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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 1/26/2021

Guest: Jamaal Bowman, Charles Blow�


Joe Biden Confronts Putin in First Phone Call as President; Biden Commits to Improving Relationships with Tribal Nations; Interview with Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY); Dr. Birx Tries to Rehabilitate Reputation after Enabling Donald Trump; Georgia is the Model for How Black People can Alter the Political Landscape.


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

as much of this real estate as you want.

We`re going to continue our year of the Senate coverage which you started

so well last night with Majority Leader Schumer. There are so many -- I

think people learned about budget reconciliation and all that stuff about

ten years ago with Obamacare suddenly, parliamentary procedure.

I think this year, Rachel, we`re going to have to know a lot more,

especially based on what I saw on the Senate floor today. So, we`ll be

doing a little more of that tutorial, but people -- people should take it

easy. You can always rewind this video and kind of go over it again, you

know, what was that that they just said? And I have a feeling we`re going

to be talking about this stuff all year. So you don`t have to learn it in

one night.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Well, I feel like we have the big

advantage over everybody else trying to explain this stuff because we have

you and you`re the only person who can explain the Senate stuff like it`s

an episode of "Law and Order" where you`re hanging on every word to find

out how it ends, like you get the poetry of this stuff.

And I`ve learned most of what I know of Senate procedure from you.

O`DONNELL: Well, Senator Claire McCaskill and I double-teamed that subject

on this network. Whenever I`m not around, she`s doing a better job than I

can on it. She`s actually lived and died with those bills and these

procedures, these parliamentary procedures on the floor. I`ve been out

there, too, on the Senate floor. But she much more recently. So, she knows

the dynamics much more recently than I do.

MADDOW: Well, Lawrence, tonight, I am excited about learning the ins and

outs about how they can use reconciliation for two big bills I thought they

could only use it for one, but because they didn`t have a budget thing last

year, they can now do it -- there is so much to figure out and as far as

I`m concerned, it`s all you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, when you give Charles Blow the last word, just get out of the way and

let him talk because you know it`s going to be great. And that`s what I

plan to do at the end of this hour when my friend Charles Blow returns to

THE LAST WORD to discuss what the Georgia election results for president

and the Senate tell us about the power of black voters in the 21st century,

and this is not an angle you have heard before. This is Charles Blow`s view

that you haven`t heard from anyone else.

And as we said last night and as Rachel`s focus of her show last night,

this show last night showed, I repeat, this is the year of the Senate. And

so our first guest tonight will be a member of the Senate who will be in

the thick of all of the action, including the cabinet confirmation votes

followed by the vote in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, and a

year of crucially important votes on legislation where much of the

Biden/Harris agenda might depend on squeaking through the Senate by a one-

vote majority, with the deciding tie-breaking vote being cast repeatedly by

the vice-president of the United States, Kamala Harris.

Senator Richard Blumenthal along with six other senators has already done

something historic this year. When he signed a complaint to the Senate

Ethics Committee requesting an investigation of Senators Hawley and Cruz

for their connection to the invasion of the capitol on January 6th. Now,

senators do not do that. I know of no other case of senators filing an

ethics complaint against another senator.

Senator Blumenthal has done that, and that already makes this year unlike

any other year we have ever seen in the Senate.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: The Senate will deal with

three things simultaneously. Nominations, we`re working to confirm more

nominees this week. A fair impeachment trial. And delivering emergency

COVID relief.

We want to work with our Republican colleagues to advance this legislation

in a bipartisan way, but the work must move forward, preferably with our

Republican colleagues, but without them if we must. Time is of the essence

to address this crisis. We`re keeping all options open on the table,

including using budget reconciliation, the first step to pursuing COVID

relief legislation would be to pass a budget resolution. And so, in keeping

our options open on our caucus call today, I inform senators to be prepared

that a vote on a budget resolution could come as early as next week.


O`DONNELL: Budget reconciliation legislation can pass the Senate with a

simple majority of 51 votes. It does not face a 60-vote procedural

threshold that other legislation faces. Many of you already know that and

you`ve known it since the Democrats used it to pass Obamacare through

budget reconciliation.

But this year, you`re going to have to learn a lot more to keep up with

what`s actually happening in the Senate, including budget points of order,

and today, a rare constitutional point of order was raised on the Senate

floor. In a 50/50 Senate, every Senate rule is being studied every day by

both sides in the Senate to try to find a parliamentary advantage. And

you`re going to -- you are going to have to learn the difference between

voting on a motion to table, as happened today, and voting on the actual

issue that is being tabled, and understanding of that changes completely

your understanding of the way news is reported about Senate votes.

We`ll get to that in a moment with Senator Blumenthal.

Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are promising to use budget reconciliation

in ways that we have never seen before. For example, to raise the minimum

wage, which has never been attempted in a budget reconciliation bill

because budget rules strictly limit the content of that kind of

legislation. President Joe Biden isn`t waiting for any extra funding from

Congress to increase the vaccination rate in the United States.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will increase overall weekly

vaccination distributions to states, tribes and territories from 8.6

million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses. Starting next week, that`s

an increase of 1.4 million doses per week.

And we believe that we`ll soon be able to confirm the purchase of an

additional 100 million doses for each of the two FDA-authorized vaccines,

Pfizer and Moderna. That`s 100 million more doses of Pfizer and 100 million

more doses of Moderna, 200 million more doses than the federal government

had previously secured. Not in hand yet, but ordered.

We expect these additional 200 million doses to be delivered this summer,

and some of it will come as early, begin to come in early summer, but by

the mid summer that this vaccine will be there.


O`DONNELL: Today, Vice President Kamala Harris received her second dose of

the coronavirus vaccine.



everyone to take the vaccine when it is your turn. It is really pretty

painless and it will save your life. So, thanks to all who are doing this

great and important work. Let`s make sure everyone gets a vaccine. On

behalf of President Biden and myself, I thank you for everything you do

every day, and the bottom line is that we`re going to get 100 million

vaccinations in 100 days, and then we`re going to continue to do what is

necessary to improve the health and well-being of our country.


O`DONNELL: Today, the most senior Democratic senator, Patrick Leahy of

Vermont, administered the oath to all senators for the second impeachment

trial of Donald Trump.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Do you solemnly swear that all things

appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, former

president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice

according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?



O`DONNELL: Later in the day, Senator Leahy was taken from his office to a

Washington hospital when he wasn`t feeling well. His staff said his move to

a hospital was taken out of an abundance of caution. Senator Leahy has

returned home and is, quote, looking forward to getting back to work.

Senator Leahy is two years older than the junior senator from Vermont,

Bernie Sanders. Senator Leahy is 80, Bernie Sanders 78.

Senator Rand Paul raised a constitutional point of order against holding

the impeachment trial because Donald Trump is no longer president. Five

Republican senators joined with all of the Democrats to defeat that point

of order 55-45.

And leading off our discussion tonight, Senator Richard Blumenthal,

Democrat of Connecticut, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he

served five terms as Connecticut`s attorney general.

Senator Blumenthal, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

And I want to begin with that vote that we saw on the Senate floor today

because it`s not necessarily as it appears to be for people. What happened

was Senator Paul introduced this point much order and then Senator Schumer

raised a motion to table it, which is to say, just to put it aside. And

what you voted for was to put it aside, and that`s what 55 senators voted

for. It was a vote to not debate it and not consider it at this time.

And so it wasn`t an actual vote on the essence of it, which is the

constitutionality question, and that`s something that`s going to be

considered in the impeachment trial itself, isn`t it?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Absolutely correct, Lawrence. The vote

today was a kind of technical rehearsal and it perhaps was a reflection of

how senators would vote on that constitutional issue and on the merits of

the impeachment trial. But what really I saw, as I looked across the

chamber, was for profiles in courage, and for senators who would stand up

and speak out and say, we should proceed with this trial after an armed

insurrection that was designed to stop counting votes and, in fact,

assassinate members of Congress and the vice-president. And unfortunately,

only 4 to 5 of my Republican colleagues were willing to take that stand.

So it`s a technical issue that was in the point of order, but I think it is

a reflection of the silence and spinelessness that we`ve seen over the last

four years.

O`DONNELL: Well, just to work through for the audience what would have

happened if the motion to table did not succeed, we then would have had on

the Senate floor a debate about this constitutionality and then there would

have been a vote on the constitutionality. One Republican, for example, Rob

Portman, has definitely opened the door to the possibility of finding that

it is, in fact, constitutional even though he didn`t vote to table today.

His statement is very important.

He said: This is a serious constitutional question and I today voted for

allowing debate on this issue and against tabling this important

discussion. As the trial moves forward, I will listen to the evidence

presented by both sides and then make a judgment based on the Constitution

and what I believe is in the best interest of the country.

And so, Senator Blumenthal, there`s Senator Portman saying, look, don`t

misinterpret today my vote as a vote on how I will vote in the final

verdict here.

BLUMENTHAL: And that is an important point, Lawrence, because it gives me

hope and it bolsters our argument that we should proceed to trial, that we

should hear all the evidence and all the legal arguments at the same time.

The constitutional argument that somehow Donald Trump can`t be convicted

simply because he`s no longer in office is flat-out wrong, on common sense,

on a plain reading of the Constitution, on the assessment of remedies. He

can still be barred from future office. It is plainly wrong, and that will

be debated and I think defeated during the course of this trial.

O`DONNELL: We were joined last night by former Republican Senator Jack

Danforth of Missouri. He has said the biggest mistake of his life was

endorsing Josh Hawley for Senate and including endorsing him for attorney

general in the state. He regrets supporting his political career at all.

Senator, I have not been able to find another instance of a senator filing

an ethics complaint against another senator until you and six Democratic

colleagues did that against Senator Cruz and Senator Hawley. That was a

very big step to make.

How did you make that decision?

BLUMENTHAL: We thought long and hard about it and really searched our

souls and minds about how we felt about that attack on the capitol, which

was so repugnant and horrowful (ph) -- horrifying and horrible. Literally,

they crossed the line.

It was not about rhetoric or debate on the floor of the Senate. They lent

legitimacy in an environment of violence to lies from the president of the

United States that brought a mob to the Capitol and led to injuries and

death. They amplified that kind of falsehood after the assault on the

capitol, and they raised funds from it. They may have helped in other ways.

So this effort may be unprecedented, but I think it`s justified under these

extraordinary circumstances, and at the same time it doesn`t preclude our

working with other Republicans. We want to work with them, but we also need

to take action.

The American people need and deserve strong, robust action to deal with the

crisis (AUDIO GAP) and we need to take it.

O`DONNELL: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much for starting

off our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, John Heilemann, MSNBC national

affairs analyst, host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus",

and this week, most importantly, host of the "Hell and High Water" podcast

from "The Recount" where I am caught, you know, sharing some private

thoughts on a podcast.

And, John, you got more biographical information about me from Kurt

Anderson on this podcast than I`m comfortable with, so don`t, don`t tell

anyone where to listen to it.

John --


O`DONNELL: Go ahead.


both brilliant. People need to know Kurt and Lawrence have been friends for

46 years, I learned. It`s the first time they`ve been interviewed together,

two brilliant guys saying brilliant things but with not nearly enough


That was my only disappointment in the podcast. You have to hear it. Thank

you for doing it.

O`DONNELL: John, this year of the Senate, it`s going to be unlike anything

we`ve ever seen in so many ways. And one example of this is the way the

Democrats, Chuck Schumer especially, are confidently talking about using

the budget reconciliation process for things like raising the minimum wage.

Now, there has never been a theory that you could do that within the

reconciliation rules, which leads me to wonder if they are considering

actually waiving those rules, using Kamala Harris`s role as the final judge

of what actually is appropriate on the Senate floor, simply in some

instances possibly ignoring the parliamentarian`s advice saying, you can

stick the minimum wage in here, even though you never could before in here.

HEILEMANN: Yeah, Lawrence, you have forgotten more about Senate procedure

than I will ever know. But what strikes me on the basis of a lot of

reporting over the last few weeks, talking to a lot of senators, and

particularly our Democratic senators, is that they are considering

everything, Lawrence. And I think that it`s important -- that`s important

in this sense that I think they believe that so much has changed from the

last time we had a 50/50 Senate in 2001-2002 when Tom Daschle for the

Democrats, the minority in the 50/50 Senate and Trent Lott, the majority

leader, were able to work in a spirit of relatively constructive -- quite

constructive conciliatory kind of pragmatic partnership to run the Senate.

So much has changed in those 20 years, Lawrence, and I think the main thing

for Democrats, their view is the filibuster has been so badly abused that

we are now in a world where -- the fundamental abuse of that, of that

procedural -- that procedure historically out of precedent has made

Democrats sort of say, well, given that level of abuse, and given what that

has done to our politics, what it`s done to our ability or inability to

legislate, they`re willing to basically sort of say, we must consider

things that have never been considered before. And we must be willing to go

outside to -- color outside the lines if we`re going to get stuff done on

the scale that is required by, as what Joe Biden called the four cascading

crises we face right now.

I don`t think anything is off the table right now for the Democrats in this


O`DONNELL: Yeah, and you know, the news reporting here is that there are

two Democrats, Joe Manchin and Senator Sinema who are opposed to changing

the filibuster for the next two years for this Congress.

What`s so striking -- and I know there`s a lot of people who voted for

Democratic Senate who are disappointed by that. But it used to be dozens of

them were opposed to it. And then it used to be one dozen were opposed to

it. And now it`s down to two. This is moving in one direction.

HEILEMANN: Yes, I think inexorably, Lawrence. And I`d say, it would be a

fascinating thing if the president, the new Democratic president was in a

slightly different position. I mean, the reality is that -- this is another

thing I think will disappoint a lot of Democrats, is that if you ask Joe

Biden, particularly if you had him under sodium pentothal and ask him what

his view was, he would be with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. He doesn`t

want to get rid of the filibuster either.

That`s not to say he would contemplate it, but certainly the threat of

taking it away is an important tactical tool that Chuck Schumer needs to

use. But it is -- but what Joe Biden would prefer is to keep the filibuster

where it is now. And I think, you know, that it is absolutely the case that

we are -- it is headed in one direction, and that there will not be

support, especially if we continue to see what we`ve seen. I think not just

within our lifetimes, Lawrence, but within this decade there will be zero

support of the Democratic side for maintaining the filibuster. I think it`s

inevitable it will go away. The only question is just how fast we get


O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, whose podcast is for reasons I still don`t

understand called "Hell and High Water", thank you very much for joining us

tonight, John. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: While Vladimir Putin is trying to crackdown on dissent and

protests that have erupted across Russia, he got a call today from the

president of the United States who did more in one phone call with Vladimir

Putin than the previous president did in four years. Ben Rhodes joins us



O`DONNELL: Everything that the last president did not say to Vladimir

Putin because he was afraid of Vladimir Putin and because he didn`t care

about these things was said today by President Biden in one phone call.

Here is something you haven`t seen in, say, four years. It`s a thorough

read-out of President Biden`s call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia,

and it is a joy to read because it so clearly depicts the return of

professionalism and responsibility to the presidency especially in dealing

with Vladimir Putin.

I have never before read a detailed read-out of a president`s call with a

foreign head of state on this program. But this one is a thing of beauty.

And after the last four years, with each line of it solidly hammering home

how much has changed since 12:00 noon on January 20th, and so here is my

personal favorite read-out of a presidential phone call ever.

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke today with President Vladimir Putin of

Russia. They both discussed each country`s willingness to START for five

years, agreeing to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension

by February 5th. They also agreed to explore strategic stability

discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues.

President Biden reaffirmed the United States` firm support for Ukraine`s


He also raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack,

reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in

Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the

poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.

President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in

defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that

harm us or our allies. The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent

and consistent communication going forward.

Joining us now is Ben Rhodes who served as deputy national security adviser

to president Obama. He is an MSNBC political analyst.

Ben, I was thinking of you today when I was reading that read-out thinking

of all the times you wrote read-outs like that for people to try to explain

what`s really going on in international relations like this. What was it

like for you to just read that today and know what happened at least so far

as that tells us in that conversation today?

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Lawrence, I`ve probably

written hundreds if not thousands of read-outs like that and that was

actually the most enjoyable one to me, because -- for Joe Biden to make

American an ally again, to be a spokesperson again. This is the first time

Vladimir Putin has heard from a U.S. president about Russian bounties. The

first time Aleksey Navalny has been uttered by a U.S. president. The first

time SolarWinds hacks has been raised. Not just the message is sends to

Putin and the American people. We knew they would be carefully consumed

around the world. Every government in the world is reading that read-out is

carefully as you did.

And to our allies in Europe, it is an incredibly reassuring message and

hopefully an emboldening message that what used to be the free world can

once again stand together for things like the right of people like Aleksey

Navalny to protest without being poisoned or to suggest we`re going to

stand together to defend our cyberspace against Russian intrusion or to

defend against Russian disinformation. It`s really a new day not just for

the U.S. president, but again for that concept of the Democratic nations of

the world standing together against a dictator like Putin.

O`DONNELL: Ben, for the previous president we used to often learn about

these things because Russia reported it publicly before the White House

did, and then the White House would kind of grudgingly add something to it.

Today the Russian read-out of the same phone call did not dispute anything

in the White House read-out. It was vaguer, and so that`s kind of a return

to form where the White House read-out is specific, clear, forceful. The

Russian read-out is vague on the same call.

RHODES: Yeah, look, the Russian read-outs are always trying to convey a

sense this is business as usual, that essentially they`re just moving

forward with their agenda and they`ll work with the United States on

certain things. But you saw the Russians shape the perception of their

relationship with President Trump for the last four years, and really

playing into the anxieties in Europe and other parts of the world that the

United States was no longer reliable.

Whether or not we would even keep our commitments to the defense of our

allies was thrown into question, in part, by the way the Russians were able

to constantly characterize their interactions.

The reality now is look, one phone call is not going to solve everything.

I`ve been on a lot of phone calls with Vladimir Putin where he just lies.

So I`m sure he probably lied and said that they didn`t poison Alexei

Navalny, or they weren`t responsible for the SolarWinds hack.

But the reality is Putin is now on defense for the first time in a long

time on several fronts. He`s got a mass movement, not just in Moscow, but

across that country in support of Alexei Navalny. Here is a U.S. President

who is once again, willing to stand up to his behavior and can work with

Europe to try to either impose consequences or express solidarity for

people like Navalny.

So the world has changed for Putin, you know, the momentum he had and the

2016 election has clearly come to an end and he is in a new reality here,

as we all are.


much for joining us tonight.

RHODES: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, President Biden signed a

series of Executive Actions today aimed at advancing racial equality.

Freshmen Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman called the actions a big

step, but he hopes to work with the President to do more. Congressman

Bowman joins us after this break.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those eight minutes and 46

seconds that took George Floyd`s life opened the eyes of millions of

Americans and millions of people around -- all over the world. It was the

knee on the neck of justice, and it wouldn`t be forgotten.

It stirred the conscience of tens of millions of Americans, and in my view,

it marked a turning point in this country`s attitude toward racial justice.


O`DONNELL: Moments after saying that today, President Biden signed an

Executive Order prohibiting the renewal of Federal contracts with private

prisons. He signed an order to the Department of Housing and Urban

Development to quote: "Implement the Fair Housing Act requirements, that

H.U.D. administer its programs in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair

housing, including by preventing practices with an unjustified

discriminatory effect."

President Biden also signed a memorandum to all departments and agencies

designed to improve the Federal government`s relationship with tribal

governments, and the President signed another memorandum quote, "Condemning

and combating racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian-Americans

and Pacific Islanders in the United States."

That memo directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop,

quote, "Best practices for advancing cultural competency, language access,

and sensitivity toward Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the context

of the Federal government`s COVID-19 response."

Before signing those documents, the President said this --


BIDEN: We`ve never fully lived up to the founding principles of this

nation that state the obvious that all people are created equal and have a

right to be treated equally throughout their lives. And it`s time to act



O`DONNELL: Joining us now Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New

York. He is a freshman Congressman, and this is tonight`s meet the freshmen

segment. Congressman Bowman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

As someone who grew up in public housing, I first of all want to get your

reaction to what Joe Biden said to the Department of Housing and Urban

Development today to get in there and comb out any possible discriminatory

practices, especially after the four years of the way the previous

administration has been handling that department.

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): It`s a breath of fresh air. Let me say that to

begin with, I mean, to hear Joe Biden -- President Biden center racial

justice and racial equity, it`s a breath of fresh air and is very exciting

to hear him speak that way. And I commend his Executive Order today related

to H.U.D. and the four Executive Orders that he signed.

I mean, we have to understand that the Federal government has been

disinvesting from public housing for the last 30 years, and the Federal

government hasn`t given a dime to public housing over the last 10 years.

We have to preserve our public housing. We need to keep it affordable. We

need to keep it public. We need to keep it available as a public good.

And I worry that private interests are getting too involved in our housing

across the country, looking at housing as a commodity and that`s why so

many people are housing insecure, especially during the age of COVID.

So, we have to do more. This is a good first step. But we`ve got to

understand this is historical. There`s a reason why communities of

concentrated poverty are mostly black and Latino, while the suburbs and

wealthy areas are mostly white. This has been by political design and by

policy, so we have to right those wrongs as well.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Bowman, we`ve had a lot of reporting about the

difficulty to get vaccine around the country in different places, but we

know that the public housing in America is always wherever it is kind of a

city within the city. It is a separate place that is often not reached by

all sorts of public policy.

What can you tell us about what`s happening in the delivery of vaccine in

public housing in your district in New York City?

BOWMAN: Well, number one, we don`t have enough. New York State is

receiving 300,000 vaccines a week. That is not nearly enough for a state as

large as New York. So we need more vaccinations, number one.

Number two, we need to make sure those vaccines are getting to communities

that are most vulnerable. As you mentioned, our public housing. To quote

the great poet, Nazir Jones, public housing is like being stuck in a ghetto

without exits.

And we have environmental injustice taking place there, people living too

closely together, because of the neglect. We have rodents and roach

infestation. So people are really suffering.

So we really should be targeting public housing as the center of vaccine

distribution, but we need more vaccines. The Trump administration failed in

that regard and I`m hoping and praying for that the Biden administration

will do a lot more to increase vaccines across the country.

O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to one of the President`s orders

today. This, to the Justice Department saying do not renew any more

contracts for private prisons in the Federal system. That got a big

reaction when the President did that today.

BOWMAN: So bravo, once again, President Biden. Again, this was a huge

step. No one should be profiting off of the pain and abuse that`s taking

place in our Criminal Justice System. But again, it`s a first step. We have

to do a lot more in terms of Criminal Justice Reform and Police Reform.

We need to pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. We need to end

qualified immunity. We need to legalize marijuana, end cash bail, end

solitary confinement and look for alternatives to incarceration.

We have so many people in prisons right now because of drug offenses or

because they were addicted to a substance that doesn`t deserve prison, that

deserves treatment. So we need alternatives, so that we can reform our

entire prison industrial complex.

But today, absolutely. Dealing away with private prisons, we also now have

to deal away with the for profit motive that exists within our Federal

prisons and jails because for profit motives continue to exist there as

well, so we have to do more.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Jamaal Bowman, you joined us as a candidate. This

is your first time here as a Member of Congress. Great to have you here.

Please come back as often as you can. Thank you very much for joining us


BOWMAN: Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And coming up, tonight`s episode of "Never Forget."

Trump associates have already begun their rehabilitation tours hoping we

forget what they said and what they did. We`ll show you why you should

never forget. Next.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s episode of "Never Forget." The

rehabilitation tours of Trump associates have already begun and we should

never forget some of the things they did and didn`t do and some of the

things they said and didn`t say.

And the first stop on her rehabilitation tour, on Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx

said this about Donald Trump`s understanding of the coronavirus pandemic,

quote, "I think the President appreciated the gravity in March." In March,

okay, the month after March, on April 23rd, Donald Trump said the most

memorable thing he has ever said about COVID-19.



disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute -- one minute -- and is

there a way we can do something like that? By injection inside or almost a

cleaning because you see it gets on the lungs and it does a tremendous

number on the lungs, so it will also be interesting to check that so that

you`re going to have to use medical doctors with it.

But it sounds -- it sounds interesting to me. So we`ll see, but the whole

concept of the light the way it kills it in one minute. That`s pretty



O`DONNELL: Dr. Birx didn`t warn anyone not to drink or inject

disinfectant. Here is more of what Dr. Birx said on Sunday.



saw the President presenting graphs that I never made. So I know that

someone or someone out there or someone inside was creating a parallel set

of data and graphics that were shown to the President.

I know what I sent up. And I know that what was in his hands was different

from that. You can`t do that.


O`DONNELL: She never said to Donald Trump, you can`t do that. Dr. Birx

said Donald Trump appreciated the gravity of the situation in March. Here`s

what Donald Trump said in the last week of March.


TRUMP: So I think Easter Sunday and you`ll have packed churches all over

our country.


O`DONNELL: The day after Donald Trump said that, the day after he

foolishly and recklessly suggested that we would have packed churches

across the country on Easter Sunday, the day after he said that, the day

after, Dr. Deborah Birx actually said this about Donald Trump, a man who

famously does not read.


BIRX: He`s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details

of the data, and I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that

comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit

during these discussions about medical issues. Because in the end, data is

data and he understands the importance of the granularity.


O`DONNELL: Never forget. After this break, Charles Blow will join us with

an idea that he calls quote, "The most audacious power play by black

America in the history of the country." Charles Blow is next.


O`DONNELL: For our next guest, author and "New York Times" columnist,


Blow, Georgia is proof of concept.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): I don`t know about you, but I`m so proud of

the State of Georgia, let America hear you roar.

SEN. JON OSSOFF (D-GA): Georgia is the most competitive battleground state

in the United States. You did that. You did that.


swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United

States against all enemies foreign and domestic and that you will well and

faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to

enter. So help you God.

GROUP: I do.

HARRIS: Congratulations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under the previous order, the leadership time is



O`DONNELL: Joining us now Charles Blow, "New York Times" op-ed columnist

and author of the new book, "The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto."

Charles, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

So why is why is Georgia proof of concept? The concept described in your



is very simple. At the end of the Civil War, three southern states were

majority black: Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Another three

were within four percentage points, it would be majority black. The only

reason that those states were not -- did not maintain that majority black

status is because black people were terrorized out of that space by white

terrorists, right?

There was a push -- that was what was called the Great Migration. There was

a-push pull to the Great Migration. The pull was that there was more

economic opportunity in the north. There was more opportunity for civic

engagement, but the push was terror.

What Georgia showed us is what a reverse migration can mean for black power

and a reestablishment of larger percentages of black people in southern


Georgia, those two senators from Georgia are the first centers in American

history where the black people made up a majority of the coalition to put

them into office. And it was also the first time at least since

reconstruction that the majority of the coalition that delivered a state

for a presidential candidate were black.

That`s what power looks like. That`s the power of the reverse migration.

Because the last time that Georgia went for a Democratic candidate was

1992. And in 1992, only 25 percent of the population of Georgia was black.

This year 33 percent of the population of Georgia was black. The black

population of Georgia doubled from 1990 to 2020. So on the one hand, you

had amazing organizing by a bunch of groups, including Stacey Abrams, who`s

a superwoman, but on the other hand, they had more bodies to organize.

And that becomes the proof of concept of what returning to the south,

establishing black power in states where you`re already a large percentage

of the population changes the political dynamic of America completely.

If the Great Migration had never happened, black people could control up to

14 cities today. If it had never happened, black people could control or be

the controlling interest in more Electoral College votes in California and

New York State combined.

If they voted the way they vote now, over those years, you have not had a

Republican President for the last 50 years and the entire Supreme Court

would look different than it does now.

O`DONNELL: And Charles, when you say that it makes it clear that one of

the ambitions of the terror that black people were subjected to in the

south was to drive them out so that white people could continue to control

the voting outcomes there.

BLOW: The terror actually, strangely enough, it wasn`t to drive them out,

it was to drive them out of political influence. They want their cheap

labor. They didn`t want them to have any say whatsoever in politics.

And so when the state started to call a Constitution Convention in

Mississippi that started in 1890. So I went back and read through the

minutes of these Constitution Conventions, they are not shy about what

they`re saying.

They specifically say in the minutes over and over again, we are here

specifically to write white supremacy into the law to the DNA of these

states. They specifically were there to disenfranchise black people from

voting, because they were scared to death of the fact that black people

were the majority of some of these states and near majorities in others.

They wanted to diminish your power, and what I say to black people is that

they won that round, but that victory cannot be allowed to stand morally.

It can`t be allowed to stand.

But also for what it could have meant for black power, could Mississippi

have started that? Mississippi was a black power center during

Reconstruction. It gave us our first two black senators and at that time,

senators were not popularly elected in Mississippi, they were appointed by

the House of Representatives in Mississippi and the black delegation was so

big they went to their counterparts and said listen, we have two seats

open, one of these guys has to be black.

Now, they gave him the shorter Senate -- the shorter term to the black guy,

but they did sit in the black guy to the Senate. That`s what power looks


If you want your legislative agenda to be passed, you have to have state


O`DONNELL: Charles, we are going to have to leave it there. As you can

see, the clock is ordering us to wrap it up.

Charles Blow`s new book is called, "The Devil You Know." His first book.

You should get to it. It`s called, "Fire Shut Up in my Bones." And that

first book is a work of art.

Charles Blow gets tonight`s last word. "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams

starts now.



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