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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/31/21

Guests: Pete Buttigieg, Jim Clyburn, Stacey Plaskett, Dolores Huerta

Summary

President Biden unveils his $2 trillion infrastructure plan today. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is interviewed. House Majority Whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is interviewed. Two Capitol police officers are suing Donald Trump personally and directly for injuries they say they suffered at the hands of the Trump mob during the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Today is day three of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.

The strange standards of Republicans in the House of Representatives and what it takes to change anything there.

Rachel, we are joined tonight by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and he, of course, is the point person in dealing with the Congress on getting this, what I thought, what I thought an hour ago, was a giant infrastructure bill passed biggest one in history.

And then I watch Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with you say it`s not big enough. And I worked on the infrastructure committee in the Senate, the Environmental Public Works Committee before the Finance Committee. So these are big numbers to me and I waited with suspense as she rolled out what that number should be, and she thinks Joe Biden`s $2 trillion should be $10 trillion, and we`ll find out where Pete Buttigieg thinks the compromise point is between those two.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yeah, I mean, she is basically saying, if we spent $2 trillion on the COVID relief bill, and most of that is to be spent in a year, what we need to spend on infrastructure and climate and the other things this bill is supposed to be tackling is about half that, about $1 trillion per year for ten years. And that`s the kind of investment it will take to get done what Biden is saying his goals are.

And if that`s going to be where she and her progressive colleagues put the goalpost, I can`t wait to watch this go through Congress it`s going to be fascinating.

O`DONNELL: She made a serious case for it we will see what Secretary Buttigieg says about that.

Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Indeed, well done. Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, today, President Joe Biden went to the city with the most bridges in the entire world. No, not Venice, Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has three more bridges than Venice for a world record 446 bridges. That is where Joe Biden decided to start infrastructure week on this Wednesday, the first of several infrastructure weeks to come, as he tries to pass the single biggest infrastructure bill in American history.

President Biden will be sending Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to testify to Congress about the legislation and to work on the details that will help get it passed. Secretary Buttigieg will join us in a moment.

After he was introduced today by Mike Fiore, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, President Biden made it very clear who this bill is designed to help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mike, you`re a union guy. Me, too. I got in trouble, but I don`t make any apologies for it. I`m a union guy.

I support unions. Unions built the middle class. It`s about time they start to get a piece of the action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joe Biden seems to have something of a magic touch these days with policy polling. His American Rescue Plan received massive bipartisan support from voters, and now his infrastructure plan chose the most surprising polling result that we`ve ever seen.

The plan gets just 27 percent support when just the infrastructure spending is mentioned, but that support skyrockets to 54 percent when the polling question includes the tax increases that Joe Biden wants to use to pay for the infrastructure, an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 percent that Donald Trump -- from the 21 percent that Donald Trump had reduced to up to 28 percent. That increase is still less than what the corporate tax rate was before the Trump tax cut.

Before the Trump`s tax cut, the corporate tax rate was 35 percent. I for one never remember seeing tax increases increase the popularity of anything. Today, Joe Biden promised that the benefits of this infrastructure plan will be felt all across America

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: There is talent, innovation everywhere and this plan connects that talent through cities, small towns, rural communities, through our businesses and our universities, through our entrepreneurs, union workers all across America. We have to move now, because I`m convinced that if we act now, in 50 years, people are going to look back and say, this was the moment that America won the future

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And in the city with the most bridges in the whole world, Joe Biden, of course, emphasized bridges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: It will fix the nation`s ten most economically significant bridges in America that require replacement. Remember that bridge that went down, we got ten most economically significant bridges with more commerce going across it that need to be replaced. We`ll also repair 10,000 bridges desperately needed upgrades to unclog traffic, keep people safe and connect our cities, towns, and tribes across the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Leading off our discussion on this infrastructure week, starting on a Wednesday, is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mr. Secretary.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Thanks for having me on. Great to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Let`s start with bridges.

And I have one to suggest to you. Joe Biden said today that there is going to be this top 10 bridges. It`s going to be a competition, actually. The states are going to have to apply to say, this is a crucially important bridge, as defined by Joe Biden, and we will see who gets the funding for those most important 10 bridges.

You might want think about the Brent Spence Bridge, which I think, as you know, connects Kentucky with Cincinnati, Ohio; Covington, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kentucky, of course, the home state of a senator named McConnell, Ohio the home state of a senator named Portman, and maybe, maybe you can soften up Republican resistance to this bill if that bridge is on the list.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I can tell you I have gotten an earful about the importance of that bridge from folks on both sides of the aisle. I just heard from Senator Brown about that and spoke to Governor Beshear today.

And this is an example of the massive infrastructure needs we have in the country. So, if we get this bill passed, this is certainly an example of a project that should apply for that support.

And I do want to emphasize, as the president did, that, in addition to these 10 bridges of major economic significance that we got to take care of, there is also a proposal for funding to deal with thousands of bridges that we know need support, many of them in places like where I come from in Indiana, and really every part of this country.

And whether we are talking about bridges or roads and highways, whether we are talking about ports or airports, rail or transit, we know that there is a demonstrated need in this country to do a lot, to go big. And that`s what this plan does.

For once, it really is infrastructure week. And I think we are going to open up an infrastructure season that will make for a better life in this country, if Congress is prepared to follow the president`s lead and deliver on this important priority.

O`DONNELL: You personally are going to end up spending a lot of time in the Senate and the House testifying about this bill.

Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the tax pieces. And, in the Senate, the infrastructure committee is actually called the Environment and Public Works Committee. And I was the staff director of that committee before Finance.

And what was always odd about it in those days is that we had environmental staffers over on one section of the office, and we had public works staffers on another section of the office, and they never talked to each other, because the two things never had anything to do with each other.

And finally, it seems to me, in the legislation you have drafted, the very title of that committee finally makes sense, environment and public works. When I see the elements of this infrastructure bill that normally would be handled by the infrastructure team, the environmental team up there is going to be very interested in these pieces also.

BUTTIGIEG: That`s right. This package recognizes that the two can`t be separated from each other.

Look, the truth is, every infrastructure decision we make is also an environmental decision. Now, transportation is the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in the economy, which, to me, means we get to be the biggest part of the solution.

But that means that every transportation choice is a choice about our climate future. And the best thing about this is that this is where we get to prove out what the president has been insisting on, which is that the time has come to break the old false choice of climate vs. jobs.

This is job creation through good infrastructure investments that are also going to be good for the climate. They go hand in hand. And it`s time we recognize that in our policy.

O`DONNELL: So, the president is charging you with getting through a $2 trillion -- no, wait a minute. It`s more than that. This bill is now -- at what level is it now, Mr. Secretary, in funding?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, it`s north of $2 trillion now, including $621 billion specifically for transportation infrastructure that will be my focus.

O`DONNELL: Right.

BUTTIGIEG: And not to get too technical...

O`DONNELL: Right. And...

BUTTIGIEG: ... but I want to mention that that`s sitting on top of the kind of regular process for more routine transportation work that we have got to do in Congress.

O`DONNELL: OK. So, you`re at $2 trillion, numbers we never dealt with in the Senate when I was there.

And I -- in the previous hour, I just heard Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tells Rachel where she thinks this number should be.

So, fasten your seat belt, and let`s listen to what number she thinks you should be working on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): What we think is the actual investment that can create tens of millions of good union jobs in this country, that can shore up our health care, our infrastructure, our housing, and doing it in a way that draws down our carbon emissions to help us get in line with the IPCC standards, we`re talking about, realistically, $10 trillion over 10 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And, Mr. Secretary, I urge you to watch the rerun of that show, if you haven`t seen it already, to listen to the full case that she makes about this, because she does make a serious case.

What`s your response to that?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, we are talking about the biggest jobs package in America since World War II. And this is truly a generational investment and a transformative investment.

But I`m certainly glad to hear that there`s a shared appetite for going big, because this is not a moment that we can approach in a routine kind of way.

This is a moment that I believe calls to mind those moments when America had a choice to make, most recently, probably when we had the interstate highway system under Eisenhower, if you want to go back to one before that, probably the moment of the Transcontinental Railroad under Lincoln, and before that, even, the Erie Canal, which sounded like a pie-in-the-sky idea at the time, and wound up actually being one of the decisions, an infrastructure decision, that actually helped make the United States into truly one country.

That`s the kind of moment in front of us. And, look, the president laid out a clear vision and a big vision, but is open to hearing ideas from every corner of our party, and the other party too, if they have good ideas they want to bring to the table.

O`DONNELL: Secretary Buttigieg, you would have instantly won over the former chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, when I was working there, simply with the reference to the Erie Canal.

That would have locked up his vote for anything you want.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, thank you very much for starting off infrastructure week with us. We really appreciate it.

BUTTIGIEG: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

An important programming note, Secretary Buttigieg will be cross-examined tomorrow morning by Stephanie Ruhle right here on MSNBC at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. I will be watching. You should, too.

And coming up, if you like having Pete Buttigieg as secretary of transportation and Joe Biden as president of the United States, you can thank our next guest whose endorsement in the presidential campaign took Joe Biden from loser to winner literally overnight. And while he was at it, Congressman Jim Clyburn got Joe Biden to promise to appoint a black woman to the United States Supreme Court.

The Honorable James Clyburn joins us next with his reaction to Joe Biden`s new nominations for federal judges, his reaction to witness testimony about the murder of George Floyd, and new lawsuits by Capitol police officers who are suing Donald Trump for injuries they suffered in the attack on the Capitol. That next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I`m looking forward to making sure that there is a black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure that in fact we get every --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Yesterday, President Biden announced his first 11 nominations for federal judgeships. Joe Biden is now in the position to fill the next vacancy on the Supreme Court, thanks to our next guest, Jim Clyburn.

Joe Biden did not just lose. He lost badly in the caucuses and primaries leading up to the South Carolina primary. Without Congressman Jim Clyburn`s endorsement in South Carolina, we don`t know who would be president of the United States tonight.

Jim Clyburn knew that squeaking out a win in South Carolina would not be good enough for the Biden campaign. It would have to be a huge win, a win that would make everyone think Joe Biden was strong enough to keep winning primaries after South Carolina. The story of the Biden win in South Carolina is told in detail in the new book "Lucky" by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.

According to the book, Jim Clyburn believed that the key to a huge win in South Carolina for Joe Biden was not just the Clyburn endorsement, but also the promise to appoint the first black woman to the United States Supreme Court.

Quote, Clyburn believed, and there was good evidence to support his view, that a Supreme Court justice was worth a lot more to the black community than a vice president. VPs come and go, Clyburn thought. Al Gore was vice president, where is he now? But a Supreme Court seat, that`s for life.

Jim Clyburn wanted Joe Biden to make that announcement during the South Carolina debate. The Biden campaign staff opposed that idea because, quote, it wasn`t the kind of thing he should just throw out there on a debate page. Besides, it might look like he was pandering and backfire. Biden was torn.

Jim Clyburn grew increasingly frustrated during the debate when Joe Biden repeatedly passed up perfect opportunities to make the announcement then at the final commercial break, Jim Clyburn rushed backstage. Quote, Pete Buttigieg approached to greet the most powerful Democrat in South Carolina politics. Clyburn brushed Mayor Pete aside. His eyes darted around and he finally found Biden. They huddled together out of earshot of the other candidates.

There wasn`t much time until Biden had to be back on stage for the final segment of the debate. You`ve had a couple of opportunities to mention naming a black woman to the Supreme Court, Clyburn lectured his friend of nearly half a century, like a schoolteacher scolding a child. I`m telling you, don`t you leave the stage tonight without making it known that you will do that.

And in Joe Biden`s final statement of the night, he promised to a point a black woman to the United States Supreme Court, and the rest is history, and history that is still being made.

Joining us is House Majority whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thank you very much for having me.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to the issues of judges that the president now faces. He is already on a pace that is faster than the Trump pace of appointments and the Trump pace turned out to be very fast. There`s a lot of ground to catch up in the federal bench.

What is your reaction to that, first 11 appointees, nominees that the president has advanced?

CLYBURN: I was ecstatic. Great appointments, they are outstanding people. I believe very strongly that Joe Biden made a commitment and he is keeping it.

He made it very clear on the night that he was declared the winner, he said to everybody, especially to the black community, you have always had my back, and I will have yours.

And one of the best ways to have their backs of the black community in this country is to have a Supreme Court that is diversified, have a judiciary that is diversified with the backgrounds of experiences, not just when it comes to gender and race, but also the background and the experiences that are necessary to allow you to stand in judgment over people and do right by them. And I think that he has a great crop to pick from.

O`DONNELL: The -- Justice Breyer is the most likely Supreme Court justice to give up his seat possibly this year at the end of the Supreme Court term this summer, to open up a seat for Joe Biden to get someone confirmed.

Does this slate of judges give you a hint as to who he will select? We know, he has already said, that it will be a black woman, but do you have any sense of who that would be?

CLYBURN: No, I don`t. I have been reading all the speculations. As many people know, I have put forth a name that`s not among the ones that were named a few days ago. The ones he named are good people. I put forth another name, and I think Michelle Giles is a great justice and a great judge and would make an outstanding justice.

So he has a big reservoir of people to pick from, and I`m sure he will do it and do it in a way that all of us would be pleased.

O`DONNELL: Judge Giles is a federal judge now, appointed by President Obama. There is something unusual about her for the makeup of the current Supreme Court, and that is that she did not go to either Harvard or Yale Law School. Eight of the nine justices went to Harvard or Yale Law School. Six of them were former Supreme Court clerks who are frequently taken from schools like Harvard and Yale.

Do you think there is there is something there that needs to be changed? Is there something in that that has now narrowed this process down to too small a group?

CLYBURN: Well, I made it very clear, I don`t think people -- as you know, back behind me is my book "Blessed Experiences." And I say in that book that we can never be in a more (INAUDIBLE) than what our experiences allow us to be.

And I do believe that having a diverse background of experiences, I think serves you well. And so, I don`t have anything against people who went to the Ivy League schools, I just believe that it would be a mistake to determine all others unqualified or unworthy.

O`DONNELL: As we are watching the George -- the trial of the murder of George Floyd today, the Justice and Policing Act that the House has considered becomes all the more vivid because there is a provision in that act that would change the standard of proof for criminal conduct in federal cases from willfulness to recklessness. And that is a very important distinction because willfulness requires you to get into the brain of the police officer and know what his or her intent was, whereas recklessness is something you can see with your own eye.

And I think everyone in that courtroom agrees that when the conduct on that street was reckless, but the criminal standards and proof frequently require more than reckless. So it seems like this change to federal law would be very, very important in these kinds of prosecutions in the future

CLYBURN: Absolutely, absolutely. But there were two things that took place on that street that I think points out how important this is. The other thing was this: two people, at least two people called the police on the police.

Now, if they were against policing, why would they call the police? That tells you they were calling, please, send out a good police officer because we got a bad officer out here that needs to be brought in to chat. So, to me, I think that the two stories being told in this trial, and one is that there is no anti-policing among black people. They reached out to the police for someone to come to their aid and come to the aid of this man whose life was being snuffed out by a bad police officer.

We love good policemen and we loathe bad policemen.

O`DONNEL: We are constantly learning new information about the attack on the Capitol through the criminal investigations and the filings of prosecutors. We are now learning new information from civil lawsuits, and there are two new lawsuits brought by Capitol police officers against Donald Trump personally suing him personally for the injuries that they suffered that they say in their lawsuits were caused by him and his provocation of that insurrection.

I want to read you one passage from Officer Blassingame`s lawsuit describing what he endured, in addition to physical injuries. It says: For the first time in his life, people were yelling into his face, calling him the N-word repeatedly and throughout the attack, he lost count of how many times the racial slur was hurled at him.

This is part of his under oath pleadings in this lawsuit that he`s already filed.

What is your reaction to that?

CLYBURN: Well, when I first heard about that, it was a long time before the lawsuit and I know the kind of feeling he had. I came to work for a Southern governor back in 1971, and I have been a part of South Carolina government ever since, and there are really good people in government, but there are some people who should not be in government.

There are good people who carry out protests all the time, but among that crowd were some bad people, some of whom were police officers and they were being egged on by the chief, the commander in chief, who, himself, said things that demonstrated that he was not good for the country and it`s time for this country to cleanse itself of him and all others like him.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Clyburn, before you go, the voting rights legislation that has passed the House, that is now being considered in the Senate as Senate Bill number 1. They have given it that honor of being number 1, meaning it`s the most important.

We know it`s going to run into the 60-vote procedural threshold in the Senate and we know there is no way it can get past that unless something is done about that rule.

Have you had any assurance from Joe Biden that President Biden and Chuck Schumer in the Senate have an agreement among Democrats that they are going to be able to adjust that rule for this legislation to get past it?

CLYBURN: I don`t have any assurance. No, I don`t. But I am prayerfully hopeful that we will not allow civil and voting rights to be sacrificed on the altar of filibusters. That should not be allowed. People can filibuster, extend debate, you know this business real well, and that`s what the filibuster was all about. To extend debate, it gives someone time to round up support for their issues.

That`s not what`s happening in filibusters. They are now using them to deny voting rights, deny civil rights. We cannot allow the constitutional rights of our citizens to be sacrificed on the altar of filibusters.

O`DONNELL: The Honorable Jim Clyburn, thank you very much for joining us tonight. It is always an honor to have you here.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you

Coming up, how many hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuit claims will Donald Trump personally be facing from Capitol police officers and others who were injured in the attack on the Capitol?

Stacey Plaskett served as an impeachment manager in the Senate trial of Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection and she will join us next

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: These are the lawsuits that I have been waiting for. And I expect many more to come from Capitol police officers and others who were injured on January 6th. Two Capitol police officers are suing Donald Trump personally and directly for injuries they say they suffered at the hands of the Trump mob during the January 6th attack on the Capitol. In a lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. last night, Officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby say that Donald Trump is personally liable for their injuries because he incited the Trump mob to attack the Capitol.

The officers are each seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages from Donald Trump. Real money and there is no dollar limit on the punitive damages a Washington, D.C. jury could force Donald Trump to pay to these police officers.

Officer Sidney Hemby`s lawsuit describes how he was attacked by the Trump mob on January 6th quote, "Officer Hemby was crushed against the doors on the east side trying to hold the insurrectionists back. Over and over he tried to tell the insurrectionists that the doors opened outward and that pressing him into the door would do no good. But the insurrectionists continued to scream -- fight for Trump, stop the steal, and various other slogans as they struck him with their fists and whatever they had in their hands.

Officer Hemby was attacked relentlessly. he was bleeding from a cut located less than an inch from his eye. He had cuts and abrasions on his face and hands and his body was pinned against a large metal door, fending off attacks."

Officer James Blassingame`s lawsuit describes the violent attack on Officer Blassingame as the racist Trump mob repeatedly hurled the N word at him.

Quote, "For the first time in his life, people were yelling into his face, calling him the N word repeatedly and throughout the attack during -- he lost count of how many times the racial slur was hurled at him. The insurrectionists struck Officer Blassingame in his face, head, chest, arms and what felt like every part of his body.

Insurrectionists used their fists and had weapons that ranged from flagpoles to stanchions and building directional signs, water bottles and other objects he could not identify. The threats and attacks on Officer Blassingame seemed endless."

And joining us now is Stacey Plaskett who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands in the House of Representatives. She served as a House impeachment manager in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol.

And I assume that they will be using some of the evidence that you presented in the Senate impeachment trial in their cases against Donald Trump.

REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI): Well, I am hopeful that they will use it. Part of our discussion and our strategy was to use what we believed at the time to be the most impactful, using demonstrative evidence that is now in the public record, part of the congressional record in the senate that can be used by whomever in future litigation against the former president.

O`DONNELL: And in your legal experience, your work as a lawyer, this reads -- correct me if I`m wrong -- but this reads like a pretty standard lawsuit for injuries suffered because of the recklessness of another person.

PLASKETT: Yes, it does. And I believe both he and Officer Hemby continue to have ongoing physical as well as real emotional trauma that they are facing, along with countless other officers who were there fighting for hours to protect the Capitol and to protect our democracy.

I met several weeks ago with Metropolitan Police Officer Fanone (ph), who you may recall was prodded with tasers until he had a heart attack.

And so we are going to continue to see these cases. Of course, the issue will be showing the nexus and the fact that the president, in fact, caused this. We believe that that`s clearly demonstrated -- you can demonstrate that.

And I`m sure over time they will have the ability to subpoena, to call witnesses, to do depositions over a protracted period of time. And we believe that they will find even more evidence than was available to us at the time of the impeachment trial.

O`DONNELL: A jury`s job in a civil case is to assign a dollar value to, in this case, human suffering, and they can use compensatory damages to compensate you for that suffering they can use punitive damages to punish the person who inflicted that suffering on you.

What do you think a Washington, D.C. jury is going to feel when they hear this testimony about this officer being subjected to the N word thrown in his face all day, first time in his life he went through anything like that. When they take that evidence into their deliberations about -- how do you compensate for that? How do you punish for that with money?

PLASKETT: That is going to be the millions of dollar question that I`m sure will be posed to that jury and we will see. You know, I believe, as you said, Lawrence, that there will continually be cases like this as officers are coping and coming to grips with the trauma that they face, officers who were only doing their duty, who were there to protect our democracy.

And the injury that the former president exacted on them as individuals and on us as a people has to be punished. And you know, as we say in the Virgin Islands, "ja don`t sleep" and so he is going to get his in the end, I believe.

O`DONNELL: Representative Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

PLASKETT: Thank you

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, on day three of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, someone finally admitted guilt. And one witness` most powerful testimony was delivered without words. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today after three days of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin accused of the murder of George Floyd and after hearing from 12 witnesses, the jury finally heard someone admit guilt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw you standing there with your hands on your head for a while, correct?

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, WITNESS: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was going through your mind during that time period?

MARTIN: Disbelief and guilt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why guilt?

MARTIN: If I would have just not taken the bill this could have been avoided.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Christopher Martin was an 18-year-old cashier at the store where George Floyd handed him a $20 bill that Christopher Martin suspected was counterfeit. Christopher Martin now wishes he had just handed that bill back to George Floyd and this could have been avoided.

Those were his words today "this could have been avoided". This could have been avoided if Derek Chauvin took his knee off George Floyd`s neck or if he never put his knee on George Floyd`s neck. This could have been avoided.

Christopher Martin told his boss that he thought it was a counterfeit $20 and his boss sent him out to find George Floyd and bring him back into the store. And 18-year-old Christopher Martin without a trace of fear walked out to the street, walked up to George Floyd`s car, but couldn`t convince George Floyd to come back into the store.

Christopher Martin went back into the store and his boss sent him out to do that again. And Christopher Martin walked out there once again with absolutely no fear of George Floyd.

Christopher Martin testified that he and George Floyd had a pleasant exchange about baseball and football at the store. He testified that it seemed George Floyd was high when he was buying cigarettes in the store.

The defense is going to want the jury to believe that George Floyd was a menacing, dangerous man. George Floyd towered over Christopher Martin and was -- and probably weighed twice as much as Christopher Martin, but Christopher Martin was never afraid of George Floyd.

The courtroom filled with anguish again today from witnesses who knew this could have been avoided and like Christopher Martin wish they had done something different.

Yesterday we heard Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old at the time say that she lies awake at night now wishing that she had done more than just make a video recording of every minute of Derek Chauvin`s knee on George Floyd`s neck.

Darnella Frazier testified that she wishes she had done something physical to intervene, to try to pull those police officers off George Floyd, but no one did that, including Donald Williams, who is a mixed martial arts fighter and who very easily probably could have overwhelmed one or more of those police officers if they didn`t have those loaded guns on their belts.

The witnesses used nothing but their voices to try to stop what they believed was the murder of George Floyd because they knew for an absolute certainty that if they tried anything more than that, they would instantly be shot and killed by those fully loaded police weapons.

Those police guns killed George Floyd along with Derek Chauvin`s knee because without those guns, the witnesses at the scene would have taken over that scene and done the right thing and saved George Floyd`s life.

Emergency medical technician Genevieve Hanson regrets that she didn`t intervene to keep George Floyd alive. We saw her shed a tear about that on the witness stand yesterday.

Today, another eyewitness, Charles McMillian was asked to verify his voice on some of the video, including police body cam video that he was seeing for the very first time in the courtroom today. And after seeing that body cam video where George Floyd can be heard saying "I can`t breathe", the most powerful testimony Charles McMillian delivered to the jury today contained no words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. McMillian, do you need a minute?

CHARLES MCMILLIAN, WITNESS: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ll just give you a moment, Mr. McMillian. I`m not sure if there is water, as well. If you need a break to get some water, let me know we`ll take a break.

May I approach, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MCMILLIAN: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In 2014 President Obama proclaimed Cesar Chavez`s birthday March 31, Cesar Chavez Day. He would be 94 years old if he were still with us. Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers with our next guest Dolores Huerta in California in 1962.

Today on Cesar Chavez Day First Lady Jill Biden traveled to the Central Valley of California to visit the first headquarters of the United Farm Workers which has become a vaccination site for farm workers in California.

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JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: As president, Joe is fighting for those who often go unseen. He believes that our work must be guided by justice and humanity. And that`s exactly the kind of immigration policy he`s working to build. One that treats children and families with dignity and creates fair pathways to citizen ship including essential workers.

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O`DONNELL: Joining us now Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Dolores, it`s great to see you again. I hope you can hear me. What was it like to be with Jill Biden today?

DOLERS HUERTA, CO-FOUNDER, UNITED FARM WORKERS: It was wonderful. She carried a very strong message and having somebody from the White House like her come to Delano, California to be there with the farm workers and that they were getting vaccinated.

It sends a strong message throughout the United States of America that we need to make sure that our farm workers are protected. And I just want to add that in Florida right now they have decided not to vaccinate the farm workers unless they have ID. And we know many farm worker are undocumented. They don`t have identification. And the farm workers from Florida are going to go to Georgia, Louisiana, the Carolinas and other places so they need to get -- they need to let them get vaccinated. So it was wonderful having her.

And not only that but having Dr. Jill Biden because again we`re ending women`s history month and having a strong woman like her to give a beautiful, beautiful speech. Of course, Governor Gavin Newsom was there with us today and Congressman Jim Costa.

But ending women`s history month -- I just want to remind everybody that we have to pass the equal rights amendment. And we know that that is now also in the senate. And I just want to, if you don`t mind, Lawrence, I want to just shoutout the Web site for the equal rights amendment is ERAYES2021.org. ERAYES2021.org.

O`DONNELL: I`m so glad you mentioned that because that`s one of the crusades you`ve been with for decades that started in the 1970s. It looked like it would make it early on and then it ran into trouble, but it is still a viable constitutional amendment.

What did you see today and what did you tell the first lady about today that you want her to bring back to the president?

HUERTA: Well, we know we did talk about the ERA but also we talked about the Farm Worker Bill, the Farm Worker Modernization Bill which is also now in the Senate and immigration reform and this is something that when we think about our farm workers, they put the food on our table every day.

Let`s thank them by giving them legalization in this country because they have been very adversely affected, as you know, by the pandemic. They didn`t get the masks that they needed, the PPE and many of them, of course, got COVID. Many of them have died. So it`s time to protect the people that nourish us every single day by making sure that they are respected and they get the resources that they need, not only a living wage but the right to organize into a union. And for those that are not yet documented, that they are able to get that legal status that they need.

O`DONNELL: Dolores, you`re sharing the screen right now with a farm worker. We like to show that video when you`re here, when you were here last time because it`s one thing to talk about how hard this work is, it`s another thing to see it, to actually watch it in that California sun -- how endless and repetitive and difficult that work is.

HUERTA: Yes, you have to have a lot of physical stamina to be a farm worker. You have to be very athletic to be able to do that work. You can see, (INAUDIBLE) what should they pick, and again and again, those -- I think they`re picking lettuce right there but whatever it is they are picking, that`s going to be on our dinner table.

And not only here in the United States but the food here from the (INAUDIBLE) Valley that goes throughout the world.

So please, everybody, remember when you sit down to eat your dinner, kind of think and give a little grateful thought to the farm workers and keep praying for them that they will -- be respected the way that they should be.

O`DONNELL: Dolores Huerta, thank you very for much for joining us again tonight. It is always an honor to have you with us. I always look forward to it and really appreciate it. Thank you.

HUERTA: Thank you very much, Lawrence, though. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you.

Dolores Huerta, my hero, gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.