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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 10/4/21

Guests: Ghazaleh Moayedi, Laurence Tribe, Chris Van Hollen, Ayanna Pressley


The Supreme Court term begins and will hear abortion case in December. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House officials met for nearly two hours at the capital about the Biden legislative agenda. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is interviewed. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) is interviewed. "The Washington Post" found a Republican ad in a state legislature campaign so anti-Semitic and offensive that they did an editorial against that ad. The Jewish candidate, Virginia Delegate Dan Helmer was the target of that ad.



When Adam Liptak gets page one of the "New York Times," you know something big has happened, and when Adam Liptak gets the lead story on page one of the "New York Times," you know something really, really big has happened at the Supreme Court. Adam Liptak covers the place where some of the most important history has been made in this country. He is the "New York Times" reporter at the Supreme Court.

He is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He is one of those reporters who with a career turn here or there could have become one of the people he is now covering at the Supreme Court. And today, Adam Liptak has the lead story in the "New York Times" not because the Supreme Court did something today, not because the Supreme Court issued an historic life changing ruling today, but Adam Liptak has the lead story in the "New York Times" today because of what the Supreme Court might do.

Here is the first sentence of the "New York Times" lead story on page one in that upper right corner today, a transformed Supreme Court returns to the bench on Monday to start a momentous term in which it will consider eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, vastly expanding gun rights, and further chipping away at the wall separating church and state.

It did not have to be this way. Those things did not have to be on the Supreme Court`s agenda tonight, but they are there because the Supreme Court has never been enough for Democratic voters. The Supreme Court has never been enough in and of itself for Democratic voters to turn out and vote in presidential elections, and so now, we see large demonstrations this weekend protesting what the Supreme Court might do, what the Supreme Court seems poised to do, overturn Roe versus Wade.

The last three presidential elections won by a Republican were won by tiny margins that were achievable only because Republican voters care about the Supreme Court enough to turn out and create that very tiny winning margin voting for the kind of Supreme Court justices that they want, and now Republican voters have the Supreme Court they want. A two-thirds majority of almost sure votes to overturn Roe versus Wade. Donald Trump pointed three of the justices who were really chosen by Mitch McConnell who seem now ready to overturn Roe versus Wade. George W. Bush appointed two of them, and George H.W. Bush appointed one of them in 1991.

So if you`re one of those voters who skipped the 1988 presidential election because you didn`t see much difference between the Democrat and Republican, that`s why people were protesting this weekend. If you didn`t vote in 2000 because you didn`t see much difference between the Democrat and Republican, that`s why the constitutional right to abortion services in this country might disappear. Donald Trump did not do this alone. George W. Bush did it, George H.W. Bush did it.

Every vote for every Republican president helped do this, and every voter who did not turn out for Democratic candidates for president helped bring us to this point. Democrats never won presidential elections on the issue of the Supreme Court. Democrats won presidential elections because of Barack Obama`s unique charisma and his soaring rhetoric. Democrats won the last presidential election not on charisma or soaring rhetoric, but on fear -- fear of another four years of Donald Trump.

If Democratic voters cared about the Supreme Court in the same way that Republican voters do, then the Democratic candidate would have won all of the last three close presidential elections and you would have exactly one Republican appointee on the Supreme Court tonight, Clarence Thomas.

We`ll be joined in a moment by Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe with his analysis on what to expect from the Supreme Court and what the "New York Times" is already calling a momentum term of the court, before that term really has even begun.

Here`s what Planned Parenthood`s CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said this weekend in Washington.


ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PLANNED PARENTHOOD CEO: There is not a single state in the union where banning abortion is popular.


Our humanity and our dignity is not up for debate. Every time they overreach, we fight back. As Dr. King said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice, and sometimes we need to jump up and hang on that arc and bend it ourselves, and that`s exactly what we are going to do until we are all free.


O`DONNELL: At a House hearing on Thursday, three members of Congress shared their personal experiences with abortion.


REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): In the summer of 1994, I was raped. I became pregnant, and I chose to have an abortion. Choosing to have an abortion was the hardest decision I had ever made, but at 18 years old, I knew it was the right decision for me.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): I`m compelled to speak out because of the real risks of the clock being turned back to those days before Roe versus Wade, to the days when I was a teenager and had a back alley abortion in Mexico. I was one of the lucky ones, madam chair. A lot of girls and women in my generation didn`t make it. They died from unsafe abortions.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I consulted with my doctors who told me that any future pregnancy would likely also be high risk to me and the child, similar to what I had gone through. I very much wanted to have more children, but I simply could not imagine going through that again.


O`DONNELL: The Supreme Court has a lot a new Texas law restricting abortions to go into effect and the Texas tribune reports, quote, most abortions in the state, experts estimate more than 85 percent have ceased and some abortion clinics have stopped offering the procedure altogether.

The Texas law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. At that house hearing last week, a Texas physician who will be our lead guest tonight described what she and her colleagues are experiencing.


Dr. GHAZALEH MOAYEDI, TEXAS OB-GYN: My colleagues are asking if they`re still allowed to treat an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage. They`re worried they will have to delay life saving care for people who are very sick. They`re worried about all of the possible chronic conditions that can worsen in pregnancy but not worsen enough to warrant an exception under this law. SB8 has not only caused a near total abortion ban in Texas, it has made it extremely dangerous to be pregnant in Texas where our maternal morbidity rate and mortality rate is already unconscionably high especially for black women and pregnant people of color. Texas deserves better.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi. She is a Texas physician, a board member at the Physicians for Reproductive Health. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

You work in abortion services in Texas. What has changed?

MOAYEDI: Everything has changed, Lawrence, thank you for having me on tonight. We are seeing, you know, maybe 10 percent of the patients that we would typically be able to see. Some people are making it out of state. I am traveling to Oklahoma to care for people that are able to make it there, but I have colleagues in New York, in Michigan, in Alabama, in Washington state contacting me every week telling me that they`re taking care of Texans there. And that means that there are people not able to make it out of the state, and they`re being forced to remain pregnant and staying here.

O`DONNELL: You know, I was struck in your testimony when you mentioned an ectopic pregnancy because I had a friend many years ago who had an ectopic pregnancy and many viewers might not actually know what that is, especially men. Could you describe that condition, and where it comes under this law, how it intersects with this law?

MOAYEDI: Yeah, so an ectopic pregnancy is when a pregnancy grows outside of the -- of the uterus or outside of the regular part of the uterus where a pregnancy would typically grow, and so they can grow in the fallopian tube, in the ovary. There are reports of ectopic pregnancies that grow on the liver, but they can also grow into c-section scars or into the cervix, and this law clearly doesn`t cover ectopic pregnancies, but the law is extremely vague and interpretation is left up to individual hospitals and clinics across the state.

And so even though an ectopic pregnancy shouldn`t be covered under this law, that does not mean that that`s how it`s being interpreted across the state.

O`DONNELL: And so a woman in that condition, who by the way might not know she has that condition, it`s a diagnostic challenge at certain points, the woman`s response system isn`t what she might expect under pregnancy.


That woman is having a struggle in Texas that she previously did not have.

MOAYEDI: Well, the reality is that every abortion restriction across this country makes pregnancy more dangerous, so even before this law, the treatment of ectopic pregnancy that, for example, would be growing in a C- section scar is difficult to do at various hospitals across the state. So that was a challenge before and remains a challenge. But yes, this is making it even more complicated.

And even past ectopic pregnancy, we have miscarriages that happen outside of the first trimester in the second trimester, let`s say someone is 15 weeks and their water breaks. There is no way that that pregnancy can continue, and the correct course of action is immediate delivery or a procedure to remove the pregnancy to prevent massive infection and death, but there are hospitals right now that are changing their policies, saying that you cannot do what you are supposed to do until there is no cardiac activity detected. That is completely unethical and unconscionable.

O`DONNELL: If the Supreme Court overturns Roe versus Wade, in the cases proceeding under Texas law that makes it to the Supreme Court and other states, what will that mean in Texas?

MOAYEDI: You know, for many people I care for in this state, Roe has not been a reality for decades, and so we`re going to see what we`ve been seeing in Texas for many of the communities I take care of amplified. People are going to be experiencing severe pregnancy complications that are left untreated. They will be forced into birth. We know that people that are denied an abortion that is wanted, the denial of abortion leads to adverse child health outcomes, adverse maternal health care outcomes, and adverse mental health outcomes.

So we`re going to see, you know, a nightmare in our state.

O`DONNELL: What did you mean when you said Roe has not been a reality in Texas? Are you saying that Texas has in effect denied the rights granted under Roe in Texas?

MOAYEDI: Yes, yes. That has been for decades now because of policies like the Hyde amendment, but also through our numerous track laws that have been enacted over the past two decades in this state, it has systematically kept many of the communities that I care for in pregnancy care unable to access abortion care at all, whether it`s because there are no clinics in their communities, they`re not able to access their clinics, they`re not able to provide the right documentation to be able to access care or they simply can`t afford care.

O`DONNELL: What would you ask of Washington if you could -- if there was some way to do it legislatively. There`s always been a discussion of legislating Roe versus Wade. If that were legislated by the Congress and enforced in Texas, how -- what would that change in Texas?

MOAYEDI: I mean, it would be huge, right? We need the Women`s Health Protection Act now. That would remove the myriad of medically unnecessary restrictions we have in Texas and across the country, at least for adults.

We need passage of the each act so that we can get funding for people so they can access their care, but we need bolder strategies than that. This is health care, this is a huge right. You`re right to control your reproduction is a basic fundamental human rights, and we need bold strategies.

We need -- I don`t know, I`m not a politician. Where`s an executive order to decriminalize abortion right now? What can we do right now without waiting for the courts to save us, without waiting for Congress to save us? People`s lives are on the line this moment.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, thank you very, very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

MOAYEDI: Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And joining us now is Laurence Tribe, university professor of constitutional law emeritus at Harvard Law School. He has won 35 cases in the United States Supreme Court.

Professor Tribe, I know you`re not a Liptak reader. It`s rare -- it`s rare that just what the Supreme Court might do becomes the lead story in the "New York Times" as we saw today on a few different points, but on abortion, where do you expect the challenge to come? Which state will probably make it to the Supreme Court first with their attempt to overturn Roe versus Wade?

LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR: Well, Mississippi is already there, and the argument will be held on December 1st, and it`s quite clear, it doesn`t take a crystal ball, it`s quite clear that the Supreme Court is going to be whittling away on Roe v. Wade, whether it overtly rules on the Mississippi case or not, the right that Dr. Moayedi so powerfully and heartbreakingly described as vulnerable now is on the chopping block.

O`DONNELL: And let`s go to the case that she`s living under now, this new Texas law that Dr. Moayedi was just describing, the way it`s been working there, and I have to say shocking terms. It`s just stunning to think about.

What do you see as the legal future of that case?

TRIBE: Well, it`s quite important to focus on the several issues that are raised. There were argued before Judge Pittman last Friday in the district court in Texas. First basic argument that Texas made is there`s nothing to see here. This law, even though it looks like it`s inconsistent with roe v. Wade really isn`t. Well, that`s frankly ridiculous, and the judge pretty clearly wasn`t buying it.

He essentially said, well, you know, if this law is so obviously consistent with Roe v. Wade the way you guys read it, why did Texas work so hard to make it almost impossible to review judicially by taking enforcement out of the hands of Texas officials and putting it completely in the hands of private vigilantes and bounty hunters who couldn`t directly be sued by the clinics. And there really was no answer. In fact, that first argument by the state of Texas that this law is perfectly okay under Roe v. Wade is one that no member of the Supreme Court, not any member would buy today. It`s simply that they ducked the issue last time.

The second big argument that Texas made is that basically the United States has no business going to court in order to get this law reviewed, even though nobody else apparently is able to review it. The United States has no stake in this, and that also didn`t fly very well. One of their really bizarre arguments was that the United States government is there to protect and encourage interstate commerce. This law actually doesn`t hurt interstate commerce. It forces women to flee Texas to go to places like Oklahoma, so it encourages interstate commerce. That was one of the more bizarre arguments that basically said the United States has no business protecting the supremacy of federal law.

Their third argument was, well, maybe the United States has some business here, but it shouldn`t be so in the state of Texas. The judge basically said, well, who should they be suing if not the state of Texas? And the attorney for the state of Texas said, well, nobody I guess. That certainly didn`t fly. The state of Texas is the appropriate defendant.

Their final argument was in some ways the most bizarre of all. They said a preliminary injunction, which is what the United States of America seeks in this case, wouldn`t really do any good because the whole theory of the United States position here is that clinics like the one that Dr. Moayedi would have worked in, that clinics are deterred from providing abortions because they`re afraid of being sued by these bounty hunters, each of whom can collect 10,000 bucks or 100,000. There`s no ceiling.

And if they`re deterred, then a preliminary injunction, according to the state of Texas won`t help because people will fear that the injunction might get dissolved and then they`ll be sued. There`s a four-year statute of limitations.

But of course that argument gobbles itself up. It eats its own tail because if the problem is the preliminary injunction might get dissolved, the solution is don`t dissolve it. Make it a permanent injunction.

This case is, I think going to be an important one, not only for abortion rights -- because if the Texas technique of outsourcing the enforcement of rights were to prevail, it would be cloned everywhere for all kinds of rights, gun rights, abortion rights, rights that the left sort of endorses, rights that the right endorses. The whole system of the rule of law with judicial review to protect rights would be dismantled if this Texas technique prevails.

So what`s going on in the district court in Texas has importance independent of what happens in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Mississippi case.

O`DONNELL: Professor, quickly before you go, I want to get your reaction to hearing Dr. Moayedi say -- and I`ve heard this from people in states like Texas before -- that Roe versus Wade didn`t apply in Texas anyway, that even though there was a victory for abortion rights in the Supreme Court for Roe versus Wade, that never really got enforced in states like Texas.

TRIBE: Well, in a certain sense that`s undoubtedly true, and Dr. Moayedi is closer to the ground level here than I am, and I`ve certainly heard stories throughout the country that Roe v. Wade was true in theory, but not always true in practice. Certainly the poorest women who might have needed Medicaid or other help to pay for abortions were cut out by the Hyde Amendment and all kinds of so-called TRAP laws imposed obstacles to the enforcement of Roe v. Wade by saying that you had to have certain waiting periods, sonograms. You had to have a procedure done in a hospital that was equipped for full surgical procedures in case something went wrong, and all of those laws made it much harder.

But still, Roe v. Wade was the law and that`s what`s very much in danger now, because if Roe is completely hollowed out, then the women of this country are going to be in terrible danger.

O`DONNELL: Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Always appreciate it.

TRIBE: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up tonight, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and members of the Biden White House team are meeting at the Capitol for another late night of the negotiations. We`ll be joined tonight by Congresswoman Ayanna Presley and Senator Chris Van Hollen who is one of the 48 Democratic senators who supports the Biden infrastructure bills. Today, President Biden mentioned the two Democratic senators with whom he has not yet closed the deal. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Tonight, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House officials met for nearly two hours at the capital about the Biden legislative agenda.

Earlier today, President Biden was very precise about why he does not yet have all of the Democratic votes he needs to pass his two-track infrastructure legislation through Congress.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was able to close the deal at 99 percent of my party. Two, two people. That`s still underway. I don`t think there`s been a president who`s been able to close deals that`s been in a position where he has only 50 votes in the Senate and a bare majority in the House.

It`s a process. It`s a process. We`ll get it done. I need 50 votes in the Senate. I have 48.


O`DONNELL: The two Democratic senators who have not yet closed the deal with Joe Biden have not helped themselves in the polls in their home states by dragging out the negotiations. Senator Joe Manchin has lost some Democratic support in West Virginia, but he has gained some Republican support so that his overall approval and disapproval ratings are almost unchanged since the beginning of the Biden presidency.

Arizona`s first term Senator Kyrsten Sinema has lost 21 points in her approval rating with Democrats in the state and she has gained nine points in approval among Republican voters. With all voters in Arizona, Senator Sinema had a 48 percent job approval rating at the beginning of the Biden presidency and a 35 percent disapproval rating. She now has a 42 percent approval rating and a 42 percent disapproval rating.

Joining us now, one of the 48 senators who has closed deal with Joe Biden, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He`s a member of the Senate appropriations committee and Senate budget committee.

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

The president was pretty precise there. It`s come down to just two. What is it going to take? Especially now that there`s nothing that we can call a deadline here. There are just some targets on the calendar for when we might get this done, Halloween appears to be the next target on the calendar to get this done, which I have to say doesn`t seem like a good legislative omen.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, listen, Lawrence, first of all, if you ask the American people and poll them on the elements of the Build Back Better agenda, it`s popular across the board, it`s popular with Democrats. It`s popular with independents, popular with many, many Republicans.

So what we need to do in addition to getting leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi at the White House, we essentially need to get Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema at the White House around the clock and, in my view, ask them what they`re proposing to take out of the Build Back Better agenda, right? You want to take out the proposal that extends tax cuts to middle and lower income families with kids? You want to take out the provision that reduces the cost of prescription drugs for all Americans?

Do you want to take out the provision to provide universal early education and lower cost child care? What do you want to take out? Rather than play with arbitrary numbers.


We know the number will now come down below $3.5 trillion, but rather than throwing a dart at a dart board and saying here`s the new number, let`s do it by asking all of our colleagues, especially those two, what it is they want to take out.

O`DONNELL: Well, and there`s also the very important point that you do need a number, of course. You know, there`s this press discussion about the number, but the committees need a number in order to write a reconciliation bill to an identical number.

The House has to write a 1.5 or a 2.5 or a 3.5. The Senate has to write to the identical number. That, as you know, has to be assembled. The assembled work of a bunch of different committees.

So for example, the tax writing committee has to know what tax provisions are in and what tax provisions are out because they`ve got to write the bill now to the correct number and so you`re never going to get anywhere if you don`t get either the outline number very soon or much more specificity on exactly, for example, which tax provisions Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema will accept.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Lawrence, you`re absolutely right. You do have to get to a number to be able to fill it all out, but I do think that we should take this in the right order, which is when you reduce the number dramatically, obviously that has consequences, right?

It means some of the big parts of the Build Back Better agenda won`t be included or that all parts of it will be reduced or shortened in terms of the length or some combination.

So rather than just pick a random number, we should say, ok, here`s what will happen if you say you don`t want these particular policies. That will reduce the number by a certain amount. You`ll have more certainty, but understand that what you`re calling for is cutting a provision.

Let`s say you`re calling for cutting the provision to reduce taxes for families with kids or you`re reducing the number that says we`re going to expand Medicare to cover vision, dental, and hearing services.

My point, Lawrence, is that people should take responsibility about exactly what it is they`re prepared to throw overboard to throw out of President Biden`s Build Back Better agenda. Rather than just say, oh, yes, we`re going to pick a number. Yes, we got to get to a number, you`re absolutely right, but how we get to that is important.

O`DONNELL: Senator Manchin`s document that was leaked seems deliberately last week outlining the points that he was concerned about. If you look just at the tax piece of it as I did, it was a very progressive tax package that he was in favor of. In fact, more progressive than what the House Ways and Means Committee has produced so far because Senator Manchin in writing there said that he`d be ready to tax investment bankers, subject them to real income tax provisions as opposed to what they get away with now.

The Ways and Means Committee didn`t do that. but that`s the kind of thing that you have to know right now, whether that`s going to be in the bill or not, you have to know does Senator Sinema agree with that. We don`t know that.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that`s exactly right, and I was pleased with the revenue proposals on Senator Manchin`s list. As you said he included getting rid of the carried interest loophole which was not part of the House bill.

So you`re exactly right, what we need is for our colleagues to be very clear on what they are for, what they`re willing to accept. We got a sense from Senator Manchin with respect to some of the revenue pieces. We need a better sense from both as to, you know, what it is they want to throw overboard from the Build Back Better agenda.

I hope that when we have that discussion, they`ll agree that we should keep provisions like child -- the tax cuts for families with kids, that we keep the provision with respect to universal pre-k, and lower cost for child care.

But we have to go through that dialogue, we have to have that discussion in order to reach an agreement.

O`DONNELL: The president today made it -- went out of his way to make special comments about the debt limit, raising the debt limit. Let`s just listen to 17 seconds of what he had to say that really drove home his point.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, they`re threatening to use the power, their power to prevent us from doing our job, saving the economy from a catastrophic event.

I think, quite frankly, it`s hypocritical, dangerous, and disgraceful.


O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell so far just blocking the Democrats on having a straight majority vote on raising the debt limit. What`s going to happen?


VAN HOLLEN: Well, President Biden`s exactly right. I mean the right thing for Republicans to do is, of course, join us in lifting the debt ceiling. McConnell has been very clear in public statements over time that failure to do that would be devastating to the economy. So they should do that, but at the very least, get the hell out of the way.

They`ve said that they want Democrats to do this with a majority vote. We`ve said, ok. We will do this with a majority vote. Let`s have consent from Republicans that the Democrats will do the right thing for their country on our own. He has blocked that.

He is -- Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are taking our economy over the cliff. The American people, I think, are going to have eyes wide open as to what`s happening.

And by the way, Lawrence, one way to prevent a default is to get rid of the filibuster for the purpose of the debt ceiling. And my view is, you know, get rid of the filibuster anyway, but this is a perfect reason for doing it. And Mitch McConnell will have given everybody the excuse.

O`DONNELL: Senator Chris Van Hollen, one of the 48. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

VAN HOLLEN: Great to be with you, thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, member of the House Progressive Caucus will join us next.



O`DONNELL: After President Biden`s virtual meeting with the House Progressive Caucus today, Congressman Ro Khanna said this.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): The message of the president was simple. We have to get this done. There are three things I`ve observed. One, this is a president who`s on top of all the details. He knew exactly what was in the package. He was talking about all the specifics including the numbers.

Two, he`s a very likable person. He was joking around with members of Congress. He was very comfortable, and he wasn`t lecturing or forcing people`s hands. He was humble, wanting to seek input.

And three, the progressive caucus made it very clear to the president that we were behind him. We understand there`s a need for compromise, and we`re going to support him in getting this done.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. She`s a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

We have reports indicating that the president said today in that discussion that the target is going to end up being $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion. That would be compromised down from the Biden $3.5 trillion.

What is your reaction to that?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Well, Lawrence, I think it`s important to note that that is not an arbitrary number. That number is in line with the priorities that the president laid out before Congress, and it`s really responsive to the needs of the people and meeting the moment.

I remain focused on what I`ve always been, and that is substance and impact and making sure that we leave no one behind. I simply reject these often unjust binary false choices that are foisted upon us.

I won`t choose between a union worker who lays that road or the child care worker who takes care of our babies so that that union worker can do that. We know that we need these robust investments when it comes to housing.

I have a large public housing footprint in my district. Much of that housing has not seen any upgrades or repair, some of them since the 1930s. People living in sub par conditions, contributing to poor public health outcomes.

We know these investments in child care are critical, also in home and community based services, and paid leave and certainly in climate justice. So although there might be movement in terms of number of years, ultimately what I`m focused on is substance and impact and leaving no one behind.

O`DONNELL: And how do you propose getting to an agreement with basically as the president said today, it`s 48-2 in the senate among the Democrats. If you get those two senators, it seems the moderates in the House would then fold into that agreement.

What is the latest thinking on how you get those two senators?

PRESSLEY: Well, you know, my thinking remains the same and that is that I seek to advance progress and justice in every iteration for the people. And it is deeply disturbing that anyone would seek to obstruct these robust investments and this relief for the people.

When you do that, it seems that there`s a deficit of compassion. You might even have contempt for working families and everyone who calls this country home.

So what I`m going to continue to do is just lift up the stories of my district. I`m focused on the father in my district who`s a TPS holder, who was a transit worker who risked his health to keep our community going during the COVID crisis. He deserves a pathway to citizenship.

I`m focused on the grandmother who`s raising their grandchild working a third shift job and desperately needs child care. I`m focused on the daughter who`s a caregiver to her parent who needs paid leave to stand in the gap but also needs home and community-based services so that they`ll have the supports that they need at home instead of having to go into a nursing home.

That`s what the Build Back Better act is about. It is ensuring that we do more than just recover to a pre-COVID unjust status or normal. But that we are making robust investments that meet the moment and churn a different path forward.

O`DONNELL: What about the infrastructure side of the legislation? You`re a former city counselor, no one knows infrastructure needs of a city like Boston like you do. What about that piece of the legislation?


PRESSLEY: Well, again, we need both bills, and I think it`s important to highlight as one of your previous panelist did, that these investments and these policies like paid leave and child care are popular because they`re sorely needed.

We don`t have to make a choice between physical infrastructure and social infrastructure. Of course we have to make those investments in more traditional infrastructure like highways, roads, and bridges, and I would add also public transit.

But you need both. We need both, and we will pass both, and we will meet the moment.

O`DONNELL: Once there`s an agreement in principle, is there an estimate about how quickly the legislation could actually be written so that it can be voted on?

PRESSLEY: Well, you know, I won`t speak to that. I`ll just simply say that, you know, the people certainly don`t have time to concern themselves with Washington process. They`re just desperately in need of impact. And so we want to get this right, so we want to move, you know, thoughtfully and deliberately, but also with urgency.

These investments are popular. These policies are popular because they`re sorely needed by the people. And we have to meet the needs of the people and meet this moment. Being in the majority, having the House, the Senate and the White House must mean more than a talking point. And that`s about delivering to the people.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

PRESSLEY: Thank you, Lawrence. Good to see you.

Thank you.

Coming up, "The Washington Post" found a Republican ad in a state legislature campaign so anti-Semitic and offensive that they did an editorial against that ad. The Jewish candidate, Virginia Delegate Dan Helmer who was the target of that ad will join us next.



O`DONNELL: "The Washington Post "calls it an affront to decency. "The Post" is referring to a campaign ad paid for by Virginia`s Republican Party attacking Democrat Dan Helmer, a member of Virginia`s house of delegates who is running for reelection.

Mr. Helmer is a lieutenant colonel in the army reserve. In the ad attacking Lt. Col. Helmer, Virginia`s Republicans removed the military insignias from the clothes he`s wearing in the photo. They altered the photo in other ways. They then manipulated a photograph to depict Lt. Col. Helmer adoring piles of gold.

So Dan Helmer, who is Jewish and famously so with his election district because his grandmother, Edith Shapiro (ph) who is a Holocaust survivor said this when he was sworn in to the Virginia house of delegates.


EDITH SHAPIRO, DAN HELMER`S GRANDMOTHER: Dan darling, I am very happy that you are continuing to repay this amazing country for the great debts that our family and many others owe her and its people for giving us a chance at a second life.

Arriving with close to nothing, we worked our way up. But we never forgot. And look where we are today.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Democratic State delegate Dan Helmer of Virginia. He`s a West Point graduate, served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He`s a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

What was your reaction when you saw that manipulated photograph of yourself that the Republican Party in Virginia has been using?

DAN HELMER (D), VIRGINIA STATE DELEGATE: Well, as somebody who has served our country, who has fought so hard to keep our community safe, protecting women`s access to reproductive health care, making sure we combat gun violence, I stood up to hate whenever I see it, and I was just stunned to see that kind of hate brought into our community, for my kids to have to see that sort of anti-Semitic trope. It has no place in our politics when you see that it`s being funded by the Republican Party, by tens of thousands of dollars from Trump and Glenn Youngkin is just really a surprise.

O`DONNELL: "The Washington Post" does not reach into state legislative campaigns very often. They do cover Virginia. There is a Virginia section of the paper. But it is unusual for them.

They clearly -- to raise it to the level of an editorial, means that they feared not just that ad but that a possible trend developing in Republican politics.

HELMER: We have seen a tremendous amount of this use of vile anti-Semitic tropes. We`ve seen in other races posting of black candidates in ropes. This is just abhorrent and I am just stunned and appreciative of all the support, all of those who have gone to and made a firm statement that we will not stand up for this hate.

O`DONNELL: I have to ask you, but your grandmother, having just seen her, Edith Shapiro, has she seen this material that the Republican Party is putting up in Virginia?

HELMER: She has. I mean she lived in hiding in Poland, barely survived with her family the war based on a Good Samaritan keeping them there. She had left this behind. And as you saw in the earlier clip, was really celebrating -- has celebrated my service in uniform, was there when I was pinned as a lieutenant at West Point, welcomed me back from Iraq and Afghanistan, welcomed me into the General assembly.

She thought we had left all of this behind, and to see this kind of thing here in our country, to know that my opponent, the Republican Party of Virginia, is willing to stoop to these levels is really surprised and has redoubled her commitment to make sure we continue to fight against this.


O`DONNELL: What did you tell your grandmother about it?

HELMER: Well, she called me. She saw it as well when "The Post" put it out and she -- we said, you know, this is why we were here trying to make a safer and inclusive community. And I mean I think she`s a proud American. I`m a proud American. And we just remain committed to making sure that our country doesn`t go in this direction and that we stand up against hate in our community.

O`DONNELL: Dan Helmer, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And my best to your grandmother. Hope she`s watching.

HELMER: Thank you so much, Lawrence. I hope she is, too. Love you, Grandma.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you very much.

We`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: In tonight`s episode of Defendant Trump, it`s now almost a certainty that Donald Trump will be put under oath in the Summer Zervos lawsuit before the end of year, a court in Manhattan ruled today. All depositions must be completed by December 23rd. That includes Donald Trump deposition.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.