IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 1/20/22

Guests: Michael J. Moore, Katie Porter, Russell Wheeler, Adam Schiff


Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis asked judges to approve a special grand jury for her investigation into whether former President Trump committed crimes when he tried to pressure officials in Georgia into falsifying the results of that state`s election. Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger is going to get a grand jury summons now. Fulton County district attorney Fani Wallis sent a letter to chief judge of Fulton County requesting a special grand jury because she has found, she says, a reasonable probably that the state of Georgia`s administration of elections in 2020 was subject to possible criminal disruptions. So the American Rescue Plan which congress passed into law very quickly upon President Biden`s election actually has resulted in really fast economic growth. The single most important, long lasting, and consistent reason to vote for president, the reason that has been there in every election of my lifetime, is judges.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, I`ll do you a favor. I have a member of the January 6 committee as our lead guest tonight, Adam Schiff.


O`DONNELL: I am going to file a special request to please do not release another one of those letters tomorrow. Rachel has enough to do.

MADDOW: I need some recovery time.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. She just, she needs a break. You know, normally, in the normal world of Congress they never did anything on Fridays. They never made news on Fridays. That was kind of against Washington rules to make news on Fridays.

MADDOW: You`re going to ask them to go back to the good ole days?

O`DONNELL: Yeah. Let`s return to what we used to call regular order, please, sir. And we`ll see what we can do.

MADDOW: What I desperately want to know from Congressman Schiff and the investigators right now.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, I`m right the time, go ahead.

MADDOW: Well, there is that reference in the Ivanka letter today to the outtakes from Trump`s video message he did on January 6th and the committee says it believes that the previous iterations of that video that he taped, A, exist and, B, show what he really thought and what he really wanted which was not telling people to go home.

I`m just desperate to know, like, does the committee really believe those things have been preserved and do they think they`re going to get them? It is one thing to think about getting documents but getting videos? I just -- I can`t even conceive of it.

O`DONNELL: Question one. Has just been written right here.

You know, the way this works, most likely Congressman Schiff is listening to this question right now and so he is deciding how much he can tell us about that. There is question one.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: I love this collaboration. Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it`s the way it is supposed to work. Thank you, Rachel.

It`s completely insane. That is what we all thought about the Trump White House every day for four years but that was also the message coming from inside the Trump White House on January 6th during the attack on the Capitol. It is completely insane.

In a letter to Donald Trump`s daughter Ivanka Trump today, the January 6 committee revealed this information, quote: Evidence obtained by the committee demonstrates that throughout this period, many supporters of the president were trying to contact the White House to insist that President Trump immediately appear in the media and ask the rioters to stand down and leave the Capitol. These individuals included Donald Trump Jr., Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, Sean Hannity, multiple members of Congress and the press, Governor Christie and many others.

One White House staff member had this text exchange with a person outside the White House. Incoming text: is someone getting to POTUS? He has to tell protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed.

Response from White House staff member, I`ve been trying for the last 30 minutes, literally stormed in outer Oval to get him to put out the first one. It`s completely insane.

It was also insane inside the Trump White House four days earlier on January 2nd when the president of the United States called Georgia`s secretary of state in a conspiracy to illegally change the vote count in Georgia. The recording of that phone call made by Georgia secretary of state to protect himself legally is a full and complete indictment of Donald Trump.

Fani Willis, the district attorney in Atlanta investigating the case asked a judge today to convene a special grand jury that will have subpoena power that cannot be defied by anyone named Trump or anyone else. That is real prosecutorial subpoena power. We`ll have more on the Georgia investigation later in this hour.

On this day exactly one year ago, Donald Trump`s life as a defendant began in earnest. He was already a civil defendant in a lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll that claims Donald Trump raped her in New York City in the 1990s, but he was soon on his way to being a criminal defendant with a criminal grand jury investigation in New York City and a criminal investigation of misconduct with Georgia`s secretary of state.


He is still on his way to becoming a criminal defendant. He has not yet become one but seems to be coming closer every day. Donald Trump used the presidency for four years to avoid being charged with crimes, including obstruction of justice in the Mueller investigation and he used the presidency to refuse to submit to civil due process in the E. Jean Carroll case and other civil litigation. That is all over.

One year ago today at 12:00 noon, the protection of the presidency was ripped away from defendant Donald Trump. Since then, his business in New York has been indicted for criminal practices. His long-time accountant and so-called chief financial officer of the Trump businesses has been indicted for crimes committed in Donald Trump`s office.

And the January 6th committee is building an indictment for history about what could be the single most studied event by historians during the Trump presidency, the January 6th attack on the Capitol. It is now clear as we`ve noted previously on this program that one of the most important guiding documents of the January 6th committee`s investigation is something that is actually available to all of us. The bestselling book "Peril" by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

The committee`s letter to Ivanka Trump requesting her testimony reveals under oath testimony already obtained from former Army General Keith Kellogg who served as a national security adviser to Vice President Pence and simultaneously as assistant to President Trump, the questions in that testimony released today seem to be based directly on the passage in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa`s book outlining this episode.

Here is the testimony version. Quote, question, it`s been reported that the president said to the vice president, you don`t have the courage to make a hard decision. And maybe not those exact words but something like that. Do you remember anything like that?

Answer, words, I don`t remember exactly either but something like that, yeah. Being like, you`re not tough enough to make the call.

Question, another report on this phone call is that Trump said, Mike, it`s not right. You can do this. I`m counting on you to do it. If you don`t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago. You`re going to wimp out. Do you remember anything like that?

Answer, words like that, yes. I can`t exactly -- I can`t -- it`s tough, yeah.

The letter to Ivanka Trump goes on to say that, quote, General Kellogg also testified regarding your remarks at the close of the call. Ivanka Trump turned to me and said, Mike Pence is a good man. I said, yes, he is.

Here is the passage from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa`s book "Peril" that the committee seemed to be using as a guide in those questions. Mike, this is not right, Trump said, calling from the Oval Office. Mike, you can do this. I`m counting on you to do it. If you don`t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago.

You`re going to wimp out, Trump said. His anger was visible to others in the Oval Office including his daughter Ivanka. She turned to Keith Kellogg, Mike Pence is a good man Ivanka Trump said to Kellogg. I know that, Kellogg said.

The words in that scene in the book appear in quotation marks. A general rule of Bob Woodward`s books has been, that words that appear in quotation marks come from someone who actually participated in the conversation or was present when those words were said. Not all conversations that appear in Woodward books contain quotation marks but for the ones that do you are usually hearing from someone who spoke those words or heard those words.

Keith Kellogg is a cooperating witness with the January 6 committee. He responded to their subpoena without hesitation. It appears possible maybe even likely that Keith Kellogg was a cooperating witness in Bob Woodward and Bob Costa`s book.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He`s a member of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol and he is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Schiff, I don`t know if you could hear my exchange with Rachel at the beginning of this hour, but what she is interested in in the letter that the committee released today is the reference to the video outtakes of Donald Trump`s attempts to create a video that would be publicly released on January 6th. And Rachel and I`m asking her question directly, wants to know, do you believe or have evidence that that video actually exists and that the committee will obtain the video?

She recognizes as we all do that obtaining documents is one thing. That`s a standard thing to obtain in a situation like this. But do you believe that the video is there for you to obtain?


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, first of all, I don`t know if it is fair for both of you to ask me questions on one show. But -- and we will try not to release too much on a Friday because you`re right. That does violate regular order.

Look, I think it likely exists. We don`t know for sure, but presumably things like that would be covered by record keeping requirements and unless they went and deleted the tapes, they should exist. Certainly, they are within the scope of what we are requesting.

So it`s my hope if not my expectation that they do exist, but certainly my expectation if they do exist, that we will get them.

O`DONNELL: I want to read another passage from the testimony that you released today in that letter to Ivanka Trump. This is Keith Kellogg`s testimony to your committee. Question, did you think that she, Ivanka Trump, could help get him, President Trump, to a place where he would make a statement to try to stop this? Answer, yes.

So you thought that Ivanka Trump could get her father to do something about it? Answer, to take a course of action. Question, he didn`t say yes to Mark Meadows or Kayleigh McEnany or Keith Kellogg but he might say yes to his daughter? Answer, exactly right.

Question, and so presumably the first time she, Ivanka Trump, went in, it wasn`t sufficient or she couldn`t have had to go back at least one more time I assume. Is that correct? Answer, well, yes.

The -- what testimony do you want from Ivanka Trump to add to what you have from Keith Kellogg already?

SCHIFF: Well, as you gather from those questions and answers, there were multiple people trying to get the president to do something to stop the violence. There was hope evidently that Ivanka Trump would have a big enough influence on her father that maybe she could do what others had failed to do and we`d like to hear from her directly. What efforts was she aware of, what efforts did she participate in to get Donald Trump to say something, do something, while police officers were being beaten and gouged while the Capitol was being ransacked, while they were threatening to hang Mike Pence.

We also have testimony indicating that she was present during a phone call between the former president and former vice president on the subject of Donald Trump trying to get Mike Pence to ignore his constitutional duty. To certify and count the ballots as required in that ministerial obligation that he had under the Constitution. We also think she may have information about whether her father resisted calls to bring in the National Guard or why there was so much necessity of tam pleasing tamping down allegations that was the case. So, there is a lot we`d like to hear and just hope she`ll be cooperative.

O`DONNELL: And I just want to remind the audience something the committee is well aware of, Ivanka Trump at the time was, she is understood as Donald Trump`s daughter and that`s the status most people see her as. But at the time she was a government employee who had taken an oath of office to work in the White House and that required her to protect the Constitution against all enemies including domestic enemies who could at that time be sitting in the Oval Office. So she had an actual oath of office herself that day, to adhere to as she carried out her work.

SCHIFF: That is exactly right. You would hope even in the absence of such an oath, people would feel a sense of duty and obligation but, yes. She was also a high level adviser to the former president, had taken an oath presumably in preparation for taking that position, so she had a legal obligation as well.

O`DONNELL: So two Trumps took an oath, one as president, one as adviser to the president. We know right now how all Trumps feel about testifying under oath and I think we know as we sit here, I won`t speak for you or the committee, Ivanka Trump is not going to show up. She is not going to cooperate. She is not Keith Kellogg. She is not going to Cooperate.

Will the committee subpoena her?

SCHIFF: We haven`t made that decision about that. And, look. We`ve been surprised by people we thought would resist who actually came in and didn`t try to fight our subpoenas or came in voluntarily.


So we do get surprised and we hope in this case, she`ll be willing to come forward. She clearly has relevant evidence about the attack that day and what the president did and equally important what the president did and did not do.

So we hope again she will do her civic duty. Time will tell. If she doesn`t we`ll have to figure out what the next steps are.

O`DONNELL: In court, subpoenaed witnesses sometimes complete their testimony, leave the witness stand, but while the trial continues, they are still in effect under subpoena so they can be called back. Is that the way these subpoenas work in this investigation?

The fact that Keith Kellogg responded to your subpoena for private under oath testimony, does that mean that you can call him back under the same subpoena to testify under oath in televised hearings?

SCHIFF: We can definitely call him back again. I would have to look at the terms of the specific subpoena to see whether we needed to issue a new subpoena or not. We probably don`t need to. I think you`re right.

That we usually inform witnesses at the time of their testimony it may be necessary to bring them back under their subpoena because of new evidence that comes forward. So we have that capability and we won`t hesitate to use it where necessary.

O`DONNELL: We saw developments in Georgia today about Donald Trump`s phone call to the Georgia secretary of state. Your investigation has referred to that material also, is obviously considering that in some way. Have you had any communications with the district attorney in Fulton County about not overlapping with her investigation in such a way that might be -- create problems for either your investigation or hers?

SCHIFF: We are certainly very much looking into what took place in Georgia and we`ve heard from witnesses on that subject. I can`t go into communications we may or may not have had with the Fulton County district attorney.

But I have to say looking at that headline you showed on the screen earlier about her seeking to impanel a special grand jury, the question that raises for me is why is there no headline about the U.S. Department of Justice convening a grand jury to look into the same allegations? That was an act of potential fraud against the United States and the people of Georgia, in a U.S. federal presidential election and the Justice Department shouldn`t be waiting for Fulton County, it shouldn`t be waiting for the U.S. Congress to look into that.

I think there is a credible allegation based in that phone call that the president was seeking to defraud the people of Georgia. That needs to be looked into. So I applaud the Fulton County district attorney but I do have a very pointed question about why there doesn`t seem to be any indication that the U.S. Justice Department is looking into the same issue.

O`DONNELL: Well, not only that but there was a problem that occurred within the Justice Department at the time, at the very same time Donald Trump was trying to interfere in that count, the U.S. attorney appointed by Donald Trump quit very suddenly apparently under pressure from the White House which all seems to be -- because he wane doing anything to reverse the election count in Georgia and it all seems to be of a piece with the Justice Department having an obvious responsibility to clean its own house in that situation.

SCHIFF: Well, I think that is exactly right and I would add to that the fact that there is reporting that at the very highest levels of the Justice Department in addition to that issue with the U.S. attorney, you had an effort to essentially decapitate the leadership of the Justice Department, install someone like Jeffrey Clark who was pushing to have states like Georgia delay the appointment of electors, or sent an alternate slate of electors.

So, yes, there was plenty to look at that may go beyond the capability of a local county district attorney`s office no matter how capable that district attorney may be.

O`DONNELL: Well, we are in the next segment going to be joined by our next guest who is a former U.S. attorney in Georgia who has joined us before on this very subject, shares a lot of your thinking about this.

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

SCHIFF: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis moving to convene a special grand jury to subpoena witnesses for under oath testimony about Donald Trump`s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking for 11,780 votes.


She says Secretary Raffensperger will be one of those subpoenaed under oath witnesses.

That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what Georgia`s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Chuck Todd in October while Atlanta`s District Attorney Fani Willis`s criminal investigation of Donald Trump`s interference in the Georgia vote count.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: If she want to interview me there is a process for that and I will gladly participate because I want to make sure I follow the law, follow the Constitution. When you get a grand jury summons, you respond to it.


O`DONNELL: Well, he is going to get a grand jury summons now. The Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sent a letter to the chief judge of Fulton County requesting a special grand jury because she has found she says a reasonable probability that the state of Georgia`s administration of elections in 2020 including the state`s election of president of the United States was subject to possible criminal disruptions.


District Attorney Willis told the judge, a significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony. The district attorney mentioned Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as an example of a key witness who has refused to testify without a subpoena issued by a grand jury. The district attorney attached a transcript of Chuck Todd`s interview with Brad Raffensperger to her letter.

Joining us now is Michael J. Moore, former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. He`s now a partner at Moore law firm in Atlanta. And Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for "The Washington Post." He is an MSNBC political analyst.

Attorney Moore, give us your reaction to the totality of what we`ve learned today about this request for a grand jury? And if you will, address that issue I was just discussing with Adam Schiff, the question of what about a federal investigation, what used to be your job in Georgia, a federal investigation of the same situation?

MICHAEL J. MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I am glad to be with you. Thanks for having me back.

I was not surprised to see the district attorney ask for the special grand jury, though I think she may be a little late in doing so. Really, this is sort of the belt and suspenders for her on making sure she has the elements necessary to prove the case.

We`ve talked about this before. There is so much evidence in the tape out there, the recording of the telephone call between Trump and Raffensperger and there is a plethora of public statements made by these potential witnesses in the public record. Just as you say, a news story attached to the letter here.

So I think she is trying to get some people under oath. I don`t know necessarily that she needs that. It tells me she may be looking at a broader investigation, maybe is there a conspiracy, is there some type of, we`ve talked about RICO before, something out there?

I don`t know that she necessarily needs to do that. I`ve been a big proponent of a rifle shot prosecution, that is charge the most provable crime and that would be interference with Brad Raffensperger`s duties. And as far as he goes, I am not particularly surprised given that he is in a heated election with a Trump loyalist right now for his job, to see him now appear as he wants to make it appear that his participation would be commanded as opposed to voluntary to come testify.

I would like to see some movement from the Department of Justice on the federal level. I think there are resources available. There is sort of a broader picture nationwide when you have multiple states involved and what seems to be now in breaking news and stories coming out about efforts to replace electors and present forged documents and that was a coordinated and concerted effort led by certain individuals including folks with the campaign.

That tells me that maybe there is room for a federal case. And hopefully, we`ll see that even though the wheels at the Department of Justice may move slowly, that they will indeed move on this case going forward.

O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, such a fascinating cast here with Fani Willis who is sworn in as district attorney on January 1st. The next day, the president of the United States makes a phone call to Georgia, to Atlanta, what appears to be a criminal phone call trying to criminally change the vote count in the presidential race.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, by the way, it sounds awfully darn criminal to me. You know, it is -- I understand the frustration of those who wonder why it has taken this long if indeed a special grand jury is needed to compel Raffensperger`s testimony given the fact he has already released the tape recording of the criminal act that is undisputed. It is clear.

But, you know, as you said, she was a new district attorney, has a lot to work on, including a huge backlog of cases that have been, ordinary cases caused by the pandemic. And we can`t yet know if she is looking at something broader or wants to go deeper on Raffensperger.


I share everyone`s concern about the U.S. Justice Department. It is entirely possible that there is a lot going on at the Justice Department that we don`t know about.

But it concerns me that really well-connected reporters aren`t getting leaks and hints and whiffs of grand juries that could be impaneled and could be moving ahead on an investigation and potential prosecution that I think is really needed.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Let`s listen to what the jury will be listening to if Donald Trump is charged with a crime in that phone call. They will take -- in the jury room they will be considering exactly these words. Let`s listen to it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.


O`DONNELL: And, Eugene, if you are in that jury room you will have had a prosecutor Fani Willis or an assistant district attorney stressing to you I think this portion of what he said. "All I want to do is this."

And all he wants to do is to magically create those numbers. He doesn`t say here is what I want to do. I want you to go back in. I want you to conduct a very fair recount. And I hope when you conduct that very fair recount the following result occurs. No, no, no. All I want you to do is give me that number.

ROBINSON: Yes. You know, the hardest thing to prove in this case is intent, of course. Was there criminal intent? And I think that is pretty much the Perry Mason moment, right? He says, no. Really, all I want to do is for you to find me enough votes so that I win.

That is not anything other than criminal intent, in my view. I doubt a grand jury would look at it differently. Although a special grand jury cannot itself hand up an indictment.

It can do the investigation. It can do the subpoena. It can call testimony, that sort of thing. But I just can`t imagine how you could decide that there is not something wrong with that.

O`DONNELL: Michael J. Moore, quickly before we go. If the case is as simple as I personally believe it is, could it be that Fani Willis sees that, she sees the simplicity of this, she sees the smoking gun and what these subpoenas are about are locking in at this point whatever helpful under oath testimony that she can but she is basically ready to go and this is the final stage? Is that a possibility?

MICHAEL J. MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: It is a possibility but remember, you don`t have to have the case totally put together by the time you go to a grand jury just to seek indictment. That is just whether or not there is probable cause that a crime has been committed.

What I wish she would do is take the case next week into a regular criminal grand jury and play the tape and see if they won`t indict the former president. You don`t need under oath testimony from Brad Raffensperger. I mea for crying out loud, he wrote a book about all this. I mean just play the tape and impeach him with his book. You know? That`s all you got to have.


MOORE: And so -- I mean, it looks to me like she is just trying to broaden it out, maybe she`s trying to button it up, maybe she wants to try to get to some other people that she thinks may be in the political mix.

But she`s got enough if you ask me to rifle shot this thing, line up the former president right behind a bank robber or a carjacker and, you know, indict him just like you would anybody else that`s committed crimes in the city of Atlanta in Fulton County. That to me would be one way to, you know, let`s separate the wheat from the chaff and get on with the case.

O`DONNELL: Former Georgia federal prosecutor Michael J. Moore and Eugene Robinson, thank you both very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

MOORE: Glad to be with you both.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Congresswoman Katie Porter joins us next. We`ll be right back.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We went from two million people being vaccinated at the moment I was sworn in to 210 million Americans being fully vaccinated today.

We created 6 million new jobs. More jobs in one year than any time before. Unemployment dropped -- the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent. Child poverty dropped by nearly 40 percent. The biggest drop ever in American history. New business applications grew by 30 percent. The biggest increase ever. And for the first time in a long time this country`s working people actually got a raise.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Representative Katie Porter of California. She`s a member of the House Oversight Committee and the deputy chair of the House Progressive Caucus. And she has the white board with her tonight.

Representative Porter, we heard President Biden yesterday reciting at the beginning of his press conference the accomplishments of his first year in office achieved with the Democrats in congress.

Are people out there experiencing effects of those accomplishments that they might not necessarily realize come from the work that you, the Democrats in Congress, did with the president and achieved legislatively this year?

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Absolutely. I think it is important to remember where we were one year ago when President Biden was sworn in. Families were struggling to put food on the table. We were still continuing to have a lot of job losses. You know, many schools were closed.

We are in a much, much better situation today. In fact, where our economy is today is quite remarkable. And we now have in fact the fastest growing economy in this country that we`ve had in decades.

So the American Rescue Plan which congress passed into law very quickly upon President Biden`s election actually has resulted in really fast economic growth.


PORTER: So the United States today is experiencing about 5.5 percent growth in GDP. Now, when you compare this to our other nations the G7 -- the seven most advanced economies in the world, our global competitors, none of them are even yet having positive GDP growth, a measure of our economy.

We`re seeing the same story with unemployment. Unemployment today is down to 3.9 percent. Unemployment. And to remind everybody, the last time we had a major financial crisis in this country following the Great Recession and the bank crisis it took ten years to get unemployment back down.

We`ve hit this 3.9 percent unemployment number two years faster than if we had not elected President Biden and we had not passed the American Rescue Plan.

And most directly, most immediately for families, they have more money to spend each month. The average American family has $354 more each month accounting for inflation.

So even taking into account the global disruption in the supply chain, the fact that some big corporations are price gouging consumers, even adjusting for inflation the average American has an extra $354 a month. And I`ll tell you, that money makes a real difference to American families.

O`DONNELL: Let me just go over that last point. That is a new number to me. You`re saying that the actual disposable income of Americans has increased during this period of inflation where we think of inflation as eating away at people`s actual spendable income?

PORTER: Absolutely. This is disposable income in real dollar change. So accounting for inflation, adjusting for the fact that prices on some things have gone up, the typical American, the average American has $354 more each month.

This is a big number. This is a lot of people`s car payments. This is a lot of people`s after-school payments for their kids. This is several trips to the grocery store even for me with three hungry kids.

So this is real money in Americans` pockets and is directly a result of the economic agenda and the American Rescue Plan directly addressing the needs of American families.

O`DONNELL: What do you hope to accomplish given possibly some of the limitations imposed by Joe Manchin? But what do you hope to accomplish in the second year working with the president legislatively?

PORTER: Look, the problems that -- we have the fastest growing economy we`ve had in a long time. We just went over that. GDP is up. Unemployment is down. More money in family`s pockets.

But even with these positive economic changes, the reality is there are still problems. There are still structural problems in our economy that we need to solve.

And this is a really cool white board because it reverses. I want to talk about what the costs are of not acting. What the cost is of having Joe Manchin or others block action in the Senate.

For example, if we do not pass legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, we are losing $8 billion a year. This is what it costs taxpayers because Medicare cannot negotiate drug prices. We have to pass this legislation to get this done.

This is a problem even in the strongest economy because essentially we allow drug companies to hold American taxpayers hostage.

Similar on climate, if we do not pass meaningful legislation, to address climate change, we are spending right now $145 billion a year cleaning up and dealing with the consequences of climate related disasters, wildfires, floods.

$145 billion -- this price tag, the price tag of not acting, makes the cost of passing this legislation look cheap.

And this one is my favorite -- $1 trillion. This is the cost of not fully funding the IRS. And so if we and -- per year this is the lost money. So if we would do these things, if we take action, bring down the cost of prescription drugs, $8 billion a year savings, take action to address climate change, $145 billion in savings, fully fund our IRS so that everyone pays what they already owe. This isn`t making any changes to the tax code. It`s just making sure we let the IRS collect the taxes that are already owed and due.

These are the costs of not acting. When we hear people say the bill would cost this much, legislation would cost that much, I think it is really, really important that the American people understand what President Biden is trying to do, what Congress is trying to do with these kinds of changes is actually save money.


PORTER: That`s what`s on the table for year two. And it is really important we take these actions now when we do have a strong economy and that is what President Biden has set us up to do in year two.

O`DONNELL: You know, as you mention it, I have not heard Joe Manchin and his concerns about inflation ever mention prescription drug prices as part of the inflation burden.

PORTER: No, but it is absolutely true. Prescription drug prices, child care costs, these are some of the fastest growing -- elder care -- these are some of the fastest growing areas of expense.

So when you talk to families even as they`re having more income there are some of these prices and some of these costs that are going up and we need to address them. And the time to do it is now when we have low unemployment, when we have big GDP growth.

This is the time to begin to address these structural problems. And there is just, again, the price tag of legislating gets so much attention. What doesn`t get enough attention is the price tag of not acting.

O`DONNELL: Representative Katie Porter, thank you very much for being -- bringing a clarity to this subject that I could never achieve myself. And I don`t know who else to turn to for it.

Thank you very much for delivering that for us tonight.

PORTER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, the most important accomplishment by President Biden in his first year that is always completely ignored by the news media, not a single question yesterday about something that Joe Biden accomplished in year one that no president has accomplished in his first year since John Kennedy did it in 1961.

We`ll insert a commercial break right here so that you`ll have time to guess what that accomplishment is. We`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: The single most important, long lasting, and consistent reason to vote for president, the reason that has been there in every election of my lifetime, is judges. Federal judges.

Federal judges are lifetime appointments. Ronald Reagan`s last year in office was 1988 and he still has federal judges serving in this country carrying out some of Ronald Reagan`s thinking in our judiciary.

The most conservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was put on the Supreme Court by the least conservative Republican president in modern history George H.W. Bush whose last year in office was 1992. Clarence Thomas has had much more impact on the way we live than the first President Bush did.

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden used to be in the business of confirming federal judges and so he knows the importance of that more fully than any previous president. And that`s why he has beaten all of his recent predecessors in first-year confirmations of federal judges.

Joe Biden`s confirmed 42 federal judges is almost double what Donald Trump confirmed in his first year. You have to go all the way back to 1961 to find a first-year presidency confirming more federal judges than Joe Biden has confirmed. And that was President Kennedy.

This is the single most important achievement of the first year of the Biden presidency, the achievement that will live long after the Biden presidency, and it is ignored by the news media as it was in yesterday`s press conference, ignored as if it did not happen.

Joining us now is Russell Wheeler. He`s visiting fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. Thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Wheeler. What do you see in this very rapid pace of judicial appointments by President Biden?

RUSSELL WHEELER, VISITING FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, I see a president as you alluded who came into office determined to amp up the appointment of federal judges and the data you cited is as good an indication as you`d want.

What I would point out is though John Kennedy did it when judges were confirmed routinely with the unanimous consent motion, Biden has had pretty vigorous opposition from the Republican Senate. Almost all of his appointees have been approved on very narrow margins. And it`s taken three to four months to get them confirmed.

You go back to Ronald Reagan and judges were getting confirmed in a month or so. So the ball game has changed in fundamental ways. And I think you have to hand it to the Biden administration for getting out front quite quickly and getting these judges in office.

I have to say also, and I am not the first one to mention this, these judges are remarkable in their diversity. He`s appointed -- of those 42 you mentioned only two of them are white males. Now, that is not the most important criteria but it indicates I think a commitment to broaden the face of the judiciary, something that President Carter started and presidents since then have tried to do. But he is taking it to new heights.

He`s also appointed, about a third of his appointees have some substantial experience as public defenders and that is a big increase over his predecessors as well. So it is a very interesting story, very important story but as you say, it tends to get under reported.

We pay all our attention to the Supreme Court and in many ways the action is really in the district courts and the courts of appeals.

O`DONNELL: How would you describe to voters the lasting impact of federal judicial appointments?


WHEELER: Well, you gave the examples. Judges are serving long after the presidents are out of office. On the federal courts now, not a majority but plurality of active judges are all appointees of President Trump. Next is President Obama.

Because these judges have a tenure for life they tend to serve 20, 25 years. You know, I don`t know what more you can say than that. And of course the fact is the federal courts although they are dwarfed by the state courts, they punch above their weight. I mean they have the most important economic cases falling to federal courts, protection of civil rights, economic regulation.

So state courts are the work horses of the system but the federal courts have a niche but very important niche.

O`DONNELL: Russell Wheeler, thank you very much for joining us tonight on this important subject that you know so well. We really appreciate it.

WHEELER: Good to talk to you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.



O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters.


O`DONNELL: Kevin McCarthy who is now refusing to testify to the January 6th committee, once again gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.