320+ coronavirus cases TRANSCRIPT: 3/6/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell

Guests:
Celine Gounder, Gene Sperling, Sarah Nelson, Rick
Transcript:

 

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Today, the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, the president took the time to insult the governor calling him

a “snake.” He will be here Monday night with his latest on the state`s

response to coronavirus. Don`t miss it.

 

And that does it for me tonight. You can find me tomorrow morning and

Sunday morning on MSNBC from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Now it`s time for

“The Last Word” with Lawrence O`Donnell.” Lawrence, this is awkward. This

is just a little bit weird, me handing it over to you on a Friday night.

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: It was bound to happen. It was bound to

happen, Ali. And I will see you tomorrow morning at 8:00. I`ll be watching.

 

VELSHI: Thank you sir. Have a good evening.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Ali. Well, coronavirus is now spreading throughout

the world and throughout the United States. America is now shutting down.

Businesses are eliminating nonessential travel and cancelling conferences

all over the country.

 

The annual South by Southwest Conference in Texas was canceled today.

UNICEF cancelled its annual fund raising dinner in Los Angeles today.

Cancelations like that are happening all over the country. Airlines are

cutting flight schedules and some tourist attractions around the country

are now empty.

 

And the response to the coronavirus in the United States is being led by

the most incompetent and ignorant president in history, who shook up his

administration today by announcing the replacement of his White House chief

of staff in the middle of this crisis.

 

Congressman Mark Meadows will replace a White House chief of staff who in a

competent administration would be in the thick of managing the

administration`s response to the coronavirus. We will discuss that later in

this hour.

 

It`s impossible to tell who is in charge in the Trump administration, and

it may well be that no one is in charge. There are now 100,000 coronavirus

cases worldwide in at least 83 countries. At least 3,460 people have died

worldwide.

 

There are now at least 326 reported coronavirus cases in the United States

in 26 states. The official death toll rose to 15 today in the United States

when three more deaths were reported. Fourteen of the 15 deaths in the

United States were in Washington State.

 

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed today 22 new cases bringing

the total number of reported cases in New York State to 44. The president`s

response to all of this was to fly off to Florida for the weekend, as

usual. He made a stop in Atlanta at the Centers for Disease Control.

 

While he was at the CDC, the president said he didn`t want anyone to get

off the cruise ship that is off the coast of California near San Francisco

because the president is afraid that any infected people on that ship, if

they come ashore in California, will then increase the number of reported

cases of coronavirus in the United States.

 

The president discussed the urgent matter of last night`s cable news

ratings at the CDC. He told America the lie that anyone can get tested for

coronavirus and he said that the governor of the state with the largest

death toll from coronavirus is a snake, as you just heard Ali mentioned.

 

That governor will be joining Rachel on Monday night. Washington State has

suffered 14 of America`s 15 deaths of coronavirus. And at the CDC, Donald

Trump said this about the governor of Washington State, Jay Inslee.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told Mike not to be

complimentary of the governor because that governor is a snake, okay,

Inslee. And I said if you`re nice to him, he will take advantage, and I

would have said no.

 

Let me just tell you, we have a lot of problems with the governor, and the

governor of Washington, that`s where we have many of your problems, okay.

So, Mike may be happy with him but I`m not, okay. And he would say that

naturally.

 

And as I said last night at the town hall, if we came up with a cure today

and tomorrow everything is gone and you went up to this governor who`s, you

know, not a good governor by the way. If you went up to this governor and

you said to him how did Trump do? He`d say he did a terrible job.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: That was the president of the United States doing his usual

terrible job, a terrible job of being president, a terrible job of managing

a public health crisis. And always a terrible job of being a human being.

 

Here is the relentlessly perverted mind of Donald Trump lying about the

availability of coronavirus testing in the United States and linking that

to the lie that he told about his phone call with the president of Ukraine.

This is a level of depravity that only the mind of Donald Trump can find.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: Anybody that needs a test can have a test. They`re all set. They

have them out there. In addition to that, they`re making millions of more

as we speak. But as of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test,

that`s the important thing and the tests are all perfect like the letter

was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right. This was not as perfect

as that, but pretty good.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Today, wearing his buffoonish campaign hat at the CDC, Donald

Trump did everything he could to make it clear there`s an abject clown

leading the defense of America`s public health.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I

understand it. Every one of these doctors said how do you know so much

about this? Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should`ve done that

instead of running for president.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Dr. Celine Gounder, the disease

infectious specialist and an epidemiologist. She is the host of the new

podcast “Epidemic” with Ron Klain, the former Ebola czar. Gene Sperling is

with us. He is the former director of National Economic Council for

Presidents Obama and Clinton

 

And Sarah Nelson is here. She is the president of the Association of Flight

Attendants and she has been a flight attendant for 24 years. Dr. Gounder,

how would you assess the situation tonight?

 

GOUNDER: Well, I can tell you based just the dear provider letters that

were issued to providers, doctors, and others across New York State in the

last day or so, what we`re told is that currently Wadsworth, the New York

State lab that conducts these tests can do about 200 tests per day. And

they`re hoping to scale up to a thousand tests per day.

 

But as you can imagine, that`s a state that is serving not just New York

City but the rest of New York State. And I can`t imagine that that`s enough

capacity to meet the demand that we`re going to be seeing in the coming

weeks.

 

O`DONNELL: Well, that`s a – that`s a population of tens of millions of

people, possibly a million people or more at some point needing a test,

hopefully not testing positive. What do we know about other testing centers

just even in that region if you`re in Massachusetts, for example, or

Connecticut?

 

GOUNDER: So, a lot of this is being done really at the local and state

health department levels. So some of them may now have capacity to do

testing. Some of them may still be sending tests to CDC. Either way, we

know that broadly across the country we still don`t have nearly enough test

kits to go around.

 

And there`s a lot of confusion about how do you even get a patient tested.

You know, the average primary care doctor I`ve been hearing from other

patients and people on twitter who reached out to me is saying, you know, I

called up my doctor. They didn`t even want me to come to the office.

 

They said go to the hospital. You know, I called up the hospital and asked

them if I need to be tested for coronavirus. Do you know how to do that?

The answer was no. So, I think there are some real issues with trying to

get this information out and for people to understand what the pathway is

to get somebody tested.

 

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to two people on the Trump payroll in the Trump

White House who have absolutely no idea what they`re talking about when it

comes to virtually anything but certainly science and medical science.

Let`s listen to them today insisting publicly that the coronavirus spread

in the United States is now contained. That`s their word, contained.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

 

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: I would still argue to

you that this is contained. But it can`t be air tight.

 

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: It is being contained. And do you

not think its being contained?

 

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

 

GENE SPERLING, FORMER ECONOMIC ADVISOR , PRESIDENTS CLINOT & OBAMA: Gene

Sperling, you worked in the White House in an economic policy position,

similar to the position Larry Kudlow is in, in the White House. What`s your

reaction to these two people going out there and telling America that this

is contained?

 

SPERLING: In a crisis, credibility is precious. Credibility is a terrible

thing to waste. Once you waste it, you can`t get it back. Right now across

this country, beyond what we`ve normally ever dealt with in consumer

spending, it`s not just people who fear losing their job. Every single

American family is sitting around the kitchen table wondering what they

should do, wondering how to protect the health of their parents,

themselves, their children.

 

And now you have the president of the United States calling it a hoax. As

she say, it`s a clown show. The person in my job is telling people to buy

the market, things are fine.

 

They have now destroyed any ability to later offer the type of reassurance

that might be justified later because they`re all people whose parents

apparently never read to them the boy who cried wolf because their

credibility is gone at this point.

 

O`DONNELL: But Gene, their credibility was gone before today and that might

be a good thing, meaning the country knows Kellyanne Conway is a

pathological liar. So, if she says today it`s contained, they know there`s

no reason to listen to her. They`ve kind of been warned that she is an out

of control pathological liar before today.

 

SPERLING: Right, but what a loss. I mean, at this point, we`re all

wondering what to do. It`s all anybody is talking about. This is an economy

that is only been held up by consumer spending. Manufacturing`s been in

virtual recession for six months, but consumers have been spending.

 

Now, you have this massive pullback. And what would have provided more

assurance, information certainty, massive testing, a government giving you

clear instruction. So, yes, it is true they know don`t look to the White

House for good information, but it creates a vacuum.

 

And how are people going to relate to that vacuum when it`s about the

health of their children and themselves? They`re going to pull back.

They`re going to do less. They`re going to spend less in a massive way.

 

And I got to tell you, I feel very negative not only that we could go into

a downturn, but, you know, economists say like, sometimes it`s a v-shape,

it goes down, you don`t buy washing machines and then it comes back up.

 

You know, if you don`t do this kind of spending now, I don`t know why it`s

going to get better in May or June or July. And once you don`t go to the

gym or don`t go to restaurants for a few months, it`s not like you double

them later.

 

So this could be a major, major hit to the economy. And some of it is not

necessary. Some of it could`ve been reduced by competent test – massive

testing, massive information, and a government that every single day gave

you a briefing that was credible and believable. And that credibility is

wasted and gone now.

 

O`DONNELL: Sarah Nelson, United Airlines has cut back on their flight

schedule because demand is falling. Corporate travel is dropping.

Recreational travel is dropping. People are asking themselves should I be

taking this trip, should I be going to the airport.

 

I`m supposed to fly tomorrow. How do you feel about people and members of

your family going to airports in America and getting on planes in the

middle of this public health crisis?

 

SARAH NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Well,

ironically, going to the airport and getting on planes may be one of your

safest public locations because the airlines have been working with the

unions and the people who know how to address these things for the last two

months because we actually fly around the world and have been dealing with

coronavirus for the last two months.

 

But what I would tell you is that this is incredibly serious and the words

that have come from the White House put both my members and the traveling

public in harm`s way because we`re not getting the tests to the right

people to be able to contain and identify where we have the community

outbreaks and where we can isolate that now that it`s in the United States.

 

And that puts us all at risk. It also puts us at risk for getting good

information to the public about what they can do to protect themselves. But

I will tell you that the airlines have worked very closely with us.

 

I can think back to the Ebola crisis and I was actually at the White House

with Ron Klain in several meetings with other union leaders, with industry

leaders. We were all at the table.

 

He brought an interagency working group together. And we were not only

talking about what we needed to do on the front lines to have the right

supplies and the good information to be able to contain this in our

workplaces and for those of us who are on the front lines, flight

attendants, nurses, teachers.

 

But also what we were going to do as Americans to actually go to the

infected regions and help contain the diseases there. Here we can`t even

talk here about what we can do in a coordinated way with good information

in this country to be able to contain this.

 

And so I can`t even believe where we are today. I am extremely disheartened

that the president of the United States is putting my members at risk, my

members` jobs at risk, our entire economy at risk, and not taking this

seriously.

 

And we`re not even getting to the space that we should be in where we

should be coordinating through the White House with all the local

healthcare professionals and the healthcare community and with all the

people on the front lines to have a very deliberate response to this. We

can take this on as Americans, but not with this kind of chaos from the

White House.

 

O`DONNELL: Sara, we are all washing our hands furiously all day. What are

the airlines doing in terms of trying to sanitize the aircraft themselves

between flights? Are they taking extra measures in cleaning the planes?

 

NELSON: The airlines have been interacting with us. And there are issues

because there has been contracted out work with the cleaners. So there is a

supply chain issue there and coordination, but the airlines are working

very hard in making sure that they are taking deliberate measures to do

extra cleaning, follow CDC guidelines on that cleaning. And they have been

interfacing with us on that.

 

They also have been coordinating and trying to get both hand sanitizer near

the galleys and the lavatories and coordinating with us on that, but it

does require a government-approval or exemption to be able to put that bulk

hand sanitizer on the planes.

 

So there are issues that should be done very quickly through the

coordination of private and public partnerships. But there`s no

coordination coming from the government to help these things move along.

 

Very simple good ideas that if we had someone who is able to coordinate

this, we could move faster, we could help to mitigate the spread of this

disease, and we could get the proper tools into the hands of the people who

are first responders.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Gounder, what are you telling people about precautions they

should take in their own lives? What are you telling – people must be

asking you, should I take that flight across the country? Should I go to

that basketball game in an arena with 20,000 people? What do you tell them?

 

GOUNDER: Well, in terms of how I sort of think through those different

risks and exposures, in terms of travel, is it domestic, is it foreign? You

have slightly different sets of issues with each. So, if it`s foreign

travel you may also be running into – if you get sick overseas, how good

is the medical care in the place where you might be getting sick?

 

There are quarantines and travel restrictions being instituted not just by

our own government but by other governments. So, could you be getting stuck

somewhere as a result of their policies as well as our own?

 

And then other measures or other things to think about, whether it`s

domestic or foreign travel, you know, what is your base line risk for

having a severe complication of this if you were to become infected?

 

So that`s partly age, especially if you`re over 70, although we see an

increased risk over the age of 50, people with chronic medical diseases,

and we`re not referring to high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

 

We`re talking about organ disease like lung disease, heart disease, liver

disease, kidney disease, people who have suppressed immune systems for

whatever reason that could be related to cancer or treatments that they`re

getting.

 

So, you know, those are other factors that I would consider. And then

finally is there a mismatch in risk in terms of the transmission on the

ground in the place that you`re traveling from and the place that you`re

traveling to?

 

So if you`re talking about traveling from the San Francisco bay area to

Kirkland, Washington, those are probably fairly equivalent risks in terms

of community transmission.

 

But if you`re talking about going from Kirkland, Washington, to Omaha or

vice versa, you`re at risk for either getting yourself potentially exposed

and or bringing it to a community that has not yet been exposed.

 

So there, you know, I think these decisions really need to be

individualized and looked at, you know, very carefully in that way.

 

O`DONNELL: Well, what about that question of public gatherings in, say,

Madison Square Garden? A lot of people are wondering about whether they

should participate in that now.

 

GOUNDER: Well, I think you have to look at indoor versus outdoor as also a

different risks. When you`re outdoors that`s as good of ventilation as

you`re going to get. And actually one way in workplaces where there are

windows that you can open up all the windows, that`s actually a great way

to reduce the risk, at least in that setting. In a lot of office buildings

you can`t necessarily do that.

 

But, you know, I think watching a game outside on the high school

bleachers, you know, along the side of the field is very different from

going into an arena indoors where you`re sitting next to a lot of people

and there`s not good ventilation.

 

O`DONNELL: And Gene, to go back to the economic issues, there are so many

jobs that are threatened by what we`ve just been describing and the

consumer choices that we`ve just been describing and the people who clean

Madison Square Garden, if that kind of closes down as a venue, they`re out

of work, their lives change instantaneously.

 

SPERLING: There`s no question as often as the case that lower-income

working Americans are the ones going to be hardest hit. One, about 70

percent of them do not have any paid sick leave. Number two, if they have

to stay home with their children because they`re sick or school closes,

that`s a hard hit on them.

 

Three, they don`t really have as strong health care. And, four, as you

said, you know, most of us who are in more professional service jobs, we

have a lot of options to do video conferencing. If you`re cleaning a floor

or giving coffee, you don`t have that option.

 

And there`s a big lesson in that for us as a country, which is morally,

spiritually, policy-wise, a lot of us think that health care and paid leave

should be a right.

 

But you can also see it`s also the smart thing to do because everybody`s

going to be at risk because of this, you know, lack of economic justice in

our country.

 

O`DONNELL: Gene Sperling, Sarah Nelson, Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you all

for starting us off on this Friday night. Really appreciate it.

 

And when we come back, if it`s Friday, Donald Trump has fired another White

House chief of staff. This time it was Mick Mulvaney`s turn. We`ll show you

what got him fired, next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump continues to get rid of the people who he believes

betrayed him during the impeachment investigation. And tonight in the

middle of a public health crisis, Donald Trump is getting rid of his White

House chief of staff and replacing him with Congressman Mark Meadows.

 

The firing of one White House chief of staff and the hiring of another was

announced as usual by the president on twitter. Mick Mulvaney was

reportedly increasingly ignored by the president after Mulvaney stepped up

to the White House microphone and said, yes, of course, of course Donald

Trump was demanding an investigation by Ukraine before he would release

$400 million in aid to Ukraine.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: That he also

mentioned to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server,

absolutely, no question about that. But that`s it. And that`s why we held

up the money. Now there was a report –

 

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So the demand for an

investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he –

 

MULVANEY: It was on –

 

KARL: – wanted to withhold funding to Ukraine?

 

MULVANEY: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the

thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is

absolutely appropriate. And I have news for everybody. Get over it. There

is going to be political influence in foreign policy.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: For some reason the get over it message didn`t work. Joining us

now is Rick Stengel. He is the former under-secretary of state in the Obama

administration. He is now an MSNBC political analyst. His latest book is

“Information Wars,” and Gene Sperling is back with us.

 

Rick, Mick Mulvaney went out to that White House podium he believed to put

out the fire about the Ukraine phone call. His job was go out there, make

this go away, and of course he made the fire burn even hotter.

 

RICK STENGEL, MNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that reminds me of that great

old Michael Kinsley axiom that the real scandal in Washington is telling

the truth, not lying because Mick Mulvaney was absolutely telling the

truth. He said that`s exactly what happened. It was a quid pro quo.

Politics does influence our foreign policy.

 

Yes, the president was holding up the president of Ukraine. And of course

that`s why Mick Mulvaney is out the door because he told the truth rather

than lying about it the way President Trump did over and over and over

again.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Gene, of course that moment on video wildly

complicated the president`s defense in the impeachment investigation.

 

SPERLING: Look, I`m not a big fan of a lot of his chiefs of staffs or

senior advisers.

 

O`DONNELL: Who`s your favorite of all of them?

 

SPERLING: But, in fairness, I mean, Lawrence, how could anybody succeed in

that job?

 

O`DONNELL: Yes.

 

SPERLING: I mean, because you have –

 

O`DONNELL: There`s no version of success, no.

 

SPERLING: There`s an inherent conflict and we saw it on day one when Sean

Spicer was forced to go out and tell even a 7-year-old that a huge crowd

was actually less than a smaller crowd. And that is what the chief of

staff`s faced with too.

 

You have an inherent conflict to craven loyalty to the president`s

outrageous behavior or incompetence. Nobody can do both. So, Mark Meadows

is coming in because he is seen as being more loyal. So, what would be more

loyal mean right now?

 

You would have done more to defend the president that the coronavirus was a

hoax, that it was a political conspiracy, that you should be buying the

stock market at 29,000. And then of course, you look incompetent and then

he`s frustrated and wants to get rid of you. No one can succeed because of

the clown show that sits in the Oval Office.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes. Rick, it`s so obvious that the clock is ticking. But of

course for Mark Meadows, he only has to serve out a few months before you

get to the next inauguration in which it is very likely that someone other

than Donald Trump will be inaugurated. So, you know, he would be kind of

ripe for firing right around the time when Donald Trump might get fired by

the voters.

 

STENGEL: Yes. And, you know, there`s the old saying in Washington that

there are three kinds of jobs in Washington. There are hard jobs. There are

impossible jobs and then there`s White House chief of staff.

 

Now there`s a whole new category, right, to be White House chief of staff

for Donald Trump. I mean, it`s beyond impossible. I mean, Gene is

absolutely right about that.

 

And I think the question is, you know, when you switch lackeys in the

middle of the river, what does that really mean in the middle of a crisis?

I think part of why Trump is doing this is to just distract people to try

to distract people temporarily from the coronavirus controversy.

 

But he`s such a short-time player that, I mean, he just wants to distract

people for one news cycle. And the thing that is a little bit dangerous

about it is, is the White House chief of staff should be coordinating the

entire whole of government response to this threat to the republic.

 

And now we have a new guy who`s come in. He`s got to learn where the men`s

room is. He does have some good contacts with the House of course, but he

doesn`t know the executive branch very well. And I think it`s going to be

confusing.

 

And I think it will set back an effort that is already set back. Your first

segment about the fact that they`re just way, way, way too few tests that

are out there, that`s a very, very dangerous thing for the republic because

we just do not know how many people may be infected. I mean, and if you

can`t measure something, you can`t combat it, then that`s the situation

that we`re in now.

 

O`DONNELL: Rick Stengel, Gene Sperling, thank you very much for joining

this discussion. Really appreciate it.

 

And when we come back, a federal judge has ordered Attorney General William

Barr to give the judge an un-redacted version of the Mueller report because

the judge says he does not trust that William Barr`s redactions of the

Mueller report are legitimate.

 

Neal Katyal will join us with his reaction to what he says is a judge`s

order to an attorney general unlike any we have seen before.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Federal Judge Reggie Walton issued an order to the Justice

Department to submit the unredacted version of the Mueller report to him so

the judge can read it and decide whether the redactions in the Mueller

report were made for legitimate reasons.

 

The Judge`s written order says, “The speed by which Attorney General Barr

released to the public, the summary of Special Counsel Mueller`s principal

conclusions coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to

provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller

report causes the court to question whether Attorney General Barr`s intent

was to create a one sided narrative about the Mueller report, a narrative

that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted

version of the Mueller report.”

 

The Justice Department issued a public statement today, in response to the

Judge`s order, saying that the Attorney General “played no role” that was

their words, “played no role in deciding what would be redacted in the

Mueller report.” The statement added, “The department stands by their work

as well as the Attorney General`s statements and efforts to provide as much

transparency as possible in connection with the Special Counsel`s

confidential report.

 

Joining us now is Neal Katyal, former Acting U.S. Solicitor General and an

MSNBC legal contributor. Neal, this is such an extraordinary opinion to

read. Here`s a federal District Court judge saying, I can`t trust the

Attorney General.

 

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL & MSNBC LEGAL

CONTRIBUTOR: Yes Lawrence. I think the word he used is extraordinary. The

word used is it`s never happened before ever. There isn`t an opinion by any

federal judge calling out the Attorney General and saying, you`ve lost your

credibility and I can`t trust you anymore.

 

And any attorney, even a non-government attorney, really what they have,

their bond is their credibility with the court. Their ability to tell the

truth and be seen as telling the truth because laws after all, just a bunch

of words.

 

And as a high ranking Justice Department attorney, the things you spend

every night worrying about, as I did, is some government officials,

somewhere, some DOJ attorney somewhere in the field might not be telling

the truth to a court.

 

Here you got the reverse. You`ve got the lawyers in the field worried and

tagged by the fact that the Attorney General has been misrepresenting

things and has lost his credibility and therefore the department`s

credibility because what Judge Walton says and by the way, Judge Walton is

kind of a very middle of the road Republican appointed judge, not someone

to use this kind of language.

 

But what he said is, what Barr did, didn`t just destroy Barr`s credibility,

it destroyed the department of justice`s credibility more generally.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, you went straight to my second question which is have we

seen anything like this before? I knew - I know that I haven`t and to have

it be the Attorney General by name is what`s so extraordinary about this

because there are federal judges here and there in cases here and there

that question the way the prosecution in a case, the U.S. attorneys, the

way they`re handling certain things.

 

And we`ve seen some of that before but never specifically the Attorney

General, isn`t that what`s so peculiar about this?

 

KATYAL: Yes, well, I think it`s both actually Lawrence. I mean, when you`re

the Attorney General or the Solicitor General, you`re kind of supervising

as many as 100,000 attorneys out in the field and maybe every - maybe once

a year, twice a year you`ll get a judge who says something about an

attorney`s credibility or something like that.

 

But nothing like this even about a line attorney, let alone about the top

attorney, a cabinet official, the head of the Justice Department, the

Attorney General of the United States and it`s such a sad day Lawrence and

I`m telling you just in the last 24 hours I`ve gotten calls from a number

of DOJ line attorneys just really sickened to their heart about what this

says.

 

And look, I think everyone knew last year when the Attorney General falsely

summarized the Mueller report just how tendentious and wrong it was but to

now have a federal judge call him out on it, it`s hard to stay in the

department, if you believe in the rule of law.

 

It`s hard to stay in the justice department if you believe in this concept

of the truth.

 

O`DONNELL: And I was struck Neal, that the Justice Department issued a

press release today but they did not issue any kind of attempts to appeal

the judge`s ruling. Does - at this point do you believe the judge is going

to have that unredacted Mueller report in his chambers and start reading

it?

 

KATYAL: I sure hope so but I also believe Lawrence, that this is also an

opportunity for the House Judiciary Committee which has been really sitting

on its hands as the Attorney General has destroyed you know, precedent

after precedent and misrepresented things.

 

I think they have to have a real investigation about this and I`m surprised

that there hasn`t been one. One about why Barr said what he said about the

Mueller reports and about these redactions because you know, normally when

you are a high ranking justice department official, you say and you trust

your line prosecutors to say, make certain reactions.

 

Here I don`t think we can trust that process at all. You know if the

Attorney General himself wasn`t involved, I suspect you know, other people

around him and political people were when I think that the House Judiciary

Committee has to get to the bottom of it.

 

It`s great that Judge Walton issued the opinion. He did. It shows that

federal courts are not going to be play things for Donald Trump, even

Republican appointed judges but I think it`s also Congress`s job here.

 

O`DONNELL: And the judge made it very clear in his order that when he reads

this if he finds that these redactions are legitimate, he will certify them

as legitimate but if he doesn`t, that`s when it gets interesting.

 

KATYAL: Yes exactly. I mean part of this is about obviously the redactions

of the Mueller report and whether you`re on the up and up and it may be

that some of those reductions on the up and up. The saddest part about this

Lawrence is that Barr`s actions have so tainted the credibility of the

Justice Department that a federal judge can`t even trust the Justice

Department anymore.

 

I mean, he has to actually see everything for himself and that`s a very,

very sad day for our democracy. It`s a sad day for lawyers generally and

it`s a particularly sad day for those lawyers at the Justice Department.

 

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us on this Friday

night. Really appreciate it.

 

KATYAL: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: Up next, the voters will speak again on Tuesday and six

presidential primaries with Michigan awarding the biggest prize of 125

delegates so of course, Bernie Sanders was in Michigan today.

 

The latest on the presidential campaign is next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Bernie Sanders was in Detroit, Michigan tonight, one of the

states that will be voting on Tuesday.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe`s been around for a

while and I`ve been around for a while. How do we differ? What`s our

records? I opposed that war. Joe Biden voted for that war.

 

I voted against the Wall Street bailout. Joe Biden voted for the Wall

Street bailout. They wanted this Bankruptcy Bill which would make it harder

for working class people to get out of debt. I strongly opposed that bill.

Joe Biden voted for that bill.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Sen. Sanders canceled a campaign trip to Mississippi which will

also be voting on Tuesday. Missouri, Idaho, North Dakota and Washington

State will all be voting on Tuesday. The following Sunday will be the first

debate since this field was narrowed to these two candidates. That will be

a one on one faceoff between the Democratic Party`s front runners. Next

Sunday night in Phoenix, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden will be the only two

candidates on the debate stage and by then their delicate counts will be

changed by whatever they pick up in Tuesday`s primaries.

 

Joining us now is Zerlina Maxwell. She is a Senior Director of Progressive

Programming at Sirius XM radio and an MSNBC political analyst. Gene

Sperling, a veteran of presidential campaigns is back with us.

 

Zerlina, first of all, it sounds like Bernie Sanders is basically giving up

on Mississippi.

 

ZERLINA MAXWELL, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING, SIRIUS XM

RADIO & MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, I think he`s definitely giving up on

Mississippi because he remembers what happened in Mississippi in 2016. I

feel like I`m having deja vu and I think it`s instructive for this moment

because in 2016 you know, Bernie surged in some of those early states.

 

Obviously he blew us out of New Hampshire and when I joined the campaign

right before South Carolina, I - you know there was a lot of talk about

that firewall in the south, the African-American vote that was so loyal to

Hillary Clinton and the same can be said about Joe Biden.

 

So I think Bernie Sanders has not done enough since 2016 to expand his base

beyond that 25 to 30 percent that he always had and he hasn`t really done a

lot to reach out. He`s done well with Latino voters of all ages but he

hasn`t done so great with African-Americans over the age of 40 and I think

that you know, you can contrast yourself with Joe Biden all you want but

winning an intellectual argument by saying, I voted against things is not

going to get someone like my dad to go out and vote for you.

 

I think that he has to you know, think about the details that he`s going to

you know, elucidate for folks so that they understand how his political

revolution is going to work.

 

O`DONNELL: So Zerlina, I can`t fit your entire political resume into every

interaction so I just want to do the parenthetical for the audience that

you worked on Hillary Clinton`s campaign, four years ago.

 

MAXWELL: Yes. Yes, I did.

 

O`DONNELL: And that`s what you`re talking about when you went down there

and Gene, Zerlina is saying that there`s something similar to the way

Bernie Sanders ran last time as Hillary Clinton as the campaign moved into

the south and Hillary Clinton started to do so well with black voters.

 

He just basically applied his energy elsewhere.

 

GENE SPERLING, FMR ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT CLINTON & OBAMA: Well, I

think this is not only different than that, I think this is different than

anything we`ve seen in our lifetime. I mean what happened in those four

days was a seismic shift. I mean Joe Biden went from a one percent chance

of winning Massachusetts and Minnesota states he didn`t go to our

advertising in to actually winning those.

 

And I think there`s kind of two -

 

O`DONNELL: Can I just stop you there because I didn`t believe the Joe Biden

had enough hours and enough days between the win in South Carolina and

Tuesday to generate the result that he did. I thought it would have taken

at least a week to generate any kind of result.

 

SPERLING: Right and we`d also learned in 2008 from the Obama campaign that

organization is supposed to matter. Having field offices, et cetera. You

know I think one interpretation which is what the Biden camp`s hoping for,

a lot of political experts saying is this is different.

 

There`s a blue army out there that is waiting for their marching orders.

They want to take out Trump. They want to take the Senate, they want to

keep the House and once those marching orders were clear, they moved and

voted regardless of anything else. For Sanders, obviously they`re going to

want to believe now with this shows is that seismic shifts can happen a

lot.

 

But what they know and why he`s in Michigan now is that this clock is

running. He has to have that kind of South Carolina win in Michigan for

him, that makes people turn around or something big in the debate on March

15 because as you were saying March 17 is not only 500 delegates but it`s

Florida and right now, he`s up - Biden is up very big in Florida.

 

And the next week is Georgia, which is a southern state, he`s going to do

well in. And so if Bernie`s going to have his seismic shift, it better come

May 10 at Michigan or May 15 in the debate because after that the delegate

count starts working again him.

 

O`DONNELL: Zerlina, how important were those two phone calls by Bernie

Sanders and by Joe Biden to Elizabeth Warren after she dropped out of the

race as they now await what decision she might make on an endorsements.

 

MAXWELL: Pretty important and I hope that both of them or both humble and

complimentary of the fact that she ran, I think one of the best

presidential campaigns just on paper that I`ve ever seen.

 

And I think that`s going to be true even years in the future when we look

back, just from the technicalities with the policy, the ground game like

Gene said and you know, the messaging and the communication of her ideas

while also telling her story.

 

So I think there`s a lot of analysis that will go into what happened in

that - in that campaign but I think that she may not endorse until the

general election like she did in 2016. She did not endorse Bernie Sanders.

She waited until the general and then she enthusiastically campaigned for

the nominee Hillary Clinton.

 

And I think that you know, that may be the case now. I don`t know that she

gains anything by endorsing particularly when we don`t know how this is

going to turn out yet.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, I think she was the only democratic senator who didn`t

endorse Hillary Clinton last time and then just didn`t endorse anyone until

the nomination was secured. Zerlina Maxwell, Gene Sperling, thank you both

for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it on this Friday night.

 

And when we come back in tonight`s Last Word, the governor of Alabama says

that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.

Last night she proved that she doesn`t mean every life when she executed

Nathaniel Woods. That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Last Word. Last year the Governor of Alabama

Kay Ivey signed an unconstitutional anti-abortion bill that was then

blocked in federal court and when she signed the bill, Governor Ivey

tweeted a picture of herself saying, “Today I signed into law, the Alabama

Human Life Protection Act. To the bill`s many supporters, this legislation

stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians` deeply held belief that every

life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”

 

She didn`t really mean that because the next day she killed a man. Michael

Brandon Samra was executed the next day by lethal injection in Alabama,

having been convicted of killing four people. Kay Ivey who says every life

is precious refused to use her absolute power as governor to stop that

execution.

 

Hannah Cox is from Alabama and is the leader of an organization called

`Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.` She says that

conservative support of the death penalty is “a stance that cheapens the

pro-life argument.” She says, “it`s a contradiction.”

 

Yesterday Kay Ivey lived to that contradiction once again. At 9:01 PM she

took the life of Nathaniel Woods was not convicted of killing anyone

because the jury found that he was present when Kerry Spencer murdered

three police officers.

 

Nathaniel Woods was sentenced to death even though two of his 12 jurors did

not vote for the death penalty. Alabama is the only state where a jury can

deliver a death penalty without the unanimous verdict. Is that what Kay

Ivey would call a powerful testament to Alabamians` deeply held belief that

every life is precious and that every life is a gift, is a as a sacred gift

from God.

 

Governor Ivey issued a statement last night saying, “I concluded that the

state of Alabama should carry out Mr. Woods` lawfully imposed sentence this

evening.” That written statement did not say every life is precious. That

written statement did not say every life is a sacred gift from God.

 

Governor Ivey has said in the past that she doesn`t like this part of her

job. She has said that she did not “relish the responsibility that I hold.”

But she has held that responsibility while sending nine men to their deaths

in her three years as governor.

 

Now I don`t know - I don`t know how religious Kay Ivey really is but I

don`t believe that she is more religious than the pope who really does

believe that every life is precious and when Pope Francis says every life,

he means every life including people who spend their lives in prison.

 

The Vatican is less than two miles from Regina Coeli prison. Pope Francis

visited that prison two years ago when he was 81 years old. He was not the

first pope to visit that prison. Pope John XIII visited Regina Coeli in

1958. Pope Paul VI visited in 1964 and Pope John Paul II visited at the

prison in 2000.

 

Four popes have visited that prison because they all truly believe that

every life is precious. Francis visited the prison, he washed the feet of

12 prisoners symbolically re-enacting Jesus Christ washing the feet of his

12 disciples.

 

Pope Francis told the prisoners, Jesus does not know how to wash his hands

of us. He never abandons us. Pope Francis actually lives the words that Kay

Ivey put in her tweet about Alabamians` deeply held belief that every life

is precious and that every life is sacred gift from God.

 

That day at Regina Coeli Pope Francis told the prisoners, there is no just

penalty that is not open to hope.

 

END   

 

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