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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 6/17/22

Guests: Jeremy Moss, Tony Plohetski, Tom Nichols


The impact of Donald Trump on the Republican Party as highlighted by the January 6th Committee as the GOP stays loyal to Trump despite the insurrection. The January 6th Committee is going to submit witness transcripts to the Department of Justice for their own investigation on Donald Trump for the insurrection. On May 24th, two days before the end of the school year, 19 children and two teachers were murdered in their classrooms. As of tonight, those families have no answer about why police on scene waited more than an hour to go into the classroom, even though they knew there were children alive inside.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We`re having to discuss the January 6 probe with some MSNBC viewers. If you type in my name,, that`s the best way to connect with me online or on social media if you`re into that sort of thing. And one reminder, Rachel will be back here on Monday night, so she`ll see you then.

Now, we turn to THE LAST WORD with Jonathan Capehart in for our friend, Lawrence. Hi, Jonathan.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Ari, thank you very much. And you know, that social media thing, I`m into that kind of thing. Thanks a lot, Ari. So, you have a good weekend.

Was the third January 6 sixth select committee hearing on Donald Trump`s efforts to overturn the election the biggest subtweet in history? Because June 16 was the seventh anniversary of this.


Yep, that`s right. It`s been seven years since Donald Trump started his takeover of the Republican Party. An hour long descends to where we are. We now know that Donald Trump knew what he was asking Mike Pence to do was illegal. And we are left to wonder about just how much danger Donald Trump knew Mike Pence was in when he was sending anti-Pence tweets to the smartphones of the Trump mob attacking the capitol.


UNKNOWN: By 2:24 p.m., the Secret Service had moved Vice President Pence from the Senate chamber to his office across the hall.

CHRIS HODGSON, FORMER PENCE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: The noise from the rioters became audible, at which point we recognized that maybe they have gotten into the building.

UNKNOWN: Then President Trump tweeted, "Mike Pence didn`t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth."

UNKNOWN: Bring out Pence!

UNKNOWN: The situation was already bad. And so, it felt like he was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that.

UNKNOWN: Thirty seconds later, rioters already inside the capitol open the east rotunda door just down the hall. And just 30 seconds after that, rioters reached the crypt, one floor below the vice president.

HODGSON: The Secret Service couldn`t control the situation and do their job of keeping him safe.

UNKNOWN: At 2:26 p.m. Secret Service rushed Vice President Pence down the stairs.

HODGSON: And we moved pretty quickly down the stairs and through various hallways and tunnels to the secure location. Upon arriving there, there was further discussion as to whether or not we were going to leave the capitol complex or stay where we were.

UNKNOWN: Vice President Pence and his team ultimately were led to a secure location where they stayed for the next four and a half hours, barely missing rioters a few feet away.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Approximately 40 feet -- that`s all there was. Forty feet between the vice president and the mob.


CAPEHART: You should still be shocked. It is shocking. What is Mitch McConnell have to say about the shocking revelation that the Trump mob came within 40 feet of the Republican vice president shouting that they wanted to hang him?


GREG JACOB, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: When we got down to the secure location, Secret Service directed us to get into the cars, which I did. And then I noticed that the vice president had not. So, I got out of the car that I had gotten into and I understood that the vice president had refused to get into the car.

The head of his Secret Service detail, Tim, had said, I assure you, we`re not going to drive out of the building without your permission. And the vice president had said something to the effect of, "Tim, I know you. I trust you, but you`re not the one behind the wheel."


CAPEHART: What do Republican leaders have to say about Vice President Pence being afraid to get in the car on January 6th? Anyone? Seven years after Trump came down that escalator and was called out and mocked by many elected Republicans who, correctly, found him deplorable, there are only two elected Republicans sitting on that day is exposing Trump`s attack on the American democratic system.

One of them has already been run out of Republican electoral politics. And the other is fighting for her political life. Beyond the threats to Mike Pence and his family, the January 6th hearings are proving that whatever Trump and Trumpism touches will ultimately be corrupted.

Seven years after Trump came down that escalator, the January 6th hearings are shining a spotlight on the existential crisis faced by the conservative movement. You are either with Trump and MAGA mob rule or you`re with America and democracy.


It`s a situation that Judge Michael Luttig, one of the preeminent conservative jurists in America summed up starkly and masterfully in his testimony yesterday.


MICHAEL LUTTIG, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy. That`s not because of what happened on January 6th. It`s because to this very day, the former president, his allies, and supporters pledge that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.


CAPEHART: Joining us now David Jolly, former Republican congressman from Florida. He left the Republican Party in 2018 and is now national chairman of the Serve America Movement. And Tim Miller, writer-at-large at "The Bulwark." He is the author of "Why We Did It: A travelog from the Republican Road to Hell," which will be published later this month. They are both MSNBC political analysts.

Thank you both very much for being here. Tim, I`m going to start with you. Let`s be realistic here. Is there any possibility of convincing anyone in the Republican Party how bad January 6th actually was for the country?

TIM MILLER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think if you`re talking about Republican regulars, not Republican elected officials because there are Republican elected officials that know how bad it was, but they aren`t doing anything about it. They are playing this big game of pretend. It`s what I`m writing about in my book.

They feel it was -- you remember the famous "Washington Post" article before January 6th? It was the anonymous Republican was quoted as saying, you know, what`s the problem with humoring him for a few months? They are still humoring him. Here we are, years later. I felt like the old woman on the Titanic when he said it was seven years now that (inaudible) came down the escalator (inaudible) aging.

But now, you know, a full year and a half after January 6th, they are still humoring him, so, no. I think that if you are looking for, you know, the scales to fall from the eyes of Republican elected officials, no.

But these hearings, you know, 20 million people, that`s more people that watched the Final Four, watched the primetime hearings. There are regular rank and file Republicans who, you know, maybe are Fox News viewers, or maybe not that -- not really news viewers at all, you know, who are getting some of this information new.

And I think just moving one, two, three percent of them, moving people on the margins does matter. And frankly, even if they move nobody, it`s my view that this committee has a historic importance. And that they need to do what they`re doing without worrying about, you know, 3D chess, about you know, whether someone in the Waukesha suburbs, some Republican is going to change their vote in November. That`s not the right way to look at this.

CAPEHART: Right. And, Tim, I agree with you 100 percent on that last point. Ultimately, this is about history. David, I want you to listen to this from Fox News analyst Britt Hume.


BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What strikes me about this Bret, is, that if they succeed, either by damaging him or staining him, such that he is either unable or, for legal or political reasons, to run again, they might end up finding out that they`ve done the Republican Party a great service because I think a great many Republican think they can`t win with Trump at the head of the ticket again.

They are afraid of his supporters and don`t want to come out against him directly. But they like him to go away. As the effect of this committee is to make his possible candidacy go away, I think a great many Republicans would privately be very glad.


CAPEHART: So, David, what do you think the reaction will be both from elected Republicans in Washington and with Republican voters if the committee did prevent Trump from running again in 2024?

DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, look, I think Britt Hume is right, but I want to associate myself with Tim`s remarks and yours affirmation that I don`t think the J6 committee now the Democrats writ- large should consider the political implications of what they`re doing.

They are on the right side of history. This is being recorded as a critical moment in American history and they should look at it through that lens.


But the interesting thing, Jonathan, is this -- the committee has to successfully isolated Donald Trump as the architect of this coup and of the one person who insisted despite all lawbreaking and all potential violence to pursue this coup, they have so isolated him as the bad actor, that what it has done is two things.

It has reminded America the most effective political coalition in the past six years is the never Trump coalitions of these eyes and soft R`s that turned out in `18 and turned out in `20. And if Donald Trump were to emerge in `24, it very well might attract this never Trump coalition to come out again.

Conversely, if the political impact of this is that Donald Trump is too unpopular to run, then a Glenn Youngkin, a Ron DeSantis, a Greg Abbott says, hey, look over here. Remember, I`m the old Republican that you used to believe in despite all of the culture war, hardline conservative policies of those three and other Republicans. They don`t bring Donald Trump`s anti-Democratic, anti-Republican small R Republican values to a presidential run.

CAPEHART: I don`t know. But DeSantis and Youngkin, it`s like a smiley face on some of the Trumpism there. But David Jolly and Tim Miller, we`re going to have to leave it there. We`ll continue this discussion another time. Thank you both very much for coming to THE LAST WORD.

JOLLY: Thank you.

CAPEHART: Joining us now are two former federal prosecutors, our MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance and Glenn Kirschner. Glenn, let`s start with you. If you were building a case around January 6th, what interests you most based on what we learned yesterday?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I would like to think I would build a case much as the January 6th committee investigative team of former federal prosecutors has built the case that they are now presenting to the American people.

I mean, it was pretty breathtaking, Jonathan, when we learned that John Eastman who was deeply involved in the plot to overturn the elections results at one point sent an e-mail to a Pence staffer that said, you know what, let`s engage in just one more relatively minor violation of the law.

Even, you know, after the riot, he was still advocating for overturning the elections results. And, you know, what is implicit in this statement that John Eastman made? Let`s engage in one more relatively minor violation of the law. He was acknowledging that he had engaged in earlier violations of the law.

You know, there is nowhere left for John Eastman to run. I mean, if there`s any justice in our future, John Eastman will become a guest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons at some point for the crimes that have been exposed by the J6 committee.

CAPEHART: You know, Joyce, there`s a big difference between presenting a case in public, like the committee is doing, and presenting a case in court, like the Justice Department would do. Talk about those differences and are there advantages that the DOJ will have in its grand jury investigation?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it`s obviously easier to be the committee presenting evidence because you don`t have to worry about the federal rules of evidence like the Justice Department does when it tries a case. For instance, rules against hearsay that would apply at trial don`t apply and the committee is exploiting those differences and using them to great effect.

That`s not to say that DOJ couldn`t find ways to get the same evidence in an inadmissible fashion, but it`s some work. And the Justice Department lawyers will have to be very careful to make sure if they do decide to indict, that they`ve got all of the evidence that they need.

The advantage that they have, of course, is federal grand jury subpoena power. They can force witnesses to come without having to jump through all of the hoops that Congress has had to jump through. They can force them to come and testify before a grand jury. They can obtain documents in that same way more readily and more easily.

So, for the disadvantages, they are meted out by the advantages that the Feds -- how when they prosecute cases. Nonetheless, it`s a lot easier to be an armchair prosecutor. Glenn and I both know this to be true than to be the federal prosecutor who`s actually sitting down evaluating the evidence against the elements and the statute and making sure that you`re ready to go.

CAPEHART: And Glenn, the January 6th committee said in a statement today, they are cooperating with the DOJ`s requests for transcripts of its witness interviews. Let me read from the DOJ`s letter. "It is now readily apparent that the interviews the select committee conducted are not just potentially just relevant to our overall criminal investigation, but are likely relevant to specific prosecutions that have already commenced.


Given this overlap, it`s critical that the select committee provide us with copies of the transcripts of all its witness interviews. As you are aware, grand jury investigations are not public and thus the select committee does not and will not know the identity of all the witnesses who have information relevant to the department`s ongoing criminal investigations. As a lay person, Glenn, I know what I think about this. But what do you make of that letter?

KIRSCHNER: So, you know, I think that letter shows that the Department of Justice is on a mission and it`s a mission in the grand jury to present all of the information, all of the evidence from the witnesses, that the grand jury will need to assess whether there is enough to indict anyone.

And, you know, if you`re putting a witness in the grand jury, Jonathan, and you know that that witness has also given prior sworn testimony to a congressional committee, you have to get a hold of that information to assimilate it into your grand jury presentation. Because think about it, what if there are inconsistencies in what that witness said in the grand jury versus before a congressional committee?

That could undermine the quality and credibility of the evidence that that witness has to present. So, this looks to me like the Department of Justice wanting to be thorough. And let me add this, and I think I can probably speak for Joyce as well. There may be information that`s been developed by the J6 committee that is helpful to some of the defendants, what we call Brady evidence.

And you know, the Department of Justice I think has a moral, if not, legal obligation to try to get a hold of that information as well. I don`t want to get into a tutorial about whether it`s in the government`s possession. If it`s in the executive branch versus in the legislative branch, but it`s the right thing to do because even insurrectionists and Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are entitled to a fair and full trial and defense.

So, for lots of reasons, I think it`s important that the Department of Justice get everything from the J6 committee to make sure their grand jury investigation is solid.

CAPEHART: Glenn, I hear what you`re saying about the Proud Boys and, you know, equal justice and all that. I don`t have to like it, though. Glenn Kirschner, Joyce Vance, thank you both very much for coming to THE LAST WORD.

And coming, up as threats during Pride Month are forcing some LGBTQ groups to cancel events, one Democrat in Michigan is fighting back against the homophobia and transphobia from his Republican colleagues.


JEREMY MOSS, MEMBER, MICHIGAN STATE SENATE: But this year, curiously this year, the Republican leadership regresses and again throws Pride Month back into the trash heap. I guess the cruelty is the point.


CAPEHART: That man, right there, Michigan state Senator Jeremy Moss will join us next.



CAPEHART: The far-right is using Pride Month this year to wage a culture war against the LGBTQ community. NBC News reports that security threats have forced drag events and transgender rights events to be canceled across the country.

The threats, mostly aimed to shut down events for transgender rights and drag performances, which have become frequent targets of extremists, militias, and far-right personalities during June, which is Pride Month. They come as more than 200 bills targeting LGBTQ people have been filed across the United States this year.

At the core of some of these attacks is willful ignorance, conflating the shows drag performers -- drag performers have in gay bars and clubs to all adult audiences, and family friendly drag events at places like libraries and farmers markets. Look at it this way, it`s no different than a comedian like Richard Pryor performing his edgy and profane comedy to a theater of adults, and also, appearing multiple times with children in educational segments on "Sesame Street."

For conservatives, this is actually a shift in the seven years and one day since Donald Trump descended the golden escalator and officially became a political candidate. The very same month Trump launched his campaign, conservative Supreme Court justice, Anthony Kennedy, drafted the majority opinion for Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

At the time, it felt like the capstone, coming after the Lawrence decision in 2003 and overturning DOMA in 2013. Both opinions authored by Ronald Reagan`s Supreme Court pick, Justice Kennedy. And yet, since then, along with racism and misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, again, became acceptable in Donald Trump`s America.

But there are folks fighting back. In Michigan State senate, Republicans just rejected the resolution to declare June LGBTQ Pride Month. The resolution was word for word, identical to the one adopted last year. Here is how Democrat Jeremy Moss, the states only out gay senator, who will join us in just a few moments, responded.



MOSS: The people of the state of Michigan understand, appreciate, and value the cultural, civic, and economic contributions of the LGBTQ community to the greater community of this state. That is a line directly from the Pride Month resolution that we adopted last year, and that you won`t adopt this year. This year`s 2022. It`s an election year. And instead, you choose to exploit divisiveness and discard this resolution.

They call people groomers only in 2022, but it doesn`t solve your problems. They push don`t say gay only in 2022, but it doesn`t solve your problems. They protest drag queens only 2022, but it doesn`t solve your problems. They pray on people`s fears, but it doesn`t solve your problem. We, instead, choose inclusion. We choose love. We truth respect. We choose human dignity. We choose pride.


CAPEHART: Jeremy Moss is standing by, but first we are joined by Ben Collins, senior reporter for NBC News Digital who covers disinformation, extremism, and the internet. He`s the co-author of the report we mentioned about the threats to pride events across the country.

Ben, great to see you. Thank you for being here. Right-wing outrage over things like drag queen, reading hours, is something we`ve seen before, but the data you`ve seen proves it`s getting worse?

BEN COLLINS, SENIOR REPORTER, NBC NEWS: Yes. In the last month, we`ve actually seen this wild and substantial jump, and talks about drag queens` story (inaudible) the country. In fact, in fact it`s 777 percent more. It sounds like a ridiculous number. That`s what it is over the last month.

As you can see, that jump is right at the start of Pride Month, and that`s because, you know far-right influencers, you know, accounts called things like Libs with TikTok have pushed these events into the public eye. They have said that, you know, they have attached comments to them saying like, you know, we live in hell and things like that.

And that`s how by the way, militias and these far-right extremist groups have come to identify these, you know, almost random, seemingly random events that are happening in like San Lorenzo, California, or that Coeur d`Alene pride parade that happened last week where those 31 masked militiamen from Patriot Front wound up outside of there. That wasn`t just them. It wasn`t just Patriot Front.

It was also groups like Atomwaffen and the Proud Boys, they were also there, but it`s all from this one basically a machine on the internet, that churns out brand-new anti-trans content every day.

CAPEHART: And Ben, based on your reporting, what is the concern from LGBT groups going forward?

COLLINS: Well, the big concern is that this isn`t going to stop, you know, because I think people saw that they bust, you know, those 31 white nationalists on Saturday and thought that was maybe just some incident. It was not. There were people targeting state senators in California. There was another pride event that got canceled in Georgia because of a bomb threat that very next day.

This is something that`s ongoing throughout Pride Month. This is an obsession for a lot of people on the far-right right now. They think they have a target and they think that they can drive people against that target, maybe drive voter turnout later in the year based on those people they are targeting. They think they have a winning electoral issue and militias think that they can jump on to that too.

CAPEHART: They are always targeting the other. Ben Collins, thank you very much for coming to THE LAST WORD. And joining us now-- excuse me -- and joining is now is Michigan Democratic State Senator Jeremy Moss. Senator Moss, thank you for being here. You`re Michigan`s only out gay state senator and you sponsored this resolution. Explain why this year, an election year, it`s different as you said, in your floor speech this week?

MOSS: Well, we have been trying to pass this Pride Month resolution simply to declare June as Pride Month in legislature every year that I`ve been elected, and I`ve been in the legislature for eight years. And every year, they`ve rejected this resolution, sent it to committee without action.

Finally, last year, we got momentum some Republicans to sign on board. And last year, we agreed upon the language for these resolutions to be adopted. So, this year I introduced the exact same resolution from June 2021 to declare June 22, 2022 as Pride Month. And introduced it, thought it was going to be passed without any controversy or fanfare.

And Republicans pulled me aside and said, they wanted to change the language of it, and if I didn`t think the language of it, they weren`t going to adopt it. And that language included anti-LGBTQ language in the Pride Month resolution, recognizing that not everyone in the state of Michigan supports the LGBTQ lifestyle.


So, you know, the cruelty is the point. And they are the ones changing the stakes. They are the ones that are moving the goalpost. And that is -- it`s a symbolic resolution. But it`s symbolic of the struggle of the LGBTQ rights movement as a whole. You gain progress. You gain support. And they make you cross through more hurdles and more thresholds just to get to that level playing play field to compete with everybody else. It`s ridiculous.

CAPEHART: I mean, one of the things that they wanted you to do was to quote -- make it, quote, "more reflective of the diversity of opinions in the Senate". Please, let me ask you about this, Senator Moss.

In your speech, you poked fun at the notion of a so-called gay agenda, and then explained what a gay agenda really is. What is the gay agenda, Senator Moss?

MOSS: I absolutely highlighted that, because they were so intentional on discarding and rejecting this resolution that that`s the only thing we did in session that day. They actually have votes scheduled in session that they canceled, just so they could work through some procedural maneuvers to reject this Pride month resolution.

I am a senator who happens to be gay, who is leading the fight against price gouging in the state senate. We haven`t taken that up. I`m the senator who happens to be gay, who is pushing forward on common sense gun reform, and we`re not taking that up either.

So I have an agenda that impacts every community. I want to create good, safe healthy communities in the state of Michigan. Their only agenda is to divide. Their only agenda is to prey on people`s fears.

They are not offering solutions. We are the ones that are offering solutions, that they`re not letting us put forward and get ahead.

CAPEHART: Senator Moss, you and I are going to talk again on Sunday, because you are coming to "THE SUNDAY SHOW", so I will say thank you now.

Michigan State Senator Jeremy Moss, thank you very much for coming to THE LAST WORD.

MOSS: Thank you.

CAPEHART: Coming up -- coming up, the families of 19 children and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, still have no explanation for why police waited more than an hour to enter the classroom with the gunmen. And Texas officials want to keep it that way. That`s next.



CAPEHART: On May 24th, two days before the end of the school year, 19 children and two teachers were murdered in their classrooms. As of tonight, those families have no answer about why police on scene waited more than an hour to go into the classroom, even though they knew there were children alive inside.

And it seems, Texas authorities want to keep it that way. Vice News reports today that the city of Uvalde and its police department hired a private law firm to prevent the release of any records related to the mass murder at Rob Elementary School.

Uvalde officials argue the record should not be released, in part because some of the records could include highly embarrassing information, and in part, because some of that information is not of legitimate concern to the public.

These public records include body camera footage, photos, 9-1-1 calls, emails, text messages, criminal records and more. Yesterday, Uvalde district attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee told local television station, KSAT12, that she was not investigating anything related to the shooting, even though that nonexistent investigation has been cited as an excuse for not releasing information.

Today, members of a Republican-led special committee of the state legislature, investigating the shooting, held a closed-door meeting in Uvalde, with police department officials and Robb Elementary School teachers.

NBC News reports that the committee is expected to hear more testimony from police officers on Monday, all behind closed doors.

Joining us now is Tony Plohetski, investigative reporter for the "Austin American Statesman". Tony, thank you for being here. In your new report for the "Austin American Statesman", you obtained handwritten notes from Governor Greg Abbott, when he was initially briefed by officials on the shooting. What can you tell us about those notes?

TONY PLOHETSKI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN": Well, Jonathan, first of all, it`s noteworthy that among dozens of requests that we have submitted, as well as news outlets across the country, one piece of information that has been released is in fact, the governor`s handwritten notes that he was taking during his initial briefing in the day after the shooting.

The governor has said that he was misled during that briefing, and so, wanted to compare what his public comments were, with his notes. And as well as that, talked to several sources who were inside that room as well.

And one of the things that we were able to determine is that apparently, yes, he was, in fact, given misinformation, during that initial briefing. But in addition to that, when he made his public comment based on what people inside that room told us, he also seemed to take what he was told, a step further, really relying upon a narrative that he has used before, with regard to the heroism and quick response of law enforcement.


CAPEHART: You know, another character in all of this is Chief Arredondo. Has he surfaced? He`s a city counselor now, and as far as anyone will tell us, still head of the school police force.

PLOHETSKI: It is -- it continues to be noteworthy that the school superintendent, as well as the school board, have not taken the step of placing him on any sort of administrative leave, leaving him to still function as the leader of the school police force at a time when he is at the core of this huge state investigation, as well as federal investigation. So far, he continues to make precious few public statements. And it remains to be seen the degree to which he is cooperating with the investigations that are going on.

And for that matter, we continue to get word about Uvalde city police officers, and the degree to which they`re cooperating with an ongoing investigation by a Texas house committee.

We heard today that they were going to testify, possibly not. We are now being told that they are to appear before this committee on Monday. But as you mentioned, that is expected to be secret, private testimony.

CAPEHART: Let`s talk a little bit more about the police response because I`m wondering is there any investigation that is specifically looking into the police response, and when might someone, somewhere provide some answers?

PLOHETSKI: Well, there is an ongoing investigation into the actions of those law enforcement officials. But again, the way that these investigations have been described publicly is more of an after action report that there is no criminal investigation. And frankly, no suspicion, as we sit here tonight, of any sort of criminal wrongdoing among those police officers, those responding police officers.

But Jonathan, kind of circling back to where we started, that makes it even more confusing, that law enforcement is not releasing the information that they have in their possession right now, that could truly help the public and the parents of the victims of that shooting fully understand what happened that awful day.

CAPEHART: Tony, what about the FBI? What are they doing in there look-see at what happened in Uvalde?

PLOHETSKI: Again, it`s really being described as an after action report, not something that could possibly result in any sort of criminal charges but lessons learned, what could possibly be taken from what happened in Uvalde, and applied in the future, particularly with regard to law enforcement training, to hopefully stop something like this from ever happening again.

CAPEHART: Tony Plohetski, thank you very much for coming to THE LAST WORD.


CAPEHART: Coming up, American voters, we need to talk. We ask, what do Republican leaders think about the attack on American democracy? What do you think about it? And more importantly, what are you going to do about it? That`s next.




DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I gave you antitank busters, and a lot of people didn`t want to do that. But I did it. And I really hope that Russia -- because I really believe that President Putin would like to do something. I really hope that you and President Putin get together and can solve your problem.


CAPEHART: My God, that video. That was after Donald Trump tried to extort President Zelenskyy by withholding military aid, after a year`s-long special counsel investigation into Trump`s Russia ties, after Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. Election with the express purpose of helping Donald Trump win. After "Russia, if you are listening". How quickly we forget.

Of course, attempting to extort Ukraine is why Donald Trump is impeached the first time. The second time Trump was impeached for his own interference in the 2020 U.S. election.

The extent of Trump`s interference is now the subject of the select committee hearings and investigation and a criminal probe in Georgia and several civil lawsuits.

There is a tendency in American politics to consider presidencies independently, like, it`s Biden`s presidency now and he has to own it. But come on -- it is borderline malpractice to consider the Biden presidency out of the context of that previous guy.

And in that context, one can only conclude, as Tom Nichols does in "The Atlantic". "I think he`s done a pretty good job, especially given the fact that he`s dealing with a pandemic, revelations about an attempted American coup d`etat, and an economic slowdown over which he had no control.

Oh and by the way, he`s also managed so far to head off World War III and a possible nuclear conflict. We seem to forget that this is job one for every American president.


And maybe, just maybe, voters agree. Because while the polling right now is bad for Biden and bad for Democrats, they do not appear to be rushing to give the enablers of Donald Trump more power in November.

Look at this, a new USA Today/Suffolk poll shows the generic congressional ballot tied, 40 percent to 40 percent. While a new Politico/ Morning Consult poll shows Democrats with a two-point edge, 44 percent to 42 percent.

Joining us now, Tom Nichols, a former professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He`s a contributing writer at "The Atlantic", where he is the author of the "Peacefield" newsletter. Tom, great to see you.

I don`t mean to play the counterfactual game. But on this one really important issue, Putin`s war in Ukraine, the difference could not be more clear. We don`t have to imagine it, do we?

TOM NICHOLS, "THE ATLANTIC": No. And again, Americans -- I think you put it really, well Jonathan -- Americans have this tendency to chop historical periods into discrete presidential administrations, as though everybody, you know, packs up the world and then unboxes it again when the new guy comes in, you know. and it makes no sense.

I mean Presidents inherit each other`s problems. Nixon inherited Vietnam from LBJ, Obama inherited Afghanistan from Bush. You know, we elect leaders to continue or to discontinue policies but we don`t pretend that the world starts anew on a morning in January. Or we shouldn`t pretend that the world starts anew on a morning in January.

The difference between Trump and Biden on Ukraine is as clear as day and you know, Biden didn`t create the situation. But he`s got to deal with it now.

CAPEHART: Tom, it is one consequence of Trump`s bombast that voters are confused by what government can actually do? Like, why can`t the U.S. lower gas prices with the Iraq oil Trump looted? Because he didn`t do that? That was never in the solution set. But tax gas holiday feels pale by comparison.

NICHOLS: Yes, this has been a problem in American politics for a long time that we have become so focused on the presidency that we really think presidents can do almost anything. And you can pick, you know, who you want to play for that.

You know, old school used to blame it on FDR and Kennedy and Reagan and other, you know, bigger than life characters in the Oval Office. But I also think it`s just the nature of our government. We put one person in charge of the executive branch of government and then we say, why can`t superman lower gas prices tomorrow? You know, why can`t this god-like creature, you know, fix the supply chain in a week? He`s the president. Presidents are magic.

And I think that that doesn`t speak well of us as voters. Because I think we used to understand that there was more to governing this country than nearly electing a president.

CAPEHART: Right. Gosh, Tom, I 100 percent agree with you on that.

But here`s another thing. I recently read, excuse me, that Europe`s interest in Ukraine is waning as the cost of war for them is increasing. Are you concerned about a similar effect here in the United States, in terms of the attack on democracy? Voters concern about inflation outweighing anti-democratic Republican behavior?

NICHOLS: I`m deeply concerned about it, both with regard to the war in Ukraine, which is a military attack on democracy, and the political attack on democracy here in the united states. People simply lose focus.

It doesn`t -- and it`s understandable because it`s not something that affects you every single day the way that gas prices or inflation does. But it`s kind of like the plumbing. You don`t pay attention to it as long as you think it`s kind of working, until the day it doesn`t work and then you are up to your hips in water.

And I think that`s the thing that really worries me. You don`t feel the effects of an erosion of the constitution every single day. But once the constitutional order collapses, it`s too late to do anything about it. And again, I think we used to be able, as a society, as an electorate, to be able to walk and chew gum a little better than we can now. I think we used to be a bit more serious about these things.

CAPEHART: That was a great analogy, Tom. Thank you very much. Tom Nichols, thanks for joining us tonight.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.



CAPEHART: Sunday is a big day. It`s Juneteenth. It`s Father`s Day. And it`s when you can join me for "THE SUNDAY SHOW". And that night is the premiere of "THE CULTURE IS BLACK WOMEN".


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look at this table, and these amazing women sitting across this table -- and I know everybody has earned their right to be here, you know, beautifully placed at this table. And still, somebody could come in here and question our place at this table.

So, with that, I would like to bring in Maria Taylor to the conversation because, young sister, we know that you earned your place, despite with others may say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m just curious, because you`ve been in the line of fire. And we didn`t know you but we knew you. We knew your story. You were our sister immediately.

So, how have you managed being in that line of fire and handle it with such grace and success?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that keeps coming to my mind is like I just wish that there was a world in which, you know, everything that a black woman did -- someone wasn`t coming to dim that light or blow it out. Like I wish that there was someone there fanning our flames.


CAPEHART: You can watch "THE CULTURE IS" Sunday at 10 pm eastern on MSNBC.

"THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.