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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 5/19/21

Guests: Jason Crow, Jennifer Palmieri, Katie Porter


Tonight, CNN reported the New York Attorney General Letitia James has opened a criminal investigation of the personal taxes of Allen Weisselberg, Trump`s family long-time accountant. Colorado Congressman Jason Crow is interviewed. Congressman John Katko was delegated by Kevin McCarthy to make a deal with Democrats on a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol. And then Kevin McCarthy betrayed Congressman Katko and proved to the Democrats that his word means absolutely nothing. Yesterday in a house hearing, Congresswoman Katie Porter once again crushed a high-paid CEO who was not prepared properly for the hearing by his high paid Washington lobbyist.



And Katie Porter`s going to join us tonight because she did it again. She did another one of those crushing`s of a CEO in a House hearing -- but she`s not going to join us until the end of the hour because we have so much ground to cover before that, including the return of Andrew Weissmann and Tim O`Brien who were rushed into service last night as we were speaking in this moment, bookers were frantically trying to find experts to talk about this development of the New York state attorney general embarking on the criminal investigation of Donald Trump.

And so, it`s only fair that they get 24 hours to digest that and come back tonight with their expert views, of where we stand tonight. The story has developed a little bit. We now have reporting indicating that it`s been more than a month or so since the Trump lawyers found out about this criminal investigation.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yeah, and there is new reporting from CNN tonight, we have not confirmed. But in the last hour, CNN has said that the New York attorney general`s office appears to have held on to a piece of the criminal investigation themselves, even though some of it has been handed to the D.A.`s office.

According to CNN`s reporting tonight, which again we have not verified, they`re saying that the A.G.`s office has high held on to criminal tax investigation of the chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, who is Allen Weisselberg, which adds another layer of complexity in terms of these investigations, but also adds a whole new pressure point in terms of who`s worried about their future.

O`DONNELL: And Michael Cohen told Joy Reid earlier this evening that he expects, for what it`s worth, that he expects that if Donald Trump gets quartered on this, he will just blame everyone else in the organization from Allen Weisselberg, to his own children. Michael Cohen says that Donald Trump will say, oh, that was Eric`s job, I don`t know anything about that.

MADDOW: Yes, seriously the fact that the thing that we know that they have looked into is consulting payments to his daughter, Ivanka, that may have been unkosher in some ways, potentially paid in such a way as to disguise income so as to shelve it for tax purposes, you know, if that`s one of the things that the company is going to get in trouble for, like, who do you cut off at that point to try to save yourself, if one of your financial schemes benefited one of your kids? That one of the kids have to fear.

O`DONNELL: It is the year of defendant Trump. He`s already a defendant in civil lawsuits and it`s just a question of whether he`s going to become a criminal defendant in Georgia or in New York.

MADDOW: Yeah, man. Well-done. All right. Thank you, my friend.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

And now there are three. Three criminal investigations of Donald Trump. One in Georgia for potential violation of election law, and two in New York, by the Manhattan district attorney and the attorney general of the state of New York. Twenty-four hours ago, it was just -- it was breaking news to us that the New York state attorney general is conducting a criminal investigation of Donald Trump and his businesses. But it was not breaking news to Donald Trump.

"The Washington Post" reports that the notice from the attorney general`s office was sent in late April to attorneys for the Trump Organization. It suggested that criminality could apply to actions by current and former company executives and employees if the investigation finds wrongdoing, the person familiar with the matter said. The disgraced 45th president of the United States who was banned from Twitter and other social media issued an old-fashioned press release today, the first sentence of which was a lie, according to "The Washington Post" reporting, that Donald Trump`s lawyers were informed of the criminal investigation in late April.

Donald Trump`s statement today said, in sentence one, I have just learned through leaks in the mainstream media that the Democratic New York attorney general has informed my organization that their investigation is no longer just a civil matter but also potentially a criminal investigation working with the Manhattan district attorney`s office.

And so, tonight, the Republican Party is still taking its directions from a twice impeached loser who was already a defendant in civil cases, including one in which he is accused of rape and is now facing three criminal investigations into states. None of that has discouraged most Republican members of Congress from doing whatever Donald Trump tells them to do as we will discuss later in this hour.

Tonight, CNN reported the New York Attorney General Letitia James has opened a criminal investigation of the personal taxes of Allen Weisselberg, as Rachel was saying, that is Trump`s family long-time accountant.

Report says that the pressure on Weisselberg is mounting from two directions with the attorney general looking into his personal taxes, while prosecutors in the district attorney`s office are digging into his role at the Trump Organization, his personal finances and benefits given to his son Barry, a longtime employee of the Trump Organization. The tax investigation into Weisselberg`s personal finances by New York Attorney General Letitia James was opened several months ago, and is being handled by a small unit within the office that has authority to bring criminal charges, people familiar with the investigation said.

And Donald Trump`s lying press release about the investigation, he calls his former personal lawyer and fixer, who he elevated to deputy financial chairman of the Republican National Committee a lying, discredited low life who was not listened to or given credibility by other prosecutorial lapses, and sentenced to three years in prison for lying and other events unrelated to me.

That`s Michael Cohen he`s talking about. It was very much related to Donald Trump, at least for one night, in a hotel room, at a golf resort, when Stormy Daniels spent some time with Donald Trump.

Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison because he committed a crime against the United States of America to influence the outcome of a presidential election by delivering a payoff from Donald Trump to Stormy Daniels of $130,000 in 2016. Federal prosecutor said that Michael Cohen committed that crime at the direction of Donald Trump, their phrase was in coordination with, and at the direction of Donald Trump.

After Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to those crimes, in a House hearing, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked Michael Cohen about issues that could interest prosecutors.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Who else knows that the president did this?

COHEN: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Liebermann and Matthew Calamari.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And where would the committee find more information on this? Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?

COHEN: Yes, and you would find it at the Trump Org.


O`DONNELL: MSNBC`s Joy Reid asked Michael Cohen if Donald Trump`s children would know about the manipulation of asset values.


COHEN: They would know what the evaluations are, specifically on projects that they were designated to. Each of the children were designated two different properties, but Allen Weisselberg knew every single dollar in and every single dollar -- not even dollar, to the penny, every single penny in, and every penny out went through Allen Weisselberg`s desk and then reported before and after to Donald J. Trump.


O`DONNELL: And the New York Times is now conforming the reports that Allen Weisselberg is under criminal investigation for his finances.

Michael Cohen told Joy Reid that Donald Trump would blame any possible crimes on Allen Weisselberg and he might even blame crimes on his own children.


COHEN: I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them. What do you think about that? Including his children.

I really believe that Donald Trump cares only for himself, and he realizes that his goose is cooked. What is going to happen when all of a sudden, they turn around and start asking him about his tax returns, or about the devaluation of the assets, or the way that he took deductions?

I don`t do my taxes, it`s my accountant. He`s going to turn on his accountant and point the finger. He`s going to say, Don Jr. handled that, Ivanka handled that.


O`DONNELL: And leading off our discussion tonight are Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel, former chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of New York, he`s the lead prosecutor in the Mueller investigation. He is an MSNBC legal analyst.

And Tim O`Brien is with us, a senior columnist for "Bloomberg Opinion". He is the author of the book "Trump Nation".

And the breaking news of the moment is basically "The New York Times" confirmation of what had already been reported, "New York Times" saying New York`s attorney general`s office has been criminally investigating the chief financial officer of former Donald J. Trump`s company for months, over tax issues according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Andrew Weissmann, you had 24 hours to deliberate over what was breaking news at this moment exactly 24 hours ago, we do have some additional information since then. What is your reading of the legal jeopardy for Donald Trump now in the state of New York?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: A couple of thoughts. First, Allen Weisselberg is clearly in the sights of the Manhattan office and the New York attorney because they want him to flip. Frankly, although I rarely agree with him Michael Cohen has it right, which is that Donald Trump is going to say that he was not aware of certain facts or devaluations and blame underlings. That`s a time-honored tradition of people like Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling and other senior people.

And, frankly, it can be true, at times. So, that is something that the prosecutors need to really work out. So, getting him to flip is important. He faces two types of liability, he faces potential liability for the work he did as part of the Trump Organization and also he could face liability in respect of his own personal taxes.

Of course, it`s been reported that he has been receiving or is the beneficiary of substantial sums to pay for school tuition and the issue is going to be how is that being reported both by the Trump administration, how is it reported by Allen Weisselberg and others. Did they do the right thing?

The second thing is last night, we talked a lot about the Martin Act. I gave you a legal lesson about the Martin Act, and two other things on that score. One is that the New York attorney general`s office happens to now have the leading world expert in the Martin Act as their new head of investor protection. So, sort of again, you can swear what is adding up, but they have certainly the resources the leading experts on the Martin Act which is an act that takes care of people who commit fraud in connection with real estate offerings in New York.

The second is that there is a stat tax statute that is -- and a false statement statute under New York law which is quite broad that makes it a crime to submit falsified, or to have falsified business records, particularly if you`re doing that in another crime.

So, for instance, if you have false Trump organization business records and you are doing that to aid in either a federal or state tax scheme, you can be charged with that very broad false statement charge under New York law, that is a felony.

O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, they also included in "The New York Times" reporting tonight that the investigators have examined whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits that Mr. Trump gave to Allen Weisselberg including cars, tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for at least one of Mr. Weisselberg`s grandchildren.

We just heard Michael Cohen say Allen Weisselberg knows where every penny has gone, is that your assessment of Allen Weisselberg`s position in the Trump Organization?

TIM O`BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMP NATION": Absolutely, Lawrence. Allen Weisselberg has worked for the Trump since the mid 1970s, he came into the company as Fred Trump`s accountant. He and Donald grew up in the company together.

There wasn`t a significant deal or a significant financial transaction that didn`t pass through his hands. He handled and still handles Donald Trump`s personal taxes as well as the Trump Organization`s corporate filings.

There are two people inside the Trump Organization that had to rubberstamp before Donald Trump was comfortable for it getting out of the door, Allen Weisselberg and Jason Greenblatt. Jason Greenblatt was the in-house lawyer. His name hasn`t come out of the news, I`m not saying that Jason Greenblatt has done anything untoward necessarily, but he was Trump special envoy to Israel during Trump`s presidency.

Those two men were the gatekeepers around everything of financial substance in that company. And this is not a big complex organization, the Trump Organization is a mom and pop shop and Allen Weisselberg has been manning the cash register for them for decades. So, I think the fact that he is now being clearly targeted in a criminal investigation is potentially sizeable because these investigations always perceived by squeezing people at the bottom to get them to flip at people at the top. There are not a lot of levels between Allen Weisselberg and Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg and Trump`s children.

I would imagine, all of them are thinking now about lowering up independently, and once that process begins to click in, they all think, I think, about saving their own skins and weighing their loyalty to Trump against the possibility that they may face a prison charge at the end of all of this. Loyalty is a one way street in the Trump world, I don`t think there`s going to be a lot of loyalty displayed towards Trump, because he knows that he isn`t -- they know that he is not going to be loyal to them.

O`DONNELL: I believe I learned the name Allen Weisselberg live on TV from Tim O`Brien, who has written a book about the Trump businesses, and so no one can take us inside the Trump business is better than Tim.

Andrew, "The New York Times" is reporting that two assistant attorneys general from Ms. James` office have joined the district attorney`s team, which has been seeking to turn Mr. Weisselberg into a cooperating witness against Trump. How does -- how does that work in terms of sharing information from the attorney`s office to the district attorney`s office? For example, is grand jury information obtained by the Manhattan district attorney`s office available now to the attorney general`s office?

WEISSMANN: Well, I think is the example you`re giving, "The New York Times" reporting, it is working in the opposite direction which is that the New York attorney general`s office is sending people to work in the Manhattan kits. What is allowed in that situation is for those people in the New York attorney general`s office who have been conducting, by all accounts, a long term financial investigation, which we know a fair amount about in the light of the Eric Trump litigation over this past summer.

Those people, it looks like, are joining forces with the Manhattan district attorney`s office. I view that similarly to when Cy Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, brought in Mark Pomerantz from Paul Weiss. Here he is bringing in people with subject matter expertise from an investigation and they can share with the information that they have with the Manhattan district attorney`s office and presumably move the case along faster.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann and Tim O`Brien, thank you again for your emergency services on breaking news last night and for agreeing to join us tonight, . We really appreciate it.

O`BRIEN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, today, 35 House Republicans refused to take orders from Donald Trump, that is 25 more than last time when only ten House Republicans voted to impeach Donald Trump in January. We will be joined next by one of the house impeachment managers who prosecuted Donald Trump for the insurrection at the Capitol and the Senate impeachment trial in February. Congressman Jason Crow joins us next.


O`DONNELL: And now, there are 35, 35 House Republicans who are willing to vote against the wishes of Donald Trump and do the right thing, 35 House Republicans who voted tonight for a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol on January 6. On January 13th, there were only ten, ten House Republicans who followed their oath of office and voted to impeach Donald Trump. All ten of those Republicans voted tonight for a January 6th commission, and 25 more Republicans joined them along with all of the Democrats which meant that the bill passed the House of Representatives, 252 to 175.

The most prominent Republican opponent of Donald Trump in the House, Liz Cheney, is one of the ten who voted to impeach Donald Trump and voted tonight to investigate Donald Trump and everyone else involved in the attack on the Capitol.

John Katko who represents Upstate New York, including the city of Syracuse is one of the ten who voted to impeach Donald Trump and voted for the January 6 commission. John Katko is the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee and he was delegated by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to negotiate a bipartisan agreement for January 6 commission.

Congressman Katko did that, Kevin McCarthy told Congressman Katko exactly what the Republicans wanted for that commission and the Democrats gave Congressman Katko and Kevin McCarthy every single thing they asked for, everything. And when Kevin McCarthy got everything, he asked for, he publicly turned against the deal that he made through Congressman Katko.

Tonight`s vote came on the day the FBI arrested six additional members of the Trump mob who attacked the Capitol, bringing the total to more than 425 arrests, and marking one of the busiest days in the investigation. Today, the FBI also released two new videos of Capitol rioters, during the insurrection, and is now seeking the public`s help to identify them. In the first video, an unidentified member of the Trump mob is shown attempting to rip off an officer`s gas mask, then picking up a tactical baton and hitting the officers with that.

In the second video, another member of the Trump mob is seen punching officers while wearing gloves with metal knuckles.

During our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. He was an impeachment manager in the first Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump in January of 2020.

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

What did we learn today about what it means when Kevin McCarthy makes a deal with Democrats on legislation?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Good evening, Lawrence. Thanks for having me back.

I am still a mixed on the outcome here. On one hand, I want to be optimistic and say there are now 35 Republicans as you pointed out that voted to do the right thing. On the other hand, there`s another part of me that says we are just trying to form a commission, we`re just trying to do with people have always done after a big crisis or a problem, like we did for 9/11, is a bipartisan commission to look at the facts and figure what went wrong and prevent it. So, I don`t give too much credit, I think I`m going to choose to be an optimist and say that there are more folks who are choosing to do the right thing, yet, again, though, we have Kevin McCarthy who has made himself very clear that he will do whatever Donald Trump asks him to do.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Senator Schumer said about this.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: What the Republicans are doing, the House Republicans, is beyond crazy. To be so far under the thumb of Donald J. Trump, letting the most dishonest president in American history dictate the prerogatives of the Republican Party will be its demise, mark my words.


O`DONNELL: This bill may through the Senate. It will need ten Republicans in the Senate to get to 60 votes to move it to the Senate. Mitch McConnell has now announced that he will be opposed to it because he doesn`t say this, but obviously, because Donald Trump is opposed to it.

CROW: Well, Lawrence, how many reasons do we need to get the filibuster? Yet, we have one more. I had to the growing pile of list that the Jim Crow era procedure that remains an impediment to any progress in American society and politics at this point.

You know, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell continue to try to make a deal that they`re invested interest in Donald Trump to win an election. Kevin McCarthy made a deal by commissioning John Katko to negotiate with us. He said basically, he doesn`t think he`s going to be able to work out a deal. That`s why he commissioned this, because he wanted to delay. He then came out with excuse after excuse into why they didn`t want to agree to this commission.

The final thing he try to bet on was that they would not be able to work on a deal. Something miraculous happened. They worked out a deal. It`s actually pretty surprising in Congress right now.

And that caught Kevin McCarthy off-guard. He didn`t know what to do. He was just left saying, I just am not going to support it anymore. He didn`t really have a good reason for saying that. But that`s where he is.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what you`re calling Tim Ryan of Ohio said on the floor today. He is now a candidate for Senate in Ohio. Let`s listen to this.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): I want to thank the gentleman from New York and the other Republicans who are supporting this and thank them for their bipartisanship. To the other 90 percent of our friends on the other side of the aisle, holy cow. Incoherence. No idea what you`re talking about.

Benghazi, you guys chased the former secretary of state all over the country, spent millions of dollars. We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol police with lead pipes across the head, and we can`t get bipartisanship.

What else has to happen in this country? Cops -- this is a slap in the face to every rank and file cop in the United States. If we`re going to take on China, if we`re going to rebuild the country, if we`re going to reverse climate change, we need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality. And you ain`t one of them.

I yield back the balance of my time.


O`DONNELL: Congressman Crow, that sounded like frustration of the entire Democratic side of the House speaking through Congressman Ryan`s voice.

CROW: Yes. You know, listen, I had to call my wife to the day of January 6 when I was caught in that chamber. A police officer is dead, 140 others were brutally beaten, lost eyes, lost fingers. People thought that they were going to go home to their families that day.

United States Capitol was taken over by a riotous mob. We have Kevin McCarthy who literally hours after that happens gave a speech, call me out by name, and thanked me for holding the brief and helping to prevent the chamber from being overtaken by the mob.

Fast forward a couple of months and none of it happened. Or it didn`t happen the way we thought it happened, or our eyes are deceiving us from the actual video footage shows.

I am really at a loss for words for how this is happening and the extent to which they are trying to sweep this under the rug. But I`m not going to let it happen. My colleagues are not going to let it happen. We know what happened on January 6. We are going to preserve that memory. And we know that accountability and truth is necessary for us to move forward as a country.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Jason Crow, thank you for your courage on January 6. And I know it was courage that meant a lot to your colleagues at the time that you are with. And thank you very much for joining us again tonight.

CROW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, how much longer can President Biden try to reach a bipartisan deal on infrastructure with Kevin McCarthy who he met with last week, now that Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly proved that his worth words are worth absolutely nothing? We`ll be joined by John Heilemann and Jennifer Palmieri, next.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If a man looks me in the eye, gives me his word that something`s going to happen, I take it unless he breaks it.

He may have broken his word to somebody else but to me has he made that deal. Has he made it -- we are nowhere near having made a deal. We agreed that we should try to get a bipartisan agreement.


O`DONNELL: That`s what President Biden told me last week about dealing with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

And now we know how impossible it is to make a deal with Kevin McCarthy. The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee Congressman John Katko was delegated by Kevin McCarthy to make a deal with Democrats on a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol.

Congressman Katko got the Democrats to accept every single thing that Kevin McCarthy said he wanted -- everything. And then Kevin McCarthy betrayed Congressman Katko and proved to the Democrats that his word means absolutely nothing.

Kevin McCarthy voted against the deal that he made with Democrats. And he was joined in that betrayal of his own bipartisan deal by Mitch McConnell in the Senate who called the bill the House voted on tonight quote, "a slanted and unbalanced" proposal. And That was after it was balanced with every single thing that Kevin McCarthy wanted.

If President Biden wants to know if he can rely on McCarthy`s word, just ask Republican Congressman John Katko who voted for the deal that he made with Democrats tonight.

Joining us now is John Heilemann, MSNBC national affairs analyst, host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus" and host of the "Hell and High Water" podcast from "The Recount". Also with us Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for the Obama White House. She is a co-host of Showtime`s "The Circus".

Jennifer, you`ve been there. You`ve been in the White House. You`ve wondered, you know, who might we be able to make a deal with on the other side and there is Joe Biden telling me last week that he`s going to take Kevin McCarthy`s word until Kevin McCarthy breaks his word to him personally.

What are they thinking in the White House tonight after what Kevin McCarthy did to Congressman Katko?

JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes. I think they`re -- I think what they are thinking is that they would like to have a bipartisan deal. I know that they still think that that is possible, not because they can necessarily rely on Kevin McCarthy`s words but because enough Republicans may find it in their interests to do so.

And they would like to have a bipartisan deal. They think that that would good for democracy. It would show the American people that Congress can work in a bipartisan way. And that is just good overall.

But they also know that they have (INAUDIBLE) -- they can always go to reconciliation and prepared to do that. That they have to in order to get, you know, something substantial passed.

O`DONNELL: John, I think it is entirely possible that Joe Biden last week when he was saying that to me believed that there is a 1 percent chance of a deal with Kevin McCarthy but he was going -- he was going to lean on that one percent.

The truth is what (INAUDIBLE) -- the person he really needs is Mitch McConnell. The House can get passed anything without any Republican votes. He needs Mitch McConnell to get a bipartisan deal on the Senate and Mitch McConnell showed us that he`s in the same spot as Kevin McCarthy.

When Donald Trump says, you know, we don`t want this, Mitch McConnell does not want it.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, I mean Lawrence, I think yes. So there is a couple of things to say. One is a concept that Jen and I are both very familiar with because it is a phrase that our old friend Rahm Emanuel, a former colleague of hers and someone I`ve known in politics for a long time.

Rahm likes to talk about be bipartisan or get caught trying. Get caught trying is a really important piece of political advice, right.

And so when Joe Biden comes on your program, sits down and talks to you and says that he would love to do a deal with McCarthy, he`s going to take Kevin McCarthy`s word until he has no reason to take Kevin McCarthy`s word. And he only knows there`s a 1 percent chance.

That`s what we call get caught trying. That`s where the politics of bipartisanship are. Try to make the deal and if you are not going to get the deal, look to the American people like you are really trying to get the deal. And that`s good for you politically, not just good for democracy as Jen just said but also just good for your politics.

And I think that the second important point is, and I think I have said this on this program before, one of the great misconceptions in American politics is that Joe Biden has some kind of blind spot when it comes to Mitch McConnell. That he is like -- that they have done friends for a long time. They`ve done business together.

It is true they have done business together. They are not friends and Joe Biden is not under any illusion about McConnell. So I would say that Joe Biden has exactly the same view of the trustworthiness as a deal partner of Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnel which is 1 percent in both cases .

But in both cases, the get caught trying is still the operative principle. And obviously, you are right. McConnell matters more functionally than McCarthy does in terms of trying to actually get that deal done.

O`DONNELL: Jennifer, what do you make of the 10 becoming 35 tonight. Adding 25 Republicans on the House floor willing to stand up and vote against the wishes of Donald Trump.

PALMIERI: Yes, Lawrence. I was pretty surprised. I mean it`s still a really low number. And you know, you wonder a week ago the House Republican caucus voted to take Liz Cheney`s leadership post away from her, right.

Did that have an impact on some of her colleagues? Has what she said in the last week have an impact on some of her colleagues.

Remember in February when they had the first sort of vote of confidence on Liz Cheney, almost 70 percent of the House Republican Caucus voted for her. And three months later on a voice vote, she`s out of leadership.

And you know, it is still a really low number, right. It`s like 35 of them, it is not a lot but, you know, but it is -- it`s more than who voted for impeachment and after -- and after she was -- after she was ousted so, you know. I think it is like very much wait and see.

I think it`s like too early to say that`s very optimistic. But I was surprised that it was as high as it was.

O`DONNELL: John, if you could pick up 35 Republican votes on legislation for infrastructure, that would be considered a giant bipartisan win for the Democrats.


Yes. And you know, look, I mean one of the things that Jen was just saying about Liz Cheney, obviously the difference between those two votes, the earlier one and this one -- the difference between a secret ballot which was that first round where Republicans were allowed to vote and have no one know what their vote was where they`re allowed to express their real feelings about Liz Cheney which is that they like her and they`d like to have good leadership. Versus this vote which have not even been a voice vote would have been a recorded vote and they think that the politics of sticking with Cheney were bad.

You know, I think that 35 is in this Republican Party is a huge number and I think it is both a testament to how clearly they fought voting against this was just bad for their politics. They just thought this was a vote that they did not want to have hung around their neck.

And I think it`s also a huge problem for Kevin McCarthy because Kevin McCarthy, losing 35 -- it`s not a threat to his leadership today. But given the lockstep nature of the Republican Party at most things for Kevin McCarthy to lose 35 is going to make Kevin McCarthy a little nervous and it`s a big rebuke to him I would say in the context of the way the Republican Party caucus has been operating so far in this Congress and in the last Congress, frankly in the same way.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann and Jennifer Palmieri, thank you both for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.

PALMIERI: Thanks Lawrence.

HEILEMANN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Katie Porter did it again. You may have first seen her doing her magic in the house hearing on this program in her first month as a member of Congress because the first time I saw Congresswoman Katie Porter do her thing in a House hearing I brought that video to the screen of this program that night.

And so after this break, you will see Katie Porter do it again. This is one of her specialties, crushing CEOs about how they run their companies and how they pay themselves.

Tonight`s Katie Porter video is next and Congresswoman Porter will join us and get tonight`s LAST WORD.


O`DONNELL: Well, she did it again. Yesterday in a house hearing, Congresswoman Katie Porter once again crushed a high-paid CEO who was not prepared properly for the hearing by his high paid Washington lobbyist.

And in the process, Katie Porter crushed the idea that the higher price paid for pharmaceuticals in America is necessary for pharmaceutical companies to do research and development to create new life-saving drugs.

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, I give you Congresswoman Katie Porter.


REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Mr. Gonzalez, how much did you spend -- did AbbVie spend on litigation and settlements from 2013 to 2018?

RICHARD GONZALEZ, CEO, ABBVIE: I don`t have that number right now (ph). I will be happy to give it to you.

PORTER: Ok. $1.6 billion. $2.45 billion on R&D. $1.6 billion on litigation and settlements.

What about marketing and advertising? How much does AbbVie spend on that?

GONZALEZ: Well, marketing and advertising we spend about $4 billion a year.

PORTER: Yes, $4.7 billion. $1 billion.

How about executive compensation? 2013 to 2018?

GONZALEZ: 2013 to 2018, it`s probably on average about $60 million a year.

PORTER: Try $334 million on for size.

Now how much did AbbVie you spend on stock buybacks and shareholders -- stock buybacks and dividends to enrich your shareholders from 2013 to 2018?

GONZALEZ: Well, stock buybacks (INAUDIBLE) leverages pure stock buy backs would be about $13 billion.

PORTER: Stock buybacks and dividends is the question sir.

GONZALEZ: Dividends I have to come back with a number for that for that period of time.

PORTER: $50 billion.

So Mr. Gonzalez, you`re spending all this money to make sure you make money rather than spending money to invest in, develop drugs and help patients with affordable life-saving drugs.

You lie to patients when you charged them twice as much for unimproved drugs. And then you lie to policy makers when you tell us that R&D justifies those price increase. The big pharma fairytale is one of groundbreaking R&D that justifies astronomical prices.

But the pharma reality is that you spend most of your company`s money making money for yourself and your shareholders. And the fact that you`re not honest about this with patients and with policymakers that you are feeding us lies that we must pay astronomical prices to get innovative treatments is false.

The American people, the patients deserve so much better. I yield back.


O`DONNELL: The honorable Katie Porter will get tonight`s LAST WORD when she joins us next.


O`DONNELL: Here`s more of Congresswoman Katie Porter in yesterday`s hearing questioning the CEO of a pharmaceutical company AbbVie about why he doubled the price of a cancer drug called Imbruvica.


PORTER: AbbVie itself didn`t spend any money to create Imbruvica. It was invented by a smaller company Pharmacyclics which you later acquired, correct?

GONZALEZ: We paid $21 billion for the company, correct.


PORTER: Are there fewer side effects, sir?

GONZALEZ: No. It has the same side effect profile.

PORTER: Ok. Mr. Gonzalez, do people need less of this medicine Imbruvica to treat lymphoma now?


PORTER: So AbbVie took zero risk to develop this drug. You bought it approved for the market knowing it would be profitable. You hiked the price to pay for R&D but you haven`t made the drug any better even as you doubled the cost.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter of California. She represents California`s 45th district and is a member of the House Oversight Committee.

And Congresswoman Porter, I would like to be doing what I think people are doing in their TV rooms around the country and that is giving you a standing ovation.

But we have to use every minute here to cover this important ground. I have to thank you so much for that questioning. Because I used to sit through hearings in the senate finance committee which has jurisdictions over health care.

And the assumption that the higher American drug prices were they`re (ph) in part, at least in part, to pay for research and development was never seriously questioned and certainly never dismantled the way you did yesterday.

PORTER: Well, it`s really important that we test these assumptions. Because that`s our job is to get answers. So witnesses are there to give us information and we`re there to push back and try to get answers.

And it is true that pharmaceutical companies spend money on research and development. But it is not correct that that is the primary reason that they double and triple and quadruple raising the prices of these drugs. It is to profit their shareholders.

And I want them to be honest about that because then we can begin having a debate about what to do about the cost of prescription drugs.

O`DONNELL: My other favorite thing that you exposed in these hearings is the utter incompetence of the Washington lobbyist who prepare these witnesses and allow that CEO to go in there without a command of his own financials, of his own company.

Very simple issues like how much in dividends -- the items that you present there. Does it continue to surprise you that the lobbyists haven`t figured out how to prepare witnesses for these hearings that you`re going to be participating in?

PORTER: It does surprise me because this is a serious undertaking. I have been a witness before Congress and I would spend hours and hours, not just writing my testimony, but doing research, trying to understand who the other witnesses were, what the context of the hearing was going to be.

I mean you can literally see me coming down the hallway, you know, (INAUDIBLE) with my white board. So It is not a surprise where I`m going and what I`m going to be doing. And yet they continue to not just really not put in the work. And I think that shows a disrespect for the American people and for the process of democracy.

O`DONNELL: I`m just thinking of those lobbyists seeing you coming down the hall way with the white board and knowing they`re never going to be able to figure out which direction you`re going in.

I want to listen to something that the vice president said today about the life of single mothers in this country. She grew up being mothered by a single mother.

She talked to Zerlina Maxwell this today on Zerlina`s radio show. Let`s listen to this.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My mother raised my sister and me. She had two goals in her life -- to raise her two daughters and then breast cancer. She was a breast cancer researcher.

When my mother worked long hours, which she did almost always, including on weekends, my sister and I would walk two houses down to Mrs. Shelton who was a second mother to us and to help take care of us.

My mother would talk her entire life about how she could not have made the discovery she made on breast cancer was it not for Mrs. Shelton.


O`DONNELL: We have never had a vice president with that kind of sensibility about the life of single mothers. You are a single mother and you are finding in all sorts of provisions of law biases against single mothers, including what you`ve identified about the child tax credit. Could you explain what you`re trying to achieve with that?

PORTER: Yes. So the expanded child tax credit, the way it is set up, is it has an income phase out. When you hit x income, you start to not receive it. When you go over a certain income, you don`t receive any of it.

That makes some sense. What kind of target people need. But there is an assumption built into this that single parents simply don`t have the same level of expenses in raising a child as married couples. And it is the opposite.

We know that single parents face more income volatility, more expense volatility, spend a higher proportion of their income on childcare. Trust me. There is no discount for single parents. I`ve been looking.

And so it is really, really important that in policy that we`re trying to lift up every single American child, that we don`t disadvantage children because of the marital status or family status of their parents.

O`DONNELL: Yes. So the way the child tax credit works, a single parent, a single mother with an income comparable to a married couple gets a significantly lower child tax credit for that same one child who is not in any way less expensive because that child is the child of a single mother.

PORTER: Exactly. So the example that you are showing is even for the single family, the single household that`s earning $15,000 less, trying to pay for childcare, trying to pay for food, trying to pay for adequate housing ends up getting much less tax credit.

And here`s the thing. This is not really about single parents. It is about kids. Every kid in this country should have the same shot at nutritious housing, at quality childcare, at adequate housing regardless of the marital status of their parents. That`s how we`re going to lift up every single kid in this country to create our next generation work force.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Katie Porter, thank you for joining us once again tonight. We always learn something important, more than one or two things important when you join us. Thank you very much.

PORTER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Katie Porter gets tonight`s LAST WORD.