The Senate Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer is
interviewed. President Biden has won his first big legislative victory in
Congress. "The Wall Street Journal" has obtained and released an audio
recording of Donald Trump in December pressuring yet another Georgia
official to change the election result. The war against the coronavirus has
many soldiers and many generals, one of them is a woman who won the Nobel
Prize in December. Her story is told in the exciting new book "The Code
Breaker" by Walter Isaacson.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And our first guest tonight is the person who got all those people
confirmed in the United States Senate today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck
Schumer is going to join us.
And, Rachel, this new information tonight, the new tape of Donald Trump
making a call to Georgia to an election official, this one before
Christmas. So earlier than the one that we already heard is just such
stunning additional information about what was clearly an ongoing campaign
to try to change the result of that election. And as you point out, he
seems to cross the legal line repeatedly in these phone calls.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": And it also fills in some of the pieces
about who was involved in this campaign and what the pattern of corrupting
Again, this may be a racketeering investigation in Georgia based on actions
and statements from that district attorney`s office. But the White House
chief of staff really did turn up bodily in person surprised at the audit
in Georgia when they were auditing the absentee ballots in Cobb County.
He showed up in person and then the next day he apparently told the
president to call the investigator leading that audit while he told her
what answer he wanted and how much she`d be praised when she produced that
correct answer, which was that he mysteriously won the election. I mean
it`s starting to read like an Elmore Leonard book.
O`DONNELL: And you hear on the phone call something you`d otherwise never
hear in a phone call with the president of the United States. And that is
the other person seeming to try to get off the phone, seeming to try to end
the conversation when anyone else would just be so thrilled to talk to a
president. How long can I keep this going?
And she`s probably a Republican that`s how she got appointed to that job in
the Republican government and she seemed to be doing everything she can.
And that`s the most helpful thing she can do is get him to hang up before
he commits more crimes on the phone.
MADDOW: Exactly. She`s flattering him and thanking him and being like,
yeah, we`re just looking for the facts, Mr. President, which is what you
meant to say, right? Sir, got to go. Yes, she`s trying to help him.
O`DONNELL: How many more tapes? We`ll find out.
MADDOW: Yeah. All right. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.
Our first guest tonight, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer got Judge
Merrick Garland confirmed today by the United States Senate as the attorney
general of the United States. And so, as of tonight, the attorney general
chosen by President Joe Biden will be overseeing all of the investigations
of the insurrection of the Capitol, including possible Trump involvement
and Trump White House involvement with the Trump mob that attacked the
Capitol and killed Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
Today, Chuck Schumer got Congresswoman Marcia Fudge confirmed as secretary
of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Also today, Chuck Schumer got Michael Regan confirmed by the Senate as the
head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Michael Regan is the first
black head of the environmental protection agency.
And Chuck Schumer is actually a double first himself. He is the first New
York senator to serve as majority leader, and he is the first Jewish
senator to serve as majority leader. More about that later.
The most important test of a new majority leader is the very first big and
controversial bill that the majority leader brings to the Senate floor. And
as his first test Chuck Schumer brought to the Senate floor the single
biggest spending bill any Democratic leader of the Senate has ever tried to
No new majority leader has ever had a more difficult first bill. The
Republican Senate led by Mitch McConnell had one objective. Yes, they
wanted to defeat the bill but much more importantly for the workings of the
Senate going forward, they wanted to beat Chuck Schumer on the Senate
They wanted to break Chuck Schumer`s hold on the Senate Democrats because
if they could do that on Chuck Schumer`s first big bill, then the
Republicans would cripple his leadership for the rest of the Biden
presidency and the Senate would fall into chaos because the new majority
leader could not deliver and could not control the senate.
In all my years of working in the Senate and watching the Senate I have
never seen a more difficult challenge for a new majority leader. And to
make it even more difficult, Chuck Schumer was working with zero margin of
error. He could not lose a single Democratic vote in the Senate. No
Democratic majority leader has ever had a 50-50 Senate. No majority leader
has ever done what you just watched Chuck Schumer do. And he never let you
know how difficult it was.
"The New York Times" described him as a happy warrior throughout the
process. And in the end, Chuck Schumer delivered a bill that Bernie Sanders
on one side of the Democratic Party and Joe Manchin on the other side of
the Democratic party are both proud of.
Chuck Schumer sent that 628-page bill from the Senate to the House of
Representatives where it was passed today without changing a word of what
Chuck Schumer sent to the House. And so in the end when President Biden
signs the bill, he will be signing the 628 pages that Chuck Schumer was
able to get through a 50-50 Senate.
President Biden who spent 36 years in the United States Senate said, I`ve
never seen anyone work as skillfully, as ably, as patiently with
determination to deliver such a consequential piece of legislation. Joe
Biden has seen the very best Senate majority leaders at work in both
parties, but he`s never seen anything like what Chuck Schumer did to get
the Biden COVID relief bill through the Senate.
After marathon negotiating sessions with Democratic senators before and
during the legislative action on the Senate floor and after a grueling all-
nighter in the Senate fending off Republican amendments, Chuck Schumer was
grateful for and overjoyed by each one of the 50 votes he was able to get
on his first big bill, the most important test of his leadership that Chuck
Schumer has ever faced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: I want to say one thing. I am
so proud of my caucus. I love each one of them. They are just so great. And
you know what unites our caucus? Everyone knows especially with 50 votes,
we all have to pull together. Everyone knows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And joining us now, the majority leader of the United States
Senate, Chuck Schumer.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mr. Leader. It`s a real honor
to have you here, first time as majority leader.
SCHUMER: I got a little teary -- a little teary watching that, so excuse
me. I`m a crier.
O`DONNELL: I know what it`s like -- I know what it`s like, and I was
telling people on Saturday when I saw that, that that moment is completely
real. I was on the Senate floor for a 51-vote win on a hugely important
bill in the first months of the Clinton presidency. And when you get those
51, there`s nothing quite like it. You do end up loving everyone one of
SCHUMER: I truly do, and it`s an amazing caucus. We talk to each other. We
respect each other. We don`t agree with each other on everything.
But the bottom line is that every member as you said knew that failure was
not an option. This is such a major change for America and we`re
delivering. I tell Americans help is on the way. Your $1,400 check for
beleaguered people, help is on the way. Your vaccines are going to get in
peoples arms much more quickly so we can get rid of this crisis. Help is on
We are making the schools -- we`ll allow the schools to open safer and more
quickly. And maybe the most important thing of all which really I care
about, and I give a lot of credit to Sherrod Brown and Michael Bennet and
Cory Booker, Ron Wyden, who helped put this together, and Richie Neal in
the House is the EITC, the earned income tax credit and the child tax
If we take half the kids in America out of poverty, that`s a generational
goal. And, you know, these kids when you`re brought up in poverty, you
don`t get adequate food and nutrition, you don`t get adequate health care,
you don`t get adequate education, you don`t get adequate housing, and then
when they`re 18 and lost, we blame them.
It`s so much better for society and, frankly, cheaper in the long run to
put the money in now. So, this is -- yeah, we are excited, Lawrence. We are
excited about this bill, the most important bill to pass in -- and so many
other things people don`t pay attention to, you know?
So, I had a construction worker teary-eyed talking to me two weeks ago. He
said, my pension is gone. He said I don`t care about me. I care about my
wife, my children and my parents. If I don`t have that pension they depend
on (AUDIO GAP) restored (ph).
These people put in dollar after dollar, week after week and they said, at
least when I retire, I`ll have a life. It`s not of luxury, at least of
dignity. It was gone, we restored it.
So, we have delivered for America, Lawrence. And it`s been a whole caucus,
as you said, from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin, each one knew they
couldn`t push things too far in their direction so that the other end would
fall off and we did it. I and give them credit.
I love them all. I truly do. I know it sounds corny but I do.
O`DONNELL: You know, it doesn`t to me. It might to everyone else
listening, but it doesn`t me.
Senator Schumer, there`s a room I would love to be in someday and I used to
be in it quite frequently. It`s your conference room, where you meet with
committee chairmen and others. But you have a leadership team that is
unique and Democratic leadership teams that I`ve ever seen, and it`s a
larger one than other leaders have had at other times.
And it includes Elizabeth Warren. It includes Bernie Sanders. It includes
Joe Manchin all sitting at that not so big conference table that you have
in that room.
What is it like when you have Joe Manchin at the table, Bernie Sanders at
the table? What are they like with each other, and how much did that
experience with each other in that room leading up to this help get this
SCHUMER: You know what we do in that room. We encourage everyone to state
their viewpoints and not to take it personally if Joe Manchin feels this
way and Bernie Sanders feels that way. And then my job is to try to bring
everybody together so that we see each other`s points of view, respect each
others points of view and come up with a solution we all can support, but
not something that`s so watered down that it doesn`t mean something but
And I think those meetings and the general meetings -- I meet Monday night
with 10, and the next day I meet with 20, and every Tuesday, we have a
lunch and I encourage everybody to speak out, so there are no hidden
grievances or unspoken desires of legislation, and it works. It works.
And we`ll keep working because failure`s not an option.
You know, the thing I`m sort of proudest of, Lawrence, and you`ve talked
about this -- we Democrats have to show we can deliver, OK? People are --
you ask yourself this question.
Why did close to half of America vote for such a horrible evil man like
Donald Trump? A liar, a divider, a bigot, a racist?
Because they didn`t have hope. And when people don`t have hope about the
future, when people feel that the American dream which simply put is if I
work hard, I`ll be doing better ten years from now than I`m doing today and
my kids will be doing better than me, if they don`t believe, they can turn
to a demagogue, they can turn to a dictator.
What we are showing people is government can work for them. And there`s
going to be nothing more tangible and immediate than checks, $1,400, and by
the way there was some talk about trying to cut the children checks to
$3,000 or $3,600 lower, we didn`t. And when people will get that, and
they`ll see the vaccines really come into their arms far more quickly than
anyone ever imagined as we recover from this crisis. And we`ll say, wow,
government can do something.
American people don`t expect us to snap our fingers and make all the
trouble go away, but they expect us to work so we give them hope and
direction. And maybe that`s the most important thing that happened in the
last two days. They`re going to see it, and I believe it`ll change the
political atmosphere quite a bit.
O`DONNELL: Well, I want to mention one Trump voter who`s very excited
about this bill. And he tweeted about it today. He`s a Trump voter in
His name is Roger Wicker, and he tweeted: Independent restaurant owners
have won $28.6 billion of targeted relief. This funding will ensure small
businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations
and keep their employees on the payroll.
And, Senator, as you know, the weird think about that is Roger Wicker is
the Republican senator from Mississippi who voted to kill all of that.
SCHUMER: But we try to be bipartisan when we can without sacrificing the
need for big, bold action. So as you know, the power of majority leader has
is to determine what goes on the floor.
The very First Amendment I put on the floor was a Wicker-Sinema amendment,
he a Republican, she a Democrat to do a Restaurants Act.
And even though he didn`t support the bill, there are bipartisan parts to
this bill. And we want to show our Republican colleagues, we want to work
with them. We`re not going to say no because a Republican name is on it.
We`re not going to do it.
And we`re not going to whittle things down so we`re not getting anything
done. That was a mistake of 2009 and 2010, but we do want to work with
So I`m proud of the fact that Wicker was on the bill. And yes, he didn`t
vote overall for it. He should have because of so many other good things.
But at least we`re showing him when he has a good idea that is sort of bold
and the restaurants needed help, we`re not going to just say go away. Maybe
that`ll lead to more. Maybe that`ll lead to more. Who knows?
O`DONNELL: Senator Schumer, we`re going to squeeze in a commercial break
here. When we come back, there`s a couple of things I have to ask you
about. The filibuster rules, and the "Albany Times Union" tonight has new
reporting on Governor Cuomo. I want to get your reaction to that.
Please stay with us. We`re going to be right back with Majority Leader
O`DONNELL: Chuck Schumer was in hiding when he learned that he was moving
up from minority leader to majority leader of the United States Senate. It
was January 6th, in the middle of the invasion of the Capitol when Jon
Ossoff was declared the winner in the Senate race in Georgia that gave the
Democrats 50 senators after Raphael Warnock had been declared the winner in
his Senate race in Georgia the night before.
Mitch McConnell was in hiding in the same secure location with Chuck
Schumer when they both got that news. Senator McConnell offered Senator
Schumer his congratulations.
Chuck Schumer was told later that while he was in hiding and the attackers
of the Capitol were searching for members of the House and Senate, one of
the people who invaded the Senate was heard saying, where`s the big Jew?
Chuck Schumer is the first Jewish senator to lead the United States Senate.
And that was not lost on Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol wearing
clothing that celebrated the holocaust. Robert Keith Packer was wearing his
Camp Auschwitz hoodie. What would he have done if he had found Chuck
Nazis invaded the Capitol of the United States in 2021 looking for Chuck
Schumer, 76 years after Nazis were rounding up and executing members of
Chuck Schumer`s family in Nazi death camps. And after those Nazis left the
Capitol on January 6th, Chuck Schumer went right back to work.
In 1950, Brooklyn was not yet the coolest place in New York City when Chuck
Schumer was born there. Abe and Selma Schumer`s son took his schoolwork
seriously, got perfect SAT scores, went to Harvard College and Harvard Law
School. And the rest is history that Chuck Schumer continues to write for
himself and for the country.
If you ever have an emergency in your home and you need a plumber or an
electrician, that person for that day becomes the most important person in
your life. And there is no emergency quite like needing an exterminator to
come to your house or your apartment, and that is what Abe Schumer spent
his work life doing in New York.
When Abe Schumer was on the way you knew that help was on the way. And
today, Abe`s son is delivering help to a lot more people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: So this is a wonderful day for
America. This is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation we
have passed in decades. And you know what we can show, America? That we can
get things done to make their lives better, and we will continue to do that
through the rest of this session. Help is on the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Back with us, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
And, Senator Schumer, the filibuster rules seem as though there might be
some movement. We`ve heard recent statements by Senator Manchin saying
there are adjustments that he can make.
Can you make anymore progress in the Senate if you don`t have some changes
in the filibuster rules?
SCHUMER: Well, look, here`s our bottom line. And I think every Democrat
shares this, praise God. And that is that we need big bold change. America
as I mentioned, not only because of the COVID crisis, but because people do
not have that American optimism and they turn to demagogues like Trump. And
if we don`t do anything, Lord knows what will happen in four years? And we
could lose (ph) majority too?
But getting things done is very important. Now, the wish of a good number
of our colleagues, maybe most, is that we work with Republicans to get
those things done. But if we can`t, failure is not an option and we will
have to put our heads together as a caucus like we do now, and we will have
to discuss, for instance, how we can allow Georgia who imposed racist,
despicable rules that could very -- you know, the idea that Souls to the
Polls, the churches, the buses that leave churches on Sunday after church
and go to the polls.
And now, all of a sudden, the Georgia Republicans say we shouldn`t allow
early voting on Sunday. That`s racist. You`re racist, plain and simple.
And what are we going to do? Are we going to allow that to happen? It will
-- it will make it much harder for Raphael Warnock to win re-election two
years from now. They`re doing it in other states making it harder for other
Democrats to either win empty seats or retain.
So, we`ll have to sit down as a caucus and figure it out if Republicans
won`t come our way, and we`re going to test them out of course before we go
forward with this.
But the bottom line is very simple. We will put our heads together.
Everything will be on the table, and I will do everything I can to make
sure that failure is not an option, that we solve these kinds of problems.
O`DONNELL: And, Senator, let me turn to a New York issue. "The Albany
Times Union", a newspaper I know you read every day, is reporting tonight
new information about a new accuser of Governor Cuomo.
You have said up to now that let the investigation take its course. Is
there anything about these new allegations that is changing your view of
SCHUMER: Well, every one of these allegations is really serious, really
troubling and needs to be carefully, carefully looked at. I have always
said that sexual harassment is just not tolerable in our society. And I --
and we know that.
And so I early on called for an independent investigation. I have a great
deal of faith, Lawrence, in the attorney general of New York state. She
will uncover everything. She will turn over every stone. She has subpoena
power for both records and witnesses.
And I am also confident that she will resist any outside interference
political or otherwise. I have faith in her.
O`DONNELL: Senator, let me take you back to January 6th, which it turns
out is the day you realized you were going to become majority leader and
what you went through on that day, what you were feeling when you were
rushed out of the building and when you were in hiding for hours on end,
actually. And then to discover after the fact these photographs we`ve seen
of people that day wearing clothing celebrating the Holocaust and this
information that some of these people were looking for you. They were
looking for what they called "the big Jew".
SCHUMER: Well, Lawrence, let me say that January 6th, I`ve described it
like a sentence in a "Tale of Two Cities", it was the best of times, it was
the worst of times. I stayed up all night, at 4:00 a.m., we learned that it
was very -- it was pretty much certain that Ossoff and Warnock would win
and I`d become majority leader.
And, of course, I felt joy initially, but immediately thereafter, another
emotion coursed through my veins, and that was of awe. And I don`t mean awe
in the sense my daughter says that was awesome, but awe in the biblical
sense, the angels, when they saw God`s face, trembled in awe.
The responsibility on the shoulders of our caucus was enormous. So, I had
those two emotions coursing in my veins. I drive down to D.C. I`m on the
floor of the Senate at 1:00, putative majority leader at that point.
And within an hour, a policeman in a big bulletproof vest and a big
submachine gun strapped across his waist, grabbed me firmly by the collar.
I will never forget that grab, and he says, Senator, you`re in danger.
We rush out, we walk to the right. We see these sons of guns. I wouldn`t
use the curse word. I`m from Brooklyn, but this is national television.
And as you can see, we walk through the hall and the minute we see them,
they go through the doorway, we see them and we turn around and run back
the other way. And to be honest with you, I didn`t quite remember it.
Everything was such a whirl. There we are.
Everything was such a whirl, and until I saw that film which the
impeachment managers showed and they hadn`t told me they would show it,
that`s when it collected. But to realize that these people were encouraged
by this president is one of the most awful things that America has ever
known, that he fomented this, he incited this.
And I hope -- I hope and pray. I thought the impeachment managers did a
good job. And I hope and I pray that Americans as this sinks in say we can
have nothing to do with Donald Trump, and it`s only a small band of awful
people like these people do.
I also have faith that Merrick Garland who we installed, who we put in
office today will go after every one of these sons of guns, every one, and
throw the -- obviously, due process. We`re America. We don`t do what they
But throw the book at them, no leniency. And if they deserve long jail
sentences, which I would believe they do, put them in there and let that be
an example to anyone else who might try. These are the worst, and they are
And if America doesn`t fight back in every way, which I believe the
attorney general will do, the president will do and certainly we in the
Senate Democrats will do, God save us.
And will our Republican friends finally come forward and join us in this?
Fear of Donald Trump should not be enough to undermine this democracy as
Trump and these people and their ilk are trying to do.
O`DONNELL: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, thank you very much for
joining us tonight. Really is an honor to have you here as majority leader.
Thank you very much.
SCHUMER: It`s a pleasure to be with you, Lawrence. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, on this day when President Biden has won his first big
legislative victory in Congress, White House Communications Director Kate
Bedingfield will join us. We will ask her the question that every West Wing
faces after a big win, what`s next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This bill represents a historic,
historic victory for the American people. I look forward to signing it
later this week.
Everything in the American Rescue Plan addresses a real need including
investments to fund our entire vaccination effort -- more vaccines, more
vaccinators and more vaccination sites. Millions more Americans will get
tested including home testing.
Schools will soon have the funding and resources to reopen safely, a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Kate Bedingfield, White House communications
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
I want to get your reaction to --
KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thanks for having
VAUSE: -- Senator Wicker`s tweet today where he`s basically claiming credit
for a piece of this bill. And are you concerned about how difficult it will
be to make the American public understand where this bill came from, who
delivered it, who delivered what?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, look, across the course of putting this bill together
and then working to get it passed we earned the support -- President Biden
earned the support of 75 percent of the American public.
So people saw President Biden lay out his vision for a package that was
going to get $1,400 checks to families who need it. It was going to get
money to fund the vaccination program, to get shots in arms and provide
money to reopen schools and get schools open.
So he was very clear from the outset about what he thought the right path
forward was. And over the course of this process 75 percent of the American
public agreed with him.
So -- but you touched on the right question here, Lawrence, which is what
is next? So the next thing to do is to implement the bill and to go out and
talk to people about how this money is going to make a difference in their
And that`s what you`re going to see President Biden do. That`s what you`re
going to see Vice President Harris do. That`s what you`re going to see the
first lady and the second gentleman and the cabinet do.
They`re going to spend time over the next couple of weeks making sure that
we`re really talking to people about the difference this is going to make
and the fact that help is here.
You know, the president said on the campaign trail help is on the way. With
the passage of this bill help is here. And you know, I know this, I saw
tonight American Airlines announced that 13,000 employees who had been
furloughed are now not going to be furloughed because of this bill.
So we`re already seeing immediate real world action. And we`re going to be
talking to people over the next two weeks about how this bill is going to
O`DONNELL: Yes, American Airlines sent out an email to employees saying you
can tear -- if you got one of those furlough notices you can just tear that
up and it`s all thanks to this legislation.
And that`s one of those examples where that communication is extremely
clear. There`s no one working at American Airlines who doesn`t know where
that came from.
But your job as communications director is to make this clear in all 50
states and to voters in all 50 states. And yet you also have to be
proceeding with the next agenda items in the White House. So how do you
juggle those two things at the same time?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, like I say, first we`re going to spend a dedicated
amount of time talking to the American people about this bill. You`re going
to see the president do it. You saw him do it.
He laid out very clearly when he came into office on January 20th that his
first priority was to get this virus under control, to stand up a vaccine
program that`s going to vaccinate people all across this country, and to
get our economy back on track. He`s been relentlessly focused on that. He`s
been talking about it. He`s been pushing forward this legislation with the
great work of course of Senator Schumer who you were just speaking with and
So he`s been relentlessly focused on. He`s been talking directly to the
American people. We have been talking directly to the American people as an
administration. We`ve been, you know, doing for example, local media --
we`re out in local markets every day talking to people through their local
news about what they`re going to get from this bill, about the help that
they`re going to receive and the fact that President Biden and the
Democrats have passed in record time -- tomorrow is Day 50 of the
administration. And President Biden has already made good on promises to
make meaningful progress to get this virus under control.
So we are going to be focused on talking directly to the American people
and making sure that there`s no question about who has helped to get this
O`DONNELL: Now, the vote count seems to indicate that the highest number of
votes a Biden agenda item can get in the Senate is 51. It doesn`t look like
there are any more votes available. And so how will the rest of the Biden
agenda including immigration reform and other issues move through the
Senate without changes in the filibuster rule?
I know White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it is President Biden`s
preference to not change the rules. But the word "preference" in politics
is a pretty soft word. What will you be able to get through the Senate
without changing the Senate rules?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, I think you saw from this process, Lawrence, that
President Biden is not willing to hold up urgent aid. He`s not willing to
hold up the process, and he is going to remain focused on moving quickly
and making the progress that we need to make.
Now, that doesn`t mean that he doesn`t want to work with Republicans. I
think you saw him be incredibly bipartisan in this process. He had a number
of Republican senators to the White House to talk about their ideas for the
rescue plan. And he continued outreach to Republicans throughout this
But he showed simultaneously that he`s not going to -- he`s not going to
hold the process hostage. So you`re right. His preference is not to get rid
of the filibuster. He believes that we`re better served when we build a
And again, I would note that 75 percent of the country including a majority
of Republicans supported the rescue plan. So this was a bipartisan bill for
everyone except Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But look at what we`ve been able to get done in the first now seven weeks
of this administration. Quite a bit. So his preference is to continue to
work with people on both sides of the aisle, but he`s not going to allow
the process to be held up.
O`DONNELL: Kate Bedingfield, I know you have a bill signing ceremony to
plan, and so we thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really
BEDINGFIEDL: Thank you for having me, Lawrence. I appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
We have breaking news in the investigation of Donald Trump in Georgia.
There`s another tape. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Breaking news tonight.
There`s another tape. "The Wall Street Journal" has obtained and released
an audio recording of Donald Trump in December pressuring yet another
Georgia official to change the election result. In this December phone call
before Christmas, Donald Trump lies to Frances Watson, chief investigator
of the Georgia secretary of state`s office and tries to get her to change
the result of the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I won Georgia, I know that.
By a lot. And the people know it. And, you know, something happened there.
I mean something bad happened.
When the right answer comes out, you`ll be praised. People will say great
because that`s what it`s about, that ability to check and to make it right
because everyone knows it`s wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now David Cook. He`s a former district attorney for
the Macon Judicial Circuit in Georgia. And Mr. Cook, what does this new
evidence add to what Fani Willis is presenting already to a Fulton County
DAVID COOK, FORMER D.A., MACON JUDICIAL CIRCUIT GEORGIA: I think the point
is it just paints another portrait of the continued effort of him trying to
change the result.
And I think it`s important that we don`t get hung up on just this phone
call but we see how it fits into the larger picture. And that`s what`s
important about a racketeering indictment is that if she were to bring
racketeering as was referenced in her letter to governor, then the jury
would hear multiple pieces of the puzzle and put them all together to get a
more clearer picture of what went on.
O`DONNELL: One of the other things that`s mentioned, these different counts
that she`s investigating that`s mentioned in her letter is making false
statements to state and local government bodies. Did we not just hear
Donald Trump making false statements to a government official?
COOK: I`m not aware of any evidence that substantiates the claims that the
former president just made on that phone call, but again, I think it`s
important to remember that there were other statements that he and other
people assisting him made to Georgia officials that weren`t true.
So when you combine that with the other evidence it`s certainly not helpful
to his case.
O`DONNELL: Well, when he says to a Georgia official, "I won Georgia,"
that`s a lie.
COOK: Based on everything we`ve seen, that`s a lie. And again, when you
combine it with the other things that we know and the pressure to get
people to go against their oath of office, that could be very damaging in a
O`DONNELL: Knowing the way Fani Willis assembles a case, what are you
expecting in terms of a timetable of her work with the grand jury?
COOK: I think she`s going to be very deliberate. And I think she`s going to
act quickly. But knowing D.A. Willis the way I know her, I know she`s not
going to let artificial time constraints dictate what she does. She`s going
to act with all deliberate speed but she`s going to let it takes as long as
it takes because what`s important to her is the end result and that`s
O`DONNELL: David Cook, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We
really appreciate it.
COOK: Glad to be here. Have a good night.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, the war against the coronavirus has many soldiers and many
generals, one of them is a woman who won the Nobel Prize in December. Her
story is told in the exciting new book "The Code Breaker" by Walter
Isaacson. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: I picked up Walter Isaacson`s new book "The Code Breaker" late
one night last week when I thought I was too tired to read and the cliche
happened. I could not put this book down because of scenes like this.
Walter Isaacson volunteering in August in the clinical trial of the Pfizer
COVID-19 vaccine. Page 435. "Look me in the eyes, the doctor ordered,
staring at me from behind her plastic face guard. Her eyes were vividly
blue, almost as blue as her hospital mask.
Yet after a moment I started to turn to the doctor on my left who was
jabbing a long needle deep into the muscle of my upper arm. No, the first
doctor snapped, look at me. Then she explained because I was part of a
double blind clinical trial of an experimental COVID vaccine they had to
make sure that I didn`t get any clues about whether I was being injected
with a real dose or merely a placebo made of saline solution.
Would I really be able to tell just by looking at the syringe? Probably
not, she answered. But we want to be careful."
"The Code Breaker" is a scientific action adventure story told in the form
of a biography of a woman who won the Nobel Prize last year for her work in
the scientific arena that Walter Isaacson says is about nothing less than
the future of the human race.
Joining us now, Walter Isaacson who is now a professor of history at Tulane
University. The latest book is "The Code Breaker".
Walter, you`re now ten books into your collected works. Each of them
building in many ways on the other. Biography has become your favorite
What drew you to this subject? And boy, did you get lucky in the middle of
studying this subject.
WALTER ISAACSON, AUTHOR: Well, Jennifer Doudna is this really cool woman
who as a young girl picked up the double helix. You`re younger than I am
but we`re both old enough to remember that book about the structure of DNA.
And she saw the character of Rosalind Franklin and she said, oh, wow, girls
can be scientists.
In high school, a guidance counselor said no, no, no. Girls don`t become
scientists. Well, that pushed her on and she discovered the structures of
RNA, which turns out to be this miracle molecule. It`s the molecule that`s
the messenger in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. It`s the guide that allows
us to edit our own genes.
So this is a book about a very brilliant fun woman who says, "Ok, I`m going
to understand the secrets of life." It`s a great detective story.
O`DONNELL: And the coronavirus enters the story while you`re investigating
this story yourself and while you`re writing this story, and she goes to
work on it.
ISAACSON: Yes. You know her kid was going to a robotics competition exactly
a year ago. And she woke up at 2:00 in the morning and woke her husband up
and said we`ve got to go get Andy, this virus pandemic is spreading. They
pick him up, he`s complaining. But then they get a text saying robotics
competition canceled. So she goes back and the next day gathers 50
scientists she`s been working with on RNA, and then they use it.
They apply it to ways to detect the coronavirus, and they apply it to ways
to make these new vaccines and to have a way of really just killing the
So it was kind of exciting to be right in the middle of a story and then
having this pivot happen that brought it and made it so relevant to our
O`DONNELL: And the long-term solution described in the book is to be able
to edit genes so much that we will not need vaccines in the future to fight
these kinds of viruses.
ISAACSON: There are many ways that this new technology of CRISPR can help
us. One is -- and this is controversial but the Chinese doctor did it two
years ago, edit early stage embryos so we wipeout virus receptors from the
I don`t think we`re ready to go there yet, but we can certainly use CRISPR
to actually kill the virus. CRISPR Cast 13 it`s called can chop up RNA like
the coronavirus. And that means we don`t have to do it through stimulating
our immune system.
We can just do what bacteria have done for a billion years and fight it
directly. And in the long-term, yes, we`re going to be able to edit human
genes to make ourselves safer, to make ourselves healthier.
We`ve already been able to cure sickle cell anemia last year using this
technology and soon we`ll be able to protect ourselves against viruses.
O`DONNELL: There`s a very important note in your book for parents and for
young kids out there. You note that -- and you`ve written now biographies
of creative people from Da Vinci to Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs. And you
note that many creative people are alienated as kids when they`re young as
she was growing up in Hawaii. She says I was really, really alone and
isolated at school and alienated by their surroundings.
ISAACSON: You know, we all try to figure out how we`re going to fit into
this cosmos. We all want to know. And that`s Leonardo Da Vinci doing that
new guy, doing jumping jacks and the circle and the square, Vitruvian man.
It`s like how do I fit in.
And that`s what Jennifer Doudna did. She was always curious. She was
curious about all these natural -- and how beautiful nature is. And when
you embark on an adventure there`s a joy in understanding how something
works especially when that something is ourselves.
And that`s the type of thing that this coronavirus pandemic should teach
us, is that we should understand the beauties of nature and also fathom how
science can help us.
O`DONNELL: Cathy Isaacson, the writer, who`s also the wife of Walter
Isaacson of 35 years, has written the most revealing thing yet about Walter
Isaacson. She writes, "Our daughter Betsy once said that in writing about
Ben Franklin, Walter was writing about himself. An upwardly mobile
newspaper man interested in science and diplomacy."
She said "But in writing about Einstein, Walter was writing about his own
father, a friendly distracted engineer with a strong humanist streak."
Walter told her that with Steve Jobs he was writing her, a smart fairly
headstrong tech-loving geek.
"And with Jennifer Doudna the subject of his latest book, he was writing
about me -- smart, sensible and persistent. You can see why I love him."
And Walter, such is the beginning of the first biography of Walter
ISAACSON: Never, never, never -- I`ve already consulted my lawyer. But you
know Cathy well, and she`s your biggest fan.
O`DONNELL: Walter, this book at this time is so important to where we are
both in the current science and the future science of where we`re going.
What would you say is the basic take away that readers should get from this
ISAACSON: Basic science, curiosity driven science. Sometimes politicians as
you know well, Lawrence, will say why do we have in the budget some study
of bacteria and some repeated sequences that bacteria have in their genetic
And then somebody discovers, well, those repeated sequences are the way --
they`re called CRISPRs, are the way those bacteria fight viruses and they
can adapt every time a new virus hits. And so suddenly basic science leads
to a discovery which leads to an invention which becomes a useful thing in
And that`s the story of the mRNA vaccines and it`s the story of CRISPR, and
it`s really the story of all of science is that if you`re just curious
about nature, that will reward you.
O`DONNELL: Reading a Walter Isaacson book is like going back to the most
exciting college class you ever took. You learn something on every page.
Walter Isaacson. The book is "The Code Breaker". Thank you very, very much
for joining against tonight. Really appreciate it.
ISAACSON: And thank you, Lawrence, on such a busy day, for having me.
You`re a good friend. Good to see you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Walter Isaacson gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
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