tv Meet the Press MSNBC March 24, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
jill wine-banks and joyce vance and glenn kirschner. it's been a while three hours. up now, our special coverage of the mueller report will continue with ari melber in washington, d.c. >> good evening. i'm anchoring live from washington with the first excerpts we have seen of the mueller report. president trump returning to the white house, he's breaking his silence to welcome the new letter from hand picked attorney general barr and asserting that the president did not obstruct justice. now, here are the facts. first, the mueller probe did add
without indictments for lack of conspiracy and collusion and the barr letter, this is the biggest news of the night if not the year, it did note that. this did not exonerate president trump from obstruction of justice. that whole issue remains open and that's according to the best presentation of the evidence on behalf of donald trump by his own attorney general barr. this is what you need to know tonight. barr's letter today, tonight, tries to go much farther than what mueller found on obstruction. and you're going to hear a lot about this tonight and the coming days. it tries to declare that donald trump who appointed barr did not obstruct justice. now let me give you exactly what we have. insufficient evidence to establish collusion. no conclusion on obstruction. he quotes mueller as stating that the mueller probe did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian
government in election interference activities and the evidence does not establish that the president was involved in the underlying crime related to russian election interference, aka collusion. then it leaves unresolved what special counsel mueller views as difficult issues of the obstruction. while it did not conclude that the president committed a crime it does not exonerate him. that is in this letter. that is an open question. for you, for the congress, for anyone who understands that after 22 months mueller clearly looks pretty fair, a lot of smoke about russian collusion but no fire. and yet, while barr could have stopped there and let you or the congress or the country deal with this, he goes much further tonight. this is important i want to bring in my experts in a moment. he says that he decided that while mueller did not try to
resolve if donald trump obstructed justice he's going to. in past probe if you afree with the outcomes or not, you may remember in the clinton and the nixon cases these kinds of findings are referred to the congress for its judgment. but barr is not referring to this to congress. instead he's doing something very different that i would observe might become quite controversial. he stated his own view tonight that he thinks his boss donald trump did not obstruct justice and of course the president would be seizing on that to declare no collusion, no obstruction and he broke his silence just now. >> it was just announced there was no collusion with russia. the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard. there was no collusion with russia. there was no obstruction and none whatsoever. and it was a complete and total exoneration.
it's a shame that your president has had to go through this for -- before i even got elected it began. and it began illegally and hopefully somebody is going to look at the other side. this was an illegal takedown that failed. >> i want to be very clear with you tonight because this really matters. you heard three key things from the president there. one of them is true. two of them are false. i'll leave it to others to describe whether those false things look like unintentional falsehoods or lies. what is true is that according to the information we have, the lack of indictments at the end of this probe and the excerpts from the doj, mueller did not find a collusion conspiracy. that is a true thing the president just said. and like anyone caught up in the probe it's understandable that he wants to bang that drum. then the president said a false thing. he said that this probe results in him being cleared of obstruction, it does not. i just walked you through that.
mr. barr trump's only appointee can walk you through that because we'll quote his own letter. then number three the president said something that has been characteristic throughout this probe. even after he claims he was cleared, he is still trying to run down the people who have done this investigation. mr. mueller and others and saying that their work was illegal. they are potentially the criminals. based on what we know and the evidence we have, that is also flatly false. so that's the table being set tonight. the summary i just gave you does set up the fight that many have been girding for. in this town. congressional democrats tonight pushing to still get the actual full mueller report and tonight they began demanding that attorney general barr testify about what some call and what jerry nadler is calling concerning discrepancies about his decision making reflected in the letter tonight. let me note that democrats do have the subpoena power to force barr to testify. we have a lot of great guests for the entire special coverage
this hour. we begin with national security and justice reporter julia ainsley, outside the doj. i'll soon be joined by other perts. i'm most interested in the facts that we can understand in the letter and that obviously is your specialty. and less what other people are saying about it. walk us through what barr has done here. i would note four sentences, not a single one is a complete sentence. they may look positive and i walked through what's positive for the white house and what's more open. what do you see as what he's done and why the letter is primarily barr's views and not mueller's? >> you're right, this is barr's take on what robert mueller gave him. he tried to set up the lawyer's argument of why this is in his purview. he explains that robert mueller gave him the decision of whether or not to pursue obstruction charges because in mueller's
view it did not conclude that the president had committed a crime. but it also did not exonerate him. it said there were difficult issues of law and fact concerning the president's action and intent. if you zero in on a lot of this, ari, what you find is what the attorney general actually used to make this decision came down to two things. it was the intent of the president, and whether or not it was an underlying crime. and he says here that it was -- it was considered by the attorney general and the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein that the president was not involved in the underlying crime related to russian election interference. that was what he was cleared or tonight, the collusion or coordination with russia during his campaign. they decided that that would let him off the hook and also his intent. it's hard to understand someone's frame of mind enless you can interview him and a crucial thing that robert mueller wanted that he was not
able to get was that sit down interview with the president. so it was hard for him to begin to put -- >> 100%. >> -- in the list of things. >> you have been all over this from the start. were you surprised that what barr decided to do here by sunday night was not summarize the letter or release excerpts as the rules might require. but that he used the weekend to issue a final judgment on potential charging or a criminal conclusion after this 22 month probe? i mean, that's a fast turn around for weekend work. >> we have been asking officials about that inside the justice department because he really only had this for 48 hours. the thing we were told by people who are backing up barr's decision here, you have to remember that rod rosenstein worked with him on this. he wants to include the deputy attorney general as much as he can because of the fact that rod rosenstein was overseeing this. since the early days because he appointed mueller. so their argument here is that
they knew what was coming. so we shouldn't just think of it a as a 48 hour window. rosenstein and then barr would have known the evidence or lack thereof that robert mueller had collected on the obstruction question. so it is not just 48 hours. that's their argument. but i think we'll hear from more people in the coming days especially as congress weighs in on this. did they move in a direction that maybe wasn't explicitly laid out from the special counsel? i for one -- yes, i'm surprised that mueller himself didn't weigh in on that. but it seemed it was a jump ball. >> we'll come back to you all evening. so thank you for your coverage right now. ken dilanian is joining me and natasha bertrand here with me in washington. ken, your view? >> ari, look, i think after covering this investigation for two years, we have to just take note of the fact that this
massive federal investigation, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 50 pen registers we learned today found no evidence of conspiracy by donald trump or anyone around him. that's oa huge deal, huge win for the president. on the obstruction question while he wasn't cleared, he's in the clear legally because the top law enforcement official in the land has decided not to bring a case -- a charge, leaving aside the president of whether the president can be indicted -- >> i'll stop you there, ken. just to make sure we're not moving too fast. you said leaving it aside, i'm not -- but he doesn't leave it aside. footnote two on page three -- >> right. he said -- >> he says that while there is that issue, our determination -- i'm reading from the barr letter. because i think it's very important that folks understand we're in a whole new ball game tonight. we are not in the tea leaves ball game. we have the entire teapot
whether you like the way it tastes or not. for your analysis, ken, mr. barr writes tonight his determination that while mueller said trump may have obstructed justice and the congress is the place where that's resolved, our determination that trump did not obstruct justice was based on -- and criminal prosecution of a sitting president. footnote two to what is now i think to americans maybe the most famous doj policy memo that exists. a sitting president's aminability to criminal prosecution, ken, explain. >> it says they didn't have to get to the question of whether we can indict the sitting president. barr and rosenstein, julia made that point, you know, we can talk about how could barr make this decision in 48 hours. rod rosenstein has been living with this case the entire time. and he participated in this decision and they decided that on the merits, even if it was a close call, it didn't rise to
the level of an obstruction case in part because they said there was no underlying crime of conspiracy. but the reason this will live on as a controversy is that the whole point of mueller being appointed is that he was an independent counsel. not called that technically, but a special counsel. not appointed by donald trump. william barr was appointed by donald trump. rod rosenstein was hired by donald trump. so they made the decision to clear essentially donald trump of obstruction and congress is not going to stand for that. they'll want to know exactly what mueller said about it. because he said -- mueller said there was evidence on both sides we learned from the barr letter. >> well, what does it mean -- let me ask you on that. i know we have a little bit of a tape delay so my apologies on that. what does it mean to you, ken that barr felt compelled to include this language from bob mueller that the full narrative of the mueller report did not exonerate trump of the potential crime of obstruction?
he didn't have to include that at all tonight. >> that's absolutely right, ari. i think it shows that barr was trying to be intellectually honest. because if he goes out and misrepresents what robert mueller has found, he won't stand for that. he's a marine combat veteran who spent two years of his life doing this. i think that's absolutely the reason it was included. and it's why congress is going to continue to demand to see the actual report. because this -- as you have been pointing out it doesn't quote a full sentence from the report. the devil is in the details on this. we have known ever since they announced the end of the mueller investigation, we knew there was no conspiracy. no criminal conspiracy. what this document does not say though is okay, what explains these contacts? what judgments did mueller and his investigators render on trump, were they exploited by the russians?
and these are important questions that congress now needs to answer. ari? >> ken dilanian, we'll come back to you. i turn now to natasha bertrand from the atlantic and she's always on air during the mueller stories. this is a big one and the other person we rely on, barbara mcquaid, msnbc contributor and former u.s. attorney. a person who has been in this position before, where you may turn things in and then you have bosses and they deal with them. for the sake of context for americans watching, typically when you turn something in from the long probe would the attorney general or your supervisor review it over the weekend and reach a judgment by sunday night? >> no. i have never seen anything like this before. in fact, i find it really curious that robert mueller was not the one to make the recommendation as to whether this did or did not constitute an offense for obstruction of justice. he said here are the facts and i
leave it to you to make the call. the whole point of having a special counsel insulated from the chain of command is that that decision can be made with public confidence. i find it rather odd that he would just gather up the facts and say there you go, you make the decision. >> i heard you say odd and curious. i know from working with you you choosed your words carefully. would you call it also troubling? >> i would call it unusual and leave for others to decide if it's troubling. i would have expected robert mueller not only to gather facts but also do the legal analysis and make recommendations about whether charges were appropriate. and what's interesting i could also see him saying because of the idea and the policy of not indicting a sitting president to just say here's some information we'll share with congress. but william barr and rod rosenstein said we conclude that this does not amount to obstruction of justice even outside of the special status that the president has. so again, i find that odd and
not to just say, here you go, congress. for you to decide whether this is impeachable. the mere fact it does not arise to the level of a chargeable crime under a federal that attitude does not mean it's impeachable. it doesn't technically meet the strict requirements of violating a federal statute. >> i want to read from page three to you because the guts of the letter are new tonight. the guts of the development and the guts of the template for whatever fight may or may not be to come. what you just said is a constitutional fact and it doesn't matter if people like or dislike the president in office. every time there's serious obstruction questions, the house resolves them. in clinton's case, they resolved them. so there isn't really a
precedent in the modern era even in the nixon era which is controversial where an attorney general comes out like mr. barr says actually, i'm the one who decides. this is very breaking bad. he's the one who knocks tonight and we'll fine out. i'm not here to prejudge it. find out if congress agrees that's a decision that only the ag is going to make over the course of a weekend with the private process. that's the end of it. so that's me building on your insight there. now i want to ask you on page three, let me read so everyone understands what mr. barr asserts tonight. is that mueller did not draw a conclusion one way or the other. as to whether examine -- it constituted obstruction. he writes that most of the conduct in the obstruction analysis by mueller has been the subject of public reporting. as a lawyer it makes me think that some of it was not. which means there's other secret stuff that mueller found that we don't know about and then barr
writes for each of the actions, there's unresolved what mueller views as quote difficult issues of law regarding the president's actions and intent. what would that look like based on your knowledge of these investigations? would that be a bunch of bad stuff that mueller found about obstruction or maybe not? would bit a bunch of good stuff that maybe barr says obviously this isn't enough? >> it could be either. it -- or a combination of both. as you point out, it says most of this material is known to the public which suggests that there is additional material that's not yet known. and in light of all of those things robert mueller could not draw a conclusion. these are hard cases to make in all contexts because not only do you have to show that the person did things to obstruct an investigation, they did so with a corrupt intent. that is for a bad purpose. whenever that may be. in this instance, to cover up some underlying crime. one of the things i found also curious is that they say the
fact that there was no underlying conclusion while not dispositive was one factor they looked at. ordinarily the fact that you don't -- aren't able to prove the underlying crime does not exonerate a person from obstruction. >> i thought that was wild. i'm so glad you brought that up. take someone that was pardoned by donald trump, scooter libby. he was prosecuted in the special counsel probe and he was convicted. he didn't leak -- he was not found guilty of leaking the special agent's name, he got his sentence commuted, and then he got pardoned. what did you think of the legal validity of barr potentially stretching to make that argument tonight? >> it doesn't really make sense to me. without knowing all of the facts it's hard to know why he thinks that's relevant at all. because ordinarily it's not relevant at all. the fact that you tried and attempt to obstruct justice is enough to be a crime. it may be that you were so good
at obstructing justice so that's irrelevant. he does acknowledge that it's not dispositive but he does say it's one factor that they considered in deciding whether the president obstructed justice here. >> your mind is moving fast. i'm trying to keep up with it and it's interesting what you're saying and i want you to stay with me. as promised i have natasha bertrand and a former chief of staff at the cia and department of defense. here's where i want to go people are saying, what just happened? did we get the mueller report, do we get the end of this? what we got is this four page letter right here, got this four page letter, natasha, and it has i count basically four quotes from the mueller report. none go longer than a full sentence, but it attempts and we'll find out if it works it
resolves everything here. this seems to be the weaker side for barr and the president. i will turn to the stronger side with you, because there are no collusion indictments. you were someone who is saying things that some of the viewers thought might mean there were going to be collusion indictments. but your analysis of what you heard, since this is your first time tonight? >> the collusion aspect is really interesting to me base odden what barbara said at the end there. while the president -- the evidence does not establish that the president was involved in the underlying crime related to russian election interference, therefore, the absence of such evidence bears upon the intent of obstruction. you can't -- how do you square that circle, because they couldn't find that the president
directly engaged with the government officials, there was no evidence to establish that there was collusion between the campaign and the russian government. >> yeah. >> is enough for them to say, well, then the president could not have obstructed here because there was no crime. >> from your reporting do you know who disagrees with this approach? >> bill barr. >> i was going -- who disagrees with bill barr is bob mueller. because he prosecuted mike flynn for obstruction crimes lying to the fbi. full stop. there may have been other stuff but the notion as a prosecutor when somebody obstructs -- i'm not saying the mueller report says that. all we know is that it leaves the question open. which is itself interesting. mueller chose to do it that way. >> exactly. >> when flynn obstructed, mueller went to court and then ultimately won a convict then through a plea by saying the crime is lying, nothing else. >> we have to remember that barr is the one who wrote this 20 page memo outlying why the obstruction inquiry that mueller
was going after was really misguided and why it was not appropriate for him to be going down that road. so for mueller to have left this conclusion to barr to be made is really, really -- it's interesting. i think that maybe in the full report we might get a better understanding of why he chose to do it that way. but it seems like you're leaving the fox in the hen house in this case. >> you look like you want to get in on this, so go ahead. >> to the flynn case, mike flynn's underlying conduct which is talking to the russian federation about foreign policy issues i would argue is manifestly legal. there was nothing illegal about that. >> sure. >> yet he was still convicted of obstruction. i think that undermines the point that the attorney general is making this this letter. i think the weakest part of the letter and the one that will invite the most questions from congress appropriately is this sentence on the second full
paragraph of page three in which he says the special counsel's decision to describe it without reaching a legal conclusion, i'm writing a letter referring to myself in the third attorney -- person. i'm leaving it to the attorney general. says who? >> you're noting that barr is making a claim here. just because he's the attorney general and just because he masterfully choreographed weekend coverages doesn't mean he's the final word. you're pointing out he asserts here it would sound worse if he said "i." we can go from third to first. he is saying i think i should be in charge of this decision because mueller didn't reach a conclusion. >> that's right. >> and historically as i noted at the top who would reach a conclusion ott president's potential obstruction. >> well, look, the mandate was to put a report to the attorney general. but the guidelines pertaining to
the special counsel's role doesn't then say if the special counsel is inconclusive on the important matter like whether if the president obstructed justice that goes to the attorney general. there's nothing in the law that says it's his job to substitute his own judgment for the special counsel. there are reasons why he shouldn't substitute his own judgment. after all, he's a presidential appointee. he was appointed by donald trump. he led his confirmation hearings with the point i'll be fair and impartial and i won't put my thumb on the scale and here is putting five fingers on the scale. >> that's your view, i think viewers can tell you're suspicious or critical or skeptical of this issue and we'll have time to go into it. then i want to get to collusion. >> yes. >> did you honestly expect that someone sooner or later would get in trouble for collusion? >> i wasn't sure why and here's why. the trump tower meeting, the
roger stone meetings and the outreach to papadopoulos looked like the russians were trying to target information to the trump campaign but we didn't have evidence of information going the other way. >> what is your view -- i'm going to push you on this. this is the part that some people were surprised by, some people didn't like. tough. you don't have to like the results of our court system. and our legal system. you have to respect the rule of law. this sentence here, the first quote from mueller according to barr on page two. the investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in the election interference activities and then footnote and they can matter. what that was defined as barr quotes it was an agreement, tacit or expressed between the trump campaign and the russian government. if we have that -- i think we have that. do we have that full screen? we don't have it. basically it's the point that
mueller according to barr defined collusion broadly. >> two dimensions. one is when veselnitskaya came to trump tower, they were introduced as a russian delegation by rob goldstone. whether or not they appreciated that they were in effect the delegation from the russian federation, you know, maybe they didn't fully appreciate it. i think the argument also that bob mueller is probably pressing on though, we have to wait for the full report is that when stone was acting as a go between between wikileaks, the trump campaign didn't appreciate that wikileaks was a russian government outfit. the trump campaign didn't realize therm dealing with the russian government. they knew they were dealing with some russians, they knew they were having conversations with some russians but they weren't sure it was the russian government. i think that's an important fact and that's the kind of thing that you want a special counsel to look at. >> here it is. speak to what we see here. >> the special counsel defines
coordination as an agreement, can be tacit or expressed between the trump campaign and the russian government on interference. we know that number one that there was a meeting at trump tower between a russian government delegation and the high command of the trump campaign. if we look at the full report we may see bob mueller say, i interviewed the witnesses and they didn't appreciate that veselnitskaya was a government -- >> but you accept this outcome? >> yes. if that's the witnesses that's the proper conclusion as far as the footnote goes. >> we're in breaking coverage mode. i believe we have a congressman from the democratic side standing by. do we have him? hi congressman. >> hi, ari. >> this feels like a big sunday night. we have discussed some of the
problems that are apparent in barr's report. do you accept the lack of collusion indictments and to barr's assessment of the report that the trump campaign and trump did not conspire criminally with the russians? >> well, according to legal experts, the collusion part of this whole investigation was a long shot and a difficult one. had thresholds, very high standards that had to be met. of course it doesn't exonerate the president on the obstruction charges and that's troubling. the american people -- >> well, congressman, i don't -- i told you we'll get to obstruction. i promise i'll give you time for that. do you accept the outcome? >> this is where the collusion matter begins. let's go back and see where this begins. the american people remember the image of donald trump on tv pleading to the russians to
release hillary clinton's e-mails. you know, that has created for a long time the impression that in fact there was collusion. now, many of the legal experts know that it is a very high standard to meet. and according to the mueller report it wasn't met. so yes, but i want to see the full report and the american people must be entitled to the full report. >> so i take that -- i appreciate you going back and forth on me. you want the full report. that brings me to the other big questions here. what is your view thus far of the way attorney general barr has handled this of the roughly four partial sentences that are now released from the mueller report with -- without the other context or other sentences. do you give him the benefit of the doubt on the good faith or are you concerned about the way he's rolling it out? >> i'm very concerned that an investigation that took 22 months was so like quickly
resolved. you know? in 48 hours. and so clearly in the letter, mueller alludes to difficult issues of the law. of course. so we should have access to more of the information. i think congress should be able to look at it, the american people need to rebuild this confidence in government by having as much information as possible that can be shared with the public. >> and let me get you on the record -- because this is all new and happening right now. as with we were mentioning, i think it's quite significant but i wonder what you think, on page two, the attorney general asserts that he's the decider of whether or not the president committed obstruction. do you agree with that or do you think he's encroaching on the house's traditional role? >> i think he's encroaching on our role. he was clearly appointed by the president. i know it, i have it and i should decide it.
i think congress and chairman nadler are putting out a statement and we'll question him on the full report. >> what else is on your mind, what else do you want to know from the justice department or a concern to you at this hour? >> well, it's inconclusive. because he has not been exonerated on the obstruction possibilities. so the american people will still drag their feet and lose confidence in government. clearly, we know for a fact that the russians were involved in some kind of activity to influence the election. this is something that the president did not -- denied consistently throughout his first two years in office. and probably maybe even continues to deny. but clearly, the report sheds extreme light that in fact the russians were very active in influencing the results of our election. so we want to know more. we want to restore the confidence of the american people, not only in government, but in the electoral process as well. >> congressman, thank you so much for coming on with us. i appreciate you coming on.
we turn now to chris lew who worked in the obama administration as assistant to president obama and served as labor deputy. >> good evening. >> we are deep into the law, the letter, the footnotes. for anyone saying that's a lot of law, i turn to you as an experienced washington practitioner or player in the best sense of the word. how do you view this is going down t way that bill barr is serving in the dual role as a trump cabinet member and also as bob mueller's boss and what do you think the democrats do from here? that's your party. >> well, ari, let me give you another title i held. i ran obama's transition and i had no contact with russians or any foreigners. while we can accept the special counsel's conclusion on collusion, i want to know more about the contacts. we know of over 100 contacts between trump associates and russians. we know that multiple people
have lied to investigators around this. simply because the special counsel could not connect the dots does not mean that the dots don't matter and that the dots aren't troubling. we know here that both the russians and the trump's, while they may not have an express or tacit agreement they shared the same goal. which was to subvert our democracy and so in that sense, this is no vindication. more broadly, congress has an oversight function. i spent eight years as the deputy chief counsel of the house oversight committee and congress has a role in looking at this and the other things going on in the trump administration. >> let me ask you about that, sir. we hear that from a lot of democrats and those probes are important. we started to cover months ago because it was pivotal. no factual argument with you but on the night of the barr letter or on friday night when we first heard the mueller report was done as a democrat, as an obama
official, do you think that's the best message for the democrats to be focusing on other things when we are at the first weekend of the end of this mueller probe? >> oh, i agree with you we need to get the facts here and one of the reasons that why speaker and leader schumer has said what what mr. barr has put out raises more questions than it answered. i think the president will use this as a way to delegitimatize what's happening and we can't allow him to do that. >> understood. we have been going at a lot of the different angles an facts. we wanted to get your perspective. and the transition is quite relevant. thank you for joining us tonight. >> thank you. we have a lot of guests here on the special coverage. john mclove lin and ned price who served at nsc and malcolm
nance, msnbc analyst as well. for those joining us here there's a lot going on. i want to reset that tonight is the first time ever we have seen excerpt of the mueller report become public. although they're few and far between. roughly four sentences each of them partial in donald trump's new hand picked attorney general barr's letter and it summarizes his view of what he found and goes further on the issue of obstruction and declares as of tonight, as of just in the last few hours the claim that donald trump did not obstruct justice. that's not actually what the excerpt even say from mueller. on the collusion side as we knew and we began reporting as soon as friday, there is the ending of the mueller probe without any collusion indictments. that being a very serious factual resolution. so a lot of that is the breaking news we're doing. i want to turn to these experts if you're joining us. ned, your reaction here to this letter. >> look, on the collusion part i think the obstruction part is
much more complicated for the issue you have discussed because i think bill barr made a judgment that i'm not sure that bob mueller necessarily put up for him to make. i think bob -- i think the attorney general may have done something that in fact bob mueller did not intend. on the collusion -- >> well, look, what are you saying then? >> well, look, bob mueller had 22 months to examine this. he put together what it sounds like a series of facts, both exculpatory facts and to come to the judgment if donald trump was guilty or responsible, was at least reached the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to obstruction it doesn't sound like bob mueller thought that he was in the best position to make that judgment and -- >> meaning? >> meaning that there's this other body, other branch of government, the legislative branch, congress -- >> i feel like you're being very nice and careful. i know you worked at the nsc. you have the cia here. you tell me if i'm wrong, this is not bill barr's decision to
make. that mueller knew that, if mueller thought a prosecutor should make this decision he could have made it or recommendled it one way or the other. mueller could have cleared trump on obstruction too. if anyone has proven they're fair and open minded tonight it's the excerpts of bob mueller that obviously were very fair to the president, his advisers, regardless of all the russian contacts but mueller didn't do it. it seems like he's leaving it open for congress. >> it's obvious we haven't seen mueller's report, but we have seen barr's four page summary of the report. -- without reaching any legal conclusion leaves it to the attorney general. you know, how does bob barr reach that conclusion? that it is now up to him in that bob mueller was not intending for this to go to congress. congress has been the political venue, the political avenue that previous investigations have
tossed it to. it's inconclusive. >> ari, there are things that surprised me in the letter and things that don't surprise me. what doesn't surprise me if we're getting an accurate portrayal of bob mueller's project here is bob mueller's approach. i had many conversations with him when i was at cia about the nature of evidence and facts and his standard is very, very high and very strict for that. so it doesn't surprise me's been very careful and very fair. it does surprise me as a nonlawyer that barr made this decision. and i think the only way we're going to learn whether that was the right decision or not or whether mueller intended that is when mueller testifies and clearly -- >> you say when, not if? >> i think clearly mueller has to testify and clearly barr has to testify. >> well, we're hearing tonight that the democrats will subpoena -- will ask barr to
testify. they have subpoena power. what mueller found, how barr characterized it and how barr took charge of this friday night, setting the weekend deadline and keeping reporters and the rest of the nation on tinter hooks and he's put out a version a first draft out. we have no idea whether it is a semiaccurate set of highlights that just leaves out all of the security sufficient which you as a cia person would agree with or whether in some ways it's incomplete or misleading. do you think that barr is doing a strong washington play here that's less than transparent? >> as you say, we don't know. if i had to say right now i would say no, i don't really take it that way. >> you don't? >> i don't. i really don't. i think we have got to hear from barr. we have to hear all of the facts. and i think we have to be a little careful i'll step back and take like the cia political analyst. >> both of you have been very careful. let me bring in malcolm nance.
your view on all of the above? >> the part i'm mainly focused on is the question of conspiracy. whether there was an actual operation where as robert mueller put it if there was explicit or tacit coordination in some way, shape or form. i'm sure mr. mclaughlin can appreciate this. we have had people who have done things before where there were, you know, there were not signs of an explicit agreement with them. one for example is former cia officer aldridge ames. he started to do his treason in 1988 but it wasn't until he was caught making a chalk signal on the mailbox they saw an actual explicit act and then the fbi arrested him. by this -- >> do you accept there's no chargeable collusion? >> well, you know, i saw all of the collusion and conspiracy in plain sight. the question is robert mueller's standard for that. which is a legal standard which to him was if there is no a wink
and a nod that i can see or technically a signed sfb contract then i can't bring them up on the charges. but we have seen the things occur and in any other standard the person would have been arrested, would have been polygraphed and brought to trial. i found that a high standard. maybe it's a legal standard we need to take a look at, but i want to hear him tell me why the russia if you're listening speech, did accept it as a joke? the handing off as data we legal nick as a joke and if it was i couldn't get a slam dunk then the russians have won on a very well planned and coordinated operation even by mr. mueller's standards. >> well, based on what we have learned tonight, we know a lot more now, the letter would suggest given the narrative that's alluded to in the
obstruction section that mueller did lay out a lot of evidence. so that what you referred to what was the then candidate's state of mind in asking russia for help, that would be addressed in some manner within the report. what i want to do for our viewers before i let the folks here in washington respond to you, malcolm, give everyone a sense of what's happening. in a couple of minutes we expect judiciary chairman nadler to make his remarks in a scheduled press conference, 6:45 eastern. you can see the preparations already. if i'm not mistaken, you see the security and him on the left part of the frame. he's preparing to go to the lectern. this is the first response. it will be interesting because chairman nadler would be one of the people that mr. barr appears to have attempted to replace or usurp in his assertion in this letter that he decides on presidential obstruction. the president has landed at andrews air force base and will soon be returning to the white
house. he made brief remarks. i see mr. nadler. there's the air force landing. i see mr. nadler has come to the lectern. we'll get him as soon as he begins. you're watching msnbc special coverage. >> good evening. earlier today i received a four page letter from attorney general barr outlining his summary of special counsel robert mueller's report while making a few questionable legal arguments of his own. i take from this letter three points. first, president trump is wrong. this report does not amount to a so-called total exoneration. special counsel mueller was cleared that his report does not exonerate, closed quote, the president. the special counsel spent 22 months uncovering evidence of obstruction and other misconduct. the attorney general barr who
auditioned for his role with an open memorandum suggesting that the obstruction investigation was unconscionable and that a president -- it was almost impossible for any president to commit obstruction of justice since he's the head of the executive branch made a decision about that evidence in under 48 hours. his conclusions raise more questions than they answer. given the fact that mueller uncovered evidence that in his own words does not exonerate the president. it is unconscionable that president trump would try to spin the special counsel's findings as if his conduct was remotely acceptable. second, given these questions, it is imperative that the attorney general release the full report and that the underlying evidence. the entire unfiltered report as well as the evidence underlying that report must be made available to congress and to the
american people. as much information can be -- as can be made public should be made public without delay. i intend to fight for that transparency. we will ask the attorney general to testify before the house judiciary committee. we will demand the release of the full report. the american people are entitled to a full accounting of the president's misconduct referenced by the special counsel. third, the attorney general's comments make it clear that congress must step in to get the truth and provide full transparency to the american people. the president has not been exonerated by the special counsel, yet the attorney general has not decided to go further or to share the findings with the public. we can't rely on what may be a hasty partisan interpretation of the facts. earlier this month, the house passed a resolution calling for full and complete release of the
special counsel's report by a vote of 420-0. we now call on the attorney general to honor that request to release the report and the underlying evidence and to appear before the judiciary committee to answer our questions without delay. that's the statement. thank you. take a few questions. >> just, you know -- >> i can't hear you. >> sorry. the legal team is saying this is -- you know, it's going in the opposite direction. you know, what's your reaction? what is the committee trying to do? >> well, as you point out the president -- the president and his people are saying it's a total exoneration. that contradicts what the special counsel found. it's a lie about what the special counsel found, but we should not be surprised that they lie anymore. >> and so you mentioned on twitter, you asked the attorney general to appear before the committee. >> yes. >> would you be willing to use subpoena powers if necessary?
>> sure. i would hope that it would not be necessary to use subpoena power to get the attorney general to appear before the committee. we want to see the full report. and if necessary we'll use subpoena power to get that too. >> are you worried that executive privilege could be exercised if some of the unknowns, the inside of the report? >> well, the president could try to exercise executive privilege but won't be successful. it must be asserted by the president personally and up as the nixon case in front of the supreme court which was decided 9-0 pointed out -- executive privilege cannot be used to shield or hide wrongdoing. and in the case of nixon the tapes of his personal conversations with people were ordered revealed by the court. so i don't think that executive privilege will be very successful defense here.
>> the other -- >> speaker -- questioning what they say as the attorney general's bias, is that fair and do you have confidence in the attorney general? >> well, it is fair. and in fact i questioned it if you listened to what i said. he auditioned for his job by writing a 19-page memorandum giving a very extreme view of obstruction of justice in presidential power and saying that basically no president can commit obstruction of justice. given the fact that the special counsel found ample evidence of obstruction so as not to be able to say they're not guilty of obstruction so he said we're not exonerating the president after 22 months for the attorney general reviewing that record in 22 hours is a bit much. i would in fact wonder if the attorney general pressured the special counsel into not making that finding so he could make
the finding. i'm not aware of any case where an attorney general made the decision on a prosecution or nonprosecution for obstruction of justice. >> when all we have is the letter. >> do you have any concern now in terms of if you will move forward with impeachment proceedings? >> we're going to move forward with our investigation to obstruction of justice, abuses of power, corruption, to defend the rule of law, which is our job. it's a broader mandate than the special prosecutor has. his mandate is only for crimes. we're going to press forward with that. as part of that, we're going to press forward with trying to get the entire report and underlying evidence so we don't have to re-create it. >> one last question, last question -- >> the report found that he's
not fully exonerated, what does that mean? what is the next step? >> it meant the special prosecutor said there was a lot of evidence which would lead one to think he should be indicted, and evidence to the contrary and he didn't make that decision. as far as i know, it's unprecedented for a special prosecutor not to make that decision one way or the other, and certainly unprecedented for an attorney general to arrigate himself of that decision and certainly an attorney general campaigning for the rule saying presidents hardly ever commit obstruction of justice. >> thank you very much, everybody. >> thank you. >> the chairman of the house judiciary committee speaking to the press in new york city impromptu conference what they're calling lies in aspects
of the robert mueller and excerpts released by attorney general william barr. the democrats are gearing up for about a major fight, one one half of this report, one half of the 0 obstruction part, i want to bring in jill wine-banks, katie benner, nbc national political reporter on the hill and carol lamb i believe i see, malcolm nantz, it's a long day. katie, malcolm, barbara mccade and folks with me on set. my apologies as i try to keep track. i would like to go legally first to barbara. what did we hear from chairman adler that was important in your view? >> i think he sized eized into idea that william barr is declaring himself the arbiter of the decision that should have been left to robert mueller and we want to see this information. it is for congress to decide.
i think what he's saying loud and clear is this matter is far from over. congress wants full transparency and they bauwant to see this ret and they will decide whether obstruction of justice occurred. >> we have about four minutes on balance here and i want to get the final views based on what we heard from the chairman. katie? >> i think we should start asking ourselves why did robert mueller basically seem to abdicate or punt on one of his three major jobs, trying to figure out if russia swayed the election, which he did determine happened and whether the trump campaign colluded and he said he did not have evidence on that charge. on the third claim he decided to leave it to the attorney general and we should start asking ourselves why that is and in addition to asking bill barr, we should also see if mr. mueller will come to the hill as well to answer that question. >> malcolm? >> yes. can you hear me? >> go ahead.
>> i was saying the report is looking for us to have had tacit or explicit activities which would have created an indication of cooperation. to he in a signed letter of intent for a multi hundred million building in the largest tower of it in moscow, that looks like evidence to me and i don't know why it was completely dismissed here. >> jill? >> i think we need to see the full report and all of the facts it relies on because it may not even be if we don't see the exact semantics that mueller used, we will never know if he actually gave the power to the attorney general, or whether he intended to give it to congress. which seems to me more appropriate. and i also agree with malcolm, there's too much evidence in plain sight about what could be obstruction and what could be intent. the comment to lester holt on air that he fired comb dwroi ey
rid of the investigation seems like a clear evidence of intent. when it comes to obstruction, i was asked almost two years ago as to whether i could make a case for obstruction and at the time i answered brian williams with i think i can. i really fill feel that i know i can now. i'm even stronger feeling there is an obstruction case. >> to that point, mike on the hill, as to if there's an obstruction case, barr himself felt the need to concede some of the mueller's evidence for obstruction has never been publicly viewed. do democrats see that as a lead tonight and tomorrow? >> that's right. what we didn't hear from chairman adler but but what she tweeted out earlier was this report, this summary by the attorney general, puts this matter squarely in congress' court. if the justice department through special counsel can't handle this question of obstruction, it's their constitutional mandate to it.
republicans were cautiously optimistic at the news there were not any indictments. they're outright over the moon now. they believe this is a total exoneration, vindication. chairman graham, who i should mention was on fair force one with the president today coming back, is saying this is a bad for anyone who is hoping this would be the end of donald trump. >> i think that may include some people we heard from tonight and it's very interesting getting your reporter on what everyone is saying. i want to give one special macrothanks to everyone you see on your screen. a lot of experts with a lot of experience we have been relying on. what have you just seen? what will you see the rest of tonight? i will put it like this in closing. and i will tell it to you like this, we have a letter now that purports to describe the mueller report. we have corroborating evidence of some of it. the lack of collusion indictments support the quotes in the mueller report that say there was no chargeable collusion. then we have this other obstruction part where mr. barr admitted mueller said donald
trump is not exonerated and he provided evidence but mr. barr has gone further and said he will decide there's no obstruction. is that the end of the matter? it depends on who you ask and what happens next. we can't predict the future. ly have a lot more on this with a two-hour special tonight with some of the experts you have just seen and some other special surprises. i'm honored to have been asked to do it. it's at 9:00 p.m. eastern. if you're interested on more, stay locked on msnbc. a lot more come canning ing up . inw . [picture noises] go to sleep. wake up. grab a bite. maybe some racquetball. and boom - your money's on the way so you can get back on the road fast. well, not that fast. the editor had to make it fit in 30 seconds. it's pretty tricky actually trying to ... and ... tagline. when insurance is simple, it's surprisingly painless. i'm missing out on our family outings because i can't find a bladder leakage product that fits.
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welcome to "kasie dc." i'm kasie hunt. we're live every sunday from washington from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. eastern but this is spacial night. as we come on the air, the principal conclusions we have been waiting so long for robert mueller and his team of investigators are finally out. the summary for attorney general william barr explains no american involved with president trump's campaign conspired or coordinated with russian to impact the 2016 campaign. but then there's the question of obstruction of justice. the special counsel did not draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. it also said that while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. so the president celebrated on r