JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
And good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I am the Rachel Maddow. I`m going to start right now.
REID: Riding (ph) slowly to the pedal toward, oh, oh, oh, two more seconds -- bam!
MADDOW: Thank you, Joy. Great to see you, my friend. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well. Happy Friday.
Why did the president`s daughter Ivanka Trump enter into a proffer session with prosecutors during the course of the Mueller investigation? Why did one of the Republicans who received a top level confidential intelligence briefing on the FBI`s investigation of the president and his campaign turn right around after receiving that confidential presidential briefing and take that information straight to the White House to let them know the state of the FBI`s investigation and who that investigation was targeting?
Why did a Trump cabinet official tell prosecutors that President Trump had not asked him to intervene to try to stop the FBI`s investigation, when that same Trump cabinet official told multiple members of his own staff that the president had done just that? And I could go on. I mean, it turns -- It turns out even the redacted version of the Mueller report is like a really good ragu. It`s just better the second day.
You know, the same thing about like-- sometimes Chinese takeout, too. It`s good when you get it. But after it sat overnight in the frig chilling for a while? Next day, tastier! Maybe less overwhelming than when it first came off the stove, you get more out of it on day two.
We`ve got a lot going on this hour. We`re going to talk about all those questions I just raised right at the top here. But I want to start with one aspect of the part of Mueller`s report that led to dramatic headlines like this all across the country today.
"The Fresno Bee" in Fresno, California, Mueller: Trump tried to thwart inquiry. "The Tuscaloosa News" in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Trump attempted to thwart probe. "The Wichita Eagle" in Wichita, Kansas: Mueller reveals Trump`s efforts to thwart inquiry.
"The Washington Post," Mueller details Russian interference, Trump`s attempts to disrupt probe. "The Portland Press Herald" in Portland, Maine: Mueller lays out evidence of obstruction against Trump. "The Sentinel Record" in Hot Springs, Arkansas: Mueller reveals Trump`s attempt to choke off Russia probe.
Those were the headlines in papers large and small across the country today. And one of the things we got from Mueller, in the section of his redacted report that assesses that, subject to all of those headlines, that assesses the potential criminal liability for the president specifically on the issue of obstruction of justice.
One of the things we got is a really specific factual account of multiple instances of the president`s behavior that might fall under the rubric of obstruction of justice. And it is all stuff that is based on sworn statements and evidence. We`ve got references to exactly where they got all the evidence they got that supports the narrative that they laid out.
We`ve got full names of the people who provided them with that evidence. We get places, times, we get any corroborating evidence, we get dates for everything. It`s like a full blown receipt, an itemized receipt for exactly what happened.
And we get that on all of them. I mean, just pick your favorite here. I mean, there are ten broad categories of obstruction of justice that are described in volume two of Mueller`s report. Each of those ten broad categories has multiple components and multiple acts by the president. I mean, just pick one.
I mean, here, I`ll show you what I mean about the details here. In the table of contents, this is just picking one almost at random. This is the first item under the heading the president`s efforts to curtail the special counsel investigation. You see there, subsection one, the president asks Corey Lewandowski to deliver a message to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to curtail the special counsel investigation.
I mean, I could have picked any of them. Literally, just the table of contents for the obstruction of justice actions is three pages long, single spaced, small font. But I like this -- I like this example in particular, not because it is the best or the worst, in the middle of the narrative, the detailed narrative of this one, you can tell there`s this moment where the president thinks he has come up with a genius idea. Eureka! He has a capital "I" idea that will solve everything. And it base which I leaps off the page that the president thinks he has nailed this one.
Here`s how it starts. On June 19th, 2017, the president met one-on-one in the Oval Office with his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Senior advisers describe Lewandowski as a devotee of the president and said the president -- excuse me, and said the relationship between president and Lewandowski was close.
During that June 19, 2017 meeting, Lewandoski recalled that after some small talk, the president brought up Jeff Sessions and criticized his recusal from the Russia investigation.
The president then asked Lewandowski to deliver a message to Sessions and said, quote, write this down. This was the first time the president had asked Mr. Lewandowski to take dictation and Lewandowski wrote as fast as possible to make sure he captured the contend correctly.
So, here`s the president having a brain wave. He has come up with something that will solve the Jeff Sessions being recused from the Russia investigation thing once and for all. Corey, write this down. Get a pen. Bite off the tip of your finger and write in it blood. I just got a thought. Get this down, I got something here.
Quote: The president directed that Sessions should give a speech, publicly announcing, I know that I recuse myself from certain things having to do with specific areas but our POTUS, our president of the United States, is being treated very unfairly.
He shouldn`t have a special prosecutor/counsel because he hasn`t done anything wrong. I was on the campaign with him for nine months. There were no Russians involved with him. I know it for a fact because I was there. He didn`t do anything wrong except he ran the greatest campaign in American history.
That is the speech that Jeff Sessions was supposed to give. Mueller says, quote, the dictated message went on to state Jeff Sessions would meet with the special counsel to limit jurisdiction to future election interference.
Now, a group of people -- this is what Sessions is supposed to say. Now a group of people want to subvert the Constitution of the United States. I am going to meet with the special prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and let the special prosecutor move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future elections.
Aha, see? You can just see like the president thinking this out. You can see the smoke coming out of his ears. You can almost smell it, right? I mean, you can see him thinking.
This is not firing the special counsel. Two days before the meeting with Corey Lewandowski, two days previous of that meeting, he had told White House counsel Don McGahn that Don McGahn should fire Robert Mueller, should fire the White House special counsel. That`s detailed in here, too.
Don McGahn refused that demand from the president, said he would quit. He was a big pain in the neck. But this, you can see the president thinking his way you through this. This is genius.
What he`ll arrange through Corey Lewandowski, private citizen at this point, no role in the administration whatsoever. He`ll arrange with Corey Lewandowski, he loves Corey. He`ll arrange that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions will unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation. He will rescind his recusal.
And then once he`s unrescused, Jeff Sessions won`t fire Mueller. Now, he knows that would be a problem. Instead, Jeff Sessions will just tell Mueller, hey, from here on out, I`m redirecting your investigation.
So, from here on out, it is only about crimes in the future. You, Robert Mueller, you have to leave all the crimes in the past alone. You`re so unfair. You can only investigate future crime from here on out.
Quote: The president said that if Sessions delivered that statement, he would be the most popular guy in the country. Corey Lewandoski told the president, he understood what the president wanted Sessions to do. Write this down, Corey. I`ve got a great idea!
The redacted report then goes on to explain that Corey Lewandowski, in fact, doesn`t go deliver this message to Jeff Sessions. He tries. He makes an appointment with Jeff Sessions. But Jeff Sessions cancels and then Lewandowski doesn`t really know what to do.
So, he puts the thing that he dictated from Trump in a safe. One thing we learned in this report is that lots of people around President Trump not only have safes at home. They use them whenever the president asks them to do something that really seems illegal.
But after Corey Lewandowski doesn`t give the message to Jeff Sessions and instead gives the message to a locked safe, the president asked Lewandowski again, calls him back in for a one-on-one meeting. Did you tell Sessions? They have another meeting where the president asks Corey Lewandowski to deliver this message to Sessions again or else. And the "or else" here is similarly genius.
Now, back to the report. In the follow-up meeting, quote: in the July 19th meeting with Lewandowski, the president raised his previous request and asked if Lewandowski had talked to Sessions. Lewandowski told the president that the message would be delivered soon, soon, boss, soon. Lewandowski recalled that the president then told him if Sessions did not meet with him, Lewandowski should tell Sessions that he was fired.
So, you go meet with the attorney general. You giver him this message from the president, that tells the attorney general that he needs to unrecuse himself. He needs to give a speech about how terrible the special counsel is and about how Donald Trump ran the greatest presidential campaign in history, and then he needs to announce that now that he`s unrecused, he is changing the mandate of the special counsel. So from here on out, Robert Mueller can only investigate any crimes that are going to take place in the future. Nothing that already happened.
And, Corey, if Jeff Sessions won`t meet with you to receive this message about what he`s going to do, well, then, you, Corey, you fire him. You political consultant who used to work for my campaign who is now just a random private citizen, you fire the attorney general. You say, I, Corey Lewandowski, fire you.
This is how it`s going to work, right? Genius plan.
After that point, more hilarity ensues, including Lewandowski then trying to make somebody else to do this. He taps somebody else to give this message to Jeff Sessions about what Sessions is supposed to do. He taps the deputy White House chief of staff, Rick Dearborn, to do it. Mr. Dearborn does not do it.
But then, I mean, we get all of this very specific narrative of when and how that all happened, and how we know it all happened. You know, we get the date of the first demand. Hey, Corey, write this down. That`s June 19, 2017.
We get the date of the president meeting with Lewandowski again to reiterate the demand and to say, the back-up plan, if this doesn`t work, is the attorney general being fired by a random citizen. That`s July 19, 2017.
We get footnote after footnote after footnote in the section of the report saying exactly which FBI interview and which day and which page of the FBI`s record of that interview Corey Lewandowski provided this to the investigation. Also, Rick Dearborn, too, the White House deputy chief of staff, the guy who Corey Lewandowski tried to hand off this cockamamie plan to. We get all of this details, including specific references to their FBI interviews and the 302s, the 302 forms which the FBI used to memorialize those interviews.
And then we get, I mean, as cockamamie as this was, as ridiculous as this was as a scheme, we then get Mueller and his team in all seriousness explaining, how you would charge something like this as a crime. And they do this for all of these instances of potential criminal obstruction by the president, under the heading, analysis. In analyzing the president`s efforts to have Lewandowski deliver a message directing Sessions to publicly announce that the special counsel investigation would be confined to future election interference, the following evidence is relevant to the elements of obstruction of justice.
And then the first discussion is of the obstructive act, what constitutes the obstructive act. There`s a long discussion of all the elements of what the president did exactly, concluding, quote, the president`s directives indicate that Sessions was being instructed to tell the special counsel to end the existing investigation into the president and his campaign. Then the next element of obstruction of justice as a criminal matter is nexus to an official proceeding. But you have to show if you`re going to show this is criminal obstruction of justice.
In this case, they`re very blunt and they say yes, there`s a nexus to an official proceeding. Quote: By the time the president`s initial meeting with Lewandoski on June 19, 2017, the existence of a grand jury investigation was public knowledge. So, that`s a nexus to an official proceeding.
And then there`s one last element, there`s the third element you need to establish criminal obstruction of justice, and that is intent. Quote: Substantial evidence indicates that the president`s efforts to have Sessions limit the scope of the special counsel`s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the president`s and his campaign`s conduct. The president knew that the Russia investigation was focused in part on his campaign and he perceived allegations of Russian interference to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his election.
The president further knew that the investigation had broadened to include his own conduct and whether he had obstructed justice. Those investigations would not proceed if the special counsel`s jurisdiction were limited future election interference only. I mean, which is obvious as a logical matter right. You and me, we`re not lawyers, just look in at this stuff, like, yes, duh.
If you can only -- if the investigators are only allowed to investigate stuff that hasn`t happened yet, right? I mean, it seems obvious, but you`re spelling out intent here for why an alleged perpetrator could be charged or should be convicted of this as crime and as such, you belabor the point. You spell it out.
Quote: The manner in which the president acted provides additional evidence of his intent rather than rely on official channels, the president met with Lewandowski alone in the Oval Office. The president selected a loyal devotee outside the White House to deliver the message, supporting an inference that he was working outside White House channels, including that of White House counsel Don McGahn who had just two days previously resisted contacting the Justice Department about the special counsel.
The president also did not contact the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the acting attorney general on the Russia matter, who had just testified publicly that there was no cause to remove the special counsel. Instead, the president tried to use Jeff Sessions to restrict and redirect the special counsel`s investigation when Sessions was recused and could not properly take any action on it.
Quote: The July 19, 2017 event, the second meeting, provide further evidence that the president`s intent, the president followed up with Lewandowski in a separate one-on-one meeting, one month after he first dictated the mention for Sessions, demonstrating that he still sought to pursue the request.
You do not need this level of detail. You do not need this much chapter and verse on intent. And all of this overt spelling out of three elements that constitute criminal obstruction of justice, right, obstructive, nexus to an official proceeding, intent, you don`t need all of that, if you`re don`t need if it you`re just trying to inform what the president is like behind closed doors or how this plot unfolded.
I mean, you certainly don`t lay all that out in order to show that the president definitely didn`t obstruct justice here. I mean, this is laid out to show that did he and to lay it out specifically as a predicate for criminal charges. This is laid out so that this can be charged.
And it`s not brought here in this report, in the form of actual criminal charges being unveiled against the president. There is no accompanying indictment that goes along with this, right? And Mueller spells out why, right? Mueller explains explicitly in his redacted report that he is bound by Justice Department policy that does not allow for the indictment or prosecuting of the president.
And so, therefore, he could not bring charges, he couldn`t bring a prosecution. He couldn`t say explicitly, here, this is a crime, because if the president cannot be brought into court to face charges, he can`t avail himself of the court either to prove his innocence. And so, instead, we get this road map from Mueller, explaining in detail precisely what the president did and the evidence that proves it, the admissible evidence that proves it, how it fits every element you need to prove under criminal law in order to support a criminal charge of obstruction of justice for this type of behavior.
About which former Attorney General Eric Holder was quite blunt today. Looking at this evidence and the way that Mueller laid this out, this is what Holder said today. Quote: Any, all caps, any competent public corruption prosecutor would bring obstruction charges against Trump and win. Only reason Mueller did not was because of the flawed Justice Department restriction against indicting a sitting president.
Well, flawed or not, that is a Justice Department policy. Mueller felt bound by it. And so, now, instead of an indictment of the president, we`ve got his road map for how one might prosecute this behavior by President Trump.
But who is supposed to follow this map? Why lay it out like this with all the different elements that you need to show in order to bring charges? With all the evidence laid out, not just the factual record but how it fits the statute. Who is this road map for?
Mueller explicitly raises two possibilities. And it`s funny. Only one of these is being discussed in the wake of the report. In the report, there is clearly two.
The one that nobody is talking about is from page one of the obstruction section of the report. It is explicit. It`s not even legalese. While the OLC opinion, Justice Department opinion concludes that the sitting president may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the president`s term is permissible, an investigation during the president`s term is permissible.
The OLC opinion also recognizes that a president does not have immunity after he leaves office. And then there`s a footnote just to put the second exclamation point on that. Citing the OLC memo that says you can`t bring charges against a sitting president, but quoting this exact part of it, quote: Recognizing an immunity from prosecution for a sitting president would not preclude such prosecution once the president`s term is over.
And this is something nobody is talking that in the wake of the Mueller report. At least nobody is broadly talking about it. But this is why Mueller says he did his report this way, right? If you uncover crimes, but there can be no charges, why bother uncovering the crimes, right?
Well, he says because the immunity that prevents the perp from being charged in this case, that`s a fleeting thing. It doesn`t last forever. And so, it`s not only worth investigating, it`s worth laying down what looks like chargeable conduct here and why.
As Mueller says it, quote: Given those considerations, the facts known to us and the strong public interest in safe guarding 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.
Why are you preserving the evidence? Preserving it for whom? Here`s your road map.
Because as Mueller says explicitly, when Donald Trump is no longer president, there`s no restriction on charging him. And here`s how you do it on these charges.
By the way, the statute of limitations on obstruction of justice is five years. Five years from the last criminal act that would be, could be charged. So how long would prosecutors have here? How long does the president have to make sure he stays in office to avoid these potential charges?
Well, I mean, we get a lot of detail including a lot of specific dates in this narrative. It is not just a book about the presidency. It is receipts, right?
So the president directs K.T. McFarland to write an email swearing that Trump didn`t tell Mike Flynn to call the Russian government about sanctions. That was on February 23rd, 2017. Add five years, OK, statute of limitations there extends to February 23rd, 2022.
The president personally directed that a public statement about the Trump Tower meeting, delete a proposed line that acknowledge that Don Jr. expected at that meeting to obtain information helpful to the Trump campaign. That, we know from the Mueller report, was July 8, 2017. When will the statute of limitations expire on that? Add five years, July 8th, 2022.
The president cleared everyone except James Comey out of the Oval Office before, asking Comey, I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He`s a good guy. I hope you can let this go. That was February 14, 2019, excuse me, 2017. Statute of limitations expires on that one February 14th, 2022. Happy Valentine`s day.
The president called Don McGahn and directed him to contact Attorney General Jeff Sessions and have him relayed the message that Special Counsel Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed. That was June 17th, 2017. Add five years, statute of limitations expires, June 17, 2022.
The president met with Corey Lewandowski and dictated a message for him to give to Sessions, saying that Sessions should publicly announce the investigation was very unfair to the president. From then on, the special counsel should only move forward investigating election meddling for future elections. That initial meeting was June 19th, 2017.
Then, there was a follow-up meeting a month later in July. July 2017, add five years, July 2022.
The special counsel laid out the obstructive act, the nexus for an official proceeding and the evidence for intent on all of these. If President Trump is not reelected, he will be out of office in January, 2021. At that point, he will no longer be immune from prosecution. He will still be well within the statute of limitations on all of the alleged felony counts of criminal obstruction of justice that are laid out in this report. Those don`t expire for more than a year after he leaves office.
If he is reelected, he will definitely still be in office while the statute of limitations on all those potential crimes expires and he can no longer be prutd for them. How is that for a re-election bumper sticker, right?
Four more years! Four more years! So he can run out the statute of limitations on multiple felony charges. Over and above named individual one in SDNY and two campaign finance felonies already. Four more years for that!
That will fit. They`ll make it rhyme. They`ll fit it on a hat. Of course, in the United States, we have never had a situation where a president left office and then was charged with crimes he committed while being president. Ford pardoned Nixon as soon as Ford was sworn into office so we never got to test that when it came to Nixon. One of the senior Watergate prosecutors resigned in protest that day.
Bill Clinton entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the successor to Ken Starr on his final day in office as president to avoid being charged with like to investigators about his extra-marital affair. They were actively working with a grand jury to consider indicting Bill Clinton as soon as he left office for lying to investigators about his affair. On his last day in office, they came to a deal, a non-prosecution deal.
He would not be charged once he was no longer president. But he had to pay a $25,000 fine and give up his law license for five years. That deal was announced on his last day in office.
So, we have been very close to charging ex-presidents with crimes they allegedly committed while in office as president. But so far, we haven`t got this.
Robert Mueller, however, has laid out a 182-page path for doing just that, even just on obstruction of justice. Unless, of course, President Trump is going to face the music on this stuff the other way that is late out in the Constitution, that is envisioned by the Justice Department regulations that prohibited him being charged while he is a sitting president. The other way that is laid out elegantly in Mueller`s report in the introduction to the obstruction section.
Quote: The conclusion that Congress may apply to obstruction laws to the president`s corrupt exercise of the powers of the office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.
That, of course, is about impeachment, right? That`s the other way the president could be effectively prosecuted for these alleged crimes. Using the road map and using the evidence laid out by Robert Mueller in this report.
That remedy, the impeachment remedy, is broadly viewed as politically impossible. Not the least of which because Democrats don`t want to go there. Maybe.
Today that started to change and in one way in particular, that could end up being a very big deal. And that is the subject of our next segment and our next interview.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: A new phase of the 2020 presidential campaign and an important new phase of the response to the redacted Mueller report began this afternoon at 4:05 p.m. Eastern. And this was a surprise.
Quote: The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack. Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress.
Quote: Congress has authority to prohibit a president`s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice. The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment.
To ignore a president`s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country. And I would suggest that both the current and future presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.
The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.
Signed, Elizabeth Warren, senator of Massachusetts, candidate for president in the Democratic primary.
Joining us now is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who as of tonight, is calling for the impeachment of the president.
Senator, thank you very much for being here. I really appreciate your time. I know you made time for us on short notice.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. It`s good to be here.
MADDOW: So, you are the first Democratic candidate calling for the start of impeachment proceedings. Other Democrats have been saying it`s not worth the political cost. It`s not worth the civic cost or, it`s arguably just too soon.
What made you decide to take this step today?
WARREN: Well, I read the report. I was on an airplane yesterday and started reading it. I read it way into the night last night, and I got to the end and realized.
This is about a point of principle. The report is absolutely clear, that a foreign government attacked our electoral system to help Donald Trump. He welcomed that help and then when it was investigated by our own federal authorities, Donald Trump took multiple steps to try to obstruct justice.
You know, this is one of those moments when I get it, that there are people who think politically, no, it`s going to be too hard to do this. This isn`t about politics. This isn`t even specifically about Donald Trump himself.
It is about what a president of the United States should be able to do and what the role of Congress is in saying, no, a president does not get to come in and stop an investigation about a foreign power that attacked this country, or an investigation about his own wrongdoing.
Equal justice under law. No one is above the law and that includes the president of the United States. It is the constitutional responsibility of Congress to follow through on that.
MADDOW: If you had a crystal ball and you could see into the future, and you could see if the argument you`re making carried the day in the House and impeachment proceedings began in the House. It was an investigation in the Judiciary Committee, they referred articles of impeachment to the House, the House voted essentially to indict the president, and then the Senate didn`t act, or the Senate voted and decided that the president should not be removed from office on the basis of those articles of impeachment.
If you could see into the future and that`s how it would go, the House says yes, the Senate says no -- would you still think it was the right thing to do for the country and it was a worthy use of resources and time?
WARREN: Yes, it would. I think that each person has to stand up and be accounted in a democracy. I think that`s why we`re elected into the House and to the Senate. And there are times when it`s beyond politics, when it is a point of principle to stand up and say, no president can do this. Because it matters, not just for this president, it matters for the next president and the president after that and the president after that.
You know, I get it. In dictatorships, the government coalesces around the one person in the middle and does everything to protect that one person. But that`s not where we live. We live in a democracy and it is controlled by a Constitution. And the way we make that democracy work is with checks and balances.
And a president who says, I don`t have to follow the law, and nobody can touch me on criminal acts -- that`s not right. The Constitution says that the House and the Senate can do this.
And look, this is not something I want to do. That`s not the point. It`s a point of principle and every member of the House and every member of the Senate should be called on to vote. Do you believe that that constitutes an impeachable offense?
I do believe that the evidence is just overwhelming that Donald Trump has committed these offenses. And that means we should open proceedings in the House. And then the House can take a vote.
MADDOW: Senator, I feel like I`ve been following your campaign closely enough that I feel somewhat confident in saying that you did not plan to be calling for Donald Trump`s impeachment in the middle of your presidential campaign. It`s not that --
MADDOW: It`s not the style that you`ve been -- that you`ve taken to this campaign thus far. It`s not -- it`s not the sort of thing that you seem to be building around.
But I take you at your word that you were struck by reading the report. You were moved by the evidence. I will tell you, I haven`t thought much about impeachment at all. I`ve been watching the Democrats in the House for one say that the ones in leadership positions, who have a say saying no, no, they don`t want to do it or not any time soon.
When I read the report, the one thing I made sure to watch on TV, I took a break to watch -- see what Jerry Nadler would say, because I had read enough of the report that day. But by the time he was speaking, I was 1,000 percent sure that what he was doing was getting in front of the cameras to announce that he was opening an impeachment inquiry. And I would not have expected before reading the report myself.
Because of what I experienced, because of what you`re saying you just experienced, I wonder if you think more of your colleagues than people are expecting might come around to this, that this report might have actually jarred something significantly loose compared to how people felt about this issue before?
WARREN: Yes, I think that`s a good point. And it very well may have.
You know, I hope everybody in Congress actually reads the report. I think it`s important. But it is exactly where you started this question, that this isn`t what I had planned to do.
I got into the race for president because my life`s work about what`s happening to working families across this country and how it is that the road is getting rockier and steeper for working families. We have a government that works better and better for those at the top and worse and worse for everyone else, particularly for families of color.
I got in it to talk about things like a wealth tax and universal childcare and universal pre-K and student loan debt and all those things are there at elizabethwarren.com. I hope lots of people will go and look at them and volunteer and be part of that campaign.
But we`re not an America that can be politics all the time. It can`t be a race all the time. There come moments that are serious enough and what`s happened that we have to stop, take a deep breath and be willing to say that`s wrong. And I`ll stand up and say so. And I hope a lot of other people will, too.
MADDOW: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, candidate for president in 2020 -- Senator, I know your time is at a premium and the heat of this campaign. Thank you for making time to explain this to us tonight, and much appreciated.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight, including actually another presidential candidate.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: There is an element of the redacted Mueller report that involves Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and I think this one is going to leave a mark. The Mueller report says in March 2017, so, two months after Trump was sworn in, the FBI director, James Comey at the time, briefed Richard Burr and other members of the Gang of Eight on the status of the FBI`s Russia investigation, including looking at the President Trump`s campaign.
After receiving that confidential briefing from the FBI director, that was a briefing given only to the very top congressional leadership and the intelligence chairs. That`s it. After getting that exclusive high level briefing, quote, the White House counsel`s office was in contact with Senator Richard Burr about the Russia investigations and appears to have received information about the status of the FBI investigation.
The intelligence chairman in the Senate apparently went and briefed the White House on the status of the FBI`s Russia investigation, chug looking into the president`s campaign, including who specifically were targets of that investigation. I don`t think that`s what you`re supposed to do with your confidential briefing from the FBI. Like I said, I think that`s one going to leave a mark.
But hold on. There`s more on that coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He is on the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee. He`s also a candidate for president of the United States.
Sir, thanks for making time tonight. I really appreciate it.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course. Good evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Senator Elizabeth Warren was just here saying that she believes the behavior described in Mueller`s report is serious enough that she now believes an impeachment investigation should start in the House. That is not a position she had before this report came out.
I know you have not called for impeachment in the past. But did the report change your mind on that, too?
SWALWELL: It certainly takes us closer there, Rachel, and as a member of the House Judiciary Committee that would start on our committee. And the way I see it, as a former prosecutor who tried nearly 40 cases, I knew every time I walked into the courtroom, in my evidence file, that evidence is going to be air tight. The witnesses better be ready, the subpoenas better be ready to go, because you only get one shot.
And so, there are a couple of way points that I see right now. The first one is to get all of the documents. Now, we`ve requested the full Mueller report, because about 12.5 percent was held back. That is about an eighth that we haven`t seen yet.
Then, to bring Bob Mueller before the American people to testify before Congress.
I think those are two key wait points that get us to holding the president accountable. I`m not taking it off the table one bit.
MADDOW: Tonight, Democrats have made cheer that this offer from the Justice Department that the Gang of Eight plus Judiciary Committee chairman and ranking members, I guess, less than a dozen members, would be allowed to see a version of the report where all the redactions were dropped except for those that pertain to grand jury material. Democrats are rejecting that, turning down that report.
I wonder if you support that decision, or if you think there would be some value to the chairman of the intelligence, Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Judiciary, Jerry Nadler, and these other congressional leaders being allowed to see what`s behind the bulk of those black boxes.
SWALWELL: I`m with them, and the reason I`m with them, Rachel, is because Congress can`t do our duty to protect future elections unless we know what the Russians did. If it is only a close hold, then they can`t come to us and tell us, look, we still have an ongoing threat from Russia. When you read the 200 pages that described collusion, nowhere does Bob Mueller say, oh by the way, all of these conversations and relationships have now ceased, so don`t worry about them for the 2020 election.
We have every reason to believe that Russians are going to still do this. So, how do we protect ongoing threats to our democracy?
But also, if anything this report showed that there was a failure of imagination by prior Congresses to ever think that a campaign would conduct itself the way this president and his team did. So the president, yes, has escaped criminal liability. But I don`t think you can read this report and say, well, let`s have that happen again and that would be great for our democracy.
Now, there`s going to be new laws we`re going to have write to make sure it doesn`t happen again. The only way to do that is to fully understand what the Russians did, who they worked with, what the failures were in our own government to stop them.
MADDOW: Congressman, the only other awkward question that I have arrived at, and I`m not quite sure what to do with here, is that I feel like the way that Robert Mueller laid out the findings of his investigation, specifically on obstruction, was that he was laying out a road map for prosecution of the president on obstruction. And either that will be done through impeachment proceedings or he explicitly says it will be done when the president leaves office.
The prospect of prosecuting an American president for crimes he committed in office as soon as he leaves office is something that we have never confronted before. But the way I read this and I know you`re a former prosecutor yourself, I feel like that is what Mueller is explicitly suggesting. Is that how you read it?
SWALWELL: That is how I read it. And I do not believe that jeopardy has attached in a legal sense, meaning that the president by the Barr letter now escapes liability when he leaves office. But, you know, I approach this not in how I can harm Donald Trump. But every day, what can I and others do in Congress to prevent Donald Trump from harming America. That has to always be a priority.
And once he`s out of office, that`s going to be in January 2021, at the very latest, then he`s going to have to answer in one way or another for what he and his team did.
MADDOW: Congressman Eric Swalwell, member of the Intelligence Committee, the Judiciary Committee, 2020 presidential candidate -- sir, thank you for joining us. I know your time is tight.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. Much more to get to. Busy Friday night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I have a couple of really specific questions about stuff that was laid out in the Mueller report for which I need legal advice. Here with me on set is Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama burning the midnight oil.
Thank you, Joyce. It`s great to have you here.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Good to see you.
MADDOW: I want you to be my legal index here.
MADDOW: One of the things that comes up here is that -- that I did not expect is that a whole bunch of people it`s described in footnotes gave proffer sessions to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, including some people you wouldn`t expect like, for example, you know we knew about Paul Manafort doing proffer sessions like that. That makes sense, right?
We did not know about Ivanka Trump doing a proffer session. From talking to all you guys, I thought I understood that a proffer session is something you do once you are cooperating with prosecutors. It`s something that comes up after a plea agreement or something. Why would people like the president`s daughter be doing a proffer session?
VANCE: Proffers can happen in a couple different postures. It can be once you`re cooperating. But it can also be the initial step that brings you in to cooperate.
You know, prosecutors don`t like to buy a pig in a poke. So, they want to see what you have. And a proffer is a way you can come in at no risk and tell prosecutors what your testimony would look like if you were cooperating. So, that could account for someone like Ivanka Trump coming in if her lawyer believed she had some criminal exposure and needed protection.
MADDOW: So, you would do that essentially to offer prosecutors information under terms where you would not get in trouble for telling them what you know?
VANCE: That`s right. There`s usually a letter agreement, and that protects the person who is coming in and proffering. If they lie during the proffer session, then everything that they`ve said is fair game and prosecutors can use it against them.
MADDOW: Were you surprised to see references to proffer sessions in the footnotes in terms of citing Ivanka, Steve Bannon, Erik Prince, all these other people?
VANCE: We assumed all along that Mueller would be using proffer sessions but we didn`t know the details. Those are some obvious names. It`s interesting that so little word has leaked out. We don`t know whether or not Ivanka`s proffer session was productive. Did she become a cooperator? Did she testify in front of the grand jury or did prosecutors decide she had nothing to offer?
MADDOW: One of the other questions I have involves a process question around a controversy in the report involving the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Dan Coats is described by special counsel`s office as having had an encounter with the president that bothered him essentially. The president definitely asked Dan Coats to make public statements exonerating the president with regard to Russia.
Potentially, the president also asked Dan Coats to talk to the FBI director about ending the investigation. I say potentially because as the special counsel lays out, he told his own staff, people who were with him right after that meeting that`s what the president had done. Two different of staffers who were with Dan Coats that day say he came out of that meeting and said the president just asked me to talk to Comey.
Nevertheless, when Dan Coats went in and talked to the special counsel`s office, he told them the president did not making that request of him. So, they have corroborating testimony from two witnesses contemporaneous to the supposed request that defy what he told them happened with the president.
How would you maneuver through that as a prosecutor?
VANCE: So, I would -- and this is nothing other than speculation -- say that the devil is in the details. And perhaps there`s something limiting in the request that the president made, how specific it was, it`s possible that Coats may have made a comment to his support folks that exceeded what the president actually said or that it was misinterpreted in the moment.
But I would say that Mueller would have been very careful to corroborate the details here and to have an authoritative version the best possible version of the evidence. That`s what he tells us he`s done. He`s put together evidence that`s reliable and excluded accounts that can`t be corroborated.
MADDOW: We`re going to do everything we can to chase this down in part because Dan Coats is a serving official and this is a troubling account.
VANCE: It is.
MADDOW: Joyce, thanks so much for being here. It`s great to have you here.
VANCE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Joyce Vance is former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Just to recap something that happened on our air this hour, Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts senator, Elizabeth Warren, tonight becoming the first 2020 presidential candidate and she`s a leading candidate to call for impeachment proceedings to begin in the House specifically on the basis of the evidence produced in the Mueller report about the president and obstruction of justice.
Elizabeth Warren is not the kind of candidate who would build a campaign around this. This is not the way she has been campaigning thus far. She says she told me here on the air she came to that revelation after reading all the way through the report and finding evidence overwhelming.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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