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BREAKING: Trump trial day 7 set to begin with testimony from former National Enquirer editor David Pecker

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

Guests: Sylvia Gonzalez Andersh, Madeleine Dean, David Blight, Isabel Wilkerson


"Politico" is reporting that Senator Kyrsten Sinema has agreed to a revenue package that actually would include some tax increases on wealthy taxpayers and would be enough to pay for close to $2 trillion of the new spending for climate policies, education, child care, and family leave. The House refers Steve Bannon to DOJ for possible contempt charges for defying January 6 committee subpoena. Rewriting History About American Insurrections; MSNBC Documentary Civil War.



You know how we were discussing the other night, Senate -- creatures of the Senate, as you put it, are slow in evolving on changes in Senate rules, like the 60 vote threshold, the so-called filibuster rule. There was some public evolving tonight, which I actually think has been going on right before our eyes without him saying it quite so clearly from President Biden.


O`DONNELL: He said tonight that he absolutely is open to changing that rule for voting rights legislation, and he said for other things, possibly for other things, and he also made it very, very clear tonight that the reason he hasn`t been able to do any of that stuff or talk about any of that stuff in a detailed way is that would create more problems with Joe Manchin, more problems with Senator Sinema, more problems with some other possible problems with other moderate Democrats.

And so, he doesn`t want to get into that rules fight until he gets his legislative package done. But he isn`t -- it`s pretty clear he`s not going to stay out of it once he gets his legislative package done.

MADDOW: The question is chicken and egg, right? You can`t get the legislative package done if you talk about those things, but if you don`t deal with those things, you can`t get the legislative package done, right? So I mean, we`ll see. But if -- to the extent that the legislative package includes voting rights, right, to the extent that his priorities include -- anyway, the president`s evolution on this is important.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, no, the legislative package I`m referring to of course is just the reconciliation bill, which bypasses that whole 60 vote threshold thing. He`s got to get that done, and then, yes, you don`t get anything done after that. Not a single thing. Nothing moves through the Senate after that if you leave that 60 vote threshold in place.

MADDOW: But we`ll see with Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema having the kind of leverage they do right now, we`ll see what`s in that legislative package ultimately when it gets to the end of the sausage making process. I mean, it feels to me like, you know, there`s a lot of excitement yesterday that something was going to get done by the end of this week, and then Manchin strolled into the middle of it all, pulled the silverware drawer out, I`m still not ready to have the spotlight off of me. I want this to keep going on and on and on and on.

So, I mean, I don`t -- I don`t, if the president is wait for that to happen before everything else moves on, I don`t know when that`s going to happen.

O`DONNELL: There`s some noises tonight indicating that there could actually be a deal tomorrow and possibly something of a breakthrough with Senator Sinema. But I will know if there`s a deal tomorrow tomorrow. That`s when I`ll know if there`s a deal tomorrow.

MADDOW: Yeah, that`s exactly right.

O`DONNELL: And that holds every day are from this point forward.

MADDOW: And when it happens, we will all turn to you to explain to us whether or not it`s real, whether or not it works, and whether or not it`s going to make a difference in our lives.

O`DONNELL: It will be very clear to everyone. It won`t need any explanation from me. It will be one of those clear deals.

MADDOW: We`ll see. We`ll see.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, it actually does appear that there could be a major breakthrough tonight in the Democrats` negotiations to reach an agreement in that Biden legislative agenda. "Politico" is reporting tonight that Senator Kyrsten Sinema has agreed to a revenue package that actually would include some tax increases on wealthy taxpayers and would be enough to pay for close to $2 trillion of the new -- of new spending for climate policies, education, child care, and family leave.

A source familiar with the discussions told "Politico," devote, Senator Sinema has agreed to provisions in each of president Biden`s four proposed revenue categories, internationals, domestic corporate, high net worth individuals, and tax enforcement providing sufficient revenue to fully pay for a budget reconciliation package in the range currently being discussed.

And of course the range currently being discussed is 1.75 trillion to 2 trillion. The range defined by Joe Manchin as his limit.

Now, this statement does seem to represent a shift in Senator Sinema`s position, which had been reported as being opposed to any tax increases in the Biden bill.


And earlier tonight, President Biden described Senator Sinema`s position this way.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She`s smart as the devil, number one. Number two, she`s very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation, very supportive. She`s supportive of almost all the things I mentioned relating to everything from family care to all those issues. Where she`s not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people, period, and so that`s where it sort of breaks down.


O`DONNELL: Senator Sinema`s public silence about what she is trying to achieve in the legislation has led to what the "New York Times" today called a, quote, crescendo of anger and pressure that ms. Sinema is facing from erstwhile allies who say they are perplexed by her recent tactics. We`ll be joined by one of those allies in a moment, Sylvia Gonzalez Andersh, who added tremendously to the pressure on Senator Sinema today by being part of a group of veterans who released this ad.


SYLVIA GONZALEZ ANDERSH, U.S. AIR FORCE SGT: Dear Senator Sinema, as members of your veterans advisory council, we feel as though we are being used as a window dressing for your own image and not to provide council on what`s best for Arizonians. You repeatedly ignored our feedback urging you to act on three issues that support our veterans and the heart of our nation.

We must protect voting rights by passing the Freedom to Vote Act. We are appalled by your failure to address this issue. You campaigned on lowering prescription drug price, but now you`re opposing the Build Back Better Act. Are you choosing to answer to big donors rather than Arizonans? You`re a no show on the vote to establish a commission to investigate the insurrection.

These are not the actions of a maverick. As such, we respectfully resign from your veterans advisory council.

Sincerely, Sylvia Gonzalez Andersh.

Call on Senator Sinema to support the Build Back Better Act now.


O`DONNELL: Senator Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin have been the only holdouts in the Democratic Senate on the bill. They would both have to be part of any agreement on a framework for the bill.

Tonight, Joe Biden gave the simplest description of the challenge of working with only 50 Democrats in the Senate.


BIDEN: Look, when you`re in the United States Senate and you`re president of the United States, and you have 50 Democrats, every one is a president. Every single one.


O`DONNELL: Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to say that the Democrats might be able to reach an agreement on the basic outlines of the Biden social infrastructure bill tomorrow. Today, Senator Jon Tester said there could be an agreement tomorrow.


REPOTER: The goal is still, it appears, to have a framework by tomorrow, is that realistic in your eyes?

REP. JON TESTER (D-MT): Absolutely.

REPORTER: What are the remaining sticking points? What still has to be dealt with?

TESTER: My perspective?


TESTER: Just top line.

REPORTER: The actual number?

TESTER: The number.


O`DONNELL: Also today, Joe Manchin seemed to confirm a report featured on this program last night that he was thinking of leaving the Democratic Party. David Corn reported to "Mother Jones" and last night on this program, in recent day, Senator Joe Manchin has told associates that he is considering leaving the Democratic Party if President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill do not agree to his demand to cut the size of the social infrastructure bill from 3.5 trillion to 1.75 trillion, according to people who have heard Manchin discuss this, Manchin has said that if this were to happen, he would declare himself an men independent. Manchin told associates that he was prepared to initiate his exit plan earlier this week and had mentioned the possibility to Biden.

Joe Manchin had a colorful response to David Corn`s reporting beginning with a capital B.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I can`t control rumors and it`s bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED), bull spelled with a b-u-l-l, capital B.


O`DONNELL: And then today Joe Manchin said this.


REPORTER: Senator, have you ever had had a plan to switch parties? Have you ever --

MANCHIN: No, I`ll be very honest with you, anything that was ever said, if I`m an embarrassment to my -- my Democrat colleagues, my caucus, the president, the leader of the Democratic Party, Chuck Schumer and all them, and I said me being a moderate centrist Democrat, if that causes you a problem let me know and I`ll switch to being an independent.


But I`d still be caucusing with Democrats.


O`DONNELL: Leading our discussion tonight is former Democratic senator of Missouri, Claire McCaskill. She is an MSNBC political analyst.

Claire, we need the Senate expertise tonight for this. I want to begin with senator Sinema because President Biden in his town hall discussion tonight seemed to indicate that there was no movement or no movement that he was aware of or prepared to talk about on tax revenues from Senator Sinema.

Now, we have this "Politico" reporting, which indicates there is some possibility of Senator Sinema being willing to agree to an amount of revenue through various devices that might not involve individual tax rates, might involve other things. But that seems, if true, to be a way to get there and to get there soon.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Yeah, I think Kyrsten Sinema has really hurt herself by not talking about what she`s for. I understand that she believes very strongly that negotiations should occur in private and that she will fully explain her vote when she makes her vote, and it will become apparent what she worked for and what she cares about.

But in the interim, the vacuum is being filled by a lot of anger towards her. I`ve been on the phone all day, Lawrence, as you might imagine with a bunch of different senators in my party. I am confident that the "Politico" reporting is correct, that she has, in fact, agreed to a number of revenue enhancers in various ways that will make this bill be paid for. I think, frankly, now, the problem is some of the details as it relates to Joe Manchin, particularly around climate.

Kyrsten Sinema is big on the climate part. She really thinks that`s the most important part of this bill. Joe Manchin is still struggling with some of the details, and when you only got 50 as the president said, everybody has power, and I know it`s frustrating for everyone, but that`s why elections really matter and why margins of majorities matter.

And I want to remind everyone that you don`t build greater majorities from bright blue places. You build bigger majorities from places like Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and Georgia and Arizona, and Nevada where both Democrats and Republicans can get elected. That used to be the case in my state, my state is now firmly red.

But in all those states, that`s how we get more Democrats elected, and that`s how we remove this incredible power that both Manchin and Sinema have at this very moment.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and as we go forward, do you think from your sources today we heard what Jon Tester had to say, do you think it is possible that there could be some kind of announcement of a general agreement tomorrow?

MCCASKILL: I doubt it. I think it slips to next week. I think Terry McAuliffe is probably doing more than he`s ever done to help the Democrats in Washington by having this election looming and people being nervous about a state that had drifted to the firmly blue side, now appearing to be up for grabs, and so I think everyone`s feeling like we`ve got to get -- they`ve got to get some points on the board before that election so I would anticipate something happening next week.

But it is Thursday, and people took off on planes and trains today. They`ll be talking over the weekend, but I have a feeling there may be some kind of loose framework that Pelosi may talk about tomorrow. But in terms of an actual bill text and really knowing what`s in it, I don`t think that will happen before next week.

O`DONNELL: Oh, yeah, that`s impossible. That`s days away at least, but what they seem to be suggesting is tomorrow could be a day where there`s an announcement that says we have all 50 Democrats in the Senate and we have the house agreed upon this framework with this number, for example, you know, 1.75, 2, whatever that number is with revenue from these areas. This is where the tax revenue would come from, not necessarily highly specific.

But we would know where the tax revenue wasn`t coming from, for example. They could tell us here`s what`s not going to be -- a lot of what the president did tonight, tonight the president said I don`t think we`re going to get this. I don`t think we`re going to get that. He talked about what we`re not going to get. How many weeks of paid leave you might get, could be shorter. He went into a bunch of specifics tonight that could be the kind of thing that are announced in a general framework. I mean, we know -- I mean, the staff of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, they haven`t even heard what Kyrsten Sinema`s tax proposals are.


And they are the people who have to write these things, and they can`t write those overnight.

MCCASKILL: Yeah, except the problem in this instance is that Joe Manchin has been saying to folks I want to see the details before I sign off on it. So there is -- you know, Rachel referred to it chicken and egg, there is one of the problems of announcing a framework because I`m not sure Manchin will sign the dotted line on a framework without the details.

O`DONNELL: All right. So we will -- we will see what happens tomorrow. Claire McCaskill says you can skip tomorrow`s news on this -- on this particular story.

MCCASKILL: Yeah. And by the way, Lawrence, I also said the dodgers were going to win the series on "MORNING JOE" the other morning. So you know, tune in tomorrow to once again find Claire was wrong.

O`DONNELL: You do have a little more authority when it comes to the United States Senate.

Claire McCaskill, thank you very much for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.


O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And joining us now is Sylvia Gonzalez Andersh, one of the members of Senator Sinema`s veterans advisory council who resigned from that position in protest. She served in the air force from 1974 to 1978.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

You know, I am mystified by Senator Sinema. I have never seen Senate behavior like this, certainly on the Democratic side. I have no idea what she thinks about anything.

You know her, you would have supported her.

Do you understand why the senator is going off in directions that are different from what you thought she would do when she was a candidate?

ANDERSH: Well, thank you very much for having me. No, I don`t understand where she`s coming from or what her plan is.

O`DONNELL: And what brought you to the point where you, in effect have, it sounds like given up on her. Have you given up on her?

ANDERSH: No, I`m hoping with all this events that we can come back together because I really want to support her for re-election, but she has to keep her promises that she made to us for me to feel comfortable doing that.

O`DONNELL: What was her reaction to you sending this letter to her basically resigning from this advisory group of hers?

ANDERSH: I got a very cordial voice mail from her. She was very polite, and she thanked me for my service, and that was about it. That was one of the few -- only the second personal interaction I`ve had with her.

O`DONNELL: And what`s -- what happened to your access to her after she won, after she became a senator compared to when she needed you for the campaign?

ANDERSH: It was very perfunctory and performative, it was always -- we felt like we were being used as props.

O`DONNELL: And how important were veteran issues in her Senate campaign?

ANDERSH: Well, there were very serious issues that veterans had about prescription drug prices and veterans affairs, and so we really worked hard to get her elected, and we had the best of intentions in hoping that she would be the senator to really help us move forward.

O`DONNELL: If you had picked up the phone when she called, what would you have said to her today?

ANDERSH: I would have said thank you very much. I appreciate your call. I really want you to really consider why we have done this and to try to take an attention to it and really help us move forward. This is what we want more than anything. We want to protect democracy.

This whole thing is not about politics. It is only about the fear that we have about democracy being under attack.

O`DONNELL: Sylvia Gonzalez Andersh. Thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight.

ANDERSH: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

ANDERSH: Coming up, tonight the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., received the contempt referral that was approved by a bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives today against Steve Bannon.

Congressman Madeleine Dean will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Here`s what the president said tonight about prosecuting Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress.


BIDEN: I did not, have not, and will not pick up the phone and call the attorney general and tell him what he should or should not do in terms of who he should prosecute.


But I answered the question honestly and I think that anyone who does not respond to that kind of question from the legitimate committee in the House of Representatives of the United States Senate should be held accountable.


O`DONNELL: Today, the House of Representatives voted 229-202 to ref refer Steve Bannon for criminal prosecution. Nine Republicans voted with all of the Democrats to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Congressman Peter Meijer, Congressman Fred Upton, Congressman John Katko, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, Congressman Anthony Gonzalez and Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler.

Congresswoman Cheney, the vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack, said this about her Republican colleagues who will not vote to refer Steve Bannon for criminal contempt.



REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There are people in this chamber right now who were evacuated with me and with the rest of us on that day during that attack. People who now seem to have forgotten the danger of the moment, the assault on the Constitution, the assault on our Congress.

Mr. Bannon`s own public statements make clear he knew what was going to happen before it did, and thus, he must have been aware of and may well have been involved in the planning of everything that played out on that day.

The American people deserve to know what he knew and what he did. I reserve the balance of my time.


O`DONNELL: This afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi transmitted the criminal contempt of Congress referral of Steve Bannon to the U.S. attorney`s office in Washington, D.C., where it was received at 5:30 p.m. today at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland said this.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The House of Representatives votes for referral of the contempt charge. The Department of Justice will do what it always does in such circumstances. It will apply the facts and the law and make a decision consistent with the principles of prosecution.


OO`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and served as a house impeachment manager in the second impeachment of Donald Trump.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. I want to begin with where we just ended, and that is the attorney general`s comment today. It`s difficult to imagine him saying anything else under these circumstances, and yet, there is more suspense tonight in Washington about what this attorney general will decide than there has been in a long time.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): And yet, Lawrence, thank you, number one, for having me tonight. It`s a pleasure to be with you.

I was in that hearing room today with Attorney General Merrick Garland, and if you flash back, sadly, to the last administration and how difficult it was to have then Attorney General Barr come before us, it was refreshing that we had Merrick Garland there and that he so thoughtfully said they will follow the evidence and the law and where it guides us. A very refreshing, it shouldn`t need to be refreshing but a very refreshing moment today. I was proud of that moment.

O`DONNELL: Is there any response from the justice department that you could accept that was something other than the prosecution of Steve Bannon?

DEAN: Oh, I`m -- number one, I`m so pleased with our committee and moving so swiftly, and making sure that we brought the vote to the floor of the House tonight and made sure that the referral was made to the department of justice.

So yes, we saw in the last administration -- under the last administration a dragging of feet, a Department of Justice that was wetted to the Trump administration in a very perverse way. We are still going to learn more about.

So today was a really good day, I have to tell you that, a strange intersection of literally Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking before the Judiciary Committee of which I am vice chair and a member and then literally going to the floor of the House to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress.

And I want to remind people that Mr. Bannon is a small player in this. He`s a big player in the corruption, but much more importantly will be that the facts come before the American people, come before Congress. We uphold our oversight responsibilities and let everybody know exactly what happened so that we never let it happen again.

This was an attack on our democracy, an attack incited by a failed former president, an attack of Americans by Americans. I know you know this, Lawrence, but an attack by Americans on Americans where there was destruction, there was violence. There was literally desecration, and there was ultimately death and an attack on our democracy.

We must never let it happen again, and we know we`re at threat that it could happen again.

O`DONNELL: Today`s vote on the House floor was about January 6th. I imagine that would have brought back some feelings about what it was like to be on that floor on January 6th when the people, Steve Bannon was clearing for were attacking that building and trying to get into that chamber.

DEAN: Strange you should say that. There was a very sweet moment tonight where the spouses of members of Congress had a chance to be together in a social way, and I was standing next to Dean Phillips.


He`s my classmate, my friend and colleague, and he and I recalled being on in the gallery standing next to each other, as I call that shame, and he called out other things in terms of what was going on, on the floor of the House. You know what happened? Sadly, the Republican party knows no shame. And that`s what really worries me the most. This is a party that has become a cult. It`s a party that has lost its soul in its way. I really commend Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. I hope they reclaim this party for themselves and for our country, we need a healthy two-party system. But I stood there with Dean Phillips tonight, recalled our moments up in the gallery, where we call that shame, and where he called out that it was just outrageous.

The false arguments that members - elected members of the Republican party were making, in terms of trying to defeat our election. Sadly, January 6th is not the end of what has happened. What we are at risk for now is a repeat of January 6th, and sadly, something much worse.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thank you very much for joining us on this important night. We really appreciate.

DEAN: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And coming up, the Trump cult is trying to turn fantasy into history. That`s next.




REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Today, Donald Trump said the insurrection took place on November 3rd. No, Mr. Trump, I`m sorry. That`s what we call an election. We know an insurrection when we see one, in this body, because we lived through one.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump issued a written statement today saying, the insurrection took place on November 3rd, Election Day, January 6th was the protest. Donald Trump is trying to turn his fairy tales about the election into history in the minds of his supporters. This is not the first time; mythology has been used to shape what we think of as American history.

The new documentary Civil War, which will premiere on MSNBC, this Sunday, is about the story America tells itself about our history. It shows that the history of the civil war that I was taught in high school was a mix of history and mythology.


DAVID BLIGHT, PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN HISTORY AND AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES, YALE UNIVERSITY: We`ve never really had a racial reckoning. The problems started first, immediately after the war. If you want north and south to get together and get along again, you don`t talk about causes and consequences, you talk about the mutual valor on that battlefield.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is David Blight, Professor of American History and African American Studies at Yale University. He`s the author of Race and Reunion, the Civil War, An American Memory. And Eugene Robinson, an Associate Editor, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post. He is an MSNBC political analyst. And Professor Blight, let me begin with you and there is that that perennial question of what does the Civil War mean to us now, what you can ask at any time on any day in our history, but it seems much more vivid now.

BLIGHT: It does seem more vivid now. And it has seen that way, especially since the massacre in Charleston, and 2015, if not even before, a whole host of events and reactions have brought the Civil War back into our consciousness. But it`s always also there and every way we discuss reconstruction, whether it`s about the meaning of the 14th amendment, the meaning of federalism, the meaning of federal power versus state power, and of course, the meaning race and the meaning of equality as long as we have a politics of race, we will always have this politics of civil war memory, the two go hand in glove, for better and for worse.

And that statement by Trump. You know, it`s just one of a million now of these Orwellian statements that says true is false and night is day, but it`s really no different than the kinds of arguments that the lost cause mythology developed in the late 19th century, saying they never fought for slavery, saying they were only defeated by superior numbers and resources, saying that they never lost on the battlefield and saying that their racial system of slavery was really this benign institution, now crushed by the northern Leviathan.

I mean, those stories, those myths took years and years to develop and take over the culture. It still remains to be seen whether what Trump and Trumpism is doing constitutes a new lost cause, but they`re getting very close to it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more from the MSNBC documentary, The Civil War, let`s listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one on the civilian side, on the Confederate presidency was ever forced to concede and repudiate what they believed, and we allowed a group of people that waged an armed insurrection against the government to build statues, to their heroes, so that that has kept it alive. We have never solved the core problem, the civil war.


O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, will they be somewhere building a statue to insurrectionists from January 6th.


EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: I really fear that someday they might, I mean, Lawrence as you know, I grew up at a time in a place where the civil war was still very present, a century later. And in my hometown of Orangeburg, South Carolina, on the main street, there`s a Confederate Memorial that was erected in not right after the civil war, but in 1892, when, as Professor Blight said, and has written so eloquently when this myth of the lost clause was being constructed, and it took a long time to build, and to elaborate and to embed in the American consciousness. Thing to speed it up now.

So, who knows whether this mythology of January 6th that can stop mythology of November 3rd, will actually take root in that way? And I also must say that I am a huge fan of Professor Blight. And anyone who has not read his magisterial biography of Frederick Douglass should immediately do so.

O`DONNELL: I`m so glad you said that. I want to read a passage of the FBI excerpt in their interview with one of the attackers of the Capitol, the one who actually was a tasing officer Fanone. This is a very, very violent attacker in the Capitol and he said to the FBI, we thought we were going to hit it like a civil war, there was going to be a big battle, I thought that there was going to be fighting for some reason in different cities. And I thought that the main fight, the main battle was going to be in DC because Trump called everyone there. And we thought we were being - we were part of a bigger thing. We thought we were being used as part of a plan to save the country, to save America, save the Constitution, and the election, the integrity.

Professor Blight, they thought that they were the leading edge of a civil war.

BLIGHT: Well, that poor man, it`s a shame he can`t think for himself about any of this. But yes, they apparently did see themselves as part of a larger movement, a larger phenomenon. Ever since that day, I have, I have wondered and been thankful that they didn`t have more guns. I mean, thank God, they didn`t. And if they`d have stormed into the Capitol shooting, we don`t even want to think how many people would have died and been casualties.

But this is this mentality now of grievance, of resistance, of rage against whatever they`re choosing to rage against, against big government, against pluralism, against abortion in some states, against immigration, against our continuing pluralistic American society that Trump tapped into. There`s no question about this. We`ve been saying this for years. A layered rage in American society and called out on January 6th, but every time I think about January 6th now or I get asked about it. To me, I go back to other points in history where we had similar coup d`etat.

This is not a new thing. It`s the first time it`s ever happened in the U.S. Capitol, that`s for sure. But the Wilmington massacre and coup of 1898, in North Carolina and many others like it, that happens to be one of the most egregious and one of the most violent. That too was a situation where the white supremacists` leaders of that movement said they were protest, killing 60 people to take over the North Carolina government. The real Insurrection, they said had been reconstruction and the ways in which black people managed to create a fledgling kind of new equality and actually get elected to office. We`ve been here before. But this is a very serious moment about just what as you asked Eugene, what will this event become, for this American Right-wing?

Will it become their new martyred moment around which they develop a lost cause, or will just enough of them come to their senses and give it up?

O`DONNELL: Professor David Blight, thank you for joining us tonight. Thank you for participating in the MSNBC documentary. Eugene Robinson, as always, thank you very much for joining us. And author Isabel Wilkerson will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Our next guest is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson. She is the acclaimed author of the bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns, the Epic Story of America`s Great Migration. And last year, she published another masterwork, Cast, the Origins of our Discontents.

In Cast, Isabel Wilkerson writes this about the aftermath of the Civil War. It turns out that after the war, many white Northerners felt a greater kinship with the former Confederates who had betrayed the union than with the people whose free labor built the country`s wealth and over whose freedom the Civil War had been fought, the North`s conciliatory embrace of the former Confederates compelled Frederick Douglass to remind Americans that there was a right side and a wrong side in the late war, which no sentiment ought to cause us to forget, adding that it is no part of our duty to confound right with wrong or loyalty with treason.


Joining us now is Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and the author of The New York Times bestseller, Cast, the Origins of our Discontent. Isabel, I am very eager to talk to you, as I always, always am. But coming off of that discussion that we were just having here about the primacy of the civil war in the way we think about where we are today.

ISABEL WILKERSON, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST: Well, I think that when we think about how divided we are as a nation, I`m reminded of how the majority of Americans don`t get a chance, have not gotten the opportunity to know our country`s true history, our true and full history. And one of the reasons why I can say that is because with the books that I`ve written, one of the major responses that I get is from people is that they`ll say to me, I had no idea, I had no idea that this happened in our country. And I had no idea that this happened in my region of the country, I had no idea.

And not having an idea has consequences. Because people, when they don`t have an idea, then that means that it`s harder to see what we have in common, it`s harder to get on the same page about how we got to where we are, it`s harder to understand how we happen to be where we are. And you know, when you think about the Civil War, I mean, most war, in most wars, it is the victors who write the story. It`s the victors who erect the monuments to their victory.

And in the civil war in this country, in our country, it was actually those who were defeated, who ended up erecting monuments to themselves in some ways, memorializing the symbolism of their cause, and then dominating the narrative, ultimately, from Birth of a Nation to Gone with the Wind. And so, there was never a true reckoning after the civil war. And for that reason, we are still, we are still reliving it, it`s almost as if there`s a feedback loop that continues to this day.

O`DONNELL: It seems that I`m just throwing this out there as one of the things that didn`t happen that could have left the marker of a reckoning. I mean, if, for example, there had been some penalty exacted upon the states that made war on the other states. I mean, just as an example, if we said, OK, welcome back to the United States of America, each one of you now get one senator, instead of two. And that would have been that - we would have had that permanent thing that we got to see about, there is a price of - there`s something happened, something grievous happened, for which a price had to be paid.

WILKERSON: You`re absolutely right, there were no consequences, there were no consequences to moving forward. As, first of all, the goal was to reunite the country, to keep the country intact and that is what occurred.

But when I think about how disconnected we are, from our histories, speaking to your point, it`s hard to get past the idea of slavery and the fact that slavery was a central part of the American - of the southern economy and the southern way of life. And it was that way of life that was one of the central aspects of what the war was about. And I want to say a little bit about what slavery really means, how it`s connected to how we are where we are now.

First of all, slavery lasted for so long, it lasted for 246 years, that`s 12 generations, how many grades do we have to add to the word grandparent to begin to imagine, to begin to comprehend how long slavery lasted? Slavery lasted for so long that and this is an important thing to know. It will not be until next year 2022, that the United States will have been a free and independent nation for as long as slavery lasts on this soil.

Slavery lasted for so long, that no adult alive today will be alive at the point at which African Americans will have been free for as long as African Americans were enslaved. That will not happen until the year 2111. But it will not be until the second decade of the 22nd century, that African Americans will have been free for as long as they were enslaved, that there will be parity between freedom and enslavement and that is an astonishing, very sobering way of looking at what our country has been through.

And we have not addressed much less reconcile this history. I mean, we have to - those of us alive today have to find a way to explain to succeeding generations. How is it that we saw a confederate flag inside the United States Capitol this year, January 6th, how is it that a rioter was able to deliver the confederate flag farther than Robert E. Lee himself?


That is what those of us alive today are tasked with having to explain to succeeding generations. And this is a reminder that we are still living with the aftermath and consequences of this war.

O`DONNELL: Isabel Wilkerson, thank you very much as always, for joining us again tonight. Really appreciate it. Tonight`s last word is next.


O`DONNELL: A programming note on our discussion here tonight. You can watch the Peacock original film Civil War on MSNBC, this Sunday night at 10 PM. That`s after Succession. So, you can watch it. You should record it. You`re going to want to watch it more than once. It is a really important documentary.