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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/5/21

Guests: Kirk Burkhalter, Marq Claxton, Tim Ryan, Laurence Tribe, Tim O`Brien


Today, the most important piece of testimony Chief Arradondo delivered was that Derek Chauvin should have taken his knee off of George Floyd`s neck after the first few seconds. The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has ruled that Senate Democrats can pass two more bills this year with a simple majority vote, paving the way for President Joe Biden`s infrastructure plan to pass with 51 votes, bypassing the 60- vote procedural threshold for most legislation in the Senate now. Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio is interviewed. In an op-ed for the right wing newspaper "The Washington Examiner", Congressman Matt Gaetz said quote, "I am absolutely not resigning". Donald Trump lied about campaign fundraising from the beginning to the end of his political career.



And it was wonderful to see your glee at the beginning of your hour tonight, knowing that you had breaking parliamentary news to deliver to America about the mysterious workings of the United States Senate, and getting into it deeply with Adam Jentleson, who`s also the guy to talk about that.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Well, I knew you would appreciate me dorking out on Senate rules and procedure because alone among everyone who I know, you are, not only an encyclopedia on this, but also as much of a dork about these things as I am.

But having Adam talk me down a little bit and explain what it means in practical terms was probably good because I was, in fact, giddy.

O`DONNELL: Well, you know, the idea of three reconciliation bills this year, most years they don`t have any. I mean, these are not -- they`re just not things that are used all the time. So here we are, this is unprecedented. And it`s going to be exciting to watch.

MADDOW: And it also means that they`re going to have to think about legislation and legislative priorities in a very different way. I mean, if you`re honest about the prospect of getting ten Republican votes, it`s never going to happen on anything. That means they now know it`s not just one more reconciliation bill, it`s three more. That means they need to think about their priorities in terms of what can be passed in a reconciliation bill, which is only a very specific kind of legislation.

And the Democrats have an opportunity, but they need to make some changes pretty quickly to make sure they take advantage of this as it allows.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it is going to require masterful legislative technique here. But Chuck Schumer, I have to say, I`m in awe of what he`s already pulled off with the ruling by the parliamentarian.

MADDOW: Yeah, when we got to news on it tonight, I was like, oh, that`s the ace up his sleeve. That`s why he keeps saying he has ways to get things passed. That`s what he`s been talking about. We knew it was something that he wouldn`t explain. Here it is. This is what was coming.

O`DONNELL: Yup. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, today, the blue wall of silence around police work in America was broken. It was broken under oath in the murder trial of a police officer by the police chief, who fired that officer within hours of watching a video that was posted on social media by a 17-year-old girl who bravely recorded that video.

In decades of covering trials of police officers on homicide charges or in wrongful death lawsuits, I have never heard testimony like we heard today from the Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arredondo. We have seen police chiefs tried to cover up killings like this. That`s much more common than what we saw today.

And we have heard police chiefs make excuses for police officers in unjustified uses of deadly force. And that is much more common than what we saw today. We`ve heard police chiefs make absolutely no comment whatsoever in cases like this. Just be part of that silent blue wall. That`s what we have come to expect. We have not heard a police chief come forward as an important witness for the prosecution in a nationally televised murder trial of a police officer.

Chief Arradondo testified that the first video he reviewed on the night George Floyd was killed was from a permanent police surveillance camera that is position at that busy intersection in Minneapolis which captured the action on the street from a certain distance. And there was not enough detail in the video for the chief to be alarmed by what he saw. And then hours later, the chief heard about another video.


CHIEF MEDARIA ARRODONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Probably close to midnight, a community member contacted me and said, chief, almost verbatim, but said, chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 30th and Chicago? So, once I heard that statement, I just knew it wasn`t the same milestone camera video that I had saw. And eventually within minutes after that, I saw for the first time what is now known as the bystander video.


O`DONNELL: So around midnight, the Minneapolis police chief saw the video recorded by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, showing Derek Chauvin`s knee on George Floyd`s neck for what we now know to be 9 minutes and 29 seconds. It was on the basis of that video that the chief fired all four officers who are at the scene hours after he saw that video.

Today, the most important piece of testimony Chief Arradondo delivered was that Derek Chauvin should have taken his knee off of George Floyd`s neck after the first few seconds.


PROSECUTOR: When do you believe, or do you believe as to when this restraint, the restraint on the ground that you viewed, should have stopped?

ARRODONDO: Once Mr. Floyd, based on my viewing of the videos, once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that. That should have stopped.

There`s an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds. But once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person, prone out, handcuffed behind their back, that in no way, shape, or form is anything that is by policy, is not part of our training, and is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.


O`DONNELL: The first few seconds Derek Chauvin`s knee was on George Floyd`s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, and according to the police chief`s testimony today, that was more than 9 minutes too long. You will be hearing that phrase in the prosecutor`s final arguments to the jury, the first few seconds.

Everything beyond the first few seconds was, according to the police chief, a violation of Minneapolis Police Department`s rules and ethics and values.


PROSECUTOR: So is it your belief, then, that this particular form of restraint, if that`s what we`ll call it, in fact violates departmental policy?

ARRODONDO: I absolutely agree. That violates our policy.


O`DONNELL: What was sadly on display today in the courtroom was the constantly recurring fact that police training does not work. Police training did not work for Derek Chauvin. Derek Chauvin ignored all of his police training when he had his knee on George Floyd`s neck.

We heard today that police training requires police officers like Derek Chauvin to provide first aid to anyone in their custody who seems to be in physical distressed. We watched Derek Chauvin refuse to do that for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

The emergency room physician who was the first to see George Floyd in the hospital said George Floyd might have survived if Derek Chauvin had taken his knee off of George Floyd`s neck and administered first aid.


DR. BRADFORD WANKHEDE LANGENFELD, PROSECUTION WITNESS: It`s well known that any amount of time that a patient spends in cardiac arrest without immediate CPR markedly decreases the chance of good outcome. Approximately 10 to 15 percent decrease in survival for every minute that CPR is not administered.


O`DONNELL: Every minute that CPR is not administered, every minute counts. Police officers are trained to know that every minute counts.

Police training was completely wasted on Derek Chauvin and the other three officers who have been charged in George Floyd`s murder. The Minneapolis police rule book stresses something, that Derek Chauvin appears to have never once thought about. During those 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the sanctity of life.


PROSECUTOR: Can you please read the first sentence under paragraph "a"?

ARRODONDO: Yes. Sanctity of life and the protection of the public shall be the cornerstones of the MPD`s use of force policy.

PROSECUTOR: What does that mean?

ARRODONDO: Of all the things that we do, as peace officers, for the Minneapolis police department, I mentioned that thousands of calls that our men and women respond to, it is my firm belief that the one singular incident we will be judged forever on will be our use of force. So while it is absolutely imperative that our officers go home at the end of their shift, we want to make sure that the community members go home, too. So sanctity of life is absolutely vital. That that is the pillar for use of force.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight are Kirk Burkhalter, criminal law professor at New York University, where he is the director of the 21st Century Policing Project, and Marq Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. Both are retired New York City police detectives.

I don`t like to say retired with men so young. We`re just going to say former New York City police detectives.

Professor, let me begin with you tonight and your reaction to what you thought was the most important evidence revealed in the trial today.

KIRK BURKHALTER, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW CRIMINAL LAW PROFESSOR: Well, the testimony, thank you, Lawrence, first of all. The testimony by the chief was incredible by several different reasons. Something you alluded to, sometimes you can train certain things, other times you can`t. Leadership starts from the top, and zero tolerance starts from the top.

What you saw today was a police chief, a leader of the police department, taking accountability and presenting himself as an extremely credible witness, and explaining why that police department should have zero toll tolerance for these actions. So, I think he came off very well for the jury. And the prosecution should be pleased with his testimony.

Further, I believe this goes a long way to beginning the healing process between the police and communities and so forth. Having a leader like this take accountability, not hedge words or dodge any answers. But answer questions directly, not be evasive. And to show that he is accountable for what his officers do.

O`DONNELL: Marq, there were so many things on display in the chief`s testimony today, including for me one of those moments of community policing. He found out about the Darnella Frazier video not from anyone in the police department. He said someone in the community called him and said, have you seen the video? And that was the video that changed this chief`s understanding of what he was dealing with.

MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE DIRECTOR: I tell you what, Chief Arradondo showed himself not just to be an anomaly, but a unicorn, when you can display that level of professional integrity. I think it`s important for people to realize that this just didn`t start at the trial point. At the beginning, from the very beginning, Chief Arradondo has been consistent in his outrage and disgusted about the death of George Floyd.

He penalized the police officers almost immediately upon finding out, then he took the necessary steps to begin the reform process in the department itself. He is the professional standard, and as I indicated, the unicorn. And to show just how open he is to the processes of community policing, he even referred to procedural justice in his testimony, which is a cornerstone of just about every reform process that is out there. So here you have a true professional who represented the standard in law enforcement. Really demonstrating what integrity and honesty is all about.

And his history is very telling about who he is right now. His history of struggles within the very agency that he now heads is very important and telling about some of the positions, the principled positions that he`s taken.

O`DONNELL: Professor, the chief phrased something in a way I`ve never heard before in relation to police work. He used the phrase body of work. Something that we use in the arts, that we could use in other careers. And he talked about how police officers cannot, will not be judged on their body of work. They will be judged on their worst day of work. That`s something they have to accept going into this line of work.

I don`t want to be judged by my worst day at work. And I can live in a profession where I probably won`t be, and I`ll probably be more likely to be judged on a body of work. But that`s not a luxury that police officers have.

BURKHALTER: Not at all, Lawrence. You`re absolutely correct. And this is something unique to the policing profession. The chief touched on this. Quite often, there`s only one opportunity to make an impression with a member of the community. It`s usually just that one time, a police officer pulls you over to issue a summons or that you call 911. Often, that`s how you are judged.

So imagine if that interaction is negative, the police do not have an opportunity for multiple bites at the apple. I think that`s what the chief was trying to get across. He mentioned the initial contact with the public. And this lack of judgment based on the body of work, but on that one incident. Many people will say that`s unfair, but that`s the nature of the beast, that`s the job, and that`s always been the job.

O`DONNELL: Professor Kirk Burkhalter and Marq Claxton, both formerly from the NYPD -- thank you both very much for joining us tonight and starting us off. Really appreciate it.

BURKHALTER: Thank you.

CLAXTON: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, it`s going to be a year like no other in the United States senate. Vote-a-rama after vote-a-rama. The Senate parliamentarian will allow the Democrats to do more than one budget reconciliation bill this year, which means they can pass those other bills with only 51 votes. Now it`s a matter of just convincing all 50 Democrats and holding them together to pass the Biden infrastructure bill. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: In breaking parliamentary news, the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has ruled that Senate Democrats can pass two more bills this year with a simple majority vote, paving the way for President Joe Biden`s infrastructure plan to pass with 51 votes, bypassing the 60- vote procedural threshold for most legislation in the Senate now.

The parliamentarian ruled that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can use the budget reconciliation process twice more this year, something we`ve never seen before in the Senate.

In a statement, Chuck Schumer said the parliamentarian`s opinion is an important step forward, that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed.

To pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure package, President Biden is proposing increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent. Today, the president was asked if increasing the corporate tax rate would drive corporations to other countries. The president correctly told reporters that, quote, there is no evidence of that.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The tax was 36 percent, it`s now down to 21 percent. And the idea that that is bizarre, we`re talking about a 28 percent tax that everybody thought was fair enough for everybody.

The idea is, you have 51 or 52 corporations in the Fortune 500 haven`t paid a single penny in tax for three years. Come on, man. Get real.


O`DONNELL: The president was off by one point when he said 36 percent. It was 35 percent from 1993 until the Trump tax cuts of 2017, which heavily favored corporations, many of which were already paying zero in federal corporate income tax.

Today, Janet Yellen in this first major speech as treasury secretary called for a global corporate tax rate that would stop countries from trying to compete by lowering corporate tax rates to try to attract new business.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARTY: We`re working with G-20 nations to agree to a global minimum corporate tax rate that can stop the race to the bottom.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. He`s a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and he`s chair of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee that oversees the Capitol police.

Congressman Ryan, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

This is big news not just for the Senate, but for the House because the House has to pass the infrastructure bill first. And you have to know whether you`re working with a reconciliation bill as it will go through the Senate, because it has to be a reconciliation bill going through the House first.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Yes. That`s correct, Lawrence. And we can get into the parliamentary weeds here and budgetary weeds here. But this means that we can do what we want to do with the investments into the American people, period, end of story.

These investments that needed to be made decades ago and now, President Biden, now with this ruling on reconciliation, we`re moving in the right direction. And the American people are going to see a significant change in their quality of life over the next several years because of the investments that we`re going to be able to make.

And in the House, we`ll be able to kick it off and make those investments. I think across the spectrum within the Democratic Caucus, we`ll have significant support for it.

O`DONNELL: There`s a quote from a Republican staffer in the Senate reacting to this today, saying, this is an abuse of the process and clearly not what reconciliation was designed to do. But they`re going to go forward anyway.

And I have to tell you, I agree with that completely. It is an abuse of the reconciliation process, as it was designed. But this comes after years of abuse in the Senate by Mitch McConnell forcing the Democrats into this position because there`s no other way to govern in the Senate now.

RYAN: Yeah. I mean, here we go. I mean, they don`t have to abide by the rules when the Republicans are in charge. Deficits don`t matter when Republicans are in charge. And then all of a sudden, the Democrats come in, and they want everybody to do it differently and not take the advantage.

And, look, we`re in a position now where we`re at crossroads in this country, Lawrence. We`re either going to make these investments that need to be made. Everybody across political parties knows that these investments have to get made -- the roads, the bridges, the broadband, after the pandemic, distance learning, telemedicine. I think the economy could be ready to explode if the public investments get made.

If not, the future is going to belong to China because they`re spending 7 to 9 percent of their GDP on infrastructure. They`re dominating us in 59. They`re dominating the electric vehicle market, at least pre-pandemic. And what President Biden is saying is like, if we don`t make these investments, we might as well get out of the game, because we`re not going to be able to compete with these other countries.

And I`m proud of what he`s doing. I`m going to support what`s happening here and I think it`s going to make a dramatic different.

And one other point, quickly, Lawrence, is that he`s setting aside about 40 percent of the dollars that are going to go to disadvantaged communities -- communities of color, rural America, and places like Youngstown, Ohio. We need the broadband.

We need a public investment if you`re going to lure these companies in New York and Silicon Valley looking for lower cost centers in places like Youngstown and Akron, Ohio, or somewhere in Ohio, we had better have the broadband, we better have the infrastructure and we better have the quality of life, a clean river, a renovated theater in the downtown, business incubator, this needs to happen if we`re going to be on the menu for growth. And President Biden is delivering on the promise that he made.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Tim Ryan, I know you`re thinking about running for Senate in Ohio next year. Are you ready to make an announcement about that?

RYAN: No, I don`t want to step on any story about who wins the Final Four tonight. We`ll let it ride for now. But you`ll be one of the first to know, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: All right. We`re ready for it. Congressman Tim Ryan, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

RYAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, today, Congressman Matt Gaetz said, and this is a quote, you`ll see more drip, drip, drip of leaks into the media, end quote, about him. Michelle Goldberg has been following all the leaks we have so far and will join us, next.


O`DONNELL: Today, in an op-ed for the right wing newspaper "The Washington Examiner", Congressman Matt Gaetz said quote, "I am absolutely not resigning". He then promised that there will be more negative stories about a federal investigation of Congressman Gaetz for possible sex trafficking charges involving his conduct with a 17-year-old girl. Congressman Gaetz denies that he violated any laws.

Gaetz wrote, "You`ll see more drip, drip, drip of leaks into the media from the corrupt Justice Department and others." In his op-ed piece Congressman Gaetz mentioned Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, the Cheney political dynasty and Hunter Biden. But he did not mention the still unnamed woman, who he threw into this story this way.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I can say that actually you and I went to dinner about two years ago. Your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine. You`ll remember her.

And she was actually threatened by the FBI, told that if she wouldn`t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay for play scheme, that she could face trouble.


O`DONNELL: Tucker Carlson responded quote, "I don`t remember the woman you`re speaking of or the context at all."

Today, Nathan Nelson, a former member of the congressman`s staff said that he was interviewed by two FBI agents who knocked on his door on Wednesday of last week. That`s how active this investigation is. Today, that staffer denied any knowledge of improper conduct by Congressman Gaetz.


NATHAN NELSON, FORMER GAETZ STAFFER: I don`t have any specific knowledge on the investigation or any of the facts that are involved with the investigation.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Michelle Goldberg, "New York Times" columnist and an MSNBC contributor. Michelle, just when we think we`ve seen it all by way of possible political scandals, along comes Matt Gaetz.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean this could really be, you know, an entire season of some sort of HBO Prestige drama as directed by the Cohen Brothers, right? It`s not just that you have, you know, sex trafficking, you have political scandal, you have (AUDIO GAP), this incredibly violent and sordid figure in Florida politics.

You have on this sort of tangential scheme to possibly extort Matt Gaetz and his family, or at least tried to get them to turn over $25 million for the rescue of an Iranian hostage.

And when you hear about the way that the FBI has been conducting this investigation, you know that they are questioning so many people close to Matt Gaetz, you get a sense of how possibly a pair of fraudsters could understand that this is going on, and understand that this was -- that there was an opportunity here.

But, you know, there`s like a whole, bleak novel`s worth of twists and turns here.

O`DONNELL: On the first day of this scandal, Jim Jordan tweeted, "I believe Matt Gaetz." No one has followed him in that direction in the Republican Party. And the word tonight is that Gaetz will not be asked to resign unless he is indicted. And then, you know, getting a congressman to resign is still all up to the Congressman.

GOLDBERG: I would impress (ph) you, he still has Marjorie Taylor Greene on his side. So he`s not completely -- you know, you`ve got Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene. And, you know, it`s so interesting the difference you see between the way Republicans have to handle these things and the way Democrats in Congress have to handle these things.

There`s obviously Democrats in, you know, Andrew Cuomo has been able to stick out his scandal so far, and some other people in statehouses.

But in terms of the legislature, when you have a hint of scandal, much less, you know, a sort of panorama of scandal like this on the Democratic side, you see a lot of pressure for them to leave because it reflects on the entire caucus.

On the other hand, on the Republican side, you know, there`s still this guy, his name I`m going to mispronounced Scott (INAUDIBLE), who fired a gun, who pulled a gun on his ex-wife, who pressured his mistress and his wife to have abortions, who, you know prescribes drugs for patients of his that he was involved with. He`s a doctor. He`s still there.

The Republican -- the Republican tolerance for misbehavior is extraordinarily high. And so I think things are going to be quite -- have to get quite bad for Gaetz before there`s real pressure on him to leave.

O`DONNELL: Nancy Pelosi kicked Anthony Weiner out of the House of Representatives. No ethics committee investigation, no nothing after a couple of embarrassing tweets first emerged. And we now know that more people should have kicked Anthony Weiner out of their lives. But that`s how quickly she dispatched someone in a situation similar to this.

GOLDBERG: Right. A situation similar to this. And then you have situations that are in no way similar to this because they`re so much milder, you know, like Al Franken, you know, John Conyers who was a little bit more serious, right. But they just had to leave.

The Democrats, I think they do. They see the behavior of their caucus as a reflection on them. Maybe Republicans do, too. But they just don`t care, as they`ve shown over the previous four years. They approve of, you know, kind of egregious sexual misconduct and degradation.

I mean something that I think is worth keeping in mind, we`ve learned over the last few days that Matt Gaetz showed naked pictures of some of the women he`s alleged to have slept with, or some of the women that this guy who`s in prison for being charged with sex trafficking, is alleged to have provided to him.

He showed those pictures to his -- to people on the House floor. And there`s no indication that anybody -- I mean I guess there was at one point a reprimand. But nobody spoke out and certainly nobody told him that this is inappropriate.

O`DONNELL: Michelle Goldberg, we`ll wait for the leaks that Matt Gaetz is promising us. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

GOLDBERG: Thank you so much.

O`DONNELL: And coming up in tonight`s episode of Defendant Trump, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe will join us and tell us what he thinks are the most powerful lawsuits facing Donald Trump where he`s already a defendant, and the lawsuits that could lead to many more lawsuits that would bankrupt Donald Trump. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: And now for tonight`s episode of Defendant Trump, our next guest Harvard Constitutional Law professor Laurence Tribe wrote an op-ed in "The Boston Globe" today titled "Capitol police have the best case against Trump for the insurrection".

Professor Tribe compares the technical and evidentiary merits of the lawsuits filed last week by two Capitol police officers directly against Donald Trump for the pain and suffering that they endured when the Trump mob attacked them and the Capitol on January 6th to the lawsuits filed by two members of Congress against Donald Trump for inciting the insurrection.

Professor Tribe finds that the police officers have a simpler case and an emotionally more powerful case as described in their lawsuits.

Quote, "Officer Hemby was crushed against the doors on the East side trying to hold the insurrectionists back. Over and over he tried to tell the insurrectionists that the doors opened outward, and that pressing him into the door would do no good.

But the insurrectionists continued to scream -- fight for Trump, stop the steal, and various other slogans -- as they struck him with their fists and whatever they had in their hands. Things were being thrown at him and he was sprayed with chemicals that irritated his eyes, skin and throat.

A forceful surge of insurrectionists pushed forward and slammed Officer Blasingame against a stone column. He struck his spine and the back of his head and was unable to move. For the first time in his life, people were yelling into his face, calling him the N word repeatedly and throughout the attack.

He lost count of the many times the racial slur was hurled at him. He is haunted by the memory of being attacked and of the sensory impact the sights, sounds smells even tastes of the attack remain close to the surface."

The Trump mob made it very clear for the juries in these cases who they were fighting for.


CROWD: Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump.

Storm the Capitol. Invade the Capitol building. Let`s take the Capitol.

Take the capitol. Take the Capitol. Take the Capitol right now.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Laurence Tribe, University professor of constitutional law emeritus at Harvard Law School. He has won 35 cases in the United States Supreme Court.

Professor Tribe, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I`ve been eager to get your analysis of these police officer lawsuits, because they`re a kind of less legally complicated sort than what the members of Congress have filed. This seems like a much more traditional tort after an injury suffered because of someone else`s reckless conduct.

LAURENCE TRIBE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Exactly. The lawsuits filed by the congressmen, including Representative Swalwell and Representative Thompson are very strong. They rely on laws going back to the civil war era, slightly complicated. Insurrection, rebellion, not terms that juries are necessarily familiar with.

And the question of whether members of Congress have what is called standing to file suits of that kind is going to be at least somewhat complicated.

Here, it`s very simple. Everybody knows about assault and battery. You don`t even have to have gone to law school.

What you`ve described is classic intentional tort -- assault, battery, ramming people, spraying them with poisons and pepper spray, crushing them against the wall. All at the command and direction -- these lawsuits plausibly allege -- of the president of the United States, who was riling up this mob.

So it is very clear that these officers were hurt, they were hurt as a result of the assault and battery incited by the president. And there`s no question about their standing.

There was this kind of a strange tweet by some horrible person following the president, saying that they don`t have standing. In fact, they`ll be lying in a pool of blood. The fact is that because they were bloodied and battered, they have obvious standing to claim that they were the victims of a presidentially-directed assault and battery.

These lawsuits also rely on some rather simple local D.C. District of Columbia laws about fomenting a riot and causing mayhem. Very simple laws. And the basis of the lawsuit is, the officers are citizens of Maryland. Donald Trump is a citizen of Florida. It`s what is called a diversity suit.

The very earliest kind of jurisdiction that Congress created back in 1789, very simple lawsuit. And the simplicity of it is part of its great strength.

O`DONNELL: And this lawsuit, this same lawsuit is available to at least about 140 Capitol police officers who were injured that day. They could file similar lawsuits, similar claims, some of them would be assigned different dollar values by juries if they get to juries.

TRIBE: Right.

O`DONNELL: You could have just a bankrupting amount of these kinds of lawsuits being filed by just Capitol police officers alone.

TRIBE: Right. Unless some of the Capitol police officers happen to be citizens and residents of Florida, which I very much doubt. But all the others could file suits just like this and they all seek not only compensation, though they don`t glamorize it by saying that they`re entitled to billions of dollars, but compensation for the harm, plus punitive damages to punish the president for what he did and deter future presidents.

So these are very standard lawsuits. And I can imagine that the emotional as well as legal appeal of these lawsuits to garden variety D.C. jury will be pretty considerable.

So I think that the president`s attempt to escape accountability is going to be very uphill when you combine the lawsuits that are also strong brought by members of Congress. With these suits, it`s very hard to see how the president can avoid being held accountable. And I think that is good for the future of the country.

O`DONNELL: It was civil lawsuits like this -- the challenge is getting them to the jury, getting them past all the procedural hurdles of dismissal and all of that.

And it`s very common in civil lawsuits that once you`re past any dismissal hurdles, and it`s very clear that your case is going to the jury, that the defendant then tries to make a settlement agreement to avoid the jury`s own decision on this.

And it would seem that a Washington, D.C. jury would be willing to exact an enormous price possibly from Donald Trump in a verdict like this.

TRIBE: I think that`s right. And settlement talks are not going to get anywhere before discovery. Discovery will happen as soon as the attempts to toss these lawsuits out at the threshold fail. And that discovery means that a guy named Donald J. Trump will finally have to sit in a deposition and testify under oath as well as others will have to testify.

So I think that these lawsuits are really going somewhere. And I think that it`s about time.

O`DONNELL: Professor Laurence Tribe, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We always greatly appreciate it.

TRIBE: Thank you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, bandits -- that`s what one contributor is calling Donald Trump`s fundraising operation that tricked him into allowing the Trump campaign without his knowledge to repeatedly withdraw money directly from his account. No one could be less surprised by this than Tim O`Brien who has studied Donald Trump`s financial operations for decades. Tim O`Brien joins us next.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump lied about campaign fundraising from the beginning to the end of his political career.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have much more money than we had last time going into the last two months, I think double and triple, but if we need anymore, I would put it up personally. Whatever it takes, we have to win.


O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump lying in September of last year that he would self-fund the final weeks of his re-election campaign. And now the Trump campaign fundraisers are being called bandits in a "New York Times" report showing how Donald Trump tricked his contributor into unwittingly allowing automatic withdrawals from their accounts by the Trump campaign.

"Bandits", said Victor Amelino, a 78-year-old a Californian who made a $990 online donation to Mr. Trump in early September via WinRed. It recurred seven more times adding up to almost $8,000. "I`m retired. I can`t afford to pay all that damn money."

Another 63-year-old man in Kansas City contributed $500 and then discovered the Trump campaign was withdrawing $500 a week from his account without his knowledge until the bank account was depleted and frozen.

Tim O`Brien is senior columnist for "Bloomberg Opinion". He is the author of the book, "Trump Nation". Tim, don`t even try to look surprised, you`ve been writing about how Donald Trump does business for many, many years here.

But there`s approximately $120 million at issue here, a lot of it has been refunded already. Donald Trump was apparently one of the single biggest people complained about as a fraudulent online fundraising presence last year.

TIM O`BRIEN, "BLOOMBERG OPINION": Yes, Lawrence. We could not see any of this coming before Donald Trump became president. He ran a casino business that purported to cater to high rollers when it really was basically extracting nickels and dimes from the pockets of pensioners and old ladies.

He ran a TV show where he was an entrepreneurial guru to the masses while in the real world he was a serial bankruptcy artist.

He gets into the presidency, he doesn`t separate himself from any of his financial interests. At the end of his presidency re runs this very scammy legal defense fund that nets him over $200 million. And now lo and behold he engineers a fundraising scheme at the very people he claims to be out there trying to defend in the real world in which they`re duped into making repeat payments.

And then there`s this gloriously, monstrously grotesque grifter moment when they then get doubled into what`s called the money bomb and they get thousands of dollars in some case taken out of their pocket.

The GOP has been bragging about the fact that they don`t need corporate America which has a growing distaste for the way the GOP rolls because they can build a new future on small dollar donations.

And this is what they`re doing. The very people they`re relying on to give them small dollar donations, they`re fleecing. They`re not doing anything on the policy front to protect these folks, run a minimum wage, or improve working conditions or family leave, you name it. They`re waging a cultural war out in the real world and then separating them from their wallets at home.

O`DONNELL: And let`s never forget in 2015 Donald Trump`s foundational lie about campaign fundraising, that he would pay for his presidential campaign himself. That`s what he launched the campaign saying. And he of course, abandoned that lie almost as quickly as he said it.

And Tim, I was getting the Trump fundraising emails right up until January 5th. They stopped only on January 6th after the insurrection at the capitol. So after you know, the whole fight the steal fundraising campaign went on right up to January 6th.

O`BRIEN: And there were multiple emails going out sometimes each day, you know --.


O`BRIEN: The Trumps discovered this but you know, he went into the presidency, I think fully seeing it as a money-making opportunity. But it wasn`t until after he lost the election that he realized he could use this traction he had with his voters to line his own pockets infinitely.

And I don`t think it`s going to stop. This is just installment number two. We`re going to see this happen in another way. And if it`s not Trump doing it, it will be the GOP because they`re increasingly beholden to the way that he cultivates a cult of personality and then tries to fundraise off of it apart from policy.

O`DONNELL: And Donald Trump`s very aware of how weak the Federal Election Commission is on enforcing exactly how you can and cannot spend the money that`s raised through these kinds of campaign apparatus.

O`BRIEN: Yes, don`t anticipate for the FEC officials knocking on the door at Mar-A-Lago to run an audit on how Donald Trump is spending the hundreds of millions of dollars he`s grifted off of his supporters. There`s nothing that`s going to get in the way of him continuing to do this.

O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you, Tim.