Mueller Speaks

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My sense was that this was going to be a kind of standoff. We're House Democrats and Muller. Were each going to try to play this game of chicken where somebody was going to say okay. I'm taking responsibility Freddie and in a weird way they were both to chicken to do that. What was it a game of chicken between chickens or was it something else I I mean it depends on? I think what you're deliverable is and I've never used that word in a sentence but I'm gonna I'm just whacky after hours of testimony but I think if you expected a a whole lot of hearts and minds to watch this you know sort of summer movie spectacular with the helicopters and the blowing up like no that didn't happen. Did anyone and really think that was going to happen. I don't know but I think in the aggregate the highlights reel at least on the democratic side. They said what they needed to say. They got the big findings of the Muller report out on the record and he didn't fight them about those findings so it's not a summer blockbuster. It's maybe like an art house film. It's catching INFLEC- wait with hats and lots of rain and crying <music> today. The show Dolly is going to translate this art house film for the rest of us. I'm Mary Harass. You are listening to what next stick with us and the following episode is sponsored by Anchor. If you're one of those people who's got an idea for show and wants to get started with your own podcast you might want to learn more about anchor. Anchor is another spotify owned company makes it easy for people to get into podcasting. It's basically an all in one totally free platform where you can record a podcast hosted distributed measure your performance analytics and finds metro sponsors an all works from your web browser or through anchors mobile APP. You can give anchor a try for free at anchor Dot F._M.. Slash slate what next that's anchor dot F._M.. Slash sleep. What next there is this one moment that to me kind of encapsulated the whole thing which is during the first half of the day representative Ted lieu made a really big deal about confronting Robert Muller and trying to pin him down and why he didn't indict Donald Trump and he kept asking him a lot of questions and any he landed did on you know the reason again that you did not indict? Donald trump is because of the oil see opinion this opinion from the Department of Justice that a sitting president cannot be indicted Muller said that is correct and on its face it seems pretty simple but but it became a firestorm right everybody went crazy to Ted Lieu. Just get him to say that that Oh elsie memo was the but for cause of not in dating and it looked like that's what he said and I like to ask you the reason again and you did not indict. Donald trump is because of oil see opinion stating that you can unindicted sitting president correct that is correct the fact that and we should be super clear that the the reason why this got people so like excited because you had pre Harare saying this is a big deal you had neil y'all who was the former solicitor general saying this was a big deal. The reason why because the implication is that if this rule wasn't in place I would have indicted yet so basically I think he can be prosecuted for all of the reasons that I laid out in the report right right and that was I mean I think Muller has been very clear on other occasions that he wasn't willing to go quite that far and so the idea that you know Ted had Lou had extracted from him this admission that had there been no oil see memo or were Donald Trump not the sitting president no doubt in my mind <hes> I would have indicted that seemed like a big big shift in the narrative and so you're quite right. Everybody went bonkers. I'm during the lunch break. I turned onto the cable news and everyone was talking about this like this is the moment and it's going to change everything and he's going to have to come out and you know say something if we're getting it wrong because the way I'm reading it what is that he's basically saying I would indicted the president and then of course we come back after lunch. Robert Muller sits down to testify and one of the first things he does it says oh by the way all that stuff people are talking on Cable News. See I didn't mean to say that right he he even before he took questions he said before we get to questions I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr Lou who said and I quote you didn't charge the president because of the O. L. C. Opinion in quote that is not the correct way to say it as we say in the report as I said at the opening we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime so he has been saying and he said earlier the word choice he used earlier in the hearing was we decided not to decide which is really different from you know but for this we would have decided i. It seems like it's splitting hairs but it means that yes mary the biggest gotcha moment of the entire day didn't happen and for for me. I thought this is the whole thing because we're all trying to have gotcha moment. He doesn't do that right right and you know what was a little bit of a bummer is that in that same back and forth with Lou he was actually like Lou walked him through the elements of obstruction and he absolutely copped to yes this elevator three. You know three elements to obstruction he so I think it's it's one of those frustrating things based on the evidence that we have heard today. I believe reasonable person conclude that at least three crimes of social justice by the president occurred we're going to hear about two additional crimes that would be the witness tampering of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. Although the only thing I want to add is that I'm going through the elements with you did not mean does not mean that I subscribe to the what you're trying to prove through those elements time in general is our desire desire to have the great big flaming helicopter crash. We actually missed the French art house movie. which is these are three elements of obstruction? This is an example. Did this happen. Yes correct yes so we literally had like check marks on screen Jack Jack Jack Okay ending. I think that's what we missed for. In the desire to sort of see somebody's ahead you know explode and so you know weird sense. I also think that that very last I back and forth with Adam Schiff at the end of the intelligence committee had that same sort of gentle. I Love Your Art House Film. I'm just GONNA use it forever but that's sort of gentle windswept rainy like could by the lake seaport it had that same feeling of it was very sad and underwhelming but I think it was actually powerful and kind of critical hard from the Russians wanting to help trump win several individuals associated with the trump campaign. We're also trying to make money during the campaign in transition is that correct is true or Manafort was trying to make money or achieve debt forgiveness from Russian oligarch. Generally that is accurate Michael Flynn was trying to make money from Turkey through Donald Trump was trying to make millions a real estate deal in Moscow to the extent. You're talking about the hotel Moscow. Yes yes when your investigation looked into these matters. Numerous trump associates lied to your team the grand jury and to Congress number of persons that we interviewed in our investigation it turns out did lie doesn't have to be a crime and to be bad like what schiff is to saying. This is just saddened sad and sick that we excuse anything but that that was really like like role credits man so the first hearing was all about obstruction of justice. The Judiciary Judiciary Committee is this the committee that would start impeachment hearing so led by Jerry Nadler and what's interesting to me going into this is that there's some evidence that Jerry Nadler has a very different opinion about impeachment and its role then then for instance Nancy Pelosi and so that's stakes going in Jerry Nadler wants fireworks Jerry Nadler wants to he's going in with something to prove and he started out and for me. I was like this is like the karate kid like he started out and he was like really boxing muller into a corner you asking him question after question and I was like Oh this is interesting. This could go somewhere rector. Muller President is repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him but that is not what you report said. Is it correct it is not what the report said but over the course of the hearing it felt like it fell into this kind of familiar earlier pattern of Democrats trying to make a case and Republicans grandstanding a little bit but I wonder. I wonder how you saw it. I think a couple of things I actually thought I thought Nadler was amazing using I thought his <hes> opening colloquy was incredible and that's where we got those admissions those initial blockbuster you know I never said no collusion. I never said he was a completely exonerated. Report did not include he did not commit obstruction of justice is accurate that is correct and what about those were really crucial moments for all the reasons you just said I think a little bit of what happened is the Democrats have this plan going in and I think they were hoping that Muller was just going to read chunks of the report into the record and then you know you're where he literally would not do client he'd be like no you read it and so I think there was this weird they have thought at minimum. If we can't get fireworks at least we will have you know for the purposes of late night television like hours of him reading into the record the thing that people didn't bother with audio book and that didn't happen and so then they were very. Slow to pivot into realize there's no point in saying. Can you read page eighty seven footnote three that seemed to take awhile for them to cotton on that that strategy was gonNA fail and so I do think you did get this sense of pulling teeth right one person I then after another trying to get him to either re directly from the report or to amplify something that he'd written in the report and every single time he was just like us outside of my purview not going to answer drink more wide the president of the United States what you fired. I can't answer that question well on P._J.. A friend of mine who does nothing but take depositions made the point that if you are taking an all day deposition there's not not going to be an Aha moment. There's just as there's too much time to fill. Most of your questions are going to just be mind-numbingly. Dull process get it on the record. Get it on the record and so if you're used to that this wasn't disappointing I think if you wanted the Michael Cohen hearing with like the craziness and all the accusations in the shouting this wasn't that yeah I mean it's interesting to have you. Freeze it like that because it's like I feel like we keep looking looking for what it's going to be and we went into getting. Oh maybe it'll be the audiobook version but it wasn't that either was really much more like a deposition like illegal very legalistic hearing <hes> the other thing we have to talk about is Muller's appearance sense because he wasn't saying a lot and he came across as old yeah. I think that was the surprise again for all the people who'd been lighting candles and doing the advent calendar Linder like this was. This was a pretty sobering performance. Certainly he was having trouble hearing yeah. He seemed like he was hard of hearing we had folks telling us that it was hard to hear generally in the room but he was clearly struggling <hes> to here and and he was struggling to remember. I think that he made it plane that you know he had not committed four hundred forty pages to memory and that there were things that he didn't have perfect command of and so I do think that he did come across already. You know the trump campaign is fundraising on you know he's doddering old man and the deep state just you know used him to their own. Nefarious ends and so that will be one of the stories that's told there's no question that he was not as commanding as we've seen you know and when he used to testify in prior years and he was much more in-command effects in much more assertive and much more nimble but I think that despite all that there is a part of this that is also just this is the good soldier sure who was scrupulously careful that he wasn't going to say anything wrong and he was not by the way going to be used by either sides to score points. I think the best evidence I have of that. Is that the several times where he was asked directly about the thing that's breaking his heart. which is Russia stolen election it? He said it's happening now. It's going to happen again. They're going to do it again in your investigation Ju- think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election action with you. Find evidence suggests trying to do this again. Single attempt to they're doing it as we sit here and they expected to it <hes> during the next campaign and those are the moments that he comes to life right. That's the thing he wants to bring to life is that I have a whole volume that you all seem to have ignored while you're trying to score points off each other about whose fault it is. Those were the moments where I thought if you get him on something that he deeply cares about that isn't just politics said is in fact national security. He kind of was a different person lunchtime. Everyone takes a break and then we come back back and we have to and this time it's the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff and their focus is supposed to be the first part of the Mullahs report. The idea is to focus on Russia and how Russia interfered in the election and again it starts. I think very strongly where you have Adam Schiff kind of boxing muller into a corner. Is this a witch hunt your investigation. No it's not a witch hunt. It's really the most engaged aged. I think we'd seen Muller the whole day at that point. I think if probably said this even on this show four times but it's just so vital to remember how this started this started as this counterintelligence investigation that was his original charge. The obstruction stuff comes about because you know presumably trump and his confederates are trying to block that inquiry but this is you know and this is why Adam Schiff has been saying from the beginning winning this is about you know national security. Are we compromised. This is about free and fair elections. This is not just tit for tat. You know who is bad who is lying and so that's I think in a sense not only does he have a better rapport. We're with shift because this is kind of what the guts of the thing was for him as I said I think the guts of him is that point he kept making which his I've never seen in all my career more serious violation of National Security Donald Trump called your investigation. A witch hunt that was also false was not like to thank so yes well. Your investigation is not a witch hunt as it is not a witch when the president said the Russian interference was a hoax that was false wasn't it. You know whole day where nobody's kind of dancing together like one person is Mumbo and one person is like Lombardo and they never can like sync up and those are the moments I think with shift where you feel <hes>. There's this very strong. Report where they're kind of parrying each other and almost finishing each other's sentences that it becomes clear this is the heart of the thing that is killing him is that this happened. Nobody Dispute Devin nunes can scream till the cows come home him about like the deep state and about these like steele dossier things it does not change the fact in no one disputes the fact Russia interfered with the election and so I think in a sense the second hearing is stronger her because Muller's first of all more confident on the ground that he's on <hes> but I think that the answer to it that the Republicans have which is just more screaming about the deep state doesn't mollify anybody it doesn't solve the problem and it's interesting to me because shift really did tied together he was saying here's what happened with Russia and here's why it mattered that the president and his crew were involved and it was done for the money you know that was the thing that he kept coming back. Coming back to is this wasn't done because of some you know lofty. It's just money you know. The Democrats were trying to get Robert Muller to reiterate his findings. Were the Republicans questioning anything he found well. No that was the interesting thing I mean what what I heard over and over again. was them questioning things. He didn't find fine. There is collusion in plain sight collusion between Russia and the Democratic Party. The Democrats colluded with Russian sources to develop the steele dossier and Russian lawyer Natalia vessel sky colluded with a dossiers as key architects fusion. G._P._S. had Glenn Simpson to me what was so weird. Is that what the Republicans were super focused on and I think it's integral to the whole deep. State story is why didn't you do you the seeing that if you had done it I could prove that you were part of this like elaborate conspiracy that Hillary Clinton triggered to lake spy quote unquote on Donald Trump and so I think it was a very weird like those is questions if you live in that world like if you start from the predic- it that all of those deep state stories are true then all of their questions makes perfect sense right and so to all their conclusions which is of course Donald Trump was mad at this entire hoax and was trying to fire everybody that was rational but if you don't live in that world then you're seeing them essentially constructive theory of the case that is based on stuff that didn't happen and so you're quite right. There wasn't a lot of questioning about the actual findings it was just the the sort of substructure under the findings is illegitimate and if you only knew and believe what devin nunes new and believe you would have had a different investigation and by the way it would've ended with Hillary Clinton in jail. Let's just agree. I think that was that was what I heard from the Republicans not so much on the merits but just an attempt to sort of nitpick the process the way this came about or the things that he didn't do or the witness he didn't question or the part of the you know questioning that didn't make it into the report an attempt to sort of see this idea that there's this whole other story. He wasn't telling I watch these hearings and I felt like they were so hard to follow. They were deep in it and doing important work as you said almost like a deposition getting into the Nitty Gritty Getting Robert Muller on on the record saying really important stuff but it didn't work as a narrative and it worried me and it worried me because that put so much pressure on people like you and me and I flipped on the cables midway through an instantly people were talking about Robert Muller's performance and this is a disaster. This is a horrible thing and I thought hold up Muller was being Muller Muller was mollering. We knew this so that means now he's passing us the baton not to freak out and report our emotions but report what he actually said and I guess afterwards I was so frustrated with the coverage with my fellow journalists and how they responded instantly that well this won't move the needle and I thought like well hold on this just happened. We have a job here. I think that what's hard right now is that you're looking at a day in which in your view in my view you know the the special counsel chest said in effect all three elements of obstruction where their time after time after time and what Fox News is reporting is that crazy old man over-mastered by deep state brings a witch hunt and it's finally over over so the media's you know you're right. It's part of the solution. It's also part of the problem and that's new that is new dial of thank you so much for joining joining me. Thank you for having me dial quake reports on the courts and hosts amicus podcast here at slate all right. That's the show if you're hungry for more muller but she wants the more comedic highlights from yesterday's. Today's testimony head on over the gist that is where Mike pesca is breaking it all down just like we do every weekday. This show is produced by Mary Wilson Jason Leone and Ethan Brooks and I'm Mary Harris. We'll talk to you tomorrow.

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