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Mueller Deputy Aaron Zebley will be sworn in. TRANSCRIPT: 7/23/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Mary Gay Scanlon, Neal Katyal

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH):  You don`t simply compromise on those issues that matter to progressives, but you fight for workers, whether you swipe your badge or punch a clock, or whether you work for tips, or whether you`re raising kids, and that`s how we will govern come 2021. 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Yes, no Eugene Scalia probably in a Democratic administration. 

Senator Sherrod Brown, thank you for making time. 

BROWN:  Yes, got it.

HAYES:  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. 

So here`s how it starts.  And I will tell you, it goes by fast.  From the moment they entered the courtroom to the moment they all filed out, the whole thing took less than five minutes. 

Here`s how it starts in the transcript.  The jury enters at 2:21 p.m. 

The judge: All right, please be seated.  Will the foreperson please stand and be identified?  I understand you`ve reached a verdict, is that correct? 

The foreperson: Yes, sir, we have.  The judge: Is it unanimous?  The foreperson: Yes, sir. 

The judge: Have you completed the verdict form?  The foreperson: Yes.  The judge: Would you give it to Mr. Burns, please?  The court clerk.  The verdict form is given to the court clerk. 

The judge: All right.  Ladies and gentlemen, we are now going to read your verdict.  Please listen carefully to the verdict as it`s read because once the verdict is read, each of you will be asked whether this is, in fact, your verdict. 

And then the court clerk says: Will the defendant please rise and face the jury.  The defendant rises and faces the jury and then the clerk reads from the verdict form. 

We, the jury, unanimously find the defendant, Bijan Kian, guilty of conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government as charged in count 1-A of the indictment.  We the jury unanimously find the defendant Bijan Kian guilty of conspiracy to make willful and material false statements and omissions in a Foreign Agent Registration Act filing as charged in count 1-B of the indictment. 

And we, the jury, unanimously find the defendant, Bijan Kian, guilty of acting in the United States as an unregistered agent of a foreign government as charged in count 2 of the indictment.  So say we all, this 23rd day of July 2019, signed by the foreperson. 

The judge says: Please poll the jury.  The transcript notes each juror upon being asked by the clerk, "is this your true verdict?" answered in the affirmative. 

The judge then says to the jury: Thank you.  The defendant may be seated.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, your service has now ended.  You are excused with the thanks of the court.

And the jury exits at 2:25 p.m., which means the whole thing took four minutes.  That was it.  Guilty on all counts. 

It had to happen today of all days, right?  I mean, even if tomorrow wasn`t going to be Robert Mueller`s testimony in Congress, there`s already a lot going on, right?  I mean, today, for example, just tonight, we just got a new secretary of defense, another lobbyist. 

So, now, there`s a lobbyist for coal companies running the EPA, a lobbyist for oil companies running the Interior Department, a guy who ran the lobbying efforts for pharmaceuticals running health and human services, and now, we got a lobbyist from Raytheon, one of the biggest defense contractors on Earth, running the Department of Defense.  Perhaps you are noticing a theme here. 

The president literally gave in his big re-election kickoff rally, literally gave this speech about how he was destroying the unholy alliance of lobbyists and special interests who were bleeding our country dry.  We`ve now got lobbyists running each of their respective agencies in the cabinet, including the Pentagon. 

Today, also, our closest overseas ally, the United Kingdom, went through its own iteration of our 2016 presidential election when the tragic comic bumbling Trump-like pro-Brexit character Boris Johnson became, believe it or not, prime minister.  Yes, him.  Prime minister of the United Kingdom, actually. 

And the United Kingdom will now face stronger pressure than ever before to, among other things, break itself up into bits, as a result of Boris Johnson ascending to this job because Boris Johnson is hell-bent on breaking the U.K. out of the European Union, no matter what it takes.  But the U.K.`s constituent parts including Scotland and Northern Ireland and to some extent Wales, they do not want to get out of the European Union.  And with Boris Johnson now becoming prime minister, pro-independence leaders in all of those constituent parts of the U.K. are now starting to loudly insist that if Boris Johnson really does insist on a hard Brexit, if he really does try to force this, if he really tries to follow through on what he says about breaking the U.K. out of the European Union, well, those other parts of the U.K. might instead break themselves off from Boris, and his Brexit plans so that they can stay European countries because they all want to stay in the European Union.  That happened today. 

Also today, after some of the biggest protests in the history of Puerto Rico yesterday, tonight, the Republican governor in Puerto Rico still has not resigned, although we have learned as of tonight that the Puerto Rican governor has apparently been confronted with a law enforcement warrant to search his electronics and tonight the chief of staff to Republican Governor Ricardo Rossello has resigned.  His chief of staff has resigned as of tonight. 

So, that means that we are on resignation watch for that Republican governor, as of right now and into the overnight hours.  It is hard to see how he stays on in that job. 

And on top of that, not for nothing, I should tell you that tonight a whole bunch of people have superglued themselves to the U.S. Capitol.  They have superglued themselves to the door jams and the hallways in the doors that connect the U.S. House office building to the U.S. capitol building. 

These protesters are proclaiming a climate emergency.  They want Congress to declare a climate emergency.  We have all seen lots of people chain themselves to things.  In this case, they have glued themselves, they have glued their skin to the doors and hallways connecting the U.S. House office building to the U.S. Capitol.  That is ongoing. 

So, I mean, today has already been kind of a momentous day all around, but on the eve of Robert Mueller`s testimony to the House of Representatives, starting early tomorrow morning, it is pretty remarkable that Robert Mueller`s team today, this afternoon, got themselves another landmark victory in court. 

I mean, there have been dozens of indictments.  There have been many guilty pleas.  There have been many cooperation deals that have sprung from Mueller`s investigation into Russia intervening in our election to help put Donald Trump into the White House, but for all of those dozens of indictments, Mueller`s investigation has only led to two trials before a jury. 

The first one, of course, put President Trump`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort in prison for at least seven years.  That`s his federal prison sentence.  And that is separate and apart from any time he may get if he`s convicted on the state charges he`s also now facing at the same time. 

So, Manafort was only the first jury trial that came out of Mueller`s investigation.  Only the second jury trial that has come out of Mueller`s investigation ended in dramatic fashion today, this afternoon with that jury walking into that courtroom in the Eastern District of Virginia at 2:21 p.m. Eastern Time to announce their unanimous decision to issue guilty verdicts on all counts against Bijan Kian, who was a Trump transition official.  He was the number two officials in the Trump transition working on intelligence issues. 

Now, Kian initially came under investigation as part of Mueller`s probe.  Mueller`s team then handed off the Bijan Kian case to other federal prosecutors.  These prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia.  They ultimately brought charges against Kian for him acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign power at the time he was working as a Trump transition official. 

As the number two in the Trump transition on intelligence matters, Mr. Kian apparently participated in key hiring decisions for the new administration.  Things like who would run the nation`s intelligence agencies under President Donald Trump.  Bijan Kian was taking part in those decisions while he was secretly on the payroll of a foreign country, as determined today by a federal jury.  And I mean, that alone should be kind of a show- stopper, right?  For this or any presidency. 

You played a role in picking the CIA director while you were being paid by another country secretly?  That`s weird.  I mean, you would think that would be kind of a -- hmm. 

But, you know, this Kian case is one of a lot of things going on with this administration and it alone has been overshadowed a little bit, even from the outset, by what is has told us over time about somebody else in Trump`s orbit, about Bijan Kian`s business partner and his fellow Trump transition official, the Trump campaign aide Michael Flynn who would go on to be named national security adviser by President Trump. 

And the Flynn stuff that came out in the Kian case still is slightly mind boggling.  Prosecutors, for example, laid out in court in the Kian case part of what Mike Flynn`s day was like on the fateful day of October 7th, 2016, during the campaign, basically exactly a month before the actual election.  You remember that date, October 7th, 2016, if you remember any other date from the campaign because that is the single day when in quick secession, the U.S. government announced officially that Russia was interfering in the election.  That was that joint statement from the department of homeland security and the director of national intelligence.  The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian government is (INAUDIBLE)

Shortly thereafter, the "Access Hollywood" tape came out, which threatened to end Trump`s presidential campaign one month before the election because that was the tape in which he was heard bragging about what he could do to women, what he could grab them by and when you are a star, they let you do it.  Shortly thereafter, very shortly thereafter, that same day is when WikiLeaks started releasing the emails that Russian intelligence had hacked from Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman and then provided to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to distribute to try to -- to try to cause maximum harm to Hillary Clinton`s campaign and to boost Donald Trump as best they could. 

All of those things all happened on the same day, on October 7th, and in the Kian trial this past week, we learned that on that same day, on October 7th, Mike Flynn was fielding phone calls from his foreign pay master, from the Turkish guy who was paying him over $500,000 during the campaign to essentially act as a foreign agent representing the interest of a foreign government without declaring himself as such in the U.S. while he worked on a U.S. presidential campaign.  On that day, on October 7th, the Turkish guy who was paying Mike Flynn apparently got on the phone with Flynn and reamed him up about how Turkey was basically not getting its money`s worth from the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. 

That day, October 7th, Michael Flynn`s Turkish paymaster got on the phone with Flynn demanding to know why Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was not saying nicer things about Turkey.  Why he was not attacking the enemies of the president of Turkey.  After all, wasn`t Flynn being paid for just that?  Was Turkey getting its money`s worth?  Out of this guy they secretly had on their payroll who was working on the Trump campaign?

I mean, that is the kind of call that Mike Flynn was having to take on "Access Hollywood" day, right?  Get on it, Mike.  Yes, sir.  Right away, sir.  We do kind of have a few other things on our plate today, sir, but I will try to get you your money`s worth, foreign country paying me secretly while I work on this campaign. 

I mean, we still don`t know how this is all going to shake out for Flynn.  Even now that his business partner, this other guy from the Trump transition, Bijan Kian, has been convicted an all counts today.  But it is worth pausing to just appreciate, just savor this for a second, that the president of the United States, his top campaign foreign policy adviser was literally on the payroll of a foreign country being paid to influence the future president and then even after that was notified to the presidential transition and the Trump administration -- the incoming Trump administration, the Trump transition knew it, that Flynn had been on a foreign government`s payroll.

Nevertheless, the president picked that guy to be his top national security official.  I mean, I know this will probably be a tiny footnote in the history of even just this insane year of this insane presidency, but, honestly, that deserves its own full chapter.  That would be the kind of thing that would, like, destroy a whole another presidency.  But in this one, it`s like, oh, yeah, that happened, right. 

And you might remember, in Mike Flynn`s own case, he recently traded in his sort of normal lawyers for instead a new lawyer.  He instead retained a new sort of Fox News regular who literally sells anti-Robert Mueller t-shirts on her Website.  That`s Mike Flynn`s new lawyer. 

Flynn is still awaiting sentencing for his own crimes.  He has pled guilty to lying to investigators.  He admitted in his plea deal to lying in his federal filings in which he insisted that,  of course, he wasn`t a paid foreign agent. 

But since he has switched his legal team, as best that we can tell, the strategic legal advice Flynn seems to have received from his new Fox News lawyer is that he should try to blow up the federal criminal case that federal prosecutors were pursuing against Bijan Kian, against Flynn`s former business partner.  Flynn had been due to be the star witness against Kian.  He was expected to testify for the prosecution in Kian`s trial.  He was expected to testify about all the work that he and Kian did for Flynn`s consulting firm on behalf of this foreign government. 

That all got upended when Flynn got his new lawyers who apparently told him it would be fine for him, it would be a good idea for him to change his mind about what he had previously admitted to prosecutors.  They apparently advised him that he should just go ahead and change his story now. 

I think the idea must have been that if these prosecutors lost Flynn as their star witness against Kian, the whole case against Kian would collapse.  You know, Kian would be acquitted or the charges would be dropped and that would be a terrible big black eye for the prosecutors and for Robert Mueller in particular.  I mean, perhaps when you have an anti- Robert Mueller crusading TV lawyer representing you, that seems like a surefire strategy to grease your own skids and get yourself off the hook. 

You know, blow up Mueller`s prosecution of this other guy.  That will make Mueller look bad and then the whole deep state charade of the Mueller investigation will come crashing down and all the charges will be dropped against Mike Flynn, or at least he`ll get a light sentence and, you know, everybody will get a Fox News contributor contract and we`ll all laugh all the way to the bank. 

I mean, I guess that`s how they thought it was going to go.  Today that strategy took a little bit of a hit when prosecutors actually won their case against Kian and got conviction of him on all counts, even without Mike Flynn as a witness.  And now in the wake of that, in the wake of that unanimous jury verdict, that he is guilty on all counts. 

Now, Mike Flynn, president Trump`s national security adviser, is in the unenviable position of having his business partner convicted for something Flynn already admitted to prosecutors that he, himself, did.  And in a failed effort to prevent that conviction from happening, Flynn has just blown up his own position as a cooperating witness for prosecutors, which was his best bet for avoiding a prison sentence for himself.  And now, his business partner is looking at a potential 15 years in prison. 

And Flynn still has his own sentencing in his own case ahead of him, which, again, will hinge on just how valuable he has been to prosecutors all this time.  The same prosecutors he just double crossed and changed his story on and tried to kill their case against his business partner and he failed in that effort. 

Oops.  Good luck at your sentencing.  I mean, it`s weird.  It`s like the whole anti-Robert Mueller t-shirt arguments don`t work as well outside of Fox News. 

Well, tomorrow Robert Mueller himself will be answering questions from the Judiciary Committee and then from the Intelligence Committee in the House.  It starts early.  You should probably be watching by about 8:00 a.m.  They`re going to gavel the first hearing into play at about 8:30. 

We know that Mueller is going to have prepared opening statements for each of the two committees.  We know that he has not provided them to the Justice Department in advance.  He`s not providing them to the committees in advance and we`re darn sure he`s not going to release them to the public in advance.  So they`re due to gavel in at 8:30.  You should probably be watching before that. 

Right up towards the top, Mueller will be giving an opening statement.  The first one to the Judiciary Committee, we have no idea what he`s going to say and nobody else does either. 

Now, we`re going to talk tonight over the course of this hour about how the committees are preparing.  What they might ask.  What they should ask.  How they should ask their questions.  We`ll also talk about what else in history has been like this, if anything. 

But there`s one piece of this that has been developing just this afternoon and into this evening which I want to try to address first, and it`s about this issue of Mueller`s deputy.  Today, we learned that in addition to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, there was also a deputy special counsel.  There was? 

Aaron Zebley had previously been described as Mueller`s chief of staff in the special counsel`s office.  Indeed, chief of staff is the same job title that Zebley had at FBI.  When Robert Mueller was FBI director, Aaron Zebley was his chief of staff at the FBI. 

And we thought that`s what his role was in the special counsel`s office, but today Zebley was described as the deputy special counsel.  In this statement from Mueller`s new spokesperson, quote: Aaron Zebley was the deputy special counsel and had day-to-day oversight of the investigations conducted by the special counsel`s office.  Oh!  He will accompany special counsel Mueller to the Wednesday hearings, as was discussed with the committees more than a week ago.  That statement today by Mueller`s new spokesperson. 

Well, if this has been the plan to have Aaron Zebley sitting there with Mueller at his open testimony tomorrow and that was discussed with the two committees more than a week ago, I mean, that may be true.  This is the first that we, the public, are hearing about it for sure.  We had thought that maybe some of Mueller`s deputies, including Zebley, might initially be testifying in closed sessions following Mueller`s open testimony.  Then that was reportedly either still in process or maybe cancelled.  Today`s the first day that we learned that he`ll be sitting there with Mueller. 

I mean, what we understand about the Judiciary Committee`s process is that while they believe they had notice from Mueller`s office that Zebley was due to accompany Mueller at the hearing, they didn`t necessarily understand that to mean that Zebley would be sitting at the table with Mueller.  It seems like maybe they thought he would be there kind of as a date, right?  As support staff sitting behind him, looking sternly at the camera as Mueller alone testified for hours. 

It seems like that was the impression that the Judiciary Committee was under.  It`s a little murky.  That`s our best understanding, though.  That the specific request from Mueller is that Zebley would sort of just be in the room. 

Now, what we think is that the specific request from Mueller is that Zebley shouldn`t just be in the room sitting behind Mueller, he should be at the table.  And as far as we can tell, that is a new request from the special counsel, at least as far as the committees understood it. 

At least here is how the Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff explained it to reporters today. 


REPORTER:  Will Mr. Zebley be participating tomorrow as a witness or as counsel for Mr. Mueller? 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  The special counsel`s office has made it clear for some time that they would like to have him present, they would like to allow him to answer questions.  We want this hearing to be about Director Mueller.  We are in discussions with them about the role of his counsel and those discussions are ongoing.  I expect that he will be there, but we would like to make sure that the degree that he participates that it may be on technical issues or other matters.  We don`t want him as a substitute for Mueller`s voice. 

REPORTER:  Was this a last-minute request?  Or has this been something --

SCHIFF:  No, they have made this request for some time.  We`re willing to try to accommodate, but like many things about the hearing, it has been a constant process of negotiation and refinement. 


MADDOW:  OK.  Literally while we were just playing that sound bite from Adam Schiff, I was just handed some breaking news on this very subject.  You just heard there how Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff explained it as of this afternoon, in terms of these ongoing negotiations about whether or not Mueller would be accompanied by his deputy, by his FBI chief of staff, Aaron Zebley, and under what circumstances. 

Well, NBC News is now reporting, according to a House Intelligence Committee staffer, that we now have some clarity on this.  The Intelligence Committee, again, is going to be the second committee that Mueller testifies to tomorrow, and according to NBC News, an agreement has now been reached that Aaron Zebley, described today as deputy special counsel, Aaron Zebley, who was Mueller`s chief of staff when he was FBI director, Aaron Zebley at the intelligence committee testimony, Zebley will be sworn in. 

So, Mueller will be sworn in for his testimony and Zebley will be sworn in to testify as well.  And that means that the expectation is that at the Intelligence Committee tomorrow, Aaron Zebley will be answering questions from members of that committee alongside Mueller.  Now, again, that`s the second hearing tomorrow. 

The first hearing, we still don`t have clarity.  As far as we understand it, with the Judiciary Committee what we think is going to happen is that Mueller will be sworn in and Zebley will be sitting there with him, but Zebley himself won`t be sworn in.  He will be there basically as a counselor, as an adviser to Mueller.  That means that Mueller will be the one answering all the questions in the first round with judiciary tomorrow and Zebley can speak in his ear and can advise him what to say, but Zebley himself won`t be sworn in and directly asking questions.  That will be the case for the morning and in the afternoon, Zebley and Mueller will both be witnesses and both be testifying and both be sworn in. 

Literally while I was describing this tonight, this news developed.  If we get clarity on what`s going to happen with judiciary or if they change their plans to try to match what intelligence is doing, we`ll let you know. 

As for this late change in what we`re expecting tomorrow, one of the people I most want to ask about this and what it might mean and where it might be coming from, from the interest of the special counsel`s office is somebody who has had the same job as Aaron Zebley, somebody who has been a chief of staff to an FBI director. 

They`re somebody you know well from his time on MSNBC and NBC.  He is going to join us along with a bunch of other very well-placed experts over the course of this hour. 

Lots to come.  Stay with us. 



NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST:  How would you elicit from Robert Mueller the story of his investigation? 

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR:  I would either ask him direct leading questions to have him affirm key parts of the report or I would ask him to read lines from the report or both.  This is a chance for the American people to learn what he found.  It`s too bad that having published a 450- page report that didn`t get the job done, but it didn`t.  Folks don`t know what he found and you can ask him in a simple straightforward way and get those details in front of the American people. 


MADDOW:  Former FBI Director James Comey today speaking with the great Nicolle Wallace here on MSNBC. 

Director Comey is one of many figures either near to this investigation or who are otherwise in a position to know, who have suggested what Robert Mueller should be asked tomorrow and how. 

Joining us now are two people who have their own very well-earned perspectives on this ahead of tomorrow`s questioning.  Chuck Rosenberg is a former senior Justice Department official, former FBI chief of staff.  And Neal Katyal is former acting solicitor general. 

Chuck and Neal, we never put two people on together.  I promise you`re not here to do punching duty and fight with each other. 


MADDOW:  Let me actually ask you about this breaking news that we just got concerning somebody who`s described by the special counsel spokesman today as deputy special counsel Aaron Zebley.  He was previously described in reporting about the special counsel`s process about Mueller`s chief of staff and we know he was Mueller`s chief of staff when Mueller was FBI director. 

Now it seems that the Intelligence Committee has made the decision that they`re going to swear Mr. Zebley in also as a witness, to sit next to Mueller and also answer questions from at least the intelligence committee members, even if Judiciary Committee seems like they may not be following that same path. 

Chuck, I know you had the same job that Aaron Zebley did as chief of staff at the FBI.  What did you make of this? 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER FBI CHIEF OF STAFF:  Well, Aaron is as smart and humble and diligent as you could hope for.  He also will know the case backwards and forwards, right?  I mean, he worked right next to Bob for years, including on the entire special counsel project. 

So here`s what I make of it.  If Bob doesn`t know an answer, Aaron will.  And Aaron`s testified in big cases before, including in the Eastern District of Virginia when I was U.S. attorney.  Aaron went from being an FBI special agent to being a federal prosecutor and was one of the most important witnesses in our presentation of the 9/11 case. 

So big case experience.  Diligent, humble, smart and earnest.  Knows the case backwards and forwards and will help tell the story. 

MADDOW:  Neal, what do you make about the sort of churn around this decision today?  Obviously, these two committees, I`m not sure about what the timing was in terms of when this was first broached and how they`re making these decisions.  It seems like the Judiciary Committee won`t swear Mr. Zebley in.  They`ll allow him to advise Mr. Mueller but not answer his own questions.  The Intelligence Committee will handle it a little bit different. 

Obviously, it`s unusual to have a second witness at the last moment. 

KATYAL:  Yes, no, I think, look, it`s unusual.  And, you know, we`re all guessing as to what`s going on, but fundamentally I don`t think it`s going to change very much.  I think we expect Mueller to go in tomorrow and do what he said, which he said he`s going to stick to the four corners of his report. 

The question really is, are the Democrats going to grandstand in the House or are they going to actually get to the heart of this and say to Mueller, tell us what your report actually says because I think if the American people hear what the report actually says as oppose to the spin about it, it`s going to be a devastating day for the president. 

MADDOW:  This is a little bit of a sensitive question and you brush me back either of you if you think it`s inappropriate. 

But do you think there may be some worry that Director Mueller may not be fully -- may not be at 100 percent capacity or they maybe some reason why he and his office feel that they need to have somebody there either advising him or picking up part of the witness responsibilities to answer these questions?  Is that possibly what`s going on here? 

ROSENBERG:  Yes, I don`t know for sure.  I do know this.  At the end of a 22-month investigation and a 448-page report, it`s nice to have someone sitting next to you to help you. 

MADDOW:  Mmm-hmm. 

ROSENBERG:  You know, if I stumble here, Neal will pick it up and, you know, carry it across the finish line.  That`s comforting. 

Five hours of testimony before two committees about an investigation that long and complex, probably calls for two people. 

Now, it is unusual.  But I can tell you as a federal prosecutor, we almost always had people trying cases together under the very simple premise that two heads are better than one. 

MADDOW:  Neal, one of the things that you raised in an op-ed today in "The New York Times" was that the questioning could actually be very simple and direct.  That the special counsel and indeed Mr. Zebley alongside him should perhaps just be asked about the way the president has characterized Mueller`s findings.  Ask him if it`s true that it proved no collusion, that it proved no obstruction. 

Why do you think that`s an effective approach? 

KATYAL:  Well, because I think ultimately this is a really simple set of questions, which is did the president obstruct justice?  And after Mueller turned in his report, the attorney general spun it without showing us the report for many weeks and said, oh, it shows no obstruction. 

The report actually says the reverse, which is why over 1,000 former federal prosecutors, including today, Jim Comey in another part of the clip before Nicolle Wallace saying, look, if I read that report it would show that if this were any other American, that person would be looking at a federal indictment. 

So I think simple questions are important.  Then I think two questions that go beyond simple are important as well, which is the -- we know that Mueller`s by the book.  So he wants to stick to the four corners of the report.  But the book has changed because after he turned his report in, Barr said, oh, you could have actually told the American people did Mr. Trump commit a crime.  And if, you know, now that Barr is saying that`s permissible for Mueller to have done, I think Barr -- I think Mueller should be asked that question by Congress and should answer that question because Barr is saying that`s fair game to answer, Mueller. 

MADDOW:  I think that`s a really, really interesting question.  I would be interested in your take on this, Chuck, because Barr has discussed a number of things, including decisions within the special counsel`s office and in the Justice Department about the special counsel`s findings.  Things that the Justice Department just told Mueller he can`t talk about. 


MADDOW:  So there is this sort of strange situation where the justice department is willing to characterize what happened in Mueller`s office, but Mueller`s being told that he, himself, is not allowed to.  There is also the circumstance in which the attorney general, as Neal says, has sort of redefined what the rules are and whether or not Mueller should have said whether or not the president committed crimes. 

Will Robert Mueller see those things that Attorney General Barr has said as the policy of the Justice Department that he should follow because they`re proclamations by the A.G.? 

ROSENBERG:  Yes, I think it puts Bob in a very difficult spot.  I mean, I`ve learned to take that man at his word, having worked for him.  By the way, his default is taciturn.  So the notion that he would do something other than what he already said he would do -- when he gave his press conference, he said I`m not going beyond my report.  My report is my testimony.  I have nothing to add. 

I understand that Mr. Barr opened the door.  I get that.  But I don`t think it`s in Bob Mueller`s DNA to do it. 

MADDOW:  Mmm-hmm. 

KATYAL:  It may not be in his DNA, but doesn`t he have to?  I mean, this is a guy who oversaw this 22-month investigation, didn`t reach a conclusion because of this legal barrier that he thought existed and then you have the attorney general saying I`m your boss, that legal barrier doesn`t exist. 


KATYAL:  I think he`s got to answer the question tomorrow. 

ROSENBERG:  I would love to be wrong. 

MADDOW:  Neal Katyal, Chuck Rosenberg, I know you two are going to be a key part of our footage -- our coverage of this as it unrolls over the course of tomorrow.  Which means I know you have to go home and go to sleep right this second. 

Thank you so much for being here tonight.  I really appreciate it.  I`ll see you tomorrow. 

All right.  We`ve got much more to get to get to this Mueller testimony eve.  We`ve actually got the vice chair of the judiciary committee who can hopefully help us with this breaking news we`re getting about the person who will be sitting next to Robert Mueller while he is testifying tomorrow morning.

Stay with us. 



SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA):  According to special counsel Mueller`s report, the FBI imbedded personnel with Mueller`s team whose purpose, and this is a quote, was to review the results of the investigation and to send in writing summaries of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information to FBI headquarters and FBI field offices, end quote. 

The Mueller report says that these summaries contain information that`s not included in the Mueller report itself.  Have you reviewed these summaries and information? 

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR:  Well, Senator, I want to be careful not to be discussing the special counsel`s report, especially when the special counsel himself is going to be testifying at length tomorrow. 


MADDOW:  That wasn`t the question, though.  What happened to all of the intelligence information garnered in Mueller`s investigation that didn`t get recorded in Mueller`s report?  What happened to all that stuff? 

For the record, FBI Director Chris Wray said he would be happy to check on that.  The FBI director also clarified for the record today that he, himself, the FBI director, hasn`t read the Mueller report. 


SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI):  Have you read the Mueller report? 

WRAY:  I`ve reviewed it.  I wouldn`t say I read every single word. 


MADDOW:  That`s a big part of why Democrats say they wanted Robert Mueller to testify tomorrow anyway, right?  So people who haven`t read the report can, you know, watch the movie instead of reading the book.  Who knew that would include the director of the FBI himself? 

We know Democrats on the Judiciary Committee held a mock hearing today for about 2 1/2 hours as part of their prep, complete with somebody playing the part of a likely interrupter who was trying to get them off their game when they were building up momentum.  One of the lawmakers who, of course, will have questions for Robert Mueller is the vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee.  She`s got a big day ahead of us tomorrow.  But before that she`s going to join us here next. 

Stay with us. 



REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY):  Preparations are going well.  We`re taking it very seriously.  We believe this is an important moment, not simply for Congress or the Judiciary Committee, it`s an important moment for the country. 

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX):  We simply went through what we want to do tomorrow, which is tell the story of this report.  I do expect him to have striking testimony tomorrow.  It will be up to the American people on how they receive it. 

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  The president and the attorney general have systematically lied to the American people.  They`ve said no obstruction, no collusion, he was totally exonerated.  All three of those statements are not true. 

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA):  We feel very prepared and I think we`re going to, you know, I think it`s going to be a good hearing tomorrow.  If it had not been intercepted by Bill Barr, I`m not even sure this would be necessary.  The report was intercepted and it was misconstrued, the American people were misled and now we have to correct that record. 


MADDOW:  Members of the Judiciary Committee, Democrats all, who are preparing tonight for what will be a huge moment tomorrow morning as their committee begins questioning at 8:30 in the morning of special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Joining us now is Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.  She`s newly elected.  She`s on her first term.  An accomplished attorney before entering Congress.  She`s now vice chair of the Judiciary Committee. 

Congresswoman Scanlon, thank you so much for joining us.  I know you have a lot of things you`d rather be doing right now than talking on TV. 

REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA):  Well, thank you for having me. 

MADDOW:  So let me ask you about some of the news we`ve learned over the course of this hour that we`re still trying to make sense of.  We`ve learned just in the last few minutes that in the intelligence committee, in the afternoon after Robert Mueller`s testimony to your committee, Aaron Zebley, his deputy, who was variously described as the deputy special counsel or his chief of staff on the special counsel`s office, he`s going to be sworn in alongside Robert Mueller in the afternoon session with Intel and will also be giving testimony, also be answering questions from members. 

As far as we understand it, at your committee, Zebley will be there but he won`t be sworn in.  He`ll be there purely to advise Mueller on his own responses.  Is that still operative at this time? 

SCANLON:  You know, that`s -- that`s the last part that I heard.  I was on my way over here, so I haven`t been party to any last-minute negotiations. 

MADDOW:  In terms of Mr. Zebley`s role here, can you tell us anything about how the committee, how you, yourself, feel about the prospect of having him there?  I think we`ve all been imagining Robert Mueller sitting there on his own in a full packed hearing room of people listening closely. 

What I`ve been fanaticizing about the whole time is him and his whole team answering questions for about three weeks on end so we can get an answer to anything. 

What do you think about the prospect of his deputy, his chief of staff sitting there with him? 

SCANLON:  Well, as you know, we`ve been very anxious to get Mr. Mueller as well as some other witnesses before the committee.  So, I say, you know, the more the merrier.  If we can bring along Don McGahn and Ms. Donaldson and some of the other witnesses we`ve subpoenaed, I`d like them all to come by. 

MADDOW:  Surely, though, Mueller`s own team is another matter.  There had been some discussion that they would be testifying in a closed session that would sort of augment what we were able to see in open session. 

Do we know if there is any plan for a closed session at this point with anyone from Mueller`s team? 

SCANLON:  My understanding is that there isn`t at this point, but Mr. Mueller also did give us some additional time with himself.  I think it`s a great idea, as one of your previous guests noted, you know, something of this complexity, the amount of time that was spent, the length of the report, the amount of evidence underlying it, I think -- I think it`s a good thing if we`re able to get more information by having one of his deputies there who can assist and help move the hearing along. 

MADDOW:  What can you tell us about how prep is going?  We saw tape from members of your committee coming out of what we understand to be a lengthy prep session on the Democratic side this afternoon and into this evening.  What`s that process been like?  And how do you feel about it? 

SCANLON:  Well, I mean, we`ve been preparing for some time.  We`ve had several months to get ready for this, and there`d been a number of delays.  So it`s been an ongoing process. 

I think as Mr. Jeffries noted, everybody is taking it very seriously.  We don`t want this to be some kind of public spectacle.  We want people to understand what`s in the report.

MADDOW:  In terms of the Justice Department here, they`ve had a sort of interesting role.  The Justice Department obviously is no longer Special Counsel Mueller`s employer, nor do they employ any of the staff that have been invited to testify, as far as we know. 

Nevertheless, the Justice Department last night sent a sort of cross shot across the bow to Director Mueller, saying in response to these subpoenas that he received, including from your committee, that his testimony should be very circumspect.  That it should not go outside the four corners of his report.  That he should not talk about any decision-making process within the special counsel`s office.  That he should not talk about any charging decisions or anyone who is an uncharged third party.  That, of course, would include the president and anyone related to the president who hasn`t been charged. 

There has definitely been pushback, including from your chairman, Jerry Nadler, that that Justice Department guidance is improper.  We`ve seen a similar pushback tonight in the form of a letter from Chairman Schiff at Intel.

What do you make about the Justice Department and their effort to sort of shape what`s about to happen here? 

SCANLON:  Well, shape what`s going to happen or continue to assist the president in his efforts to suppress the Mueller report.  I mean, the first thing that we had happen was just nondisclosure of the report.  Then, we get a redacted report. 

Then, we have the Justice Department and the White House saying that witnesses can`t appear or even when they do appear, as Hope Hicks did, not allowing them to answer questions and then we still have not receive the underlying evidence.  We`ve only received a little bit of it. 

So, it`s a continuing effort to suppress the findings of the Mueller report and the underlying evidence.  It`s not surprising.  It`s very disappointing. 

MADDOW:  Do you expect that Robert Mueller will follow those strictures as laid out by the Justice Department or do you expect that he will take a similar view of that instruction that you and your chairman have? 

SCANLON:  You know, I -- I don`t know.  I think that`s the $50 million question right now.  You know, Bob Mueller has shown that, you know, he`s very thorough, but he`s very much a rule follower and I`m just not sure how he`s going to view these rules. 

We know that he was distressed, shall we say, by the way that Attorney General Barr tried to shape his report and mischaracterize his report.  I don`t know if that will inform his testimony tomorrow.  We are looking forward to hearing his statement, which I understand has not been provided to the Department of Justice. 

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, vice chair of the Judiciary Committee -- if a decision changes tonight about Aaron Zebley and whether he`s going to be sworn in and testifying to your committee like he is to intelligence, please, will you call us tonight even if it`s late and we`ll get it on the air? 

SCANLON:  If I hear that, I will be happy to do so. 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much.  Not fair of me at all to ask you on the air.  But thank you, ma`am.  Much appreciated.

SCANLON:  OK.  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  What you`re looking at here is a man named John Danforth, who among other things was appointed to be a special counsel to investigate the Waco Branch Davidian standoff back during the Clinton administration.  That`s Danforth testifying to Congress about that investigation and his findings.

Ahead of Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifying early tomorrow morning, the Justice Department now is essentially suggested that Mueller`s lucky to be allowed to be testifying at all, implying that they never let this sort of thing happen with people who have jobs like Robert Mueller`s. 

Well, the Jack Danforth tape tells us that that`s not true.  But how else should we think of Mueller`s testimony tomorrow in terms of how it fits into history?

Joining us now is NBC News presidential historian, Michael Beschloss. 

Mr. Beschloss, it`s great to have you here.  Thanks so much for being here tonight. 


MADDOW:  I was struck by the Justice Department letting Robert Mueller know in this sort of terse letter that he is lucky to be allowed in there. 


MADDOW:  There is precedence of investigators like the special counsels testifying to Congress about their findings. 

BESCHLOSS:  Absolutely.  Kenneth Starr in 1998, a month before Bill Clinton was impeached by the House, talking about the famous Starr report which he had sent to Congress and made public a couple of months earlier. 

And just as you were saying, Jack Danforth was not only testifying before Congress, he was doing it even before his final report was issued. 

MADDOW:  In terms of those -- I mean, obviously, you never get a special counsel or a special prosecutor except in the case of big scandal and controversy. 


MADDOW:  When those special counsels and special prosecutors testified in the past, was there a lot of Sturm und Drang?  Was there a lot of anxiety and fighting over the terms of their testimony to Congress? 

BESCHLOSS:  No, there really wasn`t.  For instance, Leon Jaworski went to see Congress in November of 1973, just before he took office and there was a back and forth whether he would be truly independent of Richard Nixon. 

So, what this means, Rachel, is what we`re seeing tomorrow is probably something we`ve never seen before -- a special prosecutor coming in to talk about his report, which came out months ago.  A lot of people did not read.  The Attorney General William Barr came out before it and gave his own spin on this which was much more benign than the report was in the end. 

And the other thing is the scene of Robert Mueller coming in largely against his wish.  This scene tomorrow is probably something he is not going to enjoy. 

MADDOW:  Is it unusual that he will have his deputy testifying alongside him at least one of these two committee hearings tomorrow? 

BESCHLOSS:  I think it is unusual.  And I think it does tell a little bit about the fact that he doesn`t want to be just one person for all those hours being the only source of information on this report and how it came about. 

MADDOW:  NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss, it`s going to be so fun to talk to you about this once it happens tomorrow.  Thank you so much for being here to help us preview it. 

BESCHLOSS:  It would be fascinating.  Thanks so much, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  That does it for us tonight.  Keep in mind, tomorrow your day is going to start earlier than it usually does in terms of what you are watching on TV.  The Judiciary Committee is going to go first with Robert Mueller.  They are scheduled to gavel in their hearing at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.  You`ll probably want to be watching ahead of that. 

We are expecting that Robert Mueller will give an opening statement to both the judiciary committee and then a different opening statement when he testifies before the intelligence committee in the afternoon.  Neither of the committees is apparently being given a heads up about those opening statements ahead of time, nor is the Justice Department and we in the press certainly haven`t seen anything in advance. 

So, right off the bat, there will be surprises.  Again, recapping the news we learned this hour, we expect that Mueller`s deputy, Aaron Zebley, who was his chief of staff when he was FBI director and who apparently was running the day-to-day operations at the special counsel`s office, he`ll be seated beside Mueller during his morning testimony with judiciary, although he won`t be sworn in and testifying himself. 

And then in the afternoon, we expect Zebley to be sworn in separately and testifying and answering questions essentially as a secondary witness to Mueller.  It should be a fascinating dynamic. 

I honestly would not be surprised if over the course of this evening, the Judiciary Committee didn`t decide to sort of follow the same path that the Intelligence is doing and just swear Zebley in.  Why have him sitting there and not able to answer your questions?  We`ll see.  Still evolving. 

And now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". 

Good evening, Lawrence.

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