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Millions attended women's marches Transcript 1/22/18 The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Adam Jentleson, David Frum

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 22, 2018 Guest: Adam Jentleson, David Frum


I was glad to see the L.A. march there. That`s where I was on Saturday down there in the thick of it, checking it. And it`s kind of amazing because L.A. culture does not lend itself to centralized, organized protest, marching the way the city is spread out, and to see a bigger turnout there than in New York is extraordinary, especially since New York`s turnout was huge.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes. Exactly -- I mean, and the -- for me, what`s interesting, too, is seeing that it`s not just that big cities were able to turn out big turnouts again, but that there were once again a ton of disperse small marches everywhere, and dispersed not so small marches.

I was in western New Hampshire this weekend, North Hampton, Massachusetts, which has a proud tradition of protesting lots of things, with a lot of enthusiasm, and friends I know who have sort of been there and seen everything in North Hampton, told me this was the single largest protest they`ve ever seen in North Hampton. This one, the second one, that happened this weekend.

So, it`s -- there`s an incredible amount of energy out there.

O`DONNELL: And those of us who are old enough to remember some antiwar protests never thought we`re going to see anything that big again. This stuff is bigger.

MADDOW: Yes, it`s right.

O`DONNELL: It`s amazing. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, my friend.

O`DONNELL: So the government is going to stay open now, at least until February 8th. The president has just signed -- just tonight signed the bill passed by the House and Senate today to continue government funding until February 8th, a bill that also reauthorizes the CHIP program for six years. On Friday night at midnight, the federal government went into shutdown because the majority leader of the United States Senate made no attempt to pass a bill that could have kept the government open. No attempt to try to realistically try to get the votes to pass a bill.

And instead, the majority leader asked for a vote on a bill that he knew would lose. The Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, asked for a vote on a bill that he knew four Republicans -- four of his Republicans Ronald Reagan going to vote against. They told him that ahead of time. And they were going to vote against it mostly out of disgust with the way their own party approached this legislation. And so, we got the first shutdown in history of a government completely controlled by one party. And then that party spent the weekend lying about what happened.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I`m sure you`re all aware of what`s going on in Washington, D.C., despite bipartisan support for a budget resolution, a minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay, which you deserve better. You and your families shouldn`t have to worry for one minute about whether you`re going to get paid as you serve in the uniform of the United States. So know this, your president, your vice president, and the American people are not going to put up with it.



O`DONNELL: A minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay. The vice president of the United States travelled halfway around the world to tell that lie, which is a lie, if he`s talking about the Democrats. The president and the vice president and the Republican Senate majority leader not only put up with that, put up with the government shutdown in which the military would not get paid, they actually made it happen.

The Democratic leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, came up with a brilliant maneuver on the floor of the Senate right after the big vote that shut down the government. It was a little notice maneuver at the time and it was something that most Senate watchers have never seen. It probably seemed like a violation of Senate rules, even to people who have been watching the Senate for a long time. Even for people who work in the Senate. Senator Claire McCaskill, who had voted in support to keep the government running until February 16th and to reauthorize the CHIP program for six years rose to speak after the big vote was over.

Senator McCaskill didn`t have any real competition on the floor, seeking the right to speak at that moment. That`s not the time most people want to bother to speak. It was the kind of moment when it seems you don`t have to pay any attention, you know, like a baseball player stopping for a second to stand in the batter`s box on the way off the field after the big game is over. When senators speak at moments like that, it`s usually just to add a few ignorable words to the congressional record justifying their position, but to my shock and amazement, Claire McCaskill did much, much more than that.

Senate watchers instantly recognized that this was something she could not have done on her own. This was something planned by Chuck Schumer and the minority leader`s staff. The minority leader`s staff actually would have had to write what she said -- some of what she said and made sure that was going to take place right after the big vote when no one expected anything else to happen. Claire McCaskill usurped the power normally reserved to the majority leader to actually call for a vote on a bill, to call for a vote on something else. And in that moment, Claire McCaskill did something that I`d only seen once before on the Senate floor, and that is a senator seizing the majority leader`s unique power to bring up a bill on the Senate floor and asking for unanimous consent to pass it.

Even most people working in the Senate think that the rules only allow the majority leader to do that, but that`s not a rule. It`s just a tradition. In fact, every senator is empowered to call up bills to be voted on, but most senators never got a chance to do it. I mean, Senators can serve decades and never get a chance to do what Claire McCaskill did on Friday night.

Claire McCaskill did not just violate one of the most solid traditions of the Senate but she forced Mitch McConnell to take full ownership of stopping military paychecks during the shutdown. Now, when you watch this video, you can almost feel Mitch McConnell`s agony of being suddenly trapped on the Senate floor by Claire McCaskill and not knowing what to do.


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Mr. President, I -- this shouldn`t take very long, but I was most disappointed tonight when the president of the United States put out a statement that tried to divide us based on party when it came to support of our military. There is no such division. Everyone in this chamber knows it.

And so, as we have in other instances where we have had a shutdown, I remember in 2013 we did it right off the bat. I want to make sure tonight, we send a very clear signal that we don`t want one moment to pass with there being any uncertainty of any soldier anywhere in the world that they will be paid for the valiant work they do on behalf of our national security. I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 36, H.R. 1301 that the amendment at the desk providing for continuing appropriations for pay and death benefits for members of the armed services be considered and agreed to, the bill as amended be considered red a third time and passed and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there objection?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Mr. President, reserving the right to object. We passed similar legislation during the government shutdown back in 2013. My hope is we can restore funding for the entire government before this becomes necessary. I`m going to object for tonight but we`ll discuss again tomorrow. Therefore I object.


O`DONNELL: OK, this might revealing too much about myself but that was more dramatic for me to watch than anything that happened in the Patriots` game yesterday. That was the stuff of drama on the Senate floor. Mitch McConnell was cornered and Mitch McConnell did not discuss it again tomorrow, as he promised. Did not brig it up again.

Mitch McConnell knew in that moment when he personally objected to making sure that military paychecks would be delivered during the shutdown that he personally was deciding to take Republican ownership of stopping military paychecks. The Democrats were unanimously ready to vote for the continuation of military paychecks and Mitch McConnell said, I object.

Mitch McConnell was counting on most of the news media missing that moment on the Senate floor or not understanding its significance or just forgetting about it as soon as Donald Trump started tweeting things like this the next morning. Democrats are holding our military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can`t let that happen.

That was the lie that the Republicans of all ranks, from the president on down, were trying to tell all weekend, because Democrats are not much inclined to stick to a short list of clear talking points and repeat them endlessly, many in the media never actually recognized that Mitch McConnell personally prevented the continuation of military paychecks during the shutdown, something that Democrats should have been saying all weekend as a tactic that they had laid down and were ready to use, but Missouri voters are going to hear about it. They`re going to hear about it this year. And that`s why Chuck Schumer gave that moment to Claire McCaskill. She`s going to need that in her Senate reelection campaign this year in Missouri.

Chuck Schumer did the same thing for two Democrats up for reelection this year, after Claire McCaskill`s big moment, Bill nelson of Florida asked for unanimous consent on extending the government funding for just one more day. Just a last ditch effort just to keep the government open for one more day to make sure the lights didn`t get turned off at midnight and that familiar voice of Mitch McConnell was once again force today say, I object. I object to keeping the government open.

So, it was Mitch McConnell who personally shutdown the government on Friday night. And you can read it happen right there in the congressional record.

After Bill Nelson offered one more day, Chuck Schumer wasn`t finished. He sent Jon Tester of Montana onto the Senate floor to ask for unanimous consent for funding the government through today, Monday. And once again, Mitch McConnell was forced to say, I object. And so, voters in Montana are going to hear very clearly during Jon Tester`s reelection campaign that he did everything he could to keep the government open but Mitch McConnell personally closed it down.

That sequence that we saw Friday night masterminded by Chuck Schumer of three Democratic senators in a row forcing Mitch McConnell to take full ownership of the shutdown was kind of multilayered strategy that a good Senate leader always has to have. First, each of those proposals was good policy. Second, each of those proposals was good politics. And third, each one of those proposals specifically benefit each one of those senators up for reelection this year, who needed to do something more than just vote on the Senate floor on Friday night.

Mitch McConnell didn`t provide a moment like that for any Republicans up for reelection this year. No, Republican got to stand up on the Senate floor as the champion of the troops and ask for unanimous consent that the government continue to deliver military paychecks during the shutdown. Instead, Republican senators had to watch as their leader, Mitch McConnell, speaking for each one of them said no to paying the military.

After the shutdown, Mitch McConnell offered a compromise to the Senate, changing only one thing in the bill that failed on Friday night. And that thing is the date on which the government will next run out of money. In order to attract more votes, Mitch McConnell, of course, was forced to move that date up a week to February 8th.

In exchange, the Democrats gave up exactly nothing, nothing, in exchange for that date change. The vote today for the new bill with the February 8th deadline on government funding passed 81-18. So, tonight, we reset our government shutdown clocks to February 8th.

Joining us now, Ezra Klein, editor at large at "Vox" and the host of the podcast, "The Ezra Klein Show". Also joining us is Adam Jentleson, the former deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid and the director of Public Affairs for Democracy Forward.

And, Adam, I just want to go first to you on that maneuver that we saw on the Senate floor last night. And I was so struck by it. I just thought when Claire McCaskill when she began speaking was just going to do one of those things that you will hear senators do as the chamber is emptying out and no one is paying attention, and then suddenly, she was seizing control normally allowed only to the majority leader. This is the kind of moment that shows you the Democrats knew exactly what their game plan was after that vote and the Republicans were completely flat-footed at that moment.

ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO SENATOR HARRY REID: Yes, that`s exactly right. I mean, what you saw there was Senator McCaskill getting a nice solid moment she can use in her very tough reelection campaign and I think that`s -- those are the kind of things that mattered. And what you saw was Senator Schumer arranging for his members who are up for reelection, especially those who are in tough races, which is most of them this cycle, to have those kind of moments.

And that is part of why he`s a big part of why he`s majority leader. There`s no one better at looking out for the caucus and looking out for the interest of the members, especially those who are up in tough cycles and this is a very tough cycle for Democrats.

O`DONNELL: And, Ezra, one thing that`s true about shutdowns is neither side, the reasonable people on neither side -- that no one wants a shutdown on either side. There are some extremists on one side or the other who actually want a shutdown, but they never work in any kind of predictable way to one side`s political benefit -- political damage is often done.

But this one is being argued over all day about who won the shutdown, who lost the shutdown in terms of the politics. How do you see it?

EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, VOX: I think that`s the key. They do not work in any predictable ways.

I found this whole argument somewhat mystifying, because we`re not going to know who, quote-unquote, won the shutdown, the three-day shutdown, until we know how the next three or four weeks work out.

So, the thing the Democrats feel they got is a credible promise from Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on the immigration bill. And amidst that credible promise, Democrats now have a credible threat that they will, in fact, shutdown the government if they don`t get that vote. So, now, we barreling forward, and what we don`t know is what immigration bill gets brought to the floor, does it pass? Does it then get brought to the floor in the House? Does it pass the House? And then, does it get signed by Donald Trump if it passes the House and the Senate? And right now, we do not have the answers to that.

What I do not fully understand about the pro-shutdown arguments than have been circulating is why extending a shutdown for 14 or 35 days would have made it likelier that Trump and McConnell and Ryan fold on that. I think shutdowns have a tendency to harden positions, and it`s a very, very unusual for one party to get all of what they want and or even much of what they want amidst a long shutdown.

O`DONNELL: And, Adam, it looked to me like the Democrats, Chuck Schumer, took their gains, they took their winnings off the table, which is CHIP, which they were not going to get in any other method. I mean, the Republican posture of being in favor of CHIP is the classic Republican mirage where they`re happy to never vote for it and never advance it, and they were literally holding it some kind of hostage so they could use in one of these situations. And this is one of those things where the Democrats as hostage negotiators got one hostage out of the building.

JENTLESON: That`s right. It`s disgusting that Republicans were using health care for children as a bargaining chip, no pun intended, but they were. And so, Democrats were smart to take that, fund it for six years, get that taken care of, protect those children and take it off the table, so that the next round of negotiations can be clearly focused on DACA.

And to Ezra`s point, I think that, you know, this is -- this is a situation where this is outcome determined. You know, protecting the DREAMers is the goal here, and that`s the most important thing in this whole debate. So, that -- we don`t know how that`s going to turn out yet and Democrats have weeks to fight that and fight it hard, and I think the most important thing here is that is the outcome that`s delivered at the end of the day.

O`DONNELL: And when we talk about compromising, when the president compromises with himself as he has already repeatedly on the wall this year, that kind of passes without notice. And I`d like to take a quick glance at how the president has compromised with himself, how he has evolved as John Kelly would call it, on the wall since the campaign. Let`s take a look at this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.

We`re going to have a real wall. And who is going to pay for the wall?




TRUMP: You better believe it.

And who`s going to pay for the wall?


TRUMP: Mexico, 100 percent, 100 percent.

Mexico will pay for the wall. Believe me.

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He is changed the way he`s looked at a number of things.

TRUMP: You know, it has to be a see-through wall. I don`t know if you know this -- frankly I didn`t know it until about a year ago, as much as I say, if you can`t have vision through it, you don`t know who`s on the other side.

KELLY: It`s been an evolutionary process the president has gone through.


O`DONNELL: So, Ezra, Mexico is not going to pay for the see-through wall and that`s why we had a weekend shutdown.

KLEIN: And the wall that is so (INAUDIBLE)

I think this is a very weird facet of this debate. So Donald Trump could get funding in this for his wall. I thought one of the most extraordinary comment that came out of this whole thing was Representative Luis Gutierrez, who is very, very progressive and real champion on immigration for DREAMers and for others, saying, look, I will build the wall with my bare hands, I will go to the border with cement and I will construct it myself in order to protect DREAMers.

And Donald Trump could have gotten his wall. He could have pocketed the wall and got in DREAMers, which from the beginning has been saying he actually wants. And what`s strange, and Lindsey Graham said it as well this weekend, he said there`s no deal here as long as Stephen Miller is the one doing the negotiating. Donald Trump seems to have an intuition where you can get him to agree to a reasonable compromise. But Miller, and also in the White House, Kelly, will not.

So they have now dug in to a very extreme position that they cannot get Democratic votes in the long run and they cannot get the win that they would otherwise be able to have. In some alternative universe, Trump administration, they got DACA, they got their wall, and he`s running around the country right now getting praise for it.

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein and Adam Jentleson, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have breaking news tonight, a new report that James Comey`s replacement at the FBI has threatened to resign over pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That is next.

And on the anniversary of Donald Trump`s inauguration, the country was once again swept from coast to coast with protests to mark the anniversary of the Women`s March. Cecile Richards will join us.


O`DONNELL: -- tonight, "Axios" reports Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the public urging of President Donald Trump has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

Tonight, the White House did not dispute anything in the "Axios" article and instead released this statement. The president believes politically motivated senior leaders, including former Director Comey and others he empowered have tainted the agency`s reputation for unbiased pursuit of justice. The president appointed Chris Wray because he is a man of true character and integrity and the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest levels of the FBI and give the rank and file confidence in their leadership.

"Vanity Fair" reports that the president may be considering getting rid of his chief of staff, John Kelly. Two prominent Republicans in frequent contact with the White House told "Vanity Fair`s" Gabriel Sherman that Trump has discussed choosing Kelly`s successor in recent days, quote: I`ve got another nut job here who thinks he`s running things, Trump told one friend, according to a Republican briefed on the call.

This report comes as senior administration official told has NBC News that John Kelly continues to thwart any immigration deal, naming John Kelly and senior adviser Stephen Miller as derailing Friday`s between President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Joining us now, Tim O`Brien, executive editor of "Bloomberg View", author of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald", and MSNBC contributor. Also with us, David Frum, a senior editor for "The Atlantic" and the author of the new book, "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic".

And, David, let`s start first with this issue involving the FBI. Here you have -- the president`s been public about this. He wants the FBI director to get rid of the people in the FBI, McCabe, who had served as the acting director, and the White House doesn`t deny this story tonight at all, saying that Christopher Wray has threatened to resign because of this pressure.

DAVID FRUM, AUTHOR, "TRUMPOCRACY": Look, I don`t have any independent knowledge of whether this is true or not. But if true, and that`s the if, if true, it would really be disturbing.

President Trump has asserted a right against the FBI director, the right to remove an FBI director at any time, for any reason. That`s a new right. The last time an FBI director was removed in the Clinton administration, he was removed with process for cause and with the previous knowledge of the relevant members of Congress.

Now, President Trump, if the story is correct, is reaching deeper into the agency and politically removing the next layer of management. If this is true, it represents a profound attempt to politicize the agency after the last attempt, which the president more or less has received permission from his party to get away with.

O`DONNELL: And, Tim O`Brien, we seem to see in the story an inability of Donald Trump to learn, he is uneducable, he cannot learn from what happened with the Comey situation.

TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this is how he rolls. I think, I don`t -- you know, I agree with David to a certain point we`re in danger of politicizing the agency, I think we already did politicize the agency once Comey got fired. Trump has spent his entire career reaching into regulatory processes. He`s strong arming politicians, storm arming law enforcement officials.

He did it going back into Atlantic City. It`s what he`s used to doing and he doesn`t care about process. He cares outcomes that are germane to him and those outcomes are protecting himself and inflating his own reputation. And he doesn`t square up either of those paths.

This is classic Trump. And I think, you know, this could very well end up with him firing Bob Mueller.

O`DONNELL: Firing Bob Mueller and then, David Frum, with something like that we don`t know what Christopher Wray would do, because we know Christopher Wray is threatening, according to this report, to resign over what they`re trying to do to the FBI. But Bob Mueller is part of an investigation that the FBI is involved in.

FRUM: I think one of the things to be prepared for is the president`s party will cohere. The other thing, and this is a point -- a caution I`ve begun to make. One of the stories of 2018, we have had a lot of economic growth and wage growth, the president may get more popularity within the country as the tax measure begins to take effect for those who get the benefit of the tax cuts.

He may find he`s got a more unified party willing to give him more running room at a time when Democrats continue to be very acrimonious with each other as they back bite over what happened with the shutdown of the government.

O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, as you watched John Kelly publicly described the president`s position on the wall as evolving and reported to have described the president privately as uninformed when he was talking to Democrats on the Hill, you no doubt had a sense of what the Trump reaction to that might be.

O`BRIEN: Yes, you could hear the wood on the planks slowly sliding off the edge of the ship.


O`BRIEN: John Kelly would be on there. I don`t. I suspect Stephen Miller possibly may not be very far behind on issue, because the second anything of that administration gets out in front of an issue and is seen as guiding the president as anything, he executes him. We`re already hearing this about Zinke because he apparently freelanced on a drilling policy in Florida without checking with the president. The president has now put off. So, there`s probably a clock ticking on Zinke now too. Strong leaders who are confident and know what they`re doing accepts strong advice. And accept strong people around them because they`re confident and mature. That`s not Donald Trump.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tim O`Brien thank you very much for joining us tonight. David please stick around. Coming up common cause has filed a complaint demanding an investigation of the Trump Campaign for a payoff to an adult film actress just before the election. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Our next guest is Paul Ryan making his debut on the Last Word. No, not that Paul Ryan. This is the Paul Ryan who wants an investigation of the President and the porn star, the Paul Ryan of Common Cause. Common Cause has filed a pair of complaints today alleging that the $130,000 payment reportedly made to an adult film actress who claims to have had an affair with President Trump may have violated campaign finance laws in submissions to the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission.

Common Cause says the payment to Stormy Daniels, which the Wall Street Journal claims occurred a month before the election amounted to an in-kind donation to Donald Trump`s Presidential Campaign. Common Cause says the payment should have been publicly disclosed in official reports. Stormy Daniels told In Touch Magazine in 2011 she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.

The magazine published her full interview last week only after the Wall Street Journal report. The Wall Street Journal says that Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, established an LLC to pay STORMY DANIELS, which is not her real name in her return for her agreeing to not publicly discuss the alleged encounter. An attorney for Common Cause, Paul S. Ryan said the payment to Stormy Daniels appeared to be hush money. Joining us now is Paul S. Ryan, Vice President for Policy and Litigation for Common Cause. Also back with us is David Frum. And Paul Ryan what does the S stand for?


O`DONNELL: Then your Paul Seamus Ryan on this show my friend. Glad to have you here. On this money, the $130,000, does it matter whether that money came From Donald Trump himself or from someone else?

RYAN: It matters, but it doesn`t change the fact that there seems to be an underlying campaign financing reporting violation. If it came from Donald Trump himself, that`s the end of the line. All were talking about are a disclosure or reporting violation. If however the money came from the Trump Organization or someone else, we might be tacking on a violation of an illegal corporate contribution to the campaigns or an illegal excessively large contribution if it came from an individual because individuals can only give 2700 bucks to a Federal candidate. Corporations can`t give any money at all.

O`DONNELL: And David Frum, this is one of the issues that, as I recall, was a factor in the John Edwards Investigation about hush money being paid on his behalf during a Presidential Campaign in order to advance his candidacy because hush money on these kind of stories during the President Campaign --

DAVID FRUM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: This does look a lot like John Edwards.

O`DONNELL: It`s designed to help your campaign -- go ahead.

FRUM: The John Edwards Logic and you`ll remember that case was thrown out by a jury. John Edwards was acquitted. And the prosecution was pretty widely derided at the time as political. In fact, the prosecutor who brought the case in 2012 is now the Republican Congressman for the Second District in North Carolina. And it was widely thought the political ambition is what led him to bring the case and that was why it got so much criticism.

O`DONNELL: And Paul, to go back over what you`re asking for. You`re asking the FEC to investigate this contribution or whether it was a contribution. They are -- they have been very slow about this kind of thing. They can take years, even, to look into this stuff.

RYAN: They sure have been slow. And I`d use the word dysfunctional. That`s one of the reasons we sent it to the Department of Justice as well, both agencies, the DOJ and the FEC. They share authority to enforce our Federal Campaigns Finance Laws. They both have a job to do. We`re asking them both to do it.

O`DONNELL: And David, Stormy Daniels, whose real name is being protected here on this show because who wants to live the rest of their life a the person who has this story with Donald Trump. She was in South Carolina apparently entertaining Trump voters this weekend at a club in South Carolina in Greenville which voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. And this is the kind of thing that trails the Trump Presidency these days.

FRUM: The piece of the story that baffles me is Vice President Pence from Jerusalem insisting that these allegations are baseless. How would he know? And Why does he keep repeating these things so confidently without the knowledge. He keeps being led into positions where he says false things. I guess he`s a very good Christian because he keeps forgiving the people who put him in that position.

O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan and David Frum thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

FRUM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, resistance took to the streets again this weekend. Planned Parenthood`s Cecil Richards will join us.



ALFRE WOODARD, HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS: All folks in the South used to say freedom ain`t free. it`s got to be fought for and protected every day. those who are against equality, who are against justice for all are committed 24/7 to chipping away at our laws, revoking regulations, ending protections that have been paid for in blood by the people that stood before us. There should not be a week that goes by that you don`t talk to at least 10 people about registering and voting and getting them to talk to 10 people. There goes your election right there.


O`DONNELL: An estimated 2 million people participated in over 700 women`s marches and events around the world this weekend. The events were not simply to speak out against the Trump agenda. They were a call to action for women to vote in this year`s midterm elections, to run for office themselves and combat sexual harassment. Saturday more than 200,000 demonstrators attended the march in New York City. 600,000 flooded the streets in downtown Los Angeles, 300,000 marched in Chicago. Thousands of others participated in countless other cities across the United States and around the world, including cities in Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, Germany Iraq Uganda, Nigeria, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand.

The women who organized the rally last year`s women`s march in Washington D.C. organized the power to the polls rally in Las Vegas yesterday. That event was built on last years D.C. Women`s March and launched a national voter registration tour that will target 10 battleground states. Planned Parenthood`s Cecil Richards spoke at the event in Las Vegas yesterday and will join us next.



CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOODS: For 12 months and counting, the only thing and the one thing standing between this administration and their goal of ending access to health care and reproductive rights and safe and legal abortion has been millions of determined women. And the women -- that`s right, you did it.

You`re the ones who did it.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood. And Cecile, so here we are one year later and it feels, especially when you look at what you were doing in Las Vegas yesterday, as if the women`s march has now entered the - the operational strategic phase far beyond just the raised voice and protest phase.

RICHARDS: Absolutely Lawrence. And I think this entire last year has been women at the forefront of resistance certainly in protecting planned parent access, and protecting Obamacare. They`ve been the ones calling congress and showing up at town hall meetings. And now what we`re seeing is of course that they`re filing for office and they`re - they`re focused on the 2018 elections.

And it`s really been fascinating to see in the last 12 months women have become the most important political force in America.

O`DONNELL: Last year during the march I was doing live coverage on Joy Reed`s show and then I was able to go outside, right over there and stand on Fifth Avenue and watch this amazing March go by. And I was able to check it out at many different points hours on end. Yet Saturday in Los Angeles I started walking from sort of the stage part where everyone can hear everything that`s being said.

And as you walked farther and farther away, the nature of the event changed. There were all these tents. What is all that? That`s all the organizing, this was all this registering to vote. And they weren`t listening to a word that was said on the stage because they were so far away they couldn`t hear it but it was just as busy in the business of voter registration and political strategy occurring in those tents.

RICHARDS: Right I know, absolutely. I fee like a year ago it was a demonstration. This year it has been - it`s determination. It is focused on the elections, and we saw in Nevada yesterday the Planned Parenthood action fund had their own table. They were registering voters.


RICHARDS: You know every other organization registering voters with a keen focus. And that`s what is really exciting, because I`ve always felt that marching was great, showing up for town meetings was important, calling congress. But voting? That`s where we really get the job done. And we`re now seeing of course Emily`s list says they have more than 25,000 women who have raised their hand to run for office.

We saw the first Latinas elected to the House of Delegates in Virginia. Women determining the race in Alabama and last week in Wisconsin. I think women are feeling their power in a new way and it`s incredibly energizing and exciting.

O`DONNELL: And there`s a stunning gender gap in the polls in terms of congressional election. I`m going to take and look at this. On the question of who would you vote for? And it`s just generic, democrat, republican. Women 57 percent vote for democrat. I think we`re going to get it up on the screen here. Men only 44 percent.

So this is the women and how they would vote. 57 perce4nt would vote for democrats, 31 percent would vote for republicans. The male version of that is 44 percent of men would vote for democrats, 48 percent would vote for republicans. So there is a gigantic gender gap in favoring the democrats here.

RICHARDS: Absolutely. And we saw that in Virginia in a race that was supposed to be incredibly close. If you remember, the governor`s race was going to be so tight. Ralph Northam ended up winning that race by I think 10 points. The gender gap was 22 points with women. I mean women absolutely are dominating these races, and I don`t think it`s by chance.

It`s because What we`ve seen from this administration and definitely this congress is an attack on women, on women`s rights, on planned parenthood from day one. And I think women are figuring out that they have not only affect the people that are in power, they have to change who is in power. And I - and I really do believe they will.

Women now you know they`re - they`re politically organizing, they`re grassroots organizing, they`re culturally organizing, and I think it`s unstoppable.

O`DONNELL: You said something on Saturday that really struck me. You said you`ve been an organizer all your life and you always wondered, what if you planned a revolution and everybody came? I mean and anyone who has been to a protest knows what you mean. There`s - that you have a kind of a representatives group out there representing a much larger group, and here you have this gigantic turnout that we haven`t seen before.

RICHARDS: Well and it`s interesting, because you probably remember, too that a lot of the sort of political smart people after the last march said well that`s just - that was a day and it didn`t mean anything. What I actually think it was, it was just the beginning. And I`m literally - I think every single town I go to, whether it`s speaking for Planned Parenthood or whatever the event is, there is a new women`s group that started, just out of whole cloth.

Women who are now, you know meeting on Sunday nights, meeting over - over separate parties, meeting at their book club and they`re taking action. And they totally understand they can do better than who is in office now.

O`DONNELL: We can already see an effect, and that is this fleeing for the exits by republicans in the congress, including these senior chairs of committees who are saying, I`m not going to try to run for reelection in this environment.

RICHARDS: No, absolutely. What`s funny, you know when my mom ran for governor in Texas, she was always frustrated that women waited until they had all the right degrees at the right time or someone asked them. And I think women now are looking at who is in office, looking at who is in congress and saying, you know what? I could do a better job than that guy that`s in there.

I think there`s now 490 women who have filed to run for congress. It`s historic.

O`DONNELL: And maybe that Paul Ryan, he hasn`t said it, but it looks like he will not run for reelection this year. He knows where this wave is headed.

RICHARDS: I happen to know some women in Kenosha, Wisconsin who are ready -- ready for that race. I think it`s going to be exciting. I think women are going to be competitive in races that no one ever expected before.

O`DONNELL: Well it`s becoming - we`re going to have to stop saying that, because these polls are telling us that women are going to be competitive in races and so now we can expect it. Cecile Richards, thank you very much for joining us.

RICHARDS: So good to see you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Really great to have you have here. Thank you.

RICHARDS: Thanks a lot.

O`DONNELL: Tonight`s "Last Word" is next.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s "Last Word." Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in 1943, before the phrase sexual harassment was invented. Justice Ginsburg shared her thoughts about the MeToo movement at the Sundance film festival this weekend where a new documentary about her life premiered last night.


RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every woman of my vintage knows what sexual harassment is, although we didn`t have a name for it. The attitude to sexual harassment was simply get past it. Boys will be boys.

For so long women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it. But now the law is on the side of women or men who encounter harassment. And that`s a good thing.


O`DONNELL: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets tonight`s last word. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.


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