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Trump seeks emergency order. TRANSCRIPT: 7/25/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Michael Bennet, Pramila Jayapal

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN":  "AMERICAN SWAMP" premiers this Sunday, 9:00 p.m., right here on MSNBC.  Don`t miss it. 

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:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.  Happy to have you here.

Anybody who tells you they know what comes next, anybody who tells you they know how things are going to go from here on out is wrong.  I mean, they might end up accidentally being right, but, I mean, to the extent that anybody is expressing any certainty to you right now about what`s going to happen next, that person is wrong to be so certain, because what we are going through right now as a country is unprecedented, which literally means we have not done it before, which means there is no previous experience to extrapolate from.  That might give us a hint as to where this is going next. 

I mean, even when it comes to just the basic fate of this presidency.  As of this morning you might have seen the national headlines, the super sober, super sure headlines about if we know anything about the impact of the Robert Mueller testimony yesterday is that it definitely didn`t move the needle one bit on the question of impeachment.  If it did anything, it convinced Democrats once and for all that they definitely aren`t going to pursue impeachment.  It killed that off forever.  I mean, those are the headlines all over the papers today, as of this morning. 

As of this afternoon, oh, look, there is five new members of the House who have just come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry, including Catherine Clark who is in the Democratic House leadership. 

You might have seen also initial reporting today about how Democrats held a meeting in the wake of Mueller`s testimony and at that meeting they decided that, you know, they would stick to the same old plan and the dynamics among the Democrats would stick to the same old script, same dynamic the Democrats have been for months.  They definitely won`t pursue impeachment proceedings against the president, no matter what, they don`t want to plan for it, no way, it`s done. 

In fact, further detailed reporting about that same meeting later today suggests that what the Democrats are really doing at that meeting was for the first time talking about the nuts and bolts, step by step, chronological logistics of how exactly they would do it if they were going to do it, including basic questions like how exactly their impeachment articles would be conveyed to the U.S. Senate if the House did, in fact, pass articles of impeachment and it was time to move on to the next step.  That`s the kind of stuff they were talking about, which is not at all the same old page they were stuck on before. 

So, all of this sort of instant, sage punditry, and instant news analysis in the world that`s trying to be reassuring now, don`t worry, nothing will change, everything is the same, we know exactly how this is going to go all from here on out, I mean, I understand the impulse to be soothing, I understand the impulse to broadcast that sort of thing.  I think it sort of feels good, particularly in the beltway press.  But the facts on the ground do seem to be shifting much faster than that analysis has within able to keep up, even just over the course of today. 

Now, let me just give you one other sort of case study from our current news cycle that should persuade you to keep your mind open to the possibility of something deeply weird happening at any time.  That should close your mind only to the possibly that there is somebody out there who knows what happens next.  I mean, we are living in deeply weird times.  This is a deeply weird presidency. 

Things that touch this presidency, things that happen around this presidency, particularly in times of stress, they have an almost other worldly propensity to go weird if they start off normal.  I mean, that`s not a good or bad thing.  It`s just weird. 

For example, this is my case study.  Do you know what the president did the night before Robert Mueller`s testimony?  We know the president appeared to be a little stressed out about Mueller`s forthcoming testimony. 

He was tweeting angrily that day and that night about the logistics of the Mueller hearing and the fact that Mueller`s deputy was going to be there.  That`s not fair, very unfair, should not be allowed.  We know the president was very wound up about it the night before Mueller`s testimony happened. 

What did he actually do the night before Mueller testified?  It turns out he had a public event.  He spoke to a right wing youth group.  And I think you have probably not seen this footage. 

I mean, maybe you were there.  Statistically speaking, I`m guessing you are not a member of a right wing youth group watching me right now, although if you are, welcome.  Hope you stay. 

But we`ve got the tape and it`s sort of -- I think this is a remarkable thing.  It is a crowd`s eye view of what it was like to be in the audience of that right wing youth group on Mueller eve awaiting the on stage presence of the president of the United States. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That ambition was unmistakably prevalent in young Donald`s DNA. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He apparently loved military school.  He liked the kind out front, I think, competitiveness of it.  There was so many different ways that you could excel and get medals and ribbons. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Donald Trump thrived, rising in rank and he was socially popular with men and women.  He also gravitated toward sports or rather winning in sports. 


MADDOW:  So this is the right wing teenager`s group, it is a pro-Trump youth club.  They`re watching this hype video about how Donald Trump was such a popular boy with both boys and girls.  He had such good DNA.  He was always winning at everything.  He got so many ribbons and stuff. 

This goes on for a long time.  This is a long hype video.  Ultimately, they get to the part right after this where they`re trying to give an exciting war movie vibe video to the room.  So, I`m going to show you this next part. 

I`m just going to stop talking here for a second so you can see and hear what this was like for the Trump youth group.  Also, just keep in mind this is the kind of event the president of the United States is doing now. 


MADDOW:  And then there is -- wait.  Everybody goes crazy and President Donald Trump is throbbing on the screen. 

And the crowd gets all hyped up, and they get hyped as possibly -- and there he is, oh my god!  There is the lights. 

The president walks out on to the stage.  I told you things could get even weirder than you thought they could get.  But wait.  This is weirder than you think it is because this is what the event looks like when he finally gets going. 

OK.  You see the throbbing name there to the right.  See how there is a presidential seal there.  The presidential seal there right with his name.  There is another presidential seal on the right side of your screen as we`re looking at it. 

The one with his name of it, that`s the seal of the president of the United States.  On the left side of the screen, do you notice that one gets a little different?  "Washington Post" was the first to report on this.  I`m not sure how many other people were looking at this footage, right? 

But it turns out there`s a guy who runs a Website called One Term Donny, which is an anti-Trump Website.  You can buy like anti-Trump merchandise and posters and t-shirts or whatever.  That guy designed a Trump-specific satirical version of the seal of the president of the United States. 

OK.  For comparison purposes, the real one is on the left.  This is the one that was projected underneath the president`s name at that event.  The one projected on the other side of the screen behind the president as he prowled the stage at this Trump youth group event, the night before Mueller`s testimony, that`s the one on the right. 

There are subtle differences.  First thing look at the head.  You`ll notice in the Trump one, the eagle has two heads instead of one.  It is pretty much the two heads from the state seal of the Russian Federation, the two- headed -- yes. 

Now look down at the feet of the double headed eagle.  On the real seal you see on the right that`s the talon of the eagle 13 arrows representing the 13 colonies.  In the seal that was shown behind the president on Mueller Eve, it is hard to tell at first glance what that is.  You can tell it is not arrows. 

In the terms of the One Term Donny Website merchandise producer, he describes what`s in the clutches of that eagle there as, quote, long dong dong`s child size set of golf clubs for those tiny, tiny hands.  So, no arrows, tiny golf clubs.

In the eagle`s other little talon, where from a real seal, you would expect to see the eagle holding an olive branch, the Trump specific seal is instead holding a bunch of cash.  And then there is two other alterations I would draw your attention to.  One is the shield, the breast plate for the eagle on the real presidential seal.  That is red and white stripes down below and a blue field up top. 

On the one that was designed specifically for Trump, and that was projected behind him for his Mueller eve Trump youth appearance, there is still the red and white stripes on the bottom, but the blue field above the red and white stripes is a little different.  See all those little icons there?  Those are hammer and sickles like from the Soviet Union, right.  I mean, just in case the two-headed eagle from the seal of the Russian Federation was not on the nose enough, it`s the hammer and sickle. 

And then the last alteration you should notice is the words written on the banner over the eagle`s head.  In the real presidential seal, of course, it`s e pluribus unum, out of many one, motto of the United States.  On the Trump specific presidential seal which again the president stood in front of for more than an hour the night before Mueller testified, that one actually says 45 es un titere.  That`s not Latin.  That`s Spanish and it means 45 is a puppet. 

Now, this does not seem to have been an anti-Trump trick or hack.  It wasn`t like a rogue projectionist at the Marriott in D.C. as Trump was speaking to this Trump youth group.  This does seem to have just been a thing that the Trump right wing youth group got wrong.  Apparently the White House advanced operations are sufficiently porous that this sort of thing can just happen and who knows blame the youths. 

I mean, he was standing in front of that thing for more than within an hour.  The guy that made the One Term Donny website is like.

Anybody that tells you there aren`t wrinkles in the universe or unexpected hazards or opportunities ahead is just not being honest about how exactly weird this moment is in American political life.  I mean, listen, if something like that can happen involving the president in person and his adoring teens, I mean, anything can happen. 

Particularly anything can happen in the wake of the jarring claims that were made about the president and his behavior by the special counsel in those seven hours of televised hearings yesterday. 


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  From your testimony today, I gather that you believe that knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do. 


SCHIFF:  And a crime. 

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  And what about total exoneration?  Did you actually totally exonerate the president? 


NADLER:  In fact, your report states it does not exonerate the president. 

MUELLER:  It does. 

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA):  So, it`s fair to say the president tried to protect himself by asking staff to falsify records relevant to an ongoing investigation? 

MUELLER:  I would say that`s generally a summary. 

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO):  OK.  But could you charge the president with a crime after he left office? 


BUCK:  You believe that he committed -- you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office? 


NADLER:  Now, Director Mueller, can you explain in plain terms what that finding means so the American people can understand it? 

MUELLER:  Well, the finding indicates that the president was not -- that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed. 

SCHIFF:  Presumably, the Russians could record that conversation, could they not? 


SCHIFF:  So, if candidate Trump was saying, I have no dealings with the Russians, but the Russians had the tap record, they could expose that, could they not? 


SCHIFF:  That`s the stuff of counterintelligence nightmares, is it not?


MADDOW:  Yesterday`s testimony by Robert Mueller was so blunt and so unequivocal, and at times so simple, I think it would be hard to expect that testimony to not sort of knock this news cycle upside the head regardless of whether we can predict or not predict how it`s going to affect this presidency in the long term.  But I mean, I mean, just bluntly, to the extent that presidents have been impeached in the past for committing crimes, for enabling and going along with the commission of crimes and for lying to cover it all up, I mean, Robert Mueller testified yesterday that, yes, President Trump did all of those things. 


SCHIFF:  The Trump campaign officials built their strategy, their messages strategy around those stolen documents? 

MUELLER:  Generally, that`s true. 

SCHIFF:  And then they lied to cover it up? 

MUELLER:  Generally, that`s true. 


MADDOW:  Blunt testimony like that about the sitting president of the United States is not the sort of thing that tends to evaporate into the ether. 

And now, couple that today with this new 67-page report that has just been released on a bipartisan basis from the Intelligence Committee in the United States Senate. 

Now, Robert Mueller yesterday was at his most passionate and honestly his most coherent when he was articulating the scale of the Russian attack on our election, its intentions, its implications, how serious this was to our democracy.  He said of all the things he has dealt with in his career, this is one of the most serious threats he has seen to our country.  Remember he was FBI director in the immediate wake of 9/11. 

Well, now, immediately, in the wake of his testimony here today, surprise, is the Senate Intel Committee reporting unequivocally that they have looked into this in detail, and they agree with Robert Mueller.  There can be no doubt about what happened here from page 5 of the report, quote: Russian government-affiliated cyber actors conducted activity against state elections infrastructure in the run-up to the 2016 elections. 

I mean, even over the course of those two hearings yesterday, you heard Republicans less able to keep a straight face while questioning or denying that the Russian attack happened or that the Russian attack was any big deal.  I mean, it was poor Republican Congressman Tom McClintock from California at the morning session yesterday who started off trying to say he didn`t believe all the social media manipulation stuff run out of Russia from the Internet Research Agency.  He didn`t necessarily believe that was necessarily even from Russia.  Can you prove it? 

I mean, that was a very strange assertion by Congressman McClintock, particular because he`s from California, right?  You think he might have trouble with that when he goes home.  I mean, I guess he`s going to say there are Internet Research Agencies everywhere.  There was just the St. Petersburg franchise.  Maybe they could have been running that stuff out of the Indonesia office?  I don`t know.

I mean, that was -- that was nutty in the morning.  But by the afternoon, even the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, some of them were paying lip service to the fact that, yes, what Russia did was bad and yes it was serious, and yes, maybe, we ought to start thinking about how to stop that from happening again. 

Well, that`s yesterday.  And then, today, this bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee hopefully will help Republicans get over whatever this tacit directive they received from the Trump White House that they should pretend Russia didn`t do what it did. 

But there is a couple of things I think are worth noting about this report over and above its emphatic public conclusion that Russia attacked the election in an unprecedented way.  And one of the things I think worth knowing about this report is just how freaking redacted it is. 

I`m not sure we expected the Intelligence Committee`s report on Russian interference to look like a barely unsealed indictment.  I mean, I set aside a whole big chunk of my day today.  I was like, I was, whoo, we got a 67-page single space report, plus lots of footnotes to get through.  Got to leave myself time to really get through that. 

Not really.  It is more like a coffee break read.  It`s all under black boxes.  It`s all blacked out.  They all in pages that look that like this.  I mean, presumably, these reductions are at the behest of the intelligence community, I don`t know.  But this is a serious toner investment for your printer if you are going to print it out. 

I mean, let me just show you an example.  This is page 28 of this report from Senate Intel.  You see the heading naming this section of the report.  It is a whole section of the report titled Russian efforts to research U.S. voting systems, processes and other elements of infrastructure.  And the whole first paragraph is redacted.  And then the whole second paragraph is redacted.  And the third paragraph is redacted, and the fourth paragraph and the fight paragraph and the sixth -- that`s the end of the section.  OK.  The whole thing is redacted. 

Wait, there is one sentence in the whole section there that is not redacted that we, the public, are allowed to see.  What is that sentence?  It is unknown if Tarantsov attended the events. 

Yes, I Googled Tarantsov.  I have no idea.  But we`re allowed to know that event. 

What are the events?  Who`s Tarantsov?  Is this important?  Why is this less important than the stuff behind the -- all of the other paragraphs in that section, everything else in that report about the Russian government casing our voting systems and the elements of our voting infrastructure, researching them, trying to suss them out, we`re not allowed to know any of that, even as the Senate Intelligence Committee moves to make this report public.

So, that`s -- I mean, that`s I don`t think what was expected from this report.  It is intriguing.  It`s sort of frustrating, depending on your mood.  But even with all these myriad redactions, the Senate Intelligence report does make a few very sobering assertions, including confirming publicly that Russia attacked the election and also including that the Russian attack included Russia`s successfully accessing and stealing voter information from voter registration databases in the states, like the actual voter registration databases that are used by the states for us to vote in the presidential election in at least a couple of instances they broke in.  It was successful and they got that data. 

And again, a ton of the descriptive stuff in here is blacked out.  We can`t tell reading between the block boxes, I think the committee is telling us at least two states have their voter information cracked by the Russians where the hack not only succeeded but they got the data. 

We also get lots of information about how unnamed individual states didn`t believe it when they were warned about these attacks by Russian government cyber actors.  The individual states, again, they`re not named.  They`re numbered as states.

But after time and time again one after the other, they deny these attacks were any big deal.  State after state refuses government help when it is offered to them.  That is not heartening. 

And, so, at this sort of typically weird moment where I do think that kind of anything is possible in terms of where the news cycle is going next and where this presidency is going next, I do have to say the only place that feels like it might be a cat bird seat for this moment in American life might be if you had a seat on one of the intelligence committees.  That seems like an excellent place to observe what`s going on in our country right now and the most interesting things about it, because let`s say you are on the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

Presumably, that means you can read all of the redacted stuff in today`s report and you can, you know, find out what`s actually there because you are cleared to read exactly how bad the Russian attack was and how it worked, and how far they gotten to how many different states, and which states it was that blew off the warnings and let the Russians in, denied there was any problem.  Presumably that would also let you as a member of the committee read how far we have advanced since 2016 towards stopping Russia from doing it in the next election as well since both the FBI director and former special counsel are warning us they have every intention of doing it in 2020 as well. 

I mean, do the thought experiment, right?  Let`s imagine it`s a close election in 2020.  Can`t possibly be.  Yes, imagine it`s going to be a close election. 

What if it comes down to a hand recount in one state and the presidency is on the line based on that recount?  That could never -- yes, that happened.  2000 Florida, right? 

Then it turns out as we`re doing that hand recount and the whole country is riveted, turns out that`s one of the states where Russia didn`t just probe and prod.  They actually accessed, they actually got their hands on all the voter data from that state. 

Now, the question arises in the country as we`re wondering to find out what`s going to happen with this recount, hmm, Russia got in there.  Did they mess with any of that voter data?  Did they tilt it in one direction or another?  How would we know if they did? 

What would that do to trust the results as something as sensitive as a recount or even just a count in the first place that might determine whether or not Donald Trump gets four more years in office.  I mean, if you were on the intelligence committee, you would be able to read the whole report. 

Also, if you were on the Intelligence Committee, you would be in a unique position because of your oversight role over the intelligence community, you`d be in a unique position to get the real story, the real dirt perhaps behind the work that Robert Mueller said yesterday he and his team did not do.  One of the most fascinating revelations from Mueller`s testimony yesterday was Mueller talking about the compromise of potentially the president and members of his campaign, the counterintelligence issues about foreign intelligence services and foreign governments compromising U.S. officials and other people in U.S. national life as a way of compromising our country. 

I mean, as blunt as Mueller was in explaining how members of the Trump campaign and the president himself were compromised by Russia or might have been compromised by Russia because of their secret dealings with the Russian government which Russia knew about and they could leverage to compromise these folks, and extort things from them and put national security at risk, as blunt as he unexpectedly was about those things, Mueller also said repeatedly that although those were huge risks and they did observe all the elements of compromise and potential blackmail there, it actually wasn`t something that his team actually worked on. 


MUELLER:  Not in our report.  We revert to the counter intelligence goals of our investigation, which were secondary to any criminal wrongdoing that we could find.  I cannot get into that mainly because there are many elements of the FBI that are looking at different aspects of that issue. 


MUELLER:  Currently. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  For instance, since it was outside your purview, your report did not reach counterintelligence conclusions regarding any Trump administration officials who might potentially be vulnerable to compromise or blackmail by Russia, correct? 

MUELLER:  Those decisions probably were made in the counter -- the FBI. 


MADDOW:  Counterintelligence section of the FBI would be -- part working on that.  Well, are they still working on that?  How did that go?  They looked in to that stuff?

I mean, time and time again yesterday, Mueller surprisingly answered questions about the potential issue of being compromised by Russia and how that risk attends to not just the president`s campaign but also the president.  And he described things time and again as being subject to the investigation, the subject of ongoing investigation, things that were being looked at or were looked at by the FBI, as counterintelligence matters.  Things that were not being evaluated by his team, no, no, no, you need to ask the FBI.  You need to ask the counterintelligence section of the FBI. 

And that was about not only WikiLeaks releasing all the stolen stuff that they got from Russian intelligence.  It was not only about Donald Trump Jr. communicating with WikiLeaks about that material.  It was not only about the extent of Mike Flynn`s compromise with Russia as he was lying about his interactions with the Russian government while he was holding a very sensitive national security position in the U.S. government. 

It also includes the basic question of whether the president is or was compromised by Russia because of his hidden financial dealings with him that they could expose at any time. 

I mean, apparently, to the extent this stuff has been looked at, it was never a Mueller matter.  It`s an FBI matter.  It was and is an FBI matter.  In some cases, he said explicitly, it is an ongoing counter intelligence matter at the FBI or a matter otherwise for the intelligence community. 

Well, the intelligence committees have oversight over the intelligence community.  They`re the only ones who do.  And now, they have just been given an open door from Robert Mueller inviting them to find out what is going on with those investigations because Mueller says, yes, those are real investigations and those are serious real national security issues for our country and you should ask the FBI about that. 

The intelligence committees are sort of the other ones allowed to get those answers.  They`re the only ones allowed to know as far as I understand it. 

Well, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  He released his views that were appended to today`s highly redacted Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference in the election.  Senator Bennet is also a member of the Democratic Party who`s in contention for his party`s presidential nomination this year. 

Senator Bennet joins us next.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  So there is this new 67-page report on Russian attacks on our election.  It was released today by the Senate Intelligence Committee.  It is very largely redacted. 

But the last page of the report, page 67 of 67 is different from all the rest.  You can see there at the top.  Additional views of Senators Harris, Bennet and Heinrich.  That`s three Democratic senators on the Intelligence Committee, California Senator Kamala Harris, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, the two of them are both running for president right now.  Also, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich.

They had almost to say that they thought was not reflected in the committee`s broader report.  But they are a little bit mysterious about what it is. 

We do not endorse every recommendation in the committee`s report and we share some of our colleague`s concerns about the vulnerability that we face, particularly at the state level where counties with limited sources must defend themselves against sophisticated, nation state adversaries. 

We do not endorse every recommendation.  Tell me more. 

Joining us now is Senator Michael Bennet, member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, 2020 presidential candidate. 

Sir, it`s great to have you here.  Thanks for making time. 

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thanks.  Thanks, Rachel, for having me. 

MADDOW:  So you do not endorse every recommendation.  You and Senator Heinrich and Senator Harris have set yourselves a little bit off from the report in saying that.  What do you have a problem with in this report that the other members don`t? 

BENNET:  Well, I guess I`d say two things.  One, we need to make sure that we have a national response to this.  I mean, we can`t leave this just in the hands of, you know, counties like Broward County to defend themselves against Russian intelligence and expect that we`re going to be able to protect the country. 

That was a point of emphasis for us as much as anything else.  I would say what`s much more important about this report is that it was issued in a strong bipartisan way from the Senate Intelligence Committee and the conclusions that Russia attacked this democracy in a very fundamental way is now unassailable and in front of the American people.  And one thing that`s not redacted in the report are the recommendations that are made about how we need to approach this going forward. 

So I think it`s a good piece of bipartisan work that takes very seriously this assault by the Russians on our democracy. 

MADDOW:  In terms of those recommendations, obviously, one of the things that`s been mind bending over these past coup years as the extent of the Russian attack has been more clear and more firmly documented is that in the Senate under Mitch McConnell, he really has not wanted to do anything.  He`s blocked even consideration of bipartisan legislation to do anything to change the way that we run our elections to try to stop this from happening again. 

Is there an expectation that since this is a bipartisan report, since Chairman Burr has signed off on this, that this might have been what McConnell was waiting for?  That he might allow some of those recommendations to be enacted.

BENNET:  Well, I certainly hope so.  Although, just today he blocked two pieces of legislation from going to the floor on election interference by the Russians.  One of which would have required candidates to inform the FBI when there was interference of foreign government.  The other one of which would have supplied resources to local governments. 

So as far as my count is that Mitch McConnell has blocked eight such pieces of legislation.  Maybe this report will jar that loose.  But the other problem he`s dealing with is he`s got a president who continues to deny that the Russians did this, you know?  And in Helsinki, stood next to Putin and took Putin`s word on the world stage.  In Japan, he made a joke about this with Putin. 

I can assure you that our -- the people that produced this report do not think that is a joke.  This is serious.  Just like western democracies all over Europe who are dealing with the fact that Russia`s interfering in this way in their election. 

So I think it`s really important that our government and frankly our country have a strategic response to what Russia did in `16.  We still haven`t responded to that as a country.  And to make sure that we`re coordinating Homeland Security, the FBI and local governments to do a better job making sure this doesn`t happen again in 2020. 

MADDOW:  One of the things --

BENNET:  It will -- it will happen again.  We just need to make sure that we`re defending again. 

MADDOW:  Robert Mueller was very clear on that last point yesterday saying it is happening as we speak.  It will happen in 2020. 

BENNET:  That`s right.

MADDOW:  They expect it. 

BENNET:  That`s right. 

MADDOW:  He was also, to my mind, what was most striking to me about yesterday`s testimony is how blunt Robert Mueller was about the issue of potential compromise, about how people in the president`s campaign did things and had financial entanglements that expose them to be extorted or compromised by Russia and the president did, too. 

Director Mueller then said that these are matters that were not within the purview of his report.  This is stuff that`s been looked at or is being looked at by the FBI.  It made me curious as a member of the Intelligence Committee, as somebody who has oversight over intelligence, is that the sort of thing that you will -- that you and your committee will be able to pursue? 

Mueller is essentially saying the FBI is looking into the president being compromised by Russia.  He didn`t suggest that investigation is over. 

BENNET:  Well, we know from the public record that there were numerous contacts between the campaign and the Russians.  Though, President Trump denied that over and over again.  It`s not true. 

I can`t speak to what we`re doing inside the committee.  That wouldn`t be right to do. 

MADDOW:  In terms of what the public does.  One last question.  This is kind of what the reports looks like today.  It uses a lot of toner.  It`s really, really redacted.

Are we the public ever going to see any more of this?  Or is this all we`re ever going to get?

BENNET:  I don`t know.  I think that this is a negotiation between the committee and the intelligence community.  I do think what`s critical is that the public does know what we need to do as a country to respond to this and not just to protect ourselves, but to punish people who do this to the United States of America. 

The first step there, of course, is having a president who is willing to push back on tyrants that are attacking the United States rather than coddling them, and a majority leader who can actually pass election protection legislation instead of blocking it from even coming up to a vote.  Those would be two important steps forward to being able to deal with this very real threat. 

MADDOW:  Michael Bennet, member of the Senate intelligence Committee, 2020 presidential candidate -- it`s always a pleasure to have you here, sir.  Come back soon.

BENNET:  Thanks.  Great to see you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  I appreciate it, sir.  Thanks very much.

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


MADDOW:  Special Counsel Robert Mueller was many things at his congressional testimony yesterday.  One of them consistently was terse, which made for at times a hearing that was difficult to watch. 

But there were moments when even his terse answers came off as not just terse but direct and unequivocal and very surprising given the provocative nature of the question that he was being asked. 


REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):  Could you say, Director Mueller, that the president was credible? 

MUELLER:  I can`t answer that question. 

DEMINGS:  Director Mueller, isn`t it fair to say that the president`s written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete because he didn`t answer many of your questions but where he did his answers showed he wasn`t always being truthful? 

MUELLER:  There -- I would say -- generally. 


MADDOW:  Is it fair to say the president`s written answers were not always truthful.  I would say generally. 

Lying is a sin, right?  Thou shalt not bear false witness. 

Lying is also a pain in the butt in a practical sense.  If you tell lies, you have to remember what they are forever, which is an act of rote memorization that might just fail you someday and expose you as a liar.  It is much easier to just tell the truth.  You never need to remember anything. 

But if you lie to federal investigators, that is something more than a sin or a pain in the butt.  That`s a crime. 

When Robert Mueller said yesterday that the president was not truthful in his written statements to federal investigators, that`s a whole new problem we didn`t have before, and that`s next. 




In your report, you concluded that President Trump and his personal counsel, Rudy Giuliani, quote, made repeated statements suggesting that a pardon was a possibility for Manafort while also making it clear the president did not want Manafort to flip and cooperate with the government, end quote.  Is that correct? 

MUELLER:  Correct. 


MADDOW:  Joining us now is Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington.  She`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee.  You saw her there questioning Robert Mueller yesterday. 

Congresswoman, I really appreciate you making time to be here.  Thank you.

JAYAPAL:  It`s great to be with you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  First of all, I have to tell you, I`ve just been looking forward to talking to you about what you took away from this day of testimony.  You`re a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  Very outspoken, on-the-rise member of the Democratic Caucus and recognized I think by all sides as that.  On the Judiciary Committee, you had your own chance to question him. 

What meant the most to you about Mueller`s testimony? 

JAYAPAL:  I think kind of the most important pieces were that he repeatedly basically said that the president was lying on a number of things.  He was not completely exonerated.  He actually did have substantial evidence that the president committed acts of obstruction and we went through five of those in fairly granular detail. 

And what Robert Mueller didn`t say didn`t really matter because what he did is actually validate everything that was in his report that we know most people haven`t read and most importantly we know Bill Barr tried to mislead and try to the American people. 

And so, as I was sitting there listening, I just kept thinking about how the Republicans kept asking things and reading things that helped us because they -- you know, when Ken Buck asked Robert Mueller can the president be prosecuted after he leaves office, he was asked that twice.  He seemed surprised by the answer. 

There were other times he red parts of the March 27th letter.  There were a number of times I thought the Republicans felt very scattered in their approach.  I think you noticed a big change from when they were with us to when they -- the afternoon Intelligence Committee hearing.  They were much more gentle in some ways with Robert Mueller because I think they came across as looking very petty undermining this guy who has a long history of credibility working for a Republican president. 

So, to me, it was a really important groundbreaking moment because we were able to get a lot of things on the table that we knew were there but the American people did not. 

MADDOW:  There was -- one of the reasons I particularly wanted to talk to you tonight is because of your role on the judiciary committee.  I wanted to ask you about something that happened in the other committee hearing.  In the intelligence committee under questioning from Congresswoman Val Demings, there was like a jaw-dropping moment where she asked him if the president had been untruthful in his written testimony to investigators.  And Director Mueller said generally yes, effectively that was the exchange. 

To me, that seemed like a very big deal, particularly for your committee, for the judiciary committee, to have notice confirmed by Director Mueller that the president was untruthful in his written testimony to federal investigators.  That seems to me like a pretty serious allegation of criminal behavior on the part of the president.  I was wondering what you thought of the significance of that moment or am I reading too much into it. 

JAYAPAL:  No, I thought it was significant.  But don`t forget he has committed a number of acts, and that`s what we confirmed throughout.  I think Val Demings questioning just confirmed another thing that we already knew, which is that he is not generally truthful. 

But that was true even in the acts of obstruction. 

So, if you look at the fact that he engaged in direct witness tampering, the fact that he dangled a pardon, the fact that he told many other people to lie, the fact that he tried to get through Corey Lewandowski, he tries to get the special counsel fired, I mean, these are all acts that anybody else does these things, they would be prosecuted. 

And so, I think we ended each of our pieces with that.  And I think Val`s piece was the perfect capstone in some ways because this is a guy who is not truthful.  None of the people around him are truthful.  This is a campaign that was rife with context, lying after and saying things didn`t happen. 

Don`t forget also that Hope Hicks lied to us.  We are going to have Hope Hicks back before the Judiciary Committee.  She said she had no knowledge of the hush money that president Trump paid.  That turns out not to be true. 

So this is just a network of lies.  The president is sitting right in the middle spinning all of these lies and everybody around him is helping him to just continue to cover up. 

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, co-chair of the congressional progressive caucus, it is great to have you here.  Thanks for being here. 

JAYAPAL:  Thanks so much, Rachel.

MADDOW:  All right.  Much more ahead.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Joining us now is a man that needs no introduction on this program and for whom you require no explanation as to what he`s doing here.  NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss, I`ve been so looking forward to talking to you my friend. 

Thank you very much for making time. 


MADDOW:  When you watched the Robert Mueller testimony yesterday, did it seem to you like that word that we all bandy about way too easily now, did it seem like an unprecedented thing or did it resonate with you as with other moments in American history? 

BESCHLOSS:  It did resonate because, you know, you`re looking at moments in which a special counsel testified or important witness like John Dean against Richard Nixon in 1973.  So, it was sort of like that.

But at the same time, this was special counsel being almost dragged in there, Rachel, against his will and the reluctance you can see on his face all the time.  But I think there are moments that will linger and one of them for me is something I didn`t expect, which is when he was talking about the attack on our democracy and he said I fear this is going to be the new normal.  That`s something I think we`ll be reading about in 20 years. 

MADDOW:  One of the things that I think happened immediately upon Mueller sitting down and starting to speak is there was a lot of reaction to him as a human being, to him as a man, to his perceived sort of frailty, the halting nature of his speech, I think other things.  I mean, he`s a public figure who hasn`t spoken in public in a long time.


MADDOW:  It`s been part of the mystic around the special counsel. 

And I do think that was the instant impression that was hard to escape at the start of the hearing and then over the course of the day, you realize whenever you thought about his affect, he was actually delivering quite a ton of information, a lot of it -- 


MADDOW:  Quite blockbuster.

I wonder if there`s any sort of precedent for or the sort of demeanor of a witness ends being important or forgotten in the long run. 

BESCHLOSS:  Well, this is TV and to some extent, that`s the reason why these hearings were staged and the fact he was so reluctant I think probably to some extent undercut this.  We can think of other people who have testified before Congress in situations like this who are a lot more eager. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the Watergate precedent, I was thinking what you said about John Dean`s famous testimony.  We look back on that 45 years later and get these hot moments from John Dean, these sound bytes where he says incredibly devastating things but in fact, in real time, when Dean was giving his testimony, it was -- wasn`t he reading hundreds of pages of an opening statement that went on for hours and hours and hours with no interruption? 

BESCHLOSS:  Absolutely.  He was told not to use his contact lenses because it might make him blink so he got little glasses and he was told by his lawyers to speak in a very low voice because he was going to speak for such a long time, they didn`t want his voice to get raspy and therefore perhaps not be believable, which would be the way he did.


One of the other things that seems important to me is the issue of the president`s finances. 


MADDOW:  I was struck by the fact that eight minutes after the Mueller hearings were gaveled to a close, the president`s lawyers were in court filing an emergency writ to try to block his tax returns from being released.  We talked a number of times about how ahistorical it is that he`s kept his tax returns from public view.


MADDOW:  Did you sense that there maybe more urgency around that issue now?  Certainly, the White House seems more urgent about it.

BESCHLOSS:  Might will be.  And there`s a historical parallel to that because in 1973, Richard Nixon there was a leak from his taxes showed he had paid $1,000 in 1970 and 1971.  And so, therefore there was a clamor for Nixon to show why he paid so few dollars on very big income, so he released his taxes 1969 to 1972. 

IRS looked at it so did the joint Committee on Taxation of the Congress.  They felt that he had underpaid taxes by about $470,000. 

The diamond in the chandelier here, Rachel, is that, that committee also went to the IRS and said these years are not enough, we want Nixon`s taxes also from 1966 to 1968 and the IRS compiled.  They did give up those tax returns. 

MADDOW:  Now part of the argument in the courts for why the committee should be able to get Trump`s taxes, too.  Fascinating. 

BESCHLOSS:  Everything old is new again. 

MADDOW:  NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss, thank you, sir.  Great to have you here.

BESCHLOSS:  My pleasure always.  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back. 


MADDOW:  That is going to do it for us tonight.  I`ll see you again tomorrow. 

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence.