tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC April 17, 2019 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
and tomorrow morning. i will be on the "today" show. that does it for me. thanks for watching the beat and thanks to our panelists. i will see you tomorrow. "hardball" with chris matthews is up next. behind closed doors. let's play "hardball." >> goods evening. img chris matthews in washington. hours from now the american public will get its first look at the 400 page report from robert mueller's investigation. just tonight on the very eve of the revelation, we have the disturbing new that is the trump white house had the guts in its hands for days. they issued a report tonight revealing that the justice department officials had numerous conversations with white house lawyers about the conclusions made by mr. mueller
in recent days according to people with knowledge of the discussions. the talks have aided the legal team as they prepare a rebuttal and strategies over the war of its findings. the fact that those conversations occurred raises questions of course about the propriety of the attorney general's decision making after he issued that four-page letter. this comes after the president himself broke the news that general barr will hold a press conference to address the special counsel's report. the president announced the attorney general's press conference. think about that one. trump suggested he might hold one of his own. let's listen. >> this should never happen to a president or this country again, what took place. you will see a lot of very strong things come out tomorrow. attorney general barr is going to be giving a press conference. maybe i'll do one after that. we'll see. he's been a fantastic attorney
general. he's grabbed it by the horn. >> here know what is the strong things are because he has been briefed. he has the guts in hand. the department of justice confirmed that attorney general barr will speak at 9:30 and will be accompanied by rod rosenstein. now we are learning that congress won't see the report until barr has wrapped up that press conference. the people the report was written for won't get to see it to put their spin on it. doj is informing us we will not see the report until around 11 or 12 tomorrow until after the press conference. this is wrong. it comes nearly four weeks after it was concluded and turned over his findings. it will not only shed light on his strange relationship with russia, but explain why he could
not exonerate the president on obstruction of justice. how strong is it and what is the new evidence that the attorney general alluded to last month? i'm joined by raja krish krishnamoorthi who serves on the oversight committee. caroline frederickson from the constitutional society for law and policy and raj day is former senior white house and doj official and peter baker. i have to go to peter on this. you are breaking a hell of a story, but the president has been getting the main thing to worry about and they briefed him on what they are worrieded about. he said strong findings are coming. do we know what the scary stuff was? >> that's the interesting question. we can watch the tweets and the comments he made in the weeks since the barr letter went to the hill and the question is what to interpret from those. he said i want it the whole
report released and i have no problem with it and for days they said why do they need to see it and the democrats are trying to make hay. to indicate there was something more that was causing him concern. the bottom line that they delivered to the congress and not the whole report. whether or not mr. mueller explains more fully the conclusions that bill barr represented. >> bill barr is slippery to congress last week. i haven't briefed the white house on this and go ahead ahead and briefing the congress when he is out of the door. you don't say i haven't, but i will. you would if you were telling the truth. not doing it is making the presumption you are not going to brief them and they did. >> i think it would have been reasonable for senators to expect what he was saying is he was not planning to do it
although he didn't say that. they were going to ask questions about what he was telling the president. that's one of the first questions he might get at the news conference at 9:30 in the morning. >> i don't like the looks of it. we get a four-page memo from the president's appointee. his pal by saying i believe in a strong executive authority and all the things for trump to hear. you know he could have released the summaries from the mueller report and he chose not to. now we find out he has been briefing the white house for days and he's not even giving a copy. until he, mr. barr, the president's guy put out a statement explaining what he thinks. again, his version of truth. not the truth. your thoughts? >> i find it unacceptable.
all along, folks like chairman schiff and nadler and others are saying we need the un redacted mueller report for congress. the mueller genuine draft, as it were. here we have color coded redactions. i hope it's not a rainbow of redactions, but folks like myself will be trying to find the executive summaries immediately because we know the prosecutors who also apparently talked to the "new york times" and other outlets said they crafted the summaries with the notion that they would not be redacted for any of the categories that we might be concerned about. that's one thing we will be looking for. any counter intelligence information. information that might not rise to the level of criminal experience and it might be information that could be used by russians or adversaries for purposes of leverage or
exploitation with government officials and the third and final thing i will be looking for among other things is that evidence that was on both sides of the obstruction of justice. if we are not able to find that within the report, we know that large portions have been redacted and should be shared with the public and in any case, jerry nadler is armed with subpoenas and i expect he will probably use them if we see some of these red flags pop up immediately. >> the attorney general will be fighting the subpoenas as part of the president's team. that's what it smells like. the revelations about the justice department's conversations with the white house lawyers comes after attorney general barr refused to say whether the white house has been briefed. let's watch him cover up the story. >> did the white house see the report before you released the summarizing letter?
has the white house seen it since then and have they been briefed beyond what was in your summarizing letter through the judiciary committee? >> i said what i'm going to say about the report today. i'm not going to say anything more about it until the report is out and everyone has a chance to look at it. >> the congresswoman who asked barr that question joined me on "hardball" that night and here's what she said of that exchange. >> it was very clear for me that this report was reviewed by many people, including those in the white house. look, if the attorney general said he consulted with the white house, do you and i really believe that they kept it secret from the president of the united states? i don't believe that. >> what do you make of this special gift to the white house of a couple days of briefing to
help them put together their trashing of the report, basically. >> it's pretty outragious and brings to mind two things. they have been paying a lot of attention to the college admissions scandal and your kids do better when they get the test results in advance. much more importantly, this is an incredible violation of our checks and balances and incredible insult to congress. we should all be offended that this white house is coordinating with the justice department and what seems like another act of obstruction to impede whether and how the russians affected our 2016 election and what they are planning for the next election. >> you have somebody tell you what you ought to know from the newspaper. their way. their point of view. here's what's in the report now. if you go out and speed 90 miles an hour one day and the next day
it's the speed limit, it's not a question of one day you break the law and one day you didn't. you get a ticket. i don't care about all of that. tell me what the president did wrong. tell us that in the summaries. >> the american people deserve to know. they will be interesting if they are released un redacted tomorrow, why couldn't they have been as soon as they got the report. if they are reverely redacted, why is the attorney general's judgment so different from bob mueller's? >> do you think robert mueller writes a summary that is all redactions? it would have the bottom line. however you got it, the bottom line doesn't have to have name in it. just what he concludes. >> we went through a similar process with none other than robert mueller. >> i'm betting big money the
summaries are not redacted. he said he had been working to redact portions of the 400 page report. according to barr, they will be color coded with four categories. the question is how much or how little will we be able to see? some of the team expressed display that he didn't release his own summaries that could have been released immediately with minimal redactions, if any. my question to congressman, i think mueller probably did a smashing job here and probably did his absolute best as an honest broker. he did at the end to have summaries that regular people could read, including congress people that made common sense. we have been four weeks denied these summaries. >> i 100% concur. the summaries, that's why the
prosecutors went to outlets to complain about the four-page summary and were so disturbed that why weren't these summaries released? what are they trying to hide? that's what folks like myself are wondering aloud about. going to sharing with the white house, the test results so to speak before they are released to the public. the question there is to what extent are the redactions politically motivated. is there information that is embarrassing or somehow puts people in an awkward position and they are going to shoe horn into one of the categories that mr. barr talked b. o eed about. one is embarrassing information about a peripheral third party. is that jared kushner or the
president? he never was named as a target, they keep telling us. you can't indict a sitting president. that's why he was not technically a target. those are the questions that will be raised tomorrow, i would imagine. >> remind the breaking news. we will get back to it in a moment. there is more on this very topic. the amazing news, not only has the white house been briefed days ahead of this against everything barr was coming up, but they won't release the report itself until a couple of hours after they have a press conference which the president announced for the justice department. this looks like an inside job. we are going to see the black smoke or the white smoke. will he say i love mueller? i have a feeling we will see black smoke. he is not going to like what they are going to do because
they are doing so much to massage it before we see it. what we learned and equally important is what democrats decide to do. i will make a strong case for this. tomorrow is either the beginning of the process of impeachment or the end of that process. a lot rides on the guts that go to think and how they respond to what they see. if they see impeachable offenses, they should impeach. it's a busy night. stick with us. we are coming right back. busy . stick with us. we are coming right back ♪ ♪ ♪
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of course. hakim jeffries is a member of the house judiciary and hit back at the attorney general's announcement tweeting so-called attorney general is presiding over a dog and pony show. here's a thought. release the mueller report tomorrow morning and keep your mouth shut. you have zero credibility. hakeem jeffries responding. chuck schumer tweeted the american people deserve the truth. they don't need any predamage control or spin from donald trump's hand picked attorney general, william barr. he is act more like an independent campaign spokesman than the law. >> peter baker, you are laughing. i love the way hakeem says things. it would be normally considered crude to say shut up. we heard nothing from the guy who wrote the report, robert
mueller. nothing. audibly. >> you are absolutely right. attorney general set the barlow for what we can expect from him going forward. he is just acting like the attorney general for donald trump and not for the united states. just the other day, he talked about the law enforcement community spying on the trump campaign without any evidence of anything to back up what he is saying. somehow he is equating spying with warrants issued for probable cause in connection with criminal wrong-doing. that was the source of surveillance that led to the mueller investigation. he is eroding his credibility every single day and we will hear from mr. mueller eventually. chairman schiff is planning to bring him into the intelligence committee. i can't wait to ask him questions directly.
>> reacting to the news of tomorrow's press conference, jerry nadler from the house judiciary committee said i do not believe it would be in the public's interest to summarize the report. w why is the ag holding a press conference? now he will hold a press conference of his own in a little while. i want to go to peter baker on this. something has been bugging me and it's the behavior that is a weakening of the spine of the people covering him and the toughness with which they cover this president. i'm talking about the constitutional power of the legislative branch. for example, about subpoenas and this is an elasticity to subpoenas and they will have a tough time in court or whether or not it will be enforced. what happens? is there a fatigue right now,
mental fatigue going on in the world about criticizing the president? i sense if. pelosi doesn't want to go after impeachment and the coverage with the best newspapers including yours seem to be like maybe he won't have to turn over his taxes. maybe he won't have to turn over this information. what's going on, peter? you are the big foot. what's going on? >> there is something between barr's letter to congress and the release of the report. people haven't known what to make of it. we don't know whether the two sentences that bill barr quoted reflect what's in the report and we are told that they are frustrated because it doesn't adequately summarize their work. there is kind of a lull in
washington the last couple of weeks. we are still committed to providing extensive and comprehensive coverage to add what we covered. you led the show with a story my colleagues wrote about the conversations between barr's office and the white house. i don't know why bill barr is having a press conference. there questions people want to ask. the question would be the spying comment just cited. what process went into the redactions and why did he take it upon himself to issue the conclusion about obstruction of justice when he didn't issue that conclusion. and what is the nature of the conversations. these are questions we would like to ask attorney general barr. it's good that we had the
opportunity whether they have it before or after. i will lead it to others to comment on. >> i know it's not a legal term, but the frog in the boils pot comes to mind. for two years tarting with a firing of comey and then the firing of his attorney general for recusing himself. all the stuff he does in plain sight, everything else you can think of. this behavior by his hand picked attorney general. this roy cohn-type guy. working for him and not the country. i don't know whether we should impeach or not. are people gradually worn down? >> we are hard boiled. >> why are people accepting this crap ol'a? >> it's hard to internalite, there is so much coming out. he has exhibited political conduct by making a snap judgment to releasing his
summary to using terms like spying and this inverted roll out where he tells the public the report and after the white house and before the congress. this is the world upside down. >> to add to that, this justice department decided not to defend the affordable care arkt. they decided to change the policy and how we treat people applying for the asylum. following shortly on the president telling the acting head of the department of homeland security he should violate the law and trump will pardon him in the aftermath. there is outrage fatigue. we will feel like the constitution is on fire. we used to have checks and balances and congress is no longer there. and then people said yes so many times, they were finished. i worry about this.
congressman krishnamoorthi and caroline frederickson. raj day and peter baker. more on the breaking sfrs. the doj giving the white house a sneak peek at the mueller report. who knows how much massaging they did on that baby. a press conference hours before anyone in congress sees it. what is going on here? this report was for the american people and the congress. it wasn't for the president and his privileged few to pr'ize. back after this. pr'ize back after this. ho booked the flight, who saved by adding a hotel, which led to new adventures, ♪ that captured their imaginations ♪ and turned moments into memories.
welcome back to "hardball." we are covering the breaking news that bill barr will finally reveal one of washington, d.c.'s best kept secrets tomorrow morning, the mueller report. he has been facing escalating scrutiny and suspicion from congressional democrat who is make this case directly to the press and the president. he said he is going to do it. president trump said he might follow with one of his own. given the unpredictability of this president, it's unknown whether he will applaud or trash it. will he praise mueller like last month?
>> will we see the man who has relentlessly attacked the probe for two years. >> when you see mueller with the conflicts, he is so conflicted. comby is his best friend. he had a nasty business transaction with me. >> robert mueller put 13 of the angriest democrats in the history of our country on the commission. >> people that are on mueller's team who were there crying, they were crying because she lost. what kind of a probe is that? >> the mueller investigation has been totally discredited. >> mueller, a big complain people have, mueller was not senate confirmed. >> they are writing the report that never got a vote. it's called the mueller report. >> i'm joined by robert costa at "the washington post" and david cay johnston. robert, this is a tough one. i look at the theatrics of this. we thought we would get the report and we are going to get
the coming attractions long before we see the actual mueller report tomorrow. >> congress will have questions when the attorney general is called before the house of representatives to testify not only about the report, but the process behind the release. >> did you know and have you gotten reporting at the post about the fact that they shared that they were getting briefed by barr on what's in the mueller report. the white house lawyers and the president's personal lawyers are getting briefing on what was in it. the guts of it before anyone else has seen it. >> "the washington post" report that is the white house is aware of the department of justice and their plan for the department release tomorrow at the same time the depth is something we will have to hear more about in the coming 24 hours. not a lot of detail, but the white house is aware that certain things are moving
forward and they have been briefed in broad terms. >> let me ask you about this manner of trump. this is a pr operation and damage control obviously. he has to be prepared for the worst. the questions about ob sfrukz of justice are up in the air. if there is new evidence of that according to bill barr's letter said there would be something more and new. most of what we know is public. that leaves the big residue that we evaporate heard about that could be a problem for the president. the way he is handling is marinating the president. he is getting his look at "the washington post" and the "new york times," how much they got information ahead of time. clearly the fact that we have a press conference. the president announced tomorrow morning at 9:30 followed by possibly a presidential press conference and a release of the mueller report. explain the pr operation. >> this is donald's strategy of
capture the headline. as long as you get the headline, you are ahead. he hopes that the headlines are like the four-page letter that made it sound like donald had been cleared when he had not. tomorrow you are going to see an example of donald creating his own reality. we are going to see attorney general barr who we compared to james ork keefe and his infamous edited videos to create the opposite impression of what happened. you are going to see barr doing his best to show loyalty tow donald, not to our constitution. >> the new york times is reporting tonight, tonight in a sense of paranoia taking hold with some of the president's aides and fear backlash more than the findings themselves. worried they might make clear that the current and former advisers spoke to the counsel and how much they said and how much damage they did to mr. trump providing a road map
for presidential retaliation. your reporting on that. what will he do if he finds out one of his prized kittens has been meowing to the special prosecutor? >> there is a divide in the white house. some say the president is inclined to fight this whole report and call for a second special counsel and more investigations of the investigators and others are saying move on. even if he is unhappy, they want to sit down with the mueller team and it doesn't make sense to harp on whether it's don mcgahn or steve bannon or reince priebus or anyone else who cooperated with robert mueller. it doesn't make sense to linger on the issues. >> is it white smoke or black smoke? i'm thinking of the vatican, of course. he is ready at any moment to trash mueller. >> chris, two things to keep in mind. donald said his life's
philosophy consists of a single word -- revenge. he calls himself a christian. he told fox news, you had better tow the line and the audience needs to be loyal to him. whatever is in that report, they are deeply concerned if there is serious discussion anything beyond the headline level of it. >> sounds like he's an old testament guy rather than a new testament guy. his psyche and robert costa. great reporting. we are hours away from the mueller report, but congress and the public won't see it for several hours after the attorney general had his chance to spin the baby and the president gets to spin it before anyone gets to see one word of it. right back in a minute. it right back in a minute the water. the exercise.
of. welcome back to "hardball." nbc news is reporting that the redacted version of the mueller report will be made public only after it is delivered to congress tomorrow morning around 11 or 12:00 tomorrow. officially the press conference will precede the release by several hours. the american people will also have to wait. the new york times is reporting that the justice department lawyers had numerous conversations about the report with white house lawyers. former senior adviser to the campaign, 2016 independent presidential candidate. director of stand up republic. i want to start with adrian. this pr operation, his nose preceded him by a quarter of an hour. two hours of pr, 2.5 hours before we see it. i don't understand. you don't see a preview of a
movie you are sitting down to watch. why are they doing this? i'm asking the obvious. >> you are, but this is indicative of the trump white house. people in the trump white house are far more scared about their reputation of how trump is going to deal with them than upholding the constitution which is not a surprise. we see that so much from the white house. they continued to violate every rule. the cardinal rule is that the differently justice does not report to the trump white house or to the white house. it is a separate institution and the fact that there have been these discussions and all the preplanning in the west wing before this report even comes out. >> this is like you all waited for the o.j. report. then we had a different reaction to it. two hours before the jury came in, someone said this is about the police, it's not what you
think. we don't need that. we don't need to be talked to. the american people want to know what's in the report. we want to read it, not the summaries. it's strange behavior for a president who said it will exonerate him. to a large degree, this is the month of barr in which he was able to define the narrative and the story around the russia investigation and around the mueller report. you can see this is about a month period comes to an end and the squirming and the defining of the narrative as much as possible before they lose control of the narrative. that's what is going to happen with the heavily redacted version of the mueller report. you have thousands of reporters and congressional investigators and others. their control will slip from their hands and go back to, i think, largely what it was worse
for them before this month of barr. >> here's what i can't explain. it's so right in our face. the attorney general, the president's guy comes out and says there is stuff that said he obstructed justice. if he obstructed justice, that's what matters. maybe other days he didn't. other days he went by the speed limit. another day he didn't. if he obstructed justice, let's have it out. for four weeks as you say, we haven't. >> at what point in time. it's not like every day or this day or did he not? when the story came out tonight, the only thing i could think of is thank god democrats have some control in congress. >> bill clinton took a lot of heat. he shouldn't have done it, but big bill. go meet with loretta lynch, the
ag when he has this case coming about him. the attorney general has been meeting with the white house people for days, warming up the public to a pr campaign. >> thank you for making that comparison. there is no comparison, the fact that the newly appointed ag -- >> there is a comparison. >> tiny apples and big oranges compariso comparison. the ag has been meeting with the white house about this to basically conspire. i'm imagining a war room in the west wing in a not so secret location with barr conspireing. >> i don't like the side conversations, but i will tell you this. let them have the conversations. they are inappropriate, but what do you do once the report is out? once you have spent that capital and engaged with the white house and given them a heads up and tried to frame the report in a
way that doesn't reflect the truth of the report. what do you do after the report is out there? i'm calm. let them squirm. the report comes out and we move on. >> the old joe mccarthy trick. i'm going to name names. >> we have to be smarter than that. >> we might be able to pull that old trick. >> you just told them. >> thank you. nice names. easy names. up next, mayor pete buttigeig. the amazing development going in american culture right now. this guy has blazing success so far. as blazing success so far. if you have moderate to severe psoriasis,
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buttigeig heckling him because of his sexual orientation. the openly gay mayor said he won't let the attacks get to him. >> the things that get to me is a critique of a decision i made and i feel they may be right. if i had a policy i could have done better and they are making a valid criticism. if you are getting some kind of hateful attack, in some ways, it's easier to lay aside. with 1,000 or 2,000 people and a few people are there for a different reason, that's just politics. >> 30 years ago, coming out as a gay politician had a different effect. former congressman barney frank told "the washington post" when he decided to tell tipp o'neal, he said he was sorry to hear it. o'neal said he could have been the speaker of the house if not for that fact. we see an openly gay candidate
rising in the polls for president. congressman, it's great to have you back on. you are the pro. you have been through this. what's your reaction to watching what you are see something. >> i'm delighted with it. tipp was one of the heroes. i like to think how he would have reacted back then. it is doubly wonderful in two ways. the fact that this is not a negative and it's a positive for mayor pete. if he was straight, i don't think he would be getting the attention he was getting. the second part is when he gets the attention, he is so talent and good and solid at this, he makes the most of it and it's a benefit. his progress is a sign of the prejudice is diminishing and an opportunity by giving him this platform. as to the hecklers, i would be disappointed if there weren't any. people don't get heckled if
nobody thinks they are a threat. the fact that they start acting out is a sign of their desperation and he did handle it very well. i guess the way i summarize it is this. we remember joe biden's reference to a bfd. when jim and i got married, it was a bfd internationally. pete buttigeig's marriage is nbd. that change in adjectives is an important sign of progress. josh letterman caught up with voters and got their reaction to the hecklers. >> if they want to waste their time, go ahead. the country is ready for an open minded candidate. >> i don't know what these people are from. they don't represent how we are here in iowa. >> that's what politics is all about. nasty and beautiful at the same
time. it's disheartening and i wish he wouldn't have to go through that directed to his sexual orientation. >> i was thrilled years ago. a human rights thing in philadelphia probably 20 years ago. you talked to mostly young guys in their 20s and early 30s. you said keep up hope, it's going to get better. >> without question. one of the things that occurred moo me when i came out in '87, i became convinced to the point that if people thought i would get hurt, 44% said i was going to get hurt. that's close to 50. when they were asked are you personally less likely to vote for him? it was 22%. that's people who wouldn't vote for me ever under any s. they were not homophobic, but
thought they were supposed to be. as our reality confronted the prejudice, we made great gains. i said my marriage to jim was a big deal, but by the time i came out by 2012, actually being gay had been more respectable than being a congressman. >> that's a classic barpyism. in an interview, buttigeig credited you with the decision to come out. the first time i knew you could be gay and still be in politics is barney frank. he's a remarkable mind and interesting person to watch. apparently your coming out as tipp o'neal said you came out of the room. that was hilarious. he got the whole thing wrong. what do you think of the fact that you are a role model. >> tipp got the words wrong, but
the music right. it made me feel very good. when i read that, i interrupted jim who was doing something. i said i had to read that to you. jim is in a position to give advice about spouses. can i volunteer something that i think is relevant for joe biden? i had a personal experience of joe biden expressing what some people might think is inappropriate affection to a spouse. it was jim. we were in the oval office. he reached down and kissed him on the forehead. we should start a him too movement. >> i love that. thank you so much for completing the story of joe biden's social behavior. thank you, barney frank. you are a great man. >> thank you, chris. >> up next, tomorrow is not just what we learn from the mueller report, but what the democrats decide do with the information. will they? you are watching "hardball." tch"
it comes to the investigation into this president? do you really believe attorney general barr read a nearly 400-page report in one day? and that his 4-page summary is the whole truth? i'm tom steyer, and i'm organizing an effort to to release the full mueller report now and let the american people decide. if you think we have a right to read the report for ourselves, you can call the attorney general at this number. our tax dollars paid for the report. don't let him cover up the truth. (door bell rings) it's ohey. this is amazing. with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, are you okay? even when i was there, i never knew when my symptoms would keep us apart. so i talked to my doctor about humira. i learned humira can help get, and keep uc under control when other medications haven't worked well enough. and it helps people achieve control that lasts. so you can experience few or no symptoms.
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mueller report will make the case for the president's removal from office or fail to make such a case. if mueller makes the case for impeachment, the next all important question is whether democrats have the guts to act on it. if the report shows they have pitiful judgment in accepting the aid of russian allies and if he obstructed justice in defending such judgment, will the democrats have the political and moral courage to begin the procedure the constitution lays out? i don't think they have the leisure to do otherwise. if a president cannot be indicted for crimes, the only recourse for justice lies with the congress. congress fails to act on that recour recourse, its meek performance is not likely to get the reward of the voter. if the mueller report is guilty, they need to rise up to do their
duty. to do less is to show their bluff has been called. two years of promising to act cannot end with a resentful cringe. that's "hardball" for now. all in with chris hayes starts right now. tonight on all in -- >> there was not collusion, there was no obstruction. everybody knows it. >> on the eve of the redacted mueller report -- >> people did things that were very, very bad for our country and even illegal and you can say treasonous. >> the white house braces for the what the special counsel's report really said. it goes for ongoing congressional investigations. >> i came out talking about impeachment. >> congresswoman maxine waters. >> i didn't expect them to make total fools of themselves. >> why alexandria ocasio-cortez was invite and is invited by