Joe Biden TRANSCRIPT: 5/14/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O. Donnell

Guests: Stacey Abrams, Joe Biden

  (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NARRATOR (voice-over): A global pandemic with no end in sight, and every government decision could mean life or death.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you do not do an adequate response, we will have the deleterious consequence of more infections and more deaths.

NARRATOR: Tonight, former Vice President Joe Biden on exactly what he would do differently from President Trump.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our family members and friends and neighbors are dying while Trump is having a temper tantrum.

NARRATOR: But how does the apparent Democratic nominee get his message out in a time of isolation?

BIDEN: I`m anxious to go out and campaign.

NARRATOR: Tonight, Lawrence O`Donnell goes one-on-one with Joe Biden, and later both joined by Stacey Abrams, a leading voice for the Democrats.

STACEY ABRAMS (D), FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT: I`m working hard to lobby Congress to ensure that we have both by mail in every state.

NARRATOR: Her cause, to push for fair and free elections, taking on new urgency in the age of coronavirus.

BIDEN: We can both have democracy and elections and, at the same time, correct the public health.

NARRATOR: All that, plus your questions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NARRATOR: This is a special edition of "THE LAST WORD," Joe Biden, with Stacey Abrams.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: When Joe Biden announced his campaign for president just over a year ago, COVID-19 did not exist.

But now the coronavirus pandemic threatens the lives of every man, woman and child in the United States.

You have heard Joe Biden on all of the other issues that were raised in the several presidential campaign debates. Now it`s time to hear from Joe Biden about the issues that will dominate the rest of the presidential campaign, issues of life and death.

If Joe Biden is sworn in as the next president on January 20th, your life and your children`s lives and your parents` lives and your grandparents` lives are going to depend on the work that Joe Biden starts doing that afternoon in the Oval Office, in the Cabinet Room, in the Situation Room.

We`re going to ask Joe Biden to take us inside those rooms with him tonight and tell us exactly what he would do on the afternoon of Inauguration Day if he is elected president.

And when I say we, I mean you will be joining in the questioning, because we will turn this hour into a town hall of sorts, with questions from you, our viewers, for Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams, when she joins us later in this hour.

Stacey Abrams is the head of an organization called Fair Fight, which is devoted to making sure that all voters will be able to cast their votes for president on November 3rd, without any interference with their voting rights.

And Stacey Abrams now has the new mission of making sure that you can cast your vote safely in the age of coronavirus, by mail, if necessary.

Stacey Abrams will join us later in this hour.

We begin tonight with the numbers. As of tonight, there are now 1,422,824 confirmed cases of coronavirus. And, as of tonight, this country has suffered at least 86,179 confirmed deaths from coronavirus.

And there is a third number that would be the only number we talk about tonight if it were simply the result of changing economic conditions, instead of it being the result of a deadly pandemic sweeping the world. And that third number is the largest number of people filing for unemployment benefits in the history of the unemployment program, with an additional three million people reported filing today, bringing the total to 36.5 million people claiming unemployment benefits.

The unemployment rate is now 14.7 percent and going up from there. That is the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

And when Democrat Franklin Roosevelt beat an incumbent Republican president in the 1932 election, President Roosevelt was sworn in, in 1933 facing a 25 percent unemployment rate.

But he was not also facing a deadly virus that was killing more than 100,000 people, as the coronavirus will surely do before the next presidential inauguration.

Joining us now is former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for president.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mr. Vice President. We really appreciate you being here.

We`re going to go straight to this issue of...

BIDEN: Lawrence, thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Of -- I want to go right into day one of your presidency. And let`s assume the conditions we have today, because Dr. Fauci, Anthony Fauci, guarantees us -- he has used the word guarantee -- for a second wave.

That second wave would surely be breaking in January, combined with the regular flu season. You can imagine 1,700 people dying a day, as there -- as is happening now. We can imagine hundreds of thousands more infections happening throughout the country.

And -- and, at the very same time, you have this astronomical, Depression- level unemployment rate.

So, your inauguration will be quick. It will not have a parade, if the conditions are the same as today. It will probably take place indoors, maybe in the Rotunda of the Capitol. You will be able to get right back to the Oval Office by 1:00 p.m.

You walk back into the West Wing of the White House. The secretary of labor is waiting with the frightening unemployment statistics. Secretary of Health and Human Services is there. Dr. Fauci will probably still be there or will have been rehired by you if he`s been fired.

Where do you start? Who do you talk to first? What are the -- what`s the decision sequence?

BIDEN: Well, first of all, it`s going to depend on how much worse this president makes it between now and January the 20th of 2021.

The fact is that it can get even worse than it is now. He has delayed, delayed, delayed from the very beginning his willingness to go out and deal with this crisis. He`s ignored it. He said it was going to go away, it was going to be a miracle.

He wasted an awful lot of time. And I think, as a consequence, an awful lot of lives were lost in the meantime.

Coronavirus is not -- he didn`t cause the coronavirus, but he has not reacted well.

But one thing you`re going to have to do is, you`re going to have to have, by that time, between the time of being elected and the time of being sworn in, have put together a team of people that are going to deal with this in a way that hadn`t been dealt with up to that point, at least probably will not have been dealt with.

One, tell the American people the truth. Look at the science. Put together a board, a pandemic board, like we did in World War II, when President Roosevelt put together a board that related to dealing with how we`re going to deal with World War II.

This is a requirement that we have the best people in the world sitting there advising me and the country as to what has to be done.

In the meantime, it`s going to matter, Lawrence, whether or not between now and then this president has used his powers and used the organizational ability that the White House has, that the president has to make sure we have enough PPP (sic), those protective gear for this second wave, if there is going to be the second wave, which is predictable, and to make sure we are going to have in place all the tests that we need, all the tests we need, and we are able to track and test, test and follow on when there is an outbreak, where it was, track and trace.

All that requires equipment and requires planning and requires time. If that`s been done, the task will be at least easier, it will cost fewer lives. If it has not been done, it will be an absolute, incredible disaster, beyond repair.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Vice President, the -- one of the issues you have to deal with in this pandemic, obviously, it`s worldwide, so it`s international relations.

China, where this -- this virus began, is still going to be a major factor for you to contend with starting on your first day in the White House.

Let`s listen just for a moment about how Donald Trump has dealt with, described his view of China over the course of this pandemic.

Let`s just listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Xi loves the people of China. He loves his country. And he`s doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation.

He is very capable. The country is very capable.

It could have been stopped right where it came from, China.

And I started calling it the Chinese virus.

Could have been stopped in China before it started, and it wasn`t.

Ask China that question, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So, the president goes from saying China is doing a great job to, it`s all China`s fault.

How are you going to deal with China? We have -- you have to have some level of cooperation with them in terms of research, in terms of medical supplies, many of which originate in China. But it clearly a difficult relationship to manage, especially with the coronavirus.

BIDEN: Well, first of all, the president got it wrong from the beginning, absolutely missed any opportunity to get ahead of this.

You know, back in January, I think it was the 27th, when he was saying this, praising China and talking about it not being a problem.

We had put together in our administration an office within the White House to deal with future pandemics. They had been briefed on it, they meaning the incoming administration.

We had over 44, if I`m not mistaken, people from the CDC in China, in China to observe what was going on. The president brought home the vast majority of them, I think left only four in place.

I kept -- I wrote an article back in, I think, the 27th of January saying, we -- there`s -- a pandemic is coming. We should insist on being in China to see for ourselves what was happening, so we could be prepared.

The president said, no, no, they`re doing a great job. This -- all this is going -- everything is fine.

The fact is that he has not been responsible at all from the very beginning. We lost at least three months of opportunity to get ahead of this, or at least to catch up with it, to catch up with the problem.

And so the thing that I`d be doing is resetting that pandemic office in place, number one, making sure we had the CDC, like we did in our administration, forward-based around the world, so we could see these things coming, because there will be more coming.

You know, the truth is, Trump was praising the Chinese government and downplaying the threat to the American people, and, as I said, as I was warning -- I was warning the need to get the people into China to see what was actually going on.

And the Chinese government`s word, we -- we squandered critical time. And so I just don`t -- and now he`s trying to play this China card. I mean, I don`t know what -- this is an unusual president.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to the complexity that -- of what you will be facing on day one, with all those Cabinet members there, obviously the secretary of state. If their nominations are pending, they will still be there.

The secretary of state will be concerned with not only the relations with China and all of this, but how a vaccine, once it`s developed, can be distributed throughout the world, because we know, if we don`t crush it throughout the world, it will come back to us.

I just wanted...

BIDEN: You got it.

O`DONNELL: ... you to listen to, for one second, Mr. Vice President, Laurie Garrett, who is an MSNBC contributor now. She`s a Pulitzer Prize winner, has been writing about infectious diseases for many years.

She was on this program the other night describing the complexities of the administration of a vaccine, once that vaccine is eventually developed.

Let`s listen to the way she described those international complexities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURIE GARRETT, SENIOR FELLOW FOR GLOBAL HEALTH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: It requires creating a profit motive scheme of some sort that will -- that brings the industry to the table, without imagining the kind of profit returns they usually want from pharmaceuticals.

And that means coming up with agreements with the World Trade Organization and with the trade-related intellectual property agreements, and all sorts of instruments of international law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Mr. Vice President, you`re familiar with all those instruments she`s talking about. Most of us are not.

The vaccine, if developed, will happen, at the earliest, on the watch of -- in the next presidential term, what would be your first presidential term. Getting that vaccine out in the United States and helping it get distributed to the world would be your job.

How would you approach it?

BIDEN: Well, look, I`d approach it like we did in our administration when we dealt with Ebola, and we dealt with these other -- we organized the rest of the world.

We got the rest of the world to come up with billions of dollars to deal with the problem. We didn`t -- there wasn`t a vaccine at the time.

And now guess what has happened? There has been a -- there was an international meeting of all those countries that are trying to work out and find an answer to a vaccine. Everyone showed up except us. The United States was not there, not there.

And we, in fact, the president said, we`re the best, we don`t -- basically, we don`t need anybody else`s help.

We`re going to have to be in a position to be one of the leaders in the world to figure out how we can make sure that this vaccine is made available first and foremost in our case to the people of the United States of America getting access to it, rural, all people, all people. That is going to be a very difficult thing to figure out how to get it out and around the country.

But, in addition to that, there are a lot of nations out there that have no capacity to pay for any of this, and notwithstanding the profit motive.

So what we`re going to be in a position of having to do is get other governments to help fund, fund for the rest of the world these vaccines, made available in other parts of the world, because, as you said, Lawrence, we may square it away here.

But what happens if there is no vaccine in Central and Latin America? What happens is there is no vaccine in other parts of the world?

As we have learned by now, you can`t build a wall high enough to keep out a virus. And so we should be leading the world. And we are once again absent. We`re not even in the discussion. We`re not even in the discussion.

What`s going on in London right now, they`re -- in Cambridge, they`re on the verge, they think, of moving forward.

If we don`t participate at all, what makes us think we`re going to be in on the deal? We must organize the world to deal with this, so everyone has access. And it`s going to cost all of us.

It`s a little -- if I can make an analogy, it`s a little bit like, you know, we have the Amazon burning. And what is happening is, it`s the greatest carbon sink in the world. It absorbs more carbon into the Earth than we emit in a day, every single day and it`s burning.

What are we doing? The president is sitting around doing nothing. We should be organizing the world saying, we`re going to raise $20 billion, and we`re going to go to the president of Brazil and say, here`s the deal. We`re going to make sure that you don`t have to burn the Amazon to make a living in your country. This is what we`re going to do.

But guess what`s happening? Nothing. We`re doing nothing.

The same way things are going to have to happen when you`re going to have all those Europe -- Eastern European countries, those African countries that don`t have the capacity to pay for it.

The world is -- in their overwhelming interest of the rest of the world and the major nations of the world, the major economic powers to provide this capacity and has to be organized, organized.

O`DONNELL: I want to open it up to our town hall component and get a question from a voter. This first question, Mr. Vice President is from a voter in California.

Let listen to this.

BIDEN: OK.

QUESTION: Hi, Vice President Biden. My name is Namid (ph). I am from San Mateo, California, and thank you for allowing me to participate in this town hall with you.

BIDEN: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: I`m thinking about that quote from theologian (ph) Kierkegaard that you always recite. Faith sees best in the dark.

I find it so profound what is going on in America today, with so many families across this country going through tough times. As someone who has lost a wife and a daughter and a son and knows what it`s like to go through loss, what advice would you give to a family who has lost someone to COVID- 19?

Thank you.

BIDEN: Well, first of all, you know, the folks who have recently lost someone to COVID-19 over 86 -- almost 87,000 of them now, they feel like there`s a black hole in the middle of their chest, they are being sucked into it and frightened and scared and don`t know what to do.

All I can tell them is that it will take time. But in time, what`s going to happen is you`re going to find when you think of that son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father you lost, you`re going to get a smile on your lip before you get a tear in your eye, and that`s when you know you`re going to make it.

And the way you make it, at least in my experience, is so many people have gone through so much more than I have, losing a wife, and a daughter and then a son to cancer is that you have to -- you have to have a purpose. You have to have purpose. Purpose will drive you to be able to get -- to control your life.

And the purpose will be many of these people, what do we do to make life better, better for other people? How could we have avoided what happened here? What are the things you want to do?

Are we going to do things like making sure those first responders that lost their lives and those are the remainder who are getting paid essentially minimum wage, get a fair deal? They`re carrying us on their back. They`re carrying the country on their back right now, and they`re not being treated with dignity and respect.

I think the way they`ll find -- but right now, that`s no solace to anybody that recently lost somebody. It`s of no solace.

But what I have to say is they`re still with you. They`re in your heart, part of your soul, it`s who you are. And you`ve got to have faith the time will come, the time will come when you`ll get through this veil of darkness. You really will.

But the best way to get through it is with a sense of purpose and realizing he or she is with you. They`re in you. They`re part of you.

They never go away, and they`ll advice you and they`ll be there with you. And you`ve got to move. You just got to get up.

As my dad would say, you know, when you get knocked down, you just got to get up, just get up.

And think of yourself, what would they want you to do? Would they want you to do? They`d want you to get up. They`d want you to be safe. They want you to move on.

That`s all I can really say, quite frankly. It`s of no solace to anybody who`s recently lost someone, and this is all been recent.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Vice President, before we go to a break, before we bring in Stacey Abrams, I want to ask you about the Tara Reade story. And you served in the Senate for about 36 years. Senator from Delaware, you were chairman of committees.

Having worked in the Senate myself, I`m just in my head doing the numbers. You have to have had well over 1,000 Senate staffers between the committee staff, the Delaware Senate staff.

Do you remember Tara Reade who worked there for about a year in 1992, `93?

BIDEN: To be honest with you, I don`t. Look, let me get something clear. When a woman makes a claim that she has been harassed or abused, and this claim has changed, has gone up, but harassed or abused, she should be taken seriously. She should come forward, share her story, she should be taken seriously, and should be thoroughly vetted.

And in every case, what matters is the truth. Truth is what matters. And the truth of the case is nothing like this ever, ever happened.

She has a right to be heard but then should be vetted, and the truth ultimately matters. And I give you my word, it never ever happened.

O`DONNELL: Let me ask you about a piece, it was an op-ed piece in "The New York Times" recently by Linda Hirshman and it was entitled "I believe Tara Reade, I`m voting for Joe Biden anyway."

And this is an accusation that she says there were no witnesses to this, it happened in a semi- or in a public place the way she describes it in the basement of the Senate.

That might sound like a private place but as you and I both know, that`s a thoroughfare, that`s a very busy area. But there are no witnesses to it, so it`s your word saying it didn`t happen and now her version of it that it did happen.

What do you say to women who were ready to vote for Joe Biden, eager to vote for Joe Biden but this gives them serious pause because they do believe Tara Reade, and you`re not going to change their mind about that? What would you say to them about their vote?

BIDEN: Well, I think they should vote their heart. If they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn`t vote for me. I wouldn`t vote for me if I believe Tara Reade.

The fact is that -- look at Tara Reade`s story. It changes considerably. And so, but I don`t want to question her motive. I don`t want to question anything other than to say the truth matters.

This is being vetted. It`s been vetted. They went and people interviewed scores of my employees over my whole career.

This is just totally, thoroughly, completely out of character, and the idea that in a public place in a hallway, I would assault a woman? I mean, it`s -- I mean -- anyway, I promise you, it never happened.

It should be vetted. She should be thoroughly looked at and whether or not these happened, look at the story, follow the story line and determine whether there`s any truth to it.

And there is no truth to it. I promise you.

O`DONNELL: I want to go back to where we began, which is this possibility of a Biden inauguration day in January, which would be in the middle of the second wave. It could be a very dark time.

And when we think of inaugural addresses, of course, the one many people remember vividly word for word, John Fitzgerald Kennedy saying, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

It seems like if you`re delivering the next inaugural address, that formulation is going to be reversed because everyone in this country is going to be looking at you and saying, what can you do for me? I am out of work, I need a job. I have lost my mother. I`ve lost my brother. I am suffering.

That is going to be it seems to me a moment where a president is going to have to say what that president can do for them. What will you say?

BIDEN: I will say, I guarantee you, number one, I will tell you the truth.

The American people is a -- to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt -- the American people are strong. They`re tough. They know -- they want to know the truth. They can handle the truth. What they can`t handle is lie or lies.

I will be level with them straight up. I`ll tell them what the science is as best we know it. I`ll lay out to them how in fact we can -- once we get by re-stimulating the economy and getting people back moving so they`re able to keep their homes and keep their apartments and being able to have the food available on their tables that they need.

That in the meantime, while we have unemployment, if the unemployment rate is as high as it is now or higher like it was with Roosevelt, I will tell them the government -- the government has an obligation to see to it that you are held harmless in terms of being able to -- where you live, being able to pay for your medical bills, being able to do whatever you need to do to take care of your family.

And then I will tell them what I`m going to do when I bend this curve and break it so that we`re in a position that we`re going to rebuild the country. We`re going to rebuild this country better than it was found. That`s no solace to someone who lost a family member, but we`re going to rebuild it better than we found it.

Look, Lawrence, I talked a lot. I`ve been on your program before talking about -- even before I announced I was going to run, restoring the soul of America.

We`re seeing the soul of America now. Average Americans doing extraordinary things, risking -- in some cases, giving their lives -- to carry the rest of us on their back, whether they`re grocery store clerks or truck drivers or whether they are people working as nurses or people working as child aides, whatever.

We have to right the wrongs that are being exposed that exist now.

All those people are doing that are the people that most -- most people did not spend a lot of time. Did not spend a lot of time thinking about, and now they`ve seen how courageous they have been, what they have done. It`s time to make it right.

And we can begin to do that by providing a recovery that in fact, will create millions of new jobs, making sure that we`re building a new infrastructure, putting people to work in ways that deal with the institutional racism and institutional barriers that have existed. And I`ll explain what those are and how we`re going to get to it.

O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to take a break here.

Mr. Vice President, just please stay with us. When we return --

BIDEN: Sure.

O`DONNELL: -- we`re going to be joined in our discussion by Stacey Abrams.

Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams on television together for the first time. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In her last campaign in 2018, Stacey Abrams came with 1.5 percent of winning the race for governor in Georgia.

The Abrams taught Democrats two things. One, Georgia can be a competitive state if they can get out the vote. And two, Republicans will do everything they can to prevent Democrats from getting their voters to the polls.

Stacey Abrams has used that experience to form the mission statement of Fair Fight, an organization devoted to making sure that all voters will be able to cast their votes for president on November 3rd without any interference with their voting rights.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is back with us and joining our discussion now from Atlanta is Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight, an organization fighting for fair and free elections with voter protection teams in 18 battleground states.

Stacey Abrams, thank you very much for joining us tonight, and pardon me for a minute because I want to begin this with a question to Joe Biden -- because Stacey Abrams is here because Joe Biden invited Stacey Abrams to be here.

And so, Mr. Vice President, do you have an announcement to make? Is this an audition? Is there -- what is the reason that you decided it`s time for me to get on TV with Stacey Abrams?

BIDEN: Well, because Stacey Abrams has done more to deal with the fair vote and making sure there is a fair vote than anybody and she -- I mean, she has a great, great capacity to explain things and to lay out exactly why it`s going to be so critically important in this election.

This president already said when they put in the stimulus package the Congress first passed money to provide for mail-in ballots, he already said, I`m not for that, if we do that, no Republican will ever win, or something to that effect.

He`s made it clear -- this is a guy who said he wants to defund the Post Office from being able to deliver ballots. I mean -- so Stacey knows what she`s doing and she`s an incredibly capable person.

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s actually listen to what Donald Trump said about mail-in ballots. We have that here. And full disclosure before you listen to what Donald Trump says about this, the one thing I have in common with Donald Trump is that we both vote by mail.

Now let`s listen to this.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So, the problem with the mail-in ballots, it`s subject to tremendous corruption, tremendous corruption, cheating.

And so I`m against it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Stacey Abrams, he`s against it.

A lot of Republicans are against whatever it is you`re trying to do, whatever your next idea is that you think will help get out the vote. And so, they used to be in favor of mail-in ballots. And now here we are.

ABRAMS: Well, I first want to say, thank you for having me.

And thank you to Vice President Biden for including me in on this conversation.

Whether you`re thinking about what happened in Georgia in 2018, when thousands of Georgians were denied the right to be heard, or what we saw happen in Wisconsin, where 52 people, at last count, contracted COVID because they were forced to cast their ballot in person, we know that vote by mail is the safest and most accessible way of making sure that every American can be heard on November 3.

The reality is that it`s safe, that there is no fraud of any consequence. In fact, in every single state that has used vote by mail regularly, Oregon for the last 20 years, the number of people who have committed fraud is negotiable.

But what is more telling is that they don`t want the voices of people suffering from COVID-19, suffering from a collapsed economy, and suffering from the cowardice of Donald Trump, they don`t want their voices heard at the ballot.

But what we can do through the HEROES package is ensure that everyone in America who wants to vote by mail can do so, but we can also create accessible spaces for people to vote in person early and in person on the day of, because, if you`re disabled, if you`re homeless, if you have been displaced by COVID, if you have language barriers, and if you`re Native American, we need you to be able to go into those polling places, but to make sure that there is enough space to meet the CDC guidelines.

We have got to get as many people as possible to vote by mail. Every state can do it. We simply have to invest in it and put in the guardrails to make it possible for every American who is eligible to vote.

O`DONNELL: The -- we`re concentrating on COVID-19 tonight, because no presidential campaign has ever experienced anything like this.

It`s obviously going to be the most important thing that the president faces after the next inauguration. But the world does not stop for the president on all other issues of concern.

And Stacey Abrams, in Georgia, for example, we saw the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. And there is an example of where the tensions, the kind of racial tensions and value issues that actually got Joe Biden into this campaign, according to his campaign announcement, came to us in a graphic and very, very disturbing way.

Are you concerned that, in the next presidency, with the president concentrated so much on the pandemic, that it will be very difficult to get presidential attention to issues like the kind of racial injustice that we have seen in that incident?

ABRAMS: Not at all, not if we have a president of competence and courage like Joe Biden.

Let`s remember that not only was moments of COVID-19 at the same time the United States did.

If South Korea can hold the largest most invested election in the midst of COVID-19 on April 15th, we can get this done by November but only if we pass the Heroes Act and get it done now.

O`DONNELL: Vice President Biden, before we go to the next break, there is a bipartisan bill developing in the House of Representatives that we discussed on this program that would allow -- authorized funding for hiring 100,000 contact tracers to go to work throughout the United States. This would be basically a jobs program desperately needed and obviously fulfilling a very critical tool in fighting the coronavirus desperately needed.

Do you support that?

BIDEN: I strongly support it. And a lot of those people are the people that worked the job corps, the people who have worked in Peace Corps and other public service jobs.

We know -- we know that until there is a vaccine, the only fundamental way to change the dynamic is test and trace. Test and trace.

And hiring these people will provide jobs, number one, but even more importantly, it will allow us to gain control of the spread of this virus. Tracing, tracing, contact tracing, that is critically important and I strongly support it.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to squeeze in a final break here.

Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams, please stay with us.

We`re going to be right back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And we`re back with more of your questions for Vice President Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams.

Let go to the next question.

QUESTION: My name is Jackie Okomo (ph) from Stockton, California. I have a question for Vice President Biden.

As an immigrant working as a nurse, we have provided the care for all without prejudice during the COVID pandemic. How do you plan to change the immigration laws to accommodate specialized immigrants towards a fast-track immigration process, to accommodate such crisis?

BIDEN: By the way, number one, on day one I`m sending, no matter what the state of this is, to the United States Congress a bill to provide for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people, number one, in the United States.

Number two, every DACA student will be able to stay. You realize there are 40,000 DACA students out there who are providing the kind of help we`re talking about right now in hospitals, as nurses` aides, as fire -- I mean, across the board? They`re doing incredible things for us now.

And the idea that we treat -- that the president has pitted us against one another based on our race, religion, national origin, we are a land of immigrants. That`s what`s made us who we are. That`s what makes us so resilient. That`s what makes us so special.

And I promise you, it`s a gigantic objective of mine to see to it that we make a -- that we have an immigration system that`s consistent with our values and who we say we are, and it does not now. Donald Trump is absolutely violating every basic value we have.

O`DONNELL: What about fast-tracking the immigration process for physicians, nurses, other medical personnel?

BIDEN: Yes, yes, and yes.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Great. We need answers like that so we can get in more questions.

Let`s go -- let`s go to another question from one of our voters.

QUESTION: Hi. I`m Glenda from Ohio.

As a Democrat, it`s just as important to win the Senate as it is to win the White House. I want to know why Stacey Abrams wasn`t willing to run for the Senate in order to help the party but is willing to accept the role of vice president.

ABRAMS: I appreciate the question.

I personally say that --

BIDEN: She`s capable of doing any or both.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS: Well, I would say this. I think we have to remember there are two things happening in 2020. We`re not only running a presidential election, but we`re running the 2010 election as well. That means we have to think about not winning the White House and the Senate, but we`ve got to win down ballot races, especially winning state legislatures in order to avoid the debacle that happened when Republicans gerrymandered our maps beyond recognition.

That`s why I`m not only fighting for a fair fight in our elections and fighting for a fair fight in our Census, making sure everyone is counted so the Republicans can`t weaponize the Census against our people.

I didn`t run for the Senate because I don`t believe that every job is interchangeable, and I`m not in politics to stay in office. I`m here to do the work and the work I thought was most important is making sure that we had free and fair elections across this country. I did that through Fair Fight.

That we had a census that will count every American and every person in America through fair count, but also to respond to how COVID is ravaging the South. I live in a community and in a state where we have some of the highest infection rates and where we have some of the lowest resilience because the resources we need, the infrastructure we need has been broken.

My interest is in making certain that Vice President Joe Biden becomes President Biden because we need someone who believes not only in thinking the right thoughts but doing the work. And this is a man of courage and competence who helped lead us through a global crisis before, and he can do it again.

My interest is no matter what, that I help make certain that Joe Biden is the next president of the United States, that we win every election up and down the ballot so that we can right-size our country and move our nation forward.

O`DONNELL: Our next question is from Ohio --

BIDEN: And we`ll win back the Senate.

O`DONNELL: -- from Edward in Ohio, and this is for Vice President Biden.

QUESTION: Sir, if you were to win the election, would you be willing to commit to not pulling the president forward and giving Donald Trump a pardon under the pretense of healing the nation? In other words, are you willing to commit to the American ideal that no one is above the law?

BIDEN: Absolutely yes. I commit.

O`DONNELL: And this is helping us get in all the more questions, so that`s a commitment.

Mr. Vice President, you`re saying that wherever the investigative trail might lead, whether that be an investigative trail pursued by the Justice Department against Trump officials, Trump associates, administration officials, whether those are congressional investigations, that`s hands off for you? You`re not going to say, let`s just let bygones be bygones?

BIDEN: It`s hands off completely.

Look, the attorney general is not the president`s lawyer. It`s the people`s lawyer. And you remember when you were there with Pat Moynihan. We never saw anything like the prostitution of that office like we see it today.

It is not something the president is entitled to do, to direct either a prosecution and/or decide to drop a case. That is not the president`s role, responsibility, and it`s a dereliction of his duty, and a dereliction of the duty as a -- you know, you have what? Whether 2,000 was it or former attorneys general or people who worked in the office that said the present attorney general should resign.

What`s going on is an absolute travesty, a travesty of justice. That will not happen, I guarantee you.

O`DONNELL: The issue of people wanting the vice president -- wanting the attorney general to resign is over the Michael Flynn case where the attorney general is basically trying to drop the case as a federal judge questioning how that case is being dropped.

Mr. Vice President, what was your involvement in the investigation of Michael Flynn and the FBI investigation of Michael Flynn?

BIDEN: I was never a part or had any knowledge of any criminal investigation into Flynn while I was in office, period. Not one single time.

O`DONNELL: Let`s get one more question in here. This is from a voter in California.

QUESTION: Hi, Vice President Biden and Ms. Abrams. My name is Victor Xi (ph).

I`m a 17-year-old, a senior at Stephenson High School in Illinois and just got elected to be a delegate to represent Vice President Joe Biden at the DNC convention in August on behalf of Illinois` 10th congressional district.

Today, my question is for Stacey Abrams.

Given that young people and high schoolers like myself don`t often turn out to vote in elections, how do you ensure that not only high schoolers and college students are empowered in the political process but also turn out to vote at higher rates?

ABRAMS: Well, I`ve been working on this since I was 17. I started registering students to vote on my college campus before I was old enough to vote. I was sent as an international fellow to Austria to represent the United States on the conversation of youth civic engagement when I was 21.

It`s because I believe in the voice of young people. I know that young people change the world, and not long ago I was one. But what I know more than that is that this cannot simply be an academic conversation.

That`s why my campaign in 2018, we had young people at every level of our campaign. And in our work that we`re doing now, from the work we`re doing in southwest Georgia, helping to respond to COVID-19, to the work of counting folks in the census, we are engaging young people, especially college and high school age students.

Your voices matter because this world is a world you will inherit, but it`s also a world you have to survive. That means that we have to focus on issues of climate change, criminal justice. We have to make sure that health care and economic justice are part of every single decision, and that happens by speaking directly to you. But more importantly, engaging you and setting the policies themselves.

I know that Joe Biden believes in youth engagement because he ran for the Senate at the age of 29. And he knows that like I do that we can`t win this nation if we don`t have everyone pulling in the same direction, especially your generation.

O`DONNELL: Vice President Biden, we have seen --

BIDEN: Your generation owns this election.

O`DONNELL: We have seen a whistle-blower testify at the House of Representatives today, Dr. Rick Bright, saying that his cautions, his predictions about what were happening, what was coming in this coronavirus pandemic, were ignored, were suppressed in effect. We have reports indicating that the CDC has not been able to issue the warnings that they want to be able to issue. Donald Trump has repeatedly said the sentence this week, I disagree with Anthony Fauci.

In your administration, will the scientists, will the medical professionals be allowed to speak freely? Will you allow them all to testify to Congress whenever Congress requests them? Will you allow them to speak to the media?

BIDEN: Absolutely -- absolutely, positively. Yes, yes, yes again. Really and truly.

It is all about the science. This president is absolutely -- well, I shouldn`t say it. He does not -- he does whatever is in his interest, takes no responsibility, does whatever in his interest, and we have the problem we have right now.

And -- and I hope if I`m president that Dr. Fauci will stay on in the administration.

O`DONNELL: And that will be tonight`s last word. Joe Biden gets the last word.

Stacey Abrams, thank you very much for joining us.

Vice President Joe Biden, thank you for joining us.

This has been a special LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams will be up next.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1211 of this Trump administration, 173 days until our next presidential election. The President wondered aloud in his public remarks today about whether or not coronavirus testing is over rated. He said it could be overrated.

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