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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/26/21

Guests: Beto O`Rourke, Kirk Burkhalter, Phillip Jackson, Amy Klobuchar, Ro Khanna


The Texas legislature has introduced legislation that, according to "The New York Times," would make Texas one of the hardest states in the country to cast a ballot in. Republicans want to ban 24-hour voting, in Texas, which is how many working people voted in the last election in Texas. Attorneys for the family of Andrew Brown Jr. described what happened to him as an execution when at least seven police officers approached him in his car, and shot him to death. If a company controlled 90 percent of anything in the United States, it became very likely the federal government was going to break up that company. President Biden will describe the tax increases he wants to use to pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure package, but there`s another way to pay for it, without raising any taxes. The "New York Daily News" has obtained previously unreported documents from a 2015 deposition of Donald Trump`s accountant Allen Weisselberg in a lawsuit over the now defunct Trump University.



We have Beto O`Rourke tonight as our first guest to talk about those additional House seats that Texas is going to get and --


O`DONNELL: And how they might try to -- Republicans might try to gerrymander those. And also, of course, what "The New York Times" is calling the most-restrictive voter laws in the country now, being pushed through the Texas legislature. Beto O`Rourke is fighting that. He will be joining us to discuss that.

But, Rachel, before you go. I got to tell you about a funny thing happened to me on the way to the TV show today.

MADDOW: Uh-oh.

O`DONNELL: You know how hard it is, these days, for the author of a scholarly book to get on the show like this? Because we have so much breaking news and so many difficult other things of the day we have to cover.

MADDOW: Sure, yeah.

O`DONNELL: I had a guest booked, today. To be a preview guest for the Biden address, Wednesday night.


O`DONNELL: But -- but it was one of those things, and this, I`m sure, happens, I`m not sure whether your bookers even tell you this. But, you know, every once in a while, the deal will be, can you just ask one question about the book? Like, just one question about the book. Like, maybe, at the end of the interview.

And -- and I said, yeah, maybe. Thinking I probably wouldn`t. And then, I got my hands on the book, and now I just want to do the whole hour on the book. And it is -- it`s going to get an award tonight on the show. An award I am inventing tonight, which is the -- the Moynihan book award and that is the award for the most scholarly book written this year by a United States senator.


O`DONNELL: And I`m giving that award in April. I don`t care because -- I`m -- I`m hiding the author`s name, Rachel, but I want to show you. It couldn`t have a more boring title.

MADDOW: Oh, I know what book that is.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. You just couldn`t have a more boring title, "Antitrust". I hesitate to even say it because it will scare off viewers. But this book is getting the award for most scholarly book by a United States senator and I cannot wait to talk about it with my mystery guest.

MADDOW: And your mystery. I know that book and I know that thesis and I know who the senator is. And that the story of why that senator has these strong feelings, and that level of scholar scholarly depth about that topic is fascinating. So --

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and Rachel, it has -- and you will love this -- 205 -- I counted them -- 205 pages of footnotes, which is a record. It is a record for footnotes in a scholarly work by a United States senator.

MADDOW: Yeah. If that Senate career does not end, in the White House, which is one very significant possibility for that senator, there is a professorship waiting for that senator, whenever that senator wants one, for sure.

Look at me. I am helping you keep a secret.

O`DONNELL: You`re doing great. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, when President Joe Biden does address the nation Wednesday night, in a joint session of Congress, he will be the first president of the United States to have two women sitting behind him. Vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, and the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

When the president addresses the nation on Wednesday, at the end of the 99th day of his presidency, he will have the approval of a solid majority of Americans, something, that the previous president never had. Joe Biden is running 13 points ahead of the previous president in the latest NBC poll that shows Joe Biden`s approval rating 13 points higher than the previous president`s approval rating, at this exact point four years ago.

The trouble for Republicans is that the most popular person in their party is the person who lost the presidential election to Joe Biden. And that means Republicans, now, believe they simply cannot win. Republicans believe they cannot win presidential elections, if those elections are held fairly. And so, instead of trying to counter Joe Biden`s popular policies with their own policies, Republicans are now lying about Biden policies.

For example, Republicans are now claiming that Joe Biden wants to ban the consumption of meat, which is a complete-and-total lie. Republicans find it easier to tell that lie, instead of arguing against policies. Like, say, the increase in the corporate-tax rate that Joe Biden will describe Wednesday night, as part of his infrastructure package, which now has the support of 68 percent of Americans.

CNBC reports the stock market is performing the best it has during the first-hundred days of a presidency, going back to at least the 1950s, and the Dwight Eisenhower administration.

But you don`t hear Joe Biden mentioning that stock market stuff the way the previous president would because the previous president was actually our only president, who firmly believed that the stock market was an accurate measure of good government. Republicans no longer believe that they can win elections by turning out voters. And so, now, they are attempting to turn away voters.

Texas is one of the winner states in the census data released today that shows Texas will gain two more members of the House of Representatives to represent the state`s 29 million people, second only to California`s 39 million people. The Republican legislature and the Republican governor in Texas will do anything they can to gerrymander congressional districts so that the two new congressional seats will go to Republicans.

But gerrymandering is no longer enough for Republicans to win elections. And so, the Texas legislature has introduced legislation that, according to "The New York Times," quote, would make Texas one of the hardest states in the country to cast a ballot in. Republicans want to ban 24-hour voting, in Texas, which is how many working people voted in the last election, in Texas. The state`s biggest county used 24-hour voting for a single day, just a single day, on the Thursday before the election.

"The New York Times" described some of the middle-of-the-night voters as fast-food workers, nurses, construction workers, night owls, and other- late-shift workers. Texas Republicans do not want those people to vote, again, because they might vote for Democrats. Some of the restrictions on Texas voting proposed by the legislature would apply only in counties with populations of more than 1 million. That means, of course, the big cities of Texas, the places, where Democrats live.

Texas-based companies, such as American Airlines and Dell Technologies say they are opposed to restrictions on the right to vote, like banning drive- there you drive-through voting, which was used by 127,000 voters in the state`s biggest county.

Texas is the biggest state where the legislature is trying to restrict the right to vote. There is no more forceful opponent of restricting the right to vote in Texas than our first guest tonight.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Beto O`Rourke, former Democratic congressman representing El Paso, Texas. He is the founder of Powered by People, on organization helping elect Democrats in Texas.

Beto O`Rourke, thank you very much for joining us this night. This night became even more important than we thought when Texas today picked up what will be two additional congressional seats starting in the next election.

What do you think that`s going to mean for Texas? And what will the Texas - - the Republican Texas legislature do to try to ensure that those are Republican seats?

BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It makes the fight to secure voting rights. The ability for any eligible Texan to cast their ballot that much more important because, Lawrence, I`m convinced, with 40 Electoral College votes, Texas now clearly becomes the biggest-swing state in the country. And could, very well, decide the next-presidential election, or perhaps, the next ten presidential elections.

And it`s population growth that has produced these new -- two new congressional seats has been brought about by the young, by the people of color. And by those who have chosen to come to this state. It`s -- it`s the future, knocking on the door of this country. And Republicans in Texas are trying to bar the door shut, before these folks can get in and cast a ballot.

Nearly 7 million Texans in 2020 did not vote because this is the most voter-suppressed state in the union, 750 polling place closures, the racial gerrymandering that you talked about at the top of the show, the most onerous voter ID laws in the country. And now, these proposals that would make it even harder.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what former Attorney General Eric Holder said about these two new congressional seats, today.


ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Going to get additional seats it`s largely because an increase in the Hispanic population, African-American population, suburban population, young people. And yet -- and yet, I suspect they are going to try to draw the lines there. They will draw them to minimize the acquisition of power by -- by those groups.

And so, you know, that -- those additional seats that Texas is going to get, I suspect, will be, you know, they`ll attempt to gerrymander them, which means we`re probably going to end up -- end up in court.


O`DONNELL: Beto O`Rourke, the legislature is completely run by Republicans. You have a Republican governor. So they will -- the only thing they will have to be concerned about, as they try to draw these lines for congressional districts, is how, as Eric -- Eric Holder just put it, how they might end up in court.

O`ROURKE: That`s right. And -- and really, our best hope right now is in United States Senate with the For the People Act. I know, there`s been a lot talk about Senator Manchin`s position on the filibuster and the need to reform that, in order to be able to pass democracy bills like this one.

But -- but really, the future, the fate, the fortune of this country, rests on states like Texas. And not for the Democratic Party, but literally, for democracy. One person, one vote.

If -- if we believe that`s important, we need federal protections, federal safeguards to ensure that we can do that. Absent that, it`s going to be left to Texas. To the Texas voters to -- to do what they can. And -- and they`ve done some pretty impressive things in the past.

Despite these racially gerrymandered district that you have from the 2010 and 2011 redistricting, you had Colin Allred and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher both win important long shot victories in 2018. We can do it again in 2022 and going forward.

But if we really believe in democracy, if we really believe everyone should have a seat at the table, and every vote should be counted, then we have got to stop these voter-suppression efforts in Texas. And we`ve got to pass voter protection reform in Washington, D.C. It`s as simple as that.

The good news is these voter-suppression bills in Texas have not yet passed. They`ve not, yet, been signed into law. As you mentioned, Dell, American Airlines, faith groups, civic organizations, and everyday voters are stepping up and standing out, and speaking up to make sure that we stop this while we still have time.

O`DONNELL: Are Texas Republicans in the legislature listening to those corporate entities in Texas that are -- that are opposing this? It seems as though they have just decided that they`re -- their politics is taking them in a different direction, and they will no longer pay attention to these corporate interests.

O`ROURKE: It`s interesting. They are listening to them but I don`t know if they`re getting the right message. The chairman of the statehouse committee that oversees elections, a guy named Briscoe Cain, who`s just outside of Houston, he was, by the way, after the election in Pennsylvania trying to overturn the presidential election. He is now in charge of the election law reform effort in Texas if that gives you any indication.

He just proposed legislation that would punish these companies that speak out trying to not help Democrats or Republicans but help Texans ensure that they can vote. So, that`s the way that they`re responding to this. I think that`s a good sign. It -- it shows that they`re concerned, that they`re anxious, this they`re defensive. They know they are on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of this fight. Now, we just have to win it.

O`DONNELL: How do you -- I mean, you are -- one of your -- one of your roles here, from my distance, is cheerleader. You are in charge of keeping spirits up, and keeping the smile going. As the -- as the -- the -- the struggle gets -- seems to be getting more and more difficult.

O`ROURKE: Well, there`s a lot to be optimistic about. You know, when we went to the state capitol to testify against SB-7, HB-6, there are hundreds of other Texans who have driven from all over the state. And as you know, it`s 254 counties, two time zones. There is a lot of miles, lot of hours to get to the capitol, in the midst of a pandemic, which we`re not through yet.

And yet, people were willing to come out and stand up for democracy. They`d wait 14, 15, 16 hours to get their two minutes to testify. All these great groups like the Texas civil rights project, move, the Texas Democratic party is doing a lot of great work. So, I see a response that meets the moment. And that, I think, is going to be more than a match for these voter suppression efforts in Texas.

And the thing is, Lawrence, if we don`t have hope and if we don`t move and if we don`t take action, then we definitely are going to lose. And the best antidote to despair is action and I want to just make sure we continue to do that here in Texas.

O`DONNELL: There does seem to be a reverse effect phenomenon in this voter suppression field because we see these attempts at voter suppression. That seems to provoke a certain kind of voter turnout, on its own. I mean, that -- that just may be a mirage. But as we watch it, they did everything they could. They were trying in Georgia.

And -- and yet, Georgia got this remarkable turnout in the face of these attempts to suppress it.

O`ROURKE: It`s interesting. We -- we have spent, in our group powered by people, the last couple of months registering voters in the lowest voter turnout counties in Texas. So Webb County, where Laredo is, 50 percent of registered voters. So, El Paso, where I am now, 56 percent of registered voters turned out in 2020.

We are knocking on the doors of unregistered future voters and they are telling us that they want to get registered with our volunteers because of what is happening in the state capitol right now. In the words of one woman, they wouldn`t be trying this hard to take away our vote, if our vote wasn`t this important. So yes, sign me up.

So, I agree with you. I think there is a going to be a response from the Texas voters. They are smart enough to know what`s going on. They realize they hold the future of this country in their hands. They will decide the outcome, not only of Texas-based elections but Texas-based elections, like the next presidential, that will determine who our next president will be. And I think you are going to see Texans show up, in record numbers.

O`DONNELL: Beto O`Rourke, thank you very much for starting off our discussion tonight, we really appreciate it.

O`ROURKE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thanks.

And coming up. Another case of police use of deadly force in North Carolina left lawyers calling that incident, today, an execution after they saw some of the police body-cam video. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: An execution. That`s what attorneys for the family of Andrew Brown described what happened to him, when at least seven police officers approached him in his car, and shot him to death.

Today, members of Andrew Brown`s family and one of the lawyers, local attorney Chantel Lassiter, were allowed to see only-20 seconds of just one of the police bodycam videos.

Here`s what the lawyers for Andrew Brown`s family said after seeing that video.


BEN CRUMP, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: We only saw a snippet of the video. When we know that the video started before and after what they showed the family. And they determined what was pertinent.

BAKARI SELLERS, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: One body cam, 20 seconds. An execution.

CHANTEL CHERRY-LASSITER, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: This was an execution. Andrew Brown was in his driveway. The sheriff truck blocked him in his driveway, so he could not exit his driveway.

Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He wasn`t touching anything. He wasn`t throwing anything around.

He had his hands, firmly, on the steering wheel. They run up to his vehicle, shooting.


LASSITER: He still stood there, set there, in his vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel, while being shot at.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Kirk Burkhalter, criminal law professor at New York Law School where he is the director of the 21st Century Policing Project. He is a former-NYPD detective.

Professor Burkhalter, we -- we know very little other than what we heard described about that 20 seconds of video. The video has not, yet, been released. There is going to be a court hearing about releasing that, and possibly more video. Based on what we know, so far, what`s your reaction to the evidence as we know it, at this point?

KIRK BURKHALTER, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW CRIMINAL LAW PROFESSOR: Well, Lawrence, my reaction is we actually do not know much. And that is the problem.

The family was shown this 20-second video. We know, the suspect/victim was unarmed. And we`re not sure how many shots were fired, how many police officers were on the scene. We`re not even sure how much video footage was captured.

And this is a tremendous problem, in this era where police have lost the benefit of the doubt. You would think that police officers -- I`m sorry, police departments would err on the side of transparency. And that doesn`t seem to be the case, here.

So, this leaves the door open for speculation from the public. That`s not a good thing, in this day and age. So, unfortunately, we know very little, except that this man was unarmed. And when a person is shot by the police, and particularly a person of color, and they are unarmed in this day and age, the public does deserve some form of information, far beyond we have to wait to complete the investigation.

O`DONNELL: But if these accounts are accurate, that his hands were on the steering wheel the entire time that he`s being fired at. And -- and they also did say that, at the very beginning of the video, there was already an empty shell casing that was visible. So that this video actually is a shooting-by-police, in progress.

So far, there is no evidence that we are seeing in this, so far, that in any way justifies the shooting.

BURKHALTER: Well, that`s correct, Lawrence. Based on what we have heard from the police department, what we have heard from the family. What we have not heard, one allegation that in any way, shape, or form, that this man was attempting to use deadly-physical force against the police officers.

Once again, we don`t know. In most instances, if a gun was found, if someone fired shots at the police, if someone aimed a gun at the police, we would hear it. But we do not hear that here.

In addition to the officers that were placed on administrative leave, we have, I think, it`s a total of three officers that left the department immediately. Two resigned and one retired and that`s a very poor sign as to what is going on here.

I think that this was handled -- it`s been ill handled and this is a textbook example of where, perhaps, an independent investigative body needs to step in and take charge of this investigation. The public does not have much faith in what will come out of this investigation, if handled by the local authorities.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look back at one of the expert witnesses in the Chauvin trial. That we analyzed, as it was under way. Last week, 400 doctors signed a letter calling for a review of every one who died in police custody, in Maryland, during Dr. David Fowler`s 17 years as Maryland`s chief-medical examiner. After Dr. Fowler delivered testimony in Derek Chauvin`s defense, that was contradicted by every-other medical expert in the case.

The letter from 400 doctors said, quote, Dr. Fowler`s stated opinion that George Floyd`s death during active-police restraint should be certified with an undetermined manner is outside the standard practice and conventions for investigating and certification of in-custody deaths. This stated opinion raises significant concerns for his previous practice and management. If forensic pathologists can offer such baseless opinions, without penalty, then the entire criminal-justice system is at risk. And on Friday, Maryland`s attorney general began investigating deaths in police custody during Dr. Fowler`s tenure as medical examiner.

Joining us now is Phillip Jackson, criminal justice reporter for "The Baltimore Sun" covering this story.

Phillip Jackson, what else can you tell us about the attorney general`s review of these cases?

PHILLIP JACKSON, CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORTER, BALTIMORE SUN: Well, what we can tell you right now is that this is in the preliminary stages. But mostly, with Dr. David Fowler, it`s the families that have been affected. Which they have expressed a lot of concern about a lot of his rulings and the reason why the attorney general`s looking at that 17-year tenure is because there is a lot of cases, specifically the case of Anton Black, a 19-year-old, black teenager, who died while in police custody on Maryland`s eastern shore.

And a lot of families still feel that pain of injustice that they have told us. And they want to -- they want to see a higher level of accountability. And to a lot of those families, that is -- extends past the police department.

O`DONNELL: And, Professor Burkhalter, we remember analyzing that testimony on this program. It was really stunning testimony for people who`ve seen a lot of medical examiner testimony, in court. And juror -- the one juror who`s been interviewed about this rejected Dr. Fowler`s testimony, outright, did not believe it, believed Dr. Tobin, completely refuting that testimony.

What`s your reaction to this review of his work during the time when he was a medical examiner?

BURKHALTER: Lawrence, this is just the last thing the entire criminal- justice community needs, at this particular point. Where, as we just mentioned, you know, the police have lost the benefit of the doubt. And now, this other person who oversees what is supposed to be an independent body. And according to reports, has particular issues with the clarifying and reporting on the deaths of, in particular African-Americans, in police custody. It`s just a horrible thing.

It`s not too surprising, given the testimony during the Derek Chauvin trial, with this kind of outrageous claim about the carbon monoxide poisoning. I would certainly hope that the attorney general of Maryland will get to the bottom of this. But the ramifications of having to reopen all these cases, which some of which may be perhaps homicides. I just can`t think of a worse result.

O`DONNELL: Phillip Jackson, what was the reaction in Baltimore, in Maryland, at the time of Dr. Fowler`s testimony in the Chauvin trial?

JACKSON: Right. So, at this time, specifically, again, the family of Anton Black, they -- they saw that testimony and many saw that as hypocritical. They -- they saw what he said in the George Floyd -- in George Floyd`s death. And, you know, what his rulings were and what he thought -- Derek Chauvin being responsible for that death.

And that was a reminder from what they experienced even back in 2013, Baltimore City, with Tyrone West. At the end of the day, a lot of these families are seeking accountability and justice. Again, to them, you know, it extends past the police department. It`s more so a systemic issue.

O`DONNELL: Phillip Jackson and Kirk Burkhalter, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

BURKHALTER: My pleasure.

JACKSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the winner of that special-book award that I am inventing tonight. For the most-scholarly book of the year, written by a United States senator, will join us, next. That author will join us, next. Tonight`s mystery guest.


O`DONNELL: Why is healthcare so expensive? Why is Google free? Or is it really free? Why does Google control over 90 percent of our online searches? How did we let that happen? Was there anything we could have done about it? What should we do about Facebook now?

The federal government started thinking about, and then worrying about, and then legislating about, questions exactly like this, long before Google was invented. 14 years after the first telephone call by Alexander Graham Bell, the Congress in an almost unanimous vote passed the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. And suddenly, if a company controlled 90 percent of anything in the United States, it became very likely the federal government was going to break up that company.

This story is brilliantly told in an important new book that explains so much about how we live today. And how the presidents of a hundred years ago would not believe what we have allowed our biggest and most monopolistic and richest companies to do.

The book is an economic adventure story of sorts that is a real-page turner, it really is. It even has cartoons. And of course, some of you don`t naturally feel yourselves drawn to complex policy issues. But "The New York Times" calls this book, "an impressive work of scholarship".

And like any, impressive work of scholarship, it unfortunately has a title that will make almost all of you turn away from it in a bookstore. But perhaps, the author can convince you to give this book the chance that it deserves to find a place on your important, non-fiction shelf.

Joining us now the author of "Antitrust: Taking on Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age", Amy Klobuchar. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Senator. Really appreciate it.

You know, I didn`t -- I -- I think you know I didn`t plan for this segment to be all about the book but this is great. This tells a story that is so important for today but it begins over 130 years ago.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Exactly. And if you go back to the founding of our country, Lawrence, and yes -- people came to this country because they wanted economic freedom. They wanted to have political freedom, religious freedom. And they didn`t want to buy everything from the East India Tea Company and do business with a bunch of monopolies over the pond.

And so, you literally go back to the beginnings of America. And you see this entrepreneurial spirit where, literally, capitalism has rejuvenated itself, every-few decades by new companies coming on. By every so often, the government breaking up AT&T and giving us lower long-distance rates and starting the cellphone business because we didn`t have it all controlled by one company.

And where we are today is years of inaction. So, I thought, how can I make this real for people? Because we`ve done nothing, as I`ve said, for decades in congress. The courts have gotten increasingly conservative using the theories of Robert Bork.

And so, now, it`s on us. So I thought, ok, I am going to write this big book. I`m going to try to make it interesting, throw in a bunch of cartoons. Tell the stories of the people involved like the woman who actually started the Monopoly Game. And Ida Tarbell, who was a muckraker, took on standard oil. And just hope that people will join me in this quest to finally use our antitrust laws the way they should be and take on the monopolies again.

O`DONNELL: Yes. When we say cartoons, we should clarify for the audience, these are the kinds of things that you might see in your newspaper over the course of the last hundred years. The smart cartoons in "The New Yorker". And they`re shockingly explanatory, I have to say.

And they are -- they are -- they are embedded on pages with -- with scholarly prose that is so precise and so careful. And yet so full of the way we really live. Makes such clear sense, to us, that it shouldn`t be this way.

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. And this is not just tech. It goes from cat food to caskets. In fact, John Oliver did a segment on this trying to explain it and he talked about the consolidation in online travel. The consolidation that we are seeing in pharmaceuticals.

And he finally ended by saying if this is enough to make you want to die, good luck because there`s only three casket makers left. And actually, since then, one has bought the other. So, there`s only two.

So, I make the case for, once again, making our laws as sophisticated as the economy that we`re in right now. We have trillion-dollar -- $ 2 trillion companies that are gateway/gatekeepers to whether it is search engines with Google. Whether it is social-media platforms with Facebook. Or whether it is the App Stores with Apple and Google.

A hearing that we had last week, which was extraordinary, for the bipartisan pushback about the fact that people are now paying companies that have an app on the App Store 30 percent of what you buy on there goes to one of those two companies for a number of consumer companies. And that`s just wrong.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It is stunning that -- that this body of law was invented 130 years ago and became more and more vital and important over time. And yet, it was -- it was -- unlike the tax code, it was just left to sit there. Almost kind of an accident of who is going to be the, you know, assistant attorney general who happens to be in charge of antitrust? And how active is that person going to be?

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. And now, we have Merrick Garland in place, someone who actually taught antitrust before. Someone who, at his own announcement of his nomination by President Biden, talked about antitrust.

And so I think it is really exciting, what we could do. Remember these lawsuits against Google and Facebook were filed under the previous administration. And a lot of success that we`ve seen over the years in taking on monopoly power, does bridge administrations. And it has that kind of broad political support and legal support. So, that`s the first thing.

The second thing is making sure these agencies aren`t shadows of their former selves. And in the book, I make the case for this. Senator Grassley and I have a bill to finally change the fee (ph) structure for when big mergers come before the agencies and make them pay just a little more so that they can hire the lawyers at the agencies to take them on.

You can`t take on trillion-dollar companies with duct tape and band-aids, which is basically what we are asking them to do right now. And so, that is bipartisan support. So I give 25 things we can do, both in congress, the administration and the citizens to be able to enhance our competition policy in America.

O`DONNELL: Well, Senator, you are officially the winner of the first Moynihan Book Award. I am holding the up the book here. That`s named in honor of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who wrote a scholarly book almost every year that he was in the Senate. But never, never did he have 205 pages of notes, footnotes in the book.

You credit your husband, John Bessler helping you with the footnotes, which is a stunning work in and of itself. And I just want the audience to know about this team because you say -- in acknowledging your husband`s work in this book, you say, "Like me, my husband has a deep respect for history and the law. He actually proposed to me on Abraham Lincoln`s birthday in a bookstore in the nonfiction aisle, of course. So, there`s romance in this book, too.

KLOBUCHAR: And he also (INAUDIBLE) my affection. So, there you go.


O`DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it and love the book. Just love it.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, on Wednesday night, President Biden will describe the tax increases he wants to use to pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure package. But there`s another way to pay for it, without raising any taxes. Just Stop CHEATERS.

The IRS estimates that tax cheaters owe the treasury $1 trillion a year in tax payments that they never pay because Republicans have made sure that the IRS does not have the personnel or the resources to fully enforce tax law. That`s a deliberate choice by Republicans.

That is why our next guest has introduced the "Stop CHEATERS Act". The formal name of the bill is the "Stop Corporations and Higher Earners from Avoiding Taxes and Enforce Rules Strictly Act. Stop CHEATERS.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He is the author of the Stop CHEATERS Act. Congressman Khanna, I`ve been waiting for this for a long time -- the tax gap, as they call it. The gap between what the IRS could collect if they just had enough agents and inspectors and resources, and what they do collect is now running, they say now, about a trillion dollars a year.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, you`re absolutely right. This is not some clever scheme to avoid taxes. This is flat-out cheating. People who don`t pay the taxes that they`re owed.

And here`s the shocking thing. The IRS audits the poorest counties in Mississippi more than they audit the richest top 1 percent even though a lot of the cheating and nonpayment is in the top 1 percent.

So what this bill does is two things. One, it says audit the people who actually aren`t paying the taxes, and Larry Summers and economists have shown that that is the case

And two, it says let banks disclose business income because a lot of the taxes that aren`t being paid is because banks aren`t disclosing the income. If you do those two things, we`d raise $1.2 trillion, that would go a long way to paying for President Biden`s infrastructure bill.

O`DONNELL: You mentioned the study that Professor Summers co-authored with two others, including a former-IRS commissioner. I just want to use a table. Put it up on the screen for people to see.

This is the -- the decline in audit rates for filers from 2011 to 2018. And so for all filers, the decline in auditing was 45 percent. For the very richest people, it was much, much higher.

If you made $1 million to $5 million, the decline in auditing of tax returns in that category was 80 -- an 81 percent decline. Almost the same for $5 million to $10 million; $10 million and above.

And so, congressman, there it is. There`s a -- there`s a decline, because those are the most complex returns. They take the largest team to do the audits. And Republicans have consistently cut the IRS`s ability to do that work.

KHANNA: Right, Lawrence. And it`s worse than that. The Republicans have said let`s audit the people getting the earned income tax credit. So they want to go after the grandmother who is claiming their grandchild for an earned income tax credit but they don`t want to go after the multimillionaires who aren`t paying taxes on income.

But most people say how do you cheat on your taxes? Because most people, they get a paycheck, they get a W-2, they pay what they owe. But what is going on here is a lot of these people have multiple businesses and there is no way of determining how much income they`re making from those businesses, unless they`re audited.

And the IRS isn`t auditing them, and it`s auditing instead low-income Americans. It`s really outrageous.

O`DONNELL: But this is also possibly part of why Joe Biden`s tax increase proposals -- increase in the corporate tax rate and basically an elimination of the capital gains rate for people with incomes over a million dollars. They would pay capital gains as regular-income tax. Those are very popular proposals because it -- I think most taxpayers have a sense this is not fair. And it isn`t even fair on the enforcement end.

KHANNA: Lawrence, that`s right. Let me give you a very concrete example of what President Biden does to raise $400 billion. Right now, if you buy a million dollars of stock in Facebook and that stock goes up to $10 million. Now, you give that stock which is $10 million to your son upon your death. That son does not have to pay any capital gains on the $9 million appreciation under our current law.

So, a lot of people actually hold these assets until their death, pass it on as inherited wealth. And totally avoid -- pay zero percent capital gains. President Biden says let`s actually tax the appreciation and capital gains just like most people have to pay -- That raises $400 billion.

So, when people actually look at what President Biden is proposing, they will say, wow, I didn`t even know the people weren`t being taxed on that. That`s so unfair. President Biden is proposing common sense, fairness to the code.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you for introducing this legislation. Thank you for joining us tonight.

KHANNA: Thank you. And I share Amy Klobuchar, your enthusiasm for her book. It is a terrific read.

O`DONNELL: It really is. It really is. Thank you, Congressman.

KHANNA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up in tonight`s episode of Defendant Trump. The "New York Daily News" has unearthed an under oath deposition by Donald Trump`s accountant from the year before Donald Trump became president.

Former-federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner thinks that deposition is a roadmap for New York prosecutors` current-criminal investigation of Donald Trump. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: The "New York Daily News" has obtained previously unreported documents from a 2015 deposition of Donald Trump`s accountant Allen Weisselberg in a lawsuit over the now defunct Trump University for which Donald Trump reached settlement requiring him to $25 million to the former Trump University students who sued Donald Trump for fraud. In that 2015 testimony, Allen Weisselberg said that he leaves the legal side of the money flow to others.

"The Daily News" reports "Asked about the time he found himself eavesdropping on a discussion among Trump lawyers about the alleged illegality of marketing Trump`s for-profit school as a university in New York, Weisselberg said he didn`t delve deeper. He admitted asking in a 2005 e-mail if executives plan to just set up a fictitious office in Illinois, Delaware as they dealt with the issue but he said his inquiry centered exclusively on cost, not propriety.

"I can`t help them with that role. That`s not my thing", he testified. I was only concerned about the economic side of it. They were handling the legal side of it."

Joining us now is Glenn Kirshner, former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst. Glenn, it is hard to keep a straight face reading those pieces of that deposition?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know Lawrence, that maybe the least compelling defense I`ve ever heard as a former career prosecutor. Now, you are this sort of self-proclaimed stickler of a chief financial officer. You`re keeping track of every dollar that comes into and goes out of the Trump Organization.

And you`re confronted with your own e-mail where you are expressly discussing the fact that executives are setting up fictitious offices in either Illinois or Delaware and your defense is, well, I was just concerned with the cost of the fictitious office, and he actually, I think, used the phrase "the legality is not really my thing". And that phrase may be the least compelling defense I`ve ever heard, that the legality part is not really my thing.

O`DONNELL: Well, the legality is going to be his thing in the grand jury investigation that the Manhattan district attorney is doing now, and that`s the kind of -- Glenn, talk about the difference between a civil deposition, which is what that was, and someone like Allen Weisselberg if he is forced to testify in a grand jury proceeding and how different that is.

KIRSCHNER: Yes. I mean in a grand jury proceeding, and I`ve been in lots of grand juries, prosecutors will really wear him out. They will confront him with every piece of documentation every e-mail, if they have his text messages, and they will leave no stone unturned.

But the bad news for Allen Weisselberg, is whether it`s in a civil deposition or in a grand jury setting, anything you say can be used as an admission against you unless you`ve been granted immunity.

And remember, there was a time when the Southern District of New York prosecutors were investigating Michael Cohen for the campaign finance violations he committed with and at the direction of Donald Trump. And there was a limited immunity granted back then which would have been federal, not state, and that`s what Cy Vance is investigating.

So, you know, that`s another sure sign that if you had to be granted even limited immunity by the feds, obviously you were engaged in some misconduct.

O`DONNELL: And for a witness like Weisselberg, the threat of possible perjury charges is very thick in the air in a grand jury room as opposed to a civil deposition.

KIRSCHNER: Yes. And not only that, if he has co-conspirator liability, if hypothetically, the Trump Organization is a criminal conspiracy and he was part of it, you know, co-conspirator liability, the reach is extraordinarily far.

So he would actually be criminally responsible for every crime committed by every other member of the conspiracy, whether he personally participated in that crime or not.

So it looks like D.A. Vance has quite a bit to work with to try to bring Weisselberg into the fold and then potentially flip him against Trump.

O`DONNELL: Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KIRSCHNER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.