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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 8/9/21

Guests: Daniel Goldman, William Springs, Austan Goolsbee, Kelechi Iheagwara, Lipi Roy, Joe Neguse


Donald Trump is said to have used the office of the presidency to coerce others into using their federal offices to actually overthrow the election. The United States has crossed 36 million confirmed coronavirus cases, including one million more cases in just the last eight days. Delta variant is spreading like wild fire in a country where vaccine is free and has been available to all adults for months. The Labor Department announced that for the first time ever, there are more than 10 million open jobs in the United States. The CDC estimates that an average of 216 children with COVID were hospitalized every day last week. The U.N.`s intergovernmental panel on climate change just released a new Code Red warning that human- caused climate change is now, quote, "irreversible for centuries to millennia".


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: It was great and as I always say your team gets a show that is not hosted by you as close as possible to a show hosted by you. When I was listening earlier I Googled how many knots could there be for catching striped bass? Quite surprised.


VELSHI: The improved clinch knot seems to get the most Googles. But I think -- I was a bit surprised. I would say this --

MADDOW: Yeah. I could go on. Trust me.

VELSHI: Yes, no doubt.

In your seat one week ago tonight, I interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and it was a remarkable interview about the moment in which he realized Donald Trump had done something illegal and that can`t stand and he will do something about that. And maybe B.J. Pak went through something like that and maybe Jeff Rosen went through something like that where he said this can`t stand.

I am most worried that our democracy cannot rely on the fact that people will make good judgments. I`m really glad some people did and Alexander Vindman did, and he is a hero for doing it but I would really like to know there is something else that will prevent somebody like Donald Trump from undoing democracy as we have learned there was a full plan to do. This wasn`t a whim. This was a plan as you pointed out.

MADDOW: Yes. You know, it is exactly right. You can`t have a system that depends on super human heroism. There has to be consequences for putting people in circumstances where the only way to move forward in public service is to be self-sacrificing and heroic on a daily basis.

I mean, today is the anniversary of Richard Nixon`s resignation from the presidency. There were consequences for what Nixon forced people to do in terms of being heroic in their efforts to save the republic against him. There were consequences for Nixon and there`s a reason that his name is an epithet.

If we don`t ensure that same accountability moving forward, then the sacrifice and heroism of the Vindmans of the world is something we`re not honoring. And it is -- it weighs on me.

VELSHI: And we`re not there yet.

MADDOW: It weighs on me, that`s right.

VELSHI: It weighs on me, too.

Rachel, it is great to have you back. Thank you my friend. Have an excellent night and work on those knots.

MADDOW: Thank you.

VELSHI: Well, Donald Trump did try to overthrow the election, not just with sore loser tweets. He tried as we have discussed to use the office of the presidency and to coerce others into using their federal offices to actually overthrow the election.

So as Rachel says why isn`t he being held accountable for not only telling the big lie that the election was stolen but actually trying to make that a reality? These questions demand answers especially as we learn even more about Trump`s efforts to use the Justice Department in his scheme.

"The New York Times" reports that Jeffrey Rosen, Trump`s former acting attorney general, met with the Justice Department`s Office of the Inspector General on Friday, and delivered damning closed door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday. Jeffrey Rosen detailed efforts by Jeffrey Clark, this man, the then acting head of the Justice Department civil division, to help Trump subvert the election results.

According to "The Times", Rosen told investigators that Clark, quote, admitted meeting with Mr. Trump and pledged that he would not do so again, end quote. Of course, it never seems to be that simple for people in Trump`s orbit. "The Times" reports that Clark, quote continued to press colleagues to make statements about the election that they found to be untrue.

Jeffery Rosen also told investigators that, quote, Clark had been engaging in unauthorized conversations with Mr. Trump about ways to have the Justice Department publicly cast doubt on President Biden`s victory, end quote.

And to top it all off, Jeffery Clark, quote, drafted a letter that he asked Mr. Rosen to send to Georgia state legislators wrongly asserting that they should void Mr. Biden`s victory because the Justice Department was investigating accusations of voter fraud in the state.

Here is the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin earlier today on MSNBC.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): There`s a lot of information we`d like to gather from Mr. Clark, will help bring some clarity to the situation.


It certainly raised a question and Mr. Rosen understood that Mr. Clark was waiting in the wings and if he didn`t do president Trump`s requests, comply with those requests, comply with those requests, he very easily could have been replaced.


VELSHI: Donald Trump abused his office. For anyone with eyes or ears before the 2016 election, you could see the potential for abuse was high. It is possibly even more alarming that Trump`s abuses were the abuses of the people around him. From people who were not gold toilet grifters like Trump. People like Jeffery Clark who are all too eager it seems to break the law for a man who lost the election.

And before we start sanctifying Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general, note that he sat in silence for nine or ten months before speaking out against these abuses. Now, for every Jeffery Clark who is willing to subvert the law, there is a man like this, Alexander Vindman, who risked his career to provide the evidence that helped to lead to Donald Trump`s first impeachment and that is heartening.

But relying on good faith actors is not sustainable or healthy for our democracy. That is the lesson of the Trump presidency and a lesson we are still learning even with Trump gone.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Daniel Goldman who served as the house impeachment inquiry majority council for the first impeachment of Donald Trump. He also served as the assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Daniel, it is good to see you again, but not under good circumstances.

This question is a big one. We have evidence falling every day about someone else who seemed to do something that looks like they were breaking the law and there is still a former president walking around without facing legal consequence for damaging democracy in this country.

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER HOUSE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRTY MAJORITY COUNSEL: Certainly as things drip out from the Senate Judiciary Committee and Department of Justice, it is looking worse and worse as if it wasn`t just a one off, it wasn`t just one instance where Donald Trump tried to convince the attorney general to get involved.

It was a calculated, premeditated plan to pressure the Department of Justice and not dissimilar to the Saturday night massacre where two attorneys general had to resign before the solicitor general at the time would actually do President Nixon`s bidding. Donald Trump had similar plans to fire Jeffrey Rosen and fire Richard Donoghue and then to elevate Jeffrey Clark to be the AG, so that that letter we now know could go out.

This is scary as you point out. But the thing that gnaws at me in reading this reporting is it`s all well and good for the Senate judiciary committee to pursue this investigation, and they should, and it is all well and good for the Department of Justice inspector general`s office, which initially evaluates whether or not individuals, employees of the Department of Justice violated regulations or protocols or perhaps laws, but they are not a prosecutorial arm of the Department of Justice.

The big question here is what is going on with these allegations and the ongoing January 6th criminal investigation? It is clear that the information that Jeffrey Rosen has, that B.J. Pak is going to give in a couple days, relates to what happened on January 6th. We don`t know there is a massive, criminal investigation related to January 6th.

We don`t know at this point whether that investigation has included any interviews that -- with Jeffrey Rosen or Richard Donoghue or B.J. Pak. We don`t know that.

And my fear is that everything, of course, in Congress is leaked so that`s not a surprise. But the I.G.`s office for the Department of Justice generally keeps their investigations confidential. And if that is leaking to the press, my concern is that the -- there is no leak about any Jeffrey Rosen testimony to the FBI or to the U.S. attorney`s office.

And so I am concerned that we haven`t heard about that. It`s possible it is going on and we don`t know about it. But that is where accountability really lies at this point. It is not through the Senate Judiciary Committee even though that is important. It is through a very intensive and close evaluation of the facts and evidence to see if crimes were --


VELSHI: This has gone -- this has gone past politics. People you know very well, Joyce Vance, Laurence Tribe, and Barbara Quade wrote something in "The Washington Post" the other day, a road map for the Justice Department to follow in investigating Trump. By the way, they wrote this before we knew all of this stuff about Friday`s discussions with Rosen, Saturday`s testimony with Rosen.

Who is in charge of this? Who does this? Because as you said, there is a January 6 investigation, there`s an I.G. investigation. But to us lay people with no legal training, it feels like laws were broken, crimes were committed that imperiled democracy in this country and we need to see somebody taking action that seems consequential and apolitical.

Who is the person to do this? Who is the body to lead this? Is it the Department of Justice? As Rachel said the problem with the Department of Justice, the attorney general, the poor guy goes to work every day at a crime scene.

GOLDMAN: It is the Department of Justice. There is accountability in all sorts of different ways. I would argue there will be accountability potentially at the ballot box in 2022, which is going to be the first election since January 6th. But -- and there is accountability that can occur in Congress. They can pass laws to correct some of these issues that -- this impropriety that Donald Trump used to abuse his power.

And there in fact is a law in the House drafted or a number of laws drafted by Adam Schiff to correct this.

The trick here, and this is where sort of our urge for information conflicts with how the Department of Justice works. And that is that these criminal investigations -- particularly one of this magnitude -- related to January 6th, take a very long time. And it`s very important that they remain confidential for a host of reasons that anyone who wants to see accountability should support.

You know, our system is based on the rule of law and that is essential that we don`t change our view of the rule of law depending on which party is in power. And so, there`s this desire to see something happening, to understand that, oh, the Department of Justice is interviewing this person, interviewing that person.

But that`s not the way that it works if it is working properly. And so the bottom line is that we just need to be patient and have faith that the U.S. attorney`s office in Washington, D.C., which is spearheading the January 6th investigation, and the higher ups at the Department of Justice who are overseeing this investigation pursue every single lead to its logical conclusion. And if ultimate -- at that point they will have more information than we have and that is when they make a decision as to whether or not there are crimes that were committed or whether there should be some other referral or some other report or some other mechanism for accountability.

But I`m concerned that Jeffrey Rosen is testifying in front of all these other entities because it just indicates to me that the Department of Justice is not, if I were a prosecutor, I would not want my witness to be testifying all over the place, because you`re creating conflicting testimony, which can be used for cross examination if there ever is a trial.

So it`s perfectly plausible that they don`t care about that but that is a real concern for me as someone who is a former prosecutor watching this from afar.

VELSHI: Your counsel is appreciated for us and our viewers because these are things we do not understand but you not only understand but, boy, I remember talking to you in the days before the first impeachment. Things have moved quickly and continue to.

Daniel, it`s good to see you again. Daniel Goldman, thank you for joining us. We appreciate your time.

All right. Coming up the Trump rump of Republicans who are still refusing to accept that Joe Biden actually won the presidency is just one of the ways a recalcitrant minority is holding the rest of us hostage in this country. Another is avoiding a vaccine and spreading a deadly virus, stopping us from getting back to regular life, and putting your kids at risk. Enough is enough.

David Plouffe and Eddie Glaude join me after this.



VELSHI: All right. Breaking news tonight, the United States has crossed 36 million confirmed coronavirus cases, including 1 million more cases in just the last eight days. Delta is spreading like wild fire in a country where vaccine is free and has been available to all adults for months.

Quote, we are failing one another. That is how "USA Today" described America`s fourth COVID surge on their cover this weekend with a map highlighting the devastating spread of the delta variant among states with high rates of unvaccinated people.

The United States is now averaging more than 100,000 new cases of COVID every day. That is the highest since February before the vaccines were widely available. This is nonsense. Roughly 30 percent of the new coronavirus cases are coming from just two states -- Florida and Texas, and Republican governors are doing real harm by blocking mask mandates for kids and downplaying the virus.

But it`s not just COVID. As David Plouffe, President Obama`s first campaign manager put it, quote, a third of the country is holding the other two- thirds hostage preventing us from beating the pandemic, from reaffirming that we are democracy. We need the two-thirds to unite. Not forever but now.

Joining us now, David Plouffe, former campaign manager and White House senior adviser to President Obama and Eddie Glaude, chairman of African- American studies at Princeton University. Both gentlemen are MSNBC contributors.

David, you make an important point right at the end. You do not have to unite forever. You do not have to put aside all of your differences. We don`t even want that.


We`re a pluralism. We don`t need people to put aside their differences. You just have to be on the side of not dying from a deadly disease and not seeing your democracy disintegrate in front of you.

DAVID PLOUFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, Ali. The threats to our democracy, to the existence of this country, our health, ability to beat this pandemic and prepare for the next one are existential. Yes, I`d love it if Democrats got two-thirds of the vote everywhere. That is not going to happen. We need to be realistic about this.

There are structural reasons the minority has too much power in this country. Gerrymandering, the way we elect United States senators, Electoral College.

But right now, we have about two-thirds of the country that entirely drive Republican primaries and are the activists, get all their information from Sinclair and Breitbart, and Fox, who are holding us back -- on beating this pandemic, on dealing with climate change, on dealing with the gun carnage in this country, on immigration reform, on saving our democracy, on all of these things.

And I think, you know, there`s been a lot of -- understandably saying, we`re too divided to get anything done. Politicians might be divided. The most amazing thing is on most of the issues should people have gotten vaccine, should we have worn masks through the pandemic, did Joe Biden win the election? Is climate change real? Should we pass an assault weapons ban? Should we have a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.

Two-thirds to 80 percent of the people agree on this. And so, yeah, I think the question will be for voters who don`t agree with what the hard core of the Republican base is doing, the forever Trumpers are they going to show up in 2024 and say for these couple elections, we`ll side with you, then we can go back to fighting about health care coverage and tax rates and all the things that seem quaint right now.

VELSHI: Which is fine. Yeah, I`m happy to have those conversations again.

Eddie, you are the chair of the department of African-American studies. We don`t often have you on necessarily to talk about that.

But there is something about this one-quarter or one-third of deniers or whatever you want to call them. There is a lost cause-ness about this. It`s like the other side of the Civil War, the anti-mask stuff, big lie in the election, now the politicization of vaccines.

It`s the sense that it is us and our lifestyle and our culture that you all are imposing something on.

EDDIE GLAUDE, JR., MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, Ali. In some ways, they are the new redeemers. And the new redeemers, of course, are those -- redeemers were those persons trying to roll back the victory of the civil war trying to in some ways block the way to the U.S. becoming a multiracial democracy and of course were successful in that regard. The South may have lost but the lost cause continues to in some ways animate our politics.

And I just want to add something to what David said, because I think he is right that one-third has had the country by the throat for generations. That one-third is only powerful because among the two-thirds, there are those willing to coddle them. There are those who are willing in some ways to stand by silently as the pro-slavery folk define the politics of the nation and pass the fugitive slave law of 1850 and force slavery as a national issue to say folks in Boston and Chicago must return those who have escaped slavery.

There are those who aren`t the members of the KKK who weren`t rabid segregationists but who were okay with the way in which Jackson, Mississippi was organized.

There are those folks like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who are coddling in the name of a commitment to a procedural rule. So, it is not only the one-third. It is those portions, the members of the two-thirds who are willing to stand silently by as the one-third grabs the country by the throat.

VELSHI: Which gives them more power than you would think one-third or one- quarter of the population would normally have.

The nonsense out of people I didn`t associate with nonsense in the past. I associated them with ideological beliefs that weren`t exactly the same as mine but we could always debate them, David, is fascinating.

I want you to listen to what Rand Paul posted a video to Twitter today. Let`s discuss it on the other side.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): It`s time for us to resist. They can`t arrest all of us. They can`t keep all of your kids home from school. We don`t have to accept the mandates, lockdowns, and harmful policies of the petty tyrants and bureaucrats. We can simply say, no. Not again.

We will make our own health choices. We will not show you a passport. We will not wear a mask. We will not be forced into random screenings and testings so you can continue your drunk with power reign over the Capitol.

No one should follow CDC`s anti-science mask mandates


VELSHI: I don`t even know what to say, David. I mean, he is talking about resisting and petty tyrants and all.


This is a man educated in science, by the way. I wouldn`t have guessed that. But where does the energy for this come from where it is not just the right fringe? To Eddie Glaude`s point, it`s not just the right fringe. It`s people who were otherwise mainstream conservatives or libertarians who have gone over and crossed over some line into ridiculous.

PLOUFFE: Yeah. Well, and that`s the United States senator we are talking about. So, of course, there is a category of a quarter to a third who actually believe all this stuff, you know? Then there`s a bunch of people following the ball like in a 5-year-old soccer game. Where is the ball going? Where are the primary voters going, where is Tucker Carlson going? Where is Laura Ingraham going?

I think there are a lot of people cowardly who fall into that category. Eddie makes a great point. This is a crossroads for America. It is not hyperbole to say democracies duration could be coming to a close. It`s not hyperbole to say we may not survive this pandemic much less get ready for another one.

It`s not hyperbole to say we may not lead the world to save the planet. So, that will require the people in the other two-thirds who know better, who believe we are democracy, who don`t believe the big lie, who believe public health professionals, who believe science to say even though I don`t agree with the Democrats in anything. These people pay a price, the Rand Pauls of the world.

What`s happening is they are speaking into this distorted, perverse world that`s created for them by Fox, by Sinclair, by Newsmax. That is their world. That`s the mirror they look into every day, and they get applauded for these crazy, infantile, dishonest things they say.

Until they really pay a price at the ballot box let`s not forget Donald Trump of all people almost won re-election. There has to be a real reckoning. The 2022 election has to be the beginning of it, because if you get people like Rand Paul all the power, you better turn out the lights on this country in my view.

VELSHI: So, not only that did Donald Trump come close to winning election, he came very close it now seems to stealing an election.

And, Eddie, one of the discussions you and have had in the past is everybody else has to put their back into this. So, voting rights now completely intersect with election fraud but not with the way Republicans want you to think about it in the way Donald Trump and cronies at the Justice Department about to send letters to the Georgia Republicans and the governors to overturn the election in favor of Donald Trump, that`s the only election fraud we`ve got here.

So folks who are not affected by voting restrictions like me because I`ve never had a problem voting here. I don`t have line-ups. I vote easily. Everybody`s got to get their back into fixing this problem.

PLOUFFE: Right. Now, you remember, Ali, the late political theorist at Harvard said America didn`t really become a truly genuine democracy until 1965. Prior to that, large portions of the country did not have access to the vote.

And so, Americans were okay with that. So we need to understand how fragile this thing is.

I think, David, and you are absolutely right. We are at code red. This is a crisis point. This is not simply about black folk being denied the vote. It is not simply about poor people and young people being denied the vote. It`s really about undermining the very fabric of our country.

I should say this quickly. For 40 years, we have been governed by an ideology that has turned us into self-interested persons in pursuit of our own aims and ends. We can live in our gated communities. We were okay with the gaps between those who have and those who did not have. We were okay with the argument that government had no role in our lives.

And what it has produced a planet on the brink and no genuine conception of the public good, and a pandemic of selfishness in the midst of a virus raging in the country. We are at a crisis point and we have to respond together or we will not make it through this.

VELSHI: Well, we`re going to need a road map how to do that, because you articulate the problem is really well, but I don`t know how you don`t see how this affects them directly, I don`t know how you don`t see it, I don`t know how you don`t see the climate warming, I don`t know how you don`t see voters rights affecting you but we`re going to have to figure out a way that everybody understands there is a dividing line now and you need to be on the right side of it.

Gentlemen, thank you. David Plouffe and Eddie Glaude, we appreciate your time tonight.

Coming up, we got more proof that in the Biden economy, power is shifting to workers. We`ll talk about that next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While our economy is far from complete, and while we doubtlessly will have ups and downs along the way as we continue to battle the delta surge of COVID, what is indisputable now is this. The Biden plan is working. The Biden plan produces results. The Biden plan is moving the country forward.


VELSHI: And we should note that the Biden plan isn`t just working for a few. It`s actually working for everybody.

Today the Labor Department announced that for the first time ever there are more than 10 million open jobs in the United States. More jobs are coming. According to Moody`s the bipartisan infrastructure deal that Congress is on the verge of passing will create 650,000 jobs paying an average annual salary of $70,000. Much higher than the median.

Another indicator that the Biden plan is working is that the average pay for grocery store employees, the essential workers who kept us fed through the pandemic, now tops $15 an hour for the first time ever. Other industries are following suit.


VELSHI: The "Washington Post" reports "Overall, nearly 80 percent of U.S. workers now earn at least $15 an hour up 60 percent from 2014. Job sites and recruiting firms say many job seekers won`t even consider jobs that pay less than $15 anymore. For years, low paid workers fought to make at least that much. And now it`s effectively become the new baseline," end quote.

Joining us now Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Obama. He is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago`s Booth School of Business.

William Spriggs is an economics professor at Howard University and the chief economist for the AFL-CIO.

Welcome to both of you.

William, let me start with you. This is quite a thing. I mean you remember when we talked about -- the minimum wage, federal minimum wage is $7.25. We have been talking for years about $10, $12, $15.

And now we`re at a place where wages are higher. That`ll create higher incomes. That`ll create more spending. And even the small businesses that in the moment feel like they`re feeling pinched by these higher wages, they will -- people will spend more money with them and we`ll end up like some of these countries where costs are higher and income is higher.

WILLIAM SPRIGGS, CHIEF ECONOMIST, AFL-CIO: Absolutely. What we`ve done I think is emphasize what many of us believed that we faced a labor market filled with monopsony, the power of firms to set wages and that they had set them too low.

Many of us argued, as you said, for a long time. We have workers organized at so many places to fight for $15 and a union and this became the norm -- the acceptable wage.

And now we see firms no longer in this environment able to hold workers because we`ve broken I believe the grip that many firms had where they had workers captured in small job networks that weren`t open to all the possibilities out there.

The need for workers to find jobs meant they broke those job networks, they searched for new jobs, and now firms are actually competing for the first time.

This is creating a more competitive labor market. It is a good thing for workers and many firms have found out higher wages, more output, bigger sales, better profits. Exactly what we have always predicted would be the case with monopsony.

VELSHI: Austan Goolsbee, there is some Republican orthodoxy that we must never increase taxes on the wealthy or corporations and in fact for the last several years we have decreased those taxes.

There is a same orthodoxy that suggests you can`t give low wage and poor people any kind of break because they`ll just sit on their sofa and not actually do anything.

Give me some sense of the return on investment. How much better the return on investment is when we do what we`ve seen in the last few months where you give low wage and poor people benefits that they don`t go to Switzerland and spend. That they don`t put into investment accounts. They actually spend it in your economy and stimulate your economy.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, OBAMA COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Yes. Indeed, it`s almost like they gave us a natural experiment, Ali.


GOOLSBEE: I mean Donald Trump cut taxes for big corporations and high income people more than they`ve ever been cut. And they promised us that it was going to lead to $5,000 increases in average people`s wages. They promised us the tax cuts would pay for themselves. And would bring like manna from heaven massive increases in growth and investment. And none of those things happened even before the pandemic.

Then the pandemic occurred. Now you`ve just got a totally different approach which is cut taxes and give relief and do things to increase wages for just ordinary, working people in the country.

And you got to say that so far it`s working pretty well. I mean, at moments like now are like the moments at the end of the 1990s when Bill Clinton was the president there are certain moments when the economy is growing rapidly but it is being shared and wages are going up not just for the top, not just giving tax cuts to people that could afford a lobbyist or that sort of thing.

And as you look back, periods like that are really good for the economy. This isn`t just a charity type of an arrangement.

VELSHI: That`s right.

GOOLSBEE: This is when we grow the fastest.

VELSHI: This is the point. It is not charity. It is actually -- it`s really effective public spending of your and my tax dollars.

William, the Republicans are floating this fear that this bill that`s in there. The infrastructure bill, the bipartisan bill and then the other bill that is coming and these things that the Biden administration are doing are all going to cause runaway and rampant inflation. Your response?


SPRIGGS: No. That is not what is going to happen. It is going to make the economy far more efficient.

One of the shifts we`ve been seeing in this labor market, because we increased demand and firms are hiring in response to that is a shift of women out of low wage jobs and increasing their share in construction, transportation, and warehousing. We`re increasing the nation`s productivity by shifting workers out of less productive jobs, higher paid jobs, and jobs where their productivity is higher. That is how you grow the economy without getting inflation.

VELSHI: Gentlemen, thank you for your time tonight. Austan Goolsbee and William Spriggs -- we always appreciate these conversations and we`ll be having them more we hope in the coming future.

Coming up the delta variant is different and it is endangering kids who cannot get vaccinated. We`re going to talk to a Louisiana doctor whose hospital is treating dozens of children who are fighting to breathe right now, including babies. And she fears it is going to get worse.

That`s next.



VELSHI: So get this idea that COVID doesn`t affect kids out of your head. Delta is different. That is the message from pediatricians sounding the alarm about the very sick children and babies showing up in their hospitals.

The CDC estimates that an average of 216 children with COVID were hospitalized every day last week. Doctors say it is clear that the highly contagious delta variant is behind the surge in childhood infections and sending more children to the hospitals in parts of the country with low vaccination rates.

According to the CDC at least 81 children in the United States have died of COVID between March and July. And many doctors warned that the situation is likely to get worse.

If there`s ever been a time to just put aside your politics this is now. There is no reason for these kids to be getting sick.

Joining us now is Dr. Kelechi Iheagwara, the medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Our Lady of the Lake Children`s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Also joining us Dr. Lipi Roy, an internal medicine physician.

Welcome to both of you.

Dr. Iheagwara, can you tell me, because there are people in your state and there are people around this country who just think this is a myth. That it`s not really happening. Tell us about the kids that are coming into your pediatric ward, what their symptoms and what their circumstances are, please.

DR. KELECHI IHEAGWARA, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL, BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA: Absolutely. So we are seeing children between the ages of three weeks up to 17 years of age.

COVID unfortunately is affecting our children and the severity really ranges from just mild symptoms -- you know a cold, runny nose, cough, congestion, and some kids, you know, are worse off. You know, they have oxygen requirements, some end up in our intensive care unit which is where I come in.

And a few of those patients also end up requiring something called mechanical ventilation, essentially a breathing tube to help them breathe.

VELSHI: The reporting here is that we don`t have enough data to sort of indicate why this is happening but it seems to be two things, right. One is the contagion level of the delta virus. It`s more contagious, the viral load is greater, and the fact that kids under 12 can`t get vaccinated.

So the two things coming together. Do you have any sense of which one is more important or is it just the confluence of the two?

DR. IHEAGWARA: I would think it`s the confluence of the two and the fact that we also have adults who are not vaccinated, right. If you are in a household and you`re vaccinated then the chances of your children contracting COVID from you is not as high. But if you are in a household where no one is vaccinated and you as an 11 or 9-year-old is also unvaccinated then your chances are much higher.


DR. IHEAGWARA: But of course, we know that -- I`m sorry.

VELSHI: Sorry about that, Doctor.

DR. IHEAGWARA: No, I was just going to add that we know that the delta variant is highly contagious and this is what we`re seeing now.

VELSHI: Lipi, you`re coming to us from our hometown of Toronto where you were saying folks are wearing masks. We don`t seem to have this big movement in America around the mask. But we are discussing now, we`re still struggling with masks and whether people should be wearing them, you know.

And most of our cases right now, more than half our cases are coming from Texas and Florida where both governors have said you can`t institute local mask mandates. Plus we have got this feeding frenzy of not getting vaccinated.

What -- you are a health professional -- what do we do about this?

DR. LIPI ROY, INTERNAL MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Yes. Good evening, Ali, from our hometown of Toronto.

And yes, as you just said, I am here because my parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. And I felt -- my brother and I felt -- it was safe to do so, to have a small party among fully-vaccinated, close relatives and family friends because honestly Canada has really done a fairly good job of containing this pandemic.

The vaccine rollout in the beginning was slow but today 80 percent -- 81 percent of the population has at least one dose of the vaccine and a little over 68 percent has been fully-vaccinated.

Everywhere I went everyone was wearing a mask. So I felt safe and I wanted to, of course, protect my elderly mother and father.

So the first thing, you know, you said this right in the opening. You hit the nail on the head when you said get that, you know, rid of this idea that children -- that they are not affected. It is just mild. They get over it really quickly.

That is clearly not what the data is showing. And when you see experts like Dr. Iheagwara in Baton Rouge, Louisiana it is just not what we`re seeing at all. Children are getting infected and cities and neighborhoods, cities and counties that have the highest test positivity rate cases and infections, that is where we`re going to see kids get infected, too.


DR. ROY: We need to get politics -- remove politics from the pandemic response. The best way to protect kids, Ali, is to make sure that adults and kids above 12 are vaccinated. That is the best way to protect children, Ali.

VELSHI: Dr. Iheagwara, we`ve been talking to people in Louisiana now for a few weeks because of how serious the situation is in your state including in Baton Rouge where you are a feeder. You`re the place that helps other people in Louisiana, other hospitals when they need help. And you`re struggling with that.

Are minds being changed by the news and the coverage of what you and your colleagues are facing in the hospital?

DR. IHEAGWARA: You know, we hope so, and we think so. I think the people of Louisiana are very smart people, and our governor has done a lot in terms of reinstating the mask mandates, and our schools are reopening, and we`re hopeful that they would do the right thing.

It`s unfortunate that we`re here where we are today. But, you know, we tell the parents, and we tell everyone this is not over. We still have work to do, and we need to keep our kids safe.

VELSHI: It is not over. We still have work to do. And we need to keep our kids safe. Just keep saying that to people.

Thank you for the work that you and your colleagues are doing, Dr. Iheagwara. It is sad 18 months after this last year people didn`t have a vaccine and we understood it. Now we`ve got a vaccine. And I appreciate the work that you and doctors and nurses and health practitioners across this country are doing.

Lipi, thank you for your expertise. Give my love to Toronto. Dr. Lipi Roy is an internal medicine doctor. Dr. Kelechi Iheagwara is the medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Our Lady of the Lake Children`s Hospital in Baton Rouge.

Coming up, the Democrats-only infrastructure bill is on track -- well, it`s going to do more to combat climate change than any legislation ever in the history of the Senate. And it comes as the U.N. has issued an environmental Code Red for humanity.



VELSHI: Breaking tonight, the Senate will vote on final passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill at 11:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning -- or at least that`s when they`ll start. The vote needs just a simple majority to pass.

Right after that, the Senate will immediately vote on the motion to proceed to the Democrats-only budget resolution, one of the many provisions in that budget resolution would, quote, "allow the Senate to make the most significant investment in tackling the climate crisis in U.S. history."

Now, that investment could not come at a more critical time. The U.N.`s intergovernmental panel on climate change -- that`s the big panel, that`s 244 scientists -- just released a new Code Red warning that human-caused climate change is now, quote, "irreversible for centuries to millennia".

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado. He is a member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Congressman Neguse, good to see you. I don`t know what to think about this. They studied I think 14,000 climate reports. They said very clearly there is no basis on which to doubt the human affect on climate change, and that climate change is occurring.

But even if you didn`t see those studies, you just have to live a day in America with the sweltering heat, with the wildfires, with the floods.

And yet not everybody is on the side about this right now, particularly in Washington and in Congress. We are still fighting this battle about whether this is real as opposed to fighting climate change.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Well, I couldn`t agree with you more. And it`s good to be with you, Ali. Look, I think the message from global scientists today was quite clear from the IPCC report, which is the time for inaction is over, and that it`s time for folks to put politics aside and to take decisive action to stop the climate crisis.

I really view this report as a final warning to the global community, and I`m hoping that my colleagues will listen.

And you know, Ali, I believe that ultimately they will because the report is confirming what so many citizens across our country are witnessing each and every day, which is that climate change is here.

I mean here in Colorado, we have had mega wildfires. Two of the state`s larges wildfires in our history have occurred in the last year. Flash flooding that has tragically taken the lives of folks in my community. And just this last weekend, the worst air quality literally in the entire western hemisphere.

So my constituents are fed up. They`re tired of inaction in Washington. And they are demanding that policymakers take this serious and treat it as the crisis that it is.

And fortunately, Ali, as you said, the Senate and the House are poised to do precisely that under the president`s Build Back Better agenda to pass generational investments in clean energy and renewable energy, and really take decisive steps to save our planet.

VELSHI: And I`m glad we`re doing that, but the Center for American Progress in March issued a report that says "There are still 139 elected officials in the 117th Congress, including 109 representatives and 30 senators who refuse to acknowledge the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change.

Climate deniers comprise 52 percent of House Republicans, 60 percent of Senate Republicans, and more than a quarter of the total number of elected officials in Congress."

Can we make progress, Congressman, with that kind of opposition?

NEGUSE: Look, Ali, I think that that position, the notion of denying the climate science and clearly what we see with our own eyes is going to quickly become politically untenable.

The reality, as I said, is that climate change is here today and anyone who lives in the Rocky Mountain West here in my state of Colorado knows that to be true, given the visceral impacts of climate change that we`re experiencing every day.

At the end of the day, we`re going to work to make sure that the reconciliation bill, which as I said, includes incredible investments in the fight against climate change, like a climate conservation corps, get across the finish line and get to the president`s desk for signature.

VELSHI: You were saying that you had the worst air quality in the western hemisphere. I actually read something that suggested that on Saturday was the worst air quality in the world. I hope I`m wrong on that.


VELSHI: Congressman, we will talk much more about the things that are going to happen once this bill is passed. Thank you for being with me tonight. Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado.

Tonight -- that is tonight`s the LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" begins right now.