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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 1/3/22

Guests: David Cicilline, Mark Bowden, Matthew Teague, Tim O`Brien, Jay Rosen


The House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol turns to televised hearings possibly this month, and America is going to see not just the video that Donald Trump finally released that day, telling the attackers on the Capitol that he loved them, but all of the other versions of the video that Donald Trump performed and that someone in the White House decided no one should ever see. Interview with Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and he served as impeachment manager in the second Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump. New York Attorney General Letitia James recently issued subpoenas to Donald J. Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. for testimony and documents in connection with an investigation into the valuation of properties owned or controlled by Donald J. Trump or the Trump Organization or any matter which the attorney general deems pertinent. Donald Trump plans to present his first big challenge to the American news media this year on January 6th.




I was just reading this gem from Joy Reid, this moment that happened on her show tonight and it was a moment with Chuck Schumer, where she asked him, she said -- such a great question, I wouldn`t have thought of it. And she said, there`s no public evidence that -- I`m paraphrasing, I`m going to show this later in the show. There`s no public evidence that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema care more about voting rights than they do about the Senate 60 vote rule.

And she asked Chuck Schumer if he had in any evidence that maybe those two senators cared more about voting rights than the Senate rule and Chuck Schumer talked and talked and talked, and tried to steer, as one would, away from that question, and Joy stayed with him. And to Senator Schumer`s credit, he admitted, no.

I -- he admitted what you see publicly, what you see publicly is what we`ve got, that`s what we`re dealing with, that`s why we have to keep trying. But it was a really revealing moment because you remember a year ago, Rachel, Chuck Schumer started to discuss on your program, on my program, his confidence about how things were going to go, and he wouldn`t turn over his cards, but it felt like he knew something we didn`t know, and I think he did on a bunch of things, how to get infrastructure done, and other things.

But tonight, he just kind of admitted, nope, I don`t know anything more about Manchin and Sinema than you know publicly about where they are on voting rights.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Lawrence, what did you think of him saying that between now and MLK day, two weeks and now, between now and MLK day there have been a vote, action in the Senate on changing the rules so that voting rights can be approved with majority vote? I was surprised to see him put a date on it, to say this is the date by which we`re going to do it. What do you make of that strategically?

O`DONNELL: Well, he essentially said something similar earlier in December, would be early January. All he`s saying, we now, especially thanks to Joy`s question, is that he`s going to have a vote and doesn`t know if he`s going to win that vote. But he`s going to go to the Senate floor for a vote and he might lose that vote, but he`s no longer going to be taking the heat about, you know, leader Schumer, why aren`t you doing something?

He`s going to bring it out there --


O`DONNELL: And he`s going to show you what the problem is, that`s -- might just be those two senators who Joy Reid focused on tonight.

MADDOW: Imagine being Kyrsten Sinema -- I mean, imagine being Kyrsten Sinema knowing that vote is coming and knowing that, you know, in the history of voting rights, like it will be like, you know, Strom Thurmond`s filibuster, right? In the history of civil rights and voting rights and protection of democracy, you know, that you`ll go down in history as the one who laid down and said no, we cannot have these protections, Americans don`t deserve these protections of our democracy.


I mean, to put yourself in that section of the history book, knowing that vote is coming, it`s just -- I just don`t -- I mean somebody`s got to be proud to stand and live that way in history, but I don`t know how you get there. I don`t know how you`re Manchin or you`re Kyrsten Sinema and live with that.

O`DONNELL: Well, Rachel, exactly the way you phrased that is one of the reasons that in the past, before the 21st century, Senate Majority Leaders used to bring bills to the floor, important ones, weighty ones, without necessarily knowing they had the votes to win because one thing they were bringing to the floor with them was the historical imperative on their side, and the moral imperative on their side and they believed that that could push just the right number of votes.

In this world, the present tense United States Senate, I just don`t know what that`s worth.

MADDOW: Yeah. I mean it`s just -- had this come up sort of in the normal course, other policy or spending bill or something, I think you can count on history steamrolling over it with time. It`s just that this voting rights, January 6th attack last year, the clear and present danger to the very fundamentals of American democracy, the example of what is happening in all the states and yearlong fight whether or not the Democrats are going to do something about it, I mean, the spotlight will not only burn hot for the entire time that this is a live issue, but this spotlight will burn a hole in personal histories and in careers.

This will never go away. And to know now with that two-week horizon, fascinating Schumer gave us that date, to know your history, first line of your obituary will be written next two weeks and you are either going to be Strom Thurmond in history or you`re going to be on the right side of it. It`s just -- I mean, again, I don`t know -- I don`t know how you make the alternate decision here, but I guess we`ll see.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it is going to be intense two weeks.

MADDOW: Yeah, indeed. Thanks, Lawrence.

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

Well, the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol is going to tell us some things we don`t know, but the committee is going to add very important facts to what we already know. We already know that Donald Trump did nothing while his supporters were attacking the Capitol right after he told them to go to the Capitol and fight like hell.

Thanks to the January 6 Committee, we know that Donald Trump -- what he was doing during the worst of the attack.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television as the assault on the Capitol occurred. We know as he was sitting there next to the oval office, members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television to tell people to stop. We know Leader McCarthy was pleading with him to do that. We know members of his family, we know his daughter -- we have firsthand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence.


O`DONNELL: We always knew that the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy was fighting the creation of this committee because, among other things, he was afraid what it would reveal about him. We now know after Congresswoman Liz Cheney said that yesterday, that Kevin McCarthy was pleading with Donald Trump to go on television and tell the people who he sent up to the Capitol to leave the capital. To stop committing the crimes they were committing, to stop trying to kill police officers.

And because Kevin McCarthy is leader of the most perverse version of the Republican Party that has ever existed, Kevin McCarthy is now ashamed of having told Donald Trump on January 6th to, for once, do the right thing. Former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman who served as counsel for the house in Donald Trump`s first impeachment tweeted quote, firsthand testimony equals admissible evidence in court.

Anonymous sources to media, inadmissible. The committee is not preparing a case but same applies. This is to show what Trump was doing every minute of the day.

Yesterday, Chairman Bennie Thompson described the 187 minutes when Donald Trump was doing nothing.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, you know, it`s about 187 minutes, we have now determined he was in the White House, we have determined that a number of people made attempts to contact him through his chief of staff, some of the text messages we shared on the -- on our presentation of the contempt citation for Mark Meadows. We also have information of other individuals who made calls, trying to get some semblance of response out of the White House.

But for that 187 minutes, nothing happened. We do know now that several videos were made, we don`t have them yet, before the right one was released. But we requested it from the National Archives, that and all other information.



O`DONNELL: That means when the committee turns to televised hearings, possibly this month, America is going to see not just the video that Donald Trump finally released that day, telling the attackers on the Capitol that he loved them, but all of the other versions of the video that Donald Trump performed and that someone in the White House decided no one should ever see.

Here`s Chairman Thompson yesterday about whether Donald Trump`s conduct that day might warrant a criminal referral to the Justice Department.


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Do you think that lack of action on January 6th may actually warrant a criminal referral?

THOMPSON: Well, only thing I can say is it`s highly unusual for anyone in charge of anything to watch what`s going on and do nothing.

BASH: Is it criminal?

THOMPSON: And we will -- we don`t know, we`re in the process of trying to get all the information. But I can say if there`s anything that we come upon as a committee that we think would warrant a referral to the Department of Justice, we`ll do that.


O`DONNELL: Bernard Kerik has already been prosecuted and convicted on federal criminal charges and served a prison sentence for corrupt activity while he was serving as Rudy Giuliani`s chosen New York City police commissioner. "Politico" now reports that Bernard Kerik he has turned over to the committee a trove of documents detailing the Trump team`s efforts to manufacture claims of voter fraud.

Kerik`s lawyer also provided to the committee a log describing documents that he`s refusing to hand over. According to "Politico", among the withheld documents is one titled "Draft letter from POTUS to seize evidence in the interest of national security for the 2020 elections". The file originated on December 17th, a day before Trump huddled in the Oval Office with advisers, including former Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, where they discussed seizing election equipment in states whose results Trump was attempting to overturn.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee and he served as impeachment manager in the second Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Congressman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.


O`DONNELL: It seems that the January 6th committee is covering ground you covered a year ago in that impeachment investigation. But they seem to have now developed a much more detailed evidence base than you were able to, including exactly where Donald Trump was in the White House in those 187 minutes and what he was not doing.

CICILLINE: Yes, Lawrence, there`s no question that we laid the jury, that is the Senate, evidence of President Trump`s incitement of the insurrection, his promotion of this lie, that the election had been stolen from him, his promotion of the Stop the Steal event, the January 6 insurrection, his speech on the ellipse where he encouraged people to go to the Capitol to fight.

And all of that evidence, and then a tweet where he said people behaved this way because the election was stolen from them. And so, it was very clear to us you would have to be living under a rock not to have known what was happening at Capitol for three hours, a bloody, violent attack on the Capitol. We know that. We introduced into evidence the conversation with Kevin McCarthy where Kevin McCarthy was pleading for help for the president to stop his supporters. And he said, well, Kevin, they`re obviously more upset about the election results than you are. That was introduced before the Senate during the impeachment trial.

But, look, this should be no surprise to anyone. Donald Trump incited this insurrection. He want it to happen, he wanted electoral count to stop and watched as police officers were being attacked and maimed, 150 officers were hurt, five people died as result of the events of that day, and the president of the United States, despite his own family members and others were pleading for him to intervene, he sat back and watched because what was happening is exactly what he wanted to happen. He wanted to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power and stay in office and not have the election results certified.

And how much planning went into it is astonishing. There are memos and PowerPoints -- this wasn`t just a crowd of enthusiastic supporters who went overboard. This was planned event that was financed, planned and executed in an effort to stop the peaceful transfer of power in our country.


And everyone, Republicans, Democrats and independents should be deeply concerned about these events.

O`DONNELL: "The New York Times" yesterday in an editorial said every day is January 6th now. Meaning that this fight that we saw on January is being conducted in different ways by Republican state legislatures around the country, changing not just voting accessibility for voters and how votes might be counted, how to count the votes might be changed.

Let`s listen to this extraordinary moment earlier tonight with Joy Reid and Chuck Schumer on the situation -- the state of voting rights in the United States Senate and what we don`t know about the thoughts of two senators about that.

Let`s listen to this.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "THE REIDOUT": Can you tell us any evidence that you -- that Manchin or Sinema has given, publicly or to you that they care more about voting rights and democracy continuing than the filibuster? Because I haven`t seen any evidence that they actually have more support for voting rights and democracy than they do for the filibuster.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What I can tell you this is, they have made even public statements that -- particularly Manchin, he wants to get voting rights done and wants to figure out way to do that.

REID: But why should we believe that? Why should we believe that?

SCHUMER: Let me just finish.

REID: They haven`t taken any action.

SCHUMER: Well, we got to keep pressing them and pressing them and pressing them until they do. There`s too much at risk here. If they obviously they were saying yes to us, we wouldn`t have to worry about this. I can`t tell you they have publicly said anything, you know they haven`t, we know they haven`t. But there`s lots of things we`re pushing hard on.

I don`t want to be -- I don`t want to be Pollyannaish here. This is an uphill fight, but it`s too important to give up on.

REID: Right.


O`DONNELL: So, Congressman, that`s the majority leader saying as of tonight, we don`t have two votes to change the Senate rule to allow a vote on voting rights.

CICILLINE: Yeah. It cannot be the case that two senators care more deeply about preserving Senate tradition than preserving our democracy, because they`ll preserve a filibuster in what kind of country?

And so, we have to continue to demand that they pass the Voting Rights Act, the For the People Act, so that we can preserve the right for people in the country to vote and have the votes counted. This is cornerstone of our democracy.

And we just have to keep the pressure on. It`s not acceptable to say, well, we can`t do that because we have this thing called the filibuster, which is a Jim Crow relic that slowed the progress on civil rights, we`re going to allow that to prevent the passage of the voting rights bill. It just -- we can`t allow it to happen and we have to make certain everyone in the United States Senate understands that and that we persuade all the Democrats to support a reform on an abolition to filibuster, so that we can pass the Voting Rights Act and the protect the right of people in this country to vote and to have their vote counted.

You know, it`s going to be hard thing to explain to your children and grandchildren, well, I stood up for filibuster, but we weren`t able to ensure that was easier for people to vote and have those votes counted. No one would want to have that conversation.

So, we`ve got to persuade our colleagues to pass the Voting Rights Act.

O`DONNELL: Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, thank you very much for starting off our discussion for this year and tonight. Thank you very much.

CICILLINE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And our next guest tells the story what happened between November 3rd and January 6th in the new book, "The Steal: The Attempts to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It."

The book says, from the day he entered public life, Trump had chipped away at the right to vote, that cornerstone. He chipped away at trust in elections and when he lost, he mobilized that distrust to try to stay in power. This failed, stopped by integrity of hundreds of obscure Americans from every walk of life, state and local officials, judges and election workers, many of them were Republicans, some were Trump supporters, they saw the steal for what it was, a fraud on the United States of America.

And joining us now, Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague, the authors of "The Steal: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It."

Mark, you went around the country to see everything that happened between Election Day and January 6th, how did what we know so far about the plotting in Washington connect with or sync with what you found happening out in the country?

MARK BOWDEN, CO-AUTHOR, "THE STEAL": Well, Lawrence, I think it was a desperate final act to a play that had been unfolding before election day on November 3rd. And what Trump did and Giuliani is send teams of lawyers, political organizers, to the six swing states where the votes were close, and he mounted basically a three-pronged assault -- a popular assault where they organized people to demonstrate constantly, a political assault to apply pressure to state legislators and local elected officials, and a legal assault where they attempted to frame a whole variety of allegations of fraud.


They failed every single way, they failed politically and they failed in every court case. So I think what Donald Trump did January 6th was frankly, turn to the mob, act desperation which I think grew out of the failure that have come over the previous three months.

O`DONNELL: Matthew, we have the audio tape of Donald Trump`s hour-long conversation with the secretary of state of Georgia, in which he`s basically committing election fraud right on tape. What are the kinds of instances that you found in other states that compare to that kind of interference, if any?

MATTHEW TEAGUE, CO-AUTHOR, "THE STEAL": Well, Antrim County, Michigan, springs to mind, which may sound a little obscure, but it is in a way. But it was unique and that it was the only place in the country where there was a discrepancy in the vote. The county clerk there in Antrim County, wasn`t -- as she says, she`s not technologically savvy person and she accidentally shifted 3,000 votes from Biden to Trump. And she`s a Trump supporter herself and may have shifted her own vote accidentally.

When she realized what she had done, she immediately took ownership of it, and said, I`ve made a terrible mistake. Within hours, it was corrected. But it really didn`t matter to Trump and his team. They had private jets coming in in the night, they had people invading her office, looking for information and evidence that wasn`t there of some larger conspiracy.

And to some extent, it destroyed her life, turned her friends and neighbors against her, people whose married and birth certificates she had signed herself now regarded her as less than American and unpatriotic.

O`DONNELL: Mark, you told the story of what they tried to do, how they failed. Given the changes that occurred thanks to some Republican state legislatures, will they fail the next time?

BOWDEN: Well, I`m optimistic they will, Lawrence, even though some of the changes are appalling. The truth is the American people are not as dishonest as Donald Trump would like them to be. And as we see in the story, local officials who run the elections in this country -- don`t have federal agency who supervise the elections, our elections are held in every county, in every state all over the America, they`re run by your neighbors and my neighbors.

And the truth is, at least what we found looking at this effort in 2020 was that most local officials, Republicans and Democrats, are determined to run an honest and fair election and refuse to be cajoled and bullied into lying and taking it back. So, that gives me hope.

I mean, I think, to me, a party that`s desperate to hang on to power by gerrymandering, by trying to stack the election committees in states, is a desperate party that`s not going to survive very long, because I don`t think that`s how politics works in America. Or shouldn`t.

O`DONNELL: Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague, thank you very much for joining me tonight. Their new book is "The Steal: The Attempt to Overturn the 2020 Election and the People Who Stopped It."

And coming up, New York Attorney General Letitia James` investigation with Trump Organization has subpoenaed Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

Neal Katyal and Tim O`Brien will join us next.



O`DONNELL: In a New York judge`s order issued today, it was revealed publicly first time that New York Attorney General Letitia James, quote, recently issued subpoenas to Donald J. Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. for testimony and documents in connection with investigation into the valuation of properties owned or controlled by Donald J. Trump or the Trump Organization or any matter which the attorney general deems pertinent. The judge`s order specifies when the Trump family or attorney general`s office must file their arguments on the enforcement of those subpoenas. The family members are trying to block the subpoenas.

In a statement, the New York attorney general`s office said, as her investigation into financial dealing of the Trump organization continues, Attorney General James is seeking interviews under oath of Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

Despite numerous attempts to delay the investigation by the Trump Organization, we are confident that our questions will be answered and the truth will be uncovered because no one is above the law.

And joining our discussion now, Tim O`Brien, senior columnist for "Bloomberg Opinion". He`s the author of the book "Trump Nation". Also with us, Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general and MSNBC legal contributor.

And, Neal, first to you, when you read that judge`s order today outlining the argument sequence on dealing with these subpoenas, what is your sense of where the enforceability of these subpoenas is headed?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: These subpoenas are going to be enforced. Today`s, you know, revelations think are significant because what she show is the attorney general, Lawrence, is seeking information about the books and answers to questions, and to get the information under oath, which is, of course, why Trump and his kids are resisting so much.

But Trump books appear honestly like more cooked than a Trump steak at his hotel. The "Washington Post" reported that 40 Wall Street, one his buildings, he evaluated at $527 million when he was talking to lenders, but $16.7 million when he`s talking to property tax officials.

And, you know, this is really significant. This is basically theft against our taxpayers.


And it`s as if that Trump and his kids went into the New York treasury and went and walked out with millions of dollars, because that`s essentially what they deprived. It`s kind of like a scene from "Money Heist" or something like that.

It`s like these kids and the dad took the money. And that`s what the investigation is all about. It`s a serious thing. New York makes it a felony to act this way and to pump something up to lenders and to underreport it to the tax folks. And that`s what the evidence appears to show but that`s what an investigation is needed about.

O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, you`re such a valuable guest on nights like this because you`re one of the few people who has gotten a legal look inside the Trump business world when Donald Trump made mistake of suing you when you wrote that he was not as rich as he claimed to be.

And so you have a feeling for what the attorney general is going to be discovering when her subpoenas are enforced, as by the way, your subpoenas were enforced against Donald Trump in the civil lawsuit you were engaged in with him, which you won.

TIM O`BRIEN, AUTHOR: What she`s going to find, Lawrence, and I think they`ve probably already gotten very good glimmers of this, decades of problems like this. Fred Trump taught Donald how to do this and I`m assuming Donald taught his children how to do this. And they`re now all getting swept up merrily into this.

I think we expected this to arrive on the children`s doorstep but now we know it most definitely has. I think Tish James` investigation is less consequential ultimately for them than the Manhattan D.A.`s investigation because that`s a criminal investigation. But those two offices are sharing information with one another. Anything that they say in this investigation under oath and then the evidence she collects will also be shared with the Manhattan District Attorney`s office.

Their lawyer Alan Futerfas has gone out of his way I think to conflate these two investigations as being joined at the hip, which they are not. They`re a collaboration.

The other thing to remember is that Alan Futerfas made his bones in New York defending organized crime families: the Colombos, the Gambinos and the Genoveses. So he`s right at home defending the Trumps in this matter.

And I think that what they`re doing now is pulling out all the stops to try to block the legal machinery and judiciary machinery from moving forward and they`re not going to be successful.

They`ve thrown one Hail Mary after another and they`re finding increasingly laughable and weak grounds for doing so.

These subpoenas will be enforced. The children are going to testify. Donald Trump is going to testify. Then we`ll see what happens.

O`DONNELL: Neal, of the similarities to crime family prosecutions is the targeted defendants in the mob trials, they never cooperate. They never testify. But people around them do.

KATYAL: That`s exactly right. So ordinary people would testify when you`ve got a subpoena. That`s what you do and certainly if you`re a government official or a former government official, Lawrence, of course you testify under oath.

And with Trump and his kids have done is take a page out of the organized crime book and write this lawsuit which tries to prevent the subpoenas from being enforced.

And I`ve read the Trump papers and they`re frankly about as persuasive as a John Eastman legal memo. They are a joke. They`re frivolous.

And you know, I expect the court will see that soon and I completely agree with what Tim just said a moment ago. These subpoenas are going to be enforced.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal and Tim O`Brien, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

KATYAL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Donald Trump plans to present his first big challenge to the American news media this year on January 6th. Gene Robinson and journalism professor Jay Rosen will tell us how the news media should handle that Trump challenge. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: On January 6th, which is Thursday of this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning a moment of silence on the House floor and Donald Trump is planning an hour or so of noise.

Speaker Pelosi is also planning a prayer vigil on the steps of the Capitol where on that same day the year before, hundreds of Donald Trump supporters were climbing the Capitol steps after Donald Trump told them to go there and "fight like hell". Those were Donald Trump`s exact words to that crowd, "fight like hell".

Hundreds of them said they wanted to kill Mike Pence. Several police officers believed that Trump supporters were trying to kill them.

President Biden and Vice President Harris are going to speak on January 6th during the commemoration of the attack on the Capitol. And to try to distract from what really happened that day, Donald Trump has scheduled what he is falsely calling a press conference for 5:00 p.m. on January 6th.

It will not be a press conference. It will be the rantings of a madman who clearly committed the federal state crime of election fraud on tape in his phone call to Georgia`s secretary of state and may be guilty of several other federal and state election crimes and was found guilty of quote, "inciting violence against the government of the United States by 57 senators in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Journalism professor Jay Rosen has a proposal about how news organizations should deal with Donald Trump`s performance scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on January 6th.

"No buildup. No countdown. No empty podium awaiting his arrival. Don`t carry it live, disinformation risk too high. After it`s over, sift for any genuine news and report it. Do not amplify familiar lies and distortions. They`ve all been fact checked already."

And joining us now are Jay Rosen, media critic and professor of journalism at New York University. He`s the author of "Press Think: a blog about journalism".


O`DONNELL: Also with us Eugene Robinson associate editor and Pulitzer Prize winning opinion columnist for the "Washington Post". He`s an MSNBC political analyst.

And Eugene, how do you grade Professor Rosen`s recommendations for the coverage of January 6th?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, Lawrence, Happy New Year to you and Happy New Year to Jay Rosen, whose prescription for covering the Trump, you know, freak show, I give an A-plus. That`s absolutely the way to do it. Under now circumstances should it be covered, taken live, no empty podium, no big buildup. And if there is genuine news made, that is real news and not just a rehash of all the lies, then you can boil that down and report that Donald Trump said this or that or the other.

It`s not necessary to carry, to even broadcast clips of his rantings and ravings if indeed they are the expected rantings and ravings because we`ve heard it all before. He`s a former president.

On the other side of what I hope is not a split screen we have the government of the United States marking this tragic anniversary. Nancy Pelosi is not acting as Democratic Leader. She`s acting as Speaker of the House. Joe Biden is president. Kamala Harris is vice president.

This is our country marking an awful day in the life of our country. That`s what you cover. And Donald Trump, you treat like the side show he is.

O`DONNELL: Professor Rosen, for presidents previous to Donald Trump, the notion was that pretty much everything a president says is news or is newsworthy. If it isn`t something new that you haven`t heard before, it might still be newsworthy.

How would you define news if you`re watching Donald Trump perform, if you`re one of the producers, you know, in a control room somewhere assigned to watch Donald Trump perform at 5:00 p.m.? What is news that might come out of his mouth?

JAY ROSEN, PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Well, if he says something Americans need to know in order for them to be part of the system of democracy and make intelligent decisions, then that might be one way.

But it`s good that you ask that, Lawrence, because that tendency to see whatever the president says is news was a way, a subtle way at first, that journalists relinquished their independence.

That image of the camera waiting for Trump to come onstage from 2016 or the words of Les Moonves, may not be good for America but it`s good for CBS. That was not a proud moment in American broadcasting and journalism, Lawrence.

And as we get closer to the anniversary of January 6th, people in the media have to be clear with themselves and with one another.

Donald Trump does not have a right to the nation`s airways, to its newspapers, to its cable channels. The First Amendment says that publishers, broadly construed, owners, editors, producers, they have the right to select what is news.

And that`s why a (INAUDIBLE) in 1959 said freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. So January 6th is an opportunity for people in the media to show that they own the press and the First Amendment says that they have right to put on what they think is important. And that empty stage as well as Les Moonves`s crap said something the opposite that we are kind of forced to platform this man.

And now we see the cost of that decision and with January 6th we see an opportunity to reverse that and show a different side of American journalism.

O`DONNELL: And Gene, one of the weaknesses as a performer that Donald Trump brings to this challenge, which would be let`s give Donald Trump the challenge right now, the challenge of him saying something on January 6th that I will actually replay or quote at 10:00 p.m.

For him to get over that hurdle, it would have to be something he hasn`t said before. And his act is actually quite tired and repetitive at this point.

ROBINSON: Exactly. How many times have we heard it, Lawrence? We`ve heard it literally hundreds of times. So it`s not news, you know. It`s all dog bites man, it`s not man bites dog. It`s not the definition of news, it`s not something new.


ROBINSON: If he comes out and says "I`m sorry, I was wrong. I`m giving away the rest of my money to charity and retiring from public life." That would be news.

But that`s not going to happen and we all know it`s not going to happen. And guess what, what the president says may be news but he`s not the president. He`s not the president anymore. That rule doesn`t even come into play.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to leave it there.

ROSEN: Also Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Donald, if you`re watching I don`t want you to get the impression that all you have to do is say something you haven`t said before. It actually has to be important and something you haven`t said before. I don`t think he`s going to meet that challenge.

We have to leave it there. I`m sorry. Professor Jay Rosen and Eugene Robinson, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

And coming up, Laurie Garret will join us as the omicron infection rate continues to skyrocket and hospitals are crowded with COVID patients once again. That`s next.




DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR: When you have so many, many cases. Even if the rate of hospitalization is lower with omicron than it is with delta, there`s still the danger that you`re going to have a surging of hospitalizations that might stress the health care system.

So it`s kind of like a very interesting, somewhat complicated issue, where you have a virus that might actually be less severe in it`s pathogenicity but so many people are getting infected that the net amount -- the total amount of people that will require hospitalization might be up.


O`DONNELL: Coronavirus hospitalizations across the country are up 37 percent in the last two weeks.

Joining us now is Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winning science reporter covering global pandemic. She is an MSNBC science contributor.

And Laurie, let`s speak to the fully vaccinated, the people who have gotten three shots of the vaccines or two of Johnson & Johnson. What should we be doing now? How should we be handling our lives day-to-day with this omicron threat?

LAURIE GARRETT, MSNBC SCIENCE CONTRIBUTOR: I think the big thing, Lawrence, is that we now know that omicron is a master evader of the immune system, which means that there`s a lot of breakthrough infections.

You may be vaccinated but you can still get infected. And perhaps even more importantly, since if you`re fully vaccinated it`s highly unlikely that you`re going to get seriously ill. I have had many friends get sick with omicron who are fully vaccinated and they`ve all had pretty -- basically bad colds.

But the real problem is that you can be fully vaccinated, not even have any symptoms but you could be a carrier who can pass virus to others.

And that puts the burden on you to just keep on wearing that mask. Keep on taking precautions. Not as much to protect yourself but as to protect those you love and those around you.

O`DONNELL: I`ve been taking the precautions now that I was taking before the vaccinations existed. And is that where we are now?

GARRETT: Well, you know, there`s a lot of maybes, ifs, buts, et cetera, in trying to answer your question, because one of the real problems we have now is that we don`t actually have any reliable numbers.

How many people are infected. How many people are, you know, what`s the case rate, et cetera because of several things. First of all there`s been a huge surge in people getting home tested which means that that data is just private data only they know and doesn`t go to any database.

So that means every day we`re probably missing in America anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 positive case that`s are just never going into the system.

And secondly, you know, a lot of people are having very, very mild infections and they don`t feel particularly sick. They may test positive on a home test but they don`t feel sick enough to go get a PCR test. Again, they`re not in the system.

And so we don`t -- you know, we`re averaging 400,000 reported cases a day now. It`s probably significantly more than that.

Then there`s one more factor to throw into the mess here, and that is, that COVID -- omicron has hit hard among health care workers particularly those who are fully vaccinated. Plus you had the holidays. You put those two together, that means a lot of people that would normally be crunching these numbers for us so that I can answer your questions have not been on the job and that means that all the numbers are getting cranked out much more slowly through the entire system from an individual clinic somewhere in the middle of Kansas all the way to a CDC database.

O`DONNELL: Laurie Garrett, thank you very much for joining us once again on this. We`ll be talking to you soon, I`m sorry to say, but we will be. Thank you, Laurie.

GARRETT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And tonight`s LAST WORD is next.



O`DONNELL: One of my favorite December tweets is from Nilda. "I just showed my support for UNICEF and the children, 11 years, 11 desks. Thank you for what you do for kids in Malawi."

In the 11 years since we began our partnership between MSNBC and UNICEF to provide desks for schools in Malawi and scholarships for girls to attend high school in Malawi, you and Nilda have now contributed total of $32,793,387.

Gary tweeted, I was inspired by Joyce Chisale to make a second annual donation in my daughter Julianne`s name to fund a Malawi girl`s education. Thanks for sharing her progress, Lawrence, and happy holidays.

Annie tweeted, I bought a double desk for my daughter`s Christmas gift, she is a teacher and was really happy that her gift went to the girls in Malawi.

The KIND Fund, Kids In Need of Desks is working because you have made it your own. I always remind you about the KIND Fund during the holiday season because you can make a donation in the name of anyone on your holiday gift list and UNICEF will send them an acknowledgment of your gift.

But many of you would still be contributing even if I said nothing about it. During this holiday season you contributed a total of $2,377,711.

Leeia tweeted, "We`ve added desk-giving to our Christmas list for the past five or six years."

You can contribute at any time at You can give a desk or a girl scholarship as a birthday gift for example at any time of the year.


O`DONNELL: I can never thank you enough for your kindness and generosity. I wish you could all have the experience of being in the Malawi classroom when students take their seats at desks for the very first time in their lives and always -- I mean, always, spontaneously burst into song in joy and gratitude.


O`DONNELL: The music of Malawi gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.