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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 10/13/21

Guests: Jennifer Jenkins, Alex Wagner, Walter Shaub


Steve Bannon is going to defy the January 6th committee subpoena. A Florida school board member who supports masks has been harassed by anti- mask protesters. Donald Trump`s company is now a criminal defendant in a tax fraud case in Manhattan. According to federal rules, The Trump Organization can now be barred from doing business with the federal government.



And I was listening to your reporting on what`s going on in Alaska, and you showed the video of people in these meetings threatening these elected officials who are considering how much mask mandating do we have to do and what situations. We`re going to be joined tonight by Jennifer Jenkins who has gone viral in the last 24 hours on this issue. She`s a school board member in Florida.

And what she has endured by simply by believing that masks are a pretty good idea to try to limit the spread of COVID in public schools, what she and her daughter, her family have endured is just horrific, and she finally spoke about it for the first time yesterday. She`s going to join us tonight.

And I just marvel at the bravery of these people. The astonishing thing in your reporting is at the end of everything that we see here, they then vote 9-1 in favor of masks and against the wishes of the people who were threatening them with violence.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": That`s right, and public service is sort of always a small H form of heroism, always. To be a public servant is to do a good thing by the world. But it should not actually take literal bravery. It should not take physical bravery to do these kinds of jobs, to be a city councilor, to be a school board member, to do these things.

But the way the political right has dealt with COVID is by bringing threat, including physical intimidation and physical harm very, very, very close to the surface almost immediately for the public servants who are dealing with these questions just as part of their job in public service, and it is -- I saw the footage that you`re referring to from your guests tonight. I`m really looking forward to what she has to say about it.

She shouldn`t have to be that brave to do that job. That`s on us as a country.

O`DONNELL: Exactly, exactly. And no one signing up for the school board was ever signing up for this kind of thing, and so --

MADDOW: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: That`s the other part of the marvel of it is the -- people continuing in these jobs in the face of this.


O`DONNELL: I mean, they are in a sense part of that first responder force that the people who must come up with ways of responding to COVID because of their jobs right away, and people involved in the schools have all been part of that, and now, with the school year underway, successfully, there`s this -- instead of celebrating how successfully the school year has gone so far, there is all this rage.

MADDOW: Rage and threat and literal violence and there`s going to have to be both accountability for it but there`s also got to be strategies to deescalate this stuff, that will have to involve responsible figures on the right. That`s what we`re not seeing yet.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, we`ll have to be very patient waiting for them to emerge. That`s the one that`s going to happen.

Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, Steve Bannon is promising to become a criminal again tomorrow. But he won`t have Donald Trump to pardon him this time. In the last months of the Trump presidency, Steve Bannon was arrested and charged with federal crimes for the way he embezzled money that he raised from pathetically gullible Trump voters who actually gave money to Steve Bannon because Steve Bannon lied to them and told them that he would use that money to privately build the wall on the southern border that the president of the United States Donald Trump was not able to build.

Steve Bannon would build it if you just sent him your money. Steve Bannon defrauded Trump voters, got caught by the feds, was charged with those crimes, but didn`t have to go to trial in federal court because Donald Trump pardoned him, pardoned him for defrauding Donald Trump`s own voters.

Steve Bannon has been subpoenaed by the special House committee investigating the attack on the capitol to testify tomorrow, and he has already become the first person in history who is trying to hide behind presidential executive privilege even though he wasn`t even working in the White House or the government during the period that the committee is investigating.


He was a private citizen.

Donald Trump has become the first private citizen and former president in history to try to exert executive privilege in a congressional investigation and felt today once again, President Biden smacked down that false and illegal claim by Donald Trump.

The White House released a letter today that was actually written last week to the archivist of the United States where all of the presidential records are kept. That letter says President Biden does not uphold the former president`s assertion of privilege. President Biden instructed the archivist to provide the House committee with all, all of the information that the committee has requested.

Last week, Steve Bannon`s lawyer sent a letter to the committee saying since these privileges belong to President Trump and not to Mr. Bannon, until these issues are resolved, Mr. Bannon is legally unable to comply with your subpoena requests for documents and testimony.

Like all Trump world lawyers, Steve Bannon`s lawyer is one of those lawyers where you wonder if he really finished law school. He is so wildly wrong.

Executive privilege no longer belongs to Donald Trump. It now belongs to President Joe Biden, and so when Steve Bannon does not show up for his deposition tomorrow, the House committee is going to recommend to the Justice Department that Steve Bannon face criminal charges for contempt of Congress.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think that Steve Bannon has been pretty public about his unwillingness to cooperate in any way and from my point of view, it`s not up to him. He is required to show up. He`s required to testify, and if he doesn`t and doesn`t have a reason, a legal reason to proffer, which he doesn`t, then we will hold him in criminal contempt and we will refer that to the Justice Department for prosecution. That will be true of the other witnesses as well if they do not comply.


O`DONNELL: That was Adam Schiff on this program last night. He`s a member of that committee. Liz Cheney and other members of the committee have also said that the committee is unanimously supportive of enforcing its subpoenas with criminal contempt charges. The committee made news at the close of business today by revealing that they have subpoenaed former Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.

In a letter to Clark accompanying the subpoena, the committee said that they have credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power. You proposed that the department send a letter to state legislators in Georgia and other states suggesting that they delay certification of their election results and hold a press conference announcing that the department was investigating allegations of voter fraud. These proposals were rejected by department leadership as both lacking a factual basis and inconsistent with the department`s institutional role.

Lacking a factual basis, so Jeffrey Clark knows that the committee already knows that he was lying about the election in discussions inside the justice department and inside the White House. Jeffrey Clark is ordered to testify in a deposition on October 29th, and that gives him about two weeks to practice invoking the Fifth Amendment.

The committee obtained direct incriminating evidence against Jeffrey Clark today in the testimony of Jeff Rosen, who was Donald Trump`s final acting attorney general. If Jeff Rosen told the House committee the same things that he told the Senate Judiciary Committee about Jeffrey Clark, then Jeffrey Clark is living in fear of criminal charges tonight of attempted election fraud and conspiracy to commit election fraud.

Joining our discussion, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate prosecutor, and Matt Miller, former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, both are MSNBC contributors.

And, Jill, I want to begin with you and I want to begin with this key question that I think has left a lot of us confused. Why were you so effective in getting compliance to subpoenas against President Nixon and his administration during the Watergate investigation? And the Democrats in Congress have been so ineffective in relative terms in pursuit of the same kind of subpoenas against team Trump?


JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s really a very simple answer. Because President Nixon, despite his crimes and despite all the wrong that he did, actually believed in our system of laws and government. And when confronted with a Supreme Court decision, he agreed to comply.

So he never tried to stop people. He did try to claim executive privilege, but the Supreme Court said, no, you have to balance it. And in this case, the needs for the criminal investigation far outweigh the need for executive privilege.

And, of course, it is clear that even in the case cited by Bannon`s lawyer, this is a privilege of the current incumbent. It goes with the office. It does not go with the former office holder, so there is no possible executive privilege for any of the people and maybe most especially for Bannon who never was at the time of these conversations a part of the White House.

But even if he was, there wouldn`t be a legitimate claim of executive privilege. And so I think we have to look at the fact that the Republicans now are willing to evade all laws and to just simply stone wall in a way that is completely contrary to our democracy.

O`DONNELL: Wasn`t there another element in the enforcement of your subpoenas in the 1970s, 1974 in the Watergate investigation, and that was the speed of the courts. I mean, it seemed like you would issue a subpoena, the subpoena for the tapes, for example, the presidential tapes, that case went right up to the Supreme Court of the United States, got a ruling, and the ruling was enforced, and it seemed to take a matter of weeks to go from subpoena to the United States Supreme Court to a final ruling?

WINE-BANKS: It did. We`re clearly living in an alternative universe now. We issued the second subpoena for 64 tapes for the trial on April 16th. It was argued in the Supreme Court July 21st, I believe, and on July 24th, the Supreme Court ruled in our favor.

We got the tapes, and by August 9th, so we`re talking about days later, the Republicans had gone to the White House and said we saw the tapes, we heard them. We cannot support you. If you do not resign, you will be convicted in a Senate trial.

So that`s why it happened from April, August 9th he was out of office, and it could happen again if the Supreme Court would stop all of the political nonsense that they have been engaged in, if they would take this seriously. This is a case that cannot be left to linger for years, as it has recently. There have been other subpoenas and it has taken up to six years for a decision.

That can`t be allowed to happen because justice delayed is justice denied, and this delay would be a killer because we need to get this information to prevent any possibility of this happening again. We need the facts that are being asked. Everything that has been subpoenaed, everything requested in the letters seems very clearly relevant to legislative actions.

O`DONNELL: Matt, it seems Jeff Clark, my guess about him is that it`s very likely that he will show up to testify. It`s also very likely he will take the Fifth Amendment to virtually every question.

MATT MILLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think that`s likely. I think certainly he`s going to have to show up and testify. He really is on an island by himself. If you look at the way he was behaving in those final weeks.

He was acting completely beyond his authority. He`s supposed to be in charge of environmental crimes and was conducting his own investigations or supposed investigations into voter fraud. He was violating multiple department rules, having contacts with the White House, having contacts with members of Congress, both of which he was not allowed to do on his own, and of course violating his oath to the Constitution by trying to overturn the election.

And he really is, you know, out there by himself because, you know, we`ve seen Jeffrey Rosen and we`ve seen one of Jeffrey Rosen`s subordinates testifying before Congress because the Justice Department has already told Rosen and Clark and other DOJ officials from this time period that the department is waiving all of the relevant privileges. Usually the department blocks its officials from coming up and testifying for matters like this, and they`ve waived all of them. That`s true for Jeffrey Clark.

So, you know, if he wants to avoid a criminal referral and be charged with criminal contempt of Congress, you know, he needs to come up and comply with the subpoena and testify because otherwise he`s in blatant contempt of Congress. Now, to your point, if he wants to take the fifth, of course, that`s his right to -- that`s his right.


He can do so, but he doesn`t have the ability to just blow off the subpoena like he seems to want to do.

O`DONNELL: So, Matt, one of the changes in the 21st century compared to the Nixon era is just how breathtakingly slow the courts are, at the district court level, the appeals court level on all of these enforcement issues on congressional subpoenas. What about -- the Justice Department will now be tested when the Congress refers to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution of contempt of Congress. We don`t know how quickly the Merrick Garland Justice Department will be able to move on this, and in, you know -- in the past these kinds of things have been able to be handled very, very quickly.

What is your expectation of a timetable at the Justice Department for this?

MILLER: I would expect they could move pretty quickly. Look, the Justice Department has a rule that they will not prosecute someone for contempt of Congress if they are refusing to testify because there has been a legitimate claim of executive privilege by the president of the United States. It ought to be pretty easy for the attorney general to pick up the phone, call the White House counsel and say, Dana, did the president -- President Biden invoke executive privilege for Jeff Clark or Steve Bannon or any of these other within witnesses? And when the answer is no, as we know the answer is, it`s a pretty straightforward prosecution.

And I actually think the Justice Department could do more, by just making it clear that if you are not the subject of an executive privilege assertion by the sitting president of the United States, not Donald Trump but Joe Biden, and you blow off the congressional subpoena and refuse to testify, you are not immune from prosecution and we will take those referrals very seriously.

These witnesses are acting with impunity because for years they got away with it with no consequences, and if DOJ sent that kind of signal right now, I think you`d see some of these people coming up and testifying even before it got to a subpoena and not kind of playing chicken with Congress and playing chicken with the Justice Department the way they`re doing now.

O`DONNELL: Matt Miller and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you both for starting us off tonight, really appreciate it. Thank you.

And coming up, Zerlina Maxwell and Alex Wagner will be joining our discussion. But, first, we`ll be joined by someone who went viral this the last 24 hours by showing us just how bad the anti-mask protesters can be, just how vicious and how much bravery and strength it takes for one school board member in Florida to stand up to them. Jennifer Jenkins will join us and we`ll tell you what she and her daughter have had to endure, and it is much, much worse than you think. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Our next guest, Jennifer Jenkins, has now had the experience of going viral in the last 24 hours. When I saw the video of Jennifer Jenkins speaking at a school board meeting in Florida, I was in awe of her courage and her calm because Jennifer Jenkins thinks that masks are a good way to limit the spread of COVID-19 in public schools. Jennifer Jenkins and her family, her daughter, have been targeted for nothing less than public torture by Florida`s anti-mask fanatics.

In Florida, it is the Department of Children and Families that investigates child abuse, the DCF. No one knew that the DCF was going to come up at a public meeting of the school board in Brevard County, Florida, southeast of Orlando. The school board discussed whether it would be possible to allow home coming dances this year. The home coming dances have been postponed indefinitely because of COVID-19.

When the agenda turned to a resolution about threats against school board members, Jennifer Jenkins found herself talking about something she never wanted to talk about publicly.


JENNIFER JENKINS, BOARD MEMBERS: In spite of what people believe, I am not opposed to people practicing their First Amendment rights, even when it`s outside of my home on a public property. I`m not. I`m not. I think it`s a silly method. I think it`s ineffective. It doesn`t move me or motivate me in any way, but I`m not opposed to it.

What I reject is this effort to create fear and division in the community that leads to credible threats of violence against me and my family, and there`s a lot of things that I haven`t shared with all of you up here.

I`ve tried not to talk about this stuff publicly. I don`t reject people coming here and speaking their voice. They do it all the time. We don`t stop them from doing that. I don`t reject them standing outside my home.

I reject them following me around in a car, following my car around. I reject them saying that they`re coming for me, that I need to beg for mercy. I reject that when they are using their First Amendment rights on public property, they`re also going behind my home and brandishing their weapons to my neighbors.

That they`re making false DCF claims against me to my daughter, that I have to take a DCF investigator to her play date to go underneath her clothing and check for burn marks. That`s what I`m against, which is a credible threat and calculated.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Jennifer Jenkins, a member of the Brevard County, Florida, school board.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. I am very, very sorry for what you have endured and for what you`re here to tell us about tonight.


How long has this kind of harassment and public torture been going on?

JENKINS: Thank you so much for having me, first and foremost.

You know, to be honest with you, this is something that started within Brevard County back in April for me. It started with a minority group of individuals who are part of an organization that was founded by my Republican opponent, who have decided that their voices are going to be used to terrorize me.

And you know, the majority of people support me, and they reach out to me and they tell me that they`re there for me and they support the things that I stand for. But unfortunately, it doesn`t just take -- it just takes one person to terrorize you.

And when there`s no consequences for it, it becomes the norm, and it becomes acceptable and to be perfectly honest with you, I feel like this is the new pandemic here in the state of Florida for us to focus on. It`s going across the nation as well.

Our school board members and our educators are being attacked and threatened for doing what they were elected to do, what I was elected to do, to keep our students and our staff safe and what educators were hired to do to protect our children.

O`DONNELL: You`re in a state where 60 percent support what you`re doing, 60 percent support requiring students, teachers, and staff to wear masks in school, but you`re in a Republican area where that polling might be very different.

You left out a lot of details of what`s happened to you that I know about because of conversations that we`ve had with you today including some of the vandalism that occurs at your home. They`ve attacked your plants and your trees. It`s a very active kind of thing. It took the police an hour and 40 minutes to come to your home one time while one of these things was going on.

What is it like to be in your home with your daughter watching that stuff?

JENKINS: It`s really difficult. The last protest where they came outside of my home, again, I`m not against people using their First Amendment rights. They`re on public property. That`s okay.

But I`m against them terrorizing my family. There was 25 individuals standing outside my home in a small beach town in Florida. They were there for hours.

Police presence didn`t come right away. It started to get dark out. It was time for me to put my daughter to bed, and as I`m sitting trying to read her a story, these individuals are walking right by her bedroom saying vile things.

And as I followed them around the corner to where their cars were parked into a parking lot right behind my home, police presence wasn`t following them until I was there. They got in my face. They coughed in my face telling me they were going to give me COVID. They swung flags in my face, nearly missing me by a couple inches. They said horrible disgusting things to my neighbors.

I eventually went back inside, but they brandished their weapons in the parking lot in front of my neighbors, my daughter to this day at least twice a week, mommy are those mean people going to be outside again. It`s been really difficult.

Yeah, they did, they vandalized my property. They wrote obscenities in my grass with weed killer. They cut down some of my plants. They did the DCF claim which was really difficult for me. I had to take the DCF investigator to a play date of somebody who I am just an acquaintance of, I don`t even know very well.

So, here I am a school board member walking back to a play date I had just dropped her off to with a DCF investigator with no announcement for them to look underneath her clothes to see if she has burns. It`s a really uncomfortable position to be in, and unfortunately even though the police department is doing their best to have subpoenas sent to the state level to figure out who made that unfounded claim, there`s only so far they can go.

And so, currently, I still have a document that says I had an unfounded DCF claim against me. It`s not something that`s going to go away.

O`DONNELL: What did you tell your daughter about that incident with the DCF during that play date?

JENKINS: You know, the DCF investigator was fantastic. And so, she had no idea what was going on. I really appreciated that person understanding this was very unlikely an unfounded claim. The police department came with her and let her know what`s going on.

She handled it really, really well like a pro, and I was really happy that she was there.


O`DONNELL: Why did you want to become a member of the school board and do you want to continue as a member of the school board?

JENKINS: I ran to become a member of the school board because I`m an educator. My husband`s an educator, and my daughter just turned five years old. She just entered kindergarten.

And so I am invested in public education professionally and personally and I truly cared. I cared about making a difference for our educators. You know, we`ve had some serious fights for significant wage increases here in Brevard County and in Florida overall. That was one of my passions.

And the equity across my district, I really cared about our students making sure that they all had equal opportunities to the same academic outcomes and success.

Unfortunately COVID got in the way in the middle of my campaign and that really became the focus of the conversation. But I was really grateful to be there because the person I was running against was completely against every mitigation strategy and ultimately that is why I ended up winning my election.

And I`m really excited and proud to be on this board and proud to continue to stand up for the safety and health of our students and staff.

O`DONNELL: I understand that, but have you -- at what point do you run into a kind of torture for doing this job that would make you say to yourself and your family, I cannot continue to do this?

JENKINS: I would be lying to you if I didn`t say I have had some really, really dark moments. This has been so difficult for me and my family, and the people who care about us and love us. It has been -- it has been horrible.

But I have done my best to not put that out in the public. I wanted people to know that I am strong, I am here for them, and I will continue to fight for them. And I will never give up on that.

But I also didn`t want the people to know who were doing this to me that it did affect me because it will never break me and I will never ever step back on the promise I made to the residents of Brevard County. I`m going to be there, I`m going to fulfill my term, and if the timing is right and everything is right, maybe I`ll do it again.

O`DONNELL: Jennifer Jenkins, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And thank you very much for the serving the voters who elected you in exactly the way you promised you would. I`m very, very sorry for what that has cost you so far for you and your family and your daughter.

JENKINS: I appreciate that. Thank you so much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Really appreciate it.

And joining our discussion now Alex Wagner, co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus". She`s contributor and writer at the "Atlantic". Also with us Zerlina Maxwell host of the program "ZERLINA" that airs on Peacock.

And I just want to hand this over to both of you. I`m kind of speechless at the moment. Zerlina, go ahead.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, HOST, PEACOCK: That was really hard to listen to, Lawrence, because I feel, you know, in my heart we`re all living through a pandemic. And nobody`s really done this before. And so we`re all sort of flailing about and couldn`t we just be a little bit nicer and kinder to each other.

And unfortunately what has happened is we`ve lived through four years of a presidency where so much bad behavior was normalized -- racism, misogyny, homophobia, bullying. And so nobody is raising their kids to behave in this way, the way adults are behaving in some of these school board meetings and across the country.

And it`s so unfortunate because so much life has been lost because masks and mitigation measures and vaccinations, it`s been politicized when it should never have been.

And it is -- it is a crime against humanity frankly that so much of this has been put up for debate as if science is not fact, and there is too much loss of life as a result.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, I do not know how to praise Jennifer Jenkins enough. The one thing I can say just by comparison is I am sure that I could not endure what she has endured to do her job.

ALEX WAGNER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, SHOWTIME`S "THE CIRCUS": Yes, as a mother of a child who is not vaccinated because he`s not qualified to be vaccinated yet, who`s in the very same age bracket of her child, I think all of us moms who believe in science are very grateful that Jennifer is serving on the school board.

So what struck me in all of this, Lawrence, this isn`t about a surgical mask. I really don`t believe that this is about a mitigation strategy. I believe that this is about what, you know, the right sees as cultural, an existential cultural battle that needs to be waged with every tool, every tool in the arsenal, if you will.


WAGNER: This isn`t about masks. This is about a way of life. This is a pushback against what they see as an encroaching liberal majority that believes in science and the social compact but that is fundamentally out there to end a white Christian way of life, the quote -- unquote, "American way of life". And masks are just a proxy for that.

And that belies another truth, which is that rage is central to the Republican Party right now. It is, in fact, the ideology of the Republican Party. It doesn`t matter what the issue is, whether it`s immigration or whether it`s COVID or whether it`s, you know, infrastructure.

The response is rooted in rage. And there is no particular policy platform at this point. There is only this emotional center of anger and, boy, is it animating.

When you watch these videos of these school board members getting attacked, you hear Jennifer`s testimony, this is about something much larger and more pernicious and deeply emotional that sits at the center of conservatism in the 21st century.

And I don`t really know how you combat it. It`s not about, you know, being bipartisan, it`s not about reaching across the aisle. It`s not even about some kind of persuasive argument that people like Jennifer can make because what you`re running up against is this deep existential rage and fear that is being stoked on a daily, monthly, hourly basis by one of our two political parties in this country.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Zerlina, what Alex has just framed for me has made me now see this as she was speaking as the kind of local version of the Trump election loss because the person who`s running this torture program against Jennifer is the person she beat in the election, the Republican she beat in the election.

And it used to be the Democrat beat the Republican, the Republican waited around for the next election or went off into the real estate business or something else, right?

But now the Democrat beats the Republican and the Republican goes into attack against the Democrat who beat the Republican, and you get things like January 6th, and you get things like the continuing Trumpian madness that Donald Trump spews every day about the election that he lost, and this would be the local version of that and the local January 6th version is they`re on your front lawn.

MAXWELL: Yes, Lawrence, but one of the things that does help me, I don`t know, wake up every day and put one foot in front of the other is that this is the minority of the American public. This is a small minority of the American public.

They are very loud. They are angry, as Alex said. She is right about that, but they are not now, nor will they be the majority of American voters. Now, will Republicans be able to rig the election process in their favor despite the math? That I think is the question for the Democrats in the senate, namely Senator Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema right at this moment.

But I think in the big picture, we have to remember that they are not the majority of the people. Donald Trump lost two elections, the popular vote and two elections, and in the second one it was by about three times the amount as the first time.

So the American public is clear on how they feel about this approach to American politics and they do not want it. The question is are we going to be able to marginalize these angry voices, these bullying voices on the local level, but also on the national level?

O`DONNELL: I want to switch to the situation in Texas that you`ve been covering, Alex on the new Texas abortion law because I saw some of your interview, which we ran here with Dr. Dermish (ph) and I want to run some of it again because it is so powerful with Dr. Dermish explaining to you what she`s already experienced with this Texas abortion law. Let`s watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first patient who I saw after the law went into effect, when I told her that we could see cardiac activity, you know, she just curled up into a ball on the table and just started sobbing.

And she asked if she could hold my hand.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that was all I could do for her in that moment. She was a college student, had a birth control failure, you know, she was a person who wasn`t in a situation where she could be pregnant.

Women in Texas have been punished legislative session after legislative session. These are people you know who are getting turned away, and this could be you next.


O`DONNELL: Alex, I`ve seen nothing on television that delivers more powerfully the reality of what`s happening in Texas.

WAGNER: Lawrence, the average woman in Texas would have to drive 200-and I think-75 miles to get an abortion, and let`s just be real, nobody wants to get an abortion.


WAGNER: This is not something that patients are running after to get. This is a wrenching decision, a wrenching decision, that the state of Texas has made, you know, for the last decade basically very, very difficult to see.

And at this stage, effectively impossible. There`s -- you know, there are a number of boundaries women need to clear, but now if their pregnancy shows signs of cardiac activity, which is usually around five or six weeks, which is before most women even know they`re pregnant, they can`t get an abortion in Texas, which means that out of state clinics are being flooded with calls, requests, there are women taking matters into their own hands.

I mean, Texas is a case study in what happens when you don`t have Roe v. Wade, and what is so shocking to me is the fact that we have really lost sight of humanity in this hour, whether it`s a school board member or a college student whose birth control failed her, we have lost our humanity.

O`DONNELL: Yes, that is what this segment has been about. Alex Wagner, Zerlina Maxwell -- thank you both very much for joining this discuss tonight. Really appreciate it. Couldn`t have done it without you. Thank you very much.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

MAXWELL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Donald Trump`s company is now a criminal defendant in a tax fraud case in Manhattan. According to federal rules, the Trump Organization can now be barred from doing business with the federal government, which means Donald Trump should immediately lose the rights to operate his Washington, D.C. hotel on federal property.

That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Last week the House Oversight Committee released documents showing that Donald Trump`s Washington, D.C. hotel lost more than $70 million during his presidency. And tonight there are new reports that the hotel converted from the still federally-owned old Post Office Building in Washington will be sold.

According to "Wall Street Journal", the Trump Organization is in advance discussions to sell the rights to its Washington, D.C. hotel in a deal worth more than $370 million. The lease deal could ultimately fetch closer to $400 million which would represent roughly doubling of the money the Trump Organization spent to convert the government building into a luxury hotel.

The House Oversight Committee`s report on the Trump hotel found in 2018 Deutsche Bank provided President Trump with a significant financial benefit by allowing him to delay making principal payments on the Trump Hotel`s $170 million loan.

The House Oversight Committee also found that the documents provided by the General Services Administration, quote, "raised new and troubling questions about former President Trump`s lease with GSA and the agency`s ability to manage the former president`s conflicts of interest during his term in office."

One of the initial conditions for holding a lease on that federal property was that no government official would be allowed to be involved in leasing the building. Donald Trump became a government official after he obtained that lease.

Yesterday Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the project of government oversight sent a letter to five federal agencies who have done business with Trump Organization entities including the General Services Administration saying, quote, it is standard practice to suspend contractors under indictment. In fact, the government suspends and debars thousands of contractors each year including small businesses with limited financial means based on allegations far less serious than the criminal charges facing the Trump Organization.

The Trump Organization has been indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan and is now facing criminal prosecution for tax fraud in New York. A former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Walter Shaub, senior FX fellow at the project on government oversight. He`s the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics in the Obama administration. He resigned in protest from that position during the Trump administration.

Walter, thank you for very much joining us tonight. I know you`ve been focusing on this Trump Hotel since the transition days between the Obama administration and the Trump administration. Your reaction to this possible pending sale while the Trump Organization is under indictment in Manhattan.

WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: Yes. It`s absolutely crazy. He should not even have this lease. The GSA`s determination back in 2017 that he could keep it flew in the face of the language of the contract.

Unfortunately, the lowly contracting officer who made that decision was so taken with the starry eyed experience of working with the first family that he actually wound up asking Ivanka Trump to get coffee with him when all was said and done to sort celebrate the future that they had with the government.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s -- I mean so it started off as a violation that a government official could even own this lease. That government official being Donald Trump.

Now you`re at the stage where that company that owns that lease has been indicted and there are federal rules that say, when something like that happens to your company, the federal government can cancel all dealings with you.

SHAUB: Yes, they absolutely should suspend the Trump Organization. They`ve done it for less. Arthur Anderson was suspended on an indictment alone during the Enron matter. And they could do that here. You`ve got the Trump Organization been indicted, it`s entered into settlements with the New York Attorney General involving claims of fraud and false filings.

There`s no reason the federal government should run the risk of any new contracts being awarded to the Trump Organization

O`DONNELL: And let`s clarify what the Trump company actually owns. They don`t own the building. They own a lease, a long lease, and that lease is with the federal government and they can sell that lease to someone else.

SHAUB: Yes. If GSA approves the buyer, they can sell it. It`s nearly a 100- year lease, when you count the options for renewal. So this is an enormous commodity that the federal government gave and then illegally allowed the Trump Organization to retain and then simply failed to conduct any meaningful oversight during the Trump era.


O`DONNELL: And what about now? What is preventing any meaningful oversight now?

SHAUB: Well sadly, I think timidity. It`s the same thing we`re seeing with the Justice Department. There seems to be this fear that they`ll be viewed as engaging in retribution, politically motivated, or that they may face retaliation themselves from a future administration.

But I think it`s a failure to grasp that we`re so far outside of the norm and in such dangerous territory, that the greater risk in my view is the impunity from a lack of the government holding anyone accountable.

Its sentences us a nation to endure more of this because future bad actors will know they can get away with it.

O`DONNELL: Walter Shaub, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

SHAUB: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: The LAST WORD team has already posted our interview tonight with Florida school board member Jennifer Jenkins, so that you can send it to anyone who might have missed it.

You can find it on Twitter, you can find it at

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.