320+ coronavirus cases TRANSCRIPT: 3/6/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
O`DONNELL: Who`s your favorite of all of them?
SPERLING: But, in fairness, I mean, Lawrence, how could anybody succeed in
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the