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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 10/25/21

Guests: John Yarmuth, Amy Klobuchar, Eric Swalwell, Dahlia Lithwick


Interview with Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the chairman of the House Budget Committee. Documents suggest Facebook knew its algorithm could push some to extreme content. The January 6th committee is following the money to the hotel where the Trump misfits Rudy Giuliani and Steven Bannon were conspiring to overthrow American democracy. Today jury selection began in the federal civil rights trial of the Nazi organizers of the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia four years ago, who chanted through the night, "Jews will not replace us."



I was listening intently to your Elizabeth Warren interview about Facebook, but especially at the end. Suddenly from out of nowhere Elizabeth Warren`s wealth tax, tax on billionaires, is now dead center in the negotiating action on the legislation that`s pending in the Congress.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That`s exactly right. And Senator Sinema even more so than Senator Manchin has reportedly been focused on what the payment mechanisms are going to be and what the tax changes are going to be that foot the cost for this bill, and if Senator Warren and Senator Sinema are talking about that and Senator Warren is here expounding on how a wealth tax on a limited number of the very richest people and corporations in the country would work to pay for it, then that`s -- that`s -- those are very clear lights on the runway for the landing.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and the last time we heard about it was way back in the presidential campaign when Elizabeth Warren was still a candidate, and it looked like coming into the Biden administration, but that idea was gone, at least for this presidency, and would have to patiently wait for the Warren presidency or another presidency for it to happen.

But here we are. It could be happening next week for all we know.

MADDOW: Well, I think she has been patiently keeping that idea alive and nurturing it and talking it up. She has raised it in other interviews with me before this and even since the presidential campaign, but it may be. I mean we`ll see.

It may be that Senator Sinema`s sort of quixotic series of objections and sort of sigh lend holds on progress here, it may be harder for those of us outside the process to read what she might say yes to than it is to read for -- than it is for senators who actually get to talk to her about these things. If Senator Warren is part of the conversation about these pay-fors, that`s a big deal because she has such a specific proposal along those lines.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, the best sign I have heard about whatever it is that`s going through Senator Sinema`s mind is that she was meeting with senator warren.

MADDOW: Yes, yes.

O`DONNELL: That is very good news for America.

MADDOW: Exactly. Exactly, because if Elizabeth Warren has one thing, it is a plan and she will share it with you.

O`DONNELL: That`s correct.

MADDOW: So, she has been sharing it with Senator Sinema. That`s news.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, it was infrastructure weekend this weekend with president Joe Biden in with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin at the president`s home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday morning. And when those two senators were meeting with the president, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We`ve 90 percent of the bill agreed to and written. We just have some of the last decisions to be made.


O`DONNELL: One of the last decisions to be made includes what Rachel and I were just talking about, a last-minute rewriting of one of the first decisions that was made about the Biden social infrastructure bill, and that is how to pay for it. This rewriting might be happening because one senator, Kyrsten Sinema, is apparently opposed to increases in the top income tax rate for personal income taxes and in increases in the corporate tax rate that President Biden proposed and that the Democratic leadership is now working on, a whole new form of taxation for billionaires only. It is a version of what Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed when she was a presidential candidate.

"The New York Times" reported this weekend that the new tax would be applied to the assets of people who have a billion dollars or more and who earn $100 million in income three years in a row, that is or earn $100 million in income three years in a row. So you have a billion or you earn there 100 million a year three years in a row, you will be subject to this tax. That new billionaire`s tax would be much more complex than the current personal income tax law is, and it could be the single most complex tax law ever written by the staffs of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, and it then could be the IRS`s most difficult tax law to enforce.


This is not easy stuff, but it would be the very first attempt in the history of American taxation to capture tax revenue from the accumulated assets of billionaires.

Senator Joe Manchin was asked about the billionaire`s tax policy today.


REPORTER: Senator, where are you on a wealth tax? Do you support that?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I support basically everyone paying their fair share of taxes, how you get to it, you know. We all have a different approach to that, but as far as on the taxation, I think that corporations should be paying at least a minimum, if you are doing business in the United States. I think that anyone who basically has the protection of this country should be paying, absolutely.

REPORTER: Are you open to a billionaire`s tax that Biden is talking about?

MANCHIN: I`m open to anything type of thing that makes people pay that are not paying now. So, people that don`t report income like you and I do and earned income, there has to be a way for them to pay their fair share.


O`DONNELL: President Biden and the Democratic leadership are hoping for a publicly announced agreement among all Democrats on the basic outline for a bill before the president leaves on Thursday to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland.


REPORTER: Senator, what are the chances of a deal this week?

MANCHIN: Well, having it finished with all of the T`s and I`s and everything, you know, crossed and dotted, that will be difficult from the Senate side because we have an awful lot of text to go through, but as far as conceptually we should.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky. He is the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.

All right. Let`s begin with the timing question. Do you believe that an agreement on an overall framework is possible before the president leaves for Scotland on Thursday?

REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D-KY): Yes, Lawrence, thanks for having me on. I do believe it is possible. As you mentioned, the proposals now for the billionaire`s tax are pretty complex. I think we can come to conceptual agreement, but, you know, what I prefer to think of is we`re not -- this is not a tax bill. This is not something that we should focus on as a way to create equity in the tax code.

Those are noble objectives, but what we are talking about here is making for the first time, I think at least in my eight terms in the Congress, is a futuristic approach to our society. This is a way to build a foundation where every American can truly have a chance at realizing the American Dream and have a real stake in the economy.

That`s what this is about. The pay-fors, the offsets, whatever you want to talk about, to me, that`s secondary. This is about what we`re really proposing to do for the American people.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s just concentrate on the secondary for a moment because it is one of the final pieces.


O`DONNELL: As the speaker said, 90 percent of this is agreed to, and what isn`t agreed to yet because of Senator Sinema is the pay-for piece of it which involves taxation. So Richie Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has already marked up, as they say, written a bill in that committee that does not include any of these concepts that are now being studied by Senator Warren, by Ron Wyden, chairman of Senate Finance Committee. So, that`s a pretty dramatic last-minute kind of change to have to make.

It sounded like Chairman Neal is extremely reluctant to do this.

YARMUTH: Well, I talked to Chairman Neal just yesterday. You are right. This is a new proposal. It kind of came out of the blue. This has never been on the table in terms of having a national discussion, and, again, it seems to be a little bit of a reach to try and do something that is probably undeniably popular but not necessarily effective in actually paying for this.

What we`re probably trying to do here is in essence predicting the stock market, because if you have a Jeff Bezos who has multi billions of dollars in Amazon stock and you are worried about -- you are planning to tax him on the appreciation of his stock, if the market goes down, then there`s no revenue there.

So I`m not sure, again, we should think about this as an offset for the incredibly important investments that we`re proposing to make but more of, again, a tax equity issue. I think we have to separate those two.


O`DONNELL: What would you say at this point the Democrats in the House believe absolutely must be included in the final version of this bill?

YARMUTH: Well, you`ll get a little bit of a difference of opinion of that. I think if I had to rank them, extending the child tax credit would probably be number one or very close to the top. Child care is another one. We have a number of members who are -- for whom the top priority is curing the Medicaid gap for the dozen or so states that did not expand Medicaid coverage in the Affordable Care Act.

And then, of course, you have paid family and medical leave, which I think is something that most every Democrat is strongly in favor of because we`re the only country in the industrialized world that doesn`t have that.

So that`s how I would rank them. You know, I think certainly in terms of in my personal opinion, early childhood education, 3 and 4 year old, is the most important thing we can do to guarantee that woo have, guarantee that we have, again, a workforce a generation from now that is well-educated, has a strong foundation. I hope we don`t lose sight of that one as well.

O`DONNELL: Chairman John Yarmuth, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight, Mr. Chairman. We always appreciate it.

YARMUTH: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And joining our discussion now, E.J., columnist for "The Washington Post", and Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning for "The Washington Post." He`s also an MSNBC analyst.

Gene, this is a kind of extraordinary development on the pay-for side. Pardon me for being too excited about what the chairman calls the secondary part of the bill, but there is no bill without the pay-fors as everybody knows.

And so, Senator Warren`s idea that seems as though it was going to have to wait for some other era is suddenly what is on the table.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It seems to be, Lawrence, but is it really going to happen in three days or in a week? I mean, you know, a kind of taxation that we`ve never done before, now, in principle it sounds to me like a really good idea to make mega billionaires pay more in taxes, and one of the things that we`ve seen over the past 40 years is this incredible accumulation of wealth at the top and a diminution of wealth right at the middle and the bottom.

So, in principle, it`s a good idea, and Elizabeth Warren, as you and Rachel said, if she has anything to kind of plan, though I`m sure she has a carefully thought-out plan. Nonetheless, the difficulty of trying to figure out exactly how this is supposed to work, exactly how it is supposed to be enforced in a matter of a few days strikes me as more than what Congressman Yarmuth called a bit of a stretch.

O`DONNELL: Well, the staff of the Senate Finance Committee has a big head start on it because Chairman Wyden has been thinking about it and toying with different plans. Ways and Means on the House side, they`re not ready for this.

Listen to what Senator Warren said to Rachel in the last hour.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We have an opportunity right now to do a billionaire`s tax for -- yeah, Jeff Bezos, I`m looking at you. These guys who declare $83,000 in income and, of course, control billions of dollars in assets.

If we come in and do a tax on the fewer than 700 billionaires we`ve got, and we do it based not on their income, we got to do it based on what they own, and we do a minimum corporate tax, we cannot only help fund a lot of that child care and climate change fight that we need to fund, we can also help make the system a little fairer.


O`DONNELL: EJ, this could be the most popular tax proposal that the Democrats have ever advanced.

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think there are 700 billionaires in the country, so about 350 million to 700 is a big margin. Sorry, 330 million.

I think we should reflect for a moment on how politics is a strange and wondrous thing. Here was Senator Sinema opposing moderately progressive tax increases, and because she opposed those we are getting one of the most extraordinarily progressive tax proposals we have ever seen in the country.


And I was also struck by that Joe Manchin clip you showed where at least for one moment, the guy who has been mostly fighting people on the left sounded a bit like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders saying we should tax capital. Now, I thought that interview with Representative Yarmuth was very revealing. If there was cold water on this show, it was in that segment and he was suggesting, boy, I don`t think we could write this that fast. He also spoke as a budget guy, not a ways and means guy, because he didn`t want to talk about the taxes. He wanted to talk about the good stuff that we`re spending money on.

But here is a thought I`ve been having over the last 24 hours, which is this bill is a lot smaller than progressives had hoped for. If progressives didn`t get all of the spending they wanted but did get one of the most extraordinary breakthroughs in progressive taxation we`ve ever seen, they could be out there crowing. I think it is very important for President Biden that this thing be declared a victory, and for that to happen he needs the progressives to be saying, this is a big victory.

O`DONNELL: Gene, this could be one of those proposals that takes hold in the Senate because it is the only way the bill can pass the senate, is by using this particular new form of taxation. Even though Chairman Richie Neal doesn`t like it on the tax-writing committee and maybe even a lot of the leadership doesn`t like it in the House, the progressive caucus in the House, I would think, would be supportive of this idea.

ROBINSON: I would think so. Remember, the caucus is like half the Democratic Caucus, the Progressive Caucus is the power that are really in the House of Representatives. I think, yes, they would be extraordinarily pleased if, as E.J. said, this very, very progressive idea suddenly became a reality.

You know, the suddenly part is blowing my mind --


O`DONNELL: -- that this could be done within a few days. But let`s see. Let`s see if they can get it done.

O`DONNELL: Half of "The Washington Post" op-ed page joining us tonight, Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, history will not judge us kindly. That was one of the many reactions from Facebook employees as they watched the January 6th attack on the Capitol. We`ll talk to the reporter who got the documents from the whistleblower and broke this story for the world. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: On January 6th in the middle of the Trump mob`s attack on the Capitol, a Facebook employee made this post on an internal message board: One of the darkest days in the history of democracy and self-governance. History will not judge us kindly. While Facebook executives were trying to figure out their response, employees knew that the company`s own policies had contributed to the attack on the capitol that the world was watching.

Another employee wrote: All due respect, but haven`t we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence? We`ve been fuelling this fire for a long time and we shouldn`t be surprised it is now out of control.

These comments are from thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents released by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who left the company in May and has come forward as a whistleblower. One of the most important decisions she had to make in going public was who was the first person she should provide information to. Who would understand and correctly present the information that Frances Haugen could provide?

She chose to hand over documents to our next guest, "Wall Street Journal" reporter Jeff Horowitz because she was impressed with his reporting on Facebook worldwide, especially his reporting on Facebook`s operations in India. Here is how Jeff Horowitz and the team of reporters at the "Wall Street Journal" summarized their review of the documents: Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands. Time and again, the documents show Facebook`s researchers have identified the platform`s ill effects. Time and again, despite congressional hearings, its own pledges and numerous media exposes, the company didn`t fix them. The documents offer perhaps the clearest picture thus far of how broadly Facebook`s problems are known inside the company, up to the chief executive himself.

Joining us now is Jeff Horwitz, the lead investigative reporter on the Facebook files by "The Wall Street Journal."

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Jeff. Really appreciate it. Why --


O`DONNELL: Why, if they know these things, why if Mark Zuckerberg knows these things, have they not corrected them?

HORWITZ: You know, talking to a lot of current and former employees, there is a strong sense that this is Mark Zuckerberg`s company and that he really, truly does love the product. Like, thinks that Facebook should be kind of everything to everyone, and I think that`s kind of led to an approach where the focus has been on growth and the focus has been on increasing usage. And whether or not that usage was safe or whether they had, say, the automated systems to help police things that might be dangerous in certain countries that are at risk of ethnic bloodshed, those questions were sort of set aside and the company just went ahead and grew.


O`DONNELL: So if Mark Zuckerberg were running an airline, all he would care about the growing and he would have airplanes that were not well- maintained and he would just have plane crashes all the time as part of doing business?

HORWITZ: I think I can say, having run through as many of the documents as I have and spent as much time with them, that it is -- Facebook is a very - - they are innovative. They do a lot of really interesting things. They build a lot of neat things, but maintaining them isn`t necessarily the strength. It is probably the best that this isn`t an airline.

O`DONNELL: Why does Zuckerberg go to work every day? What does he want now? He made -- turned his little college project into an enormous and worldwide important company. He has $120 billion or something like that.

Is it the money? He`s not doing anything particularly interesting. He`s not one of those guys who has got rockets going into space and riding into space himself. He`s not creating new products the way Elon Musk does.

What is it? What does he go to work for?

HORWITZ: I think it seems like mark actually does -- he`s not going into space and he`s not building electric cars, but I think the focus right now at the company, it has been for a few years, has been on two things. One is just sort of maintaining the company and its existing products, but even more so now the metaverse, which is kind of the grand label for virtual reality that Facebook is working on right now.

That really seems to be where his interest and his heart is at the moment. I think one of the interesting things is that, you know, even as the company faces as much public scrutiny as it does at the moment, they really do seem -- Mark personally seems much more interested in the metaverse and in Facebook`s work on that stuff than he does in, say, the real world that Facebook lives in.

O`DONNELL: Let me -- before you go, what would it take to get Facebook to be good on the maintenance, as we call it?

HORWITZ: I think a lot of it is transparency and a lot of it is also simplicity. Facebook has just continued to build things. The number of recommendation systems alone inside the company, it is scores. I had the number somewhere, but they simply -- it is not the size of Facebook, it is the complexity of it that seems like it is causing them problems. And to some degree it is the willingness to keep pushing things forward, even when they don`t necessarily understand the context or even the mechanics fully of the product.

So I would say simplicity is, according to the employees I have spoken to, may be the biggest thing they could do.

O`DONNELL: Jeff Horowitz, thank you very much for joining us tonight. The Pulitzer Prize is in the mail I`m sure. Thank you very much for your reporting. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

HORWITZ: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And Senator Amy Klobuchar questioned Frances Haugen in a Senate hearing three weeks ago.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): You said that Facebook implemented safeguards to reduce misinformation ahead of the 2020 election but turned off those safeguards right after the election. You know that the insurrection occurred January 6th. Do you think that Facebook turned off the safeguards because they were costing the company money, because it was reducing profits?

FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Facebook changed those safety defaults in the run-up to the election because they knew they were dangerous and because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the acceleration of the platform back after the election, they returned to their original defaults. The fact that they had to break the glass on January 6th and turn them back on, I think that`s deeply problematic.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Thank you very much for joining us, Senator.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I have to say, this situation is just crazy. This is an extremely dangerous product that can be a safe product just like air travel. Air travel is extremely dangerous if you just don`t do the maintenance.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I love the way Mr. Horowitz described this as a company that just kept going day after day, how can we make more money, how can we get more people hooked, how can we expand the content? And pretty soon they realized, hey, the more angry content, the more people will read it and then we can target them with ads and make more money. It was basically that straightforward.

But as he described, unraveling it and putting some safeguards on it for the rest of us is not so easy. And I would start with this. We simply have done nothing in Washington. I have been crying for this, calling for it for years now.


We must have a federal privacy law and we are working on that in the Commerce Committee under Senator Cantwell`s leadership.

We have to get that done. So people -- when people are asked, do I want my data to be used? A lot of them say no. Apple knew that. They just asked, 75 percent of their customers decided they didn`t want to share their data.

Number two, more stuff on kids, expanding the child privacy rules that are already in place, the law.

Number three, doing something about the algorithms that was pointed out by Mr. Horowitz, making it more transparent what is happening, and then competition policy.

And finally, making them liable for things when there is hate speech and when there`s violence and misinformation in the middle of a public health crisis.

He is clearly -- Mark Zuckerberg himself said he was on pretty much a no- apology tour, I believe, a few weeks back. I don`t know if that`s where he still is, but the point is that I don`t think they`re going to get there on their own.

O`DONNELL: Well, they absolutely are not. I mean that`s what the "Wall Street Journal`s" reporting has proven here from inside the company is that Zuckerberg knows, he knows everything.


O`DONNELL: And he doesn`t care. He does not care.


O`DONNELL: He`s not going to do anything to --


O`DONNELL: -- do anything to make this product safer for people to use.

KLOBUCHAR: And whether he intended to have it be unsafe from the beginning, it is really not as relevant to me anymore. What is relevant is that it isn`t safe and that they`re going to continue doing this until we start passing some laws.

You can`t have 20 percent of the economy be tech and then not having passed any privacy laws on the federal level, no changes to competition policy, which I`ve long been requesting, wrote a book about it, have a major bill I just put out, bipartisan bill on how to stop self-preferencing and some of the other crap that goes on when people are trying to gain a competitive edge.

I think people need to stop listening to the over 300 tech lobbyists that are crawling around these halls where I am right now and start listening to the moms and dads in their own state who will tell you that they are desperately trying to figure out how to protect their kids.

One way you do it with rules, the other way you do it is by allowing competitors in the marketplace and not letting Facebook buy everything so that you can have competitors that perhaps would have more safeguards for misinformation or protect kids more. That just isn`t happening right now.

O`DONNELL: Mark Zuckerberg said tonight that "The Wall Street Journal`s" reporting and Frances Haugen`s whistle blowing and supplying thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pages of data and information, what he says about that is, "What we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively leak documents to paint a false picture of our company."

What is your reaction to that?

KLOBUCHAR: You know, I heard that tonight, and I thought, ok, first of all I didn`t even know this information was coming out. I was going on my own on this for years, trying to put in some rules of the road. I talked on your show about it, for political ads, trying to do something about all of the hate speech that was part of what led, and that`s what the documents showed today, on January 6th.

The fact that they weren`t doing anything, he claimed that they limited 96 percent of hate speech. His own researchers saying it was only 5 percent.

So what this is, is the truth is coming out. At some point the truth was going to come out. And then the question is what do you do about it. And that`s what I`m asking my colleagues. We`re going to have another hearing on other platforms tomorrow in the Commerce Committee, and we will move forward from there. But we have to get something done now, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us now.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.

Thank you.

And coming up, the January 6th committee is following the money to the hotel where the Trump misfits Rudy Giuliani and Steven Bannon were conspiring to overthrow American democracy.

Congressman Eric Swalwell joins us next.



O`DONNELL: The Willard Hotel, built in 1847, is just steps away from the White House. It is where Abraham Lincoln stayed before he moved in to the White House. We don`t yet know if the Lincoln Suite was one of the rooms where a team of Trump charlatans and criminals were plotting to crush democracy in America on January 6th.

"The Washington Post" reports "They called it the command center, a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard Hotel a block from the White House where some of President Trump`s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election."

The command center was populated by, among others, Rudy Giuliani, who is no longer allowed to practice law in Washington, D.C. or New York; the incompetent and corrupts Bernard Kerik who Giuliani installed as New York City Police Commissioner before Kerik was convicted of federal crimes and then pardoned by Donald Trump. Steve Bannon, who was charged with federal crimes and then pardoned by Donald Trump before trial. And lawyer John Eastman who is now desperately trying to disown the false legal memos he wrote for Donald Trump saying that Vice President Mike Pence could decide who the next President of the United States should be. John Eastman is now obviously living in fear of losing his right to practice law like Rudy Giuliani.

"The Washington Post" reports, quote, "They sought to make the case to Pence and ramp up pressure on him to take actions on January 6th that Eastman suggested were within his powers. Three people familiar with the operation said speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.


O`DONNELL: Their activities included finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures to challenge Biden`s victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states."

House Select Committee chairman Bennie Thompson said this yesterday about issuing a subpoena to Donald Trump.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MI): Let me say that nobody is off limits. We will be on an ongoing basis issuing subpoenas to various individuals around the country.

If we have enough evidence -- and obviously we are pursuing evidence, but if the evidence leads to former President Trump or anyone else, the committee is not reticent (ph) in pushing back on it. We will go forward with it.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He served as a House impeachment manager in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. And he is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Congressman Swalwell. Chairman Thompson is saying that anything is possible in terms of where the subpoenas will be going next. But it seems like the January 6th committee does have to calculate how long a fight, a legal fight Donald Trump would put up over a subpoena.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Lawrence, we should assume that he is going to fight everything. That`s what he does. He is a legal terrorist, as we would call him on the impeachment team.

We offered for him to come and testify in impeachment number two, and if you recall, he refused that offer and we believe that showed a consciousness of guilt. And if he makes the same refusal if he is asked for January 6th, I hope the country recognizes the reason he won`t come forward is that he`s guilty.

As it relates to the sedition suite at the Willard Hotel, yes, we should know who paid for and stayed in that suite at the very least.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and apparently there were several of them. Let`s listen to John Eastman, the lawyer who was there providing the phony legal memos to justify stealing the presidency.

Listen to him on a podcast talking about that command center and then running over to the rally so that he could speak himself.


JOHN EASTMAN, LAWYER: We had a war room at the Willard Hotel, kind of coordinating all of the communications. And when the president`s arrival to the rally in front of the White House was delayed, Rudy Giuliani and I were asked if we would come on stage and say a few words.

The rally organizers had a number of campaign and Trump family people that had been speaking all morning long, but then there was all of a sudden a big gap before the president was going to be able to arrive. And so I wasn`t even the one that was asked.


O`DONNELL: It sounds like the January 6th committee has a lot more questions for him about what was going on at the Willard.

SWALWELL: That`s right, Lawrence. If they were successful in the coup, he would be celebrated for his work, but now Mr. Eastman, like so many others, are distancing themselves. And that`s to be expected.

But what he described there shows organization, premeditation, planning, a purposefulness in what they were doing, which leads me to believe that this was anything but some sort of impromptu, extemporaneous rally.

This is something that for nearly two-and-a-half weeks Donald Trump had prepped his supporters for when he sent that 2:00 a.m. tweet saying, January 6th will be wild, and then spent $50 million all the way up to January 5 inviting, inciting and assembling people to go.

And then, of course, his remarks at the ellipse that day where he aimed his supporters to go somewhere he wasn`t willing to go himself, to the Capitol.

O`DONNELL: President Biden has once again denied a Donald Trump request of executive privilege for material subpoenaed -- records subpoenaed from the Trump White House that are now stored at the archives. President Biden sent a letter to the archives saying -- the White House sent a letter to the archives saying, "President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interest of the United States and therefore is not justified. President Biden does not uphold the former president`s assertion of privilege."

And so there we see once again Joe Biden saying, no, turn over all the information.

SWALWELL: That`s right. Executive power does, it turns out, has some boundaries, meaning that when you help incite, assemble a mob and aim that mob at the Capitol to essentially overthrow the government, that that`s going a little bit too far.


SWALWELL: And we hope that sticks. The Department of Justice also in my case, in my lawsuit against the former president, has said that Mo Brooks, who we have listed as a plaintiff, was not within his scope of employment when he went and showed up at that rally and made his inflammatory remarks.

Look, Lawrence, what we are seeing with the rhetoric that`s coming out from January 6th and those that seek to defend it is this is a party that has chosen violence over voting, grievances over governing, and lies over leading, and we cannot expose that enough.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, today four years after Nazis descended on Charlottesville, Virginia they are being sued in federal court using a law that was written to stop Ku Klux Klan in the South.

Charlottesville was Dahlia Lithwick`s home. She was there when Nazis invaded four years ago, and she will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Today jury selection began in the federal civil rights trial of the Nazi organizers of the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia four years ago, who chanted through the night, "Jews will not replace us."

Nine plaintiffs have brought a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging two dozen individuals and organizations conspired to commit racially-motivated violence.

The plaintiffs complaint reads "The violence, suffering and emotional distress that occurred in Charlottesville was a direct, intended and foreseeable result of defendants` unlawful conspiracy.

The plaintiffs` lawyers argue the organizers violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which NBC News notes could provide a model to hold those who incite right wing extremist violence accountable.

The evidence includes leaked communications that the lawyers say proved the violence was premeditated. Amy Spitalnik, executive director of the civil rights group backing the lawsuit tells BuzzFeed News they hope the trial will quote "prevent them from striking again by effectively bankrupting and dismantling these groups and their leaders".

And joining us now is Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for and host of the podcast, Amicus.

Dahlia, thank you very much for joining us. I know you lived there for about 17 years I think in Charlottesville, and lived there at the time. What was it like as we were watching it in national TV coverage but you had a closer view.

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR/LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE.COM: It`s so funny, Lawrence, that whole summer you may recall there was a torchlight march in June with some of the alt-right folks, then the Klan showed up in July. By the time we got to August it really felt as though Charlottesville had become sort of the hot bed of white supremacy, of anti-Semitism, of virulent, virulent anti-black racism.

And you know, I always tell people it is this beautiful sleepy college town. Nobody expected what came to be known as the summer of hate. But it just felt like every incident begets a new incident, and it really, I think, blew up on those two days in August of 2017.

O`DONNELL: As a legal scholar yourself, seeing civil litigation used this way is something new. And it seems to be so far something really effective.

LITHWICK: I mean, it`s taken four years and if ever there was a reminder that the wheels of justice grind very, very slowly, this trial and the delays, the endless delays partly because the defendants were dropping their phones in toilets and refusing to comply with discovery. But yes, I think on balance without a doubt, this is an incredibly ambitious, as you said, it`s a civil trial. This isn`t a criminal trial, and the intention here is to smoke out who these people were, what they were planning, maybe most importantly, who was financing them, and to really, I think, lay down a marker to say you don`t get to come to a town, essentially invade a town, with the intention of harming and maiming and burning and terrorizing and then sail off and say it was just free speech.

And so even though it`s an incredibly complicated trial and a heavy lift, I think, and emotionally incredibly difficult for these brave plaintiffs who are reliving it, I do think that it will be consequential if only to do the thing that has happened so rarely in the last few years, which is find accountability and level consequences.

O`DONNELL: And there`s no chance of anyone going to jail or prison as a result of this case because it`s a civil case. It`s monetary damages. They`re asking for financial monetary damages, and those damages can bankrupt these defendants and certainly ruin their lives financially for the foreseeable future, so there is a very real life penalty involved in these kinds of cases.

LITHWICK: There is, Lawrence, and some of the defendants have already complained that simply trying to gather together their defenses for trial have already bankrupted them.

Some of them are saying, you know, I`m living in my parents` basement, I`ve had to crowd source my legal defense, so there have already been very, very real consequences for some of these folks.


LITHWICK: And if the intention is to make it the case that this isn`t something that everybody wants to do, because you might end up living in your parents` basement, that too is a win even before the trial really begins.

O`DONNELL: What do you -- how long do you expect the trial to take?

LITHWICK: We`re hearing until mid November. Jury selection started today, and that may take a day longer than was originally anticipated, but I think we`re looking at between four and six weeks.

O`DONNELL: Dahlia Lithwick, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

LITHWICK: Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And we`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: We`ve got a small piece of breaking news here, this is just in. Senator Joe Manchin had dinner tonight in Washington, D.C. with a group that included a handful of journalists, including NBC News, and Senator Manchin gave brief remarks on the record, including this quote. "I think we`ll get something. I really do. The infrastructure bill, it`s a good bill that we need."

Joe Manchin gets tonight`s LAST WORD.