FBI Director Christopher Wray went to the Senate Judiciary hearing
to `kill` a Republican lie. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
is interviewed. Republican lawyer admitted on record in the U.S. Supreme
Court that Republicans cannot win elections if we count every vote cast by
every legally registered voter. This afternoon, the New York state
legislature revoked Governor Andrew Cuomo`s emergency powers to set state
policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden delivered the best
news that we have heard since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
American adults are going to get vaccinated within a few months.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I know you said, let us never speak of this again. But this news about
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" being the highest rated show on all of cable
television, not just cable news, but all of cable television is worth
mentioning just this one more time.
And I have to include a "thank you" to you, Rachel, because thanks to your
enormous ratings surge, as usual, you have held us up as the number two-
rated show on MSNBC, entirely because you say "good evening" to me every
night, like that`s it. That`s the whole reason I`m sitting here at number
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Lawrence, if you want to kill me on television,
you could probably come up with a more, you know, direct way to do it. If
you just want to kill me by blushing, this is going to be a painful thing
for all of us.
O`DONNELL: The thing I do have to check though is I`m not sure if "Below
Deck" was running new episodes during this last ratings period. So, all of
cable news, if it includes "Below Deck" really is a miracle. It`s an
MADDOW: Well -- we all learn to be humble in our own ways, Lawrence. Thank
you very much. I`m about to leave now.
O`DONNELL: Let us never speak of this again.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, we have good news tonight, and I mean much bigger good news than
MSNBC ratings. We have great news.
We have the best news that we have delivered to you about the COVID-19
pandemic since we began covering it a year ago. You are going to be
vaccinated. You`re going to be vaccinated sooner than you think. If you
haven`t been vaccinated already, you and every adult you know will be
vaccinated in the next few months. President Biden has arranged for the
delivery of enough vaccine by May to vaccinate every adult in America.
Your lives are going to change for the better. You`re going to be safer.
Your vaccination is on the way. We will cover the details of that good news
later in this hour.
We begin tonight with FBI Director Christopher Wray who went to the Senate
Judiciary hearing to kill a Republican lie. At a recent Judiciary Committee
hearing, Republicans tried to float the lie that the people who attacked
the Capitol on January 6th, the people who threatened Mike Pence and did
kill a Capitol police officer were not Trump supporters. The FBI director
would have done of that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Based on your investigation so far, do you have
any evidence that the Capitol attack was organized by, quote, fake Trump
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We have not seen evidence of that at this
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): You have said there have been I think 280 arrests
so far. Has there so far been any evidence that the January 6th riot here,
the insurrection, was organized by people simply posing as supporters of
WRAY: We have not seen any evidence of that certainly at this --
COONS: Is there any evidence at all it was organized or planned or carried
out by groups like Antifa or Black Lives Matter?
WRAY: We have not seen any evidence to that effect thus far in the --
COONS: And is there any doubt that people who stormed the Capitol included
white supremacist and other far right extremist organizations?
WRAY: There`s no doubt that it included individuals that we would call
militia violent extremists. And then in some instances, individuals that
were racially motivated violent extremists who advocate for the superiority
of the white race. But the militia violent extremist is probably at the
moment trending the biggest bucket, if you will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Republican
Senator Ron Johnson described the attackers of the Capitol as peace-loving
tourists of government who were provoked by the Capitol Police`s use of
harsh crowd control tactics.
The FBI director squashed that bit of insanity this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRAY: I was appalled, like you, at the violence and destruction that we
saw that day. I was appalled that you, our country`s elected leaders, were
victimized right here in these very halls. That attack, that siege, was
criminal behavior plain and simple and it`s behavior that we, the FBI, view
as domestic terrorism. It`s got no place in our democracy, and tolerating
it would make a mockery of our nation`s rule of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Senate Judiciary Committee is the home of the two senators
most responsible for the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. Senator
Hawley was the first member of the Senate to say that he would object to
the counting of the electoral votes on January 6th. And as soon as Senator
Hawley announced that he would do that, everyone in the Senate knew that
Senator Cruz would try to catch up to Senator Hawley in pandering to the
Senator Cruz not only joined Senator Hawley, he helped round up other
senators to object to the counting of electoral votes. Without Senate
objections to the counting of electoral votes, the process would have moved
along at high speed as it usually does, and the electoral votes might have
been officially counted before the invasion of the Capitol.
Senator Hawley and Senator Cruz gave the attackers of the Capitol the time
they needed to succeed in temporarily stopping the counting of the
electoral votes. And on the day when the Biden administration withdrew,
Neera Tanden`s nomination for budget diretor because of mean tweets that
were true, Senator Hawley and Senator Cruz still have their jobs.
Senator Hawley spent his questioned time with the director of the FBI in
effect working as defense counsel for the invaders of the Capitol and
trying to suppress the government`s evidence against them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): What about the cell tower data that was
reportedly scooped up by the bureau on the day during, in fact, while the
riot was underway? What`s happened -- what`s happened to that data? Do you
still have it? Has it been retained? Do you have plans to retain it?
How are we going to know what you are doing with it, and how are we going
to evaluate the bureau`s conduct if we don`t know what authorities you`re
invoking, what precisely you`re doing, what you`re retaining?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The FBI director, of course, refused to answer any of those
questions about specific evidence gathering in an ongoing federal criminal
investigation, which now includes conspiracy charges against some
defendants. Other Republicans steered as far away from the invasion of the
Capitol as they possibly could and pretended to time travel back to the
first year of the Trump presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Do you still use methods like gang tattoos to
identify who belongs to MS-13?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Our first guest tonight, Senator Amy Klobuchar, pressed the FBI
director on a memo sent from the Norfolk, Virginia, FBI office saying there
could be extreme violence at the Trump event on January 6th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRAY: We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the
Capitol police and MPD in not one, not two but three different ways.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): But do you think it`s enough to just send an
WRAY: It`s more than just an email, right? First off the email itself went
to -- I think there are maybe as many as five Capitol Police Task Force
officers on the Joint Task Force, and the whole point of the Joint
Terrorism Task Force is for the chosen representatives of the partner
agency to be there in the loop real time so that everybody`s got the same
information so that each agency can use that information to do what it
needs to do.
But in addition to the email -- so belt and suspenders -- it was verbally
briefed. And I don`t -- it`s hard sometimes for members of Congress to
picture what these command post briefings are like. Picture the command
post we had stood up at the Washington field office representative of all
these agencies in the room, people are coming up to the microphone one at a
time saying, OK, now we`re tracking this. We`re seeing this. We don`t know
if it`s real or not and here`s what we`re seeing. And everybody is taking
And the whole idea is they`re supposed to go back and pass it up the chain
of command. And third, in addition to that, it was put into the law
Having said that, I do not consider what happened on January 6th to be an
acceptable result. That`s why we`re looking so hard in figuring how can the
process be improved?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Senator Amy
Klobuchar of Minnesota. She`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator, are you satisfied with the FBI director`s answer to your line of
inquiry about the intelligence available to them before the attack on the
KLOBUCHAR: I think he was straightforward. My issue -- and he admitted
this. You know, they wish they could have done more. They wish that they
could have infiltrated the Proud Boys in some way and had the information
that you know was there given that they`ve now arrested 20 members of that
And so, what I appreciated about his testimony today was how clear he was
in, as you point out, defeating this crazy theory that somehow Antifa was
in charge of this invasion or, as Ron Johnson said, this was a festive
event. And all of these things I think he was very good about making clear
this was a coordinated attack, which when Senator Peters and I held our
hearing last week with Senator Portman and Blunt, that we heard the same
things from those that were running the Capitol Police at the time and the
sergeant at arms coordinated attack run by white supremacist groups,
And I think it`s really important for people to understand that because
these guys in the Senate -- Hawley and Cruz and Ron Johnson -- are still
spewing misinformation. And that is not what we need right now. We want to
fix this and make sure we do the right thing by getting the police chief
and everyone on board here so that this never happens again.
We can`t have a bunch of lies out there. And I thought the FBI director was
very good about disposing of those very clearly.
O`DONNELL: Senator, what is it like to have Senator Hawley across the room
from you on a day like today in a hearing like this when he is the senator
who created the opportunity? And he created the opportunity by declaring
that he was going to challenge the count of the electoral votes days before
the count. It gave people -- it gave the people who attacked the Capitol
plenty of time to calculate how much time the process would be slowed down
by Senator Hawley`s objections and how much time they would have to pull
off what ultimately became clearly, for some of them at least, a plot to
attack the Capitol.
KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, I just keep thinking of those words, have you no shame?
Have you no humbleness about this when you think about the fact that so
many of them were spouting these theories? We were taking them on in the
Senate chamber, and then literally minutes after I took on Senator Cruz and
used those words, it`s a republic if we can have it, and pointed out that
his misinformation and what he was saying and the lies that he was saying
were actually contributing to people believing this, the Capitol was
breached. So, that`s what I keep thinking.
On the other hand, I think something else, Lawrence. And that is that there
are people, and we`re going to have a hearing again tomorrow, who want to
get to bottom of this. Why in the world were there not plans made from the
Capitol Police to have the chief, to have the National Guard there ready to
go when given the intelligence that they knew by Friday and additional
intelligence the day before?
When that call was made -- and this is key -- when we were going to have
the head of the Washington, D.C. National Guard at this hearing tomorrow
when he was on the phone pleading to get the help and to get the authority
to be able to go over and help out at the Capitol at 2:30, why did they
wait until two hours later to give them the authority from the Defense
Department while we were all -- we were in the middle of it, but everyone
else was watching it on TV as these people were breaking through glass,
carrying spears and poles, handcuffs, weapons and pining police officers
who were shrieking between doors.
Why -- why -- was that authorization not given right away? So, those are
just a flavor of some of the questions we`re going to ask.
O`DONNELL: And tat`s going to be tomorrow. One more question about today`s
When Senator Hawley, in the matter of a criminal defense attorney, was
questioning the FBI director about evidence collection and questioning him
in a way that seemed to be objecting to certain form of evidence collection
in this case, some people had to wonder, is Senator Hawley afraid of just
how efficient the evidence collection might be and what it might find out
KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, I don`t know why you would pick this particular hearing
to do that when, in fact, everyone is at least mouthing the words that they
want to have the people prosecuted. And the FBI has made over hundred of
arrests. They`ve got hundreds of thousands of tips.
These are major investigations. The first one was filed just Monday in
Washington state against one of the leaders of the Proud Boys in which they
actually said in the multiple page indictment that, in fact, this was a
So, there`s more to come, and I would be much more interested in pushing
them to keep gathering evidence while we don`t even have an attorney
general in place yet. They are doing this.
So, I think you certainly don`t want to pull them back when we`re trying to
solve crimes that resulted, by the way, in deaths.
O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for leading us off
tonight. Really appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Appreciate it. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And joining our discussion now is Chuck Rosenberg. He`s former U.S.
attorney for the eastern district of Virginia. He`s an MSNBC legal
contributor and host of the podcast "The Oath."
And, Chuck, with your experience serving the FBI as you did, what did you
make of the director`s answer to Senator Klobuchar about the handling of
that intelligence before January 6th?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I wasn`t surprised by
it, Lawrence. We talk about the intelligence in three ways. One, you
collect stuff. Two, you analyze stuff. And three, you disseminate stuff.
And the problem is in that middle piece, right, how good a job are you
doing of analyzing the stuff? I mean, we share almost everything in a post-
9/11 world. Nobody wants to get standing when the music stops.
So, the sharing isn`t the problem. And Chris Wray, smart guy, honorable
guy, good FBI director, talked about the fact that the report was shared.
But here`s the problem, when you receive something like that, how do you
know that that`s the thing you have to focus on? How do you know that
that`s the thing that really, really matters?
I mean in retrospect, in hindsight, it`s blindingly obvious. But if you`re
sharing everything, and as Chris said today, this was an unverified report,
how do you know at that time that that`s the thing that really matters? The
way I would do it, I would add a fourth thing. And, Lawrence, I`m sure you
do this too. If you`re sending an email to somebody and it`s really
important and you don`t want it to get lost, might you not call them and
say, hey, I`m going to email you later today. I really need you to focus on
this thing, read it and call me when you`re done.
If you`re really concerned about information you`re sending and you don`t
want it to get lost, I think you have to go a step further. Merely posting
it on a law enforcement portal or merely sending an email doesn`t quite
answer the mail. But they`re inundated with stuff, there`s a torrent of
stuff, and that`s the difficulty.
O`DONNELL: And, Chuck, to this evidence collecting question, series of
questions that Senator Hawley was asking, in my experience watching
congressional hearings, I have never seen questions of either the attorney
general or FBI director or anyone involved in federal law enforcement about
how they`re collecting evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation that
includes charges of conspiracy. I`ve never seen questions like that until
the Trump era when Republicans started to ask them about investigations of
Donald Trump. And now, as we saw today, investigations of Trump supporters.
ROSENBERG: That`s right. And by the way, Senator Hawley made it sound as
if the FBI was doing something sinister, using a word like geolocating.
Gosh, that`s got to be bad, right, Lawrence, if you`re geolocating.
Well, let`s set the record straight here. If the FBI is collecting
information, they`re doing it in lot of different ways, all of which are
lawful. It might be through a search warrant authorized by a judge, based
upon a showing of probable cause. It could be open source information,
right, something that you or I or anybody else including an FBI agent could
find in a social media platform or on the web. It could be through an
administrative subpoena or a national security letter.
There are so many different ways to get information, including information
from cell towers, what Senator Hawley referred to as geolocating. As long
as they`re doing it lawfully, by God, don`t we want them to do it in a case
this serious, in an investigation this widespread?
So, I share your curiosity as to why this became a topic of interest for
these senators, but I can assure you having worked there -- and my
assurance isn`t enough, but I can assure you -- that when they`re gathering
stuff, they`re doing it lawfully. And that`s what we ought to care about as
O`DONNELL: Chuck Rosenberg, once again, your experience as a federal
prosecutor and working with the FBI has been invaluable to us. Thank you
for joining us tonight.
ROSENBERG: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, today, a Republican lawyer admitted on the record in the
United States Supreme Court that Republicans cannot win elections if we
count every vote cast by every legally registered voter. Neal Katyal will
join us next.
O`DONNELL: This morning, Stacey Abrams tweeted this about Vernon Jordan,
who died last night: Mourning the passage of my friend, the extraordinary
Vernon Jordan. He battled the demons of voter suppression and racial
degradation, winning more than he lost. He brought others with him and left
a map so more could find their way. Love to his family. Travel on with
Myrlie Evers, the widow of the assassinated civil rights leader, Medgar
Evers, said: Today, our nation has lost a hero, Vernon Jordan, civil rights
warrior, presidential adviser, former CEO of the United Negro College Fund,
former director of the National Urban League, was a close friend of my
husband, Medgar, of mine, and of my children. He and Medgar rode through
the back roads of Mississippi investigating some of the most horrific
violence against black Mississippians. When Medgar was assassinated, Vernon
came to offer comfort and support for our family.
Vernon Jordan`s work was under review today in a hearing in the United
States Supreme Court over provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that
prevents the, quote, denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of
the United States to vote on account of race or color.
A new Arizona law was under review by the Supreme Court today. The law
invalidates any ballot that is cast in the wrong polling place, even if it
is an otherwise valid ballot from a legally registered voter. A judge in a
lower court that heard the case said minorities voters were almost twice as
likely to vote in the wrong precinct as white voters because of, vote,
frequent changes in polling locations, confusing place of employment of
polling locations and high rates of residential mobility.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked the lawyer representing the Arizona
Republican Party why they would want to throw out legitimate ballots just
because they were cast in the wrong precinct. He all but said we have to
throw out ballots on technicalities in order to win.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT: What`s the interest of the Arizona RNC here in
keeping, say, the out of precinct voter ballot disqualification rules on
ARIZONA GOP LAWYER MICHAEL CARVIN: Because it puts us at a competitive
disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor
general and an MSNBC legal contributor.
Neal, there you have it. You could listen to Supreme Court arguments for a
very, very long time and not have someone admit guilt so clearly.
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Lawrence. I mean the fundamental
question that has to be asked about the Republican Party which this lawyer
represents, why is this party so afraid of voters. Even 15 years ago
Republicans weren`t this scared. The voting rights act passed this 2006
unanimously in the Senate, 98-0. And now you have a party when they`re not
pushing gerrymandering and the big lie, they`re pushing bill after bill to
try and restrict people from voting. More than 100 bills, Lawrence, have
been introduced just since November.
I just really wish Republicans brought the same energy to fighting the
coronavirus as they do depriving people the right to vote.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Justice Sonia Sotomayor said today about
denial of the right to vote.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: If you just can`t vote for those reasons and your
vote is not being counted, you`ve been denied the right to vote, haven`t
CARVIN: I don`t think anyone would say you`ve been denied a due process
right to a hearing.
SOTOMAYOR: This is not a due process -- this is not a due process claim.
CARVIN: I`m trying to get a distinction between denial --
SOTOMAYOR: Well, no, you`re denied something if you`re not given the right
to vote because results in your denial from circumstances that the state
could remedy easily.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Neal, denial of the right to vote to people who are legally
registered to vote is what these laws are all about.
KATYAL: A hundred percent, Lawrence. And Congress in 1965 passed the
Voting Rights Act to deal with this in two different ways. One was to say
any bill that passes into law in one of the states that discriminated in
the past couldn`t get through, couldn`t take effect, unless the Justice
Department or a court said it didn`t discriminate. That piece of the law
was struck down in 2013 by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision called
Shelby County. That was a thing that really perfected us.
Then there was another part, Section 2, which allows you to sue after the
election, basically, for deprivation of right to vote. That`s what the
issue was in today`s hearing.
And, you know, I think you`ve just heard the lawyer for the Republicans
basically say, you know, this law should basically have no teeth to it. And
that ran into hot water from even the conservatives on the court. I think
everyone acknowledged that what the Republicans were saying was contrary to
the plain text of the law. He had a better argument when it comes to these
specific Arizona laws.
So, you know, he may win the individual case at hand, but what he was doing
was really going for broke and trying to nullify the Voting Rights Act, and
that doesn`t go over so well with the court.
O`DONNELL: We see in our times Stacey Abrams today carrying on the work of
Vernon Jordan, of Medgar Evers. And we had reason to believe back when the
Voting Rights Act was first passed that so much of the work had -- this was
an achievement. This was done. The concept of reversal from that was
inconceivable at the time.
KATYAL: And you know, Lawrence, there`s one name you didn`t mention and I`m
sure it was in the front of your mind as well. And that`s John Lewis.
And right now pending in Congress is the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which
would create a new pre-clearance regime. That regime I was telling you
about that the Supreme Court got rid of in 2013.
And darn it, we need it. And this was something that Republicans and
Democrats united hand in hand. I mean James Sensenbrenner, very Republican
member from Wisconsin was the leader of this.
And you know, we have to get back to that and understand that there`s
nothing more important to an American than the right to vote. And right
now, it`s being deprived. And that law has to be passed regardless of what
happens in this Supreme Court case.
O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really
Coming up another day of complete silence from the governor of New York who
will now be the subject of a sexual harassment investigation by New York`s
attorney general. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: This afternoon the New York state legislature revoked Governor
Andrew Cuomo`s emergency powers to set state policy during the COVID-19
pandemic. The governor will no longer be able to make major policy changes
without input from the legislature.
Governor Cuomo remained silent again today after last night`s breaking news
by "The New York Times" of a third accusation of sexual harassment. The
first two public accusations were from women who worked for the governor
and involved the governor`s conduct in the office and on the governor`s
The new accusation last night was from a third woman who met the governor
at a wedding of 2019. Anna Ruch told "The New York Times" that the governor
touched her back and held her face without her permission and asked if he
could kiss her.
He said, Can I kiss you? Ms. Ruch said, I felt so uncomfortable and
embarrassed when really he is the one who should have been embarrassed. A
friend captured the exchange in a series of photographs taken on Ms. Ruch`s
Shaken, Ms. Ruch said she later had to ask a friend if Mr. Cuomo`s lips had
made contact with her face as she pulled away. The governor had kissed her
cheek, she was told.
While the governor remained silent again today, prominent members of New
York`s congressional delegation cannot escape questions about the governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night a member of your caucus called on Governor
Cuomo of New York to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment. I`m
wondering if you agree if -- what you think should happen as to the
governor amid these allegations?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I issued a statement on this issue and made clear these
allegations are very serious against Governor Cuomo, made by serious
individuals and deserve a serious and independent investigation.
Now that the attorney general has taken over the investigation, it will be
fully independent and thorough. And I await the results of that
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I associate myself with the
gentleman from New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: If Governor Cuomo steps aside during the attorney general`s
investigation, then Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would be the acting
Over the weekend, Kathy Hochul issued this statement. "Everyone deserves to
have their voice heard and taken seriously. I support an independent
And joining us now is Matt Flegenheimer, politics reporter for "The New
York Times" who was the co-author of last night`s breaking news report by
"The New York Times" on the governor`s situation.
Matt, the New York state Democratic legislature, both bodies of the
legislature controlled by Democrats increasing calls for the governor to
resign from the Democrats in the legislature. More Democrats actually than
Republicans, asking the governor to resign.
MATT FLEGENHEIMER, POLITICS REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, you`re
seeing especially from the sort of progressive wing of that legislature
folks who have had issues with Governor Cuomo in the past certainly in
recent weeks over his handling of the nursing home issue during COVID, but
really escalating calls over these past several as these accusations have
Obviously we`ve heard some from Republicans as well, but the (INAUDIBLE)
progressive side of the left especially. But there`s also we should say
many, many folks both in the congressional delegation, the two senators
from New York, U.S. senators and some members of the legislature who have
not said that and it sort of, you know, echoed the line that we`ve heard
from the governor`s office that let`s see how this investigation plays out.
Some of his allies have pushed this as well, let`s sort of let the facts
come out as they will and not move in the direction of a sort of immediate
resignation that some people are calling for already.
O`DONNELL: And Matt, I want to be fair to the governor in what his response
to this has been. And just sequentially Lindsey Boylan was the first public
complainant against the governor.
She wrote a piece online describing what happened to her, saying that the
governor kissed her against her will. The governor denied that and he
denied everything in Lindsey Boylan`s report in its entirety, I believe.
But then Charlotte Bennett was the next story to emerge in reporting in
"The New York Times". The governor did not deny any of that and he has not
denied any of what you reported last night about what Anna Ruch has said.
Is that correct? He just denied the first report.
FLEGENHEIMER: That`s correct.
O`DONNELL: And then after the second report he issued a general kind of
apology but not a denial and no denial or apology after Anna Ruch`s report.
FLEGENHEIMER: That`s right. The office has sort of gone through a number of
statements since Saturday night which was the report from Charlotte
Bennett, her account of being sexually harassed, a former executive
assistant to him in the governor`s office.
And she has not had her account contested at all really by the governor.
You did mention that statement he put out on Sunday which was sort of a
general apology if, as he put it, any sort of unwanted
flirtation -- I should say any sort of -- kind of (INAUDIBLE)
misinterpreted as an unwarranted (ph) -- unwanted flirtation.
And you know, that`s something that a lot of people on the progressive side
of the legislature and others in the state saw as sort of wholly
insufficient for Governor Cuomo and not the sort of apology they hoped to
O`DONNELL: Is there any indication from the governor`s office when you will
hear from him again and when the public will hear from him again?
FLEGENHEIMER: The reason it`s been staggering (ph) as you mentioned, it`s -
- you know, this is not the Governor Cuomo that New Yorkers are accustomed
to seeing. He is somebody who has, for a decade now, had the sort of
commanding presence, a sort of ubiquity, being out particularly if there
was expectation with the anniversary of COVID, the one-year anniversary
that, given his stature in that crisis and the sort of Democratic stardom
that his handling of that crisis at least initially propelled him to that
there would be a lot of public events marking the year and sort of having
him out front.
The contrast to, you know, public statements being issued by his office
about this policy or that over the last couple of days but no public
appearances by him in person has been notable and quite staggering.
O`DONNELL: Matt Flegenheimer, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Really appreciate it.
FLEGENHEIMER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, President Biden delivered the best news that we have heard
since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. You are going to get
vaccinated within a few months. You are going to get your life back.
O`DONNELL: Today President Biden delivered the best news that we have had
in the last year of the coronavirus pandemic. If you have not been
vaccinated already, you and every adult you know will be vaccinated in the
next few months.
President Joe Biden announced that the United States will produce enough
vaccine for every adult in the country by the end of May, two months sooner
than previously expected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Two of the largest health care
and pharmaceutical companies in the world that are usually competitors are
working together on the vaccine. Johnson & Johnson and Merck will work
together to expand the production of Johnson & Johnson`s vaccine.
This is the type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War II.
We also invoke the defense production act to put two Merck facilities to
the standards necessary to safely manufacture the J&J vaccine.
We`re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America
by the end of May.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You are going to have a much safer summer than you did last
year, but we still have to take some precautions.
We are only 41 days into Joe Biden`s suggested 100 days of national mask
wearing, and the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi are now
telling people to forget about masks.
Today Governor Greg Abbott of Texas ended the mask mandate in that state
and allowed opening businesses without capacity limits.
Just moments later, Mississippi`s Republican governor Tate Reeves tweeted,
"Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and
businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-
Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is
being rapidly distributed. It is time."
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned states that reopening too soon
would threaten the progress the United States has made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Please hear me clearly. At this level
of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-
earned ground we have gained.
These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress. Now
is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the
spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After a quick break, we will be joined by Dr. Rob Davidson and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In coming together to
pass the American Rescue Plan, you brought the country this much closer to
defeating this pandemic, to restoring our economy, and to getting us back
to some semblance of normal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in
West Michigan. He`s the executive director of the committee to protect
Medicare. Also with us, Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer-
prize winning columnist for "The Washington Post". He is an MSNBC political
And Gene, I just want to begin with the politics of the moment. This is --
it was a presidential promise to deliver the hundred doses of vaccine in
the first 100 days. The Biden/Harris administration is overdelivering on
that. They`re delivering faster than they said they would and now they are
delivering vaccine faster in total for the full adult population of the
country -- faster than planned.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right. Underpromise and
overdeliver -- that`s what the Biden administration has been doing. And
we`ve now reached the point finally where just anecdotally, but I think the
data bears it out, vaccines are just getting out. They`re coming out more
smoothly, the process is running more smoothly.
You know, the 65 and overs most places either have had their full two-shot
vaccination, or one-shot, or have appointments. Some states are starting to
move to lower categories on the priority list.
It is happening. And it is, you know, it`s got to be politically good for
On the other hand, I think the governors of Texas and Mississippi think
what they`re doing, which is irresponsible, and could set us back, also is
politically advantageous to them because they think that what is popular
among Republicans now, aside from Donald Trump, which doesn`t really take
you very far, is being irresponsible on COVID, and opening things up and
dissing the scientists. And that`s what they`re doing.
O`DONNELL: So, Dr. Davidson, we all now know that we are going to get the
vaccine. We, the adult population of the United States. They`re continuing
testing on the younger than adult age kids, teenagers and children. They`re
still testing for pregnant women, for example.
But given that we are going to get all teachers vaccinated, that`s no
longer a controversial question, we`re going to get the entire adult
population vaccinated. Where do you think we`re going to be this summer in
dealing with COVID-19?
DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: I think the possibilities are
amazing. I think a lot of it depends on what we do as we`re ramping up
getting these vaccines produced.
We still have to get them into arms. We need the American Rescue Plan to be
passed, we need money for states. We have our legislature in Michigan
holding up $5 billion because they`re having political fights with Governor
And we need states like Texas and Mississippi not to relax these
restrictions. We know the more the virus spreads, the more we have
variants, the higher the risk that one of these variants can evade or at
least kind of sidestep the vaccines we have and make it more challenging.
So it`s not just tough for Texans, it`s potentially tough for all of us.
But if we all work together, yes this is enormous. This is huge. And
frankly, you can feel it, people come in the E.R. telling me they just got
their shot. I was running through my neighborhood and the neighbor I hadn`t
seen all winter yelled out and said I`m getting my shot tomorrow.
There is a rational exuberance over what`s going on and we just have to
hold tight for a few more months, we can get there.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Gene, I think we all see a lot of exclamation points when
we get texts from people who just got an appointment for a vaccine. And
Gene, the doctor makes a good point that the Biden administration has done
everything they can to get the vaccine itself produced and ready.
But the Biden COVID relief bill contains necessary provisions for getting
these vaccines injected, getting these vaccines delivered into people`s
arms. There`s all sorts of funding in there to get that done.
ROBINSON: You`re right. There is, Lawrence. And also all sorts of funding
for a lot of other necessary things. So just pass it. I mean Democrats just
need to pass it. And it would be great if some Republicans could be brought
onboard. But it needs to pass.
And what is in that bill is not only, not only necessary, but popular. And
I think it`s, you know, a political plus for Democrats just to do it
through reconciliation, do it only with Democratic votes plus Kamala Harris
in the senate if you need to but get it done. That`s the most important
thing. And I think they`re determined to do that.
O`DONNELL: It sounds like that is the way it`s going to go.
Let`s listen to what the vice president had to say to House Democrats
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: We continue to remind the American people of how important it is to
mask up -- yes, real leaders agree, people still need to mask up and stay
And I guess the point that I`m making on that, given the news we heard
today is the significance of you as national leaders. You represent your
constituents in your district, but you also represent the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Dr. Davidson, there`s such a striking difference between
Democrats and Republicans on this. Democrats like the vice president, who
is part of delivering the vaccine to people that is going to save their
lives, is still telling them to mask up.
And Republican -- we see these Republican governors seem to believe that
the political profit for them, the first political profit they can get is
by being the first person to tell people to take their masks off.
DR. DAVIDSON: Yes. I mean we just need to get the politics out of this. And
we have played this game before. We`ve played this game all last year and
half a million people are now dead from this.
So, you know, we`ve got to get these folks away from these short-term
political wins, where they think that`s going to make their constituents
happy and they have to listen to the science.
You know, if a cancer patient is in the hospital and their oncologist tells
them the scans look good, we`ve got a few more months left and we can
really nip this thing. They don`t rip the IV out and run out of the
hospital. They stay through the treatment. They get it done. And this is
what we have to do.
I just hope these governors come around eventually and maybe they`ll get
some calls from some other governors or the president and urge them to do
what is right.
O`DONNELL: Doctor Rob Davidson, thank you for all the work you`ve been --
go ahead, Gene. Go ahead.
ROBINSON: Lawrence, I just wanted to point out. Texas is the second most
populous state in the nation. So what happens in Texas does not stay in
Texas, cannot possibly stay in Texas. So it does affect the rest of us who
are trying to do the right thing.
O`DONNELL: Very good point. I`m glad you got that in there.
Eugene Robinson, Dr. Rob Davidson -- thank you both for joining us tonight.
That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
And I want to join Rachel in saying "thank you" for making MSNBC the most
watched network in all of cable TV.
And the most watched 11:00 p.m. cable news show, "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN
WILLIAMS" starts now.
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