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Transcript: The Last Word, 12/13/21

Guests: Bennie Thompson, Mary Trump, Bradley Whitford

Summary

The January 6 Committee unanimously voted to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt. Interview with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS). As a catastrophic tornado approached Mayfield Friday, employees of a candle factory which would later be destroyed, heard the warning sirens and wanted to leave the building but at least five workers said supervisors warned employees that they would be fired if they left their shifts early. With the Christmas/New Year travel rush upon us, what you need to know about the new COVID-19 variant and how much a booster shot helps.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.

We have Mary Trump joining us tonight.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Nice.

O`DONNELL: My first question for her and she will have time to think about this, is, why was your cousin Donald Jr. texting Mark Meadows instead of calling his dad on January 6th? What`s going on there with that relationship?

MADDOW: Admit it, when you were listening to Liz Cheney give that litany, all the stuff from the Fox News hosts and everything was like -- but then the part about Don Jr., like, does he not have his dad`s number? Is that possible he`s not allowed to speak directly to his dad or he doesn`t have this dad`s number? I mean, I don`t know family psychology but even that makes me sad.

O`DONNELL: You don`t have to be a techie to know that Donald Trump`s cell phone has caller ID. So there`s that hurdle that you have to get over when you`re calling.

MADDOW: I said it`s potential spam. My name is p.spam. Oh man -- yeah.

O`DONNELL: The big newsmaker of the night, Bennie Thompson, is going to lead us off tonight as our first guest. And, you know, there were some grumblings at the end of last week, primarily from Eugene Robinson, about why isn`t this committee making news on TV instead of making news in print by the print documents that they were releasing?

Well, tonight was the real live TV news-making night for that committee.

MADDOW: Absolutely. It`s not like they`re not making news in print. The contempt report they put out over the weekend was full of news. But when they made those remarks tonight at the committee hearing, the televised hearing at 7:00 p.m., it blew me away.

I want to get out of here so you talk to Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney. Go.

O`DONNELL: That`s -- thank you very much, Rachel. Thank you.

MADDOW: Bye.

O`DONNELL: Well, tonight, Mark Meadows became the second White House chief of staff in history to be accused of a crime. Before Mark Meadows, the first and only White House chief of staff accused of a crime was also a Republican.

In 1974, President Nixon`s criminal chief of staff Bob Haldeman was charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury. He was convicted and sentenced to federal prison. Mark Meadows was a five years old during the first criminal prosecution of a White House chief of staff. And so, Mark Meadows learned nothing from the example of Bob Haldeman. And so, tonight, a second Republican White House chief of staff stands accused of a crime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Mark Meadows has committed a crime, in this case a premeditated one. He thought carefully about his actions and actively chose to stonewall, which you can clearly see in his back-and- forth with the select committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the capitol agreed tonight that Mark Meadows committed the crime of contempt of coming and they voted unanimously to refer his case for criminal prosecution.

Mark Meadows has been a variety of reasons for refusing to testify to the committee, including invoking the 5th Amendment and saying his answers could subject him to criminal prosecution for other crimes. We have never seen a case like this in our history. One of its unique features is that the person who is now claiming that his conversations with Donald Trump are privileged and cannot be revealed to the committee has already handed over to the committee a massive amount of evidence about those conversations, including his own text messages and emails.

And it is further unprecedented that the former White House chief of staff who is claiming he cannot discuss his communication with the president has already published a book about his communication and relationship with Donald Trump.

[22:05:08]

The committee has already made some stunning findings public, but it has usually done so in writing in letters to attorneys or in the 51-page report the committee issued yesterday explaining why Mark Meadows is guilty of criminal contempt of Congress. Last week Eugene Robinson said that the committee, quote, needs to be louder, much louder. Gene Robinson pointed out that the most important investigative work in Congress has been revealed this in televised hearings and he suggested that the committee needed to find a way to make news on television, even if they are not able to question some of the most important witnesses in the case.

And tonight, led by our first guest, Chairman Bennie Thompson, the committee broke its most important news yet on live television beginning with the chairman`s announcement of upcoming televised hearings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We`re making progress and before too long, our findings will be out in the open. We`ll have public hearings, we`ll tell this story to the American people, but we won`t do it piecemeal. We`ll do it when we can tell the story all at once from start to finish, not leaving anyone guessing and not allowing it to fade into the memories of last week`s news. This story is too important, the stakes are too high. We have to do this job right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Chairman Thompson then gave Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney the opportunity to reveal a series of text messages to Mark Meadows on January 6th from Donald Trump Jr., who was desperately trying to get his father to do something about the attack on the Capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): As the violence continued, one of the president`s sons texted Mr. Meadows, quote, he`s got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol police tweet is not enough, Donald Trump Jr. texted.

Meadows responded, quote, I`m pushing it hard, I agree. Still, President Trump did not immediately act.

Donald Trump Jr. texted again and again, urging action by the president. Quote, we need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand, end quote. But hours passed without necessary action by the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Fox propaganda channel did not cover tonight`s hearing live and so, the Fox audience was protected from hearing the news tonight of what Fox hosts were telling Mark Meadows on January 6th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: Indeed, according to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the president needed to act immediately. They texted Mr. Meadows and he has turned over those texts. Quote, Mark, the president needs to tell people in the capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy, Laura Ingraham wrote. Please, get him on TV, destroying everything you have accomplished, Ryan Kilmeade texted. Quote, can he make a statement, ask people to leave the Capitol, Sean Hannity urged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Liz Cheney revealed more texts Mark Meadows received on January 6th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: Members of Congress, the press and others wrote to Mark Meadows as the attack was under way. One text Mr. Meadows received said, quote, we are under siege here at the Capitol. Another, quote, they have breached the Capitol. In a third, mark, protesters are literally storming the capitol, breaking windows on doors, rushing in. Is Trump going to say something? A fourth -- there`s an armed standoff at the House chamber door. And another from someone inside the Capitol, "We are all helpless."

Dozens of texts including from Trump administration officials urged immediate action by the president, quote, POTUS has to come out firmly and tell the protesters to dissipate.

[22:10:04]

Someone is going to get killed. In another, Mark, he needs to stop this now. A third in all caps, tell them to go home. A fourth, and I quote, POTUS needs to calm this shit down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Congressman Adam Schiff focused on messages Mark Meadows received from members of Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I want to display just a few of the messages he received from people in Congress. The committee is not naming these lawmakers at this time as our investigation is ongoing. If we could queue the first graphic.

This one reads: On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence as president of the Senate should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.

You can see why this is so critical to ask Mr. Meadows about. About a lawmaker suggesting that the former vice president simply throat out votes that he unilaterally deems unconstitutional in order to overturn a presidential election and subvert the will of the American people.

Here`s the last message I want to highlight again from a lawmaker in the aftermath of January 6. If we could queue graphic number 3.

Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I`m sorry nothing worked.

The day after a failed attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power through violence, an elected lawmaker tells the White House chief of staff "I`m sorry nothing worked." that is chilling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. He is the chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for joining us on this busy night. I know this makes it a very long day for you.

THOMPSON: Thank you for having me, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to the point you made before we got into those text messages and you announced that before long, as you put it, there would be public hearings. You basically announced everything we expect to see in a congressional investigation we are going to see in your hearing room eventually.

What -- when will that happen? When is before long?

THOMPSON: Well, sometime before this quarter next year. Lawrence, we`ve been scouring the whole country, acquiring information. We`ve been in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan.

We`ve talked to several hundred witnesses. We`ve got thousands of volumes of paper looking at what happened on January 6th. We want to get it right. We don`t think hurrying the work of the committee would be in the committee`s best interests, nor the best interests of this country.

So we`re taking our time. We`re doing depositions on a daily basis, interviewing witnesses, listening to tips called in on our tip line. We understand the urgency of the moment, but we have to get it right.

And so what you saw this evening was a professional hearing, what you saw was irrefutable evidence about what we`ve been collecting and why Mark Meadows, who provided much of this information to us, why we need to talk to him. And obviously because we now have some of the goods on some other people, he`s wanting to plead the Fifth, but you can`t plead the Fifth unless you stand for a deposition, which he refused to do.

O`DONNELL: Well, his lawyer seems to go back and forth on whether it`s executive privilege or the Fifth Amendment. His most recent letter to you seemed to be relying once again on some mythical executive privilege that belongs to a guy living in Florida.

THOMPSON: Well, that`s right. And for which the current president, Joe Biden, has indicated he`s not willing to give him that. And the former president, who somehow assumes he still has authority, assumes he can do it, which he can`t.

So, you know, we`re where we are simply because Mr. Meadows didn`t cooperate with us. We`ll do what the law allows us to do.

[22:15:02]

We gave him every opportunity.

As you know, last week, we had this situation and we pulled it back in hopes of Mr. Meadows and his attorney coming in and talking to us, but at the end, they didn`t.

So we don`t have much choice. That`s why the committee went forward this evening with the recommendation on contempt, because he didn`t show. And we`re tired of the Meadows game of whack-a-mole back-and-forth. The committee will go forward.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Chairman, I wanted to ask you about what was the big news of yesterday that when your report first came out and that is this point I`m going to quote from the report -- Mr. Meadows sent an e-mail to an individual about the events on January 6th and said that the National Guard would be present to protect pro-Trump people and that many more would be available on standby.

There`s so much to ask about in that, but let me just ask you this -- at this point, you don`t have Mark Meadows` testimony about that, you just have the e-mail. Do you have any other investigative information about that e-mail that you might have obtained from other sources?

THOMPSON: Yes, we do, Lawrence, but at this point, as part of what the public will have to hear, we have testimony about the delays that occurred, we have testimony and information about other individuals who made suggestions as to what federal assets could be used to promote this lie, and so, part of the committee`s work over the next few months will be to put this together so when we roll it out just like we did tonight, the public will clearly understand how close we came to losing this democracy of ours because of lies and misinformation and obviously illegal activities on the part of certain officials.

But when a person refuses to come forth and offer his position, his testimony, then this is what happens. Steve Bannon basically did a similar thing and Mark Meadows now has basically decided in the middle of sharing information with us that because his book is not selling, because the information in the book says one thing but people from Florida and other places telling it`s fake news, he turns around and says his own book, the information in it is fake news.

So, look, we need to put him under oath. He needs to come before us and tell the truth. If he has nothing to hide, Mr. Meadows, you had more than an opportunity to come before our committee and just tell us what you know. But, unfortunately, he didn`t.

O`DONNELL: This seems to be shaping up like architecturally, anyway, like a classic mafia prosecution that we used to see starting -- they actually began in the 1960s. And what you always have in those are some people who were on the inside cooperate and tell their story and others don`t, they never testify, they never tell their story.

But still, prosecutors find a way to tell the complete story, even without getting any testimony from some of the very central players in those kinds of prosecutions. It seems to me if you`re going to public hearings in the first three months of next year, you won`t have Mark Meadows, you won`t have Steve Bannon. There are witnesses you won`t have.

But will you -- do you believe you`ll be able to make your case about what happened in that old fashioned prosecutorial way of getting other people from the inside and the documents to tell that story?

THOMPSON: Well, there`s no question. These are the only two people right now who have not cooperated. We have hundreds of people who have cooperated. We have another several hundred that we`ll be talking to over the next few months.

This is an investigation. It`s one that we said would take time. We`re not rushing it. We want to get it right, because, Lawrence, what people saw with their own eyes on January 6th just did not happen on January 6th. There were a lot of things in motion in November and December leading up to January 6th, and our report, our hearings, will share that with the entire public.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Chairman, one final question before you go. Mark Meadows has suggested that he would take the Fifth Amendment or he`s relying on the Fifth Amendment for not responding to some of these questions.

[22:20:06]

Given everything you know about the evidence surrounding Mark Meadows, do you believe that he does have reason to take the Fifth Amendment because there is definitely the possibility in this evidence of a possible criminal prosecution of Mark Meadows for reasons that we out here don`t yet know?

THOMPSON: Given the information that we`ve had to review as a committee, I think Mr. Meadows has significant reason to be concerned about his activities.

O`DONNELL: Chairman Bennie Thompson, we will leave it there for tonight. Thank you very much for joining us on this very important news night for the committee and for the country. We really appreciate your time, Mr. Chairman.

THOMPSON: Thank you very much, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Mary Trump will join us next. You already know my first question, why was your cousin, Donald Jr., texting Mark Meadows on January 67th instead of just calling his dad?

Mary Trump joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMPSON: And if you`re listening at home, Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Clark, I want you to know this, history will be written about these times, about the work this committee has undertaken and history will not look upon any of you as martyrs, history will not look upon you as a victim, history will not dwell on your long list of privileged claims or your legal sleight of hand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Mary Trump, niece of Donald Trump, she is the author of "The Reckoning: Our Nation`s Trauma and Finding A Way to Heal." Her new podcast is "The Mary Trump Show".

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

And you`ve had time to think about, it not that you needed it, but why was your cousin Donald Jr. texting Mark Meadows on January 6 instead of calling his dad?

MARY TRUMP, AUTHOR, "THE RECKONING": I wish that the answer you have given was the right one, caller ID. But in this particular instant, it`s simply cowardice, because Donnie knew the message was delivering was a message his father did not want to hear. The question I have was how much was Mark Meadows pushing hard to get the truth to Donald? And my guess is not very hard at all.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, the one thing that becomes very clear in these dramatic texts that were released just tonight by the committee, whether they be from Sean Hannity, the Laura Ingraham, the Fox team, Republican members of the House of Representatives, Donald Trump`s own family, Mark Meadows` own reactions, they all believed that it was within Donald Trump`s power to stop the attack on the Capitol, just by getting out there and saying something to the country as Donald Jr. suggested from the Oval Office to the country and to the attackers of the Capitol. Just tell them to stop. They all believed he had that power.

M. TRUMP: They didn`t just believe it, they knew it because he did.

What they also knew, though, is that even though this horrific situation had gotten out of hand, they were directly responsible for creating it, as was in it. The only thing that disappointed him is that it didn`t work that day.

So I`m not entirely sure why any of them expected that Donald would come in and try to rescue Republican Congress people who were under as much threat as the Democrats. So I really hope we get some of these people testifying in front of the committee because the information we`re getting now is gob smacking. I mean, I know we shouldn`t be surprised at the breathtaking cynicism of people like Laura Ingraham, but still there`s so much more information we don`t know and my guess is it`s infinitely more damning than we`ve already heard.

O`DONNELL: Presumably, your uncle Donald is hearing about these texts for the very first time tonight also. And what do you think his reaction is to both the contend of these texts and then also Mark Meadows having handed all of this over committee?

M. TRUMP: That`s something I honestly wish I were in the room for that one because it would be really entertaining. I think, though, that Donald is so protected by the people around him from reality seeping that it`s going to get in a particular way to be to his advantage. You know, I think of after a while, when people are around Donald, they learn how to get away with things.

Mark Meadows wrote a book a came out a week or two ago that contained terrible damning information. So he`s already figuring out how to squirm his way out of this one. So I don`t know really that Donald can -- can lash out -- I mean, he will lash out but I don`t know how many people are left for him to get rid of because his circle has become so incredibly small.

O`DONNELL: And going forward as this investigation moves, it`s going to move to the TV stage we just discovered from the chairman sometime in the first quarter of next year he said, that`s our breaking news information within this hour, and at that point your uncle Donald is going to be sitting in Florida watching every word of these hearings and it`s going to be one of those in effect prosecutions of Donald Trump where they don`t need his testimony. Just like, you know, you didn`t get all sorts of -- there`s all sorts of mafia guys who spent the rest of their lives in prison after refusing to testify in court when others were testifying about them.

M. TRUMP: That`s why this period of time is so dangerous for him. I mean, there are many reasons but specifically in regards to what you`re discussing, just as the committee doesn`t necessarily need him, neither does the movement anymore.

[22:29:36]

So he`s becoming increasingly irrelevant. We saw what a miserable failure his rally was with Bill O`Reilly because people actually had to pay to go.

And obviously that`s not something a lot of people were willing to do. So over time I think he`s going to become even more isolated.

A bigger problem, though, is because the way people get information is so siloed, the people who might be swayed by the information coming out of the committee won`t have access to it because they`re watching things like Fox and OAN, et cetera.

O`DONNELL: Mary Trump, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.

M. TRUMP: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, we have breaking news out of Kentucky tonight. NBC News has a very disturbing exclusive report about workers in a candle factory in Kentucky who say they were threatened with firing if they left work before the tornado hit. They knew the tornado was coming.

The NBC News reporter who broke that story will join us next.

COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:34:54]

O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from Kentucky at this hour. NBC News has exclusive reporting about the Mayfield, Kentucky candle factory that was destroyed by a tornado Friday night killing eight people inside the factory.

NBC News reports as a catastrophic tornado approached this city Friday, employees of a candle factory, which would later be destroyed, heard the warning sirens and wanted to leave the building but at least five workers said supervisors warned employees that they would be fired if they left their shifts early.

Elijah Johnson, 20, was working in the back of the building when several employees wanted to head home walked in to speak with supervisors. He joined in on the request.

"I asked to leave and they told me I`d be fired," Johnson said. "Even with the weather like this, you`re still going to fire me?" He asked? "Yes," a manager responded.

Johnson told NBC News. Johnson said managers went so far as to take a roll call in hopes of finding out who had left work. Company officials denied the allegations.

The White House announced today that President Biden will travel to Kentucky on Wednesday.

Joining us now is the reporter who broke that story, NBC News national reporter Deon J. Hampton in Kentucky. Deon, what more can you tell us about what happened at that factory?

DEON J. HAMPTON, NBC NEWS NATIONAL REPORTER: Well, it was kind of like how you were reporting. The tornado was coming in and the first sirens that came outside the building probably came sometime between 5:30 and 6:00.

That`s when some of the workers inside the candle factory got a little bit nervous. But the employers there wanted them to take shelter in the bathrooms and also in some of the tornado-safe hallways.

But after that it gets a little odd because there was a three-hour window before the tornado actually struck. And it was between those three hours between let`s say 6:00 and 9:00 where anywhere between 15 to 40 employees were asking to go home.

But from what I`m told and from what reporting shows me is that they weren`t allowed to go home or you had the option to go but if you did, you just wouldn`t have a job, you know, you wouldn`t be able to have a job to come back to.

O`DONNELL: And what has the company said about this?

HAMPTON: Well, the company denies the allegations. They say that they have a COVID policy in place. Ever since COVID started, they said that anybody who works there can come and leave pretty much as they go. They have very strange, odd work shifts.

So if you want to come in for three hours then work then go home, you can. If you want to work for four hours and go home, you can. If you want to work for 30 minutes and then go home, you can.

And while a lot of employees at the factory said that that is true, the issue is now the supervisors and some of the team leaders who were there that day, they have overarching power, so to speak.

So even though you can kind of come and go as you please, once they fire you, you know, that`s it. They have that kind of authority to like get rid of you no matter what you do.

O`DONNELL: So eight people killed in that factory because they didn`t leave that factory on time. This sounds like a very serious investigation about to take place about what really happened in that factory.

HAMPTON: Yes, we got to figure out where it goes off (ph) here, especially me because, you know, a lot of people -- it depends on how you look at it.

There`s a tornado coming and you`re worried about your safety. But if you`re threatened about your job, you also have bills to pay. You also have children at home.

So it`s kind of like, well, what exactly is it that you`re supposed to do? I mean you have to earn a living somehow and so they`re just forced with that dilemma not knowing exactly how to get out of the situation.

For the people who ended up staying there, I mean the story speaks for itself. One person I spoke to, tiles fell on him, concrete fell on him.

Another woman who I spoke to, I started my interview 2:30 this morning, you know, those sidewalks imploded and the concrete landed on her. She was stuck under the concrete for six hours. She`s in the hospital now. She`s speaking to me from a hospital bed. She can`t move her legs, she has burn marks on the side of her body.

So, you know, the people who did leave were fortunate to just actually get out of there alive thankfully because of the rescue teams.

O`DONNELL: Deon J. Hampton, thank you very much for joining us with this important reporting. Really appreciate it.

HAMPTON: Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, with the Christmas/New Year travel rush upon us, what you need to know about the new COVID-19 variant and how much a booster shot helps.

Andy Slavitt will join us next.

[22:39:42]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading throughout the world. How much more protection does a follow-up booster shot of the vaccine provide?

Joining us now is Andy Slavitt who served as President Biden`s White House senior advisor for COVID response. He also served in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.

Andy, what are the protection levels for the various statuses out there. The two-shot protection level for Moderna or Pfizer, the one shot protection level for Johnson & Johnson or actually having been infected with COVID-19?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR FOR COVID RESPONSE: Well, let`s start with the good news. The good news is that our science is more than able to keep up with omicron. Two doses of the vaccine or Johnson & Johnson plus a booster gets you about 80 percent effectiveness, even against getting even a mild case of the disease and much, much better even getting something more serious. So that`s the good news.

[22:44:56]

O`DONNELL: How much -- let me just -- how much difference does the booster make in that protection level?

SLAVITT: It doubles it. So you`re about -- you get about 40 percent protection from two shots. Now, one shot is roughly the equivalent to having prior -- having had a prior infection. And unfortunately, there is very little protection offered for prior infection. So the good news is if we science our way there, if Americans get boosted, we`re in good shape.

The bad news is that as of today, only 14 percent of all Americans have gotten boosted. So that offers very little population protection. And if things don`t change rapidly, that`s going to mean a very, very serious omicron wave on top of our already serious delta wave.

O`DONNELL: Let`s go back to the status of previously infected. I have heard people say, not on this network but elsewhere on television, that a previous infection of COVID-19 is better protection than vaccine.

SLAVITT: Well, previous infection before you got to even omicron does a couple of important things. It does provide you with what people now I think increasingly understand as a t-cell response which is the response that helps you not from getting -- prevents you from getting infected but helps prevent the disease from traveling into your lungs, doing more serious damage and hospitalizing you.

And whether you have a booster -- I mean whether you have a prior infection or whether you have had a prior vaccine, that t-cell protection is there and that`s important.

But unfortunately, the response that keeps you from getting sick in the first place -- you need high levels of antibodies and unfortunately you don`t get them those with prior infection any longer.

And so there are large parts of the country, as you know, Lawrence -- Florida, Alabama, other places where there is very little protection from vaccine and people are counting on their prior immune response.

And so what we need to communicate to people is that the world`s changed yet again. The disease has changed. Omicron`s a different story. And if you thought you were protected before, you`re not any longer.

And I say the same to people with two vaccine shots. If you thought it gave you enough protection, you need a booster now.

O`DONNELL: And going forward as we move through the winter, is there the possibility of yet another variant developing? Is there a possibility of another booster being necessary at some point?

SLAVITT: Well, look, I think the great news is that I think we were unclear at how much benefit the booster would be providing us. But the booster in itself, without even having to change the vaccine does its job and that`s great news.

So you combine that with just a little care people should take by making sure they get rapid tests if they`re able to take those with the other tools we have and this is a very different winter than the winter of 2020- 2021 where we pretty much had no tools except to shut down the economy.

So if people choose to get boosted, we have a very good -- we have the ability to handle even a tough situation this year much better than last year. Now, what comes next and whether there`s other variants, you know, there`s always those possibilities, but you know, anything is possible.

But dealing with what we have in front of us right now, the big delta wave plus omicron is enough of a challenge and I hope everybody prepares for it by getting boosted.

O`DONNELL: Andy Slavitt, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Thank you.

And coming up, we will have a mini "West Wing" reunion here when Bradley Whitford joins us next. But he`s not here to talk about his Emmy winning performances in "The West Wing" and "The Handmaid`s Tale". Brad Whitford joins us next.

[22:48:58]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Senator Joe Manchin spoke with President Joe Biden this afternoon by phone about part two of the Biden infrastructure plan. A spokesperson for Senator Manchin said quote "Senator Manchin and President Biden had a productive conversation this afternoon. They will continue to talk over the coming days."

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that he hopes to pass the bill by next week. The Biden social policy bill includes $150 billion for in-home care for seniors and disabled people through Medicaid.

In a New York Times op-ed piece published in September, health care activist Ady Barkan wrote about the need for in-home care funding, quote, "I have a beautiful life. I laugh every day. And I`m never depressed. I`m still organizing for social justice. My life is good because I live at home with my wife Rachel and our two young kids. Most nights before dinner, my toddler Willow sits on my lap and we watch Sesame Street. Although I`m not the father I had hoped to be, I`m grateful for each moment with my children. And it`s all possible because I have 24-hour home care."

When he was 32 years old, Ady Barkan was diagnosed with ALS. That was five years ago, after the birth of his first child. He`s the subject of the documentary, "Not Going Quietly".

ADY BARKAN, ACTIVIST: After Carl was born, we felt like we had reached the mountain top, and then out of the clear blue sky, we were struck by lightning.

I was diagnosed with ALS today.

[22:54:50]

BARKAN: The knowledge that I was dying was terrible, but dealing with my insurance company was even worse. I wanted to spend every moment I had left with Rachel and Carl, but then Congress came after our health care.

I couldn`t stay quiet any longer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And joining us now is Emmy award winning actor, Bradley Whitford. He`s the executive producer of the documentary, "Not Going Quietly". Brad, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

This documentary is so compelling, but I just want to open the mic for you to tell the audience what they need to know about this documentary and about this situation.

BRADLEY WHITFORD, ACTOR, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER "NOT GOING QUIETLY": Well, Lawrence, my friend Ady is a character that you guys in "The West Wing" writers room didn`t have the audacity to imagine.

This is a man in the prime of his life who is given a devastating diagnosis and finds meaning and is able to transcend not the disease but Ady is not defined by ALS. It revealed him.

And this film, there`s so much joy in this film. There is so much hope in this film. What you read that Ady said in his op-ed, he is happy, and he is an effective organizer fighting to make sure that everyone in this country has access to health care.

It is completely insane that the richest country in the world does not protect its own citizens. We`re in the midst of this pandemic, which feasts on the most vulnerable among us, and shows how connected we are.

If people in South Africa are not getting the health care they need, then we are connected through this virus, but this documentary, it was nominated for Best Documentary of the Year by the International Documentary Association. It`s streaming on Apple TV, on Amazon Prime. It`s going to be on PBS in January.

I urge people to see this. Ady preaches the gospel of democracy. And he is such an effective activist. He is a reminder that we don`t get just get a democracy, we have to make it every damn day.

And I urge everybody to go out and see this beautiful film about this remarkable man.

O`DONNELL: Ady has also been a remarkably effective lobbyist, especially when they were trying to destroy the Affordable Health Care Act in Congress. But is there any way you can get this documentary to Joe Manchin so that he can see that this particular piece of the Biden bill is so necessary -- the home health care portion?

WHITFORD: You know, Ady is fighting for this right now. Ady is a much more effective political strategist than I am. The name of his organization is Be A Hero, which the name came up when he was confronted Jeff Flake.

Ady is not saying I am a hero. Ady would say to Joe Manchin, be a hero, think of all of the medical facilities that his constituents need, the support that his constituents need.

I would love to show this to Joe Manchin. He could learn a lot from it.

O`DONNELL: The Biden legislation is pretty abstract, I think, for most people. They don`t necessarily connect to it. And I have to say this story connects that component of that legislation better than anything I`ve ever seen.

WHITFORD: Yes.

The thing that Nicholas Bruckman, director and our producer, Amanda Roddy, what they really succeed in is erasing the false division between the personal and the political. And Ady embodies that. Ady`s quandary embodies that.

Real differences -- you know, we don`t have to live in a society where we do not take care of each other in the richest country in the world. It is a choice that we are making and we can actively change that.

I especially want young people to see this movie because I know that young people are understandably exhausted and disgusted by our political system.

[22:59:53]

WHITFORD: But to see a man with ALS use his dying breath to use his suffering to help others transcend -- to help others -- to help alleviate others` suffering is an inspiring thing to see and the only way we`re going to get out of this.

O`DONNELL: Bradley Whitford, thank you very much for joining us tonight and delivering that message. Really great to see you, Brad.

WHITFORD: Great to see you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

WHITFORD: Happy holidays.

O`DONNELL: You too.

WHITFORD: Ok.

O`DONNELL: Brad Whitford gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.