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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 12/15/21

Guests: Ruben Gallego, Jacqueline Campbell, Norm Ornstein, Rosa DeLauro, Derrick Johnson, Kristina Lawson

Summary

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) admits to sending one of the texts revealed by January 6th committee. President Biden surveyed the tornado damage in Kentucky today, but Kentucky`s Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul did not accompany the president in Kentucky today. Last month the House of Representatives passed President Biden`s Build Back Better legislation, which would extend that child tax credit for another year. Senate Democrats are still negotiating the details of that legislation and haven`t voted on it yet.

Transcript

[22:00:37]

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.

And I have a suspicion that president of the United States has been watching your show and possibly heard -- because in Kentucky today it just moved up to the top of the Biden agenda. He said there`s -- it`s the most important thing. He said that today when he was in Kentucky, but there`s just nothing more important than voting rights. That`s a new shape of the Biden agenda in the priorities.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I doubt -- I wouldn`t ever take credit for anything I thought myself. I would not put it past the president that he watched Senator Warnock, either in the Senate when he was giving that speech, or maybe he saw us clip it.

But yeah, I mean, I -- the Democrats in the United States Senate and every cause that Senator Raphael Warnock believes in is lucky to have him as their messenger, my God is he a good spokesperson for what he believes in, and he made that case so effectively last night I could hardly stand it.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it`s -- it`s a fascinating turn. We`ll see whether this actually is an agenda shift. It appeared to be in the way he said it today, but we will see.

MADDOW: Yeah, indeed. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

As I was just saying, it does seem as if the Biden agenda shifted today when the president spoke in Kentucky. President Biden traveled to Kentucky today to survey the tornado devastation there. The lieutenant governor of Kentucky will be joining us tonight.

Before leaving Kentucky, President Biden said, quote, there is nothing domestically more important than voting rights. It`s the single biggest issue, the single biggest issue. If that is true, then president Biden should logically suspend his negotiations with Senator Joe Manchin over the Build Back Better bill and spend all of his time with Joe Manchin trying to convince him and the rest of the Democrats in the Senate to pass a voting rights bill immediately even if they have to change the rules of the Senate to do that.

The pressure to do that has increased this week, with the dramatic revelations delivered by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the capitol, the committee continues to add detail to the conspiracy led by Donald Trump to overturn the results of the presidential election on January 6th with the support of Republican senators and Republican members of the House. It was at every step a plot to violate the law.

The January 6th committee has not released the names of any of the Republican members of Congress whose texts have been revealed. Some of them have been revealed since Sunday, and no Republicans are proud of those texts. None of them are proud of their texts, not one of them stepped forward when their texts were made public and eagerly said, hey, that`s me. I wrote that one.

When Mark Meadows defied a committee subpoena for his testimony, his co- conspirator, Congressman Jim Jordan, publicly expressed his gratitude for Mark Meadows` attempt to cover up what both of them did and said on January 6th.

Last night, Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee, said that he would not -- that we would not be surprised when the committee eventually reveals which Republicans wrote which texts.

We all knew Jim Jordan was going to turn out to be the author of at least one conspiratorial text. Earlier today, a leak started to spread through the media about which text Jim Jordan wrote, and only at that point, only then when it was leaking did Jim Jordan decide that it was time to admit that he wrote a text prior to January 6th that was revealed by Congressman Adam Schiff at the committee`s meeting on Monday.

Here`s that text.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): On January 6th, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:05:11]

O`DONNELL: Jim Jordan could have put his hand up on Monday right away and very proudly said, hey, hey, hey, that was me. That was mine. I sent that text. But he didn`t. He stayed quiet.

He could have said something all day and all night Tuesday when that text was making news all over the country and in his congressional district in Ohio, but Jim Jordan said nothing. That is exactly what Jim Jordan is accused of doing by members of the Ohio state wrestling team when Jim Jordan was an assistant coach of the team and some of the members of the team were being sexually abused by the team doctor. Jim Jordan said nothing.

Members of the team have insisted under oath that Jim Jordan knew. They insist Jim Jordan knew that the doctor was sexually abusing teammates who Jim Jordan had an obligation to protect. Jim Jordan had an obligation to those teammates he was coaching. He had an obligation to their parents who sent them off to college. He had an obligation to the university. He had an obligation to the law, and he had an obligation to his own conscience.

And he stands accused of violating all of those obligations by members of that team. They say Jim Jordan knew about sex crimes, and he stayed silent just like he stayed silent about his text until his identity was leaking today, and then Jim Jordan complained that the committee did not quote his entire text. The committee acknowledged that they did not include the entire text in their first quoting of that text.

This is Jim Jordan`s entire text, which he says he was forwarding from someone else to Mark Meadows. On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence as president of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all -- in accordance with guidance from Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence.

No legislative act, wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78 contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. The court in Hubbard versus Lowe reinforced this truth that an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion, appeal dismissed.

Following this rationale, an unconstitutionally appointed elector like an unconstitutionally enacted statute, is no elector at all.

That text in full describes a criminal act that the text urges the vice president to carry out. First of all, Alexander Hamilton was not referring to anything involving the Electoral College in that particular quote written before the government of the United States was actually formed. And the Supreme Court has never held that the vice president of the United States or any elected member of the government can decide unilaterally what is or is not constitutional.

The text Jim Jordan sent to the White House chief of staff is a jumble of historical and legal madness that amounts to nothing less than Jim Jordan urging the vice president of the United States to commit a crime. Maybe that`s why Jim Jordan stayed silent about his text.

Maybe that`s why Jim Jordan did not object immediately on Monday night and say, hey, wait, you didn`t quote my entire text. You left out the Alexander Hamilton bit. Here`s what I actually wrote.

Jim Jordan was afraid of that text becoming public. Jim Jordan is afraid tonight of the January 6th Committee. We will eventually know all of their names, the names of all the Republicans in Congress who were active in the criminal conspiracy to steal the presidential election after the voters` votes were counted and Joe Biden won.

They, along with Jim Jordan, are all living in fear tonight of what else the January 6th Committee will reveal about them. But we already know and the president of the United States already knows that they were all trying to steal a presidential election on January 6th, and that`s why the president of the United States discussed voting rights today and said it`s the single biggest issue.

[22:10:04]

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He is a Marine Corps combat veteran and served in Iraq. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Congressman.

Your reaction to the unsurprising revelation that it was Jim Jordan who was the sender of that text urging an illegal act by the vice president.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Yeah, I feel like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca right now -- absolutely not a surprise. But Jim Jordan is a traitor. He`s a traitor to the Constitution of the United States. He has been a traitor to the Constitution of the United States for a while, and now, we actually have it in text.

But we shouldn`t be surprised, and why is anybody surprised? We saw it on the floor when they were calling out, you know, Arizona for example, the place that I represent and saying that there was fraudulent votes, and they made up lies on the House floor.

So how are we surprised right now? How is anybody surprised by any of this, right?

My biggest issue isn`t Jim Jordan. My issue is the fact that there are a lot of people who are not taking this serious. The fact that there is a slow moving coup that is happening right now all over this country that are led by the Jim Jordans, and you know, and other people.

So instead of people being dressed up in, you know, uniform or want to be uniforms storming the Capitol, now they`re actually trying to win state house seats, state Senate seats, secretary of state seats, county recorder seats, so they could actually overturn the future election, right?

So the coup is ongoing. The traitors are still there, and they`re going to continue to try to destroy our Constitution every opportunity they have.

O`DONNELL: President Biden has had a sequencing plan for his agenda, and voting rights was to come after the domestic spending agenda was settled and the build back better plan was passed. He actually said I think it was a couple of months ago, that he`s not bringing up the voting rights issue now because that might -- especially the question of changing a Senate rule to do it, because that might lose him or would lose him a couple of votes on the Build Back Better plan.

Today, he said that voting rights is absolutely the most important thing. That is a change of priority for him. It is a change of tone.

What do you think that means?

GALLEGO: Well, hopefully it means that they recognize that the threat is here. It`s omnipresent, and it`s going to continue, but no matter what you want to look at it this way. The filibuster is a problem to get anything done. You know, we`re talking about abortion rights. We`re not going to be able to protect Roe v. Wade once the Supreme Court overturns it because we`re never going to have the 60 votes to protect Roe v. Wade.

You`re talking about any type of legislation to help working class people. It`s not going to happen. You don`t have a Republican Party that wants to compromise to help working class people.

I`m glad the president understands the threat to democracy happening here. The threat is ongoing. I mean, I`ve been in Arizona politics for quite a while, ask I`ve seen a lot of attempts to destroy the power of people to elect their own leadership, and not have the leadership try to select who they are. And every day that we don`t take that serious is another closer day that we have an illegitimate election potentially in 2022 and 2024.

So I`m glad they`re taking this serious, but I`m going to be honest, everyone else needs to take this serious. You know, the fact that we see so many Trump supporters that show up on TV as legitimate spokespersons when they took part in an attempted coup, the fact that we accept them still in modern society. You see them on corporate boards, nonprofit boards. You see them at the cocktail parties all over Washington, D.C., as if nothing happened.

There`s a reason why they keep trying because we all keep looking the other way, when n in fact there was a real coup that happened that night, and for some reason Washington, D.C., is just whistling past the graveyard at this point.

O`DONNELL: Congressman, you`re the target of a personal threat from Russia, host on a Russian state-controlled TV show said that you should be kidnapped, that the Russians should kidnap you wherever you travel, transport you to Russia. They should be looking for you to try to grab you.

What did you do to get Russia`s attention?

GALLEGO: Well, I exposed the truth about what they`re doing in Ukraine, and I travelled to Ukraine with a bipartisan group of Democrats and Republicans, all veterans of different wars, and we were there to do research to see what both Russia is doing but what we can do to help Ukraine. Ukraine is a democracy, and we`re certainly not going to let another democracy fall to some Russian autocrats.

And as for this guy that`s threatening me, you know, he can get in line. I`ve been threatened by insurgents in Iraq, I`ve been threatened by insurgents here in the United States, by cartels are from other parts of the world, and so I`m not exactly the kind of guy that shies away from a fight, and you know, his little -- his little words aren`t going to make a difference.

[22:15:01]

At the end of the day, you know, democracy is just as important here as any other part of the world, and I`m going to be here to do anything I can to support Ukraine democracy and democracy everywhere else, and you know what, you want to throw threats at me, we`ll see what happens.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Ruben Gallego, thank you very much for starting our discussion tonight, really appreciate it.

GALLEGO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And joining us now is Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize- winning opinion columnist for "The Washington Post". He`s also an MSNBC political analyst.

Eugene, big surprise, Jim Jordan was the author of one of the most clearly criminal plots sent over to Mark Meadows.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, that doesn`t surprise anybody. I think it`s going to be the usual suspects. We know who they are, and it just happens that Jim Jordan was the author of this particular text as you said. He in cowardly fashion did not own up to it until it was leaked, and then made this complaint that the whole ridiculous nonsensical part was not included, which is basically that Mike Pence should have overthrown the election. That was the punch line that Adam Schiff wanted and that was the import of the text.

O`DONNELL: And, Jim, they all -- everyone who knows they are the authors of these texts, they`re all hiding and they all must be living in fear of this committee.

ROBINSON: Yeah, I think they are, actually. I mean, this committee, you know, I wrote a while ago, I wish this committee made more noise. They started making a lot of noise by releasing some of these communications. They`ve got tons and tons more.

And so it certainly got my attention. I think it`s getting the country`s attention, and it does really highlight the urgency of voting rights legislation, and so these two things happened simultaneously, create a kind of synergy that gives new momentum to the voting rights.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, Gene, Bennie Thompson was on this program last week, and I read pieces of your column to him where you were suggesting the committee had to find a way to make real news on television and get the kind of attention that these investigative committees normally get by interviewing witnesses on television, which this committee is not ready to do. They sure figured out this week how to make real news and get their attention. I`m not sure how much your column had to do with nudging them along, but we never know.

Eugene Robinson, thank you very much joining us tonight. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

And coming up, the lieutenant governor of Kentucky will join us after President Biden surveyed the tornado damage in her state today, Kentucky`s Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul did not accompany the president in Kentucky today. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:21:12]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People just come out of nowhere to help as a community, and that`s what we`re supposed to be doing. That`s what America`s supposed to be. There`s no red tornados or blue tornados. There`s no red states or blue states when this stuff starts to happen, and I think, at least in my experience, it either brings people together or knocks them apart. Moving you together here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear was with President Biden as he surveyed damage in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, the hometown of Andy Beshear`s father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: I hope the people of Kentucky know that I care deeply about them and the president does too. He`s here in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, because we`re hurting.

President Biden and the federal government have offered more aid and acted faster than we have ever seen in the history of the United States of America. I received three personal calls from the president on day one. First when he could get through and then at the end of the day saying what else do you need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Kentucky`s Senators did not join the president in Kentucky today. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has opposed emergency relief aid to all states except Kentucky.

Joining us now is the lieutenant governor of Kentucky, Jacqueline Coleman.

Lieutenant Governor, thank you very much for joining us tonight on what I know is a difficult night for you.

What are the state`s needs at this point in the recovery?

LT. GOV. JACQUELINE COLEMAN (D), KENTUCKY: Well, thank you so much for having me, Lawrence, and let me just say that your opening clip showing the president and Governor Beshear leading with compassion and swift decision making is exactly what you want to see out of your elected leaders. I`m so proud of their leadership and their compassion and the way that they are wrapping their arms around this commonwealth.

Of course I knew that about Governor Beshear and was really happy to see that from President Biden today in person. It really is remarkable. But in terms of what we need, there are three ways that I would say that folks can help.

The first is we have a fund that we have set up for the folks in Western Kentucky where every single penny goes directly to support the boots on the ground, the cleanup and recovery, all of it, because this is going to be a long road. And that site can be accessed. It`s called teamwkyrelieffund.ky.gov. So, that`s the first way.

The second thing we`re asking for is for folks to donate blood at their local blood banks. The governor and I will actually be taking part in a blood bank that he is hosting right here in the capitol on Friday this week, and last but not least, our first lady who you also saw in the opening clip with the governor, who has a heart of gold, has started a toy drive to help the kids and the families in western Kentucky.

We are two weeks away from Christmas, and the damage that you`re looking at is these people`s lives, and so the thing that we want to make sure we can do is help these kids have as good of a Christmas as we can help them have, and so the toy drive information can be access the at firstlady.ky.gov/toydrive.

O`DONNELL: Everyone in the region has some experience with tornados, has seen some tornado devastation in the past. I`ve covered tornado devastation down there in that region after tornados.

[22:25:07]

What has it been like for you to see what`s happened on this one? Because this really does look like the worst we`ve seen.

COLEMAN: It`s unlike anything that I`ve ever seen, and I will tell you that you can be -- you have to see it to believe it, and even after you see it, it`s hard to do it justice with words. The devastation is like nothing I`ve ever seen and the stories that I`m hearing from Kentuckians are heartbreaking, but also they give you tissue-- restore your hope in humanity in a lot of ways.

I met a gentleman, a family in Campbellsville, Kentucky, actually where 70 homes were destroyed, and the lady was telling me about her husband going down the road once the storm passed and literally digging through rubble and physically pulling his neighbors up out from under their basement where the house had caved in on them. He did that at a couple houses. Woke up the next morning to find his fence lines gone, his feed ruined. He lived on a farm in Campbellsville, so he loaded up 40 head of cattle and took them to the stockyards, had to sell every one of them.

And do you know what that man does for a living? He drives a school bus for the local school district.

O`DONNELL: Wow.

COLEMAN: These are everyday heroes who are literally saving each other`s lives, stepping up for each other. And as sad as that story is, my goodness, what an amazing act of humanity that we were able to see.

O`DONNELL: Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

COLEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And joining us now is congressional historian Norm Ornstein. He`s an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Norm, it`s one of those days where, you know, you have Rand Paul who`s basically opposed to all aid, emergency aid to any state not named Kentucky, and when the president goes to Kentucky, he finds himself after saying everything he needed to say about the situation in Kentucky, he finds himself saying that the most important issue now, the most important issue is voting rights, and it seems as though the revelations of the January 6th committee have raised the level of priority for voting rights in the Biden administration.

NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: I`m very encouraged by this and also by what I`m hearing from people in the Senate. I think we`re moving to a point where there is a much broader understanding that this has to happen, and it`s going to have to happen without Republican support, so they`re going to need to change the rules to make it happen.

You know, just a word on Rand Paul, this is not the first time we`ve seen a level of breathtaking hypocrisy by Republicans in Congress, many of whom staunchly opposed aid when it came to Hurricane Sandy for New York and New Jersey, and then turned around when it was Mississippi or Alabama or Kentucky, they wanted it.

But for Paul who`s opposed aid because he says it has to be offset with the same -- with his offsets, there wasn`t any word of that now. It raises the stakes here in many ways getting back to voting rights because it makes it clear that if we don`t make changes in the election system, we`re not just going to lose our democracy. We`re going to have it taken over by a group of people who are ideological fanatics beyond blowing up the rights of democracy.

And so, the fact that Joe Biden understands this and is starting to move on it is extraordinarily encouraging.

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

And coming up, the focus of the Biden agenda shifted to voting rights today. NAACP President Derrick Johnson met with some Democratic senators including Kyrsten Sinema today, and at least one of those senators has now come away saying that it is time for the Senate to change the rules to pass voter protection legislation. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:33:18]

O`DONNELL: The last monthly payment of the expanded child tax credit is scheduled to be delivered today. Last month the House of Representatives passed President Biden`s Build Back Better legislation, which would extend that child tax credit for another year.

Senate Democrats are still negotiating the details of that legislation and haven`t voted on it yet. But today in Kentucky President Biden said something that could change the sequence in the Biden legislative agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s nothing domestically more important than voting rights. It`s the single biggest issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. She is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee and has advocated for the child tax credit since 2003.

Congresswoman DeLauro, the Senate hasn`t acted yet. The last check`s going out today. What -- there`s not much you can do from the house to get the Senate to act to get those checks to continue into next year.

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT): Well, first of all, it`s wonderful to be with you, Lawrence, and I wish you and your family happy holidays.

We`re going to continue to do everything we can to make sure that the child tax credit, the tax cut, the biggest tax cut for families in decades is extended. And if you think about it today, Lawrence, today the Treasury, the IRS distributed $16 billion to 61 million children in this country.

[22:34:52]

DELAURO: This is the most transformative piece of legislation that we have seen in decades. It is already having a significant effect on the lives of families in this country. It`s a lifeline for the middle class. It`s been advantageous to working families, to the most vulnerable families.

And what we are looking at is since July -- now this is the sixth payment - - December is the sixth payment, and just this month 3.8 million -- in November, 3.8 million children were lifted out of poverty. And that is the highest number. They started at 3.5 in July. It is critical.

Listen to what families are saying about the use of the child tax credit. They are buying food. They are buying diapers. They`re buying school supplies. They are buying necessities.

One woman told me that she hasn`t been able to pay for orthodontist for her child. Another woman who has an autistic child and could not afford to pay for child care. This is helping her to pay for child care. And not only is it helping her to pay for child care, it is allowing her to go to work so that she can, in fact, even provide more economic security for her family.

It is social security for children and we need to extend it. And I`m optimistic that we are going to get to where we need to go.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro still optimistic as you always are. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

DELAURO: Thank you, take care. And again, happy holidays.

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

And joining us now is Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP. He met with a group of senators virtually today to discuss the path forward for voting rights. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

It turns out John Hickenlooper, one of the senators in that meeting after the meeting came out and tweeted basically that -- there it is, "Enough. It`s time to change the filibuster to protect voting rights."

Did you know that Senator Hickenlooper was going to do that after the meeting?

DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT/CEO, NAACP: Well, we didn`t know he was going to do that. We are glad he did. The NAACP along with our partners Urban League and National Action Network, we issued a score card. And in that score card we identified 13 members of the Senate who had an incomplete. And we have worked aggressively since that point to get those senators to make the necessary commitments to ensure voting right protections was a priority before the end of the year.

And so we`re glad Senator Hickenlooper made that statement. Senator Bennett came on board in the midst of that meeting. Senator Peters organized the conversation.

So we are moving this process forward. There is no more urgent issue before the Senate at this time than voting right protections. And we urge the Senate to ensure that our democracy is protected and to allow voters to fully engage in this democracy.

O`DONNELL: Does Senator Sinema seem ready change the Senate rule in order to pass this?

JOHNSON: Well, we are encouraged. She was on the phone. She didn`t speak, but we were encouraged that she listened in. And it`s really important to understand that this is not a partisan activity, and the needle had moved.

The rules of 2005 and 2006, we`re living in different political climate where individuals are willing to subvert democracy in order to score political points or advance partisan interests, that is anti-democratic, and we cannot be touting democratic principles globally as we did two weeks ago if we`re not protecting democracy here domestically.

O`DONNELL: You know, I just want to note for the record and the audience, I`ve been in an awful lot of meetings with an awful lot of senators in situations like this. I`ve never heard of a senator not speaking.

This was a group of one, two, three, four -- about six senators and to have one of them not speak at all, as you`re telling us Senator Sinema did, is a pretty strange piece of Senate behavior.

You heard Joe Biden today saying voting rights is now the number one issue. He said that with a clarity that he hasn`t had before.

JOHNSON: Well, that is a shift from last week. That`s a shift from last month. At NAACP and the civil rights community, we are clear. We cannot advance public policy if we`re not protecting the right of voters to participate.

But more importantly, after the first of the year, legislative bodies will be convening all across the country, but particularly in the south where a majority of African Americans live and they will be considering redistricting plan.

This will be the first time since 1960 that we won`t have a federal standard to ensure that racial gerrymandering, political gerrymandering is not the primary use or tool used to draw political boundary lines.

[22:39:58]

JOHNSON: So we must adopt voting right protections to ensure that voters can elect candidates of their choice and that we can have a true representative democracy.

O`DONNELL: The Senate is a narrow one-lane road, and any legislation that`s on it has to wait for the legislation that`s in front of it. Build Back Better has always been in front of voting rights on that road.

Is it time to let Build Back Better pull over to the side and have voting rights pass in front of it?

JOHNSON: Let`s be clear, IT may be a narrow road but the bridge will collapse if we don`t put our priorities in order. Priorities should be just as it was last week when they made exceptions and they lifted the -- lifted the standards in terms of our debt limit.

We have to do the same thing for our democracy. The full faith and credit of this country is important. The full faith in our democracy is also important, so there should not be anything in terms of priority, voting rights protections for all American citizens.

And that`s the work of the NAACP. That`s the work of the civil rights community. And this has to be a priority before the end of this calendar year.

O`DONNELL: President Derrick Johnson of the NAACP, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the president of the California Medical Board says she was stalked and ambushed by men who claimed to be part of a Trump aligned anti- vaccine group. She will tell us what happened next.

[22:41:34]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

They ambushed me. That is what the president of the California medical board said members of a prominent COVID-19 disinformation group did to her. Kristina Lawson, an attorney who served as mayor of Walnut Creek, California, was appointed to the board by former Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in 2015.

Last week Kristina Lawson said strangers parked outside her home in a white SUV. She also says someone flew a drone over her house. The white SUV then followed her to work and parked head to head with her car in a parking garage.

Kristina Lawson said that when she left the office building and entered the parking garage later that evening, four men jumped out of the SUV with cameras and recording equipment and confronted her. She says the men identified themselves as members of a group that has been investigated by the House Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis for profiting from unproven and potentially dangerous treatments for COVID-19.

The leader of that organization, Simone Gold is a Beverly Hills doctor who was arrested for her role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Simone Gold pleaded not guilty to all five federal charges she is facing.

Joining us now is Kristina Lawson, president of the California Medical Board. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. This sounds like the kind of harassment that election officials around the country have been facing.

KRISTINA LAWSON, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA MEDICAL BOARD: Lawrence, well, first of all, thank you for having me. I think it`s so important that we shine a light on these terrorizing tactics.

And while it`s unfortunate that it occurred to me and to my family last week, you make a good point. It`s occurring and happening to people across the country these days.

O`DONNELL: And so we have it happening with election officials. It`s happening with state medical officials, not just in California. Yours is one of the most dramatic cases that I`ve heard of, but there`s a state medical official in Florida where they were protesting outside of his house for months screaming at him, screaming at his children. So this is something that has been spreading.

LAWSON: Yes, and one of the things I think is unique about my personal experience is that I, of course, knew that they were following me all day because my 12-year-old son noticed a drone flying over our house at about 8:00 a.m. when we left for school that day.

Had he not noticed that drone, I might have never made the connection between the white SUV at the end of my driveway and the one that was in the parking garage later that evening.

O`DONNELL: Are you afraid? Is your family afraid?

LAWSON: Look, I`m not afraid, you know, law enforcement in Walnut Creek, California where I live has just been terrific. Of course the law firm that I work for has been terrific as well.

And you know, I`m not going to be intimidated by these terrorizing tactics. It`s un-American that they`re doing this to public servants and leaders across the country. And I`m just not going to be intimidated by it.

O`DONNELL: What do you tell your 12-year-old about this?

LAWSON: Well, I tell my 12-year-old that this is not the way that we have a conversation in -- you know, in society if we want to change somebody`s mind.

And you know, the group that approached me didn`t approach me with any particular concern. They didn`t send me a note like so many organizations do that, you know, advocates for a particular position. They showed up for the sole purpose of terrorizing me.

I`m a former mayor and city council member. I`m used to having public commenters come to meetings. We welcome that at the medical board of California. But this isn`t the way to participate in our society. This isn`t, you know, a civilized discourse.

O`DONNELL: Going forward, do you have changes to your routines, not that you can share -- would share with us, but this must affect your behavior?

[22:49:59]

LAWSON: Unfortunately I`ve had to have some private security over the past week or ten days and that may continue for some time. And of course law enforcement at the state level does work with the medical board to make sure that all of our board members and all of our staff, frankly, all of California`s public health officials are protected as well.

So that`s been an unfortunate experience for us all. But we thank the brave women and men of law enforcement for all of their support.

O`DONNELL: Kristina Lawson, I`m sorry this is happening to you and your family. And thank you very much for joining us.

LAWSON: Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the remarkable Joyce Chisale returns with an update on her schooling, next in tonight`s LAST WORD. Many of you met Joyce Chisale on this program when she was 15 years old. She`s now a first-year student at the University of Malawi, College of Medicine thanks to your help.

That`s next.

[22:50:56]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Five years ago on this program, we introduced you to the remarkable Joyce Chisale, who was then 13 years old and had just been sent home from high school in Malawi because her family could not afford to pay the school fees. Public high school in Malawi is not free.

When I met Joyce, I told her she wouldn`t have to worry about school fees anymore, because thanks to your generosity, she would receive a scholarship from the KIND Fund, Kids in Need of Desks, the partnership I created between MSNBC and UNICEF to deliver desks to schools in Malawi and provide scholarships for girls to attend high school because the girls` graduation rate is less than half the boys` graduation rate from high school.

Joyce told me on the day that we met that she wanted to be a doctor and a poet. And then recited a poem that many of us will never forget.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOYCE CHISALE, KIND FUND SCHOLAR: My poem is entitle "Little By Little".

O`DONNELL: "Little By Little".

CHISALE: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Ok.

CHISALE: Little by little we`ll go. No matter how far the distance is, we are not shaken. Little by little we`ll go and reach our destination.

Little by little we`ll go. No matter how bumpy or rocky the road is, we are not going to turn back. Little by little we`ll go and see through our dreams.

Little by little we`ll go. No matter how narrow the path is, we`re going to force ourselves to pass.

And little by little we`ll go, and reach the promised land.

Don`t be shaken. Don`t turn back. Little by little you`ll go and reach your destination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joyce has reached the next stop on the road to her destination. And a few days ago, she told us how it`s going in her first year at the University of Malawi, College of Medicine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHISALE: My journey at the university for my first year has been good. It has been exciting. And it`s been an adventure, as well as stressful because there`s a lot of work.

The workload is very huge as compared to the workload I had in high school. So yes, it has been stressful. But it`s been wonderful at the same time, because I`ve learned a lot of new ways on how to manage my time, how to tackle my workload. Yes. It has been good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joyce has the enthusiasm for her classes of a student who feels very lucky to be there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHISALE: My favorite classes here have been biology, chemistry, as well as mathematics. In biology, it has been exciting because yes, we learned a lot of things about the human anatomy. We went deeper and it`s been good to be so (INAUDIBLE) -- and chemistry has been challenging. We`re going to find out more about the chemical reactions of bodies. Yes, the chemical equations. So, yes, it has s been good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And now, it`s time for Joyce`s first college exams.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHISALE: We`ll be studying our end of the year -- end of year examinations soon. And the evaluations are very good. Yes. There are some things that are difficult, but it`s been wonderful to have friends to help me. We had good discussions.

So I`ll be very glad to finish my foundation year so that I can actually start my first year of medico-laboratory sciences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You can continue to help other students achieve their dreams and your dreams for them by going to lastworddesks.msnbc.com.

You can give a desk or a girl scholarship as a gift to anyone on your holiday gift list, and UNICEF will send them an acknowledgment of your gift. No contribution is too small.

When Joyce and I were talking she made me promise she really wanted to do this. She made me promise that she would get this LAST WORD tonight from her heart to yours.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHISALE: To the people who are donating to the KIND Fund scholarship, you`re doing a great job out there. You are helping a lot of girls including me.

And on behalf of all the girls I would like to say thank you for your support. May you continue having that heart to support others. May God bless you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:00:02]

O`DONNELL: Joyce Chisale gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.