Trump still in legal jeopardy. TRANSCRIPT: 3/25/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Eric Swalwell, David Frum, Edward Markey

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

Under normal circumstances is the funniest thing I`ve heard you say in a while.  It`s just ---

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Bleeds irony, I know. 

O`DONNELL:  We are so far from that, and thank you, by the way, for -- to all the detail last hour, including your graphics, when I looked up in a room where there was no sound on the TV, where it said the Barr report, not the Mueller report. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  We`ve had 24 hours of coverage that seems to be about the Mueller report which no one has seen. 

MADDOW:  I would love to see the Mueller report.  So far, all we`ve got is four pages from Bill Barr, not the same thing. 

O`DONNELL:  If we -- putting the Mueller report up there as the graphic, we`re going to see that when we have the actual Mueller report. 

MADDOW:  Bingo, exactly. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  We have much to cover tonight. 

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey will join us.  He is the Senate co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, having partnered with freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the co-sponsor of the Green New Deal in the House of Representatives.  We will get Senator Markey`s reaction to Attorney General Barr`s letter about the Mueller report. 

And at the end of a day, in which six House committee chairs demand the full release of the Mueller report, we will be joined by Congressman Eric Swalwell, who is a member of two of those six committees.

And later in the hour, we will consider the extraordinary rise and fall of Michael Avenatti, a formally frequent guest on this program when he was representing Stormy Daniels.  President Trump is an unindicted co- conspirator in the Michael Cohen case in the Southern District of New York tonight because of Michael Avenatti`s important work in making Stormy Daniels story public and available to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. 

And now, Michael Avenatti himself is a criminal defendant in that same Southern District of New York, accused of attempting to extort $20 million from Nike.  Once again, the characters in Trump world have defied the imaginations of Hollywood`s screen writers. 

We are now more than 24 hours into the relentless coverage of the contents of the Mueller report, even though no would be in the news media, as Rachel and I just mentioned, no one has read a single sentence of the Mueller report.  Not one sentence.  Headline writers cannot deal with the minimal level of complexity presented by what Attorney General William Barr did yesterday. 

So the name Barr didn`t make it into the headlines today.  Today`s headlines are exactly what they would be if the full Mueller report had been released yesterday.  But that didn`t happen.  What actually happened is a four-page letter written by the attorney general was released yesterday and the news media welcoming it as if it was the full Mueller report. 

The attorney general`s letter does not quote a single full sentence of the Mueller report.  It quotes three different sentence fragments and it separately quotes the intriguing two-word phrase, difficult issues.

And now, the William Barr letter has produced difficult issues of its own.  That`s why the leaders of those six House committees have demanded tonight that the attorney general release the full Mueller report by next Tuesday. 

The first quote of the Mueller report in the attorney general`s letter begins somewhere in the middle of a sentence.  And we know that because of the bracketed capital "T" that the attorney general inserted at the beginning of the quote.  That means that the letter changed a lower case "T" in the report to an upper case "T" to make it grammatically correct as it`s used in the letter. 

But it also means that there are words in that sentence that precede that "T," and that might or might not change the full effect of that sentence.  For some reason, the attorney general did not want to quote the entire sentence.  But what he did quote from the report says: The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. 

That could also mean that the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign did not conspire or coordinate with the Russian government in its election interference activities.  We`ll have to wait to see the complete Mueller report to know exactly what the investigation was able to find.  We all know that a prosecutor`s inability to find the evidence that someone committed a crime does not prove that that person did not commit the crime.  It just proves that the prosecutor cannot find the evidence. 

That is a distinction that has been lost on most of the news media in the last 24 hours.  The attorney general`s letter says that Robert Mueller did not reach a conclusion about whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice.  The letter says, quote, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the special counsel views as difficult issues of law and fact concerning whether the president`s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. 

The special counsel states that while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.  But nothing, I mean nothing could stop Donald Trump from saying that it does exonerate him. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It was complete exoneration, no collusion, no obstruction.  Thank you very much. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Exoneration.  That`s exactly what it isn`t. 

So there`s the president of the United States at a very important moment in his presidency deciding once again that the best thing for him to do is lie.  The best thing for him to say about the Mueller report is to lie about it. 

Donald Trump`s own attorney general wrote a letter quoting the Mueller report saying that the report, quote, does not exonerate him and President Trump immediately decides to lie and say that it does exonerate him.  And most of the news media does not think that it is big news that the president lied about the Mueller report and lied about his own attorney general`s letter about the Mueller report. 

The attorney general`s letter does offer a shadowy peek into the Mueller report`s evidence of obstruction of justice.  The attorney general said that the evidence of obstruction of justice includes, quote, actions by the president, most of which have been the subject of public reporting, some of that public evidence, no doubt, includes former FBI Director James Comey`s descriptions of President Trump asking him to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, as well as president Trump`s interview with NBC`s Lester Holt when he said he thought about the Russia investigation when he was firing James Comey. 

But according to the attorney general`s letter, there is other evidence of obstruction of justice by the president that none of us know anything about, none of us have ever heard about.  And the only way for us to know about it is for the Mueller report to be delivered to Congress in full.  So even though special counsel Robert Mueller was unable to reach a conclusion about obstruction of justice by the president the attorney general announced in his letter that over the course of the weekend, in consultation with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, quote: I have concluded that the evidence developed during the special counsel`s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. 

And so, the attorney general, who was chosen by the president to replace the attorney general, who the president fired because the president felt his first attorney general did not protect him enough, that new attorney general, who the president selected specifically because the president believed his new attorney general would protect him, that`s the person who has decided that the evidence is, quote, not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. 

Not sufficient evidence is not the same thing as saying the president did not commit obstruction of justice.  The attorney general is simply saying that it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in his view that the president committed the crime of obstruction of justice.  That is the best, the very best that William Barr could do for Donald Trump.  The attorney general`s letter might have been an honest attempt to release as much useful public information about the Mueller report as he could in the first 48 hours that the attorney general had possession of that report. 

That might be what the attorney general`s four-page letter really is, an honest attempt at as much public disclosure as possible, as quickly as possible.  But it`s odd.  It`s odd that the attorney the Mueller report as he could in the first 48 hours that the attorney general had possession of that report.  That might be what the attorney general`s four-page letter really is, an honest attempt at as much public disclosure as possible, as quickly as possible. 

But it`s odd.  It`s odd that the attorney general decided to tell us, the special counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing the use of pen registers, made 13 requests, interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.  But, as Ari Melber so ably pointed out in his superb coverage of this last night on this network, the attorney general didn`t tell us something as simple as how many pages there are in the report. 

Is it 50?  Is it 500?  How would the news media react if they knew how many pages are in this report, how many pages it takes to present the evidence in the Mueller report?  If this letter was an attempt by the attorney general to put the best possible cover on the Mueller report for Donald Trump, then presumably everything that the attorney general left out of his letter that could have easily been included might be harmful to the president, like the very fact of the number of pages. 

How many hundreds of pages of evidence against the president and his family and his associates are there in the Mueller report?  What are the words in the rest of those Mueller report sentences that are cut in half?  In the attorney general`s letter?

And in the report that does not exonerate the president for anything, how much evidence is there, if any, implicating the president and his family and his associates in possible criminal activity that none of us have ever heard of, that no one has ever reported on before? 

The attorney general`s letter has presented Congress and the country with difficult issues that can only be resolved by the public release of the Mueller report.  William Barr will take his place in history, not for what he did yesterday, but for what he does next. 

Leading off our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California.  He`s a member of the Intelligence Committee and in the Judiciary Committee in the House.  Also joining us, Joyce Vance.  She`s a former federal prosecutor and a professor at the University of Alabama law school. 

Congressman Swalwell, let me start with you and your reaction to what you have read in the attorney general`s letter about the Mueller report. 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Good evening, Lawrence.  We need to see the Mueller report, not the Barr opinion. 

And for an investigation that took nearly two years, where 37 indictments occurred, six guilty pleas, 199 counts, and also 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, we only heard 84 words from special counsel Mueller, in Barr`s four-page letter. 

And so, while the president may take a victory lap, I think you have to step back and wonder if your best day as president is the day that you were informed that you are not criminally going to be charged for a crime, what does that tell us?  And just because he`s not a criminal colluder, there`s a lot more we know to know from a counterintelligence standpoint to know whether there is evidence of collusion from the president, his family, his team, his administration.

And on obstruction of justice point, we are intending to see the full report, because we have a responsibility in Congress, if the president`s appointed attorney general is going to clear the person who appointed him, the subject of investigation, well, he`s not yet cleared by a constitutionally equal branch of government, Congress.

So, we`re demanding that by next week, we see the full report.  And the president`s outnumbered if he wants to stop us from getting it, because we have the subpoena power and we have a judiciary now, Lawrence, that will back us up using the president from the Nixon Watergate era. 

O`DONNELL:  And so, Congressman, assuming this comes down to the point of requiring a subpoena, your committees have given the attorney general a deadline of Tuesday of next week to deliver the full Mueller report.  You`re also asking for the underlying investigative materials, but your demand allows him to take longer on delivering that. 

Do you have any -- are there any indications at this hour tonight about how the attorney general is going to respond to the demand of the Tuesday deadline next week? 

SWALWELL:  No indications right now, Lawrence.  But what we do have is 420 Democrats and Republicans who just two weeks ago voted in a -- you know, 420 to 0 voting that we should have the full Mueller report.  The reason we want this, again, is for transparency. 

And if the president truly is exonerated, he wouldn`t have a problem at all with the public seeing the full Mueller report.  But I imagine, just as we`ve seen in public view, that when the Mueller team interviewed these individuals in private, when they looked at e-mails, when they looked at bank records, when they looked at financial records, that there was concerning conduct.  And we`re going to do our job and find out just exactly what that is. 

O`DONNELL:  Joyce Vance was a former federal prosecutor, let me bring you into this and get your read of the Barr letter. 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, it seems like the cliff notes version of the much longer Mueller report.  And the problem is we don`t know how accurate it is.  And that may not necessarily be a reflection, frankly, on the attorney general.  He tried in a very short period of time to synthesize what looks like it`s very lengthy materials just based on his recitation of how many subpoenas, how many pen registers, how many grand jury witnesses this investigation included. 

So, the whole point, I think, of what the congressman is saying is that the cliff notes here do not suffice.  And if the American people are going to have confidence in this result, maybe confidence in this attorney general, then it`s critical that he do everything he can to give the entire report and all of the underlying evidence, at a minimum, to Congress, but certainly to the American people too as much as that`s possible. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to former Attorney General Eric Holder`s view of Attorney General Barr`s decision to take it upon himself to decide there wasn`t sufficient evidence that the president committed obstruction of justice.  Let`s listen to this exchange with Ari Melber today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, "THE BEAT":  When Barr and his letter suggests this is up to him, is he right or wrong about that? 

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I think he`s wrong.  I mean, I think he is taking on to himself a role that has not typically been used by people in the position that Bob Barr has had.  He`s certainly departing from those precedents and I would say he`s acting in a way that`s inconsistent with the best practice. 

It would seem to me that having received the information in a way that he did from bob Mueller that Attorney General Barr should have taken that information and then, you know, packaged it in the appropriate form and sent it to the House for consideration. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Swalwell, your reaction to that? 

SWALWELL:  Well, we know that Barr applied for the job, sending an unsolicited letter to the Department of Justice, that his belief was that a president like Donald Trump in this situation could not obstruct justice, that`s why he was given the job.  He never should have been confirmed or he should have had to recuse for that reason. 

But it really baffles me, Lawrence, that the special counsel who was appointed because you had a conflicted political appointee tied to the subject of the investigation was not able to make a decision around obstruction of justice.  I do want to learn a lot more about that.  I ultimately, like most of the country, I`m going to accept what bob Mueller finds.  I just think we actually need to hear it from Bob Mueller and will not accept it or have legitimacy if all we hear from is Attorney General Barr. 

O`DONNELL:  Joyce Vance, do you have a theory to untangle that, why the special prosecutor would come to a point where he just couldn`t make a determination and then hands that determination to the attorney general? 

VANCE:  So I think it`s difficult, frankly, for us to know that without seeing the entire report and hearing his version of why he did it.  But one very logical assumption that we can make is that Mueller would have assumed that he would not be indicting the president of the United States because of existing DOJ policy.  That doesn`t mean that the president is unaccountable. 

The accountability for the president constitutionally is given to Capitol Hill, to Congress to decide.  So Mueller may have assumed that his best practice here was to tee up the issue for Congress, not to prejudge it but in a Watergate style, to lay out the evidence on both sides and get that on to the ultimate decision-maker.  That may turn out to be correct or not, but it`s I think the strongest possibility that sort of jumps out at us. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Swalwell, do you expect the judiciary committee that you serve on in the House to hear from both Attorney General Barr and Robert Mueller? 

SWALWELL:  I do.  I don`t want to speak for our chairman who I think is leading us in a really judicious way right now.  But I do think ultimately, we will have to hear from special counsel Mueller. 

And, Lawrence, let me just assure your viewers, we are going to see every word, every period, every comma of this report.  It may not happen as fast as we like.  But the American people, when they put a new majority into Congress last November, they put a balance of power over these outrageous abuses of power.  We saw for two years. 

So, we`re going to see it.  The president`s outnumbered.  I`m confident that once we see it, we will be able to do what we have to do to protect the rule of law in this country. 

O`DONNELL:  Elections matter.  They matter in so many ways.  And the statement you just made is yet another example of how elections matter. 

Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for leading us off tonight.

SWALWELL:  Absolutely.

O`DONNELL:  Really appreciate it. 

And Joyce Vance, please stay with us for more discussion later in the hour.

And coming up in this hour, today in the Senate, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Senator Chuck Schumer`s effort to get a vote on a resolution to make the Mueller report public.  Democratic Senator Ed Markey will join us on that and other issues. 

And at the end of the hour, we`ll begin a new segment from the campaign trail listening to the presidential candidates in their own words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  President Trump has not been exonerated of anything and individual one is still in a lot of legal trouble.  Donald Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Michael Cohen case in the Southern District of New York where federal prosecutors have referred to the president in their filings as individual one, federal prosecutors in New York very clearly accused the president of not just committing crimes with Michael Cohen, but specifically directing Michael Cohen to commit crimes. 

They say that Michael Cohen committed his crimes, quote, in coordination with and at the direction of Donald Trump.  The Southern District of New York is also investigating President Trump`s inaugural committee and what it did with the $107 million in donations that it has not accounted for and then there is Congress`s responsibility to continue its investigations.

Consider this point made but our next guest, David Frum in "The Atlantic".

The 2016 election was altered by Putin`s intervention and a finding that the Trump campaign only went along for the ride does not rehabilitate the democratic or patriotic legitimacy of the Trump presidency.  It`s up to Congress to deal with this threat to American self-rule. 

Joining our discussion now is David Frum, a senior editor for `The Atlantic", who most recently wrote the question the Mueller report has not answered.  And Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst. 

And, Jill, I want to start with you on your reaction to William Barr`s letter, what you see in it. 

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, one, I`m very surprised at Mueller`s supposedly not making a decision and of Barr making that decision.  The only thing that makes sense to me is that Mueller intended for the decision to be made by Congress, much like happened in Watergate. 

We did not indict.  We issued a report of the facts.  We summarized the evidence.  That`s really all the pages of it were mostly just an appendix listing, the transcripts we were attaching. 

And we sent it to the Congress for them to make the decision because it was a political judgment that needed to be made.  And that makes sense to me.  It does not make sense that a special counsel, who`s supposed to be independent of the Department of Justice would let the attorney general make that decision.  So, that`s the first thing that occurs to me. 

The other is that he is not exonerated.  He the president has not been exonerated of either charge.  Even if it was clear, of course, they said he was exonerated, that they weren`t bringing charges on the conspiracy or cooperation with Russia, that`s still not saying that he is innocent.  Even a not guilty verdict after a jury trial does not make you innocent.  It means that the evidence may have failed, but not that you are innocent. 

And he certainly did not exonerate him on the conspiracy.  In that case, there is the public evidence that we have that was referred to, and more.  So there are some actions that might be obstruction that we don`t even have in the public record yet. 

So, we need to know those.  We need to have public hearings to get that out in the public. 

O`DONNELL:  And, David Frum, there are so many other investigations that Donald Trump is still at the center of, including his role as individual one where he is formally, publicly, in writing accused by federal prosecutors of committing crimes with Michael Cohen that Michael Cohen is going to serve jail time for. 

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC:  Lawrence, I`ve been using your gracious hospitality in this place for three years and I realize I say the same thing over and over again, which is, the great error that has been made is the conversion of a national security threat into a hunt for prosecutable crimes.  And the thing I`ve said over and over again is even if it turns, even if it had turned out that there was a conspiracy between Trump and the Russians, which according to Bill Barr`s redaction of the Mueller report there isn`t evidence for, even if that were true it`s not necessarily clear to me that even that would be a prosecutable crime.

  This is a very legalistic country and so we want to turn everything into a legal matter, into a prosecutable matter.  But that report, whatever it says, does not refute the claim, does not refute the truth that the Russians intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump, that they did it because Donald Trump had a record as long as your arm of undisclosed business dealings in Russia, that he was pursuing those business dealings during the campaign, that he lied and lied and lied about his connections to Russia. 

If Donald Trump right now were assistant secretary of defense, he could be -- this would be the biggest scandal in the history of the Defense Department.  To turn this situation with the presidency into a claim that the president has been exonerated, the president remains a huge question mark, about his loyalty to this country, about the sources of his income.  Those are things we need to know, not as prosecutors, but as citizens. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Jill, one of the points I made, it might seem minor, but it was something Ari Melber said here last night and it struck me as being actually quite important.  It would be very simple in the Barr letter in that first sentence where he says he`s received a report from Robert Mueller.  He could have easily said I`ve received a 306-page or a 56-page report or a 906-page report. 

It would have been a very easy thing to put in there.  It would give us a sense of the scope of what the attorney general had been dealing with this weekend and it would give us a sense of whether it was something we think the attorney general could fairly process in a weekend.  But it would also give us a sense of what the shape of the narrative might be. 

For example, are there several pages in this report describing negotiations with the president`s lawyers about getting his testimony and what they said about Fifth Amendment privileges and how that all ended up?  Might that be ten pages of its own in the middle of this report? 

And so, there`s so many reasons why we have no idea what we`re dealing with until we get this report in our hands. 

WINE-BANKS:  Absolutely.  And there are so many questions that it raises.  Rachel just had a very long list of questions --

O`DONNELL:  Fifteen, yes. 

WINE-BANKS:  And every one of them needs to be answered.  One she didn`t ask is will Barr also be called to testify?  I missed that if she did mention it. 

But I agree with every single one of her questions.  And we need to know the answers. 

The number of pages would be indicative.  But as I mentioned before, if you look at our road map, we just listed the names of the dates of each of the transcripts that we were including, whether it was grand jury or an Oval Office tape recording that we had transcribed.  And so each page would maybe list 10 things but it was still only one page but it was rich with information and then you had to look at the attachments.  So we don`t know if he used that outline model or if he wrote a story, much like the Whitewater investigators did in terms of really spelling out details.

O`DONNELL:  David Frum, the attorney general`s letter says that he will release the information based on the law and based on department policy.  The word he doesn`t use is precedent.

He doesn`t say that his release of the Mueller report will be based on precedent.  And there are precedents for releasing every bit of it, including the grand jury information.  The precedents exist.

Will William Barr break from precedent and what will happen to his position in history if he decides that no one gets to read the Mueller report after he`s read it?

FRUM:  I think it`s a good rule of life with any story.  The more innocent you are, the more you want people to know.  The less innocent you are, the less you want people to know.

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to leave it there for tonight.  David Frum, Jill Wine-Banks, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate it.

And later in this hour, the rise and fall of Michael Avenatti, it`s like nothing we`ve seen before.  Also, Democratic Senator Ed Markey is joining us next.  We will get his reaction to the Barr letter and what could turn into a legal battle for Congress to see the Mueller report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he spoke to Attorney General William Barr today and that the attorney general has agreed in principle to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Mueller report.  Senator Graham says that the attorney general said he`d be glad to come to the committee but he just needs some time.

No one knows more about the Mueller report, of course than the author of the Mueller report but Lindsey Graham doesn`t want to hear a word from Robert Mueller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  What about Mueller?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:  No, we`re not turning this into a circus.  I don`t see any reason to do that.  Quite frankly, he`s had two years to work on the report.  He`s turned it over to the attorney general like the law requires and that`s enough for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Today, in the Senate, Chuck Schumer asked for a vote on the resolution that passed the House of Representatives 420 to nothing which calls on the attorney general to release the full Mueller report to Congress.  But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked that vote.

Joining our discussion now is a member of the United States Senate, Democratic Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts.  He`s on the Foreign Relations Committee and he`s the co-sponsor of the Green New Deal.

Senator Markey, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  And I`m hoping we can squeeze in a word about the Green New Deal at the end of our discussion.

SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  But let me begin with your reaction to the attorney general`s letter?

MARKEY:  Well, of course, it`s absurd because, you know, it took two years to put the whole report together.  And then in two days, William Barr decided that there was no obstruction of justice.  But he had already preceded that last June when he wrote a 19-page letter to the Justice Department saying that it would be grossly irresponsible for Robert Mueller to make a finding that there was obstruction of justice, even though we now know that Mueller believes there`s evidence on both sides of that question.

And so William Barr was clearly compromised once he wrote that 19-page letter saying that it would be wrong to make that decision.  So this whole report has to be made public.  The Congress has to have it.

The American people should be able to read it.  And they should know everything that Robert Mueller was able to find and then the American people can make up their own mind as to whether or not there was obstruction of justice.  But the last person who could make that decision objectively was William Barr, the attorney general of the United States.

O`DONNELL:  We just heard from Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Judiciary Committee that he expects the committee to hear from both the attorney general and Robert Mueller.

We just heard from the chairman of your Senate Judiciary Committee that he doesn`t want to hear from Robert Mueller.  He actually used the word circus to describe hearing from the special prosecutor.  Let`s listen for a moment what former Attorney General Eric Holder said about the possibility of Robert Mueller testifying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Bob Mueller`s testimony before the House, the examination of the report is so critical.  It seems hard for me to imagine that Bob Mueller asked Bill Barr to do this.  That seems -- because that would be Bob Mueller shifting the responsibility for making the call to the attorney general.  And that`s just not the way in which Bob Mueller is wound.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Senator, that seems like the most obvious case for the Mueller testimony.  Here`s William Barr`s interpretation of Robert Mueller`s findings.  What does Robert Mueller say about that?

MARKEY:  Well, look, where we are on this case is that the reason Mueller got the job was to keep partisanship out of the investigation.  And where we are right now is that William Barr is the hand-picked attorney general of the United States by Donald Trump, knowing that he believed, Barr believed that it was grossly irresponsible to find obstruction of justice.

So the circus is this side show that has been created by William Barr by making this decision.  And now the Republicans pretending that they want to have a full explication of this case in public are now saying no, we won`t have William -- we won`t have Robert Mueller up and maybe we won`t have the full document made public.  And as a result, we`re left with a four-page summary by William Barr who clearly had compromised himself with that letter to the Justice Department last year.

O`DONNELL:  Chris Hayes is going to have an hour on the Green New Deal at the end of this week on Friday night at 8:00 on this network.  I want to just give a preview of that on one point that I`ve heard you speak about because the Green New Deal takes at least an hour to cover the tip of the iceberg of it.

But one of the things that`s a component part of it is a jobs program in effect in the new technologies, in the new energy technologies, solar, for example.  And there`s a chart that I know you`ve used many times, we`re going to put it up on the screen now, that shows the coal mining jobs versus the wind power jobs, solar power jobs.

And the solar just dwarves.  It just dwarves the coal mining jobs in this country.  And that is a case that I have not heard effectively publicly made for the Green New Deal and for these kinds of policies.

MARKEY:  And you`re putting your finger right on it.  There are now 350,000 of wind and solar jobs in the United States of America.  They`re mostly blue-collar jobs.

They`re electricians.  They`re roofers.  There are 50,000 coal miners in our country.  There were 50,000 solar jobs created just in 2016 alone.  The equal of all coal jobs in our country.

So what we have here is a job creation, blue-collar job creation engine which has been created.  And the objective of the Green New Deal is to supercharge that job creation, to create millions of jobs so that we can save all of creation by engaging in massive job creation.

And we want to do this in a way that creates jobs across the board for people all across this country and what Donald Trump and what the Republicans in Congress are doing right now is siding with the Koch Brothers, siding the oil industry because they believe that it`s an existential threat to their business model.

At the same time that the United Nations scientists have said that climate change is an existential threat to our planet.  So those are the stakes.  And the line in the sand has been drawn.

And we`re ready to have this fight over the Green New Deal.  That`s why I introduced it with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  It`s going to be intergenerational.  It`s going to be something that has sharp political edges to it and we`re welcoming this fight, Lawrence.

We think in 2020 this is going to be one of the top three issues, along with health care, and job creation in our economy.  And we`re ready to take it on.

O`DONNELL:  Senator Ed Markey, I know no one in the Senate has been working harder on these issues than you have.  Thank you very much for joining us tonight.  We hope to have you back.

MARKEY:  Thank you so much.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

And coming up, the extraordinary, and I mean extraordinary, rise and fall of Michael Avenatti.  He exposed Donald Trump in the Stormy Daniels case.  And now Donald Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Southern District of New York because of that.  And now Michael Avenatti is indicted and a defendant in that same Southern District of New York.

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O`DONNELL:  The rise and fall of Michael Avenatti is like nothing we have ever seen.  As Stormy Daniels` lawyer, he took on the president of the United States and exposed Donald Trump as lying relentlessly about his relationship with Stormy Daniels.

And in the end, because of Michael Avenatti`s advocacy for Stormy Daniels and pushing out the truth of the Stormy Daniels story, Donald Trump became an unindicted co-conspirator in the Michael Cohen case in the Southern District of New York, where Michael Avenatti has now fallen.

Michael Avenatti was arrested today and charged with extortion, wire fraud, and bank fraud in two separate cases brought by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and in California.  Prosecutors in Manhattan say Michael Avenatti tried to extort millions of dollars from Nike.

He allegedly told lawyers for Nike last week that he would release damaging information about the company at a press conference unless he was paid $15 million to $25 million and unless his client, a youth basketball coach, who had damaging information was paid $1.5 million.  Avenatti`s threats were allegedly recorded as part of the investigation.

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GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK:  As Avenatti threatened in one recorded meeting if the company did not meet his demands, the company might die.  But if not, it was "going to be inflicted with cut after cut after cut after cut."  Avenatti made clear that he was approaching the company at a time intended to maximize the potential financial damage of such a press conference, namely on the eve of the annual NCAA tournament and the company`s quarterly earnings call.

As Avenatti threatened on one call recorded during the investigation, if the company did not accede to his financial demands in his words, "I`ll go take $10 billion off your clients` market cap."

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O`DONNELL:  And in an unrelated case, Michael Avenatti was also charged today with bank fraud and wire fraud in Los Angeles.  Prosecutors say he fraudulently obtained more than $4 million in loans by submitting false tax returns to a bank and that he embezzled money from a client`s settlement to cover his own expenses and debts.  Michael Avenatti was released on $300,000 bond tonight.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance will join us after this break to consider the extraordinary rise and fall of Michael Avenatti.

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O`DONNELL:  When Michael Avenatti first emerged publically as Stormy Daniels` lawyer, he said he was highly confident that the truth about Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump would come out, and he was completely right about that.  And he forced that truth to come out.

And now, Michael Avenatti is a criminal defendant in the Southern District of New York.  And today, after he left the courthouse, standing out there outside the courthouse, he once again claimed to be highly confident.  This time, confident that he would demonstrate he was not guilty of those charges today.

Back with us, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance.  And Joyce, I`ve never seen one like this.  This is extraordinary malfeasance by a lawyer.  It`s the kind of stuff that`s so easy to be caught doing.  It`s the kind of stupidity, if true, that is hard to believe that any kind of alert lawyer would engage in.

But take apart both of these cases if you can.  The Nike case of the $20 million in extortion and then basically a client abuse case in Los Angeles.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  The extortion case is in many ways almost self-proving because there are tapes of Avenatti.  And he`s essentially engaging in a good old fashion shake down, give me money or I`ll tank the market value of your company.

So that would appear to be very straightforward.  Of course, the devil is always in the details but the Southern District of New York has a track record with putting together this kind of evidence and they would have known what they were about in bringing this.

The case in California is a little bit more sophisticated.  These sorts of fraud cases always involve difficult issues of intent as we`ve learned during watching much of the Trump-related work that`s going on in the Southern District of New York.

But the key here is that that case will hinge on the submission of falsified tax records to banks as part of the effort to execute this scheme.  And the thing about those sorts of documents is either they`re falsified or they`re not.  Prosecutors will have them in hand.  They will show them to the jury.

Again, these seem like charges that they would be fairly confident they had locked down before they would bring them.  So despite the fact that Avenatti has said that justice will be done, I think justice may look a little bit different than how he expects it to look.

O`DONNELL:  And Joyce, it was a very fast moving case in New York.  The FBI got a call from Nike in the middle of the week last week.  And here we are, an indicted Michael Avenatti tonight.

Joyce Vance, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

VANCE:  Thanks.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, the candidates will speak for themselves.  At the end of this hour, we will start our first last word from the campaign trail.

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O`DONNELL:  Time for tonight`s last word from the presidential campaign trail.  This will be a recurring segment at the end of this hour.  Not every night but as often as we can, we want to bring you what the presidential candidates are saying.

In this segment, you`ll be hearing from all the candidates on different nights.  We hope to distribute the attention fairly but it will depend on the video we have available on a given day and the availability of the candidates.

Remember, half a dozen of the presidential candidates have day jobs as United States Senators so it`s impossible for them to be on the campaign trail as much as the candidates like, for example, Beto O`Rourke who are free to campaign full time.

So we start tonight with the newest, rising star in the Democratic field of candidates, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.

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MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND INDIANA, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Let`s start with what freedom really means.  Freedom means being able to start a small business because you want that when you leave your old job that doesn`t mean you`re going to have to lose your health care.  Health care is free.

Freedom means that your reproductive health is up to you and not up to me.  Freedom means that when you have paid your debt to society as an ex- offender, you get to re-enter society and become a productive tax paying member.

It means you can organize for a fair day`s work, fair day`s pay, fair day`s conditions for a fair day`s work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That`s great.

BUTTIGIEG:  Don`t let anybody tell you Democratic side is the party of freedom.

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O`DONNELL:  Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg gets tonight`s LAST WORD and that word is freedom.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                                                     END