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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 10/6/21

Guests: Dahlia Lithwick, Cecile Richards, Chris Van Hollen, Norm Ornstein, Garlin Gilchrist, Mandela Barnes


A federal judge in Texas blocks the new Texas abortion law. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland is interviewed. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan have governors races next year. If a Republican wins in all of those states or any of those states, that could be the beginning of the plot to reverse the outcome of the next presidential election. Fiona Hill has already told the truth about what she witnessed in the Trump White House in her testimony in the first impeachment investigation of Donald Trump.



We have the decision, this order by the judge in the Texas, federal judge in Texas that I think many people anticipated that there would be a federal judge somewhere in Texas who would see it this way, just completely shutting down that Texas law ordering absolutely no administration of that new Texas abortion law at all.

None of these lawsuits specifically sending an order to every state court, every judge, every clerk of every court do not accept filing of any of these lawsuits against abortion providers, and absolutely shut it down.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Shut it down. And we`ve just learned in the past couple of minutes that Texas is appealing and again, the legal undergirding of the Texas abortion ban is so weird, it`s specifically designed to evade federal constitutional scrutiny, that I think it`s very hard to predict what`s going to happen here between here and the circuit and the Supreme Court, but this judge`s ruling tonight is definitive and kind of lit. I mean, the judge is clearly kind of mad.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, he spends a great deal of time on that undergirding that you`re talking about. It`s 113 pages. He has dozens of pages that I`ve skimmed that are specifically about that, about the design of the law and how the law was specifically designed to try to avoid judicial review, and then specifically why the federal government, the Justice Department that intervened here does have the standing to do that.

And I learned some things about federal government standing in this case by reading this judgment tonight. It`s really such an important turn.

We have Neal Katyal joining us.

MADDOW: Good, very good.

O`DONNELL: We have Dahlia Lithwick joining us, Cecile Richards.

So we`re going to get some expert legal analysis of where this stands tonight.

MADDOW: Right on, can`t wait. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

Well, on page one of his 113-page opinion and order tonight, Texas Federal Judge Robert Pitman says: A person`s right under the constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established. Fully aware that deprives its citizens of this right by direct state action would be fragrantly unconstitutional, the state contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme to do just that.

Judge Pitman issued an injunction barring the enforcement of the new Texas law saying: It is ordered that the state of Texas including its officers, officials, agents, employees, and any other persons or entities acting on its behalf, are preliminarily enjoined from enforcing Texas health and safety code, including accepting or docketing, maintaining, hearing, resolving, awarding damages in and forcing judgments in and enforcing any administrative penalties in and administering any lawsuit brought pursuant to the Texas health and safety code. It is ordered that the state of Texas must publish this preliminary injunction on all of its public-facing court websites, with a visible, easy to understand instruction to the public that SB8 lawsuits will not be accepted by Texas courts. It is further ordered that the state of Texas shall inform all state court judges and state court clerks of this preliminary injunction and distribute this preliminary injunction to all state court judges and state court clerks.

Leading off our discussion of this breaking news tonight are Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She`s currently co-chair of American Bridge 21st century.

Also with us, Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for and host of the podcast "Amicus".

And Neal Katyal is with us, a former acting solicitor general and an MSNBC legal contributor.

And, Dahlia, I want to go to you first with what you think the Supreme Court`s reaction to this might be. That is your beat, the Supreme Court.


They took a different view about any possible injunction here.

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE.COM: I never want to predict, Lawrence, what the Supreme Court is going to do. I want to say that this is an extraordinary piece of judicial writing, judicial fact finding. This in contrast to a paragraph, a page and a half on the shadow docket that took no notice of any of the suffering of people in Texas. This is a point by point by point including in the footnotes, which are amazing reputation of the carelessness of the Supreme Court.

I feel like if the Supreme Court wanted to get out under the complete self- own how much they embarrassed themselves on September 1st. This is a vehicle to say, you know what, Judge Pitman did better and we will just stand down. Whether they will do that or not, I don`t know.

O`DONNELL: That would be fun to read, that one.

Neal Katyal, you`ve got experience with the Supreme Court at the appellate level all the way through the court system. What happens next in this case, and what is your reaction to this order tonight?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: So, first, the reaction to the order. I mean, this, Lawrence, is what the rule of law is all about, 113 pages, all about how basically this was a scheme, and that`s a word that Chief Justice Roberts used that Judge Pitman picked up to evade judicial review and tear women`s rights down. It was really powerful language.

Here`s what`s going to happen. First, it`s going to go to the court of appeals, which is known as the court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It`s known as a very conservative court, but honestly, in the Fifth Circuit, this case just requires one to be able to read. A lower court cannot overrule Roe versus Wade. It`s the law of the land. Only the Supreme Court can do it.

So the only way they can reverse Judge Pitman`s decision is by saying what you were saying a moment ago, Lawrence, about standing. They can say that the justice department can`t come in and vindicate women`s rights. So what that would mean is first women can`t vindicate the rights, that`s what dahlia was referring to on September 1st, the Supreme Court order, and then the court of appeals would have to say the same thing for the Justice Department.

So basically no one can vindicate rights, and that`s a good argument if you`re in the Soviet Union, not a particularly compelling argument in the United States. And as a litigator, you always want to signal confidence in your arguments and, and here you beginning with a Texas law written by people who were afraid of the courts. They were afraid to even have a challenge, so this entire scheme is all about that.

So I`m very optimistic as the case goes to the Fifth Circuit and then I think the Supreme Court`s going to have to set it for a full argument. They can`t just do this on the shadow docket and try and decide the case that way.

O`DONNELL: So on this issue of standing, I learned something on page 25 of the judge`s order where he talks about standing, he talks about the federal government`s standing in bringing this lawsuit, Justice Department of bringing this lawsuit. And the judge says by imposing damages, liability of $10,000 or more on any person performing, induce, adding, aiding or abetting an abortion, SB 8 exposes the federal government, its employees, and its contractors to monetary injury.

It goes on to give several examples. For example, the Federal Bureau of Prisons regulations provide that the bureau of prisons clinical director, quote, shall arrange for an abortion to take place when a pregnant inmate requests an elective abortion.

And Cecile, the judge goes on to list other examples where federal government employees would be subject to being sued in Texas under this law and it`s filled, for me, with little factual surprises like that and how they work in the legal structure of this opinion, but what does this mean, do you think, tomorrow in Texas for abortion services?

CECILE RICHARDS, CO-CHAIR, AMERICAN BRIDGE 21ST CENTURY: It`s a very good question, Lawrence, and one I agree with, both my colleagues here. This is an extraordinary opinion, and I`m in Houston right now. I will tell you that it is being met with enormous excitement and gratitude that there is finally some sign of relief here for the women of Texas.

I think the problem of course, this is going to be a long journey here. It`s an important temporary victory, but I think there`s a long road ahead to restoring full abortion access for people in the state. And having talked to many doctors over the last few days as I`ve been here, the stories are heartbreaking.


And I think that is the other thing that is going to complement these important -- these important legal opinion is the actual lived stories of people in this state, women in this state, mothers who no longer can make their own decisions about their pregnancy and those stories, I think, are going to be part of what will I hope go to the Supreme Court that really demonstrates the enormous cruelty of this legislation and the pain and suffering that is occurring in the state of Texas right now.

It`s incredible to me that women tonight in the state are having to wonder tomorrow what will happen, women who have been trying to get a safe and legal abortion in the state. I know that all of our clinicians, I know that the docs are all reviewing what happened tonight so they can make decisions and care for their folks tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: Dahlia, one thing I`m struck by in this judge`s opinion and order is how much he takes in here. He leaves no stone unturned in what has been the public discussion of this, and he makes the parts of the public discussion of it absolutely relevant to what is here the legal discussion of it.

LITHWICK: It`s so astonishing, Lawrence, because every single footnote almost represents a split screen in which he says this is what is really happening on the ground right now in Texas, and the footnotes tell the whole story in my view.

O`DONNELL: I think we`ve got a problem with dahlia`s connection there.

Neal, one thing I`m wondering about is this is a temporary injunction against any enforcement of this law in Texas courts. If abortion services are provided, say starting this week, starting under this injunction, will -- and let`s say it goes the other way. Let`s say that the federal court system and the Supreme Court ultimately say that the Texas law is okay, will the abortion services provided while this injunction is in place then become subject to possible litigation after this injunction might be lifted?

KATYAL: It`s a really important question, Lawrence. So first of all, an injunction for our viewers means that a federal judge has said this law can`t be enforced now. And it will go on review to the court of appeals and to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court disagrees with this judge and says we`re going to reinforce the law, the law can go back into effect, the evilness of this SB8, this Texas law, it has a provision in it which says if you helped with an abortion while the law was under an injunction, you can now retroactively be sued.

So when you ask, like, why is Cecile Richards such a hero in fighting this way, it`s not just because of what she`s doing in the courts and what other women are doing and men, all sorts of people in the courts, it`s also because we need legislation. Right now, Congress has a bill pending before it, which can say, Supreme Court, we don`t need you to protect our abortion rights. We can do so by majority rule and get rid of this kind of dangerous retroactive thing about the injunction because, you know, I think Judge Pitman, even if his decision stands for the next while the Supreme Court is reviewing, it creates a chilling effect on abortions because of this retroactive liability provision.

O`DONNELL: Dahlia, I hope your connection`s working now. I just wanted to give you a chance to finish your point there about the scope of this judge`s view of this issue, the legal and the practical as it is being a lived experience in Texas?

LITHWICK: Yeah, just simply, Lawrence, that he is so profoundly aware of the facts on the ground and that every footnote is about a fact on the ground that the court, the Supreme Court elated when it chose to dismiss this on the back of an envelope on September 1st. It is such a deep, deep recognition of what is really happening, the pain that has been caused.

And I simply think, that it is a way of saying to the court not just was this law constructed to evade judicial review as Neal says, but it was also constructed to harm women and there`s no other way to read it. It`s a very, very, very compelling opinion.

O`DONNELL: Cecile Richards, there`s no rhetoric in this judge`s order and opinion. This is a fact-based opinion. He is looking at the reality of what the legislature did. He`s looking at the reality of abortion services as they are provided or as they are denied in Texas?


RICHARDS: Right, and I think that is so important and what Dahlia said is absolutely right because you can get caught up in the legalese of this, but the fact is that millions and millions of people in Texas lost a right overnight, and it is affecting them, their families.

And to what Neal said, ultimately just whatever -- regardless of whatever success we have in litigation, this is a political fight. This bill was not passed and enacted because the people of Texas rose up and wanted to make abortion illegal. This is because Greg Abbott, a Republican governor and Republican legislature put their political agenda ahead of the health and well-being of women in the state of Texas.

So, ultimately, we have to pass federal legislation, and I would note that the Women`s Health Protection Act, which did pass the house, was supported would essentially enshrine the ability of people to make their own decisions about pregnancy and not a single Republican member of Congress voted for it.

So, this is a political battle. The Republican Party is clearly on the side of taking away the most fundamental right that women in this country have, and we have to make that clear to voters everywhere.

O`DONNELL: Cecile Richards, Dahlia Lithwick, Neal Katyal -- thank you all very much for joining us on this breaking news. You weren`t scheduled to do this when your evening began, but thank you so much for joining us this hour. Really appreciate it.

RICHARDS: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, thank you.

And coming up, we`re going to have more on reaction to this decision by a federal judge in Texas to block the new Texas abortion law.

Also, Mitch McConnell blinked today in the standoff with Chuck Schumer over the debt ceiling. That`s coming up.



O`DONNELL: As we continue our breaking news coverage of this federal judge intervening in the new Texas abortion law in Texas, the state of Texas has now filed an appeal to the judge`s order. The judge`s order, Judge Robert Pitman, has ordered an injunction that prevents that new Texas abortion law from being enforced in the state of Texas.

In his 113-page opinion and order released tonight, Judge Robert Pitman says: From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution. That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide. This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.

Leading off our discussion tonight in this segment is Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He`s a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget Committee.

Senator, I want to get your reaction to this ruling by Judge Pitman. Judge Pitman is a President Obama appointee to federal court, a district judge in Texas saying this law in Texas denies women an established constitutional right.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-CT): Lawrence, good to be with you.

This Texas law is blatantly unconstitutional. It clearly violates Roe v. Wade, and that`s what Judge Pitman found, and he laid it all out there in the over 100-page opinion, I think a very airtight argument. I do agree with some of the comments on the previous panel, which is the best way to deal with this once and for all and prevent state legislators in Texas from trying to strip away women`s right to choose is to pass a federal law. The House has done that. The Senate should follow suit.

O`DONNELL: And, of course, Senator, in the Senate such a law would come up against the 60-vote threshold, which has the Senate tied up in knots once again as it kind of always does. This time over the debt ceiling, and it seems that Mitch McConnell blinked today in his standoff with you Democrats where he had been saying that they -- Republicans were going to absolutely block any attempt by the Democrats to expand the debt ceiling to cover the debts that were incurred during the Trump presidency.

What is your assessment of where that situation stands tonight?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, the good news, Lawrence, is, as you say, he blinked for now, and that`s really important because what we want to focus on during this month is passing the Build Back Better agenda, right? We want to pass those important provisions to provide, you know, families with kids with those tax cuts, that we want to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. We want to deal with the climate change and put people to work generating clean energy, and that`s really hard to do when you have a debt crisis hanging over you.

So we bought a little time into early December. But if McConnell really wanted to do the right thing for the country, he would have let us do this on a, you know, two-year basis, not put the economy on sort of month to month warning of another debt crisis. In December, as you know, we`ll also confront another government shutdown from Mitch McConnell. So again, it is definitely good news in the short-term, but in my view, the better way, Lawrence, to your earlier point would be just to rip the band-aid off, get the 51 votes to waive the filibuster, which is the rule that he`s using to obstruct this and where he`s holding the country hostage, that would be best both for this and for other things.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, the -- McConnell made that move today of basically saying let`s just extend this for a few months. After President Biden had a session with treasury secretary and some prominent Wall Street types, including the head of Citibank who were all saying basically what McConnell is doing, without saying his name, is disastrous for the economy predicting worldwide recession if McConnell was to continue to hold to his position. And so, McConnell at some point, it seems to me decided that the line that you were all using, which is just have the Republicans get out of the way, get out of the way, let the Democrats do the job, it seems McConnell believed that that line that you were all using against them was really working.


VAN HOLLEN: I think that`s right because we were making the point that, you know, Republicans really should help the Democrats raise the debt ceiling to pay for the bills that Republicans themselves voted for, you know, things like expanding high speed internet, but for goodness sakes, if you`re not going to do the right thing to protect the economy, at least get out of the way so Democrats can protect American families.

And I think you`re right, Lawrence, that that ultimately carried the day along with a concerted effort to make McConnell understand that we are pushing all of our colleagues to waive the filibuster for this purpose. So we will revisit this entire conversation in December, but as you say, we bought some time, and let`s focus on delivering the Build Back Better agenda.

O`DONNELL: Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you. Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And joining our discussion now, congressional historian Norm Ornstein. He is emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. And Zerlina Maxwell is with us. She`s host of the program "Zerlina", that airs on Peacock.

Zerlina, this 113-page order by the judge tonight really covers every single thing about the Texas law that we have been hearing about it since it was first passed.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Lawrence, and I think that`s a very important thing because I think as we go along in this process, every single piece of this needs to be documented. And so, I love that dahlia was citing the foot notes because I think the lived experiences of women in states like Texas but not only Texas, those states that have these restrictions on abortion access, you need to understand what that lived experience is like to understand the impact of this policy.

And essentially, if you think about the totality of Texas, I was talking to Fred Gutenberg earlier today on my show about the shooting that happened in Arlington, Texas, at a high school, and if you think about the Texas legislature, they`re passing extremist laws on abortion, on guns, and on voting on many of the issues on which a majority are on the opposite side of the fence. And so, I think that we need to pay attention to what the folks are doing in Texas, and we will see what the fifth circuit does with this decision, but it`s important for the historical record.

O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, one of the things that strikes me as I speed read through the 113 pages is that the judge is repeatedly showing that this law as written by the Texas legislature was really kind of a game for them. They were playing a game about how to create chaos in this area that is a constitutional right, and this kind of theme to Republican approach to government in that where Mitch McConnell is constantly playing games in the United States Senate with elementary things like the credit rating of the United States, the full faith and credit of the United States, everything is an opportunity for playing games by these people.

NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: And let`s face it. The judgment that McConnell made, we can reject immediately the idea that he did this because it was the right thing for the country. I believe the fundamental reason he did it, he knew we were going to head right to the 11th hour and that Democrats were then likely to do an exception on the filibuster rule that would put it on a slippery slope for many more things to come, and he wanted to head that off.

Frankly, Lawrence, I`m hoping that the Democrats in the Senate will use this as an opportunity not just to do another debt ceiling punt in December or come to another confrontation, but actually do what they said they don`t want to do, which is to use reconciliation and take care of this debt ceiling charade that`s been used as a hostage, as a blackmail opportunity by Mitch McConnell over and over again over the last decade plus once and for all. There are ways to do that that will pass parliamentary muster.

We can`t ignore the reality that making good public policy for the good of the country is now something that is only in the purview of one party and the other is a cult that`s just looking for ways to assume power or to advance completely radical ends by whatever means they can use.


O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, Zerlina Maxwell -- thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight.

ORNSTEIN: You bet. Thanks.

MAXWELL: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, three states -- Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan -- have governors races next year. If a Republican wins in all of those states or any of those states, that could be the beginning of the plot to reverse the outcome of the next presidential election.

That`s next.


O`DONNELL: "The stakes are damn high, this is about our democracy. It`s frightening." Those are the words of the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers who is running for reelection next year. The Democratic Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer is also running for re-election next year. And in Pennsylvania, the Democratic Governor is term limited.


O`DONNELL: If those states elect Republican governors next year, those Republican governors might be able to reverse the outcome of the presidential election in their states and give the presidency to the Republican candidates.

"The New York Times" reports today Republican candidates for governor in the three states have proposed additional cutbacks to voting access and measures that would give GOP officials more power over how elections are run.

It is no longer a stretch to imagine governors loyal to the former president taking previously unthinkable steps to alter future results.

Joining us now, Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. He is running for United States Senate.

Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist, what is the situation that would be most dangerous with Republican governors of these states?

LT. GOV. GARLIN GILCHRIST (D-MI): Well, what`s dangerous is what Republicans in Michigan are trying to do to voting rights. We have seen them introduce 39 voter suppression bills in the Michigan State Senate and dozens more in the Michigan House that are seeking to roll back those voting rights.

When you couple that, the ballot initiative drive that will begin gathering signatures very soon, that seeks to undermine the will of the voters of the state of Michigan from 2018 to make voting more accessible. What we`re seeing is Republicans want fewer people to vote in Michigan and want it to be more difficult for people to vote in the state of Michigan.

If that happens it`s in direct response to that record voter turnout that we saw in the 2020 election, the most secure and successful election we`ve ever had. The president in the state of Michigan -- the Republicans didn`t like the result, so they want to make it harder to vote as a result of that. And that`s very dangerous for our democracy.

O`DONNELL: Lieutenant Governor Barnes, one scenario is that with Republican -- full Republican control of state government, legislature and the governor that they could basically give the governor the power to reject the electors who were the electors for the winning candidate in that state, and then send to Congress, send to the electoral college a different set of electors who would vote in a different way.

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES (D-WI): Well, of course we should expect them to try it. They`ve been shameless in their approach. They lost the election and they tried to steal the election. They have these sham audits that are taking place.

We have an investigator that the legislature is using taxpayer money to hire, mind you a partisan investigator that is simply there to promote the big lie, to continue this dangerous conspiracy theory that has already seen people put in harm`s way.

And in addition to people being put in harm`s way it`s also counter to democracy. I mean, you know, this thing is very fragile right now, and if Republicans get control, they will stop at nothing to maintain power.

We saw what happened when they don`t get -- we see what happens when they don`t get the election result that they want. And we can`t -- we can`t go into another election. It`s more than just 2022. It`s about 2024. It`s about the next presidential. It`s about the election after that because they haven`t kept up with the mainstream. They have lost touch with the American people, and if maybe they just decided to listen to folks across the state of Wisconsin, across the state of Michigan, across Pennsylvania, and respond to the needs when it comes to health care, getting this economy back on track, and responding to the pandemic, then maybe they wouldn`t have to steal an election. They could win one if they actually tried to.

O`DONNELL: And of course these schemes are all possible because of the absurdity of the electoral college, this ridiculous artifact of the founders that no other country -- no other democracy in the world has decided is a good idea. I want to go back to "The New York Times" reporting on this and consider this.

Governors are required to submit to Congress a certificate of ascertainment of presidential electors, but what if a governor refused.

Another scenario could also give a governor outsize power over the presidential election. A state could send competing slates of electors to Congress, and the house might accept one slate and the senate the other. Then the Electoral Count Act of 1887 appears to give the state`s governor the tie-breaking vote.

Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist, these scenarios become -- that no one dreamed of before the era of Donald Trump are now just a constant nightmare.

Are GILCHRIST: These Republican dreams a nightmare for democracy in Michigan and democracy in America. And we have to do everything we can to fight against them.

Look, I presided over our electoral college session in 2020 to certify the results of the 2020 election that was secure, that had record voter turnout. And we want as Democrats more people to vote and participate in the political process.


GILCHRIST: That is good for democracy, good for Michigan, good for decision-making and good for policy. That is what we want.

We are not afraid of people participating in the political process. Democrats are coming up with ways to expand voting, not schemes to suppress it, and that`s all we are seeing. That`s the only idea the Republicans have is to make it harder for people to vote so that fewer people participate so that they can sneak in these kinds of reforms in a way that can, you know, let their imaginations run wild with ways to take rights away from people.

It`s un-American, it`s undemocratic, and it`s unacceptable.

O`DONNELL: Lieutenant Governor Barnes, I think we used to think that turnout was the cure for everything. That if you could get massive voter turnout on your side, then any irregularities that you might bump into would disappear.

But these people seem determined to be willing to ignore whatever the vote count is no matter what kind of winning margin you might deliver, these people and certainly Donald Trump would be happy to use illegal means to reverse that outcome.

BARNES: Not only just use illegal means but assume or pretend that illegal means were used to get this heightened turnout in the first place. What happened was they had a very unpopular president, one who was not fit to serve in office in the first place, and the American people responded.

And as Governor Gilchrist mentioned, we want people to show up. We want people to have that access to the ballot. They have tried here in Wisconsin. Fortunately we have the governor with the veto pen, that`s why it`s so important, critically important to reelect Governor Tony Evers.

And we shouldn`t have to go out of our way to over prove ourselves to show that democracy works. If we win an election, we win an election, that`s the way it goes. But of course we want as many people to come out as possible.

We feel as though folks are going to show up in historic numbers in this midterm as well. It`s one of the reasons why I decided to run because this election was too important to sit out.

We have a senator in Ron Johnson, one who has shown very little regard for democracy. One who has shown very little regard for the process, and continues to try to make things harder, to make things worse and pretend as if this election was not safe and secure.

So the only response to these attempted attacks on democracy is more democracy. That means more people showing up, more people with access to the ballot. That`s what we`re committed to, and it`s not just giving Democrats the right to vote. It`s about making sure that everybody, every eligible voter has ease of access to the ballot.

O`DONNELL: Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

GILCHRIST: Thank you, Lawrence.

BARNES: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the Special House Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol is already hearing from witnesses from the Trump administration who don`t have to be subpoenaed because they actually want to tell the truth about what they witnessed.

Our next guest, Fiona Hill, has already told the truth about what she witnessed in the Trump White House in her testimony in the first impeachment investigation of Donald Trump. Fiona Hill joins us next.



O`DONNELL: The Special House Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol is already hearing from valuable witnesses who do not have to be subpoenaed because they are cooperating. They actually want to tell the truth.

Politico reports that one of them is Richard Donoghue who was the second in command at the Justice Department in Trump`s final days. Richard Donoghue was on phone calls with the acting attorney general and the president, and Richard Donoghue was taking notes when Donald Trump said things to the attorney general like, "Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me."

Richard Donoghue and the acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen were active resisters against Donald Trump`s attempts to overturn the presidential election. Donald Trump had no way to get around that resistance within his own administration and in the office of the secretary of state of Georgia, for example, because Donald Trump does not really know how to do anything. He knows nothing about government or how to make things happen in government.

We have a new perspective on Donald Trump`s ineptitude in Fiona Hill`s new book. Fiona Hill left the town of Bishop Auckland in England in 1989 to pursue her studies which led to degrees from Harvard and eventually serving as a National Intelligence Officer with expertise on Russia in the administrations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

She continued her service in that position during the Trump presidency and eventually found herself testifying about and against the president in the first impeachment of Donald Trump.

In her new book entitled "There Is Nothing For You Here", Fiona Hill writes, "At first I found President Trump`s fragility perplexing, given his highly privileged upbringing, he seemed to have had unbridled access to opportunity.

I often questioned why he was perpetually aggrieved when everything had so obviously been handed to him since birth. And I wondered how he would cope if someone dropped him alone on a random street in a faraway town like Bishop Auckland or on the Keen Family farm in South Dakota to fend for himself. I concluded, not well at all.

Trump needed to have everything done for him. At times he seemed helpless when little things went wrong."

And luckily, he was helpless when big things went wrong like losing his re- election campaign.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Fiona Hill, former National Security Council official. She is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her new book is entitled "There Is Nothing For You Here".

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I was fascinated by your perspective on this helpless figure of Donald Trump in the White House. Not knowing how to get anything done and not being able to do anything himself.

FIONA HILL, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Yes, well thanks for having me, Lawrence. I mean yes. I mean I suppose it`s probably a little bit perplexing for readers and viewers to think about this as well.

I mean Trump projects himself as a strong man, as a very capable person. He`s said many, you know, things in praise of himself.

But when it actually came to governance, he had no experience at all in how to run something with the complexity of the United States. And what he tried to do instead of learning about it and you know, perhaps deferring to others or asking for advice, was try to run the country like he ran his personal family business.

O`DONNELL: You write, "For me, watching Trump`s disorganized but deadly serious attempt at a coup unfold over 2020, the clearest most unmistakable parallels were with Russia." When did it start to look like Russia to you?

HILL: Well, actually from pretty early on in my tenure at the National Security Council -- and I just want to say because I was listening very intently to the previous segment with the lieutenant governors, the discussion that they were having -- the discussion that they were having with you -- it was more reminiscent of the kinds of conversations we`ve had about somewhere like Russia.

I mean the United States has started to converge in a rather terrifying manner with the Russia of the present. And you know, this whole path towards autocracy, the strong man ruler who wants to stay in power, the lies, the conspiracy theories that is spread around and the effort to basically put the population on a track of really having no choice about who governs them in the future.

And you know, really the crossroads right now in the United States where everything that we have taken for granted is up for question. And you know, again this is something that I think is astounding from most external observers, not just for people like myself who, you know, came to the United States back in 1989 and made lives for ourselves here and never expected this turn of events.

O`DONNELL: You also write, "Trump seemed to look up to Putin because of his wealth and he admired how the way Putin ran Russia like his own private company. People like Putin, who is simultaneously an autocrat and reputedly super rich were an elite of their own.

This was the group Trump wanted to see himself in, the internationally very rich, very powerful and very famous --

HILL: I think I must have lost the audio there.

O`DONNELL: -- and very famous."

Can you hear me, now Fiona Hill? Or have we lost the connection completely? I`m not sure if we -- if Fiona Hill can hear me -- apparently she can`t. I hope we can get her back because her insights into Donald Trump in this book as a person are not being heavily emphasized in her public discussions of the book. It`s much more about the policy aspects of what she was dealing with. But her perspective on Donald Trump I think is utterly fascinating and adds more to our understanding of Donald Trump the person.

And I`m wondering that description you gave about the way he saw Putin and the way he wanted to see himself in that same kind of elite with Putin, how much does that explain his public affection for Putin?

HILL: It explains a lot. I mean look, Vladimir Putin was a trailblazer. He`s the first populist leader -- strong man leader of a major country in the 21st century. You know, a lot of people thought of him as a sort of throwback to the 19th century but he was ahead of the curve.

And people like Trump, there are many other political leaders around Europe and elsewhere in the world look to Vladimir Putin to set the tone. He has, you know, his first early slogan was "I`m going it make Russia great again. I`m going to fix everything."

He has short-circuited democracy. He has no political party around him. He appeals directly to the public. He has a similar base of voters frankly to President Trump.

Millions of people who got fed up with the political system or feel they have got some socioeconomic grievance, who feel like they`ve been cut out of a country that`s sort of changing around them. The similarities are unfortunately fairly striking.


HILL: The one big difference though is that President Putin really tries to unify his country. He doesn`t actually play in such divisive manner that we`ve seen President Trump doing.

O`DONNELL: The title of your book is quite moving once you understand what it`s about. The title is "There`s Nothing For You Here". It sounds something Donald Trump might say to you in the Oval Office --

HILL: I think I lost the audio again, sorry.

O`DONNELL: We`ve lost our audio again. I guess we`ve lost Fiona Hill`s audio again. "There`s Nothing For You Here" is not something that Donald Trump said to Fiona Hill in the Oval Office. It`s what her father said to her growing up in that small town in England. That she would have to get out if she was going to be able to build a life for herself. And she did that.

Fiona Hill`s new book is "There`s Nothing For You Here". And thanks to Fiona Hill for joining us tonight.

We`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: Attorney General Merrick Garland has just issued a written statement about the ruling in Texas saying "Today`s ruling enjoining the Texas law is a victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law. It is the foremost responsibility of the Department of Justice to defend the constitution. We will continue to protect constitutional rights against all who would seek to undermine them."

Attorney General Merrick Garland gets tonight`s LAST WORD.