The panel on Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press agreed with an article in The Atlantic, admitting that the Mueller probe may “end with unfinished business.” Yet, the panel, along with host Chuck Todd, seemed to feel that enough evidence has been gathered without the release of the Mueller report to warrant President Trump’s impeachment. At one point, he wondered, “Will Democrats regret if they don’t open an impeachment investigation?”
Todd read aloud an excerpt of the aforementioned article, written by David Graham. The article argued that the Mueller report “needn’t and probably won’t change anything about the basic story...you don’t need a special counsel’s report to know what kind of a President Trump is.”
After arguing that “Mueller’s investigation has already done not a lot of good for America,” “Republican Strategist” Al Cardenas expressed his concern that the Mueller probe will “end with unfinished business” such as “campaign violations in terms of opposition research that Stone and others got from foreign governments,” later adding “it will not make go away the suspicions about Putin, the President...and his family.”
Todd seemed to believe that enough evidence already existed that President Trump has obstructed justice, asking NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell “how serious is obstruction of justice to members of Congress?” Todd also complained that there are not “more Republicans suspicious of the President because he just doesn’t seem to really want to get to the bottom of what Russia did.”
Todd implied that if the President really cared about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, he would say “I’m looking forward to the Special Counsel’s report,” highlighting how “one of the things (Mueller) was charged with doing is trying to figure out what the heck the Russians did.”
Lanhee Chen, Director of Domestic Policy Studies at Stanford University, attempted to answer Todd’s question: “given the President has a 90 percent approval rating with Republican voters, I think most Republicans feel like questioning the President puts them at odds with their base but it puts them at odds with someone with a very, very powerful microphone.” Mitchell, on the other hand, could not help but wonder if there was “something more sinister here.”
Towards the end of the segment, Todd asked McGhee, “Will Democrats regret if they don’t open an impeachment investigation?” This line of questioning seemed to contradict the conversation up to that point, which suggested that the Mueller report would disappoint liberals.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Meet the Press
CHUCK TODD: Welcome back; panel is here. Lanhee Chen, Director of Domestic Policy Studies at Stanford University; Heather McGhee, a senior fellow over at Demos; NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell; and Republican Strategist Al Cardenas in his last Sunday of bachelorhood. Yes, I said that out loud.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Congratulations.
TODD: All right, I’m going to start with Mueller report here. First, we got Mueller Saturday; we didn’t have a Mueller Friday. Paul Manafort’s sentencing memo, not a lot of news in here but I got to read. The government literally threw the book at Manafort. “His deceit, which is a fundamental component of the crimes of conviction and relevant conduct, extended to tax preparers, bookkeepers, banks, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice National Security Division, the FBI, the Special Counsel’s Office, the grand jury, his own legal counsel, Members of Congress, and members of the executive branch of the United States government. In sum, upon release from jail, Manafort presents a grave risk of recidivism.” I would say the government is pretty much done with Paul Manafort. But let me start the conversation this way. David Graham wrote this yesterday in The Atlantic. “Mueller’s report, or whatever version of it the public sees, will be an important document, whenever it emerges. But it needn’t, and probably won’t, radically change anything about the basic story. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and you don’t need a special counsel’s report to know what kind of president Trump is.” Lanhee.
LANHEE CHEN: We are in an environment where people have made up their minds. They, you know, in the absence of some spectacular revelation in this report, people are going to argue it exactly the way we think they are going to argue it. Republicans will argue it their way. Democrats will argue it their way. The 2020 candidates will look at it their way. I tend to agree that this report, at the end of the day, is a political document more than anything else.
HEATHER MCGHEE: I think it’s also a historical document though, you know, maybe it’s being one of the young, probably the youngest person on the panel here but I think about this…what am I going to tell my children about this period of time? And if we just think about what the talking heads and the politicians are going to say right now, I think we’re doing a disservice to the long course of history of this country. This is an amazing amount of abuse of power; lies from left and right, the administration and the campaign. We have to have a long view of the reckoning that this, that we have to take after the Mueller report, after this administration is over.
AL CARDENAS: Yeah, I think, I think the following. A lot of…a lot of important people in this country’s tweets posted heretofore will not wear well. That’s a prediction. And number two, I think that Mueller’s investigation has already done not a lot of good for America in terms of, in terms of talking about Russia, its involvement in the campaign, opened up other resources, or dealing with that. And a lot of people who are bad people surrounding the President of the United States have been indicted or convicted. Lastly, I will say this. I, I don’t think the President will be indicted. You know, I have kind of made up my mind on that when they agreed to answer in writing a lot of important questions that the Mueller investigation sent them. You don’t normally do that if you feel like you’re in serious threat of an investigation and lastly, I think the Mueller report will end with unfinished business. You know, whether campaign violations in terms of opposition research that Stone and others got from foreign governments. There’s going to be a lot to look into and I couldn’t agree more with Heather. I think this will be a bar set where people are going to compare conduct in the future with what happened.
TODD: Andrea, I think the real question is going to be is how serious is obstruction of justice to members of Congress? That’s what I think we’re going to find out.
ANDREA MITCHELL: And perjury. These are not process infractions. This goes to the heart of our criminal justice system. I agree with Heather that we have let people normalize really criminal behavior and bad behavior and abnormal behavior through tweets, through branding, basically. These are experts on branding. And, you know, as Neal Katyal said, if this is a witch hunt, they’ve found a coven so far; 37 indictments as he just said here on the program. This cannot be let to stand and I also would caution that going forward in 2020, we do not know what impulses now in social media are being programmed from Moscow. And we’ve seen the forensics of what happened in 2016. And I see a lot of things that are going viral and I’m now so suspicious about anything that we’re reading.
TODD: Lanhee, can I ask this? It’s just a simple question. Why isn’t, why aren’t there more Republicans suspicious of the President because he just doesn’t seem to really want to get to the bottom of what Russia did? Like, he never says, I’m looking forward to the Special Counsel’s report because remember, one of the things he was charged with doing, is trying to figure out what the heck the Russians did.
CHEN: I think it comes back to the politics. I think given the President has a 90 percent approval rating with Republican voters, I think most Republicans feel like questioning the President puts them at odds with their base but it puts them at odds with someone with a very, very powerful microphone.
MITCHELL: But does it come back to Vladimir Putin, Lanhee? Is there something more sinister here? We don’t know that.
CHEN: Clearly, the President not directly saying I look forward to the report…
CHEN: I mean, these are things that raise additional suspicion. There’s no question about that.
TODD: I think even Richard Nixon wanted to at least publicly claim he wanted the reports to be finished.
CHEN: But that’s the issue as to why Republicans behave the way they behave. I mean, I think it’s a fairly simple political calculus.
CARDENAS: No matter what the report says, it will not make go away the suspicions about Putin, the President, and, and his family and their involvement.
MITCHELL: And why people lie so much? What are they lying about?
TODD: I guess, though, then…can Democrats not…let me ask you this, you talk about it for a story because I’ve thought about this. Will Democrats regret if they don’t open an impeachment investigation?
MCGHEE: Yeah. I actually think that it’s…
TODD: You know what I mean by that?
MCGHEE: …it’s important, right? If we can have, you know, Bill Clinton impeached for obstruction of justice about a sexual affair, these are things that could amount to treason against the United States; certainly a conspiracy against the interests of the United States and it’s just, whether or not…and, you know, Democrats are often looking at what the polls are but whether or not it’s going to be a winning case in the Senate, whether or not it’s going to be something that any Republicans will get on; although I think we need to be watching Mitt Romney in Utah. Utah is a place that Donald Trump is not very popular. Whether or not it succeeds, these are people who took an oath to the Constitution. And I think that they have to, in the long course of history, say “you know what, we stood up.”
TODD: The unintended…what is the unintended consequence if they don’t do that?
MITCHELL: But aren’t they afraid, looking back at Newt Gingrich and what happened, excuse me, to Republicans…
TODD: That’s the political argument.
MITCHELL: …in the midterms, that’s the political argument and that may be trumping everything else.