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Redacted Mueller Report expected tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT: 4/17/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Elliot Williams; Lisa Graves; Rick Stengel; Jed Shugerman

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Oh, I know exactly what you`re going to be doing tomorrow morning. Rachel.  And I`m going to be doing it, too.  We`re going to read as soon as we get it in our hands, sounds like noontime-ish, maybe.  Something like that.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  We`ll see.  I mean, if it`s the length of a pamphlet, do you know what I mean?  Like if it fits on a bumper sticker, no collusion, then we won`t have much more work to do.  But we`ll see. 

O`DONNELL:  Rachel, I`m sure Google will confirm this, but from my own personal memory of the government of the United States, I`m about to boldly assert that we have never before in history seen a group of House committee chairman call on the attorney general of the United States to cancel a press conference. 

MADDOW:  Right. 

O`DONNELL:  Attorneys general don`t have a lot of press conferences and tend not to be controversial.  So that was one of the items of breaking news during your hour.  And this is one of those situations that chaos has broken out really since the attorney general -- actually the president announced on a radio show the attorney general was going to have a press conference.  Then the attorney general had to hustle out his announcement that he`s going to have a press conference. 

MADDOW:  From all of your time covering the news, from all of your time in government, have you ever heard of high ranking government officials calling a press conference to discuss a report, to discuss document that nobody`s allowed to see? 

O`DONNELL:  I think that`s a first also.  I`m going to defy William Barr overnight to find us any precedent for what he`s doing tomorrow. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Rachel, does it mean, does it simply mean that the attorney general of the United States of America is actually afraid, afraid to have a press conference after the report comes out, to have a press conference a few hours later, he`s afraid of that? 

MADDOW:  I mean, what, they could only book the room before the report?  I mean, it doesn`t -- honestly, there`s no -- it`s not just like this isn`t precedent or specific to the law or to investigations or to the way prosecutors deal with things.  Just as a matter of logic, it makes no sense they would be convening this event it discuss something that hasn`t happened yet and they haven`t let anybody see. 

The question will come as I think -- the really interesting question will be, does he make himself available to reporters for questions on this matter once reporters have had a chance to read what it is?  I mean, I know he`s going to end up in Congress, but will he submit himself to public questioning as well?  That will be worth seeing. 

O`DONNELL:  It`s -- if the attorney general is trying to spin, if what he`s been trying to do since he first started writing publicly about the Mueller report, he`s been doing a terrible job of spinning, just a terrible job.  It`s the Sarah Sanders version of this from the attorney general. 

MADDOW:  Well, I mean it may be an audience of one, though.  You know, I mean, it may be that the only person whose opinion he cares about here is Donald Trump.  And so, therefore, he`s getting out there saying, yes, the Trump campaign was spied on.  I`m not going to say this wasn`t a witch hunt.  And, you know, this is a summary of what Mueller said and, no, you can`t see what Mueller actually said.  I`m going to hold a press conference telling you what to think about it.  You can`t see for yourself what it is so you can come to your own conclusions. 

I mean, personally, he`s not speaking to history, because he likes how this is going to be portrayed down the line when he`s written about attorney general in a long line of them.  Presumably, the only person he`s writing for here is the president himself and why he feels like that`s the man he needs to please here, that`s for him to say. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, we are now less than 12 hours from hearing from the attorney general.  We`ll both be listening.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  See you, Rachel.

So where does the investigation of the president of the United States stand tonight, tonight, as the breaking news about the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report has been cascading this evening, news upon news?  That`s the question I`ll answer at the end of this hour.  The question of where do we stand tonight after we deal with all this breaking news happening earlier in the hour. 

Now, it may seem like the end of a story because it appears to be the end of the Mueller investigation.  But I don`t think that it`s the end of anything.  I think to borrow Winston Churchill`s phrase, it`s the end of the beginning.  I will explain why at the end of this hour. 

But, first, there is so much breaking news for us to be covering in this hour.  We now know why Attorney General William Barr refused to answer the question in both a House hearing and a Senate hearing has anyone in the White House seen the Mueller report or been briefed on the Mueller report.  The breaking news of the night is the "New York Times" reporting Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the special counsel`s conclusions in recent days. 

According to people with knowledge of the discussions, the talks have aided the president`s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and be strategize for the coming public war over its findings.  Last night, the president`s public spokesperson about the Mueller investigation, Rudy Giuliani, said that the Trump`s team counter report to the Mueller report has been edited already and is, quote, "now at 34 or 35 pages." 

And I asked last night on this program, how could they have done that 35- page report without knowing what`s in the Mueller report?

Tonight, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said this. 


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of the investigation at the heart of the Mueller report.  Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller`s nearly two-year investigation.  One, he summarized the report and cherry-picked findings in his March 24th letter to Congress.  Two, he withheld summaries written by the special counsel that were intended for public consumption.  Three, he has briefed the White House on the report before providing Congress a copy which has helped them prepare a rebuttal response for the president. 

And now, the evening before the report`s scheduled release, the Department of Justice has informed the committee that it will receive a copy between 11:00 a.m. and noon well after the attorney general`s 9:30 a.m. press conference.  This is wrong.  It is contrary to the attorney general`s own words to the committee, quote: I do not believe it would be in the public`s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion, close quote.

It now appears the attorney general intends to once again put his own spin on the investigative work completed by the special counsel and his team. 


O`DONNELL:  And congressional hearings, the attorney general`s answer to the question has anyone in the White House seen the Mueller report or been briefed on the Mueller report should have been a simple no.  When you look at the attorney general`s answers now, it is obvious that he could not simply say no.  He would have said no if he could.  That`s the best answer he could have offered.  And he certainly did not want to say yes, and now we know why.

And so, the attorney general refused to answer those questions, just refused to answer the questions and in the place of the answer he actually rambled on about landing a plane. 


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE):  Who if anyone outside the Justice Department has seen portions or all of the special counsel`s report?  Has anyone in the White House seen any of the report? 

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I`m not going to, you know, as I say, I`m landing the plane right now.  You know, I`ve been willing to discuss my -- my letters and the process going forward.  But the report`s going to be out next week.  I`m just could not going to get into the details of the process until the plane`s on the ground. 

REP. NITA LOWEY (D-NY):  Did the White House see the report before you released your summarizing letter?  Has the White House seen it since then?  Have they been briefed on the contents beyond what was in your summarizing letter to the Judiciary Committee? 

BARR:  I`ve said what I`m going to say about the report today.  I -- I issued three letters about it, and, I was willing to discuss the historic information of how the report came to me and my decision on Sunday.  But I`ve already laid out the process that is going forward to release these reports, hopefully within a week.  And I`m not going to say anything more about it until the report is out and everyone has a chance to look at it. 


O`DONNELL:  And so, the attorney general of the United States is going to have a press conference tomorrow morning about a report that no one has read when he`s having that press conference.  And then, at least an hour later, the attorney general will send that report to Congress, the author of the report, Robert Mueller, will not be present at tomorrow`s press conference. 

"The New York Times" reporters and other members of the Washington news media have already been complaining publicly on twitter with the attorney general having a press conference before anyone has seen the report.  The Washington press corps seems ready for the attorney general`s press conference to be the most absurd press conference they have witnessed since the last White House press conference two months ago. 

The only conceivable point of such a press conference is for the attorney general to in effect write those banners that you see on your cable news screens, banners that can only last a couple hours until reporters catch up with the actual text of the redacted Mueller report tomorrow or is the object of the of attorney general`s press conference tomorrow even more narrowly targeted than that?  Is he just trying to give his boss Donald Trump something to tweet tomorrow morning before the day turns much worse for the president as America reads William Barr`s redacted version of the Mueller report?

Donald Trump knew about the William Barr press conference before it was publicly announced today because it was actually Donald Trump himself who surprised everyone in the Trump administration including at the Justice Department by announcing it himself on a radio show today. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This should never happen to a president or to this country again, what took place.  And you`ll see a lot of very strong things come out tomorrow, Attorney General Barr is going to be giving a press conference.  Maybe I`ll do one after that.  We`ll see. 


O`DONNELL:  And more breaking news tonight, "The Washington Post" is reporting the Justice Department plans to release a lightly redacted version of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III`s report Thursday, offering a granular look at the ways in which President Trump was suspected of having obstructed justice, people familiar with the matter.  The report -- the general outlines of which the Justice Department has briefed the White House on will reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to determine Trump`s intent.  And some of his actions could be interpreted innocently, these people said. 

But it will offer a detailed blow by blow of his alleged conduct analyzing tweets, private threats and other episodes at the center of Mueller`s inquiry they said. 

What does it all mean? 

For that, we turn to three members of Congress who served on committees with jurisdiction that will rely on the Mueller report. 

Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island.  He serves on the Judiciary Committee. 

Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida.  He`s a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committees.

And Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California.  He serves on the Judiciary Committee and Foreign Affairs Committees. 

But to begin our discussion, we are first joined by phone by Rosalind Helderman.  She`s a political investigative reporter for "The Washington Post".  She`s one of the reporters who broke tonight`s story about the Mueller report in the "Washington Post."

And, Rosalind, you`re reporting, the essence it is going to be a lightly redacted report.  That`s what your sources are telling you about this report. 

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone):  Yes, and, of course, likely, it could be in the eye of the beholder.  So, we`ll have a conversation tomorrow night at this time.  I want to be clear, I have not read the report and have not seen this yet.  But we`ll see tomorrow night exactly what happens. 

But our understanding is that the redactions are especially light in the section about obstruction of justice.  So, that this report is really going to contain a very, very detailed and specific look at the president`s activities and various episodes both ones known publicly before and some that were not.  That looked like efforts to undermine this probe. 

And so, I suspect we`re going to have a lot to read and process and there about in that section about the president`s behavior in office. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Rosalind, it seems like the Justice Department has had a rocky day.  The president announcing the attorney general`s press conference before the attorney general`s office was able to announce itself.  Is it your sense or reporting at this point that the attorney general has been rocked by the public reaction and the Washington reaction tonight including demand by chairman of House committees that he not have the press conference tomorrow? 

HELDERMAN:  I -- I don`t have a good sense of what their reaction to the reaction is.  Just logic tells you that it was not their preferred course of action to have the president announce the attorney general`s press conference before he announced it.  You know, I do feel like something about some pieces of this plan have been very much in flux and you know, I wouldn`t be at all surprised if the times and other things work out a little differently tomorrow, you know, if for instance, you don`t see an effort to get that report out more quickly after the press conference. 

But, you know, currently, the Congress has been told it`s not going to be arriving on the Hill until sometime between 11:00 and noon.  There`s going to be an odd lag time where all the public knows what`s in the report is what the attorney general has told us. 

O`DONNELL:  Rosalind Helderman, thank you very much for joining us with this breaking news tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

And now to our congressmen it, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, the committee that has jurisdiction over impeachment.

Ted Deutch, you`re here in New York with us, you were in New York earlier tonight with the chairman of your committee, Jerry Nadler.  He seemed outraged that the attorney general is having a press conference about the report before even Chairman Nadler or you are able to see this report. 

REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL):  He is.  I am.  And we all should be. 

It`s bad enough, Lawrence, that it`s been three and a half weeks since we received this summary four-page summary of a 400-page document so that he could try to drives the narrative.  We`ve had to wait now to get the report. 

But this is even more pernicious.  The contempt that the attorney general is showing to the press, to members of Congress, and to the American people by scheduling a press conference before anyone has had a chance to review it is outrageous.  It shouldn`t be acceptable. 

He ought to cancel the press conference.  This is an effort to drag this out by the time the report drops, we`re almost into a holiday weekend between Passover and Easter.  Maybe they`re hoping the story gets lost. 

He ought to get us the report first.  Let us review it and not just go and spin but actually answer questions what`s in that report. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Cicilline, is there anything you can imagine the attorney general saying at 9:30 tomorrow morning before anyone on your committee including the chairman has seen this report that will be okay, that will make sense as a press conference for him to have are before the report is released? 

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  I mean, the only thing he could a is the press conference is cancelled. 

Ted Deutch is absolutely right.  This is as effort by the attorney general to shape the narrative.  He gave what was really a misleading four-page summary. 

Now, he`s scheduled a press conference before anyone will have had a chance to read the report to give a summary apparently so he can again begin to try to shape the narrative.  It shows complete contempt for the truth, for the process, for the integrity of this report. 

And, you know, we should remember president Trump said he wanted his own Roy Cohn.  He thinks the attorney general should defend and protect him, not the Constitution.  He got his Roy Cohn with Mr. Barr.

And when he auditions for the job by doing that memo on his own that basically said you can`t be charged with obstruction if you`re the president, the president said, you`re my guy.  He hired him and he`s delivered on that. 

And we should all be outraged.  The press conference should be cancelled.  The report should be released.  Reporters should you have an opportunity to read it and study it as well as members of Congress and then Mr. Barr should answer questions. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Lieu, we now know why the attorney general refused to answer the question in the House and Senate, does the White House know anything about the Mueller report, have they been briefed in any way on the Mueller report?  Reporting tonight indicates yes, the attorney general has been briefing the White House about the Mueller report. 

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA):  Thank you, Lawrence, for your question.  It`s an honor to be on your show before Representatives Deutch and Cicilline. 

Look, Bill Barr took one oath, and that was not to the Donald Trump.  It was to the U.S. Constitution.  He is not the PR firm for Donald Trump.  His job is to serve the public and to have his Justice Department coordinate with the White House and to give them a heads-up about this report so they can write a counter report is exactly the wrong thing to do. 

It`s why we have a special counsel statute, regulation in the first place to avoid coordination between the president`s political appointee and the White House.  Bill Barr should cancel tomorrow`s presser and he needs to really be the public instead of serving Donald Trump in this contemptible way. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Deutch, the reason we have three judiciary members here tonight is that we know that all the focus tomorrow, most of the focus tomorrow is going to be on the obstruction of justice passages. 

"The Washington Post" is reporting to us tonight that there`s very little redaction in that area.  And so you might get a very full view of what the special prosecutor saw in obstruction of justice.  And you are the committee that has responsibility to consider the issue of impeachment. 

Is there a different bar in your mind, a different threshold to meet for proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime that the special prosecutor was looking for or what an impeachment count would require in the House of Representatives for obstruction of justice by a president? 

DEUTCH:  Sure there is.  And it`s not up to the attorney general to tell us whether or not there was obstruction of justice.  It`s not up to the attorney general to interpret this particularly as Congressman Cicilline pointed out, this is an attorney general who got this job going in because it was his belief that the president could not be found guilty of obstruction of justice. 

So we know where he stands.  It is our job now to study this report.  It`s up to the American people, as well to look at this report and if there was obstruction of justice, then it is this committee that makes the decision to show that no person in America least of all the president of the United States is above the law. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what the chairman your committee said tonight about Robert Mueller testifying to your committee. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you very much, everybody. 

REPORTER:  Are you going to ask Mueller to testify? 

NADLER:  I`ll answer that.  We probably -- I assume we`ll probably find it useful to ask Mueller to testify and I assume we may ask members of his team to testify.  But we`ll have to make those decisions after reading what we get as inadequate as that may be. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman Cicilline, what will you be reading when you get your hands on that report sometime around noontime tomorrow? 

CICILLINE:  Well, I blocked out the entire afternoon so I can read the entire report.  Obviously, we`ve all been asking for the report to be furnished to the Judiciary Committee in an unredacted form, do not keep any secrets from us.  We have the ability to look at classified materials in a classified setting.  We ought to be able to see the entire report. 

You know, Ken Starr is the most recent example.  He turned over the entire report including grand jury proceedings and 17 boxes of documents.  He went to court to get permission to release the grand jury testimony without even being asked by Congress to do it.  That`s the sort of disclosure we should have, the sort of transparency that should be available. 

I`m going to read the entire report, focus on the obstruction of justice issues as well as the participation by the Russians in an attack on our democracy and the context with members of the Trump campaign.  So I`m going to read it all. 

But we need to see the entire report and all the supporting documents.  Mr. Barr should not be allowed to keep things secret from the Congress of the United States that has the responsibility as Congressman Deutch said to make the final determination as to whether or not the president committed an offense or the removing him from office. 

O`DONNELL:  You all as members of the Judiciary Committee voted to give your chairman subpoena power for the Mueller report.  Listen to what he said about that tonight. 


REPORTER:  Congressman, do you plan to subpoena Mueller or anyone else for that matter? 

NADLER:  Well, we`ll have to take the time over the next couple of days to carefully read the redacted report., so that we -- so that we don`t find out in fact, there`s very little left out.  But on the assumption that it`s heavily redacted, we will most certainly issue the subpoenas in very short order. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman Lieu, he has the subpoena power for witnesses but also for the report.  If you don`t have the Mueller report, if that becomes -- if the full report becomes a matter of protracted litigation, would you expect that Robert Mueller would be able to come to your committee and testify about the -- about the report without any restrictions, that he would not be restricted in his testimony by redactions made by the attorney general? 

LIEU:  I do.  And if Mueller is concerned, we could also do it in closed hearing. 

I think it`s important to note there is a court case on this exact issue.  During Watergate, Leon Jaworski completed his report and the White House cited the same exact rule of grand jury secrecy to try to suppress the report to Congress.  Congress issued a subpoena, took it to the court.  And the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for Congress and said that the House Judiciary Committee is entitled to the full unredacted report.  We believe that same precedent holds here and that we will eventually get the full unredacted report. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Deutch, you are the impeachment committee.  You have known since the night the Democrats won the election that the burden of impeachment could easily fall to your committee because you`ve been watching this president from the start.  This is the -- we`ve never seen such reckless public behavior by a president. 

Richard Nixon who was, who, got in such grave trouble he had to leave the presidency did not have public behavior that was out of control in any way as Donald Trump.  Do you feel that you are now a big step closer to the possibility of considering impeachment? 

DEUTCH:  Well, we`re a big step closer to understanding what it is that the Mueller team has uncovered over the past two years.  You`re right.  There`s so much that has taken place in plain sight that is not just alarming but that has to be viewed as a threat to our democracy, to our institutions, the regular attacks on the institutions of our government by this president. 

There`s enough that we`ve seen already that will lead to a whole series of investigations and hearings that we`re already moving forward on.  What`s contained in this report all of it, not what the attorney general thinks we ought to see but all of it will then set an additional course.  The attorney general of the United States has spent the past three and a half weeks preventing this information from coming forward, covering up whatever`s in that report. 

Now it looks like through the reliance on rules of secrecy which should not stand in the way, he`s going to attempt to further cover-up what`s in this report.  We will get the truth.  And we will use that to proceed in order to insure that there`s full accountability. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Cicilline, do you believe you can objectively read the findings of this report tomorrow? 

CICILLINE:  Of course.  And you know, Lawrence, it`s important to remember, this is not about some personal indiscretion of the president.  This investigation began because our democracy was attacked by a foreign adversary.  This investigation was done on behalf of the American people.  They paid for this investigation.  They`re entitled to see the results. 

And we have a responsibility to make sure that nobody is above the law.  And that we follow the truth, follow facts wherever they lead us.  So we can do it objectively.  We take this responsibility seriously but we have to have the information necessary to do our job. 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to take a break there. 

Congressman David Cicilline, Congressman Ted Lieu, Congressman Ted Deutch, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, all will be facing the question where does the investigation go from here after they finish reading this report tomorrow and they uniquely as a committee have jurisdiction over the question of impeachment. 

Gentlemen, thank you all very much for starting us off tonight.  This has been an invaluable beginning of our discussion tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

The obstruction of justice section of the redacted Mueller report will probably get the most attention tomorrow in William Barr`s letter about the report, it quotes the special counsel saying this about obstruction of justice: While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.  That means the Mueller report has evidence that the president committed the crime of obstruction of justice but simply does not have evidence that the special prosecutor believes amounts to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. 

"The Washington Post" is reporting tonight that the Mueller report will be lightly redacted as we said.  And it will contain, quote, a granular look at the ways in which president Trump was suspected of having obstructed justice.  People familiar with the matter said the report the general outlines of which the Justice Department has briefed the Justice Department has briefed the White House on would reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to the determine President Trump`s intent and some of his actions could be interpreted innocently, this people said. 

But it will offer a detailed blow by blow of his private contact and other episodes at the center of Mueller`s inquiry, they said.

Joining our discussion now is Elliot Williams.  He`s a former deputy assistant attorney general under Obama and a former judiciary committee council to Senator Chuck Schumer. 

Also joining us, Lisa Graves.  She`s the former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration and a former staff member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

And, Lisa Graves, let me start with you, first of all, with your reaction to the way the attorney general has handled the release tomorrow scheduling the press conference before he releases the report. 

Well, it`s astonishing that the president would actually announce that the attorney general`s press conference before he does.  It goes to the heart of the level of cooperation and coordination between the nation`s top law enforcement officer and a subject of a criminal investigation.  That`s really unprecedented what`s happening here. 

And I remember going into the Justice Department on the Pennsylvania Avenue doors where it said the place of justice is a hallowed place.  That`s what`s carved above the doors.  I think Mr. Barr has brought deep dishonor to the Justice Department through his behavior, in coordinating with this president, the subject of a criminal investigation, before providing those materials to Congress in full and before providing them to the American people. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Elliot Williams, the reason I needed both of you Justice Department veterans here tonight is to get your reactions first of all to the way the attorney general has been handling this today and let`s not forget that we discovered that he was going to have a press conference when the president simply blurted it out on a talk radio appearance this afternoon.  I`m sure the president wasn`t supposed to do that, because the attorney general would, of course, want to make that announcement, his office wanted to make that announcement himself.  That`s how close the communication has been between the attorney general and the president. 

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE:  You know, look, Lawrence, the interesting thing is we`ve finally found the collusion we were looking for, but it turns out it`s between the attorney general of the United States and the White House. 

Now, here`s the thing.  It`s not uncommon for the Justice Department I think Lisa would have seen this back in the day, as well.  It`s not uncommon for the Justice Department to give the White House a heads up of a major action like if you`re indicting a big city mayor or something like that that the White House need to know about, that might be of interest to the White House.

But when you`re talking about tipping off individuals who are the subjects of investigations, when you`re talking about allowing people to prepare this deep state -- anti-deep state counter-report that they`re putting together, you know, and people who are also going to be named or identified and allowing them to prep their legal strategy, you`re giving them a heads- up.

In no other circumstance would law enforcement give a clear heads-up like this to individuals who are likely to be identified and likely to be named.  So it is a little suspect and given all of the questions about Barr`s impartiality that have sort of dogged him through this going back to his audition memo, the 19 pages where he laid out his views on obstruction of just -- 18 pages back before he was nominated and on through this entire process.

So he hasn`t done himself a lot of favors.  I also think it`s striking that the deputy attorney general would be there tomorrow.  I think -- part of that I think is damage control as well as because I think broadly speaking he has I think a better image right now than the attorney general does with respect to all of this.  That`s why they had him out with "The Wall Street Journal" about a week ago.

But it is just very suspect and just doesn`t smell particularly good.  And it`s just time to get the report out.  All of this you know, the leaks, the press conferences and so on, it`s just time for them to release the report that Congress voted 420 to nothing to see and that the public overwhelmingly wants and needs to see made public.

O`DONNELL:  Lisa Graves, what would be you looking tomorrow -- looking for tomorrow in the obstruction of justice section which according to "The Washington Post" reporting tonight might not be heavily redacted?

GRAVES:  Well, one of the things I`ll be looking for is where the appendices are.  Because so far we`ve only been hearing about redactions to the primary report but we haven`t heard anything about the hundreds of pages of appendices of testimony and evidence that Mr. Mueller and his team provided to the attorney general.

I think that it`s important to see Mueller`s summaries in full.  It`s important to see all of the evidence against the president as well as any evidence that might show some sort of difficulty in determining his intent.  I think the American people, a lot of them have a pretty clear understanding of his real intent in terms of his firing of Mr. Comey and more.

But I think what we`re going to need to see is the other details of that evidence.  Where are those appendices going to be?

O`DONNELL:  Elliott Williams, is it possible that Robert Mueller would at the conclusion of the obstruction of justice portion of the report say something to the effect that this part of the investigation should be referred to the House Judiciary Committee?


WILLIAMS:  Yes, he could.  You know, it`s -- there`s an open question as to why it sort of happened the way it did with Barr making the ultimate conclusion as to obstruction of justice.  So he very well might.  That might have been left out of the "summary" that we saw.

You know the problem -- and you know Lawrence, you got into this in your tease in this segment.  We know that there is evidence in there of an intent to obstruct justice.  We know that for a fact.

Now, you couldn`t necessarily charge it criminally or at least based on what we know right now, based on what we`ve read or heard or someone, we know that.  We know it doesn`t "exonerate" the president.

But we`ve gotten caught in this binary of whether there`s a chargeable crime or not and not the fundamental question of, was there misconduct by the president of the United States or by a campaign for the presidency or the people around the president.

And we should demand more of our leaders that -- you know, the question is well, if he can walk out holding a not guilty sign that somehow he`s absolved of all responsibility.  And that`s just yet another norm of government that we just sort of seen upended here that we`re getting hung up on this question of "no collusion" and not the fundamental question of did people behave badly.

And it`s abundantly clear based on the hundred words that we`ve seen from this report that people did.  And even if they can`t be charged with them, the American people need to know about it.

O`DONNELL:  Lisa Graves, what do you expect the Chairman Jerry Nadler at the Judiciary Committee will be looking for in the obstruction of justice section of the report?

GRAVES:  I think he`ll be looking for sort of the balance of evidence and what`s redacted.  Because Mr. Nadler has a right to see the entire report.  I`m not even -- not a slightly redacted report, not a lightly redacted report.  He has a right as the chairman of that committee to see the entire report and to see all of the evidence.

And so I think he`ll be looking for how much of a redaction there is.  But that`s not really enough because he has a right to see the underlying evidence, the evidence before the grand jury, the evidence from subpoenas, to see it all.

He`s the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and he has that right on behalf of the American people to conduct the investigation that our Constitution entrusts him with which is to look into whether there`s an impeachable offense here and I think that there may well be.

O`DONNELL:  We have to squeeze in a commercial break here.  Lisa Graves, Elliot Williams, thank you both for joining us on this important night.

And when we come back, the focus tomorrow will also be on the part of the report that deals with the Russian government`s conspiracy to interfere with our election and support the candidacy of Donald Trump.  How much evidence will we see of how the Trump campaign was knowingly or unknowingly manipulated by the Russian government?

And at the end of this hour, we will consider where the investigations of the president of the United States stand tonight and where they go from here.  The release of a redacted version of the Mueller report will not be an end.  It will be the end of the beginning.


O`DONNELL:  Attorney General William Barr`s letter about the Mueller report quotes a portion of one sentence in the Mueller report that refers to what has commonly been called collusion in the media coverage of the investigation.  The line from the Mueller report about collusion that the attorney general quoted in his letter says the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

Did not establish simply means did not prove.  It`s basically the same thing that the attorney general quoted the Mueller report staying about obstruction justice.  Not that there was no obstruction of justice but simply that obstruction of justice could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

That`s also what the attorney general`s letter says about collusion.  It says the investigation did not prove that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government.  We might find out tomorrow depending on the redactions just how much evidence the special prosecutor found about a Russian conspiracy even though it was not enough evidence to charge anyone in the Trump campaign with the crime of conspiring with Russia.

After this break, we will review the evidence of Russian interference in the presidential campaign to support Donald Trump with two people who have been studying that evidence, former Undersecretary of State Richard Stengel and Professor Jed Shugerman.



REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  The central concern here is that the Attorney General Barr is not allowing the facts of the Mueller report to speak for themselves but is trying to bake in the narrative about the report to the benefit of the White House.


O`DONNELL:  We will see just how much the Mueller report is allowed to speak for itself tomorrow when we see how much of it has been redacted.  We can expect most of the redactions to probably come in the section dealing with the Russian interference in the election because presumably some of that material will be classified.

Joining our discussion now, Richard Stengel, former undersecretary of state in the Obama administration.  He`s now an MSNBC political analyst.  We`re also joined by Jed Shugerman, professor of law at Fordham University who closely follows the investigations and the Mueller investigation in particular.

And Rick Stengel, I know you`ve been studying the Russian interference in the election because it was your job in the State Department to actually be trying to monitor what`s happening online out there, whether it be from terrorist organizations or foreign bad actors in our country.

RICK STENGEL, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION:  Yes, so we actually started monitoring the Russian Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg.  And in fact, Mueller gives a preview of the larger report in his indictment of the 13 members of the IRA, which was this troll factory in St. Petersburg that was creating American personas that supported Trump, that were against Hillary, that were trying to suppress the black vote, trying to get people to vote for Jill Stein.

There`s one incredible detail in the indictment, and I`m not making this up, is that two Russians from the Internet Research Agency organized rallies for Donald Trump in Florida and hired an actress to portray Hillary Clinton on the back of a flatbed truck in a prison uniform.

I mean, this is the extent of the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians.  But as you said --

O`DONNELL:  So there`s a local campaign event in Florida that looks local to anyone who is looking at it and in fact, the Russians are creating this campaign event for Donald Trump in Florida.

STENGEL:  The Russians organized it on Facebook.  They bought cutouts of American service so it would look like it was coming from America.  They adopted American personas.

I mean remember, they started Tennessee GOP and things like that.  And they organized this rally.  They paid the actress to pretend to be Hillary Clinton.

Now, but as you said, in the beginning, the issue about whether it was a conspiracy is whether the Trump campaign officials knew they were dealing with Russians.  It`s unlikely that they were.

But what I think you`ll see in the larger report is chapter and verse of how many occasions there was a collaboration like this, whether it was unwitting or witting so people would see like, boy that sounds like collusion in my book.  It may not rise to the level of conspiracy because the Trump people didn`t know but it`s certainly working together.

O`DONNELL:  Jed Shugerman, what would be the legal elements of conspiracy that would be necessary here?  I mean it is possible that people in the Trump campaign did take some active steps involving Russians knowing that it involved Russians but it might not quite reach that level that, threshold that a prosecutor is looking for of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime?

JED SHUGERMAN, PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  Right.  So there are two legal questions that come up with conspiracy.  The first kind of conspiracy is a conspiracy to commit another kind of crime.  And so you need a conspiracy, for example, to commit computer hacking or to traffic in stolen goods.  Those are some of the questions that came up with the Julian Assange indictment as an actual crime.

The other kind of conspiracy is the standalone conspiracy to defraud the United States, 18usc371.  But the larger context here is I think that tying into the Russian conspiracy as a crime, I think there are three things to look for in the report tomorrow.

First, the Julian Assange connection with WikiLeaks.  We know that from the Stone indictment, there was a cryptic line that said a senior campaign official was directed to get in touch with Roger Stone.

I think they know who that was.  They just didn`t put it in the indictment.  So we want to find out and maybe that`s redacted.  That`s something to look for tomorrow.

Number two, the Manafort meeting on August 2, 2016, with Konstantin Kilimnik where he gave him 70 pages plus of polling data which Andrew Weissmann on the Mueller team called at the heart of the investigation.  So we want to see more context to that particular contact.

And number three, there is a lot we want to learn about Michael Flynn who had Russian contacts, not only during the campaign but also during the transition and up through the administration.  Those Russian contacts were enough for Flynn to get a cooperation deal we suspect and get a recommendation for no jail time which is remarkable.  We`ve heard very little from Flynn.  We want to learn a lot more.

O`DONNELL:  Richard Stengel, Michael Flynn is almost the forgotten man of this investigation because he`s one of the very first big breakthroughs in the investigation.  And then he went completely silent.  Then the special prosecutor went virtually silent about Michael Flynn`s part of this case.

STENGEL:  And you could argue that he is by far the highest official who has been convicted of a crime, the national security adviser.  In fact, why he lied about his conversations with Kislyak, which as a national security adviser, he absolutely could do.  I`d actually add two more things that I would hope to find out.

O`DONNELL:  Meaning he as a national security adviser, he had legitimate possible reasons for having a conversation with a Russian official.  Therefore, why would he lie about that?

STENGEL:  Yes, I mean --

O`DONNELL:  And that is an explanation we`ll be looking for tomorrow.

STENGEL:  Absolutely.  I mean there was absolutely no reason for him to lie for it.  It was part of his job to do that kind of thing.

What I would also add is why the Trump campaign amended the GOP platform for the convention to try to not do sanctions on Ukraine.

And the one that I always was amazed by was in June in that summer when candidate Donald Trump said the Crimeans want to be part of Russia.  So Russia wasn`t annexing them.  They were just taking the people that were already part of Russia.  Where the heck did that come from?

O`DONNELL:  And Jed Shugarman, do you expect that kind of explanation, do you expect there will be explanations for certain things like that in this report that are kind of non-legal points?

SHUGERMAN:  Frankly, Lawrence, I think this is all going to be redacted tomorrow.  This is -- I think I want to tell the viewers to look for these things and then when they don`t find them, they`ll know that they`re redacted.

These are things that Mueller has told us in -- or his team has told us in various places in different indictments.  If they`re there, I think it would be great to read about those details but I suspect that Barr has given himself so much flexibility about declaring which of these topics are part of ongoing investigations and his conduct over all that they`ll be redacted.

I think it`s important to know that there`s this background, these details that are in that report that Mueller gave us.  And that`s what will be covered up by black or purple or orange lines tomorrow.

O`DONNELL:  Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee tweeted tonight, "Just been informed by DOJ that we`ll receive Mueller`s report only after Barr gives a press conference.  Once again, Barr wants to shape the public perception of the report.  This is on top of reports DOJ secretly briefed the White House.  This is not justice.  Just P.R."

And then after that, Chairman Schiff joined four other chairs in the -- of House Committees saying this press conference should be canceled.

STENGEL:  Yes.  I mean it`s a complete violation of norms.  He`s putting his finger on the scale.  He`s being -- as someone said earlier, this kind of Trump`s Roy Cohn.

At the same time, I would say about the redactions, I don`t think people should over-rely on the fact that if something is missing, it`s probably redacted.  I think they`re going to try to go light on the redactions.  And there`s some classified information that has to be redacted.

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to leave it there.  Rick Stengel, Jed Shugerman, thank you both for joining us on this important coverage.

And when we come back, our last word of where we stand tonight in the investigations of the president of the United States.  We are, as Winston Churchill once put it, at the end of the beginning.


O`DONNELL:  And so depending on what`s in the Mueller report, this could be, to borrow Churchill`s phrase, the end of the beginning.  Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller finished his investigation of the president relatively quickly.  Some other special prosecutors have spent several more years conducting their investigations.

One of the pressures on Mueller to finish his investigation came from Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House of Representatives, including the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who all said the Judiciary Committee couldn`t even begin to think about impeachment until they had the Mueller report.


NADLER:  Initiating a formal impeachment inquiry is a very serious step.  We`re going to have to look at all the evidence, all the evidence that the special counsel comes up with.  The things that are being done in public being, the things that we find out that are being done, and make decisions.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, ANCHOR, TODAY:  You said it would be sad and divisive for the country to pursue impeachment.  Are you willing to rule it out?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  Well, we`ll have to see what happens with the Mueller report.


O`DONNELL:  Robert Mueller certainly heard many of those comments by the Democrats that they could not do the job of fully investigating the president and considering possibilities like impeachment until they saw the Mueller report.

Robert Mueller always knew that it is Justice Department policy not to indict the president, which means he always knew that the ultimate judgment of the president`s conduct would be Congress` responsibility.  And tomorrow, Congress will be handed its responsibility in the form of William Barr`s redacted version of the Mueller report.

If Robert Mueller believes that President Trump should be impeached, then he needed to end his investigation as quickly as possible and get out of Congress` way so they could do their duty.  Especially when Democrats in Congress were publicly announcing they would not consider impeachment until they read the Mueller report.

Many scholarly authorities on impeachment believe that there is already enough in the public record to proceed to impeachment of this president.  Presidential Historian Jeffrey Engel who appeared on this program last night wrote.

"The Constitution`s authors wouldn`t have needed any summary of the special counsel`s report to know it was time to impeach the president.  Neither would they have waited to see whether its full text provided evidence of criminal wrongdoing.  The group that created our nation`s founding document would already have judged Donald Trump unfit for office and removed him because he`s repeatedly shown a dearth of the quality they considered paramount in a president, a willingness to put national interest above his own."

And so whatever happens tomorrow will not be an ending.  It will not be the end of Robert Mueller`s responsibilities.  Robert Mueller will eventually testify to Congress about his findings.

Congress is going to continue to investigate the president of the United States either in impeachment hearings or in other investigative hearings of the president`s conduct.  And they will use the Mueller report now as a road map for their continued public investigations of the president.

And so that`s why Winston Churchill`s quote comes to mind tonight.  Three years into World War II, after the British won their first major victory in battle, Winston Churchill said this.


WINSTON CHURCHILL:  This is not end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.


O`DONNELL:  And so that is where we are tonight with the multiple investigations of candidate Donald Trump and President Donald Trump, including the federal investigation in the Southern District of New York in which Donald J. Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator with Michael Cohen accused by federal prosecutors of committing crimes to win the presidency in what the prosecutors call a conspiracy against the United States of America.

From the Southern District of New York to the committees of the House of Representatives, the investigations of Donald Trump will not only continue, they will actually pick up their pace because for them tomorrow`s release of the redacted version of the Mueller report is not the end.  It`s not even the beginning of the end.  But it is the end of the beginning of the investigations of Donald Trump.

That is tonight`s last word.  "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.