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Mueller: the President could be charged. TRANSCRIPT: 7/25/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Val Demings, Neal Katyal, Sean Patrick Maloney, Bill Weld

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

And you just did I think what might be my favorite guest introduction you`ve ever done, when you said someone who needs no introduction, which has a certain cliche ring to it, which is really true, and then you say the part that I really liked, and for whom there is no need for an explanation about why he`s here. 


O`DONNELL:  Cut to Michael.  It`s like perfect.

MADDOW:  Yes, sort of the only person I could do that from but honestly.


MADDOW:  If you just like the cameras came on and oops, wrong cameras came on and showing Michael instead of me, everybody would know what he`s doing here. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, sure.  I mean, really, literally and every sense needs no introduction.  I did not know who you were talking about until Michael appeared and it made perfect sense. 

MADDOW:  Cascaded into shape.  Keeping you on your toes.

O`DONNELL:  By the way, you`re talking about Val Demings in your last hour.  She`s going to joining us.  She`s going to be our first guest tonight.  Congressman Val Demings. 

MADDOW:  I didn`t know you had her.  I would have tried to steal her. 

O`DONNELL:  Sorry, I would have stolen Michael. 

Here is what I love about what we saw in yesterday`s hearings, and you see this frequently in hearings.  You see it with Katy Porter, for example.  Congressman Katy Porter.  You see the background of that congressperson coming out in the hearings, in Katy Porter`s case, a former law professor. 

Val Demings` case, former police chief in Orlando, Florida, with all of that law enforcement experience, and watching what that informs in the way she handles a situation like yesterday`s hearing was really kind of wonderful to watch.  It was -- everything she said was just filled with her experience and then directly tailored into what the issues of the day were. 

MADDOW:  And I would also say, don`t -- I don`t want to be weird but the fact that she was not only has such a law enforcement and distinguished career but she was chief for so long.  Like part of the way you can read that is the way she brings everything to a halt when she speaks. 


MADDOW:  She`s got that chief thing going on where she owns every room she`s been in, and you can`t help but hang on every word.  Like she`s got that natural authority thing that like makes you get in line. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, you`re used to that, Rachel, owning every room you`ve ever been in.  That`s your thing.


O`DONNELL:  Well, that room.  That room you`re in right now.  That one.  That one. 

MADDOW:  Maybe.  Yes, maybe not even one.  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, Joyce Vance has just published a new piece in "Time Magazine" in which she identifies what she thinks is the single most important question and answer in Robert Mueller`s testimony yesterday, and because we have so much to cover tonight, we won`t get to Joyce Vance`s most important question until the end of this hour.

But our first guest tonight will be Congresswoman Val Demings, former police chief of Orlando, Florida, who is the person who asked the question that Joyce Vance says is the most important question that was asked yesterday.  So we`re perfectly book-ended in this hour. 

Tonight, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee the day after Robert Mueller`s testimony says that the next step for the committee is to hear from the most important witness in the Mueller report, the witness who delivers the most damming evidence of Donald Trump`s obstruction of justice and crimes, former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn. 

Here is Chairman Jerry Nadler tonight on MSNBC. 


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  The American people have to hear directly, for example, from Don McGahn as to -- he has to testify in front of the Congress so he can say what the president said to him, what illegal instructions the president said to him.  We have to hear from other witnesses who testified to Mueller, but we need to hear and the American people need to hear their testimony directly.  This is blocked and we`re going to court to unblock it. 


O`DONNELL:  Chairman Nadler says committee lawyers will be in court tomorrow, tomorrow seeking to enforce their subpoena of Don McGahn as a witness.  Don McGahn`s name appears in the Mueller report more than 500 times and several committee members asked Robert Mueller about Don McGahn yesterday. 


REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA):  Your investigation found that President Trump directed White House counsel don McGahn to fire you, isn`t that correct? 


REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA):  The president told the White House staff secretary Rob Porter to try to pressure McGahn to make a false denial, is that correct? 

MUELLER:  That`s correct. 

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA):  So, it`s accurate to say the president knew he was asking McGahn to deny facts that McGahn, quote, had repeatedly said were accurate unquote, isn`t that right? 

MUELLER:  Correct. 


O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Val Demings had two opportunities with Robert Mueller, first in the Judiciary Committee and then in the Intelligence Committee.  Here is what Congresswoman Demings asked in the judiciary committee. 


REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):  Lies by Trump campaign officials and administration officials impeded your investigation. 

MUELLER:  I would generally agree with that. 


O`DONNELL:  Later in this hour, you will hear Joyce Vance identify that question as the most important question of the day and explain why and explain how that question links volume one and volume two of the Mueller.  And here`s what Congresswoman Demings asked later in the intelligence committee hearing. 


DEMINGS:  Director Mueller, I 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 submitted under oath? 

MUELLER:  Yes.  Yes. 

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

MUELLER:  And that I can`t get into. 

DEMINGS:  Well, let`s go through some of the answers to take a closer look at his credibility because it seems to me, Director Mueller, that his answers were not credible at all.  Did some of President Trump`s answers relate to Trump Tower Moscow. 


DEMINGS:  Did President Trump answer follow-up questions -- according to the report, there were follow up questions because of the president`s incomplete answers about the Moscow project.  Did the president answer your follow-up questions either in writing or orally?  And we`re now in volume 2, page 150 through 151. 


DEMINGS:  He did not. 

In fact, there were many questions you asked the president that he simply didn`t answer, is that correct? 

MUELLER:  True. 

DEMINGS:  And there were many answers that contradicted other evidence you had gathered during the investigation, isn`t that correct, Director Mueller? 


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

MUELLER:  I would say generally. 


O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida.  She`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. 

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Congresswoman Demings.  I really appreciate it.  I know it`s been a busy week. 

DEMINGS:  It`s good to be with you, Lawrence.  Thanks for having me. 

O`DONNELL:  I want to go to what we just saw you questioning Robert Mueller about and that is reminding us all that the president did submit to written questions and answering written questions but as you illuminated, he did to put it mildly a terrible job of answering the written questions. 

DEMINGS:  He did a terrible job and let`s start with Director Mueller not being able to comment on the president of the United States credibility.  And then his answer regarding the written questions and we do know the president refused to do a sit-down interview, Director Mueller tried to get him to do that for a year, he refused but then obviously in his written answers, he was not always truthful as director Mueller indicated. 

O`DONNELL:  And the Mueller report does comment on the credibility of other witnesses, comments favorably on the credibility of witnesses where it finds them credible.  And so, Robert Mueller could have if he found the president`s written answers credible said so. 

DEMINGS:  I think it`s reasonable to assume that if as you`ve just indicated, if the president thought or if director Mueller thought the president was credible, he certainly would have said that.  He even commented about the credibility of Gates and Cohen, Michael Cohen saying after thorough vetting, he was able to find their testimony about WikiLeaks credible, but he wasn`t able to comment on the president`s credibility. 

O`DONNELL:  Bringing all of your years of law enforcement into what you heard yesterday, what is your assessment of the criminal liability of Donald Trump? 

DEMINGS:  You know, yesterday, Lawrence, was actually a very painful day.  You know, what we -- what Director Mueller confirmed is that Russia interfered.  The president didn`t seem to care much about that.  Matter of fact, he loved it and welcomed it and that he engaged in multiple instances of obstruction of justice to impede the investigation into Russia interference. 

The section about Don McGahn where the president repeatedly asked him to get rid of the special counsel and then called in multiple times asking him like a mobster if it had been done.  Yesterday was a painful day but it clearly indicates why director Mueller was unable to exonerate the president or find him innocent, basically, of any wrongdoing. 

O`DONNELL:  You brought up the point that with the written questions, they had follow-up questions after they had seen the answers, especially since the answers were incomplete.  Some of them they just didn`t answer at all, and then the president didn`t answer any follow-up questions. 

DEMINGS:  According to Director Mueller, he was strong there and said, you know, to a direct question, did he answer any of your follow up questions, no.  And if you read the president`s responses over 30 times, over 30 times the president said he did not recall or remember key instances or key conversations during the case.  So the president I clearly understand after listening to director Mueller why he was unable to exonerate the president. 

O`DONNELL:  And in your career in law enforcement, you`ve seen cases that are slam dunks.  You`ve seen cases that are close calls, not sure.  Should we charge?  Should we not charge?  What do we have here?  You`ve seen cases get dismissed in court.  You`ve -- and not been surprised and then sometimes surprised because you understand the various weights that evidence can have. 

What`s your assessment of the case against the president that Robert Mueller assembled in this report? 

DEMINGS:  Lawrence, when the report first came out and I had an opportunity to read it, and remember, as a member of both committees I`ve had an opportunity to read the unredacted version, as well.  But when I first read the redacted version, I was convinced then that the elements of multiple crimes was there and that we should have begun impeachment proceedings at that time.  Certainly after reading the unredacted version and just everything being topped off with Director Mueller confirming some very critical portions of the report, I have no doubt in my mind as a 27-year law enforcement officer, a police detective and police chief the president engaged in wrongdoing and were it not for the Department of Justice OLC opinion, he would have been indicted. 

O`DONNELL:  Is it only members of the Intelligence Committee who have been able to see the unredacted version? 

DEMINGS:  I can`t -- I`m not sure about that particular portion.  I believe there are some limited members of the judiciary like the chairman but I know members of the Intelligence Committee have been able to review it. 

O`DONNELL:  Can you give us some sense of how much more people would understand if they were able to see the unredacted version? 

DEMINGS:  Well, the unredacted version really has more to do with identifying information and sometimes when you know who is involved, it really helps you to better be able to piece the pieces of the puzzle together. 

O`DONNELL:  Would you say the unredacted version would add to possible impeachment charges against the president? 

DEMINGS:  Remember, I`ve thought for a long time for four months now there was plenty evidence in the redacted version to begin impeachment proceedings but every bit of information, every bit of evidence certainly helps us get to the point where we need to be.

  O`DONNELL:  Congressman Val Demings, thank you very much for leading us off tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

DEMINGS:  Thank you. 

O`DONNELL:  And the question that I was most looking forward to in yesterday`s hearing was asked by Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. 


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

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

MALONEY:  What did you think of the president`s written responses, Mr. Mueller? 

MUELLER:  Certainly not as useful as the interview would be. 

MALONEY:  By my count, there were more than 30 times when the president said he didn`t recall, he didn`t remember, no independent recollection, no current recollection and I take it by your answer it wasn`t as helpful.  That`s why you used words like incomplete, inprecise, inadequate, insufficient. 

Is that a fair summery of what you thought of the written answers? 

MUELLER:  That is a fair summery.  I have presumed that comes from the report. 

MALONEY:  Sir, I ask this respectfully, by the way, the president didn`t ever claim the Fifth Amendment, did he? 

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

MALONEY:  Nobody told you 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:  No, there is a balance.  In other words, how much evidence you have to 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 because of the length of time it would take to resolve the issues attending to that. 


O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.  He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, first of all, thank you very much for asking the question that I wanted to ask, but it was such an obvious question and I was sure someone would ask it.  Do you feel it was answered?  Do you feel you now know why they did not subpoena the president? 

MALONEY:  Yes, I sure wish they had, though.  I think it`s very important to listen to what the director said and what he said is -- by the way, they wrote this in appendix C and page 13 of volume 2, that they had significant and substantial evidence of the president`s intent to obstruct justice, and they said a bunch of cases where, it -- you know, those cases point out that you frequently show intent to obstruct justice without an interview of the investigation subject, that`s often how it works because people don`t admit they were trying to obstruct justice.  And in those cases, it`s more than enough to infer intent.

And when you say you have substantial and significant evidence of the president`s intent, my point was simply they are telling us on those pages that they thought they had enough. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and I had found that use of the word intent and I have to say it surprised me when I landed on that use of the word intent because how would you establish intent without talking to the witness but as you point out, they believe that they had so much information that it clarified intent, but, but, the report does not then say what the intent was and Robert Mueller didn`t say that yesterday. 

MALONEY:  Well, that`s because remember the special counsel is basically in a box.  He can`t prosecute the president and he said that fairness concerns would prevent him from accusing the president of a crime without giving the president the opportunity he would have to defend himself in a normal situation where he was charged with a crime. 

Therefore, this is the most you can do.  In other words, you can forgive the special counsel for laying it all out on ten different instances of obstruction saying he had sufficient evidence without an interview of the president`s intent, a key element and believing that the attorney general would care about that and wouldn`t lie about it to the American public or dissemble or hide it for weeks, and, by the way, that the Congress would care.  I think he told us everything he could tell us under the department`s rules and under the fairness concerns they were operating under. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, those department rules that prevented him from discussing deliberations.  That was an enormous thing to leave out, because you could have asked him about the discussions of the office about this decision to not issue the subpoena.  But what about the part of his answer where he said we basically just didn`t want to take the amount of time given that there was no time limit on the investigation, why would he be concerned about the amount of time it would take to enforce that subpoena? 

MALONEY:  Yes, I think that`s a hard question and I`m disappointed that they didn`t take that time.  I served in the White House when a president was put under oath for hours before a grand jury on videotape under oath and that was because the independent counsel had subpoenaed the president.  That was President Clinton, and that was the moment when the American public had to see him answering tough questions under oath. 

We should not have been deprived that moment of this president.  Donald Trump should have been put in a chair and asked tough questions and I regret that.  But I want to say that respectfully because I believe here the special counsel was telling us something important, which is that he had a -- he had substantial and significant evidence.  Those are his words of the president`s intent to obstruct justice and they lay it out chapter in verse and he was under constraints previous counsels were not under. 

So, in a sense, this is the best you were going to get. 

O`DONNELL: Yes, and he -- big distinction he was not an independent counsel like Kenneth Starr.  He was special counsel, and, unfortunately, for Robert Mueller and his team, that meant they could be fired at any time, and there was the president of the United States in effect publicly threatening to do that.  Then there comes a day in Don McGahn testimony where they discover the president has already a couple of times ordered Robert Mueller to be fired. 

And one of the questions I was wondering about which no one got to yesterday but maybe further investigation it will come out, was Robert Mueller or anyone in the Mueller team concerned, concerned about the possibility of being fired by the president and if they were concerned, did that affect the speed of their investigation?  Did that in effect speed them up?  Might that explain why Robert Mueller felt there was in effect a time limit with the threat of being fired by the president? 

MALONEY:  I suppose that`s possible and there was, remember, a brand-new attorney general coming online. 


MALONEY:  And worked for that attorney general as you point out so the attorney general was confirmed I believe in early March, I want to say and the report was done two or three weeks later.  So, I think there were definitely a lot of things coming together at that time frame but honestly, and again, respectfully of Mr. Mueller because I have enormous respect for him.  It was 16 months after his appointment that they got written answers and those written answers were by his own language incomplete, imprecise, inadequate and they were getting rope-a-dope by the president`s lawyers for months and months.  They had to know, they had to know they were never going to get anything truly useful out of the answers.

So, there was always going to have to be a subpoena and an in person interview.  I guarantee the president`s lawyers were surprised they didn`t have to give one of those, and I just think it`s one of the great missed opportunities of this investigation because we`ll never see this president sitting in a chair under oath answering the tough questions and I sure wish we had had that opportunity. 

O`DONNELL:  I could do this with you all night.  The one other point I`d make, Robert Mueller specifically did not answer the question of which was president going to invoke the Fifth Amendment.  So if they had a Fifth Amendment conversation and Mueller and company knew that even if they enforced subpoena, Donald Trump will sit there and take the Fifth Amendment to everyone question, that could be another reason not to do it. 

But so much more investigative work for you to do this. 

MALONEY:  Well, there are some serious unanswered questions and I think it definitely under scores the role that Congress needs to play given the constraints the special counsel is under.  We`ve got work to do. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, very good work yesterday, thank you for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

MALONEY:  My pleasure. 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, we`re going to follow up on something that Jill Wine Banks said on this program last night, something that never occurred to me and I felt stupid when I heard her say it because I felt it should have occurred to me.  I didn`t give it enough air last night.  And so, tonight, we`re going to get a second opinion, a second legal opinion from Neal Katyal on ho president actually can be indicted even though the Justice Department has a policy against indicting the president. 



MUELLER:  We at the outset determined that we -- when it came to the president`s culpability, we needed to, we needed to go forward only after taking into account the OLC opinion that indicated that a president, a sitting president cannot be indicted. 


O`DONNELL:  That was in the judiciary committee hearing yesterday.  Later in that same hearing, Republican Congressman Ken Buck asked a question everyone knew the answer to and it was not a question comforting to Donald Trump. 


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


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



O`DONNELL:  Last night at this hour, a former Watergate assistant special prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks made a point about indicting a president that had not occurred to me. 


JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  The evidence of all the elements of the crime has been established 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 change it.  It may take a state prosecutor indicting the president to take it to the Supreme Court for a decision and whether you can cover up your own crime and get away with it. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, state prosecutor could get around that Justice Department rule. 


O`DONNELL:  And joining us our discussion now is Neal Katyal, the former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and MSNBC legal contributor.

And, Neal, if a state prosecutor were to indict the president and the president were to appeal the constitutionality of that indictment all the way to the United States Supreme Court and that state got Neal Katyal to argue the case, could you argue it?  How would it go? 

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes, I think you could argue it.  Both of the clips you just showed, Lawrence, are right, Congressman Buck is absolutely right, on January 21st, 2020, President Trump assuming he loses, he will not have immunity from prosecution at the federal level.  So that`s one route, January 21st. 

The second route as Jill Wine-Banks points out is that state prosecutors could still indict.  Now, there is this Office of Legal Counsel opinion that is being talked about that Mueller is talking about.  That`s a federal opinion.  That`s about federal prosecutions but in our constitutional system, we also have a separate set of prosecutors, state prosecutors and they aren`t bound in any way, shape or form by the office of legal opinion. 

Now, I expect the president were he indicted by a state prosecutor to make the same kinds of arguments that he`s been making all along, he`s immune, he`s the king and so on, and I think that those arguments will get somewhere when it comes to the trial of a sitting president.  But I don`t think it`s going to get to the indictment part, that is I think that the best arguments in terms of constitutional law say you can indict a sitting president at the state level.  You may not be able to try them for I think important reasons like 1861, I don`t think you`d want South Carolina to be able to force Abraham Lincoln and haul him in to court to face a criminal trial because after all, he has the nation`s business to attend to and a war to prosecute. 

But I think the indictment could happen and so I suspect if there are state charges that are viable, that those can and will be brought against the president. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to another point raised by Mike Quigley yesterday. 


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL):  What if a president serves beyond the statute of limitations? 

MUELLER:  I don`t know the answer to that one. 

QUIGLEY:  Would it not indicate that if the statute of limitations on federal crime such as this are five years, that a president who serves his second term is therefore under the policy above the law?

MUELLER:  I`m not certain I would agree -- I`m not certain I would agree with the conclusion.  I`m not certain that I can see the possibility that you suggest. 


O`DONNELL:  Neal, what`s the answer? 

KATYAL:  So, I think two things.  Number one, I think the interchange shows one of the main reasons Trump wants a second term is to extend his get out of jail free card, that Office of Legal Counsel opinion, but the Office of Legal Counsel opinion has in it that says the statute of limitations would be automatically told that is held in advance so you can still indict him afterwards if he were to win a second term.  So, that`s number one. 

Number two, Lawrence, this goes to the fund mental problem with this administration, which is they are totally lawless.  This president is saying and thumbing his nose at the Congress and courts and saying I don`t need to show up to be interviewed by Mueller.  I don`t need to give him answers even though there is damming evidence against him. 

I don`t need -- you know McGahn, as you were talking about the start of the show, doesn`t - his top lawyer, doesn`t need to show up even though there`s a subpoena against him and things like that.

And this is the culmination of that whole line of thinking. "I am effectively the King. You can`t indict me and I have such immunity that I can outrun the Statute of Limitations." I mean I can`t imagine what our founders of our great government would have thought about a President making such ridiculous, anti-constitutional assertions.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us.

KATYAL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Appreciate it. And when we come back, it is a routine stop for presidential candidates to go to the NAACP Convention, but not Donald Trump. But there is another Republican presidential candidate who did go to the NAACP Convention yesterday. That candidate will join us.


O`DONNELL: During the Mueller hearings yesterday some of the Democratic presidential candidates were in Detroit at the annual NAACP Convention.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is an inflection moment in the history of our country. It is a moment in time where we are being required to look in a mirror and ask a question. That question being who are we?

JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven`t been afraid to be bold and fearless in the face of a President who is the biggest identity politician to come along in the last 50 years, trying to divide us along racial and ethnic and religious lines.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a President who is a racist, a President who is a pathological liar and a President who is trying to divide the American people up based on the color of their skin, where they were born or their religion.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s a lot at stake. We`re really in a battle for the soul of the country right now and we have a President who has done everything to divide us, to split us apart, and this is not who we are as a nation.


O`DONNELL: The NAACP Convention is a routine stop for presidential candidates, including Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and John McCain both spoke at the NAACP Convention when they were running for President.

But Donald Trump, of course, refused an invitation to speak at the NAACP Convention when he was running for President in 2016 and he refused again this year. But the other Republican running for President - yes, there is another Republican running for President, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld did accept an invitation to speak at the NAACP Convention yesterday.

Bill Weld is the only Republican, as of now, who is challenging Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2020 Republican primaries. Here is how the only Republican presidential candidate who appeared at the NAACP Convention yesterday began his remarks.


BILL WELD (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, everybody. My name is Bill Weld and I`m already running against Donald Trump in the Republican primaries. So let`s get one thing out of the way right at the beginning. Donald Trump is a raging racist, OK. He`s a complete and thorough going racist.


O`DONNELL: Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld joins us next.


O`DONNELL: Here is former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, now a Republican presidential candidate for President at the NAACP Convention yesterday.


WELD: Unless the Republican Party in Washington expressly - expressly rejects the racism of Donald Trump, they`re going to come to be universally viewed as the party of racism in America.


O`DONNELL: And Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld joins us now. Thank you very much for joining us tonight Governor, really appreciate it.

WELD: Lawrence, always a pleasure. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Tell us more about your appearance at the NAACP Convention. Why you thought that was an important stop for you as a Republican candidate and what - we just showed little clips of what you had to say. What was your basic message there?

WELD: Yes, I was making the point Lawrence. That if the Republican Party doesn`t distance itself from the unbelievably overt racism of President Trump, it`s going to be stigmatized throughout the country as the party of racism, and they`re not going to be a national party anymore.

They may be able to win the states that the Dixiecrats won in 1948 and that George Wallace won in 1968, but a national party, not so much. So that`s a message I wanted to deliver to the Republicans.

You know, I said that the President made the choice to be a racist a long time ago when he boasted - when he was in the housing business with his father, we have ways to keep people like them - meaning people of color, out of our projects.

But now the Republican Party has a choice. They act like they think sometimes it`s a political choice. It`s not a political choice, it`s a moral choice and they`re going to be judged by the results of that choice.

O`DONNELL: You know, I think, some viewers around the country now having heard what they have heard and silences that they`ve heard from Republicans over the last several years about these kinds of issues, might be surprised to hear a Republican talking this way.

But what I`m hearing is what I would call an Ed Brooke Republican. When you and I were still in school in Boston, Ed Brooke was the Republican senator from Massachusetts--

WELD: Sure.

O`DONNELL: --the only African-American member of the United States Senate at the time. And so I don`t find this at all surprising in the history of Massachusetts republicanism.

WELD: Well, yes, and we were the party of Lincoln and - you know, I think it`s Donald Trump who`s the rhino. He`s the guy who`s a Republican in name only.

The best traditions of the party, including you know the abolition of slavery and conservation movement - environmental conservation, that`s conservative, fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget like everybody in the country has to do, except for the federal government. That`s a Republican tradition.

A strong foreign policy, not isolationist, that`s a Republican policy. Free trade has been a Republican policy. It`s Donald Trump who`s the odd man out on all these finest traditions of the Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: Let me talk about another Republican who we saw yesterday and that`s Robert Mueller testifying to the House Representatives. You worked with Robert Mueller in the Justice Department. You were actually his boss, I presumed, you taught him everything he knows.

WELD: He taught me. He taught me.

O`DONNELL: And also think of you as a Mueller Republican and I think that`s a label you`d be proud of. What was your reaction to Bob Mueller`s testimony yesterday.

WELD: Well, I think, he confirmed what we all knew that there`s an overwhelming case of obstruction of justice in Volume 2 of the Mueller report. Myself - if I`d had that case, I would have charged the President.

You know this Office of Legal Counsel opinions that everyone`s pointing to, they`re not like a judicial opinion, they don`t have the same force of law. The Office of Legal Counsel, Assistant Attorney General is the lawyer for the President and the lawyer for the Attorney General. Those are his or her only two clients.

So it`s almost like citing a brief instead of a judicial opinion to cite that Office of Legal Counsel opinion as the basis for not indicting a President. I think you could have charged him and suspended and sealed the indictment so that the Statute of Limitations would not run out.


WELD: I would have if I`d had that case.

O`DONNELL: OK. And I want to get another reaction for you and that is the Republican Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell would not bring to a vote or debate in the Senate this week, legislation about election security.

In the face of all of this testimony that we`re getting and all the evidence in the Mueller report that we need election security to defend against the Russian attack. And Republican Leader of the Senate wouldn`t even allow debate on it.

WELD: Yes, I thought that was extraordinarily unfortunate timing for Mitch. I mean, the one thing that Bob Mueller did do handsprings on was he said, "Look, this Russian interference was real and it went on and on and it`s going on right now. And it`s the most serious thing I`ve ever seen in my life", that`s Bob Mueller talking.

And you know the bill that is getting bottled up, is a bill that would simply say that when election officials see evidence of foreign tampering foreign efforts to tamper with the election, they should report it to federal authorities who obviously have superior investigative capability.

And now we know the Russians aimed to target at all 50 states and that they got their hands into the Illinois database. Well, they could easily delete precincts where they thought there were minority voters, if they wanted to say favor Mr. Trump in the next election.

Or they could just say, well, we were all over this election, these states that President Trump lost, there by casting into doubt the election results. And that the President joked during the 2016 campaign that if he lost, he was going to say the election was rigged.

Well, I`m not sure, that`s entirely a joke. It`s like he I`m talking about wouldn`t it be nice to have a third term. You know, I don`t think that`s really a joke. I think that`s what he`d really love to have.

O`DONNELL: Bill Weld, Republican presidential candidate thank you for joining us once again tonight, really appreciate it.

WELD: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Joyce Vance will join us to talk about what she thinks, what she`s identified in the new article as the most important question and the most important answer in the Mueller testimony yesterday.


O`DONNELL: OK. As promised at the beginning of this hour it`s time for Joyce Vance`s most important question and answer of the Mueller hearings. In an important new article for "Time Magazine", former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance has identified a question that she says perfectly links Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Mueller report.

She`ll explain that link in a moment. But first here is congressman Val Demings asking what Joyce Vance thinks is the most important question in the hearings.




O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance is with us, but to give her enough time to explain the importance of what you just saw, we`re going to try to - we`re squeeze in a final commercial break right here, because I don`t want to do that in the middle of what Joyce has to say. And Joyce hold on, Joyce will tell us what is so important about that question and an answer you just saw right after this break.


O`DONNELL: And we are back with the cliffhanger former U.S. attorney and MSNBC Legal Analyst, Joyce Vance. Joyce let`s take another look at the short version of the question and answer that you found so important yesterday.




O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance you have the floor, why was so important?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It seems to me Lawrence that this is the linkage of Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Mueller report. We`re used to looking at them separately. Yesterday we had two separate hearings.

But it`s important I think that we understand - and Mueller made it clear that we needed to understand that the obstruction ultimately impacted their inability to charge a conspiracy or other crimes related to connections between the campaign and Russia.

And that its ultimately that obstruction of justice, not just from the President, but also from people around him, people who Mueller and the report tells us, didn`t tell the whole truth, lied, destroyed evidence. It`s that obstructive behavior by an entire circle of people that ultimately serves to keep the American people in the dark about what happened.

O`DONNELL: And so in Volume 1, when we get to the phrase "Insufficient Evidence", this is part of how we got to that phrase "Insufficient Evidence".

VANCE: You know, it is - and Mueller clarifies that. He says, we believe that we have the full story. But because there are gaps in our evidence, it is possible that if we had more information, if some of these folks had told the truth, that we would cast the evidence that we have in a new light. That we would view these differently or maybe in a completely new light.

And that, I think, is something that we should all understand is the risk here. That when people obstruct justice, it keeps prosecutors from getting to the full truth. And when we are talking about the President of the United States, engaging in a pattern of relationship of behavior with Russia, it is very dangerous for us to not know the truth.

O`DONNELL: And Joyce, Robert Mueller seems to think - seem to suggest there was a lot of lying that they were aware of and different grades of it, all the way to outright liar. Outright liar, we can presume, I guess, Michael Flynn, he got charged with that as a crime.

But there aren`t - it seems as though there aren`t as any perjury charges as you might expect from a prosecutors who is saying we dealt with all of this lying.

VANCE: Perjury is different from having witnesses come and lie to you. Because it`s a legal charge, it requires you prove intent, it requires that you prove the materiality of what you are being told.

And here we have witnesses who came in and perhaps told lies or told half- truths in a posture where it wasn`t possible, feasible, desirable for prosecutors to spend all of their time on that and yet it impeded the investigations.

We saw charges in the most important cases involving lies. But I think we really don`t know - we know, because Mueller tells Congresswoman Demings that it did impact the investigation. What we don`t know is how much, how pervasive it was.

O`DONNELL: It`s very clear that Donald Trump is trying to impede the investigation. He is trying to stop the investigation. He is trying to fire Robert Mueller and it could be that the drama of that, as it unfolds in the reading of the report, casts such a shadow that people don`t notice, all of this other lying that Robert Mueller says was impeding their investigation.

VANCE: I think that that`s the risk here. We really don`t know the answer to that ultimate question - was there a conspiracy? And we don`t know because they`re so successful of obstruction. That`s a dangerous place for us to be.

O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance. Your article is at Everyone should grab it. Joyce Vance, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Joyce Vance gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.