IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 12/22/21

Guests: Jim Clyburn, Eric Swalwell, Pramila Jayapal, Colin Allred


Interview with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC). Interview with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). Progressive Caucus chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal spoke with Senator Joe Manchin to discuss next steps on Biden`s social policy bill. Chuck Schumer has committed to bringing a voting rights bill to the Senate floor in early January and trying to change the rules of the Senate to pass it if necessary. FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID pill for Emergency Use.



I just want you to know, Pramila Jayapal is here tonight.


O`DONNELL: Fair warning, we might talk about you. It`s possible. Your name might come up.

MADDOW: I was just going to say, it`s only fair you have her given how much you and I have been talking about her without her not here over the past couple of nights.


MADDOW: I mean, it`s -- it`s literally only fair.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. She`s either on a show or we`re talking about her, one way or the other.

But here`s -- this is even more important tonight, special important at this our. Our first guest tonight is going to be Congressman Jim Clyburn. This is very important because just over an hour ago he released a statement and tweet saying he tested positive for COVID. It`s been a tough situation for him because he had to miss his granddaughter`s wedding. But he did say he is a symptomatic and the great news as of us sitting here right now is Jim Clyburn is feeling well enough to certainly join us --


O`DONNELL: -- right now at 10:00, and I`m always happy to see him. I`ve never been happier to see him than when I`m going to see him tonight on the show.

MADDOW: That has been -- I`m very, very -- I saw that notice from Congressman Clyburn. I was happy to see that he said he was asymptomatic but my heart went into my throat when I saw that notice. Please give him my love and I`m glad you got him.

O`DONNELL: He`s a healthy 81 years old and triple vaccinated so we think it going to be fine.

MADDOW: Right on. Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, thank you, Rachel.

We`ll go straight to it.

Joining us is Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. He is the House majority whip.

Congressman Clyburn, always happy to see you. I have never been more happy to see you than tonight because when I read that statement about you testing positive, and you said you were asymptomatic which is great news but we worry when we hear that.

How are you feeling right now?

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): I feel great. Except for an occasional nasal thing, I`ve been fine. I`ve not had any fever. No aches and pains.

And quite frankly, I was pretty surprised getting ready for my granddaughter`s wedding, my daughter had established this protocol for everyone to get tested. And so, we were sitting around and (INAUDIBLE) testing paraphernalia that she brought along down to Atlanta.

And it was kind of inconclusive. At one point, positive, at another point, not positive. So I got very concerned and I called the attending physician and told him what I had just experienced.

He advised me to get the PCR. And I immediately left Atlanta and came back to Columbia and got the PCR done and got the result around 8:30 this evening, and immediately put the statement out.

O`DONNELL: Well, and, one of the problems that you`ve identified in your announcement tonight is it took -- you said it took 56 hours to get -- for you to get the result of this test.

CLYBURN: Yes, it took the test around 11:00 on Monday morning and started off the lab, I don`t know exactly when it went to the lab, but the lab results came back to me by email around 8:30 this evening.

O`DONNELL: And for people to effectively live their lives based on the result of these tests, we`re going to have to be able to get those results much faster.

CLYBURN: I would hope so. But, you know, this time of the year, the labs are crowded and testing lines are very long and I suspect the vaccinations and boosters are the same.

And so, I do believe that if these were ordinary times, it would not take as long, but because there are so many people wanting -- just like me wanting to get to a wedding, hoping and praying I`ll get it back in time and it will be negative.

But the doctor told me that because of his experiences that I should operate as if it were going to be positive and isolate.


And so I`ve been isolating since Sunday.

O`DONNELL: And a very, very hard time to isolate as you say, your granddaughter`s wedding and this comes after last week -- just last week, you tested negative prior to President Biden coming to South Carolina.

CLYBURN: Yes, and, you know, I`ve been in and out of the White House for the last several weeks and I`ve been tested every time I got ready, and it`s always been negative. And so, it just happens that after the weekend was over, we went down to Atlanta to get ready for the wedding. And there was a little ball game going on down there that South Carolina State was involved in.

And so, I maybe let my guard down or something, and maybe not have worn the mask when I should have. I have no idea exactly how this was contracted, but I`ve got it, and we`ll deal with it.

O`DONNELL: It seems that the lesson for you -- I mean, you got tested on Thursday for the event with the president. And then for Sunday, a lot of people just would have thought -- well, I was tested on Thursday, I don`t have to be tested again for the wedding.

CLYBURN: Those people know my daughter Jennifer and this is her daughter getting married and she brought the box of tests with her and then all of us sat around the table doing the testing. And, of course, when I left, hoping I could get back for the wedding, I don`t know.

She made it very clear to me, she would love to have me back for the wedding but she wanted me tested and not to come back until I got a clean bill of health, which we did not get. And so, I never got back to the wedding.

O`DONNELL: There are so many lessons in this story about how family can take care of family by getting tested, by insisting on testing for various gatherings like a wedding.

CLYBURN: Yes. Yes. You know, and I have three daughters and they`re all that way. Mignon was traveling back from Washington, I think you know Mignon, and, of course, we talked back and forth. She said I have a funny feeling as I`ll get tested in the morning, but I just got a funny feeling I may end up like you.

She did get tested yesterday morning, it did come back negative and she passed by my house and blowed her horn and kept going, so she was not going to run the risk of being around me.

But the family is just that way. And this is the time of year that I would advise everybody who has not been tested -- please, get tested.

As you can tell, I`ve been tested. I have been vaccinated. I have gotten the booster. As the experts have said, if you get the vaccinations both of them, get the booster and then this virus is no more than similar to a common cold. And that`s all that I`ve experienced. I`ve not experienced anything else.

And so, I`m going with the science, and I would advice everybody, get vaccinated. Get the booster, as the president has been saying for the last several days, and make sure that we take care of each other this time of year.

This is the time of year that we do share, and we should share not just in giving presents, but share in giving life`s experiences, share in giving each other the kind of knowledge and experiences that would help people long after this season is over.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Jim Clyburn, so great to see you tonight to see how well you`re doing and thank you very much for in effect delivering this very, very important public service announcement about your experience, your family`s experience with this. You`ve taught a lot of people tonight, a very important set of lessons going into the holidays. Thank you very much, Congressman.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

CLYBURN: And seasons greeting.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, thank you. Same to you, merry Christmas, thank you.

Well, today, the House Select Committee`s investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol requested testimony from a second House Republican. This time, it was Congressman Jim Jordan. In a letter to Jordan, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said, quote, we understand that you had at least one and possibly multiple communications with President Trump on January 6th.


We would like to discuss each such communication with you in detail.

That is something that has never happened, discussing those calls in detail with Jim Jordan. Here is what happens when you try to ask Jim Jordan about talking to Donald Trump on January 6th.


TV HOST: Did you talk to the former president that day?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I`ve talked to the former president umpteen times, thousands, I mean --

TV HOST: On January 6th.

JORDAN: Countless times, I talked -- I never talk about what we talk about because I don`t think that`s appropriate just like I don`t talk about what happens in Republican conferences. So, I talked to the president numerous times, I continue to talk to the president --

TV HOST: I mean on January 6th, Congressman.

JORDAN: Yes, I talk to the president, I talk to the president so many -- I can`t remember all the days I`ve talked to him, but I`ve certainly talked to the president.

TV HOST: Yeah.


O`DONNELL: And the day after that interview last summer, Jim Jordan was asked about it again.


TV HOST: On January 6th, did you speak with him before, during or after the Capitol was attacked?

JORDAN: I`d have to go -- I spoke with him that day after. I think after. I don`t know if I spoke to him not morning or not. I just don`t know.


O`DONNELL: That was July 28th.

On October 20th, in the House Rules Committee, Chairman Jim McGovern referred to that interview when he asked Jim Jordan this question.


REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): So my question is you`ve had 84 days since that interview to go back and check the records. So when did you speak with the former president on January 6th? Did you talk to the former president before, during or after the attack in the Capitol? Or was it all three?

JORDAN: Of course, I`ve talked to the president. Of course, I`ve talked to the president. I`ve been clear about that. I talk to him all the time. This is not about me, Mr. Chairman, I know you want to make it about me.

Of course, I`ve talked to the president. I`ve talked to him that day. I`ve been clear about that. I don`t recall the number of times.

But it`s not about me. I know you want to make it about that. I gave you the answer.

MCGOVERN: Did you talk to the president, former president before during or after the attack on the Capitol? Or was it all three? The reason I ask you had 84 days since you said you couldn`t remember and you`d check. So, what -- if you can just clarify the record was it before, during or after the attack --

JORDAN: I talked to the president after the attack.

MCGOVERN: So, not before or during?

JORDAN: Right.

MCGOVERN: But my understanding is that you said to a reporter from "Politico" that you spoke to him during so now after the attack or you --

JORDAN: During? No, I didn`t speak to the president during the attack.


O`DONNELL: Jim Jordan was not under oath in the rules committee. He will be under oath once he testifies to the January 6th Committee.

Chairman Thompson`s letter to Jim Jordan says, quote, public reporting suggests that you may also have information about White House officials and the then-president in November and December 2020 and early January 2021 about strategies of overturning the results. We`d like to ask you about discussions involved in the presidential pardons for individuals involved in any aspect of the January 6th or the planning for January 6th.

One of the text messages to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that the January 6th committee has released is a text message from Jim Jordan saying on January 6th, Vice President Mike Pence should throw out enough of Joe Biden`s electoral votes so Donald Trump could steal the presidency.

Chairman Thompson`s letter offers the dates of January 3rd or January 4th for Jim Jordan to submit to an interview. Congressman Jordan responded to the committee`s letter this evening when a Fox host asked if he would, quote, take a walk or would you sit down and speak to them? Jordan said, I mean, we just got the letter today. We`re going to review the letter. Congressman Jordan then changed the subject to the situation at the southern border.

Today, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill from this point for forward allows the Capitol police chief to direct recall for national guard help in the event of an emergency, the capitol police will never again have to wait for a Republican president to decide if or when to save the Capitol. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said the department is, quote, grateful for the additional safety measure.

And joining our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He served as a House impeachment manager in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Congressman Swalwell, I think we know that -- I mean, we`d be very surprised if Jim Jordan cooperates in any way with the committee.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Lawrence, I`m not a Harvard lawyer but the way he`s talked about his involvement makes it relevant and the way he`s moon walking away from the responsibility of testifying to me makes him probably complicit. You know, look, this is an incident of workplace violence. Let`s just step back a bit.

Any workplace if this happened and you were in contact with somebody who was responsible for the workplace violence, if you didn`t do anything wrong, if you had nothing to do with it, you would raise your hand and say, let me help to make our workplace safer. Now, this happens to be the citadel of democracy and the worst attack in hundreds of years on the U.S. Capitol and the fact that he does not want to cooperate just I think puts him in the category of people who had some role or some knowledge of what Donald Trump wanted to do.

And, oh, by the way, Lawrence, this guy probably has priors because it`s not the first time he`s been accused of witnessing a crime and not wanting to report it or help investigators.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Members of the Ohio state wrestling team where he was an assistant coach said under oath that he knew that players on that team were being sexually abused by a physician and he did absolutely nothing about it. That is on the record in that case.

When you hear him trying to answer this very simple question, when did you talk to Donald Trump on January 6th, before, during or after, and you see him stumbling through that every time it comes up, adjusting, it`s going from I don`t recall to maybe it was after, all that.

Imagine a witness like that being forced to answer a question like that under oath.

SWALWELL: There is only one version of the truth and he clearly doesn`t want that version to be told and so that`s why he is so evasive. That`s clear.

And again, to me as a former prosecutor, I`ve seen so many witnesses it goes to their consciousness of guilt. Imagine, Lawrence, this is an attack on the Capitol. People died that day. The election was almost, you know, not certified and he has an opportunity to help his country to be on the side of law and order and instead, he like so many Republican colleagues are choosing to be on the side of chaos.

They`re choosing violence over voting. We`re hearing just this week more Republican members talking about taking up the Second Amendment to overturn the election and throw out and bring harm to elected officials. You know, this is very dangerous and that`s why it`s important that the commissioner understands what happened that day.

O`DONNELL: It seems that the committee now is moving on the Republican members and it`s hard to believe they will stop at these two, Congressman Perry and Congressman Jordan.

SWALWELL: That`s right. We also have, you know, Mo Brooks who spoke at the rally and himself invited violence and then, Lauren Boebert who is tweeting out the location as we`re being asked not to do that while we were the chamber. Yes, there is a lot of relevant witnesses.

They started at a voluntary posture, asking, you know, hey, look, you have nothing to hide, please turnover what you have. But they do have the ability to subpoena witnesses and I hope they treat these Republican colleagues no different than they would treat anyone else. Show them no favor but don`t be harder on them. Let`s just make sure the rule of law, and law and order prevails.

O`DONNELL: And just explain the committee`s approach to this. They know what we all know that it is highly likely that Jim Jordan will defy the subpoena, he`ll try to drag this out for as long as possible, a year or more in court but that doesn`t mean if you were on the committee, it doesn`t mean you sit there and say well, let`s not bother with him because he`s not going to cooperate. You still have that obligation to have in the record that you at least tried to secure that testimony.

SWALWELL: They don`t want to leave anything on the field here, Lawrence, to use a sports analogy. I recognize we`re going into an election where the Republicans are threatening more violence. They`re changing the rules in many states so, you know, we have one shot to get this right and to save to democracy and no witness should be off limits.

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

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And, coming up, the star of my favorite reoccurring segment on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW", which features the collision of optimism and pessimism. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Last night -- actually, Tuesday night when we watched pessimism/realism and optimism collide once again in what has become my favorite reoccurring segment with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, bringing her confident optimism in response to Rachel`s strong doubts to put it mildly about Congress pasting the built back better bill.

Congressman Jayapal will join us in a moment. Last night, Senate Democrats left Washington for the Christmas recess held a conference call in which Chuck Schumer channeling Jayapal optimism to bring a vote to the Senate floor in early January and change the Senate rules if necessary to do that.


We will discuss that voting rights legislation later in this hour.

Senator Schumer also committed to bringing a version of the Build Back Better bill passed by the House of Representatives to the Senate floor where it will be open to any amendments that can pass by a simple majority vote as such legislation is. It is unclear which version of the bill Senator Schumer will bring to the floor after Senator Joe Manchin said on Sunday he`ll vote no on the current version of the bill.

After some suspense yesterday about whether Joe Manchin would participate in the conference call with Senate Democrats, Senator Manchin did indeed show up and insisted he`s been consistent in explaining to his colleagues his problems with the legislation including his preference for more taxes on the super rich to pay for the bill. The offices of senators and House members are separated just by the East Lawn of the capitol building much like a college campus with a central grass area.

But for members of those two bodies, it usually feels like an ocean separates the House and the Senate. Very few members outside of the leadership ever speak to members of the other body and House members tend to be left in bewilderment of the Senate while senators feel the same way about the House.

As congressional careers go, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is still new at the job having been there for five years. By new I mean Nancy Pelosi has been there 34 years, Chuck Schumer first as a House member and then senator has been there for 40 years. Senator Leahy, for example, has been there for 47 years.

So five years, five years is still considered new there and I have never seen a House member in the fifth year of service being a major player in the most important legislation of the year until Pramila Jayapal as the leader of the House Progressive Caucus began negotiating the Build Back Better not just with her House colleagues but the president of the United States at the White House, with the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Bernie Sanders and most importantly, one on one with Senator Joe Manchin.

One of the reasons Congresswoman Jayapal is welcomed into closed door negotiations at the highest level with all of these people is that she is the best public speaker about the progress of difficult legislation. She is always clear about the objectives of the legislation and she never publicly expresses anger toward anyone who is actually trying to legislate with.

So if you`re hoping for somebody to publicly vent your anger at Joe Manchin there are plenty of members of Congress willing to do that for you but what Jayapal is trying to do for you is get a deal with Joe Manchin that will allow Joe Biden to sign the most important climate legislation in the history of this country, along with any other provisions of the bill, her negotiating skills can deliver.

And the people publicly venting anger won`t be in the room where that happens.

Joining us, the member of Congress who last night in the discussion with me Rachel Maddow described as a relentless, constructivist, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington state. She is the leader of the congressional progressive caucus and leader of the optimism caucus.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Thank you so much, Lawrence. You`re making me blush and that`s not easy to do.

O`DONNELL: So you have had more conversations with Joe Manchin than many of the Senate Democrats have since Sunday you spoke to him I believe Monday morning. I think you spoke again.

What can you tell us about your conversations with Joe Manchin since Sunday and as of tonight?

JAYAPAL: Well, I`ve only spoken to him once. He called me I think it was maybe on Tuesday or maybe it was Monday, I forget now and he wanted to talk about what he had said and I frankly said the same things to him that I put in my statement which is that around here, Lawrence, you know that you`re really only as good as your word.

And Senator Manchin had, according to President Biden, this is what President Biden told me and told the progressive caucus. Senator Manchin had committed to the frame work that President Biden unveiled for COP26.

And Senator Manchin committed to the frame work. The president said this is the thing he`s committed to. It was less than what we wanted but I actually was able to get the entire progressive caucus to endorse that frame work because we all feel so desperately urgent about getting child care to women that need it.

Getting insulin to people that need to pay $35 instead of $1,000. Getting universal pre-k. Getting hearing aids to seniors and taking on climate change, housing. So many things that are in Build Back Better.

And so we endorsed that frame work and then we were proceeding under the understanding that that was the frame work that would be translated into legislation, that would then pass the Senate with 50 votes including Senator Manchin`s.

I went through all of that with Senator Manchin and said how incredibly disappointed I was that what he promised to the president was not happening. And I`m not going to characterize what he said because you know, I think he should do that for himself.

But I think, Lawrence, that the thing here is we know we need 50 votes. That`s why we negotiated for so long to get 50 votes because this is as a reminder to everyone watching, this is the president`s agenda. This is the Democratic agenda.

And 85 percent of the president`s agenda that he rolled out when he came to speak to us in February is contained in the Build Back Better act. So it`s urgent that we get it done.

And I can just say that, you know, I think that my hope here and what I`m working towards is that we look at the frame work, to be fair to Senator Manchin, the House passed legislation does have a few things that he did not agree to. We put them in there.

And the assumption was that the Senate would then take that bill and our Senate colleagues would try to convince him about those few things and if they could get him on board, the great. We would do that. And otherwise we would at a minimum pass the frame work.

That`s what should have happened. And my hope is that that is where we can still get to. So I did reach out to Senator Manchin because on the call that we had. And he called me. I didn`t ask for the call. He called me and I was happy to take his call.

I said to him I`m going to send you the frame work that the president said you committed to and you tell me whether you committed to those things or not. You tell me whether there`s something in there that you didn`t commit to so that we can understand exactly where we`re working from.

So I hope that we go back to, you know, somewhere between that frame work and what the house passed and let`s get this through as quickly as possible.

But Lawrence, I do have to say that I`m an optimist and I`m always happy to be the optimist-in-chief of "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" or, you know, anywhere else but I`m also very realistic and I do think that we also can`t just hang our hat on the legislation passing because we thought we had an agreement, now we don`t. And what`s to say whether we`re going to get an agreement.

And so we did. The executive board of the Progressive Caucus met two nights ago. We put out a statement today that comes from all of us at the executive board to say that we have to push on Build Back Better and we have to have a two track strategy where we also ask the president of the United States to use the executive power that he has to implement as many executive actions as he can to immediately lower costs, to immediately address health care concerns because of surging omicron, and to immediately show the world that we are serious about our leadership on climate change.

Now, there may be some other things we come up with, as well. But those were three categories that the executive board felt very strongly the president could immediately take executive action on.

And I`m very happy to say, Lawrence, that we saw the beginning of that with the moratorium on student debt being a pause and we are calling for another cancellation of $50,000 of student debt which would have an enormous positive impact on the economy but most importantly would give people some certainty in this time of tremendous economic uncertainty to put money in their pockets because it`s going to be probably a little longer before we get Build Back Better passed, assuming we do.

O`DONNELL: Let me ask you something about, knowing Joe Manchin as you do -- and you know him best than most House members know him -- your reaction to Mitch McConnell saying he admires Joe Manchin and he would -- he things the solution to Joe Manchin`s problem is for him to quote "come across the aisle and join us where he would be treated with respect".

What`s your reaction to Mitch McConnell`s public invitation for Joe Manchin to join the Republican Party?


JAYAPAL: Well, McConnell has been courting Joe Manchin for a long time. It`s no secret that Joe Manchin won as a Democrat in a state that Trump won by a lot.

And one of the first time I met Senator Manchin, we started with just talking about us. You know, he asked me about me and I asked him about him. And he talked to me about his district and how he`s -- you know, I think maybe the only Democrat there that`s been elected and how -- what that means for him.

And so obviously, I think Mitch McConnell is -- has been courting Joe Manchin a lot. But I do think that at the end of the day Joe Manchin is, you know, is choosing to run as a Democrat. He is, of course, on a very different place in the Democratic spectrum than I am.

But I respect that he`s choosing to run as a Democrat. And I hope that he understands and I believe he does, I`m going to give him -- I`m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wants the president to be successful and that he wants Democrats to be successful and that he is a Democrat. That he`s chosen to be in the Democratic Party.

And that I hope is what is going to get us across the finish line with Build Back Better because we, Lawrence, have a multitude of seats across the country. And front liners have been at the forefront actually along with progressives of pushing for Build Back Better because they want to go home and tell their moms that they`re going to have child care and they want to be able to tell people that they`re going to pay $35 for insulin and they want to be able to invest in housing.

All of the things that are in Build Back Better. And I think that that is really, really important for Senator Manchin to understand. He`s not just voting for himself. He is voting for the country. He is voting for Joe Biden. And he is voting for all of us in the House that have to run every two years.

And I think he wants us to understand his position. We certainly want him to understand ours which is why his commitment to the president on that frame work was so very important because it was a direct commitment to the president of the United States who then made a public and direct commitment to progressives and to the country that we were going to get this frame work, the equivalent of that frame work passed in Build Back Better.

O`DONNELL: Now, I for one could go on for the rest of the hour on the inside the game minutiae here especially the point that you mentioned that Joe Manchin called you. And I`ll just say to the audience, within that world that is a very, very important fact in what we`re talking about here, that Joe Manchin respects you in that way, wants to maintain the legislating relationship with you so that he knew he needed to make a call to you after he said those things on TV that he knew would be upsetting to you.

And it`s also a tribute to the way you are regarded by the major players in this legislative endeavor. You don`t have to comment on that at all unless you want to.

JAYAPAL: Well, I`ll just say Lawrence that I am, you know, I have not said anything against Joe Manchin all these months. I really haven`t. And it`s because I believe, you know, we need 50 votes in the Senate and we need every vote in the Senate and that includes Joe Manchin`s vote.

And I have had good conversations with him. I do respect him as a person. I do think we agree to disagree on a number of things many, many months ago. Those are things that are not in the legislation as much as I would like them to be.

But I understand we`ve got to get the votes and I think when I put out that statement on Monday and it was a very strong statement about this moment where Joe Manchin made a commitment to the president and I believe the president in his word to me that Joe Manchin made that commitment and he went back on it and I think, you know, I`ll tell you I was incredibly disappointed and I think when I put out that statement, maybe that caught his eye because he knows that`s not something I generally do.

But I do think it`s important to tell the truth and I try to do it in a way that is respectful of people but also respectful of the truth. I`m not going to sugarcoat anything. I`m not going to lie about what is actually happening and I wanted people to be clear that there was a commitment.

I still believe that, Lawrence. And the president told me that and actually, Joe Manchin didn`t say that there wasn`t a commitment to that frame work, either. He actually did say that there was a commitment to that frame work. And so I think we just have to be real about that because it affects how we negotiate going into the future.


JAYAPAL: So if Joe Manchin wants to be taken seriously, then we have to be able to have some level of trust that those negotiations are going to mean something at the end.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal teaching all of us how it`s done. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Chuck Schumer has committed to bringing a voting rights bill to the Senate floor in early January and trying to change the rules of the Senate to pass it if necessary.

Former voting rights attorney Congressman Colin Allred will join us next.


O`DONNELL: And joining our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Colin Allred of Texas. He in his old job was a voting rights attorney.

Congressman Allred, Chuck Schumer on the conference call with Senate Democrats last night said "Voting right is coming to the Senate floor. If the Republicans try to block it at a 60-vote threshold, we will then vote. We as Democrats will have a vote on a rules change."


O`DONNELL: That doesn`t mean he has the 50 votes. You only need a majority. It doesn`t mean he has the 50 that he needs plus Kamala Harris but he`s going to have a vote on a rules change if necessary to have a vote on voting rights.

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): Yes. Well, I also recently had a conversation with Senator Manchin actually about voting rights. And I can tell you that I think he feels very strongly about voting rights.

He`s a former secretary of state. He recognizes some of the things that are happening in the states around the country to try and subvert elections and I think he`s moving significantly in terms of what he thinks we should do to change the rules.

Now, we still would have to get Senator Sinema on board to get that done. But I think Senator Manchin understands what is happening in terms of our democracy. So I think there is some good progress to be, you know, announced here. I`m not going to say that we`re all the way there.

But this is the number one issue I think facing us and really around the world, everyone is wondering what`s going to happen with American democracy.

O`DONNELL: Well, and we know that in terms of the agenda, it was waiting behind on that, you know, one lane road in the Senate. It was waiting behind Build Back Better.

And now that Build Back Better has been stalled, Chuck Schumer is saying voting rights now comes first. He is basically saying it`s the very first thing they`re going to do in the Senate.

ALLRED: Right. And it was S-1, you know, give him credit he made that the first bill coming out of the Senate. And it was -- you know, no one wanted to have a conversation about a rules change while we`re trying to get the votes for Build Back Better and we`re still working on that.

And I actually also talked to Senator Manchin a little bit about Build Back Better as well. But you know, now I think we`re all recognizing heading into this election year that the attacks on our democracy are ramping up. They`re not going away.

You know, Donald Trump was just in Dallas a couple of days ago saying the election was stolen from him and pushing the big lie again here in Texas. We`re having an audit by the state here in Dallas County, trying you know, a so-called forensic audit of the last election results and we have two months to go or three months to go until our primary election for the next election.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Colin Allred, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

ALLRED: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, Laurie Garrett will join us to sort through all the new information about omicron and what it means to you and your holiday plans. Laurie Garrett is next.




DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISERS: Would it be safe for individuals who are vaccinated, who are boosted to get together with family in the setting of the home?

The answer to that is yes. An extra level of protection would be the testing that Dr. Walensky mentioned. But I want to make sure this is not confused with going to a large gathering, and there are many of these, parties that have 30, 40, 50 people in which you do not know the vaccination status of individuals.

Those are the kind of functions in the context of COVID and particularly in the context of omicron that you do not want to go to.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer prize winning science reporter covering global pandemic. She`s an MSNBC science contributor.

Laurie, the news of the day includes this new drug, this new treatment for COVID that Pfizer has a pill. FDA is authorizing it. It has had apparently tremendous success in keeping people out of the hospital. what more do we know about it? How soon will people be able to get it?

LAURIE GARRETT, MSNBC SCIENCE CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the problem with this exciting new oral pill, so you don`t have to inject anything for a change is that it is not readily available right now, and it`s probably going to be sometime before we have a real stockpile and availability in the United States.

And of course immediately, other countries are saying what about us? So the pressure will ramp up to make it more widely available around the world. And as Dr. Fauci said today in the White House briefing, it`s not an easy drug to make.

It`s not something that can be ramped up to far greater capacity overnight. So it`s good news but mixed. And it adds to an armamentarium that we have that is reasonable but still no real homerun drug. No real something there that is affordable, easy to take, easy to stockpile and available for people all over the world.

O`DONNELL: There is also reporting in the "New York Times" today about challenges involving monoclonal antibody treatments that some of them don`t seem to work against omicron.

GARRETT: Only one of them shows any efficacy against omicron because omicron is an escape mutant. It has figured out how to escape the immune system so you throw a weapon at it that is an immune system weapon and it`s already figured out how to mutate around it. So we really only have one monoclonal antibody that shows much efficacy at all.

O`DONNELL: And just for the audience, they should know that that one is the one that`s made by the -- it`s GlaxoSmithKline.

GARRETT: It`s Glaxo. It`s GlaxoSmithKline, yes --

O`DONNELL: It`s their product.

GARRETT: -- and you know, Lawrence. Lawrence let me frame where we are right now. We`re up to 243,000 new cases a day now. The latest projections of the ensemble group which is multiple different algorithms used by multiple different institutions around the world pooled by CDC scientists to kind of come up with a rough average.


GARRETT: And the projection is that sometime around the first week of January, we could hit up to a million cases a day which is something that outgoing NIH director Francis Collins forecast and everybody said oh, that sounds crazy.

This thing is going so fast. It`s just mind boggling. I`m here in New York City and every day I`m hearing of more close friends, more associates, more events all canceled or sick or ailing because of this virus. It`s just incredibly contagious.

O`DONNELL: Laurie Garrett, thank you very much joining us once again tonight. Always appreciate it.

GARRETT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And tonight`s LAST WORD is next.



O`DONNELL: Last night Gloria O`Connell tweeted, "My son walked in while Lawrence was talking about the KIND Fund. Son: I wish I had money to donate to help these girls in Malawi. Me: check my credit card and go online to Make a donation of your choice. Merry Christmas."

Thank you very much to Gloria O`Connell and her son Thomas. They get tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.