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tv   MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle  MSNBC  May 1, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PDT

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based on the letter we saw yesterday? >> i think we're all officially waiting for mueller. joe? >> we are waiting for mueller. it will be fascinating to see what happens. certainly a lot of focus today on whether you want to call it a lie or misleading answer -- >> misdirected. >> the lack of transparency will be focused upon by members of the united states congress today. >> that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. thank you very much, mika. hi, there, i'm stephanie ruhle. wow, what a morning. within this hour attorney general bill barr will arrive on capitol hill to appear before the senate judiciary committee. the already-high stakes now ramped up to 11 after last night's stunning revelation of a confidential letter robert mueller wrote to barr complaining the attorney general mischaracterized mueller's report. plus, chaos continues in caracas. we will go live to venezuela as the push to get maduro out grows
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even stronger. as we're keeping our eyes on 2020. poll after poll shows joe biden with a clear lead. steve kornacki is here to dig in to what the numbers mean now. we must begin this morning with the stunning new revelation first reported by "the washington post" and confirmed by nbc news. special counsel robert mueller expressing frustration. in a letter and phone call to attorney general william barr shortly after barr released his initial four-page summary of the mueller report march 24th. this was the same memo which barr cleared president trump of obstruction, mueller expressing frustration, specifically over the lack of context and substance in that memo, saying it caused public confusion. and this new development is now shining a light on barr's back-to-back congressional testimony last month. let me jog your memory. take a look. >> reports have emerged recently, general, members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with
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the limited information included in your march 24th letter, and it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings. do you know what they're recognizing with that? >> no, i don't. i think -- i suspect they probably wanted more put out. >> did bob mueller support your conclusion? >> i don't know whether bob mueller supported my conclusion. >> hmm, nbc's geoff bennett on capitol hill where attorney general barr is set to testify starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern. but i want to start with nbc justice correspondent pete williams. pete, what were you learning about robert mueller's letter and specifically that phone call to the attorney general? when you look at the sound bite from last month and bill barr saying, i don't know, tough to spalio given this information. >> a couple questions. number one, there was a phone call from barr to mueller.
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he sends the letter and barr says let's talk about it. what the justice department is saying about the sound bite you played, what do you think mueller makes of your conclusion, and barr said i don't know, i think barr there is talking about the attorney general's conclusion that the president didn't commit a crime, which is not the subject of the letter as well understand it. let me read part of the letter to you. it says, "the summary letter department sent to congress and released to the public late afternoon march 24th did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office's work and conclusions. there is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. this threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel, namely to ensure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigation." and what we're told in the subsequent phone conversation is that mueller did not say that he thought the letter was
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inaccurate, but it had led to confusion in the public mind and inaccurate reporting about what the report says, 480 pages. so i think that's the direction that the attorney general was taking in the conversation with barr and now we know more about mueller's concerns. >> pete, what are your sources telling you about the reaction inside the justice department? >> well, two points, stephanie. number one, when they found out that mueller was not going to reach a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice, which they found out on march 3rd, they were quite surprised about that. they didn't expect it. they didn't see it coming. apparently even rosenstein, the day-to-day supervisor on the investigation, didn't see that coming. secondly, when mueller sent his letter to barr on the 24th, the
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letter to congress is the 24th, and barr was the 27th, they were surprised he wrote a letter and the tone of the letter, they didn't see that coming either. >> you're there on capitol hill, bill barr will be there within the hour. i know democratic lawmakers had a lot to say in the last 14 hours or so. what are they telling you? >> they've had a lot to say, steph. the attorney general now faces a grilling from democrats who are now armed with evidence who backs up what they've been saying for weeks. they say barr misrepresented robert mueller's work, misled congress in the american public and he undermined the public's trust in the overall investigation. so what you're hearing from democrats, both in the house and senate side, is they say look, there's one thing for an attorney general to be devoted to the unitarian executive theory and one thing for an attorney general to have broad, sweeping views of the power of the authority of the executive, in this case it would be president trump, but what they say is there's something deeper
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and more nefarious here with the way the attorney general has handled the mueller report and they want to know why and some lawmakers are going beyond that. you have adam schiff, as you know is the top democrat, the democratic chairman of the house intelligence committee, he's now calling for barr to resign. chris van hollen, that had that exchange you and pete talked about earlier, where he asked barr if mueller supported his conclusions and barr said he didn't know, he also called on barr to resign calling are b.a. president trump's chief propagandist. and the chief of the senate finance committee wondering why barr was there in the first place. and now all of them want robert mueller to come up here to testify as soon as possible, steph. >> nbc's pete williams and geoff bennett, thank you. let's head to venezuela where the political standoff is intensifying with violent protest breaking out after the opposition leader called for an uprising and military defection
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to oust nicolas maduro. associated press reporter philip crowder is live in caracas. philip, a lot of chaos yesterday. disturbing images overnight. what is the situation like there this morning? >> it was a really quiet night actually. it almost seemed too kwie eliminate with what had come before in tense moments and violent protests on the streets of caracas and other cities in venz wail yacht today we're expecting the opposition leader, juan guaido, to call for the biggest protest in the history of the whole country. those might very well take place here today this wednesday. it mayday here. that's a traditional day for protests. but the support erez of juan guaido will not be the only ones who will be on the streets here of the capital, caracas. because the venezuelan president, nicolas maduro, has also called on his supporters to take to the streets. in other words, what you have there, of course, is a very
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difficult cocktail there, a possibility of confrontations between those two groups. maybe similar to what we saw yesterday. maybe even worse, of course. because it does feel a little bit like a last chance saloon, if you will, for the opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim leader juan guaido. he wants , wants, first of all, his supporters out on the streets today and for them to no longer sign with him. he said they're no longer with the venezuelan president but he will have to prove that today in caracas. >> thank you very much, phil crowther joining us from caracas. keep it here on msnbc. my colleague andrea mitch ul wi mitchell will interview john bolton when kooncoverage of ther hearing concludes. i want to go to pete alexander, who is standing by.
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they have been quite vocal about the confrontation in cuba and the president seems to be taking it in as well. >> we heard from john bolton the last 30 minutes or so behind me outside of the west wing where he was critical of russia, saying russia's interference here to support the maduro ra regime is what he described as a mistake. he said there could be additional sanctions on venezuela as they continue the effort to sort of tighten the screws on that country there. as you know he's been heavily critical about cuba as well but also tried to undermine maduro's authority, effectively saying a lot of his own inner circle, including the defense minister, are prepared to turn on him. the defense minister, according to bolton, is ready to sign documents pledging support for guaido. saying folks around maduro now, are in his words, scorpions. here's what the president said
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about the support maduro's been receiving from cuba right now. he said if cuban troops and militia do not immediately crease military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the constitution of venezuela, a full and complete embargo together with highest level sanctions will be placed on the island of cuba. hopefully all cuban soldiers will promptly and peacefully return to their eye and lad. just moments ago bolton told us maduro is surrounding himself with cuban troops now because he doesn't trust he has the support of his own military. yesterday our colleague lester holt spoke to the secretary of state mike pompeo and he asked him whether any administration officials, perhaps including the president, had spoken to juan guaido in the last two days. take a listen. >> we've continually spoken with juan guaido all throughout this. you see, too, you see juan guaido was in the streets and we have not seen mr. maduro since this morning. we did see his airplane. it was parked at the airport.
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we understand he was actually getting ready, contemplating leaving the country and the russians told him to stay, not to depart for havana. >> those the comments of the secretary of state mike pompeo to our colleague lester holt late yesterday. john bolton bringing up the idea of the monroe doctrine effectively saying to russia and to china, this is our hemisphere. stay out. steph? >> take me to the hill. bill barr's testimony set to begin in less than an hour. focus has changed now on the new reporting that robert mueller voiced frustration over barr's summary and maybe mischaracterization of the investigation. what is the white house saying about that? >> yes, steph, that's right. in the last few minutes for the first time we are now hearing president trump reacting to this. his position over the course of the last several days, even weeks, since that four-page summary initially came out was let's move on, enough, this thing is over. here's his effort to punctuate that thought this morning within the last few minutes writing, no collusion, no obstruction.
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besides, how can you have obstruction when not only was there collusion by trump but the bad actions were done by the other side? the greatest con job in the history of american politics. late yesterday i spoke to the president's personal lawyer rudy giuliani, who described it in his words as very odd. that was the quote from giuliani, about this letter from mueller to barr saying that if mueller didn't want there to be any confusion, giuliani told me, he could have made a decision. he was put in that position to make a decision. the fact he didn't make a decision on this says president trump is innocent. well, there was obviously no criminal wrongdoing as it related to conspiracy between trump or his aides and russia. but as mueller was specific to write, he also did not exonerate the president on the topic of obstruction of justice, even making note of the fact in our checks and balances system it's up to congress ultimately to play a role as well
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>>we. >> well, things are about to get pretty exciting. william barr set to testify in about 50 minutes. now joe biden's jump in the polls and support from the firefighters seem to be getting under president trump's skin. trump insisting he's done more for firefighters than, quote, the dues-sucking union and retweeting posts from dozens of firefighters or tweeters posing as firefighters, who say they support him over biden. but does the president have to have a reason to be worried? how telling is biden's early lead? guess who's here to tell us, nbc news national correspondent steve kornacki here to break it down. the president, 60 retweets in 18 minutes this morning, most of which were specifically in response to the firefighters' endorsement of joe biden. got to be getting under the president's skin. >> the polls say at least right now a long time to do but joe biden starts out as the front-runner on the democratic
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side. there were three yesterday. here's one biden getting not just a bounce but big bounce. you see 24-point lead over his nearest rival, now 39%. look, it is very early. it's a giant field. a lot of people can jump up. there will be a lot of opportunities for it. joe biden has a history. he's not always held up well in presidential races. there are possibilities he will not be the nominee but it's worth pointing out there are examples where somebody starts in front, stays in front, and wins the nomination. especially when you're talking about a party looking for a challenger against an incumbent president. let's go back, this is going way back, but 1980 republicans needed a candidate to run against jimmy carter. reagan started out, this is what the poll looked like when he announced his candidacy. reagan was the nominee. there were hiccups along the way, lost in iowa to bush but
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won the nomination. mondale, former vice president, started out in front. again, he some hiccups but he did win the nomination. 1996 republicans needed a challenger against bill clinton. bob dole the senate republican leader started out in front, he did lose new hampshire to pat buchanan, solidified his campaign after that. won the nomination. 2012, mid-romney, there were a lot of hiccups for mitt romney. he was a very weak front-runner. this is where he was in our poll in 2011 but he did start out in front and won the nomination. sometimes it happens. not always. 2004, guess who the early front-runner was on the democratic side? joe labieberman. and john kerry ended up being the nominee. there was a moment howard dean surged to the front runner. and the other example that always haunts every early front-runner, rudy giuliani. you talked about him a minute ago. this was open-seat race in '08
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but giuliani started out near 40%, around with biden is now. what happened with giuliani was no big major event. he just slowly, steadily faded out. and that's the nightmare scenario for a front-runner like biden right now, stephanie. >> then i hope all of the 2020 candidates are watching. steve, he's telling you, so you're saying there's a chance. talk to me about elizabeth warren for a moment. because joe biden seems to be going off of her script, throwing that red populous, telling people at his rally corporate ceos are not beholden to shareholders, that is malarkey. in fact, that's not malarkey. that is the case. it's their legal obligation. but elizabeth warren is proposingal policy to change that. how is she going in the poll? >> that's interesting, we will go back to the beginning and rewind it. i went too far there. third place in this poll you see look, she's ahead of buttigieg by a point in this. i say there were three polls yesterday that came out.
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what was noteworthy about warren is she's ahead of buttigieg in all three of the polls now. had not been the case in polling before this. another poll had her moving double digits ahead of sanders. so you have seen some movement on warren's front in these polls. one thing i think is interesting, buttigieg has gotten a lot of attention early on. warren, unlike buttigieg in her surge, you're seeing nonwhite and white support. that indicates to me at least the potential for some growth there. let's see what she does with it. >> steve kornacki, thank you so much. it is a busy day ahead here. right now you're looking live at the long, long line waiting to get in to the senate judiciary hearing where at the top of the hour attorney general bill barr will be testifying. and up next, we know the white house, also known as the president, will be watching and, of course, tweeting. and pulitzer prize-winning journalist who knows how this white house works will be here to tell us what exactly they're watching for. e watching for i had a heart problem.
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i'm stephanie ruhle. as we wait for william barr's testimony to begin on capitol hill, we want to go back to the news we started with, special counsel robert mueller complaining directly to the attorney general that the ag's summary of his report failed to capture its, quote, context, nature and substance. "the washington post" broke this extraordinary story and pulitzer prize winner ashley parker is
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the white house reporter and we are fortunate she joins us now. ashley, have you heard any concern inside the administration this report, combined with barr's testimony, could reopen the issue? they have been trying to put this thing in the rearview mirror. >> in the general originally the white house aides, advisers believed that the full mueller report was less of a big deal, that it would contain, of course, embarrassing and unflattering details for the president but it's less of a big deal because they know in their eyes there are no bombshells that have already been litigated over the course of the investigation. there might be more detail here and there but the public generally knew what was in the report and felt familiar. it's worth reporting what "the post" broke last night actually qualifies as a bombshell. and that is something that
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worries the white house because it's not something they can dismiss as well. you already knew this, but it's not something you read about two, three months ago. this is new information. >> it seems like robert mueller was going to handle this differently. for robert mueller, a true chain of command guy to write a letter, have a phone call, and for this to make it to "the washington post," you know that mueller team never leaked. >> that is what is so striking, that team despite all of our best efforts, you're right, was remarkably tight-lipped for the entire course of the investigation. and then as soon as barr filed that first summary, four-page summary, we finally began hearing little grumblings about mueller's team was not particularly happy. they found some of the information in the report to be far more alarming and troubling than they believed barr has sort of accurately conveyed in that
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summary. that was the first sign, the mere fact it made it out into the press, that they were really frustrated. and, of course, this letter leaking is another sign that mueller's team and mueller himself now we know was very unhappy and very worried about barr's summary and, frankly, if you look mueller apparently said when he spoke with barr there's nothing inaccurate about the summary but really in the way that summary allowed it to be portrayed in the media and added to public confusion. if there's one thing mueller wanted was there to be public trust in a special counsel's report and he seemed to be that was all undermined by the handling of the rollout of his report. >> what are you specifically looking for today in your most recent report? you dig into one specific incident that some legal analysts shows actual evidence of obstruction. >> that's right. so mueller's team laid out ten instances of possible obstruction, and basically he declined to make a
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recommendation because of a justice department's rule a sitting president cannot be indicted. but there was a lot of consternation that when barr looked at these incidents, he didn't seem to find them as alarming and troubling as mueller's team. so i specifically looked into one, which was the president calling corey low endo yousky, former campaign manager and current loyalist and devotee but who is no longer in the government, and basically directing him at one point to fire then attorney general sessions and at another point take dictation and order sessions to give a speech essentially ending the mueller investigation. and this of those ten incidents legal experts and people at mueller's team believed was possibly the best evidence of possible obstruction of justice. >> telling a private citizen to fire the attorney general. let that sink in. ashley parker, thank you so much. do not go anywhere. any minute now attorney general william barr will arrive on capitol hill ahead of his testimony before the senate judiciary committee. i wonder what he had for
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cerebral coverage of a b special coverage for a big day on capitol hill. right now the united states congress are getting ready to face senators of the judiciary committee. william barr making his first appearance before congress since the release of the mueller report nearly two years ago. and this morning's politico playbook sums up what we should expect, the headline, william barr is not going to have a good day. that could be the understatement of the year after the bombshell reporting last night, first by "the washington post," and then by "the new york times," since then confirmed by nbc news. we learned special counsel robert mueller sent a letter to barr in march expressing his frustration with the lack of context and substance in barr's four-page summary of the mueller report. in the wake of that report already, several democrats, including at least one u.s. senator, are calling on barr to resign. democrats on the judiciary committee are sure to ask barr
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why he concluded the president did not obstruct justice, despite the fact special counsel did not lay out a conclusion on whether or not the president committed a crime. we are set in our studio in new york. you're looking at live pictures in the hallway outside the hearing room. with us the next few hours of testimony, nicolle wallace, host of "deadline: white house" here on msnbc. also happens to be former white house communications director for president bush 43. juk chose enberg, former u.s. attorney, former senior fbi official who served as counsel to robert mueller. he also happens to be -- we're getting ahead of ourself, he's also the host of the newest podcast "the oath" and also you have seen a preview of her, former u.s. attorney joyce vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. good morning, gang. and welcome. nicolle wallace, how has today
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changed based on what you read last night? >> you and i sat together, not that it wasn't pleasant, but felt like 13 hours since the mueller report came out. the central animated question when he took the podium in the doj briefing room, almost two hours before the mueller report came out was why. i think that becomes the $64 million dollar question to a $640 million dollar. why did he put his finger on a scale in a way that would alienate a single figure in public service? robert mueller spent 22 months protecting his investigation from politics and william barr went the full deagain uia rudy giuliani on him. and it's such a clash of cultures that mueller took the extraordinary step of writing a letter, it's impossible to overstate how people in government just don't do that unless something really, really
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stinks. so for robert mueller to take the step to write a letter which is what we learned in "the washington post," "the new york times," and he was unhappy, and there were concerns, mueller's aides said there were after the conference, but we're left with why. donald trump's fate would be better, william barr's fate would be better and the government would be better if that photocopy just sent out and speaks for itself. for some reason william barr did a political stump speech before sharing mueller's findings. >> let me double down on the why and in no way is this intended to make you the defender of all things bush era. here was a bush-era republican. he collected criticism along the way in his career.
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at the initial areaing after hes nomination, we heard how old he was and how he and his wife and family were looking for retirement years. did a little al pacino, kept being pulled back in. looked like he was doing it out of a sense of duty and obligation. fast forward he looks like an absolute trump partisan, reformed trump republican, and is using words meant only for an audience of one. >> yeah, listen, i'm going to be the skunk at the garden party. i was lulled into a political bit of complacency by our doj friends who really trusted and attested to his pedigree as an institutionalist. i think it was more likely he was among many people who came out of conservative politics partially reradicalized by the fox news information stream and more of a trump loyalist than anyone expected. another conversation you and i had the day the mueller report
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came out is we have to re-examine our faith in coincidences. do we now believe it was a mere coincidence that this near-retired man and his wife who could have done anything just happened to be pulled back in? also, this man just happened to write a 19-page memo about obstruction -- >> unsolicited. >> just bored. no one to hang with. no good golf torn armts or nothing on tv, and so he sat in his office, booted up his computer and wrote a 19-page memo saying on the question of obstruction, one, robert mueller had no grounds to explore whether or not firing comey could amount to obstruction and two, he should never, ever, ever, ever be permitted to interrogate donald trump about obstruction. robert mueller found that indeed constituted a obstructive act. what i failed to say or refused to say or wasn't able to say a crime was committed, but we have to re-examine whether it's serendipity this man, william
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barr, wrote a 19-page menu about his skepticism about obstruction, this man happened to be pulled in to replace jeff sessions, this man happened to testify to spying -- a spying no one in the u.s. government uses what the u.s. government to anybody. no one in the u.s. government calls what u.s. intelligence officials do spying. >> nor do they use the word collusion. >> it was a bazaar thing. and to trot out of trumpian twitter, the maga slogan on the mueller effort as no collusion, no collusion, no collusion, it may have been in all caps with exclamation points. >> chuck rosenberg, talk about the ideological migration of one william barr. >> so i may be one of those forbe lulling nicolle and others -- >> i'm in plenty of company. >> -- into a false sense of complacency. i have undergone my own migration from believing he was the principled institutionalist i had described to not really knowing what to make of what i
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see in front of me now. the notes are all discordant. they don't make sense. the words don't rhyme. i guess -- i guess what nicolle is describing is precisely what's happening, that he was maybe an ideologue in sheep's clothing. there wasn't anything like this to see before. but it's deeply troubling to me. the language he's chosen is spying and collusion. and also this makes no sense, the mischaracterization of a report he released. i don't know how to reconcile the fact you mischaracterized something you also make public except the false narrative got a huge head start. and, frankly, how many people can read a 448-page report and catch up to the false narrative? that's exceptionally hard to do. >> it's nothing less than brazen now to realize at that press conference, he used the phrase
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that pays to channel 1970s fm radio and said, no collusion, what, upwards of four, five times, knowing that the report i was about to hand over specifically said -- as far as our feds are concerned, collusion is not a thing. it's not a thing, get that out of your vocabulary. joyce vance, i want to explain to you two exchanges when we saw vance -- before we saw barr, forgive me, before congress. we will talk about each on the other side. >> reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the special counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your march 24th letter. that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings. do you know what they're referencing with that? >> no, i don't. i think -- i suspect that they
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probably wanted more put out. >> did bob mueller support your conclusion? >> i don't know whether bob mueller supported my conclusions. >> so counsel, we're not judge and jury here, but we have sense learned all evidence to the contrary, that he knew mueller had problems with how mueller portrayed his work. >> he did, there's no doubt. and there's one thing whether we're sitting here talking technically about whether this could be a sustainable perjury charge, hard to know the answer to that question without more details, but what's wrong here is whether or not this is actual perjury, this is the attorney general of the united states misleading the congress about what he knew at the time he testified. that is unacceptable conduct in my mind from an attorney general, a bright line no attorney general can cross and survive. >> a couple of things to alert our viewers to, this is kind of general, hallway waiting around
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but there's a new piece of equipment in just the last couple of years. look at those white zip ties on the belt of the police officers. those are to take out protesters who need to be restrained and they are in many ways faster and more comfortable than handcuffs and make for faster transportation. in many ways they came out of the two most recent wars our nation has fought, kind of pretied ready to go. it's just you may see that acute raman in use today. they do whatever they can to make sure the gallery as far as they know is going to be civil. of course, there's no way of looking someone in the eye and knowing what their intentions are. it's not at all impossible today won't be interrupted by protesters. matt is a reporter for "the
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washington post," covers the justice department as part of his beat and one of the reporters who broke the story about mueller's complaint last night for "the washington post." notably, matt contributed to the post edition of mueller report that is already in book stores and finally being read by civilians. matt, echoing our conversation you and i had scant hours ago, what surprised you most along the way in your reporting of this story? >> i think i would say again just the fact mueller wrote this letter, like we sort of talked about last night, bill barr and bob mueller are friends. bob mueller is a very by-the-book guy, chain-of-command guy. for a government employee to keep a book, write down what their boss or what somebody else is saying so there's a record of it is a major step.
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in this instance bob mueller's kind of memorializing his own thoughts, his own team's thoughts, his own objections to what bill barr was doing. he thought bill barr was unfairly characterizing his work. it's just so remarkable. this is a guy throughout the course of his investigation barely said a word to the press, i think once to dispute a news story he emerged and little times to confirm the structure of his team. but so remarkable he wrote down these thoughts. and the writing was forceful. you can read this, it's still leading the homepage now. this was not meili mouth what was he thinking, it's i object to how my work is characterized. that was most surprising to me. >> matt, the phone call is notable because there are so many kind of rules, written and unwritten, that dictate the
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behavior especially of veteran federal prosecutor, a phone call is impossible to be so memorialized beyond contemporaneous notes in a log. this was two people who have known each other for decades deciding to hey, let's talk about this, even though by all accounts they ended the phone call where they still were. >> yes, you've got to remember in the letter bob mueller wants to release these more thorough executive summaries. for those who have read the report, there are long executive summaries in the beginning of the obstruction section. they have to talk this out. mueller had given bill barr suggest the redactions so this could happen a little bit quicker. they talk this out. but bill barr stands his ground saying we're not going to release these things. >> matt, we will free you up top do another day's reporting. let's listen to over on the other side of the capitol, the
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democrat who runs the house judiciary committee where barr is supposed to show up tomorrow. jerry nadler, democrat of new york. >> they're misleading as to the context of the report and the introduction accurately reflected the report s the attorney general's failure to do so is another step in trying to mislead the public to shelter the president, mislead the public into what the report was all about. i think he misrepresented him. this makes it important that barr coming in to testify before our committee tomorrow and mueller testifying, subject to setting a date, see if they do that, some time in may. [ inaudible question ] no, we have not. we're going to today, we have a
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marking of the equality act, we will amend the committee rules and admit counsel to question witnesses. this is not unprecedented. there's precedent for it. we think it's particularly important, especially now, we have the ability to follow a precedence. [ inaudible question ] no, no, they basically -- no. it's just a question of setting a date. no, no. [ inaudible question ] i'm sorry?
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>> i think there are great difficulties, misleading the american people. [ inaudible question ] the more important question is whether it leads -- >> forgive me, you heard me talking while the chairman was talking. we have clearly the wrong mic up on the chairman so that became an impossible dream to hear him. on the left side of the screen, you just saw the attorney general entering the ante room that leads to the hearing room. democratic congressman ted lieu
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sits on the house judiciary committee and as we watch the senate judiciary committee room load up, we will talk to the congressman right now. congressman, what do you think is going to happen tomorrow? if you're a betting man, do you think you'll eventually hear from the attorney general? >> thank you, brian, for your question. yes, i believe we will m attorney general bill barr. i hope it's tomorrow. if it's not, we will subpoena here. look, bill barr can choose to be a lying partisan hack. it just means he needs to go work for the trump campaign but he can't be attorney general. that's a position that requires independence, integrity and oath to the constitution. he's supposed to be america's attorney, not donald trump's personal lawyer, and i really hope he gets that. otherwise he should resign. >> can he really object to being questioned by counsel with a straight face as opposed to or in conjunction with members? >> not at all. america should be asking, well, what is bill barr scared of?
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last term under republican control of the judiciary committee, i was in multiple hearings, closed-door hearings, where staff counsel questioned witnesses from the justice department. bill barr has no legal defense to why he needs to be questioned only by members of congress. he is simply trying to delay and obstruct. he needs to come in tomorrow and answer questions and be the person that he says he wants to be, which is to be independent. we will see if he can be that. >> final question, congressman, on the upside does the letter from mueller now that it's in public domain explain a lot to you? >> absolutely. not only is the mere writing of the letter by robert mueller extraordinary but bill barr's actions are even more extraordinary. not only did he mislead the american people with a four-page summary, he gets this letter from mueller telling him he mischaracterized the mueller report and then he goes before congress twice and misleads the american people again, and then he does a press conference misleading the american people. that is beyond the pale.
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those actions are unacceptable and bill barr really should resign. >> congressman ted lieu, thank you for taking time prior to the senate hearing to talk to us this morning. to our viewers, we've been showing you a photo of the mueller letter. it's long and legalese and the money quotes of it have already been released out into the public domain. i have something else to tell you, which is going to be important this morning. we are 11 minutes away from the start of this hearing. i have a graphic showing the republicans on this committee and then the democrats on this committee. you will recall if you were with us for our live coverage of barr's confirmation, the kavanaugh confirmation, here is your lineup for senate judiciary, and remember that man in the center is the chairman. republicans being in control of the senate. so one by one perhaps you can remember questioning styles. perhaps you can remember however
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much partisanship these republicans and their democratic counterparts brought to the last couple televised hearings. here are the democrats. >> those republicans that you just had up are the president's staunchest >> lindsey graham and these are the trumpiest figures at that end of pennsylvania avenue. >> all righty. and turning to the democrats, what is notable here even the naked eye can pick out and find the three candidates for president of the united states. well, that would be klobuchar, harris. that makes it more interesting. several former prosecutors among these ranks and their questioning is always quite pointed.
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sheldon whitehouse earlier in his career. the still photographers have been allowed, as you can see, to swarm around and fill the area in the hearing room in front of the witness chair to get in their positions. there will be one single solitaire chair and barr will be sworn in. we will finally get the answers to these questions but everyone should remember the attorney general has a rather lengthy opening statement. this will take some time. and then we'll hear from lindsey graham and so on. >> there is no group of mostly men in congress more dedicated to sort of serving as human shields for donald trump politically and legally than this group of senators. lindsey graham, who is a one-time ally of john mccain has
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taken an almost indescribable turn to looking the other way for all of donald trump's inexplicable contacts and niceties towards vladimir putin to serve as that human shield. you want to talk collusion. what will happen in a few minutes between lindsey graham and william barr. >> don't forget ben sasse who is the mitt romney of nebraska often says things that make moderates and liberals think, well, maybe, maybe this is a guy who is going to rise up and be heard but at the end of the day, votes with the senate. >> heit is good for the hour, b wears off pretty quick. >> i testified many times including in front of the senate judiciary committee and there is a sad pattern person a
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criticizes you and then the next person praises you and the next person criticizes you and it's hardly or often not a search for the truth, which is precisely what we need now. whether it's republican or democrat, good and hard questions to ask mr. barr. and i'd like to see it from both sides. i guess nicole would tell me not to hold my breath. >> don't hold your breath. t we saw it not just in barr's confirmation hearings but we sat together for the kavanaugh hearings. this is a group of republicans for whatever reason that has chosen to align themselves with a lawless president to, here's the other thing. all those republicans know bob mueller. he was the fbi director after 9/11 and robert mueller publicly and privately and ernst probably wasn't there but most were there and are very familiar and if
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they inject truth serum could admit what we were talking bout for the last half hour. it is extraordinary for robert mueller to write a note to the file. >> to joyce's point earlier and i think it's really important and worth reiterating. you don't have to decide whether barr lied or misled. first of all, we're probably not equipped to do that sitting here. at least not perfectly. secondly, as joyce said, it doesn't matter. you don't get to do either if you're the attorney general of the united states. you could say nothing. that's fine. once you decide to talk, there is only one thing that comes out of your mouth and it's the truth. misleading is not okay. it's just not. not in this context and i would say almost not ever. i can think of hypotheticals where a government would mislead because of some other sense that national security matter. but not here. >> joyce, we also learned and
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i'll word this carefully, that the people around robert mueller as tight a drum and operation as they have run for 22 months were not above letting a little something out on the eve of the barr hearing because they thought it was vitally important to this process. >> well, they did run a very tight ship. one suspects that there were times, really, when they saw some aspect of their work being mischaracterized and they chose to remain silent trusting that there would be a time and a day for their work to be revealed to the public. so, that must have made it all the more difficult for them to listen to the attorney general at best mischaracterize some of their work, some of its substance nature and context, as mueller says in the letter. so, the fact that this letter has now come to light the evening before these hearings with attorney general barr, i think speaks to their commitment to the public and their concern
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that the public understand exactly how this justice department has handled release of the report. >> the members of the committee, as you can see, are coming in one by one and taking their seats. let's go to our veteran justice correspondent pete williams. pete, i saw you on the air earlier and i have been thinking about you over the past 12 hours because in the course of your job, if you stay around washington long enough you, of course, come to know all these players and characters from rod rosenstein to bill barr to bob mueller. certainly you've been around them. what do you make of the presence of this letter, its debut and the public domain last night? >> i think you have it exactly right, brian. it's right that mueller after having basically said nothing about anything finally decides to release this letter or at least leak it so that it can be, you know, we had heard
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murmurings of this before the letter came out that first staff members of the mueller team were unhappy with the way the attorney general gave what he called a top line conclusion and that march 24th letter. then we heard that mueller himself had expressed displeasure, but we haven't heard about the letter and now we have the letter. brian, just because i'm all dressed up and ready to go here. let me be somewhat of a devil's advocate for a minute and say one of the reasons we're in this pickle is because of the fact that mueller and you're going to get a little flavor of this, i think, from the attorney general's opening statement. that bob mueller surprised them on march 3rd when he said, by the way, i'm not going to reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice. i've been told by three separate people at the justice department, senior people, that when they heard that they were genuinely surprised. they did not expect that to be the finding. they really thought he would go there. the fact that he didn't has left
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it open to others, including the attorney general, to fill in the blanks. and that's one of the reasons why we're here. >> now, i did hear it reported that part of barr's frustration was that mueller's report was written for an audience in congress. sa sent kind of over to you and bob barr who pointedly corrected at a reporter at his news conference, mr. mueller's report was written for me. barr was upset at that. >> yeah. i mean, what he said, i asked him a question at that news conference and he said we don't do these investigations and gather these facts just to put them out there. we're supposed to reach proscatorial decisions and he said in his statement that this is the job of a prosecutor that it doesn't matter the appointment of a special counsel and the investigation of a president don't change the rules. a prosecutor has to make a choice. either commence or decline
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prosecuti prosecution. so, i think you're going to hear a little bit of a push back from barr saying, you know, mueller was supposed to do this and he didn't. >> we just saw senator chris van holland interviewed in the hallway. he rather quickly last night having been involved in that exchange with barr that we have already aired this morning. he called for the straight up resignation of the attorney general. chuck grassley of iowa, the aforementioned lindsey graham, the chairman of south carolina. nicole, some of us are old enough to remember the three amigos. lindsey graham, john mccain -- >> let me just add something to what pete williams said. at the time mueller went in to tell them he was done march 23rd, robert mueller, it's my understanding, was still interviewing witnesses into
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2019. so, the investigation was very much under way well into 2019. and at the moment that he finished and came to the conclusion that he wasn't going to issue a letter. cannot indict a sitting president memo as he committed to john dowd two three lawyers ago in 2017 that he would do. they have been mad since then. they have been stewing since then. so the barr strategy of taking the podium and saying no collusion, no collusion was hatched after weeks of anger and i don't know if resentment is too strong but it wasn't an emotional reaction. they knew from the moment mueller walked in and said there would not exonerate and they were aware of how that obstruction report came down and well aware of the incidents that were under investigation. the


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