Top Justice Department aide Andrew Weissmann reported in his new book Where Law Ends that special counsel Robert Mueller didn't go into President Donald Trump's finances when he investigated whether or not his 2016 campaign coordinated with Russia to win.
It was part of a discussion on MSNBC Tuesday that also addressed the recent findings by the CIA that Russian President Vladimir Putin is behind efforts to bring down Joe Biden.
There were many things that Mueller could have done to ultimately get to the bottom of Russian coordination had Mueller wanted to do it. Given the Department of Justice's policy of not indicting the president, however, the investigation didn't do things like subpoena Trump's finances or subpoena him to appear and answer questions. Instead, Trump was given a kind of "take-home test," where he could answer Mueller's questions in writing and have his lawyers review it. Mueller has already revealed that Trump may have lied in that written Q&A despite it being under oath.
Weissmann's book revealed that the main reason that Mueller didn't want to look into Trump's finances was that they feared how Trump would respond. They were so intimidated by him that it is something that could spell another count of obstruction of justice of the special counsel's investigation, said New York Times correspondent Michael Schmidt.
"What it shows is the effectiveness of what the president did," he explained.
NBC News' Jeremy Bash, who previously served as the chief of staff at the Department of Defense and the CIA, explained that the new findings in the CIA release reveal another case of coordination with a foreign power to win an election.
Trump was asked about Putin's attempt to poison political detractor Alexei Navalny but refused to say anything about it to the press.
"Obviously, the ultimate accountability in our system is at the ballot and this has got to be an issue, I think, in the presidential capable," said Bash. "It's got -- a light has to be shined on it to showcase exactly that not only did Trump welcome Russian interference, he's refused to condemn it. He's benefitted from it and he's rewarded it. I think if we state that clearly and make that case, I think lay it out to the American people, they're going to understand that if they re-elect the president, it's going to be to Vladimir Putin's benefit. It's going to be the benefit of the Kremlin. If people want that, fine, but I think it harms American national security."
Bash walked through a list of "rewards" that Trump has given Putin since becoming president: "He denigrated NATO, he invited the Russians into the G7, he slow-rolled military aid to the Ukrainians, he refused to condemn Russia's attempt to kill an intelligence officer in the UK, a poison attack, an intelligence officer who, by the way, the United States helped win his freedom. He refused to condemn the Russians for putting bounties on the heads of U.S. service members. He exited Syria so Russia and other powers could go in and now he's refusing to condemn Russia for this poison attack against an opposition figure."
The panel walked through some of the things that a new administration could do to finally have a true investigation that looks into Trump's finances and requires him to testify about specifics.
See the full discussion in the videos below: