tv MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin MSNBC May 29, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT
there was substantial evidence of criminal intent by the president, in his view. we're going to see bob mueller walk out and we're going to be watching for is he alone, is mr. barr behind him or in the room, what are the first words that bob mueller wants to publicly utter? a man who is reticent, sometimes to a fault his supporters say. he clearly has something to say. does he in any way elude to or cite what we know to be major disagreements with mr. barr about what mueller found in his investigation and about evidence about sitting the president. >> here we have for the first time publicly in more than two years robert mueller. >> thank you for being here. two years ago the acting attorney general asked me to sv as special counsel. and he created the special
counsel's office. the appointed directed the office to investigate russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. this included investigating any links or coordination between the russian government and individuals associated with the trump campaign. now i have not spoken publicly during our investigation. i'm speaking out today because our investigation is complete. the attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public. we are formally closing the special counsel's office, and as well i'm resigning from the department of justice to return to private life. i'll make a few remarks about the results of our work. but beyond these few remarks it is important that the office's written work speak for itself. let me begin where the appointment order begins.
and that is interference with the 2016 presidential election. as alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, russian intelligence officers who were part of the russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system. the indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the clinton campaign. they stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization, wikileaks. the releases were designed and times to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. and at the same time as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private russian entity engaged in a social media operation where russian citizens posed as americans in order to influence an election.
these indictments contain allegations, and we are not commenting on the guilt or innocence of any specific defendant. every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. the indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. they needed to be investigated and understand. and that is among the reasons why the department of justice established our office. that is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. the matters we investigated were of paramount importance and it was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. when a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation oral lies to investigators it strikes at the
core of the government's effort to strike at the truth and hold wrong doers accountable. let me say a word about the report. the report has two parts, addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate. the first volume details numerous efforts emanating from russia to influence the election. this volume includes a discussion of the trump campaign's response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. and in a second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the president. the order appointing the special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. and we conducted that investigation and we kept the office of the acting attorney
general apprised of the progress of our work. and as set forth in the report after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. we did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. the introduction to the volume two of our report explains that decision. it explains that under long-standing department policy a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. that is unconstitutional. even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited. the special counsel's office is part of the department of justice and by regulation it was bound by that department policy. charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.
the department's written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. those points are summarized in our report and i will describe two of them for you. first, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president, because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now. and second, the opinion says that the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrong doing. and beyond department policy we were guided by principles of fairness. it would be unfair to
potentially -- it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge. so that was justice department policy. those were the principles under which we operated and from them we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. that is the office's -- that is the office's final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president. we conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the attorney general. as required by department regulations. the attorney general then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to congress and to the american people. at one point in time i requested that certain portions of the report be released. the attorney general preferred
to make that -- preferred to make the entire report public all at once, and we appreciate that the attorney general made the report largely public. and i certainly do not question the attorney general's good faith in that decision. now i hope and expect this to be the only time that i will speak to you in this manner. i am making that decision myself. no one has told me whether i can or should testify or speak further about this matter. there has been discussion about an appearance before congress. any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. it contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. we chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. and the report is my testimony. i would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before congress.
in addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office. so beyond what i have said here today, and what is contained in our written work, i do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the justice department or congress. and it's for that reason i will not be taking questions today as well. now before i step away, i want to thank the attorneys, the fbi agents, and analysts, the professional staff to helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. these individuals who spent nearly two years with the special counsel's office were of the highest integrity. and i will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that there were
multiple, systematic efforts to interference in our election. that allegation deserves the attention of every american. thank you. thank you for being here today. >> sir, if you're subpoenaed -- >> no questions. >> and there you have it. roughly nine minutes from special counsel robert mueller and in that nine minutes there were a number of headlines. the special counsel saying, quote, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so. bob mueller also leading folks to believe that the statement he made there would serve as his testimony if we were called in to the house judiciary committee or a senate committee as well. we are joined by quite the panel. nbc news national security and
justice reporter julia ainsley, live at the justice department. i have msnbc justice and security analyst, matt miller is back. mimi rocah, former assistant u.s. attorney and msnbc legal analyst. former feder former federal prosecutor glen kurchne. and, of course, our lead legal analyst, ari melber. robert mueller said he's speaking out because he's resigning, he's returning to private life. what instruct you the most? >> on the scene, this was vintage bob mueller. no questions, no bull. and just laying out what he's already laid out in the report. he basically quoted the key highlights in this report and in so doing, i think a fair reading of what he said would rebut the white house and parts of what his boss, bill barr, have said
about him. then he went out of his way to say he doesn't question the, quote, good faith of attorney general bill barr, his boss. that is huge because democrats in congress have tried to line up an attack on barr as the front edge of their allegations against what they call a corrupt trump administration and its attempts to obstruct. mr. mueller just brushed that back. he also did something else that may be disappointing to people and congress may make a decision whether to demand testimony, he said if you make me talk, i'm going to read you back this report. that's it. he said it more artfully. but he's telling the nation if you want to know what we found, read the report. a final point on indicting the president, which is a big deal. mr. mueller said something that's as big a piece of news today as it was in the report
that he found substantial evidence the president tried to obstruct justice. he wasn't able to state he didn't commit a crime. and the rules say if you want to deal with it, you deal with it through congress, aka the "i" word, not through the special counsel. he told america, this kicks back to congress, you do something or you don't. that's what the constitution says when it comes to potential high crimes and misdemeanors by the sitting president. >> he also cited this long-standing policy at the justice department that prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime. >> yeah, look. i think mueller made as clear today as he possibly could, perhaps without saying it in exactly the way some would want him to have said it more explicitly, that he did not charge trump with a crime because he could not, because of that policy.
as ari just said, i think mueller made it clear in the report and today what he chose to highlight was that there was evidence and that, you know, this policy is what prevented him from stating that he would have charged him with a crime. i thought it was interesting that mueller said i'm not going to respond to hypotheticals. i think the hypothetical he's talking about is this hypothetical that many -- nearly 1,000 former federal prosecutors signed onto, which is that if trump weren't president he would be charged with a crime. mueller isn't going to answer that question. he'll answer it in the way he said in the statement. one thing i wanted to point out what mueller said. he talked about how obstruction crimes strike at the core of our justice system and democracy. that's important.
he's saying don't lose sight of this, the fact we're talking about obstruction of justice and the president should not go unattended to. it is at the heart of everything that our justice system and our democracy is about, i think he's calling attention to that. i think it's important that he praise the integrity of the prosecutors and investigators who work with him. we don't hear it often enough from the department of justice but you heard it from mueller today. >> a quick reminder here. this is the sound bite that probably is going to get a great deal of attention from robert mueller, which is what he said a few moments ago as it related to evidence against the president. take a listen. >> we do not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. the introduction to the volume two of our report explains that decision. it explains that under long-standing department policy a president cannot be charged
with a federal crime while he is in office. that is unconstitutional. even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited. the special counsel's office is part of the department of justice and by regulation it was bound by that department policy. charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider. >> it sounds like, and you correct me if i'm wrong here, glen, it sounds like the special counsel is very much leaving open the possibility that once president trump leaves office, there could very well be some sort of indictment. >> absolutely agree with you, craig. i think in the near term what he's also saying, and this was one of my top line takeaways, after he said i am not permitted to indict the president he went on to say, that requires a process other than the criminal
justice system to formally accuse a president of wrong doing. you don't need to be rand mcnally to see that road map. he was virtually announcing congress, do your job. >> also joined now by -- rejoined i should say, barbara mcquade is with me and so is frank figliuzzi. another top line and bob mueller saved this to the end perhaps wanting to remind all of us, one of the biggest takeaways here, the fact that the russians tried, on numerous occasions -- in fact, i think we have the sound. let's take a listen. >> it is important that the office's written work speak for itself. let me begin where the appointment order begins, and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election. as alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, russian
intelligence officers who were part of the russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system. the indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the clinton campaign. they stole private information and released that information through fake online identities and through wikileaks. the releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and damage a presidential candidate. >> frank, it sounds like bob mueller is challenging congress, challenging the white house, and challenging all of us to remember precisely what it is that the russians did. >> bob mueller decided to open his statement with the russian problem and he decided to end his statement with the russian problem by saying it's something that all americans should be
concerned about. and if you understand bob mueller, if you've sat across him every morning and perhaps every afternoon, as i have as his assistant director and you learn that he speaks in measured but clear tones and style, you understand he's saying this is a huge problem, and it's not being addressed, and every american needs to get on this and understand this is still ongoing. that's how i read this and his choice to start and end his statement with russia reminds all of us we're still not resolving this problem. >> glen, you also worked for bob mueller, what you saw and heard there from your former boss, is that what you were expecting? if. >> yeah, you know, that's the man bob mueller is. he's precise, he's factual, he's accurate. the man doesn't know the definition of hyperbole. and what he just told us, craig, is that you have everything you need in this report to move
forward and do the right thing, do justice, hold russia accountable, i would add hold the president accountable. i think when he said, listen, i will not go beyond what's in my report if called before congress, i think we all need to take that, craig, as an affirmation that everything the american people and our elected politicians need to make their decisions and to move forward is right there in those 448 pages. >> matt miller, 25 minutes ago we were speculating about what special counsel bob mueller might say. give me your top lines here. what are we missing? >> you know, look, i think one of the things that surprised me a little bit is how much of this press conference was a rebuke of bill barr. he did say, as ari noted that the attorney general is not acting in good faith. i think on the russian collusion side of the investigation and
the obstruction side he contradicted things that the attorney general has said. on obstruction, when bill barr held his press conference releasing the report, he was asked point blank did the special counsel not make a determination because he thought it ought to be left to congress. barr said i hope that's not what he's doing, it's the job of prosecutors to make the determinatio determinations. i think mueller made clear in his statement that the constitution leaves it to congress. because of that constitutional requirement and the justice department policy it would have been unfair for him to make a determination and publically accuse the president of a crime -- >> matt, let's just reflect on that with craig, if i may, to be specific. because i think matt makes a nuanced point here -- >> i want to remind viewers and listeners what precisely robert mueller said about bill barr. >> we conducted an investigation
and reported the results to the attorney general, as required by the department regulations. the attorney general then concluded it was appropriate to provide our report to congress and the american people. at one point in time i requested that perscertain portions of th report be released. the attorney general preferred to make the entire report public all at once, we appreciate that the attorney general made the report largely public, and i certainly do not question the attorney general's good faith in that decision. >> that's the phrase you want to hone in on? >> exactly. perfect. as craig drew our attention to the perfect point. to be clear for viewers who were understanding what we just got moments ago from robert mueller. we says he doesn't question attorney general bill barr's good faith in that decision, on that one issue. and to barr's credit, much of the report was released. the redactions were concerned by
nonpartisan experts to be narrow. so, matt, i think to build on that point before you move to the other issues, what does it tell us that mr. mueller is basically helpful to barr on the disclosure part, the transparency part but not the points that you and others have pinpointed that bill barr's statements mischaractered the report but the seeking of the disclosure was to clean up what people called criminal defense work for the white house rather than attorney general work. >> i doubt he would go that far and use those words. but i at the he is saying the attorney general mischaracterized my work. he may have said it's the job of prosecutors to make the determination, i not only can't because of the constitution and department of justice policy but in this instance it would be unfair of me to accuse the president of a crime.
i think on the russia section he said something important. if you remember what the attorney general has said over and over in his public statement when he released this report and in subsequent interviews it's that there was no collusion. this report, this investigation found there was no collusion. he said at times this report confirmed that it didn't happen. well, bob mueller when he talked in the opening of this press conference about what his investigation found about a broader conspiracy. what he said was, we found there's insufficient evidence to charge a conspiracy. that's different than what the attorney general came out and said that no collusion happened and this investigation confirmed it didn't happen. >> john brennan joins me on the phone right now, former cia director. thank you for your time. i know that you were listening to the special counsel a few moments ago. what did you take away from what he said? what you heard. >> a couple things p. as has been mentioned, this was
bob mueller, precise and careful in his language, making a statement on his terms, and that's why i don't think he wants to be part of any type of political and partisan show on the hill. and as has been mentioned, he would read his report and go no further than that. two he made it quite clear that were it not for existing doj policy as well as a constitutional process to hold a sitting president to account, that there is not a basis for him and his team to go forward with an indictment of the sitting president but also he said clearly if he was able to exonerate a president of wrong doing, he would have done that. so i do think he made a very explicit that there is an outstanding issue when it comes to wrong doing on the part of donald trump on obstruction of justice and there are the options of dealing with it while
mr. trump sits in office by the congress, or -- and after mr. trump leaves office in terms of following through with some type of indictment so that charges can be looked at and mr. trump can defend himself as appropriate. >> john brennan with me now, msnbc senior national security analyst, intelligence analyst. i think the direct quote you were eluding to is, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. >> i don't think he can be any clearer than that. again, that language is very, very carefully worded that clearly shows that he could not, in all of his investigative work, demonstrate to his satisfaction and i think to the public satisfaction that mr. trump did not obstruct justice.
also making it very clear again the parameters that he believed he had to operate within, existing doj policy, as well as constitutional -- the constitutional framework for holding a president accountable did not allow him to move forward with that charge or indictment, and i think he sees that there is work yet to be done on obstruction of justice. >> ari, you were wanting to make a point about congress and democrats here. >> yeah, i think it's important to look at this in the broader context. some people say, craig, why if there's substantial evidence against the sitting president, why doesn't he get charged, why is he above the law? there are good answers to this which we've been exploring, the rules treat the president differently because he's the officer taking care the laws are faithfully executed. i think we've been speaking on the substance here for the last
half hour, they overlap with the legal dynamics because it is only congress' job, not the prosecutor, the press, the voters, it is congress' job to decide if and when high crimes were committed. mueller didn't insult anyone in any way, criticize anyone, but if you read him carefully, he's saying to the house and congress, i can't do your job for you. i gave you evidence. i gave you a longer report than people ever usually get. pat fitzgerald investigated a white house, there wasn't a public report like this. in the days ahead it'll be interesting to see. did the country hear this? i don't know, i don't have that good hearing. does the country hear it, congress you said wait for mueller, mueller finished. you said we need to hear from mueller publicly. mueller came out and said, i
spoke. it's up to the congress, which we knew he put in this report to decide whether or not there were crimes in office. in some ways we heard the speaker try to avoid this day, kick the can down the road, we'll hear from mueller later, mueller says the evidence is here, congress decides this and he says what mr. brennan repeated and what you reported, craig, if we had confidence the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so. translation, bob mueller looked sbh into this, bob mueller has a sterling reputation, bob mueller saying we don't have evidence the president didn't commit crimes in office, congress is the place to adjudicate this. this is to the house to decide what to do about it. >> jeremy bash we are waiting for some sort of response from this white house. one would assume we would get something here very soon. we know they were huddled around their televisions at 11:00
eastern like all of us. mr. bash is that how you heard it? this 448 page report, bob mueller saying it is going to speak for itself and all but daring congress to do something about what he reported? >> craig, i was struck by a couple things. number one is bob mueller leaned really hard into the office of legal counsel opinion that says you cannot prosecute a sitting president even if if you found he engaged in critical activity. that was kind of the centerpiece of the statement. it was present in his report but the report was 448 pages it was so longs, it was so detailed, it was sort of, i think hard to get the fundamental point. number two, he clearly implied that bill barr mischaracterized his report, mislead the american people and congress when he rolled this out. this report game out on april 18th, i don't see anything that mueller said today that he couldn't have said six weeks
ago. the reason he had to say it this way, number one because the attorney general has been misleading the public, number two because the president has been misleading the public, and number three, there's been a lot of questions about whether he was teeing up the question to congress as to whether they could proceed with an investigation of the president's high crimes and misdemeanors. i think the headline out of today's statement was this was a green light for congress to investigate, analyst and make decisions on the president's high crimes that could lead to a potential impeachment vote in the house of representatives. >> mr. brennan, let me come back to you for a moment before we go to hans nichols at the white house. director, based on what we have seen and what we have heard from this congress, is there any reason to believe that they are going to, in fact, act on special counsel mueller's recommendations or even that nine minute statement we just got from him? >> i think bob mueller's public
statement today is going to give momentum to those who want to move forward with impeachment hearings. i think there can be no doubt about mr. mueller's message that the obstruction of justice issue is not resolved, and that there needs to be follow-up action on it. so i do think it's going to give some additional momentum to them, whether or not they're going to decide to do it, as ari pointed out, it's not just a legal issue, it's a political issue and obviously there are political considerations. i think the cry for impeachment is going to increase and it's going to be interesting to see how the white house and mr. trump reacts to a very clear, and i believe, very pointed statement by bob mueller. >> senior national security and intelligence analyst and former cia director john brennan on the phone with me. thank you, appreciate the time. let's go to 1600
pennsylvania avenue now. hans nichols is standing by. i go back to this quote, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. so its face that would seem to undercut the assertion from this administration time and time again, that there was no collusion. it sounds as if the special counsel's office is saying we don't have evidence. >> and craig, that's the challenge for the white house this hour. the urgent challenge is how do they square what we just heard from robert mueller with what william barr has been saying. i was trying to get something from press people upstairs. they don't seem to have decided if, when or how they're going to respond to what mueller just said. you can appreciate their predictment, the challenge is not just the immediate reaction and who it comes from, but more importantly how do they manage the president's response to what mueller said. the president has vacillated, been all over the place, sometimes he said bob mueller
should testify, other times it's ridiculous. we'll wait to see how the president reacts. we know that the white house didn't know the content of what mueller was going to say, so they are being taken by this, they're bringing it on board and trying to figure out how they're going to respond on two fronts, most immediately and also how you manage the president's twitter feed and when he interacts with reporters and many of the impromptu opportunities he sometimes engages with us. >> hans, out of curiousty where is the president? >> the last i checked is he is not in the west wing yet. the tip is the guard is out front, but i didn't see the marine guard as of 20 minutes ago. in the past the president likes to have what we call exec type of executive time upstairs. sometimes you get a sense of what the president is watching
as he's tweeting. as of this morning, no tweets yet but i haven't looked at my phone for 30 seconds, i could be wrong about that. >> let us know when and if we hear something from the administration. joined by chuck todd, moderator of "meet the press." in the last few moments, speaking of twitter we saw this from congressman justin amash, the only republican so far who has called for impeachment. this is the tweet, just a few moments ago, the ball is in our court, congress. chuck, what do we surmise that what we heard from the special counsel is going to mean for more calls for impeachment. >> craig, i think that's the headline of this statement by robert mueller. the most important think he clarified what he meant in the introduction of page 2. the most important sentence he said was we chose the words
carefully. he always does. he made it crystal clear he believed this was not constitutionally a decision that could be made by anybody at the justice department, anybody that works for justice. he believed he worked for justice. that's his way of saying bill barr this wasn't your call either. there's only one constitutional place remedy for where this call is made and it's congress. so i think between that, craig, and the fact that justin amash is making the clearest case for opening an impeachment inquiry right now, if you think about it. we know there's a group of house democrats who think there should be an impeachment inquiry, but who has laid out the reason to do it with more clarity than justin amash, both on social media and holding a town hall, and putting his words out there. i think the political pressure
now on the democratic leadership in the house, i think speaker pelosi doesn't want to do impeachment, she's been hoping to run out the political calendar clock if you will. get to labor day and say let's get through the presidential, don't distract from that. i think this one-two punch of amash basically putting himself out there, making this a bipartisan call and mueller making it crystal clear what he believed whose job this is. it's basically congress, it's now up to you. it's your call. >> chuck, again a reminder for our viewers and listeners on sirius satellite radio, this is what we heard from bob mueller a few moments ago as it relates to the possibility that he might testify before congress either publicly or privately. take a listen. >> i would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before congress. in addition, access to our
underlying work-product is being decided in the a process that does not involve our office. so beyond what i've said here today, and what is contained in our written work, i do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the justice department or congress. and it's for that reason i will not be taking questions today as well. >> chuck, do you hear that? is bob mueller basically telling the house and the senate, read the report again. i'm not showing up to take your questions or to be a part of your political theatre? >> no. i took it as he doesn't want to. he did not say he wouldn't. he just essentially said, hey, if you do it, i'm going to bore you to death, i'm going to read the report. i'm not going to tell you anything i didn't already put in the report. that was a way of tempering expectations, i think it's important and i don't know if he
wanted to lay this more out, i think justice already knew this, judiciary committee news this, if they didn't you now they do for sure, i think it's important mueller clarified he has no role in being able to negotiate to provide certain parts of the underlying evidence to congress. which means essentially that's a direct back and forth between the judiciary committee and the department of justice, ie bill barr. look, i didn't hear it as him saying i'm not testifying. i heard him as saying i don't want to testify. i don't think i'm going to provide you anything -- if you think i'm going to provide you any more incite than i've done, forget it. i think there are plenty in congress that think bob mueller should be the narrator of his work. that it would play an important role in the public sphere if he essentially narrates his work. look, i suspect we're going to
see bob mueller testify before congress. i suspect it'll be perhaps the questioning is behind closed doors, it wouldn't surprise me if he could negotiate that. but he's going to be a private citizen. i don't know how much -- how much other than -- you know, how much he can negotiate in all this. >> stand by one second. we have a tweet from the president and we have our justice correspondent pete williams standing by as well. this is president trump a few moments ago, quote, nothing changes from the mueller report. there was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our country, a person is innocent. the case is closed. thank you. our chief legal correspondent standing by. is that how it works? >> well, good -- it's a serious day but the tweet is laughable. the defendant says the case is closed. if only. as we reported in the past, there was good news in the mueller report, chiefly in the
lack of a chargeable conspiracy but no the case is not closed as chuck todd was saying, john brennan said, other people said that i don't think bring any necessarily assumption about the outcome. the mueller report stated, congress deals with high crimes by the president. and the only reason that there wasn't, from the beginning, a treatment of whether or not donald trump committed a crime was because of the rules of the justice department, ie the tweet you just read, which what the president said is false, in its substance and essence false. the other thing i want to raise is the democrats were told by bob mueller that he doesn't have reason, at this stage, to go and say a lot more in public because the report represents the most careful and clear presentation of his findings. the other way the country could hear from bob mueller, what chairman nadler illueluded to,
justin amash said, if there were impeachment probes, there was a collection of evidence, a house vote, a senate trial -- not judging whether any of those things would happen. if it did you can call in the prosecutor and his team to present the evidence. what mueller is saying is not he'll never talk. i think chuck todd nailed it, if asked to talk about the report, did you read it? do you want to read parts of it? is this "reading rainbow"? great show. but bob mueller is more serious about it. he's saying this is not "reading rainbow". if congress wants to hold an impeachment probe or present evidence, he'll get involved. that's a key thing, i know you have a lot of guests to get to, the last thing i'll say, we have every indication that bob mueller wasn't trying to give a
televised press conference, wasn't rushing out to speak about this, was hoping the process would work and congress would come to a judgment, yes or no. instead congress said we'll need more from mueller. he put an end to that. the ball is in congress' court 100% today. >> pete williams is standing by. pete we have heard from jerry nadler, the chairman of the house judiciary committee, i will not read his entire statement, but he said, although the department of justice prevented the special counsel from bringing charges against the president, the special counsel has clearly demonstrated that president trump is lying about the special counsel's findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the special counsel's report and is lying in saying that the special counsel found no obstruction and no collusion. given that special counsel mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the president, it falls to congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrong doing of and we
will do so. not even the president of the united states is above the law. pete, have we heard anything from the justice department in response to what we just heard from its special counsel, robert mueller? >> reporter: no. didn't expect to. there's no -- there's nothing to respond to from the justice department's perspective. he's basically saying i'm done. i have nothing more to say. a couple of points i think need emphasizing based on what i have been hearing in the past half hour, number one it's clear mueller does not want to testify before congress, he made that quite clear. the report is my testimony, you played a short excerpt but let me back up from that. what he said is, i hope and expect this will be the only time i will speak about this matter. when he first said that, i thought to myself, he means in this a forum like this. not necessarily in congress. but after consulting with some of his folks, he meant that to
include his testimony as well. he said, this is my decision. i made this decision myself. nobody told me whether i can or should testify or speak further about the matter. from his own lips, bob mueller does not want to testify before congress. will he ultimately agree to do so in a closed session? perhaps so with a transcript to be released later. what he said is, don't get your hopes up, i'm not going to go beyond what's in the report. as for access to my materials that my staff gathered, that's not my call, that's up to the justice department, in essence, he no longer works for the government as of today. that's point one. point two is nothing about how he summarized his report as new. what the president said today, what jerry nadler said, all these other people, they could have said the same thing and, in fact, largely did after the report itself came out because he added nothing to it, nor did he intend to. i thought what i learned from this is a little more about the process. it seemed to me that he was
saying that they made the decision, going in, that they couldn't charge the president with a crime because it would be unconstitutional. it does seem when you read the report and this has sort of mystified a lot of people, it seems like they made the decision at the end, they gathered all the evidence, now can we say whether or not any of this evidence constitutes obstruction of justice on the part of the president, i guess we can't so therefore we can't decide whether it did. it seems that process is not the way it worked based on what he said today. that was their going in proposition, they were well aware of that. one of the people that came to work early on was michael drieben here who's one of the government's leading experts if not the leading expert on the constitution, so they clearly were thinking about this question from the beginning. one other note, it's a
footnote -- one line in a footnote about the business of whether congress -- impeachment, he didn't use the word today. but it did seem interesting to me that in this relatively short summary of a 440 plus page report he did choose to say this. the opinion, meaning the report says the constitution requires -- means the justice department's opinion on whether you can charge a president -- requires a process over than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrong doing. i thought it was interesting he chose to put that in there. >> pete williams outside the department of justice, thanks as always, pete. let me bring in congressman eric swalwell now, a member of the how judiciary committee, also a 2020 presidential democratic candidate. we'll start with what pete mentioned there, this idea that bob mueller does not want to
testify. do you plan on compelling the special counsel to come before the house judiciary committee in a public setting? >> good morning, craig. we're going to hear from bob mueller, america needs to hear from bob mueller, we paid for this years' long investigation. i believe he ultimately will. i believe he's a patriot, he may be reluctant about it but seeing is believing. and mr. mueller raising his right hand and laying out for the american people what the russians did to our democracy and what the president and his team did to obstruct an investigation into that attack is important. >> we just heard from him and essentially what bob mueller seems to be saying if you call me, i am going to refer you back to my 448-page report. what more do you hope to hear from bob mueller? >> again, it's the difference between, you know, seeing the movie and reading the book. and, you know, people are busy, they're taking their kids to
school, working hard at their jobs. but the special counsel a very articulate, experienced prosecutor can lay out for the american people in his words what the russians did and what the president did to obstruct. but we also want to get the full report. and if this president is so innocent, so cleared, so exonerated he needs to let us have 100% of the report. because an eighth of it is buried beneath the earth right now. he needs to unearth it and let bob mueller speak to that evidence. >> what did that, roughly, 9 minute statement from bob mueller, what did it do for folks in your party, the calls for impeachment? >> it certainly, i think, will amplify those calls. it's a road i said we're going to be on and end up at anyway. taking a step back, craig, the call i heard from mr. mueller was for every american to care about what the russians did.
that includes you, mr. president, because he is the only leader in our country who has not acknowledged what the russians did to our democracy. i believe there's a call for future presidents todoj rule th president cannot be indicted. i've said if i win, day one, i will tell the doj to lift that policy. i hope every democratic nominee will make that pledge. no president should be immunized the way he has been because he would be indicted right now. >> chuck todd has been standing by. he's been listening to all of this. your reaction to the reaction. >> i'm not surprised. i think, again, i think it's a, i look and think that democrats do have a dilemma. i think this is easy to sit here and say if you choose to be in favor of impeachment, you're making a political decision or if you're not in favor, you're
making a political decision. i think these are tough choices. this is an unusual proceeding you've got to do. you have to weigh a lot of things. you have to weigh the focus of the country. i don't think this is -- even though it's clear mueller said, look, congress, whether you like it or not, this is in your court. it isn't a no brainer that they should do this. i do think, though, that every democrat has to think about a short term and long term. as they think about the short term and what feels politically correct in the moment, i would remind them how a bunch of democrats debated the iraq war resolution back in 2002. the politics of the iraq war resolution was one thing in that period of time with an election coming up patriotic fervor
running rampant and five years later that vote is one of the biggest stains you can have in the democratic party these days. that's what all of these politician s have to weigh. maybe what the founders would have thought and what the public expect and also what's this going to look like in five years. >> thank you, sir. barbara mcquaid is with me. we are you are surprisingly starting to get reaction from democratic presidential candidates in addition to congressman swallwell. cory booker tweeting bob mueller statement makes it clear, congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately. we're also getting a statement from the counsel to the president, the president's attorney. the announcement that the office is closing and he is resigning to return to private life put a period on a two yeerar
investigation that produced no findings of collusion or obstruction against the president. if attorney general concluded there was no collusion. the report identifies no actions that constitute obstructive conduct. that coming from the counsel to president trump. is that how you heard it? >> no. i don't see a period. i see a dash. i'm done with my work and now congress it's your turn. i know we all compliment robert mueller on his eloquence but i wish he were a little less nuanced. key and peele did the obama translater and i'll be robert mueller's translater. here is what i heard. there was no hoax. russia interfered with our election. there's no coup. these people acting with integrity in their investigation. i can't find obstruction of justice because the law says i can't charge a sitting president. you know who can, congress can. read my report. it's all there.
>> barbara mcquaid we should point out we're giving you ten additional point fs for the key and peele reference. brett stephens has joined me. new york times columnist and msnbc contributor and brett, the quote that continues to stand out to me from what we heard from bob mueller there, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. do we think that what we just heard from bob mueller at the top of the hour, that nine-minute statement, no questions, do we think that's in any way, shape or form going to help us move forward or is this going to create more questions now? >> i think it grecreates a grea many questions. i think mueller has a responsibility if subpoenaed by congress to testify in any setting that congress demands especially now that he's a private citizen and not working for the justice department. that seems to be all the more
the case. the argument he can't say anything beyond the 448 pages of the report just strikes me as untrue. there are major questions that have to be answered. what i did hear mueller saying pretty clearly is i'm not going to be your messiah. i'm not going to deliver a verdict. all all impeachment cases, this is a conflict of legal and political issues and ethical judgments that only congress itself can resolve. people keep looking to bob mueller to sort of give us the answer and he demurred. >> california democratic kamala harris who spoke a few moments
ago. take a listen. >> prosecution of a sitting president would undermine the capacity of the executive branch. should that be doj policy and should the special counsel have set to charge president trump with obstruction of justice? >> i think what we are clear about is that we learned a few things today. most importantly what we learned is that the special counsel did not return an indictment because of that memo. in other words, but for that memo, i believe a fair inference from what we heard is there would have been indictments returned against this president. the other thing we learned today is that the current attorney general of the united states misled the american people when he spoke about his conversation with bob mueller and suggested that bob mueller said, no, i had nothing to do for that memo.
there wasn't enough there. so these are the issues that are now, i think, very clear and the bottom line is one we have got to now let the process start its course around congress acting on what we know is a indictable evidence and information. >> should it be policy, doj policy, to indict a sitting president? >> i think if i were president, i would ask and hope the attorney general and an attorney general who had justice in mind instead of covering up for the president, i would hope and ask that she would put in place a procedure of questioning whether that memo is actually necessary and applicable when we have situations like this. it's an advisory memo. it's not the law. >> what was the message that mr.
mueller was sending to you, a sitting member of congress, and do you have a reaction to the president's tweet saying the case is closed and nothing has changed? >> well, i try not to respond to those tweets. what is clear is that i think it's a fair inference from what we heard that bob mueller was essentially referring impeachment to the united states congress. >> thanks, guys. >> kamala harris upstate south carolina on the heels of that town hall last night here on msnbc. just a few minutes here left. is that what you heard from bob mueller? was he calling on congress to do something? >> he was saying that this is not in my hands. it's in congress' hands. i don't know. the statement was somewhat do something can mean doing nothing. he made it clear he was not
exonerated -- the report did not exonerate the president. there's a great question as to then what that do something ought to be and there are a range of options before the congress that are not simply impeachment or doing nothing. there's such a thing as censure which is what democrats were recommending against president clinton 21 years ago during the saga of his own impeachment. this is a judgment that spoke legal, as well as political, that only the congress itself can determine. if i were offering the democrats in congress advice to the extent they take it, i'd say it's a good bet because it allows a lot of republicans to get on record censuring the president. >> we'll have to leave it there. big thanks to you and my guests. roughly an hour ago, special
counsel bob mueller stepped to the microphone and said he was stepping away from the special counsel's office to return to private life. did not take any questions -- did not take any questions but left a number of questions out there. andrea mitchell will try to answer them. i'll see you tomorrow morning. good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington continuing our breaking news. our coverage here in washington where after more than two years robert mueller just broke his silence announcing his resignation as special counsel. saying he hopes and expect this is will be his last spoken word onto subject, but not exonerating the president. >> as said forth in the report after that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. we did not make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. >> in that excerpt f