Chuck Todd Tries to Save Collusion Narrative, Wonders What Founders Would Think

During the Sunday afternoon NBC News Special Report on AG Bill Barr’s letter to Congress about the Mueller Report, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd tried to save the now-deceased chances of Trump-Russia collusion, claiming that “Democrats very fairly will” wonder “if this doesn't exonerate him on the obstruction question, that if you not resolved obstruction, how do you resolve collusion?”

Speaking to Sunday NBC Nightly News anchor Kate Snow, Todd told her it’s not that the President has been vindicated of collusion, but that he will “feel quite vindicated in this because what is under dispute is how he has conducted himself, what is not going to be in dispute is...that Bob Mueller did not find any — anything about coordination with the Trump officials, and that will be Bob Mueller's word, and they will take it as the full exoneration.”

 

 

Todd continued:

They will view the obstruction as a — this is a — this is a sort of the Democrats looking for the re-do or looking for a process. They’ll use all sorts of words like that, and I think that because the dispute will be that, and look, I think the Democrats very fairly will say, well, wait a minute, if this doesn't exonerate him on the obstruction question, that if you not resolved obstruction, how do you resolve collusion? Because if you didn't get cooperation, and they obstructed in the investigation, could you necessarily get to the bottom of the collusion question? But Kate, I’ll be — I’ll be honest with you, I think that is a hard political argument to make for Democrats to push as hard as perhaps some would like them to push. 

Moments later on MSNBC, he complained host Katy Tur that “he’s probably feeling relatively good about his selection of Bill Barr as his attorney general because this memo and the initial understanding of what’s in the Mueller Report — this will color what is in the Mueller report before we actually see it.”

He added that Barr was “very confusing” and had “a very expansive view of executive power,” fretting that Mueller “did not make a decision on obstruction.” Todd then all but reiterated his comments made on NBC (click “expand”):

So that isn't going to resolve the obstruction question as far as congressional Democrats are concerned in general, and probably many members of legal community. This is going to about debate, I think. But you can't have the debate until you see the actual evidence of the obstruction, and I'll just say this. I think politically the President is being done a huge favor here by the fact that there is a pre-determination on what the obstruction is from the attorney general without anybody else seeing that evidence. And, yes, it was Bob Mueller who theft to the A.G. and the deputy A.G., but again, it's their interpretation on this not Mueller's or anybody else who’s read this....Politically it's not in the President's best interests to see the details of this report come out, because there's no doubt in my mind the details will be far worse than this summary and right now it's not going to feel better than it is for him right now which is, a definitive word on number one, Mueller says, no conspiracy. Not Barr. That is — that is proof, that is a big deal. We know voters have a lot of faith in Mueller. A lot of people. That is Mueller saying now. It’ll be curious to see if Democrats will accept this conclusion since that came from Mueller. On obstruction, Katy, I’ll — I fully understand if there is a debate and dispute over this, because this was not Mueller's definitive word. This was Bob Barr's word. This is where they'll be this fight. But again, politically the toothpaste is already out of the tube as they say. So, you know, this isn't getting resolved in this country until November 2020. 

Todd concluded his comments in the 4:00 p.m. Eastern hour, he admitted that he had been wrestling with “[w]hat would the Founders have wanted in this situation” because “[h]e's in a first term, not a second term,” so perhaps they would have thought like “most people would agree,” which is that “it's always better to let the voters make a determination a democracy than a ruling group of elites.”

To see the relevant transcript from the March 24 NBC News Special Report, click “expand.”

NBC News Special Report
March 24, 2019
3:51 p.m. Eastern

CHUCK TODD: Oh, I think that the President is going to feel quite vindicated in this because what is under dispute is how he has conducted himself, what is not going to be in dispute is what Hallie pointed out first and foremost what they will scream over and over again, which is that Bob Mueller did not find any — anything about coordination with the Trump officials, and that will be Bob Mueller's word, and they will take it as the full exoneration. They will view the obstruction as a — this is a — this is a sort of the Democrats looking for the re-do or looking for a process. They’ll use all sorts of words like that, and I think that because the dispute will be that, and look, I think the Democrats very fairly will say, well, wait a minute, if this doesn't exonerate him on the obstruction question, that if you not resolved obstruction, how do you resolve collusion? Because if you didn't get cooperation, and they obstructed in the investigation, could you necessarily get to the bottom of the collusion question? But Kate, I’ll be — I’ll be honest with you, I think that is a hard political argument to make for Democrats to push as hard as perhaps some would like them to push. 

To see the relevant transcript from March 24's MSNBC Live, click “expand.”

MSNBC Live
March 24, 2019
3:57 p.m. Eastern

KATY TUR: This, I imagine is a good day for the President. He must be feeling relatively good right now? 

CHUCK TODD: He is and he’s probably feeling relatively good about his selection of Bill Barr as his attorney general because this memo and the initial understanding of what’s in the Mueller Report — this will color what is in the Mueller report before we actually see it and so the two big determinations being, one, no evidence of any conspiracy with Russia and the Trump campaign, but the second on obstruction, boy, I’ll tell you, you know, Katy, it's very confusing in here. The report did not make a decision on obstruction. It's the attorney general that's making a decision on obstruction. It’s — the Attorney General that’s making a decision on obstruction. We already know had he a very expansive view of executive power on this front. So that isn't going to resolve the obstruction question as far as congressional Democrats are concerned in general, and probably many members of legal community. This is going to about debate, I think. But you can't have the debate until you see the actual evidence of the obstruction, and I'll just say this. I think politically the President is being done a huge favor here by the fact that there is a pre-determination on what the obstruction is from the attorney general without anybody else seeing that evidence. And, yes, it was Bob Mueller who theft to the A.G. and the deputy A.G., but again, it's their interpretation on this not Mueller's or anybody else who’s read this. 

(....)

3:59 p.m. Eastern

TODD: Politically it's not in the President's best interests to see the details of this report come out, because there's no doubt in my mind the details will be far worse than this summary and right now it's not going to feel better than it is for him right now which is, a definitive word on number one, Mueller says, no conspiracy. Not Barr. That is — that is proof, that is a big deal. We know voters have a lot of faith in Mueller. A lot of people. That is Mueller saying now. It’ll be curious to see if Democrats will accept this conclusion since that came from Mueller. On obstruction, Katy, I’ll — I fully understand if there is a debate and dispute over this, because this was not Mueller's definitive word. This was Bob Barr's word. This is where they'll be this fight. But again, politically the toothpaste is already out of the tube as they say. So, you know, this isn't getting resolved in this country until November 2020. 

(....)

4:02 p.m. Eastern

TUR: If Democrats in Congress continue with the investigations into the President, continue with subpoenaing various members of his White House or members of his family or members of his orbit and go down the road of trying to determine whether they think he obstructed justice and whether that potentially is an impeachable offense for this President, do Democrats risk overshadowing, drowning out what Democratic hopefuls for 2020 are doing on the campaign trail? 

TODD: I think that is a risk and at the same time, I understand the desire by other whose say wait a minute, you know, you've got to — you’ve got to prosecute these things even when it's politically not, because if you don't, or if you don't attempt to, you're lowering the floor. You're lowering the bar again and it is only going reward this, but, you know, I also have been having this conversation. What would the Founders have wanted in this situation? He's in a first term, not a second term. There he is, and most people would agree, it's always better to let the voters make a determination a democracy than a ruling group of elites, whether — right? It is a first term and there's a lot to be said of let the public get all the information and let them make the determination themselves about whether they think he has the values to run the rule of law or not, to whether they trust him to be in charge of the criminal justice system, whether — things like that. So there is an argument to be said that perhaps if you think back what would the Founders have wanted in this situation, given the time we're in, they might say, take it to the voters. In a second term, it's a different situation. 

NB Daily Mueller Report Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Trump-Russia probe NBC MSNBC MSNBC Live Robert Mueller Chuck Todd Donald Trump Bill Barr
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