Just minutes before William Barr conducted a press conference on the release of the Mueller Report, Chuck Todd on NBC and MSNBC complained about the “buzzwords” of Donald Trump and the Attorney General, lamenting that they have “neutered” any impact. Other journalists on the network still hoped for a “blockbuster.”
On MSNBC, Todd instructed that Barr should have reacted to the Mueller Report “without using buzzwords, without doing a press conference.” The Meet the Press host swore that, had the AG done these things, “We'd have a much different interpretation of Bill Barr as attorney general. I think that's why there's even more anxiety about the release today.”
Todd lamented, “Look, the President and Bill Barr have successfully neutered the impact of the Mueller Report politically. That's the bottom line.” Over on NBC, the journalist repeated his conclusion: “So politically, you know, you could argue that the President, Bill Barr, have neutered the greatest potential impact of this report.”
MSNBC analyst Nicolle Wallace kept hope alive, suggesting a “blockbuster” hidden within the report: “So we could be at the brink of two blockbuster headlines on the Russia front and the obstruction front and we're all talking about Barr's political messaging tactic.”
Brian Williams also hyped the unseen possibilities: “I think politics is going to be crushed under the weight of the content revealed to us that we're reading in real time today.”
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more:
MSNBC live coverage
9:10 AM ET
NICOLLE WALLACE: Mueller's question around Russian collusion wasn't whether or not it happened. It was whether or not Donald Trump wittingly participated in it. So we could be at the brink of two blockbuster headlines on the Russia front and the obstruction front and we're all talking about Barr's political messaging tactic.
CHUCK TODD: Can I just tell you this? This is how we framed it this morning in First Read. It's this. I think the country no matter which side you come down on the Mueller investigation, the way this has been handled between the President, between frankly what Bill Barr has done the last couple weeks, and the country's faith in the rule of law, is it better than when Mueller started or is it worse? And that's the sad chapter of all this. Right now, we enter in a situation where, think about it this way. Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes both want to see the unredacted Mueller Report. And they both want it for completely different reasons. Devin Nunes doesn’t trust Mueller and Adam Schiff doesn’t trust Barr.
And this is the situation we're in. So, politically the waters are beyond muddy. They've done all that. It is sad. We could be here in a situation, had Bill Barr done the following, simply released a statement saying there were no criminal — recommendations for criminal charges, period. Didn't have to say anything else. He'll have the report out as soon as he can. If he had simply said “I'm looking into everything regarding how this investigation started, the investigation itself, all of those things, period.” Had he said all those things without using buzzwords, without doing a press conference, without writing a summary and without making a decision on his own and taking matters into his own hands, we'd be in a — we'd have a different conversation right now. And we'd have a much different interpretation of Bill Barr as attorney general. I think that's why there's even more anxiety about the release today.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. Though something tells me at least for the midday portion when we are going through discovering texts, assigning different text sections to our folks, reading aloud what's in here, I think politics is going to be crushed under the weight of the content revealed to us that we're reading in real time today.
TODD: It is, but Brian, I mean, look, the President and Bill Barr have successfully neutered the impact of the Mueller report politically. That's the bottom line.
NBC News Special Report
CHUCK TODD: Well, look, politically, let’s be frank here, the way this has been rolled out has been very helpful to the President, right? Regardless – we don’t know the tone of the report. We have yet to read a single complete sentence, but in essence, he’s gotten a three and a half week head start, right? Between Barr’s summary of principle conclusions, testimony where Democrats didn’t – were able to ask questions without knowledge of what was in the report, things like this. So politically, you know, you could argue that the President, Bill Barr, have neutered the greatest potential impact of this report.