MSNBC legal analysts Cynthia Alksne and Glenn Kirschner were on MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin with guest host Chris Jansing to discuss Attorney General William Barr's testimony in front of a House subcommittee on Tuesday. Both Alksne and Kirschner accused Barr of protecting President Trump and suppressing information.
Jansing set Alksne up with a video clip of Florida Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, whom she misidentified as Republican, asking Barr about reports that members of Mueller's team were allegedly unhappy with how he characterized the Special Counsel's conclusion. After the clip, Jansing said that Barr did not provide a more detailed explanation because it risked being either under or over inclusive. She then asked Alksne, "So, what was his letter?"
Alksne, sounding like Democrats who keep talking of a "handpicked Attorney General," as if there were any other kind, declared, "His letter was an attempt to grab the headlines to control the news cycle and to protect President Trump. I mean that's what it was. They didn't want all that information out." She did say it was a good thing that Barr committed to not redacting parts of the report that have to do with obstruction of justice, but took issue with Barr making a determination on obstruction instead of allowing Congress to make a decision on that for themselves.
Kirschner was even more conspiratorial. He said that he "was most disappointed" at Barr saying he would not apply for a release to unveil grand jury testimony. Kirschner then tried to tie that in with the battle over Trump's tax returns, "It seems like the theme that has emerged is they're going to try to suppress truthful information." Comparing Barr's letter and Trump's tax returns to President Richard Nixon's audio tape recordings, Kirschner declared, "this is 1974 all over." He then hypothetically said that, "When it all comes out, it may paint a really troubling picture of what the president has been engaged in."
Here is a transcript for the April 9 show:
MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin
11:09 AM ET
CHRIS JANSING There has been criticism in an office where there has frankly been an amazing amount of secrecy. There has been criticism after the release of that letter by William Barr. Criticism that it misrepresented, did not fully represent what was in the Mueller report. Interestingly, it was a Republican [sic], Charlie Crist who asked him about the whole line of criticism that he's not accurately portraying what Robert Mueller found out. Let me play that for you.
JANSING: He went on to say, Cynthia Alksne, “I suspect they probably wanted more put out but I was not interested in trying to summarize because any summary runs the risk of being under or over inclusive and spark debate, so I was not interested in a summary of the report.” So, what was his letter?
CYNTHIA ALKSNE: His letter was an attempt to grab the headlines to control the news cycle and to protect President Trump. I mean that’s what it was. They didn't want all that information out. He does say -- the good news coming out of the hearing for me today was he does say he is not planning on redacting those aspects of the obstruction that are not already publicly known. Did you hear him say that? Someone specifically asked him that. He's not planning on redacting that. I did think that was very good, but he doesn't explain -- in fact, in a way with Charlie Crist said something that was not legally correct, which it is was a binary decision, charge or not charge. It's not a binary decision in this case because the Department of Justice does not allow the president to be indicted. It's not binary to charge or not charge. It has to going to Congress to make a decision and that’s why it’s so important that they get as much information as possible
JANSING: You're taking issue with the chief law enforcement officer of the United States?
ALSKNE: I'm sorry, say that again.
JANSING: You're taking issue with the conclusion of the chief law--
ALSKNE: I am.
11:19 AM ET
JANSING: And we're also joined by MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner, joining the conversation. Give us your sense, Glenn, what are you going to be looking for when we finally see the report redactions and all?
GLENN KIRSCHNER: Yeah Chris, I think I was most disappointed when I heard Attorney General Barr say that he would not pursue with the court the release of grand jury because in my opinion that is likely to be, not necessarily the bulk, but it will be a good bit of the information in the Mueller Report. And, you know, if you're going to be transparent, one of the first things you do is you apply to the Chief Judge of the Federal District Court for a release. Or at least to extend grand jury secrecy to include the House Judiciary Committee, there’s no reason he can’t do that. That would be an incremental step short of release. It would give Congress and the Judiciary Committee the information it needs to begin the important process of unraveling and overseeing what happened here. You know, as I listen to Bill Barr saying, “I am not going to seek the release of information” and you see the battle now over the release of the president's tax returns. It just seems like the theme that has emerged is they’re going to try to suppress truthful information. And Chris, as I was sitting here watching today's hearing, I started to think about, you know, this is 1974 all over where an administration was determined to suppress truthful information on audio recordings, on tapes and when it came to light, everything imploded. I do think the snowball is rolling and gaining momentum for the release of factual information, for transparency. When it all comes out, it may paint a really troubling picture of what the president has been engaged in.