tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC April 22, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
and that's all for tonight. we will be back tomorrow with more "meet the press daily." do not miss rachel's interview with congressman seth moulton from massachusetts. his first television interview since announcing his presidential bid, tonight, 9:00 eastern right here on msnbc. and "the beat with ari melber" starts right now. good evening, ari. >> good evening, steve. we have a big show tonight on "the beat." two legal powerhouses are here on the democrats' epic fight that shaping up over what to with this mueller report. david kelly and neal katyal are both here live. plus, our special report in the overwhelming obstruction evidence against president trump. >> and what don mcgahn told mueller and why democrats tonight in breaking news are going to force him to testify. president obama's white house counsel also here on "the beat" in an exclusive. as you can see, we are back, and we have a lot to bring you. we begin with democrats meeting over their next moves.
how do you hold donald trump accountable for the damning revelations in the mueller report when the caucus hasn't resolved exactly what it will do. at this very hour, speaker pelosi is leading what is a conference call with her leadership team and members. in a moment, i'll be joined by one of them to discuss where the party stands tonight. >> i have called on the house to initiate impeachment proceedings. >> i'm not there yet, but i can foresee that possibly coming. >> do you think this is impeachable? >> yeah, i do. if proven, which hasn't been proven yet. some of this -- if proven, some of this would be impeachable, yes. >> that's some of the range
of views. the speaker today trying to balance them. saying they have range of values and they want to find the truth.
the american people need to see the proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact. also noting that president trump has engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior, and
the republicans should be ashamed of what mueller revealed. as the democrats are huddling, they also have specific demands. one is that mr. barr has to turn over the full unredacted report. two is for bob mueller to personally testify with a deadline of may 23rd. and three, breaking moments ago in our newsroom, a formal subpoena for bob mueller's star witness, white house counsel don mcgahn, the guy who talked about all the crazy stuff, except he used a more severe word and warned of a saturday night massacre, the crazy stuff trump was demanding that he refused to do. all this looks like a lot there are the hearing as well that should focus on donald trump's activities as displayed in the report. and all that raises questions whether it's oversight or whether it's impeachment. >> thank you.
>> nobody disobeys my orders. >> are you worried about impeachment, mr. president? >> not even a little bit. >> not even a little bit. i'm joined now with a very special guest, and it's exclusive. david kelly was the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, a familiar position to viewers because it's been held by rudy giuliani, james comey, and preet bharara, who also says that he was ta contacted, he viewed it inappropriately by the president. thanks for being here, david. >> good to be here. >> i should mention long ago i worked for you when we practiced law today. you're here because you understand how these things work. indeed, some have said you need an underlying crime to prove that there is obstruction of justice. you proved the opposite in the martha stewart case, and you sent her to jail without her being a part of the underlying crime. how does it at a broad level obstruction as documented
potentially by mueller work, and do you think he has a strong case against trump if he were a citizen? >> let me put hit the way. as a legal matter, do you need to prove the underlying crime that's being obstructed? the answer is no, not as legal matter. what i think bob mueller did here is very thoughtfully look at all the different factors involved, constitutional issues concerning what a president has a right to do in his executive branch, et cetera. it's all laid out in his report. i think that at the end of the day, he is thinking putting all that aside, it's not just the normal person i'm going to be indicting, i'm going to indict the president. and if i'm going to do that, i really want to make sure i have a strong case, because there is no going back. i want to make sure this case is a winner. i want to make sure it gets all -- over all the legal hurdles, and i think at the end of the day, that's kind of like a prosecutor's gut. where do i end up with this case? you put -- i got the legal stuff down. can i prove the obstruction? certainly not exonerating him, but it is something i really
ought to charge under these circumstances. and i think there is too many issues involved there for him to ultimately say let's go with it. it's a winner case. we're solid on all fronts. >> when you read this report, and i've now gone through basically my second reading of it. >> you must have had a really fun weekend. >> one thing that comes through, david, is a real emphasis on the analysis of the president's criminal intent. why do you think mueller, who ultimately is leaving this for congress or others to act or not act on, why did he spend so much time so, many pages basically whether you want to call it showing the evidence over what some called prove it that donald trump was not stumbling around, was not sloppy, but knew better and tried to thwart the probe anyway? >> i think you're trying to preempt what the arguments are. some of it you heard from the attorney general saying he felt like he was under siege. he felt like he was being
attacked. it's not a defense, but it's important to preempt all those arguments by laying out the facts are that helped show his impetus. if you look at the evidence that he has, it's really he is turning to people he trusted, his loyalists, and directing them to do things that even they wouldn't do. i think that's really telling. >> why is that so powerful? >> because they knew that there is something wrong with what he's asking. and if they know -- frankly, look, i think in some people's mind, there are some of those folks who are not of the highest ethical caliber. people have looked at cory ley lewandows lewandowski. i don't know him, but i think by reputation people look at him as a political operative that doesn't always have the strongest moral compass. >> you are talking people who would retweet foreign propaganda, would go to meeting given those offers, would talk hopefully whether they can
elicit hacked material. they would do thaushlgs but even they wouldn't go along with let's kneecap the pro. >> i think that's really telling evidence about what his view was of the president's intent. but notwithstanding that, you still at the end of the day have an awful lot of legal issues to get by. and an obstruction case, look, we did it in the martha stewart case. there aren't many obstruction cases throughout that you don't have an underlying crime that was being obstructed, the investigation obstructed. >> two things, and then i want to bring in congresswoman speer. mueller alludes to but done say the underlying crime might have been other things donald trump did that he was worried would be uncovered or would be crimes apart from 2016 election stuff. is that a good argument? and what did you think of the fact that there were 12 referrals. that normal or is that a lot? >> in the first instance, i do think to your first point, yes.
i think it is -- it could be evidence of other crimes. it is kind of nonspecific. but even then, you're going down a path where that thing that's being obstructive becomes more and more amorphous. from a prosecutor's perspective you really need to nail down what is he trying to -- the investigation of what is he trying to obstruct, you know. and it's not good to just throw a bunch of it up on the wall and hope what sticks. i think you need to really focus, have a concrete theory and nail that down. and i think in this instance, there is probably for him, bob mueller, too many of these -- too many hurdles to get by comfortably. >> and 12 is a lot or normal? >> 12 is a lot. >> 12 is a lot. have you ever -- you were in sdny. have you ever finished a probe and handed off 12 other criminal referrals? >> i don't think so. i'd have to think about that. that's a lot of referrals. look, there is a lot out there. so for people who think people are exonerated here, i don't see
any exoneration going on there. and there is still a lot out there, a lot out there that has not yet come to public's eye with the referrals. >> out of everything you said, 12 is a lot, sticks with me. stay here live on "the beat." i want to bring in as promised california congresswoman jackie speier who serves on the oversight committees and was on this call with nancy pelosi. thank you for joining me. what do you take from the call and what do you view? is impeachment off the table? >> i think what comes out of the call is clear appreciation that we do have a date with destiny, as chairman cummings has said. the facts, ma'am, just the facts. that's what we want. and we get the facts by having special counsel mueller come and testify openly. all of this has been done in a closed environment. we need to have him speak openly. we need to know what those 12 other cases that have been referred, and we need to step
back for a minute and realize what has taken place here. we have identified the president as an unindicted co-conspirator in the michael cohen case. he already has participated in a criminal act. there are obstruction of justice allegations that have been made here, and whether the actual obstruction took place or not, the intent to obstruct is also a crime. so i think the american people have to have the opportunity to hear this in an open setting, to be able to chew on it, to understand that this is just not a game as the president thinks of it. this is in fact a challenge to our democracy. the facts should take us to our conclusion. and i don't think anything is off the table as far as the democratic majority in the house is looking at it. >> very striking to hear you put
that it way, congresswoman. i want to read from a constitutional expert who is known to be somewhat conservative in the classic sense of the word about this question. i think americans have been genuine liwonding about, which is was mr. barr doing what he was supposed to do in announcing his views of this before even turning over anything? or was he usurping the traditional congressional role? and as you know, i say that wholly apart from what congress decides. it could be congress' role to then decide not to go forward with oversight or not to impeach. but the notion that might be your job and not barr's, i want to read from this em. it says it's plausible the mueller report as an invitation to impeachment, according to the author of the handbook on impeachment in "the washington post." and notes this is a broad-based series of hearings would be the next step. at a procedural level, rather than just whether people want to quote/unquote get the president, do you agree with that analysis? and do you view that as an open debate that this is up to
congress or barr, or a closed debate? it's always up to congress and the only question is what you do? >> well, first of all, i believe attorney general barr has absolutely obliterated his responsibilities as the attorney general. he manipulated that report, put out a four-page summary that does not look anything like the summary that the special counsel delivered to us. and secondly, he has become an attorney, a mouthpiece for the president in the way he uses the term "collusion" and comes to the conclusion that there hasn't been obstruction of justice. putting that aside, i would then say that we have an obligation to investigate this further. you know, prosecutorial discretion is different from congressional discretion. and i believe that a high crime and misdemeanor is not the same as an indictment that you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. we need to know why the president of the united states is hiding his tax return.
we need to know where he garners his money, why he has been so reluctant to call out vladimir putin, to say that in fact the intervention by putin took place. there is so much that suggests that the president is hiding something, and we need to find out what it is. >> very interesting coming from congresswoman jackie speier who was just on that leadership call along with the caucus with speaker pelosi and david kelly, former u.s. the southeastern for sdny. thank you both for joining us. david said i had an interesting weekend. this is something i have been working on. it is my special report to you on what you need to know about muell mueller's evidence of what you need to know of donald trump. neal katyal is here. and as trump oversees don mcgahn's cooperation, he will
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justice rigorously documented in the mueller report. this evidence actually answers several of the mysteries of the trump era like why so many people lied even without a conspiracy, and why trump was so obsessed with thwarting the probe, and why trump's senior aides were so concerned that his presidency could literally end before his first term was supposed to end. the answers bring clarity, but they don't bring us any legal or civic piece because there is no easy outcome when there is substantial criminal evidence against a president as there is right now. the path to accountability is hard and uncertain. the path toward settling with no accountability is actually dangerous because it can award this or future presidents for obstruction. so there is no great satisfaction to be taken in this criminal evidence against trump. but before america decides what, if anything, to do, we have to take in the evidence. we have to understand it. and if we can't even do that
anymore, we may not have much of a functioning republic. so let's do that right now. and one way to fin i would argue is with the end of mueller's factual analysis of the obstruction evidence, because after he laid out all the damning stories you've been hearing about the last few day, mueller then intones it's important to view the president's pattern of conduct as a whole which sheds light on the nature of the president's acts, meaning the corrupt intent efforts look worse taken together. and then mueller notes his advanced knowledge of wikileaks hacked material and the trump tower meeting itself could be seen as criminal activity by him or his family meaning that trump had the motive to obstruct even if there was no charged conspiracy, which is one of those mysteries. and mueller states obstruction is a crime even without an underlying crime because it creates injury to the integrity of the justice system, the same regardless whether a person committed an underlying wrong. and again, on trump's criminal
intent, fearing it would uncover facts that would be understood to be crimes. these are shots across the bow. mueller is documenting the president tried to obstruct the probe repeatedly to avoid the discovery of possible crimes. and when those efforts were busted, he tried to could have them up, ordering his employees to lie, to cheat, to falsify records, to cover up the way trump had been covering up. what i am saying is not conjecture and not opinion. it's the testimony of donald trump's own top aides. the footnotes of mueller's reads like a warm-up at a maga rally and a star panel at sea-tac. banner, christy, mcfarland, hicks, priebus, sander, mcgann, miller. that's the evidence. you may remember that movie "when a stranger calls" and the
scary part is the calls were coming from inside the house. mueller's obstruction evidence is coming from inside the white house. so i want to go through it with you briefly, because you may have heard about ten or 11 acts and maybe five or more show the evidence of obstruction. but these obstructive acts really boil down to three incriminating topics. protecting mike flynn from indictment, pressuring jeff sessions improperly and trying to oust mueller and covering that up. donald trump knew that his demand that the fbi stop probing flynn was wrong. quote, the president cleared the room to make the request and later denied it, showing he knew his request was not a proper exercise of his power. on jeff session, mueller documents trump demanding aides get help to take back the russia probe and the evidence that trump had criminal attempt, was criminal to restrict the probe and shield from it. and third, the most obvious from
it of the president potentially committing the crime of obstruction was trying to oust mueller, kneecap mueller and cover up that. and that is the part that has gotten a lot of attention. the stories are raw because trump's own aides knew nothing ends a presidency like a massacre. mueller showing donald trump's criminal intent starkly, quoting his own aides who believed trump's attempt to oust mueller is a high crime that could end his presidency, that it was crazy, that it was worth resigning over. mueller documents that in that very moment when trump's order to fire mueller was still secret, so nobody knew what would come next, think about that, it was obviously intense and scary time to the people involved, donald trump's own lawyer not only defied the president's order, but next he called his lawyer because he knew he was risking going to jail for that potential crime if he wasn't careful. that's some of the best evidence of criminal obstruction a criminal prosecutor can get. now lawyers can legally know about it and represent a past
crime. they cannot legally help you with a future crime that would make them criminal conspirators, not lawyers, and that's exact lip what mueller is busting trump on. mcgahn saying no, i won't help with a new crime. also, i have to quit. there are crimes and then there are high crimes. reckless driving is a real crime, but few people think it's impeachable for a president. but multiple trump aides, according to mueller tell trump that his order was actually a potential high crime. chris christie in the mueller report warning trump that ousting mueller would lead republicans in congress to abandon him. and trump covering up his effort to oust mueller because he knew that the order was improper. what you're looking at right here is mueller nailing the coffin with donald trump's own criminal intent, his, quote, awareness that the direction to oust mueller was improper. that is what obstruction of justice looks like when all the evidence is in. now if a president obstructs, it's not up to his own doj employees to arrest him. the congress decides whether to
act, and that's a fact every time congress has considered an impeachment, from johnson to nixon to clinton. a point that republican members of congress have made recently as they discuss their standards for obstruction charges against, yes, a president, president clinton. >> you don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose their job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role. >> we don't want a president lying in office, that we don't want obstruction of justice. >> the president has engaged in a persistent pattern and practice of obstruction of justice. the allegations are grave. the investigation is legitimate. >> i am concerned about a president under oath being alleged to have committed perjury. and in america in supreme court and the american people believe no one is above the law.
>> no one is above the law that was a throwback, jeff sessions. that wording is what ends the mueller report. sessions was talking about a single perjury count. mueller's got five incidents of obstructi obstruction. so if that was obvious then, why is there any question of it now that congress considers obstruction? one answer is that donald trump's new attorney general broke with past practice to announce that he had reached his own decision about mueller's findings before even briefing congress on them. but now that we have the mueller report, everyone can see the evidence, that one, mueller did not find evidence to charge an election conspiracy. two, mueller did find substantial evidence of trump obstruction. three, barr didn't tell the whole truth about all of that. and four, bob mueller explicitly refers to congress deciding obstruction cases against a president, something barr obviously left out. so take that all together, everything i've just presented to you as facts in the mueller report, what do we do about it? right now there are people trying to predict the, quote, politics of impeachment.
that is futile. the d.c. establishment couldn't even predict the 2016 election, nor could the media. and there are thousands of people who focus on trying to figure that out full-timno how impeachment process would proceed or shape minds or ultimately end. and comparing what happened with bill clinton in 1998 is only slightly more relevant to comparing this to the whigs or the renaissance. this is a different world. trump is different. america is different. if insanity is doing the same thing over for difficult reports, political insanity is applying a pre2015 world view to make these decisions. and more importantly, congress shouldn't even use political calculations for these highest constitutional obligations. sure. politics can touch everything. but i ask you tonight, now that this report is setting in, have we become so cynical we dent even ask our leaders to aspire to live up to their oaths when they vote to send us to war, when they evaluate national security or when they decide if the president is a crook?
the public can demand more, and this public two-year fascination with mueller has some constructive features because it's highlighted fact finding and bluster. it's not all positive. this partisan hunger for mueller to find what some people want to hear also risks blunting the import of what he didn't find. no election conspiracy. no criminal syndicate led by don jr. but the other issue is the passion for mueller had some people think he might do what he wasn't assigned to do, which is make these decisions, these tough calls for other branchs of government. bill barr was wrong to claim he could decide himself if trump obstructed. mueller would have been wrong to do that as well. difference of course is mueller followed that rule. barr did not. and that tells us something about both men. but in honoring that line, bob mueller was respecting the constitution's role for congress to decide any high crimes. so what would it say about congress if after all that, after mueller's 22-month-long probe busting four interference
crimes and a record-breaking number of indictments and the lies and the obstruction of other people, and then this documenting substantial evidence of donald trump's obstruction, what would it say if all of this congress takes that evidence and announces we can't even begin proceedings to assess these facts because the politics might be bad for us. i'm going to tell you something. if that is how this all ends, a whimper topped with a blatant confession that it's all based on self-interest, then the responsibility will lie not only with the president who saddled with this criminal evidence against him, but with those who had a chance to act here and now and instead said we won't use our power to stand up to this. we're afraid of the politics. isn't fear part of what got us here? aren't democrats in congress the ones who spent two years asking when would republicans stand up to donald trump, regardless of their politics?
now hi observations to you tonight are not call for a particular outcome. we don't even know what house proceedings and testimony fact finding would uncover or lead to or what that ultimate vote might entail if there were a vote. but if you're watching this unfold and you're thinking wait, isn't there something to do with mueller's findings after all this? yes, there is. if you're thinking wait, i watch the news. didn't we know all along the doj doesn't indict the president, so the whole thing was always going to be up to congress? yes, you're right. and if you're thinking facts matter most when people make facts matter, yes, they do. anyone telling you the facts don't matter or telling you to just move on tonight, or telling you don't need to bother reading the mueller report, that sounds like someone who might be trying to hind something. and as bob mueller so meticulously documents it, when you do it in court trying to hide a lie is an element of corrupt intent. in life, it's just a sign there may be a whole lot more work to do.
i can't believe it. that theobster in our hot tub? lobster: oh, you guys. there's a jet! oh...i needed this. no, i can't believe how easy it was to save hundreds of dollars on our car insurance with geico. we could have been doing this a long time ago. so, you guys staying at the hotel? yeah, we just got married. oh ho-ho! congratulations! thank you. yeah, i'm afraid of commitment... and being boiled alive. oh, shoot. believe it. geico could save you 15% or more on car insurance. that guy's the worst. welcome back to our special coverage. i'm joined now by neal katyal, who wrote the special counsel rules that governed mueller and has been writing about this for some time, including something he noted in "the new york times." if indictment's off the table, impeachment must be on it. if impeachment is off the table because of nefarious congressional activity, then indictment must be on it that is
some context for what we're seeing, including this defense from the trump team. the trump organization now suing the house to try to prevent a subpoena of donald trump's confidential financial records. joining me now as part of our opening arguments series is general solicitor neal katyal. good evening. >> good evening, ari. >> what do you think is most important as the country is still learning about what's in this report and trying to understand whether congress has a role to play, or as mitch mcconnell said today, everyone should just move on. >> i think if folks were just listening to david kelly, who is a fabulous lawyer. that would be like why would we think about impeachment? because mr. kelly said, you know, that mueller's prosecutor's gut was there wasn't obstruction of justice that was there, that there was too many hurdles and so on. but actually, mueller said none of that. and i think the most important thing for all americans to understand is what mueller actually said. and on the first two pages of his report, where he has two
rules, rule number one, i mueller can't indict a sitting president, and i won't tar and feather a sitting president because i can't indict him and he won't have an opportunity to defend himself. what that means, he says is that even if the president is guilty as sin, i'm not going to tell you. it's not going to be in the report. that that's rule number one. number two, if the evidence shows that trump did nothing wrong, i'll exonerate him. i'll clear him. and mueller does not do that. so when we think about what are the next steps, we have to understand the mueller report in its context. as you just said so helpfully for the last few minutes, the report actually when you look at the evidence on obstruction is devastating. i mean mueller points to example after example in which all the elements of obstruction of justice are met. criminal intent, an obstructive act, a nexus to a proceeding. when you add all that together, i think i'm where the congresswoman was just a few minutes ago with you, ari, which
is trump is going to have a day with destiny. there isn't a way to avoid it. congress is going to have to do something. yes, they're going to hand-wring over the politics of the thing. and maybe a lot of them don't want to do it. they'd rather talk about health care and other things, but it's part of their constitutional duty. >> what does it tell you that people are openly invoking politics? it was, as i just noted, it was democrats and others, many others who criticized republicans who were quiet in the face of charlottesville or other things donald trump did that were obviously more important than politics of the day. should that standard apply to the constitutional obligations here? >> absolutely not. and particularly so because if mueller himself has said i can't indict a sitting president and barr has taken that and carried it to its logical conclusion. so now congress is the ball game. and every scholar who says a sitting president can't be indicted couples that with the
view that the way to remedy a president who is breaking the law is to seek their impeachment. otherwise, to use the antiquated term by jeff session, no one is above the law. that's not session' term. that goes back to 1610 in dr. bonham's case in england. >> i thought it was jeff sessions' original. i didn't know he was remixing older stuff. let me also play for you, neal, rudy giuliani, who seems to find a way to muddy or complicate what might have been an easier set of weekend interviews. take a look. >> it doesn't matter whether there was an underlying crime. it's still obstruction. >> when did mueller become god? there is nothing wrong with taking information from russians. >> there is nothing wrong? >> it depends on where it came from. >> don mcgahn saved him. >> don mcgahn didn't save him. >> don mcgahn didn't carry out an order and saved him.
>> he had a perfect right to file mueller. >> omg. i don't know even where to begin. let me take there is nothing wrong with getting information from the russians. the russians are our most sophisticated adversary. trump has been denying that they interfered in the election time and again to the consternation of the intelligence community. the idea that there is nothing wrong, i never thought in my lifetime, ari, i would hear a president of the united states' top lawyer saying that. it's astounding to me. and yet further reason why the congresswoman's right, congress has to take a deep look at this and ask what the heck is going on. why is there so much weirdness in this administration about russia. >> yeah, it's a lot of important questions. we've been relying on your expertise a lot, and luckily we get to come back to you soon. so neal katyal, as part of our opening argument series, as always, thank you for joining us on "the beat." you can go to msnbc.com/openingarguments for not only what you just saw, but
all our other segments with neal. coming up, democrats tonight are subpoenaing don mcgahn. donald trump's seething. i'll be joined by someone who has been in that very job, former obama white house council kathy ruler, next. every day, visionaries are creating the future. ♪ so, every day, we put our latest technology and unrivaled network to work. ♪ the united states postal service makes more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country. ♪ because the future only happens with people who really know how to deliver it.
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breaking news tonight. the first post-mueller report subpoena of a major mueller witness, this is mueller's star witness, don mcgahn. jerry nadler calling him to testify before the house. mcgahn's interviews with the special counsel cited 157 times in the mueller report as mcgahn detailed some of the most damning efforts of trump's efforts to crack down on the probe. he is now being compared with nixon's famous white house counsel who famously broke with nixon during watergate. mueller recounts mcgahn was afraid that trump's demands to fire mueller would be a massacre
like nixon when the special prosecutor was ousted. that was the beginning of the end of nixon's presidency. to discuss this white house counsel's unique role in the mueller probe and beyond, i turn to kathy ruemmler, white house council to president obama. she also in all of this represented a mueller witness, george nader. thank you so much for being here. >> thanks, ari. it's great to be here. >> when you read the account of don mcgahn's time in the white house, was that similar, normal like your time? >> absolutely not, no. >> do you ever recall telling the president that a request for an order was unlawful? >> no. no. >> so walk us through how not only strange and in a way it's amazing copy as a story. >> it's incredible. >> but all of your reactions to it having sold the same post. >> i have run out of adjectives to describe what it must be like and what it must have been like for don mcgahn working in this white house. we also had the privilege for
working for president clinton before that. they understood the power and the authority and the responsibility that came with the office of the presidency. and president trump seems not to understand that at all. and i think that is really laid bare in the report, particularly in the parts that talk about the obstruction and his instructions to the white house counsel to do a variety of different things. you know, his directives to ag sessions, to quote/unquote unrecu unrecuse. one of the things i found fascinating in the report is the conversation he had with the director of the nsa, rogers and the deputy director. and the deputy director says in the report in my 40 years of government service, i've never had a conversation like that with anyone, much less the president of the united states. they wrote a memo to the file that they then locked in the safe there are lots of things in this report that have not even been sort of touched upon, but i think in sort of the history of our government would just be deemed in and of themselves just extraordinary.
>> you know, during the campaign they talk about the trump train. and one of the things that comes through in mueller's evidence, and he deems mcgahn not only credible, but it's his most cited witness is if he didn't announce he was going to jump off the train, that he would be guilty of a crime, he would end up in jail. which is not where most people want to go after the white house. i'm going to ask you, did you ever get an order from president obama and then have to consult your personal lawyer for your own criminal liability? >> never. >> what does it tell you when we read those stories? this is the star witness, and he is the star witness partly because he would get off the phone with the president, and according to mueller, the next call would be to mcgahn's personal lawyer. >> it's so difficult to express to people who don't have the experience in working at the white house or don't understand, you know, what it's like to work in government how just so outside of the realm of not even
normal but just barely acceptable. it's just stranger than fiction is the only way i can describe it. it's just astonishing. >> one of the stories that hasn't got as much attention in here is that after a lot of the stuff went down when mcgahn called the crazy expletive stuff, he was still on the job. and then trump asks him to lie and falsify records, to cover up that trump had tried to oust mueller. and they have a tense face-to-face, where mcgahn does stand up to him and stare him down. and then trump says at one point, something to the effect of, he makes the threat known, if you don't go along with this, you might lose this job. >> yeah. >> and mcgahn says to someone else in the white house, according to mueller, it was like the president still didn't understand that wasn't leverage over me. if i then left after both the massacre and then refusing to falsify records, it would be bad for trump. >> right, right. that's the interesting dynamic.
president trump doesn't seem to get it. and there are a couple of things going on here, ari. one is he is asking don mcgahn to do these things that mcgahn says i'm not going to do. but there is no reason why the president himself couldn't ask what mcgahn is asking him to do, but the president doesn't want to do that because he wants to presumably and i think don mcgahn knows this full well, he wanted to presumably blame don mcgahn, to disavow the order to don mcgahn later if it came out. so when he is asking mcgahn to call rod rosenstein and tell rod to fire the special counsel, there is no reason why the president couldn't have picked up the phone and called rod. as we've seen lots of reporting, he has no hesitation to pick up the phone and call all sorts of people. but he was savvy enough -- >> he was canny. >> he was canny. to me the notion -- well, it's just riddled throughout the report is the canniness and the corrupt motivation that is really just i think littered throughout the report. >> right. and mueller, and i was just
speaking about this earlier in a report we did on the show. mueller uses that to great effect as evidence against trump, the constant awareness that what he was doing was wrong or corrupt and then hiding it. mcgahn, though, ultimately was deemed cooperative, credible, has not been accused by mueller of wrongdoing. the one white house counsel caught up in this who has been accused hasn't been of course to trial yet is someone that was in the obama white house as well, greg craig, charges that he quote lied and concealed information from the justice department about his work for ukraine. based on what you know and having been in the same white house, in the same post at different times, your view of those charges and what it means that mueller's referred that case and it's being pursued? >> well, i don't know more than what i read in the indictment. i do know craig personally. and i think he's a very fine lawyer and has had a really well-deserved and well earned reputation in washington as a very nice person.
i don't know the facts jobbed on what's laid out in the indictment. obviously that's going to have to be tried before a jury. i think it's umpt and a sad thing. but it will be contested before a jury and a jury will decide. >> and what does it say about mueller that he has been so aggressive on that area of the law, which as i owe and i think a lot of viewers have come to known is not traditionally enforce this aggressively, and yet mueller looked at this foreign lobbying stuff and said well, you can go after the washington corporate establishment with it if they're not registering. >> well, mueller chose not to charge that particular case, right, and referred it out and a different office charged it. i think as a former prosecutor what i would say it's always important for prosecutors to think about just what's fundamentally fair. something may be a technical violation of the law. but if people didn't have an appreciation because something hadn't been enforced in a way that it's being enforced now, that's a factor that should go into any prosecutor's decision
as to whether or not it's kind of a righteous case to bring. again, i'm not suggesting this isn't. i don't know enough about the fax. but that's important context. and i certainly expect that greg craig's defense team will bring that out in front of the jury. >> as a former white house counsel, you bring so much expertise and firsthand knowledge. i'm so glad we got you on the mueller report today. i hope you'll come back on "the beat." >> absolutely. thanks for having me, ari. >> katherine ruemmler. coming up, maya wiley when we come back. we're working together to do just that. bringing you more great tasting beverages with less sugar or no sugar at all. smaller portion sizes, clear calorie labels and reminders to think balance. because we know mom wants what's best. more beverage choices, smaller portions, less sugar. balanceus.org
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breaking news. nbc getting some of the first leaks and readouts on speaker pelosi's call with house democrats. their first discussion since the mueller report. democratic leaders discussing whether there will be aggressive investigations. no public commitment to impeachment hearings. let's get into this with maya wiley. we had david kelly in here. it's a big sdny day. >> isn't it always, ari and? >> let me read to you from this report. democratic conference call. democratic leadership, including the leaders of the oversight committee, "promise to do extensive and aggressive investigation and oversight into the president but did not commit to impeachment proceedings." this according to our nbc colleagues of what is coming out of speaker pelosi's call. what do you make of this?
>> what i think is critical is that the american people get to hear the evidence for themselves. and what i mean by that is to have a don mcgahn come before them and actually hear him say what the president directed him to do is important. and it's because in part what representative jamie raskin said, that the process for impeachment should require congress to do its job, which means take all the evidence into account to determine whether impeachment is merited. what i will say here is that the politics should not lead the country, the issue of the constitution and our laws should lead the country, and on that one, i'm going to agree with jeff sessions. >> jeff sessions, who we quoted. all depends how old the quotes are. >> but jeff sessions is absolutely right. i mean, do you take the keys to the white house after the president has opened the door to foreign governments to waltz right in or do you protect the country and determine whether you have to protect the country
from the types of abuse of authority that leaves the country bare? and i think the democrats are right to say let's put it all on the table. let the country see it. let it be public because for the most part most americans are not reading over 400 pages themselves. >> well, let me ask you, because we've talked to different experts different ways. we did a lot of the formal law in the show thus far. what do you think at a more generic level, what do you think bob mueller's thinking about the way the world's reacting to this now after three days in public? >> well, i hope the what he's thinking is they didn't get the message. >> hmm. >> my message was congress should do its job and that i had to, in my view, given -- i think neal katyal was exactly right when he said -- given that the -- that the office of legal counsel has tied my hands, i am going to tell congress that they should untie theirs. >> do you think he's mad at barr? >> if i were him, i would be quite upset at barr. >> because?
>> because -- >> i'm going -- i mean, the introduction -- as lawyers know and i think the public understands, you don't put it in the introduction to have it spun and redacted. you don't redact the opening of the introduction. that's the message. that's where he says, as you alluded, katyal says hey. >> william barr is an attorney. >> so true. >> so therefore he understands -- understood exactly what robert mueller was doing and robert mueller knows that william barr understood exactly what robert mueller was doing. which means there is only one thing to be if you are robert mueller. >> i think you put it well. mr. barr knows better and the question is will there be no better blues by the time mueller testifies. >> or lil wayne. >> we'll be right back. ck
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"hardball" starts now. impeach, now or never. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. there is breaking news right at this moment. just minutes ago house democrats concluded a conference call about their strategy moving forward in the wake of robert mueller's explosive report. to impeach or not to impeach, that is the question for those lawmakers who must now weigh the bulk of the evidence against the risks of impeachment.