Skip to main content

tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  April 30, 2019 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT

4:00 pm
trump on obstruction and his unusual press conference before releasing the report and much,much more. we will have it covered here tomorrow night. see you back here tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m. and chris matthews starts right now. >> biden riding high. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. big political news on two fronts. the man who man who built a confrontation to defeat donald trump shot up in three major polls. the man he targeted for defeat is escalating and suing his own banks to block the subpoena to turn over financial records. we will get to that soon. joe biden is off to a blockbuster start and a triad of
4:01 pm
new polls in the last 24 hours show the former vice president with a jacked up lead over democratic rivals, making him the clear front-runner. quinnipiac has him up nine points. cnn has biden at 39. more than double his nearest competitor and morning consult has him at 36. he is focusing on the man he hopes to replace. he didn't talk about the youthful leaders. no more reminiscence with grandpa finnegan. the need to replace president trump and the battle for the soul of america. he sounded like a general election candidate skipping over the primaries. it worked. he stayed on message during his first visit to iowa as a 2020 candidate. let's watch. >> our very democracy, everything that made america america is at stake. we know why.
4:02 pm
after four years, this administration will go down in history as an abhorrent moment in time. given eight years in the white house, we will forever and fundamentally change the character of the country. >> sticking to the script there. political correspondent and pollst pollster, i'm thinking on it and trying this proposition. he got a bump in the polls. it went up significantly to start with. for the last couple of weeks, they did not knockout donald trump as many hoped it would. there was a sense and almost a fear that this guy can get reelected. along comes biden saying forget everything else. we have to knock this guy out of the presidency for moral reasons. no more nuance of ideology, we have to beat this guy. i think that worked.
4:03 pm
>> it did from several angles. it brought to light his high name id that he had. a favorable image that he has. that makes him a major competitor to donald trump. if you look at the polls that look at a general election match up. he is leading from 8 to 11 points over donald trump. if you look at particularly the cnn poll, that's a key thing for the voters. they want the person who can beat donald trump. it's as high as medicare for all and global warming and high as other ratios and much higher quite frankly than progressive issues. >> let's check that with the expert. here's my thinking. one more time i'm bordering my argument. i can tell from people who are watching this program and others like it, there has been a deflation. they thought that train was
4:04 pm
going come at him and the mueller report was going to blow him out of that saddle and didn't have the inclusivity. now they want someone else to knock him out. biden said i'm your man. >> if the campaign is about who is best prepared or positioned to beat trump, i think that's a field and a lane that biden would like for the conversation to be about. if it's a conversation about who in fact is going to be the progressive leader and the new leadership for progressives in this country and a vision that is broader than taking about trump, a lot of the other candidates and they like to make it about that. >> in your experience, when do voters make up their mind they are picking a president and which ideological flavor i like. everyone has their own tastes. >> the primaries are different than the general. the primary voters are different and one thing i will caution is
4:05 pm
the front-runners right now is not historically the front-runners there. >> jeb was always dying. he was way up, but way at the top and name id. biden's name id has always been. >> he announced when he got a lot of attention, but ed knows this better than i do. we spent tens of millions of dollars to change that number. it's going to change. as more candidates spend money and put their cases for the future. that number will change. >> your thoughts as a stray reporter. no advantage here. >> go to the numbers and touched on this. it is more important and electability is more important than any issue. 46% of the democratic primary voters say electability is the top issue. that is reflected in this safe harbor at least at this moment in time of joe biden. he's seen as the guy --
4:06 pm
>> do you think it's up hill to beat trump now? >> i think democratic voters have a lot of anxiety about a split. whether it be a split within their party or a howard schultz-like figure and a bernie who gets the nomination and that emboldens an independent bid from somebody like a howard schultz and that is the path to a trump victory. >> that's pretty smart. that's a logical thing. >> the russians helped along and the third party, that protest vote of killed hillary clinton. if you look at trump's numbers and numbers in michigan, they are not that different than what mitt romney did. the other third party. that really hurt hillary. >> another warning for joe biden in terms of long-term. democratic voters will continue to feel this way over the next nine months. that will be the number one
4:07 pm
issue that they prioritize. as a priority who was there and covered hillary clinton, she took so much abuse after the election was over about making trump the issue and making trump's temperament the issue. that was a huge mistake. they said she should have talked more about we had an uplifting message and talked more about her agenda. that was a mistake. >> that we have never had in the history of modern day politics. a candidate nominated for either party on election day with 50% unfavorable. we had both there this time. trump's numbers are flat on that. he has to drive his opponent over 50% unfavorable for him to have a chance of winning. 19% of the people who voted on election day disliked both candidates. trump, they broke into his direction last week. >> can i say one quick thing
4:08 pm
before we go? there is always an anti-establishment push and the democratic primary and hillary was the establishment and they took advantage of that. obama wrote the anti-establishment push all the way to the nomination. there will be a challenge for anti-establishment candidate who can garner that vote will give biden. >> the cannon is aimed in three directions. socialism, late term abortion and open borders. he wants a candidate who fits that mold. joe biden has strong support with minority voters. these are impressive. they show he has the support of half of all voters. in a morning poll, 47% of african-american women say they support biden. he had a great confidence. jim clyburn or --
4:09 pm
>> barack obama? >> you didn't mention that. >> to me that's the ace in the hole. he rolled that out today. in 2010, from democrats especially african-americans, not enough democrats had the president's back. you can't say he has not had barack obama a back. michelle is more popular right now. >> will some democrats go to the left? they will go to the left of obama. saying he didn't do enough in terms of cleaning out the wall street situation. >> you see that with elizabeth warren, but the cory bookers. >> cory booker and wall street? >> going to the left with social justice issues where a lot of african-american voters are right now. the social justice issues which they can hit biden on. >> like kamala, too.
4:10 pm
>> yes, you can. you will see a more negative primary than in the past. >> i'm fearful of that. the biden campaign released a new ad about biden's relationship that you just said. the most popular democrat next to his wife. watch. >> this is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service. somebody who devoted his entire professional life to service to this country. the best part is he is nowhere close to the finish. >> you know, i forget how great of a voice obama had. that's a wonderful voice. >> they're spoke while in iowa. >> the fact of the matter is that barack obama is an extraordinary man. you measure a man or a woman's worth and their courage based
4:11 pm
upon how they react to overwhelming crisis. i watched this guy. there wasn't a day, not a single solitary day they served with him that i wasn't proud to be with him. >> this is almost like a george herbert walker bush and nixon talking about eisenhower and not al gore talking about clinton. will this embrace work for a third term of obama? >> it depends how he distinguishes himself, but putting the obama coalition back together is another issue. >> what is that? >> look, we get into loaded issues here about the participation rate and you can talk about this. african-americans and what we saw is whether it was due to russian trolls targeting them and voter suppression. there was a new voter id law in
4:12 pm
wisconsin. the numbers in urban areas were way down from what they were in previous elections. >> what do you make of that thing? german in philadelphia, it's a middle class black community. not poor people. they were low on hillary. >> about a disconnect. not only did she miss the mark, but the mark with younger voters. the millennial vote. new vote in 2008 and a lot was younger voters and they did not turn out to support hillary in the same way. >> if hillary had not been doing polling in the state from the campaign, we were seeing the polling and how they often did it. they had a big event and the two best surrogates. that was probably the president and mrs. obama. they got the crowd excite and do early voting, but what we saw in
4:13 pm
the media markets is the african-american vote came down on the intensity. they saw they loved barack obama and loved michelle obama and you want us to vote for her? they probably lost pennsylvania because of what they did the night before with the big event there in philadelphia. >> with springsteen and bon jovi. >> they had both the clintons and both the obamas. there was no early voting and the next day that the african-american vote in the city of philadelphia was suppressed not because of what republicans were doing accident but because barack obama set her up of we don't want her. we love him. >> "the washington post" is breaking a story. robert mueller told william barr that the depiction of his findings failed to capture context, nature and substance of his probe. expressed his concerns in a letter to william barr after he
4:14 pm
summarized the principal conclusions. that's what many of us thought the guy did not translate well. he made no effort to translate and suppressed the mueller report. >> of course he did. he works for donald trump. what i find interesting in the polling that showed that the mueller report didn't change the vast majority of voters's minds. >> that was barr's idea. >> that was his idea, but to ed's point, you are talking about a president who is stuck at 46%. i don't know how you get reelected consistently at 46%. >> people lie to pollsters. let me go to this story. a lot of people thought you are just reporting that barr failed to translate the reality of the mueller report. >> that's correct. my colleagues at "the washington post" that covers the department of justice are reporting tonight
4:15 pm
that in that president between when the attorney general released his summary and the release of the full report by the attorney general, robert mueller sent a letter expressing his dissatisfaction with the way that the justice department and in particular the ag handled his own report. >> there is no evidence that i'm seeing that the ag responded roe appropriately. 48 hours after the report was in his hands. >> this is a developing story and a letter was sent after the attorney general came out and made his statement summarizing the report. the post has been reporting for weeks that mr. mueller's team has been unhappy with the way attorney general barr handled this all. >> thank you. let me go to congresswoman jackie spear of california. i'm sure you expected this because everybody who thought like you, i think it's fair to
4:16 pm
say, thought this was going on. this barr guy working for the president covered up the real intent which was to point to the real misconduct, perhaps illegal conduct of the president especially on the obstruction of justice front and said he was exonerated, which was he was not. he didn't like being lied about. >> no surprise here. if you remember, there was a lot of rumors that people within the department of justice who worked on the mueller report were disappointed in the four-page summary that then attorney general barr delivered before he delivered the entire document. i do think it's very important for the house committees to call on mr. mueller to come forward to testify before the committees. that's what it's about and what has gone on over the last two years in the negotiations to first be interviewed and not be
4:17 pm
interviewed. what they did uncover and highlight the areas where he clearly is calling on congress to take action on the obstruction of justice. >> one of the things that mueller said that really dist t distorted the reality of the situation was to say whether a president can be indicted while serving as president did not guide mueller. it turns thut s that it did. that was the guidelines from the office of legal counsel. he followed the guidelines and that's why he didn't indict on the obstruction of justice. that was a central yereason. mueller said that was not guiding him. he let the president off the hook because the president was exonerated. that was a hell of a distortion, congresswoman. >> not only was it a distortion, it was an outright manipulation of the report and the statements
4:18 pm
by special counsel mueller. i think it underscores the fact that we now have an attorney general who was not the attorney general of the american people, but the personal attorney with his many other attorneys he has representing him. this is a true disgrace. that's why it's incumbent on the house in particular to hold these hearings and hold them in public so the american people can hear from robert mueller and others about what was going on. >> want to thank you so much. i want to thank you, jackie spear from california. let me bring in pete williams. turns out not only did he contact the attorney general and said he was not happy with the way his words and the judgments were translated to the public, but also he called and said he wanted to release the summaries and he did so right away and took four weeks for him to do so. >> let me tell you what i know after talking to senior justice department officials.
4:19 pm
this was after the attorney general released his initial letter summarizing what he called the top line conclusions of the mueller report. after that, robert mueller did say to barr that he thought that was not, it did not accurately convey all the sense of the report and suggested later in the follow-up call that mueller should release the executive summaries of the report. what justice officials tell me is what is similar to what the attorney general said publicly about this. number one, he could not release the executive summaries because at the top of every page and you see it if you look in the mueller report, this may contain grand jury information which can't be disclosed legally. he said to the special counsel staff, i can't tell what the grand jury material is and secondly, his concern was that
4:20 pm
he didn't want to release the report piece meal. that was his response and of course we know now that we have all seen the report and we can judge for ourselves whether the attorney general accurately characterized it in the letter or not. he didn't think his letter was accurate. >> what about the argument that he's thought the context was delivered wrong and what about the protocol of even though he made a phone call after that report, the-page report by the ag and why he wouldn't go public if he was not satisfied with the reaction. >> i'm going to speculate and suggest that that's not his style. robert mueller was the special counsel like the u.s. attorney and in essence working for the justice department. in every sense of the word was
4:21 pm
his boss. it was an internal conversation and he didn't intend to make it public. >> thanks so much, peter. he would have to rely on straight news because there are so many opinions. i want to talk about eric swalwell from california. you are running for president and here's the question for the american people. why department we get the mueller report clear? why didn't we get it? why was it held up for four weeks marinating in the hands of the president? why were we given it in a way that was spun not only 48 hours afterwards, but before it was release and spun like a movie preview so you would see it a certain way? that's not great american democracy in action. >> mr. barr always wanted to be donald trump's personal lawyer. that's how he's conducting himself. he sought to protect the president in the way he applied for the job and gone after the
4:22 pm
intelligence community and the way he characterized the report. that's all the reason that he needs to get before congress this thursday. we asked him to come and the fact that he is trying to wiggle out and only willing to do a home game with the senate and not face the majority in the house of representatives shows he has the consciousness of guilt in the way he handled himself and protected the president. >> hold on, congressman. for more information, i'm looking at the report that said in the post, mueller believes that barr's report, the one he delivered with a four-page note after he had his hands on the mueller report said that mueller's report did not get captured in barr's report either in context, nature or substance. what else is there? he did not deliver the truth. >> in that summary by the attorney general defined early
4:23 pm
headlines on the mueller report and in recent minutes just in the last few minutes, talking to top democrats on capitol hill, it's time for the attorney general to not only go before the committee, but keep talking about the process and his interactions with robert mueller. they will have tough questions for the ag when he comes to capitol hill and this is on to which questions in the justice department. like rod rosenstein who wrote a resignation to president trump and to "the washington post" who promised the president he would land the plane when it comes to the mueller report. you have two under scrutiny for how they handled the conclusion of the report and its release to the american people. >> thank you so much. jimmy gomez, congressman from california. thank you so much for joining us. clearly the mueller report if you had gotten it cold without going through the distillation process and mare nation process
4:24 pm
of rod rosenstein, it would say the president is guilty of obstruction of justice. you would say the guy is in big trouble. because it was slowed down and it was step by step with a soft landing, nobody knew what the hell it said. >> first this reporting is appalling. congress needs to get ahold of the letter and what did mueller write to attorney general barr. barr has to come before the american people through congress, the house of representatives, so we can ask him pointed questions. you're right. this attorney general is acting as everybody said as his personal attorney and as a spin doctor, spinning the narrative of the mueller report before it was released. >> is this obstruction of justice. >> there is a great case to be made. that's why we have to have the hearings and make sure we bring the american people along. >> what's it look like to you.
4:25 pm
barr's performance when he got ahold of a two-year project, a straight arrow public servant. he hands it to him and 48 hours later he said the president has been exonerated on all fronts. four weeks later, we get his version of it. redacted version with the spinning and calls the press conference before he releases the document to make sure everybody got the right spin. it was all public relations. >> of course. i never trusted this attorney general, bill barr from the beginning. in december in a closed door hearing, i asked comey do you trust him to be forthright and comey said he trusted him. i never did. that's why we had questions. he has been spinning for the american people and if it smells like obstruction of justice, it probably s. >> he's not going to get the profile of courage from the kennedy center. your thoughts about this breaking story we just got our hands on and the story is that
4:26 pm
just what we all thought that mueller must have been frustrated by the way his words were misinterpreted to the point was the message that there was 10 instances of obstruction of justice that were erased in the four-page report by barr and four weeks later set up in a way that it didn't even exist in a spinning operation that day. your thoughts? your reporting? david? >> hello? >> congressman, thank you for hanging in there. what's the member of your committee going to do about this? give me a look forward. this information is coming out like all rolling disclosure. my favorite phrase because politicians never tell you the bad stuff and they say oh, yeah, that's true, too. what do you think is going to happen as a result that this this whole thing was covered up some. >> we will hear it from barr and
4:27 pm
ultimately from mueller. if barr backs out, you are going to get subpoenas. if he doesn't answer, he will face contempt and think he should face impeachment. if he's going to say i'm not going to follow the law and congress, there has to be consequences. i hope it doesn't come to that, but what do you do when you have an enabler who enables the president's worst instincts. you have to speak their language as well. that's the only thing they understand. >> do you think the supreme court of kavanaugh and roberts and this appointed supreme court will bring up the matter and take the side of the congress against the president? do you believe that? >> yes, i think precedent is on our side. they would have to wildly deviate from precedent to say we don't have the right to get an investigation into the president. there is no executive privilege into that. >> you mean the way they wildly
4:28 pm
deviated from precedent when they gave the presidency to george w. bush? sorry, that was something. that was a defiation if there ever was one. eric swalwell running for president. congratulations. he got into the first msnbc debate. he made the cut. days after barr's announcement, mueller wrote a previously unknown private letter to the justice department that revealed a degree of dissatisfaction that shocked senior justice department officials. according to people familiar with the discussions. mueller's letter to barr said among other things, there is public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. they call it justice department official they said we are taken aback by the tone of mueller's letter and came as a surprise that he had concerns one day before the senate testimony. let's bring in david cornell from mother jones. we have been waiting for you.
4:29 pm
give us a sense of how much this confirms your suspicions. >> you know, we saw barr in the four-page letter and do this kind of phony press conference when he was trying to contextualize the report and say things that were not true. total exoneration and no collusion. it seemed to me if you read the reporter, mueller is drawing in the lines. he is not leaning too far into conclusions. he is being very straight forward. you might have a report you would see in the 1980s and someone not trying to get a lot of social media buzz. you have to read the report to fully understand what trump did and on the obstruction charge and what might have happened on the interactions with the russians. i see how mueller could take great offense when he is so careful and deliberative to see barr come in and say this is what the report said when it's not what it said.
4:30 pm
this is in some ways not an obstruction of justice. a perversion of justice. mueller was really playing by the rules, in fact he has gotten some criticism for being too confine and restrained in how he describes what he found and to have barr come in and totally pull the rug out from under him and say this proves that the president had no collusion and didn't obstruct justice. my reading of it proves that. i can see why mueller would have been taken aback and this is one reason i expect members of the house judiciary committee wanted to call him up and ask him about these things which are not confidential matters and not about grand jury testimony and said what he said about the characterization. i can imagine what it will be like tomorrow and the day after that bar goes up to capitol hill. >> let's bring in the former
4:31 pm
official. a couple of points. just a charge here that just came from the special counsel in a letter to the attorney general. you failed to capture the context, the nature, and the substance of my two-year report. that's pretty profound. >> it really is. i have been saying since the beginning that the worst thing the attorney general could possibly do is say something that mischaracterizes or is flat out contradicting the mueller report. there has been as you know in the last couple of weeks since the report has been out, a lot of argument that he did just that. he sugar coated it and soft pedalled it and according to some, mischaracterized the report and you have the special counsel himself saying that's what happened. it's clear bob mueller will have to testify, probably side by side or at least with in some
4:32 pm
following or before the attorney general and their stories are going to both have to be heard by congress and the american people. >> i have heidi here. i hate to call it a lie, but it seems like one. when we got the four-page letter from ag barr, from the attorney general, it said that mueller did not use the justice department guidelines in deciding not to indict. he was not guilty. it turns out that mueller did file the guidelines and did not indict because under the quite lines you are not supposed to indict him. that is essential distortion. >> when are we finally got the report, all of the democrats in congress said this reads like an impeachment referral. this was supposed to be a determination that would be made by congress. that was language that was in the report. chris, there was a poignant moment that foretold all of this when barr gave his press conference, spinning the report.
4:33 pm
we asked him in the media, why is the author of the report not standing beside you? that was when it abruptly ended. based on this reporting because i have been reading through it while you have been on the air, mueller is saying not only was the report misrepresenting his work, but he might have been suppressed. here it said he was pressing in his letter to have barr also release the executive summaries. that is obviously something that was denied as the public sat and stewed for weeks and public perceptions were formed and mueller is saying that created public confusion around this report and it under mined the very central purpose of creating a special counsel. >> you are an expert on public opinion. how much do you think the pr with the-page report covering up and saying they didn't indict because they didn't think it was worth it.
4:34 pm
they were deferring to congress as how you put it. they covered up all the elements, the 10 elements of examples and demonstrations of obstruction of justice. what was the landing of this report? >> bamboozled. they won. because he put it out there and they got week after week of press that the president needed and wanted and guess what. republicans rallied around him. it's gone. it's corrupt, but chris, they won the mueller report battle. they have thus far. what congress does is another question. public opinion right now, we have seen poll after poll means nothing. >> what do you think? they miss said the chance because they were too clever at their manipulation? >> they have not won yet. we have a process. when we saw the four-page mem memo and read the mueller report, it was very clear. that's why we are pushing to
4:35 pm
have the through the appropriate committees. we dig out every single fact in front of the american people. there is a lot of time on the clock and we will play it out to the end. i know it's painful. >> i watched this game. we watched the way they did it. justice delayed is justice denied. is it possible that the president's lawyers will fight? >> one ugly baby. >> they will fight for the records and fight the subpoenas for documents and fight all the way until christmas and you have to have the deliberations and you get the witnesses and then you deliberate about whether to begin impeachment. he can run out the clock. >> he can. we have to do it the right way. i voted for starting debate on articles of impeachment twice. twice. i will do it again. >> were you right? >> i think i was right.
4:36 pm
>> i think you were, too. i like clarity here. thank you, cynthia. the former federal prosecutor. i have to ask you, you are learning the way we are learning it. flash news. the whole thing was covered up. >> if you are wonder ing why is looking for an excuse not to come to congress, now we know why. he is afraid this will come out. he is looking for every imaginable excuse. i can't be questions. this is why he is afraid to be questioned. this was sitting in his file and it was a big bomb waiting to go off. >> let me get back to the point i will hit on. i'm stunned. i was misled. when i heard mueller's four-page report and he said this was in the mueller report, he said basically they didn't indict the president because he was not guilty. they were exonerating and they came out mueller was following guidelines. you don't indict a sitting
4:37 pm
president. that's a fundamental difference in reality from what we got. it's a lie. >> that's exactly right. >> we wanted the truth from barr. >> that's right. the most important law enforcement officer in the history of the world has lied to the american people. we have to face that. that is exactly what happened. he has to be called into account for it and we need to get expla he did it. you are correct. when you read the mueller report, the reason why he didn't press charges is because the justice department guidelines forbid him to do it. he is not a guy who breaks the rules. he is fundamentally a marine and he follows the rules. that's what he did. barr took advantage of that. i hope it's not too late for the american people to learn and absorb what actually happened, but it may very well be. we need to get mueller up there
4:38 pm
quickly. to congress to explain what he did. >> it seemed that until he said otherwise was preparing a report for use by the congress for impeachment proceedings. >> that's exactly what he was doing. if his name was not president trump, he would be indicted today. any normal prosecutor reads that memo, that is an indictment memo. the only reason why it's not is the justice department guideline and bob mueller followed the rules. >> robert, we are having a perry mason moment here to use an old reference. something is happening in the courtroom of public opinion that we didn't know. we know thanks to your paper's reporting that robert mueller was not happy. he was dissatisfied with the report made by the attorney general 48 hours after getting his report where in the general made erroneous statements about that report in termts of the context, nature and substance.
4:39 pm
most importantly lied about the fact that the special counsel didn't indict was not supposed to and that's because he was independent. how do we get the letter all these weeks later? >> it's sometimes hard to be a reporter. it takes time to build the source and understand what's going in the black box. the department of justice is very tight-lipped. reporters at the post and others have been working hard to get the real story and what happened in the interactions between the special counsel and the attorney general. talking to adam schiff from california who chairs the house intelligence committee said he is already in discussion about getting mueller to testify to tell his own story that. clamor is only going to build in the next hours and coming days. will the special counsel be aloud to sit down and say what he wanted in front of the attorney general and tell his
4:40 pm
version of the events of how this investigation concluded? >> does mr. barr know he has been outed here and he has been exposed as having received that letter from mueller? does he know that? he knows it now. >> he can turn on the television. now it's a question of what is the special counsel willing to say publicly and this is a question for capitol hill. i would like to ask the congressman here as well. there can be talk of impeachment among democrats for the attorney general and they want to investigate more and have hearings. early early discussions among my democratic sources in the house. this is appalling behavior based on the things they are reading and they would like to pursue action and pay close attention tomorrow and tonight. she has a tight grip over her party. >> do you want to respond to that again? >> i think that it is pretty
4:41 pm
appalling. i never trusted william barr from the beginning. a lot of democrats had that same position. we have to call him in and if he refuses, keep going. if it means impeachment, so be it. everything is on the table. >> according to the times, a rift appeared to develop as the special counsel wrapped up his inquiry. officials were frustrated with how mr. mueller ended his investigation and craft said his report. according to two people with knowledge of those discussions and another person briefed on the matter. they expressed irritation that he fell short by declining to make a decision. that left mr. to clear mr. trump about the special counsel's backing. they found the ragdsal stopping short for whether mr. trump committing a crime and concluded they showed there was no case against mr. trump. what do you make of that one?
4:42 pm
i don't know if i believe that. your thoughts? >> i don't know about that either. in my view, three things have to happen. the first is that this is a bit of a contrarian view, but the house judiciary needs to forget about the staff asking questions and get the attorney general up there. i had a lot of experience with the minority and the majority in the committee and there were plenty of member who is can ask questions and can cross examine. they need to take his objection off the table and ask the questions. >> how about giving a half hour to one of the members. the five-empty rule is smug play. >> absolutely. that's within the chairman's purview. secondly, mr. mueller will have to testify. no doubt about that. third accident i would say chris, the cynics in the room might laugh at this, but somebody on the republican side in light of this news will have
4:43 pm
to say enough is enough. what's going on here? we need a fuel accounting of everything that happened. this has to be bipartisan even if it's just one member at the outset. >> i hope mitt romney is watching msnbc. a member of the judiciary committee where barr is scheduled to testify tomorrow. you will get your first shot at him tomorrow. what do you think about the questioning you would go to? >> this disclosure adds a breathtaking new dimension to the questioning tomorrow. it's an absolutely stunning rebuke of the attorney general of the united states by a career prosecutor who has consummate respect and what he is saying is that the attorney general mischaracterized in contents, nature and substance his report. he memorialized this criticism.
4:44 pm
that's extraordinarily important that he put to paper and wanted it to be in the file. there is going to be a lot of tough questioning about this letter tomorrow. >> thank god for a free press. we will go to hido this. >> just a little bit of information from a democratic leadership source. not only will you hear from leadership that it is very important that barr come this week, but in terms of timing, they expect mueller to be in that chair next week, no later. >> this is from the house? >> from the house democratic leadership. >> what do you think? >> great. the sooner the better. i don't have my cell phone on. >> let's bring in elise gordon. this whole show, we have torn down the front page. we didn't have any idea. this is big stuff. across the front page and the times and the post tomorrow and all the other quality papers.
4:45 pm
the fact that mueller was basically betrayed by barr in a way a lot of us thought he might have been. to find out that the context and the nature and the substance of the two-year mueller report and was disfigured in the presentation and the fact that they lie and that's a good word about the fact that they didn't indict the president because of the justice department rules and not because he was innocent. your thoughts? >> it's always been obvious that the summary that he later said was not a summary mischaracterized the mueller report. if you sat down and read it, most people don't have time to do that. what i think is important about mueller's rebuke of bob barr, he understood how the gap between what he produce and what barr was telling the public and he
4:46 pm
pointed out that the point, one of the main points of this investigation was to give some sort of public narrative that everybody could trust about what happened. to give a resolution to all the confusion and doubts about the 2016 election at trump's behavior in it and after it. and bob barr, that closure was so necessary for the country and bob barr blew it up by going out there and misrepresenting the contents of the report in a way that allowed republicans to pretend it said something contrary to what it said. it still allows them to say no collusion. in his quest to protect the president, he basically made it almost impossible for the tropt do what it was supposed to do which was to give the country clarity and closure. >> so you don't have to wait for the newspaper tomorrow, this is
4:47 pm
what robert mueller said in his criticism of the four-page summary document by the attorney general. the summary letter the department sent to congress and released to the public on march 24th, a sunday, did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions. there is now public confusion about critical aspects about the results of our investigation. this threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel to assure confidence in the outcome of this investigation. what he is saying as special counsel is you, mr. attorney general, have ruined the public impact of this report by distorti distortions. >> that was the point. >> chris, i'm staggered that the original summary came out march 24th and by april 18th, the actual full report comes out. so much time passed in interim
4:48 pm
of barr setting the narrative and robert mueller clearly being very upset that his two-year report findings had been in his view, distorted. it took so long for this relief to happen. >> what do you think? what do you think that means? >> you have an institutionalist playing by the rules when no one else he is up against is following those rules. what is the service to the american public if your job is to tell the truth and get at the truth and then through the institution, the truth distorted? this is a very disturbing episode for american democracy. >> elise, you understand public relations and timing. remember how bill clinton was in huge trouble and by august he was in a little trouble. some trouble. time works to the defense of a lot of people. people's shock wears off and especially with this mare nation process.
4:49 pm
weeks? are we believing it took four weeks to redact the grand jury testimony and names? they could have done that over a weekend. come on. they held that and marinated to bear down the interest and michelle, what do you think? they knew this. whoever did the pr on this thing knew what they were doing. >> for the report just came out and we had access to it at the same time, the headlines would have been 10 episodes of obstruction of justice. it would have been obvious that it was a road map for impeachment that a sitting president can't be indicted, but there is serious evidence that he committed crimes or indictable offenses and he laid it out for us and it would have, i think, forced both the serious conversation about impeachment and maybe the start of an impeachment process. instead he was able to muddy the water so the question of whether or not the report showed
4:50 pm
evidence of obstruction of justice became confused and subject to partisan misinformation. >> congressman, let me ask you as a member of the committee and the congress as a as a democrat, suppose mueller had released his report to the public well before the 48-hour period and the memo that came out and well before all this mar nati -- mare natiination, as i call. we're handing it to you. wouldn't that be a different world we'd be living in? >> definitely would be a different world. i'm not on judiciary, but i read the report. i read the judiciary review of it. it's pretty stunning. but we knew what they were doing. everybody knew. but the reason why we couldn't move it forward is because people just think it's democrats being, you know, sore losers, right. that's not what it's ever been about. we have to kind of dig it out. what mueller has done by
4:51 pm
finding -- sending this letter and having it on file, it gives the concerns we had credibility. now we have something to push forward with. >> the news of mueller's letter, of complaint, actually, to the attorney general comes after barr waited four weeks to even acknowledge that he had any disagreement with the special counsel. here's how he did reveal his disagreement in that press conference just before releasing the redacted mueller report. >> although the deputy attorney general and i disagreed with some of the special counsel's legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision. >> cynthia, that's an astounding acknowledgment as part of this rolling disclosure, which is to acknowledge that they were pointing to obstruction of justice in the mueller report, many instances of it. he said he didn't agree with all those instances. but he's acknowledged finally after four weeks of sitting on this that that's what the
4:52 pm
mueller report called for, action on obstruction of justice. >> right, but not as much -- he still down played it dramatically. it was not clear, the differences between mueller and barr, as highlighted by this letter we've gotten today. and his excuse about, oh, i needed these four weeks in order to get the grand jury material because it said grand jury material at the top of the paper, that's ridiculous. obviously mueller wrote this thing with executive summary that could be released immediately. and you're absolutely right, it could have been done in a weekend. and it certainly could have been done before he submitted that four-page memo, which was not, frankly, did not reflect what mueller was saying. >> david, you spent years working on this. you wrote a great book about this. all this stuff about playing footsie with the russians, which is illustrated rather well in the report, even if there wasn't actual criminality proven. there were all kinds of examples of them playing ball with the russians, taking advantage of
4:53 pm
russian help in the '16 election to defeat hillary clinton. all kinds of meetings, all kinds of stuff that would normally defeat any democratic candidate for president, just from having experienced life in this country. democrats would get blamed much more worse. my question is, historically, this mueller thing has been deflated, and its political impact because of skull dug ri by an attorney general. this is worse than john mitchell stuff. >> i heard all the guests earlier tonight. i think we're not done on that. the mueller report came out before barr tried to do his little math trick and say there was no collusion so all the issues you just raised about attractions between trump people and russians and more importantly trump trying to benefit from the russian attacks and equally important denying the attack while it was happening so as to exploit it basically being in with putin in terms of the disinformation
4:54 pm
campaign. but that stuff didn't get into the headlines because of barr. i think we're in the third inning. >> david, we got a problem. you sound like you're on a tug boat somewhere. we're going to have to come back to our onshore witnesses. thank you so much. we'll have you on tomorrow night. heidi, report on the significance of this and how this is going to roll the next few days. >> chris, one of the main arguments here and the concerns of democrats goes right to the two volumes of the report that the obstruction could have actually stopped us finding the true extent of this administration's ties and potential coordination. so this is going to reopen this argument here on the hill to not only have public hearings but if this administration continues to stonewall, to talk -- and congressman, you can speak to this -- but to talk about how
4:55 pm
possibly opening an impeachment inquiry would help congress have greater tools to compel witnesses to testify, to get documents because this is only going to increase the hunger for more information. >> what do you make of that charge? i believe in it. once you open impeachment procedure, you have a tremendous advantage in the courts because they understand that it's the only procedure there is to judg branch, by congress. the only guarantee we're going to have truly equality among the branches of government. >> no, i agree with you. at the same time, we still have to start this investigation and really dig deep. >> can you get the subpoenas honored if you don't have an impeachment process? >> you know t i'm not a constitutional attorney, but we're going to follow up on every step. we're going to ask for those subpoenas. i understand they can stonewall. i have a feeling if they stonewall and continue to stonewall, it's just going to create an avalanche effect, a snowball effect on calling for impeachment. so it actually will achieve the
4:56 pm
opposite result they want. >> you might be right. i hope you are because we need the truth. i do remember when nixon was on the skillet. the supreme court came in big time, and the congress got all the tapes. they got it all. anyway, let me go to michelle goldberg and elise jordan for one last thought. michelle, you on the big story. you write the big magazine articles, the big stuff. it seems to me this is part of a saga which began way back with the russian connections. as heidi pointed out brilliantly, i hadn't thought of this, a lot of the obstruction led to us not getting the facts about the coordination and the collusion, if you will. and the continuing of the russian conspiracy by american agents, i.e. trump people. so all along it's a dynamic. they have been covering their trail so successfully that they're still potentially going to get re-elected. >> i think another thing that would have been the headline had the report just dropped on its own was there was, i believe, over a hundred pages -- i could be wrong, but there was a
4:57 pm
substantial amount of the report that was just about the various connections that the trump administration or that members of the trump campaign had with russians. not even ant trump's financial entanglements but these strange meetings, including the meeting in the seychelles that eric prince lied to congress about and has now been referred to the -- there's a criminal referral to the justice department. that in itself, it documents a huge amount of not apparently criminal conspiracy but a huge amount of cooperation, collusion. i also think it's significant that, you know, the report itself says we did not look at this through the lens of collusion. collusion isn't, you know, a term in criminal law. we looked at it through the lens of criminal conspiracy. because if you just read the plain language of the report, you can describe what -- you can only describe all these meetings as collusion. but because they buried it and allowed bill barr to go up there and say over and over again no collusion, no collusion, no collusion, again, when the
4:58 pm
report shows the opposite. >> elise? let me ask you a question, a really nasty question, but i don't mind asking a colleague like you. who do you think of as a likely republican who might come along? is it mitt romney? someone to come up and say, you know what, this cover-up has got to stop. >> i think mitt romney, i would certainly put him at the top of my list in terms of hoping to see justice served and hoping to see our institutions protected and not abused for political purposes. i think i still am just astonished that this letter leaked. after two years of robert mueller's investigation being so tightly sealed, it just gives you a sense of how great the anger at what mueller feels is a misrepresentation, that this finally leaked. also, reading the story and the defensiveness of the department of justice sources quoted, this is not going to go away. and they had a pr coup at the
4:59 pm
onset by seizing the four-page summary, and they really -- i think they really have messed themselves up here. >> good thinking. somebody leaked this and it wasn't barr's people. you can bet that. judiciary committee chair jerry nadler of new york tweeted, mueller has written a letter objecting to barr's summary of his reported because it did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of his investigation. i have demanded the letter, and barr must answer for this. mueller must be allowed to testify. that's the story going into tomorrow in the senate. then coming in later, final thoughts, congressman. just a couple seconds. >> i take this job very seriously. i always go back to that oath. we swear to defend and uphold the constitution, not a president, not an elected official, the constitution. so i hope the republicans start living up to that oath. >> thanks so much. i want to thank all our guests tonight. that's "hardball" for now. breaking story tonight, the biggest we've had.
5:00 pm
thank you so much for joining us. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. we've got breaking news at this hour that one of the chief criticisms of attorney general william barr's summary of the mueller report was made by none other than the special counsel himself, robert mueller. "the washington post" reporting the special counsel complained to the attorney general in a letter on march 27th regarding barr's four-page summary that had been released just three days prior. according to mueller's letter from a copy received by "the washington post," the summary letter the department sent to congress and released to the public late in the afternoon on march 24th did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions, mueller wrote. there is no public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. this threatens to undermine essential purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations. mueller did


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on