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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  May 30, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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mccains in service to their country. and that is our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. tonight on "all in". >> if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. >> robert mueller finally speaks. >> we did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. >> and tells congress effectively, it's their job to deal with the criminal president. >> the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. >> tonight, what we learned from today's statement from the special counsel. >> this is stronger than the language in his report. >> what democrats plan to do about it. >> we want to do what is right and what gets results. >> how robert mueller's statement underscores bill
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barr's deception. >> i said, bob, what's with the letter? senator cory booker on why he is now for beginning impeachment proceedings. >> how mitch mcconnell and the white house are leaving america's elections unguarded in 2020. >> there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election. that allegation deserves the attention of every american. >> "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. for the first and possibly the last time, special counsel robert mueller spoke in his own voice about his findings and told congress and the american people in so many words, i have done what i can. it's up to you now. it was an unmistakable rebuke to bill barr who in bad faith misrepresented the report to clear the president in a way mueller did and never intended to.
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mueller stressed his team's inability either to clear the president of a crime, since there was so much evidence of his criminality and like wise inability to charge him because they were barred by department of justice policy. ultimately, his appearance before the cameras represented a kind of passing of the constitutional baton from mueller's office to congress, which mueller noted pointedly has the ability to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing. >> as set forth notice 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 longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.
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the opinion says that the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. >> mueller reiterated at times almost verbatim the main findings of his report, the russians engaged in an attack to sabotage the american election and help trump get elected. that mueller was unable to establish sufficient evidence to charge members of the trump campaign or u.s. persons with criminal conspiracy with that effort despite evidence that they actively encourage and sought out that help from the russians. and that the president and the people around him actively sought to obstruct the inquiry into the russian government's illegal help to the trump campaign. >> as alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, russian intelligence officers who were part of the russian military launched an attack on our political system. the indictment alleges they used
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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 and identities and through the organization wikileaks. it was designed and timed to damage a presidential candidate. the matters we investigated were of paramount importance. it was critical to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. when a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government's effort to find the truth and hold wrong doers accountable. >> robert mueller said he doesn't want to testify to congress. he is returning to private life and said his peace. it's in the report. it does raise the question for everyone, what to do with a clearly lawless president, with
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a president who as illustrated in the report in depth and detail obstructed justice, a president who cannot be criminally charged according to mueller and a president who theoretically can break any law he wants going forward so long as 34 senators decide to stick with him. >> they say, i have most loyal people. did you see that? i could stand in the middle of fifth avenue and shoot somebody and i wouldn't lose any voters. okay? it's incredible. >> the president's henchmen and women lied. a journalist who wrote the book on robert mueller tweeted today, mueller is in his own mueller-like way screaming for presidential impeachment proceedings. he is too respectful to say it as directly as america and congress needs him to say it. it's hard to argue. reading between the lines, mueller came before the american people and said, the president is a criminal and there's not a damn thing i can do about it,
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but congress can. joining me now for more on the public statement are walter dellinger and frank figluci. frank, let me start with you. we're in a position where we have the man's words, but they are carefully parsed and intended to remain neutral. what is your read of what he did today, the intent and purpose? >> if you know mueller, you know that today was remarkable for him. by that i mean, he had to make the decision that he would go outside the system, he would not testify before congress, he would not file a written report, he would stand inside the department of justice and make his own statement and take control. and that for him is remarkable. his measured tone, which frustrates many today, i'm sure, needs to be read through the
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lens of mueller, which is that he was openly and publically rebuking the attorney general of the united states and the way in which his work -- mueller's work has been characterized by that attorney general. i also have many, many questions, chris, tonight, which is how we even got to this point. >> yep. >> by that i mean, there's a fundamental disconnect that's apparent between the rules that mueller was playing by and the rules that attorney general barr was playing by. it would be like me inviting you to a football game and you show up with a soccer ball. we didn't coordinate what we meant. i believe that mueller may have been played here by barr. >> you are nodding your head, walter. do you agree? >> i do. finally today, mueller seems to have come to the realization that surprisingly american public officials don't read and don't read a report. i think what was most telling was what he chose to say in a
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little more than two pages out of a 440-plus page report. he, i think, decided to really slam down on the fact that we did not exonerate the president, we could not find that he was innocent, we could not under the rules declare him to be guilty, we could declare him to be innocent, but we did not have any basis for doing so. i think he also underscored the seriousness of the crimes. this is not a president who is lying about a sexual encounter. this is a russian military attack on the country's democratic processes and efforts by a president of the united states to obstruct that investigation. >> there's some -- you just highlighted the sort of choice here. there's weird things going on that's driving me insane. barr said, you know, you either
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charge or don't charge. they didn't charge. that's that. it seems like mueller is saying, no, no, no, we could exonerate. we could say there's not sufficient effort to charge him. they did say that in volume one. we can't do the opposite. we cannot charge the president, we cannot say the president committed crimes, here is an indictment, we're making a determination on this report that he did that. the absence of that was taken by barr to be like, well, that's that. mueller seems to be reiterating today, frank, no, the absence of that is to congress to basically do. >> yeah. i have to look at the report -- >> i'm sorry, frank. go ahead. >> i was going to say, that's the key takeaway is that this can't be read as anything other than a referral for impeachment for congress to do what they need to do. mueller couldn't have said it any plainer today. >> walter? >> if you look back at the report, he sets out in clear detail with testimony from the white house counsel, the white
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house chief of staff and their deputies that the president tried to have the head of the investigation fired for no reason, there was no plausible conflict. and that he instructed the white house counsel to make a false document and to keep that document on file denying the president had done just what i have said. it's incredibly damaging. it's overwhelming. how could you not proceed against a chief executive who had undermined the system of justice in such a profound investigation as this? >> what do you think happens now, frank, in terms -- mueller said, look, this is my last word. i don't want to say anything else about this. he is a private citizen. if he is subpoenaed, he would go. this also seemed to me a warning shot to congress, you are not going to get much out of me if you pull me up to the hill. >> yeah. this is a man who is saying, you have to read the report. you are not reading the report. if you did, you would understand what i'm saying. i'm not going to say much more
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than that. i have to tell you, there's still value in questioning him if he will simply be forthcoming. we need to get in the weeds about what was communicated and transpired between doj and mueller. and what shaped his thinking with regard to not doing certain things. by the way, another statement that came up today in mueller's nine minute was that the decision as to what of his work product is going to get released is being done completely without his team. he threw that in there. it's important because every sentence is important. understand notes, surveillance logs, legal memos and opinions, all are now in the hands of who? attorney general barr who gets to decide what congress and the american people will see. >> walter, you worked at olc. do you have -- what do you think about the sitting precedent that he referred to about the president not being indictable? >> well, i think it's a mistake.
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i think the unraveling of this shows it's a mistake. putting a president on trial would be an undo interference with his executive powers, but indicting would clarify the circumstance. in defense of the policy of mueller, mueller wants you to know that whether something is technically a crime has little to do with whether it ought to be the kind of wrongdoing which should lead to impeachment, which is more profound. >> i thought his use of that word, it's only congress that can formally accuse a president of wrongdoing, accuse a president of wrongdoing, was an interesting choice of words. not of a crime. not of violating a statute. of wrongdoing. walter and frank, thank you both. joining me now, democratic congressman joe nigoose. one of two freshmen on the house democratic team. >> thanks for having me on.
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i agree with your prior guests. it's hard not to see it as anything other than an impeachment referral. he believes the next step is one for congress to take. i believe that we ought to take that next step and open and impeachment inquiry. >> i want to play for you what jerry nadler had to say. in response to mueller. take a listen. >> with respect to impeachment questions, all options are on the table and nothing should be ruled out. what special counsel mueller said today for the american people is that president trump is lying when he says no collusion, no obstruction and that he was exonerated. if mueller wanted to exonerate the president from having committed a crime, he would have said so. instead, and he says he would
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have said so. >> i have known congressman nadler for a while. i have interviewed him a number of times. i saw a man who was being very careful in staying within the boundaries of what the current position of house leadership and the speaker of the house is, which is we are not moving forward with impeachment at this moment. >> look, chris, i'm not going to speak for the chairman. i agreed with his statement, particularly with respect to what he said regarding the special counsel and the fact that out of a 500-page report, special counsel clearly also chooses his words carefully and decided to pull out several pieces that i think are of great importance to the american public. with respect to your underlying question regarding where the caucus is, i would say we are a big tent party. we are diverse. represent different areas of country. we will have differences of opinion with respect to policy and overnight. there are some of us on the judiciary committee who feel
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like opening an inquiry is prudent. part of that is because we have been closest in terms of witnessing the obstruction. the subpoenas that have been ignored by this department of justice were issued by our committee, the judiciary committee. we have an obligation in terms of those members on the committee who believe that opening an inquiry is the right next step to educate our other members to talk with them about why we reached that conclusion. people will reach their own decisions. >> you are someone who i think has come -- has evolved in your thinking on this. can you sort of just speak to the degree to which your own process has sort of evolved over time? >> sure. look, i believed in reading the report, it's clear certainly to me, that the president engaged in impeachable offenses. representative amash articulated that well. i think there were a number of us that wanted to be able to ultimately review the underlying evidence, to hear from the special counsel directly, to
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hear from some of the fact witnesses. so we're proceeding on a methodical panel. it became clear this administration was going to continue obstruction that's revealed in the report by obstructing and impeding congress in terms of preventing us from being able to get to the bottom of it. both the findings in the report coupled with the pattern of obstruction the administration engaged in since led me to the conclusion that we needed to open a formal inquiry. i believe many others over the course of the last seven days, you have seen a number of different members of the caucus, you saw a number just today in response to the special counsel's very important press conference this morning, also joining that call. >> congressman in colorado, thank you very much. >> thank you. still to come, the calls to begin the impeachment proceedings. cory booker on what he heard from mueller today that changed his mind. he joins me in two minutes. many people noted robert
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many people noted robert mueller didn't say anything in his statement today that wasn't already in his report, including the point that received the most attention, that if he had confidence that president trump did not commit a crime, he would have said so. that said, the spectacle of the former special counsel declaring that in-person on camera was powerful. that led to new calls for an impeachment inquiry, including 2020 candidates like from senators kamala harris, gillibrand and booker who said,
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robert mueller's statement makes it clear, congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately. what changed today that you felt compelled to issue that statement? >> well, it was more than just today. it was an evolution of me witnessing what's happening in the house. you have the house going in good faith trying to continue an investigation. nancy pelosi in a sober fashion talking about let's follow this evidence to the conclusions that it brings about. when you have a president that stonewalls congress, that refuses to allow people to testify, refuses to allow the release of information, that is a serious undermining of what i believe is constitutional intent. we did not elect an authoritarian in chief. in this case, he is not doing that. as you said today, the power of mueller coming forward and reiterating the point that he did not in any way exonerate this president from wrongdoing and that if you read the report
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in fact, there's considerable evidence that speaks to obstruction. now we have a point where we have a president refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation. i believe that expungement proceedings will strengthen congress' hand in getting the information and responses they need to come to a conclusion about ultimate impeachment. >> i want to give you a few arguments people make against impeachment and hear your response. i want to say that i have these arguments with people through correspondence and off the report with politicians. one is the president is essentially baiting democrats into a high-stakes reality show fight in which he will have an advantage and will be -- take them off the path of kitchen table issues and substantive issues on the things they campaigned on in 2018. >> i have had these moments a lot of times in my political career where you look at a political lens and you get one
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view but you come back to what's best for this nation or in my case my early days for my city. you come to another conclusion. that's the conclusion you have to go with. i know the politics of this is problematic. this is a very deeply principled moral moment in mention. are we going to led a president who is potentially broken the law of obstructed justice, lied and engaged in deceit and conduct without doing the right thing? clearly, in this case, i think the right thing above and beyond the politics of it is that we do what the framers intended, which was to have oversight over the executive and hold him accountable. nobody is above the law. for a guy -- let me be clear -- who didn't win the majority of the votes in america, who won this through the mandates of our constitution and electoral college, dear god, this guy cannot in any way be allowed to be above the law.
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to be above the mandates of the constitution. that's what i stand on. i agree, anybody who looks at the palpolitics of this, it's a thorny path. history will look back and what we choose to do and see if we did the right thing. the right thing is to hold this president accountable. >> this is a different objection. but it's in the ballpark. it goes to the core of some of what you talked about. you live in newark. you were the mayor there. people in the neighborhood you live in are facing all kinds of challenges in the day to day life, wages, mass incarceration, air pollution from nearby polluters. things like that. there's this question, does impeachment become this concern of a small vanguard of the democratic base that's very focused on this and when you go back and you talk to your neighbors, they're just thinking of 1,000 things before they think of that? >> look, people are a lot more
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sophisticated than folks give them credit for. i say, i got my b.a. from stanford but my ph.d. from the streets of newark. we had shootings in the last month. we had pressing challenges that i hope that this election -- these are the issues i hope we're discussing. i do feel from my conversations with my community that there's been a moral vandalism from this president that has so undermined our basic values, which frankly, if we surrender our values, then so much of what this -- the hope of this nation is eroded. folks want this president to be held accountable. ultimately, i plan on doing that through the electoral process and beating him and every day i get more fired up to do just that. i cannot as a united states senator, swore an oath to uphold the constitution, allow him to do things that i think are against the constitution, like stonewalling a legitimate inquiry.
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>> thank you for taking time this evening. >> thank you very much. how robert mueller's comments laid bare the depth of his boss' perceptions.
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if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.
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we does not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. >> robert mueller's appearance was a rebuke to william barr and to what barr told the american people and congress, that mueller decided on his own not to charge the president. >> if the special counsel found facts sufficient to constitute obstruction of justice, would he have stated that finding? >> if he had found that, then i think he would state it, yes. >> was it special counsel mueller's responsibility to make a charging recommendation? >> i think the deputy attorney general and i thought it was. but not just charging, but to determine whether or not conduct was criminal.
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>> that was not -- that may have been his understanding but that was not mueller's understanding. mueller was operating under the justice department's rules. he took the step of handing out a statement to the media which featured bill barr's words versus mueller words to compare and contrast. in case it wasn't clear enough that mueller was contradicting barr. >> if we had confidence the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so. under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. >> for more on mueller's rebuke of barr, let's bring in marcy wheel and bill butler. you have been writing about this for a long time. extremely deep in the weeds of
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all this parsing that we have gotten electric bill barr. it is remarkable. in a technical sense, i don't think he lied about things. but the full affect was to communicate that had mueller found sufficient evidence, he would have said so or made a charging recommendation and mueller very specifically today, it seemed to me, wanted to push back more on that than anything else. what did you think? >> i think that's true. i think if we can get to the emphasis mueller put on the other activities that russia did, which are in volume one, which are outreaches to trump, which are part of the russian effort, but on the obstruction thing, absolutely. he made it -- mueller made it clear today that it was about the olc memo, the olc memo says you can't charge a sitting president, you can investigate a sitting president. that's something that barr has at times suggested that mueller should not have done once he decided he wasn't going to charge. finally, mueller said, well, you know, the other reason we're not doing this is because it's
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congress' job. therefore, emphasizing which was in the report and not mentioned by barr, which is that it's now congress' job to do the work. >> this is the line that i keep coming back to. i want to play this again. it led to this crazy sort of joint statement today. here is the sort of but for line that barr kept using. take a listen to what he had to say. >> he was not saying that but for the olc opinion he would have found a crime. he made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime. >> he was not saying that but for the olc opinion. he was also not not saying that but for the olc opinion he would have found a crime. what he was doing is saying, i'm making no determination one way or another about a crime because the constitution bars me from doing so. >> that's right. we know mueller wrote barr a letter criticizing the way that barr had misrepresented mueller's report.
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now we know what that is about. barr said that he was going to exonerate trump on obstruction. mueller said, well, the justice department won't let me charge trump with a crime if i thought he was not guilty, i would tell you. >> that's right. >> exactly. i can't charge him, but i would tell you if he was not guilty. fill in the blanks. >> this was all about mueller wanting to have the last word. this is for history. sometimes employees fantasize about how on their last day at the job they will tell off the boss. that's kind of what mueller did today about barr. >> that's well said. marcy, you raised something about the volume one, the other materials. i do want to return to that. one of the things that was striking to me about mueller compared to barr is he leads with this criminal counterintelligence and
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intelligence sabotage of an american election and how important it was to get to the bottom of that. >> he also said multiple systematic efforts. numerous efforts emanating from russia. we have already -- we have emphasized and especially barr -- barr didn't mention the other stuff at all in his memo. it's been about two things, the hack and leak and trolls. by mentioning numerous and multiple and he makes reference in there to the other things our report describes, those are all about the outreaches to trump. >> right. >> when barr is trying to find the conspiracy behind the conspiracy, i wrote something on george papadopoulos' testimony that is the root of this deep state coup thing that we're pursuing. he said then when i pled guilty, i thought it was a conspiracy. i don't think it's real anymore. what mueller did today was to say, the outreach to
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papadopoulos, the outreach to manafort, to don junior, wikileaks, all of those things emanated from russia and all of those things were part of the effort to interfere in the election. it's not just number one and number two. it's all of those little efforts. yes, there wasn't enough evidence to charge. that's important. but they were part of russia's efforts. that's what we have been forgetting for past six weeks. >> paul, what do you think of that? >> i think that's right. what mueller emphasized is that the russians attacked the united states. they attacked our election. as to why he spent two years doing a report if he couldn't indict the president, what he said is that the work was about, number one, a referral to congress. when i was a federal prosecutor and we declined a case, we referred to an inspector general for them to take action. the other reason mueller said he
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spent two years on this was to provide a record of evidence for a future prosecutor. a president can be indicted when he leaves office. >> thank you so much. next, one thing robert mueller wants america to know, russia did try to interfere with our election. why is mitch mcconnell trying to block any efforts to prevent it from happening again? we will talk about that next.
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russian intelligence officers part of the russian military launched an 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. i will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictment, that there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election. and that allegation deserves the attention of every american. >> in addition to making it explicitly clear his report did not clear donald trump, robert mueller opened and closed his remarks by discussing russia's efforts to interfere in our election and undermine our electoral process. last month, the fbi director warned it's ramping up. democrats in congress along with some republicans have sought to pass a bill to combat foreign interference in our elections. their efforts are being blocked by mitch mcconnell who is
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refusing to bring any election security bills up for a vote. in doing so, the top republican in congress seems to be inviting russia or any other foreign government to undermine our elections again. joining me now, sheila jackson lee, who has introduced a bill combat foreign election interference. do you feel like mueller's statement today gives any new urgency or push to the kind of legislation you are proposing? >> chris, absolutely. first of all, let me say that the work that democrats have been doing and doing and doing and doing by multiple number of committees was validated with the loudest of resounding sound, and that was the sound of mr. mueller's voice. the tape that just ran and said that the american people should
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take notice, any process that holds the president accountable and legislation has to have a political element to it. and that is the voice of the american people. my legislation, hr-2353, is something that can be passed immediately and hopefully, not quashed into the senate graveyard that most bills have gone, that this would go forward. this bill is simple. it says that if you have been contacted by foreign adversary or anyone as was evidenced by the report in volume one, it was overwhelming. it was like a gusher. it was like a tsunami of contacts with the trump administration or trump campaign. then you have 72 hours to report it to the fbi. how simple can that be? it's a foreign adversary. i have to report it. period. papadopoulos, the individuals who met in the trump tower, mr.
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trump himself, manafort, everyone would have a right or responsibility to report that contact or any other election going forward. >> just to be clear, part of the sort of ingeniousness of the effort was the use of cutouts. third parties. we haven't established beyond a reasonable doubt they are connected back to the kremlin. that's suggested. i guess the question for you, how would that be established in the legislation about what folks would have to or not have to report? >> that's why it's very simple. they report the contact. you are in contact with a foreign adversary, you report it. the fbi can then be left to ultimately determine whether it was innocent, whether you passed by them on a subway train or whether or not you had actual discussions that would impact your opponent's election, such as was conspicuous with all the
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intentions of the russians and contacts with the trump campaign was to hurt former secretary hillary clinton. that's very clear. it's very clear in volume one as well. remember now, mueller also said in his statement today, again, a voice that was loud that the world could hear, is that he did not speak to collusion. he said he couldn't determine or could not do anything with criminal conspiracy. the idea of conspiracy. that's a criminal concept. i understand what he is saying. he didn't use the word collusion. >> let me ask you, what do you think the ramifications are? there is bipartisan work on election protection in the senate. there's bipartisan co-sponsored. mcconnell is not going to move on it. what are the implications of congress failing to act here on your legislation and others? there's stuff with the integrity of county electoral systems.
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>> i want to thank you for bringing this up. it's an act of irresponsibility. it's a dereliction of duty. frankly, if there was a way to under the leadership of mr. mccongress, not the entire senate, because we know bills are bipartisan and people are eager to pass the bills, should really be questioned as to the leadership that he has given. i am baffled why a states person, a leader of the senate, irrespective of whether they are republican or democrat, would not want to protect any election and particularly a federal election in the aftermath of conspicuous documentation that not only did the russians interfere and impact the 2016 election, many of us believe it's well documented it was stolen from the democrats, but also attempted to impact and did impact, although elections obviously resulted in a
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democratic house, but they also interfered with the 2018 election. do we think it will be less in 2020? it's any less important? the importance of the preciousness of the vote of the sacredness of this process, the fact the world admires the process of election processes that we have in this country, the newness of new voters that are coming forward as such a huge number of young voters, you would think that the leader of the senate would unshackle himself from partisan defense of this administration and go forward with reasonable debate and placement of the bills on the floor. i would hope that the president of the united states would sign these bills. these bills do not have on them his name. or his administration. they are talking about protecting republicans and democrats and independents. >> thank you so much for being with me tonight. >> thank you for having me.
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still to come, one person that could begin impeachment proceedings. what nancy pelosi said after robert mueller's statements ahead. ♪
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most people with commercial insurance pay nothing out of pocket. text save to 27747 to check your eligibility, then talk to your doctor. you have, i think, if i'm not mistaken said that impeachment proceedings should begin. public opinion is running 56 to 38 opposed to impeachment proceedings and you're walking into a trap. >> there is no political convenience exception to the constitution of the united states of america. >> senator elizabeth warren was out ahead of many other democratic presidential candidates in calling for donald trump's impeachment. the senator has also been ahead in another way. she released a very wide range of policy plans covering everything from student debt to housing to reproductive freedom, and we'll be talking to her about many of those proposals and more at a special live town hall event next wednesday in ft. wayne, indiana at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc.
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we will share details how you can join us for that event as soon as we have them. stay tuned for that. coming up, how republicans are starting to crack over whether to impeach donald trump. that's next.
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to me the conduct was obviously impeachable. so the question is then do you move forward with impeachment proceedings? i don't think you can just let that stuff go and say hey, it's no big deal. we're going to have an election in two years and just let it go. i think you have to have proceedings to deter this kind of conduct, even if ultimately the person is not convicted. >> yesterdays it was republican congressman justin amash, the lone republican in congress calling for impeachment, making
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his argument directly to his constituents in his district. today special counsel robert mueller essentially said that it is the job of congress to do what he could not do, bring charges against a sitting president. for his part, amash agreed, tweeting a short time later, quote, the ball is in our court, congress. even after mueller's remarks today, the one person who can green light impeachment proceedings still wouldn't budge. >> nothing is off the table, but we do want to make such a compelling case, such an iron-clad case that even the republican senate, which at the time seems to be not an objective jury will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country. >> to talk about navigating the political consequences of impeachment, i'm joined by george will, msnbc political analyst, columnist from "the washington post," author of the soon to be released book "the conservative sensibility." george, the two different theories articulated there i thought was interesting.
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amash says impeachment itself is a kind of restraint on presidential power, an expression of disdain or judgment on the conduct. and nancy pelosi is saying what's the point if you can't get the senate to convict. what do you think about those two ways of thinking about this? >> well, justin amash is saying there is a deterrent theory of punishment in this, and impeaching him would be punishment enough, even we recognize, as nancy pelosi does, that the chance a republican senate removing the president are vanishingly small. then you have to remember that the american people say overturning a presidential election is a very radical step, and it must not be disproportionate to the offense at issue here. >> right. >> so are the democrats going to go to the country and say we really want to overturn this election because the president, to take one example of what would be an obvious article of impeachment, exercised a clear
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presidential power in firing the director of the fbi but did so with an unsavory, corrupt intention? that seems to me to be a very thin reed on which to go to the country of a radical remedy of overturning the election. furthermore, the law of scarcity obtains here that hours spent on x cannot be spent on y. when they're talking about this, they're not talking about prescription drug prices and the rest. and the question is does the country look on this as another pathological washington quarrel of little relevance to them? >> what i hear from you, because i think you have some admiration for amash standing by principle in this. there is no clear political upside. but from your determination, you think the case would be opaque enough that pelosi is actually making the correct call here. her judgment of the sort of weighing the balancing competing interests. >> nancy pelosi is a superb seasoned professional, and she's
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playing the long game, and she's looking ahead to an election not that far down the road, and i think sees that the disproportionate expenditure of energy on something that is known from the beginning to be futile in terms of removing the president is a losing game. >> what do you think -- i think about this a lot in this shoe were on the other foot. if a similar set of facts sent hillary clinton to the white house, to say in the hypothetical, they of course would have impeached her like two years ago already. that's not crazy? >> of course. that's true, and it would be folly on their part too. >> you think it would be folly. that's the question, right? is the restraint here the correct way to go or is the higher risk tolerance of that republican caucus and the republican party at this moment which does have very high risk tolerance essentially getting them political gains? >> impeachment at this point is cathartic for the democrats in the house.
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but that's a very, very costly self-indulgence on their part. >> how do you think about the conduct described here, right? part of the question here is what do we mean by impeachment, what is our assessment of the president. you say it's a grave thing to do. but when you take a step back and say does this report reflect a man who has kept his oath of office, it seems apparent he has not. >> there is two ways of looking at impeachment. one retrospectively that it is punishment for deeds done in the past. in this case you have to go with an argument about comey and all the rest. another that impeachment is a prophylactic measure to protect the country from future abuses by the president. the problem is the way he is behaving, gross and crude and offensive as it is pretty much what he promised to do. so it's very hard to -- i mean, you say he is overturning norms. >> right. >> he campaigned on the promise the overturn norms. >> all right. george will, just so you know, the cubs are up 2-0 in the third
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the internet tells me. thought you would want to know it. fellow cubs fan. >> life is good. >> maybe we can get off this losing run here. thank you very much. that is "all in" for this evening. the breaking news tonight, the voice of robert mueller, the special counsel himself breaks his silence with a chilling warning about the russian attack on our country. he also adds if he had any evidence that the president had not committed a crime, he would have said so. the obvious and immediate victim of mueller's comments, attorney general bill barr who looks like a man whose gone out of his way to preserve, protect and defend his boss and the trump presidency. and now the big choice before the democrats and the house while already tonight the president is back to calling it a witch hunt as "the 11th hour" gets underway on this wednesday night. well, good evening once


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