening, but we saw that he was in place at a hastily convened press conference tonight with the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler. And we saw Congressman Hakeem Jeffries there, member of the Judiciary Committee and chair of the House Caucus, we wrangled him and asked him to come to the studio to talk about some of this breaking news tonight.
Congressman Jeffries joins us now.
Thank you. I know you weren`t planning on being here. Appreciate you being here, sir.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Good to be here.
MADDOW: We did just get breaking news I want to ask you about, and this happened since the press conference. The chairs of all of the key committees on these topics in the House, the Judiciary chairman, Jerrold Nadler, intelligence chairman, Adam Schiff, the Oversight Committee, the Elijah Cummings, the Financial Services chair, Maxine Waters, Foreign Affairs chair, Eliot Engel, they all released a joint statement calling on William Barr to cancel his presence conference on Special Counsel Mueller`s report which is as the chairs note is scheduled to take place before Congress is set to receive the report tomorrow morning.
I`ll just read you in part of it, quote: These new actions by the attorney general reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump. The attorney general previously stated I don`t believe it would be in the public`s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or release it in serial or piecemeal action. We agree. He should let the full report speak for itself. The attorney general should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress as we have requested with the special counsel`s fact gathering work concluded, it is now Congress` responsibility to discuss the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly.
This is essentially the chairmen, and including the chair of your committee, Judiciary, telling the attorney general to get out of the way here.
JEFFRIES: That`s correct. Under no circumstances should the attorney general proceed with that press conference tomorrow. It`s wholly inappropriate.
Bob Mueller is a well-respected law enforcement professional. He conducted a 22-month investigation. He wrote a report that`s approximately 400 pages long.
The Mueller report should speak for itself, period, full stop. No misdirection, no manipulation, no misinformation coming from the so-called attorney general.
It`s not acceptable. He`s acting more like a house counsel to an organized crime boss as opposed to the people`s attorney. And it`s got to end.
MADDOW: In terms of -- I`m going ask you something that I don`t think you`re going to answer, but I`m going ask you anyway and I`m going to bother you about it. During the course of the Mueller investigation, we understood that some committees in Congress, including the intelligence committee, potentially the Judiciary Committee, at times had to deconflict with the special counsel`s office to make sure that what they were pursuing in terms of their congressional investigations wasn`t going to mess up the investigation that the special counsel was carrying over. That requires some sort of communication with the special counsel`s office.
Since Robert Mueller`s investigation has come to a close and since this report has been handed over to the Justice Department, has there been ongoing communication between the special counsel`s office and the congressional committee`s that might give you in these key committees some insight into what`s going on between Mueller and Barr?
JEFFRIES: Well, not to my knowledge, but Chairman Nadler indicated even earlier today that he expects that Bob Mueller testify before the House Judiciary Committee sooner rather than later, as well as other individuals who are involved in the Mueller investigation. We can`t trust anything that`s coming out of the Department of Justice.
And all we want is the facts. All we want is transparency. All we want is disclosure so that the American people can evaluate the four corners of the Mueller report on their own.
MADDOW: We don`t know what`s going to be redacted tomorrow when it comes out, and we don`t know based on the way in which it`s redacted if we`ll even be able to tell quantitatively how much has been cut out of it. I mean, unless you`ve got physical black boxes over lines of text, you can`t tell how much he is going to cut.
Given that, I wonder if the prospect of Mueller testifying assuages any of your concerns about what Barr might cut. If Mueller is subpoenaed to testify, if he is requested to testify, is he at liberty to appear? Is there anybody who can block him? And will he be able to testify what might have been cut of that report if it was improperly redacted in Mueller`s eyes by Barr?
JEFFRIES: He is certainly at liberty to appear. He is an American citizen. He is not an employee of the Department of Justice at this particular point in time. They can`t block him. And we fully expect that he would want to be cooperative, particularly if Bob Barr has engaged in a sustained campaign to try to color in inappropriate ways the findings of the Mueller investigation.
MADDOW: If Barr is going to release a report that raises concerns for you tomorrow. Obviously, Chairman Nadler has secured the authorization from the committee to issue a subpoena, how do you think that will go? I mean, for those of us who don`t know congressional subpoenas versus grand jury subpoenas versus who enforces that sort of thing, what is your best guess? Not what you`re hoping, but the way you think it will actually unfold at that point.
JEFFRIES: Well, I think in my view, first we want to evaluate carefully whether the report has been overly redacted. We`ve agreed from the beginning that sources and methods should not be disclosed. We don`t want to jeopardize any national security concern as it relates to the safety and security of the American people, but we also have this concern that I think is justified by the behavior that we`ve seen from the attorney general over the last few weeks where he seems to be acting like the president`s publicist as opposed to facilitating the disclosure of this information.
Seventeen different intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered with our election, attacked our democracy to artificially try and place Donald Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This is a serious investigation. We need to figure out what happened why, did it happen, how did we prevent something like this from happening again, and we have to get the four corners of the report and the underlying documentation.
So, I think the initial step is to evaluate the appropriateness of the redactions.
MADDOW: One last question briefly. There was court filing today in the Roger Stone case, of all places, surprise, in which the Justice Department said there is going to be multiple versions of Mueller`s report prepared for release. Whatever they`re going release to the public tomorrow, there will be some less redacted version that will be made available to some members of Congress in a secure facility inside Congress.
Did you have any idea that they were planning on doing that before the court filing came out today?
JEFFRIES: I did not. And Jerry Nadler asked that question and he indicated there has been no agreement, no cooperation with the Department of Justice as it relates to any underlying redactions that may or may not be communicated. Again, this came out of left field. And, you know, it was just another example of sort of the strangeness that is unfolding out of the Department of Justice.
MADDOW: It does seem like they are feeling their way along here and making it up as they go.
JEFFRIES: I think that`s right.
MADDOW: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, member of the House Judiciary Committee, he and other members of that committee held a press conference with their chairman tonight. He`s also chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, which means he is in-house leadership.
Thanks for changing your plans.
JEFFRIES: Great to see you.
MADDOW: We appreciate it.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In 1973, Richard Nixon needed a new attorney general because he had fired his old one. Along with the deputy attorney general, on a Saturday night in October of that year, 1973, Richard Nixon axed his way through the upper echelons of the Justice Department until he found somebody who would fire the special prosecutor who was investigating Watergate. That of course was -- came to be known as the Saturday night massacre.
And you can imagine Nixon was like whoo, that was tough. But at least the Watergate prosecutor is gone.
The country was really mad about what happened there, and very soon after that whole conflagration, we ended up getting a new Watergate special prosecutor, a man named Leon Jaworski, and, of course, Richard Nixon had to appoint a new attorney general to lead the Justice Department. As the new attorney general, that nominee would of course become the boss for the new Watergate special prosecutor.
For that job, for the A.G. job, Nixon picked this man, sitting U.S. senator named William Saxbe. At William Saxbe`s confirmation hearing with the Watergate investigation hanging by a thread, as you might imagine, confirmation hearing focused on exactly that. William Saxbe was asked essentially the same question over and over and over again, will you interfere with the Watergate investigation, will you interfere with the Watergate investigation, will you, will you, will you?
And William Saxbe over and over again said, no, no, I promise. I won`t. I will not interfere with the Watergate investigation or with the Watergate special prosecutor. And then to get right to the point, they actually during his confirmation hearing, they brought the Watergate special prosecutor himself, they brought Leon Jaworski himself into the hearing room to sit down right next to William Saxbe, to assure senators that there was nothing to worry about.
They have Leon Jaworski, the special prosecutor vouch for the new attorney general as part of his confirmation process. Yes, we get along. See me sitting here? The two of us, you`ve got us both here at this hearing. I vouch for him.
He is not going to mess with me. He says he`s not going to mess with me. I won`t let him. They even did kind of a buddy-buddy process conference about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Senator Saxbe, the question being explored at great length here today is whether Mr. Jaworski will have full authority to investigate and prosecute the full Watergate affairs without any interference from you. Will he?
WILLIAM SAXBE, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: And the answer is an unqualified yes.
REPORTER: What would you do, Mr. Jaworski, if the new attorney general, not the attorney general designate, tried to interfere in any way with your pursuit of the investigation?
LEON JAWORSKI, WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I`d march him down to this congressional committee if he and I couldn`t work it out among ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is what it looked like when the country was in crisis, when the Watergate investigation was in jeopardy and people needed to be assured that there was no cover-up under way. There was no effort at the top of the Justice Department to protect the president from an investigation into his alleged crimes.
Here`s the two guys, key guys together, standing up saying don`t worry, we got this.
Hold that thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: And what would you do, Mr. Jaworski, if the new attorney general, now the attorney general designate, tried to interfere in any way with your pursuit of the investigation?
JAWORSKI: I`d march him down to this committee if he and I couldn`t work it out among ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So you could put the special counsel, the special prosecutor right there is with the attorney general. You could put them together to assure everybody ha there wasn`t something going on between them where the attorney general was quashing the work of the special counsel, the special prosecutor. You could do it that way. There`s precedent for it.
Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the Attorney General William Barr will hold a press conference about the release of the redacted Mueller report alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Both men are appointees of President Trump.
Typically, press conferences are the type of thing you hold when you want to answer questions about the thing you`re there to talk about, but tomorrow we know nobody will have the opportunity to as much see Robert Mueller`s report before that press conference about it. Barr will hold that press conference before the report is released.
And again, it`s the Robert Mueller report. Mueller was the person in charge of the investigation. He`s the guy who wrote this report, but tonight, the Justice Department confirms Mueller is not going to be at that press conference tomorrow to answer questions about his findings, which no one has been allowed to see.
Saxbe and Jaworski was one thing. Barr and Mueller apparently will never be seen in the same room. When will we see Mueller at all again?
Joining is now is NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss.
Michael, thank you for being here.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Love being with you but maybe not on such a dark night.
MADDOW: Does it feel like a dark night?
BESCHLOSS: It does, it does.
MADDOW: What about this issue of tomorrow`s planned press conference and the fact it`s going to be Barr and Rosenstein but not Mueller?
BESCHLOSS: I think it`s blatant. I mean, what you`re seeing is an attorney general saying I`m not going to be an independent general of the kind that Americans have come to expect in the last half century.
You were just talking about Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon`s first attorney general as you well know was a guy named John Mitchell.
MADDOW: His campaign manager, yes.
BESCHLOSS: His campaign manager and close friend. And what did that mean? When Nixon was in the White House plotting to send burglars into various places and opening people`s mail and violating other civil liberties, he knew he didn`t have to worry about an attorney general who would hear about this and call his investigators or quit and have a press conference and say, this is what your president is doing, American people. You should know about this.
Since the offenses of Watergate, we have come to expect that that`s the kind of attorney general that we will have. What we`ve seen with William Barr in the last month from that four-page letter to his parroting Donald Trump about spying to this whole display that we`re about to see tomorrow where the White House gets to see this report before we do and this press conference once again, Barr is going to be out in public telling us what to think.
What he`s basically telling us is I`m not going to be an independent attorney general of the kind that you Americans have come to expect. I think that`s really dangerous.
MADDOW: You reference John Mitchell. Of course, the way that John Mitchell attorney general saga ended was with Mitchell serving a prison term.
MADDOW: Nixon`s second attorney general, Kleindienst, also ended up being implicated in Watergate.
BESCHLOSS: Another lap dog.
MADDOW: Then he got to Elliot Richardson who he had to fire in order to try to get rid of the Watergate prosecutor. Elliot Richardson seems to be the pivot point at which the United States of America by hook or by crook decided we weren`t going to put up with the kinds of things Nixon was trying to get away with. That means we had Elliot Richardson and William Saxbe after him who starred modeling the kind of behavior we have seen ever since.
BESCHLOSS: That`s it. And every president since then more or less has had to worry about the fact that if he`s plotting to do something bad in the White House, that his attorney general will make big trouble for him. What William Barr has shown us during the last month and maybe tomorrow even more than anything else in public is he`s saying I`m going to be a different kind of attorney general.
And remember something else. You were talking last night about how Barr made himself very useful for President Bush 41 in 1989. More than that, at the end of 1992, he was the one who said to President Bush, pardon six Reagan era officials in the Iran Contra investigation.
The result of that was the independent counsel Lawrence Walsh said this is a Saturday night massacre. You`ve just killed my investigation. This is something that Barr has done before.
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, on nights like this nobody I`d rather talk to. Thank you.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you. Thank you so much.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: What are you going to do tomorrow? I don`t know, what are you going to do tomorrow? I was thinking about taking the morning off and going fishing.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. I can`t even say when.
But now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END