The Senate has now passed the biggest deal any Democratic president
has ever made with Congress. Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of
Washington and Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania are
interviewed. Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta has
hired a new special prosecutor with experience in racketeering
investigations. The top Democrat in the New York state Senate, Andrea
Stewart-Cousins, is now calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to
resign. The legendary Dolores Huerta is now 90 years old. She is in
American history books for much of the work that she has never stopped
doing for people all over this country who need her help.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And it is -- it is great to see you do these interviews because you really
are now seriously able to cover the ground that you were never able to
cover last year.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yeah, and it`s -- I mean, I don`t know what
exactly what the worry would have been from the Trump administration about
letting senior doctors come on a show that was hosted by somebody who they
think is a terrible person. There`s no harm that Dr. Fauci would have done
to the Trump administration by being -- answering questions from me or from
you while they were still here.
So I don`t know what petty thing was driving that, but it is such a relief
to be able to ask questions directly of the policymakers at the heart of
these things and get real answers. It just feels like we`re finally doing -
- finally doing the real work.
O`DONNELL: Well, of course, there was the constant pretending that COVID-
19 either wasn`t so bad or was getting much better every day when it was
getting much worse, so there was just that madness about Trump world and
the Trump White House, and what is odd about it, I agree with you, is that
Dr. Fauci was allowed to do certain shows at certain times where perfectly
reasonable questions were asked.
MADDOW: Uh-huh. Exactly right. I mean, I do feel like the further we get
from the Trump administration, particularly on COVID stuff, not only are we
realizing that there`s just basic things they didn`t do, like plan to roll
out vaccines. They just didn`t make a plan for that.
But some of the stuff they did do was really, really random and
inexplicable and petty. And it wasn`t even systemically bad or systemically
negligent all in one way, it was just a Jackson Pollock spatter painting of
random bad ideas mixed in with things that made no sense. And to have both
coherence and competence and transparency at the same time, I do sort of
feel like I don`t quite know -- I don`t know what to do with myself.
O`DONNELL: Rachel, thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
We have a very special guest joining us tonight. She is already in your
history books. She is in American history books.
In her 90 years, Dolores Huerta has been involved in several chapters of
our history. She cofounded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in
1962. She was on stage with Cesar Chavez in the ballroom of the Ambassador
Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4th, 1968, when Bobby Kennedy had just won
California`s Democratic presidential primary and was probably on his way to
the Democratic nomination, and it was that night when Bobby Kennedy stepped
off that stage that he was assassinated.
Dolores Huerta has witnessed history and is a maker of history, and she
will join us this hour and get tonight`s LAST WORD.
We begin tonight with a very big deal. And I cleaned that up from the
original Biden which was whispered to Barack Obama on the day President
Obama signed the Affordable Care Act at the White House.
When Joe Biden thought no one could hear him, but because of microphone
sensitivity, the world could hear him, he said to his friend, this is a big
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen,
the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: This is a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Senate has now passed the biggest deal any Democratic
president has ever made with Congress. The Biden COVID relief bill is the
single biggest spending bill in history that a Democratic president has
been able to pass in a Democratic House, in a Democratic Senate. This is
the single biggest increase in anti-poverty spending in American history.
You have a $1,400 relief check coming to you. That number was never
compromised in the legislative process. You also have thousands more
dollars coming to you if you have kids, $3,000 for each child. So if you`re
a mother of two at home tonight, you`re guaranteed $7,400 from this
legislation and more if you are receiving unemployment benefits.
And if you`re worrying about when you and your family are going to get
vaccinated against the COVID-19, the Biden COVID relief bill is going to
speed up the day when we will all be vaccinated in this country.
Here`s what the president had to say when the bill passed the Senate on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It obviously wasn`t easy. It wasn`t always pretty, but it was so
desperately needed, urgently needed.
When I was elected, I said we`re going to get the government out of the
business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for
the American people, of making a difference in their lives, giving everyone
a chance, a fighting chance of showing the American people that their
government can work for them, and passing the American rescue plan will do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: As always happens when legislation moves from the House to the
Senate, members who voted for it worry about how much the Senate might
change and in what ways the Senate might weaken the legislation. Members of
the House Progressive Caucus kept publicly in effect, lobbying the Senate
to preserve the most important elements of the bill, the progressive
elements of the bill.
And after the Senate passed the bill, our first guest tonight,
Congressional Progressive Caucus chair, Pramila Jayapal, said, importantly,
despite the fact that we believe any weakening of the House provisions were
bad policy and bad politics, the reality is that the final amendments were
relatively minor concessions. The American Rescue Plan has retained his
core -- bold progressive elements originally proposed by President Joe
Biden and passed in the House relief package.
President Biden promised to deliver 1 million vaccinations per day in the
first 100 days, and he`s now delivering an average of 2.2 million
vaccinations per day, and on Saturday, hit a record high of 2.9
vaccinations in one day.
In the last weeks, coronavirus cases have fallen 12 percent. The number of
coronavirus deaths is down 10 percent and the number of hospitalizations
for coronavirus has fallen 25 percent day.
And today, the CDC has issued new guidance to the 31 million fully
vaccinated Americans saying that they can now visit with other fully
vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing and
visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk
for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical
Even if everyone at the White House bill signing of the Biden COVID relief
bill is fully vaccinated, we can expect the Biden White House to still
require wearing masks and safely distancing.
Leading off our discussion tonight, Democratic Congresswoman Pramila
Jayapal of Washington. She is the chair of the Congressional Progressive
Caucus. And Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, she is
a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Let me begin with the chair tonight.
I`m presuming in everything I just said that this bill being sent back to
the House will pass the House in the form the Senate has sent it to the
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I believe that to be the case. Obviously,
every member makes the decision at the very last minute sometimes, but from
my conversations, I think people understand that this is a bill that does
what we said we would do. It puts money in people`s pockets.
Top priorities for the Progressive Caucus -- those survival checks, the
unemployment insurance benefits, the child tax credit. Those are critically
important pieces for us. And in addition, it crushes the virus, which is
the other piece that is inextricably linked with how we are going to get
out of the crises that we face.
So we are excited. We had to put a lot of pressure on, as you said,
Lawrence, to make sure that it didn`t get weakened more, and had it been
weakened more, well, we would have had a different decision.
But we are going to see how government delivers for people and how
government is truly the great equalizer of opportunity in the moments of
the most desperate crisis.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Dean, what are the main points of this
legislation that you want to tell your constituents about?
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Thanks for having me on, and it`s a delight to
be on with the Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal. I serve with her also on
Judiciary. And it`s International Women`s Day.
So, I am excited, alongside Pramila because my constituents are excited. I
am hearing from them and have been hearing from them. They want the
vaccine. They want shots in arms. They need those survival checks. They
need the enhanced and inclusive federal unemployment checks.
We have in there $25 billion for restaurants. Some of the hardest folks hit
are the restaurant and hospitality industry. We need children in schools.
And I really do want to point out the notion that this is International
Women`s Day. What`s going on right now in terms of how hard hit women are
in particular with 200 million women unemployed as a result of this
pandemic recession, and so many torn between family and trying to help
their children in schools virtually and elsewhere, this will lift families
out of poverty.
This will lift children. It will cut child poverty by half. This will
decrease hunger. And you notice I won`t say food insecurity, because
children are hungry. Adults are hungry.
It`s a very exciting time, and I really compliment Pramila on her
extraordinary campaign, a dogged campaign to keep this progressive measure
moving forward. I look forward to voting yes.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Jayapal, in the history of anti-poverty
legislation in the Congress, the opposition to it has always been an
opposition to giving people money. Frequently, the opposition would take
the form of trying to amend the legislation to provide something other than
money. Money seemed to be the thing that many in government were most
reluctant to give to the people who needed it most.
And what struck me about the movement of this legislation so far is that
there has been so little of that particular kind of rhetorical opposition
to this. Republicans might be saying the bill costs too much or that we
don`t need it. But the argument that this money will be abused by people if
they get it seems to have been simply not just a losing argument, but it
seems to have been now lost from this debate.
JAYAPAL: I think that`s right, Lawrence, and I think a lot of it is credit
to our progressive movement across the country. Madeleine, our members, but
also the movement across the country that has been, you know, beating the
drum on the dire crisis that is happening.
The food lines that stretch around blocks. Things that people haven`t seen,
frankly, in their lifetimes, many who were not around for the Great
Depression. I think the idea that people are struggling in this way, and at
the same time, let me say, the countervailing force for us of billionaires
who have made $1.2 trillion just in the last year, that contrast, I think,
really put that argument to bed.
And I think the reality is the crisis combined with the fact that everyone
in Republican and Democratic districts has people who are suffering. What
Madeleine talked about is exactly right. People across the country are
talking about how they need relief and how excited they are. The polling is
through the roof on this.
And the most popular items are actually the items you talk about, the ones
that get money in people`s pockets. You know, those survival checks so
popular. And I think that is also the reality of where we are.
Last thing I`ll say is I just think that what happened during the Obama
administration with the last rescue package was also a lesson to people. I
think that we understand that the level of crisis that we face requires a
solution that matches the scale of that crisis, and I believe that that is
what we will be delivering when we pass this through the House and when
President Biden signs it into law.
O`DONNELL: You know, when I sat in economics classes, I never heard an
economist satisfied with anything that the government would do, especially
legislatively. When I was working in the Senate Finance Committee, I never
heard economists compliment us for the quality of our work.
Let`s listen to what Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman told Chris
Hayes earlier tonight about this legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL KRUGMAN, NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING ECONOMIST: I`m pinching myself,
wondering if this is some kind of a dream, because we really are actually
responding, more or less, adequately to the crisis at hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congresswoman Dean, that is just something economists are not used
DEAN: No, we don`t hear that. And we don`t talk about the poor often
enough, so I appreciate that last conversation you just had.
But when you and Rachel were talking a moment ago, I could see in you a
sort of joy that you are getting to do the job you are here to do. I feel
that very same way. In passing, in crafting, in honing this legislation and
fighting for it and passing it, this is the stuff I came to D.C. to do.
We saw what the Trump administration tried in their huge tax break to the
wealthy with the hope that that would invest somehow in greater growth, in
GDP down the road and trickle down to those who were less fortunate. That
Now we get to do what we progressives came to D.C. to do, which is to
invest at the bottom, and that will be an economic engine for GDP. Every
dollar that we will spend on this will return at least 25 cents, $1.25.
So, this is the right thing to do economically, it`s also the right thing
to do morally, and I have to tell you, it feels good as a Democrat to be
able to put into place the policies we have been calling for, fighting for,
investing in the poor and the middle class and in working families.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Dean and Congresswoman Jayapal, thank you both
very much for starting our discussion tonight.
DEAN: Thank you.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Well, it was a big day for Joe Manchin on a bunch of the Sunday shows
yesterday where he said he is open to some changes in the Senate filibuster
rules, and that surprised everybody. It sounded like he read last week`s
"Washington Post" op-ed piece by Norm Ornstein or maybe heard Norm Ornstein
talking about it on this show Thursday night.
Norm Ornstein is back and he joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Well, it sounds like Senator Joe Manchin has been listening to
our next guest discussing how to change the so-called filibuster rules in
Here`s what Senator Manchin told Chuck Todd yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): If you want to make it a little bit more painful,
make him stand there and talk, I`m willing to look at any way we can, but I
am not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein appeared on this program
Thursday night suggesting changes to the rules that Joe Manchin might be
able to accept, even though Senator Manchin wants to preserve the Senate
minority`s right to filibuster in some form.
Senator Manchin might have been listening to what Norm Ornstein had to say
Thursday night, or even more likely, Senator Manchin probably did read Norm
Ornstein`s op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" entitled, "Democrats can`t
kill the filibuster but they can gut it."
In that article, Norm Ornstein suggested changes to the Senate rules that
he thought specifically Joe Manchin might consider and which Joe Manchin
appears to be now considering.
And so joining us now is Norm Ornstein, congressional scholar at the
American Enterprise Institute.
And, Norm, when I listened to Joe Manchin yesterday, I thought two things.
I thought this is a huge public breakthrough in his thinking about the
Senate rules, and, two, I thought, he`s been reading and listening to Norm
NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: I thought the same thing,
Lawrence, and I was giddy, as a matter of fact. Look, we`ve still got a
long ways to go and we`ll see what details work out. But I consciously, and
Al Franken and I have been talking to senators and we`ve been talking this
through for a while as well, but consciously wanted to look at something
that I knew would resonate with people like Manchin and Sinema and
Feinstein and some others who were not going to be willing to completely
abolish this Rule 22, but would actually make a real difference in terms of
giving Democrats a fighting chance and more to get some top priorities
You know, something else I thought along those lines in the last day or
two, Gabby Giffords is now spearheading the effort in the house and they`ll
vote on it very soon to get universal background checks. If we didn`t
change the rules on something like this, it would just die in the Senate.
Nobody would really pay attention to it, 94 percent of Americans support
Make them go around the clock. Make them have to come up with 41 votes on a
regular basis to explain to people why they`re against universal background
checks for guns. That democracy reform and other things, we can begin to
get some traction if we can make some of these sensible changes.
O`DONNELL: Norm, what I loved about your article and the reason I wanted
to have you on discussing this last week is that you said in the article,
and you told us, that you had been listening very carefully to what Joe
Manchin has been publicly saying in the past about this Senate rule. You`ve
been listening very carefully to what Senator Sinema has been saying.
And what you tried to do was come up with a proposal that actually answers
the concerns that Joe Manchin has publicly presented, and that is exactly
the way you find compromise in the Senate. You first of all listen to what
that person is saying, and at first it sounds impossible, there is nothing
I can do with this. But you thought your way through it. And one of the
biggest ideas you have is this flipping of the 60-vote requirement we
currently have in the Senate, a 60-vote requirement to end a debate, and
then go on to voting.
You`re saying make that a 40-vote requirement to continue the debate. That
would give Joe Manchin the minority`s protection that he wants to give
them, but it would be much harder for the Republicans to actually achieve
that the way you see it.
ORNSTEIN: Exactly so. And the idea here is, if you believe what Manchin
has been saying, this sort of notion that, you know, you want to have a
minority that feels intensely about an issue, have to go to the mat
literally and the mattresses literally to make their point of view known
and to be able to at least block things for a while, but now there is no
pressure on the minority. They have to do nothing to do filibusters on any
So let`s return and make it painful to use. And we can add a number of
things that make it more painful and more difficult. At minimum, they`re
only going to do it infrequently because it will be a difficult thing for
them to entertain, and if we can do this on issues that really matter for
people where there is strong majority support, we can break that, and we
can actually accomplish some of the areas -- progress in areas like
democracy reform which are absolutely essential.
And we have to, as you say, you know the Senate inside-out. If you`re going
to get to 50, you`re going to have to meet people and meet their
objections, and I think there are ways to do this and ways also -- you
know, he wants to have debate and deliberation. This is going to require
debate and deliberation. And if we make him stay on the floor and it has be
germane, no reading of "Green Eggs and Ham" by Ted Cruz or others, but
addressing those issues, there will be tremendous pressure on them.
O`DONNELL: Norm, what I was struck by is you have been carefully paying
attention the last year to Joe Manchin`s language about this. The language
he was using Sunday included this new element that he said to every
interviewer. He wants it to be painful. He wants it to be painful for the
Republicans to try to get up there and block things, and that seems to me
to be the zone in which you can work some kind of rule change, the kind
you`ve been outlining in your "Washington Post" piece with Joe Manchin.
ORNSTEIN: Exactly so. And, you know, I gave it a laundry list of different
elements. There are many ways to go about this. My favorite would be making
-- I would actually make it 41, not 40 required to continue the debate.
They will have to be there continuously. You know, 17 of them, now 16,
actually, with Roy Blunt out of it, are up for re-election next time. They
want to be home campaigning. They don`t want to be around through weekends
and back on Mondays and going through the night and having to sleep on
lumpy cots off the Senate floor.
And if we make them do that, they`re going to have second thoughts about a
lot of these things, and an important element of this. If we can make it
painful, it also means that people are going to pay attention to the
obstructionism which they don`t do now, and there will be a price to pay
for that, and that`s really important.
O`DONNELL: Norm, I think the lesson of what you`ve done here and most
important lesson is you listened very carefully to what Joe Manchin was
saying when he was talking about his position on this, and you found a way
to reach him on this, and this is really -- I got to say, all I was
thinking about when I heard him say that on Sunday was, what is Norm going
to say about this?
And thank you very much for joining us again tonight, Norm. Really
ORNSTEIN: Any time, Lawrence. You know how much I enjoy being with you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Well, coming up, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is
following the example of the Manhattan district attorney and hiring a
special prosecutor with experience in racketeering investigations to join
the criminal investigation of Donald Trump. Neal Katyal joins us next for
tonight`s episode of defendant Trump.
O`DONNELL: Roberto Minuta runs a tattoo shop in Newburgh, New York. That`s
where he was arrested Saturday by the FBI. Roberto Minuta is a member of a
deranged group of people who call themselves the Oath Keepers.
He was seen on video with Donald Trump`s friend Roger Stone the morning of
January 6, and later that day, he was seen invading the Capitol with a can
of bear spray.
"The New York Times" reports location, cellular and call record data
revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House. The FBI
has not determined what they discussed, and the official would not reveal
the names of either party. That piece of evidence will surely strengthen
the lawsuit brought by Congressman Eric Swalwell against Donald Trump, Rudy
Giuliani and other defendants for their encouragement of the attack on the
Capitol which endangered Congressman Swalwell`s life and the lives of
everyone else in the Capitol that day and which took the life of Capitol
Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
Other developments in the life of Defendant Trump on the criminal front
include Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance reportedly issuing a subpoena
related to a $130 million loan the Trump Organization received to build the
Trump Tower in Chicago, $100 million of which was forgiven.
And Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta has followed the
Manhattan district attorney`s example by hiring a new special prosecutor
with experience in racketeering investigations.
Joining us now is Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general and an
MSNBC legal contributor.
Neal, you`re Donald Trump. You`re out on the golf course today and maybe
someone tells you, or maybe they decide they better not tell you, that Fani
Willis has hired John Floyd who literally wrote a book, wrote a national
guide on prosecuting state racketeering cases.
What does that do to the next time you approach the ball on the golf
course? Does that maybe break the concentration a little bit?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, 100 percent, Lawrence. I
mean Donald Trump has been bouncing around. He was a reality TV star, he
was a businessman, he was president, and now he`s finally found his
calling, defendant in a racketeering case.
And you know, this news is really significant because John Floyd, as you
say, has literally written the book on prosecuting state officials` for
racketeering -- state entities for racketeering.
And Ms. Willis herself, the district attorney has a lot of expertise in the
area. She prosecuted folks for cheating on standardized tests and other
racketeering offenses. Now ordinarily, racketeering is about murder,
kidnapping, violent crimes but Georgia`s statute defines it much more
broadly to include false statements made to state officials.
And when you go back and listen to those calls that are now on audiotape
for the world to hear, that sure sounds like he is inducing a falsification
of election results. You know, he`ll have some defenses but this is
O`DONNELL: And conspiracy is one of the elements that the district attorney
is reportedly investigating in that case. It wasn`t just Donald Trump
picking up the phone and calling the Georgia secretary of state, and
clearly violating the law in that phone call. It`s who else was involved in
his attempts, first of all, to -- and decision to make that phone call? Who
else was involved in his other ways in which he was trying to affect the
vote in Georgia?
KATYAL: That`s 100 percent right, Lawrence. So intrinsically conspiracy is
problematic because if you`re involving other people, you know, that`s a
worse crime. But here, the prosecutors -- good prosecutors have a reason,
if they have probable cause, to look at conspiracy, and that is because
they can use it to flip these other defendants.
And so it`s reported that Lindsey Graham is being looked at, Giuliani is
being looked at, the former U.S. attorney for Trump, Byung Pak is being
looked at. So all of these people are targets for prosecutors to say hey
tell us what Trump actually said to you.
O`DONNELL: Neal, "The New York Times" is reporting this about the evidence
collection on January 6th. They`re saying that the FBI has received
information from the major cell phone carriers on the numbers called by
everyone on the Capitol`s cell towers during the riot -- everyone.
Every member of Congress, every staff member, every rioter who was in the
building. It strikes me that that vein of evidence could be among the most
important they have.
KATYAL: Absolutely. And, you know, the Capitol was invaded. And so the
people who think, oh, you know, law enforcement shouldn`t have those
powers, here`s a good case for where you want them to. As long as the
information is properly held, you know, controlled, you know, people`s
identities are masked and so on, you know, except for, you know, the most
urgent law enforcement needs. But this is significant evidence, Lawrence,
O`DONNELL: And there`s also that evidence that they know they have a Proud
Boy phone call being made connected to the White House.
KATYAL: Exactly. So they`re going to try and tie all of that together as
prosecutors and say, you know, is there a criminal case that can be made?
If not, you know, maybe there`s that civil case you that mentioned,
Representative Swalwell has made under the Ku Klux Klan Act which I think
has, you know, legs to it as well.
So there is both possibilities here, civil and criminal.
O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
KATYAL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And coming up, the top Democrat in the New York state senate,
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, is now calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to
resign. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: There is no more invisible job in American government than
lieutenant governor. Ask almost anyone anywhere who their lieutenant
governor is and they don`t know.
California`s lieutenant governor got more votes than any governor of any
other state, and in my informal poll of California friends, I have not been
able to find anyone who knows that California`s lieutenant governor is
In my informal poll of New York friends who do not work in politics, I have
not been able to find anyone who know that New York`s lieutenant governor
is Kathy Hochul.
Kathy Hochul might soon become the most famous lieutenant governor in
America as pressure builds on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. And the
focus begins to shift to the person who would immediately replace Governor
Cuomo if he does resign.
After a weekend of more reports of inappropriate behavior and language by
Andrew Cuomo from female members of his staff over the years, the governor
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): There is no way I resign. Let`s do the
attorney general investigation. Let`s get the findings and then we`ll go
from there. Ms. Hinton, every woman has a right to come forward. That`s
true. But the truth also matters. What she said is not true.
On the Ms. Liss, I say to people in the office, how are you doing, how`s
everything, you going out, are you dating? That`s my way of doing friendly
banter. I take pictures with people at ceremonial events. I never meant to
make anyone feel any uncomfortable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After the governor said that yesterday about the two latest
accusations against him, the highest ranking woman in the New York state
legislature, senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat,
released this statement.
"Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business
of government. We have allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work
environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the COVID-19 nursing home
data and questions about the construction of a major infrastructure
New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the
societal health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily
distraction for the good of the state. Governor Cuomo must resign."
The Democratic speaker of the state assembly where an impeachment
proceeding would begin issued a statement saying, "The allegations
pertaining to the governor that have been reported in recent weeks have
been deeply disturbing and have no place whatsoever in government, the
workplace or anywhere else. I, too, share the sentiment of Senate Majority
Leader Stewart-Cousins regarding the governor`s ability to continue to lead
We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the governor
to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the
people of New York."
Joining us now is Jerry Zremski, Washington bureau chief of "The Buffalo
News". Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
I`ve been following your reporting on this because I think it`s important
to follow reporting around the state. And back when I was working in the
senate for Senator Moynihan, "The Buffalo News" was one of the very
important newspapers in our office.
What are you seeing in the way the Democrats in the legislature are
reacting to this?
JERRY ZREMSKI, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE BUFFALO NEWS": It really seems
to be split. There seems to certainly be a lot of concern among the most
leftward-leaning legislators and also the legislative leadership which is
very, very significant. When you have the two leaders of the two chambers
indicating that the governor should resign, that is pretty bad.
But underneath it all, you have a certain number of legislators that are
remaining very loyal to the governor. There was a letter written today
signed by 21 women legislators, pretty much backing the governor and saying
the investigation that the attorney general, Letitia James, is doing should
just continue to its end.
So right now there is no consensus, I don`t think, regarding what should
happen with the governor.
O`DONNELL: There was a polling by Quinnipiac which was completed on March
3rd, it was completed over march 2nd -- March 3rd. As we know the story was
continuing to evolve over that time, and more accusations have come out
since that accusations were coming out while the polling was being done.
That poll shows 55 percent of registered voters in New York do not want the
governor to resign, or I should say, did not want him to resign as of last
week -- Wednesday of last week.
At that same -- in that poll, 59 percent of New Yorkers -- New York
registered voters did not want him to run for re-election, which is what he
has been planning to do. What do you make of how that polling, which I
think could be very different by the time we get to, you know, Wednesday of
this week? What do you think that polling is telling the people in Albany
who are trying to decide what to say about this?
ZREMSKI: Well, I think that right now that polling isn`t going to influence
people nearly as much as the day-to-day drip of news. And that`s what,
really, we`ve had for about ten days now -- and a total of five women have
come out and made allegations now.
And as long as that news cycle continues, I think the opinion of people in
power, of the legislators who have not taken a really strong stand, will
continue to evolve. I think the polling data itself is probably dated
simply we`ve had more allegations come out since the poll was taken.
O`DONNELL: You did reporting this weekend on Lieutenant Governor Hochul who
is from Buffalo, and so people in Buffalo are very familiar with her. You
made the point in your reporting that the stylistic contrasts between
Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul could not be more sharp.
ZREMSKI: Yes. That`s really, really true. Kathy Hochul is a very warm
people person sort of politician. Whereas Governor Cuomo has always been,
you know, a very strong and publicly forceful figure. So they wield power
and influence in very, very different ways.
And the way I phrased it in my story was that I think that Kathy Hochul
could not be temperamentally any different than the temperamental Governor
O`DONNELL: Yes. And New York governors traditionally do not include their
lieutenant governors in just about any of their real deliberations. And so
it would, in effect -- and we`ll talk about this more possibly on another
night -- an outsider coming in to that administration after -- if Governor
Cuomo were to leave or forced to leave in some way.
Jerry Zremski, thank you very much. Jerry Zremski of the "The Buffalo
News", really appreciate you joining us tonight.
ZREMSKI: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, the legendary Dolores Huerta is now 90 years old. She is in
American history books as a co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm
Workers and for much more of the work that she has never stopped doing for
people all over this country who need her help. She got her first
coronavirus vaccination shot in central California last week.
And it is an honor to say, Dolores Huerta will join us next and get
tonight`s LAST WORD.
O`DONNELL: COVID-19 vaccine is finally coming to essential workers in
California who deliver California`s the most important product to every
state in the rest of the country, the farm workers who do the hardest work
that exists in California and provide us with our food in the process, have
been going to work in fear of the coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We come here with fear. And also for our families that
stay at home. But on Wednesday, we`ll have the vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: On Thursday, 90-year-old Dolores Huerta who was a co-founder of
the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez got her first shot of the COVID-
19 vaccine in the central valley of California.
And joining us once again tonight is Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader,
co-founder of the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez and founder of the
Dolores Huerta Foundation.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. It is great to see you. And it
is great to see you getting your vaccination shot. How did it feel to get
DOLORES HUERTA, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: Well, it was actually very, very
painless and it was administered by Dr. Joaquin Arambula who was also in
the state legislature of California. And of course, we`re very grateful to
Governor Gavin Newsom who set aside these vaccines for the farm workers.
And this is really important because so many of them have gotten sick from
the COVID-19, we have, as you know, an inappropriate number -- or
inordinate number of people that have died in the Latino community.
So hopefully with the vaccines that some people -- more people can be saved
and we also just want to add that many of the farm workers, as you know,
are undocumented and the fact that they passed the stimulus package to be
able to help people and in that package, many of the undocumented workers,
farm workers who are putting the food on everybody`s table every single
day, will also be protected.
And so, the farm workers are very grateful and we`re doing everything that
we can to let people know that the vaccines are going to available and we
want everybody to get vaccinated. Si se puede (ph), Lawrence. We make sure
that we are all safe.
O`DONNELL: The California numbers right now, they estimate -- they estimate
that 46,000 agricultural workers have been infected with COVID-19. And
that`s an estimate. It could be significantly higher than that.
HUERTA: Yes. Because oftentimes when workers would complain that they
weren`t vaccinated, that they weren`t given the protective equipment, that
they`re working too close to each other. And in some instances our farm
workers actually had to go on strike to be able to get the protective
equipment that they needed. And often times when they protested, they were
actually told not to come back to work.
So, it became very, very difficult for the workers and of course, with
their families so, we are very grateful that the vaccines are finally being
made available by Governor Gavin Newsom and the farm workers will finally
get some protection.
And we have to mention that the packing house workers too because for them
it was very, very difficult to have any kind of distancing when they did
O`DONNELL: You know, we showed some video at the beginning of this of a
farm worker talking about getting the vaccine. And she could not even turn
away from her work to talk because the work is so constant, so nonstop. And
that`s true whenever you see video of the farm workers, they will talk on
video but they will never take the time to turn away from the work because
they are not allowed to in the pace of the work and the course of day.
HUERTA: Yes, farm workers have to be very physically strong to do the work
that they do. Oftentimes people think it is very easy work. And so, we just
have to remind everybody, and a lot of those, I want to say the Republicans
that voted against the relief bill, that these are the people that are
putting the food on your table.
And so we always want to be grateful to the farm workers. Think about them
when you are eat -- when you`re sitting down and eating your meals and send
them a little prayer of thank you for all the work that they do to keep
everybody fed and to keep us with the nutrition that we need.
O`DONNELL: Dolores Huerta, it is always a thrill and an honor for me to get
to speak to you. It is great to see you tonight. And I`m so glad you got
your COVID-19 vaccination. Thank you very much for joining us.
HUERTA: Thank you, also, Lawrence. A pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Dolores Huerta gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
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