May 23, 2017

On Hardball, Senator Richard Blumenthal explains to Chris Matthews how Donald Trump's multiple attempts to influence the investigation into TrumpRussia is proof of his intent to obstruct justice.

Matthews reminded viewers the former National Security Adviser refused to turn over the documents about his ties to Russia that requested by the Intelligence committee.

"He's invoking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by holding back his documents. His lawyers said "de-escalating public frenzy" against him. Then he said, pleading the Fifth is not something innocent people do," he said before showing a Trump clip.

So there are five people taking the Fifth Amendment, like you see on the mob, right? You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

Matthews repeated, "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" He said Flynn was asking for immunity. "During the campaign, he said this about people who seek immunity, let's watch."

"Five people around her have been given immunity to, include her former chief of staff, when you are given immunity, that means you've probably committed a crime. It keeps adding to this chain of events. Thank you, Judiciary Committee."

Matthews talked about the news report that Trump went to the heads of the National Security Agency and the head of national intelligence, and asked them to clear him of any Russian collusion. "What do you make of that?" he asked Blumenthal. "They thought it was improper."

"It is improper. And it adds additional mounting powerful evidence of coverup and obstruction of justice," Blumenthal said.

"What's significant... It's cumulative on the issue of intent because Donald Trump defenders have said, he really didn't mean any harm when he pressured Comey. Or he didn't mean what he said. But this repeated attempt to stifle investigative work, stop the truth from coming out, eventually becomes evidence of intent.

"The demanded loyalty from Comey, the firing of Comey after he refused to shut down the investigation of Flynn, the firing of Sally Yates after she warns about Flynn and then, of course, the boasting to the Russians about how he's relieved, he feels no longer any pressure and he's no longer latest news, all of it mounting evidence of powerful undeniable dimensions and it goes to the issue of intent," he said.

"Listening to your summation, it's like the summation to the jury, all this evidence is out front," Matthews said. "It's prima facie lawyers say. It was a ringing summation, I thought."

Blumenthal said we'll have more evidence "because Donald Trump seems to be a serial discourager of of the truth."

"We're not there yet and Bob Mueller will no doubt take this investigation aggressively because he is a professional and he'll draw no conclusions from somebody taking the Fifth Amendment," he said.

Matthews wanted to recap.

"Let's follow this all the way. He got in trouble for meeting with the foreign minister in a cozy setting. He was with them and while he was with them he shared with them intelligence he had about some sort of terrorist plots in the works and then today, when he's in Jerusalem he said, he didn't -- he didn't tell them he got from the Israelis, the whole thing seems to be squirming, the whole thing in crime stories you return, the bad guy returns to the scene of the crime. It's like he keeps going back to the Russian connection. I mean, he's leading us back there every day in the stories.

"What do you make of that as terms of guilty man's behavior?"

Blumenthal said he was trained not to draw inferences, and that there wasn't yet enough proof to show criminal wrongdoing "beyond a reasonable doubt."

"But one point to be made here is Michael Flynn has no Fifth Amendment privilege, generally, as to documents," he said.

"If he's going to put that forward in his testimony, I warned about Michael Flynn back in December when Senators asked for his security clearance to be reviewed. And the transition team in the Trump campaign was aware of some of these facts. Indeed, the Vice President, now Vice President Pence may have been aware. There is circumstantial evidence there. So this investigation clearly needs to be pursued aggressively and vigorously."

"What more do you need?" Matthews said.

"I would certainly want to continue this investigation and put together more of the mosaic," Blumenthal said.

"Proof beyond a reasonable doubt which maybe applies to any other proceeding, but certainly a criminal proceeding, and I think it's important to reach that based on fact and not surmise."

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