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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 11/9/21

Guests: Maggie Hassan, Lawrence Tribe, Ana Marie Cox, Adam Jentleson, Brian Klaas


The Federal District Court in Washington D.C. has just ruled emphatically that former President Donald Trump cannot block the January 6th investigation from getting his White House documents and records around the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Interview with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH). New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu shocked Washington Republicans today by announcing his decision not to run for United States Senate. Chris Sununu said that he did not want to go to Washington just to participate in Republican gridlock. Why Congressman Paul Gosar still have his position of power in the House of Representatives? How does he hold on to that power?



I was hoping you`d take another 30 seconds so I could read another page.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": It`s a well written ruling that reads like a novel.

O`DONNELL: I started reading it on my phone as I was walking down to here. I just got it on paper.

Here is the good news for both of us. Our first guest tonight is Laurence Tribe.

MADDOW: There you go. That`s cheating.

O`DONNELL: So he`s had this, he`s been reading it. He`ll translate all of it for us as we get into it. It is a very important and quickly arrived at opinion by the judge. Judge Chutkan has been moving in a way we haven`t seen the judicial process move in Washington, certainly during the Trump era and what is now the aftermath of the Trump era legally, and it`s really striking compared to, say, the way Merrick Garland is moving or not moving on the referral of criminal prosecution for contempt of Congress by Steve Bannon.

MADDOW: And it`s important because apparently, the Garland Justice Department is also not moving on what the January 6th investigation is moving on, which is who done it? Who organized it? Who made it happen? Who paid for it? Who devised this theory if you sent a mob into the capitol on January 6th, Mike Pence would be the pressure point you can break and there by undo the election result.

I mean, the question of who orchestrated the attack on the Capitol and for what purpose is something that apparently the Justice Department is not looking at. The Congress is, the Congress is under the political control of the Democrats right now but if that changes and Kevin McCarthy or whatever Republican becomes house speaker next year, they`ll get rid of this investigation immediately.

To the extent the courts are needed to put teeth in that investigation to make sure they can enforce subpoenas that and get documents and stuff, it really important and good the courts are moving quickly because otherwise, you know, the Justice Department isn`t acting and the Republicans will shut this down as soon as they get their arms around it.

O`DONNELL: The former Watergate prosecutors can tell us, the courts moved very quickly on those days.


O`DONNELL: It seemed like a matter of days. It was actually weeks but very, very short periods of time and now we`ve just grown accustomed to well, he`s been subpoenaed so it`s going to take a year or two to figure out whether this congressional subpoena can be upheld and it has just been a crazy, I think, waste of time period. I mean, the process should not ever have to take that long.

MADDOW: No. And to the extent that this process, the congressional oversight process, congressional investigative process is something that we`re all supposed to believe in the merits of and the legitimacy of, well, you know, you sort of want to be able to count on people having those good civic feelings about it but when you deal with bad actors who have very happy to destroy the norms of American civic life, but also to push the limit and the law what you can get away with, people will push to the limit will run out the clock.

Bannon I`m sure doesn`t care. They don`t care about violating the Hatch Act. They don`t care about violating contempt of Congress citation if it`s going to result in a prosecution seven years down the road they will assume Trump will be back in office and pardon him again.

The delay on this is a form of injustice and to see Judge Chutkan moving quickly is a form of accountability.

O`DONNELL: Well, one of the things I`ll ask Professor Tribe about is it possible that Merrick Garland, his former student, of course, that he will either feel strengthened by or was waiting for one round of judicial opinion on this claim of privilege so that he can cite that on his moving forward on Bannon because Bannon is trying to live under this Trump privilege claim.

MADDOW: That`s a very, very good question and if Trump appeals this ruling to the D.C. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which is the circuit court of appeals which Merrick Garland was chief justice before he was attorney general, this district court ruling, this ruling going to be enough, or is he going to want to hear from -- he want to wait for the appeal to hear from the colleagues on the court he used to lead?


You know, and that case will he want to wait until the Supreme Court weighs on it as well? I don`t know. I mean, being able to talk to somebody who knows Merrick Garland well would be an advantage.

O`DONNELL: Well, he`s been listening. So, I won`t have to ask any questions. I`ll just have to say go because he know what is we`re wondering about and we -- this is one of those lucky booking nights where we already had him and so we`re going to start in with Professor Tribe.

MADDOW: Go, Lawrence, go. Hi, Professor Tribe, this is going to be great.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Well, as we were discussing, the pressure is on U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland and that multiplied ten times today when the House Select Committee issued ten more subpoenas that to former Trump administration officials, all of whom might defy the subpoenas that as Steve Bannon has and for 19 days after the House of Representatives referred Steve Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution for contempt of Congress, we have been watching, quote, garland`s failure to act with dispatch to hold accountable under the law.

That criticism of Merrick Garland comes from his former teacher, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe who will be the first guest tonight, 19 days, eight days is how long it should take at most. Eight days.

In 1983, Reagan administration official defied a congressional subpoena and the House voted unanimously, Republicans and Democrats to refer the case to the Reagan Justice Department for criminal prosecution of the Reagan administration official and it took exactly eight days for Ronald Reagan`s attorney general to prosecute, announce the prosecution of the Reagan administration official.

The pressure on Merrick Garland is self-imposed by Merrick Garland because he has failed to act with dispatch on what is a legally obvious choice. He has created pressure where there should be none. The ten new subpoenas that sent today by the committee included subpoena for people that are already comfortable violating the law as Rachel just mentioned.

Steven Miller was one of 13 cited today in a 60-page report about willful disregard for the law that included repeated violations of the Hatch Act that were according to the special counsel especially pernicious.

Former Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also received a subpoena today and also appeared as a violator of the law in the special counsel`s report today.

The committee`s letter accompanying the subpoena to Kayleigh McEnany that, she, quote, made multiple public statements from the White House and elsewhere about purported fraud in November 2020 election, which individuals who attacked the U.S. capitol echoed on January six.

Another recipient of the subpoena today is Johnny McEntee, who joined the Trump 2016`s volunteer, then he became Donald Trump`s body man, as they called it in the campaign. I mean, he literally carried the candidates bags.

And he was hired at the White House at 29 years old, becoming the House Personnel Director with organizational jurisdiction of nearly 4,000 appointees in the branch. In an excerpt from his book in "The Atlantic", Jonathan Karl described McEntee this way, just 29 when he got the job, he would come up as Trump`s body guy, one of Trump`s most profile cabinet secretaries described him to me as an F-ing idiot, but in 2020, his power was undeniable. Trump knew he was the one person willing to do anything Trump wanted. As another senior official told me, he became the deputy president more than anyone else in the White House. McEntee was Trump`s man through and through a man who rose to power at the precisely the moment when American democracy was falling apart.

The committee`s letter to Johnny McEntee states, quote, you were reportedly present in the oval office when Giuliani, Justin Clark, former President Trump and former Vice President Pence discussed the audit process in Georgia and listened as Giuliani suggested seizing Dominion voting machines because of fraud.

Here is what House Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told Chris Hayes tonight about the latest round of subpoenas.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): The 16 individuals we subpoenaed this week have knowledge as to what occurred before January 6th, as well as what occurred on January 6th.


We think it`s incumbent on the committee to get them of record what actually occurred and what did they do during that time? The people we wanted to talk to directly now are people who we think have everyday as to what really went on in terms of the planning.


O`DONNELL: And yesterday on what was the Justice Department`s 18th day of silence, the attorney general was asked about the referral of Steve Bannon for criminal prosecution.


REPORTER: Can you provide the status of the referral for Mr. Bannon, where you are on that?

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: No. This is -- this is a criminal matter, it`s an on going examination of the referral and as you know, the Justice Department doesn`t comment on those. We evaluate these in the normal way we do and apply the principles of prosecution.


O`DONNELL: And we could not be more fortunate that leading off our discussion tonight is Laurence Tribe, university professor of constitutional law emeritus at Harvard law school. He`s won 35 cases in the United States Supreme Court.

Professor tribe, I hope you heard your eager students Rachel and I discussing the judge`s opinions at the beginning of the hour.

Please weave together the analysis of the judge`s opinion and what that might mean for Merrick Garland`s decision about the criminal prosecution referral for contempt of Congress by Steve Bannon.

LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Glad to, Lawrence. I did hear your conversation with Rachel as I was finishing reading the remarkably powerful opinion by Judge Chutkan. It`s a 39-page opinion dissecting closely all of the arguments that have made by Donald Trump`s lawyers claiming that even though he`s no longer the president, he has executive privilege to prevent the turning over of hundreds of government documents, presidential documents, presidential logs, information about what he knew and when he knew it from the concept that somehow he could prevent turning that over.

She rejected that argument. We only have one president at a time and that president is not Donald Trump. The current president has to weigh the claims of executive privilege, which are designed to encourage confidential advice for the president against the needs of the country, in particular in this case the legitimate needs of Congress to find out why the coup was attempted, and why the insurrection occurred and why the role of the president and the president`s high lieutenants was in doing all of that.

Now, the only thing I can imagine my former student Merrick Garland thinking why he hasn`t acted already and I really think he should have, he`s smart enough. The case is clear. The statute says when Congress refers someone in contempt of Congress, refers them to prosecution, the U.S. attorney should convene a grand jury. The only possible argument is there are a couple of legal counsel one in 1980 and one in 2008 that suggest that when executive privilege protects the assertion by someone that he or she cannot compile with a congressional subpoena, the department should not prosecute.

Well, perhaps Merrick Garland being a good lawyer and wanting to dot his is and cross his T`s was waiting to hear a court say the executive privilege doesn`t apply to the former president when the current president doesn`t assert that privilege and when there is a legitimate need for the information. If that`s what he was waiting for, he got it tonight and if he does not move immediately will be inexcusable.

He will in all effects and purposes, he will be objecting Congress. He will be preventing the legitimate and crucial investigation because all of these guys getting subpoenas that have no particular incentive to comply.


If Steve Bannon can get away with stonewalling not even showing up, being in contempt of Congress saying that he`s waiting for some judicial signal, he`s certainly got it tonight if nothing happens to the guy. So why should Clark who is also been subpoenaed, why should Eastman comply if there are no consequences like a Dear John letter, show up, please.

That`s not what these subpoenas that are and when Congress asks the Justice Department to perform its constitutional function, there is just no excuse for any further foot dragging.

I know a number of former U.S. attorneys tried to I guess make Merrick Garland look good. He`s a good guy. He`s got a lot of integrity and they tried to say maybe he`s trying to make sure everything, all the ducks are in a row.

There are no more ducks. This duck quakes like a duck, it it`s a duck and there are no more ducks left. Merrick Garland should go ahead and not get in the way of the absolute vital investigation.

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump, his lawyers said they are going to appeal this decision --

TRIBE: Sure.

O`DONNELL: -- by the district court judge. Take us through that appeals process.

TRIBE: They`re going to first ask the judge herself to issue an administrative stay claiming that she really shouldn`t be so sure of herself. But she`s already explained why there is no basis for a stay. A stay can be granted if there is a probable outcome on appeal that is a reversal of what the judge did. That`s not going to happen. A stay can be granted if there is irreversible harm that is threatened to the person who has to turnover documents or show up to testify.

Here, she`s quite clearly shown that there is no harm, it`s not his private documents. These are all government documents and during the oral argument in her court when she pressed Trump`s lawyers to say what`s the harm to your client as a citizen and Trump`s lawyer said it`s executive privilege and she said, no, I`ve already explained that that`s up to the current president. You`ve lost that one she basically predicted and of course, that`s what she did.

So what`s the harm to your client as a private citizen? These aren`t his tax records. These aren`t private records. There is no harm. So there is absolutely no basis for a stay.

What will happen is you`ll go to the court appeals and ask the court of appeals to prevent the turnover of the documents at the end of the week. It will all move very fast. I don`t think the court of appeals has any basis to grant him a stay and then the documents will be turned over and the case will be moved, although, he will still try to drag it into the Supreme Court. I can`t imagine this Supreme Court finding any basis to rule for him. I can`t imagine even the three justices that he put on the court doing that.

So I think, you know, it really, the fat lady has sung. The music is over and he`s got to turnover the documents and I think Bannon has got to be prosecuted. That will require an indictment by this attorney general, the grand jury of course is body that has to return the indictment and I think we`re about to watch a very rapid show.

O`DONNELL: Professor Laurence Tribe, so lucky to have you with us tonight. We really appreciate it.

TRIBE: Glad to be here.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

MADDOW: And coming up, Joe Biden and check shoe Chuck Schumer got some very good news today in their fight to keep the Senate away from Mitch McConnell`s control and apparently, they have Mitch McConnell to thank for that news. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Our next guest won her seat in the United States Senate by 1,017 votes in 2016 the year Donald Trump won the Electoral College. Democrat Maggie Hassan defeated New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte by just 1,017 votes and gained a seat for the Democrats in the United States Senate. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has been eyeing New Hampshire has a possible pickup for Republicans next year`s Senate race against Maggie Hassan.

And the obvious candidate to win back the New Hampshire Senate seat for Republicans was New Hampshire`s three term current Republican Governor Chris Sununu who won reelection by 22 points in a state that Joe Biden won by seven points. Today, Governor Sununu whose father served as governor of New Hampshire and before serving as the first President Bush`s White House chief of staff announced that he has decided not to run for a job that could send him to Washington to work for Mitch McConnell.


GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): My responsibility is not to the gridlock and politics of Washington. It`s to the citizens of New Hampshire and I`d rather push myself 120 miles an hour delivering wins for New Hampshire than to slow down and end up on Capitol Hill debating partisan politics without results. It a much slower pace and frankly too often doing nothing is considered a win.


O`DONNELL: Governor Sununu will remain in New Hampshire administration stirring the Biden infrastructure bill the president will be signing into law next week and Democrats are feeling much more confident about holding onto the Senate seat in New Hampshire and holding on to control of the United States Senate after next year`s election.

Joining us is the senator who Chris Sununu chose not to challenge, Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. She`s a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight and I feel like saying congratulations as if there has been something like a primary win at this stage.


But this is a very important message it seems about both Washington politics and New Hampshire politics.

SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D-NH): Well, thanks for having me on, Lawrence. Good to be with you.

Look, my job is to listen to the people of New Hampshire and deliver for them on the issues they say matter, and I focus on supporting small innovative businesses on keeping our state and our country safe. I want to make sure that we`re expanding New Hampshire`s economy and lowering costs for families, and that work doesn`t change depending on whom my opponent is. And whoever my opponent is, this is going to be a tough race pause we`re an independent place and a purple place.

O`DONNELL: I want to look at a recent poll that shows what this race might have looked like if Chris Sununu got it in. He won by 22 points in the last election, he didn`t have that lead over you. It shows Chris Sununu at 46 percent and you`re at 41 percent and then, you know, the unknown factors for other voters. So that`s not much of a lead and certainly it`s within the margin of error. So, that is a functionally a tie.

So this was as you say, even if Chris Sununu was in it, it would be a tough race.

What do you think New Hampshire voter as year from now will be concentrating on in terms of evaluating whether to send you back to Washington?

HASSAN: Well, you know, the job is always to be out engaging with voters, talking to them about what`s important. Today, I was in Manchester standing in front of a river next to a highway interchange with a dam down stream and a bridge right behind us.

And that really was a way to focus on how important the infrastructure package, the bipartisan package that we just passed into law is going to be. It`s a game changer for New Hampshire. It`s a game changer for our country. It`s going to let us move forward and create jobs and grow our economy and compete in the 21st century.

My constituents are looking for people coming together, getting things done and delivering. It`s important for our economy. It`s important for our quality of life. It`s really important to show people democracy can deliver and that`s what this is about.

Now, I have a strong record of reaching across the aisle, getting things done and that`s the case I`ll be making to New Hampshire voters. The really important thing is to continue to engage with people and listen to what`s on their mind, and let them know that you`ll always stand up for them and be an independent voice for them.

O`DONNELL: What did Chuck Schumer say to you today about Chris Sununu deciding not to run?

HASSAN: I think Senator Schumer knows as we all do that New Hampshire is always a really competitive state. Again, our job is to work together, reach across party lines and focus on what matters to our constituents.

We`ve done the bipartisan infrastructure package. We got the bipartisan endless frontiers act that focuses on American innovation and manufacturing, addressing our supply chain issues and competing with China. We got that done in the spring.

The American rescue plan cut taxes for working families. We want to continue that. We have more work to do.

At the end of the day that`s the focus, how can we make a difference for the American people? How can I make a difference for Granite Staters that want to get back to work, see their kids back full-time in school and really have the opportunity to work hard, get ahead and stay ahead. That`s what we talk about.

O`DONNELL: There is a lot of polling data that shows people don`t -- on something like the infrastructure bill, the average voter does not know who voted for it, who voted against it. They don`t know the reason that road is being repaved over there is because of the vote that you cast. How do you communicate all of that in New Hampshire?

HASSAN: You go out into the state and talk to people about what the infrastructure needs they experience. You know, this infrastructure bill not only fixes highways, roads, bridges, dams as I referenced before, but this is about getting high speed Internet to every corner of New Hampshire, a state that is really struggled to get the kind of overall internet service that it would allow a small business to start up just anywhere, right?


HASSAN: And so you go out. You engage with people. I did that before we passed the infrastructure package. I was in New Hampshire talking with people about the difference it could make and what they needed.

We know that climate change continues to be a major threat, something we have to address. We`ve addressed some issues related to climate change in the infrastructure package, coastal resiliency, strong and resilient clean energy grid.

These are all things that you just have to go out and talk to people. They`re tangible for people and at the end of the day, this is again just being engaged with voters and listening to them as well as talking with them about what you`ve done and what you hope to be able to do to help them build the life they want for themselves and their kids.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan, congratulations on still not having a Republican opponent in your reelection campaign. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

HASSAN: Thanks so much Lawrence for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, New Hampshire`s Republican Governor Chris Sununu has apparently decided that Washington is where Republican political careers go to die while they have to defend the homicidal fantasies of sick members of Congress like Paul Gosar. More on that next.



O`DONNELL: New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu shocked Washington Republicans today by announcing his decision not to run for United States Senate. Chris Sununu said that he did not want to go to Washington just to participate in Republican gridlock.

His critical comments about the Senate were aimed at the way Mitch McConnell has made the Republican Party the party of no in the Senate Governor Sununu did not specifically attribute the gridlock in the Senate to Mitch McConnell but the fact that he did not alert Mitch McConnell about his decision before he announced it publicly is in protocol terms a sharp rebuke to McConnell by an experienced politician.

The New Hampshire governor made his announcement today about not wanting to go to Washington on the same day Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney decided to go to New Hampshire to attack Republicans in Washington.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I love my party. I love its history. I love its principles. but I love my country more. We need a Republican Party that is led by people who remember that the peaceful transfer of power is sacred and it undergirds the very foundations of our republic.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Adam Jentleson former deputy chief of staff for Senator Harry Reid. He is the author of Kill Switch The Rise Of The Modern Senate and the Crippling Of American Democracy. Also with us Ana Marie Cox, host of the podcast "With Friends Like These".

And Ana Marie, friends like who? I thought we were friends. I haven`t been on the podcast. I am checking my notes here. There is no invitation for me to be on the podcast. Ok.

So --

ANA MARIE COX, PODCAST HOST: Well, it`s problematic friends and you`re not a problematic friend.

O`DONNELL: Ok. All right. Ok. I accept that.

COX: Right.

O`DONNELL: So New Hampshire had quite a day in the flow of Democrat and Republican politics. Liz Cheney going to New Hampshire to complain about Washington Republicans and Chris Sununu saying I don`t want to be a Washington Republican.

COX: Well, the people left who to want to be Washington Republicans is getting to be a pretty grubby bunch. You know, we have people running -- there is three people endorsed by Trump running for Senate -- I think one is running for House that have actually been accused of domestic violence.

You know, we have people talking about violence. It`s been awhile since the Capitol was considered a physically dangerous place to be -- I`m sorry, it was only January 6th it was considered a physically dangerous place to be.

And some of this might seem like people are just trying to control people`s words. I`ve heard Paul Gosar say that that was a joke, the thing he tweeted out that had, you know, an anime version of him committing violence against AOC.

You know, I don`t like calling that a lack of decorum. I love him being impolite. I like being rude. I`m totally for that.

This is about violence. Like this is like not just not being nice. This is disregarding like the structures of democracy, which do depend on ensuring people`s physical safety. That`s like the fundamental need -- the reason we have a state. And if we can`t do that at the capitol that seems like a bad thing.

O`DONNELL: Adam, imagine you`re in Harry Reid`s office, he`s the leader of the -- Democratic leader of the Senate and he`s been courting a Democratic governor to run for Senate and this is the guy who you firmly believe can win back that seat for your party. And the guy announces that he`s not going to run.

He doesn`t even call the leader first and give the heads up that I`ve made my decision, I`m sorry, Mitch but I`m not going to do it. I`m going to stay here in New Hampshire. I mean inside the game, that`s a pretty big deal.

ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR HARRY REID: That is a really big deal. You know, that`s not just deciding against what McConnell wanted him to do, that`s a burned bridge and that`s hard to repair.

And I think, you know, for your viewers to understand that when you say courting, I mean, you know, that is really what`s happening here. The Senate leaders pursue these candidates who they really want to run. Candidate selection is a huge part of what wins races.

We saw that in Virginia where Republicans got a very good candidate in Glenn Youngkin who was able to pull out an upset victory there. Candidate quality matters a lot.

And there is a lot of personal contact that goes into the courting process. They seek them out. They talk to them on the phone. They make personal trips. They arrange for them to talk to people that they think will talk them into running. It is a very hands on process.


JENTLESON: So it`s not like McConnell was courting him from afar. McConnell was personally invested in trying to get Sununu to run. And not only did Sununu say no, he said no to McConnell on national television without giving him any kinds of heads up first.

That is a major breach of protocol and kind of a big clap back to McConnell. Looking for the right words there.

COX: I was wondering where you were going to go with that.

O`DONNELL: And Ana, the parties do take encouragement from these kinds of decisions because it may be that, you know, Sununu doesn`t really want to be involved in the current version of Republican Senate politics but it`s a very strong candidate who`s deciding not to run that provides a real jolt for the Democrats today saying ok, it almost feels like a win at this stage of the game for them.

And so these are the kinds of things that change the moods within the parties in the Senate of what they`re capable of.

COX: It does. I mean I have to say part of me is concerned about this, right? Because who is left to run if people who are kind of fundamentally decent aren`t left to run because the Republican Party, I think we`ve talked about before isn`t running like a party that`s worried about winning fair elections, right? Which means they don`t really have to worry about candidate selection as much as they might have to if they were using totally fair elections and were favor of the Voting Rights Act or something like that.

They can run kind of -- I`ll have to look for my words again -- not very good candidates and still win if you know you gerrymander right. If you like rejigger things the right way.

And that`s what is really concerning to me. like before we consider this a win, right, let`s consider like why are they not concerned about getting quality candidates or someone isn`t concerned. I mean Mitch McConnell`s concerned. I guess that`s a good sign.

But I feel like the people that are running in the GOP right now, like, the rest of the GOP doesn`t want them. The Republican Party that I, you know, we always had trouble dealing with but at least you could sit down with, that seems to be atrophying and instead it`s this new generation or same generation of Trumpers that are coming through and I`m very concerned.

O`DONNELL: Adam, last night on this program Jennifer Gosar was here. She`s very concerned about her brother, Paul Gosar. She`s been saying publicly that he`s a very sick man. Last night she said he`s getting worse and worse and there is nothing that anyone in the Republican leadership in Washington intends to do about him.

JENTLESON: Yes, this is terrifying and, you know, Ana touched on this earlier. I mean threatening physical violence against your colleagues is a breach of every imaginable protocol norm. And it, you know, puts people in danger.

He might not be thinking of committing the violence himself but there are people out there who might do that and I think that this is just an unconscionable act.

It is incumbent upon Republican leadership to do something about this and the sad part of it is I think we`ve seen no evidence whatsoever that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has any intention of punishing Gosar. Reports today are that instead Minority Leader McCarthy is looking to punish the Republicans who voted with Democrats to pass the infrastructure bill last week.

So that`s who they`re looking to punish. They`re looking to punish the Republicans who cross the aisle to vote with Democrats to give President Biden a big win on one of his signature priority.

They are not looking to punish their colleague who is threatening violence against other members and that`s terrifying.

O`DONNELL: That of course means that Kevin McCarthy wants to punish Mitch McConnell who also voted for that bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Adam Jentleson and Ana Marie Cox. Thank you both for much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

COX: Thank you for having us.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

JENTLESON: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Paul Gosar`s sister Jennifer told us here last night her brother`s sick mind is only getting worse, much worse. Why does he still have his position of power in the House of Representatives? How does he hold on to that power?

That`s next.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It was really astounding to me that someone as deeply flawed as Donald Trump in a matter of four short years or less could completely remake one of America`s great political parties in his flawed image but he did. And the reason he was able to do it was because all too many of the Republican leadership in the Congress didn`t turn out to care anything about anything they said they cared about.


O`DONNELL: That was Congressman Adam Schiff on this program last month. Sunday, Republican Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted an animated video of him assassinating Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and threatening the life of President Joe Biden.

Today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to quote "join in condemning this horrific video and call on the Ethics Committee and law enforcement to investigate." Kevin McCarthy has yet to respond to the tweet depicting Paul Gosar killing a member of Congress and threatening the life of the president.

Our next guest Brian Klaas explores why people like Arizona Republican Paul Gosar end up in power. In his new book "Corruptible: Who Gets Power And How It Changes Us".

Joining us now Brian Klaas, an associate professor of global politics at University College London and the author of the new book "Corruptible: Who Gets Power And How It Changes Us".


O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

I want to get your reaction to who has power in the Republican Party in Washington and how they hold on to it and how there seems to be nothing they do to lose it as in the case of Paul Gosar.

BRIAN KLAAS, AUTHOR: It is interesting. You know, power holds a certain magnetism to a certain kind of person. So I use the analogy of a high school basketball team. You don`t expect that team to be representative of average heights. Taller kids try out for the team. The same is true for power. Power-hungry people with authoritarian personalities are disproportionately drawn to power.

So then you can either dial that effect up or dial it down depending on how you set up a system. What the Republican Party has done in the post-Trump years is it has dialed up that tendency. It has said to people, if you are like this, we want you, we will promote you.

So it attracts and promotes the kinds of people like Paul Gosar who are extremists, who embrace violence. And it doesn`t just attract and promote them, it then lets them get away with it.

And I think that is particularly corrosive because it sends a signal to the next generation of potential political leaders in this country, which is to say that people who are looking like maybe I`ll run for office in the future, they see what Paul Gosar does, and the people who think that`s a good thing, they`re going to throw their hat in the ring.

The people who think it is a bad thing, they think, well, that`s not what I want to do so they don`t run for office. So I think, you know, Gosar is emblematic of a culture that as I say attracts and promotes as the book title suggests corruptible people.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what his sister Jennifer told me last night about him not being held accountable.


JENNIFER GOSAR, SISTER OF REP. PAUL GOSAR: He has not been held accountable in any way, shape or form. He has not been censured. He has not been expelled and he`s not had a seat forfeited by any of the leadership.

Does he need to act on his like sociopathic fantasy for Representative Ocasio-Cortez? I am very concerned for she and other members and this is absolutely unacceptable. I do not understand it.


O`DONNELL: So why does Kevin McCarthy see his hold on power dependent on allowing Paul Gosar to do these things?

KLAAS: This is where we have to turn the mirror back on American society because there`s some people in America who find this appealing, right. I think that`s the deeper question. That`s the kind of thing that I discuss in my research in the book, because it is not just Paul Gosar. It is that people like Paul Gosar in the Republican Party. He has a base.

And so I think we need to acknowledge not just that this person has been able to seek and obtain power, but actually that the backlash from his own base isn`t there. And so what does that say about us, right? I say us in the sense of a subset of the U.S. population, not all of it.

But I think it is important to understand there are dynamics going on in the United States that are rewarding these kinds of behaviors. And so if leaders aren`t willing to do it, we have to. We have to beat them in elections to ensure that there`s a clear benchmark that if you behave like this you cannot obtain and maintain power in the United States.

Unfortunately, we`re sending exactly the opposite signal, which as I say, is going to ensure that the pipeline of future leaders in the United States is exactly the kind of people like Paul Gosar if we`re not careful.

O`DONNELL: Well, of course, the struggle with congressional districts is it is unlikely that a Democrat would be able to beat anyone with a Republican label in Paul Gosar`s district.

KLAAS: That`s completely right, which is why the elites have, you know, a real responsibility here. Corrupt cultures and corrupt systems attract corrupt and corruptible people. That`s the bottom line.

And so if you are going to have that dynamic, the only way to counteract it, if you can`t win at the ballot box as a result of gerrymandering or any other manipulations of democracy that the United States system has, it is incumbent on the leadership of the party to take action, and they have utterly, utterly failed to do so.

But the responsibility is still there, and I think it is important that we call them out and we make sure that there are actual consequences to people who sort of promote and mainstream the idea of violence against members of Congress, because it is going to scare people, too.

I mean if you are thinking about running for office in 2021, it is a genuinely scary prospect. Local school board members even are being threatened with death threats.

So you know, if we want to have better political leaders in the future, if we want to eliminate the Paul Gosars from congressional leadership in terms of getting them out of power, we need to have a conversation about how we make power seem palatable and attractive to good, decent people, and how we draw a very clear line that what Gosar did was absolutely beyond the pale and should be punished harshly.


O`DONNELL: Attractive and safe, power being something that you can wield safely. And right now Paul Gosar makes you wonder just how safe it is to be a Democratic member of Congress.

Brian Klaas, the new book is "Corruptible". Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

KLAAS: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And tonight`s LAST WORD is next.


O`DONNELL: Today in New Hampshire, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said this.


CHENEY: We are also confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. A former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic, aided by political leaders who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.



O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Liz Cheney gets tonight`s Last Word.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening --