'The investigation is over, the evaluation will start': Fmr DNC chair Brazile

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable discusses the Mueller report, following Special Counsel's handover to Attorney General William Barr Friday afternoon.
16:40 | 03/24/19

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Transcript for 'The investigation is over, the evaluation will start': Fmr DNC chair Brazile
Good evening. I'm Peter Jennings. There has not been a day like it. It could only happen in the so-called "Information age." In front of television sets every today, the world has been watching the president seemingly bare his soul about a sexual affair that has tormented the country for all these months. On television, and mostly on the internet, the world has had access to the most intimate details of the president and miss Lewinsky's behavior. Today, the independent counsel's report laid out almost a dozen reasons why he, Mr. Starr, thinks the congress should consider impeaching the president. More than 20 years ago, Ken Starr's report laid the ground work for impeachment of the president. Let's talk about it with Matthew dowd. Sara Fagen. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. And former DNC chair, former ABC contributor but now Fox News contributor Donna Brazile joining us now. Matt, let me begin with you. The last 22 months, the white house has been under a cloud. About 22 months left in the term, what we learn from Robert Mueller could shape the next 22 months. As Winston Churchill said, it's not the beginning of the end. It may be the end of the beginning. I think you got it right. Yeah. And to me, the fascinating thing about this is, we don't know what's in the report. Speculate on what it all means is hard to do. We don't know why he did what he did in all of that. But I think the interesting thing about this, to me, is it never was going to be what so many people thought it would be. On either side? On either side. That's what fascinating. They thought, Bob Mueller's after him, he's going to get him, he's going to get his kids. He's called it a witch hunt. Jim Jordan bashed Bob Mueller, the investigation. And then people on the left, many Democrats were like, he's going to get him, he's going to get him. That was never Bob Mueller's charge. It was to find the evidence, follow it where it goes, prosecute people that needed to be prosecuted if the evidence was there. As you have laid out in a number of different ways. And then turn the report in. That's what he's done. Now we enter the political phase of this. The first piece of good news, for the president. No indictments on the underlying charge of joining the conspiracy. We don't know how or why he reach that conclusion either. We don't know that. You're right. There's no new indictment coming. That means there's no collusion. A significant number of people were charged. It means there was no conspiracy. Collusion is not a legal term. Fair enough. But of the people convicted of crimes, none of them were convicted for conspiracy or collusion or anything related to Russia interfering with the U.S. I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Bob Mueller for exposing what the United States Republicans and Democrats alike, need to know. Which is what other governments are trying to do in our elections. What's lost in all of this conversation is that. That's an important service to the country. And Republicans and Democrats alike should get that out and make sure that never happens again. Two dozen indictments of Russians for interfeerning in our elections. Donna Brazile? Well, now comes the hard part. The investigation. The investigation is over. The evaluation will start. It's not about collusion or no collusion. Vengeance or vindication. It's about the integrity of our elections. And I hope what Mr. Mueller, who I agree, I applaud Mr. Mueller and his team for the hard work. And for enduring what many of us have seen as a vicious partisan attack for just doing his job. We need to see the report. We need to evaluate the findings. We need to understand more about what happened. And then I think, as Americans, we can come up with our own opinions about how we move forward. I never -- as someone who saw it personally, felt it, understood it, when everyone else thought we were crazy and telling lies, we need to understand exactly why so many people in the trump orbit lied about their contacts with the Russians. Because we need to get to the bottom of everything. That is one of the big questions. The other is how much are we going to see? Of what Mueller wrote. You know Robert Mueller fairly well. The other question is how would he lay out these arguments? I think the way he's conducted himself over the last 22 months is how he'll lay it out. He's be careful. He's not going to pull a Jim Comey. He already hasn't done that. Or a Ken Starr. Or a Ken Starr. Or a Ken Starr, for sure. Either one of those. I think it is, as Donna said, a tribute to Bob Mueller. I've been saying all along, as you know, on this show, is that he's a professional. He cares about the justice system and the prosecutions are the ones he believes he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Nothing more. Here's the second part. Matt brought up Ken Starr. Remember what the special counsel statute is in response to. It's in response to the Ken Starr report. Congress said they didn't like what Starr did in laying out all that detail against people that were never going to be charged with a crime. They made all of this absolutely dependent now on the discretion of the attorney general. The attorney general gets to decide -- It doesn't prohibit anything. But it gives him discretion. That's really important. And bill Barr made that very clear in his confirmation hearings. You're a former prosecutor. There are a lot of reasons not to prosecute. Classified evidence. You might have compelling evidence. It might not be good enough to prosecute. Not prosecuting is not the same as exoneration. Well, let me tell you something, George. If you're any of the people who were being rumored to be indicted, you're going to take it as exoneration. Because you're presumed innocent in this country. Absent of charges brought and proven, you are innocent. Innocent of a crime, but not necessarily of improper behavior. That's a political standard. That's different. I think it would be wrong for him to explain, as to people who are not being charged, why he didn't charge them. Your job, he's part of the justice department, remember. He was appointed by the department attorney general. He works under justice department rules. And those rules, except for Jim Comey, apply this way. If you charge, you can put whatever you're willing to put in an indictment and have a grand jury sign off on. If you don't charge, keep quiet. You're not supposed to talk about people you're unwilling to charge. And that's, to me, was my principal objection to what Jim Comey did to Hillary Clinton. He killed her over the summer of 2016 without being willing to charge her. That's wrong. That's not what the justice department does. When you consider the facts that there were a number of trump associates involved in the meetings with the Russians. 14. That's a fact. All of these folks, though, anybody close to Republican politics, any operative would tell you most of these individuals, if not all of them, they could never survive in a Christie campaign. Would never have been hired or any other Republican campaign. This is where I think -- It's an indictment of the president. This is a challenge for the president that he has had to deal with. Some of this has been brought on by the hiring around that campaign. Now, you can say it was late. And he got in. He's not experienced. I take that point. But the president was the one who, from the very beginning, said none of this happened. No contacts with Russians. I didn't have any business with Russians. Then he's pursuing the trump tower with Moscow. That was a business relationship. You consider all these, I call them sort of rate "B" players. All trying to be the man or the woman. Trying to have the meeting. Trying to have the Intel. That's the big challenge here. A lot of times, having worked in the government, having lived through these investigations, you realize that the left hand and the right So they may have been trying to collude. They weren't in a position to even collude, because they were not high enough in the organization to have power. I think Sara's right about that part of it. But it should lead you to a natural conclusion is, what is the president doing hiring all these people? Paul manafort was the chair of the campaign. That every single person knew was this way. And the second thing. Let me just say this, the second thing. If Bob Mueller had not released all of the indictments, all of the convictions, all of that over the last 20 months, if on Friday, he presented the American public with a report that said, oh, by the way, I'm going to indict -- I'm indicting the campaign's personal lawyer. The national security adviser. I'm indicting the chairman of the campaign. I'm indicting the person that advises on foreign policy. If he had done that, we would have an entirely different conversation. There was a pattern of secretive contacts with Russian intelligence people. Wikileaks. And they lied about it. That -- these were high-ranking officials. I have been a campaign manager. I've been a chair of the party. I know campaign chairs. They report to the president of the campaign of the candidate. This is a pattern of secretive. This is an old story. This is an old story. Sara's right. I think about the way that a lot of these people were wannabes. Some of them. Not manafort. But a lot of them were in terms of the 14. But here's the older story. The president has made horrendous personnel choices. Not just in the campaign. At the white house as well. And I've talked about this over and over again, that, and this is a product of two things. One, the president at times acts on impulse. We have seen that. He does it at times with hiring. The bigger problem is that there was no one screening these people who had the experience and the ability to be able to do it in a good way to present to the president. And so, garbage in, garbage out. You present an executive with three bad choices. It's a tough one to make. The fact remains the justice department never overruled the special counsel. He wasn't fired. He wasn't fired. And not one person was indicted on a crime related to Russian interference. That's a point I was going to make. Which is, I think, really important. There's good news here. The good news is law and order in the country has held. Bob Mueller has done his job, as far as we can tell. We'll see more objectively in quiet and in secret. The couldn't constitutional standards of holding a government responsible in what they do is there. And I think Bob Mueller, and this is the good part about it, I think. Bob Mueller was never going to let congress or the American public off the hook. And congress has a responsibility just because the president wasn't held criminally liable as for as we know, just because his family wasn't held criminally liable, does not mean that congress has a standard that they hold a president. Richard Nixon, most of the Richard Nixon impeachment things were not criminal problems. They were a problem related to the constitution and how we function as a republic. And I think that's the good news. The congress has a responsibility and the voters have one. I think there is one thing that is important to say. There are some people that were really pilloried during this process. It turns out they stood up. Rod Rosenstein, or Matt Whitaker. Who was pilloried pretty badly in the media. We have no evidence that Matt Whitaker did anything inappropriate. Correct. In fact, we have evidence to the contrary. When he was approached by the president, he stood up and said no. I'm talking about the southern district and the unrecusal of Jeff Berman. So, I'm a justice department guy. That's where I got my start in this business. I will tell you. It's a proud day today for the department of justice. Because they stood up. Stood up for the rule of law. Bob Mueller, as a member of the department of justice. As special counsel. Rod Rosenstein, Matt Whitaker. Bill Barr all did the right thing. Do you think the president realizes it? Because he was the greatest pillorier of all. I think that when he looks back on it, he's going to realize that those of us that were telling him to slow down, keep quiet, let the justice system work, were right. He didn't realize it at the time. You may have been right. But did the president, by saying witch hunt a couple hundred times. Or more. 183 times. Did he change the standard? Did he lower the standard by which he would be judged? Of course he did. He tried to sully the process in every step along the way. George, in 589 days, we, as Americans, will go back to the polls. We know that the Russians tried to interfere in 2016. We know that they attempted again in 2018. And they were encouraged. They were encouraged to do it. Thank you. We know that much of what they hacked and stole and used and the fact that we did have a campaign chairman, I'm not pointing at you, Sara. It's church time. I'm trying to get in my Beto moment. Keep those hands moving, baby. Keep your hands moving. It's absolutely nothing. You can run for president. The fact is is that we have to strengthen our pillars of democracy. This president has not done enough to strengthen and prevent future foreign hacking, if not from the Russians, than from others. The reason I want to see this report is not because I'm into the salacious gossip. I read the Ken Starr stuff. I don't want to see it redacted. Justice redacted is justice denied. We need to see everything. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Justice redacted against Hillary Clinton in the summer of 2016 would have been justice fulfilled. She didn't commit a crime. According to the justice department. And Jim Comey went out on national television and kicked her around. And it affected the election, and listen, you was working for the other guy. The point is, it happens to her that day. It can happen to you the next day. Quite an irony that the president is being protected by what hurt Hillary Clinton. Exactly right. There's always been an irony to that. The other thing, as a challenge for Republicans and Democrats in the aftermath of this is are they going to focus on what Donna talked about? Protecting our election in 2020? Or are they going to continue to beat each other senseless. Over the allegations against the president and against Democrats. They have to focus on what Bob Mueller found the biggest number of indictments against the Russians. What do we do to stop that in 20 to 20? And there are a whole bunch of trees that are growing from this. Bob Mueller's investigation may be over. But there's a ton of other investigations going on that may bear fruit in all of this. And there, though, you get to a point you said earlier. The politics is just starting. I think the politics on overreach. Is going to help the president. I think many Americans, and many of those who sit in the middle who maybe like his policies but don't care for him personally, look at this and say, they're investigating his business. They're investigating his kids. They're investigating the inaugural. Everything he's touched in his life. He didn't rls his taxes. And maybe there's something through the Cohen stuff that deserves to be looked at. But it's so widespread that it's hard to almost take it credible. That every aspect of this person's life, when he's never been committed of a crime needs to be investigated. Because Democrats don't like the fact that he was elected. He wasn't investigated for the first two years at all. So I think there's a little catch-up to do. Thank you. And I think that most -- the majority of Americans, they may support him or not. But they don't believe he has integrity. That needs to be found out. I believe we have more to fear from secrecy than sunshine. I agree. More to fear from the because what we have learned has come as a result of the investigation. And the indictments. We have more to fear from secrecy. Justice redacted won't give us the comfort level we need as all Americans. This was a playbook that was used to undermine the candidacy to try to destroy one of America's major political parties. You have more to fear from redacted. It depends on what is in there. And what the impact will be on

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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