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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/30/21

Guests: Mark Zandi, Malcolm Kenyatta, Renee Graham, Don Davis, Jim McGovern, Jean McMurray


The U.S. economy grew under President Joe Biden with just 100 days in the presidency. He is being compared to FDR for his big government moves and economic plans to help middle to low-income family. Republican Party pushes voter suppression and culture wars as the Biden administration focuses on pushing the American history to prosper thrive. The Associated Press reports tonight that Justice Department officials in the Trump administration considered serving Giuliani with a search warrant last fall. But an internal dispute over the case never resolved leaving Biden officials to make the decision. Andrew Brown, Jr. was shot and killed by police in North Carolina one day after Derek Chauvin was convicted.



RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: This weekend, there`s a big special that`s going to run on MSNBC and on NBC and on Telemundo and on Peacock. That`s something that never really happens, but this is big deal. It`s called "Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List." It`s got people like Becky Hammon who is the first woman to coach an NBA team. Chef Jose Andres who served 35 million hot meals to people in need this year. Even Lin-Manuel Miranda.

It`s a big deal. You can catch it here on MSNBC this Sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern. Inspiring people doing inspiring things. I`m at the time in my year when I`m ready to be inspired in that way. Again, 10:00 eastern here on MSNBC.

That`s going to do it for us tonight. See you on Monday. Now it`s time for the "Last Word" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. I, too, am at that time in my year and just getting ready for this has been fun because we`ve been going through people who are doing inspiring things in our lives, in the news. That doesn`t bubble to the top as much as it should, so I`m excited about it. Rachel, have yourself a fantastic weekend and we`ll see you on Monday.

MADDOW: Thanks, my friend. Thank you.

VELSHI: Well, it`s just 101 days into President Biden`s term, six months after his election. The new president has already proven that the Trump Republican claims about a Biden economy were total lies.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He`s a headwind on the stock market because if he gets in the market will crash.


VELSHI: Not only is the economy booming under Biden but we`re at transformational moment for the American economy. A moment that could improve the course of the nation for generations to come. In 101 days President Biden has overseen a really strong start to our economic recovery as more Americans get vaccinated and a return to pre-pandemic life is in sight.

Household incomes increased in March by 21.1 percent. That`s the largest monthly increase since 1959. Largely due to the stimulus checks in President Biden`s American Rescue Plan. In the first three months of this year the gross domestic product, GDP increased at an annual rate of 6.4 percent. That`s the second largest quarterly increase since 2003.

And the stock market is performing the best that it has performed during the first 100 days of a presidency going back to at least the 1950s and the Eisenhower administration. But, of course, lots of people don`t benefit from a rising stock market.

Poverty has deepened in America. It`s expanded for many during the pandemic. The inequality gap grew especially for black and brown communities. And women have been disproportionately affected by job loss. So as this recovery takes shape and builds, the important question becomes whether those at the bottom of the economic ladder will be left behind.

Will the post-COVID economy benefit those who have been traditionally marginalized? Well, that`s at the core of Biden`s proposals which he detailed during his address to Congress this week. President Biden wants to use the incredible power of the presidency to share the financial prosperity that usually benefits the rich particularly in the wake of a recession.

That`s the complete opposite of what Trump and Republicans gave us the last four years. Many voters supported Trump because they thought that he would do wonders for the economy, which was turns out based on reality show gimmicks, phony business credentials and some straight up lies. He didn`t do that.

He just rode the successes that President Obama had laid out for him. Along the way he did help top earners and corporations through some massive tax cuts, which increased inequality for most Americans. The first real test of Trump`s ability to manage economic troubles was the coronavirus pandemic. And that`s when the world saw what many of us already knew. He wasn`t up to the job.

And his failure to manage the pandemic meant that the economic impact of COVID would last far longer and hurt many more Americans than it would have. Now, instead of injecting bleach, President Biden and Democrats are injecting cash into the economy to help it grow, to better the lives of average Americans.

That`s why he`s proposing to reduce the cost of childcare, to ensure paid family and medical leave, to extend the child tax credit, to expand access to care for older and disabled people, and to offer free universal preschool and two years of free community college.

That`s why the president just raised the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour, which is interesting. You can be a federal employee and earn less than that. He`s creating a road map for tangible long-term economic progress for working people just like FDR did with the new deal and after the Great Depression.

President Biden is daring America to understand that government can adapt and respond to the economic needs of a nation that is emerging from a once in a generation recession. Biden`s economic vision is bold, but boldness is what this country needs right now to ensure that all Americans not just the top 1 percent or the top 5 percent or the top 10 percent recover and flourish.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody`s Analytics. Mark, it`s good to see you. Thank you for being with us. I want you to give us some sense of this economy that we are in right now and why it`s happening, why the stock market is performing as well as it is? Why GDP growth was as strong as it was? How much of that has to do with Biden? How much of it has to do with the end in sight of coronavirus?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY`S ANALYTICS: Well, it`s good to be with you, Ali. The economy is, I`m happy to report, is booming. Very, very strong growth. We saw GDP, that`s the valuables, the things we produce, that grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter. That`s very robust growth.

Lots of jobs, unemployment insurance claims are falling. Unemployment is declining. Consumer sentiment is improving. The housing market is -- man, I can go on and on and on. In fact, you know, I`ve been a professional economist, Ali, for I don`t know 30-odd years, and I don`t think I can remember a time when the prospects for the economy over the next 12, 18 months are as good as they are today.

So, it`s all good. We got a big hole to dig out of. There are still a lot of folks that are struggling, but we`re well on our way of digging out of that deep hole we got into. For the reasons why, there`s two key ones. One, clearly the pandemic is winding down. You know, we`re approaching herd immunity.

The vaccination process has gone well. Over half, well over half now of adult Americans have been vaccinated. So, that`s all good. And by the summer I think we`ll be open and -- open for business and that`s all-good news. And of course, the stock market is reacting to that.

And then of course the other really very important factor is the American Rescue Plan. That is the $1.9 trillion fiscal support package. You mentioned the stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, rental assistance, food assistance, help to the airline industry, I mean, I can go on and on and on.

That is really super charging the economy, and then of course you have very low interest rates provided by the Feds. It`s all coming together. We have these very significant tail winds.


ZANDI: The economy is (inaudible).

VELSHI: Mark, you say you`ve been a professional economist for about 30 years. You and I have talked for a very large portion of that. And one of the things that`s become bigger each year has been this equality gap, the idea that, you know, when we hit recession, if you go into a recession with pretty good credit and capital you come out stronger, and if you went in weak you sometimes come out weaker.

We have this problem. We`ve got food insecurity. We`ve got people are still earning $7.25 an hour. We have 8 million fewer employed people than we had a year ago. Biden seems to want to have a recovery that doesn`t leave all of them behind.

ZANDI: Yes, totally agree. I think, you know, if you look at the American Rescue Plan where the support goes, it goes to lower income households that are under the most stress, the folks that are unemployed, underemployed who got hit hard by the pandemic.

Then of course the build back better agenda, which we`ve now got a much clearer vision of, that`s the American jobs plan, the infrastructure plan you were talking about and the American families plan. That`s all the support that goes to families through education and childcare and family leave.

Those plans are designed to help support lower income, lower middle-income Americans. And it`s paid for by higher taxes on large corporations and the well-to-do, high income households. So, the idea behind this, build back better agenda, is to help improve long-term economic growth but then take the benefits of that growth and make sure that low-income Americans who have been left behind benefit from that.

VELSHI: All right. I`m going to go back to sort of the early days of your and my career where it was more broadly accepted that the idea of trickle- down economics, that benefits will trickle down if you give them to top earners and corporations. A recent Ipsos/Reuters poll exactly was released yesterday, said that 51 percent agree with the statement that trickle-down economics have never worked with America.

Among Republicans, four in 10 agreed that it was failed theory. This is something that Joe Biden said to Congress on Wednesday. What`s your evaluation of that, the idea of the trickle-down economics don`t work?

ZANDI: They don`t. We`ve tried this a few times and each time it`s failed miserably. I mean, it`s, you know, evident in the data. The income and wealth distribution has become increasingly more skewed, you know, going all the way back, you know, to the late `70s and early `80s. So this has been a long running development, not something that just happened overnight.

And we`ve tried trickle-down economics a couple three times during that period and so, that has not worked. And I do think it makes a lot of sense to address this problem head on and provide support directly to the groups that need it.

And that, you know, that is immediate help to navigate through the pandemic because many lower income groups didn`t have any financial restrictions (ph) coming into the pandemic, so they were left without any support. They needed it.

But even more importantly going forward making sure they get the help they need to, you know, get their kids educated, get themselves educated, get the childcare they need so they can go to work, make the economy work for them.

And so, these programs are designed to, you know again, lift the entire economy and support stronger and longer (inaudible) economic growth, improve productivity, increase labor force participation, all the things we want to see in a well-functioning economy. But then make sure that, you know, those benefits go to those folks that have really been left behind.

And try, you know, it took us 30, 35 years to get here over this income wealth distribution. It`s going to take us a long time to get out. So, it`s going to be --


ZANDI: -- it`s going to require, you know, a very persistent policy effort and we`re really now beginning.

VELSHI: I for one am pleased to be in a world in which we -- you and I can have economic policy discussions again. The news cycle didn`t allow that to happen for a while. Mark, good to see you as always. Mark Zandi is the chief economist for Moody`s Analytics.

Well, today, President Biden visited his favorite swing state, Pennsylvania, to promote his economic proposals and of course he delivered his speech at an Amtrak station in Philadelphia. A place very familiar to him from his years of commuting by train.

Joining us now from Pennsylvania is state representative Malcolm Kenyatta. He is running for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania. Representative -- Senator Kenyatta, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us today.

I want to continue the conversation that Mark and I were having about sort of bottom-up economics that Joe Biden is talking about, and the philosophical idea that Joe Biden shares with many Democrats, that government has a leading role to play at moments like this, that government is a force for good. How do you overcome in a place like Pennsylvania? A whole bunch of conservatives who have for years believed the opposite.

REP. MALCOLM KENYATTA (D-PA): Yes, I think -- first of all, it`s good to be with you. I think one of the things you`re seeing is that actually investing in working families is not only good for the economy, it`s good for politics. These proposals that the president has rolled out one after the other are deeply popular with the American people.

You know, and you talked about, you know, philosophy, but for a lot of folks here, people in my district, for people like me who grew up in a working poor family, this is not philosophical or hypothetical, it`s real. Whether or not we expand broadband for rural communities that`s real for those family.

Whether or not people can afford childcare, that`s real. Whether or not we do something about the care economy -- my mom was a home health care aide - - that is real. And so, what he is doing is laying out proposals that really meet the moment where American people are trying to get out of this pandemic but also trying to confront a lot of the systems that made this pandemic as bad as it was.

VELSHI: What do you do, though, in a place like Pennsylvania where you`re running outside of your district? Where you`re going to run in a state that has some major cities, some major urban centers and a lot of rural in between where people have been subject to stories, in some cases the big lie which has played out quite effectively in rural Pennsylvania. How do you get that argument out to people out there? Have you tried, and how`s it going?

KENYATTA: So, you know, my campaign is really about answering a simple question. And if you`ve been an organizer as I have, if you`ve stood on picket lines with working folks demanding better as I have many times, there`s a song, Ali, that you`ll hear a lot of times on the picket line. And it says which side are you on, which side are you on?

And the answer to that has to be the people side. That`s why when we look at our campaign, we see so many people rushing to to chip just 33 bucks at a time. That`s our average contribution because no matter if you`re in Philadelphia or you`re in Altoona or you`re in Scranton, you`re asking that question.

Which side is the government on? Is it on the side of working people or is it going to continue to be on the side of big corporations that have been able to write the rules to their benefit time and time and time again? And they`ve really had a good employee in Pat Toomey that has worked for those big corporations and not for the people of Pennsylvania.

VELSHI: Let me play for you a little snippet of a conversation that my colleague Craig Melvin had with President Biden yesterday, and let`s talk on the other side of it.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t have any inordinate faith in government, but there`s certain things only the government can do. Is the private sector going to go out and build billions of dollars` worth of highways, ports, airports, bridges? Are they going to do that? And so these are things that only government can really do.


VELSHI: That message, can you get that to resonate with people, the idea there are things that government just does better than individuals or corporations?

KENYATTA: Absolutely. And not only is the president absolutely right, but I think a part of what we need to change is having people in government who understand in their bones what it looks like when government fails, what it looks like when government doesn`t work.

You know, I watched my mom all the time ration her insulin, my dad the same thing. Lost both of them before I turned 27. We moved four, five different times. So, whether you`re talking about infrastructure or you`re talking about housing, or you`re talking about confronting the climate crisis by thinking big and investing in good clean energy jobs, these are things that government has to take the lead on.

And we see right now what happens when government steps up to the plate. You talked about how the economy is roaring and how so many people are beginning to get their footing again. But we still have to deal with some of the systemic challenges, and that`s what the American Families Plan and the American Jobs Plan are all about.

You know, I watched the president`s remarks the other day before a joint session of Congress and watched as he talked about cutting childhood poverty in half, and you have a whole section of the room that didn`t think that that was worthy of applause and didn`t want to support the president in making that happen.

And so, we do know there are people in government that for so long have been committed to making government not work and then telling the lie that government doesn`t work without acknowledging the fact that they are the reason that government doesn`t work.

VELSHI: Right.

KENYATTA: And so, we have a president now that is doing big, bold things. And that`s what we`re doing in this campaign, and I think Pennsylvania`s ready.

VELSHI: Representative Kenyatta, I always enjoy our conversations, but I think you may have made history tonight. I don`t know anybody has ever sung to me live on T.V. So, I`m grateful for that. It has added a new layer to our relationship. Representative Malcolm Kenyatta of Pennsylvania, thank you for joining me tonight.

KENYATTA: Thank you, my friend.

VELSHI: Well, coming up, so if Republicans can no longer baselessly claim Republicans good, Democrats bad on the economy then what`s left? After four years of incompetent and corrupt governance from the Trump administration, the way the Republicans plan to win is to stop voters from voting. Jonathan Capehart and Renee Graham join me next.


VELSHI: President Biden`s agenda is unabashedly progressive, arguably the most progressive since FDR. And despite having razor thin margins in the House and Senate, Democrats are happily blazing forward with those plans. They can do that because Republican attacks on Biden as socialist aren`t working.

A new NBC News poll shows that voters believe Biden is more moderate than Barack Obama was at this same stage of his presidency even though Biden`s plans are far more ambitious. NBC notes that Biden`s $1.9 trillion stimulus package was considerably larger than the $787 billion recovery aid enacted by Obama in the early days of his administration.

Add on top of that Biden`s $4 trillion for infrastructure proposal that includes liberal-favored policies like paid family leave, universal pre-K and free community college. What`s more, all of this is popular with majorities of Americans, so are his proposals to pay for these policies by raising taxes on corporations and the rich.

It might explain why Republicans are choosing a different strategy to gain the upper hand. The Associated Press reports, "Biden himself simply isn`t proving to be an easy target or animating figure for the GOP base prompting Republicans to turn to the kind of cultural issues the party has used to cast Democrats as elitist and out of touch with average Americans."

That`s why you see Republicans and conservative media complaining about cancel culture instead of economic relief. But this GOP strategy can do real world harm to real people. Take a look at how they`re targeting transgender athletes from competing in school sports or how they`re trying to stop people from voting.

If they can`t beat Democrats on the issues, they`ll just try to keep voters from voting. In fact, just last night, Republicans in Florida passed the latest voter suppression bill which Republican Governor Ron DeSantis says that he is going to sign.

The bill puts new restrictions on the use of drop boxes, adds new I.D. requirements to vote by mail and makes voters request absentee ballots more frequently.

Joining us now Jonathan Capehart who is an opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and the host of "The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart" on MSNBC, Renee Graham, opinion columnist and associate editor at the "Boston Globe." Good evening to both of you. Great to see you.

Renee, it is kind of interesting because Joe Biden as I just discussed with Representative Kenyatta, is embracing this idea as government as meaningful, government as influential in people`s lives, big government being okay. And that flies in four plus decades of opposition from conservatives. You don`t see conservatives up there fighting that. They`re fighting other things.

RENEE GRAHAM, COLUMNIST AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Right. I mean, it`s hard to fight against what people actually want. The polls keep proving that they want what Biden is proposing. So, all the conservatives can do is raise all these other issues which have nothing to do with people`s day to day lives.

Vilifying trans students isn`t helping America. All you`re doing is vilifying this group of vulnerable people. So, I think it`s sort of absurd that Republicans are spending all this time on these issues and not on what people actually care about.

VELSHI: Yes, which is interesting because we could have valid discussions, Jonathan, about the things that people care about, right? Everybody wants a higher minimum wage. You`ve got two Republicans. I think Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton proposing a $10 minimum wage as opposed to the $15 that Biden is suggesting. Ten is not great, but it`s better than $7.25.

Republicans could go to every issue that Biden is on and try and put forward a compromise, but it always ends up trickling out. They always happen to have five or six or maybe 10 Republicans who engage in the discussion and then it all just fizzles out because Mitch McConnell wants nothing to do with it.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Right. They`re not interested in governing, Ali. I mean, basically, that`s what it boils down to. A functioning party, a functioning Republican Party, there would be more Mitt Romneys, more Tom Cottons coming to the table on every issue to say to the American people, yes, you heard President Biden in his joint session speech, but here`s our plan for childcare, our plan for paid family leave, our plan to boost the minimum wage.

Yes, he says $15, here`s our proposal and here`s how we`re going to pay for it. That`s what a functioning, governing or functioning party and a party interested in governing would do, but that`s not what`s happening. What they`re trying to do instead because what the president is doing is popular with a broad swath of the American people is they`ve just decided, well, let`s just try to keep as many people who could vote for the Democrats from voting.

Remember, Joe Biden got to most votes for president of any person ever in American history and Republicans saw that and said not going to do it again.

VELSHI: Yes. Renee, I was intrigued and maybe a little excited to hear Republican Senator Tim Scott`s rebuttal to Joe Biden`s address on Wednesday night. You know, he has shown some propensity to try and find some common ground on the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. So, I was surprised to hear this from Tim Scott. Let`s listen and talk on the other side.


SEN. TIM SCOT (R-SC): Hear me clearly. America is not a racist country. It`s backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination. And it`s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shutdown debates in the present. I`m an African American who`s voted in the south my entire life. I take voting rights personally. Republicans support making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.


VELSHI: So, I`m going to take Tim Scott at his word as an African American from the south he takes voting rights seriously, but personally, I have no reason to doubt that. But that last sentence was a little odd because Republicans around the country are not demonstrating that they want to make it easier to vote.

GRAHAM: Not at all. I mean, you know, the thing is that you have to go back about a decade. The GOP was fretting about the changing demographics and it was loosening their hold on power. Lindsey Graham said we`re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long-term.

So now what they have are all these bills and laws to make it more difficult. That`s why Lindsey Graham is around now saying, oh, 2022 is going to be a blowout year for Republicans because they don`t have policies. What they have is voter suppression. That`s what they`re using to win. So this whole idea that somehow it`s all good and these laws are actually going to make things better is complete nonsense.

VELSHI: Thanks to both of you for joining me tonight. Renee, always good to see you. Jonathan, we are going to see each other again on Sunday morning so thanks for giving me a little warm-up on Friday night. Jonathan Capehart is the host of the Sunday show 10:00 a.m. eastern right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, breaking news on the federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani. New details about the search warrants and why they were not executed under the Bill Barr Justice Department is next.


VELSHI: Breaking news on the federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani. The Associated Press reports tonight that Justice Department officials in the Trump administration considered serving Giuliani with a search warrant last fall. But an internal dispute over the case never resolved leaving Biden officials to make the decision.

The AP previously reported that, quote, "Federal prosecutors in Manhattan pushed last year for a search warrant for records, but officials in the Trump era Justice Department would not sign off on the request. DOJ officials raised concerns about both the scope of the request which they thought would contain communications that could be covered by legal privilege between Giuliani and Trump and the method of obtaining the records."

Tonight, we`re learning more about the search warrants that were executed this week on Giuliani`s home and office. According to "The Wall Street Journal" the warrants sought communications with an array of Ukrainian officials including information related to the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Quote, "Federal prosecutors have pursued a theory that hinges on the idea that Mr. Giuliani`s efforts to remove Ms. Yovanovitch were done at the behest of Ukrainian officials in exchange for damaging information about the Bidens. Such an exchange, even if it involved no financial payment could violate federal lobbying laws," end quote.

Joining us now is Glenn Kirschner. He`s a former prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst.

Good evening to you, Glenn. I would love to know not only what you make of this -- the raid, the seizing of documents, and of course, Rudy Giuliani`s responses. I guess you could have expected that he was going to have them, but he`s been all over TV and Web sites responding to it.

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Ali. I did watch the Tucker Carlson interview of Rudy Giuliani and he just completely rewrote the law on search warrants.

So, for example, he told the viewers that the only way prosecutors can get a search warrant is if there`s evidence that the target is going to destroy or, in his words, run away with the evidence.

And I don`t know why he is misleading the Fox viewers, but there actually is only one thing that has to be proved in order to get a search warrant. You have to show that there`s probable cause that a crime was committed and that there`s evidence of that crime in the place to be searched.

A federal judge concluded there is evidence of crime presently in Rudy Giuliani`s home, in his office and in his electronic devices. So, you know, Rudy Giuliani`s attempt to explain it all away as, in his words, an illegal search warrant really falls flat.

VELSHI: So, there`s another bombastic lawyer and confidant of Donald Trump`s who had a search warranted executed on his work and home, Michael Cohen. He was on with Nicolle Wallace tonight with a little advice for Rudy Giuliani. Let`s listen to what he has to say.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: This is my speech to Rudy and to, you know, anybody else. They have him. and so, if he`s looking to protect himself so that he doesn`t end up spending the rest of his life in prison, he may want to actually start to cooperate.

It`s something that I didn`t do that I probably should have done, hindsight being 20-20.


VELSHI: What do you make of that advice, Glenn?

KIRSCHNER: Yes, that`s the voice of experience talking because let`s look at what happened last time. Federal search warrants were executed on an attorney`s home, a presidential attorney and in an attorney`s office.

Well, that was Michael Cohen, he ended up going to prison. So, if past is prologue, I think Rudy Giuliani ought to hunker down with his lawyers and start to discuss, ok, who are the bigger fish that I can give up.

So, if it were me as the prosecutor I would be debriefing Rudy Giuliani about what he knows about Bill Barr, about Donald Trump, about Don, Jr. and others. Because if anybody knows the value of cooperating with a criminal probe, it`s a former U.S. attorney like Rudy Giuliani.

VELSHI: And there`s more to it than the bombast and the things having to do with the election, which were most recent in our memory about Rudy Giuliani. This actually has to do with Ukraine and the American presence there and the acting Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who by the way, talked about Rudy Giuliani targeting her, which probably ultimately led to her losing her job in the Trump administration.

Let`s listen to what she had to say about Rudy Giuliani.


MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UKRAINE: I do not understand Mr. Giuliani`s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about him. Clearly no one at the State Department did.

What I can say is that Mr. Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.


VELSHI: Marie Yovanovitch was somebody that some powerful people in Ukraine would have liked out of the way, and ultimately that worked. I don`t know how that makes it more or less serious as a crime, but it is more -- it`s serious as a matter of national security that Rudy Giuliani might have been up to this kind of activity either at the behest of the Russian -- of the Ukrainians or not.

KIRSCHNER: Yes. And this is a really interesting piece, Ali, because a president has plenary authority to remove an ambassador for good reason or for no reason at all. So at any moment Donald Trump could have picked up the phone and recalled Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, but that`s not what was going on.

What was going on was Rudy Giuliani was working behind the scenes to try to dislodge Ambassador Yovanovitch who by all accounts was a really accomplished corruption fighter in her post as an ambassador.

So if the president could have summarily removed her, why did Rudy Giuliani have to work behind the scenes to almost covertly try to push her out? That tells us -- and this is why I think you read that it`s the working theory of the prosecutors.

It tells us that Rudy Giuliani wasn`t doing this for Donald Trump. He could have done it himself. What he was probably doing is what the evidence is beginning to look like was he was acting at the behest of powerful Ukrainians who did not like Ambassador Yovanovitch`s anti-corruption work. That is a really bad look for Rudy Giuliani.

VELSHI: Glenn, always good to see you. You make everything substantially clearer for me. I appreciate that.

Glenn Kirschner is a former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst. Thank you for joining us, sir.

Well coming up, just weeks before Andrew Brown, Jr. was killed by police in what his family called an execution, Democrats in North Carolina were fighting to change the extremely restrictive body cam video laws that exist in that state. We`re going to talk about that next.


VELSHI: In the six-plus years since Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri 8,000 police departments across the country have outfitted their officers with body-worn cameras. Police body cameras matter because in most cases there isn`t a witness like Darnella Frazier who heroically held up her phone and recorded Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by putting his knee on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

Andrew Brown, Jr. was shot and killed by police in North Carolina one day after Derek Chauvin was convicted. But in North Carolina footage from police body cameras can only be released to the public with a court order. And this week a judge ruled against releasing the Brown footage at this time.

Two weeks before Brown was killed by police, lawmakers in North Carolina introduced a bill that would require all law enforcement agencies in the state to release any body camera footage as a public record after 48 hour.

Joining us now is one of the cosponsors of that North Carolina bill, state Senator Don Davis. Senator, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

I`m curious as to the response you`re getting against your proposal including from the judge who didn`t come up with a particularly compelling reason for not having the video in this particular case released publicly.

DON DAVIS (D-NC), STATE SENATOR: Ali, let me say truly I`m glad to be with you. And first and foremost, my heart goes out to the Brown family and the Pasquotank County community here in North Carolina. To the family and the community, I want it to be loud and clear that we`ve heard the demands for transparency and accountability and that to me is what this is about.

That`s why you see this legislation and the need to get this footage released not only to the family but to the public and even to the law enforcement community.

VELSHI: And you got this started before this particular killing that has made the news. One of the things according to the "Raleigh Observer" is that if there was some reason not to release it that was in the public interest it would have to be released within 48 hours unless the agency that is responsible for it, whatever policing agency it is, receives a court order to seal the video for a set amount of time.

So you`re default -- you would like the default to be it gets released within 48 hours unless someone can prove to a court that there`s some negative effect to doing so.

DAVIS: Absolutely. And what we believe in this case, what happens if you after 48 hours allow that review process to happen and to therefore make it public, it gets it out to the public much faster. And what we`re seeing right now honestly, delays which I believe erodes public trust.

VELSHI: Senator, tell me what -- what you think comes of this because you`ve got a governor who`s in favor of having these videos released. You`ve got local officials in Elizabeth City calling on it to be released.

Do you know why the judge decided in this case not to do so when there`s so much public interest in this?

DAVIS: Well, I`ll tell you we`re still looking at this whole scenario. I`ve been in communication with other lawmakers, and we`re examining this whole process. And I believe we need a process that works for the people. We still have protesters out as we speak right now.

There`s loud cries for this to become public. And I`ve heard those cries and we remain committed to taking every step to make that happen for the people of North Carolina.

VELSHI: Senator, good to talk to you. Thank you for joining us. North Carolina State Senator Don Davis is with the North Carolina general assembly.

Coming up, the Biden administration announced a big step this week to keep kids fed in school next year. The economy`s improving a lot but there`s still so many people struggling to survive, literally struggling to eat and feed their kids. That`s next.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the defining images, at least from my perspective, in this crisis has been cars lined up -- cars lined up for miles. And not people just barely ever start those cars -- nice cars lined up for miles. Waiting for a box of food to be put in their trunk.

I don`t know about you but I didn`t ever think I`d see that in America. And all of this is through no fault of their own.


VELSHI: As we said at the top of the show, Biden`s economic recovery is real, but so is the pain that people and families have been feeling after a year of the pandemic. 42 million people including 13 million children may experience food insecurity this year which the government describes as eating less food than you`d like or need or food of a lower quality and having regular eating patterns disrupted because you can`t pay for enough food on a regular basis. It means hunger or living in fear of hunger.

The pandemic has had devastating effects on food security and hunger. The U.S. Department of Agricultural announced this week that it would extend universal free lunch to more than 30 million low-income school children through the end of next school year.

And on his first full day in office, President Biden issued an executive order asking the USDA to expand other federal nutrition assistance programs.

Joining us now are Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts. He`s the head of the House Hunger Caucus. And Jean McMurray, the CEO of Worcester County Food Bank in Massachusetts. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Representative McGovern, you actually would like to have a conference of hunger convened. We had one in 1969 and some remarkable things came out of it including the school lunch program, the food stamp program, the school breakfast program, SNAP for women, infants and children. And you say that it needs to happen now. This crisis is much more serious than people who don`t go hungry believe it to be.

REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): Well, first of all, I thank you for having me and thank you for all that you have down to call attention to the issue of hunger in America.

Look, I really do believe this is time for another White House conference on food nutrition and hunger. We have a hunger problem in this country. And, you know, one of the challenges that we face in solving it is that the jurisdiction to solve it falls under the multiple committees, multiple agencies.

So a White House conference could pull everybody together, anybody who`s relevant in solving this problem, bringing together in one room and let`s develop a road map with benchmarks to actually end hunger, not to manage it but to end it.

And I want included in that room those with lived experiences, those with lived experiences, those who are going through -- dealing with hunger.

So this is the moment. We have 45 million Americans who are hungry. We should be ashamed of that. We are the richest country in the history of the world, we can do better.

And so as the chairman of the Rules Committee we began a series of hearings that we`re going to work with all the other committees to bring them together to actually build a -- you know, the record that we can give to the White House and hopefully they will do this White House conference on food, nutrition and hunger.

I`ve talked to the Secretary of Agriculture, I`ve talked to the Secretary of Transportation, others in the White House. I think they`re supportive of the idea but I think now is the time to have that conference and let`s end hunger.

VELSHI: Jean, this whole idea of hearing from people in a conference like that who have a lived experience of hunger, you see people and talk to people every day who have that lived experience. And one of the things that has struck you in the last year is what happens when you encounter somebody who`s new to hunger or food insecurity.

The remarkable fear that goes through you, it`s paralyzing. It embarrasses you. You don`t know what the resources are that are available to you and sometimes your food bank is their first stop.

JEAN MCMURRAY, CEO, WORCESTER COUNTY FOOD BANK: Absolutely. And thank you, Ali, for having me on the show. It`s a pleasure to be here.

In fact, in April of 2020, the first full month of the pandemic the Worcester County Food Bank and our network of food pantries saw a 205 percent increase in the number of people going to a food pantry for the very first time compared to April 2019.

These are people who until recently had worked in nonessential service jobs, in retail and in the hospitality industry. People like Marie when I answered the phone I could detect the panic that was in Marie`s voice as she explained to me that she had three children, she was laid off. She had never had trouble feeding her family before. And she just didn`t know who to turn to or where to go. And she was trying to pay her bills but it was a real scramble while she waited for unemployment to be approved.

So the first thing we did was Marie and I e took a deep breath together and I told her she had come to the right place. I gave her assistance on how to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. I told her the school where she could go and get takeout meals for her children. And then I looked up the food pantry closest to where she lives and I discovered that the food pantry was closed.

So I invited Marie to come to the food bank because I didn`t want her to go without food for one moment or her family to go without food for one moment. The pantry would be open the next day but that was just too long for her to wait.

So when she came to the food bank and my co-workers and I brought out boxes of fresh food, frozen food and a range of nonperishable food items, Marie met us with a smile and some tears of relief.

But you know, Maria is just one of tens of thousands of people who had never needed to go to a food pantry before the pandemic gave them little choice. And when I met with her, you know, she reminded me of my neighbor.

And that`s when I thought, that`s who the food bank and our the food pantry partners help. We`re helping our neighbors whether they live next door, around the corner or across town. And they are kids who are in school with our kids and grand kids and they`re senior citizens who stand next to the market checkout line with us.

VELSHI: You know, some of Congressman McGovern`s colleagues in Congress have said that this expanded aid to people discourages work. I only have about 30 seconds left but have you -- what have you seen as a result of expanded aid to people who do not have an income right now?

MCGOVERN: Well, let me just say that those who are criticizing President Biden and thank God that we have a president who recognizes we have a hunger problem in this country. But the bottom line is if government is not there to help solve this problem then, you know, I don`t know what good government is.

And the bottom line is the -- one of the statistics I want to tell you is that, you know, people say to me all the time people should just go to work. Well, the majority of people who are able-bodied who can work who are on SNAP actually they do work. The majority of people --

VELSHI: They want to work.

MCGOVERN: Yes, they work. They work, they earn so little, they`re still on SNAP. So the bottom line is, you know, we need this White House conference to look at this issue holistically to be able address the challenges that Jean just outlined and we can do this. We can end hunger in our country.

VELSHI: Congressman, if you get that White House conference on hunger I will make sure that we cover it extensively on MSNBC. This is a crucial matter and it doesn`t need to exist.

MCGOVERN: Thank you.

VELSHI: Congressman Jim McGovern, thank you. Jean, thanks for putting a real face on this for us so that we understand those who tonight are not sure where tomorrow`s food comes from. Jean McMurray is the CEO of the Worcester County Food Bank in Massachusetts.

That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.

You can catch me tomorrow on my show "VELSHI" at 8:00 a.m. We`re going to learn more about the raid on Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani`s apartment. I`m going to talk to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen who`s lived this moment for himself.

On Sunday I`ll be joined by the former -- by the current White House economic adviser Heather Boushey.