Interview with Beto O`Rourke, former Democratic congressman representing El Paso, Texas, and is now running for governor of Texas. The Georgia court approved the request by the Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis to empanel a special grand jury to conduct a criminal investigation of Donald Trump`s attempt to change the vote count in Georgia. This weekend the chair of the January 6th Committee said that the committee has had conversations with Donald Trump`s former attorney general William Barr. In tonight`s episode of "A House Divided", we begin at the beginning of the story of American democracy with the words of George Washington.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I am still patiently waiting. I have been waiting over ten years now for Donald Trump to apologize to me for what he has called me, including -- including at one point the dumbest man on television. I think that was about ten years ago when I was saying here that he was lying about President Obama`s birth certificate.
Joe Biden says someone is dumb, says a reporters dumb, and in a couple of hours or less he`s on the phone in a personal phone call apologizing.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Right, and decent, and adult, and mature. I mean, even if he meant it. If you meant it and you said it to somebody`s face, you do not have to apologize to them unless you know, is for some of the reason it`s inappropriate. But if you meant it and you sensitive out somebody and not to them, you have to apologize, because you`re talking smack. And in this case, the president did the adult thing and said I`m sorry, and that`s what adults should do.
O`DONNELL: So, I was driving this afternoon and kind of out of the news bubble for a bit. And as soon as I came back into our little bubble here, first thing I said to producer Kyle Griffin was, has Joe Biden apologized yet? And he said, no.
And I said, okay, well it`s coming. It`s like it`s any minute now. He`s going to do it. And then I lost track of it and suddenly there was. During your hour, it emerged.
MADDOW: I had the exact same reaction, I thought he definitely meant that. And, he didn`t say to the guys face, he did know that microphone was on. And he`s going to apologize. And that`s the right thing to do.
And you know what, part of being a president is, is being a good person to model what rational adults, mature human beings should do, in terms of having to treat one another. Doesn`t mean you can`t get ever get mad, doesn`t even mean you can`t call someone dame. But it does mean when you do something that sort of indecorous way, or a way that you didn`t mean to get out, you own up to it.
It`s kind of -- for all of this kerfuffle it`s kind of a decent ending.
O`DONNELL: So I guess I`m going to have to keep waiting, right? For my --
MADDOW: Hope springs eternal.
O`DONNELL: That ain`t going to happen, that`s not going to happen.
MADDOW: I`m sorry for him, does that help?
O`DONNELL: By the way, to be fair, he after he got tired of calling me the dumbest man on television, he switched and called other people of being the dumbest man on television while I was still on television, so I guess I got promoted to second or third or something and not worth mentioning.
MADDOW: Yeah, that seems like a bad competition to try to win or lose.
MADDOW: I`m sorry, I`m sorry for him, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: It`s the world of no apology on that side of the world. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL:: Thank you.
Texit, that`s one member of a Texas secession movement call it, Texit. That name it`s obviously inspired by Brexit and the desire to secede from the united state is fired by the desire to govern Texas without any interference whatsoever from Democrats, like the president of the United States or our first guest tonight, Beto O`Rourke, who is now running for governor of Texas.
Later in this hour, we will consider what the significance of the secessionist movement is with Steven Marsh, the author of the new book "The Next Civil War". When asked about Texit in October, Republican Senator Ted Cruz does not quotes his office in which he pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic -- oh no, Ted Cruz simply said he`s not there yet. He`s not yet ready to support secession.
But he did say he would consider abandoning the United States of America and supporting tech them Texit, quote, if they federalize election and massively expand voter fraud.
It is easy to see what Texas would become as an independent country run by Republicans, because that`s what it must feel like right now, right now, for any woman in Texas seeking abortion services, for any 13 year old girl in Texas who has been raped by her father, or by someone she doesn`t know, and is pregnant. For that 13 year old girl, she no longer enjoys the protections of the Constitution of the United States in Texas.
This year, the government of Texas remove the constitutional right to abortion services in Texas. The United States Supreme Court has not yet taken away the right to abortion services in all 50 states, but Texas didn`t bother wait to for the United States Supreme Court. They went ahead and did it.
The Texas state legislator has written election laws to favor Republican candidates and is continuing to try to impose even more election laws that will favor Republican candidates. "The Texas Tribune" reports that the primary election approaching in Texas on March 1st, quote, Texas voters and local affectionate officials have found themselves envelop in a fog of errors, delays, and miscommunications as they navigate new rules for casting votes by mail.
As one election administration in Hidalgo County tells "The Texas Tribune", we are bombarded. And, nearly one year after the massive power grid failure that killed over 200 people in Texas, and left millions without power in freezing temperatures, "The New York Times" reports many of the problems that pushed the Texas electrical grid to the brink of a total collapse still remain, according to interviews with two dozen industry experts, elected leaders, and current and former state officials. That is Republican government at work, non-working power grid, 200 people dead because of it.
And there`s more. The Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has sent the Texas National Guard to the Mexican border where the National Guard has absolutely no legal authority whatsoever. Border control is the responsibility of the federal government. But the governor of Texas in defiance of the federal government, which is now run by Democrats, has sent the Texas National Guard to the border in what is clearly a nothing but a political stunt.
The National Guard has no authority and no purpose at the border. "The New York Times" reports many ordered to the border have complained of poor planning, pay problems, and a lack of basic equipment, like winter gear for the cold or stethoscopes for medics. There have been COVID outbreaks on hastily created bases, where dozens of soldiers crowd together in mobile quarters so tight that commanders call them submarine trailers. Hundreds sought waivers because of the mission`s uncertain length and the disruptions it would create for their families, and were denied. In some cases, arrest warrants were issued for those who failed to report for duty.
So, consider that. The national is empowered to address no one at the border. But that members of the national guard may be arrested in Texas but for not participating in the governor`s political stunt. According to interviews and a review of internal documents, the New York Times also found that to many who are engaged in admission as appeared ad hoc, ill- defined, and politically motivated.
One active member described this way: all we`re doing is standing here down here, we don`t even have the equipment to detain anyone. We`re basically mall cops on the border.
Former Democratic Congressman Beto O`Rourke went to the border yesterday and spoke with members of the National Guard about what they are experiencing there. And he had this to say to the governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O`ROURKE (D), CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: Bring these guard members home. If you are not going to put them to the full and best use, that is meeting an emergency or crisis, if there are simply political window dressing for your campaign and Republican primary, and let them come back home to their families, to their homes, to their careers, and to their communities. That is the least that we can do for those who have been willing to put their lives on the line for this country and service so honorably.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Beto O`Rourke, former Democratic congressman representing El Paso, Texas. He is now running for governor of Texas.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, we really appreciate it.
What can you tell us about what you found at the border, the situation with the National Guard there?
O`ROURKE: Lawrence, the first thing that I want to tell you is that these men and women are the absolute best of us. They signed up to serve this state in this country. They were there in 2017 when Hurricane Harvey, the biggest storm to ever hit the state, drown communities like Port Arthur, and Rockport, and Houston, Texas. They`ve been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
They know what they`ve signed up for and they`re willing to serve. And they do so honorably and admirably. But, 10,000 of them have been called up with ten days notice, forced to leave family, jobs, kids, their communities, to be near a window dressing for the governor`s reelection campaign. Those aren`t my words, those are the things they have told me.
Their pay has been delayed. The governor funded this by cutting their earned tuition benefit. This is how they are four to go to college. He cut that in half. They have not been properly equipped, and most of them that I`ve spoken to have not encountered in migrants or undocumented border crosser in the three or four months that they`ve been there.
And, Lawrence, one of the young men that I spoke to yesterday told me that he was one of those who requested a waiver from the governor because he`s a nurse, and the hospital where he typically works needs him right now, because we are undergoing a critical surge in COVID cases. And we do not have enough health care professionals.
So, he`s on the border doing nothing, encountering no one, when he could be back home literally saving the lives of the people in his community. I want to be there to have his back, and the backs of other guardsman, and in this mission. Let them come back home. And reserve sending them out only for when we have a real crisis or an emergency. And what`s happening on the border does not meet that bar.
O`DONNELL: "The Laredo Morning Times" estimates that it could cost two billion dollars for this deployment, that sounds like money that could have been well spent on the power grid.
O`ROURKE: That`s right. ERCOT, those are the folks who manage the grid here in Texas, say that if we hit severe weather like the weather that shut down the grid last February, we`re at a 40 percent generating capacity shortfall right now because the governor and the legislator today absolutely nothing to weatherize the grid and prepare us for the next extreme weather event. That money could`ve gone to school where educators in Texas are underpaid by about $10,000 compared to their national counterparts.
We could have supplemented and expanded Medicaid to ensure that more Texans can see a doctor or not fear dying of diabetes or the flu, or curable cancer. There are a lot of these here that those billions of dollars could`ve gone to meet. This is a political ploy on the part of the governor, but the people who are paying the price beyond the taxpayers, are those members of the governor.
And we need to let them come back to their families, back to their jobs, back to their communities. It`s the right thing to do.
O`DONNELL: We are seeing reports tonight from "The Texas Tribune" and elsewhere about chaos and what is now the new voting system in Texas, because of the new voting laws in Texas. Do we know if the current state of disruption affects Democratic voters and Republican voters equally?
O`ROURKE: We don`t know for sure. What we do know is what`s taking place is exactly what was predicted by opponents of this voter suppression bill.
Lawrence, in this instance, Texas is requiring you if you require -- if you request a mail-in ballot, to use the exact same form of ID that you used when you first register to vote. That could`ve been two years ago, that could`ve been 20 years ago. And if you don`t remember that, your mail-in ballot request is rejected. We`re seeing rejection rates in some counties of up to 50 percent.
Now, I think it`s really important for those who want to make sure that they can vote in this primary election, if they are physically and from a health care perspective able to vote in person, to do that. Because this voter suppression tactic is incredibly successful at denying people the ability to vote.
We`ve got to find a way to overcome it. I`m hopeful, Lawrence, that the courts will enjoin this law which is patently constitutional because it`s denying people their equal rights under the law and the ability to vote.
And I really am concerned that it is going to dissuade people from turning out.
So, in our campaign, we are making a commitment to reach 2 million voters over the course of February in person at their doors, on the phone, if we can reach on there. We`re also writing letters to them as well, to make sure they understand what it takes to be able to vote in Texas right now. We`ve got overcome this.
I wish that the Senate would have done the right thing and pass federal voting rights protection, but there is no cavalry writing to our rescue in Texas. This one is on all of us. So those who go to BetoForTexas.com can sign up, knock on doors with us, and make sure that we are the answer to this challenge at this moment.
O`DONNELL: Let me go back to the National Guard situation for a moment because, initially, it was perceived does something that the governor was doing because of his own fear of being challenged to his extreme right by some Trumpist candidate. And he was going to have to beat back that kind of candidate in the Republican primary.
Is that still the dynamic we are facing? Do you expect, after the primary, that Governor Abbott will at that point think that there is no longer any need for this expenditure at the southern border?
O`ROURKE: It is interesting that you asked that. The member of the guard, that I met with yesterday, said that I just hope after the Republican primary is over I can go back home because, their activation orders are for full year, a full year away from jobs, from families, from their primary source of income. And they are sitting in these Humvees. Most of them not able to do much of anything at all.
So, I think that is the best hope. But I want to make this additional point. It is not just the opportunity cost. It is not just that they`re missing their families. Four members of the guard, over the last three months, have taken their own lives. Some of those members had asked for those waivers.
One said, I have the career opportunity of a lifetime. And I want to make sure that I could take advantage of it. And instead, they denied that and we are going to send him down to the border. He took his own life.
One of the things we clearly need right now are behavioral health specialists deployed along with those members. Not on the phone, not by Zoom, but in those same base camps were guardsmen are sleeping 15 to 20 two way trailers. Those are the storm in trailers that are deployed after hurricanes and natural disasters. They are sleeping together in those right now.
COVID is running rampant and morale is at an all-time low. So they shouldn`t have to wait for Republican primaries or really anything at all, especially if this mission has no purpose. Let`s get them back to their families.
O`DONNELL: And, quickly before you go. You took the oath of office as a member of the House of Representative. It is virtually, word for word identical to what the United States senator takes to protect the Constitution, to defend the Constitution of the United States.
When asked about secession by the state of Texas, your Senator, Ted Cruz, said he would be willing to consider it basically if the Democrats managed to pass their voting rights bill. That was his answer to that.
What is your reaction to Senator Cruz`s openness to the possibility of Texas trying to succeed from the Union?
O`ROURKE: Unfortunately, for those of us in Texas, it is not surprising. You mention the power grid failure that killed hundreds of people in the state. Millions more were freezing without heat or electricity. Ted Cruz fled to Cancun.
On January six, when we had the strongest pressure test for the democracy in our lifetime, he was part of the sedition, encouraging people to try and overturn a lawfully legitimately decided election. This guy does not believe in the Constitution, democracy or rule of law. There is no reason he should be serving in a position of public trust right now.
And this encouragement to possible secession in Texas is just part of the course for this guy. So, not much that we can do about him right now. We are focused on the task at hand that`s running and winning this race and replacing Greg Abbott as the next governor of the state of Texas.
O`DONNELL: Beto O`Rourke, candidate for governor of Texas, thank you very much for starting off our discussions here tonight. Really appreciated.
O`ROURKE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, the Georgia court approved the request by the Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis to empanel a special grand jury to conduct a criminal investigation of Donald Trump`s attempt to change the vote count in Georgia. Former Georgia Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming, who is a friend of District Attorney Fani Willis, will join us next.
Also, Congresswoman Swalwell will upgrade us on the investigation of the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
O`DONNELL: Today, a court in Fulton County, Georgia, approved a request for a special grand jury to conduct a criminal investigation of Donald Trump`s interference in the Georgia vote count. Chief judge Christopher Brasher ordered that the special grand jury be formed on May 2nd and remain in panel for as long as a year. District attorney, Fani Willis, has said that she expects that to make a decision on the possible charges in the first half of this year. That indicates that she would make that decision within the first months of the grand jury sessions.
This weekend, the chair of the January six committee said that the committee has had conversations with Donald Trump`s former attorney, William Barr.
Joining us now is Gwen Keys Fleming, former district attorney for DeKalb County, Georgia.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
You were a D.A. in the neighboring county to where Fani Willis is serving now. What is your assessment of where that investigation stands tonight with the court empanelling that grand jury?
GWEN KEYES FLEMING, FORMER DISTRICT ATORNEY: I think this is the exact right vote, special grand juries are a panel when you have complex cases that you want to make sure that you have the appropriate resources and time to investigate. So, calling for and not having the special grand jury will give her subpoena power to be able to bring in witnesses that might have been reluctant to cooperate previously. It allows her to have the same group of dedicated citizens review the evidence over the course of the 12 months, as you noted, as opposed to the normal two month term.
And, at the end of the special grand jury and here we will issue the final report. We are not able to actually issue criminal indictments in Georgia, but that final report will be the equivalent of the roadmap about their interpretation of the evidence. What, if any charges they have thought is appropriate. And that information is what D.A. Willis will take forward to a criminal grand jury to seek indictment.
O`DONNELL: We have heard from others in particular, Michael J. Moore. He`s a former federal prosecutor, as you know in Georgia, he has been in this program, he was on with Rachel tonight, making the case that this is not a complicated case, that just working off the tape that we have of Donald Trump`s phone call to secretary of state, you should be able to get an indictment from just a regular seeding jury and just walk Donald Trump in as a defendant right through the routine process.
What is your reaction to that?
FLEMING: Well, I think prosecutors are going to look at the evidence in different ways, I know Fani to be the kind of prosecutor that leaves no stone unturned. She is very thorough, she is always prepared and being true to what I know about her, she wants to make sure that her case system is complete.
So while she or others may want to focus solely on the January 2nd former president to Georgia secretary of state, Ms. Willis, the D.A., has indicated that she`s looking at several other components of these facts. She is looking at a call between one of our senators and the secretary of state earlier in November. She is looking at what led to the abrupt resignation of the then, U.S. attorney in Georgia.
She is also looking at statements and testimonies that was given to the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate. And this is just a beginning. She has indicated that she is focused on those four things but she is not limited.
And again, the power of having a special grand jury allows her to explore those things but see what else is connected to. And based on some of the more recent reporting, there may be more there for her to look at.
O`DONNELL: So, that is very helpful to my understanding of the situation.
So, one way of looking at this is that it may very well be, and I don`t ask you to adopt this theory, but it may very well be that the easiest indictment to bring in this entire body of evidence is against Donald Trump for what he did and said on that phone call.
But, Senator Lindsey Graham also made phone calls to the secretary of state. Others, Rudy Giuliani was in the state making representations about the vote count in the state of Georgia. And this is a district attorney who, in your experience, would want to bring the total picture that might be relevant to criminal charges to the public rather than just to do one case at a time, possibly beginning with Donald Trump and then moving on.
FLEMING: That is exactly right. And one of the things that we talked about in the bookings report is the substantial likelihood, not only charges against the former president but others, and then bringing all of those charges together in a racketeering.
So, again, if she decides to go that route, because she does have extensive experience prosecuting legal cases before. If she goes that route, it allows her to tell the whole story about what happened leading up to January 2nd and after.
O`DONNELL: The whole story instead of just one individual story, possibly followed by some other individual stories.
Gwen Keyes Fleming, externally helpful tonight and enlightening for me in particular to my understanding of where this stands and why District Attorney Willis is approaching it the way she is. Thank you very much for your guidance. Really appreciate it.
FLEMING: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And joining our discussion now, is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He served as a house impeachment manager in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committees.
And, Congressman Swalwell, that second impeachment trial, basically, covered the same ground that the January six committee is trying to cover now. But you were focused on one individual. You were focused only on Donald Trump. That was very clear. It seemed like you had all the elected into needed. A majority of the Senate agreed with you, but not enough to actually remove him from office.
The committee seems to be getting access to much more information than you had, including in this weeks -- this weekend`s news, conversations at least, beginning conversations with attorney general, William Barr.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): We were flying in the blind, Lawrence. We had crimes that were committed in plain sight that should`ve at least met the standard of removing the president who committed the greatest crime against the constitution ever from office. But we didn`t have any cooperative witnesses from the Trump side.
And the commission now has the benefit of time. They have the ability to go to court. They are not beholden to a Senate schedule that needs to get appointments through in the American Rescue Plan.
And I`m confident, that as you see with former attorney general Barr coming, in that very soon you are going to take this much information and you are going to really narrow it down to something that you can animate for the American people as to what happened.
And the American people are going to be given a choice as they go forward from this investigation. Will they choose violence or voting? Will they choose fraud or facts? Or will they choose chaos and the constitution?
That`s what it`s really going to come down to when this thing goes to primetime and you start to see these hearings and the evidence.
O`DONNELL: The chairman said that primetime is probably going to happen in the spring, that is a later date than he originally was giving. Chairman Thompson was originally saying back in December, possibly January, possibly February in effect.
Is it because the massive evidence they are now collecting from the National Archives from the Trump administration actually requires more time for being able to organize it in a way to present in hearings?
SWALWELL: One of my colleagues, Elaine Maria, said that that finding by the court that Donald Trump was not protected from having those documents concealed was the most pivotal and impactful inflection point in this investigation so far. And so it has produced a trove of information. And so it is better that they explore that and get it right. Because Lawrence, we know they are going to get one shot at this.
And then we`re off to the midterm elections. And if we don`t bring this in a way that the American people understand, that there`s a party that prefers law and order and there`s a party that wants chaos. We are going to miss a real opportunity with so much is at stake for our democracy.
O`DONNELL: We just heard about the investigation that is a criminal investigation now with the grand jury in Georgia about Donald Trump`s activities there by telephone from the White House.
That is also within the jurisdiction of the January 6 committee. In what ways will the committee need to, if any, back off from that investigation to allow the district attorney to proceed with her investigation?
SWALWELL: I can tell you from my experience in the Russia investigation and even in the, anything from the January 6 impeachment, we threw our staff, are very able staff, work to deconflict with prosecutors, both state and federal. And we want to make sure that the criminal investigations have the priority.
I`m not familiar with this case but many same people that were part of the Russia investigation and part of the impeachment are on the January 6 commission team. And so I can only imagine that that is a priority.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it. Thank you.
And coming up, many of you sent us your comments about our first episode of "A House Divided" with Barbara F. Walter, the author of "How Civil Wars Start".
Tonight, we will continue that conversation with Stephen Marche, the author of "The New Civil War". And we`ll show you how George Washington predicted the insurrection at the Capitol 226 years ago.
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s episode of "A House Divided", we begin at the beginning of the story of American democracy with the words of George Washington. Every year on Washington`s birthday, a member of the United States Senate reads George Washington`s farewell address on the Senate floor. The political parties alternate and, in this yearly ritual, so this year a Democrat will read Washington`s farewell address because last year Republican Senator Rob Portman was the reader. And it is fitting that weeks after the insurrection at the Capitol, a Republican senator was forced to read George Washington`s warnings about the danger of what political parties could become, saying that a party, quote, "agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection".
George Washington got his prediction -- predicted insurrection driven by a political party on January 6, 2021. And a year later, our political literature is experiencing a sudden surge of consideration of the possibility of the next civil war.
That is in fact the title of our next guest`s book, "The Next Civil War", which takes its place in the book stores these days alongside "How Civil Wars Start" by Barbara F. Walter, who joined us in our first episode of "a House Divided".
The "New York Times" says, both books provide a sobering vision of where we may be headed, and for that reason they should be required reading for anyone invested in preserving our 246 year experiment in self government.
Joining us now is Stephen Marche, author of "The Next Civil War: dispatches from the American future". Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
STEPHEN MARCHE, AUTHOR: Pleasure to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Make your case about what you see coming from your perspective in Canada, looking down in more ways than one on the current state of affairs in the United States.
MARCHE: Well, I mean the United States is a textbook case of a country headed for civil war. It has all the attributes that lead to the sociologists and economists and historians call a complex cascading system, hyper partisanship, environmental degradation, high levels of inequality and low levels of solidarity, as well as you know, declining faith in institutions and a rising tendency to violence.
And you know, more or less what I see broadly is a struggle over the meaning of America. And that expressing itself through violence.
O`DONNELL: You say -- in your book you say, "The United States is coming to an end. The question is, how." In your view, how?
MARCHE: Well there`s -- I mean the book offers speculative nonfiction. So there`s many different ideas of how it could be. I mean it could be a conflict with the sheriff who decides not to obey the mandates of the federal government. It could be sort of a broader terrorist act that causes Martial Law to be imposed.
I think the point of the book is really that American political landscape right now is very dry tinder. It is rife with the possibility of violence and you know, less than 20 percent of Americans have faith in their electoral system.
A recent poll said that 33 percent of Americans believe that violence against our own government is sometimes warranted. You have these conditions that are ripe for conflict and which we`ve seen everywhere else in the world, right?
You know, America is an exceptional country. But it also doesn`t really defy the loss of gravity. It doesn`t defy the laws of political gravity. And so it is now coming -- you know, sort of it`s sown in the wind and it`s about to reap the whirlwind.
You know, I think the way it is going to fall apart is really the struggle between chaos and order. It won`t look like the first civil war with, you know, boundaries and borders. And like pitched armies, it will look more like insurrection and insurgency and fragmentation. Fragmentation at a very, very low level. Fragmented everywhere.
O`DONNELL: How would it look any different from what we already experienced, beginning in 1969 for the most part going on from there during the Nixon presidency and the Vietnam War where we were having bombings in this country? Multiple bombings against federal buildings like post offices every week?
This is a much forgotten chapter of American history. We had troops that can state shoot and kill unarmed anti war protesters. Everything that I have heard you described as this possible future, and Professor Walter described it as a possible future, I personally lived through.
And the country did not ever think at that point that we were on the verge of civil war.
MARCHE: Yes I mean, the violence in the 60s was very substantial. So you know, there were 140 cities burned after MLK was assassinated. You know, as you say, there were multiple bombings daily sometimes in the United States.
But the difference between the 60s and now is that during the 60s you had a relatively high level of institutional cohesion. You had like the Voting Rights act passed with bipartisan support. You had the president -- the president mourned, collectively, by both parties.
You had, you know, Watergate in hindsight was the system working. Because you had the press reporting on corruption. Politicians taking the press reports seriously. And, you know, both parties deciding that that was unacceptable for their country.
And, none of that would really happen anymore. You know, the institutions have gotten to the point where, you know, not even the two parties cannot get together to mourn a slain officer killed in a riot protecting their personal physical security.
Also, you know, compared to the 60, the organizations of the militia and the size of the groups wielding violence is much higher. Like the weatherman at their peak were about a 1,000 members. And, you know, the militias are much more (INAUDIBLE).
O`DONNELL: The -- as we go forward, what would you look for as an indicator of turning away from this risk? And by the way, just a parenthetical question, what is the richest country in the world that has fallen into civil war? Because standard of living is one of the risk of entering -- losing the standard of living is one of the risks of entering a civil war. But that is not present in many of the countries that enter to civil war because there isn`t anything really to lose.
MARCHE: Well, some of the -- I mean history, some of the richest countries -- like, you know, you could say that French was one of the -- when it heat the revolution it was quite rich. But they had these enormous levels of inequality at the same time.
O`DONNELL: So no, no --
Let me just pause. So 20th century example of one of the richest countries in the world falling into civil war?
MARCHE: I can`t think of a first world country -- first world country off the top of my head that did fall into civil war, no.
But, you know, that doesn`t mean -- the United States in 1860 was the richest country in the world by far, right? And, you know, in the 20th century and in the 21st century, like we are not talking about civil war as it was understood in the 19th century, we are talking about insurgency. We`re talking about low levels of -- we`re talking about relatively high levels of political violence rather than, you know, organized pitched arms. Or what we are seeing in say Burkina Faso or the like.
O`DONNELL: Stephen Marche, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We are out of time for tonight. We are going to continue this conversation in the weeks to come. The new book is "The Next Civil War".
Thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
And coming up, if you read one article today about Washington politics it should be David Rothkopf titled "D.C. is a donut". It explains why the Washington media loves to blame progressives for everything. David Rothkopf joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Since becoming a state in 1912, Arizona has never had two Democratic senators, until now. One of those senators is a centrist who keeps independent voters and moderate Republican voters in line in choosing to support broadly popular positions that are supported by large majorities of voters.
The other is Kyrsten Sinema. The Washington news media incorrectly depicts Senator Sinema as the centrist and in effect regards Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and 47 other Democratic senators as out of touch progressives who, along with House Democrats are to blame for pushing Joe Biden too far to the left.
The center used to be defined as the place where most voters are. But as our next guest points out in the headline of his new piece for "The Daily Beast, "D.C. Is a Donut," there is no center in Washington politics.
Joining us now is David Rothkopf, a foreign affairs analyst and an opinion columnist for "USA Today" and the "Daily Beast". He is the host of the "Deep State" radio podcast.
David, you`ve done it again. You`ve written the mandatory reading column about the situation in Washington these days. And this notion that centrism is whatever Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and, I don`t, know maybe one or two Republican senators say it is.
DAVID ROTHKOPF, FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it`s a kind of crazy notion. You know, there`s this idea right now, blame the left for Biden`s struggle. Except, in the first case, Biden is not really struggling. He had a very successful first year. His poll ratings are higher than Trump`s were and he won the last election by 8 million votes.
But in the second case, every single thing he went for he had the support of those 48 Democrats you are talking about. And on most of it, he also had the support of Sinema and Manchin.
Now, if you say blamed the left you`re saying those 48 are the left. And it is just these two people who represent the center? Of course, that`s ludicrous. In Washington, there really is no center. There`s a Republican bloc that seeks only to obstruct the administration. And there are Democrats who are usually together, except for these couple of people.
Now, out in the country it is a different story. And that is, you know, one of the problems. We`ve got the politics of Washington has become disconnected from the politics of the United States.
Joe Biden is a centrist. And if you go through the initiative he has supported, whether it`s childcare, education reform, environmental initiatives and so forth, they are all supported by very substantial majorities of Americans -- Democrats and Independents. The center and the left. So the critique is completely unsubstantiated and out of touch.
O`DONNELL: There is another problem with Washington news media coverage, which is, if they were baseball reporters, the way they would cover the game is the winner is whoever won the last inning. So everything Joe Biden did in the first, second, third, fourth innings of year one is forgotten when Build Back Better runs into the roadblock in the Senate and then voting rights runs into the filibuster roadblock in the Senate.
And there is no reporting about how Joe Biden in a year pulled every single Democratic senator along into the space of being willing to change the Senate rule, all except those last two. Because in Washington, coverage is all about what happened today that determines who the winner and the loser is.
ROTHKOPF: Yes, I agree. Except to use your metaphor, I don`t think it`s the last inning. I think it`s the last pitch. You know, Joe Biden is really only two innings into his first term as president. And everybody is saying, oh, well, he`s in trouble.
Two innings into the game, having passed over $3 trillion in new legislation. Appointed more judges than anybody ever in history. Created more jobs in his first year than anybody ever in history. Undone -- undid a lot of the damage Trump did. Restored American standing. Ended the longest war in American history.
And that is what he did in year one. That is sort of in the middle of the second inning. So far so good I would say.
O`DONNELL: David Rothkopf, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And thank you once again for writing the column that I wish I could. Thank you very much, David.
ROTHKOPF: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.