NBC Uses Ex-Obama Official to Boast Trump Could Be Criminally Charged After Leaving Office

Just as they did during their Special Reports on Thursday after the Mueller report’s release, NBC’s Today turned Friday morning to former Obama official Neal Katyal for legal analysis and touting the possibility President Trump could be criminally charged once he leaves office and that current Attorney General Bill Barr wasn’t acting like the AG for the country but instead just for Trump.

And in a brief moment that says a lot about the liberal media’s closed-mindedness, co-host Craig Melvin appeared unsure whether, by and large, the voters actually care about the Mueller report.

 

 

After two news reports on what transpired Thursday, Melvin and co-host Savannah Guthrie brought on Katyal and White House correspondent Kristen Welker for analysis and here’s how Guthrie introduced Katyal: “Also, NBC News contributor Neal Katyal, who is the former acting solicitor general, a Supreme Court lawyer.” 

So no mention of how he’s partisan actor and worked for the Obama administration. Good job, NBC!

At any rate, Katyal showed his partisan colors by mocking the assertion that the Trump team has been celebrating the key findings of the report about no charges of collusion or obstruction as having said “more, I think, about the Trump presidency than anything else.”

But Katyal then boasted of a footnote in the report that many have gleefully touted as meaning that the dreams of those like Symone Sanders could come true once Trump leaves office (click “expand”):

KATYAL: What it — what the Mueller report says is basically tees it up for Congress to investigate and we heard Pelosi saying that's what she's going to do. And then there's a footnote in the opinion — footnote 109.1 which — in which Mueller says, look, even apart from impeachment, we could go after the President after he leaves office. So, a sitting President can't be indicted but an ex-president can go jail. 

GUTHRIE: I was told a long time ago everything interesting is in the footnotes and it is true that Mueller is basically saying, once he leaves office, it's fair game if the prosecutors want to prosecute him once he leaves office. 

MELVIN: You had tweeted that footnote yesterday. It got a lot of attention online. 

“Well, I mean, Democrats have to determine for themselves what — how far they want to go with this and whether they want to continue to investigate. Do you read the report as Mueller saying explicitly or implicitly that this is a matter for Congress because he is forbade by these rules from doing anything in the Justice Department,” Guthrie then wondered to which Katyal obviously agreed.

It was after Katyal’s answer that Melvin asked this of Welker: “Kristen, what do we know how much voters actually care about all of this? How closely are they following all of this? How much is all of this going to impact their votes in a year and a half?”

Yes, really. But wait, there’s more! Here was what Welker said:

And that is going to be the million-dollar question And that's what we're going to find out on election day. I think if you are the President and his allies and his legal team and this is why they're not releasing the counterreport, they want to turn the page and they want to keep the focus on the bottom line, that extraordinary news conference yesterday from the attorney general where he came out and basically set the narrative for the administration. 

In other words, we’ll take that as a shrug emoji. 

To finish setting the table narratives, Katyal had the last word: “As the attorney general of the United States? Absolutely. He didn't look like the attorney general of the United States. He looked like the attorney general for Donald Trump.”

Turns out, we actually have an answer about where voters thoughts have been. According to a Monmouth University poll conducted between April 11 and 15 (so before the report’s release), 54 percent of respondents said that it was time to “move on” versus 39 percent to continue investigating Trump-Russia ties. 

To see the relevant transcript from NBC’s Today on April 19, click “expand.”

NBC’s Today
April 19, 2019
7:08 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Fallout Over Mueller Report; Dems Look for Options as Trump Declares “Back to Work”]

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let's dig into what happens next. We have NBC’s White House correspondent Kristen Welker here. Also, NBC News contributor Neal Katyal, who is the former acting solicitor general, a Supreme Court lawyer. Good morning to both of you. 

KRISTEN WELKER: Good morning. 

GUTHRIE: Let's start right there. Because what exactly is the significance of Robert Mueller saying I couldn't even get to the point of deciding whether or not all this conduct which he lays out amounts to the crime of obstruction because the rules forbid me from doing so? 

NEAL KATYAL: It's huge, Savannah. So, basically, you know, it's not just — it sounds technically legal, but it's actually really simple to break it down. There are two ground rules that Mueller says on pages one and two of his report and Barr didn't tell us about either of them and that's why I think there was so much confusion yesterday. One is, if I got so much evidence against the President that he is guilty as sin, I'm not going to tell you. And number two he says if I have no evidence against the President, if the president is totally in the clear, I am going to tell you. And Mueller then writes this 400-page report to say I don't have enough evidence to clear the president and so the significance of this is, you know, Trump lawyers were saying, oh, best day of the presidency and so. That tells you more, I think, about the Trump presidency than anything else. What it — what the Mueller report says is basically tees it up for Congress to investigate and we heard Pelosi saying that's what she's going to do. And then there's a footnote in the opinion — footnote 109.1 which — in which Mueller says, look, even apart from impeachment, we could go after the President after he leaves office. So, a sitting President can't be indicted but an ex-president can go jail. 

GUTHRIE: I was told a long time ago everything interesting is in the footnotes and it is true that Mueller is basically saying, once he leaves office, it's fair game if the prosecutors want to prosecute him once he leaves office. 

CRAIG MELVIN: You had tweeted that footnote yesterday. It got a lot of attention online. 

(....)

7:11 a.m. Eastern

GUTHRIE: Well, I mean, Democrats have to determine for themselves what — how far they want to go with this and whether they want to continue to investigate. Do you read the report as Mueller saying explicitly or implicitly that this is a matter for Congress because he is forbade by these rules from doing anything in the Justice Department? 

KATYAL: It's definitely implicit and I think Mueller was following the path of his predecessors. The special prosecutor in Watergate, Leon Jaworski, independent prosecutor for Monica Lewinsky Ken Starr. Both of them wrote reports to Congress in which they didn’t expressly say impeach or not. They just laid out the evidence, even when the evidence was so damning with Nixon and the evidence yesterday was quite damning against the President, but they’re leaving it up to Congress to decide.

MELVIN: Kristen, what do we know how much voters actually are about all of this? 

WELKER: Well,

MELVIN: How closely are they following all of this? How much is all of this going to impact their votes in a year and a half?

WELKER: And that is going to be the million-dollar question And that's what we're going to find out on election day. I think if you are the President and his allies and his legal team and this is why they're not releasing the counterreport, they want to turn the page and they want to keep the focus on the bottom line, that extraordinary news conference yesterday from the attorney general where he came out and basically set the narrative for the administration. 

GUTHRIE: You know, quickly on that, I mean, you obviously are a practicing lawyer. You, you know worked as part the Justice Department, was that unusual because, you know, the attorney general although appointed by the president is supposed to be an independent legal officer and a lot of people were struck by the tenor of his — of his comments when discussing the evidence in a way which was very favorable.

MELVIN: Especially since one actually had the report yet. 

KATYAL: Exactly. So, as a defense attorney, it's not unusual all. I do that often, trickle information out to protect my clients at pin-measured pace. As the attorney general of the United States? Absolutely. He didn't look like the attorney general of the United States. He looked like the attorney general for Donald Trump.

NB Daily 2020 Presidential Mueller Report Liberals & Democrats Trump-Russia probe NBC Today Video Robert Mueller Savannah Guthrie Craig Melvin Donald Trump Bill Barr
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