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Transcript: The Last Word Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/18/22

Guests: Laurence Tribe


MSNBC`s continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. What about seizing $100 billion from the Russian government, and spending on weapons for Ukraine? Today`s decision to throw out the CDC`s federal mask mandate on airplanes, trains and buses, was made by a Trump judge who the American Bar Association said was not qualified to even be a judge and who was confirmed after Donald Trump lost his reelection and was already trying to overthrow the election results. Tiffany Dover is alive but anti- vaccination liars say she is dead because she fainted shortly after being one of the very first Americans to be vaccinated for COVID-19.



And one other interesting note about that judge, she was found by the American Bar Association to get there unusual classification of not qualified to be a federal judge when nominated by Donald Trump. She got -- it`s hard to get a not qualified, actually, but she managed to get it.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Well, to get a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, regardless of what the ABA says about you, but to get a lifetime appointment to the federal bench when you are 33 years old and have never tried a case, and are serving as an associate at a law firm, which is one step up from an intern, that itself was a little unusual.

But you know what? Lifetime tenure is a real thing, wow.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and if not qualified to be a judge, how qualified is she exactly for public health decisions like this one that she made?

MADDOW: Do you think the Justice Department is going to appeal this? I mean, the CDC only recently said, we`re going to extend it for a few more weeks, or a couple of weeks, or something. That`s a really short extension.

So maybe they decided that it was more that they would lifted themselves anyway. But maybe they appeal on the principle of the matter that this is a bad law, what do you think?

O`DONNELL: I don`t know, and I think it`s a very tricky question. And it`s a political question. And I suspect there will be a political calculus and that decision.

MADDOW: Yeah. I mean, if they`re going to -- if the mask mandate was about to be lifted anyway, I still don`t even know how you read those politics. I don`t envy anybody making policy decisions on these things.

O`DONNELL: Guess who`s not lifting his personal mask mandate on airplanes, I will not. I ain`t

MADDOW: This guy.

O`DONNELL: No one`s going to see me on the plane because I will have a mask on and you won`t know that about me on the plane.

MADDOW: I am with you. I am with you. Thanks, my friend.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

MADDOW: On Easter, they will kill and they will be killed. That is what Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy said about Russian soldiers in an interview last weekend. And that is what happened in Ukraine on Easter Sunday.

In a video released tonight, President Zelenskyy said, right now, we can already state that the Russian military began the fight for Donbas for which they were preparing for a long time. A big part of all of the Russian army is now concentrated on this offensive. No matter how many Russian soldiers are being sent there, we will be fighting.

And today, the war came to the previously safe city of Lviv. You have seen many of our correspondents are reporting from Lviv over the several weeks. Ali Velshi anchored Rachel`s show from Lviv for two weeks. The occasional aerate siren was heard in the background with Ali Velshi from time to time.

But today, four missiles hit locations in Lviv, including military warehouses, at one of the locations. An auto repair shop, at least seven people were killed and 11 people were injured, including this three year old boy who had escaped with his mother to Lviv from the intense fighting in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

Prior to today, they had a right to believe that they were safe in Lviv. The mayor of Lviv, urging residents to be high alert now, saying there are no safe cities in Ukraine today.

Our first guest tonight, NBC News Ali Arouzi was in the middle of an interview with Malcolm Nance in Lviv when they both heard the missile attack and saw the resulting smoke.


MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Smoke! Standby. Three cruise missiles, caliber, standby. Five, six, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, 13.



NANCE: That`s three.

AROUZI: So, three cruise missiles?

NANCE: Yeah.


O`DONNELL: The attack in Lviv follows a barrage of attacks over the weekend, the Easter weekend, with a Russian claiming to have conducted 300 missile and artillery strikes focused on the east, but stretching across the country. Officials of still urging residents to evacuate, but here`s what one woman in Kharkiv told "The Associated Press".


MARINA SVIDERSKAY, KHARKIV RESIDENT: First, evacuate where? They are hitting the whole of Ukraine. You see, they shelled Lviv and Dnipro today. Everywhere. My friend offers me to go to Kherson. But it`s occupied. I will not go to these bastards. I will not hide in occupation.


MADDOW: The last Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol are fighting from inside a steel plant and rejecting an ultimatum by Russian forces to surrender or die.

Today, the British defense minister said that Mariupol is surrounded by the Russian army has still been unable to completely capture the city. One hundred thousand residents remain trapped in Mariupol without food, water, or power, according to local officials. And advisor to Mariupol`s mayor says, the Russian military is holding more than 20,000 people in camps near Mariupol being prepared for deportation to Russia.

Here is how Ukraine`s foreign minister described the situation yesterday.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The city doesn`t exist anymore. The remaining members of the Ukrainian army and a large group of civilians are basically encircled by Russian forces. They continue their struggle, but it seems from the way the Russian army behaves in Mariupol, they decided to erase the city to the ground, at any cost.


O`DONNELL: Today, the Pentagon announced that the United States expects to start training Ukrainian trainers on how to use heavy artillery weapons known as howitzers in the coming days outside of Ukraine.

The Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby said this today.


JOHN KIRBY, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT PRESS SECRETARY: There`s been heavy fighting in the last couple of days in the Donbas particularly. And we have also seen the Russians move in elements to help them sustain that kind of fighting. So command and control enablers, helicopter support, some additional artillery. So, the Russians are clearly trying to continue to shape that environment, said the conditions so that they can conduct longer term military offensive operations in the Donbas.

The flow of security assistance in Ukraine continues. I mean, there hasn`t -- we haven`t missed a day now and weeks in terms of material getting into the region, but 8 to 10 flights a day coming from the United States as well as from other partner nations.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, NBC News correspondent Ali Arouzi in Lviv.

And, Ali, you have joined us many times before from Lviv. We are always asking you at the situation is there, and I already know the situation there changed dramatically today with those missile strikes.

ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lawrence. That`s right.

I mean, Lviv has always been a safe haven for the waves and waves of displaced people that have come here. We`ve seen attacks on the outskirts of the cities and a fuel depot, an airplane repair plant. But they`ve never been in the center of the city, and this morning, at about 8:30 local time, the Russians launched an attack into the center of the city.

We were only about a mile away from where those missiles landed. We were conducting an interview with Malcolm Nance. We heard this whistling sound over our heads. And then we weren`t sure what it was. And then another, when I looked up, the missile was so big that at first I thought it was an airplane. And then we realize that they were cruise missiles, and that two, three pounded area in front of us. We saw black smoke rising.

I mean, it was disconcerting for us to do this for a living, to go to the sort of places. I can`t imagine what it was like for the civilian population in and around that area that was shelled. And I`ve got to tell you, Lawrence, it is a heavily built up area. It was full of apartments, houses, a very residential area. Now the Russians say that they hit a warehouse where the Ukrainians stored weapons that were given to them from the West.

But they didn`t say is that they hit an auto repair shop at a time in the morning where people are going about their business. Collecting their kids to go to school, getting their tires fixed. There was an 8:30 in the morning, not four in the morning when those places would be emptied.


And for the first time in Lviv, they`ve killed seven people. They injured three year old child at an escape Kharkiv with his mother. The child lost a part of his finger, and is now in hospital.

So the brutality has an entire scope of this country for Vladimir Putin. The people you talk to hearsay, well, this was once a safe place. And this case may have been hit, but they don`t feel safe anymore. That sense of security has been shattered. It`s not a sanctuary for people. People here don`t ask, if but when the next attack is going to happen.

And of, course further, east that`s acts of started. President Zelenskyy said about the battle for the on base is now underway. That the Russians are amassing a lot of troops there. We know that they are going to and also a lot of troops there after their failure in Kyiv.

But you ask Ukrainians, they say the battle for Donbas darted in 2008. We`ve seen these columns of Russian hardware, tens of thousands of troops going there. And from all the reports were, hearing the shelling of started. The northern coastal towns in the Donbas area, it used to be a picturesque seaside resort, it is now just another place in Ukraine where people are fleeing from.

And of course, further south in Mariupol, you know the handful of soldiers that are in there were given an ultimatum, leave or die. They`ve chosen to fight to the death, even though the Russians have pounded the place for 55 days. They still haven`t been able to take it.

And it`s such a strategic place that would connect the Russian mainland to the Crimea, something the Russians have wanted for a very long time. But, the city council there say that it`s hell on earth in Mariupol. We`ve just heard reports, in a very important steel plant. There are several hundred men and women and children hiding underneath that steel plant, because there`s nowhere else died in the city. Our city has been raised to the ground, and that`s the only safe place to hide underneath their soldiers which are battling the Russians -- Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Ali, I know viewers in this program and others have seen you another correspondents from other networks covering this war from Lviv. And we all know that your situation there changed today.

And I don`t want to compromise anything about your security precautions there, but what can you tell us about what`s changed for you and members of the media in how you can cover this war from Lviv today?

AROUZI: Well, our freedom of movement was much easier before. Even a few days leading up to this attack, when Ukrainians some that ship, the whole ball game changed. And it came to the very hard.

So, you know, you have to travel around when you are protected. You have to talk to your security very carefully about what you do, where you go, who you`re going to talk to. And that wasn`t the entire feeling at the beginning of this war.

It was a safe place, a counter place, the cafes are full during the day, people are going about their business. But that sense of safety is no longer, here on the security guards that are here are no much more cognizant of what a dangerous place this is become. Nobody really thought that this center of the city would be targeted. They, said he, us maybe supply lines on the outside of the city, like that fuel depot, and places like that would be targeted.

But this was a very residential area. If we were a mile further in from where we could`ve been, we would`ve been in a very serious danger. I mean, I`ve covered a lot of conflicts, Lawrence. I`ve never seen a cruise missile fly over my head like that. And I don`t think most of the residents of Lviv have either.

So, that really change the dynamics of this war. This very concentrated on the East, but now, this is a place that is no longer a sanctuary. It could be a target for Vladimir Putin. Not least of, all because they`re getting a lot of their supplies from the West of this country, from Poland, it`s floating in here.

And Putin is not doing well and has this war. The strategy hasn`t worked. So also saw those supply lines getting into the east, and they come from here in the West.

O`DONNELL: Ali Arouzi, we always are wishing that you will stay safe, and now more than ever, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

AROUZI: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Joining us now is Ben Rhodes, former national deputy secretary adviser to Barack Obama, and MSNBC political analyst. He is the author of "After the Fall: Being American in the world we`ve made".

Ben, what is your reading on this expansion of the war to Lviv?

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think at times of the main focus of the ground operations, and the ponderous of Russian force in Ukraine, that`s clearly going focus on the Donbas right now. And what is really going to be a war of attrition biting over every inch of land there in eastern Ukraine, and Russia trying to consolidate its gains.


However, as they`re doing that, I think they`re going to continue to strike targets across the country, and try to terrorize the civilian population, making it seem as if there`s no safe place, obviously, and Ukraine, trying to grind down the political will of the Ukrainian people. But also, I think very specifically, beginning to consider what they might try to do to stop supply chain into Ukraine. All those weapons going from NATO countries to reinforce the Ukrainian military, funding in the, east the Russians want to cut them off from the flow of weapons.

I think it`s very difficult to do, given the size of the land borders that Ukraine chairs with NATO. But maybe Russia`s trying to send the message in the East of this is not going to be cost free, and a sense, of those arms flowing in.

O`DONNELL: And what is the counter message that the president and the allies of Ukraine would be trying to send back to Russia`s message of, as you say, the attack on Lviv?

RHODES: Well, I think they would want to signal that there`s going to be a continued military support for the Ukrainians. I think they`re going to have to do some serious work, and they already have been, certainly, to determine what are the safest ways to continue to get material into the Ukrainians, if you`re going to be doing training, to, you want to consider how Ukrainians will receive without being targets.

But the on top of that, I think the question is, do we continue to escalate the kind of weaponry we provide to the canyons? Thus far, there`s been this kind of distinction between defensive and offensive weapons, obviously, anti tank and anti aircraft weapons and small arms flowing in and ammunition flowing in.

And as we shift now to heavy weapons like the howitzers Ukrainians have been trained upon, as Ukrainians continue to get access to those stockpiles on things like tanks, and potentially even planes, I think one way that you can show resolve the won`t be intimidated from supporting Ukrainians is to continue to open up the aperture of we`re providing them, which by the way could become more important, Lawrence, and the kind of protective ground fighting in Donbas where Ukrainians are not just defending their territory, they`re going to want to take back territories that Russians have occupied in Eastern Ukraine.

So I think the key challenge for President Biden and other NATO leaders is, de-escalate the kind of new opens and offensive weapons that we have thus far been reluctant to provide it?

O`DONNELL: So in the first weeks we saw a caution by the White House, completely understandable, about taking steps that could provoke a Putin escalation. As this war wears on, and as Putin escalates, without regard necessarily to what the United States is doing, does that calculation in the White House, about escalation provocation change?

RHODES: Yeah, I think it does, Lawrence. I mean, look, the key line that Joe Biden said he does not want to cross is the direct military confrontation between U.S. and NATO troops and Russian troops, because that is the escalation that could lead to nuclear conflict. But I think in terms of inside of Ukraine, the kinds of restraint that have been shown and the types of weapons provided, the logic behind not providing offensive weapons is those weapons can be used against Russia and into Russia, and Putin might escalate what he`s doing in Ukraine.

Well, if you look at Mariupol, if you look at Bucha, if you look at the indiscriminate violence that is being done across the country, there`s no restraint that Vladimir Putin is showing whatsoever when it comes to his conduct inside of the war in Ukraine. I think that has to affect the calculus of what we are providing Ukrainians to defend themselves. They are trying to take that territory from the Russians.

So, I think you can maintain that line of not wanting to get into a direct war with NATO personnel or U.S. personnel, while still significantly escalating the types of support your providing, and by the way the sanctions too, because every day, the Russian war machine is continually financed by the purchases mainly much of them in Europe of Russian oil and gas. I think that is a type of pressure as this grinds on, because week after week, month after month, the fighting in Donbas, the awareness that literally the financing, the revenue that Russia is able to get under sanctions is coming from those oil and gas sales. That`s who needs to become a source of increased pressure.

And maybe an escalation that Europeans did not want to take, but they`re going to get dragged increasingly into moving in that direction.

O`DONNELL: Ben Rhodes, thank you very much for your expert view of the situation. Really appreciate it.

RHODES: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks.

And coming up, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe has a much bigger idea than seizing $300 million yachts from Russian billionaires.


What about seizing $100 billion from the Russian government, and spending on weapons for Ukraine? Professor Tribe says it can be done, and we already have control of the Russian money to do it. Professor Laurence Tribe joins us next.


O`DONNELL: So what if President Biden could make Russia pay for American military aid to Ukraine?


Sounds impossible, sounds crazy?

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe`s latest "New York Times" op-ed is titled: $100 billion, Russia`s treasure in the United States should be turned against Putin.

Professor Tribe, Jeremy Lewin write: President Biden could liquidate the tens of billions of dollars the Russian central bank has parked in the United States as part of its foreign exchange reserves, by some estimates, those funds may total as much as $100 billion. Even if the Justice Department were able to sell every yeah and mention it`s eases over the coming months, you`re marking the profits for military and humanitarian aid, the process would be too slow, and the proceeds too significant to meet Ukraine`s growing and urgent needs for tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, food, and medicine.

Joining us now is Laurence Tribe, university processor of constitutional law emeritus at Harvard Law School. He has won 35 cases in the United States Supreme Court.

Professor Tribe, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

So, to clarify for the audience, your -- it is a very common practice for foreign countries, they have massive amounts of American currency, dollars basically parked in the United States, to use as foreign exchange because the U.S. dollar is the major currency in world trade, and the Russian ruble isn`t even on the list of currencies used for that.

So the United States already has possession of this hundred billion dollars right now, don`t they?

LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: We do. We have frozen those assets. And given the savage, cruel, and illegal war that Vladimir Putin is waging against the Ukrainian people, there`s no prospect that that money will ever be returned to it, no prospect that it will be unfrozen.

And so I looked at the background, law and there is something called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act that was passed in 1977, it has been amended seven or eight times since. It has been used by Presidents Carter, and Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump. It is a bipartisan law, and it`s language, it`s explicit text in section 1702A1B -- unambiguously authorize this president of the United States on the declaration of the national emergency, which has been declared in this connection to control and direct and compel any use of any foreign government property in the United States.

Translate it into simple language, that means turning these dollars into humanitarian and military aid, almost $100 billion. And in doing that, we could really show Vladimir Putin quite apart from the desperate needs that this money would make urgently, we could show Vladimir Putin how wrong he is in believing that the rule of law is obsolete, that it is our source of weakness, that democracies are doomed and the only autocracies can succeed. You want to bet?

What we can do is use the law, use it literally to take the money we have already frozen, unfreeze it, and turn it in favor of the Ukrainian people and against the Russian Federation and its invading army. It would be poetic justice of the rule of law to do exactly that, and I`m urging the Biden administration to look closely into that legislative option. It does it mean a new law passed by Congress, although new laws might help with respect to the yachts, and the mansions held by the oligarchs.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The frozen part of the iceberg, underneath, is the huge treasure chest that Russia has parked in this country, and it would serve it right, and help the Ukrainian people for us to use it in a perfectly legal way. That is what I`m urging.

O`DONNELL: It is a bold choice, and in war, as weeks pass, often the bold choice becomes the choice of the day, eventually. I can see that there are not there yet, but if this were to happen, there`s still a law provided an opportunity for the Russian government to go into an American court and somehow protests this?

TRIBE: No. Our sovereign immunity is overcome by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. They could go into court, but they would be kicked out.

But even if the doors of the court were opened, they would have no case, because there is nothing illegal about this. It`s authorized by our law. It`s consistent with our constitution. The rights of private individuals, of oligarchs, if you will, are not involved.

Russia is not a person. Russia is a government. And these governments don`t have rights under our constitution.

They have claims, but the claims are not going to be vindicated in an American court, even if the United States government were to waive its immunity. And I don`t see why it should.

O`DONNELL: So, to look at those from the other angle, where it`s not so bold. It`s to say, look, the United States government has already frozen this money. The Russian government does not have access to it. They`ve lost their access to it.

And your point is, there`s no real prospect in the future of the Russian government getting access to this again, given the atrocities that they have committed in Ukraine. So, why not take the step right now to activate that money for the benefit of Ukraine? And frame that way, doesn`t look so radical.

TRIBE: Exactly. And it`s kind of an atrocity to have the money just sitting there --


TRIBE: -- when it could be used to save lives, to feed people, to provide missiles, and without any burden, not a single bit of burden on American taxpayers so that unlike the money that we are now sending, which will eventually find its way into sort of amount of treasury that`s to collect from American taxpayers or into our national debt. This money is conveniently provided for us by Russia.

It sort of reminds you, in an odd way, of the idea of Mexico paying for the wall. This is Russia paying to push back against a completely illegal, genocidal war that is utterly without justification.

It`s a perfect -- it`s a perfect storm, and it really ought to be done.

O`DONNELL: Professor Laurence Tribe, thank you for joining us with this tonight. And in the eventuality that the White House doesn`t watch the segment and decide to do it tomorrow, which I kind of doubt will happen, let`s revisit this down the line in a couple of weeks, because I think as time passes, it becomes a riper and riper option.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

TRIBE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

TRIBE: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, today`s decision to throw out the CDC`s federal mask mandate on airplanes, trains and buses, was made by a Trump judge who the American Bar Association said was not qualified to even be a judge and who was confirmed after Donald Trump lost his reelection and was already trying to overthrow the election results. That`s next.




JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- in public transit. As you know, this just came out this afternoon, so right now, the Department of Homeland Security who will be implementing and the CDC are reviewing the decision. And of course, the Department of Justice will make any determination about litigation.


O`DONNELL: In explaining her decision, Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle (ph) wrote, "Wearing a mask cleans nothing. At most it traps virus droplets. But it neither sanitizers the person wearing the mask nor sanitizes the conveyance."

Judge Kathryn Mizelle was 33 years old when she was nominated by Donald Trump weeks before the 2020 presidential election. By the time she was confirmed by the Senate with only Republican support in a 49 to 41 vote on November 18th 2020, Donald Trump had already lost his reelection campaign, and was very busy working to criminally overturn the presidential election.

The American Bar Association rated Judge Mizelle as not qualified when she was nominated as a federal judge because she had, quote, "not tried a case, civil or criminal, as a lead or co-counsel." That means, had never appeared, never set foot in an American courtroom as a lawyer in her life.


O`DONNELL: And if you think she was not qualified to be a judge after at least graduating from law school, imagine how not qualified she is to make public health decisions about trying to control highly-infectious deadly pandemics.

This is yet another lesson in how important it is to elect Democratic presidents and Democratic senators to confirm federal judges in the era of Trumpian ignorance taking over the Republican Party.

President Biden obviously knows how important appointing federal judges is, which is why working with Chuck Schumer, President Biden has confirmed more federal judges at this point in his presidency than any other president since 1962.

Joining us now, Claire McCaskill, a former Democratic senator from Missouri and Eugene Robinson, an associate editor and Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for the "Washington Post". Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Senator McCaskill, a 33 year old nominee to the federal bench who`d never set foot in a courtroom as a lawyer suddenly becomes a public health experts today. And no more masks required on most airlines. Some airlines have the right to maintain that rule if they want to. And we all personally have the right to wear masks as I will be on any future airline flight just when I was getting used to going back to the airport. This shows you, once again, the importance of having that power to appoint federal judges.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, elections really do matter. They matter in big ways, and small ways. And I think the qualification that this very young woman had was, at the same year she graduated in law school, which was a mere eight years before she was given a lifetime appointment of the federal bench, she also joined the Federalist Society. So she was young, she was Federalist Society, therefore, she could become a judge.

And, I was startled by the language of this opinion where without sourcing, she makes these pronouncements about the good that masks do or don`t do, when she obviously is clueless. And the vast majority of scientific evidence is, masks have saved millions of lives over the last two and a half years.

Gene Robinson, this was basically Donald Trump as a federal judge today.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it absolutely reads like Donald Trump as a federal judge. Just making these sometimes non sequitur pronouncements that are not based on any discernible fact or reference -- no facts reference, at least -- in making these conclusions.

And you know, as you said elections matter, only the 2020 election, the Republican Party decided it didn`t matter, right? And so even though Donald Trump had lost and was trying to illegally and unconstitutionally overturn the results, his party went ahead and on a party line vote, confirmed that the judge he had nominated, who was rated not qualified, and I wonder, I mean Claire could tell me, but I really wonder if that would`ve happened in the before times when there was some order and stability to our political system.

O`DONNELL: And, Claire, in the days before elections being about the very future of the existence of democracy in this country, and some people finding some elections boring, especially presidential elections, I used to insist to them that the one thing you will always have, even if the candidates were to agree on taxation and Medicare and everything else, the one thing you always have is the very significant difference in who they choose as federal judges and what kind of opinions come out of those judges that end up controlling your life.

It`s always an indirect case to make to voters. It`s always a hard one to make. But Republican voters seem to get this and attach to it more strongly than Democratic voters generally.

MCCASKILL: I guess time will tell if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, that will be a pivotal moment for us to test whether or not the women in America and people who believe that very dangerous and deadly back alley abortions are going to be the law of the land in this country, and in the majority of the states. I guess we`ll find out how motivated our voters can become around judicial selection.


MCCASKILL: But, Eugene is right. In the old days, judge decisions were not so narrow, especially for a trial judge. I mean a 49 to 41 vote is very unusual but once McConnell blew up the norms by refusing to hear the nominee of a duly elected president months before an election, then all bets were off and it became a very political exercise.

And this woman had everything she needed. She had two Republican senators from Florida. They were pushing her. And she had, well, she had youth, and she had the Federalist Society, and that`s all you need in a Republican administration.

O`DONNELL: Claire McCaskill, Eugene Robinson, thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight.

ROBINSON: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.


O`DONNELL: And coming up, Tiffany Dover is alive but anti-vaccination liars say she is dead because she fainted shortly after being one of the very first Americans to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Nurse Tiffany Dover is alive, but because anti-vaccination liars want her to be dead, the life of Tiffany Dover has changed dramatically. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: A nurse named Tiffany Dover became one of the first Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She was selected along with five other health care workers to get the vaccine, on camera, at a press event at the Chattanooga Hospital where she worked. And a few minutes later, while taking questions from reporters, Tiffany Dover fainted.


TIFFANY DOVER, FIRST TO GET COVID-19 VACCINE: I`m sorry, I`m feeling really dizzy. Oh, I`m sorry.


O`DONNELL: And after recovering, Tiffany Dover told reporters she sometimes faints when she feels pain. The hospital released a statement confirming that Tiffany Dover was just fine.

A week later, the hospital released a video and pictures of Tiffany Dover, but she was already declared dead by anti-vaccine liars. A $100,000 reward was eventually offered by a prominent anti-vaccine liar for anyone who could prove Tiffany Dover is alive.

Several reporters have proven that already, but the $100,000 has never been paid to any of them. And our next guest probably won`t be receiving any of that $100,000 for her new podcast about Tiffany Dover.

Joining us now is Brandy Zadrozny, senior reporter for NBC News Digital who covers the world of disinformation and delusion. Brandy, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

This is one of those stories that has a real person in the center of the lie. What has this done to her life?


And you know, it`s impacted her life negatively in ways that I`m sure she can never have imagined. It has put all of her social media profile pictures and videos out into the open domain.

People have made hundreds of videos starring Tiffany Dover, claiming that she has died and that there is a big cover-up. They`ve taken photos of her children, they have stalked her as she went on vacation. They have called at the hospital as they were going through a pandemic to bother them constantly and mercilessly to prove that Tiffany is somehow alive or to accuse her of orchestrating her death.

You know, people on the Internet have done a really good job of basically upending this woman`s life. And so, it`s having a real world effect.

And like you said, it`s been proven false again and again and again, but there`s just no fact checking that will get rid of this rumor.

O`DONNELL: It just seems so psycho to -- if you want to make the case that she is not alive, why would you be bothering her? You are, in effect, proving that she`s alive by your activities when you do that. What does this tell you about the world of this kind of lying?

ZADROZNY: It tells me that a lie is incredibly powerful. So powerful that the basic truth can`t defeat it. And, so in this case, an anti vaxer once told me that you have data, we have stories. And I thought that person was so right.

And so what we`re trying to do is, this is the biggest conspiracy theory to erupt from the COVID-19 vaccines. And it was the first one to come up in the COVID-19 vaccines. And all of the anti-vaxers have moved on and they`ve never been accountable for it. So we think that it`s important to tell the story and to hold those people accountable.

O`DONNELL: You can listen to the Tiffany Dover podcast wherever you get your podcasts. Brandy Zadrozny, thank you very, very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

Thank you.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.



O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: There`s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.


O`DONNELL: They get tonight`s LAST WORD once again.