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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 5/6/21

Guests: Jennifer Palmieri, Julian Castro, Rosie Castro, Katie Hobbs, John Koskinen


President Biden picked up important bipartisan support for his infrastructure plan from a Louisiana Republican, and that Republican is the mayor of Lake Charles, Louisiana, where an important local bridge on Interstate Route 10 is in desperate need of repair and rebuilding. Julian Castro fights voter suppression in Texas, 50 years after his mom fought to extend Voting Rights Act. Federal and state officials are now focusing on what could be the illegal aspects of conducting a fake recount.



Of course, we don`t have any idea with the mayor is going to tell us tomorrow.

But I have to tell you, when I was working in the Senate and senators would announce -- sometimes very big announcements, like Bill Bradley, he`s not going to run for reelection, and stunned reporters would be asking why, why, why. We`d all be sitting there saying well, no, it would be stranger he ran for reelection.

Understanding not running for reelection has always been the easy part for me from -- from living inside the lives those people have to live. It`s the running for election and staying with it that is the harder thing to both do and understand as you watch people do it, because it is such a strain and it is so difficult.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yeah. Although in this case she so clearly seemed to have gone through that switch in terms of the rail lines and decided that`s where she was going and having had options to stop what she was doing instead go do something very different in Washington. No, she was going to stay and reup in Atlanta, did that fundraiser.

So this is a late-breaking shocker of a decision. I mean, we`ll find out more tomorrow. But I for one am quite surprised.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and Rachel, as we approach Mother`s Day, I`m thinking of a new policy here at THE LAST WORD that may could spread to all of television. And that is what if, what if TV guests had to bring their moms? What about that?

And the reason I`m thinking that is that Julian Castro is joining us tonight with his mother Rosie Castro, who was a political activist long before Julian and his brother Joaquin even thought about it. She taught them everything they know about politics. And finally, only tonight Rosy Castro is making her first appearance on this program.

And it makes me feel like there has been -- what have I been doing for the last few years here? She should been here a long time ago.

MADDOW: That sounds like a -- I also just love the idea that you can just say to people, listen, we`d like to book you to talk about this. If you want to bring your mom, you can, as always. That`s kind of a standing rule for THE LAST WORD that moms are always welcome. It`s excellent.

O`DONNELL: You`re talking about your book, but bring your mom is she is available that should be the policy. Come on. There wouldn`t be a book without your mom.

MADDOW: It also means there is a chaperon for every show. So to keep things on the straight and narrow a little bit. There is always a mom.

O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s try it.

Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Well done, Lawrence. Thanks, man.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, today, President Biden picked up important bipartisan support for his infrastructure plan from a Louisiana Republican. That Republican is not a member of the House or Senate where Republicans are not allowed to support the Biden plan. That Republican is the mayor of Lake Charles, Louisiana, where an important local bridge on Interstate Route 10 is in desperate need of repair and rebuilding.

And in Louisiana today, Joe Biden showed once again why Republicans in Washington are having much trouble disagreeing with President Biden on policy.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to bridges and roads and the like, I`ve never seen a Republican or Democrat road. I just see roads.


O`DONNELL: "I just see roads."

Okay, Republicans. What`s your response to that? Just like the rest of us, Joe Biden just sees roads. That kind of simple clear talk from Joe Biden is something that Republicans have absolutely no answer to, none. Not one word.

That`s why they want to talk about Donald Trump being banned from Facebook. And that`s why they want to talk about banning kids from playing on sports teams, and that`s why they want to talk about banning Liz Cheney and any Republican who tells the truth about the last presidential election from any leadership role in the Republican Party.

They would rather fight with Liz Cheney than try to fight with Joe Biden on his infrastructure plan, because not a single bridge or highway or railroad track that they can point to anywhere in the country is in better shape today because Donald Trump was president.


BIDEN: I got so tired hearing infrastructure week. Nothing -- nothing happened.


O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell has now said the thing that he was trying not to say, trying not to say it for a while. He was trying to pretend that the Republicans were being shut out of the legislative process and the Senate and the House by the Democrats.

Mitch McConnell was trying to encourage Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to continue to try to pursue Republican senators who support the Biden infrastructure bill and the rest of the Biden agenda, including preserving the right to vote in America.

But Mitch McConnell killed that dream yesterday. He killed the dream of the Senate working the way it used to work before Mitch McConnell became the Republican leader of the Senate. Mitch McConnell said yesterday that he has all 50 Republican senators locked in place in total unity in opposition to everything Joe Biden wants to do. Everything.

It was the perfect echo of the total obstruction that Mitch McConnell declared as his goal against President Barack Obama.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.

One hundred percent of my focus is on standing up to this administration. What we have in the United States Senate is total unity from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country.


O`DONNELL: And there it is. The reason Mitch McConnell said that yesterday is that Mitch McConnell has no solutions to any problems this country is facing. And the only way he can identify the Republican Party to voters is in total opposition to Joe Biden, accompanied by total devotion to Donald Trump.

After Mitch McConnell condemned Donald Trump on the Senate floor at the end of the impeachment trial in February, Mitch McConnell`s favorability among Republicans was at 30 percent. It is now at 42 percent.

Total opposition to Joe Biden is working for Mitch McConnell, but it doesn`t work for Nic Hunter, the Republican mayor of Lake Charles, Louisiana, who stood with President Biden today and said this --


MAYOR NIC HUNTER (R-LA), LAKE CHARLES: Mr. President, we come from different backgrounds. We come from different areas of the country. We grew up in different eras.

Candidly, Mr. President, we are members of differing political parties, and there would be some policy that we would disagree on if we sat down with each other for a conversation. But I guarantee you, I would be willing to have that conversation with you, and I do believe that we can agree on the dire need here in Lake Charles for an infrastructure plan.

I would never let anything stand in the way of me being here today, of me being anywhere to have an audience with someone who could help. Right now, southwest Louisiana needs all of our elected officials to fight for the people of this community and be willing to break bread with anyone who can help.


O`DONNELL: And President Biden said this --


BIDEN: I find more support from Republican governors and mayors and Democratic governors and mayors around the country because they`ve got to - - they`ve got to answer the question, is life better in this town, this city, this state than before I got elected.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, 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."

John, let me begin with you and Nic Hunter, because we have a few hundred elected Republicans in Washington, and we have several thousand of them out there in the country. And when you listen to someone like Mayor Nic Hunter talking about the Biden infrastructure bill, that`s a very different experience from listening to those Republicans in Washington.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah, very different, Lawrence. And I think, you know, Nic Hunter is not alone. My guess is you`re going to find Republican local elected who are going to be far on the far right of the ideological spectrum and are not going the like things that Joe Biden wants to do.

But you`re going to find a lot more who Joe Biden understanding this point perfectly, who when it comes to COVID relief in the first big bill, when it comes to jobs and now when it comes to infrastructure, their attitude is we need help. The country is falling apart.

We need help on COVID. We need help on infrastructure. And I think that more on infrastructure even in some ways than COVID the way in which the Biden administration is going out about defining and redefining what bipartisanship means. They`re likely to find a lot of Nic Hunters, and a lot of evidence to point to that the things they want to do with infrastructure have broad support, just not in the United States Senate or the House of Representatives.

O`DONNELL: Jennifer, what we saw Nic Hunter do today, we have seen all of our lives. Presidents have been going around the country being received by mayors of the opposite party, governors of the opposite party, and especially when they`re there to talk about infrastructure needs in the area, they are fully supported by that mayor or by that governor of the opposite party.

In this Trump world of Republican politics, what we`re seeing with Nic Hunter today is political bravery. He is smart enough to know that if he were to try to run for Congress now as a Republican that his party would be in very strong opposition to him because he one day agreed with Joe Biden about something very important for his community.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, HOST, SHOWTIME`S "THE CIRCUS": Yeah, this is the question in my mind is what is the future of the Republican Party? Is it Republicans outside of Washington like Governor Justice in West Virginia, the mayor in Louisiana today, mayor of Oklahoma City who is Republican that`s a part of the COVID relief bill? Are they the future of the party? Or is it the people in Washington that are just trying to obstruct anything that Biden did?

And, you know, the distressing thing about McConnell coming out and saying what he said about yes, I`m doing this again. I`m going to oppose everything this Democratic president does, just like I did with Obama is it leads to dysfunction at some level, right? Things that otherwise would get done aren`t going to get done. And dysfunction fuels political division.

The Republican Party right now thrives on that. But what`s different this time is infrastructure is very popular. And when you`re standing in the way or trying to stop things that, you know, problems that the American people in huge numbers want to get solved, that could be a problem for these Republicans that are in Washington, that are fighting everything.

O`DONNELL: And, John, there is the phrase "infrastructure week" is now so helpful to Joe Biden. He just has to say it in every one of these speech, remember infrastructure week, and it became the joke of the Trump presidency. It`s hard to go back and recall exactly what happened on infrastructure under each presidency other than maybe Dwight Eisenhower where the interstate highway system was born, very, very important.

But the one presidency we can all tell you exactly what happened on infrastructure is the one that kept talking about infrastructure week and never had an infrastructure week.

HEILEMANN: Yeah. It`s the craziest thing, Lawrence. I don`t know if you remember, there was a brief moment at the end of the 2016 campaign when at the end of the campaign, actually the transition where there was some people who thought you know what? Donald Trump in that election talked more about building stuff than he talked about repealing Obamacare. That`s the reality.

He was much more -- I`m a builder. I`m going go build stuff. People thought for a moment hey, if Donald Trump comes in and decides not to be a rigid ideological captive to the Republican Party and decides to do a $2 trillion infrastructure bill, man, that would really scramble the dynamics in Washington.

Instead, Trump did not do that. He never turned infrastructure, as you rightly point out. And instead for that moment in particular, at the key moment at the start of the administration got captured by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and took on tried to repeal Obamacare which is something he never cared about and poisoning the well going forward. Obviously, Trump poisoned the well in 50 other ways.

I will say one thing, though, which goes -- I just want to say this about McConnell. You know, you played the sound that we all remember. And you know, you remember him saying he was going to thwart Barack Obama at every turn. What he said is I`m going to focus on the next two years on denying Barack Obama a second turn.

Here is the thing. Mitch McConnell denied Barack Obama a lot of stuff and he created a lot of divisions that Jennifer was just talking about that. I`ll tell you what he didn`t do. He didn`t deny Barack Obama a second term.

And that`s one thing Joe Biden should look to sand say Mitch McConnell caused me a lot of trouble. But if I can get this infrastructure bill happening with Democrats and get this economy going, he is not going to be able to deny me a second term either.

O`DONNELL: So, yesterday, after Mitch McConnell said I have all of the Republican senators locked up. They all oppose everything Joe Biden is proposing, Joe Manchin, who has been trying to do business with a few Republican senators hoping he can get them to come aboard said this about what Senator McConnell said. He said, I don`t know what his reasoning is for that, but I can assure you there are Republicans working with Democrats who want to make something happen.

And then separately, a few questions down from that, this very important line, which kind of got lost in what he said. He said, and at the end of the day, if they don`t vote for it, then we`ll have another discussion then.

And, Jennifer, it seems to me the only other discussion to have is doing this through reconciliation with Democrats only, which Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden seem to be patiently waiting for Joe Manchin to come to.

PALMIERI: Right. And I think that`s fine. Right now there is a lot of work to be done just legislatively to get infrastructure bill under way. That can turn into reconciliation at some point over the summer.

If you`re worried about the bill passing, it`s positive that Manchin said what he said at the end, which is signaling, not surprisingly that if the bipartisan means exhaust themselves and the support doesn`t materialize, there is another way to get it done there a way to get it done.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, Jennifer Palmieri, thanks very much for starting us off tonight. I really appreciate it.

HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you.

And coming up, whenever I see Congressman Joaquin Castro and his twin brother, former secretary of housing and urban development, Julian Castro, I always wonder, who did their mother do it? What is her magic parenting formula? The answer to that is next in an early Mother`s Day special appearance here on THE LAST WORD of Julian Castro and his mother Rosie Castro, who taught him everything he knows about politics. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: In 1971, our next guest, Rosie Castro, launched a long shot campaign for a seat on the San Antonio City Council. She did not win that race, but Rosie Castro told a local reporter then, quote, we`ll be back.

Her campaign increased registration among Latino voters. And exactly 30 years later, her son, Julian Castro, won a seat on that same city council. Julian Castro went on to be elected mayor of San Antonio and later was chosen by President Obama to serve as secretary of housing and urban development.

Rosie Castro`s other son, Joaquin Castro, is now her congressman.

Julian Castro recently testified to a congressional committee that the political activism he learned from his mother is essential to guaranteeing the right to vote.


JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: It`s fitting that I join you today to discuss the Voting Rights Act, because just under 50 years ago, my mother was compiling data and research on behalf of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund for a presentation on the exact same topic that would be used in preparation for testimony to this very committee.

She and many other advocates believe that there had not been enough progress on voting rights for Latinos and that the 1965 Voting Rights Act had left gaps that states and local communities were exploiting to disenfranchise and suppress voters.

Unfortunately, five decades later, I`m here for very much the same reason.


O`DONNELL: Tonight, the Texas House of Representatives has started debate on a voter suppression bill that has already been passed by the Texas Senate. The bill would make casting a vote even more difficult in Texas than it was in 1975 when Rosie Castro was working for the extension of the Voting Rights Act.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): So, what impact did that making sure that Texas was included and Hispanics were actually included in the empowerment of Hispanic voters, which are racial definition in many instances, what did it do for this state?

J. CASTRO: Thank you for the question, Representative Jackson Lee, and for your leadership.

That 1975 extension to language minorities was groundbreaking. And what it meant was much greater participation, particularly in Mexican-American community, Latino community there in Texas, greater election of first choice candidates from those communities that changed the face of governance across the state of Texas, and in many other places, it empowered millions of people.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, former secretary of housing and urban development. And much more importantly, joining us his mother, long-time political activist Rosie Castro.

Thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

And, Rosie, let me begin with you and give us your view of the threat you`re seeing to voting rights in Texas now compared to the challenges you`ve seen to voting rights in the past.

ROSIE CASTRO, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Well, you know, it`s very similar to what we`ve seen in the past. The whole point of spreading the big lie, using that to say that we need to make sure that votes are secure is the kind of strategy that is used over and over again. You know, so it`s almost lucky going back 50 years and having to fight this battle all over again.

Everything that was done this last time during the voting, which was very effective to make sure that African Americans and Latinos were voting well has been thrown out, or they`re trying to throw out. For example, the boxes that can be put at different locations as Houston did, that would be coming to an end. In San Antonio, that was not done because the person here in charge of elections felt that it could only be done where she had an office. But Houston used very effectively.

They`re also looking at restricting night voting. And that was effective in their county and throughout those areas of Texas that used it.

It makes sense to try to do things that help expand our voting privileges, our voting rights, rather than to diminish them. Today we had an op-ed by one of the Republican legislators himself from their Bexar County saying that Republicans are wrong in trying to stop this voting, they`re wrong to do this voting suppression.

O`DONNELL: Secretary Castro, many people watching this unfold this year, this voting rights challenge that is being faced around the country do not have the kind of historical view of it that your mother does, and many people your age, frankly, don`t have that view because they don`t have your mother there to teach it to them.

What has it meant to you in the way that you frame this issue and the way you see this issue that your mother has been working on it for decades?

J. CASTRO: Well, it`s meant everything. She`s been so inspirational. She is the reason that I got into politics, and my brother Joaquin got into politics and public service in the first place. She gave us this sense that we should participate and that we should make sure the doors are open for everybody to participate.

And so I think it`s important that every single person out there, but especially our young people who are going to have to live with the consequences of the policy decisions that this leadership is making in the state of Texas, that they get out there and make their voices heard.

And, Lawrence, I was so proud today to see some of the images coming out of the state capitol in Austin, because that`s exactly what we had. We had especially young people pushing back against these voter suppression efforts.

O`DONNELL: Rosie, when you were running for city council in San Antonio, every candidate had to be elected statewide. You helped change that so that there would be city council districts, and that`s where the progress started to get built. Then it became possible to elect a Latino candidate, for example.

What are the kinds of ways that you can see for where activists have to go from here if the Texas legislature does pass this bill? What are the kinds of things that voting activists are going to have to do in reaction to that?

R. CASTRO: Well, I know one of the very first things that will happen is what happened today in Florida. There is going to be lawsuits. I think Maldov (ph) has been very good at doing that. ACLU, several of the groups joined together to try to make sure that we can keep our voting rights.

We also are facing, of course, redistricting, and that as always been a problem in Texas. So, whether it was the Democrats back in my time and now the Republicans that always tried to redistrict areas so that they are elected, that will lead to lawsuits.

I think that we have to continue the fight. We have to continue looking at the data, presenting arguments, and trying to make sure that more people understand what`s at stake here. If you can do that, then we should stop seeing some of this voter suppression.

The other thing we need to do, in my opinion, we need to elect a whole new group of leadership at every level of the state because leadership is not even a word of what we have in the state of Texas.

O`DONNELL: You know, I think in the control room we have a picture of you, Secretary Castro, with your brother and your mother back in your college days, I guess. And I`m wondering, and I`ve always wondered about this about both of you when I`ve seen you and your brother and you`ve been on the show.

What did their mother do? How did she do it? How did she get these kids in their super achieving -- but I`m going to ask both of you, but I want to start with you as the son, what did you feel your mother was doing that set you on this road to super achievement?

J. CASTRO: I think it was something as simple as absolute love and giving both of us a belief in ourselves that we had value and that we could accomplish whatever we set out to. And, you know, she was a Chicana activist trying to make sure that in our American society, there was less discrimination.

But at the same time, she gave us a confidence that no matter what that we could overcome obstacles. And she showed us the way, raising us as a single mom. So she showed us that you can overcome obstacles. She was a powerful example to us.

O`DONNELL: Rosie Castro, when are you going write your parenting book? Because I`m sure people out there want to know all of your secrets.

J. CASTRO: I`ve been asking her that for like 10 years. Yes, I`ve been asking --


R. CASTRO, MOTHER OF JULIAN AND JOAQUIN CASTRO: People ask about that sometimes. But I think that I`m going to leave that for other people to do. They might.

I`m very fortunate. My sons and their wives are really great parents too. So it`s really fun to watch that with the grandkids as they`re growing up and how nourished they feel, how loved they feel. And I think for us what has been supremely important has been something that was lacking from my mother, who came here as an orphan.

She didn`t get to get an education. And so she always instilled in us that it was so important to get your education. She really regretted that she couldn`t finish beyond third grade.

And so for us, education has been something that we -- all the family pushes for, not only for our family, but for everyone that we know. And we`ve always worked in that field. I think that that`s extremely important. And I`m so glad to see that funding is coming more towards the educational area now and perhaps even the first free two-year college.

We have that already in San Antonio, but hopefully we will get that throughout the nation.

O`DONNELL: Rosie Castro, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

R. CASTRO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: I hope you have a very Happy Mother`s Day. And when I see you there with your son, it looks like every day is a Happy Mother`s Day for you.

Julian Castro, thank you for joining us again tonight.

J. CASTRO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And don`t even think of coming back to the show without your mother. Thank you both very much.

J. CASTRO: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

R. CASTRO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, everyone, including the people who are doing it, know that the fake recount of votes in Arizona is completely bogus. But is it also against the law?

Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Cyber Ninjas is the comical name of the Florida company that has been hired by Republicans in Arizona to conduct a comical and possibly illegal fake recount of the presidential election votes centering on one county in Arizona.

Here is the comical side of what these Cyber Ninjas are up to.


JOHN BRAKEY, OFFICIAL HELPING OVERSEE THE ARIZONA AUDIT: Well, it`s that there`s accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown in.


BRAKEY: To Arizona. And it was stuffed into the box, ok. And it came from the southeast part of the world, Asia, ok. And what they`re doing is to find out if there`s bamboo in the paper. That camera right there that they take a picture of the ballot.


O`DONNELL: Federal and state officials are now focusing on what could be the illegal aspects of conducting a fake recount.

Our next guest Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs sent a six-page detailed letter to the Arizona senate stressing the failures of the procedure, which include the use of untested, uncertified systems, a failure to adequately protect and document chain of custody of ballots, inadequate physical security of ballots, risk of co-mingling counted and uncounted ballots in a batch, leading to some ballots being double-counted and others not being counted at all, and the fact that there were no procedures for hiring qualified, unbiased counters.

Secretary Hobbs writes, "Former state representative Anthony Kern has been among those hired to count ballots. Mr. Kern`s name is on the ballot not only as a candidate for state representative but as a presidential elector. The exact race for which he is counting. Mr. Kern is not trustworthy to fulfill his role. He was a leader of the Stop the Steal Movement in Arizona and was actually present at the attempted insurrection in Washington, D.C. On January 6."

And Joining us now is Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs. Thank you very much for joining us again tonight.

I hesitate to use the word "comical", but there are comical elements to this. But this is a very serious situation that could cross the lines legally and become illegal.

Well, certainly we raised a lot of concerns about the security in that six- page letter. And then we saw yesterday the Department of Justice weighed in with their concerns about the potential for violation of federal laws in this process.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And the federal laws are cited by the Justice Department sending a letter again to the Arizona Republican senators. They state that federal law creates a duty to safeguard and preserve federal election records. That`s a pretty serious duty. It`s a pretty serious law. That could very well be being violated at this moment.

And then there is also this plan to go door to door and question some voters and the federal justice department is saying that could implicate anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act.

So there is multiple legal lines that they could cross at the federal level.

HOBBS: Yes, absolutely. And I think what the concerns outlined in our letter made clear why they were so intent on keeping the procedure secret, keeping the press and keeping expert observers out of the room, because they didn`t want us to know that this whole audit is a sham.

And we are finding that out the more that we are able to be there and observe and see the lack of procedures that are actually in place.

O`DONNELL: And now that they`re going to crash into high school graduation that could stop them from actually doing what they are pretending to do there every day.

HOBBS: Right. So apparently high school graduations are scheduled starting on May 14th, and the lease that they have to do this audit runs out. And there is no plan for what they`re going to do at that time (ph).

But it`s clear that they`re not going to be done counting at that point. So that just compounds the concerns we have about the security of all the ballots and the equipment and the chain of custody that is clearly not being addressed in an adequate fashion.

O`DONNELL: So their choices for the high school graduations that would take place in that building are to just push all of their equipment off to some corner somewhere while the kids are graduating? Or pick everything up and move it to somewhere else?

And again, all of that, all of that risks the chain of custody, as you call it, of the ballots. It risks the preservation of federal voting records that the federal government requires.

HOBBS: Yes, absolutely. And from what I`ve been able to see from communication between Ken Bennett and the facility is that storing the items there during the graduations is not an option, but he doesn`t have another plan. So we`re not sure what`s going to happen.

O`DONNELL: Could it just be abandoned? Could you get to May 15th and this whole process just becomes abandoned?

HOBBS: I mean, I don`t know the answer to that. I`m not in charge of this circus, so I don`t know what they`re planning.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And so how is it being received in Arizona? Is it a purely partisan reception? Is it your sense that Republican voters think yes, this is great. This is a great way to do it, and Democratic voters don`t?

HOBBS: Absolutely not. We are getting lots of concerns called in to our office from across the political spectrum -- Republicans, Independents, Democrats, voters across Arizona are concerned about this process. They have been able to see what a sham it is. And that it is not actually a real audit and that it`s not going to determine anything different about the election than we already know, that it was a free and fair election, Joe Biden won Arizona and the results we certified were accurate.

O`DONNELL: Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight. We really appreciate it.

HOBBS: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the part of Joe Biden`s tax plan that could raise the most money would not require any increase in taxes. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Every country has what`s called a tax gap, the gap between what is owed in taxes according to the law and what is actually paid. In the United States, the gap is almost a trillion dollars a year. That`s how much the IRS fails to collect of what is actually owed to the federal government under current law.

Here`s what Congresswoman Katie Porter told us about that last night.


REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): It is the result of policy choices, policy choices that Republicans have made to gut the IRS from simply doing its job. And who does this benefit? This benefits cheaters.

Call a spade a spade. There are cheaters. And who are they? They are disproportionately the nation`s largest corporations and the mega ultra wealthy.


O`DONNELL: In a recent "Washington Post" op-ed piece, five former IRS commissioners who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations offered their support for President Biden`s proposal to close the tax gap by increasing funding to the IRS.

The former IRS commissioners write, quote, "Audit rates for millionaires have fallen more than 70 percent since 2011. Audits for large corporations decreased from essentially 100 percent a decade ago to less than 50 percent.

President Biden`s proposal would restore our tax administration system to make it far fairer and more effective. This would benefit everyone who pays their taxes. It would produce a great deal of revenue by reducing the enormous gap between taxes legally owed and taxes actually paid. And it would improve taxpayer interactions with the IRS.

The Biden administration has advanced such a comprehensive long-term program for improving the tax administration system. If passed by Congress and effectively managed, it would produce enormous lasting benefits."

IRS commissioner John Koskinen was going to join us at this point. We have lost his connection.

But as Katie Porter was telling us, this is an enormous amount of revenue that the federal government is just sacrificing, just leaving on the table, very deliberately by choice of Republicans in Congress who have repeatedly defunded, they have done everything they can to defund the IRS. And the IRS is, of course, a law enforcement agency so that is defunding the police who collect our federal taxes.

Former commissioner Koskinen is now, I think, connected to us. John Koskinen, former IRS commissioner joining us by phone. I want to get your reaction to, again to the Biden proposal of what we can do just by better IRS enforcement.



KOSKINEN: It is clear -- I`ve been talking about this ever since I was the commissioner starting in 2013, that as you know, the Congress has significantly underfunded the IRS. And its only response to not having enough money is to not hire people when others leave so that the IRS is down over 20,000 employees, down 15,000 revenue agents, revenue officers and criminal investigators.

And anyone who has tried to call the IRS has discovered there simply are by far not enough people answering the phone. So I`ve always said with just a modest increase in the budget, you could collect $150 to $200 billion over the ten-year measuring period. And with the changes proposed by the Biden plan (INAUDIBLE) and information reporting, there are estimates that you could collect easily trillion dollars a year and the Biden plan talks about $700 billion, simply by increasing third party reporting from the banks.

It`s clear when the IRS has third party reporting, the compliance rate is above 90 percent. Without third party reporting like W2s and 1099s, the compliance rate drops into the 50 percent range.

O`DONNELL: And for all of us, this phrase "third party reporting applies" - - we all get paychecks and the person, the entity sending us that paycheck tells the IRS, oh by the way, this is how much he got this week.

And so we don`t have -- most people don`t have the kind of room with their tax returns to maneuver the way the people who aren`t subject to that kind of reporting on their income do.

KOSKINEN: Well, that is right. If the IRS has no information on what your revenues are, let alone your expenses, it`s pretty easy to decide, well, I will just report what seems convenient. So there are a lot of small to medium-sized businesses that have difficulty sometimes keeping track of it all and some larger organizations with some royalty (ph) taxpayers knowing that the IRS does not have that information, take advantage of that fact.

O`DONNELL: The IRS employees, especially inspectors who examine the returns, do the audits -- they are in dollar terms the most valuable government employees in the world. You pay them, you know, in the $100,000 range, and they return millions and millions and millions of dollars to the Treasury.

KOSKINEN: That is right. I never could quite understand why Republicans in Congress didn`t not understand that if you give the IRS money, they will give you more money back.


O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s right.

KOSKINEN: The question is whether it`s a multiple of (INAUDIBLE) ten. Nobody ever disagreed with that but they continued on to defund the agency.

O`DONNELL: Former IRS commissioner John Koskinen, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

KOSKINEN: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. We will be right back on an important LAST WORD from one of the police officers who was attacked and injured by the Trump rioters at the Capitol on January 6th. He sent a letter to every member of Congress condemning Republicans like Donald Trump and Senator Ron Johnson who have been lying about how non-violent and friendly the Trump mob was to police officers. That`s next.



MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: I was just, you know, trying to fight as best I could. I remember like guys were stripping me of my gear. These are rioters, pulling my badge off my chest. They ripped my radio off my vest. Started pulling like ammunition magazines from their holder on my belt.

And then some guy started getting ahold of my gun and they were screaming out, you know, kill him with his own gun.

At that point, you know, just like self-preservation. You know, how do I survive the situation?

A lot of people have asked me, you know, my thoughts on the individuals in the crowd that, you know, helped me -- or tried to offer some assistance. And I think kind of the conclusion I have come to is, like, you know, thank you. But (EXPLETIVE DELETED) for being there.


O`DONNELL: That is Washington, D.C. police officer Michael Fanone. Yesterday he wrote a letter to every member of Congress describing what he has been through including having to listen to comments like this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was zero threat right from the start. It was zero threat. Look, they went in, they shouldn`t have done it. Some of them went in and they`re hugging and kissing the police and the guards.


O`DONNELL: In a recent interview, Officer Fanone condemned Donald Trump`s description of rioters hugging and kissing the police.

Here is some of Officer Fanone`s letter sent to every member of Congress yesterday.

"On January 6th, 2021, I participated in the defense of the United States Capitol and as a result of my efforts was severely injured. I was pulled out into the crowd, away from my fellow officers, beaten with fists, metal objects, stripped of my issue badge, radio and ammunition magazine and electrocuted numerous times with a taser.

I am writing to you so you may better understand my experience that day. In the midst of this fighting I observed Commander Ramey Kyle, cool, calm, collected, giving commands to his officers, hold the line. It was the most inspirational moment of my entire life. Even as I write this, it brings me to tears.

I tried to render assistance to some of the injured asking them if they needed a break. There were no volunteers, only those that identified injured colleagues who may be in need of assistance. I have never experienced such bravery, courage and selflessness.

Since then, I have struggled with many aspects of that day as the physical injuries gradually subsided, in crept the psychological trauma. In many ways, I still live my life like as if it is January 7th, 2021. I struggle daily with the emotional anxiety of having survived such a traumatic event but I also struggle with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day and those who would ignore them altogether with their lack of acknowledgement.

The indifference shown to my colleagues and I is disgraceful."

Officer Michael Fanone gets tonight`s LAST WORD.