CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: We need a Democratic Senate. That`s going to happen.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Without a doubt.
HAYES: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democratic presidential candidate, thanks for making time.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. That is ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The one and only Hillary Clinton is here tonight. She`s going to be my guest this hour for "The Interview". She is going to be here in studio. I`m very excited about that. I have not had a hard time coming up with things to ask Secretary Clinton. Quite the contrary. I`ve got way too much to ask.
And that was all before we started today`s news with this: March 27th, 2019. Dear Attorney General Barr, quote: I previously sent you a letter dated March 25th that enclosed the introduction and executive summary of each volume of the special counsel`s report marked with redactions. We also marked an additional two sentences for review and have now confirmed that these sentences can be released publicly.
Accordingly, the enclosed documents are in a form that can be released to the public, consistent with legal requirements and department policies. I am requesting that you provide these materials to Congress and authorize their public release at this time. As we stated in our meeting of March 5 and reiterated to the department early in the afternoon of March 24th, the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume report accurately summarize this office`s work and conclusions.
The summary letter -- excuse me, the summary letter the department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24th did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office`s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the department on the morning of March 25th.
There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigations. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel, to assure full public confidence in the outcome of investigations.
While we understand that the department is reviewing the full report to determine what`s appropriate for public release, that process need not delay release of these enclosed materials. Release of these materials at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation. It would also accord with the standard for public release of notifications to Congress cited in your letter, namely, that it would be in the public interest. Sincerely yours, Robert Mueller.
Now I know that after this letter from Robert Mueller from March 27th came out, was shown to the public for the first time this morning, I know that thereafter Attorney General William Barr went on to testify all day long in the Senate about Robert Mueller and about Robert Mueller`s supposed findings from his investigation. But after seeing this letter this morning, I mean, my god, he is the last person you would ask to tell you anything about Robert Mueller.
I mean, this is Robert Mueller saying, hey, Attorney General Barr, stop lying about my report. And it gives us a ton of new information about how hard Mueller has been fighting to try to get his report out and how many times and how many ways Barr has been blocking that from happening. I mean, what we get from this letter from Mueller is that on March 5th, March 5th, that`s when Barr meets with Mueller, and Mueller tells him I`m going to have introductions and executive summaries in the report on my investigation. Those introductions and executive summaries accurately state my findings. They`re designed for release to Congress and the public. That`s March 5th.
Then just over two weeks later on Friday, March 22nd, Mueller hands in his report to Barr, including Mueller`s own summaries of his findings, and you`ll remember, as soon as Barr got that report, Barr then made a public statement saying hey, I`m going to review this report now that I`ve received it, and I`m going release its principle conclusions this weekend. Well, then that weekend on Sunday, we now know in the early afternoon on Sunday, Mueller went back to Barr and reiterated, hey, like I told you before, there are introductions and executive summaries that me and my office wrote here.
We wrote summaries that accurately characterize our own findings. What are you doing here, William Barr, saying you`re going to release our principal conclusions? We`ve written summaries of our own findings. Remember? Like we told you we would? Here they are.
That was the early afternoon on Sunday. Boom. Later that same afternoon, Barr slams the proverbial door in Robert Mueller`s face and says nope, I`m releasing my own statement about your findings instead because I want to give the president grounds for tweeting that he is totally exonerated.
Forget your precious own words summarizing your own findings. I`m going to release my own pro-Trump statement about your little investigation. Shame if something happened to it.
So that`s -- that`s Sunday afternoon. Within a day, Mueller writes to Barr, making sure to put it in writing saying, no, you need to release our summaries of what we found. What are you doing?
Here. We`ve gone through our introductions, our executive summaries. We`ve done all the redactions you might need there. Barr apparently still says no.
And so, two days later, on Wednesday the 27th, Mueller sends over his summaries and his introductions again. Hey, Barr, what are you doing? You`re really going to try to get away with this? This is what you`re supposed to release.
We wrote summaries of our own findings. What you put out instead is wrong. These are the accurate summaries of our findings, which we wrote ourselves. This thing that you are shopping instead as your supposed description of our findings is creating public confusion about critical aspects of our investigation.
And Mueller says full stop, quote, I am requesting that you provide these materials to Congress and authorize public release at this time. And Barr says nope, nope, too bad. Who cares what you think.
So the first time they met after Barr was named attorney general, then right after the report was handed in before Barr put out his own supposed summary of the report, and then right after Barr put out that supposed summary, and then again right after that when Barr still ignored him -- I mean, this is Robert Mueller we now know banging down William Barr`s door with a caveman club about Barr covering up Mueller`s findings and misrepresenting Mueller`s findings and refusing to release Mueller`s actual findings, no matter what Mueller did.
He is telling him on March 5th. He is telling him again on March 24. He is telling him again on March 25. He is telling him again on March 27th.
I mean, half way through this process, he starts putting it in writing because clearly, light dawns on marblehead, right? Like this is not working. I better make sure there is some record of this.
When "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" broke the story last night that there was this letter complaining, Mueller complaining to Barr about Barr misrepresenting his findings, both "The Post" and "The Times", there were all these high-ranking anonymous Justice Department sources quoted as saying no, no, Mueller was perfectly happy with how this all went. He never said Barr was going anything wrong. Mueller was just frustrated that that dastardly news media was missing all the important context of his findings.
All those statements from senior Justice Department officials that we saw in "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" we now know are total bullpucky, because now we can see Mueller`s letter. And nope, it turns he`s not mad about the news media misrepresenting his findings. He is mad that Barr won`t release his findings, and instead has put out his own disinformation about what Mueller did. That`s what Mueller`s mad about.
Which tells you that this -- the U.S. Justice Department under William Barr really doesn`t care about being caught out lying about anything, right? I mean, just last night, they`re saying oh, no, no, no, no, you`re going to report that there was some angry letter from Mueller to Barr? Mueller wasn`t mad about anything Barr did. He was just mad at the media, you terrible reporters.
Literally, they`re telling "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" that last night, knowing that the letter is going to be released today. They know they`re going to be caught out in those lies. They don`t care. It seems like the working -- I don`t know, the working plan there is just win your tiny little blip in each news cycle.
Win the day. Win the morning. It doesn`t matter if you get exposed right afterwards for having lied about something. That`s checkable. Just say whatever you need to say in that moment. It will ultimately never matter when you finally get caught out.
So, that`s how the Justice Department is running now. That`s what`s going on at the Justice Department. That`s what`s going on with the great wash, rinse, repeat cycle that is the laundering of Mueller`s investigation.
And given that, do you really care what else William Barr has to say about Mueller`s findings right now, right? About Mueller`s investigation, rather than hearing from Mueller himself? At what point does William Barr lose the credibility that he might need specifically to speak for Robert Mueller, now that we know what Robert Mueller says and thinks about how Barr has handled that thus far?
Well, Barr testified today all day long in the Senate, and there were revelations about what else William Barr has done and what he is continuing to do since he came on board as Trump`s newest attorney general. For example, William Barr admitted to Senator Kamala Harris today that he did not review any of the underlying evidence from Mueller`s report before asserting that the evidence in that report was insufficient to justify charging the president with obstruction, and so therefore the president was exonerated.
William Barr also today admitted I think much to the surprise of Senator Lindsey Graham, who was questioning him in that moment, he admitted that Mueller had objected to some of what Barr did with redactions in the report, which we learned for the first time in that questioning today. That makes it all the more important for Congress to get the unredacted report, given that we now know that Mueller objected to some of the ways redactions were handled.
After his testimony, Barr today rejected a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee that demanded that he hand over that full unredacted report, so we still don`t know how that`s going to resolve, but the redactions we now know were contested between Barr and Mueller. Barr also today would not answer Senator Kamala Harris when she asked him if the White House has indicated to him that there are specific investigations they want him to open at the Justice Department. Presumably, that means that the White House has made those suggestions to William Barr, because if they hadn`t, he would just say so.
William Barr also would not answer today if he has been in communication with the White House about the 14 ongoing criminal investigations that were handed off by Mueller to other prosecutors. I mean, we the public only know about two of those 14 cases, but there are a dozen more that are being handled by federal prosecutors right now. William Barr would not say if he is talking to the White House about those prosecutions.
He said today he will continue to supervise those cases. He refused today to even seek ethics advice on whether he should be involved in overseeing those cases. He is just keeping them. They`re his, while he is refusing to answer whether he is talking to the White House about how the White House wants those ongoing prosecutions to be handled.
Justice Department, just so you know, is supposed to be totally independent of political interference in terms of who it prosecutes and who it doesn`t and how it conducts prosecutions. But Barr today refused to say whether or not he was consulting with the White House about the conduct of the prosecutions that have sprung from Mueller`s report.
Barr also today announced, I`m not kidding, that if a president wants to contend that he has been falsely accused of wrongdoing -- well, that`s all he needs. That`s all he needs if he wants to fire a prosecutor investigating that.
And I know you think that I`m being hyperbolic. I know you`re thinking right now that Barr couldn`t possibly have said that a president can fire a prosecutor if he believes that prosecutor is investigating something that is a false accusation. I know you think that I`m being hyperbolic here, but honestly, that is exactly what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: If it was based on false allegations, the president does not have to sit there constitutionally and allow it to run its course. The president could terminate that proceeding and it would not be a corrupt intent because he was being falsely accused.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A president can fire anyone investigating him if the president says the accusations that are being investigated are false. That`s all you need. Bingo. It`s not obstruction of justice.
I mean, this, of course, follows the hallowed American legal tradition which says if you really don`t think you`re bad, then nobody can arrest you. I mean, imagine trying to get away with that on day one of pretend law school, right? But like this is the attorney general of the United States saying a president can fire a prosecutor who`s investigating him if he thinks he didn`t do it.
I should also tell you there`s also I think an (AUDIO GAP) said today that he may have ordered (AUDIO GAP) investigation, that he may have ordered Mueller to stop investigating in March of this year.
We are chasing that story now. We expect to have more on that in coming days. I will bring you more on it tonight if we are able to break that open while I`m on the air this hour. We are working on that now. I will keep you apprised as to what we can nail down.
Bottom line, though, if you are as gobsmacked by all this as I am, right, seeing this letter from first thing today exposing Mueller`s personal fight against the Trump administration to try to undo the cover-up of his investigation and his findings, seeing that today from Mueller followed by a full day of testimony from the attorney general sitting there before the Senate Judiciary Committee denigrating Robert Mueller, saying that Mueller didn`t do his job, Mueller wasn`t up to the job, proclaiming President Trump to be innocent in every way, and indeed, calling the president falsely accused, to see the attorney general agrees validating all of the alleged criminal (AUDIO GAP) in Mueller`s report in terms of the president`s own actions, right, to instead see the attorney general and these Republican senators today casting aspersions over and over again on Hillary Clinton as if she`s the real problem here since Russia intervened in our last election to help Trump beat her, and so naturally, sure, it`s her that`s the problem.
Today was a gobsmacking spectacle. I mean, this moment in history in presidential scandal is a gobsmacking spectacle. But imagine what it would be like to see all of this, even just to see what happened today if you are Hillary Clinton. Imagine how that feels to you.
Secretary Clinton joins us here live next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Attorney General Barr, has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?
BARR: I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t --
HARRIS: Yes or no?
BARR: Could you repeat that question?
HARRIS: I will repeat it. Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please, sir.
BARR: The president or anybody else.
HARRIS: It seems you`d remember something like that and be able to tell us.
BARR: Yes, but I`m trying to grapple with the word "suggest." There have been suggestions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open an investigation, but --
HARRIS: Perhaps they have suggested?
BARR: I don`t know. I wouldn`t say suggest.
BARR: I don`t know.
HARRIS: Inferred? You don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now here on set for her first TV interview this year is former secretary of state, former first lady, former senator, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Madam Secretary, thank you so much for being here.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you so much, Rachel. I`m glad to see you.
MADDOW: How`s things?
CLINTON: A little busy.
MADDOW: Are you?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I always say personally, things are great. But as an American, oh, my gosh. It was another day today where you just can`t even believe what you`re hearing.
MADDOW: Well, I wanted to -- I called your office and asked if we could possibly set up this interview when I saw your op-ed last week in "The Washington Post" in terms of American options for responding to the Mueller. I did not know that we were going to have the day that we had today, this interview.
I have to ask you if you have had a chance to read the Mueller (AUDIO GAP) things as closely as we all have at this point?
CLINTON: I have. I mean, this is an absolutely critical moment in our history, and I`ve read it. I have tried to follow it, tried to follow the developments, watch as much of the Barr hearing as I could today, knowing I was going to be seeing you.
But it`s just astonishing what`s going on, and it`s important to try to get our arms around it and figure out what are the steps to take, which is part of the reason I wrote the op-ed you just talked about.
MADDOW: In terms of today`s hearing, it looks like there will not be a House hearing involving Attorney General Barr. He is saying no to appearing before the House Judiciary, in part because he does not want to speak -- does not want to answer questions from committee counsel.
MADDOW: That`s one of the things you suggested would be a proper way for the committees to respond. You praised the Judiciary Committee of the Watergate era for having hired John Doar who is a respected Republican Justice Department official at the time who came in and handled their questioning. Barr doesn`t want to face that kind of questioning. You`re specifically recommending that kind of questioning.
What`s important about having a professional counsel like that?
CLINTON: Well, I think there are several things. One is there are so many questions to ask that it sometimes can seem as though the narrative thread gets lost. I mean, what is it we`re trying to prove? And I`ve been in those situations. I was in the Senate for eight years, and people have their own particular way of questioning and even the subjects that they want to cover.
But in something as critically as important as this, I think it is absolutely right that Chairman Nadler said, we`re going to let all of the members ask questions, and (AUDIO GAP) our counsel, both Democrat and Republican be able to ask questions. And that`s when Barr balked.
Now, I don`t know whether he balked because he understands that with 30 or 40 people asking questions, the takeaway is confused and there`s no real follow-through because you`ve got five minutes and you`re done, and he was comfortable with that, because he could walk away and how would people make sense of it.
Or whether he knows who these counsel members or, these counselors are. I don`t know. But he may think, well, you know, they`re really good, I`ve run across them before.
But the bottom line is that the committee can do what it chooses to do. I mean, it can decide to have counsel ask those questions. There is nothing wrong with that.
So I think that the committee now faces question that it has to answer. If they find Barr in contempt, which they have every reason to because he actually is, let that operate on one path, but then get back to the business of calling witnesses who are mentioned in the Mueller report and begin to tell the public story about what it is that is being described in the Mueller report so that the American people can understand and follow it. That`s what I thought was so effective with the Watergate special committee.
MADDOW: In terms of getting those witnesses before the committee and telling the story to the American people in that way, as you put it in your op-ed, that would also help to fill in some of the gaps in Mueller`s reports.
CLINTON: Right, right.
MADDOW: Whether they`re gaps because of redactions or things he didn`t look at, telling that whole story. The White House has asserted, the president personally has asserted that no subpoena will be honored, that there will be no witnesses who are current or former White House or administration personnel who will be allowed to testify. They will block everything.
This also comes alongside them refusing the subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report and suing his own accounting firm and bank so they don`t respond to congressional subpoenas. There`s lots -- they`re trying to block the White House counsel from responding to a subpoena.
We`re seeing a wall come up in terms of what they`re saying they`re going to allow. If they try to wholesale-block every witness who spoke to Mueller from speaking to these committees, how does that resolve? How does that end? Does it become an endless legal fight?
CLINTON: Well, first, let`s see who actually refuses to appear. It may well be that some of the former officials understand that they don`t want to be tainted by this continuing obstruction.
Now, it`s in the Congress. The Constitution gives the Congress the authority to hold the executive branch accountable. It`s checks and balances.
So, there may very well be some witnesses who say, hey, wait a minute, don`t throw me in that briar patch. I`m getting into a new world, a new life, maybe a new job. I don`t want to be tied up in this litigation. I`m going to go testify. I`ll say the same things that I said to Mueller, to the Congress and let the chips fall.
So, we have to see who is willing to come.
And, you know, executive privilege is not a totally expandable concept where just because I talked to you two years ago or you were briefly in the Oval Office for 10 minutes, I can assert executive privilege. So I think it`s more complicated than to say we`re not letting anybody be able to testify, invoking executive privilege.
I would also argue they have probably waived executive privilege. You know, the White House had said before that they were perfectly happy to have people go and talk to Mueller. And now they`re saying they`re going to waive -- they`re going to impose executive privilege. They may have waived it.
However, that will take time to litigate. It should be litigated quickly as to any witnesses who refuse to come or about whom there is an argument about executive privilege. But the process should begin, because what they`re trying to do is push it past the next election.
MADDOW: In terms of Barr`s performance today and what we have learned, including from Mueller himself about how Barr has handled the results of Mueller`s investigation thus far, would you call this an attempted cover- up? Would you say that Barr is handling Mueller`s findings in a way that are -- that is dishonest, that is inappropriate, that is something that ought to as many Democrats said today, cause him to resign? That should potentially leave him open to the prospect of impeachment himself?
How do you -- how do you assess Barr`s -- the severity of Barr`s misbehavior here?
CLINTON: Well, I think it is incredibly severe, because I think he is doing the job he was hired to do. He auditioned for the job with his 19- page memo basically saying there is no such thing as obstruction of justice when it comes to a president. He was hired to make sure that was a reality. He has behaved in that way.
I think that the Democrats on the committee did a good job today in exposing that, that he is the president`s defense lawyer. He is not the attorney general of the United States in the way that he has conducted himself.
Now, calling for his resignation makes perfect sense because he is not discharging the duties of the office. He is not going to resign. And at this point, I think we know that we know what we need to know about him. Bob Mueller has made that abundantly clear, that he has not represented accurately the context, the nature and the substance of the investigation.
I think now we need to get into the investigation, because let`s not let Barr be the big shiny object that diverts people`s attention from the two major findings of the Mueller report. Number one, Russia conducted a sweeping and systemic interference in our election and not been held accountable. And what I worry about most is that they`re going to be doing it again, and there is reason to believe that. And that if the president were not in office, he would have been indicted for obstruction of justice.
One of the things Barr said today that I haven`t seen too much commentary about, which clearly was one of the Republicans` main points they were trying to get out is in the absence of an underlying crime, you can`t have obstruction of justice. Now, it was a long time ago, but I actually did teach law, and that is just not true.
I mean, if, for example, Rachel, if you were going to trial, and you believed in your heart of hearts you were innocent, but the trial was going forward. You`ve been charged with a crime. If you bribe order intimidated or coerced a witness to leave town so that witness could not or would not appear, you might even be acquitted at the trial, but you have committed obstruction of justice.
MADDOW: A new crime.
CLINTON: And that is a crime.
So there is no doubt, as many distinguished lawyers and scholars have said, that if Trump were not president, he would have been indicted for the 11 instances that have been shown in the Mueller report to constitute obstruction.
MADDOW: In terms of Barr`s argument about that today, he went I believe even further than he went in his 19-page memo when he suggested under questioning from Senator Leahy that the president could -- without obstructing justice -- by virtue of the fact he is president fire any prosecutor who was investigating him if the president believed himself to be innocent of the accusations that prosecutor was investigating. Now, that is not just the president can obstruct justice that is the president can`t be investigated if the president doesn`t want to be investigated.
CLINTON: And that is the road to tyranny. That is what authoritarians believe and those who service them argue.
And as a young lawyer on the Watergate investigation back in 1974, that would have been unthinkable for either a Democrat or a Republican to argue that. And the Saturday Night Massacre occurred because the attorney general and other high-ranking officials in the Justice Department would not do what President Nixon wanted them to do, which was basically stop investigating me.
So when you hear something like that, and I know Pat Leahy well, he is a former prosecutor, obviously now very veteran senator. When I looked at his face as he was asking that question, you could just see the incredulity. Like where does this end?
CLINTON: And that makes the role of the house even more important, because when you have high-ranking officials in this administration jockeying to do the president`s bidding so that they protect him as opposed to protect the rule of law, then the burden falls particularly heavily on the House and especially on the Judiciary Committee to be the vehicle that says wait a minute, this is not partisan. This goes to the core of whether we are a nation of laws or a nation of men and strong men at that.
So I`m very, very concerned about this argument that we heard made today. And it was -- it was incredibly arrogant. The level of disregard, even contempt of the Congress` role was unmistakable, but beyond that, you get frustrated with the Congress when you`re in the executive branch. We have a long history of that. But the positions being taken and advocated by Barr were unlike anything that I`ve ever heard of that were ever accepted with any level of seriousness before.
MADDOW: We`re going take a quick break. You just mentioned this puts the burden incredibly heavily on the House. I want to talk exactly what you mean about that when we come back.
We`re right back with Secretary Clinton, right after this.
MADDOW: We`re back with secretary of state, 2016 presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Secretary Clinton, thank you.
You were talking just before the break about the weight that falls particularly on the House and on the House Judiciary Committee (AUDIO GAP) New York Congressman (AUDIO GAP) in terms of holding substantive (AUDIO GAP) following up on Mueller`s findings, filling in the gaps, informing the public about what happened here. Obviously, the Judiciary Committee is also where impeachment proceedings start.
MADDOW: And that`s what kind of an inquiry would be expected to lead if they found serious wrongdoing.
You, of course, watched in real-time how the impeachment of your husband in 1998 ended up benefitting him politically. He was impeached in the House. The Senate did not remove him.
As somebody who has a realistic view about partisan politics, do you worry that if Democrats start those hearings and hold them substantively and follow the facts where they lead, and it really looks like they lead to an excellent case for impeachment and they pursue, they`ll get walloped and it will solidify Trump`s hold on the White House and Republican hold in Congress?
CLINTON: I don`t worry if it`s done right. And by that I mean, and as I argued in that op-ed, you have to continue with your other agenda, and that`s exactly what the House is doing. Nancy Pelosi understands that completely.
Keep passing (AUDIO GAP) in the Senate. It may never be considered, but you will be able to make the argument that you are moving toward election reform. You are going to take on health care. You`re going to work to deliver what you promised in the 2018 midterms.
So that has to continue. At the same time, though, you`ve got to educate the American public, because the whole point behind Barr`s four-page summary was to obfuscate, was to try to create in the minds of Americans that, hey, nothing here. Don`t bother. We`re moving on.
And we know that`s not the case now. And obviously, Bob Mueller has in his own way spoken out for the first time about that.
So, there do need to be hearings, and the Judiciary Committee is not the only one that is investigating this administration, and they don`t have to be impeachment hearings. That`s not where they are.
You have to see what it is you discover. What is the additional information? How do you fill in the gaps? What is in those redacted provisions that are perhaps very significant? What other investigations are going on?
There is a whole lot of important material to be explored. So you have to do it in a way that creates a narrative. What is it you`re finding out? Where does it lead?
But if it leads to the conclusion that this president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, that`s what should motive the Congress to act.
It may not lead there.
CLINTON: And we don`t know that.
We have a pretty good idea of what the potential charges could be in the articles of impeachment, but we don`t yet have enough information to make that conclusion.
But if we don`t see the House proceeding in that way, I think that will be a failure to discharge their responsibilities. So, it doesn`t have to be the only thing. In fact, it cannot, should not be the only thing that the House is doing, but it does have to be part of the responsibility going forward.
MADDOW: And in terms of flushing out that factual record about what actually happened, including what happened with the Russian attack in 2016 --
CLINTON: Yes, right.
MADDOW: -- I wonder as you read the Mueller report, at least the parts of it that we can read, did you learn new things about what happened to you and your campaign in 2016 that you didn`t know before reading it?
CLINTON: I learned more, and I learned more detail.
CLINTON: But here`s the important thing to me. What I learned is that the Russians were successful. I don`t think there is any way to read that report and not conclude they accomplished what they set out to do. They had an objective to sow discord and divisiveness within our society at large, and to help Donald Trump. And they succeeded.
So let`s move our vision forward and say to yourself if you`re in the Kremlin, you`re Vladimir Putin who I`ve sat across. I understand his goal is to weaken America. I know that. He doesn`t like me because I stood up for America. I get it.
So if you`re sitting there and you`re saying this worked really well, Trump just foments divisiveness in America. He is helping to tear the country apart. People are so upset. What are we going to do to help him this time? How do we best accomplish that?
And because we have no real follow-up, and one of the things that concerned me in the Mueller report is when it`s written that they didn`t investigate whether or not the Russian active measures actually changed votes or affect (AUDIO GAP) because they assumed someone else was doing that. They assumed the FBI was doing that.
And then we learned that the former secretary of the Department of Homeland (AUDIO GAP) ordered not to talk about election interference in front of Trump. And then we learn that there is no concerted effort going on anywhere in our government to try to understand why it means that, for example, at least one county in Florida was breached, but not only that, the network of election machinery in one area. What does all that mean?
If you`re sitting in a secretary of state`s office in some state or in a county election commission, what are you supposed to do?
And I`ll tell you, Rachel, I met with most of the candidates who are running this time, and answered their questions. And I always tell them, you know, you can run the best campaign. You can be the person who gets the nomination, but unless we know how to protect our election from what happened before and what could happen again, because there is greater sophistication about it, you could lose.
And I don`t mean it to scare anybody, but I do want every candidate to understand that this remains a threat.
MADDOW: That they could lose at the hands of a foreign power, not that they could lose fair and square.
CLINTON: That`s right, that it wasn`t on the level. It wasn`t on a level in 2016. It could be once again (AUDIO GAP) really understood as (AUDIO GAP) to.
And I think the Mueller report didn`t go there. That wasn`t what they thought their charge was. And since there is no, you know, like 9/11 Commission to figure out what it is that happened. So how we prevent should be the priority of everyone.
I worry a lot that there`s a greater sophistication. They`ve learned some things that they now are going to deploy against us. And us means the country, not just Democrats.
MADDOW: The cyber world as a landscape for warfare and as a landscape for intelligence operations like the one that we saw that targeted you in 2016, military intelligence operation designed to make sure that you wouldn`t be president and that if you were, your presidency would be hampered.
That as the landscape of intercontinental battle --
MADDOW: -- is overwhelming (AUDIO GAP) imagine myself like in a leadership role or in some sort of policy advisory role (AUDIO GAP) should do to stop that from happening. It feels both too big and too amorphous to hold on to.
MADDOW: But, I mean, as somebody who has confronted these things in a leadership position and somebody whose been on the sharp end of this as a target, do you feel like if the U.S. government really cared and was motivated and wasn`t intending to stop this from happening, there are things that we could do, we could be effective, we could stop this, and we`re just not choosing those policy options?
CLINTON: Absolutely. And we have evidence of that.
On Election Day in 2018, we know that our government used cyber tools to shut down a lot of the sites that they feared could be interfering. So, number one, that tells us they know. (AUDIO GAP) two, they took action to stop them.
I think that`s just literally the tip of the spear, though. I think there is so much more that could and should be done.
And, you know, there are a lot of people. You can read them online. You can read their academic work. They have all kinds of ideas about what to do to protect our systems.
The Republicans in the Senate wouldn`t at all go forward with some of the bipartisan legislation that was meant to secure our elections under orders from the White House.
Now, why is that? Well, because they think it helped them. And the Republicans look at the Trump White House and say, well, you know, the Russians probably did help them, you know, just whatever extent we may not yet know, so we`re not going to go there. We`re going to do what they tell us.
Imagine, Rachel, that you had one of the Democratic nominees for 2020 on your show, and that person said, you know, the only other adversary of ours who is anywhere near as good as the Russians is China. So, why should Russia have all the fun? And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don`t we ask China to back us.
MADDOW: I hereby tonight ask China --
CLINTON: That`s right. And not only that, China, if you`re listening, why don`t you get Trump`s tax returns. I`m sure our media would richly reward you.
Now according to the Mueller report, that is not conspiracy because it`s done right out in the open.
So, if after this hypothetical Democratic candidate says this on your show, within hours, all of a sudden, the IRS offices are bombarded with incredibly sophisticated cyber tools looking for Trump`s tax returns, and then extracts and them and then passes them to whatever the new WikiLeaks happens to be and they start being unraveled and disclosed -- nothing wrong with that.
I mean, if you`re going let Russia get away with what they did and are still doing according to Christopher Wray, the current FBI director, who said that last week, they`re in our election systems. We`re worried about 2020, he said.
So, hey, let`s have a great power contest, and let`s get the Chinese in on the side of somebody else. Just saying that shows how absurd the situation we find ourselves in.
MADDOW: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 2016 presidential nominee.
We`ll be right back with Secretary Clinton right after this.
MADDOW: Back with us once again is secretary of state, presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Madam Secretary, thank you again for coming in to do this.
CLINTON: Glad to be here.
MADDOW: You have every option in the world and I really appreciate you being here.
CLINTON: It`s only our country, I mean, after all, Rachel.
MADDOW: I know, but this is just my little slice of it.
CLINTON: I know, but still.
MADDOW: So, having you here means a lot.
CLINTON: You`ve tried to really cover this story, and as we were just talking, it is far from over and it is still going on. That`s what I worry about. I don`t want it to happen again.
And we`re in the middle of figuring it out still.
CLINTON: We are.
MADDOW: I mean, I don`t know when we`re going to get Mueller`s testimony. I don`t know how that`s going to happen, but I feel like that`s something a lot of this is really hanging on.
I actually want to ask you about one sort of sidebar issue that came up in Mueller`s report that has since been added to by "The New York Times". It`s about you. Mueller`s report says in October 2017, President Trump met privately with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and asked him to take a look at investigating Clinton.
Then this past week, "The New York Times" has reported that last spring 2018, Trump also asked Don McGahn, his White House counsel, to get the Justice Department to investigate you and former FBI Director James Comey. Today, the attorney general refused to answer questions as to whether the White House had ever directed him to initiate specific investigations.
This -- you`re the only person in the country whose opinion I want to hear in response to those developments. How does -- what do you make of that?
CLINTON: Well, what I make of it is this as big a sign of a guilty conscience or a real fear that you could possibly have. I mean, I`m living rent-free inside of Donald Trump`s brain. And it`s not a very nice place to be, I can tell you that.
So I don`t know what they`re talking about.
CLINTON: I`ve been investigated repeatedly by the other side. And much to their dismay, but to my, you know, satisfaction, it`s been for naught. I testified for 11 hours in the Benghazi hearing after, what, seven committees said there was nothing there.
This is a diversion attack. Look, it is very sad to me that the lies that were told about me, the accusations that were made about me, have unfortunately had some residue. People say, well, you know, if she`s going to be investigated so much and they`re going to be saying all these terrible things even though nothing ever happens, maybe there`s something to it.
Because I guess it is one of their tools to fire up their hard-core base. When in doubt, go after me.
MADDOW: All these Republican senators today echoing it. Senator Graham opening up today`s hearing suggesting that you are the one that he really wants to go after.
CLINTON: And that`s a disgrace. It`s an absolute disgrace.
You know, they know better. But this is part of their whole technique to divert attention from what the real story is.
The real story is the Russians interfered in our election. And Trump committed obstruction of justice. That`s the real story. That`s what had he don`t want the American people thinking about.
So when in doubt, say something wild about me. Thankfully, you know, there`s no "there" there and there never has been.
But it is saddening to me, Rachel, that that is what is happening in our United States Senate and in the White House of this great country of ours.
MADDOW: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, again, thank you for being here. You can do any of these -- you can speak to anybody how want to speak to and be anywhere you want to be. Thank you for being here. And I hope you`ll be back.
One of the other things I`d like to talk to you about over the course of the next few months is this huge Democratic field --
MADDOW: -- of presidential candidates who I know a lot of them are coming to talk to you. There`s a lot going on. I hope you`ll come back soon.
CLINTON: I would love to. Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
CLINTON: Take care.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Whew! That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END