Matthews Insists Mueller Has a ‘Mandate’ to Find Collusion Because That’s His Job!

Deep breaths, Chris. On Tuesday’s Hardball, MSNBC host/pundit Chris Matthews asserted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s entire job (aka “mandate”) was to, instead of letting the chips fall where they may, “unearth any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia” because that’s “what he was set to find.”

Matthews began the show on the heels of Friday’s news of the Roger Stone indictment and Monday’s headline from Acting AG Matt Whitaker that the Mueller report was “close to being completed.”

 

 

“The lingering question for Special Counsel Robert Mueller remains will he deliver on his mandate to unearth any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Matthews declared.

Moments later, he noted that Mueller’s team had thus far “brought charges against 34 people and three companies,” so with that foundation, Matthews reiterated this deranged notion that the Russia probe must result in a certain outcome (which is desired by the left and their allies in the press): “[T]he question is whether Mueller, in his final act as special counsel, will deliver what he was set to find, a conspiracy between the Trump campaign itself and Russia.”

Matthews introduced his opening panel and the first question went to former Obama administration official Elliot Williams to hammer home his point.

“A bang or a whimper? Are we going to get what we went to find out? Did the Russians cooperate? Both ways, Trump and the Russians, did they work together on this — winning the election in 2016,” demanded Matthews. 

Williams tried to bring Matthews back to earth, acknowledging that “everybody wants one answer” but the key was to look at how “30 people have been indicted, look at all the charges, look at all the information that's come out” because “[t]his has been a hugely successful prosecution.” 

Channeling Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Matthews interrupted: “But will he answer the question in the mandate. Did Trump collude with Russia?”

To Williams’s credit, he stayed the course before an unsatisfied Matthews plowed ahead in hope of a different answer from NBC News reporter Julia Ainsley (click “expand”):

WILLIAMS: Trump himself may not have colluded with Russians. Now, it’s clear from paragraph 12 of the indictment that individuals on the campaign were trying to direct interactions with Russians and interacts with Wikileaks and so on. So they — they got close. Now whether this is something they can be charged with, it's just not clear, but they’ll keep trying.

MATTHEWS: Okay, Julia, that opens the question which I don’t really is a question [sic] — is Trump some kind of mister — criminal mastermind that he's able to override — to oversee criminal enterprise that brings dirty stuff on Hillary Clinton from Moscow with their help, does exactly what the investigation is supposed to prove he did do and he never got his fingers on it? Ever? Never once told somebody to do this? Ever?

Ainsley did a little more to assuage Matthews’s fears, noting that the Trump campaign was “very centralized” and that the Stone indictment cited a “senior campaign official” as having directed Stone with that person’s identity being unknown so thus it could be anyone.

She did eventually deliver the bad news (click “expand”):

It does not say — Roger Stone himself is not charged, with conspiracy with the Russians. It doesn't even say in there that Roger Stone knew for sure that this information from WikiLeaks was coming from a Russian hack. So how can we with expect then, I mean, unless there’s more work which of courses there is, there's so many stones still unturned. Ha. I didn't even realize I’d do that. But still, it could be that, you know, if they can’t make that connection from Roger Stone to the Russians, how can they make it from the campaign to the Russians? 

Thankfully for Matthews’s sanity, Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley (IL) obliged in sounding more hopeful. Here’s how Matthews teed him up:

Congressman, I want to bring the Congressman in here who’s on the committee. Congressman, you put all this together. It's like wheel of fortune when you have to complete the word — the whole phrase. You know, the quotation, you see a few words and you got to fill it in. Where are you on this? Where are you on seeing a connection between President Trump — now President Trump — candidate Trump then and the Russians?

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on January 29, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
January 29, 2019
7:00 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: We begin with big developments in the Russian probe with the head of the Justice Department, Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, saying the Mueller probe is “close to being completed.” The lingering question for Special Counsel Robert Mueller remains will he deliver on his mandate to unearth any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia? And today the most recent Trump associate to be ensnared in the Russian probe, Trump adviser Roger Stones, pleaded not guilty in a Washington courthouse. It comes as Stone continues to lever a full-court press of media appearances. Giving at least 10 TV interviews, five press conferences, and no fewer than — catch this — eight costume changes, all since his arrest on Friday. In fighting charges of obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress, Stone is due back in court Friday and set to appear before the same federal judge who presided over the case of Paul Manafort. This after acting attorney General Matt Whitaker said yesterday he's been fully briefed on the Special Counsel’s investigation and thinks it’s being close to complete let’s watch.

MATT WHITAKER: You know, I’ve been fully briefed on the investigation. And, you know, I look forward to director Mueller delivering the final report and I really am not going to talk about an open and ongoing investigation otherwise. [SCREEN WIPE] But right now the investigation is, I think, close to being completed and I hope that we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as we — as possible. 

MATTHEWS: A little bit of a stumbling there, but close to being completed. Anyway, since the onset of the probe, the special counsel has brought charges against 34 people and three companies. Again, the question is whether Mueller, in his final act as special counsel, will deliver what he was set to find, a conspiracy between the Trump campaign itself and Russia. Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirchner argues that Stone indictment — the Stone indictment already contains the “building blocks of a conspiracy” and could foreshadow more charges to come. That's because “the Stone indictment is replete with references to the alleged misconduct of others carried out in a concerted effort to obtain and exploit and stolen DNC email said in order to help Trump.” That DNC e-mail came from Russia. [INTRODUCES PANEL] I'm going to start with Elliott here because I want a sense of this. A bang or a whimper? Are we going to get what we went to find out? Did the Russians cooperate? Both ways, Trump and the Russians, did they work together on this — winning the election in 2016? 

ELLIOT WILLIAMS: Well, here’s the thing. I think everybody wants one answer, like is the President going to get indicted? Are we going to find out something critical out about the Russians? Look, 30 people have been indicted, look at all the charges, look at all the information that's come out. This has been a hugely successful prosecution. 

MATTHEWS: Sure.

WILLIAMS: And so, if he answers one simple —

MATTHEWS: But will he answer the question in the mandate. Did Trump collude with Russia? 

WILLIAMS: Trump himself may not have colluded with Russians. Now, it’s clear from paragraph 12 of the indictment that individuals on the campaign were trying to direct interactions with Russians and interacts with Wikileaks and so on. So they — they got close. Now whether this is something they can be charged with, it's just not clear, but they’ll keep trying.

MATTHEWS: Okay, Julia, that opens the question which I don’t really is a question [sic] — is Trump some kind of mister — criminal mastermind that he's able to override — to oversee criminal enterprise that brings dirty stuff on Hillary Clinton from Moscow with their help, does exactly what the investigation is supposed to prove he did do and he never got his fingers on it? Ever? Never once told somebody to do this? Ever?

JULIA AINSLEY: We know it was a very centralized campaign and that paragraph that Elliot references says that that senior campaign official was directed. So we could maybe think that anyone higher than a senior campaign official could be —

MATTHEWS: That’s in the charging document against — against Stone.

AINSLEY: — against Roger Stone, but let's also point out what is not in this charging document in the indictment. It does not say — Roger Stone himself is not charged, with conspiracy with the Russians. It doesn't even say in there that Roger Stone knew for sure that this information from WikiLeaks was coming from a Russian hack. So how can we with expect then, I mean, unless there’s more work which of courses there is, there's so many stones still unturned. 

MATTHEWS: Ha! 

AINSLEY: Ha. I didn't even realize I’d do that. But still, it could be that, you know, if they can’t make that connection from Roger Stone to the Russians, how can they make it from the campaign to the Russians? 

WILLIAMS: But here’s the thing.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, I want to bring the Congressman in here who’s on the committee. Congressman, you put all this together. It's like Wheel of Fortune when you have to complete the word — the whole phrase. You know, the quotation, you see a few words and you got to fill it in. Where are you on this? Where are you on seeing a connection between President Trump — now President Trump — candidate Trump then and the Russians? 

DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN MIKE QUIGLEY (IL): A couple things. First I don't believe there are any coincidences that existed in this and then I think we have to quote Steve Bannon, who once said that there is zero chance the President of the United States did not know about the Trump Tower meeting and that the son didn't go straight to the dad and tell him what took place. We know he dictated that falsified response to that meeting. It's a very hard for me to believe that the man with this personality central to the campaign wasn't engaged and involved in directing people to have this coordination. 

MATTHEWS: Especially, Congressman, to remind us all he said I want the Russians now on television to go get the Hillary e-mails. I mean, he said. Anyway in plain sight. In his multiple media appearances over the weekend, Roger Stone repeatedly denied a central allegation revealed in the indictment filed against him last week that he “was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future released [sic] by [Wikileaks].” Stone says nobody from the campaign approached him about the leaks.

NB Daily Trump-Russia probe MSNBC Hardball Video Government & Press Robert Mueller Chris Matthews Donald Trump Matt Whitaker Roger Stone
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