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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 3/8/2021

Guest: Pramila Jayapal, Madeleine Dean, Norm Ornstein, Jerry Zremski, Dolores Huerta

Summary:

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.

Transcript:

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

F-ing deal.

(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

Saturday.

(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

that.

(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

distancing.

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

House.

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

to seeing.

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

didn`t work.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

the Senate.

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

Ornstein.

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

through.

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

it.

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

issue.

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

appreciate it.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

significant.

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,

absolutely.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Eleni Kounalakis.

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

said this.

(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

project.

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

this state.

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

Cuomo.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

that vaccination?

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

their work.

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.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END

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