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

Guests: Bee Nguyen, J. David Goodman, Tony Plohetski, Roland Gutierrez


Election workers around the country have suffered greatly because of the lies Donald Trump has told about them. But Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, have suffered the most, having been specifically publicly named by Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani as responsible for Donald Trump`s loss to Joe Biden, in Georgia. The Uvalde school police chief Arredondo was placed on leave. The Department of Justice has issued new subpoenas in the Trump fraudulent elector conspiracy.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, and I`ll be joining you at 8:00 tomorrow.

Rachel, so imagine it is the mid-1990s, and you are with your elementary school on a tour of Washington, D.C. and at the Capitol. You are 30-ish, right, 33-ish. Yeah.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yeah, rounding to the nearest 30-ish?

O`DONNELL: So, you are at an elementary school --

MADDOW: Not even.

O`DONNELL: -- in the 1990s, and you are walking through one of the congressional office buildings. You see over there, a low traffic area, over on a stone bench, there is the famous columnist and pundit Mark Shields, and he is sitting beside a guy in a t-shirt and jeans, who is actually me, and I am counting $10,000 in cash.

What do you think, and who do you report it to?

MADDOW: I think, wow, they got drug dealers in the East Coast here, too, mom. That`s probably why I think.

O`DONNELL: It was -- it was a strange moment. It`s a strange moment. It`s all going to be explained at the --


O`DONNELL: -- at the end of the show why Mark Shields was with me when I was counting $10,000 in cash in a congressional office building.

MADDOW: Can I ask you in advance how big $10,000 in cash is?

O`DONNELL: It was hundreds, so I have never seen it before. It was quite a stack. You have to count them, you know, I just picked them up, here`s a hint. I picked them up in the garage downstairs.


MADDOW: You`ve got me, Lawrence. You got your hooks in me.

O`DONNELL: That was where I was handed them.

MADDOW: You got your hooks in me.

O`DONNELL: Let me just say, Mark Shields took it instead completely in stride, okay? It was just completely in stride, just another day in Hill.

MADDOW: Was there in fact an elementary tour group who saw you and immediately summoned the nearest police officer?

O`DONNELL: No, but I did worry one might be one around the corner, and it just wasn`t going to make any sense.

MADDOW: I would`ve been that narky little kid, I would have been, except I would have been 25.

O`DONNELL: Explanation coming later in this hour.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence. Can`t wait.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

Well, the Texas cover-up is really collapsing tonight thanks to a relentless reporting but two of our first guest tonight and the singular crusade mounted by one Texas state senator, who simply will not give up. The attempt to cover up what happened inside Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a mass murder killed 19 children and two teachers, is really falling apart.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott with the help of other Republican elected officials, including the local district attorney in Uvalde, a scene to all be working together to cover up what happened inside the school until after the election day in November, when Greg Abbott is hoping to be reelected over his Democratic opponent, Beto O`Rourke.

But the district attorney has been forced to admit that she has not been investigating anything, even though she publicly requested that everybody remain absolutely silent about what happened in this school until she completed her work without ever explaining what her work is, since the crime committed in the school was murder, and the murderer is dead.

Now, the Texas officials have been forced to speak publicly this week. They are in open public conflict with each other, provoking one of them to say that the gloves are off. Local Republican officials in Uvalde believe that state Republican officials are trying to lay all of the blame for the that police work inside the school on the local police, while local officials in Uvalde are demanding more information about what the state police officers were doing inside and outside of the school.

And what it all comes down to is the power of the AR-15, the high powered semiautomatic rifle made for warfare that an 18-year-old was able to legally buy and carry into that school to rip human bodies apart. The doctor who saw the bodies of some of the children said that some of them were decapitated by that weapon.

That held Texas police officers from state and local police forces at bay for over an hour. For over an hour, local Uvalde police and the small police force of the Uvalde school district, along with state police officers and some federal officers, failed to rush into that classroom for over an hour because they were afraid of that weapon.

Yesterday, Steve McCraw, the head of the state police forces, said three minutes, three minutes after the murderer entered the school, the police had enough equipment and weapons to try to save the children.


STEVE MCCRAW, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR: Three minutes after the subject entered the west of the building, there were sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject.

The only thing stopping the hallway of dedicated officers from moving to room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers over the lives of children. The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers that training, the subject had none.

One error, 14 minutes and eight seconds, that`s how long the children waited and their teachers waited in room 111 to be rescued.

While they waited, the on-scene commander waited for radio and rifles. Then he waited for shields, and then he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed.


O`DONNELL: They waited because the police were afraid of what an AR-15 could do to them.


JOSE MENENDEZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATOR: Based on the hundred rounds that he shot and the short amount of time period, could he have done as much damage, I think we all know the logic answer, with a bat or knife or a revolver? Could he have killed as many people?



O`DONNELL: The head of the state police forces are blaming the failure of all of the different police departments, all of them on one person, the chief of the five-person police force whose only job was to serve the Uvalde school district. Chief Pete Arredondo has refused to testify in public about what he did and did not do inside the school in his capacity as chief of the school police force.

But in one interview with "The Texas Tribune", he insisted that he spent much of the hour searching for a key to unlock the classroom door. That story was cracked by the New York Times last week in reporting that indicated no one ever checked that the door was locked.

Yesterday, the head of the state police testified that the door was not locked. They have indeed proved that. Every one with the ability to protect Pete Arredondo in Uvalde has been actively protecting him until today, when he was finally placed on administrative leave by the superintendent of the school board that employs Pete Arredondo.

That should`ve happened the day after the mass murder. But it took the school board a month to do that because they had no intention of doing it. They were forced to do it to cover-up is collapsing.

Everyone on the city council was trying to protect Pete Arredondo until last night, when citizens forced the council meeting to reverse themselves. Pete Arredondo won a seat on the city council and has had every intention of continuing in his police chief job while also serving on the city council, but he has not been able to attend, or has chosen not to attend any public meeting of the city council because they all occurred after the mass murder in the school that he did nothing to prevent and that he does not want to talk about.

The city council and the mayor conspired to have a secret swearing in of Pete Arredondo as a city counselor the week after the mass murders in the school. The mayor in the city council were doing everything they possibly could to protect Pete Arredondo.

And last night, they were going to grant Pete Arredondo a special leave of absence from his job as a city counselor so that he can then hold on to his job as a city counselor, because, the rule is, you are not allowed to miss three meetings of the city council, which Pete Arredondo is on the verge of doing.


And if they granted him a leave of absence, then he would not be recorded as missing three meetings.

The plan didn`t work, because Kim Hammond rose to speak to the city council.


KIM HAMMOND, RESIDENT OF UVALDE, TEXAS: You said that we don`t have the power to fire him, let me give you a simple out. You can remove him because he`s going to vacate his seat. So, you`re agenda number six is a decision on whether or not to give him a leave of absence, why the hell would you? Let him miss. Three meetings, he is my councilman, let him miss three.

The investigation is going to come in and tell us why and what we can do better, what you can do right now is not give him, if he requested it, a leave of absence. Don`t give him an out. We don`t want him. We want him out.

You can do something right now tonight and not table whether you would decide to give him that leave of absence. I implore you do not give him that leave of absence.

ERNEST W. KING, UVALDE CITY COUNCILMEMBER: I heard you guys, and this bothers me. I had an idea when I came in here. I was going to do a very short grant leave of absence so that we have voted on it over and over and over. So you guys wouldn`t see him.

But I don`t need to talk a whole lot more. I make a motion that we don`t grant the leave of absence for Councilman Arredondo.



O`DONNELL: And that was the end of that part of the cover-up. The Republican mayor of Uvalde, who has been helping Peter Arredondo hold on to both of his jobs and who called Beto O`Rourke a sick son of a bitch for questioning Governor Greg Abbott`s press conference about the shooting that was full of falsehoods, that same air is now very angry at Governor Greg Abbott`s people. He`s very angry at the people in state government, who Governor Abbott is relying on to blame local Uvalde officials.


DON MCLAUGHLIN, MAYOR OF UVALDE, TEXAS: The gloves are off. If we know, we will share. We are not going to hold back anymore.

We comply at the request because you are not we are doing a formal investigation into the right thing. Yet, they can go to Austin and have public deals and talk about it and not share a damn thing with the city, or anybody in this community. That is wrong. That is totally wrong.


O`DONNELL: The mayor directly attacked the head of the state police force, Steve McCraw, who Governor Abbott inherited from a previous administration, but who Governor Abbott can fire right now.


MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of farce do you have in Austin today, at least the house has the audacity to keep it in a closed-door session, and we have the bozo, and clown show in the Senate today with McCraw and everybody giving answers, they still don`t have the facts to. And they still don`t have the truth to. And yet again, he didn`t talk about any other agencies that were there, that were there, and also have an accountability to everyone that was there, too. Colonel McCraw has an agenda and does not have to present a full report on what happened and to give factual to the families of this community.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our coverage tonight, J. David Goodman, Houston bureau chief for "The New York Times", and Tony Plohetski, investigative reporter for "The Austin American-Statesman".

Tony, I have to say, this kind of open warfare was not something I saw coming last week.

TONY PLOHETSKI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: Well, I don`t think that any of this did. But at the same time, when we began to see these facts, finally start to roll out, some of it from public testimony as you mentioned given by Steve McCraw yesterday, but also in addition to that, additional information coming to light from sources who have been able to share information.

I was able to watch a video, some of the security video, from the school the day that this was happening. And when you look at that, and you look at the facts as they are starting to come out, clearly the effort to conceal information and to hide information is as you mentioned, falling apart.

We are finally one month and one day later starting to get some real truth and some real facts out there. Clearly, there are people who do not like that, and who are finding the truth very difficult to hear. And frankly, it is a difficult truth.

O`DONNELL: And, David, I know that we have all been listening, you have been listening for verification of your own reporting in reporting of others as things are being revealed, as they were yesterday, for example. And now we are at the point where the state officials are saying those classroom doors, they were not locked, and no one ever checked them, and that`s exactly where your reporting was leading us.


J. DAVID GOODMAN, HOUSTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That`s right. I mean, I do want to say one thing that actually does remain somewhat uncertain is that McCraw was quite deliberate in not exactly saying that they were not locked. What he said was not they were not secured. I think it is probably a moot point, because none of the officers were seen on video checking the doors to see if they were locked, and clearly the gunman was able to get into that classroom with unimpeded suggesting that the door was unsecured as McCraw was saying.

And he demonstrated yesterday, during the hearing, that these doors would only be locked with a key from the outside. So clearly something was either wrong with that door, or made it so that it wasn`t secured enclosed in a way that would`ve prevented him from getting in there. That is what we had seen unheard early on, that though Chief Arredondo was insisting that the doors were locked, and spend an excruciatingly long time looking for a key, as said yesterday, it was not needed. And that is really a painful realization and a painful detail to have publicly stated by the head of the police and Texas.

O`DONNELL: David Goodman, and Tony Plohetski, thank you for your reporting and thank you for joining us tonight.

Joining us now is Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez. He represents the 19th district, which includes Uvalde.

And, Senator, you have filed a lawsuit. This is against the Texas State Department of Public Safety to get information. What is this lawsuit aimed at?

ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATOR: Lawrence, first of all, thank you very much. We filed a lawsuit because we filed an Open Records request back on May 31st, ten days passed, and the agency did not respond to us in any way, nor did they take exception with their response to the attorney generals office. So we have the ability to be able to ask for things that we were asking for. And now we are asking for a court to decide it. We are asking for the logistical information as to where the troopers were.

We learned a lot yesterday from the hearing that was in the Senate, but clearly it was all an established narrative. We learned that there was 91 state troopers on site, 12 of which were in that hallway. Quite frankly, they were not in there for any real length of time.

Additionally, we learned that those troopers were not directed by Arredondo or anybody, quite frankly. We learned that the majority of these troopers were from Operation Lone Star, and the state troopers command and control officers were on scene. Why and the world did they not go and do what they needed to get done? Why didn`t they do with the federal government eventually did, which was to storm that classroom?

We want the full answers, not half truths, not innuendo, not finger- pointing. We need all the information, all the body cam footage, not just portions of it like we got yesterday.

O`DONNELL: Now the mayor is complaining about what`s the status revealing, and not revealing. But what has the mayor been helpful in revealing?

GUTIERREZ: I mean, you are right. He told me today that he was going to ask DPS for all of their body cams. I hope that means that we will get all of the city body comes as well because that is really what we need to do here. We need to pull off the band-aid, lay blame if it needs to be. But more importantly for me, I need to make sure that this never happens again.

We had every law enforcement agency and that building, the radios were inoperable. So even if this guy was the incident commander, nobody`s radios worked. That makes zero sense to me in 2022.

O`DONNELL: Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, thank you for joining us again tonight.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, breaking news of the night, the Department of Justice has issued new subpoenas in the Trump fraudulent elector conspiracy. Former federal prosecutors Paul Butler and Glenn Kirschner will join us next.



O`DONNELL: They wanted to know if I had talked to Giuliani. That is what one recipient of a Justice Department subpoena said with Justice Department now launching a new round of subpoenas, armed at the Trump fraudulent elector conspiracy. The breaking news of the night is a new round of subpoenas from the Justice Department with "The Washington Post" breaking the news.

The Justice Department`s investigation into January 6th attack Wednesday, that`s federal agents drop subpoenas on people in at least two states, in what appeared to be a probe on how political activists supporting president Donald Trump tried to use invalid electors to thwart Joe Biden`s 2020 electoral victory.

"The New York Times" has added to this reporting that the subpoenas have been delivered in possibly three states, Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan. "The Washington Post" reports, one would be Trump elector in Georgia, Patrick Gartland, had been appointed to the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration and believed that posed him serving as an elector would have created a conflict of interest for him.

Still, two FBI agents recently came to his home with a subpoena and asked whether he had any contact with Trump advisers around the time of the November election.


They wanted to know if I had talked to Giuliani, Gartland said.

"The Washington Post" reports, agents conducted court authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at different locations, FBI officials confirmed to "The Washington Post". One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign`s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico.

Joining us now, Paul Butler, law professor at Georgetown University and a former federal prosecutor. Also, Glenn Kirschner is with us, a former federal prosecutor. They are both MSNBC legal analysts.

Professor Butler, you go to prison if you impersonate an FBI agent. What happens to you if you impersonate an elector?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You should go to prison.

So, Lawrence, this is the encouraging sign that we needed that the justice department isn`t just watching the January 6 congressional hearings but they are conducting their own parallel investigation. And they are not just focused on January 6th as insurrection day, but rather they are looking at the whole broad sweep of President Trump`s criminality. This is on top of what we have learned a few weeks ago, that federal prosecutors are also looking at Giuliani, and John Eastman, and promoting this ridiculous plan.

Lawrence, hopefully, one of the subjects of this criminal investigation is Donald Trump, who kept pushing this big election conspiracy, even after being advised that it was illegal, and unconstitutional.

O`DONNELL: And, Glenn, it seems like the logic of the investigation, that the subpoenas seemed to represent, it spirals upward very quickly. If you are giving a subpoena to someone who signed his name fraudulently as an elector, question one is going to be, who asked you to do that? Once you get that name, you go to that person, and ask who got you to ask him?

And then it seems like you might not be very far from Donald Trump, as you start asking those questions.

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Lawrence, it does feel like maybe the Department of Justice is beginning to work its way up to the command structure of the insurrection, not just the foot soldiers who DOJ has been doing a bang up job holding the foot soldiers accountable, the people who by and large we`re taking orders from and obeying orders from Donald Trump to go to the Capitol, fight like hell are you will not have a country, now stop the certification, or as President Trump said, stop the steal, which is actually helpful, because the word steal helps prove his criminal intent.

But, yes, it does feel like they are working their way up the criminal ladder. I find it a little curious that these subpoenas come immediately after we, the people, saw these public hearings that have been really, I think, wonderfully done by the J6 Committee, and all of a sudden DOJ seems to be binge-watching, and acting accordingly -- I don`t mean o be snarky, but this old federal prosecutor is used to seeing witnesses handled first by prosecutors in the grand jury, and then second by other congressional committees, or governmental agencies that also need the testimony of those witnesses for their own purposes.

So this is a curiosity, and I still hope that there is a method to what`s seems like a little bit of investigative madness.

O`DONNELL: Paul Butler, what do you suppose this might mean, or tell us about possible lines of inquiry for the district attorney in Atlanta, who is looking into election crimes, possibly committed by Donald Trump by phone in calling Secretary Raffensperger. Might she also take an interest in the fraudulent electors?

BUTLER: I think that she has to. Again, there can be parallel federal and state investigations, are separate prosecutions. And, Lawrence, the closest we have two smoking gun evidence against Donald Trump is on that telephone call he had with the secretary of state in Georgia where he asked for the specific number of votes he needed. That indicated he did not care who really won the election, he wanted to stay in office by any means necessary.

And so, will there be sure enough information between the federal criminal investigation and the Georgia investigation? Hopefully, there will be. Hopefully, the House will also share information with the Georgia officials if there is in fact a prosecution.


O`DONNELL: Glenn, what kind of cooperation, if any, is there between local, state prosecutor and federal prosecutors when if you are Fani Willis today and you see federal subpoenas flying in Georgia, in an arena that you`re investigating, does someone pick up the phone? And do they start talking to each other?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Lawrence, in a perfect world, there is lots of coordination that should go on between federal law enforcement authorities and local and state prosecutors. When I was a federal prosecutor at the D.C. U.S. Attorney`s office, we often had overlap with jurisdictions of Maryland and Virginia, and we communicated early and often with local prosecutors, state prosecutors, commonwealth prosecutors.

And in a perfect world, that is how it should happen. Now, I will say it`s largely dependent on the personalities that are involved -- U.S. attorneys, state attorneys, commonwealth`s attorneys.

But in a case this important, you know, impacting the future health and viability of our democracy, I sure hope that they are coordinating across jurisdictional lines, federal government and state government.

O`DONNELL: Glenn Kirschner and Paul Butler, thank you for your combined expertise on this one tonight. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

And coming up, as election workers are facing Trump-inspired death threats around the country, Trump Republicans are trying to take over the office of secretary of state in as many states as possible so that they can control the administration of elections in those states.

The Democratic nominee for secretary of state in Georgia will join us next.




SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: A lot of threats, wishing death upon me, telling me that I will be in jail with my mother, and saying things like be glad it`s 2020 and not 1920.


O`DONNELL: Election workers around the country have suffered greatly because of the lies Donald Trump has told about them. But Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, have suffered the most, having been specifically publicly named by Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani as responsible for Donald Trump`s loss to Joe Biden, in Georgia.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-NY): Where a lot of these threats and Vile comments racist in nature?

MOSS: A lot of them were racist, a lot of them were just hateful. Yes, sir.

SCHIFF: In one of the videos we just watched, Mr. Giuliani accused you and your mother of passing some sort of USB drive to each other? What was your mom actually handing you on that video?

MOSS: A ginger mint.


O`DONNELL: The attacks unleashed by Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have changed their lives.


MOSS: I don`t do anything anymore. I don`t want to go anywhere, I second guess everything that I do. It`s affected my life in a major way. In every way. All because of lies. For me doing my job, same thing I`ve been doing forever.

RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: There is no where I feel safe, nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Ruby.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Georgia state representative Bee Nguyen. she is the winner of Georgia`s Democratic primary for secretary of state. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

As you were watching that testimony yesterday, what were you thinking about how the secretary of state can help protect election workers in Georgia?

BEE NGUYEN, GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well I want to put some context to what led up to that moment. And as a lawmaker in Georgia, I was a member of the committee that oversees election laws. And I remember early on in 2020, Republicans started this concerted effort to sow seeds of doubt as it pertains to the validity of absentee ballot voting. And in retrospect, I understood that was part of the plan that they were using to justify this attempt to overturn the results of the election.

It was our Georgia legislature that enabled and allowed Rudy Giuliani and Trump`s legal team to come into our House, and come into our Senate and subject us and the public to hours and hours of lies and misinformation.

And ahead of that hearing, we were warned, we said folks told us take your address down, lock down your social media. If you speak up against them, you will be a target for Republicans.

And during that time, when Miss Ruby Freeman was on there and Miss Moss, they were the subject of attacks. There were multiple times in which I said we have got to protect these election workers. We cannot allow them to come into our legislator and put targets on two women`s backs, two women who are doing their jobs during a pandemic.


NGUYEN: And that is exactly what being complicit in this looks like. It all led up to that moment of January 6th where we saw that attack on our nation, where we saw attempts to overturn the will of the people and the denial of peaceful transfer of power.

So protecting election workers means we`ve got to absolutely mitigate election disinformation. And we`ve got to absolutely hold everybody accountable who was complicit in all the things that led up to this moment.

O`DONNELL: Republicans are on an active nationwide campaign to take over secretary of state in every state they possibly can, especially the swing states that could vote either way in presidential elections.

Republicans already hold the secretary of state position in Georgia. You are trying to take it away. What is your case to Georgia voters on why it is important for you to serve as secretary of state?

NGUYEN: Everything that we are seeing in Georgia and across the nation, it is all intertwined. That concerted effort, the complicity of everything leading up to January six, those things were also utilized to pass voter suppression bills across our entire country, and including in the state of Georgia, where we have a 98-page voter suppression bill that criminalizes handing out a bottle of water to a voter waiting in line, but also enables a partisan legislature and a partisan state board of election to take over our local election boards.

And we`ve got to have a secretary of state who is not just willing to uphold the law, but also one that supports voter expansion, who is going to fight against these voter suppression policies and the subversion of democracy.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining us. Bee Nguyen is candidate for secretary of state in Georgia. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

And coming up, on my last day, as I was telling Rachel, on my last day working in the United States Senate, Mark Shields (ph) working his beat as a reporter, was still pumping me for information about what was going to happen next in the Senate.

And as we sat there, talking, me in a T-shirt and jeans, Mark Shields watched me do something I might have trouble explaining to other reporters. I counted out $10,000 in cash, right there, on the bench we were sitting on in a low traffic area of a congressional office building.

I had just sold my Harley-Davidson downstairs in the senate garage to a guy who worked in the Senate garage, and always admired it. It was the one thing I loved that I was going to leave behind in Washington. I knew Mark Shields would understand, because he understood so much. Mark Shields` funeral today in Washington was packed, standing room only. The wit and wisdom of Mark Shields is next.

And tonight`s LAST WORD in his own words.



MARK SHIELDS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was said that George Washington was the president that would never tell a lie and Richard Nixon was the president that can never tell the truth. Donald Trump is truly a person who can`t tell the difference.


O`DONNELL: Mark Shields grew up in a suburb about ten miles south of my Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. Mark spoke for many of us when he wrote, "In my Irish American Massachusetts family, you were born a Democrat and baptized a Catholic. If your luck held, you were also brought up to be a Boston Red Sox fan.


SHIELDS: My brother sadly, has done very well and become a Republican because we were born Democrats and baptized Catholics, I think is the way that it was put to us. And, you know, he is very -- well, he`s terrific, and I talked to him yesterday. We occasionally argue about politics, but with great affection and admiration.


O`DONNELL: Great affection and admiration is what everyone who knows Mark Shields has always felt for him. We can thank the legendary Meg Greenfield at the "Washington Post" for converting Mark Shields from a political campaign strategist to a clever and wise columnist.


SHIELDS: Meg Greenfield, I had written a piece -- I`ve written a couple of pieces op-ed pieces at different times I hadn`t been in journalism I`ve been in politics. And she approached me and said, would you like to write political editorials for the "Washington Post"? And I, you know, not knowing any better, I said yes, but those are unsigned. I`ve got to get some ego satisfaction. She said, ok, come write a once-a week column.

So I did that from 1979 through the campaign of 1980, covered the whole campaign, which was great.


O`DONNELL: Mark Shields glided into TV commentary first on CNN`s Capitol gang, and then for 33 years on the PBS News Hour. I always turned up the volume whenever I saw Mark Shields on television.

Television audiences don`t talk back, but lecture audiences do. And Mark Shields was a star on the lecture circuit.


SHIELDS: It`s a challenge. I mean, you`ve got 45 minutes to make them think, make them laugh, and that is the highest praise you can get coming out someone coming up and occasionally happens that you made me think and you made me laugh. That is high praise indeed, for me, as a speaker.



O`DONNELL: No one made me think and made me laugh like Mark Shields. Mark Shields loved politics, not so much for the sport of it, but for the power of politics to help improve the human condition.

As a journalist, he was always fair, but he was not shy about publicly admiring the politicians who merited his admiration. One was the speaker of the house for Massachusetts, Tip O`Neill, who Mark Shields once said was a stranger to self importance.

Leave it to Mark Shields to create the perfect phrase describing Mark Shields -- a stranger to self importance.

He was in awe of Mike Mansfield, the longest serving majority leader of the United States senate in history, not because Mike Mansfield was a glamorous, political star who delivered inspiring speeches. His admiration for Mike Mansfield begins with Mike Mansfield forging a birth certificate to join the Navy when he was 14, then joining the Army after that, then joining the Marine Corps after that.


SHIELDS: He goes on to become a professor of Asian history at the University of Montana, gets elected, serves 34 years in the Congress of the United States, majority leader longer than anybody in history. United States ambassador to Japan under both President Carter, asked again under President Reagan. And when he dies -- when he dies, written on his tombstone at Arlington at his request is "Michael Joseph Mansfield, born March 16th, 1903. Died October 5th, 2001, private, United States Marine Corps". No majority leader, no ambassador to Japan.


O`DONNELL: What you see in Mark Shields admiration of others is a reflection of Mark Shields` values. After serving two years in the Marine Corps in the early 1960s, he was working in the Senate in 1965, when the crusade for the Voting Rights Act was the news of the day, every day. The Democratic Majority Leader Mike Mansfield held a 4:00 press conference every day with the Republican minority leader, Everett Dirksen, in front of the minority leader`s office, not the majority leader`s office, which would be the normal protocol. Mark Shields tells the rest of the story as no one else can.


SHIELDS: After a couple of weeks of this, chief of staff of another midwestern Democratic senator comes to see Mansfield`s top guy and says, look, every day they have these meetings outside of Dirksen`s office. Couldn`t they at least, a couple days a week, have it outside of Mansfield`s office so people say the Democrats, the Democratic president`s pushing this, a Democratic leader?

Mansfield`s guy goes to see him and says, senator, this has been brought to me I think it`s a legitimate complaint. Can we do it?

And Mike Mansfield turns on his staff person, very close to him, and he says, let me get one thing certain, you understand, last year, in 1964, the Republican Party lost its way on Abraham Lincoln`s values of civil rights, and with Barry Goldwater. I happen to like him. He was absolutely wrong. And they`d suffered a terrible defeat.

Anything that helps American people to see the Republican Party is returning to the values of Abraham Lincoln is good for the Republican party, it`s good for the United States of America. I don`t want the subject brought up again.

Now, that, to me, is leadership of just, you know, noble.


O`DONNELL: Of all the politicians who Mark Shields worked with before coming a journalist, there was no experience like working with Bobby Kennedy.


SHIELDS: I went to work for him when he ran for president in 1968. It was in Nebraska and Oregon and California for the California primary with (INAUDIBLE). She won, of course, and then was murdered.

And I just felt about Robert Kennedy, there are two types that are always looking for in American politics. We are looking for a conservative with an obvious heart, with who we could say that`s a real human quality to him, and then you are looking for a liberal who is tough, who`s got a real backbone.

And I just felt that Robert Kennedy was the embodiment of that. I think he was, in many respects, the last tough liberal this country has had.


O`DONNELL: Mark Shields left us on Saturday at the age of 85. His funeral mass today at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington D.C. was standing room only.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the last question. When was Mark Shields the happiest in politics?

SHIELDS: Boy, oh boy. You know, I said, at the time, in retrospect, you know, working for Jack Gilligan in Ohio, he`s elected governor, I managed his campaign. And Kevin White who was re-elected mayor of Boston in 1975, followed the leadership of his campaign, Robert Kennedy, when -- the Robert Kennedy thing, you know, in retrospect, because, when you are doing what you enjoy doing, what you like doing, what you do well, and you think you are going to make a difference that is going to be better for the country, especially for widows and orphans, and people who don`t even know your name, and never will know your name, boy, that is about as good as it gets.



O`DONNELL: Mark Shields gets tonight`s LAST WORD.