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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 9/29/22

Guests: Brian Trascher, Maxwell Alejandro Frost, Adam Schiff


Rescue efforts are underway across Florida. Hurricane Ian spent 12 hours as a tropical storm before strengthening again today to a Category 1 hurricane. It`s currently moving north up the coast of Jacksonville, Florida headed for South Carolina. Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). A Trump-appointed judge extends deadline for special master review of Mar- a-Lago documents.



Our first guest is Congressman Adam Schiff. Ginni Thomas testified to the January 6 committee today. He is a member of the committee. And so, this is going to be, I think, a bit like one of those tooth pulling interviews where I`m -- I`m trying to get him to answer a question about what was said in the committee and he doesn`t want to violate committee confidentiality. So he`s -- he`s actually very good at still delivering an answer that doesn`t violate the committee confidentiality, but I do want the audience - -

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST, "ALEX WAGNER TONIGHT": They don`t call him shifty Schiff for nothing. I`m kidding. Only one person calls him that.

O`DONNELL: That`s right.

WAGNER: But if anyone can do a tooth pulling interview with grace and charm, it`s you, Lawrence, and I trust that you are going to get to the bottom of what the wife of Clarence Thomas, the activist and election denier Ginni Thomas, actually said in those four walls.

O`DONNELL: You know, we might not, but we are -- we are going to try. We`re going to do the best we can with Congressman Schiff and then Andrew Weissmann`s going to join us with this latest ruling by Judge Cannon today.

And I saw your discussion of it, Alex, and I -- I`m going to try. I have a different take and I am prepared to be talked out of this by Professor Weissmann. He`s a law professor at NYU now. So he`s going to grade me on this.

But I think a couple things. I think -- one, it doesn`t matter, it`s kind of an academic ruling at this point since the investigation -- criminal investigations proceeding anyway way in the classified documents.

And two, she might actually be right that Donald Trump should be able to protect his right to a criminal defense in court on the question of, you know, what about these documents possibly being planted. The normal place for that to come up is in cross-examination of FBI agents in court, and he may -- it may be that it`s a good thing that he is allowed to continue to hold on to that all the way through a criminal trial because would be -- would we be running the risk of reversible error in an appeal if Donald Trump lost that right to that argument now through a special master.

All of that is for Professor Weissmann later, actually coming right up in the -- in our first segment.

WAGNER: Well, I can guarantee you that politically, no matter what the ultimate legal outcome, we are going to hear Donald Trump repeat a lot his claims that maybe something shady happened when the FBI in their backpacks entered the doors of Mar-a-Lago. That`s one thing we know.

O`DONNELL: There`s a lot of people in prison tonight who insist that the FBI planted stuff when they searched their homes. So --

WAGNER: It`s an old chestnut.


WAGNER: Have a great show, Lawrence.

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

Before we get to Congressman Schiff, we`re going to do a quick update of the situation with Hurricane Ian, which was downgraded to a tropical storm for 24 hours before regaining strength as a category one hurricane. At least 12 people have been confirmed dead so far, a number which is expected to increase.

Here is what President Biden said about that today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It made landfall yesterday and it is still -- still moving across the state today. This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida`s history. The numbers of still -- are still unclear but we`re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.


O`DONNELL: Emergency responders say at least people were rescued in Orlando after heavy rains battered the city overnight including this woman rescued by a local reporter.

Over 2.3 million people are without power right now in Florida that is means that almost 90 percent of Florida`s 22 million people do have power tonight. Impassable roads are hampering rescue efforts in places like Sanibel Island where this causeway, the only access road and the only access to the island was torn apart by the storm. That causeway is a three- mile road that it`s built over three miles of water, all the way to the island.

Powerful winds tore roofs off buildings and historic storm surges left communities leveled to the ground. Others still remain underwater, several nursing homes and hospitals across the Fort Myers area have been forced to evacuate patients due to lack of running water. More than 700 people have been rescued by boat in flooded areas.

FEMA officials warn that Hurricane Ian could still be life-threatening as it heads north across the Atlantic Ocean towards another landfall in South Carolina tomorrow. We will have live reports on the progress of the hurricane later in this hour.


In other news, Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas met with the January 6 Committee today for what "The Washington Post" is calling nearly five hours.

Our first guest tonight, Congressman Adam Schiff is a member of the January 6 committee. Virginia Thomas`s lawyer said that she answered every one of the committee`s questions today. We will see if Congressman Schiff can confirm that for us and we`ll ask Congressman Schiff, who is also the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, about what appears to be Vladimir Putin`s plan to have a formal annexation ceremony tomorrow in Moscow in which the mad dictator will pretend that some eastern parts of Ukraine are now part of western Russia.

Virginia Thomas provided portions of her written opening statement to the committee to a wacky right-wing website that calls itself the Federalist, not formally associated with the Federalist Society which controls Republican appointments to federal judgeships.

In her opening statement, Virginia Thomas asked the committee to believe this about her communication with her husband, quote, regarding the election,

I did not speak with him at all about the details of my volunteer campaign activities and I did not speak with him at all about the details of my post-election activities which were minimal in any events. I am certain I never spoke with him about any of the legal challenges to the election as I was not involved with those challenges in any way. I can guarantee that my husband has never spoken with me about pending cases at the court. It`s an ironclad rule in our home and I generally do not discuss with him my day- to-day work in politics the topics I am working on, who I am calling, emailing, texting or meeting.

On November 10th, 2020, three days after every news organization had called the presidential election for Joe Biden, Virginia Thomas texted this to the last Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows: Help this great president stand firm, Mark, exclamation point. You are the leader with him who is standing for America`s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the left is attempting the greatest heist of our history.

On November 20, 2020, there was no case pending before the United States Supreme Court about the election. There`s no case pending in any courts about the election. So, on November, if Virginia Thomas discussed with her husband at dinner what she felt was the greatest heist of our history, if you think Virginia Thomas has earned the credibility to be believed about her statement that she never discusses the Supreme Court`s pending cases with her husband, it is still possible that she discussed what she thought was the greatest heist in our history on November 10th, 2020, with her husband.

Fourteen days later, on November 24th, Mark Meadows texted Virginia Thomas saying: This is a fight of good versus evil. Evil always looks like the victor until the king of kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well-doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it, well, at least my time in D.C. on it.

To which Virginia Thomas replied: Thank you, exclamation point. Needed that exclamation point. This plus, a conversation with my best friend just now. I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it.

My best friend, who could that possibly be referring to? Who would she turn to in this dark moment of crisis in her life, her crisis of faith in the very future of the United States of America? Would she look at her husband of 35 years with whom she has been through so much and think, I can`t talk to Clarence about this? That would be wrong.


REPORTER: Speak with your husband and both your beliefs of the election being stolen --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look forward to answering that --

REPORTER: Ms. Thomas, do you believe the election was stolen?

REPORTER: Ms. Thomas, how did the discussion go today?.

REPORTER: Are you done for today? Are you coming back? You speak to your husband about election and your conversation with Mark Meadows?


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He`s chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and he is a member of the January 6th Select Committee and served as the lead impeachment manager for the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Congressman Schiff, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I want to start with something that the chairman of your January 6th Committee has already revealed. He said that Virginia Thomas in her testimony said that she believes that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.


He was very clear about that. What else can you tell us about what she said about the stealing of the presidential election?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, Lawrence, as you know and as you outlined a couple moments ago, I`m very limited in what I can say. I did participate uh in almost the entire interview of several hours. She didn`t assert privilege, so at least not while I was present. So she did answer the questions that we had and of course we had questions that go to many of the things you pointed out.

In that opening statement that she released, she says for example: I generally don`t talk about my day-to-day activities well that that leaves a lot of wiggle room. Generally means there may be exceptions and day to day means well maybe not day to day but maybe in other terms these issues may have been discussed.

So we asked her about that we asked her about these claims of fraud that the attorney general appointed by Donald Trump rejected as BS, that his what has council rejected, that others rejected, that U.S. attorneys get appointed rejected, and whether that changed her view of these claims of fraud and, you know, at some point, I`m sure either in our hearing or at a later date when we release our report, we`ll be able to share the answers to those questions.

But we did have a thorough interview and she did respond to each of the questions we asked.

O`DONNELL: What about memory? Was I do not recall a frequent or occasional response?

SCHIFF: You know, I don`t want to characterize you know to what degree she relied on that. It wasn`t -- it was not one of those interviews where you get a total failure of recollection and I`ve had those interviews before. Indeed I remember deposing Karl Rove over the scandal of the firing of U.S. attorneys during the George W. Bush administration and he had a massive failure of recollection.

So it was not that kind of an interview, and you know, people will be able to, when we release transcripts of these interviews, evaluate to the best they can the credibility of the witnesses, and I`ll leave that to their judgment.

O`DONNELL: What would you say or can you say anything about your impression of her credibility?

SCHIFF: I -- you know, I really want to refrain from trying to characterize that at this point and I would rather have the public, when they have the opportunity to review the transcript, make their own determination.

O`DONNELL: There has been -- there is the question of whether some of her testimony might be used in the next committee hearing. What is your sense of that at this point?

SCHIFF: You know, we just had the interview today. We haven`t had a chance to discuss whether there are elements of that that we might want to incorporate into the next hearing. I think it`s very possible but there hasn`t been any judgment made by the committee.

O`DONNELL: How would you describe the importance of her testimony to the investigation?

SCHIFF: Well, you know, I think each of these witnesses adds value in the sense we get new insights or we at least get the satisfaction of knowing we`ve run this lead to ground and satisfied ourselves that we`ve learned as much as we can learn from a particular witness, so you know, I don`t characterize this as you know significant, insignificant.

You know, we thought that she had important information to share. She obviously was in communication with Mark Meadows and others and as you read in those messages to Mark Meadows she used awfully strong language in support of you know this broader effort to claim that the election was marred by massive fraud that in reality did not exist.

O`DONNELL: Let me turn to Russia before you go and if Vladimir Putin does hold this annexation ceremony tomorrow, from your position on the intelligence committee, what do you -- what effect do you expect that to have on the ongoing war in Ukraine?

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, I think people need to understand that what this is is a press release and basically a press for, you know, Russian consumption, event that he`s going to be hosting in Moscow. This is not based on anything that actually took place. It is a complete sham and it`s as if, you know, we decided tomorrow in Washington that we were going to recognize Tuscany as part of the state of California because we like Tuscany. It would have as much validity as that.

[22:15:00] But also, it is a sign of the desperate weakness of Putin and the Russian war effort that they have to resort to such a palpably false sham. This PR exercise because they`re losing ground. They`re losing momentum. They`re losing public support. They have to mobilize now.

Russians are leaving the country by the hundreds of thousands. They don`t want to be conscripted into this naked war of aggression. They don`t want to engage in war crimes. They don`t want to be around other people engaging in war crimes.

That`s what this is a response to, this PR stunt by Putin.

Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for starting off our discussions tonight. I`d really appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

There was also news today in the appropriately titled case of Donald J. Trump versus the United States of America, the judge in that case, Aileen Mercedes Cannon, overruled the special master in the case, Judge Raymond Dearie, saying that Donald Trump`s lawyers should not have to answer the special masters question about possible planted evidence by the FBI when the FBI was executing the search warrant of Donald Trump`s winter residents in Florida.

Judge Cannon agreed with Donald Trump`s lawyers that they should not have to answer any questions about the evidence in the case until they`ve been able to actually examine that evidence and examine all of it not, not including of course the classified documents which a federal appeals court has said prosecutors do not have to share with the Trump lawyers or the special master.

The examination of the rest of the evidence in the case has been delayed because Donald Trump`s lawyers were unable to hire a data processing firm that was willing to be hired by Donald Trump. That problem was solved by the Justice Department doing the hiring, instead of Donald Trump and billing the services of that company to Donald Trump.

Judge Cannon`s new order in the case simply pushes back deadlines by a couple of weeks to accommodate this delay in the hiring of the data processing firm. The Trump lawyers now have until November 4th to file their own description of each of the documents that were seized in the search after they`ve examined those documents and then assert any privilege that they believe protects any one of those documents from being used by federal prosecutors.

The judge`s new order extends the final target deadline for the special master process to be complete by about two weeks with the new final date now set for December 16th to wrap up the whole process.

None of this appears to have any significant effect on the actual progress of the criminal investigation of Donald Trump`s possession of classified records, and other government records since the federal prosecutors have been fully authorized by the appeals court to proceed with any aspect of the criminal investigation involving the over classified documents in the case.

Joining us now is Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel and former chief of the criminal division in the eastern district of New York. He`s a professor of practice at NYU law school at an MSNBC legal analyst.

And Andrew you may have heard me rehearsing my presentation to you, my law professor in this case with Alex Wagner at the beginning. So we`re going to we`ll do this in an unusual way tonight. I`ll make my argument here, as it were and you grade it and the audience is going to go with you on this.

So I it looks to me like this is pretty pointless this thing it extends the whole process by a couple of weeks, which seems like no big deal the whole process seems like no big deal now that the classified documents are out of the process and are part of the criminal investigation that`s ongoing, and I go back to the conversation you and I had here when I asked you, might Donald Trump be able to use the Fifth Amendment as an answer to Judge Dearie`s question about identify for me what you think the FBI planted at your home, you said it may be possible to use the Fifth Amendment there.

The more I think about that, the more I think Judge Cannon may be right here in protecting future criminal defendant Trump`s rights in this case and it might be a cleaner case that way especially if it ever ended up in an appeals court on a criminal appeal you know would you want the underpinnings of Donald Trump`s right to a defense to have been in any way undermined by the special master process.

Professor, how am I doing?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first, let me say that today was an interesting day because we had two women in Trumpland who are equally untethered to the facts and the law. One was Ginni Thomas, which you`ve talked to Adam Schiff about, and now we`re talking about Aileen Cannon.


So I give you an A on the first part of your answer, which is does this really matter in terms of, you know, keeping our eye on the prize, which is the criminal investigation and the really important national security review. And I completely agree with you that it`s really important for people to, you know, not view this as having any real effect on that. It will -- it can around the margins but not the core. So this isn`t something that the Department of Justice is going to be freaking out about.

The where you`re wrong is, when I said that the Donald Trump could assert the Fifth Amendment in this civil proceeding, that is true. But there are consequences in a civil proceeding if you assert the Fifth Amendment. For instance, you saw that with Letitia James, a New York attorney general bring a case where Donald Trump asserted the Fifth Amendment. That can be used against him.

So, if he had one exactly what you`ve said, just in the criminal case and said, you know what, I don`t have any burden. It`s the government`s burden to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt and, you know, I don`t have to do anything, that`s totally right and he can assert the Fifth Amendment and it cannot be used against him. Of course, if he wants to claim that these are planted, there needs to be some evidence that he would need even in a criminal case.

But this is where -- because this is a civil case, why Judge Dearie in the very first hearing he held said you can`t eat your cake and still have it remain. And what he was saying there is you know if you don`t want to say anything, if you don`t want to assert anything about these documents, that`s fine but they`re consequences because the government has already put in prima facie evidence that is they`ve already made a showing of what these documents are, so I don`t need any more proof. And if you`re not going to speak up, then I`m just going to rule on what`s here.

And then the final piece, which is just a question of how tawdry the Judge Cannon is. I mean, this is -- the way she is treated a respected, far more experienced Article 3 judge who was selected by her and Donald Trump as the special master is really beyond the pale. It -- I mean, it just shows she`s just so unfit to be sitting on the bench.

And we already know from the 11th Circuit that her decision was wrong up one side and down the other, but now she`s really proved that she really I think is just not showing any normal signs of decency to a fellow Article 3 judge who is so much more esteemed and experienced, with no difference at all when he is doing exactly what she had said he should be doing.

O`DONNELL: What do you think it`ll mean to Judge Dearie going forward in the case?

WEISSMANN: You know, I can surmise what he might be thinking right now which is no good deed goes unpunished. I mean, this is not something he was looking to do. I think he I`m sure did this out of a sense of duty and obligation. It`s an unusual position for an esteemed senior Article 3 judge to be doing this, for a junior Article 3 judge.

But I think he probably felt that it was something that the nation called on him to do and he should do it. But to be treated like this is I think it`s not going to affect him in the sense that I still think he`s going to do his duty. But it is -- to say it`s unfortunate is an understatement.

O`DONNELL: Okay. Before you go, we have to get one more grade. You gave me an A for the part of the answer I was right about. I noticed you were very polite not to give me any great at all for the part where you said I was wrong, but the audience needs a grade for that part, too.

WEISSMANN: Yeah. So why don`t I just say an overall grade of a B.

O`DONNELL: Oh, boy, I want to -- I want to take Professor Andrew Weissmann`s class at NYU Law School. B would be fine with me.

Andrew Weissmann, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

WEISSMANN: You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

WEISSSMANN: And coming up, we will get a live report from Florida about the search and rescue efforts underway, and Florida hospitals are really struggling tonight. That`s next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody`s RV came to our backyard. That`s not cool. That`s our deck. That was my house. My house is gone.




O`DONNELL: -- according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, coast guard search and rescue teams airlifted people to safety from Sanibel Island which is now completely isolated as it was in nature before a three- mile road was built over water to reach the island. A portion of that road was destroyed by Hurricane Ian, and now, the island with 6,500 permanent residents is reachable only by helicopter or boat.

Let`s go to NBC News correspondent Steve Patterson in St. Petersburg -- Steve.


STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, yes. Search and rescue the primary operation in the order of operations. Meanwhile the rest of the state digging out, assessing the damage and maybe most heartbreakingly assessing the loss of life.

We still don`t know the extent as we speak tonight. But the loss of life could be immense. That`s what we`re hearing from local, state, federal officials.

Where I`m stationed in Pinellas, you know, we avoided the brunt of the hurricane. We did not avoid the storm damage however. Trees are down, power lines are down, strewn across roads. Roofs of homes have been stripped off.

The assessment, the utility, the (INAUDIBLE) operation is immense. And it is going to take a long time. We are talking days if not weeks, if not months in some cases. Luckily this county really dodged the bullet, modeling had the storm system coming this way before it made that turn and slammed into those counties that you just mentioned.

But that does not mean that, you know -- there`s still thousands of people without power, more than 120,000 in this area alone. You widen that to Tampa Bay, it`s half a million. You widen that to the rest of the state, more than 2.5 million people still without power.

But again, the order of operations, search and rescue to try to prevent any further loss of life then you restore power. It`s going to take some time, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Steve Patterson, thank you for that report.

Here is some of what President Biden had to say today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the face of serious danger, search and rescue operations got underway before dawn this morning for people stranded and who are in desperate shape. Water rescue is critical. Coast guard deployed 16 rescue helicopters, six fixed-wing aircraft and 18 rescue boats and crews.

That`s just one element of the many federal search and rescue teams that the (INAUDIBLE) in Florida and the governor talked about how impressed he was with what the Coast Guard is doing this morning.

These are dangerous missions and I`m grateful for the brave women and men - - federal, state local governments working as one team, risking their lives to save others. And we`re going to learn a lot more in the coming hours.


O`DONNELL: Joining our coverage now is Brian Trascher. He`s with the United Cajun Navy, a volunteer group helping with search and rescue efforts in the region. Brian, what have you been able to accomplish so far?

BRIAN TRASCHER, UNITED CAJUN NAVY: Well, first of all, thanks for having us. I feel like a young Jed Bartlett sitting in the headmaster`s office who also happens to be my father. So sorry I`m such a "West Wing" geek but great to meet you.

We got to the Tampa Bay area a few days ago with some of our logistic advance teams and search and rescue teams. We moved them overnight to the Fort Myers area because that`s where we were getting a lot of the initial distress calls.

And one thing we`ve always noticed, you know, being from south Louisiana, we`ve had our share of hurricanes, is that when a hurricane makes landfall in the daytime, there`s usually like a lull and then once the sun goes down, and people realize that the power`s out for real and it`s dark, that`s when they start trying to call 9-1-1 and that system usually gets overloaded, and then they start calling us.

O`DONNELL: What can you do going forward?

TRASCHER: So right now we are still performing search and rescues in the Fort Myers area and some of those outer lying barrier islands that you talked about in the broadcast right before this.

And we are also doing extractions where, you know, the difference between a rescue and an extraction is that in an extraction there is not necessarily an imminent threat to life but people are indeed stranded. So we move them from what we call high water to high ground.

And we`ve identified a truck stop that is allowing us to use their parking lot to stage -- bring people to and then the state of Florida emergency officials are coming it and redistributing these people to state run shelters.

O`DONNELL: Brian Trascher, really admire the work you are doing there. Thank you for joining us tonight. And Brian before you go, you know, 20 years ago when I had to play that part in the West Wing, they had to gray my hair for it. They wouldn`t have to do that now because I`m now old enough to actually play that part -- of your father.

TRASCHER: You look great. That`s good enough.

O`DONNELL: Brian, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

TRASCHER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, we`ll get the latest on the path of Hurricane Ian as it is now heading towards South Carolina for possible landfall tomorrow. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Hurricane Ian spent 12 hours as a tropical storm before strengthening again today to a Category 1 hurricane. It`s currently moving north up the coast of Jacksonville, Florida headed for South Carolina.

In Jacksonville, residents were spared from the worst of the storm, but still hit with heavy winds and about ten inches of rainfall.

NBC News correspondent Shaquille Brewster is in Jacksonville with the latest.

SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there. Well the mayor of Jacksonville telling me earlier this evening that they are breathing somewhat of a sigh of relief here in Jacksonville but warning citizens that they are not out of the woods completely yet.

And that`s largely because of the River that you see behind me, the St. Johns River. This river is expected to reach another high tide sometime in the overnight hours. That could bring the potential of flood and flooding to those low-lying areas in Jacksonville.


BREWSTER: So the mayor insisting that those people in the low-lying areas that did participate in the voluntary evacuations in Jacksonville, he`s asking that they stay and allow crews to reassess tomorrow morning before folks start coming back to this area.

But that`s not to suggest that Jacksonville did not get impacted by this storm. We saw consistent rain, tropical storm force winds in the Jacksonville area, throughout the day.

We did know that overnight, we saw downed tree limbs, downed power lines, even a large sign that fell at one point. There were roads that were closed off for extended period of time.

But many of the crews were able to go out and work fairly quickly. Tonight in the latest update that we saw, there`s about 10,000 people who were without power, but local officials are confident the power will be restored to those people as we go through the overnight hours.

I think the biggest indicator that we saw here in Jacksonville is that they`re able to send many of their urban search and rescue teams to other areas of Florida because they say that`s where the help is needed tonight.

Back to you.

O`DONNELL: Shaquille Brewster, thank you for that report.

And Hurricane Ian is currently on track to make landfall near Charleston, South Carolina by tomorrow afternoon. Forecasters say the storm could produce up to seven feet of life-threatening storm surge in the region.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg had this message today for the people of Charleston.


MAYOR JOHN TECKLENBURG -- CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: So you might say we have been -- we`re blessed that by the time it gets here, it`s weakened. But I would say that given the alignment of its direction into Charleston and the low country, you`re not going to know the difference. It`s going to feel like a hurricane around here tomorrow.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is NBC News meteorologist Michelle Grossman. Michelle, it`s been 24 hours since we last spoke. Where are we now on the progress of the hurricane?

MICHELLE GROSSMAN, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Hey there, Lawrence. Always good to see you.

Well, we are looking a Category 1 storm as you mentioned. It did weaken to a tropical storm for a bit, and then it jumped into the Atlantic, gained some strength. And that`s what we`re expecting at landfall later on tomorrow all along the South Carolina coast.

Let`s give you the latest because we are looking at winds right around 75 miles per hour, that`s a really low Category 1 hurricane, moving northeast at ten miles per hour.

It`s currently 215 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. It will continue to move to the north and also make a little turn towards the east and make that landfall sometime tomorrow.

But lots of people impacted by tropical alerts, still 14 million people from Florida to Georgia, South Carolina, into North Carolina. We do have a hurricane warning along the South Carolina coast and that`s where we expect that third landfall to happen.

Red alerts also -- this is what we`re concerned about, life-threatening storm surge, life-threatening flash flooding, as well some damaging winds that could lead to some power outages. So 14 million impacted there.

And then Lawrence, we will see this landfall sometime tomorrow afternoon as a category one storm. Back to you.

O`DONNELL: Michelle Grossman, thank you for that report.

And joining us now is MSNBC public health analyst and disaster expert Dr. Irwin Redlener. Dr. Redlener, what should we be concerned with in this situation from a public health standpoint?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, MSNBC PUBLIC HEALTH ANALYST AND DISASTER EXPERT: Right Lawrence, so this is actually a very, very precarious time even though it`s in the aftermath of the major brunt of the storm.

We have serious problems in our ability to do search and rescue rapidly. You know, Florida is filled with people who are very fragile, older populations, et cetera. The survivors have to be found as rapidly as possible, extracted and given the medical care that they need.

And this is going to be a big problem. And even identifying how many people have actually been killed in this catastrophic hurricane is going to be a challenge. You remember after Hurricane Maria there were some very lowball estimates, the number of fatalities less than a couple of hundred. It turned out to be essentially 3,000 deaths.

I`m afraid we are going to see some large death tolls here in this disaster as well. The other thing is, the evacuation of hospitals so it`s been really well done. It`s a very precarious, dangerous, fraught situation, because we are moving very sick people, the sickest people in the hospitals to other hospitals where they may be out of danger.

But the actual transport of those patients is itself dangerous. So we`ll have to see how that turns out. But I am expecting that that should have gone pretty well.

One other thing that we should be attentive to from the public health point of view Lawrence is the fact that a lot of people may have been evacuated in a hurry but they`ll find themselves without their medications, without their medical records, which makes some people with chronic illness at particular risk.


DR. REDLENER: So the ability to provide medical care to those people is going to be absolutely immediate and germane. So we`ll have to see how all these factors get played out but the health of the people who have been affected by this monster storm is far from secure right now even though the brunt of the main attack of the storm has already passed.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Redlener, there are so many people who get their prescriptions especially continuing, ongoing prescriptions as necessary from the pharmaceutical that they need to basically live their lives the way they live their lives. They get them by mail, in 90 days supplies. And all of those are being interrupted now.

People who were waiting for maybe yesterday to get that next installment. What are the programs that are in place in an emergency situation like this to deal with that break in medication?

DR. REDLENER: Yes. Unfortunately this is a problem that we saw big time after Katrina in New Orleans. And people weren`t getting the mail and they weren`t able to get access to pharmacies which puts them in real jeopardy.

Saw the same thing Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017. And this is a repeated story. We haven`t really fully addressed it. It is definitely a problem and really I`m hoping HHC and DHS will take this up and figure out some mechanisms.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Irwin Redlener, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.


O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up we`ll be going back live to Orlando where people are being rescued by boat tonight because of the high floodwaters.

And we will be joined by Orlando`s next member of Congress and youngest member of Congress Maxwell Alejandro Frost. That`s next.




KYLE JONES, FLORIDA RESIDENT: A lost power last night about 12:50. And I still don`t have power now. So I`ve been out running around today going to pick up other the friends, help my friends.

I`m a veteran so, you know, we have been taught how to survive. And you know, I got all my cooking stove at the house. I got propane, I got all the stuff -- necessary stuff that I need. And whatever I can do for these people over here if I can, you know, I`ll be back over this way to help them out.


O`DONNELL: Orlando has been inundated with heavy flooding. Residents at the Orlando area nursing homes were among the hundreds of people rescued after floodwaters started to rise this morning.

Joining us now from Orlando is NBC News correspondent Jesse Kirsch. Jesse, what is the situation there at this hour?

JESSE KIRSCH, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. At this point Lawrence, we are still dealing with communities that are at least partially submerged. It`s hard to see because it`s dark behind me. You can see those yellow reflective signs. Those are street signs that have poles obviously attached to them, but right now they look like they are just floating in the water because we are still dealing with a community that is flooded out.

We have seen the water level recede ever so slightly over the last eight hours, give or take. But that has happened at a snail`s pace even though it has largely been dry this afternoon and evening which just speaks to how much water descended on this area and that it ran out of places to go. And all this was going on Lawrence, despite the fact we only got, according to officials, about half as much rain as was projected as possibly falling here in the Orlando area. At the last word, we know there`s still upwards of 100,000 people in this county without power but thankfully it is cooler out tonight, so air conditioning won`t necessarily be at the top of the need list compared to what it might have been in other situations Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Jesse Kirsch thank you for that report from Orlando.

And joining us now is Maxwell Alejandro Frost. He`s the former organizing director at March for Our Lives. He is a candidate for Congress in Florida`s tenth congressional district which includes Orlando. It`s a heavily Democratic district.

And Maxwell as we have discussed here before, you don`t have serious Republican opposition. You are going to be the next member of Congress from that district.

When you go to Washington in January, this is obviously still going to be a very pressing issue, if not still the most important issue in your district. What are you going to be looking for in terms of follow-up federal support in this situation?

MAXWELL ALEJANDRO FROST (D-FL), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much for having me on. I mean what we have seen from this is devastation that we as humans have contributed to. We didn`t cause the hurricane though we are contributing to how intense they are. I mean my power is just going in and out the all day, and we weren`t even in the worst of it. We see many of our cities across the state and specifically in southwest Florida completely flattened. People have died.

And this is part of the reason why I decided to run for Congress in the first place that the cost of not doing anything as far as the climate crisis is concern is far greater than the cost of taking bold action now. and that cost isn`t just in dollars and cents, it`s in human lives.

And I`m looking forward to fighting for bold climate reform to ensure we`re doing everything we can do to contribute less to this crisis.


O`DONNELL: So is your approach to this a combination of relief for the damage that has been done and then concern about future choices in residential location and other matters that could -- that in some ways make this worse?

FROST: Yes, exactly. I mean -- and that`s the way that leaders have to be thinking about it. It`s not either or. We can`t pit these problems against one another. It`s building the climate friendly infrastructure we need right now so families aren`t completely flooded, and rooms and houses aren`t completely flooded for days and days and days. And also thinking long term. You know, there`s this thing called the Seventh Generation Principle which means we make decisions that positively impact seven generations in the future.

That`s what governing has to be about, right. We can`t just pick one problem, we have to tackle it all at the same time. So it`s building that climate friendly infrastructure. That`s why I`m for a brand New Deal, (INAUDIBLE) in climate core. And I`m also for ensuring that we do everything we can to ensure that we are reducing emissions and doing everything we can to build a better planet for future generations.

O`DONNELL: Maxwell Alejandro Frost thank you very much for joining us tonight.

FROST: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: Our coverage of Hurricane Ian continues on "THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" which starts now.