CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: And I have been looking forward to two things all day. Number one was my show, and then after my show, I`ll be looking forward to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, which starts right now, which I`m going to go watch.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Well, I have a favor to ask --
MADDOW: Would you mind doing your show for another 90 minutes or so? Because I still have some reading.
HAYES: I know. I saw your staff like bleary eyed and papers all over the place and I was thinking about, how do you eat the elephant one bite at a time as I watching it.
MADDOW: Yes, it didn`t make -- you know, when they -- I got up and I watched Barr give his press conference this morning, and we had a little interregnum between the press conference about to report, and when the report came out.
At that time, my whole plan had been like, you know what, I`m going to work out, I`m going to have an extra long shower, make sure I`m Zen. All I did was run straight to the office.
HAYES: Yes, yes.
MADDOW: I cannot help it.
Anyway, thank you.
HAYES: I`ll be watching.
MADDOW: Much appreciate it.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Let`s just jump right in, shall we? That`s the only way to do this. As Chris said, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? Bite one, starts on page one.
Quote: The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.
Quote: The special counsel`s investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer intrusion operations against entities employees and volunteers working on the Clinton campaign and then released stolen documents.
The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. The investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. And that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.
In terms of how the Russians did what they did and why they did it precisely the way they did it?
This part right at the start of the report stands out to me still like it is written in light in the night sky. The Internet Research Agency, IRA, carried out the earliest Russian interference operations identified by the investigation. A social media campaign designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States. The IRA used social media accounts and interest groups to sow discord in the U.S. political system for what it termed information warfare.
The campaign evolved from a generalized program designed in 2014 and 2015, to undermine the U.S. electoral system to a targeted operation, that by early 2016 favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate Clinton.
OK, just think about that evolution for a second. Think about what Russia`s doing and why they did it? I mean, why was Russia bothering to do this?
We now know from this unredacted part of Mueller`s report, that Russia doesn`t start out trying to figure out a way to make Donald Trump president. That`s not their project here. They start out trying to sow discord in the U.S. political system. They start out trying to undermine the U.S. electoral system.
They`re trying to hurt the United States in those specific ways. And somehow, that evolves seamlessly into Russia trying to help candidate Donald Trump get elected president.
Why were those two things on the same continuum according to the Russian government? I mean, what the Mueller report spells out today from page one, is that Russia started off with a plan to hurt America, to undermine American democracy. I mean, including sending employees from this internet troll farm over to the United States as early as mid-2014 on an intelligence gathering mission in the United States.
Donald Trump was nowhere near any presidential politics in 2014. But they already literally had operatives here on an intel gathering mission for this ongoing Russian effort. The Russian government was already working on this years-long effort to try to hurt us, to try to somehow specifically infect and rot our electoral system and faith in U.S. democracy.
They started working on it, 2014. Then they get their vehicle to glom that on going operation on to. And that vehicle is the candidacy of Donald J. Trump.
Quote: By February 2016, internal IRA documents referred to support for the Trump campaign as early as March 2016. They are purchasing online ads that overtly oppose the Clinton campaign.
Quote: For example on March 18th, 2016, the IRA purchased an advertisement depicting candidate Clinton and a caption that read in part: If one day God let`s this liar enter the White House as president, that day would be a real national tragedy.
At the same time they go all in for Trump. Quote: The first known IRA advertisement explicitly endorsing the Trump campaign was purchased April 19th, 2016. The IRA bought an advertisement for its Instagram account Tea Party News, asking U.S. persons to help them make a patriotic team of young Trump supporters by uploading photos with the #KidsforTrump.
It`s Russia who was trying to get the #KidsforTrump trending, using their Tea Party fake online avatars. Which were actually operated from St. Petersburg in Russia, because that #KidsforTrump, that was the spring 2016 evolution of the overall long running -- by that point, years-long running effort to do whatever they could, to try to destroy American democracy.
Why did they think supporting candidate Donald Trump would do that? I mean, Russia presumably is not trying to make America great again, right? They`re running an op, an on going op that well-preceded the Trump effort to try to weaken us as much as they can. When Trump came along, they decided Trump was the perfect vehicle to continue and expand that work.
We learn from Robert Mueller`s report today a few things that were total surprises at least to me. We learned from Mueller`s report today that it was not just the Internet Research Agency, this online troll farm that was doing all the online propaganda and social media stuff. Mueller says they obtained evidence that it was other Russian entities that were also running similar active measure campaigns to try to help Trump win and to try to hurt Hillary Clinton`s chances.
Oddly, they say, quote: This office, meaning the special counsel`s office, has shared that evidence with other offices of the Department of Justice, and the FBI. What other offices? Is somebody else working on that now?
Other entities in Russia besides the Internet Research Agency that were doing this online and propaganda and disinformation stuff to try to infect the U.S. election on behalf of the Russian federation to benefit Trump? There were other entities doing that part of it?
Apparently, and those have been referred to in other entities and the FBI and the Justice Department. Who are they? What are they investigating? What does it relate to?
That`s actually a surprisingly recurring theme throughout the Mueller report. I mean, we`re going to talk tonight about the 12 cases that Mueller has referred for prosecution, referred to other law enforcement entities for prosecution, 12 of the 14 of them are blacked out in this report. We are not allowed to know who they are or if they`re yet being prosecuted or whom. We just know that those dozen cases have been referred by Mueller for potential prosecution. Who are those?
We`ll also talk about the two active cases that Mueller apparently started prosecuting, that have now been handed off to other prosecutors. But those are cases where we don`t know who the defendants are, there`s a big long list in the report of all the cases that we know about, that Mueller has handed off, right? Manafort, Flynn, Gates, Bijan Kian, Roger Stone, the GRU case, Sam Patten, Konstantin Kilimnik, it`s big long list.
But then there`s other two cases that Mueller has handed off. Not referred them for prosecution, but transferred the handling of those extant investigations and prosecutions to other law enforcement entities. But those extant cases, they`re redacted, we don`t know who they are. We`ll talk about that later this hour, in terms of figuring out, what is the scale that the special counsel has been doing here?
But check this out too -- I mean, here`s a whole other category of information Mueller appears to have developed in this investigation that is also somewhere else at this point.
Quote: For more than the past year, the FBI embedded personnel at the special counsel`s office, who did not work on the special counsel`s investigation, but whose purpose was to review results of the investigation, and send summaries of foreign intelligence and counter intelligence information to FBI headquarters and FBI field offices. Those communications and other correspondents between the special counsel`s office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not all of which is contained in this volume.
In other words, hey, intelligence committees, come and get it, all of the foreign intelligence and counter intelligence stuff that has turned up in this investigation that is not in this report, we`ve had FBI agents operating in this office, committing all that stuff in writing, conveying it to other elements of U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence work, and that`s not here, but we`re letting you know that exists, so that you can go get it. OK.
We saw Adam Schiff and other members of the Intelligence Committees asking how the counterintelligence part of this investigation would be handled in terms of this public- facing report. Now we know, at least a categorical designation of that evidence, they just didn`t put in here, but they let us know that it exists, so that the intelligence committees can go and obtain it.
I mean, that said, there is a ton of material here. There`s so much more here than I thought we would get. I mean, just like scraping the surface, just top of my head, not even the most important stuff, but we finally get the explanation for the whole Peter Smith story.
Remember that story? The guy who killed himself, Republican activist who killed himself after telling a reporter for "The Wall Street Journal" that he had been contacting hackers online, to try to get Hillary Clinton`s emails to benefit the Trump campaign. It turns out that effort, according to the special counsel`s office actually started with a request from Donald Trump himself. He requested to members of his campaign that they needed to figure out ways to find Clinton`s emails. Soon-to-be national security adviser, Mike Flynn, took that request from Donald Trump himself and pitched that request to Peter Smith, and that`s how that whole effort started which ended with Smith`s suicide.
It also turns out that the Trump Tower meeting offer to give the Trump campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian sources, turns out that was not the only offer of Russia related dirt on Hillary Clinton. Turns out Jared Kushner fielded another previously unreported offer of Russia-related Hillary Clinton dirt from yet another source, this time, in a meeting in his New York office, in August 2016. Turns out Jared Kushner also had an American friend of his sit down with a representative from Vladimir Putin`s office, whereupon the two of them wrote up a plan that would result in dropping sanctions on Russia.
They gave this plan to Jared Kushner, he received it and then -- he received it from his friend who was working with Putin`s guy, and Jared personally delivered it both to the White House and to the U.S. State Department, because sure, that`s how that kind of material should be handled.
We also got a national security horror movie plot when it comes to Paul Manafort, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence. In the report, we learn that Trump hired as his campaign chairman a man who by then had spent more than a decade working to provide, quote, "political risk insurance" for a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin. The oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, quote, used Manafort to install friendly political officials in countries where Deripaska had business interests.
Manafort`s job for more than a decade before he started working for Trump was that he installed friendly political officials in office on behalf of a Kremlin-connected oligarch. The oligarch paid him to install people in high office in foreign countries for the convenience of the Kremlin. That was Donald Trump`s campaign chair.
And incidentally, that "Associated Press" story from the spring of 2017 turns out to be right, the explicit terms of Manafort`s arrangement with this oligarch referenced the need to brief the Kremlin and referenced the benefits that the work could confer on the Putin government. Well, the benefits for the Putin government, they need to be kept fully apprised on Manafort`s work to bring about those benefits by installing friendly officials in foreign countries. That`s who Trump brought on to run his campaign. And we`re going to be talking about this for a long while yet. There is a ton here.
But I mean, just for the purposes of tonight, you should know that Manafort did repeatedly send detailed internal polling data from the Trump campaign to a Russian guy who it was understood would also send that information to this Kremlin connected oligarch. He repeatedly provided internal polling data, to that Russian guy, at an in person meeting in August 2016, Manafort provided this Russian intermediary, this Russian guy who was his intermediary with Deripaska. He was also got a linked to Russian intelligence who is elsewhere described in Mueller`s report today, as acting on behalf of the Russian government.
Manafort in August 2016 provided him in person a briefing on the state of Trump`s campaign, Manafort`s specific plan as Trump`s campaign chairman for how Trump could win the election. The Trump campaign`s planned messaging for the end of the presidential campaign, yet more internal polling data from the Trump campaign, although he had been feeding him that for months. Plus, quote, a discussion of battleground states, which Manafort identified to his Russian contact as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
So, Manafort, according to Mueller, repeatedly lied, including to prosecutors with whom he had entered into a plea agreement, repeatedly lied about his contacts with that Russian guy, who was his intermediary with the oligarch. He repeatedly lied about his contacts with him, repeatedly lied about what he gave that guy from Trump`s campaign, repeatedly lied about their ongoing work and discussions on yet another plan that would result in the U.S. dropping sanctions against Putin`s government.
Because Mueller`s team was unable to rely on anything that Manafort told them, because he was constantly lying to them, and without them being able to access many of Manafort`s communications, many of which were sent in encrypted applications. Without them being able to track that valuable campaign information that Manafort sent to his Russian contact, with the understanding he would send it on to this Kremlin-connected oligarch, without the ability to follow this to its end, the special counsel say they come to no conclusions as to what happened with all that stuff that Trump`s campaign chair sent over to Russia, and whether or not that stuff really was a help or not, in Russia`s then vociferous and robust efforts to help Trump target and turn out his voters and to target and suppress Hillary Clinton`s voters.
So, I mean, like I said, we`re just scratching the surface here. If nothing else ever happens in the news in the next year, I will be busy for the next year, at least. I mean, these 448 still redacted pages we got today, is like walking into a vineyard and you just like eat the skin off a single grape. Like honestly, we could spend a week here just with what happened with Erik Prince and Steve Bannon, and the how it is that either of them has thus far avoided being charged.
But honestly, the real shock of what we got today, volume one is about the Russian interference in the election and contacts, the myriad and many previously unexplained contacts between Russian individuals and people associated with the Trump campaign. That`s volume one. The shock of what we got today I think is volume two. It`s 182-page-long case essentially that the special counsel laid out for charging the president of the United States with obstruction of justice.
And honestly, that`s what it is. That`s what volume two of this report is. It`s a road map for how to charge this president with multiple felony counts of obstruction of justice.
Contrary to the direct assertions from Attorney General William Barr, the special counsel didn`t just inexplicably decide that they weren`t going to decide whether the president criminally obstructed justice. It`s amazing that William Barr lied about that so many times and so blatantly, when in this report Mueller actually spells out exactly what he was doing about his charging decisions on obstruction.
And it`s not -- it`s not even in legalese, it`s totally clear, blunt understandable by those of us who are not lawyers. And it is a case that makes sense and that Barr lied about, that Barr presented to the public in a way diametrically opposite to what Mueller says here himself.
Check it out, this is what Mueller actually says. Quote: A traditional prosecution or declination decision entails a binary determination to initiate or decline a prosecution. But we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment when it came to obstruction of justice. The Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice has issued an opinion, finding that the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting president would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. So, the OLC has a Justice Department policy which says, you can`t indict or prosecute a sitting president.
Quote: Given the role of the special counsel as an attorney in the Justice Department, given the framework of the special counsel regulations, this office accepted OLC`s legal conclusion for the purpose of exercising prosecutorial jurisdiction.
So, yes, that`s written by lawyers but it`s not legalese, we can get that, right? That`s Mueller`s office saying, hey, we recognize and we appreciate and we accept that we are bound by Justice Department policy, Justice Department policy for good or ill, it says you can`t prosecute a sitting president. So, because of that, because we accept that, we`re constrained.
We`re constrained. We in this report can`t say, OK, based on X conduct by the president, we believe he should be charged. They say, we feel constrained, we cannot do that for one, they argue and say, that would not be fair to the president.
Quote: Fairness concerns counseled against potentially reaching the judgment that the president committed crimes when no charges can be brought. The ordinary means for an individual to respond to an accusation is through a speedy and public trial with all the procedural protections that surround a criminal case. An individual who believes he was wrongly accused can use that process to seek to clear his name. In contrast, a prosecutors judgment that crimes were committed but that no charges will be brought, affords no such adversarial opportunity for public name clearing before an impartial adjudicator.
That`s a fair enough argument, right? What Mueller`s saying here is in the normal course of events, the prosecutor says, you should be charged, you committed a crime. Well, if you shouldn`t be charged, if you didn`t commit a crime, you didn`t dispute that, you rebut that assertion from the prosecutors in court. That`s the judicial system, right? You can go to court. You get your day in court. You get to disprove that allegation.
But if it`s not the normal course of events, because you`re president, and Justice Department policy says you can`t actually be prosecuted. Well, in that case, if a prosecutor comes out and says, you ought to be prosecuted, you committed a crime, you`re never going to go to court. They`re not going to actually prosecute you, that means you`ll never have a fair opportunity to rebut such an accusation.
It`s a simple idea. If you can`t be prosecuted, the prosecutors say, you can`t be accused of a crime by prosecutors either.
That said, Mueller`s office contends it`s not like you get off scot-free. Quote: While the OLC opinion concludes that a sitting president may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the president`s term is permissible. We may not be able to prosecute you, but we can investigate you.
Quote: The OLC opinion also recognizes that the president does not have immunity after he leaves office. So, even if you can`t be charged as president, because you can`t be prosecuted as president, we can darn sure investigate you, and you can darn sure be charged when you`re out of office. You can darn well be charged based on the factual record that we turn up investigating you, while you`re in office.
And then this is just -- this to me is just remarkable. Quote: Given those considerations, the facts known to us, and the strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of the criminal justice system, we conducted a thorough, factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence, when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available. If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.
Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the president`s actions and intent presents difficult issues to determine that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also doesn`t exonerate him.
This is just astonishing, right? I mean, this is happening. You`ll always be able to say this happened in your lifetime.
This is the special counsel saying, we are not allowed by Justice Department policy, to say if the president committed crimes here, but we would tell you if we figured out that he didn`t commit any crimes, because we did a thorough examination here. If our thorough examination turned up a conclusion that the president committed no crimes, we would tell you he committed no crimes. We`re not in the position to say that. We can`t tell you that, given what we turned up in our investigation.
Now, we`re not allowed to prosecute him now. He can be impeached. He can be prosecuted when he leaves office. But they say, here is the factual record of what he did, and how all these multiple instances have obstruction of justice by the president, basically fit the predicates for prosecution. And then it`s 180 pages of this stuff.
In conclusion at the end of volume two, they say, our investigation found multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian interference and obstruction investigations. The incidents were often carried out through one on one meetings in which the president sought to use his official power outside of usual channels. These actions range from efforts to remove the special counsel, and reverse the effect of the attorney general`s recusal, to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation, to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses, with the potential to influence their testimony.
The president`s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out his orders or accede to his requests. Comey didn`t end the investigation into Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn`s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. McGahn didn`t tell the acting attorney general that the special counsel must be removed, but was instead planning to resign over the president`s order.
Lewandowski and Dearborn didn`t deliver the president`s message to Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to only future election meddling. McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about the events surrounding the president`s direction to have the special counsel removed, despite the president`s multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the president`s aides and associates beyond those already filed.
And what is left tacit there, is the evidence they obtained would support potential obstruction charges against the president himself, if only he weren`t the president. But they also note, he won`t be forever, and part of the way he could leave the presidency is via impeachment if Congress chose to follow this road map, where it quite obviously leads.
Like I said, this is like grape one in the vineyard. There`s a lot to get to, and we have some very special guests here tonight to help us get through it.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Ever since Robert Mueller submitted the report that we got the redacted version of today, submitted it four weeks ago, we have seen Democrats in Congress going full bore trying to get various financial information about the president and about the president`s business history. That`s been happening in Congress since Mueller submitted this report in the first place.
Now, we have a good angle on why, because for everything that is in the Mueller report today -- my copy of it is already a total mess. For everything that`s in this today, you want to know what`s not in here at all? Anything having to do with Donald Trump`s finances, anything about following the money trail, anything about whether or not any potential compromise on the part of him or somebody else in his orbit or in his campaign, might be traceable to finances or business interests -- potential, you know, tax shelters, money laundering, any of that, they don`t appear to have pursued any of that in the special counsel`s office.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has been saying all along for months, that he believed that Mueller and Mueller`s team were not following the money, that they were not looking into finances, potential money laundering or potential financial motives. Now we know that Adam Schiff was right all along about that.
Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Sir, I really appreciate you being here. I know this is a really big night.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You bet.
MADDOW: Let me ask about that point I was just making. You have been saying for months now, that you didn`t believe that Mueller and his team were looking at potential financial motivations, potential financial ties that might explain either compromise or any other element of the Russia scandal that would have ongoing implications for the country.
My reading of this report tonight suggests you`re right. Do you think that that`s the case?
SCHIFF: I think that is the case. There`s certainly no discussion in the report of whether he looked into those allegations. He did look at the effort to build a Moscow Trump Tower. That certainly was a form of financial entanglement and a deep conflict of interest by the president.
But in terms of the issue of money laundering, there`s no indication he looked at that, unless that`s part of the counterintelligence findings that he alluded to. And you mentioned that earlier, he said was not going to be a part of this report.
But I have to imagine, frankly, that Mueller did not follow the money in that respect. And that`s very important for our committee as well as the Financial Services Committee to make sure there`s no financial leverage or other leverage that the Russians or the Gulf or anyone else have over the president of the United States.
MADDOW: In terms of those counterintelligence findings, that was another thing we didn`t know heading into this, in terms of how it would be structured, and indeed, what the Justice Department would allow to be released. It seems to me what we`re allowed to see in Mueller`s findings today that there is a whole separate set of documentation related to things that were turned up in the investigation that inside the Justice Department, inside the special counsel`s office, they decided to handle separately from everything they reported today. It`s foreign intelligence information, and it`s counterintelligence information.
Did you know that before seeing those references in the report today? And do you expect that you`ve already been briefed on some of that stuff? Or will that be stuff you`re pursuing?
SCHIFF: It will be stuff that we are pursuing. It really was my expectation that because this report was largely about a criminal investigation, and the prosecutorial decisions we decided to prosecute here, we did not decide to prosecute there, it would be unlikely to go into all the counterintelligence findings, and Mueller as you say, I think was pointing this out quite explicitly for Congress, that, hey, if you want this foreign intelligence, counter intelligence information, it is there for the asking.
And we made that request. And I`ll tell you, Rachel, as you know from the last two years, there is not much that my ranking member Mr. Nunes and I agree upon. But we do agree upon this, the law requires the Department of Justice to provide that foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information to our committee. In fact, we did a bipartisan letter two weeks ago, demanding all that information.
And we`re going to get it. There`s I think no way for the department to avoid it, and I think that was a tip-off by the special counsel that we needed to pursue that lead.
MADDOW: You were one of six committee chairman who have responded to the report, the publication of this report tonight, expressing real concern about what was described here as the president`s behavior. And obviously the special counsel goes into great detail into the report as to how he approached the issue of whether specific allegations of criminal activity by the president could fairly be included in this type of report, given Justice Department policy that says a president can`t be indicted.
The way I read that, the way I think that the special counsel`s office spelled out their findings here is, I feel like they have provided a road map to Congress -- or alternately to any prosecutors who may still have jurisdiction and may be operating within the statute of limitations with the president once he`s no longer president, that the president could be charged for obstruction of justice, on any number of these activities that are described such detail.
That`s how I see it as a layman. I know you`re a former prosecutor. I know you`re a powerful committee chairman right now.
Is that how you receive it?
SCHIFF: It is. I think it`s pretty clear and contrary to what the attorney general was trying to spin in his memo, and during his press conference. But the special counsel intended to leave that question to Congress. Special counsel felt bound by those OLC opinions that he could not indict a sitting president, and wanted to preserve that evidence for Congress. And frankly, until we see all of that, including the grand jury material, we take nothing off the table.
I view this as right now in the position of preliminary to a judicial proceeding. It cannot be the position of the Justice Department -- hey, we`re not going to give you evidence -- grand jury material as to a president who may have violated the law and allow you to determine whether an impeachment is warranted on one hand. And, on the other hand, we believe we can`t indict the president, that`s effectively immunity.
And one thing Bob Mueller made clear is, he doesn`t believe this president or anyone else is above the law. So, we need to get all the unredacted -- we did get all redacted material, we need to get all the intelligence and foreign intelligence information from Bob Mueller, from the Justice Department, these underlying documents so we can make an informed judgment.
But, yes, I think Mueller intended that for Congress to oversee and investigate.
MADDOW: Briefly, sir, do you anticipate you`ll be speaking with Robert Mueller soon? Do you anticipate he`ll be testifying in intelligence in short order? We`ve heard Congressman Nadler ask for him to testify before the Judiciary Committee before the end of May. What`s your anticipation in terms of your committee?
SCHIFF: We have the same expectation, and I think as much as that testimony ought to be public testimony, perhaps all of it in the judiciary committee, and perhaps a bifurcated hearing in the Intelligence Committee.
We want to make sure the department of justice doesn`t hide behind the Gang of Eight or anything else to try to prevent the American people from seeing this evidence, because it is damning. At the end of the day, when you read this lengthy report, you learn that the president has repeatedly misled the country. He`s urged others to mislead the country. He`s tried to dangle rewards behind those that tow his line, even if it`s at odd to the fact he`s tried to insinuate he would punish those who go against him.
There were countless contacts between the Trump people and the Russians that they sought to conceal and lie about. All of this is damning and we all ought to, I think, expect more from our president than merely the protestation that he`s not a crook.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee -- sir, I know your time is at a premium tonight. Thank you for being here.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Up next, we`re going to be joined here on set with someone I`m looking forward to talking to, somebody you have not heard weigh in on this subject. He`s the man who ordered the obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations into the president in the first place.
Andrew McCabe was thrust into the role of acting FBI director after the president fired James Comey, explaining he did so because the Russia investigation was on his mind. Andrew McCabe is going to be joining us here live for his first interview since this redacted report came out, next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Tonight, we are lucky enough to be joined by somebody who played an absolutely central role in the Russia investigation, particularly in its early days. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe took over leadership of the FBI after President Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey.
Shortly thereafter, it was Acting Director McCabe who ordered obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations into the president, saying he wanted to put the Russia on absolutely solid ground, should he also be removed by President Trump.
Andrew McCabe has since published this book, it`s called "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump".
Former Director McCabe joins us now here live on set.
Sir, thanks for being here.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: I have to ask you -- there`s a million things I want to ask you -- but given your role in initiating these investigations, do you feel like this public facing document by Robert Mueller and his office today directly and aptly explains why those investigations were started and whether the predicate was sound?
MCCABE: I think it does. I think it validates the decisions that we made, certainly in July of 2016, to start the initial Russia-focused investigation, and then, of course, the decisions that we made in May of 2017 to include the president in that investigation personally.
As you know, Rachel, the FBI, the standard for predication to open an investigation in the FBI is an articulable factual basis to believe that a threat to national security might exist, or that a federal crime might have been committed. We have been saying as much as we can publicly in the last few months, that those are the reasons, looking at the facts that we had before us, that we opened the case on President Trump in May of 2017.
MADDOW: One of the things that is explained in volume one of the report is that nobody associated with the Trump campaign was charged with being a foreign agent acting on the behest of Russia. And there`s a reference in that part of the to the fact that there were FISA warrants that were obtained including on Carter Page, who was -- after he left the Trump campaign, and the Mueller report today -- this redacted version of the report we got, essentially tries to address the controversy a little bit over what it would take to get a FISA warrant on somebody, for which you have to prove to the court that somebody may be acting as a foreign agent - -
MCCABE: That`s right.
MADDOW: Versus no prosecutorial intention to charge that person as a foreign agent.
MADDOW: Tell us about the distinction.
MCCABE: Sure. So, the standard, the FISA -- you have to prove to the FISA court that -- to a -- not a preponderance of evidence, but beyond a reasonable doubt, that this individual may be acting as an agent of a foreign power. You do that to enable yourself to conduct the sort of investigation that will ultimately lead you to the position where you think you can or should charge someone with a crime.
So, the FISA warrant is not the end of the process, it`s the very beginning of the process, it`s what opens up access to that person`s communications or other activities that help you understand whether or not they are in fact an agent of a foreign power.
MADDOW: And when it comes to charging someone as being an agent of a foreign power, that`s a different standard of evidence.
MCCABE: Well, it is. And the charge for someone in that position could be very different. It could be charging someone with espionage or it could be charging someone with mishandling classified evidence, or there`s all sorts of different ways that you think someone might be acting on behalf of a foreign power, might have violated the law.
MADDOW: Well, how -- given the timing of you leaving the FBI, your involvement in the initiation of these investigations, the fact that you`re out of the bureau now. You read this today along with the rest of us today.
MCCABE: I did.
MADDOW: What do you make about what`s described between the Trump campaign and Russia during this Russian attack? Obviously, there`s a decision made by Mueller and he and his team were overt about it, that although they were identifying lots of ties, lots of links, they factually describe lots of interactions, they were unable to find anything that they felt should be charged as what we`ve come to call collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
That said, we get factual descriptions of the Trump campaign chair offering on an on going basis, internal campaign polling data, to somebody who`s assessed to be working on behalf of the Russian government, tied to Russian intelligence, who`s thought to be passing that information on to someone who`s linked to the Kremlin. I mean, how do you feel about what was turned up in national security terms between links between Trump and Russia?
MCCABE: Well, first of all, I have tremendous faith on Mueller and the team he had working on this issue. And I`m sure they have uncovered whatever evidence was there for them to uncover.
But I agree with you, it is -- it`s almost tantalizing, right? You have two sides that are working toward a common goal, that is getting President Trump -- or then candidate Trump elected.
What we clearly have is those two sides are working to mutual benefit. The Russians absolutely wanted Trump to be the victorious candidate in the election, and certainly the campaign had the same desire. But what Director Mueller has told us is, that`s not enough, simply the fact that both sides acted to benefit each other, is not enough. You have to show in the words of criminal prosecution for conspiracy, an agreement between the two.
And that was the last piece of evidence, it`s the final kind of keystone in the bridge, if you will, that the team didn`t seem to feel confident that they had.
MADDOW: It seemed like the closest they got to finding someone that could be criminally charged in that whole section about the links between Russia and the Trump campaign, was the possibility of charging, oddly enough, campaign finance violations from accepting a thing of value --
MADDOW: -- from a foreign entity for the purpose of influencing the election.
So, there were two reasons they didn`t get there. Number one, they couldn`t prove that people involved in that from the Trump campaign knew there were laws against it, effectively, which is an excellent, you know, case for never going to school. It makes you less culpable.
But the other part of it was that they said they couldn`t put, essentially, a financial value on the anti-Clinton information they were seeking, they were trying to get from these Russian sources. Again, not approaching this from a law enforcement`s perspective at all -- it seems bizarre to me that it would matter whether they were getting something that was 25 cents in value versus $25,000 value. Why would that be part of the calculus?
MCCABE: I`m not so sure that`s the defining piece of the calculus, right?
MCCABE: Because, of course, the law says you can`t take anything of value, it doesn`t say only things more than 25 cents or less than 25 cents. It`s anything of value.
In this case, I think what Director Mueller and the team have laid out all the problems they would have encountered trying to put forward a case to prove that. So, you have a campaign that desperately wants that material. It`s not clear that there was ever an actual connection with those folks that are delivering those results -- the Internet Research Agency, the GRU and others.
And it`s just -- again, it`s like -- it`s like the cart missing one of the four wheels. It`s just one step short of that connecting those two parties and their intentions and what they provided to each other. That connection is just not there.
MADDOW: There`s one other element about this that I`d like to ask you about, but I have to stay with us for a second.
MADDOW: We`ll take a quick break.
We`ll be right back with former FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back with the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Mr. McCabe, thank you again for being here.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about something that was described around the question of the president being charged for obstruction of justice. There`s a lot of legal discussion there about whether or not the president can be essentially accused by Mueller and his office of having committed crimes given that Justice Department policy says he can`t be tried which means he can`t rebut those assertions in court, and maybe that wouldn`t be fair.
That said at special counsel`s office goes out of their way to describe the president`s motives and how those might go toward justifying charges essentially for obstruction of justice. I see this, I was talking with Congressman Schiff about this earlier, I see this essentially as a road map for prosecutors after the president has left office or for the Judiciary Committee while the president is still in office to essentially pursue those charges in a trial after he`s no longer president or an impeachment proceedings while he`s in Congress. Otherwise, you wouldn`t go to the length they go to in order to explain the president`s state of minds.
Is that how you read it?
MCCABE: It`s absolutely how I read it. You know, the Bob Mueller that I know, the Bob Mueller that I worked for for many years is not a guy who is going to write a report that contradicts can existing DOJ policy. So, he`s not going to write a report that says the president should be indicted knowing that`s not a possibility under the current policy.
But what Director Mueller has done here is he`s provided an avalanche of facts that clearly indicate obstructive activity on the part of the president. He calls it out plainly in ten different sections in volume two of the report and he lays out why he believes in many of those cases the intent is present, why he believes that, you know, the nexus to the contemplated or ongoing matter is present.
So the analysis is extraordinary. The scope is incredibly damning for the president.
MADDOW: When you say the analysis is extraordinary, you mean it is laid out in the way a prosecutor would need to lay it out in order to justify charges?
MCCABE: Exactly. And I would add, done fairly, right? There are places in the report where Director Mueller evaluates the evidence they have and says, you know, it is not clear to us that the intent to obstruct was present in this particular circumstance. So, he very much gives the president the benefit of the doubt when it`s a ball up in the air and it`s a 50/50 call, he comes down clearly on the side that it`s not all there.
MADDOW: Last question for you.
MADDOW: Looking at this with all of your experience in the FBI, is this type of work product that you expected both in terms of its coherence, but also just in terms of its quality?
MCCABE: It is, absolutely. From Director Mueller, this is the work product you expect. It is broad. It is professional. It is dispassionate. He`s incredibly factual.
And from the men and women who worked on this investigation, many of whom I personally and worked with for many years, this is an extraordinary work product produced under incredible stress and during tough times and I`m incredibly proud of them.
MADDOW: Some of the stress and tough times you can attest to personally.
Andrew McCabe is former deputy director and former acting director of the FBI. His book is called "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump" -- it`s an honor to have you here with us tonight, sir. Thanks.
MCCABE: Thank you so much. An honor to be here.
All right. More ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us now is the great Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in the state of Michigan.
Barb, thank you for being with us tonight. Looking forward talking to you.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Honored to be here on Mueller night.
MADDOW: I have a specific legal question. At the end of appendix D, there`s a list of cases that have been referred for prosecution. There`s 14 of them.
Twelve of the 14 are totally blacked out. Those are cases that Mueller has said we`ve identified -- we`ve identified evidence that criminal activity may have happened, you other law enforcement entities should consider prosecution. That`s what referral means in that context?
MCQUADE: Yes, it doesn`t just mean we notice something minor. This is a very significant matter. We perceived it to be beyond the scope, and we know Robert Mueller took a narrow view of his scope of investigation. So, some other entity ought to investigate it.
You know, for example, we know in the college bribery scheme, that case started because a cooperator in a securities fraud case talked about bribes from a coach. And that`s how that began.
So when you have that kind of thing, you find out, you sort of stumble upon evidence of a case while you`re investigating another, you don`t ignore it if it is significant. So, the fact he referred it to others says to me it was beyond the scope, his narrow scope and it was significant.
MADDOW: OK. Right before that, in Appendix D, there`s a different section that isn`t things that have been referred for prosecution by Mueller, they are cases that have been transferred. So this is cases, a whole bunch of them. It`s Manafort, Gates, Bijan Kian, GRU, IRA, blah, blah, blah. All these cases we knew were ongoing.
Two of those cases are redacted. Now, I understand the name being redacted when it`s being referred to prosecution and no charges have been brought yet. But when it`s an ongoing case transferred, how are we not allowed who those defendants are?
Those are sealed cases? Those are people who`ve been indicted that the indictment hasn`t been unsealed? Those people are still at large? I mean, what does that mean?
MCQUADE: Not clear. But it does suggest to me it was within and what Mueller perceived to be his narrow scope.
MCQUADE: So, they`re somewhere in the pipeline unrelated to the specific scope of links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but things that came up he was investigating along the way and has now transferred. It could be Russians who are overseas and are fugitives.
MADDOW: But it would be -- there`s no reason they would be redacted in this report if we`ve had their names publicly made available. So, there are two ongoing cases where we don`t know who they`re against.
MCQUADE: Absolutely right.
MADDOW: Do you also agree that this is essentially a road map on obstruction stuff for either prosecutors after the president has left office or Congress now to pursue those in court and through impeachment proceedings?
MCQUADE: Yes, that`s the way I read what Robert Mueller wrote about it would be unfair to charge somebody, to talk about charges now when it can`t defend himself. It`s not appropriate to charge a sitting president. I don`t think he anticipated that William Barr would jump in and say that leaves it to me the attorney general to decide there will be no obstruction of justice charges.
But there`s nothing to stop Congress for picking this up now, and nothing to stop a subsequent Department of Justice from charging in 2020.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade, thank you for being here. You`ve been a clarion voice throughout this entire process. Stay with us forever.
MCQUADE: My pleasure to do so. Thanks, Rachel. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. That does it for this second. We`ll see you again really soon.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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