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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 9/2/22

Guests: David Cay Johnston, Mandela Barnes, Robert Reich, Mindy Rush Chipman


Unsealed search warrant lists dozens of classified folders that are already empty. The retrieved documents amounted to more than 10,000 government documents. President Biden`s speech on America`s economic recovery boasts of adding 315,000 jobs for the month of August, stocks being high.


ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight. Have an excellent Labor Day this weekend. We will see you again on Tuesday. And now it is time for "The Last Word." Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Alex, thank you and have yourself a great Labor Day. We`ll see you next Tuesday.

WAGNER: Thank you, my friend.

VELSHI: Alright, we are learning more tonight about the contents of what the FBI seized from Donald Trump`s Florida home. The inventory that Judge Aileen Cannon unsealed today paints a staggering picture of the sheer amount of documents that investigators found at Mar-a-Lago. In one box alone, 43 folders with classification markings, empty. Another 28 folders with instructions to return the contents to Trump`s staff secretary and military aid, empty.

And two dozen additional documents marked either confidential, secret, or top secret. Again, all of that was in one box. All told, FBI agents recovered over 10,000 government documents during their search at Mar-a- Lago. The filing also demonstrates just how carelessly the former president tweeted the classified government documents that absconded with after leaving office.

The 43 empty folders beg the question, what was inside? Where is it now? And here`s where we need to stop for a moment because this involves a political figure, so there is a tendency to cover it like a political story. But this is actually a crime story. So, what we need is a crime show theme to put us in the right frame of mind.

Alright, here`s the scene. Law enforcement goes into a Florida country club, finds thousands of stolen documents. Some folders that used to hold those documents are empty. What documents were in those folders? Where did they go? Well, the crime story you`d start with, what`s the motive? The FBI isn`t going into retrieve paper clips. Paper clips have no value. So, the stolen stuff, what`s it worth? And to whom?

And if you didn`t know that, you would say, let`s start with a guy who owns the place where the stolen stuff was found. What do we know about this guy? Who is this guy? The guy who had some of these stolen documents hidden inside his desk. Why would he want these documents so badly? Let`s do a background check and see what it turns up.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.


VELSHI: Donald Trump openly solicited help from Russia to damage his 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. He praised Vladimir Putin, even after Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help him, while Donald Trump was working to expand his private business in Moscow. He tried to extort Ukraine`s newly elected president to damage his likely 2020 Democratic opponent.

He bragged about saving the butt of a Saudi dictator after the murder and dismemberment with a bone saw of a "Washington Post" journalist who was critical of the Saudi regime. And this year, his son-in-law received a $2 billion Saudi investment while Trump hosted a Saudi gulf tournament in July.

Would any of that background perk the ears of investigators on the stolen document case? We`re going to ask some professionals in just a moment, but first let`s hear from someone who knows the guy, who knows how he thinks and can shed light on the value of these documents.


BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: People say this was unprecedented, but it`s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club, okay? And how long is the government going to try to get that back? You know, they draw a bone for a year. They were deceived on the voluntary actions taken.

They then went and got a subpoena. They were deceived on that, they feel. And the record -- the facts are starting to show that they were being jerked around. And so, how long, you know, how long do they wait?


VELSHI: How long do they wait? What happened during the waiting period? The deceiving, as a Bill Barr, the former attorney general of the United States, Trump`s attorney general put it, how long? What would a detective think of the fact pattern right in front of us?

Joining our discussion now is the former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner and Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney and professor at the University of Alabama Law School. They are both MSNBC legal analyst. Also joining us is David Cay Johnston. He`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter. He`s done extensive reporting on Trump`s finances, long before the guy became president. He`s the author of "The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and his Family."

I`m starting with you David because if this were law and order, which I love so much, if this were law and order, the cops would stop looking at this. They`d look at the motive. They`d look at all sorts of things.


And then they`d see this guy has got a bit of a rap sheet. So, they`d go to somebody who knew him before, right, when before he was president. We know all this stuff from 2016. You know him from before. So, people came to you and said, hey, this guy who you know, who you wrote about, had all this stuff in his place. What do you make of it? What would you have said?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW LECTURER: Well, Donald fits perfectly the law and order model of the mobster who, along with his family, has never been caught because Donald is very good at running out the clock, rattling out other people and complicating the case.

I think however, we are at this stage where the prosecutors have to decide how they`re going to shape the case. You don`t want to bring a kitchen sink case, you want to bring the case you can win. And that`s the real challenge now, is what of the many different crimes or collections of crimes that you could hit Donald Trump with are you going to want to bring because that`s the case you know you can win.

VELSHI: Okay, Glenn Kirschner, here is the problem. The case you can win is the obvious case. It`s the case that these documents shouldn`t have been there. In my humble opinion as a non-lawyer, but avid law and order viewer, that`s not the case I`m interested in.

I`m not interested in the guy who took documents that weren`t supposed to be at his house that are supposed to be at the National Archives. I`m fundamentally disinterested in that. I`m really interested in why he took them and what happened with those documents and information there in.

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, Ali, and the law and order theme is so apropos. And it`s not just about bringing the case we can win, and I think there are any number of cases to be brought against Donald Trump, whether it`s, you know, mishandling classified information or inciting an insurrection.

But I also think at this moment, what we need to do is assess the potential damage to our national security, that might be part and parcel of what Donald Trump did. You know, when I tried cases for 30 years, I was a simple straightforward prosecutor.

And when I saw the evidence reported, when I saw the inventory unsealed and I saw 43 classified folders that used to contain classified documents that went empty and that were in Donald Trump`s office, I was reminded of what I told every single jury.

I said, ladies and gentlemen, you don`t check your common sense at the door when you`re selected as a juror. You bring it into the courtroom, into the jury box, and most importantly, into the deliberation room.

Is there anybody who thinks that when Donald Trump was packing up the White House or having others pack it up for him, he said, you know what I`m going to need you to do, I have 43 empty folders over there that used to contain classified documents. I`m going to want you to pack those up, deliver them to my private office at Mar-a-Lago, and put it in my desk drawers.

I would suggest that offends our common sense. We now know that there is a potential security threat as a result of whatever he did with these documents. That has to be assessed in realtime.

VELSHI: Joyce Vance, let`s talk about the defense, right? For a moment, we`re going to put aside the fact that this is a crime story and we`re going to go back to it being a little bit of political story because Donald Trump is a political figure, who by the way, as president, had the privilege, when he was president, of declassifying documents.

And people in Trump world have floated that, that perhaps he declassified those documents. Bill Barr, the former Attorney General of the United States was on Fox today, and he said this about that. Let`s listen.


BARR: What people are missing is that all the other documents taken, even if they claim to be executive privilege, either belonged to the government because they are government records, even if they`re classified, even if they are subject to executive privilege, they still belong to the government and go to the archives.

If, in fact, he sorts of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in then and said, I hereby declassify everything in here, that would be such an abuse that shows such recklessness that it`s almost worse than taking the documents.


VELSHI: Putting aside the recklessness because I don`t buy it, Joyce. I don`t buy that Trump was reckless. I mean, you saw the photos of these things. You can`t accidentally pick up files that are so clearly demarcated as "TOP SECRET" and "SECRET SCI." How does that defense stand up? If you`re prosecuting this case, the, I just declassified them, does that work?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it doesn`t work at all and it doesn`t work for a number of reasons. First off is even the former attorney general has conceded that`s just not how de-classification works. The whole point of classified documents is that they protect secrets, even for declassification by a president, you have to go through procedure, the documents have to bear markings, showing that there are no longer classified.


And none of this happened here. Really this, I wave of my magic wand and de-classified everything defense, was just a prime example of Trump throwing spaghetti up against the wall and hoping that something would stick in the court of public opinion and to help him get out of trouble. It`s nothing more than that.

VELSHI: So, David, you and I are not the lawyers here and there is this conversation about appointing a special master, which is just a word I love saying, to examine all this stuff. Look, I don`t know, the (inaudible) rolls, right? He puts in some sort of a hurdle. He puts in something to slow the whole thing down, while he tells people it`s a witch hunt.

There is nothing really to this, but you`ve watched this happen for decades, not since he`s been president in 2016, but for decades. Trump slow things down, he discourages people, he says it`s not true. And sometimes, it works for him.

JOHNSTON: Right. Well, indeed, it has worked for him very successfully. A Roy Cohn, the notorious Roy Cohn taught him, you know, if law enforcement comes after you, they are the criminals, attack them. Delay, delay, delay. Find any reason you can to mock up the works in your case and rat out other people.

And by the way, while I`m not a lawyer, I do teach law and had for many years. And one of the things I`m struck by in this case is Trump`s lawyers are so awful. I mean, the worst lawsuit I ever had wasn`t down in the bottom league where these people are who are making assertions that don`t help him at all and that have in some matters pretty much made the case that he is guilty of committing felonies, federal felonies.

VELSHI: Well, let`s talk about that for a second, Glenn Kirschner. Mike Cohen who used to be Trump`s lawyer and fixer was talking today on CNN about Christina Bobb, who is one of these lawyers whom David Cay Johnston is talking about. Listen to what Michael Cohen said about Christina Bobb?


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR TRUMP: A hundred percent she needs to lawyer up. Here`s the thing about Donald. What he did with her, and I`m sure because I`ve seen him do it a hundred times, he tells you there`s nothing there. I already sent everything back. I just need a lawyer to sign this. And she doesn`t want to argue with the guy. He`s this client. It`s Donald Trump, now former president. So, what did she do? She foolishly signed the document.

Now, she`s going to have to testify and explain exactly what she did in order to verify that these documents were no longer on the promises. She`s going to have to turn them and say I didn`t, because Donald just told me. And she has a right to rely upon her client`s statement, but not when it`s Donald Trump. The guy lies with impunity. I mean, he lies the way people breathe. And she should have known that.


VELSHI: He lies the way people breathe. This is an interesting concept, because he -- Michael Cohen said, Mike can be an interested in the party in this. He says she had the right to rely upon what her client told her, but not when it`s Donald Trump, which is the whole law and order themed we got going here. It`s what David Cay Johnston said. If you`re Donald Trump`s lawyer, you have to become his lawyer with the understanding that he got a long history of this kind of stuff.

KIRSCHNER: You can see him bullying his lawyers into making representations that they never should have made, and Ali, this is actually beyond the scope of what a defense attorney should undertake when they`re representing a client. If you represent a bank robber, I don`t know that I`ve ever seen a defense lawyer certify to the prosecutors that just trust us, the bank robber has returned all of the money he stole.

That is not really the role of a defense attorney, but that is what Christina Bobb did. Now, she`s probably going to have to withdraw from her representation of Donald Trump. Why? Because her loyalties are split. She still has loyalties to Donald Trump. She has a responsibility to zealously represent him, but now, she has to look out for her own interests, including her own potential criminal interest. So, I predict before too long, you`re going to see her move to withdraw from representation of Donald Trump.

VELSHI: Joyce I want to show you a poll. It`s from the "Wall Street Journal" but it was August 15 to 17. So, it`s a couple of weeks old and I don`t know public opinion has changed on this in the time being. But people polled said that 52 percent -- 52 percent of people polled said that the search was legal and proper, 41 percent say it`s a witch hunt.

So, on one hand, it seems like a majority of people think it was legal and proper, except 41 percent use the language that Donald Trump and his people use. In a normal world, in a law and order, generally speaking, the defendant wouldn`t be able to influence public opinion in that way, and say what they did was a witch hunt.

I`m sure there are a lot of defendants who claim that what the police are doing is not fair. But most people wouldn`t get much traction with it particularly with the public.


VANCE: Trump has a huge megaphone strapped to his mouth, and like anyone who`s been in public life, who has the ability to influence people, I think we are entitled as Americans to expect our former elected officials to act responsibly and to try to promote our democratic institutions not to damage them.

But of course, as with so much else, Trump is only concerned with himself. He has very little concern about the state of the country, the future of our institutions. We all saw a bold display of that on January 6th. But it`s really ongoing now, as he tries to save himself by damaging law enforcement.

And we see this in a lot of different ways, which hunt, the attacks on the FBI which lead to public repercussions. And every step of the way, instead of trying to put on a responsible defense, which may be deflects from some of the conduct or offers explanations, what Trump does is in recon style. He goes on the attack against law enforcement and it`s destructive and damaging to the country.

I`m glad to see the results of that poll because in many ways, that vindicates Merrick Garland`s strategy of quite, patient, keeping his head down, doing the right thing, having the Justice Department uphold the rule of law and hoping that over time the American people will observe that and get it. It looks like that`s paying off.

VELSHI: David Cay Johnston, you have literally spent a lot of time sifting through documents about Donald Trump, trying to get questions answered in the minutiae of the printed world or the ledger. What question is on your mind now? What do you want answered, given what you know about the search at Mar-a-Lago and what was taken, what do you want to know?

JOHNSTON: Well, four days after the search warrant was executed, I was the first person to say, we need to be concerned if Donald sold or intended to sell or tried in some way to take these government secrets, particularly human intelligence and benefit from them personally. And Donald would have in his mind no trouble doing that whatsoever. Because that`s at the way he sees the world.

He is special. He`s the only person competent to run the country. He ought to run the whole world. And if you don`t know that, well, there`s something wrong with you, fake news. And so, first and foremost, I`d like to know what was in those empty files and can our government that we keep close enough control when they were brought to the White House, that our government can reconstruct, and I suspect they can, what much, most, or maybe all of the material was that was in those files. And the corollary question is, are there other files? Does he have files at Trump Tower.

VELSHI: Yes. I was wondering about that. Why do we think he only put them there, but Glenn, this is also your point, right? You make references to something that Washington is collectively describing as a damage assessment. It`s a terrible term because it talks -- it seems abstract. There may be lives at risk because of these documents.

KIRSCHNER: True. And if we are 45 minutes now into the law and order episode, I think here is what would see happen. There is enough evidence, there is probable cause to apply for an arrest warrant for Donald Trump. That`s what would happen in a law and order episode, the perpetrator would be arrested. He would be mirandized that he waived his rights. He would be interrogated.

And what the law enforcement officials would want to know is what did you do with these documents. How might you have compromised our national security, and Ali, if it was any other person on the planet other than Donald Trump or former president, that`s precisely what would have happened so we could assess the damage to our national security.

VELSHI: I`m grateful to you all for indulging my law and order fantasy. Actually, I want to be on the show and I do work for NBC and I have expressed that, and no one has ever said, hey, I heard you want to be on the show. So, I`m just saying it tonight in case, I mean, "Law and Order" people out there, you could tweet them and tweet me and say, we kind of (inaudible) whole "Law and Order" segments.

Thanks to all three of you. Thank you for being with us tonight. Glenn Kirschner, Joyce Vance, and David Cay Johnston, we appreciate your time.

Alright, coming up, new reporting shows that Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was the lobbying for overturning the election results not just in Arizona, but also in Wisconsin. The lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes joins me next.



VELSHI: Alright, first Arizona, now Wisconsin. Those are at least two states where Ginni Thomas, the wife of the radical conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pressured state lawmakers to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The whole thing should just stop there, by the way.

The wife of a Supreme Court justice pressured people to overturn an election, in America, in 2021. E-mails obtained by the "Washington Post" show that Ginni Thomas urged to Wisconsin lawmakers to choose the fake pro Trump slate of electors in rejecting Joe Biden`s victory, writing quote, "Please stand strong in the face of media and political pressure. Please reflect on the awesome authority granted to you by our Constitution. And then, please take action to ensure that a clean state of electors is chosen for our state," end quote.

Clean slate of electors. Of course, by clean, you mean fake? But Ginni Thomas wasn`t the only pro Trump acolyte involved in the Wisconsin fake electors scheme.


The Republican Senator Ron Johnson admitted in June that he coordinated with his staff and a lawyer to pass along the fake elector documents from Wisconsin and Michigan to Vice President Mike Pence. That`s of course after Ron Johnson initially lied that he had basically no idea about the effort. He`s downplayed the seriousness of his involvement in the attempt to overturn the election, calling it a complete non-story.

This week, we learned that one of those fake electors has been a full-time staffer working on Ron Johnson`s reelection campaign since March. It`s a non-story, unless of course you value democracy.

Joining us now os the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes. He is Wisconsin`s Democratic nominee for senator. Lieutenant governor, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us. This story about what goes on in Wisconsin politics, having to do with the Republicans gets weirder and weirder every time you and I talk.

MANDELA BARNES, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF WISCONSIN: And the truth is stranger than fiction at times. And this is just another instance where we have out of touch self-serving politicians like Ron Johnson. He is in it for himself. He is in it for his wealthy donors. He continues to leave people behind. And I`ll tell you, here in Wisconsin, we look every single voter in the eye.

He said that our vote did not matter. And that`s because Ron Johnson (inaudible) himself. He gave his top two donor families, his biggest donor families, $200 million in tax breaks. But at the same time, he wants to send our seniors back to work. He spends social security and Medicare on the chopping block.

You know, he voted against Medicare, negotiating fair drug prices, because it may cost his big pharma owners lose more money. This is, again, this is unacceptable. This is disqualifying. But he`s shown us time and time who he is. And that`s what we need help to the (inaudible) because all of these interests are lined up. They`re trying to keep him in office. I have you. I need you all to join us at to help out.

VELSHI: Let mask you this though. When you are talking to people in Wisconsin, you and I talked about this a week ago or something, there is small issues that are big for people. And then there is big issues that about democracy in the future of it. We heard from the president last night about some of those big issues. Is that stuff present with people you`re talking with?

BARNES: Of course, social security, I mean, look, we`re talking about the benefits that people worked their entire life for. You know, my granddad moved to Milwaukee after World War II. He was able to get a job as a steel worker. He was there for 30 plus years, was able to retire comfortably, then laid a foundation for my dad to follow on his footsteps.

And there are so many others like them across the state and across this country, who have worked hard their entire life. An idea that they can be sold out by a politicians like Ron Johnson who wants to call social security a Ponzi scheme, it is appalling. Every person deserves to be able to work hard and retire with dignity. And Ron Johnson wants to take that dignity away from people.

VELSHI: Let`s talk about that for a second. I want to just play what Ron Johnson said on a radio show in early August about social security. And then, I want to talk about the degree to which what he said is a bit misleading. Let`s listen.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Social security and Medicare, if you qualify for the entitlement, you just get it no matter what the cost. And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It`s on automatic pilot. It never -- you just don`t do proper oversight. You don`t get in there and fix the programs going bankrupt. It`s just on automatic pilot. What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending, so it`s all evaluated, so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt.


VELSHI: So, on one hand, there`s an argument in there about how you should or shouldn`t fix Medicare and Social Security. But it belies what really people are thinking, right? We got those big budget deficits, the government is too big, there`s too much spending. Our government -- our deficit is not from social security. It`s not for Medicare. It`s from wars and things like that.

BARNES: Yeah. And the thing is, Ron Johnson will use any attempt to mislead. He is trying to further a narrative. But this is a moment where we should make sure that the wealthiest among us pay their fair share. That these are the people that contribute to Ron Johnson`s campaign. These are the folks who have propped him up for the last 12 years. He would rather sell out the people that he represents than to do the right thing.

Again, he`s against Medicare negotiating fair drug prices. So, that`s not a budgetary item. This is not something that he can use that same logic with. And he voted against capping the cost of insulin. Ron johnson doubled his wealth in the U.S. Senate and does not care if your life gets harder. That is what we are dealing with. That is the unfair treatment that people across the state of Wisconsin, across the entire country for that matter, are getting.

That`s why it is so important that we replace him with somebody who truly understand what it`s like as a working class American. You know, look at veterans and burn pits, He played politics with veterans who are victims of burn pits. And, you know, ultimately, he voted for it, but that`s not even -- that shouldn`t even have to be under consideration.


And he will continue to go down this road if he is re-elected, but I`m telling you, we are here to continue to fight to rebuild the middle class, to bring opportunity across Wisconsin, the same opportunity, good paying jobs that my parents had, those union jobs that gave me a foundation. I believe that every child growing, up in this country deserves at least the same opportunity that I have.

VELSHI: Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, good to see you again. Thank you for joining us tonight. Coming up, new numbers today show that the job market is actually still robust. The stock market is higher than it ever was during the Trump presidency or actually any time before that. And gas prices are falling below $3.50 in many parts of the country. The former labor secretary, Robert Reich, joins us next on how to keep what`s working in the current economy and avoid policy choices that are going to bring pain in order to bring down those prices.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see a different America. An America with an unlimited future, an America that`s about to take off. I hope you see it as well, just look around. I believe we could look at America from the depths of COVID, so we passed the largest economic recovery package since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and today America`s economy is faster, stronger than any other advanced nation in the world. We have more to go.


VELSHI: The president`s argument about a strong economy got another boost today. Companies keep hiring people. The economy adding 315,000 new jobs for the month of August. "The New York Times" notes that the prime age employment rate, that is workers between the ages of 25 and 54, rose to 80.3 percent. That is two-tenths of a percentage point below its pre- pandemic level in February of 2020.

That report also notes hourly wages ticked up last month and jobs were added in both the construction and hospitality sectors, again, both things, construction and hospitality, poised to strengthening the economy. But when you`re talking about the economy, there is always a but. There remains at the very real and serious issue of inflation, which acts as a tax on the poor, who have no power to increase their income in the face of rapidly increasing costs.

We know that the Fed has its eye on inflation. In fact, mortgage rates are ticking up again in September and they`re up nearly double over last year. The 30-year fixed mortgage is close to 6 percent now. Rising rates is how you fight inflation. You increase interest rates, slows the economy down a little bit, prices come down. But it can hurt jobs growth. And it can possibly trigger a recession. So that`s what the Fed has to think about. What`s the right balance?

Joining us now is Robert Reich. He knows a thing or two about this. He`s the former labor department secretary under President Bill Clinton. He`s a professor of economics at UC-Berkeley. Secretary, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us.

I`m just going to put the question to you. What`s in the right balance? How do you deal with this? The Fed has a tool. It can increase interest rates. It will guarantee, they`ll increase it enough that it will slow the economy down. How do you prevent it from going into a recession?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR DEPARTMENT SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: Ali, there is no magic wand. The Fed doesn`t know. That`s the particular problem. There is no kind of a tool kit here except for raising inflation. And as the old saying goes, when you have only hammer everything looks like, well, in this case, interest rates.

And that`s really the problem, the irony here. Everybody who talks about a soft landing, everybody hopes that the Fed can bring down inflation by slowing the economy just enough, but not push us into recession. But nobody knows how it`s going to happen, or whether it`s going to happen.

VELSHI: Why don`t we know? I mean, we`ve had this. We`ve been playing this game forever, right? Trying to get unemployment and inflation in tandem. I guess, part of it is we talk about it like a science. It`s got numbers. It looks like mathematics. But it`s not, it`s actually just how people act.

REICH: Exactly. It is not a science. We`ve got to get out of our heads the notion that somehow economics is a science, and I know, there are too many variables here. And this recession is different from previous recessions. We haven`t had a pandemic in this country for over 100 years. We haven`t had a recession that goes with a pandemic where we`ve had a Federal Reserve board ever in the history of this country.

So, exactly what did we do and what does the Fed do. The Fed doesn`t know, it`s flying blind. It`s trying to get as much data as it can and would like the public to think that this is sort of a science, but hey, it`s not.

VELSHI: What happens -- the Fed acts independently of the government. No president wants to be the president of rising interest rates. No president wants to be the president of a recession. No president wants to be the president of unemployment going up, but we have a problem inflation that has to be fought.

It`s not a problem that we faced in your tenure or many, many tenures. It`s been many years since inflation has been a real problem for America. How serious a problem is it that we risk a recession, that we risk higher unemployment, I mean, is it that serious?

REICH: Ali, I think the biggest potential problem is a recession. I honestly think that the inflation is just going to, well, I know it`s not temporary, but it`s worldwide. Let`s be clear about it.


REICH: It is worldwide. It`s not just in the United States.


VELSHI: And much higher in some other developed nations than in the United States at the moment.

REICH: Exactly. And we couldn`t understand that because simply by raising interest rates in the United States, it`s not clear we are going to bring down inflation quicker than inflation would be brought down anyway as we move out of the pandemic and as supply problems worldwide, worldwide supply problems where actually are overcome.

Now, I again, don`t have any magic wand here, but it seems to me one of the problems we`re not dealing with is that American companies have very high profit margins right now. In fact, almost record high profit margins. They are raising prices because they`ve got pricing power.

There are a lot of monopolies or near monopolies across this country. And that`s something the Fed cannot do anything about. That seems to me to be one of the ironies, one of the real problems at the center of this puzzle.

VELSHI: You talk about pricing power. Let`s talk about worker power, wage power. You tweeted today, "Unions won 641 elections so far this year, the most in nearly 20 years. The first ever unionized Trader Joe`s. The first unionized Chipotle in the United States. The first unionized Amazon facility in the United States -- 230 unionized Starbucks stores. This is what a labor uprising looks like."

For all those talk about everything that`s wrong in the economy, remember we used to talk, you and I used to talk about what if a wage could get to 12 bucks an hour? What about 15 bucks an hour? And now, for so many Americans that is a reality, while the federal minimum wage still stands at $7.25. The market means people have to earn more money.

REICH: Well, that`s right. And the minimum wage is basically, I mean, the minimum wage is almost irrelevant these days. What we`re seeing is there is lower (ph) market power among workers because you have such a tight labor market, because employers are so eager to hire, they have got to pay workers more money in order to get the workers there into their fast-food restaurants or into their factories or wherever.

But as the Fed continues to slow the economy, that worker power may dissipate. It may decline because workers simply are not going to be that much in demand.

VELSHI: Labor secretary -- former labor secretary Robert Reich, good to see you again. Thank you for joining us tonight.

REICH: Good to see you.

VELSHI: Alright, coming up, school administrators have stopped an award- winning high school newspaper, not for any single reason, they say, certainly not because of the focus on LGBTQ issues in its last edition. That story is next. I hope the cancel culture warriors and the conservative media are watching.



VELSHI: Marcus Pennell wrote his last editorial for his award-winning high school newspaper in May, but it wasn`t just his last editorial. Northwest public school`s administrator in Grand Island, Nebraska shut down the entire paper, it`s a 54-year-old publication known as "The Viking Saga" just three days after the paper went to print.

Now, in a letter to parents about the school`s decision to shut down the newspaper, the school superintendent wrote that the school was only temporarily pausing the paper, quote, "This decision wasn`t made lightly, it wasn`t made hastily, and I assure you, it wasn`t made because of one specific reason as it has been incorrectly reported" end quote.

The superintendent is referring to the fact that the papers last issue is dedicated to LGBTQ issues. While the school board hasn`t specified the reason for canceling the paper, the school board`s vice president is quoted as saying, quote, "If taxpayers read that issue, they would have been like, holy cow! What is going on in our school?"

The issue followed a new school policy that forced the student journalists to only use their birth names in their bylines and articles. That`s a demoralizing practice known to transgender people as dead naming. Transgender people often change their names to reflect the gender with which they wish to identify.

The new policy greatly affects Marcus Pennell who is in fact transgender. In his last editorial written under his birth name, he discussed Florida`s "Don`t Say Gay Bill" writing, quote, "The more resources students have available to put into words what they`re feeling, the more ready they`ll be for anything or any person that life throws at them."

Joining us now is Mindy Rush Chipman. She is the legal director for the ACLU of Nebraska. Mindy, good to see you. I`m waiting for the uproar from the conservative media across the road about cancel culture and silencing people and stuff like that. It`s deadly silent.

MINDY RUSH CHIPMAN, LEGAL DIRECTOR, ACLU OF NEBRASKA: You`re right, Ali. It has been surprisingly silent in that regard. But here at the ACLU of Nebraska, we have not been silent and we are standing on the side of the students like Marcus and other students that have the right under the First Amendment to highlight topics related to LGBTQ+, regardless of whether it makes school officials uncomfortable or if they disagree with it.

VELSHI: Let me ask you about this, a letter that you have sent to the Northwest Public School District superintendent. "It`s incumbent upon -- this is an excerpt from it -- it`s incumbent upon Northwest Public School Districts to restore and uphold students` rights by immediately; 1) reinstating the journalism program and school newspapers as soon as possible; 2) developing and implementing policies that protect LGBTQ students; 3) developing and implementing policies that protect the rights of student journalists; and 4) publicly acknowledging these errors and affirming its commitment to LGBTQ inclusivity."


It`s a very well written four-page letter. I suspect I have a greater chance of growing hair on my head than you have to getting a positive response to that. So, what happens next?

CHIPMAN: Well, simultaneously, we`re sending a demand letter. We`ve asked for preservation of evidence related to this issue as well as open record request. And we have received the response from the school`s legal representative saying they`re working on our open records request and I`m hopeful that that might open lines of communication between us and schools` officials.

VELSHI: Alright, what -- but you have made actual requests that are in line with how the ACLU generally sees these issues, right? People -- journalists in many cases, including me got their start on a high school newspaper. The idea that we practiced this First Amendment of the Constitution in high school is crucial. How does it even get to this point?

CHIPMAN: That`s a great question. Ali. It shouldn`t have gotten to this point and we`re hopeful that through intervention, we can rectify it before any future students are deprived of the opportunity.

VELSHI: Alright, so, at the moment, are there people who are joining your effort at this point? Does this become a lawsuit?

CHIPMAN: All remedies are on the table at this point and including litigation. We are working with current and former students and families who are impacted by the decision of the school district. And like I mentioned before, we`re hoping lines of communication open, but as you know, litigation is ultimately an option that we can engage in.

VELSHI: Mindy Rush Chipman, thank you for joining us tonight. We appreciate the work that you`re doing on this. Tonight`s last word is next.



VELSHI: Alright, time now for tonight`s last word. In 1998, the reporter Barbara Ehrenreich set out to tell the story of how people got by working in low wage jobs in America. Now, to do that, she got several of those jobs herself. As a waitress, a cleaning woman, a nursing home maid, a Walmart clerk. She lived solely on the income she earned from those low wage jobs.

Her experiences became the seminal book "Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting by in America" which concluded in part with this, quote, "When someone works for less pay than she can live on, when for example she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently -- then she has made a great sacrifice for you. The working poor as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropist of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for. They live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect. They endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices will be high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else," end quote.

Ehrenreich was the author of 21 books, many of which focused on the people whose stories are not part of economic coverage. Well, today, Barbara Ehrenreich`s family announced that she died yesterday after a recent stroke. Here`s some of "The New York Times" obituary for Ehrenreich, quote, "Many people praise me for my bravery for having done this to which I can only say millions of people do this work every day for their entire lives. Haven`t you noticed them?"

She said that in 2018 in an acceptance speech after receiving the Erasmus Prize which is given to a person or institution that has made an exceptional contribution to the humanities, the social sciences, or the arts. Ms. Ehrenreich noticed those millions throughout her writing career in which he tackled a variety of themes. The myth of the American dream, the labor market, healthcare, poverty, women`s rights.

Her motivation came from a desire to shed light on ordinary people. As well as the, quote, "overlooked and the forgotten," end quote. Her editor, Sara Bershtel said in an e-mail. It`s an interesting story that seems very, very timely right now. She wrote this book and the works that she did many, many years ago, and yet today we look outside and we see those working poor whose wages are starting to go up and we say to ourselves it`s causing inflation.

We don`t think about the inflation caused by everyone else, but when the working poor do that, we think it`s a problem. Barbara Ehrenreich was 81 years old. That`s tonight`s last word. I`ll see you tomorrow morning on "Velshi" starting at 8:00 a.m. We`re joined by Lieutenant General Russel Honore to discuss the drinking water crisis in Mississippi right now, but also the water situation in Louisiana where tonight thousands are being advised to boil their water in America in 2022. Boil your water before you drink it.


Hope you`ll join us tomorrow morning. "The 11th Hour With Stephanie Ruhle" begins now.