IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Mueller: report did not exonerate. TRANSCRIPT: 7/24/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Eric Swalwell, Mieke Eoyang, Ned Price, Ron Klain, Joaquin Castro

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

And I love your job.  It`s the most important job in the world to me because it makes this job so much easier following you.  Your point is so important about what today`s hearings represent and what future hearings could be.  And hearing from the Mueller team as many members of the Mueller team as possible is really important.  There was a team, as you know, working exclusively on volume one.  There was another team working exclusively on volume two. 

They have such a command of the detail of everything in that investigation and their own reactions to it that would be so invaluable to be hearing. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Especially, I think, today now that we have heard from Robert Mueller.  I mean, obviously, this special counsel`s office could not have been convened and could not have sustained itself to the completion of the final report under anyone other than somebody like Robert Mueller with the reputation for integrity and a rigor that he had accomplished, that he had grown over the course of his decades in public service. 

It maybe had to be Robert Mueller who was the name special counsel.  But it`s clear from his performance he didn`t do all this work himself.  And there were times when clearly the report felt like the work of his staff and not his.  And he was taking it for granted that whatever the member of Congress was reading to him must be in the report.  You didn`t necessarily have in mind that he had the whole thing in his head. 

All the more reason for us to hear from the members of his team who did the work, particularly when the details of the work and the decision-making behind it is important in terms of what we don`t understand as a country. 

O`DONNELL:  I think the best version of a hearing is a minimum of four of these staff people, two from volume, say, two from volume two, and when the questions asked, they can actually decide which one is the best one to answer, who has the best information for it.  They can kind of tag team on answers in the interest of creating the best possible well of information that the Congress can have. 

MADDOW:  Exactly.  And I`m sure the prosecutors and the FBI special agents who worked with Robert Mueller are cringing, hearing us talking about this, if they haven`t already turned this off, because I`m sure it`s the last thing they want to do.  But I think, honestly, if you spent the last 22 months working with Robert Mueller on this critical, critical issue of national importance, I`m sure you do not want Robert Mueller`s testimony today to be the last word that anybody ever hears on this issue from your team. 

I`m sure you don`t want it to revert to, you know, Attorney General Barr mischaracterizing your findings and the president calling it names, and all those things.  I mean, to the extent that the work doesn`t speak for itself and I think we all know it doesn`t and the people who created this work product and did this investigation do need to understand the implications and what still needs to be revealed.  The other people on that are going to have to do it.  Their service is not yet over.  I`m sure they would love it to be, but they need the country to understand what they have been through. 

O`DONNELL:  One thing I`m glad about is the detail of negotiation that Robert Mueller went through in scheduling these hearings and demanding a time limit to each one of the hearings, because what that seemed to do was force discipline on both sides. 

And forget about the content of how they used their minutes.  What is clear about it is each side was disciplined in the way they were approaching this.  The bombast was reduced on the Republican side, but the talking points were still the same.  It was like they were two different hearings, the Democratic hearing and the Republican hearing.

But certainly on the Democratic side where they were very interested in getting all of the information they possibly could from the report out there on the table.  The discipline was something I haven`t seen the likes of in a long time. 

MADDOW:  Yes, and that`s not to say that it was -- I think that`s right.  That`s not to say that it was -- that everybody covered themselves in glory.  I mean, there was definitely some speechifying and some people who were reading a carefully drawn set of questions but they weren`t very good readers, and when Mueller gave them unexpected answers, they didn`t know where to pick back up and they were putting the right emphasis on the right syllable.  You definitely had a little bit of embarrassment stuff there. 

You had a few funny conspiracy theories from a couple of Republican members.  There really was a Republican member who complained that Fox News was not cited enough as a source in the Mueller report, which for me was kind of a laugh out loud moment.  I mean, there were some moments of ridiculousness.

But I think the chairman of the two committees led in a way that was very instructive and very helpful.  Each -- both Nadler and Schiff themselves covered so much ground so expertly and nimbly at the very start, at the very onset of each of those hearings.  I do think it helped, I do think that today`s hearing just was an exercise in public education that is going to make us smarter as a polity, and is going to make us deal with this issue in a way that is way more substantive than where we`ve been. 

O`DONNELL:  We`ll see where we go from here. 


O`DONNELL:  We had two members of the committees joining us in this hour.  We`re going to have a lot of help analyzing what went on today.

MADDOW:  Great.  Thanks, Lawrence.  I look forward to it. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, as I said, we`re going to need a lot of help to cover today`s hearings in the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.  We`ll be joined by members of the committees who were in those hearings and will rely on a strong panel of experts tonight for their insights on what happened in the hearings. 

Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks is with us. 

Former House Intelligence Committee Staff Mieke Eoyang who used to sit in those chairs in the Intelligence Committee hearing right behind the members will be with us.  She will be sitting with us tonight.

Former CIA analyst Ned Price is here.  He was a senior director of the National Security Council in the Obama administration. 

Ron Klain is here.  Ron has held more important jobs in government that I can list, including at the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department, and the Obama White House.  We will get their analysis after we review the video. 

For those of you who couldn`t watch all seven hours of hearings, in other words, almost all of you, we`re going to take the next few minutes to present a short summary of both hearings before our panel of experts contributes their perspectives on what happened today, and before we will be joined by members of the House Judiciary and the House Intelligence who participated in today`s hearings. 

In his opening statement in the first hearing at the Judiciary Committee, Robert Mueller accepted the ground rules suggested to him in a Justice Department letter this week. 


ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL:  The Justice Department has asserted privileges concerning investigative information and decisions, ongoing matters within the Justice Department and deliberations within our office.  These are Justice Department privileges that I will respect. 


O`DONNELL:  And with that, Robert Mueller guaranteed that he would end up refusing to answer dozens and dozens of questions.  In fact, he ended up using those ground rules to refuse to answer over 100 questions, mostly because the answers would have required him to reveal, quote, deliberations within our office, as he put it. 

That left the members of both committees trying to frame yes or no questions that were confined to what has already been revealed in the Mueller report.  Chairman Nadler began with taking apart President Trump`s claim that Robert Mueller did not find evidence of obstruction of justice and that the Mueller report totally exonerated the president. 


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  The report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct? 

MUELLER:  That is correct. 

NADLER:  And what about total exoneration.  Did you actually totally exonerate the president?



O`DONNELL:  Chairman Nadler demolished Attorney General Barr`s claim that the president fully cooperated with the investigation. 


NADLER:  Did the president refuse to request to be interviewed by you and your team? 


NADLER:  Yes.  Is it true you tried for more than a year to secure an interview with the president? 


NADLER:  And is it true that you and your team advised the president`s lawyer that, quote, an interview with the president is vital to our investigation, close quote? 

MUELLER:  Yes, yes. 

NADLER:  And is it true that you also, quote, stated that it is in the interest of the presidency and the public for an interview to take place, close quote? 


NADLER:  But the president still refused to sit for an interview by you or your team? 

MUELLER:  True.  True.


MUELLER:  The Republicans seemed to suggest that the president could not be guilty of obstruction of justice if he tried to fire Robert Mueller, but did not succeed in firing Robert Mueller. 


REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA):  Was your investigation curtailed or stopped or hindered? 



O`DONNELL:  Congressman Zoe Lofgren identified what the Russian objective was in attacking our election process. 


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA):  Did your investigation find that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning? 


LOFGREN:  And which candidate would that be? 

MUELLER:  Well, it would be Trump. 


O`DONNELL:  No Republican in either hearing today was even slightly interested in why the Russians wanted Donald Trump to win the election, and worked as hard as they did to help Donald Trump win.  Some Republicans could not understand why a prosecutor would be investigating the president for obstruction of justice if the prosecutor was not allowed, according to Justice Department rules, to indict the president for obstruction of justice.  Mueller had the answer for them. 


MUELLER:  Well, you don`t know where the investigation is going to lie and OLC opinion itself said you can continue the investigation even though you are not going to indict the president. 


O`DONNELL:  Several Republicans on the Judiciary Committee wanted to talk about the FBI investigation of the Russian attack on our election that began during the election campaign in 2016.  Robert Mueller was not involved in that investigation that occurred during the presidential campaign and refused to answer all of those questions.  No Republican was interested in the details of the obstruction of justice evidence that the Mueller report outlined against the president.  But the Democrats were. 


REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN):  Based upon your investigation, how did Trump react to your appointment of special counsel? 

MUELLER:  Again, I will send you the report where that is stated. 

COHEN:  Well, there is a quote from page estate 78 of volume two, which reads, when Sessions told the president that the special counsel had been appointed, the president slumped back in his chair and said, quote, oh, my god, this is terrible.  This is the end of my presidency.  I`m F`ed. 

REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL):  You said in your report on page 90 volume two and I quote: news of the obstruction investigation prompted the president to call McGahn and seek to have the special counsel removed. 

Director Mueller, the most important question I have for you today is why?  Director Mueller, why did the president of the United States want you fired? 

MUELLER:  Oh.  I can`t answer that question. 

DEUTCH:  Director Mueller, that shouldn`t happen in America.  No president should be able to escape investigation by abusing his power.  But that`s what you testified to in your report.  The president ordered you fired.  The White House counsel knew it was wrong.  The president knew it was wrong. 

And your report says there`s also -- the president should not have made those calls to began, but the president did it anyway.  He did it anyway. 

REP. DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL (D-FL):  Simply trying to obstruct justice can be a crime, correct? 


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY):  An obstructive act could include taking an action that would delay or interfere with an ongoing investigation. 

MUELLER:  That`s true. 

JEFFRIES:  Your investigation found evidence that President Trump took steps to terminate the special counsel, correct? 

MUELLER:  Correct. 

JEFFRIES:  Corrupt intent exist fist the president attempted to obstruct an official to protect his own interest, correct? 

MUELLER:  That`s generally correct. 

REP. DEVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  An unsuccessful attempt to obstruct justice is still a crime, is that correct? 

MUELLER:  That is correct. 

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):  And that lies Trump campaign officials and administration officials impeded your investigation. 

MUELLER:  I would generally agree with that. 

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA):  Ii would like to ask the reason that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion saying you could not indict a sitting president, is that correct? 

MUELLER:  That is correct. 


O`DONNELL:  And for reasons known to himself, Republican Ken Buck decided to emphasize and reemphasize that the president could be indicted after he left office. 


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


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



O`DONNELL:  At the beginning of the second hearing in the Intelligence Committee, Chairman Adam Schiff said that the hearing would be about disloyalty to country. 


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  Disloyalty to country, those are strong words, but how else do we describe a presidential campaign which did inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on their opponent which did not publicly shun it or turn it away, but which instead invited it and encouraged it and made full use of it.  That disloyalty may not have been criminal, constrained by uncooperative witnesses and the destruction of documents and the use of encrypted communications.  Your team was not able to establish the crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt.  So, not a provable crime in any event. 

But I think maybe something worse.  A crime is the violation of law written by Congress, but disloyalty to country violates the very oath of citizenship, our devotion to a core principle on which our nation was founded that we, the people and not some foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide who governs us. 


O`DONNELL:  Robert Mueller began by going back to one of the questions that he was asked in the previous hearing. 


MUELLER:  I want to go back to one thing said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said and I quote, you didn`t charge the president because of the OLC opinion.  That is not the correct way to say it. 

As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime. 


O`DONNELL:  Where the Judiciary Committee concentrated on obstruction of justice, the Intelligence Committee concentrated on the Russian attack on our election. 


REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT):  Director, who did the Russian social media campaign ultimately intend to benefit.  Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? 

MUELLER:  Donald Trump. 

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL):  Donald Trump, October 31st, 2016.  Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.  Donald Trump, November 4th, 2016.  Do any of those quotes disturb you, Mr. Director? 

MUELLER:  I`m not sure I would say --

QUIGLEY:  How do you react to that? 

MUELLER:  Well, if I -- it`s problematic is an under statement in terms of what it displays in terms of giving some -- I don`t know, hope or a boost to what is and should be illegal activity. 

DEMINGS:  Director Mueller, I do want to focus on the written responses that the president did provide and the continued efforts to lie and cover up what happened during the 2016 election.  Were the president`s answers committed under oath? 

MUELLER:  Yes, yes. 

DEMINGS:  What did you determine about the president`s credibility? 

MUELLER:  That I can`t get into. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney asked a question that I`ve repeatedly said I hoped would be asked. 


REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY):  Why didn`t you subpoena the president? 

MUELLER:  We were almost towards the end of our investigation and we had little success in pushing to get the interview of the president.  We decided that we did not want to exercise a subpoena power because of necessity of expediting the end of the investigation. 

MALONEY:  The president didn`t ever claim the Fifth Amendment, did he? 

MUELLER:  I`m not going to talk to that. 

MALONEY:  Nobody told you couldn`t subpoena the president, is that right?

MUELLER:  No.  We understood we could subpoena the president.

MALONEY:  So, my question, sir, is, did you have sufficient evidence of the president`s intent to obstruct justice and is that why you didn`t do the interview? 

MUELLER:  There`s ballots.  In other words, how much evidence you have that satisfy the last element against how much time are you willing to spend in the courts litigating the interview of the president.  The reason we didn`t do the interview is because of the length of time that it would take to resolve the issues attended to that. 


O`DONNELL:  That was the only time in the hearings when Robert Mueller did discuss at any length the liberations of his team.  We will surely spent the next few years or next several years learning more and more about the deliberations of Robert Mueller and his team. 

Why were they concerned about how long it would take to enforce the subpoena compelling the president`s testimony?  There was no time limit on the investigation. 

With the president publicly attacking the Mueller investigation as a witch hunt for years, were Robert Mueller and his team concerned they might wake up some day and find themselves all fired by the president of the United States?  How did that concern affect their investigation?  Did they speed up the investigation because they were concerned the president would fire them? 

When they discovered through Don McGahn`s testimony that the president had already ordered the repeated firing of Robert Mueller, did that change their investigative tactics?  No special prosecutor team in history ever faced such public harassment on almost a daily basis by the president himself.  And no special prosecuting team in history has been dealing with a more unstable and reckless president.  How did that affect the way they approach the investigation? 

All of those were questions about what Robert Mueller and the Justice Department would call, quote, the deliberations of the Mueller team.  And so, there were no answers to those questions in today`s hearings.  Answers to those questions would lead to other questions that could not be asked today. 

The real history of the Mueller investigation will not be written until we know answers to questions about the deliberations of the Mueller team.  For example, former Watergate prosecutors are willing to tell us things they could not tell us in the heat of their investigation of President Nixon.  We are probably years away from members of the Mueller team appearing on programs like this to reveal many important dynamics of the investigation that are not included in the evidentiary findings presented in the Mueller report. 

Jill Wine-Banks is one of those former Watergate prosecutors who shares her wisdom with us often and will join our panel tonight, along with experts in this arena familiar to you, Ron Klain, Mieke Eoyang and Ned Price.

But, first, we will be joined by Congressman Eric Swalwell who was one of the few members who was able to question Robert Mueller in both of today`s House hearings. 


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  A thousand former prosecutors who served under Republican and Democratic administrations with 12,000 years of federal service wrote a letter regarding the president`s conduct.  Are you familiar with that letter? 

MUELLER:  I read about that letter, yes. 

SWALWELL:  And so many individuals who signed that letter, the statement of former prosecutors are people you worked with, is that right? 

MUELLER:  Quite probably yes. 

SWALWELL:  People that you respect? 

MUELLER:  Quite probably, yes. 

SWALWELL:  And in that letter, they said all of this conduct trying to control and impede the investigation against the president by leveraging his authority over others is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials in people in powerful positions.  Are they wrong? 

MUELLER:  They have a different case.

SWALWELL:  Do you want to sign that letter, Director Robert Mueller?

MUELLER:  They have a different case. 

SWALWELL:  Director Mueller, thank you for your service.


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell from California.

Thank you very much for joining us after this busy day, Congressman.  You were one of the lucky ones who was in both hearings.  That was from the first hearing.  I just want to get your general overall reaction to what you experienced in both of those hearing rooms today. 

SWALWELL:  As you pointed out, Lawrence, we brought a very prepared team to both hearings that expected the director to stay within the four, you know, the four sides of his report and not to deviate from that.  So, we were ready to defer him to different pieces. 

And I think at the end of the day, the American people saw Russia attacked us.  They sought to help Donald Trump.  Donald Trump welcomed it and planned for it.  And when he became president, he went to great lengths to cover it up. 

And only because of his own department`s policies is he shielded in a way that no one else in America is being shielded from being charged with a crime. 

O`DONNELL:  I want to go to an exchange you had with Robert Mueller in the Intelligence Committee about the number of people who have been caught up in this investigation.  Let`s listen to that. 


SWALWELL:  The national security adviser Flynn lied about the discussions related to sanctions.  Is that right?

MUELLER:  That`s correct. 

SWALWELL:  Michael Cohen lied to this committee about Trump Tower Moscow.  Is that correct? 


SWALWELL:  George Papadopoulos, the president`s senior foreign policy adviser lied to the FBI about his communications about Russia`s possession of dirt on Hillary Clinton.  Is that right?

MUELLER:  Correct.  Yes. 

SWALWELL:  The president`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about meetings that he had with someone with ties to Russian intelligence.  Is that correct?

MUELLER:  That`s true. 

SWALWELL:  In your investigation, it was hampered by Trump campaign officials use of encryptions, is that right? 

MUELLER:  We believe that to be the case. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman, that last question about how the investigation was hampered by the use of encryption goes to something that other members of the committees brought out at different points, which is there were -- there were limits to what Robert Mueller could find out.  There were roadblocks.  There were successful elements of obstruction of justice that prevented the Mueller investigation from discovering some evidence. 

SWALWELL:  That`s right.  He also describes in his report that destruction of evidence, lying, tampering, and obstructing created gaps.  And so, the president said there is no collusion and no conspiracy.  But in America, we don`t reward people if they bury the evidence so deep beneath the earth that investigators can ever find it.  We have a separate crime for that, and that`s obstruction. 

Now, again, this president was shielded from being charged with obstruction, others were not and they were charged with obstruction.  But he has laid out a road map for how we can hold the president accountable.  And the only way to do that is through the impeachment process. 

O`DONNELL:  I want to go to one of the classic questions of the day, I think, in which Robert Mueller doesn`t answer the question, but you can see that the answer is there.  That`s in the question about the credibility of the president asked by -- 

SWALWELL:  Val Demings.

O`DONNELL:  Val Demings.  We`re going to go to that right now. 


DEMINGS:  Could you say, Director Mueller, that the president was credible? 

MUELLER:  I can`t answer that question. 

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

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


O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman, to be contrasted with Robert Mueller was willing to say that some other witnesses were credible. 

SWALWELL:  That`s right.  He said that Michael Cohen and Rick Gates were credible.  That was essentially a careful prosecutor saying that if I could call the president credible, I would call him credible. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, that`s one of the things about this particular hearing.  With the limits Robert Mueller accepted from the Justice Department, his answers had to be interpreted more than they might otherwise. 

What was your reaction at the beginning of the judiciary hearing where you heard him say he was going to accept the limitations that were suggested to him by the Justice Department in that letter he received this week? 

SWALWELL:  That he`s a patriot.  That he follows rules, even when he`s investigating a president who doesn`t.  And as frustrating as that was, we were going to do all we could to get the information that we needed.  And I think we did that today. 

Today, you saw act one.  He laid out all the witnesses we need to bring in who were front row percipient witnesses. 

But also, you should step back and realize, if the president had nothing to hide, he would do two things.  First, he would lift the DOJ policy that says a sitting president can`t be indicted, and say, if I truly committed a crime, bring it.  I`m so confident that I didn`t.  He`s never going to do that.

And, second, he would not tell the attorney general or Mueller to restrict testimony.  He would say ask you want.  He did neither which goes to his consciousness of guilt. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, the most personality testimony was Donald Trump`s own refusal to testify about -- in the obstruction of justice investigation. 

SWALWELL:  And, Lawrence, from January 2017 until March 2019 when the investigation ended, Donald Trump met in person with Vladimir Putin six times.  He exchanged 10 phone calls with him and four letters.  He met with Robert Mueller zero times. 

Again, that goes to who this president prioritizes, a dictator who sought to interfere in elections over the person seeking to protect the country from that attack. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us.

SWALWELL:  My pleasure.  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  It has been a long day for you and I really appreciate your work today and joining us today. 

SWALWELL:  My pleasure. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much.

And when we come back, we will be joined by our panel to consider what would have happened to anyone else who was discovered to have engaged in the obstruction of justice activities described in the Mueller report. 



O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Ron Klain, Former Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a Senior Aide to Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama also with us Mieke Eoyang Former Staff Member of the House intelligence Committee.

Jill Wine-Banks is here she is a Former Assist Water Gate Special Prosecutor and an MSNBC Legal Analyst and Ned Price, a Former CIA Analyst and Former Senior Director and Spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama Administration. He is also an MSNBC National Security Contributor.

And Jill, to the question of what would have happened to anyone else if prosecutors found the pattern of obstruction they found from Donald Trump?

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: They would be indicted. I`m one of the thousand lawyers who signed the letter a long time ago. I said probably two years ago that I thought there was in plain sight evidence of obstruction of justice and that the case could be made.

Everything that we`ve read in the Mueller report, everything that we`ve heard since confirms that there has been obstruction of justice plain and simple. It`s really clear. The evidence of all the elements of the crime has been establish and were he not protected by the Office of Legal Counsel, an opinion by the way that I think is flawed constitutionally and legally, I think it`s incorrect it`s time for someone to challenge it or for someone to change it.

It may take a prosecutor indicting the President to take it to the Supreme Court for a decision. On whether you can cover up your own crime and get away with it.

O`DONNELL: Yes, the state prosecutors who get around that ignore that Justice Department rule. Mieke, I was watching the Intelligence Committee Hearing today thinking of you because you have been on those chairs on the Intelligence Committee and the staff section. This is the biggest hearing that came through your old committee in a very long time.

MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF MEMBER: Yes, look it was very clear the numbers were really well prepared on that. You could tell by the way they were pulled their questions together -

O`DONNELL: Can you just start from it plus how unusual that is. I have never seen discipline in the house especially like I saw today?

EOYANG: Usually what you have over the members running around and playing like second graders in soccer with they are all running in the same ball and they`re all asking the same questions. And what you saw today is they were really fanning out and covering the waterfront. You could tell that they had really work together to prepare by the way the slides came up, it were showing Mueller the quotes, they were staying on message. And they were really focused on a few key things.

Trying to demonstrate the places where the Mueller report didn`t go into. Things like the counter intelligence investigation and some the financial crimes and they`re showing look there is still more work to be done here and more importantly we have got an ongoing threat and challenge. They were very good at getting both those points out.

O`DONNELL: Ron, what was your reaction when you heard in Mueller`s opening statement that he was indeed going to accept the restrictions that Attorney General Barr suggested that he accept for this hearing?

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF STAFF OF VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, I was not surprised. He is a rule follower and a patriot as Congressman Swalwell said and plays by the rules. But it was a clear sign that today`s hearing was not the end of what Congress needs to do to look into the events of what happened in 2016 and afterwards with the Trump campaign and the Trump Presidency.

It was a clear signal. But look, if you are going to do your jobs House Committees, then after I finished testifying today, you need to fire up the subpoena, you need to go to court and enforce those subpoenas and get to the truth. Robert Mueller couldn`t tell the full truth today and the truth is important for these committees to find out.

O`DONNELL: And then Price, not one Republican was interested in the question of why did the Russians want Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States?

NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST: They were not interested in public. They knew the answer though. That`s the reason they didn`t ask the question. They knew the answer because in January of 2017, the Intelligence Committee came out with a high confidence assessment that said the Russians were favoring Donald Trump and denigrating Hillary Clinton for a number of reasons but chiefly because they understood that Trump would do their bidding. Trump was their guy in 2016. Trump remains their guy in 2019.

It was certainly in their interest. But there was another underlying factor here, Lawrence. That`s the fact that not only was Trump against the sanctions that had been enact and not only was he someone that they saw as a patsy on the world stage, but he is someone who is quite literally and the Russians understood this in 2015 and 2016. Who is quite literally capable of tearing our country apart of pitting Democrats against Republicans of minority groups against others?

And creating this hostility in this country that really neutralizes what we can do on the world stage. So yes it`s about his policies, but it`s also about the Russians understanding that Trump really destabilizes us at home and in turn that he destabilizes us and makes us less influential in the world stage.

O`DONNELL: Jill, how important to this the story that wasn`t told today and that is the story of the deliberations that covers every single discussion that the Mueller team had amongst themselves about everything. It covers every thought that crossed Robert Mueller`s mind when he was driving to and from work. What did we lose by not knowing any of that at this stage?

WINE-BANKS: We lose some, but I think we have to focus on all the things that did come out today. It was very important because we clearly established that there was no exoneration. That there was evidence of obstruction. There was evidence of cooperation with Russia and welcoming the Russian interference. That there was all of these things that are really serious for us to know.

The problem is we need have the Republicans really hear that. And as you just said, the Republicans showed no interest basically in any fact. They didn`t touch any of the facts. They diverted into conspiracy theories and other things. They were not interested in what was coming out, which is to rebut how they played this report. That`s what is important from today.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to one of the moments of discovery in the hearing where we learned something we did not know and this came out through Raja Krishnamoorthi questioning Robert Mueller. Let`s listen to this.


O`DONNELL: Did we all kind of echo that currently when we heard?

EOYANG: I think it was a real concern. We`ve all wondered what happened to the counter intelligence investigation that Mueller`s investigation grew out off. We didn`t see anything about it in the report itself. We were all wondering he said he didn`t - he was referring those things back to the FBI. There was a fear they would get buried in this FBI. But he says it is currently under investigation.

O`DONNELL: That was a surprise.

PRICE: Absolutely it was a surprise when we heard at it was startling perhaps it shouldn`t have been because those of us who have worked in this round know that counter intelligence investigations tend to start and tend not to end. They also tend not to end even if they do end in criminal charges.

In many ways, the afternoon session for me was so powerful because it took us away from this dichotomy between legal and illegal, criminal versus exculpatory and really forced us to focus on right and wrong. And I think Adam Schiff was very good in guiding Mr. Mueller in that direction. He actually got him to say and I quote, "We should hold our elected officials to a higher standard than mere evidence of criminality" and Mueller responded certainly. And I think that`s the key point.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to squeeze in a quick break right. When we come back Congressman Joaquin Castro who questioned Robert Mueller at the Intelligence Committee Hearing will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Representative Joaquin Castro Democratic Congressman from Texas and a Member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman when your constituents ask you why you asked that question, what will you tell them?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Because Americans need to know whether their President has been compromised. Whether the Russians have any kind of leverage over the President of the United States and whether that`s affecting his decision making as President of this country.

O`DONNELL: And in your experience on the Intelligence Committee, is that what you would expect given the evidence that you read in the Mueller report?

CASTRO: Yes, I think that it is very much an open question. Unfortunately we didn`t get a resolution to that today, but I think it`s something that Americans deserve to know.

O`DONNELL: Where do you hope the Intelligence Committee is able to go after this?

CASTRO: Well, I think there are still many issues on counter intelligence and figuring out exactly how deeply Russia had its hooks in our political system and in particular, people in politics. Also, we didn`t get to talk too much about how we prevent this in the future. What do we do about 2020? Right now, Mitch McConnell in the Senate is blocking any kind Election Security Act that would help prevent Russian interference or foreign interference in the election our 2020 and beyond so there are those things to consider and then of course for the Judiciary Committee the issue of impeachment.

O`DONNELL: There was a meeting of all House Democrats after both of the hearings, some members left that meeting saying it sounded to them as though Nancy Pelosi has moved closer toward the impeachment process?

CASTRO: Of course I let the speaker speak for herself, but I do think that you see a growing number of Democrats who are convinced that we should open an impeachment inquiry. It doesn`t mean that at the beginning you are going to determine - you`re going to say right away that the President should be impeached, but because the evidence, especially on obstruction of justice seems so compelling, more and more Democrats believe we should open the inquiry and I think ultimately the speaker will be there as well.

O`DONNELL: What can you tell us about what you hear from Democratic members of the House who do not want to go to an impeachment process?

CASTRO: It`s a mix of arguments and I think one of them is a political one. There is a political risk in having happened what happened to the Republicans in the mid-1990s when they tried to impeach President Clinton which essentially backfired on them. There is a great fear that in November of 2020 that there will be a misfire and that, Democrats will pay a price politically.

O`DONNELL: If you had more time with Robert Mueller today and he was willing to answer any question including the deliberation questions, what else might you have asked him?

CASTRO: There were so many questions I think that we wish that we could have gotten answers to. Sean Patrick Maloney`s question about why he didn`t subpoena the President, I wish that we could have followed-up on that. I have an issue with time being the main concern and if they knew that the President was going to stall forever, why didn`t they issue a subpoena after just two months for example that after he wouldn`t cooperate for just two months.

Also on - I wish that he would answer my question on compromise or leverage that the President may be under. So there is just so many questions that are still left unanswered and there is still work for the Intelligence Committee to do and for the Judiciary Committee to do.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Joaquin Castro, thank you for joining us at the end of this important day. We really appreciate it.

CASTRO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back with more with our panel after this.


O`DONNELL: Here is the closest that Robert Mueller came to saying the word "impeachment."


O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, what kind of game is that? I mean, he basically just did say impeachment. He could have just answered, well, the constitutional process is impeachment. He could have said that right at the beginning

KLAIN: Look, if people thought Mueller the report was dry, Mueller the witness made an effort to be dryer. And I think if you were looking for theatrics you didn`t get it today. But if you were looking to see the Former Director of the FBI, a distinguished public servant, say that Donald Trump asked for help from Russia, got help from Russia, used help from Russia, that`s what you heard, and that`s the bottom line of what we learned today.

O`DONNELL: Mieke, what left you most perplexed?

EOYANG: So many things. I mean, I found it really strange that he was unwilling to even just read back the things that he`d already written. That he could have just simply said things that he had concluded in the report and just told the American people that because reading the book and watching the movie are very different things.

O`DONNELL: Ned, the same question.

PRICE: You know, I think I was more perplexed, I`ve been more perplexed by our collective reaction, maybe our collective expectations of Mueller. You know, he`s gotten some criticism from all corners, left and right, for his reticence, for his taciturn nature, for his hesitation to go into this.

Look, I don`t think we should have imposed our own expectations on Mueller. We should not have anticipated that he would light himself on fire to dramatize a 448-page report that details a sweeping and systematic attack on our election and the efforts of a President to obstruct the investigation. That in some ways should speak for itself.

I think it reflects poorly on us and not on Mr. Mueller that he sort of seems to have let some people down.

O`DONNELL: Well, I haven`t heard that at in this table, but I know what you`re talking about.


O`DONNELL: Jill, having the experience you`ve had working on the Watergate Special Prosecutor team, what would you say to someone who`s offered a special prosecutor job in the 21st century after Kenneth Starr, after all the special prosecutors we`ve seen? I mean, wouldn`t you have said to Robert Mueller, look, you`re not going to be able to be a private person you`re going to have to make a public presentation?

WINE-BANKS: I think that I would certainly advise that. But I would also advise that you change the regulations. The rules that we operated under and then the rules that Ken Starr operated under were very different from what he`s operating under. He`s just another--

O`DONNELL: You were in a much more powerful position.

WINE-BANKS: We were much - had much more independence and we had the protection of the Attorney General as opposed to the President having the protection of the Attorney General. And he`s supposed to represent the Attorney General, the United States of America, not the United States President.

So that`s what I would say. And I would say that what I`m frustrated about is that what we need are fact witnesses. We don`t need summary witnesses. We need to hear the actual witnesses who were told to do things that are obstruction.

It`s much more powerful to hear Don McGahn say the President ordered me to do this, to have Lewandowski say the President ordered me to do this. That`s what Americans need to hear. And that might move the needle a little bit in terms of who is supporting impeachment and who`s not supporting impeachment.

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, in the press conference that Nancy Pelosi did after all of this she sounded warmer toward impeachment than she ever has before?

KLAIN: Yes, I think we need to distinguish between impeachment and the impeachment process.

O`DONNELL: Impeachment inquiry is the way she was talking.

KLAIN: Yes, exactly. And I think what`s mounting is as the White House continues to stonewall, the fact witnesses Jill was talking about, the House may have no choice but to take an impeachment process open to get that testimony. They need to get to the bottom of this. If the White House is going to stonewall, the impeachment process I think is almost inevitable.

O`DONNELL: Mieke, as a House veteran where do you think impeachment is tonight compared to where it was last week?

EOYANG: I think that you see more and more members coming around saying yes on starting this process. And I think Ron`s right. In order to be able to really put the full weight of the House behind the kinds of requests they`re going to make, opening that process puts them in a much stronger position.

O`DONNELL: Ned, people were watching around the world people in other governments around the world, Foreign Intelligence Agencies watching this around the world. What`s their reaction to what they saw today?

PRICE: Well, I think the reaction from our adversaries is in some ways going to be embodiment. Our adversaries like Russia, China, the Iranians, the North Koreans, the countries that our intelligence community has identified as pursuing our election as a lucrative intelligence target. They will look at this and say look, only half of Congress seems to really care about this.

You have a President who`s looking the other way and who not that long ago told another network that he would actually use this material if offered again. So I think in some ways far from serving up a red light or a yellow light to countries who would interfere in our elections there were elements that those countries would take as a green light to go forward with what they intended.

O`DONNELL: Ned Price gets tonight`s LAST WORD. What I know all of you have many more words to say about this. And we will have more chances to talk about it. Ron Klain, Mieke Eoyang, Jill Wine-Banks and Ned Price, thank you all very much for joining us on this important night. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.