Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 6/16/21

Guests: Adam Schiff, Al Franken, Norm Ornstein, Henry Cuellar, Gina Hinojosa



President Biden met face-to-face with President Putin amid increasing tensions with Russia. Joe Manchin is now saying he may be willing to change Senate rules and he`s also offering possible compromises on voting rights legislation. Courageous leaders and American patriots -- that is how Vice President Kamala Harris described the Texas state legislators who managed to block a Republican bill restricting voting rights by walking off the House floor and denying the Texas House of Representatives the quorum needed to pass the bill. The House of Representatives has passed a bill establishing June 19th at Juneteenth National Independence Day, a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.



I have some news that developed during your hour that I have to tell you about, because I know you don`t know about it. It happened on another network, happened on the Fox network, we have a lot of work to do this hour.

We have, of course, beginning with Vladimir Putin, who picked today of all days as we`re coming out of the coronavirus lockdown, he picked today to abolish happiness in the world, which was so unfortunate. We`re going to get to that.

And big Joe Manchin breaking news, he`s softening on the so-called filibuster rule. He`s actually embracing an idea that two of our guest have proposed in changing that rule.


O`DONNELL: And that`s going to be great.

And he had a meeting with some Democrats from Texas who have come to Washington to lobby him on the voting rights bills. We`re going to have one of the people who`s on that meeting joining us.

But here`s what you missed. And this is big -- Donald Trump finally conceded tonight, he delivered the concession speech. He did. Yes. Not making this up to San Hannity on that hour.

And here`s how it went. It`s not the traditional form. First of all, Sean Hannity said to him, more than once, began questions with, if you were still president. And Donald Trump did not correct him. Donald Trump went on --


O`DONNELL: -- and said words. I`m not going to say he answered the question, but he said words after the question mark, right? So, more than once, if you were still president.

And then towards the end of the discussion, Donald Trump actually said this about Joe Biden, I want him to do well.

Now that is -- that`s in every concession speech. I want him to do well. I mean, that`s it. That -- there it is. The concession speech.

MADDOW: Well, if Fox is willing to, like, chyron it that way and cover it that way, maybe the majority of Republicans who think that Trump is still secretly president from his golf cart might be nudged a little bit on the subject, that`s just -- yeah, I don`t know, man. Like -- go ahead. Go ahead.

O`DONNELL: Well, he did, by the way, say a lot of things that he said when he was president. There was an awful lot of re-running of stuff in his head. But he accepted that frame more than once. If you were still president, he accepted that, that he`s not still president.

MADDOW: I will tell you, during my hour, while I was doing my show and obviously very caught up in that, I did get sent one piece of news/commentary from, which I now know is from that. I didn`t know it was from a simultaneous interview. But he`s apparently inveighing against windmills.


MADDOW: Remember he has this whole thing about windmills give you cancer.


MADDOW: Like apparently, in his post-presidency, the war on windmills continues. If he`s going to focus on one thing, like rather than trying to get all right-leaning Americans to not believe in democracy anymore, I`d rather have him more on windmills, like, go ahead, the windmills are going to win, dude.

But like, sure, accuse them of giving you cancer, whatever you need to do, whatever makes you feel better about the fact that you can`t have a library, because you can`t figure out how you`re supposed to do that. I mean, the war on democracy, I would prefer, to be back-burnered. And if him conceding to Mr. Hannity tonight is part of that, I say, you know, let`s move forward on that basis. Windmills be damned.

O`DONNELL: So, the windmills thing came up as a complaint that he has about what President Joe Biden is doing about windmills to generate electrical power. He`s just a citizen out there who is mad about these windmills. You know what it`s all about for him, you know what it`s all about for him on the windmills?

It`s the birds, Rachel. It`s the birds. He rose in defense of the birds.


O`DONNELL: Who are going to have trouble navigating those windmills and staying alive. Donald Trump`s worried about Joe Biden`s presidentially imposed windmills killing birds. That`s what Donald Trump is worried about.

MADDOW: He`s a known, you know, proponent of all wildlife protections, and a real outdoorsy guy. Yeah, I know.

O`DONNELL: You`re up to date, now Rachel. You`re all caught up.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence. You got a lot of show to get to, my friend. Get to it.

O`DONNELL: We`ll do it. We`re going to do it. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, Russian literature can be a very dark place. Vladimir Putin spoke to that darkness today when he said there is no happiness in life. There is only a mirage on the horizon. So cherish that.

Now, some translators said Putin attributed that line to Tolstoy, but other translators did not. The closest Tolstoy line I could find today, it sounds like new age hippie talk compared to Vladimir Putin.

In "War and Peace", Leo Tolstoy wrote: One must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy. And I now believe in it. Let the dead bury the dead. But while I`m alive, I must live and be happy.

Dictators like Vladimir Putin though that the people under their rule are not happy. And today, Vladimir Putin told them that happiness doesn`t exist. There is no happiness in life.

Vladimir Putin needs Russians to give up on happiness so they will quietly endure the failure that Vladimir Putin has delivered to Russia. A country almost double the size of the United States of America has an economy smaller than Italy`s economy. The economy of the state of California is almost double the size of the entire Russian economy.

The economy of the state of Texas is the same size as Russia`s economy. The Texas economy sustains a state population of 29 million people. The Russian economy with exactly the same size has to sustain a population of 144 million unhappy people.

The Russian army defeated Germany in World War II. Now, the German economy dominates the region because the Soviet Union and Russia chose dictatorship after World War II, and dictators has left Russians far behind the Germans, who they defeated in war. The primary reason Americans must pay as much attention as they do to Russian leaders is not the Russian economy, obviously, but that Russia has the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and that was one of the most important issues, not the most important issue, that President Biden discussed with Vladimir Putin.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The United States and the Russian Federation have particular responsibility when it comes to seeking stability in the world. This is because we are the two largest nuclear powers and we have the largest stockpiles of warheads and delivery systems based on the levels and based on the quality of nuclear -- the amount of nuclear weapons. We acknowledge this responsibility. I think it`s clear for everyone, the fact that President Biden has taken on the responsibility and has taken the decision which we believe is quite timely, to extend the START treaty for five years, up until 2024.


O`DONNELL: President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement saying they were able to make progress on our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war. The word for that is constructive.

That is what diplomats call constructive talks. Not successful. They did not succeed in eliminating the threat of nuclear war, but they made constructive progress.


PUTIN: I think there was no hostility, quite the contrary. Our meeting took place principally speaking, many of our positions -- we don`t share the same positions in many areas. But I think that both of these sides showed a willingness to understand one another, and to find ways to bring our positions closer together. The talks were quite constructive.


O`DONNELL: President Biden described the first two hours of his discussion with Vladimir Putin, saying they went into, quote, excruciating detail before a larger group of administration officials from both sides joined the discussions.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What is going to happen next, we`re going to be able to look back, look ahead, in three to six months, and say, did the things we agreed to sit down and try to work out, did it work? Do we, are we closer to a major strategic stability talks, and progress? Are we further along in terms of -- and go down the line. I`m not here because the president and I agreed to do these things that all of a sudden it`s going to work. I`m not saying that.

What I`m saying I think there is a genuine prospect to significantly improve relations between our countries without us giving up a single solitary thing based on principle and their values.


O`DONNELL: Toward the end of his press conference, after apparently all the good questions had already been asked, President Biden faced a sequence of odd questions beginning with is military response an option for a ransomware attack? To which the president said no, because a military response with Russia has been out of the question for Joe Biden`s entire life. That`s why we had a Cold War with the Soviet Union instead of a real war, because a real war would have killed us all.

The president was also asked, why are you so confident he`ll change his behavior? After President Biden clearly said he was not confident at all, and that we would find out six months or a year from now if we were making any progress at all. President Biden, of course, replied to that saying, I`m not confident he`ll change his behavior. When did I say he was confident?

The final question at this press conference was, how does that amount to a constructive meeting as President Putin framed it? To which President Biden said, if you don`t understand that, you`re in the wrong business.

President Biden later apologized for being short with that reporter, and sounding like what he called a wise guy.

If a reporter had asked that question of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt after one of his constructive meetings with Joseph Stalin, we probably would have heard something at least as sharp as that, without following it up with an apology.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He`s chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. And joining us from Geneva is Michael McFaul, he is the former U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama and an MSNBC international affairs analyst.

Ambassador McFaul, you`ve been giving us a long day here on MSNBC and we`re going to violate our protocol here with the permission of Chairman Schiff, instead of going to our elected official first, Ambassador McFaul, you were involved in the preparations for this summit, what is your basic take on what you saw today?

MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think President Biden accomplish what he wanted to do here, he said he was going to come talk to President Putin frankly about issues that we disagree about, but also look for areas of cooperation.

I thought the predicates to Geneva was very important, meeting with our democratic allies, that was a buildup. There`s nothing more valuable to us vis-a-vis Russia or China than our allies. We have allies and they don`t.

And, you know, they didn`t have big outcomes today. They were baby steps towards strategic stability talks, putting our ambassadors back in place, those are good things.

And that`s just fine, Lawrence. That`s just fine to have baby steps. And I thought the vice president -- President Biden, excuse me, the president said it very aptly when he said the proof would be in the eating of the pudding. I think that`s the headline of this summit.

He set out an agenda and now, let`s see if we can cooperate on it moving forward. And if we can`t, the United States will be just fine.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Rachel Scott`s question to Vladimir Putin about how he deals with his opponents.


RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS: If all your political opponents are dead, imprisoned, poisoned, doesn`t that send a message that you do not want a fair political fight?

PUTIN: As for who is killing whom, and throwing home in jail, people came to the U.S. Congress with political demands. 400 people, over 400 people had criminal charges that were placed on them.

I would like to stress one more, that we sympathize with what happened in the United States, but we have no desire to allow the same thing to happen in our country.


O`DONNELL: Chairman Schiff, what was your reaction to that moment?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, look, it`s the same kind of false equivalence that you would hear from Putin. He makes those kinds of bogus analogies all the time, comparing an opposition figure which his regime poisoned and tried to kill and left the country to get treatment, and as a result is now being imprisoned at risk of his life, comparing that person who is fighting for the ability of Russians to be able to assemble and petition their government, to people who attacked our Capitol, killed a police officer, and threatened so many others. But that`s what we`ve come to expect from Putin.

Now, the nice change, frankly, is the reaction of our former president would have been to embrace that false equivalence, which President Trump repeatedly would do with Putin in Russia. But we have a very different president in Joe Biden, who I think pushed back very forcefully in the meeting with regard to our values, human rights, bringing up Alexey Navalny, even though Putin won`t mention his name, and also making it very clear that the last four years were an aberration.

The United States will stand up for its own interests, confront Russia over these ransomware attacks, over its belligerent conduct in Ukraine, and over its interference in our elections.

O`DONNELL: Ambassador McFaul, are Russians allowed to see these press conferences live and unedited? Did they get to see Rachel`s question there about Vladimir Putin killing his enemies?

MCFAUL: Yeah, I think that will be live, of course, because that`s the presidential pool, and that`s live.

And, by the way, Lawrence, just on the protocol thing, remember the disaster of Helsinki was the joint press conference. The Biden team rightly decided to do separate press conferences. And an unintended positive consequence of that is that there were some fantastic questions from American journalists. I just want to give them a shout-out in that press conference with Mr. Putin.

It doesn`t mean that the Russians will hear the answer the same way as we did, but I thought it was important to press him on that, and I thought that was very useful for this, the purposes of underscoring what our differences are in addition to these small steps of agreement that we had here in Geneva.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Biden said about election interference by Vladimir Putin.


BIDEN: I made it clear that we will not tolerate attempts to violate our democratic sovereignty or destabilize our democratic elections. And we would respond.

The bottom line is, I told President Putin that we need to have some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by. I also said there are areas where there`s a mutual interest for us to cooperate, for our people, Russian and American people, but also for the benefit of the world and the security of the world. One of those areas is strategic stability.


O`DONNELL: Chairman Schiff, that strikes me as a classic example of the two sides of the coin that the president is always dealing with in this situation. He`s delivering a very strong message about interference in our elections, but in the next sentence, immediately refers to areas of cooperation that are necessary with Russia.

SCHIFF: Well, that`s exactly what you would want an American president to do, and, frankly, it`s a language that Putin can understand, that is we will now expect that when they got involved, if they get involved in trying to interfere with our next election, they will pay a stiff price, that President Biden will resist that and will impose cost on Russia. And we`ll use our cyber capabilities to disrupt what they may try to do.

At the same time, President Biden and I think Putin recognize there are areas of mutual interest. And the fact that we have so many differences doesn`t mean that we shouldn`t pursue those common interests that we have, for example, in our nuclear arms and denuclearization.

So, this is exactly what you would want a president to do. And I also think that having a dialogue is positive, setting out where our red lines are is positive and they certainly didn`t go into this expecting there will be some breakthrough development, there wasn`t.

But I do think that within the real of reasonable, that the president was able to accomplish what he set out to.

O`DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you for joining us tonight.

And, Ambassador Michael McFaul, thank you very much for staying with us on your long day in Geneva, which has now turned into a long night. We really appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thanks.

MCFAUL: It`s my honor. Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you both.

And coming up, we have breaking Joe Manchin news. Joe Manchin is now saying he may be willing to change Senate rules in a way that was suggested by our next guests. And he`s also offering possible compromises on voting rights legislation. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: We have a huge crack in the wall that protects the so-called filibuster rule in the United States Senate. Senator Joe Manchin now appears to be following the advice of our next guests about how to change the rules of the Senate after appearing in most of his comments to be completely inflexible about that. "The Intercept" has obtained a recording of a Zoom conference that Senator Manchin participated in with a nonpartisan group called No Labels.

Senator Manchin made it very clear in that discussion that he is now open to changing the 60-vote procedural threshold in the Senate. Quote, I looked back, when it went from 67 votes to 60 votes, and also, what was happening, what made them think that it needed to change.

So, I`m open to looking at it, I`m just not open to getting rid of the filibuster. That`s all, he said. I think basically it should be that 41 people have to force the issue versus the 60 we need in the affirmative. So find 41 in the negative. That is one of the rule changes proposed in an op- ed essay co-written by our next guests few months ago.

Joining us now are Al Franken, former Democratic senator from Minnesota and host of "The Al Franken Podcast". Also with u, Norm Ornstein, congressional historian and emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, also from Minnesota.

Senator Franken, it`s like -- it felt like Joe Manchin reread your op-ed piece today, or whenever he said that, and just put it down, and said it to these people.

AL FRANKEN (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Yeah, I wouldn`t get overly excited. I mean, he says he`s open to modification. He`s kind of said that all along. He won`t get rid of the filibuster, but what Norm and I have proposed is a modification, as you outlined that instead of requiring 60 votes to end a filibuster, you would require 41 from the minority to go to the floor and vote to sustain the filibuster and then they would have to hold the floor and actually debate the issue.

That`s one of the options that Joe outlined today. And that`s sort of -- that`s exactly what Norm and I have proposed.

O`DONNELL: And, Norm, you have been discussing this for a while. What do you make of where Senator Manchin is, as of tonight?

NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: I`m very encouraged on a couple of fronts. Recall that Manchin had also been the only Democrat who refused to endorse and co-sponsor the For the People Act, S-1, HR-1, the broad voting rights election reform bill and has criticized some parts of it. But now that he`s come out with a pretty reasonable bid on ways of changing that, and made it clear that if he can`t find bipartisan support for that, if he can`t at the same time get more Republicans to vote for the commission from January 6th, which you`ll recall, was filibustered just a couple of weeks ago, that he`s making it clear that a rules change is really in the ballpark.

And I think, you know, if you look back at what Manchin has written and said, it`s been misinterpreted by a lot of people. He said, I won`t vote to kill or weaken it. And what we have talked about, what Al and I have talked about is reforming it and in many ways restoring it. That kind of fits his own view of things and fits, we believe, also, the history of Robert Byrd, the seat that he holds now and he holds Byrd in great veneration.

So we`re in better shape now than we were before. But it`s not like this is a night and day change. But it`s certainly relevant.

O`DONNELL: Senator Franken, you have lived this. You have described to me better than anyone what it is like to be sitting there on, say, a Friday when there`s a cloture vote ripening over the weekend, and you`re watching your Republican colleagues leave for the weekend, because they don`t have to be there to vote because they are under no burden. The burden is on the 60 votes to proceed.

You`re saying if you switch that burden to the 41 votes to block proceeding, at minimum, they won`t be able to run away on their weekends. We saw them win a vote recently with only 35 votes.

FRANKEN: Right, and they flew away for the weekend.


FRANKEN: That`s why it was only 35. Actually, this discussion started, Norm and my discussion started on a Thursday evening, it was the last vote of the week, I believe it was my first week there. You cast your last vote, early evening, or late afternoon. You go to your office or on the subway.

I see Jim Bunning, who at the time I didn`t know was kind of grumpy. I said to him, Jim, have a great weekend, see you on Monday. He went, I don`t have to be here on Monday. It`s a cloture vote.

That`s when I realized we needed 60, and Ted Kennedy was sick, we only had 59 to get cloture to end the filibuster. And I called Norm, and I said, what`s the deal with that? That doesn`t make sense. They should have -- they should be -- burden should be on them to break the filibuster. Then we started talking about this.

O`DONNELL: And, Norm, this doesn`t -- if we change this rule tomorrow, what would you expect to change in the Senate?

ORNSTEIN: So if we can go to requiring 41 and requiring them to be there, it doesn`t mean we`re suddenly going to see everything pass. And keep in mind, they`ll still have to hold all 50 Democrats for some of the most important areas, climate change, too, the most important, voting reform.

But when you put a heavy burden on them, and if we have a majority leader who`s willing to play some hardball, and, of course, Mitch McConnell has given us the template for how to play outrageous hardball, you can make their lives miserable, and you can focus public attention on some of these issues, including guns as well, and background checks. And there`s a pretty good chance that we`re going to get a lot of things through that are now impossible. And you know, what we`ve seen in a couple of occasions now is, senators don`t want to stick around and be there in the middle of the night or on Mondays or on weekends.

And if you can force them to be there, you`re going to see a lot of cases where they`re going to say, you know what, so what if they get this. I got a speech back home, and I want to get there.

O`DONNELL: Former Senator Al Franken --


O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Al, quickly.

AL FRANKEN (D-MN), FORMER SENATOR: No, I mean, this will be on every issue. Right now, they can filibuster with one person going "I object" and that`s it. And then we have to come up with 60. This puts the burden on them. They`re not going to do this for every damn vote.



Anyway, thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: They actually had a -- they actually had a cloture vote today that got over 80 votes on a deputy secretary. You know, they actually need to invoke cloture on things like that. That kind of thing will just disappear.

Senator Al Franken, Norm Ornstein -- thank you both very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

ORNSTEIN: Thank you, Lawrence.

FRANKEN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Joe Manchin held a surprise meeting with some Texas Democrats today. We`ll get a report from "The Room Where That Happened". Next.


O`DONNELL: Courageous leaders and American patriots. That is how Vice President Kamala Harris described the Texas state legislators who managed to block a Republican bill restricting voting rights by walking off the House floor and denying the Texas House of Representatives the quorum needed to pass the bill.

In a White House meeting today, some of those Texas Democrats pleaded for help from Congress by passing federal voting protections.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we are seeing are examples of an attempt to interfere with that right. An attempt to marginalize and take from people a right that has already been given. We`re not asking for the bestowal of a right. We are talking about the preservation of a right, that is the right of citizenship. And it`s that fundamental.


O`DONNELL: Texas Democrats have had several meetings with members of congress this week, explaining just how dangerous the Texas bill`s restrictions are to democracy Including a provision that as the "Dallas Morning News" reports would have empowered judges to toss out an election without evidence of widespread fraud, a provision nicknamed `The Trump Amendment` for the ex-president`s baseless claims the 2020 election was stolen."

One of the meetings Texas Democrats arranged today was a last-minute, hastily arranged discussion with Senator Joe Manchin, which lasted for nearly an hour, after and occurred after Senator Manchin released a list of changes he would like to make to the "For The People Act" before he would support it.

Joining us now by phone is a Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar from Texas. He attended that meeting today with Senator Manchin and members of the Texas state legislature.

Congressman Cuellar, what can you tell us about that discussion with Senator Manchin and do you believe that he will be able to support a voting rights bill that you can support?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): The answer is yes. As you know, he did come out with some things that he can work with and some things that he had some concerns. He was very straightforward. He was very sincere. And what I was asked this morning was if I could set up a meeting with Senator Manchin. As you know, Senator Manchin had been down in my hometown of Laredo some months ago to see the border situation. And from there, he talked about how he would be supporting comprehensive immigration reform.

Today he talked about, of course, that he agreed on the right to vote. It`s a very fundamental right. And working together, we`re hoping that we can find a pathway forward to protect the voting rights of all Americans and protect our democracy.

And certainly I want to thank the senator because within 20 minutes, he arranged the meeting. And I want to thank him for that.

I want to thank Congressman Al Green and Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia who helped me set this meeting up. And of course, the -- my former colleagues, Senator Royce West, Chairman Turner. Senator Jose Menendez, the chair of the Texas Black Caucus Nicole Collier, and the vice chair of the elections committee State Rep. Jessica Gonzalez.

And let me tell you, what they did was just present the reality of what we`re facing there in Texas. And as the vice president said, we`re not asking for something new. We`re just saying, protect our fundamental right to vote.

And the Senator Joe Manchin, I found out, I`m a former Texas secretary of state -- I found that he was also a -- I found that he was also a secretary of state in West Virginia. So he knows the fundamental right to vote, and I think he was very straightforward on what he could work on and what he might have concerns. And he gave us the handout that he put out today.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Henry Cuellar, congratulations on putting that meeting together so quickly. And thank you very much for that report "From Inside The Room". We really appreciate it.

And joining us now is Texas state representative Gina Hinojosa. She was part of the Texas Democratic delegation that met with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House today.

And Representative, what would you say you learned at the White House today and what would you say the White House learned about the situation in Texas?

STATE REP. GINA HINOJOSA (D-TX): Let me start by saying how humbling it is to know that while our president is abroad defending democracy, our vice president is working with us to protect our voting rights and secure democracy here at home. Because that`s what is at stake, nothing less than our democracy.

And we --


O`DONNELL: Go ahead, sorry. Go ahead.

HINOJOSA: And I was grateful and really honored to have an opportunity to share with her the voter suppression efforts that have -- that our Republican majority has been trying to push through in Texas and our experience fighting back in Texas.

And to learn from her, to gain insight and learn from her what we can do as Texas legislators in the trenches, in the fight to help pass the voting rights legislation.

O`DONNELL: The White House is still trying to get the S-1 through that Joe Manchin now has some amendments to that he would like to offer to change it in certain ways. Did you get any indication from the vice president today that the changes Joe Manchin wants would be acceptable to the White House?

HINOJOSA: We didn`t go into that specific detail on the changes that Senator Manchin has put forward. This all has happened very recently, negotiations, I know, are under way. And so our purpose was really to explain to both the vice president and to members of Congress yesterday and today what is happening in Texas.

Understand that we are looking to have new access to voting and to the ballot. In fact is we`re working to secure basic rights. And Texas is one of eight states being targeted right now by the Heritage Foundation PAC -- these are swing states that the Heritage Foundation is pushing voter suppression laws in an effort to affect federal elections.

And so yes, democracy is at stake. Our very own GOP attorney general in Texas said had it not been for his efforts to stop Harris County from putting out vote by mail applications to eligible voters, Trump would have lost Texas.

And here we have Republican leaders in Texas being blatant, being shameless about their efforts to block democracy, overturn the will of the people, and in fact, you mentioned that the legislation put forward had a provision that would try to overturn election results without proving that fraud actually would have resulted in a different result in an election.

O`DONNELL: Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

HINOJOSA: My pleasure. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And as you can see on screen, Air Force One has landed. And the press corps you saw getting off the rear of the plane, the president`s section of the plane will be deplaning very soon.

And that is Air Force One landing at Andrews Air Force Base. The president returning from his first foreign trip after today`s summit meeting with Vladimir Putin.

We`re going to take a break here. We`ll be back in just a moment.


O`DONNELL: And there is President Biden deplaning Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, returning from his first foreign trip after today`s summit in Geneva. Air force one landed minutes ago. The press corps has already left the plane from the rear of the plane.

There`s no anticipation of President Biden giving any remarks at Andrews Air Force Base. We`ll keep an eye on this as he, of course, always speaks to the military officers greeting him at Andrews Air Force Base.

But we don`t expect him to be saying anything that will be shared with us through a microphone.

Watching this with us, joining our discussion at this hour in THE LAST WORD, John Heilemann and Zerlina Maxwell.

Zerlina, I just want to get your reaction to what Joe Biden`s day has been that is ending here tonight at Andrews Air Force Base.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, HOST, PEACOCK: Look, it`s been a long day. And we`ve all followed along closely because it seemed like it was a return to normal for a change. An American president that was projecting strength but also seriousness about the many ways in which Vladimir Putin and Russia have undermined our democracy here through cyber attacks and other measures.

And I think that the choreography of these types of summits are always interesting. And the analysis of that choreography and what goes into it, who arrives first, who arrives second. All of that, I think Biden can come home knowing that he went in with some objectives, and came out meeting many of them.

But time will tell if Vladimir Putin took the message that they shouldn`t be messing with our cyber or attacking our cyber security and infrastructure, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And John Heilemann, of course, we saw President Biden greeting his helicopter pilots in the cockpit. No doubt giving them the best lines Vladimir Putin said to him in private.

And John, he returns now to a Washington in which he`s ready to legislate and it looks like the possibilities on legislation may have expanded today with a possible larger group of bipartisan senators on infrastructure.

Joe Manchin apparently being willing to move even on the so-called filibuster rule.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, Lawrence, I think, you know, you saw it at the end when he was on the tarmac in Geneva about to come back and he got asked a couple of questions about domestic politics and you could see -- I mean he was very -- actually Biden is very transparent, right. He doesn`t usually -- (INAUDIBLE) to a lot of you know, complicated body language.

He said, he was like, guys give me a break. I`m not really paying attention to what`s going on at home right now. I`m going to, let me give it when I get back. I know there`s all this domestic politics.

And I thought it captured a moment for him in a way, Lawrence because you know the two things about Joe Biden over the course of his career in the Senate, right. He was always this foreign policy person. He traveled to -- you know, in the way that Hillary Clinton did when she was in the Senate and secretary of state.

He was looking forward to the foreign policy part of this job as much as anything about being president. Why did the guy want to be president from the time he was elected in United States in 1972?

He wanted to be the -- he wanted to be the leader of the free world on the world stage. I think he just had a ball this week and I think he had as much as there were challenges dealing with Putin, he had a ball doing this part of the job. It`s part of what he`s been looking forward to so much.

And I think when you caught him in that moment in Geneva he is headed back to the other part of the job that as in his 36-year career in the Senate that he also enjoyed a great deal which was the art of the deal, trying to make legislation happen, trying to bring sides together, trying to find out where the sweet spot is. Stuff that you know from your time in the senate.

And I think, you know, he is going to come back to and going to get a very quick read of the landscape and I think he will be encouraged a little bit for the reasons you just said which is that even 12 hours ago the prospects for getting some of those things done were less promising than they are right now.

They are still not a (INAUDIBLE) promising right now but they`re a little better than they were before and I think Biden will take to that and be very enthused to get back and hit the ground running.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Zerlina just when you thought he could be returning to gridlock, he seems to be returning to movement legislatively.

MAXWELL: Yes. I think that the Texas Democrats meeting with Senator Joe Manchin to day is a big step but also and most importantly, Lawrence, the fact that Senator Joe Manchin is no longer just saying I`m against HR 1 or S 1 he`s now putting forward his own ideas.

And that is a step in the right direction. Don`t just tell me you`re against something. Tell me what you`re for. And then we can come to a compromise that way.

I think that also Senator Manchin is hearing from folks in his own state because there have been protests and organizers have worked hard to get the message across on the ground in West Virginia that voting rights are at stake and, you know, other policy issues aside I think that the argument can be made particularly because Republicans voted against the bipartisan commission, that this is a critically important issue and that the partisanship problem is on the state level. Those voting rights bills are partisan and so the requirement to make the one on the federal level bipartisan, that seems to be beside the point. The point is you need to protect that right because it`s sacred.

O`DONNELL: And John, there were so many fascinating things that Joe Manchin said in what he, I guess thought was a private discussion that has since been leaked where he talked about how in the past, when the Senate changed the 67-vote threshold down to a 60-vote threshold and he entertained the possibility of lowering it from 60 maybe down to 55.

There`s a lot of big potential changes that he at the moment has said he is willing to consider.

HEILEMANN: Right. There is, Lawrence. And I think, you know, one of the things that`s interesting about this conversation, the one that you have been having all night about Manchin is that it is a conversation about taking Joe Manchin for what he is, understanding that his politics are what they are, whether you like them or not, and he is not going to be steamrolled by pressure.

The left can yell at Joe Manchin all day long and that`s not going to get it done. And if you look at what happened in this call tonight, there`s two ways to read this call. One is, hey man, there are a lot of doors that just opened up.

Zerlina just pointed to some things that say hey, there`s some movement on Manchin`s part. Here`s some things in his private conversation with a bunch of rich donors that are kind of embarrassing in some ways, right. That`s a little bit of sausage making, some of kind of ugliness.

You know, he`s putting stuff on the table. There`s room for a deal here.

The other way to take this call is for progressives to go nuts over the way in which he (INAUDIBLE) is dismissive on the call about the left and if progressives want to go crazy and attack Joe Manchin over what is on this call they may be right about that but it`s not going to help him get done what they want to get done. The way to read this call is, you know, yes, he slagged the left, whatever.

There`s room now to make some deals with Joe Manchin. You go to kind of keep your eye on the ball if you want to try to get stuff done.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann and Zerlina Maxwell, thank you for joining us.

And the president`s helicopter`s on its way to the White House. It will arrive at the White House by the time we return from this commercial break.


O`DONNELL: President`s helicopter will be landing at the White House in just a few minute. Today the House of Representatives has passed a bill establishing June 19th at Juneteenth National Independence Day, a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The House vote was 415-14. All 14 votes against the bill were, of course, from Republicans.

Yesterday the senate approved the bill by unanimous consent. The bill is now ready for the president`s signature. President Lincoln`s 1863 emancipation proclamation was not immediately implemented to end slavery.

Two years, later the word finally reached the people of Texas when on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston Texas the end of slavery in accordance with the Emancipation proclamation. Juneteenth commemorates that day.

In 1980, Juneteenth became a Texas state holiday when signed into law. It will become the country`s 11th federal holiday.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.