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

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 2/1/2021

Guest: Katie Porter, Mondaire Jones, Caroline Randall Williams�


"The New York Times" reports that the very idea of marching to the Capitol came out of the Trump White House. Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter, is interviewed. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez details harrowing account of hiding from Capitol Rioters in the office of Congresswoman Katie Porter. Mondaire Jones is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and served in the Justice Department of the Obama administration before becoming a freshman member of Congress this year representing northern suburbs of New York City. Sen. McConnell tonight is calling Rep. Greene loony and full of conspiracy theories and calling her a cancer on the Republican Party.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, we only wish you picked a spot with a window where we could see the snow piling up on that windowsill. See how much you collected just in the last hour.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It is absolutely stunning. We just got thumped. I mean, I know that everybody got a lot of snow and this was a big storm, but I feel like somebody played a joke on me.


MADDOW: This is an insane amount of snow. I will pack some of it into cooler and send it to you.

O`DONNELL: Rachel, you had Jim Rutenberg on talking about that "New York Times" article which is just amazing, and by the way, must be said, beautifully written. I think it may be the best written --


O`DONNELL: -- of the Trump investigative pieces. Andrew Weissmann is going to join us on the same subject to pick up where you left off which to me is are there new crimes in this reporting that we`re looking at?


O`DONNELL: "The Times" uses the very gentle word, extralegal. Does that mean illegal? Andrew Weissmann is going to take us through it and tell us what he sees in that reporting.

MADDOW: Excellent. It`s really well timed. Tomorrow we`re going to see the response from the president`s defense team, such as it is, to the impeachment charges and the impeachment charges are about him inciting an insurrection against the U.S. government. And what Rutenberg and his colleagues just filled in is a lot of the details about how they knew exactly what they were setting up.

How they organized it and how it was a coordinated thing. It`s very, very relevant to that trial that`s going to start in a week.

O`DONNELL: And that hugely important point that leaped out to you and also me, I`m going to ask our former federal prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, it was the White House idea to march to the capitol. And we know that all ideas that come out of that White House have to pass by Donald Trump, if they aren`t initiated by Donald Trump. That seems like one of the real radioactive spots in the reporting for Donald Trump.

MADDOW: Yeah, an angry rally in Washington, D.C., on January 6th would have been one thing. An angry rally in Washington, D.C., on January 6th where the crowd was then pointed at the capitol and told, go get them, that is how we ended up with the capitol breached and if that decision, that staging decision, was made by the president, himself, then this is -- I mean, this is a different level of culpability, and, I mean, it`s going to matter for the impeachment.

I will be very interested to see what Andrew Weissmann says about whether it may also implicate the president in potential federal criminal charges or D.C. criminal charges in the future.

O`DONNELL: Well, then we will get right to it.

MADDOW: Okay. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

Congresswoman Katie Porter is going to join us later in the hour. On a night where it`s suddenly, Mitch McConnell versus Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Senate leader, minority leader is reaching into the business of the House minority leader and that business is the Republican member of the house who Mitch McConnell tonight is calling loony and full of conspiracy theories and calling her a cancer on the Republican Party.

Kevin McCarthy had said, leave it to him, he`ll talk to Marjorie Greene about all of her craziness. Mitch McConnell is saying no, no, no, she is a cancer on the party. We`ll get Katie Porter`s reaction to that later in the hour.

And we will know a lot more about the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump tomorrow after the House managers file the first trial brief with the Senate that could include a list of witnesses that the prosecution might want to call to testify at the trial.

Also tomorrow, Donald Trump`s lawyers face a deadline of 12:00 noon for filing their very first defense brief and Donald Trump`s lawyers will have less time to work on that first defense brief than any other defense lawyers in the history of Senate impeachment trials because yesterday all five of Donald Trump`s defense lawyers just quit. They quit, walked out.

And they were replaced last night by two new lawyers, Bruce Castor, and David Schoen. Bruce Castor is a former prosecutor who not only decided not to charge Bill Cosby with any crimes, he actually promised Bill Cosby that he would never be charged with any crimes in that county. Several years later, Bill Cosby was charged and convicted in that county. And Bruce Castor then sued the woman who testified against Bill Cosby so that`s one lawyer Donald Trump had on his side now.

Donald Trump`s other lawyer, David Schoen, described himself this way in an interview win September. I represented all sorts of reputed mobster figures, alleged head of Russian mafia in this country, Israeli mafia and two Italian bosses, as well as guy the government claimed was the biggest mafioso in the world.

David Schoen was also one of the last people to see Donald Trump`s friend Jeffrey Epstein alive in prison. "The Washington Post" reports, quote, days before Jeffrey Epstein`s death in 2019, Schoen also met with the financier who was accused of sexually abusing dozens of girls.

Donald Trump`s new lawyers were greeted this morning by a page one investigative report in "The New York Times" that Rachel and I were just discussing. This reporting deepens Donald Trump`s involvement in the January 6th invasion of the capitol.

"The Times" reports that the very idea of marching to the Capitol came out of the Trump White House. The rally organizers had no intention and no permit for marching to the capitol until the White House took over the planning of the event. And then they didn`t have a permit but still marched to the Capitol because Donald Trump told them to do it.

A team of seven "New York Times" reporters produced this dramatic account of 77 days of Donald Trump trying to subvert the election after he had given up any chance of winning the election legally. The report includes new indications of additional possible crimes by Donald Trump, committed by Donald Trump, mostly on the telephone.

By calling federal and state officials and asking them to take what would have been illegal actions. Five days after this network and others called the election for Joe Biden, dramatic and buffoonishly inept White House meeting on November 12th, Donald Trump decided what he could not do legally he would do illegally.

"The Times" reports Thursday, the 12th, it`s the day Mr. Trump`s effort flimsy, long shot, legal effort to reverse his loss turned into something else entirely, an extralegal campaign to subvert the election rooted in a lie, so convincing to his some of his most devoted followers that it made the deadly January 6th assault on the capitol almost inevitable.

In that meeting, Rudolph Giuliani said voting machines had transformed thousands of Trump votes into Biden votes in Georgia. Deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said there was no evidence of that in Georgia and Georgia could prove that the vote count was accurate.

Quote, Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Clark a liar, according to people with direct knowledge of the exchange. Mr. Clark called Mr. Giuliani something much worse and with that, the election law experts were sidelined in favor of the former New York City mayor, the man who was telling the president what he wanted to hear.

What followed, says "The Times", was 77 democracy bending days. "The Times" reports that Donald Trump was dissatisfied with Attorney General William Barr before the election because the attorney general resisted Donald Trump`s, quote, idea to end birthright citizenship in a legally dubious pre-election executive order.

Republican reaction varied from Senate Leader Mitch McConnell saying the president had a right to pursue his legal options but never saying anything like the election was stolen, to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy saying on Fox, quote, everyone who`s listening, do not be quiet, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.

And Senator Lindsey Graham saying on Fox, they can all go to hell as far as I`m concerned. I`ve had it with these people. Let`s fight back. We lose elections because they cheat us.

"The Times" has new reporting on Donald Trump repeatedly urging Attorney General Barr to launch investigations, quote, for weeks, Mr. Trump had been peppering him with tips of fraud that upon investigation by federal authorities proved baseless. After the president complained to Fox that the Justice Department was missing in action, Mr. Barr told "The Associated Press" that, quote, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome.

Now with White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone backing him, Mr. Barr told the president he could not manufacture evidence, and his department will have no role in challenging states` results. The allegations about manipulated voting machines were ridiculously false, he added. Lawyers propagating them led by Mr. Giuliani were clowns. Mr. Trump paused, thought about it and said, maybe.

"The Times" reports for the first time the lawsuit filed directly with the Supreme Court by the Texas attorney general and joined by other Republican state attorneys general was actually written by some Donald Trump lawyers. Quote: At Mr. Trump`s urging, the Republican attorneys general association made one final play asking Mr. Barr to back the suit. He refused.

On December 11th, the court declined to hear the case ruling that Texas had to right to challenge other states` votes.

One Republican attorney general who refused to participate in that case was Chris Carr of Georgia. Quote: that prompted a call from the president who warned Mr. Carr not to interfere, an aide to the attorney general confirmed.

And there is yet another call that Donald Trump made to Georgia that could be an election crime in and of itself. There was the president of the United States threatening Georgia`s attorney general to not do his job in defending the state of Georgia against a lawsuit initiated by the president and filed by the Texas attorney general. Donald Trump was trying to commit election fraud in Georgia and threatening the Georgia attorney general not to get in his way.

This "New York Times" report seems to have added substantially to the criminal investigative leads that should be followed by the Justice Department and the state of Georgia and other states.

Later in December, White House meetings became even more deranged with one participant saying it was really damn close to fistfights. A North Carolina lawyer brought into the discussion by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Donald Trump that Mike Pence had the authority to decide which electoral votes could be counted on January 6th when Congress met to accept the results of the Electoral College. That, of course, was a legal lie. Mike Pence had no such authority.

Two hundred fifty-five million dollars, that`s how much money Donald Trump raised in those 77 days. Donald Trump raised $255 million for himself and the Republican Party, telling people the lie that the election was stolen and the money that they would give to Donald Trump would be used to overturn that election and keep Donald Trump in the White House. When the Electoral College formally voted on December 14th, giving Joe Biden the presidency, contributions to Donald Trump`s fraudulent cause dropped immediately from $2.9 million a day to $1.2 million a day.

So most of the people who fell for the lie came to their senses when the Electoral College voted on December 14th. But that left more than enough people to invade the capitol on January 6th and murder Police Officer Brian Sicknick whose body will be brought to lie in honor in the capitol rotunda tomorrow at 9:30 p.m.

Leading off our discussion tonight is former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann who served as general counsel to the FBI. He also served as a senior member of Robert Mueller`s special counsel team that investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. He`s now an MSNBC legal analyst.

And, Andrew, I was thinking of you on every line of this report as I went through it. And I was just making little checkmarks, question mark, is that a crime, is that a crime, is that a crime?

I won`t lead you, I won`t lead the witness. What do you see in here that might constitute a crime?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, let me start by saying one thing about defense lawyers, which is there`s nothing wrong with being a defense lawyer and they`re necessary to our constitutional process, and starting with, you know, President John Adams, Supreme Court Justice Marshall, I mean, there`s a noble tradition of defense lawyers doing, you know, god`s work for their clients.

But in order to do that, they have to adhere to ethical standards and they also have to adhere to the criminal laws. Here, what struck me was the number of leads in this story, particularly with respect to lawyers in the process, the lawyers who are willing to finally stand up to the president to say we`re not going to manufacture evidence, whether it`s Clark or Barr or Cipollone, those are going to be very important witnesses if there`s an investigation, as I believe there should be, into election fraud.

And then you have other lawyers who appear to think that it`s fine to perpetrate and perpetuate the false claim that Donald Trump won the election. And I think the reason you`re seeing so many lawyers quit is people adhering to the tradition of being a reputable defense lawyer who will not participate in a crime, and just remember, to lie in the Senate is actually a federal crime.

So, you know, whether it`s a lawyer or not a lawyer, you can`t say something that you know to be false.

O`DONNELL: Let me go to the phone call that Donald Trump makes as president to the Georgia attorney general, Chris Carr, and it reads in "The New York times" as a threatening call, saying don`t you get involved in this, don`t you open your mouth about these other attorneys general led by Texas in a lawsuit we discover was actually written by Trump lawyers. Don`t you get involved in this case, that sounds, Andrew, like another one of those calls of Donald Trump into the state of Georgia trying to perpetrate an election fraud on Georgia and threatening Republican elected officials there to not get in his way.

WEISSMANN: So that is both potentially a state crime and a federal crime. I mean, it is a crime to interfere in the proper counting of ballots and certification of those votes, and that`s a federal crime. There also, obviously, are state crimes. And, you know, any good investigator is going to speak to not just the Georgia officials but, you know, there`s reason to think that that could have gone on in any of the so-called swing states, as well as wanting to know all of the internal discussions in the White House with people saying, don`t do that, that is not true.

And then, obviously, very compelling evidence is that every single one of the lawsuits was thrown out substantively because there was no evidence of fraud. So this is one where if the new incoming attorney general is going to take this seriously, there`s a lot -- there`s a lot of fertile ground here.

O`DONNELL: There`s a passage in there that refers to Donald Trump peppering the attorney general, presumably by phone because it sounds like it was happening a lot, and with -- to the point where Attorney General Barr has to say to the president, we cannot manufacture evidence. Now, is it possible that in that conversation, in Barr`s rendition of that conversation under oath if he`s questioned about it by, say, a grand jury, that it will be clear that the president was actually asking to manufacture evidence, knowingly asking to manufacture evidence?

WEISSMANN: Yeah. That is one of the inferences that, for instance, a jury could draw, and it`s what`s so important about people who are saying that to the president is that in order to bring a criminal case against the president, the government would have to show that he did not believe that he, in fact, had won the presidency. And in order to do that, having people around him saying there is no evidence of this, and you want me to open an investigation solely for spurious reasons, that`s going to read just like the Ukraine call. It`s going to read like what Don McGahn did in connection with the Mueller investigation, where you have these people standing up to the president saying, I`m not going along with this, that`s going to be obstruction.

So those are all going to be very, very important witnesses to prove the president`s -- now former president`s state of mind -- which is critical to any criminal case.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, your guidance through a potentially criminal minefield like this is invaluable to us. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

WEISSMANN: You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

WEISSMANN: And when we come back, it`s now Mitch McConnell versus Kevin McCarthy. Mitch McConnell has reached into the House of Representatives tonight as he never has before.

Congresswoman Katie Porter joins us next.


O`DONNELL: Our agenda for discussion with Congresswoman Katie Porter is expanding tonight at this very hour. We are going to discuss with Congresswoman Porter where she was when the capitol was invaded and how she was hiding with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who began speaking about that tonight within the hour. We`re going to bring you what Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez said about that.

We will also be going through the President Biden`s negotiation discussion today with ten Republican senators who visited the president in the White House. The first Republican -- first senators from any party to visit the president in the White House.

But there`s also the business of Mitch McConnell versus Kevin McCarthy. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has stepped into the House of Representatives in a way that he never has before. He issued a written statement tonight attacking Congresswoman Marjorie Greene without bothering to mention her name.

Senator McConnell said, loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country. Somebody who suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.`s airplane, is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.

Marjorie Greene responded on Twitter, of course, by saying, the real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully. This is why we are losing our country.

And joining our discussion now is Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter, representing the 45th district of California. She`s a member of the Oversight and National Resources Committee.

Congresswoman Porter, this is such a strange moment because you have the Senate minority leader reaching into House business and as far as I can tell making life even more difficult for Kevin McCarthy who was trying to handle this Marjorie Greene situation in whatever was going to be his quiet way.

What is your reaction to Mitch McConnell`s statement tonight and what it means for Congresswoman Greene`s assignments which are currently at stake? Committee assignments in the House?

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): I think every elected official has a duty to tell the truth, to stand up for truth, and to call out things that are false or harmful for the American people. And whether that`s, you know, a fellow member of the Democratic Party doing that or it`s Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- I`m glad he`s stepping up. I`m glad he`s being truthful. And it`s up to Kevin McCarthy to stand up and do the exact same thing, or I very much hope his Republican colleagues will hold him to account.

O`DONNELL: And Kevin McCarthy has been, it seems to me, trying to kind of make this thing just disappears somehow. It is within his power to simply knock Congresswoman Greene off of the committee assignment that she got on the Education and Labor Committee, of all things. The education committee after attacking David Hogg, one of the victims of one of the most horrendous school shootings we`ve ever seen.

But what you seem to be saying on the Democratic side and what the speaker seems to be saying is, in Steny Hoyer, if the Republicans don`t remove her from that committee, we will. Is that what you expect to happen?

PORTER: I think that`s the direction this is headed.

But I want to be clear, I have a strong preference here for the Republicans to stand up and do what is right. I want a Republican Party that we can work with, that we can trust, that we can trust to be truthful, that we can trust to stand up. We need that, especially in the wake of Donald Trump`s presidency in which, you know, real values and real ethics were in such short supply.

So while I`m absolutely prepared to do the right thing for the American people, for the integrity of our Congress, my strong preference is that Republicans do the right thing. I think we should be looking for them to do exactly that.

O`DONNELL: I mean, I would expect when Mitch McConnell makes a statement like that, he is working on other Republican senators to make similar statements. I`d be surprised if we don`t hear anything from other Republican senators in the next 24 hours or less. So that might be added to this.

I want to go to the ten Republican senators who visited the White House today, the first group of senators to visit the Biden White House, a group of ten Republicans.

Susan Collins came out saying the best version of what you can say on one of those kinds of meetings, which is we had a very good meeting, we each described the details of our various plans on COVID relief bills. Joe Biden`s plan is at $1.9 trillion. Their plan is at $600 billion.

In the old world of Washington, when you`re asked -- when you`re asking for one-third of what I`m asking for, it used to end up at two-thirds. You used to both move a bit toward each other, end up in the middle of that space. That`s probably not the way it`s going to work this time, I feel. But what is your sense of where we are?

PORTER: Well, I think the most important thing is that we`re making sure that leaders of both parties understand that this is not, you know, monopoly money. Real people need this help. Our schools need this help. Our public health departments need this help.

So I think in making it about the number being too big or too small, in suggesting that this is about kind of splitting the difference, what we`re losing here is what do the American people need. And here, to me, it is very clear that they need real help. And that includes not continuing to think that this will all disappear in a couple months.

Unemployment benefits, the Republicans are proposing to end in June, I guarantee you our economy will not be fully recovered by June.

O`DONNELL: And so what do you expect to be the steps going forward from here? There`s a budget resolution is going to be introduced tomorrow in the House and the Senate. That starts the process that could end in budget reconciliation which only requires 50 votes in the Senate. I think there`s some confusion about that. I think some people think if you go to budget reconciliation, that means there won`t be any votes from the other party.

We have 17 reconciliation bills that have votes from the other party so it doesn`t exclude that possibility.

PORTER: No, I said I very much hope that Republicans and Democrats will come together on this. I think it`s entirely appropriate that President Biden met with them and listened to them. That`s exactly what he`s supposed to be doing is having productive meetings.

The fact that we had people on opposite sides come into the White House and the outcome was a productive meeting is something that has been way too long missing in this country.

But I really just want to emphasize, again, I hope that business leaders will step up here and their economists, their researchers, that people will all step up and make the Republicans understand that there is a real, real risk of going too small here and it is much graver than the risk of doing what`s needed.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to squeeze in a break here, Congresswoman Porter.

When we come back, I would like to hear what happened on January 6th when you provided a refuge for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in your office, hiding out in your office during that invasion of the Capitol.

We`ll be right back with Congresswoman Katie Porter.


O`DONNELL: Tonight on Instagram Live, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez revealed that she was hiding in Congresswoman Katie Porter`s office during the invasion of the Capitol.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Get in to -- bust into Katie`s office. And Katie`s like having a cup of coffee, like I think the information`s still trickling in, et cetera.

And so I start, you know, ripping through Katie`s office like a madwoman and, you know, poor Katie, I`m, like opening every closet. I`m opening every nook. I`m opening, like, every cranny. Looking for where I`m going to hide when they get into this office.


O`DONNELL: And Congresswoman Katie Porter is back with us. And I just want to listen to a bit more of what Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez says about what it felt like when she finally did choose her hiding place. Let`s listen to this.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: I hide back in in the bathroom behind the door. And then I just start to hear these yells of where is she? Where is she? And I just thought to myself, they got inside.

It felt like my brain was able to have so many thoughts in that moment between these screams and these yells of where is she? Where is she? And so I go down and I just -- I mean I thought I was going to die.


O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Porter, what was that like for you. And did you know just how deep Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez`s fears were at that time?

PORTER: Well, first, you know, she saw me and we waved. I went into my office. Then a couple seconds later she knocked and she said, you know, could we come in? and I said, of course. And she began to -- her staffer was trying to describe what had happened.

And Alex is really usually, like, unfailingly polite and very personable and she wasn`t even really talking to me. She was opening up doors and I was like, can I help you? Like, what are you looking for? And she said, I`m looking for where I`m going to hide.

And the thing that will always stay with me, the two memories that really, you know, especially as a mom, I think were just really powerful for me was when she said, you know -- I was saying, don`t worry, I`m a mom, I`m calm. I`ve got everything here we need. We could live for like a month in this office. And she said, I just hope I get to be a mom. I hope I don`t die today.

The second thing is she was wearing heels and I remember her saying to me - - I was wearing flats. I remember her saying to me, I knew I shouldn`t have worn heels. How am I going to run? And we went and we found her a pair of sneakers to wear from one of my staffers so that she could run if she needed to literally run for her life.

O`DONNELL: How long did the fear of losing life hold in that room while you were waiting?

PORTER: About six hours. There was no communication about what to do. No one came to check on us. The Capitol police never accounted for every member`s safety.

And so we heard voices in the hallway. We didn`t know what they were, whether those were police officers, whether those were intruders. And so we just -- we stayed dark. We shut the windows, the curtains. We turned our phones off. We silenced everything and we just sat, you know, as still and as quiet as we could be and the hope that they would just run on by.

O`DONNELL: Why was it your office? Is your office close to her office?

PORTER: When they evacuated the Cannon Office Building, they did not provide anywhere or any direction for those members to go shelter. They told them that there was a bomb threat, that they needed to immediately evacuate their offices. But they didn`t tell them where they could go to be safe.

And so in addition to sheltering Alexandria, we also had a staffer, a friend of mine`s chief, who had been thrown out of their office in Cannon and didn`t know where they could go to be safe.

And so we obviously let her come in, too. We were willing to let anyone come hide there with us to keep them safe. But the lack of any safe place when they evacuated these people was really a problem.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Katie Porter, thank you very much for sharing that with us tonight. We really appreciate you being here.

PORTER: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, freshman Congressman Mondaire Jones will join us next. Like all freshman congressmen this year, his first vote as a member of congress was to impeach the president of the United States.


O`DONNELL: Mondaire Jones is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and served in the Justice Department of the Obama administration before becoming a freshman member of Congress this year representing northern suburbs of New York City.

Here is his first speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on January 13th.


REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): I rise in support of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump -- the disgraced, defeated, president of the United States. There must be consequences for last week`s treason and sedition.

Hundreds, if not thousands of Donald Trumps in today`s Republican Party aim to run for higher office and we must send a message that no one in the United States of America is above the law. The world is watching.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is freshman Congressman Mondaire Jones, Democrat who represents New York`s 17th congressional district. Congressman Jones, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

And I want to pick up where I left off with Congresswoman Katie Porter and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Where did you go on that day when the Capitol was invaded? And as a freshman, you didn`t know -- you knew less than most members about how many options there were and what the escape routes might be.

JONES: I certainly didn`t know much of anything about the escape routes. I was in the House chamber. I was in the thick of it, seated with the Democratic House Leadership team. I`m the youngest member of the House Leadership.

And the speaker of the day before had asked me to join her and others, Steny Hoyer and the like. And we were listening to this ridiculous debate over mass voter fraud that did not actually exist.

And then things quickly became more dramatic when someone at the sergeant at arms or the Capitol police made an announcement that the Capitol had been breached. That the same mob that had breached the Capitol was likely headed toward us in the House Chamber which was a harrowing announcement, to say the least.

Followed by the locking down of that chamber and instructions to retrieve gas masks and to prepare to lie down on the floor in the event of gunfire. And in the nick of time, we were in a more secure location but not without great confusion and not without first going to a completely unsafe location.

O`DONNELL: What was the unsafe location that you went to?

JONES: It was the cafeteria that I and Cheri Bustos and a few other folks went to due to the complete lack of clarity with respect to where we ought to go after we had narrowly escaped through one of the side doors of the House Chamber. After a hallway had been --


O`DONNELL: And did you then gather with the rest of the house members who were in that place where most of them were?

JONES: Yes. We were then escorted to the appropriate place at what was supposed to be a more secure location where I quickly observed to my colleagues that I was more afraid of getting COVID-19 from -- my Republican colleagues who even in that room of about 200 people were still refusing to wear their masks. Even just days earlier (AUDIO GAP) the Republican caucus died from COVID-19, than I was of being killed by one of the mob members.

O`DONNELL: Well, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was afraid of being in that room too, and refused to stay in that room but for an additional reason. Let`s listen to what she said about that tonight.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: We did find out what the extraction point was and we found out that all the members of congress were being directed to this one point. And with the amount of uncertainty in this situation, I just felt like I`m not going there.

Like, there were members who were live tweeting the location of the speaker that were probably going to be in that extraction point. They were still -- there was still uncertainty about whether there were still bombs throughout the city. It just legitimately did not feel safe.


O`DONNELL: With Republican members like Marjorie Taylor Greene and others, she was afraid to be in the room with them because she thought the location could be betrayed by them.

JONES: And for good reason. I shared her concern. You know, in that room there was an announcement made by the respective caucus chairs, Hakeem Jeffries and Liz Cheney, that members in that room were live tweeting and otherwise doing interviews revealing our location. Despite having been instructed for obvious reasons that frankly should not have required instruction not to disclose the whereabouts of 200 members of Congress who had just narrowly escaped a massacre in the House chamber minutes before.

You cannot trust a number of these people and that is -- that is an extraordinary thing to say about, you know, about your colleagues in the United States Congress. But the fact is that a number of these people in addition to having incited that violent insurrection that we saw likely were coordinating more explicitly with these people.

And so the investigation is ongoing and every day we learn more about the level of -- the level of involvement of a number of our colleagues.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Mondaire Jones, you`re already in the most -- in the strangest freshman year ever and the most dangerous freshman year ever for a member of Congress. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We hope you can come back and next time we will get to the governing policies that are -- that interest you and your district.

Thank you very much.

JONES: Look forward to it. Take care.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Up next, Caroline Randall Williams will join us. We`ll get her reaction to what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has revealed tonight.

And also to Republicans` very quick work of trying to restrict the right to vote in this country after the Biden/Harris victory.


O`DONNELL: In tonight`s breaking news, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez revealed tonight that she was hiding in Congresswoman Katie Porter`s office specifically in her bathroom, Katie Porter`s bathroom, during the invasion of the Capitol.

And that she thought during that invasion and while she was hiding in that bathroom that she was going to die in this invasion, that she was going to be killed.

We`ll have more of what Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez had to say tonight.

Joining us now is Caroline Randall Williams, writer in residence at Vanderbilt University. Thank you very much for joining us again tonight. And we are adjusting our discussion agenda a bit with this breaking news from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tonight.

What is your reaction to what you have heard about what she went through that day -- the fear, first of all, of gathering with her fellow members of Congress because she didn`t trust them and she thought there were people in that room who might want to betray her location and get her killed.

And then when she`s finally found the bathroom, she`s going to hide in even when she`s hiding in there, she`s afraid she`s going to die.

CAROLINE RANDALL WILLIAMS, WRITER IN RESIDENCE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: First of all, Lawrence, thank you again, so much for having me.

Second, I want to just express my gratitude to the congresswoman for her bravery and sharing her story because, you know, listening to that just this afternoon, evening, I was moved into thinking about, you know, my feelings from that day, watching it from my kitchen, and thinking about how we have to accept that the emergent leadership in the Republican party are essentially confederates in Lincoln`s clothes. They are complicit.

And I think that, you know, thinking about what Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez went through, I think we have to be reminded that we have always kind of been here. You know, people talked right after the insurrection about how they were appalled that confederates at long last breached the Capitol, but Lawrence, confederates breached the Capitol when the South started sending elected officials to Washington, D.C.

My own great-great-grandfather was not tried as a traitor and a treasonous war criminal, but elected to the United States senate where he died serving in the senate as representing Alabama.

And the flag, the confederate flag didn`t leave the Capitol until this past November when Mississippi finally voted to take it off of its flag. Confederates have been in the Capitol since the 19th century. They breached it a long time ago and we`ve never fully examined what we need to do to resolve that problem.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to more of what Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez had to say tonight. She is describing what her thoughts were when she was hiding in that bathroom, when she was thinking she might die in this bathroom if they found her there. And I don`t like to talk about death threats because they`re much more common I think than people quite realize. And public discussions of them beget more death threats and members of Congress aren`t the only people who get them.

But it`s a matter of public record that she is one of the most threatened members of Congress in history. So anyone who thinks this is an overreaction to the situation she was in, her life is threatened on a constant basis, like very few in the history of the Congress ever have been.

This is what she was thinking. We`re going to hear what she was thinking when she was in that bathroom hiding, fearing that she might die there.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: I had a lot of thoughts, but that was the thought that I had about you all. I felt that if this was the journey that my life was taking, that I felt that things were going to be ok. And that, you know, I had fulfilled my purpose.


O`DONNELL: Your reaction to that?

WILLIAMS: Again, I`m just so grateful to her for modeling the kind of willingness to service that I think there are so many cowards serving in D.C. right now. And that woman has a real backbone.

And we need people in service, you know, in the halls of Congress, in the House, in the Senate who have real back bones, who really understand what it means to be prepared to protect democracy.

And I am so sorry that she had to live through testing her mettle, but I`m so proud to call myself a member of her party. And I`m so proud that she has that kind of fortitude because we need that kind of fortitude in our representatives right now because it is dangerous.

I mean I think about all of the people, you know, the people who gave their lives for the cause of moving democracy towards the light in the past from Martin Luther King to Bobby Kennedy, you know. I`m thinking about those people were risking their lives, and she is among them.

And I am not among them. And I wish her all the best life and longevity but I`m grateful to her for her fortitude and bravery.

O`DONNELL: Caroline Randall Williams, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We always appreciate it.

WILLIAMS: It`s wonderful to be here. Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Caroline Randall Williams gets tonight`s LAST WORD.