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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  March 26, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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as a person. find the policy you are willing to lose your seat over. have an answer to the question what would you not do to win re-election. if you hold on to that one defining point about yourself, if you always know the lines you will not cross to win re-election, then your family, your friends, will always recognize the person they knew before you became a politician. that's tonight's last word, the 11th hour with brian williams starts now. tonight the drum beat to release the mueller report. justice says it will be weeks not months until americans see what robert mueller found and wrote about. 8 in 10 americans want to see it. james comey's first public comments on the barr letter, a
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reporter at the event tonight standing by. and after his victory lap on collusion. one official joked to a new york times reporter, too much positive news, we needed to change the subject. the 11th hour getting underway on a tuesday night. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 796 of the trump administration, and as congress tries to get its hands on the mueller report, we're learning more about when some version of it may be made public and it's another necessary reminder. what people are reacting to this week on both sides is not the mueller report. but rather a four-page letter summarizing it by the attorney general. a justice department official told nbc news the attorney
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general will make a version of the report publicly available in weeks not months. the official already said there are no plans to give a copy of the report to the white house in advance, earlier today, senate judiciary chairman lindsey graham of south carolina told reporters he could talk to barr as early as tonight about a process on how to proceed with releasing the report. this as president trump visited capitol hill today. according to senators who were in attendance and emboldened an exuberant trump took a victory lap over barr's summary before lunch. trump was asked about his recent comments on the people who launched the russia investigation. >> do you think the people who launched the investigation into your campaign of treasonous acts? >> yeah. >> how high up do you think it went? >> i think it went very high up, i think what happened is a disgrace. i don't believe our country
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should allow this to happen again. this cannot happen again. it went very high up and it started fairly low, with instructions from the high up. >> the west wing of the obama white house -- >> i don't want to say that, but i think you know the answer. >> george conway, who again happens to be married to kellyanne conway wrote an op ed about barr's summary, conway points out that mueller did not exonerate trump on obstruction and adds, "mueller isn't prone to cheap shots, he plays by the rules every step of the way. if his report doesn't exonerate the president there must be something pretty damning in it about him. even if it might not suffice to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. earlier today jeremy bash laid out his thoughts when it comes to attorney general barr's summary on conspiracy. >> i accept bob mueller's
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conclusion that no federal criminal law was broken by the president's own conduct. let's review that conduct. the president requested russian assistance, he benefited from russian assistance and he rewarded russian assistance. maybe if you request a guy to rob a bank and then you -- the guy robs a bank, and you get the money. you reward that guy, and maybe that's not conspiracy. i don't know. >> our next guest peter baker of the new york times writes, mueller's investigation has erased a line drawn decades ago, after watergate it was unthinkable a president would fire an fbi director who was investigating him or his associates. or force out an attorney general for failing to protect him from an investigation. or dangle pardons from potential witnesses against him. the end of the inquiry by robert mueller made clear that president trump had successfully thrown out the unwritten rules that had bound the other chief executives in the 45 years since
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richard nixon resigned under fire, effectively expanding presidential power in a dramatic way. with that, let us bring in our lead off guest for a tuesday night. julia ainsley, peter baker, and robert costa, a national political reporter for the washington post, also happens to be moderator of washington week on pbs. i'd like to begin with you, because of where you are, charlotte, north carolina, where tonight you attended an event -- james comey appeared at which also became his first reaction to what we've seen of the barr letter summation of the mueller report, and what was it? >> well, that's right, brian, i mean, it's not that james comey has ever been short on words since he left his post. tonight was the first night he's spoken publicly since barr's summary of the mueller report. we had a lot of questions, i
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wanted to know what he made of this, considering it was under his per view that this probe was open in the first place, he spoke to a crowd of over 2,000 at an event sponsored by queen's college. only one question dealt with the news of the day, about his reaction, to barr's letter, what he said, is that he was confused, he was confused by two things, one is that robert mueller did not make a decision on obstruction, he said the very reason a special counsel is appointed is to take those charging decisions out of the hands of political appointees, he thought with more coming to light, if there's more transparency into mueller's report, we may understand why he made that decision. then he doesn't understand why the attorney general decided to weigh the fact that there was no underlying crime, when he decided not to pursue obstruction charges. the thing he did not say, brian, is -- he was not critical of the attorney general for weighing in at all, i wonder if that is in part to protect himself because as we know, comey was under
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criticism for perhaps weighing into an area where he shouldn't have, when he came out and talked about hillary clinton not being under investigation, and reopening the investigation shortly before the election. i thought that was an interesting piece he did not pick up on. he said he was glad that the report was done, that robert mueller was able to do his work, he said it should be good news for the american people. he wanted to point out that he did not have an outcome that he desired, that he wanted the work to be done. >> and peter baker, your piece in tonight's times clearly labelled news analysis goes into the breakage of norms. which norms specifically, and those unforeseen by the reges that governed mueller's appointment and behavior? >> that's exactly right. what we already know about the question of obstruction has been out in front of us, and in our faces, you know, the president did fire jim comey after not getting the answers he wanted.
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he did fire attorney general jeff sessions because he was mad that sessions recused himself from the russia investigation and couldn't protect him. he left open the possibility of pardons even as people were being brought to testify against him. all of these acts, his defenders say are perfectly legitimate because they are within the scope of his executive power. therefore, you cannot interpret them as obstruction of justice, he's under the constitution's article two, he cannot be questioned in the use of that authority. and in effect, robert mueller may or may not agree with that, the net result of not finding that there is obstruction out of these, is to say that there's not obstruction, that means that lines the other presidents had observed since watergate worried they would be perceived anyway as being obstructed. now have been moved, i think future presidents will take note of that. >> you are notoriously well sourced, especially among republicans on the hill. i know the president had lunch
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among republicans on the hill, give us some flavor if you're able to, from that event, starting with, from whom did the invitation originate? >> the invitation in essence is always open for president trump to visit senate republicans. it was not expected for him to visit today. they told me the president wanted to take a victory lap of sorts and visit the capitol, talk to republican colleagues. they were taken aback by the president's decision along with his administration, to pursue changes to the affordable care act so soon after this report finished by robert mueller, and the attorney general made his summary, they thought the president should not move toward maybe considering a second special counsel to investigate the justice department. as much as the president and some of hips top allies inside and outside the white house are seeking vengeance against
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perceived rivals, they're telling him behind the scenes, take this victory politically, and move on. >> julia ainsley, you are notoriously well sourced at the justice department, and have spent enough time there of late, to have your mail forwarded. what are you learning, if anything that may describe the contours of this mueller report when we see it? vo luminous? are we talking about tens of pages, hundreds, how much redactions can you shed any light on it at all? >> that quantity is something i've been pressing on for some time. even before we saw the summary or even before the report was delivered. i tried to figure out what exactly we're talking about, and yesterday i was talking to a department of justice official where with i said, are we talking tens, hundreds, thousands, they wouldn't get into how long the mueller report was, when we might see barr's version of this, weeks, months or a year. certainly not a year. as of today, we know it will be
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weeks not months. so i think that gives us some idea of what they're combing through. but i do think they should give us an outline of how much material there is, because then we'll know how much it's filtered. the other thing that keeps being emphasized to me, it's not just up to the attorney general when and how much we see, robert mueller is not done with his job, he needs to go through and identify what's known as 6-e material. material that is privileged because it's grand jury testimony. the way our laws work, is that if you testify before a grand jury, what you say there is protected. that's why it's a closed door testimony. how much information is in the mueller report that is needed for other investigations. you can't give away information that is critical for other prosecutors in a different district when they're trying to build their case. right now, barr is working with rosenstein and robert mueller to come up with this, it's emphasized to me a lot, we
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shouldn't just see this through barr's filter, because of the position he was in on the obstruction question, he's been placed there already. in a lot of people's minds. >> peter baker, equally notoriously well sourced at the white house. does president trump and the folks around him, do they view this as the time to make hey while the sun shines? because this is the interim, it's hard to prove or disprove anything in the mueller report that wasn't talked about, and all we have to go on which is a four-page letter after all. >> they're making a lot out of what would amount to a couple sentences, quoted by attorney general barr in his letter. they are important sentences, they are the bottom line as far as we understand, which is to say that the mueller investigation found no conspiracy sir with russia. it chose not to make a decision on obstruction of justice. when we see this report, and we don't know when it will be, i thought weeks, not months is one thing, that also means weeks not
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days. six house committee chairman sent a letter demanding the report be delivered to them by next tuesday. we're about to have a collision at some point it seems like, between the justice department and the democrats in the house. once we see it, it may be that robert mueller lays out a damning portrayal of actions that may be questionable or criticizable but not criminal in his mind. we do not know that, we don't know this is a clean bill of health, we know there's not going to be an indictment out of it. the white house is going to fill that vacuum and make sure that's cemented as the main takeaway from the support in advance of the text being examined by the public. >> robert? >> when you look at the news on capitol hill today, was the president's visit the headline? yes, it was. but there was another big headline, speaker pelosi urging her party to hold off on impeachment proceedings to push for a full release of the mueller report, and to pressure the attorney general to share more with the congress and with the public, but this is a
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speaker taking the lead and taking command of her party, setting the pace for her own party's presidential field as well, to talk about health care, jobs, the economy. to move away from a focus on russia and a focus even on the president's conduct. even as they push the attorney general to do more. >> help me out on something else, i need you to be the trump whisperer, very little of what he says is said by accident. especially if it's a repeated talking point, this is now 2 or 3 days we've heard him say, no president should ever have to go through this again. and it really gets your notice. i've read that it could be a precursor of an executive privilege argument, of a pardons argument or an argument to change future prosecutor reges. >> it has people inside of the department of justice on edge. the president is not prepared at this moment talking to his confidants to walk away from a
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battle with doj, and he believes that his allies on capitol hill, such as mark meadows of north carolina, and others like that are prepared to try to investigate the origins again of the russia investigation to go back to the department of justice, to people like james comey, maybe bring them back to capitol hill. for many republicans, close to the president, this is the path to a victory in 2020. to not let this rest, to put this on the democrats again and again, and frame what has happened over the past two years in deeply partisan terms. >> from charlotte to washington tonight. our thanks to julia ainsley, peter baker, robert costa, for starting off our broadcast in such fine fashion. coming up for us, as trump enjoys his victory lap, others warn he isn't in the clear just yet. two veteran federal prosecutors who worked for that office still investigating the president, join us next. and later, the 2020 gift the democrats say the republicans
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new reporting from nbc news today revealing president trump's lawyers were worried about obstruction and not so much collusion during mueller's investigation. our own ken dilanian reports that by last april, mueller's team rarely asked probing questions about russia. instead, the special counsel's office wanted to know what was
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in trump's head when he fired james comey and what his intent was when he denounced the russia investigation on twitter. to find that out, mueller's team wanted to interview trump. trump's legal team resisted without ever saying no. and the subpoena never materialized. here to talk with us about it tonight. two former assistant attorneys for the southern district of new york. maya and jessica. welcome to you both. the trump lawyers worried more about obstruction. we learned tonight comey is confus confused, are you confused about what we know about mueller's work product and the decisions or nondecisions he came to. >> i find the part of the barr letter summarizing the mueller report on the obstruction question to be the most
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confusing part of the letter, and i find two parts of it confusing. mueller's apparent nondecision about whether to recommend a charge of obstruction of justice. the second part is barr's decision to make a decision. mueller having said, i'm not going to decide one way or the other. both parts of that are confusing to me, the first part, because mueller was appointed to make the prosecutorial decisions in the first instance in this case. that was his mandate. he didn't do it here, and we don't know why, instead, he according to barr, laid out the evidence on one side or the other. and the legal arguments on one side or the other. they might well decline to bring the charge and say so, they also could decline to bring a charge, because they think it's not at the end of the day, and the federal interest to do so, especially if it's a potentially weak case, and we have a sitting president, and also if there are
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other avenues or remedies available to address the conduct for example here, possible impeachment. all of those things, insufficient evidence, novel legal theory, another remedy, could have been cited by mueller as a reason to decline to charge. he could have said that. he didn't do that. it's a big question mark about why he decided not to decide. and then on barr's decision to step in and say, i find that there was not obstruction of the justice, we just need more again to decide why he did that. especially given that he is a recent political appointee, who authored a memo, before he was appointed to this precise job. on this precise legal question. you could not have more perfect overlap between this final critical question that mueller was facing and what barr wrote about in that memo right before he was appointed for this position. that to me is tragic, the whole point of appointing a special counsel is to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. and now we have precisely that
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issue. >> what confuses you about all this, maya? >> i feel like i could say ditto. she did a quite comprehensive job, and i agree. so i will zoom in to the part of that discussion of obstruction in the barr letter where he literally lists as one of the reasons why he and rod rosenstein as he states in the letter, decided not to make a finding around obstruction. being that they did not find -- establish -- i'm going to use mueller's language that's quoted in the barr letter, evidence sufficient to establish whether there was conspiracy or coordination with russia, as if you needed to find that in order to have obstruction of justice. you don't. so the fact that he even references something that is not a legal requirement to determine whether there was obstruction of
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justice as at least one of the reasons why he is suggesting that they didn't think they could find it. that in and of itself is confounding. that's confusing. i think it raises -- going back to jessica's other point. it goes back to this central point about the american public's ability to understand what the evidence showed for themselves. because at the end of this, what we most need is to understand who has operated, how, and make our own judgments as citizens about our leaders. >> we just want to see it, you or i may not have the same reaction, you bring a lot more knowledge to it than i do. i want to show you both what happened tonight. one item of news, senator graham has had dinner with the attorney general tonight and they had this initial discussion about how and when to release the report. this interplay with rudy
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giuliani took place in the last hour on fox news. >> well, the president said the report couldn't have been better, do you agree with that. the report couldn't have been better -- >> i probably did 100 of those declanation letters, with that slight little -- i can't exonerate him, but i can't charge him. you're not supposed to say that in the letter. >> why did he? >> i think -- i think there are two sides of mueller, there's the good guy side and the wiseman side, i think wiseman won a few of the battles. i do think it's pathetic that mueller couldn't make up his mind. >> use the word pathetic. is that good lawyering? at some point we're going to hear from bob mueller. >> unfortunately for rudy giuliani's legacy as an attorney. he's had several moments in the past year that weren't exactly pillars of good lawyering, it's also just not professionally done. we don't do name calls even for
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people who are on the other side of any of our cases, it's not how we operate. it's never been how we operate. it's not who we are. the idea that he is suggesting that somehow robert mueller -- i mean, what robert mueller did -- >> was affected by someone. >> was affected by someone. robert mueller? who is he talking about here? but also that's sort of what robert mueller did, was be influenced and make a decision. what robert mueller did, if we can understand -- as i read barr's letter, is what he did is said, this is a tough one. i'm actually going to pun the and leave it to you. not that he essentially did what rudy giuliani is describing, but that's just spin. >> jessica, is it just smart to speak the rudy was speaking tonight? >> no, it's unprofessional. it's also wrong. >> we're in an interim here, we
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just don't know what's in the report. >> no, we don't know what's in the report i believe we will relatively soon. >> i do believe that we will get a lot of the material at some point relatively soon. and we'll have more context to evaluate this decision or nondecision by robert mueller. >> thank you for coming by. message that trump issued in the halls of congress today. that could end up helping the other side in 2020. we have a lot more to tell you about when we come back.
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and preparing a go kit, in case you need to get out quickly. for more information on how to be prepared and keep your family safe, visit pge.com/safety. let me just tell you exactly what my message is. the republican party will soon be known as the party of health care, you watch. >> to that point right there, coming off arguably what were two of the more positive news days of his presidency. the trump administration surprised a lot of people today, even folks within the home team, with a move to obliterate obamacare. parts of the law were unconstitutional but with a two sentence letter released in the dead of night, the doj declared the whole thing should be thrown out. if successful, over 20 million
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people will lose their health care politico characterized the move as a gift to the democrats. phil bump offered this, it's hard to overstate what a strange political decision this is for trump. he's up for re-election next year, and as he showed in 2016, understands that health care coverage is an important issue to voters. but according to the daily beast, over the past 24 hours, republican officials have watched in horror as the trump administration fully embraced the repeal of obamacare. here with us to talk about it, kelsey snell. congressional reporter for npr. and we're happy to introduce to our audience politics reporter for axios. factoring in the real chance of democratic overreach i want to show what what maggie haber man
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showed us at the top of our broadcast. why the aca suit would be filed on this day we needed to change the subject. is this the gift to the democrats it appears to be? >> it absolutely is. democrats basically say they won the house in 2018 by presenting voters with a binary choice. democrats said they were the party protecting pre-existing conditions and republicans were the ones that wanted to take all that away. the president with this change in legal strategy is essentially saying, yes, that is the party that i want this party to be, i want to bring back the conversation about health care, and make it easier for democrats to set that message going into 2020. the democrats are all too happy to take that as an alternative about the mueller report and the
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ways that didn't meet their expectations. >> trump quoting a fox news poll, he's under water, and then there's the library of comments that president trump has given us on this topic, let's listen to that, we'll discuss it on the other side. >> we set up some incredible health care programs that are far better than obamacare and a lot less expensive. >> republicans will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions. we're doing it. republicans will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions, please remember that. republicans will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions. i wish people would get that into their heads. >> we're going to have another exciting news conference over the next three weeks, four weeks, two weeks? what do you think? on health care. we have great health care.
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>> what do you think is going on here? >> i think it is a really strange political strategy, except for the three clips you showed in a row, in which it was just a couple days before the november 2018 midterm elections, it was a last ditch effort by many congressional republicans running in competitive races around the country were saying, oh, we're going to protect people with pre-existing conditions, we've got this, we are the party of health care, and now you hear trump saying that again, which is a ridiculous claim to make. we know the republican party is nothing more than the party of donald trump right now. if he decides he wants to repeal health care at a time when democrats are calling for universal health care. that presents a binary choice to voters in 2020. maybe there are new answered disagreements among democratic candidates running for president, about how they will achieve universal health care,
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i'm choosing between health care and no health care. and that is something donald trump is owning by himself as the daily beast article you mentioned earlier. as he's making this executive decision with no plan for a replacement. >> as you reminded us today, i heard you say it, this could go away, because after all what about the middle class tax cut promised days before the midterms? >> yes. yes. i'm glad you brought that up, we've seen this time and again. there's a clear pattern of behavior with donald trump, that for the republicans, unfortunately, trickles down to them in congress, where they have to explain these things or skpaning on these things, whether that's now repealing obamacare or the affordable care act. or saying, the week before the midterms that he's going to have a middle class tax cut after report after report came out showing the gop tax law is not helping those middle class voters or those rural voters that supported donald trump and
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carried him to the white house in 2016 in the way he promised them. doing something like health care which is a top issue polling consistently among voters, it's also something i was reminded today, democrats spent half of their advertisement money on health care messages in the 2018 midterm elections. this is a huge issue for both parties, the president is simply ripping it away from republicans, not just himself running in the presidential re-election, but republican candidates up and down the ticket who are running, and who are going to have to address this issue for themselves. >> kelsey, i was also reminded, politicians don't tend to be subtle and they tend to be lousy actors. nancy pelosi saying to the washington post reporter, this is news, when she made her last statement on impeachment. well now -- and i'm paraphrasing, all the democrats are about how this is just about issues for the american people and we're not anxious to talk about the mueller report. that's been a switch in two
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days. >> it has, and it's something they really decided in meeting yesterday behind closed doors, it's this weekly leadership meeting pelosi holds she walked in the door and said, okay, we're getting back to basics, and basics for democrats. we saw it play out in the press conferences -- basics for them are talking about health care, their anti-corruption and ethics legislation they're working on. and infrastructure. those are the things they want to talk about, they want to talk about going back to kitchen table issues. they think that voters didn't care about russia to begin with, and they got sidetracked. they want to reclaim the way they're talking about everything going-forward. they want it to be about setting up policy decisions, making voters choose between president trump and what he wants to do on trade, on infrastructure, health care, versus democrats, they
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think they win in these spaces where they talk about policy. and whether or not that actually plays out in a senate race or a presidential race which is really different than the politics of house races. which they were running to get the vol they have in washington now, that's yet to be seen. this seems to be the way pelosi wants to push the conversation going-forward. >> let's have this conversation again. our thanks to kelsey and alexi. a veteran of republican politics, what he makes of this moment we're in right now. ♪ be right back. with moderate to severe crohn's disease, i was there, just not always where i needed to be. is she alright? i hope so. so i talked to my doctor about humira.
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the report. >> i think the report needs to be made public. >> i would like as much as possible of the mueller report to be open. >> it's really important that this report be made public. >> i want everything mueller said to be made public. >> i told the house, if you want it, let them see it. >> as that political ad makes clear, democrats are not the only ones who have called for the full mueller report to be made public, back on the broadcast again, we're so happy to have bill crystal with us. the group that put out that ad, watching lauren ingram which i try to do as part of a balanced cable network diet. are you surprised at the reaction to a four-page letter,
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which is all we're going on, and secondly are you surprised by the apparent choices or nonchoices that mueller made? >> i mean, on mueller, i think we don't know enough, i'm not so surprised. if you can't indict the president anyway. you in a way melee out the arguments. and see if there's something to impeach on. let people make their own judgment. the striking thing is that the attorney general decided to give us his opinion in those two paragraphs that he didn't think an obstruction case could be made. that's really based on what? barr hasn't looked at all the evidence. he knew about this for the last couple weeks, maybe he took a few days and looked at the report. that doesn't strike me as professional -- an entirely professional way to go about it. i have a real problem with the
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barr letter. we need to see the mueller report. and the premature victory laps, the gloating, they are the most sore winners in the world. you know, if they -- they claim to have won, they claim this is a huge victory. vindication, exoneration, all they are when you look on line, they're bitter and angry. there was a meeting at the trump tower and they lied about it. and there was some follow-up. maybe it didn't amount as mueller said, to providing evidence that would allow you to bring a conspiracy charge, the idea that it was ridiculous for the media to look into this, into what manafort did, that's equally ridiculous. >> a lot of people are out there with a lot of charges and quotes that don't look good in the light of day. based on barr's letter. but no one has answered to anyone's satisfaction, then why all the lying on a single topic? >> i really think that's right.
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iran contra, was that an illegitimate investigation? president reagan survived it. it was normal to look into something that was clearly irregular. and which was a serious breach of the norms of the way foreign policy should be made. this was a more serious breach, i think. so very -- an important investigation which we defended against president interrupt. and against a lot of his cheerleaders who now are sort of using it to declare exoneration. i am struck by the tone with which they're now behaving. there's something about trumpism that really -- it makes our politics even more -- clearly more bitter, more angry, more vindictive than -- politics will always have some of that. a healthy politics keeps that in check. especially at a moment like this, i don't remember what president reagan said exactly.
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even what bill clinton said after impeachment. he thought it was unjust that he had been put through this. okay, now, let's go on and govern the country. he didn't say, let's investigate the people who he didn't like much, but who had done what they had done. >> bill crystal who has taken the position of coming out in favor of the rule of law, as controversial as that might be has agreed to stay with us for a moment. both political parties hoping to win over 2020 voters, what's the message from some of the republicans on that front these days? ♪
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republicans' celebration over what's been revealed thus far from the mueller report, and it's a four-page letter synopsis from the attorney general, has included some controversial comments from alabama congressman mo brooks. this is from the house floor yesterday. >> the mueller report vindicates
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president trump and his 2016 campaign from the socialist, baseless, reckless and false big lie charges of russian election collusion. "in the big lie, there is always a certain force of credibility because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily." the author was socialist adolph hitler in his book "mein kampf." >> bill kristol stays with us. first off, it's mueller. if you're still stating mueller, what are you doing? second, what are we doing quoting hitler? >> attack your opponents who are socialists, and this is a deep state conspiracy.
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it's appalling. does the congressman think there wasn't a neithmeeting in the tr tower that don jr. didn't say we'd love it if the russians presented evidence? that doesn't mean they went through with the conspiracy, et cetera. was it ridiculous to investigate it? what is the position here? >> are you a turncoat now because of your view? >> totally. the trump cultism and the trumpism and the hostility to anyone who dares suggest that maybe some of these things need to be looked into. about the trump tower meeting, the president lied about it. >> issued a cover story. >> okay. so maybe again that doesn't amount to obstruction and the underlying thing doesn't amount to collusion, but no one was -- it was ridiculous to even raise this question? the attacks on the media, incidentally. we all made mistakes. some went further than others. the media wasn't supposed to report about the trump tower meeting? thank you, sarah huckabee
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sanders, thank you, mr. president. that was an incredible press release about the only thing covered was adoptions. they're not supposed to dig into these things? what is the position of giuliani and the republican congressmen and the trump enablers? >> and the role of a free press in a free society. bill kristol, please keep coming back. >> i will do that. >> thank you very much. bill kristol most recently of the bulwark online. coming up, an attempt to figure out the story behind one of the more bizarre videos of today. we'll have more on that when we come back. l have more on that w come back.
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[laughter] ♪ ♪ "i'm okay." ♪ ♪
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last thing before we go here tonight. you've heard, no doubt, the expression kiss the ring. well, for religious catholics, it's literal for centuries originating with european monarchies, people have knelt before catholic bishops and the like and kissed the ring. the practice is in the news today because of a bizarre video of pope francis in a receiving line at a reception. watch this. pulling back his hand before the ring can be kissed. no explanation to the faithful who were approaching him. some of whom seemed genuinely puzzled. he just jerks his hand away like, nope, sorry, not going to happen. can't touch this. can't go near this. nope, not gonna happen. vatican watchers explained that modern popes going back to john-paul ii and included
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benedikt recently have been trying to end the custom, believing the vicar of christ would stand to low-key it a little bit. it's a move towards modesty in the catholic church. if it's indeed a move toward modesty then it's coming at a good time. for all the good it does and has done in the u.s. and around the world, especially catholic charities, especially the nuns, especially those who are attending to the poor and sick right now, bad priests in the catholic church have destroyed a lot of lives. viewed a certain way, the trappings and the elaborate costumes and the pomp and luxury surrounding senior members of the church is just plain offensive to those who were victimized by predators. it's still galling for those of us who are catholics and journalists that we ever used the title of your eminence when greeting or interviewing the
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likes of bernard law, the arrogant monster of the boston archdiocese or ted mccarrick. he used to be called cardinal mccarrick. he's not even father mccarrick anymore, let alone his eminence. he's been de-frocked. he's just an 88-year-old guy, an accused sex abuser living out his life in church housing in kansas. back to the pope almost seeming to wince as the faithful reached for his hand. maybe it is a move toward commonness and away from eminence, but it certainly made for an odd scene for those approaching him in the receiving line. that is our broadcast for tonight. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york.
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i don't know if you ever look at the website for our show at the news blog that we maintain here every day. i'm not pitching it or anything, i'm just saying if you've ever noticed it, you might notice an excellent old pal of mine, great guy, steve bennen, writes the maddow blog. he's also a producer on this show. he serves as kind of a policy guru and a political process guru for our whole editorial staff, and as such every day steve gives me and all the producers on the show kind of a briefing as to what he sees as the landscape of the day's news and the stuff that's going to be on the blog later in the day and stuff we out to keep our eyes open for for the course of the news day. today at about 1:00 eastern time, steve sent a slightly pa

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