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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 2/23/2021

Guest: Tim Ryan, Pramila Jayapal, Lauren Groh-Wargo�


Today, two Senate committees held a hearing with the people in charge of the first responders trying to control the insurrection on the Capitol on January 6th. Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio is interviewed. Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal who represents the 7th district of Washington state is interviewed. Senators who actually helped incite the insurrection at the Capitol had the audacity to participate in the Senate hearing about that today.



And the control room reliably informs me you have been struggling with audio issues throughout the hour that you have brilliantly masked and not let the audience know about. But I know about it.

Therefore, Rachel, the only things you are going to hear from me if you can hear them at all, are thank you, Rachel and good night, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good night, Lawrence. Thank you very much.

Man, let`s never do this again.

O`DONNELL: There is -- there is nothing worse than audio problems.

So if you did not get all of your questions answered today in the Senate hearing about the insurrection on January 6th, then our first guest tonight is your next best hope because our first guest tonight will be chairing the next hearing on this in the House of Representatives.

Today, two Senate committees held a hearing with the people in charge of the first responders trying to control the insurrection on the Capitol on January 6th. And the most surprising news in the hearing was Steven Sund who was forced to resign as chief of the Capitol police the day after the invasion on the Capitol, saying that he was never shown the FBI intelligence report about what could happen that day.

As Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar began her questioning by describing that FBI intelligence.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): The FBI`s Norfolk field office issued a threat report on January 5th that details specific calls for violence online in connection with January 6th, including that protesters, quote, be ready to fight, end quote and, quote, go there ready for war.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what the former Capitol police chief said about that intelligence.


KLOBUCHAR: Did you receive this report?

STEVEN SUND, FORMER CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: Thank you very much for the question, ma`am.

I actually just in the last 24 hours was informed by the department that they actually had received that report. It was received by what we call -- it`s one of our sworn members that`s assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is a task force with the FBI. They received it the evening of the 5th, reviewed it and then forwarded it over to an official at the intelligence division over at the U.S. Capitol police headquarters.

KLOBUCHAR: And, so, you hadn`t seen it yourself?

SUND: No, ma`am. It didn`t go any further than that.


O`DONNELL: Later in his testimony, Steven Sund added this.


SUND: If you look at some of our other agencies, I think the Acting Chief Contee actually made the statement that the breach at the Capitol was not anything anyone anticipated, nor I think some of our federal partners expected it. I don`t think Secret Service would have brought up the vice president if they expected it.


O`DONNELL: One point that seemed to emerge from the testimony is that even if Capitol police accurately anticipated exactly what was going to happen at the Capitol on January 6th, they would not have been able to prevent it.


SUND: We do train for people trying to get into the building. We don`t train for when I said an insurrection of thousands of people.


O`DONNELL: An important evidentiary dispute emerged over the Capitol police emergency request for help from the National Guard. Republican Senator Roy Blunt tried to sort out the dispute between Paul Irving, the House sergeant at arms who was also forced to resign after the attack on the Capitol and the former Capitol police chief.


SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): Mr. Irving, you said in your testimony that when asked for National Guard assistance, you approved it. Mr. Sund stated he asked for the National Guard assistance at 1:09, and it was approved at 2:10. Why would it take an hour to approve National Guard assistance on your part in that moment of crisis? Mr. Irving?

PAUL IRVING, FORMER HOUSE SERGEANT AT ARMS: Senator, from my recollection, I did not receive a request for approval for National Guard until shortly after 2:00 p.m. when I was in Michael Stenger`s office.

BLUNT: All right. Let me get that straighten out. Mr. Sund, do you know when you asked for National Guard assistance? Was it 1:09, or was it 2:00 p.m.?

SUND: It was from 1:09, sir.

BLUNT: One o nine. And who did you ask for assistance at 1:09?

SUND: It was from Mr. Irving. I believe he was in the company of Mr. Stenger at the time as well.

BLUNT: And, Mr. Irving, why would you not remember that, Mr. Irving?

IRVING: Senator, I have no recollection of a conversation with Chief Sund at that time. I did not get a request at 1:09 that I can remember. The first conversation I had with Chief Sund in that time frame was 1:28, 1:30, and at that -- in that conversation, he indicated that conditions were deteriorating. He might be looking for National Guard approval and approval of our neutral aid agreement with local law enforcement.


O`DONNELL: The chief of Washington D.C.`s police department Robert Contee expressed his surprise at the way the Capitol Police request for the National Guard was treated in a conference call that he participated in.


ROBERT CONTEE, ACTING CHIEF OF POLICE, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Just after some time after 2:00 p.m. I had left the west front of the Capitol after initially being at the scene, assessing what was going on, looking at just how violent -- looking at the valiant actions that were taking place. Shortly thereafter, there was a conversation that convened. The chief was on the call pleading -- there were several army officials on the call. I don`t know all by name who was on the call.

Several officials from district government that were on the call. Chief Sund was pleading for the deployment of the National Guard. In response to that, there was not an immediate question, the National Guard is responding. Yes, the National Guard is on the way. Yes, the National Guard are being restaged from traffic posts to respond.

The response was more asking about the plan that, you know, what was the plan for the National Guard. The response was more focused on in addition to the plan, the optics, you know, of how this looks with boots on the ground on the Capitol.

And my response to that was simply I was just stunned that, you know, I have officers that were out there literally fighting for their lives and we`re kind of going through, you know, what seemed like an exercise to really check the boxes and it was not an immediate response.

When I asked specifically, Steve Sund, Chief Sund was he requesting the National Guard and was that request being denied, the response was, no, that`s nothing the U.S. department of navy was, no, we`re not denying the request but they did have concerns. I was just stunned at that response.


O`DONNELL: Capitol Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza described what it was like to be in the thick of the devastating battle that day after rushing to work two hours before she was supposed to go on duty.


CAPT. CARNEYSHA MENDOZA, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I proceeded to the rotunda where I noticed a heavy smoke like residue and smelled what I believed to be military grade CS gas, a familiar smell. It was mixed with fire extinguisher spray deployed by rioters.

The rioters continued to deploy CS into the rotunda. Officers received a lot of gas exposure, which is worse inside the building than outside because there is nowhere for it to go. I have received chemical burns to my face that have not healed to this day.

Of the multitude of events I worked in my nearly 19-year career in the department, this was by far the worst of the worst. We could have had ten times the amount of people working with us, and I still believe the battle would have been just as devastating. As an American and as an Army veteran, it`s sad to see us attacked by our fellow citizens.

I`m sad to see the unnecessary loss of life. I`m sad to see the impact this has had on Capitol police officers. And I`m sad to see the impact this has had on our agency and our country.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. He is the chair of the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee, which oversees the Capitol Police.

Congressman Ryan, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Were you satisfied with what you heard in that Senate hearing today? Did it -- do you have questions that were not answered?

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Well, we still have questions as to the response time. We still have some questions around what was going on with the department of defense. But most troubling, really, Lawrence, is the lead-up to January 5th and 6th. And in that intelligence coming from the FBI that never made it all the way up to the chief, the chief even -- even when he was asking for National Guard, and I think this is an important point, Lawrence, when he was asking for National Guard on January 6th, there were only a few hundred that we would be able to access anyway.

So we weren`t ready on so many different levels. We need -- there should have been -- look, the optics, the optics, what are the optics of what happened versus what the optics of some National Guard troops guarding the Capitol to make sure we have a peaceful transition of power after all the incitement that had been going on for the weeks and months to come, those optics, I think every American would choose before the optics we ended up seeing on that day.

O`DONNELL: The senators asked for phone records of the former Capitol police chief and the former House sergeant at arms to try to get it straight about exactly when the request was first made for the National Guard.

Do you think you will be able to obtain those phone records this week or is that something we`re going to wait for in response to the Senate hearing?

RYAN: Well, we`re going to have the acting chief and the acting sergeant at arms this week in front of my committee, so I`m not sure we`ll have that information by then. But that`s certainly what we want. I mean, this is maddening to sit here and watch the he said/she said, the CYA happening all over the place. You worked on the Hill. This is nothing new. But it is frustrating that no one can take responsibility for exactly what happened.

And we need those phone records. We want the e-mails. We want to know who got the e-mail from the FBI and then decided that it wasn`t that big of a deal. They`re just going to pass it off to the intelligence.

Here again how many e-mails do you get a day? How many does most persons in a professional setting get a day? And you are going to send an e-mail to somebody? You are not going to pick up the phone and give somebody a call? What are we talking about here?

O`DONNELL: The former Capitol police chief described the way these people were equipped when they arrived at the Capitol. Let`s listen to that.


SUND: These people specifically with equipment. You are bringing climbing gear to a demonstration. You are bringing explosives. You are bringing chemical spray such as what Captain Mendoza talked about.

You are coming prepared. The fact that the group that attacked our west front 20 minutes approximately 20 minutes before the event at the ellipse ended, which means they were planning on our agency not being at what they call full strength, you know, watching the other event saying, that event is ending, get on the post they will be marching our way, knowing we may not be at full strength at that time and also the fact that we were dealing with two pipe bombs that were specifically, you know, set off the edge of our perimeter to what I suspect draw resources away, I think there was a significant coordination with this attack.


O`DONNELL: And, Congressman, even after that testimony, Senator Rod Johnson entered into the record a statement not by anyone in law enforcement but by a bystander who was describing how peaceful that this bystander thought the Trump crowd was until, in this person`s view, the Capitol police provoked them into trying to take over the Capitol.

RYAN: Absolute insult to all of the rank and file members of the Capitol police and their families, the 60 to 70 members of the Capitol police and D.C. metro who were hurt, the two officers who took their own lives, the one who died in that activity that day, the insurrection. That is a complete insult.

It is delusional and it`s an insult and they`re perpetuating another version of the lie that caused this in the first place, Lawrence. And to some level, and it`s scary, but about 58 percent of Republicans actually believe what this man said because that`s what`s churned up on right wing news media. And so, there is a reason why they keep saying it.

There is a reason why Hawley is pushing back. They`re talking about Antifa, Antifa. You have 200 people that have been arrested and the president told us to come down here, right? You have all these flags taking down the American flags and we will kill people and go after Nancy Pelosi and the screaming and the yelling and the hollering and the association with all these right wing groups.

I mean, come on, it`s clear. The evidence is clear, open and shut case. And, yet, the right wing is becoming even more delusional about, you know, their prospects of the future.

O`DONNELL: There were no questions today about the possibility of some Capitol police officers reportedly being overly cooperative with these people when they were invading the Capitol. There have been reports of some possible investigations of maybe a couple of dozen Capitol police officers who were behaving in what seemed to be too friendly a manner.

Do you know anything about that aspect of the investigation, and is that something you are going to be looking into?

RYAN: We`re looking into it. A lot of it gets back to the lack of command and control. The rank-and-file members, and I have been talking to them now for weeks every time I walk passed a couple. I asked what was going on, where they were. There was no command in control structure. They didn`t know what to do.

You are talking about the one gentleman who put on a MAGA hat and he was just trying to -- he didn`t know what to do. He had no orders of what to do. And our understanding he was just trying to like, look, I`m with you. Let`s calm down. I`ll put the hat on. He didn`t know what to do.

I think there was a lot of that going on, of how do we try to diffuse this and without any advice or command coming from up above, every officer was left to their own devices. And, you know, to put them in that position, that`s what`s really frustrating is that those men and women, like the captain who testified, were put in a position that put their lives in danger and, like I said, 60 or 70 of them have injuries and a couple committed suicide.

I mean, that`s what happened because of the lack of leadership. That`s what we need to fix. So we need to understand the past in order to fix the future. But there were so many breakdowns on so many different levels that it`s going to take some time for us to sift through all this and then put a real plan together which General Honore is helping us do to help us deal with this in the future.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Tim Ryan, thank you for joining us tonight. We will be watching your version of this hearing on Thursday.

RYAN: It will be the most popular legislative branch appropriations hearing in a long time, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: That`s right. First time we have watched. That is true. Thank you very much, Congressman. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

RYAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the most important debate about the Biden COVID relief bill will happen tomorrow, and that debate will determine if a minimum wage increase can be included in the Senate bill, and like all of the most important discussions in Washington, you will not be allowed to see it. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the House Progressive Caucus, will join us next.


O`DONNELL: If the minimum wage increase is included in the Senate version of the Biden COVID relief bill, it will be thanks to the nicest man in the world who will participate in the most important debate about the Biden COVID relief bill, which will be held tomorrow. And like all of the most important debates in Washington, it will not be televised. It will be behind closed doors where the real governing happens.

The debate will occur in a meeting in the office of the Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. And, by now everyone knows that the man I`m talking about who will participate in that debate Bill Dauster, the chief counsel of the Senate Budget Committee.

The reason I mention what a nice guy bill is, is that being nice in Washington is a sort of super power that very, very few people have. And it makes Bill Dauster all the more compelling and persuasive to listen to.

In my years working in the Senate, I never dared disagree with Bill Dauster, just wasn`t possible. Bill Dauster also brings more knowledge and authority than anyone else to every discussion that he is in. He literally wrote the book about the Senate budget process 30 years ago, more than 10 years before Elizabeth MacDonough began working in the parliamentarian`s office as an assistant parliamentarian. Elizabeth MacDonough is the Senate`s first woman parliamentarian and possibly the most praised Senate parliamentarian ever.

Democratic Leader Harry Reid promoted her to parliamentarian in 2012 and Mitch McConnell has praised her fairness and judgment, calling her a brilliant lawyer.

Republican Senate staffers will be in the meeting tomorrow in the parliamentarian`s office arguing that an increase in the minimum wage violates the Senate rules on what can be included in a budget reconciliation bill. Bill Dauster will argue that the minimum wage increase does fit within a budget reconciliation bill, according to Senate rules. And Elizabeth MacDonough might announce her decision by this time tomorrow night.

It is common for major issues like to be decided by the parliamentarian before a big bill comes to the Senate floor. If the minimum wage is included in the bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will have to work very hard to hold on to the votes of two Senate Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who don`t want to raise the minimum wage as high as $15 an hour.

Here is the essence of the message Chuck Schumer is delivering to Senate Democrats who might not be fully supportive of every single thing in the bill.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: I have made a pitch today to our entire caucus, and I said that we need to pass this bill. The American people, the American public demands it. And everyone is going to have things that they want to see in the bill and we`ll work hard to see if we can get those things in the bill. But job number one is to pass the bill. Pass the bill we must and I have confidence we will do it.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal who represents the 7th district of Washington state. She is the chair of the House Progressive Caucus.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Things are going smoother and more predictably in the House as usual because you do not have a Senate parliamentarian to contend with different rules there. So it looks like you will be voting on the house floor possibly Friday or Saturday. Do you have any guidance on that yet?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): That`s what we`re hearing. It will be at the end of the week. And, of course, we fought very hard to keep the minimum wage provision in the bill. It is in the bill. Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Scott of the Education and Labor Committee have been very, very supportive of this and we`re going to pass it, Lawrence, in our bill.

And as you described Bill Dauster, I was thinking thank goodness we have bill on our side. I think he`s going to make the arguments that we need to make in the Senate.

O`DONNELL: He`s also a policy expert, on top of his parliamentary expertise.

And let me ask you, how difficult was it to hold on to this increase to $15 in the minimum wage in the House?

JAYAPAL: Well, it was challenging for a couple of different reasons. There was some procedural confusion about what we could include in the House package without having a house Senate rule yet. So I was able to call on Bill Dauster actually and thanks to Senator Sanders and set up a meeting between the Senate folks and our leadership folks to make sure we were clear that there was no threatening the bill overall if we included the $15 minimum wage.

And then, of course, just to continue to remind people of this unprecedented crisis that we face and the fact that this is a populist policy passed in Democratic and Republican states across the country and desperately needed in this time of COVID to pick 30 million people up, to lift the wages of 30 million people and to lift 1.3 million people out of poverty. I mean, this is a game changer when we`re talking about these black, brown, indigenous poor people around the country that have been continuing to work on the front lines but can`t take care of themselves and their families on $15,000 a year.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Chuck Schumer also said about trying to maintain unity in the Senate among Senate Democrats and how well that has worked so far.


SCHUMER: So far, so far we have had great unity. On impeachment, we had great unity. On the two bills that have come before the two votes that have come before us on reconciliation, we have had great unity. So, we had a lot of unity, and we need to keep it. With 50 votes, we need our unity, and we`re fighting to get it and so far so good.


O`DONNELL: Yes, Senator Chuck Schumer uses a flip phone. What did you expect him to use?

So that unity in the Senate is something that is very, very hard to hold on to. And, so, what have you learned in the House in getting -- getting the minimum wage into the bill in the House that is helpful for Chuck Schumer to try to hold on to it in the Senate?

JAYAPAL: I just keep reminding everybody that we won the Senate majority, the House majority and the White House because black, brown, indigenous, poor working people across this country were crying out for help and for a change in leadership and they were willing to give Democrats one more shot at really trying to get them the relief that they deserve and that they need.

And I`ll tell you that moral argument right now actually did do a lot to keep people together in terms of what Democrats promised on the campaign trail and what we now have to deliver.

And, Lawrence, you know we don`t have a lot of time here. The midterms are in two years. We need to show people that their lives are appreciatively better, that we can get control of the virus and that we can put money in people`s pockets.

That`s why for the progressive caucus, the two most important priorities were making sure we had survival checks that went to the same, you know, group of people that got them last time and that we kept the thresholds the same and also minimum wage. So we have been very clear about that and I think that every Democrat who balks at a $15 minimum, not less than $15, a $15 minimum wage should remember it was 2002 when fast food workers first went out and started calling for a $15 minimum wage.

It was 2015 when we passed it in Seattle, the first major city to do so. It has been 12 years without a single cent being increased for our lowest wage workers.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, we`re out of time, but I would like you to confirm one piece of my reporting tonight. That is that Bill Dauster is the nicest man in the world or at least the nicest man working in the Senate staff or in some way one of the nicest men you have ever met in your life.

JAYAPAL: Confirmed, Lawrence, confirmed. You are an excellent reporter.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much, Congresswoman. We really appreciate it.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And when we come back, some of the senators who actually helped incite the insurrection at the Capitol had the audacity to participate in the Senate hearing about that today. Michael Steele and Zerlina Maxwell will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Even the insurrection inciters were allowed to speak at today`s Senate hearing about the attack on the Capitol.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Thank you to all of the law enforcement from all of our various branches who responded in this dire emergency to face these criminal rioters, these violent criminals, to repulse them from the Capitol and to secure this space so that the work of Congress could continue.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Zerlina Maxwell, host of "Zerlina" on Peacock, and Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and host of "The Michael Steele Podcast". He is an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Zerlina, let me begin with you. There was Senator Hawley calling these people criminals after we saw he was cheering them on that day with the raised fist.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, and we all remember, although Senator Hawley hopes we forget. In fact, today was a day where I am at my wit`s end. I have no patience anymore for the bad faith in which the Republicans are engaging in telling the big lie over and over and over again and acting like this was something other than people who support Donald Trump storming the Capitol Hill wearing t-shirts that said Donald Trump`s name of them, carrying flags that said Donald Trump`s name on them, chanting Donald Trump`s name.

And so, Josh Hawley can, you know, pretend that`s not what happened. But it is pretty galling to watch him blatantly lie and try to act like it was violent criminals when it was Trump supporters, those same supporters who he`s trying to get their vote in the 2024 Republican primary.

So I kind it all pretty appalling, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, short memory seems to be what some of these Republican senators are counting on.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, indeed. Forgive me for laughing coming into the segment because you played that clip with the image of Hawley with his fist up and he`s calling out these people and it is just laughable. It is comical.

And Zerlina`s got it exactly right. The idea that we will just forget, pretend that never happened, that I`m actually on the side of American people in this is just galling, when we know, in fact, that`s not where Josh Hawley stood on that day. That image alone is seared in the memories of every American and is seared in the minds of the men and women who serve on the Capitol as well.

And, so, the reality here is you are going to get, you know, the big rope a dope where, you know, they are just going to sort of try to box the American people into, you know, a -- back them into a corner and just tire us out on this issue. But as this hearing continues and more information is unfolded here, Lawrence, I think we don`t grow tired. We grow angrier and frustrated with the lie and perpetuation of the big lie.

O`DONNELL: There was one witness at the hearing today, Captain Mendoza who was actually in the thick of the battle. Let`s listen to more about what you described going through in the thick of that battle.


CAPT. CARNEYSHA MENDOZA, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I had no choice but to proceed through the violent crowd in the building. I made my way through the crowd by yelling and pushing people out of my way until I saw Capitol Police Civil Disturbance Unit in riot gear in the hallway. They were holding the hallway to deep rioters from penetrating deeper into the building.

I immediately jumped in line with them to assist in holding the crowd of rioters. At some point my right arm got wedged between rioters and the railing on the wall. A CDU sergeant pulled my right arm free and had he not, it certainly would have been broken.


O`DONNELL: And, Zerlina, she did not have any protective gear at that time.

MAXWELL: No. And I think it`s important that she is a black woman speaking her truth about what she experienced on that day. And you saw Senator Ron Johnson basically twirling his pen while she talked about the trauma she experienced as a result of the insurrection. And I just -- I find it so unnerving in a way how we continue to take some of these folks very seriously. Obviously they are in positions of power.

But I honestly think that at a certain point there has to be a line that they get laughed out of the room when the truth is literally under oath testifying in front of them about what happened that day and how traumatic it was for those who experienced it and the reason why those people stormed the Capitol is because of the perpetuation of lies to Michael Steele`s point but also the inability to stand up to the base that supports Donald Trump.

He`s not the president. He can`t even tweet. And I think they should probably be more focused on those folks who will remember they did this, that multiracial coalition that Pramila Jayapal was talking about, the congresswoman was talking about, that brought Democrats into the majority in the Senate and also back into the White House.

That majority will not forget. You know, I think they say on "Game of Thrones", the north remembers. We`ll remember that, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And, Michael, Ron Johnson started reading this very strange piece written by a bystander, someone who was not in any way officially involved in this who was standing outside the Capitol apparently at some point on the Capitol grounds inside the perimeter fence, so not supposed to be there and describing how nice and friendly all these Trump people were until the Capitol police provoked them.

STEELE: Yeah. Again, I mean, the bucket of stupid that comes from some of these folks is just amazing. So of all the things you can enter into the record on the heels of the testimony that you are witnessing and hearing from officers who were under siege, the officer who was sitting in front of you with chemical burns still on her face that are healing and your counter is, well, there was an eyewitness who saw that the rioters were actually weren`t rioters, they were really nice people until the Capitol Hill police provoked them.

Really? That`s your comeback. That`s what you want to put in the official record on this matter? I mean, how do we take anything that a Ron Johnson and a Josh Hawley has to say as anything but farcical at this point.

And, look, you know, they`ve got their seat. They got their position and they will use it however they want. But that doesn`t mean the rest of us have to tolerate the continual lying to us. And we don`t.

O`DONNELL: Michael Steel, Zerlina Maxwell, thank you both for joining us tonight.

MAXWELL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

STEELE: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock will be running for re-election in 2022 and he has scared off the most prominent Republican who was thinking about running against him. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: The Trump worshipping former Georgia Republican Senator David Perdue has had enough. After losing his Senate re-election campaign to Jon Ossoff, he began publically considering running again in two years against Senator Raphael Warnock. And now, Purdue has announced that he`s giving up on that dream. Senator Warnock said I am prepared to defeat whatever Republican they come up with.

Georgia Republicans are pushing forward legislation to restrict the ability to vote. Today`s Georgia`s Senate approved a bill requiring for identification for absentee voting, the first elections bill to clear a legislative chamber. In Texas, Democrats had released a 2020 election postmortem report that outlines their path to future election victories.

According to "The Washington Post," that analysis says -- concludes that with a beefed up voter registration program capable of registering 100,000 to 150,000 more Democrats than Republicans per cycle, Democrats can turn the state blue by 2024.

Stacey Abrams and her former campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo argued in a recent "New York Times" op-ed that any state can turn blue, writing: Particularly those in the Sun Belt, where demographic change will precede electoral opportunity.

Joining us now is Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action. She managed Stacey Abrams campaign for governor in 2018.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I want to get your reaction to this breaking news that as of now, Senator Warnock is running unopposed for re-election now that David Perdue has thought better of it.

LAUREN GROH-WARGO, CEO, FAIR FIGHT ACTION: I don`t think David Perdue knows how to operate in the new Republican Party, which is the party of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump. Georgia Republicans` house is on fire, but the one thing they agree on, Lawrence, is voter suppression. We are seeing an onslaught of voter suppression, the likes of which we haven`t seen since Reconstruction.

But it isn`t just Georgia. It`s around the country. It`s over 250 voter suppression bills have been put forward across the country. Georgia leading the way with 50 bad bills.

So while they are in disarray, they are focused on retaliation and are moving a very racist voter suppression agenda and trying to prove it through the legislature while they fight between themselves and who`s going to challenge Raphael Warnock in 2022.

O`DONNELL: What do you see coming in that Senate campaign for Senator Warnock?

GROH-WARGO: Look, it`s going to be a tough fight and that`s why you are seating the voter suppression not just here but also in Arizona. Arizona and Georgia both went for Biden and elected Democratic senators and both states have Senate elections in 2022 that are going to be critical for holding the majority for Democrats.

And so, here is part of what I wanted to come on the show tonight and say is Democrats we have to get in formations. Republicans are in a tail spin because of Donald Trump. However, they are in formation on voter suppression, and this is very, very dangerous.

Over the next decade in this, I insist that just happened, multiple states, Georgia, Arizona, whites go into the minority of the population. The demographic change of this country where whites will be the minority of population by 2045 not that far off is accelerated in the Sun Belt. And so, we have this set of dynamics going into redirecting and the census undercount, and the Senate races where if we don`t push back hard on voter suppression and that means federal action this year on preclearance, on getting states like Georgia that have a racist history and not just a history, a racist now need to have to pre-clear their voting changes with the Department of Justice.

We need automatic voter registration universally and all the changes the For the People Act. Democrats in Congress need to get in formation, give Biden the cabinet he needs so we can get moving. This is an existential threat to the future of our democracy, which was just attacked at the Capitol last month.

So we feel incredible urgency here because the voter suppression is just a whole new level of egregious. And without federal action, we are fighting this every single way we can on the ground and with our allies around the country. But it`s time to act and it`s time for Democrats nationally to understand how pressing this crisis is with 253 bills and it`s just starting. We`re going to see more over the next month.

O`DONNELL: Sorry. What about meeting this challenge at the state level, which also includes Democrats getting serious about state level campaigns for the legislature?

GROH-WARGO: Absolutely. Georgia, Texas, Arizona have all made tremendous gains in the state legislature. Overall, we`re about 14 seats from the majority here in the statehouse and a little further behind in the state senate, but we`re within striking distance.

But here`s the problem -- Trump undermined the census dramatically. So, we had an undercount of racial minorities in this country. We`ll see. We don`t have to numbers yet because of what Trump did.

And then we`re going into redistricting. It`s going to be late. And so, the Republican Party controls the machinery of redistricting in Georgia and many other battleground states. They`re going to do partisan and racial gerrymandering and draw themselves their majority for the next decade.

And that means we have to have ten-year plans on our side. That`s why Stacey and I wrote that op-ed. Stacy Abrams and I met each other about ten years ago and started charting a 10-year path. And we really built that on state legislative gains, which we have made since we met ten years ago.

But that`s what we`re going to have to do across the Sun Belt, where the population is growing and becoming more diverse, and what we`re going to look at my home state of Ohio and other top states, what down ballot and local gains can we make. And then celebrate the victories. Sometimes victories are losing by less.

Texas made gains in the legislature. They didn`t win a majority like they wanted to, but they did cut their margin statewide and did demonstrate that progress.

And so, this is going to be a tough decade. We`ve got a lot of head winds, but we need to fight these battles at the state level and push our delegations to take action on voting.

O`DONNELL: Lauren Groh-Wargo, you are guiding us on what I think is the most important political story of our time, which is the preservation of democracy and what that means in our elections. Thank you very much for joining us again tonight.

GROH-WARGO: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Tiger Woods is out of surgery after a terrifying rollover car crash early this morning in Los Angeles. We`ll have an update from the hospital next.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what Los Angeles County sheriff`s offices found when they reached Tiger Woods` vehicle after a car crash this morning.


ALEX VILLANUEVA, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF: The interior -- the cabin of the vehicle was more or less in intact, the front end was totally destroyed, the bumpers, everything was destroyed. Air bags deployed, all of that. And, however, thankfully, the interior was intact which kind of gave him the cushion to survive what`s -- otherwise, it would have been a fatal crash.


O`DONNELL: The Los Angeles times is reporting Tiger Woods sustained serious injuries of both legs, including a shattered ankle and two leg fractures.

Joining us now from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is NBC News correspondent Steve Patterson.

Steve, what`s the latest?

STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, for context, I think it`s important to note we`re already talking about the conversation moving from whether or not Tiger Woods will survive this or walk again to whether or not he`ll play golf again. Many people already seeing that as an early sign of something to celebrate, certainly counter to the scene that sheriff deputies walked upon this morning, at about 7:12 a.m., that`s when the call came in from a neighbor who heard and saw the crash.

When sheriff`s deputies arrived they arrived to Tiger Woods, the only person involve in the that accident was lucid, who was communicative, who was alert, and responsive. One deputy said he asked Woods` name to orient himself. And he simply responded Tiger.

They went on to have a conversation with the deputy saying he was particularly calm despite the situation. But that is counter to the scene they showed up upon. The exterior of the car was in complete wreckage. Only the interior intact served as a protective bubble for Woods combined with the fact he was wearing a seat belt. Something the sheriff credited unequivocally with saving his life.

Taken to the hospital here at Harbor-UCLA, this is about 20, 25 minutes away from the scene itself. Important to note this is not necessarily the first hospital that is nearby, which speak to the fact that these are not life-threatening injuries. We`ve gotten information from the L.A. County Fire Department, from the Sheriff`s Department, and Woods` own management team.

But in the hours that ensued since this all transpired, nothing from the hospital themselves about his current status, or about the true extent of the injuries.

One last thing to note, no sign of inebriation, no sign of impairment, at least from the deputies that were on scene. And one more time, important to say that the deputies were talking about the area that Woods crashed in.

Lawrence, I know you know Los Angeles pretty well. Some of these hillside communities in the county that surrounds L.A., you`ll have steep inclines, steep declines, these hairpin turns, S-curve turns.

This intersection that Woods was in, sheriff deputies have cited for being infamous for car accidents. Several they`ll see over the course of a year. So, that speaks to the nature of the area that Woods was traveling in. That will be part of the investigation as well as the speed he was traveling in, all alongside the fact that Wood is now recovering from that surgery -- Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: NBC`s Steve Patterson, thank you very much for the report, Steve. Really appreciate it.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.