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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/6/21

Guests: Kirk Burkhalter, Marq Claxton, Andy Slavitt, Jared Polis, Christina Greer


It`s day seven of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, was a day of complex and important trial strategy by the prosecution, which seems to be anticipating that the jury will never hear one word from Derek Chauvin on the witness stand. Today, President Biden announced his administration is on track to deliver more than they promised once again on the government`s COVID response. "The New York Times" says that Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking charges, privately asked for a pardon from Donald Trump in the final weeks of the Trump presidency. Cobb County, Georgia estimates it will lose $100 million in much needed economic activity because Major League Baseball is moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado. A new study by a team of political scientists show that many of the people arrested for the attack on the Capitol are white supremacists.



And on the Matt Gaetz thing, "The Times" was reporting that he was asking for it privately for himself and other members of Congress, suggesting that he wanted to see a large group pardon in which his wouldn`t particularly stand out, and the idea would be that, well, those awful Democrats will just want to prosecute us for being good Republicans, so we need this kind of protection.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Right, and then as if that would stand up, though. If ultimately something like that happened, like Republicans get charged with, like, corruption or abuse of office or even incitement to riot or sedition or something, Matt Gaetz would still be charged with child sex trafficking which would still stand out even among lots of other people being, you know, charged with things that he thought were just Democratic score settling.

I just -- I mean, I don`t find it at all surprising that he told Donald Trump to give him a blanket preemptive pardon. I find it sort of surprising that Trump didn`t do it. But if he knew he was under investigation for these particular charges while he asked for it, that is really something.

O`DONNELL: Well, that`s the part that we`re not sure of at this point. Who knew -- we know that William Barr knew. We know that the Justice Department knew last year. And so, that means William Barr knew. Did William Barr tell the president? Did anyone in the White House know?

"The Times" reports that Matt Gaetz certainly didn`t tell anyone in the White House that, oh, by the way, I believe I`m under investigation for sex trafficking.

MADDOW: But his associates were being questioned about his behavior, including with underage girls at the time that he asked for it, so if those associates told Matt that they had been approached and talked to by investigators, then -- I`m going to go take a shower. Yuck.

O`DONNELL: Rachel, as we`re going to show later in this hour, and you don`t have to watch it, you`ve dealt with this enough already tonight, Matt Gaetz was doing that Trump thing, which is if you do it in public, it can`t be a crime, right? Matt Gaetz was saying on Fox, President Trump should pardon everyone, and he was just saying, you know -- he should pardon himself, Donald Trump should pardon himself, he was saying.

By the way, he was saying this on November 24th, which is odd, because it`s the kind of thing you say when you know the Trump presidency is all over, and at the same time, Fox was covering the ongoing Trump re-election campaign which was suppose to change the outcome of the electoral college, and all sorts of other things.

MADDOW: And he was the loudest person of them all, trumpeting that Trump was definitely going to have a second term and he would definitely be re- elected and definitely these purported election results were rigged. So it was weird at the same time that he was like, and I need a pardon right now.

So if you think your man is getting a second term, there is no rush, especially if you haven`t done anything wrong. So, it was -- there was something wrong and self-defeating about the timing of it then and now maybe we know why.

O`DONNELL: Matt Gaetz in a statement promised us yesterday there would be more leaks coming, and he was right, and I`m sure he`s right that there will be more after this.


MADDOW: Good luck, Lawrence. I`m going to go shower.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

Well, today, day 7 of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, was a day of complex and important trial strategy by the prosecution, which seems to be anticipating that the jury will never hear one word from Derek Chauvin on the witness stand.

If Derek Chauvin takes the witness stand in his own defense on cross examination, prosecutors will run the nine minutes 29 seconds of video of his knee on George Floyd`s neck, and they will stop every 20, 30 seconds or so and ask Derek Chauvin would his knee is still on George Floyd`s neck.

Yesterday, the jury heard the Minneapolis police chief say that Derek Chauvin should have taken his knee off George Floyd`s neck in the first few seconds. Those were his exact words, the first few seconds.

Prosecutors believe that Derek Chauvin has no good answer as to why he kept his knee on George Floyd`s neck after the first few seconds, and in anticipation of Derek Chauvin not testifying, the prosecution presented a series of police witnesses today to establish in detail what Derek Chauvin should have done after George Floyd was lying face down on the pavement and handcuffed behind his back.

Lieutenant Johnny Mercil is in charge of the Minneapolis Police Department`s use of force training, and he personally trained Derek Chauvin on defensive tactics in 2018.


PROSECUTOR: Is this an MPD -trained neck restraint?


PROSECUTOR: Has it ever been?

MERCIL: A neck restraint? No, sir.

PROSECUTOR: Is this an MPD-authorized restraint technique?

MERCIL: A knee on the neck would be something that does happen in use of force that isn`t authorized.

PROSECUTOR: And under what circumstances would that be authorized? How long can you do that?

MERCIL: I don`t know if there`s a timeframe, it would depend on the circumstance at the time.

PROSECUTOR: Which would include what?

MERCIL: The type of resistance you are getting from the subject you are putting your knee on.

PROSECUTOR: And so if there was, say for example the subject was under control and handcuffed, would this be authorized?

MERCIL: I would say no.


O`DONNELL: After defense counsel suggested on cross-examination that a person could be unconscious one moment and then suddenly recover and become violent, the prosecution came back with this.


STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: You testified that an individual can be unconscious one moment and then suddenly become conscious and become violent, credit.

MERCIL: That is a potential, yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: Have you ever had a circumstance where an individual has lost their pulse and suddenly come back to life and become more violent.

MERCIL: Not that I`m aware of, sir.


O`DONNELL: The prosecution focused on Derek Chauvin`s duty to give George Floyd medical attention.


SCHLEICHER: Initially, the goal is to arrest someone after taking in information, if you determine the person needed medical attention, could you act on that?


SCHLEICHER: And what would the action be if the person was in need of medical attention?

YANG: That would be the immediate goal for us. If some reason he needed medical attention, then we give him medical attention.

SCHLEICHER: Why would you roll someone into the side recovery position after they are handcuffed and are compliant?

MERCIL: Several reasons are there, but one would be to prevent a potential situation where they might be subject to positional asphyxiation.

SCHLEICHER: Do you train officers that as part of your training, do you train officers that if a person can talk, that means they can breathe?


SCHLEICHER: And why not?

MACKENZIE: Well, that would be incomplete to say, because there is a possibility that somebody could be in respiratory distress and still able to verbalize it. Just because they are speaking does not mean they are breathing adequately.


O`DONNELL: The prosecution tried to counter defense claims that the small gathering of eyewitnesses was somehow threatening to the police officers on the scene.


SCHLEICHER: You can see the bystanders have something in their hands, correct.

MERCIL: Yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: Those appear to be video cameras, is that right, or smartphones?

MERCIL: Yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: All right. That extra fact would not justify an increased use of force, would it?

MERCIL: Just the camera, sir, no.

ERIC NELSON, DEREK CHAUVIN`S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Now, in terms of the continuation of use of force, and we are talking about involvement of onlookers, right? The words that they use matter, correct?

MERCIL: Yes, sir, they do.

NELSON: If they are cheering on and saying good job, officer, that is one consideration.

MERCIL: Correct.

NELSON: But if they are saying I would slap the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of you or you are a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) or you`re a chump, would that reasonably tend to rise alarm in a police officer?

MERCIL: Yes, sir.

NELSON: I have no further questions.

SCHLEICHER: And if they are saying get off of him. You are killing him. Should the officer also take that into account and consider whether their actions need to be re-assessed?

MERCIL: Potentially, sir, yes.

SCHLEICHER: Nothing further.


O`DONNELL: And the prosecution drove home the single-most important principle about police use of force, the least amount of force necessary.


SCHLEICHER: Just explain to the jury as you would a group of trainees, what is proportional force?

MERCIL: Well, you want to use the least amount of force necessary to meet your objectives to control. And if those lower uses of force do not work, would not work or are too unsafe to try, you can increase your level of force against that person.

SCHLEICHER: And you said that you wanted to use the least amount of force as necessary?

MERCIL: Yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: Why is that?

MERCIL: Because if you can use a lower level of force to meet your objectives, it is safer and it is better for everybody involved.


O`DONNELL: Better for everybody involved, the least amount of force necessary.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Kirk Burkhalter, a criminal law professor at New York Law School, where he`s the director of the 21st Century Policing Project. He`s a former NYPD detective. Also with us, Marq Claxton, the director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, and himself, a former NYPD detective.

Professor Burkhalter, let me begin with you tonight. What did you see in the trial today that you think is important?

KIRK BURKHALTER, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW CRIMINAL LAW PROFESSOR: Two aspects. One from the prosecution`s point of view and the other from the defense.

The prosecution starting out broadly yesterday and previously with the chief of police, really narrowed down its argument with regards to the use of force, rather. We saw a lot of evidence about the use of force continuum as to when the use of force should escalate and deescalate and how a police officer should assess that.

From the defense side, we saw the continued narrative that presuppose or wants the jury to presuppose that in some way, shape or form, the crowd posed a threat.

Lawrence, what is interesting about this is just what people of color have been saying all along, that a group of people of color given the implicit bias of perhaps police officers and other people in the country that it is perceived as a threat. If this was not a crowd or a group of people of color, that defense would not pass the laugh test. However, that is the nature of the defense. We have seen that narrative driven home continuously and it continued to be set forward today.

O`DONNELL: Marq Claxton, what stood out to you in the trial today?

MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE DIRECTOR: Similar to Kirk, what stood out to me is the emphasis on proportionality and some of the cornerstones of police training that relates to use of force. It is interesting, because the conversation about proportionality really should focus around dis-proportionality when it pertains to people of color as Kirk was indicating.

But I think what was most important in the discussions that they are having about training, use of force, the use of force continuum, the minimum level of force necessary to achieve the goal is the critical thinking process. You see, all of these things, all of these training suggestions and training guidelines and the recommendations rely heavily on the application of the mind and regarding the circumstances.

So, you have to reevaluate and re-assess and readjust as a professional in order to avoid fatalities such as Mr. Floyd`s.

O`DONNELL: Professor Burkhalter, I thought I was seeing two things today in the way that the prosecution was approaching the case. They were putting on these police experts, including one that trained the defendant himself in use of force to say that this is the way that it should be done. But it also seemed that they were anticipating the possibility of never getting a chance to question Derek Chauvin on the witness stand and so today, we saw a kind of a question aimed at the these police experts, these police trainers that would be aimed at Derek Chauvin if he took want witness stand.

They may never get a chance to bring that kind of information out with Derek Chauvin, so they would seem to be trying to get pieces of it out today.

BURKHALTER: Very much so, I would agree, Lawrence. You know, Derek Chauvin would take the stand as a last resort if he felt he had nothing to lose and the case was over. He would take the stand.

However, that would be a strong risk, because the prosecution would hammer him having about each step of the way, having him narrate the film and so forth. So, in the alternative, the prosecution asked questions of their witnesses. Let`s stop the film at this point. What use of force should be done here, OK, let`s stop the film here, where does this lie on the use of force continuum. Have you ever trained anyone in the department to do X, Y, Z.

So, literally, it`s very insightful, Lawrence, that we saw the witnesses testifying, some in part as if they were Derek Chauvin, providing the answers that the prosecution was seeking.

O`DONNELL: Marq, what are we learning? What are we out here learning about the effectiveness of police training when we see all of these police professionals come along from the chief on down through the department? We had an expert flown in from LAPD to testify today to say this was improper use of force.

What are we learning about the effectiveness of police training or ineffectiveness of police training when it comes to police work in the street as executed by police officers like Derek Chauvin?

CLAXTON: What we`re learning what you would indicate right there. It is ineffective in large part and something Kirk has been focused on, and that is improving, going away from training necessarily and really focusing on education, which is vitally important.

Look, I think that the prosecutor can present as much evidence and experts as humanly possible, but in reality, they want to break it down to the bottom line, that`s Occam razor principle, and that is that the truth is the simplest, most straightforward explanation available. This time, that truth is on videotape.

O`DONNELL: Professor Kirk Burkhalter and Marq Claxton, thank you both very much for joining us again tonight. We really appreciate it.

BURKHALTER: You`re welcome.

CLAXTON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, we will have more on the breaking news that Rachel and I were just discussing from "The New York Times." Their report that Congressman Matt Gaetz asked personally asked and privately asked for a blanket preemptive pardon for himself in the final weeks of the Trump presidency. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Today, President Biden announced his administration is on track to deliver more than they promised once again.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We crossed 150 million shots in 75 days. The first 75 days of my administration. On our way to hitting our goal of 200 million shots by the 100th day in office.


O`DONNELL: And the president announced today that the federal government will be urging all states to make vaccinations available to younger people sooner than planned.


BIDEN: On March 11th, I announced that I was opening up all vaccination sites to all adults by May 1st. I am announcing today that we are moving the date from May 1st to April 19th nationwide. That means that by no later than April 19th, in every part of the country, every adult over the age of 18, 18 or older will be eligible to be vaccinated.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Andy Slavitt, White House senior advisor for COVID response.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

It looks like, according to what the president is saying that you are going to more than over deliver once again on this 200 million shot target. By the 100 days, you will have gone beyond that. What point do you think that we will have reached everyone who is now eager to get the shot leaving whatever margin of vaccine reluctant are still there?

ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR FOR COVID RESPONSE: Well, that`s exactly where we are. We just announced we hit our 150th million shot, which translates roughly into about 76 percent of seniors who`ve had their first shot.

And I think, right around this weekend, we will have about half adults in the country that had their first shot. So, that`s good. That`s obviously a lot of progress. When we came to office, only 8 percent of seniors had their first shot. But that leaves a lot of seniors that have not had their first shot yet. And that means we have a lot of work to do. So, it`s going to be important for people to stay as patient as possible for the near term.

But I expect, Lawrence, that sometime over the course of April and May, we are going to be quickly reaching and particularly in some parts of the country, parts where we are getting everybody who wants to be vaccinated vaccinated. If I had a message today it is a message to states is it`s going to be time to get more creative and to find people where they are, because there are a lot more people that need vaccine shots and we will need to find them.

O`DONNELL: There are some states that are ahead of the Biden schedule as announced today. New York state for one is reportedly already offering the vaccine to 16-year-olds and above.

How do you -- how do you expect this to go? Some states are going to be doing this at very different paces.

SLAVITT: Well, you know it`s funny. As we started to talk to states and said look, we might be moving the date forward to April 19th, that gave everybody a chance to get out ahead. You know, we want states to be able to go as quickly as they can possibly go, knowing that we are going to be pushing on the back end a bit.

What is really important now is that seniors, even though we have 76 percent of seniors, we would love to get it over 80 percent. And we should push to do that as quickly as possibly because come the 19th, in many states, there`s going to be long lines again.

And so, if you are a senior or if you have a senior in your family, and they have not gotten the first shot yet. Now is a perfect now. Now and in the next week would be a great time to get your first shot, because we are going to push to get the rest of the country who is eligible vaccinated soon after that.

O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to something that the Dr. Michael Osterholm said on Sunday. Let`s listen to this.


DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: We will see in the next two weeks, the highest cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic. In the United States we are just the beginning of the surge. We haven`t even really begun to see it yet.


O`DONNELL: What is your reaction to that? And if there is a surge, will the vaccine protect us against that?

SLAVITT: Well, I think it is already is. I think that if you just -- if we had not had the rate and the level of vaccinations we have had so far, it would look a lot more like it does in Europe right now where you`ve got a much higher peaks.

We have seen some increases, and I think that it is important that we take stock of the fact that even with all of the vaccinations, we are seeing a slight uptick. We are averaging in the 60,000 cases a day. But we can -- if we keep our vaccinations, and one of the reasons why the president is pushing so hard to do more vaccinations, we have done it with over 4 million vaccinations, is because if we can accelerate the vaccination, we can meet and beat the threat.

So, there`s plenty of people with plenty of projections, no one knows the future. What I can tell you is that if we haven`t vaccinated 76 percent of seniors and we haven`t vaccinated now close half of adults, we`d be in a much, much worse situation. So, let`s get the rest of the way there.

O`DONNELL: How far away are we from knowing how effective the current vaccines are against the variants that have developed after the vaccines were developed?

SLAVITT: That`s a great question, Lawrence. For the variants of concern, and there are roughly, you know, three from outside of the United States, there are a couple that are variants of interest, and the distinction is a little hard to explain. But I guess a variant of concern is worse and a variant of interest is something they are watching.

The good news is that the vaccines, all three of the vaccines seem to be effective against all of these variants in one form or another. Now there may some day be a variant, as happens with other illnesses like say the flu or other things where there are modifications that we will need to amend the vaccines for. And right now, the vaccine manufacturers are in trials to see if there are additional vaccines or additional boosters that might be required.

But the very good news is that while they work to varying degrees on different ones of these variances, we will see against the three that are of most concern, these vaccines do a pretty good job if not just as good of a job.

O`DONNELL: Andy Slavitt, thank you very much for including us in your busy workday. We really appreciate it.

SLAVITT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, we will have the breaking news from the "New York Times" on Matt Gaetz, asking the Trump White House for a preemptive blanket pardon for himself and for unnamed members of Congress. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: In a breaking news report tonight, "The New York Times" says that Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking charges, privately asked for a pardon from Donald Trump in the final weeks of the Trump presidency.

"The Times" reports "He privately asked the White House for blanket preemptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to tow two people told of the discussions."

On November 24th, when Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz were pretending that Donald Trump would be president for life, Congressman Gaetz went on Fox to prepare his supporters and Trump supporters for what he hoped would be pardons for everyone.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): President Trump should pardon Michael Flynn. He should pardon the Thanksgiving turkey. He should pardon everyone from himself to his administration officials to Joe Exotic if he has to, because you see from the radical left a bloodlust that will only be quenched if they come after the people who worked so hard to animate the Trump administration with the policies and the vigor and the effectiveness that delivered for the American people.

So I think that the president ought to wield that pardon power effectively and robustly.


O`DONNELL: "The New York Times" reports that it is unclear whether Congressman Gaetz or the White House knew that he was the subject of a sex- trafficking investigation approved by Trump attorney general William Barr at the time that he was asking for that pardon.

Quote, "Mr. Gaetz did not tell White House aides that he was under investigation for potential sex trafficking violations when he made the request. It is unclear whether Mr. Gaetz discussed the matter directly with the president. Congressman Gaetz has denied that he has violated any laws."

Joining us now is Glenn Kirschner, former career federal prosecutor, now an MSNBC legal analyst. And Glenn, this is so striking, especially this notion that while Matt Gaetz and Donald Trump were, of course, sending Rudy Giuliani -- Donald Trump was anyway -- to every courthouse they could find in America falling on his face with fake election law claims, there`s Matt Gaetz preparing for the end of the Trump presidency by begging for a pardon for himself.

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: And let`s start with the obvious observation, Lawrence. You don`t ask for a presidential pardon unless you`ve committed crimes, unless you need a presidential pardon. But it`s nice to actually have some Supreme Court precedent to look to, to put this in context.

So more than a hundred years ago, 1915, there was a case called the United States versus George Burdick. George Burdick was a New York newspaper editor for "The New York Tribune". And President Woodrow Wilson issued George Burdick a pardon. George Burdick said, "I don`t want one because I don`t believe I`ve committed a crime."

And here`s what the Supreme Court said. They said, "A pardon carries with it an imputation of guilt, and if you accept a pardon, that is virtually a confession of guilt."

So if we extend the Supreme Court rationale to Matt Gaetz, what does it mean when you request a pardon, when you seek out a pardon? It obviously, if you apply the same rationale, has an imputation of guilt and could be viewed as a confession of guilt.

O`DONNELL: "The Times" is reporting that Matt Gaetz was asking for not just himself. He wanted a group of Republican congressmen to get a pardon, which strikes me as just kind of asking for cover. You know, he wants Jim Jordan and a bunch of other people to be pardoned, including people who might not need one for any reason at all so that his pardon won`t stand out.

KIRSCHNER: Yes. You know what, nobody wants to stand in a line-up by themselves, because then you`re the one who is going to get picked. Let`s surround ourselves, let`s put ourselves in a bag of pardons and then maybe I`ll get lost in the mix.

But not only -- that`s important that he was asking for pardons for lots of folks, but he was also asking for a blanket pardon, not a targeted pardon. You could see if Matt Gaetz was hypothetically facing a reckless driving charge and he said, Mr. President, I don`t want to contend with this reckless driving charge, so I`d like a targeted pardon for that.

No, Matt Gaetz wanted a blanket pardon. What does that mean? I want a pass, Mr. President, for all crimes I have ever committed in all my life. And Lawrence, that is quite an ask.

O`DONNELL: There is news tonight from Politico about what might be Matt Gaetz` next public appearance. They`re saying that he is to be the featured speaker at a pro-Trump women`s group event. It`s This Friday in Florida at a Trump country club -- golf club there.

It says, "The organization praised Gaetz as one of the few members of Congress willing to stand up and fight on behalf of President Trump and his America First agenda."

And so if he does show up for that and if he does give that speech, it is unlikely I suspect in that speech that we`ll be learning any more facts about this case.

KIRSCHNER: Probably not, but FBI agents and prosecutors will be listening keenly because Matt Gaetz seems to only open his mouth to change feet. He`s always making admissions. He is his own worst enemy.

So you know what? Let him continue to talk because he`s only providing more evidence for investigators and prosecutors.

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

KIRSCHNER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, Major League Baseball is moving the All-Star Game west from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado and that provoked a bunch of lies from Republicans today about election laws in Colorado.

The new governor of the All-Star Game, Colorado Governor Jared Polis will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Cobb County, Georgia estimates it will lose $100 million in much needed economic activity because Major League Baseball is moving the All- Star Game from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado. Today President Biden was asked about moving sporting events out of Georgia in protest of the new Georgia law restricting voting access.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the Masters Golf Tournament should be moved out of Georgia?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that`s up to the Masters. Look, you know, it is reassuring to see that for-profit operations and businesses are speaking up about how these new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are.

The best way to deal with this is for Georgia and other states to smarten up. Stop it. Stop it.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, the governor who is welcoming the All-Star Game to Denver, Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Governor.

When did you get the word that the All-Star Game was coming your way? And what do you think it means for Denver?

GOVERNOR JARED POLIS (D-CO): I couldn`t be more excited, Lawrence. We knew that we were in the running. The buzz was we were the likely city to get it.

It`s because Denver is such a great baseball city, Colorado is a great place to play. You can imagine the home run derby on July 12th at a mile above sea level is going to be absolutely epic.

And we haven`t hosted it since 1998. There`s a whole generation of fans who weren`t even born last time we hosted, so we`re ready.

O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell is not happy about this. Let`s listen to something he said about this today.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Republicans drink Coca-Cola, too, and we fly, and we like baseball. If I were running a major corporation, I`d stay out of politics.

I think this is quite stupid to jump in the middle of a highly controversial issue.


O`DONNELL: Governor, what`s your reaction to that coming from a man who has spent his entire professional life begging businesses and corporations to be financially involved in politics by giving him and his party money?

POLIS: Well, you know, it certainly sounds hypocritical, but you know what, Mitch, you`re invited to Colorado, too, if you`re a baseball fan. Come on out. It`s about baseball, it`s not about politics.

And whether Mitch is a National League fan or an American League fan, he`ll be able to cheer on his team from the bleachers in Coors Field on July 13th.

O`DONNELL: There`s no dragging you into the politics of this. When you have a win, you have a win.

And -- but to Joe Biden`s point today about -- there`s been a lot of comparisons now, Republicans throwing out their, hey, wait a minute. Colorado`s voting laws are restrictive also. What`s your response to that?

POLIS: Well, it`s absolutely false. It`s been rebuffed by all responsible media. Colorado has some of the best voting laws in the country. We are the second state for turnout. Every voter gets a ballot in the mail three weeks before the election. That`s one of the reasons we have election day voter registration, early voting.

We`re proud of our system. It`s bipartisan. Republicans like it. Democrats like it. Independents like it. If you`re allowed to vote, you vote. And then we have measures in place to make sure there aren`t fraudulent ballots cast.

So I`m proud of Colorado, but really this decision is about showcasing the amazing athletes in Major League Baseball and what better place to do it at Coors Field in mid-July and I certainly couldn`t be more excited.

O`DONNELL: I want to turn to what the president was saying today about the COVID vaccine and how they`re lowering the age recommendation for delivering the COVID vaccine. In Colorado you`ve already opened it up to younger people, haven`t you?

POLIS: It`s open to everybody 16 and up, has been for several days now. It`s going well. Our priority is get it into arms, any arm, end the pandemic. Once we reach over 80 percent of the people over 70. They were our first priority because they represented three-quarters of the deaths due to COVID in our state.

But now we`re moving on to everybody. And I know that doesn`t mean everybody can get an appointment tomorrow or the next day. It might be a week. It might be two weeks.

But we`re using very vaccine we got within three or four days we`re rapidly moving to save lives and end the pandemic.

O`DONNELL: And how are you balancing the reopening of activities in Colorado with the penetration of the vaccine?

POLIS: It`s important to put things in perspective. We`re only at about a quarter of our population with immunity. That means there`s still ample room for the virus to grow. It`s why we wear masks in Colorado. It`s why we also have six feet apart at restaurants across Colorado. And we`re working with our municipalities of as much outdoor dining as possible, especially in our beautiful spring weather.

O`DONNELL: And in the All-Star Game, how many -- what`s the capacity of the stadium? How many people will be allowed in?

POLIS: I think we`re about 51,000 and we expect full capacity in July. Everybody as President Biden has said will be able to get the vaccine by the end of May -- mid to late May. That means immunity by mid to late June.

And thankfully the All-Star Game leaves several weeks of buffer. So we`re excited about. We`re already at I think 26,000 -- 28,000 a game in at Coors Field, so we`re at about half capacity currently.

O`DONNELL: Governor Jared Polis, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

POLIS: Thank you. Good evening, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, sometimes things are exactly as they appear to be. A new study by a team of political scientists show that many of the people arrested for the attack on the Capitol are white supremacists.

The author of that study says that those people represent an ongoing threat to the country. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: It was exactly three months ago today that the Capitol was attacked by a Trump mob at the urgings of Donald Trump who told them to go there and fight.

Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago has assembled a team to analyze the available data on 377 of the people who have been arrested and charged with the attack on the Capitol.

And he told "The New York Times" this about what he found. Quote, "You see a common pattern in the Capitol insurrectionists. They are mainly middle class to upper middle class whites who are worried that as social changes occur around them they will see a decline in their status in the future."

Professor Pape`s study found that people arrested at the Capitol, quote, "are 95 percent white and 85 percent male and many live near and among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties. Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic white population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges."

Professor Pape cites a long-held view of white supremacists called the "Great Replacement Theory". Quote, "Great Replacement Theory has achieved iconic status with white nationalists and holds that minorities are progressively replacing white populations due to mass immigration policies and low birthrates. To ignore this movement and its potential would be akin to Trump`s response to COVID-19. We cannot presume it will blow over. The ingredients exist for future waves of political violence from lone wolf attacks to all-out assaults on democracy surrounding the 2022 midterm elections.

And joining our discussion now are Professor Eddie Glaude, chair of the African-American studies at Princeton University and an MSNBC contributor; and Christina Greer, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University.

Professor Greer, let me begin with you. This does seem to be one of those cases where the people arrested are what they appeared to be when we were watching them do what they did that day.

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right, Lawrence. I mean, you know, Reading this piece by my colleague it reads a little bit like a Watters` web (ph) story for a lot of folks. You know, this idea of economic anxiety is something that black organizers have been talking about for years where it`s just their -- the economic anxiety is so minuscule compared to the white supremacy that we saw in Charlottesville and that we saw again on display on January 6th.

When people were marching through Charlottesville talking about the Jews will not replace us, blacks won`t replace us and explicitly sort of going under the ideology that the then president had sort of sown those seeds for months and years so many Americans knew exactly what that was.

And during the tenure of Donald Trump, far too many Americans refused to recognize it. They told themselves it was everything but white supremacy, everything but racism. Even on January 6th, we still had far too many Americans trying to justify it as something else.

And so when political science finally meets up with politics we get a better understanding of what organizers and activists have been telling people explicitly since Day 1.

I mean we can look at these visuals that you have on the screen, Lawrence and know that there`s not enough economic anxiety in the world to justify seeing swastikas and confederate flags and white men storming the Capitol and killing a police officer in the process.

O`DONNELL: Professor Glaude, when I was reading the study, it has a lot of the kind of almost inaccessible social science language and political science language that finds its way into this kind of work, and yet, the ugly and powerful reality that it was delivering still leapt off those pages in a really chilling way.

EDDIE GLAUDE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely. And what struck me is that of the 370 plus or 80 plus people who were arrested, only 10 percent of those arrested could be self-identified as Oath Keepers or Proud Boys.

And part of what the Professor Pape kind of reveals is that these are ordinary people. Mostly men obviously but ordinary people who live in our neighborhoods, who mostly lived in counties that went for Biden and the like, who believe that the country is turning brown and black. They are losing this idea that America is this majority white nation.

And that anxiety is driving their own sense of alienation. So what we saw on January 6th is that the Cold Civil War that we know that we`re in can easily turn hot. And what Professor Pape tells us by pointing out that it`s not just simply those in the ideological extremes who are holding this view but folk who are just among us who are holding this view that this kind of political violence can evidence itself in the future in very clear ways.

And I just want to say this really quickly, Lawrence, it also leads us to believe or leads me to conclude rather, that we need to understand the challenge to voting rights across 43 plus states, right as a kind of extension of what we saw on January 6th.

Because just as January 6th was an insurrection about America must remain a white nation in the vein of old Europe. The attack, the assault on voting rights is also an attempt to continue the view that America must remain a white nation in the vein of old Europe as well.

O`DONNELL: And so Professor Greer to extend that, what we`re seeing in these Georgia laws is a reward, in effect, for those people who went to the Capitol. They didn`t get what they wanted that day, but we will deliver for them in the Georgia legislature.

GREER: Absolutely, Lawrence. It`s a direct correlation to what we saw on January 16th. But I mean we also have to back up just a bit, you know. The fact that Georgia had gone to the Republican presidential candidate every year -- you know, Bill Clinton delivered it one time, Jimmy Carter delivered it, but Georgia was ostensibly red.

And not only did Joe Biden win Georgia, but we also delivered a Jewish American and an African-American to the Senate. So most black voters know that the pendulum swings in American democracy very succinctly and pretty consistently.

Our citizenship tends to ebb and flow. And so the gains we make are oftentimes followed very swiftly by the receding of our rights. And so these new laws that are coming through Georgia and Arizona and Florida and as Eddie said, 43 total states, don`t come as a surprise to many black Democratic voters because we have seen this type of behavior before in statehouses.

This is why it`s so important that we participate on local state and national level politics, because what goes on in our state houses, the people that we put in the pipeline to then go on to Congress actually matter and they mean something. And those people oftentimes tend to run for the presidency.

So there are direct correlations between our behavior in local elections and how it plays out on the national level.

O`DONNELL: And Professor Glaude, we see these racist impulses of these people as revealed in this study, but it combines with a stunning lack of mental processing ability and then this complete inability to tell the difference between fact versus fiction when Donald Trump speaks.

GLAUDE: Well, I mean that`s consistent with politics as such, right? We know that there`s -- the way in which people play on resentments, the way people play on grievances, the way people play on fears, right. It actually presupposes the kind of ill-informed electorate.

But I want to be -- I want to insist on this point that the study makes is that this is political violence. This is not criminal violence.

And this political violence isn`t going anywhere because these demographic shifts are bringing pressure to bear on standard or shall we say kind of traditional conceptions of what this country is or what it`s supposed to be.

This political violence, Lawrence, isn`t going anywhere. That`s the warning that we see.

O`DONNELL: Professor Eddie Glaude and Professor Christina Greer get tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you both very much for joining us tonight.