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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  March 30, 2019 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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and had no fault in the arrangement. that does it for me, thank you for watching, i'll see you back here tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. eastern for a new live edition of politics nation. up next, "deadline white house" with me friend and colleague nicolle wallace. >> hi, everyone, it is 4:00 in new york. bill barr notifying congress that he will release robert mueller's report by april. senate judiciary committees. i share your desire to insure that the public had the opportunity to read the special report.
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what barrs decide to redact and why is tern so become the subject of scrutiny amid calls from democrats for maximum transparency. bar and his letter addressed concerns that president trump and his attorneys will use executive privilege to conceal personal damage. has stated publicly he tends to defer to me and accordingly there are no plans to submit the report to the white house for privilege review. barr also confirming he will testify before the senate judiciary committee on may 1 and before house judiciary the next day and that is where we start today with some of our favorite reporters and friends. "the new york times" chief white house correspondent peter baker. nbc news national political reporter heidi przybyla. frank figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the fbi. former u.s. attorney joyce vance and nbc news national security and justice reporter julia ainsley. she's live for us outside the
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department of justice. and that is where i start today with you, julia. are you getting any sense, it's been my impression all week long, that the department of justice was not unaware of the climate in which calls for transparency and accusations of a cover-up were building? >> that's absolutely right, nicolle. they're completely aware of that. that's what this letter tries to address, try to get inside some of the discussions and debates that are going on within the building behind me and the attorney general is trying to give us a little idea what to expect and i think has managed some of those expectations. big news, we can expect his version of the mueller report to come out by mid-april f. not sooner. he's also agreed to testify in early may on capitol hill. one thing i would call your attention to is the reasons he gives out for why he won't be able to be fully transparent. some of the things we were expecting, whether it's grand
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jury testimony or evidence that can be used in another investigation, the point four i think is the thing we will be talking about for some time. this includes information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties. as we've discussed, there's no legal term for what a peripheral third party means. who could that mean gets left out of this because the special counsel, in this case william barr, won't want to bring anyone into a position where their reputation might be damaged because of information in this report. and will that keep him from being completely transparent and forthcoming as democrats and many of the public would like him to be? >> frank figliuzzi, i'm thinking jared kushner, i'm thinking donald trump jr., i'm thinking all of the other subjects and ancillary figures that a political appointee like william barr may have a reason to try to protect. what do you think when you hear julia report that? >> so here's my gut reaction to that, the people you just listed are not by any stretch of the imagination peripheral third
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parties. they're not peripheral. they're in the center of this. so if that is indeed the kind of people he's referring to, there will be a problem. i will tell you this, absent that sentence, generally the letter has an overall positive connotation. i like the letter. i think the mid-april deadline is reasonable. i always thought and have talked about how difficult it is to declassify, et cetera. in fact, the shorter deadline here actually tells me they've been working on the issue of declassification and grand jury secrecy for probably quite some time. i love the idea he's in search, that mueller is involved in this process, that helps. i agree with julia, he's kind of pushing back on this perception that's been out there spinning, hey, he's involved in a cover-up. and, of course, there's a zinger in there as you said with the president, he's referring to the public pronouncement of the president that he wants the
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whole thing to come out so i will take the public pronouncement as official and we're not going to run it by you for executive privilege. a couple of other things, the notion that in addition to item number four in these peripheral players and whoever they are, i'm concerned about them saying we're addressing these things that will keep us from getting everything out. the grand jury secrecy, we talked about this. you can get a judge to say i'm waiving that, it's not going to be a secret anymore. and the secret classified information, listen, mueller got out 12 gru officers and all of the keystrokes and time and place they were doing it, if we can do that, we can declassify much of what's in this report. not buying all of it but a general overall positive connotation. >> i was involved in the declassification of the pdb after the 9/11 attacks, not much
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more sensitive intel than goes into a pdb and declassification of the wmd report which included mounting intelligence. so there's more historic precedent of it being done than not being done. someone else who's not buying it is chairman nadler. here's a statement they just put out -- as i informed the attorney general this week, i congress requires the full and complete mueller report without redactions as well as access to the underlying evidence by april 2. that deadline still stands. as i informed him rather than expend value time and resources trying to keep important portions of this from congress he should work with us to release a court order to release any and all information to the house judiciary committee has has occurred in every single investigation in the past. there's ample precedent for the department of justice sharing all of the information the attorney general proposes to redact to the appropriate congressional committees. again, congress must be the full -- must see the full
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report. heidi przybyla, congress has been on a war footing since skepticism set in friday evening at about 8:00 when they saw barr's summary didn't include a single complete sentence. it didn't include a single paragraph. i'm willing to accept attorney general barr didn't anticipate the critique. but it is abundantly clear that democratic leaders in the house, at least, anticipated more stonewalling. >> that's right, nicolle. and they're staying pretty firm if you read the statement here that both by the deadline and for the full report as well as underlying documentation, i spoke with a number of judiciary committee members this week, nicolle, and they all were skeptical that they weren't going to get a heavily redacted document that would be essentially a shell of an actual report. those concerns were underscored when last night a senior democratic official briefed reporters and said barr had a phone call with jerry nadler, judiciary company and barr told
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nadler he would not commit to going to a court to get that released. this is happened with watergate. he went and got a court order in order for the information to be released to congress. barr would not commit to that. here's the thing, democrats believe, nicolle, that information is going to be critical can to understanding the underlying motives and narrative here in the broader russia investigation. and so there is a lot of concern that they're going to get a complete accounting here. the question is what is nadler going to be willing to do when that deadline now comes and passes on april 2? he's saying he's standing firm by that. well, prior to this announcement, i have been talking with democrats today, nicolle, who said some of them would be advocating for a quote/unquote subpoena cannon. but again, we're brought back to the limitations that barr faces by law that he cannot release
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that grand jury information without going to a court. so where does this ultimately end up? we don't know at this point but possibly democrats do take a more aggressive posture, then we do end up in court with democrats kind of pushing barr to do what they asked him to do but hasn't committed to do. >> joyce vance, when i was in college my mom had an expression, she would say you made your bed, you have to lie in it if i stayed out a little too late the night before. the bed bill barr is lying in today is one he made on sunday when he refused to release basic information, like how many pages? how many pages? we learned today for the first time something we could have easily learned sunday night, an innocuous line right here in the letter released, after five days the morning's headline, democratic stoppers accusing the justice department of a cover-up. on day five, the fifth full day of the american public and congress only knowing what bob barr told us about the two-year-long mueller investigation, the attorney
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general adding this line if his letter, the special counsel's report is nearly 400 pages long, exclusive of tables and appendices and sets forth the special counsel's findings, his analysis and reason for his conclusions. seems like that was a sentence that would have fit, you know, i'm thinking kind of on that fourth page, the summary released sunday was just 3 1/2. what do you think? >> i think the barr -- the bed barr made is the bed he thought trump would want to sleep in. he tried to give the report the most affirmative spin for the president. we see now that's put him personally into a very awkward place that appears he was not forthcoming, and i think the point you make about the length of the report is an important one we shouldn't pass over too quickly because it would have been very different. we got word yesterday it was more than 300 pages. if that had been a 20-page report with 280 pages of exhibits, that would have been one thing. but today we learn bob mueller
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devoted almost 400 pages to revealing what he learned in the investigation, presumably to analyzing it. we're told already by barr mueller laid out evidence on both sides of the obstruction issue, and that there are appendices and tables on top of those almost 400 pages. this is a significant investigation. it's a lot more than the two conclusions barr played out to us when he tried to give us what he now is saying was a summary of mueller's principal conclusions. there's a lot of material here, and it belongs on capitol hill. this question of getting a court order, that's not a difficult question. if i had a case in birmingham that i needed to turn over say to a u.s. attorney's office in seattle, i would be able to turn that over readily to another prosecutor. here the only little quirk in the process is that congress is in essence the next prosecutor, it's congress who engages in oversight of a president who can't be indicted by doj.
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so there's a need for a court order to engage in that turnover. it's nothing unusual. and bill barr should have had that order in his hip pocket, prepared for the release so he would be better prepared to turn this report over to congress in a timely fashion. >> joyce, just a quick followup, attorney general william barr knew three weeks before the sunday in which he released the summary of principal conclusion that robert mueller would not reach any conclusion around obstruction. and it wasn't because there was evidence that he had obstructed and evidence he not obstructed. my understanding is it's more likely evidence of obstructive conduct and some case law and constitutional law around the precedent of not charging a sitting president, around the vast authority vested by article two authority, around what he did tell us about, some of his own prosecutorial or sort of doj bias about the need for an underlying crime, which is not really a thing. plenty of people get prosecuted
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for obstruction. my former colleague scooter libby was one of them. so what do you think we will see in the 400 pages dedicated to the obstruction of justice investigation with evidence on both sides that did not exonerate donald trump? >> so i look forward to reading the report, and i've tried to avoid crystal balling but i think it's not a bad takeaway here that what mueller did was he teed the issue up for congress because congress was the rightful decisionmaker here. both as you point out because of doj policy saying that doj should not indict a sitting president, but also because of these legal issues. the biggest one being executive privilege. and we know that the attorney general is on record in the 19-page memo that he sent to doj that made its way to the white house before he was chosen as attorney general that he takes even for people who have an extreme view on the power of the
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president, that executive power. he's an outlier even there believing it's virtual limb possible for the president to commit obstruction of justice. and that's contrary, frankly, to the view doj has taken in cases not with a president but with a governor as the executive, where for instance rod blagojevich in illinois was prosecuted for something he was entitled to do, appointing a senator to replace senator obama when he was elected but because blagojevich took a bribe, he could be prosecuted for that crime. apparently barr doesn't believe that, he believes an executive can do no wrong as long as he's acting in the area of his power, except for a few limited exceptions and that could have possibly colored mueller's assessment of the evidence here. >> peter baker, attorney general william barr became donald trump's favorite human beings over the last five days. i think he called him wonderful, beautiful, spectacular. i don't know what words he used. some of those sound a little
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long for a trump rally. tell me where this president's head is. is he prepared for 400 pages of a two-year investigation that drove him mad all day, every day, from his twitter feed to his bizarre unstable press appearances to fox appearances, where he called robert mueller deeply conflicted. he maligned a vietnam war veteran, the only person to ever have his tenure at the fbi extended. how does this president sort of make this pivot to the justice department, which he spent a huge amount of time and energy and air time maligning to embrace what will now be 400 pages? and we have to expect it won't be pretty. >> no, i think that's right. the fact that the robert mueller chose not to find -- or chose not to allege a criminal act does not mean his report is sunshine and life for the president. obviously, he's going to lay out
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his take on the evidence he found and his facts he discovered we may not yet know about. we, the congress and president and voters and media can digest and assess what those facts add up to. there are a lot of things presidents can be criticized for that fall short of a criminal act. and, therefore, this is not something the president will be looking forward to. but what he will focus on, of course, are the bottom line conclusions, assuming bill barr has accurately represented them, which is there is no finding a criminal conspiracy and if there's no finding of obstruction, even though there's no exoneration either, he will hammer those home again and again and say the actual details of the report don't matter and all that matters is they will say the words no collusion again and again and that will empower him with his base. that will tell his base don't worry about the details, at the end of the day, this is all made-up stuff. this as he said last night in his rally at grand rapids, you can ignore the details because you know i didn't do anything wrong and a certain percentage of the population will accept that.
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the question is whether or not robert mueller presented what he does have in a damning enough way that's meaningful to those in the middle, if there are any, looking for guidance. >> i know donald trump is not a student of history but even he must know the sentence i am not a crook has an ominous connotation. is that where we're heading based on what we could see in 400 pages of the mueller investigation? >> i think what we might see is kind of this aversion of it that says i am not a spy. both of those coming out of your mouth are really bad things. it's kind of like the question when did you stop beating your wife? once that allegation is out there, there's really no good way to respond to that. and by the way, don't be surprised on this issue of barr boxing the president in on executive privilege and saying you said publicly you want the whole thing out so we're not
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going to show it to you. remember the president months ago saying i look forward to being interviewed by mueller. i look forward to it. i want to sit down with him. and then it morphed into my attorneys are telling me it's probably not a good idea, it's some kind of a trap. don't be surprised if the attorneys for the president come out and go and say to barr, listen, i know the president said he wanted the whole thing to come out but we have a problem with executive privilege. we want to see the whole thing first. i predict that's possible. >> i think that's likely. let me follow up with you, frank. one of the sort of pieces that the justice department woke up to today was the one i already referenced, "the washington post" writing that house democrats are ready to accuse attorney general william barr of a cover-up to protect president trump if he refuses to detail for congress the information special counsel robert mueller provided the grand jury during his investigation of russia's interference into 2016. the other was a deep dive and analysis into the subpoena question. i think this is part of what
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you're getting at, "the washington post" also reporting that the decision not to subpoena the president is one of the lingering mysteries of mueller's 22-month investigation, which concluded last week when he filed a report numbering more than 300 pages. we now know it's 400 pages. an interview with the president would have been pivotal to helping assess whether the president had corrupt intent, a key element of such a charge, legal experts said. more answers can be revealed in mueller's report. do you think we'll learn, frank, about why some of those -- robert mueller would appear from this reporting and others in peter's newspaper and others, and this organization, reached a fork in the road around this question of interviewing the president. they landed on written answers. they got to another fork in the road, they landed on written answers only about collusion. do you think the written report will offer some paper trail
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around when the frame of the obstruction investigation was locked in when they decided that if the conduct was so clearly to obstruct the investigation, but they couldn't interview him, they reached this conclusion they wouldn't charge? >> so a couple of thoughts. one is we absolutely need to know the process that led mueller to this decision and, two, i think the answer is in the appendices. and here's why. from what i know about how mueller works on these very sensitive issues is he will memorialize this for the record, but it's not likely that it's in the body of the report. that's why i still get nervous when i hear the ag say it's a 400-page report and we all applaud him finally giving us the number. let me tell you something, think about the size of the appendices here. you can easily double or triple that number and come up with the total size of the report.
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think about the fd302s of fbi interview reports of everybody they interviewed and how long a report would be interviewing someone for hours, if not days, and pile those all up in attachments and appendices and have bob mueller immoralize in a memo form his conversations with with the ag about whether or not we can pardon a sitting president, get him in front of him, all of this would have been memorialized by mueller and if it's stuck in the appendices and the ag is only releasing the report, again, we will not get the full process here. >> julia, i have a question about the distribution of the mueller report inside the justice department. do you have any sense how far and wide it's been circulated inside doj? do you have any sense that the people who will have to help sell it or orchestrate briefings with congress have looked at it or press people who will ultimately have to help explain it?
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or is it still being tightly held by the attorney general's small staff and jag's small staff? >> from what i understand, nicolle, it's being held by a small group. even people you would assume seen it would not affirm they have seen it. i know there are a small group who will have to write the letter that went to congress sunday and those who initially took it in and were involved in the planning saw it over the weekend. and those people continue to work. i believe they have to be in a secure location in order to review this material. it's being very tightly held. they understand the stakes here. i keep having that reiterated to me. >> peter baker, let me give you the last word. any sense that the white house counsel's office was alerted ahead of this notice in this letter about executive privilege? because i have the same suspicions frank figliuzzi has. emmet flood worked in the white house of my former boss. his thing is a real aggressive,
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aggressive ideology and philosophy and practice around executive privilege. >> yeah, i would wonder about that too. i don't know the answer. but when we go back to his last weekend, what we learned was before bill barr sent the four-page letter that we saw, they did in fact call the counsel's office. they did in fact give them a readout on what the letter said. i think they read the full letter or parts of the letter to them. it would beg the imagination they had not, in fact, consulted the white house beforehand saying we're about to send a letter to congress, this is what we're going to say. maybe they didn't. maybe they decided a better course of action was to say we're completely independent. i did find issue the attorney general specifically said is that it was due to the president's public pronouncement. he didn't say anything about conversations that might have been had. we have an effort to box him in and say, i'm taking you at your word or if they had a conversation either directly and through aides and he's not simply referring to it in this letter because he doesn't want to disclose private
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conversations. but here's the bigger question, you would think we've seen all along the president's private attorneys said yes, we will have a executive privilege in looking at this report before it gets out. but the bottom line is this reported been taken positive by the president so it's better to let the whole thing come out and move on rather than litigate any further and keep attention on it. >> the reason for the line of questioning, peter, to make this clear for our viewers is your papers reported don mcgahn, the former white house counsel, spent more than 30 hours with robert mueller. if we're now going to see 400 pages and the obstruction part of that investigation did not exonerate the obstruction, i imagine somebody put those dots together before little old me and thought we don't want anyone to see that. peter and julia, two of the best reporters on the beat. if you learn anything new in the next 36 minutes, jump back in front of your cameras.
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we'll be here. thank you for your reporting. after the break, more on this breaking news and what we're learning from the attorney general about robert mueller's report. don't go anywhere. ♪ heartburn and gas? ♪ fight both fast tums chewy bites with gas relief all in one relief of heartburn and gas ♪ ♪ tum tum tum tums tums chewy bites with gas relief look limu. a civilian buying a new car.ug
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the first order of business is to release the report. >> what we got was a four-page distillation by a political appointee of the president. >> we need the report. we need the backup. we need to have everything in front of us to do our own due diligence.
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>> it's unbelievable to me it's not been made public. >> i will say again, no, thank you, mr. attorney general. we do not need your interpretation. show us -- show us the report. >> we need to see the whole 300-plus pages, the four-page barr report is not what the american people want. they want the mueller report. they don't want a cliff notes version. >> a week of pressure like that from the democrats for the full release of robert mueller's investigation. today a response from attorney general william barr, who promises to release mueller's report with redactions by mid-april, if not sooner. joining us now is former white house communications director for president obama, reverend al sharpton, and opinion writer from "the washington post" and msnbc contributor jennifer rubin. heidi, frank and joyce are all here as well. jen, i wonder if the democrats, i feel like they've been so well served by nancy pelosi's leadership by taking impeachment off the table, that's not what any of this was about, by her words which were sharp but not hyperbolic. the only person swearing in public is the president of the united states this week, not the
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democrats who were stonewalled for the first week of the mueller report being completed. what has she contributed to bring us to where we are today? >> i think that this is why you want someone with a lot of experience as the third highest ranking person serving in our government. and i think there's a lot of people in my party who think maybe the democrats should, you know, push for the report and not have the democrats in congress be too aggressive on followup that's going to happen from the report. but i think they really have to because that is -- some people think it's better to focus on health care and that's a better issue for us, because we don't care about russia. but this is a really important moment and congress' job right in the constitution, be accountable, hold the president of the united states accountable. >> and walking and chewing gum
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is what could distinguish the democrats from. >> yes, that's what you see on the intelligence committee. this is not time to -- when we have obstruction in plain sight with the new attorney general, who was selected probably because he wrote an 18-page report about how the president of the united states could not commit obstruction of justice, and then has a report/letter that comes out saying guess what, he didn't commit obstruction of justice, democrats need to take their job seriously and try to re-establish norms. it's the most frightening thing that's happening right now. >> and this is a moment that has a lot of people unsettled. there were expectations that because so much of the obstruction of justice took place in plain sight, and none of that is classified, none of that would have been part of the counterintelligence investigation. a decision was made to charge a sitting president. there was consternation, i think the calls of a cover-up were largely around information i
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thought could have come out the day the report was finished. >> it's a lot of consternation which is why i think you said it right, democrats should and have since they saw the report walk and chew gum at the same time. i think nancy pelosi saying before she even saw the report, and william barr saying i will give the report, may not be april 2 but mid-april, they're playing chess and the president is playing checkers. in that report, they can say -- mr. mueller can say there was a lot of unethical, inappropriate but i don't know if it reached the level of criminality and obstruction may have done that but the justice department has to tell me i can indict because that line he addresses on obstruction, he says i'm not absolving them. >> he says, i do not exonerate. >> i do not exonerate. >> and that's one of the few quotes. of all of the complete sentences i wish we could see that
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sentence begins with that. let me get democratic congressman eric swalwell into the conversation. i want to ask you something someone one of the committees serve on which you sit, mr. nadler, saying he should work with us to request a court order to release any and all grand jury information to the house judiciary committee. as has occurred in every similar investigation in the past. it seems chairman nadler was prepared for a less than completely forthcoming first offer from attorney general barr. your thoughts? >> thank you, and good evening, nicolle. i support that and it's also in line of what happened during the
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nicolle. i support that and it's also in line of what happened during the watergate era, which is the grand jury materials were presented to the public. the public interest in so high here, we're talking about the president of the united states, the most serious investigation any president has ever been under, and just bury that beneath the earth and never have to hear about it again would deprive us if there are national security risks with how close he threw us to the russians. also there are reforms to put in place so this doesn't happen again. if he was cleared of wrongdoing, if there's wrongdoing or vulnerabilities in our democracy, the only way to take action is if the congress of the other party knows. >> and congressman shift made schiff made known yesterday to him and most persons it's not okay the son of a presidential candidate says if it's what you say it is, russia, i love it. is this conduct still of grave national importance to you and
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your committee? >> it is, nicolle. on the intelligence committee, we want to know whether any americans sought to work with russians or are compromised by the russians on a way that does not rise to criminal activity. also just because we cannot imagine any type of wrongdoing and write a criminal law for it doesn't mean it makes less sense. the only way to go forward is put in place a new law. i will give an example, i will written a law called duty to report that says if you're a federal officeholder or candidate, you or your campaign are approached with elicitly obtained material, you have to tell the fbi. we learned during the investigation so many people were approached by the russian government and didn't tell anyone. we all agree there should be an urgency on the campaign to do that. i think the only way to go forward is understand fully what
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mr. mueller found in his investigation. >> somebody who worked on three campaigns, i find it tragic you p can need a law like that. but let me read you one of the four categories of information, you're not going to get, at least in attorney general william barr's first offering to you. one is rules of subject to the criminal procedure, that sounds like grand jury information, is that right? >> yes. >> next is material the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromised sources and methods. i was around a lot of fights for information like that around the war on terror, wars in iraq and afghanistan. i know there's a way for you all in closed session and private ways to see that. is that the kind of information you will fight to see so understand the intelligence assessment? >> yes. and that's another statement i would agree with attorney general barr may not come to light but there still should be
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oversight with congressional leaders and both parties should understand if there is sensitive national security material. the other areas, grand jury material or material that may hurt reputations, i think the public interest outweighs any concerns the attorney general has. >> that was the fourth one i wanted ask you about, information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interest of peripheral third parties. who's peripheral here? >> i will tell you who is not, donald trump jr., eric kirschner, i do not consider them peripheral. if it's information to protect them, we will fight to see it. now, if this is someone, a assistant who was interviewed and asked questions about their boss and provided helpful information, i can understand why he may want to redact that person's name and identifying information. but if we're talking about the president's businesses, his campaign aides, and contacts they had with the russians, i
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think we want to know about it. >> he's in front of you, in front of your committee on may 2. what's your first question to attorney general william barr? >> my first question for mr. barr would be does mr. mueller agree with every word in the four-page letter that you sent to congress? and if he doesn't, let's start there because i am concerned, especially on mr. barr saying that there is no collusion or no coordination or conspiracy. i think mr. mueller probably would tell us that there's no conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt but there was certainly evidence of it because we've seen in plain sight what the meetings of trump tower, the candidates asking the russians to impact the areas that moscow would no disclose. there was certain evidence of collusion so i would like to hear from mr. barr and mr. mueller disagree. >> eric swalwell, thank you for
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joining us. i'm very grateful. >> sure, nicolle. i will stop feeling sad we need a law now so people who work on presidential campaigns call law enforcement when hostile american adversaries call and offer them dirt on their opponent but is this where we are? >> apparently now, at least with this president. that is the sort of thing i think we need mueller to tell us. there's something other than being a conspirator. it's being a dupe. it's being a pawn of a foreign government. it's allowing a foreign government to get leverage of an american candidate by doing something else, lying to the business adversarial of the president of the united states. they could well conclude trump was compromised. i will say this about the
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letter, this strikes me as a cya that for a week people have been banging on barr because he's trying to spin the president free and he is going to be embarrassed. 400 pages plus consistents are going to come out and suddenly it's not going to look like there's no evidence of collusion. it's not going to look like it was appropriate for him to make the call on obstruction. so i think they cut out over their skis, they always do this, in the moment they're so desperate to get the win or pat on the back or at least not get hollered at by donald trump they will contort and spin. the problem is it does come out. it won't work, because sooner or later we will get to see the report. i will say this to the reverend's point about nancy pelosi. this week she's taking all kinds of votes, votes on pay equity and bread and butter issues.
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she's talking about the lawsuit, the president trying to take away obamacare. when they get to 2020 she's going to be able to say we passed these 49 things and there's sitting on the desk in the united states senate because mitch mcconnell is the president's errand boy and he doesn't take a vote until he gets permission from the president. that balancing act has been pretty much on view today. >> joyce, i'm thinking about all of the conversations we had about the russia question. very few of them centered around whether or not robert mueller would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that donald trump was a criminal conspirator, but many of them, many of them, were around this term i first learned about on "homeland" about a useful idiot. many of them were around manafort just being a sleaze-bag, selling access to donald trump, didn't care, to russian oligarchs and their buddies. many of our conversations were about jared kushner setting up a
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back channel, wanting to set up a back channel using russian communications during the transition so americans wouldn't hear. many of our conversations were about the size meetings donald trump had with vladimir putin for which there are no notes, no records and donald trump doesn't permit any american staffers or cabinet members. there is still a question, and maybe it isn't donald trump is having strategy sessions, he doesn't even seem to have those with his own chief of staff, but maybe donald trump was winking and nodding and being used by the russians and this is that still a national security question that everyone should want the answer to. >> there is video of a young lindsey graham during the clinton impeachment hearings saying, this is about cleansing the oval office. and that still hasn't happened here. it's possible mueller found there wasn't proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the president personally engaged in a conspiracy but that as you
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say, the useful idiot permitted russia to you on its merry way without calling the fbi to let them know what was going on, meetings were taken by his son with the promise of dirt on hillary clinton and when you look at all of the dots, whether they connect into a conspiracy or not, they point a different direction. the direction is this white house is engaged in behavior we should never tolerate from a freeze. it's the only bar we have left for what an acceptable president is, is gee, we with didn't invite him because there's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt we have become a failed experiment in government. we have to have higher standards than that. >> i'll tell you this, joyce, whether we found donald trump had a sit-down with a notebook and to-do items with vladimir putin and whatnot, he's certainly ticked through
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absolutely everything a russian leader would want an american president to do, whether it's disparage nato, distance ourselves from our allies, let vladimir putin be a bigger and louder voice in china and other places of the world that still threaten the united states economically and from a national security standpoint. so whether or not those calls to action from putin came on phone records or encrypted messages, that simply weren't there when they were investigated by prosecutors and investigators, the conduct speaks for itself. >> plus, i want to know what happened. i want to see the report. the best disinfectant is sunlight. we don't want this to happen again. we want to understand what was the chain of events that led russia to be so successful? even if there was no criminal wrongdoing, we want to know and the white house, if they were on the level, they would want the public to understand how it all happened so it doesn't happen again. >> but you have to ask the question, why did everybody lie if there was nothing to lie about? whether he was a useful idiot or
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whether he was greedy trying to get a deal in moscow for a trump organization, because remember he never thought he would win for president. and whether they were maneuvering him, i think putin -- trump and i both come from new york. there's a times square they beat you out of your money, three-card monte, putin could been playing it. then they had to obstruct justice because they got out too far. they woke up not on fifth avenue, they were in the white house. that's why i want to know where obstruction, obstruction does not mean you colluded. an obstruction means you obstructed. nixon may never have known about the break-in and who would pay for it but when he participated in the cover-up, that's when the republicans said he had to go. i don't care if he was a conspirator in the beginning, idiot in the middle or someone that obstructed at the end, we need to know. >> heidi? >> yeah, nicolle, i wanted to share some reporting on why i learned so many lawmakers are taking an offensive posture now about the timing of this.
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it's because of the history. there are two aspects to that. first of all william barr's history. let's remind everyone barr's predecessor jeff sessions was fired by this president because the president groused about how jeff sessions wasn't loyal to him, specifically in terms of recusing himself and not protecting him from this russia investigation. then you had barr before he was appointed pending that letter where he called the mueller investigation fatally misconceived. now he's the person who's deciding everything that gets released and through what lens it will be seen. the second piece of history they point out to me is the recent history of how a similar investigation around hillary's e-mails was handled whether there was a duckination, determination made, jason chafous, the oversight chair at the time, had james comey up in a chair within two days testifying. he went around the attorney general loretta lynch because he said she was conflicted.
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so you have a similar situation here. i know there was a lot of grousing about that at the time, but you do hear democrats saying there's a double standard. they can't get even basic information in this time period during which the president is going out and using this as a campaign tactic to basically misstate even the most basic contents of what is in barr's own summary. so that is why so many democrats are concerned and now they say they're concerns are being validated by barr saying, well, he will give them some version of the reports and they're expecting something that maybe is just heavily redacted. >> we have to sneak in a break but it's such an important point that robert mueller didn't even reach the comey level, which was far from celebrated. mueller didn't even reach a conclusion on whether or not it was obstruction or not. and then barr went in. imagine if comey had not reached a conclusion about whether or not there was anything criminal, and then loretta lynch had gone out and put out a four-page summary and no one had seen it. heidi and joyce, we're losing you.
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thank you very much for spending time with us. we're grateful. after the break, reaction from the president. -we're doing karaoke later, and you're gonna sing. -jamie, this is your house? -i know, it's not much, but it's home. right, kids? -kids? -papa, papa! -[ laughs ] -you didn't tell me your friends were coming. -oh, yeah. -this one is tiny like a child. -yeah, she is. oh, but seriously, it's good to be surrounded by what matters most -- a home and auto bundle from progressive.
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. >> -- release the mueller report in full to congress and the public. do you agree with that decision and do you want the white house to look over it? >> i great confidence in the attorney general, and if that is what he would like to do i have nothing to hide. this was a hoax. i have absolutely have nothing to hide and a lot of things coming out with respect to the other side. >> i was trying to listen but i could not stop staring at the bowl. trump has great confidence in attorney general william barr who is now deciding what to redact from robert mueller's report. barr today says that redacted report will be released by mid-april at the latest. frank and the table are back.
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frank, i want to come back to you on this russia question that joyce and i were talking about. i want to play some of what ty cobb who is three lawyers ago for the president said to my colleague, kristin walker today. rudy giuliani, some of the president's attacks stripped away at the dignity of the process? >> i'm saying it drove up the negatives of the institution of special council, and tactically that may have been beneficial to the president. i regret that it came to that. >> frank? >> i regret that it came to that. yeah, i think a lot of us regret that it came to that. look, the special counsel should have been kind of a sacred place where we could put credibility into largely independent, objective and neutral decision making and investigation and so far, by the way, it has been,
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but it's now been tainted by even the attorney general of the united states, who is now highly political character, rudy giuliani and his ilk, just bashing institutions and people leading those institutions. there is long term damage to this and even last night, nicole, at this rally that the president had, he used the term "the russian hoax." the russian hoax is dead. here's the problem with that. the findings of the special counsel were that our foreign adversary went to great extreme lengths to meddle in our election. and so if the public perceives this all as a hoax and forgets the incredible findings by the degree to which we were messed with by an adversary, then we've lost the value of this inquiry. we're being attacked by a foreign adversary. they're not the only one in is all "a russian hoax." we got to stop the spin coming
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out of washington and we got to become far more educated consumers of education. >> it is chilling and it makes me feel physically sick to think about the idea that the public will take from donald trump's lunatic tirade, that the russian roll was a hoax. he's trying to say the idea that i cripple conspired with them turned out not to be true, phew. on monday i saw "fox and friends" and the people that looked at this and they found terrifying ambitions on the part of vladimir putin. the two sections of the summary say there was interference and the hacking was real. what's so scary is that because he's so self-obsessed, the american president, even that 40% base that we just, you know,
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sort of shrug our shoulders, even they know the threat russia represents. >> it was so obvious that william barr had to write about it in that summary. he could not avoid that conclusion. and remember the entire fuss that donald trump was having over the last couple years is that the democrats are trying to -- >> a fuss? >> yeah, a temper tantrum, a meltdown, what he was so upset about and continues to be is that he says the democrats are questioning my legitimacy. to that i say, darn right. you were helped to be elected to the united states presidency, the highest role in the nation and probably the most powerful position in the world by a hostile foreign power. that's what is in that report. if you can get, whether it's mueller testifying, whether it's somebody else testifying, and i hope he wrote it in clear sound bites with good headlines and good subparts in that document.
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and if mueller says yes a foreign power did intervene on behalf of the president of the united states, that is a powerful statement, i don't know what they think they're going to pull the wool over people's eyes, but that will come out, and whether his people believe it, whether television people report it, in history he will go down as the president who was elected by a hostile foreign power. that's what's perverse about all this. he's not just trying to undermine the fact that russia did interfere in this very damaging and unprecedented way, but he's trying to use it to undercut the credibility of the undercut the credibility of the press and the credibility of members of congress, and that is like lasting damage to democracy. >> you would also think that first of all, we know he's so
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megalow maniac, he only sees himself. . so long as i'm cool, forget that they interfered with the election. but you would think barr would say, as the head of the justice department, we have an election coming and we have to do something about it. you would think trump as president would say, this is outrageous they sbeerchd, i'm clear, but let's do something about it. the fact that they are not saying that means there's something there we don't know because they're trying to get away with something. i don't care what they appear to say, the only way you do that is if you got blueberry pie on your face and you told mama you didn't eat the blueberry pie. you're getting away with something here. why would you outrage they're established there was interference by an american adversary? >> and this is a question that even trump allies said to me at the beginning of the week is one that democrats and republicans could actually get around. the findings that can be shared
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around the counterintelligence investigation, and if they don't, and republicans continue to be uninterested in, and blinded by the newness trump strain on national security which is this bizarre, putin-loving, assange-colluding fixation with russia, thin the republican party will have died in this undertaking. >> the irony of this, nicole, would be that but for fear that admitting and conceding that russia meddled in the election to the degree they did delegitimatizes the president from their own party. the irony that that refusal to admit that would ultimately lead to them losing the next election because perhaps putin decides he doesn't like trump anymore, he's going to throw his weight behind the democratic nominee. they don't get that, they can't step back and see that russia is
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all about sowing discord and chaos. it is not necessarily about getting their man, trump in, it is about messing with us as a society. there should be bipartisan support, next time it won't go in their favor. >> frank, let me ask you to put a button on where this week ended. it started on monday with everyone digesting the summary for five days, and still today right now that is all we have seen from robert mueller's, what was very much thought to have been walled off from politics investigation in the news this afternoon just before we came on the air. we're going to see it pretty soon. >> so the week's ending with more questions than answers, but we have a promise and a date, almost date certain, that we will see a report, largely reacted, but still many many mysteries about what we're going to be allowed to see and what we're not. >> you're all national treasures, to my guests, thank you all for watching, that does
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it for us. out with it. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. attorney general bill barr says the mueller report will be released two weeks from now. thereby meeting the democrats' demand for transparency in the findings. in a letter to the committees, barr writes we are preparing the report for police, making the redactions that are required adding that the special counsel is assisting us in this process. barr also reveals the report is nearly 400 pages long, not 300 pages he reported yesterday. and this is amid new signs that attorney general's four-page summary of last sunday was not enough for the american people, clearly.

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