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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/2/2021

Guest: Amy Klobuchar, Matt Flegenheimer, Rob Davidson�


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.



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

amazing achievement.

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.

MADDOW: Good-bye.

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.


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

state, certainly.

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

President Trump`s?

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.


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.


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.


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

Trump vote.

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.


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?


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.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Do you still use methods like gang tattoos to

identify who belongs to MS-13?


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.


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

enforcement portal.

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?


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

about him?

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

coordinated effort.

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?


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

God`s grace.

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.


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

the books?

ARIZONA GOP LAWYER MICHAEL CARVIN: Because it puts us at a competitive

disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game.


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.


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.


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

appreciate it.

Thank you.

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.


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.


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.


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

come in.

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.


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.

That`s next.


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.


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.


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-

imposed rules.

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.


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.


O`DONNELL: After a quick break, we will be joined by Dr. Rob Davidson and

Eugene Robinson.




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.


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.


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

President Biden.

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



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.


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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