MSNBC Fears Mueller ‘Disappointment,’ Hopes for Trump Takedown

During a lengthy panel discussion on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on Monday, just minutes after word came down that the Mueller report would be released to the public on Thursday, Mitchell and her guests worried that it would be a “disappointment.” Even so, the pundits all tried to reassure themselves that the report could still bring President Trump’s downfall.

Talking to former FBI official and frequent MSNBC guest Frank Figliuzzi, Mitchell worried: “...the Mueller report, how much will this be sort of a disappointment to the President’s critics, to a lot of Democrats, who were waiting on this Mueller report to give them the goods, to give them what they thought was in plain sight?” After listing all the supposed evidence of Russian collusion, she concluded: “So many different instances which don’t apparently add up to any kind of criminal charge, but many people had believed, you know, were obvious examples of him working hand and glove with Russia.”

 

 

Figliuzzi glibly remarked: “Well, for many people, the fact that the President wasn’t led out of the Oval Office in handcuffs is a disappointment to them.”

Desperately trying to keep hope alive, he speculated:  

It can be a continued disappointment because of a lack smoking gun. But we already are tipped off to that by Barr’s summary. What is quite possible, though, is that as the details unfold in this report, that there’s actually more ammunition revealed and that this becomes a disappointment for the White House....If it looks to us like third parties are being redacted for continued investigative interest, that’s not a disappointment. That’s a clue that this is still going and perhaps aimed at him and his family.

Similar sentiments were offered throughout the preceding segment. Early on in the discussion Mitchell lamented “the way the President has already declared victory over Robert Mueller,” following Attorney General Robert Mueller’s letter outlining the conclusions of the investigation. Washington Post White House Bureau Chief Phil Rucker comforted her: “Yeah, Andrea, it’s been a premature celebration by the President because there could be much more nuanced, if not more troubling details that emerge in this 400-page report.”

Though he did warn that “there’s gonna be a full effort by the President, his White House aides, his legal team to try to, you know, create that headline that the president did nothing wrong and keep this moving forward.”

Minutes later, Mitchell again fretted: “You see a lot of, I would say optimism, out of the White House....They seem to feel they’ve gotten ahead of it....And they certainly seem very encouraged.” Rucker chimed in to hope that Trump was still in jeopardy: “And you have to wonder, if it is really a bad report for the President, does total exoneration become his ‘Mission Accomplished,’ which President Bush of course had the banner on the aircraft carrier prematurely declaring an end to the Iraq war? We’ll have to see.”

On Sunday, Mitchell appeared on PBS’s Washington Week and complained that Republicans have “controlled the narrative” on the Mueller report.

The media have spent two years invested in the certainty that Trump colluded with Russia. As that narrative has fallen apart, reporters are still coming to grips with their loss.

Here are excerpts of the April 15 panel discussion:

12:04 PM ET

(...)

ANDREA MITCHELL: Phil Rucker, first to you, as to the way the White House is preparing for this and the way the President has already declared victory over Robert Mueller.

PHIL RUCKER [WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF]: Yeah, Andrea, it’s been a premature celebration by the President because there could be much more nuanced, if not more troubling details that emerge in this 400-page report. The President’s been trying to say, you know, no collusion, no obstruction, total exoneration. But we know it’s not a total exoneration. And we’ll see how they end up spinning it. But I think Kristen’s exactly right, there’s gonna be a full effort by the President, his White House aides, his legal team to try to, you know, create that headline that the president did nothing wrong and keep this moving forward. We even saw Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary, over the weekend try to carry that message.

MITCHELL: And, Frank Figliuzzi, William Barr, this controversial attorney general, who went through a somewhat contentious confirmation hearing because of that legal opinion he had offered back in June, almost a year ago. And at the same time, coming forward with what he called four points – he then denied that they were summaries. How much will he and his decision making be driving all of this in terms of the redactions?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI [FMR. FBI ASST. DIRECTOR, COUNTERINTELLIGENCE DIVISION]: Oh, he’s literally in the driver’s seat here. We should be looking toward – looking back at his statements that give us a clue as to what we’re in for. He’s used the phrase, “This first pass,” in reference to what he’s going to first give Congress. That implies this will not be a good faith one-shot effort to get everything out. But rather, that he’s prepped for a kind of battle of back and forth negotiations. So look for that. On Thursday, let’s look for what percentage of this so-called 400-page report has actual redaction through it. Experts have been saying look for anywhere from 50% to 70% to be redacted. So let’s look at that.

(...)

MITCHELL: And, Shannon Pettypiece, there are the politics of all of this, the timing of all of this. We had thought that it could be as early as today, if not tomorrow. Now we’re hearing it’s going to be Thursday. Thursday is – it’s toward the end of Holy Week, it’s the day before Good Friday, obviously. A lot of people are on spring break. Congress is on recess. They are putting this release as late as possible before Easter weekend, when they might get the least amount of attention.

(...)

SHANNON PETTYPIECE [BLOOMBERG NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT]: To this political point that Phil was making, of the President trying to set the narrative, he has had this running start out there. And now, if in these 400 pages it is more nuanced than total exoneration, no collusion which we have a sense it will be, because it is 400 pages, there were 500 search warrants, 2,800 subpoenas I believe was the number, so we know there’s going to be a lot of information.

And I would say Barr even gave us some hints in his letter, saying things like most of the instances of obstruction, or evidence of obstruction is out there. So there could be more we don’t know of, saying there are multiple approaches by Russians to offer assistance to the Trump campaign. So we know this narrative is going to change to some extent. We don’t know how much. But it definitely is not going to be as simple as total exoneration, no collusion, as the President has been trying to paint it. Now whether that gets through the holiday weekend is your question, yeah.  

MITCHELL: And of course, not to be too much of a conspiracy theorist here, but Harry Litman, it is clear that this is somehow, coincidentally or not, going to land just before the holiest weekend and holiday weekend, spring break, a time where there is – in fact the government offices are largely closed and Congress is in recess.

(...)

MITCHELL: Julia, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for William Barr. He has gotten really poor grades from a lot of people who want to see the report, who feel that there is an obligation that he embraced to a certain extent in his confirmation hearings. What is the mood and the moral at the Justice Department after the way he’s performed, particularly at the House and Senate last week?

JULIA AINSLEY [NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT]: Well, I do think it puts a lot more pressure on the report that we get later this week, Andrea. Because William Barr is going to have to prove that he is not an attorney general for this president but an attorney general for this country.

(...)

MITCHELL: You see a lot of, I would say optimism, out of the White House, Phil Rucker. They seem to feel they’ve gotten ahead of it, with or without the help of William Barr, whether that was based on law or based on politics, or a combination of the two. And they certainly seem very encouraged. He has been maybe – I don’t know how you read the behavior of the last two weeks, where he’s been going in so many different directions. We’ll talk more about immigration and some of the other decisions he’s made. But he seems both emboldened and also more aggressive against his perceived opponents.

(...)

RUCKER: He’s creating all these brush fires, which we know from covering him the last few years, this is what he does when there is a big story he wants to distract from or to get out in front of. And you talk to the President’s aides and allies privately and they do express some concern that this report could be politically damaging to them. And you have to wonder, if it is really a bad report for the President, does total exoneration become his “Mission Accomplished,” which President Bush of course had the banner on the aircraft carrier prematurely declaring an end to the Iraq war? We’ll have to see.

(...)

MITCHELL: But Frank Figliuzzi, underlying all of this, the Mueller report, how much will this be sort of a disappointment to the President’s critics, to a lot of Democrats, who were waiting on this Mueller report to give them the goods, to give them what they thought was in plain sight? Which was the President firing Comey, the President talking about Russia, the President trying to get a break from Michael Flynn, the Trump Tower very suspicious meeting, the President with [Sergey] Lavrov and [Sergey] Kislyak, the Russians, in the Oval Office, saying that, you know, he was trying to get rid of this Russia thing. So many different instances which don’t apparently add up to any kind of criminal charge, but many people had believed, you know, were obvious examples of him working hand and glove with Russia.

FIGLIUZZI: Well, for many people, the fact that the President wasn’t led out of the Oval Office in handcuffs is a disappointment to them. But we knew that, that was not going to happen and Mueller likely acted within constraints of DOJ policy to not be able to indict a sitting president.

But this report can go either way, Andrea. It can be a continued disappointment because of a lack smoking gun. But we already are tipped off to that by Barr’s summary. What is quite possible, though, is that as the details unfold in this report, that there’s actually more ammunition revealed and that this becomes a disappointment for the White House. In fact, I think the distraction method we’re seeing from the White House so far is in part due to the President’s concerns, not only about himself, but about his family members.

So on Thursday, let’s look for that color coding that the AG keeps talking about. And when it comes to third party references, like family members, Trump’s family members, let’s look for the color coding as to whether it’s coded because of pending investigations, it’s been redacted because these people are caught up in pending investigations or their names have been redacted because of privacy interests. If it looks to us like third parties are being redacted for continued investigative interest, that’s not a disappointment. That’s a clue that this is still going and perhaps aimed at him and his family.

(...)

NBDaily Mueller Report Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports Video Andrea Mitchell Philip Rucker Donald Trump

Sponsored Links