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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 1/18/22

Guests: Zoe Lofgren, Amy Klobuchar, Barbara F. Walter, Kurt Andersen


The January 6 investigators subpoena top Trump allies who publicly promoted false claims about 2020 election. Interview with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a member of the January 6 investigation. Interview with Minnesota Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. A series called "A House Divided" will offer a range of thoughtful and educated guesses in response to the question, "Is a civil war ahead?"


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And, Rachel, I`ll be watching the press conference in some version of recline. Probably at that hour, partial recline, and taking notes. That`s work, right, if you`re doing it at home, that comes at work?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Did you just brag to me you`ll be in a recliner?

O`DONNELL: It`s going to be -- it will be -- by that time, it will be an actual sofa but --

MADDOW: Oh, wow. Even worse.

O`DONNELL: There won`t be a desk anywhere near me. Nothing that looks like a work environment, but I`ll be -- I`ll be working. I`ll be hanging on every word, I`ll be taking notes, I`ll be, you know?

MADDOW: Listen, it`s still COVID time. What is a work environment anymore, right? I haven`t worn public facing pants in two years now.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and your pants prior to COVID were not --


O`DONNELL: You were not --

MADDOW: Touche.

O`DONNELL: You were not the "Vogue" idea of an anchorwoman. OK, "Vogue" was never coming by saying let`s do the Rachel work wardrobe.

MADDOW: I don`t know. I don`t know. I think you might under estimate how weird "Vogue" has gotten.

O`DONNELL: It`s their mistake if they don`t get around to that.

MADDOW: I think we should stop digging before we get into deeper into this hole, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, we`re done. We`re done.

MADDOW: Bye. See you tomorrow.

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


O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, today an elderly man in New York City with no visible means of support who has publicly demonstrated strong symptoms of extreme cognitive decline was subpoenaed to tell what he knows about a conspiracy to overturn the results of the last presidential election. Rudolph Giuliani who was dropped from New York law firm in 2018 and is now and is now temporarily disbarred from practicing law in New York and Washington D.C. as he awaits the inevitable permanent disbarment in both places, received a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

Rudolph Giuliani has more than one reason to plead the Fifth Amendment to the committee and refusing to answer it`s questions. First, Rudolph Giuliani is currently the subject of a criminal investigation into New York City where the FBI raided his home last year to collect evidence, an event Giuliani described as, quote, completely illegal and unconstitutional, end quote, even though Giuliani himself had supervised such raids when he was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan in the 1980s.

That criminal investigation is about Rudolph Giuliani`s possible criminal activities in Ukraine on behalf of Donald Trump and himself. That is not something that the committee wants to ask Giuliani about, but the committee`s letter to Giuliani today covers several areas that could involve federal and state crimes.

The committee`s letter to Rudolph Giuliani says in part, quote, you publicly promoted claims the 2020 election was stolen and participated an attempt to disrupt or delay the certification of the election based on your allegations between mid November 2020 and January 6th, 2021, and thereafter, you actively promoted claims of election fraud on behalf of former President Trump and sought to convince state legislators to take steps to overturn the election results.

According to witness testimony and public reporting in December 2020, you urged President Trump to direct the seizure of voting machines around the country after being told that the Department of Homeland Security had no lawful authority to do so.

According to public reporting, on January 6th and in the days prior, you were in contact with then President Trump and members of Congress regarding strategies for delaying or overturning the results of the 2020 election.

Three other possible criminal co-conspirators received subpoenas from the committee today, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Boris Epshteyn. Attorney Sidney Powell has already been sanctioned and recommended for possible disbarment by Judge Linda Parker who ordered her to pay $175,000 in attorney`s fees to the state of Michigan for initiating a frivolous lawsuit about the presidential election in Michigan.


Sidney Powell raised millions of dollars by telling her fundraising victims the lie that she was working to reverse the outcome of the presidential election. Last fall, federal prosecutors subpoenaed the financial records of fundraising organizations that she created.

The committee`s letter to Powell says in part, quote, you urged President Trump to direct the seizure of voting machines around the country to find evidence that foreign adversaries hacked those machines and altered the results of the election.

Sidney Powell will no doubt seek the protection of the Fifth Amendment to refuse to answer questions about those possible crimes. In the committee`s letter to Attorney Jenna Ellis, the committee said in part, quote, you prepared and circulated two memos pro purporting to analyze the constitutional authority for the vice president to reject ordeal lay counting electoral votes from states that had submitted alternate slates of electors.

The committee`s letter to Boris Epstein who fired from the White House staff of Donald Trump in the first year of that administration says in part, quote, you participated in a press conference on November 19th, 2020 during which attorneys for the Trump campaign promoted claims of election fraud. Publish reports had placed you at meetings at the Willard Hotel in days leading up to January 6th and you are reported to have participated in a call with former President Trump on the morning of January 6th during which options were discussed to delay the certification of election results in light of Vice President Pence`s unwillingness to deny or delay certification.

Rudolph Giuliani and other witnesses subpoenaed today have to ask themselves how much do they want to spend in attorney`s fees starting today fighting the subpoenas? Rudy Giuliani has already complained about Donald Trump`s refusal to pay Giuliani`s legal bills.

The most expensive course of action for these witnesses is to try to go to court to fight the subpoenas that. The cheapest course of action is to show up at the date and time requested by the committee and plead the Fifth Amendment to virtually every question.

The subpoenas demand that each of the witnesses produce documents to the committee on February 1 and testify on February 8th.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California. She is chair of the House Administration Committee and a member of the select committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

Congresswoman Lofgren, thank you very much for joining us on this very important night for the January 6th Committee.

What -- do you have any indication at this point from any of these subpoenaed witnesses how they are going to respond?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): I do not, Lawrence. I would hope they would come forward and tell us everything they know if they`re proud of the activities they engaged in and should want to come in and tell the committee everything they did, the subpoenas that have been sent forward. We expect them to compile. Certainly the documents must be sent in. There is no Fifth Amendment privilege in the documents unless producing them themselves would be a crime and we hope they`ll come in and answer questions. We have a lot of questions.

O`DONNELL: There is obvious -- with Rudy Giuliani just to start with him, there is obviously a zone of Fifth Amendment protection that he would want in facing these questions. He`s already known to be the subject of a federal criminal investigation. He has already been temporarily disbarred for some of the conduct that you want to talk to him about.

And so I assume the committee in your discussions have anticipated the possibility that a witness like Mr. Giuliani might show up and take the Fifth Amendment for virtually every question after his name and address.

LOFGREN: Well, the state of law is if you think you would incriminate yourself criminally and want to be protected by the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, you have to come into the committee and assert that right question by question. The reason for that is then the committee has another decision to make, which is whether to seek use immunity from that claim.

If we decide that is wise and that decision has not yet been made, then you would be required to testify as to the matters and that testimony to the committee could not be used in your later prosecutions.


So that would be a subsequent decision that committee would have to sort through and case by case, question by question witness by witness.

O`DONNELL: The committee started on subpoenas that with Steve Bannon and since then, though, seems to have been working upward through the sort of pyramid of all of this.

Is this set of subpoenas what you would consider the top of the period just shy of the president and vice president?

LOFGREN: Not necessarily. You`re right. We have heard from hundreds of witnesses, you know, the news story is when someone high profile refuses to testify, meanwhile, hundreds of others are coming into the committee to answer our questions and we have received quite a bit of we`re piecing it together. These subpoenas that are to individuals who appear to be very involved in the plot to overturn the election. We want to ask them for questions about that but it`s not the end of the inquiry.

O`DONNELL: There is reporting tonight that the committee has subpoenaed the phone records of Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle who is involved with Donald Trump Jr.

What can you tell us about that?

LOFGREN: Well, I think it`s important to note that there`s -- we haven`t sought the content of any records. The records that are being sought have to do with the location, the length of time, phone numbers that were called or where texts were sent, but not the actual content. But it will help answer some questions, fill in some holes from other testimony we`ve received, test whether the testimony we`ve received is reliable. So, it`s important.

O`DONNELL: So, in effect is a phone bill that you`re asking for, it`s what we see on phone bills.


O`DONNELL: This call was placed at this time to this phone number or a text was sent at this time to this phone number. No content of the communication at all.

LOFGREN: That`s correct.

O`DONNELL: And from that you get to basically form questions, I assume, about the content. You see a communication going from this person to another person. What if you want to know that content? Is the only way to get it is to ask questions of the people involved in the content?

LOFGREN: Quite possibly.

But I will say as we`ve got over 50,000 documents that have been released to us and so if you can compare some of the documents to the records, you can put together a piece of information, may led to questions for other individuals or it may be putting together the pieces of testimony we`ve already received but I think it is important to note that at this point, it is just the data. It`s not the content.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Lofgren, the chair of your committee, Bennie Thompson, has said that the committee is going to go public. You`re going to have public hearings. It sounded like it could be in January. It could be this month.

What can you tell us about the public hearings schedule of the committee?

LOFGREN: I`m going to let the chairman make that announcement. But we are going to have hearings when we are ready with the full picture and probably will be a series of hearings, not just one. Some of what the timing relates to is how soon the court denies cert to the former president`s request unleashing we hope soon documents from the National Archives. We expect that will fill in a lot of questions and allow us to accelerate the speed.

But I`ll tell you, we`re working very hard. There are depositions that begin early, practically every morning, multiple depositions. The members of the committee participate in them every day. The committee meets at least once, sometimes twice a week, going through what we found in the next step.

So it very active piece of work. It`s one of the most intense endeavors I`ve been involved in my years in Congress.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thank you very much for starting off our discussion tonight. Thank you.

LOFGREN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And thanks to the congresswoman for that perfect segue to Neal Katyal, law professor at Georgetown University and former acting U.S. solicitor general.


He is an MSNBC legal analyst.

And, Neal, with that setup, we have to go straight to you for the Supreme Court`s schedule on the question about Donald Trump`s documents.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, they can act at any time, Lawrence. Indeed, I think there is even documents that will be released tomorrow by the archives unless the Supreme Court acts. You know, I think all indications from court watchers are -- Supreme Court is not going to side with Trump on this. These are bogus executive privilege claims.

And so, you know, ordinarily, you might expect the court to hear it because it`s a grave matter but here, because the arguments advanced by team Trump were so bad, I think the thinking is they probably won`t even hear them.

O`DONNELL: Neal, what is your reading of these subpoenas that that the committee issued today?

KATYAL: Very, very important, Lawrence. You know, some legal teams win buckets of jury verdicts and others like Donald Trumps win buckets of subpoenas. And I`m glad to see the committee do this. It`s honoring truth- seeking function.

It`s a really rare thing to subpoena a lawyer. And honestly, I would be uncomfortable if these folks were acting truly as lawyers. But a law degree doesn`t shield your inquiry if you`re a co-conspirator or co-plotter or you have on going criminal activity.

And so, I think for these lawyers, you know, like Rudy Giuliani, this attorney client privilege they`re starting to advance now is a double edged sword because on the one hand, these four folks hope to keep their shield their actions from public scrutiny but on the other, they`re going to have to defend what they were doing as bona fide legal advice, and if you have any doubt about how hard that`s going to be, just Google the words Sidney Powell disbarment and you will see just how hard that claim is going to be.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and so, Neal, this seems to be legitimate Fifth Amendment claims available to some possibly all of these witnesses especially Rudy Giuliani.

KATYAL: Sure. I mean, you know, there is potential criminal activities here. The letter that you read, Lawrence, that Congress wrote to him today I think, you know, starts to refer to that and so you`re going to have executive privilege being litigated and probably something about the fifth amendment, too.

And ordinarily, I would worry, Lawrence, because that amount of delay in getting this information allows these four, you know, attorneys to get their story straight, but I do think that gives them too much credit. These four couldn`t figure out how to have a press conference at the Four Seasons. So I`m not sure they could really get their story straight.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KATYAL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Kyrsten Sinema phoned it in but Joe Manchin showed up. And our next guest, Senator Amy Klobuchar was in the room when Senate Democrats discussed changing the Senate`s 60 vote rule today. That`s next.




SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Does it really seem like the dreamers of our Constitution envision the system where a minority of senators can stand in the way of legislation and stop it altogether, stop the vote, stop the consideration, throw a wrench into a process, take it off the rails and just walk out the door and go home? That is not what they envisioned.


O`DONNELL: That was some of what Senator Amy Klobuchar had to say in today`s debate in the Senate about voting rights legislation. The legislation has to clear a 60-vote threshold just allow the Senate to then actually vote on the legislation. That means ten Republicans would have to vote with the Democrats to allow a vote on voting rights legislation.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expects no Republican support to advance the bill to a vote. So, today, Leader Schumer said this today.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): If the Senate cannot protect the right to vote, which is the cornerstone of our democracy, then the Senate rules must be reformed, must be reformed. If the Republicans block cloture on the legislation before us, I will put forward a proposal to change the rules, to allow for a talking filibuster on this legislation.


O`DONNELL: And here is what Senator Elizabeth Warren said an hour ago in the Senate floor about the current Senate rule.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Today`s filibuster doesn`t encourage debate. It promotes cowardice. Senators can torpedo bills without saying a single word in public or even stepping to the floor of the United States Senate. This is not how a so-called deliberative body should operate.


O`DONNELL: Democratic senators gathered for a meeting today to try to convince two of the Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to support a rule change so the Senate would be allowed to have a vote. Senator Sinema did not attend the meeting but joined by phone.

Before the meeting began, Senator Manchin said this.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): The majority of my colleagues in the caucus, Democratic Caucus, they`ve changed. They`ve changed their mind. I respect that. You have a right to change your mind.

I haven`t. I hope they respect that, too. I`ve never changed my mind on the filibuster.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She is the chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: What happened in the discussion where Senator Sinema was on the phone and Senator Manchin was there? Was it directly focused on the two of them?

KLOBUCHAR: You know, we`re focused on voting rights and I never disclosed what happens at these meetings.


I think it`s important that we`d be able to have open discussions. But I`ll tell you what I have told them, what I have told my Republican colleagues and that is that voting is fundamental. We are actually not talking about getting rid of the filibuster, even though left on my own, Lawrence, I would do.

We`re actually talking about reforming the rules of the Senate and taking what is essentially a secret process where literally people just stop the vote, they make it so you can`t actually get to a conclusion of an issue and they go home or raise money or whatever. That as I said is not how this place is supposed to work. So we`re taking what is essentially a secret behind closed doors to process and making it public with the standing filibuster, something I`ll note Senator Manchin was interested and we did have discussions about all summer.

The idea here is that is you go back to what it used to be when "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" the movie, you exhaust the speeches. Each senator can speak two times and then at that moment you get to a vote. And the second thing your viewers need to know is this filibuster has been carved up so many times so that we can do the people`s business it`s not even funny, 160 times.

And somehow the Republicans have landed in a place where there`s an exception for tax cuts, as in the Bush and Trump tax cuts. That`s 51 votes. There is an exception for Supreme Court justice as in Amy Coney Barrett, 51 votes. There is an exception for repealing rules and regulations like an attempt made on the Affordable Care Act, 51 votes.

So it appears as though their priorities they somehow whittled down to 51 votes and I don`t think this say moment you hug this archaic concept type, make no reforms to it as people have done in history and throw the voters under the Senate desk. I think we need reform.

O`DONNELL: Senator Schumer announced a vote on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., which will probably becoming across one of your electronic devices in a moment, if not already. Does that mean that`s the cloture vote to end the debate, that`s the one you need 60 votes for?

KLOBUCHAR: That`s the first vote. To make very clear for the first time, we`re actually debating tomorrow because four times Republicans have shut us down so we haven`t even been able to have a debate. We did this as you know the rules very well, Lawrence, as a message from the Senate. So we will at least be able to debate the bill. Then the vote means okay, let`s end the debate and vote.

Right now, that requires 60 votes. As you predicted, if we don`t get there we`ll go I assume after some debate to a rules change.

O`DONNELL: And will the Senate be able to go straight to the debate on rules change after that 6:30 vote on Wednesday?

KLOBUCHAR: I believe we can and that is our plan because we have to -- we really are left with no choice. This will be the fifth time that they shut us down if they do as predicted without being able to get on the bill for a vote.

O`DONNELL: One of the challenges you seem to be facing with Senator Manchin is he said today that he doesn`t believe that there is any serious threat to voting rights in America. He said, you know, that`s not going to happen and he specifically cited Marc Elias, Democratic election lawyer, saying that Marc Elias is out there fighting these things in the courts and that`s good enough.

KLOBUCHAR: I think if you talk to Marc Elias, I`m sure you have, he will tell you and he has said very publicly that with this concerted effort across the country to suppress the vote, that litigation is not enough. You have a case where, say, in Montana, where they had same day regular registration for 15 years, flipped the switch, got rid of it, 8,000 people used it in some way in the last election and now, they`re going to go to the polls and find out, it`s disappeared.

In Georgia, Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff`s victory, 70,000 people registered to vote during the runoff period and limited the runoff period and stopped the registration of people during that month.

These are things going on state by state by state and yeah, you can litigate and we have incredible arguments to be made. But basically, what we want to put in place so that you can vote regardless of your zip codes, federal minimum standards upheld repeatedly, by the way, the ability of Congress to do this under the Constitution that says a Congress can make roll through the rules regarding federal elections.

That`s what we`re trying to do here. It`s about guaranteeing the right to vote, regardless of what state you live in.

O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Lawrence. It`s great to be on again.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, you`ve seen the headlines in our most respectable publication. Is a civil war ahead asks "The New Yorker"?


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): That`s what we`re trying to do here. It is about guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of what state you live in.

O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL: Thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: It`s great to be on again.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, you`ve seen the headlines in our most respectable publication. "Is a civil war ahead," asks the "New Yorker". "Are we facing a second civil war," asks the "New York Times".

We will begin to consider that question tonight in a series of segments we will be doing on this program called "A House Divided".

We`ll be joined next by the author of a new that has already become the basis for much of the discussion of civil war. Barbara F. Walter is the author of "How Civil Wars Start". And she joins us next.



O`DONNELL: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Those words were spoken by the man who would become America`s first Republican President Abraham Lincoln in a speech to the Illinois Republican state convention on June 16th, 1858.

Three years later, President Lincoln was the commander-in-chief in the war that killed more Americans than any other, our civil war.

Our house has been divided since then over issues like women`s right to vote, civil rights, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War. But through all of that, our house has never been divided against itself to the point that the "New York Times" and the "New Yorker" are now running headlines saying is a civil war ahead? Are we really facing a second civil war over articles written by our most distinguished journalists and thinkers.

And so tonight we begin what will be a series on this program called "A House Divided" to offer a range of thoughtful and educated guesses in response to the question, "Is a civil war ahead?"

Our first guest is one of the people who started this public discussion with the publication of her new book "How Civil Wars Start". Barbara F. Walter is a professor of international relations at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California San Diego. She studied at Harvard`s Institute for Strategic Studies and Columbia University`s War and Peace Institute.

And she served on an advisory committee to the CIA called the Political Instability Task Force. That group ranks countries around the world on a scale with fully functioning democracy at one end and dictatorship at the other end. The United States has always had the highest positive score for democracy, a plus 10, but it has slipped down the scale recently to a plus 5.

That moved the United States into the zone that this scale calls an anocracy because it combines elements of a democracy and elements of an autocracy. That kind of political instability is one of the risk factors that CIA analysts use to predict civil war.

Joining us now is Professor Barbara F. Walter. The author of the important new book "How Civil Wars Start". Professor Walter, thank you very much for joining us tonight and beginning this discussion that we will continue to have on this program which might involve begging you to come back.

One question right off the bat about this score is, is there an example of a country with a plus 5 score on that political instability scale that has them falling into civil war from a plus 5 score?

BARBARA F. WALTER, AUTHOR, "HOW CIVIL WARS START": Yes, so plus 5 is the beginning of this middle zone, this zone where a lot of political violence and instability happens. Where it`s actually at greatest risk is in the middle which is between negative 1 and positive 1.

So if you think for example about the wars that are going on today, Ukraine is a country that slipped from being a full democracy into the anocracy zone and it is currently in a civil war.

If you think about Iraq, for example, after the U.S. invasion when Saddam Hussein was toppled, Iraq went from fully authoritarian country into this middle zone. The U.S. was hoping to democratize Iraq. It didn`t -- it didn`t succeed initially and it was during this time in the middle zone when the civil war broke out there.

So yes, we do see examples of it.

O`DONNELL: And let`s define terms as you do in your writing about what civil war means now in the 21st century. In your book you say, "If America has a second civil war, the combatants will not gather in fields, nor will they wear uniforms. They will go online to plan their resistance, strategizing how to undermine the government at every level and gain control of parts of America. They will create chaos and fear and then they will force Americans to pick sides."

And so, that looks nothing like what we think of as a civil war. There won`t be two standing armies. And what else -- what else would indicate the kinds of conditions that you`re talking about, that you`re envisions if it ever comes to that?

WALTER: It`s going to be more of what we envision as an insurgency. So it`s going to be much more decentralized. It`s likely to be fought by multiple different militias, paramilitary groups. Sometimes they`ll work together, sometimes will be competing with each other.


It will look more like what we saw in Northern Ireland for many decades where the insurgents were using unconventional tactics, terrorism directed at civilians, bombs placed in public places and at buildings, assassination of opposition leaders or judges who are not sympathetic to the insurgents` cause. That`s what the new modern civil wars tend to look like.

O`DONNELL: You also cite other risk factors for slipping this way. You say one of the other risk factors is a long standing dominant group, say in this country, white Americans who fear that they are losing their dominance. Is that what we were seeing on January 6th?

WALTER: Yes. So the U.S. is in the midst of this great transformation and it`s a transformation from the U.S. being a white majority country to being a non-white majority country. That`s going to happen at about 2045.

And one of the things that we`ve seen throughout history outside the United States is that the groups that tend to start civil wars are not the poorest groups. They`re not the immigrants. They`re not the groups that are actually the most downtrodden.

They`re the groups that feel that they`re losing power. They`re the ones who have this deep sense of resentment. They`re the ones who feel like the country is rightfully theirs. They`re the ones who still have the residual power capable of organizing and actually launching a challenge.

And if you look historically, if you look for example at the Palestinians in Israel, you know. If you look at the Catholics in Northern Ireland. If you look at the Moros or the Muslims in the southern Philippines. These are all people who had once been the majority in their region who lost that majority status, who lost power and eventually turned to violence to try to reinstate it.

O`DONNELL: The Northern Ireland example is something we will talk about in future programs. There are people in Northern Ireland on what is labeled the Catholic side, which is not the most accurate way of labeling these sides.


O`DONNELL: But they will argue that that was an anti-colonial revolution, which is an extension of a 1916 revolution. And it was simply fought to a stalemate in the later 20th century and doesn`t quite fit the model of what we would consider a civil war.

But we`ll come back to that later.

I want to go to the South Africa example which you`ve talked about and is fascinating. And again with the South Africa example, given that you described modern civil war as something of an insurgency, could it -- did South Africa avoid a civil war or did South Africa actually have a civil war in the form of a violent insurgency -- an insurgency that was at times violent that then convinced the white dominant tiny minority to in effect surrender in that civil war and surrender power to the vast African population there.

WALTER: Yes, experts do not consider what happened in South Africa`s civil war. In fact, when you ask them about South Africa, they will say that was the country where they most expected a civil war large amounts of violence.

They actually thought South Africa would be just destroyed as a result. And it avoided it and people point to South Africa as an example of what to do when you`re in a situation like this.

You had the white minority regime, the apartheid regime. It desperately wanted to hold on to power. You have this very large black majority that has been protesting for years that is increasing its protests, that is shifting from a non-violent protest strategy to a violent protest strategy. And still, the white minority regime doesn`t reform or compromise in any way. In fact, it ratchets up the violence.

If you remember Soweto when the military went in and just murdered over 100 children. This was the direction they were going and we thought the experts thought for sure we`re going to have civil war here. The black majority is just so numerous, they`re just not going to stand for this.

And then the white minority regime shifted and the reason isn`t because they suddenly had, you know, gained a conscience. It was because the white business community was slowly being strangled by very effective economic sanctions.

And it was the white business community in part that realized that they had to make a choice. They could either have profits or they could have apartheid but they couldn`t have both.


And ultimately, they chose profits and they told the white minority regime that they were no longer going to support apartheid. And it didn`t take very long after that for the government to transfer power to the black majority.

O`DONNELL: Barbara F. Walter, thank you very much for joining us tonight and starting off this discussion. We are all learning a lot from you.

The new book is an important book, "How Civil Wars Start". Thank you very much for joining us.

WALTER: It`s my pleasure. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, imagine the insurgency that Professor Walter has just described in the United States, imagine for example bombings every week in America. You don`t have to imagine it because it happened not so long ago.

Social historian and author Kurt Andersen will join our discussion of "A House Divided" next.



O`DONNELL: You`ve just heard a description of a theoretical 21st century civil war in the United States as being a kind of armed insurgency with sporadic outbursts around the country. What would that insurgency look like?

More attacks on federal buildings across the country in the spirit of the January 6th attack on the Capitol? How about bombing federal buildings and post offices around the country? How about bombings every week somewhere in the country?

We lived through exactly that during the Vietnam War when small local post office buildings were being bombed in the middle of the night by amateur bomb makers in the radical fringe of the anti-war movement because they were bombs set off primarily by pacifists who are protesting a war, most of them exploded in the middle of the night when the radical bombers were sure no one was in or near the building that was being bombed.

The most deadly such bombing in American history came more than 20 years later when in 1995 the white supremacist Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma killing 168 people, including 19 children in the day care center in that federal building.

Why did none of those bombings ever provoke the idea that America might be on the verge of a new civil war?

Joining us now is Kurt Andersen, a "New York Times" bestselling author. His latest book is "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking Of America".

Kurt, thank you very much for joining us tonight. It was in your book, "Fantasyland", that I read about something I lived through as a high school student, but was surprised to learn. And that was that in 1969 and 1970, there were at least ten bombs a week on average, ten bombs a week being set off in protests, political protests, around this country.

Why did that not -- I don`t remember being even slightly worried that that was going to change the order of things in this country.

KURT ANDERSEN, HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR: Well, those weren`t going to change of things nor did it send America into an hysteria, partly for all of the bad things about there being three TV networks and a more concentrated mainstream media. The media did not whip up hysteria about these most -- almost entirely small bombings.

Now there was a bombing at the capitol. I mean it wasn`t just post offices. It wasn`t just the bank here that was burned down or other buildings. It was -- but ten a week, as you say, at least, if not more.

Because it was kept in perspective, is what it was, which was this very tiny Weather Underground and its affiliates` insurgency, if you will, that were doing these almost symbolic bombings. Not meant to kill people, as you say, but to say we are radical and we are engaging in revolution.

And people remained calm and they weren`t all even mentioned, for instance on the "Nightly News". They were so -- they were so common and then they went away.

But as the Vietnam War went away, the draft went away, and most of these Weather Underground people were arrested it ended. So it was a passing phase.

And as you say, I was amazed to discover it, and that`s why I put it in the book. And people just don`t realize because it wasn`t -- and even though there was certainly talk among the far-left militant revolutionary militants about, oh, socialist revolution, we are going to trigger a socialist revolution. Nobody took that seriously and indeed it didn`t happen as a result of those bombings, those militant actions.

O`DONNELL: One of the things to consider in the possibility of anything we would call a civil war or a 21st century insurgency version is who is going to do this. And one of the factors I would suggest that the CIA analysts consider in these things, what do they have to lose?

And so when you look at Americans today who are worried about making their car payments, worried about paying their mortgages, that`s a much bigger concern to them than the possibility of, you know, should I go out to a federal building and commit a crime, you know, for Donald Trump. 75 million Trump voters exactly a few thousand of them were willing to do that on January 6th.

ANDERSEN: And even most of those several thousand who broke into the capitol building were not, I don`t believe, imagining that they were in an armed force about to take over the Capitol and be arrested.

I mean so many of the people who have been prosecuted as they are trying to get out of punishment, they say and perhaps sincerely, I didn`t realize what I was getting into. I agree entirely.


Now, again, I am not saying none of this can happen or there won`t be a terrible set of violent actions. But as you say, there is -- there was -- and in the U.S. Civil War -- and that`s -- one of the problems with calling it an imminent possible civil war is that we Americans only think of our Civil War 150 years ago, which was -- had -- was so different in so many ways even though, of course, the array of forces resembles that, you know, in many ways, but for instance, when you say they -- people aren`t going to be willing to die or kill for the sake of whatever their grievances are today, back then half of all the wealth in the south consisted of slaves. So there was, indeed, a reason to fight.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And when you look back at those young radicals, 18-year- old, 20-year-olds setting off bombs in 1969, none of them have mortgages. None of them had car payments to pay. None of them had things that they needed to go home to that night in the same way that the people do now.

Kurt, we are out of time on our first round of this discussion. We will be back at it again. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.


O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.



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