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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 6/15/21

Guests: Beto O`Rourke, Trey Martinez Fischer, Daniel Alonso, Derek DelGaudio


Justice Department e-mails have been released by the Democrats in the House Oversight Committee that show Donald Trump trying to force William Barr`s successor, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, to have the Justice Department join lawsuits to overturn the election. "The New York Times" is reporting that Allen Weisselberg could face charges as early as this summer as the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney`s office appears to have entered its final phases. In a House hearing today, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi asked FBI director Christopher Wray about the subpoenas of the phone records of Congressman Adam Schiff and Congressman Eric Swalwell by the Trump Justice Department. The tribal lands that Donald Trump tried to take away are now being restored by the new Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe.



I`m just doing the math here. So, it starts at 7:00 a.m. Eastern. That would be 4:00 a.m. Pacific, but you`re telling me, maybe four hours later, they will speak, which takes us up to 8:00 a.m. Pacific, which means I might actually see that part, the part where they speak, because I`m in Los Angeles.

So, I`m going to -- Rachel, I`m going to have you cover that 7:00 a.m. Eastern part for us, okay, and I will -- I`ll be showing up for the talk after the meeting.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Very kind of you.

O`DONNELL: Rachel, you know, you know, life in L.A. is different from other places. Like, for example, look who dropped by the other day. Look at who dropped by just to say hi. That picture. That`s kind of amazing.

Now, I know he`s masked, and so it`s not that easy for you to tell who it is, and you`re at another disadvantage because you haven`t seen as much of his work as many other people have.

That`s Martin Sheen in that picture that we just took.


O`DONNELL: Yeah, let`s put it back up so Rachel can see Martin Sheen.

MADDOW: Oh, yeah, now I recognize the hair.

O`DONNELL: There`s Martin. Yeah.

MADDOW: I got you.

O`DONNELL: And the guy in the sunglasses is me. And Martin dropped by to give me that box, that plain cardboard box, because inside that box is a gift for you, Rachel Maddow, from Martin Sheen, and he has entrusted it to me to deliver that gift for you.

I`m going to let you get a peek at it right here on TV. It is, from Martin Sheen, a boxed set of "West Wing" DVDs because, Rachel, he never misses your show. He never misses my show. And he heard that night, that painful night when you told America and Martin Sheen that you have never seen the "West Wing," which is part of why you had a little trouble identifying Martin there. Because the only difference with Martin now that he`s 80 is that his hair is white.

And by the way, Rachel, Martin Sheen, at 80, was on his way to work. He was on his way to work when he dropped by.

MADDOW: Oh, wow.

O`DONNELL: To give me this. So, Rachel, 154 hours of your life are right here, okay? That`s all we`re asking. That`s all we`re asking for.

MADDOW: Listen, what I am going to do is I -- if that`s 154 hours of the "West Wing," I think what I should -- and Martin Sheen is still working, he should come take over the Rachel Maddow show for the next 154 shows while I will just marinate myself in the "West Wing" and we`ll do a cross talk like this when I`m done and we`ll, you know, cover it all. That`s perfect.

O`DONNELL: Martin, the man of humility is sitting at home right now saying, I could never do that, I could never do that. Yes, he can star in apocalypse now, but no, he can not host -- he does not believe that he could do the work you do.

He is a great admirer, Rachel.


O`DONNELL: He really wants you to have this. The short way of doing this is just watch the episodes that I wrote, but that`ll save you more than 100 hours.

But it`s on the way, Rachel, and we will binge watch together as soon as I get out there. We will binge watch together.

MADDOW: That is absolutely fantastic. You have completely bowled me over. Thank you, my friend.

Thank you, Mr. Sheen. It`s really nice of you. Thank you.

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

Well, Beto O`Rourke is going to join us tonight, and he is going to discuss pure insanity. That is what Beto O`Rourke has been fighting, pure insanity.

And pure insanity are the words that one of the top officials in the Trump Justice Department used to describe what Donald Trump and his White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, were up to in the final days of the Trump White House when they were trying to overturn the presidential election.

We know this tonight thanks to Justice Department emails released by the Democrats in the House Oversight Committee that show Donald Trump trying to force William Barr`s successor, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, to have the Justice Department join lawsuits to overturn the election.

Donald Trump had an assistant emailed Jeffrey Rosen baseless claims of voter fraud in Michigan that had already been thrown out of court by a judge, and two weeks later, Donald Trump had an assistant email a draft brief for the Justice Department to file in the Supreme Court that would ask to nullify election results in six swing states that Joe Biden won. That brief was virtually identical to the insane lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that was rejected by the Supreme Court already.

Acting Attorney General Rosen refused that particular piece of insanity and all of the insanity, which would have been thrown out by the Supreme Court, even if the Justice Department did file it.

Emails also reveal that Donald Trump`s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, pressured top Justice Department officials on at least five occasions to pursue what one of them called pure insanity. In one email, Mark Meadows sent Jeffrey Rosen a YouTube video link about an Italian contractor using satellites to interfere with U.S. voting machines. Jeffrey Rosen forwarded the email to Acting Deputy Attorney General, Richard Donoghue, who responded, quote, pure insanity.

Jeffrey Rosen then replied that he refused to arrange a meeting between the FBI and Rudy Giuliani ally Brad Johnson, writing, quote, I learned that Johnson is working with Rudy Giuliani, who regarded my comments as an insult. Asked if I would reconsider. I flatly refused, said I would not be giving any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his witnesses and reaffirmed yet again that I will not talk to Giuliani about any of this.

On the same day, Mark Meadows emailed Jeffrey Rosen, quote, there have been allegations of signature match anomalies in Fulton County, Georgia. Can you get Jeff Clark to engage on this issue immediately to determine if there is any truth to this allegation?

Jeffrey Rosen forwarded this email to Richard Donoghue, saying, quote, can you believe this? I am not going to respond to the message below.

Jeffery Clark, who was then the acting head of the civil division of the Justice Department, had no conceivable jurisdiction over voting issues in Georgia, but as we discovered in January, Jeffery Clark was in secret communication with the Trump White House, encouraging what the acting attorney general called pure insanity and was actually expecting Donald Trump to remove the acting attorney general and give him the job of acting attorney general. Put Clark in there as acting attorney general.

Republicans are very disappointed that all of that pure insanity did not work and the real winner of the presidential election was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. And so, Republicans and state legislatures are doing everything they can to put pure insanity into election law so that it will work exactly the way they want it to work next time.

Republicans in several states are making it as difficult as possible to vote in the Democratic areas of those states, but they are also concentrating on what happens after people vote. Republicans are changing the rules of vote counting in some states. Republicans in Georgia reduced the influence of the secretary of state after Georgia`s secretary of state refused to, quote, find 11,780 votes -- the words of Donald Trump on the phone to him after the election.

The Texas legislature is attempting to change the aftermath of voting in Texas in ways that could allow Republicans to change the outcome of elections and turn Republican losers into winners against the will of Texas voters. Today, a group of Texas Democrats who blocked that legislation by walking out of the House chamber last month were in Washington today to beg House and Senate Democrats to pass federal voting rights legislation to help them fight voter suppression efforts by Republicans.

They made their pitch at a lunch with Senate Democrats who met privately with other Democratic lawmakers. Among the Senate Democrats, they came to see, was West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who was not present at the lunch for Senate Democrats, nor did he personally meet with the group of Texas Democrats, but some of those Democrats were able to secure a last- minute meeting with members of Joe Manchin`s senior staff.

At a press conference today with House Democrats, and those Texas Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is an all-out assault, an all-out assault. I mean, it`s just really hard to understand how they could cook up so many various ways to come at a person`s right to vote. But they did. And in HR 1, we have a correction for most of that, but not all. And then in HR 4, we go even further.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Beto O`Rourke, a former Democratic congressman representing El Paso, Texas. He is the founder of Powered by People, an organization helping elect Democrats in Texas.

Beto O`Rourke, I keep saying this is the most important story that we are covering this year. What happens on this story determines everything else about the governing of the United States of America.

BETO O`ROURKE, FOUNDER, POWERED BY PEOPLE: That`s absolutely right, and I`ll tell you, as I travel the state of Texas, holding conversations on democracy and voting rights with my fellow Texans, they are meeting this crisis with the urgency it demands, and they`re asking for more urgency for those who are actually in a position of power to do something about it.

I just heard from a veteran in Waxahachie in Ellis County who said, hey, I served this country. I defended the Constitution in our democracy. When are there going to be consequences for the insurrection and for what`s taking place in Texas and for what the former president tried to do to subvert a lawful, you know, legitimate, democratically decided election? I want some answers, he keeps saying to me and to everyone else who was there.

So, Texas is the epicenter of this fight. It`s the toughest state in which to vote already. It has the most restrictive voter suppression legislation proposed. And it`s also providing the heroes that this moment needs, those State House Democrats and state Senate Democrats that you just pictured right now and that I think we`re going to hear from a little bit later. I think they`re providing the backbone and example and the inspiration that all of us need to see and that I hope the Senate Democrats and those in positions of power in Congress take note of and follow the example of.

And I know they will. I know there`s a lot of folks working really hard up there right now but they`ve got to see this through because democracy is on the line.

O`DONNELL: Talk about the part of the Texas bill that the Republicans have written, have not yet passed, that deals with the aftermath of voting and what might happen after the polls have closed.

O`ROURKE: One of these last-minute provisions that was inserted literally just hours before the legislative session ended would allow the state of Texas to overturn a lawfully decided election simply based, Lawrence, on the allegation of fraud. And the reason that is so alarming, as you said at the top of your program, that`s exactly what Donald Trump and Rudolph Giuliani tried to do in Michigan, in Georgia, what they`re trying to do right now with the recount effort in Arizona.

Imagine if that opportunity existed by statute on the books here in Texas. The big swing state in the country with now 40 Electoral College votes regardless of who the winner of that election is in 2024, the vote could be overturned if this becomes law. So, it becomes all the more pressing for Senate Democrats and frankly if we can get Senate Republicans on board, even better, to pass the For the People Act, HR 1, which would protect the sanctity of the ballot box and the ability for each one of us to know that the vote cast will be counted and will not be overturned and that our democracy will still work.

We got to get this passed or we might very well lose democracy in Texas, and we might lose it in the country.

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion Texas Representative Trey Martinez Fischer. He was one of the Texas legislators in Washington, D.C., today.

And, Representative, you had -- you were part of that meeting with Joe Manchin`s staff. What can you tell us about that?

STATE REP. TREY MARTINEZ FISCHER (D-TX): Well, thank you, Lawrence.

I mean, it was a very instructive meeting. It was a 45-minute meeting by Washington standards, that`s a long time. And we really had an opportunity to really talk to the staff about what`s at stake here in our nation`s democracy. And I will tell you that I think it was very enlightening for them to understand voting rights standard in West Virginia are far different from the voting rights standards in Texas.

So, for instance, in West Virginia, you could vote by mail during the pandemic. You couldn`t do that in Texas.

In West Virginia, you could vote by mail if you worked a certain shift and you weren`t able to vote during the day. You couldn`t do that in Texas.

In West Virginia, you could vote if you were incarcerated by mail. You can`t do that in Texas.

So as we went line by line and talked about several subject matters of S-1, it was very clear that Texas and the rest of the country is not like West Virginia, and that we do need a national standard that actually empowers people to vote, and that`s what S-1 is trying to accomplish, and I think that it was very instructive for the staff to understand in other parts of the country, there is a lot of voter suppression taking place and clearly that`s killing democracy, and we need a fix for that.

O`DONNELL: What is going to happen next in the Texas legislature?

FISCHER: Well, at any moment, the governor can call a special session. So, you know, we broke quorum, we walked out. That is the equivalent to Texas Democrats crawling on our knees, begging our federal brothers and sisters to please bring us a federal standard, a federal relief. And as a matter of fact, I think that spark sort of reinvigorated this debate in our country about voting rights.

We`ve had a productive day on the Hill. You can probably hear it in my voice. I`m a little bit raspy. We`ve been talking all day about we are holding the line, but we cannot hold it forever. We need to find a federal solution, and we are working very hard.

And I think our federal counterparts from Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, to the Biden administration, I think they all feel the urgency of the matter and now is the time to give us S-1 and HR-4 and bring relief to our nation.

O`DONNELL: Beto O`Rourke, the point just made about West Virginia`s voting laws versus Texas laws was actually made on this program last night for a different reason. It was made by an expert in a member of the news media in West Virginia saying this is one of the reasons why Joe Manchin doesn`t have to respond to Senate bill 1, the voting rights bills, the same way as other Democrats is that people, voters in West Virginia aren`t worried about this for West Virginia voting.

What`s your response to that?

O`ROURKE: It`s interesting. I`ve seen some of the polling out of West Virginia, and every provision of HR-1, Senate bill 1, the For the People Act is wildly popular in that state across party and geographic lines.

So, you know, reducing the power of corporate money in politics, having independent redistricting commissions so members of Congress no longer choose their voters, making Election Day a national holiday and removing these obstacles that are in place for those in states like Texas who actually want to vote. The people of West Virginia want that.

And I`m confident that Senator Manchin, as he seeks bipartisanship and looks for a solution forward, will ultimately come to the conclusion that as Trey Martinez Fischer just said, federal action is the only way that we can save the day in Texas, Georgia, Florida, and for this country.

So I think his hearing the representatives` message today or at least his senior staff is such a critically important moment, and I hope, as he and other senators vote on this, the week, June 21st, that`s the vote on the for the people act, they keep in mind just how dire the situation is here in Texas.

O`DONNELL: Trey Martinez Fischer, Nancy Pelosi said the other day that she hasn`t given up on Joe Manchin, on getting him to the place where he`ll do what`s necessary to get one of these bills passed.

What is your feeling? Have you given up on Joe Manchin?

FISCHER: No, sir, I certainly haven`t. As a matter of fact, you know, Senator Manchin didn`t go to the Senate Democratic caucus luncheon today. He was meeting with other moderate Democratic senators talking about voting rights and this is top of mind for Senator Manchin.

And let`s be clear, Senator Manchin was a former secretary of state. He understands elections and how they`re administered across the country or at least in West Virginia. I think what he`s learning is that not everybody plays by West Virginia`s standards.

And if we want to protect democracy, which is really a pillar of his position, we are losing our democracy state by state, voices are being silenced in Georgia, and now in Florida and now in Arizona and if we are steam-rolled in Texas, there is nothing that`s going to stop Republicans from marching across our country, silencing the voices of voters and what kind of democracy is that?

I think that Senator Manchin, they heard us. They understood us. We have a commitment to come back and visit with his office once again.

And so, I`m hopeful, I`m inspired, and I think that, you know, for our nation to understand now`s not the time to give up, we need to continue to apply our passion, president of the United States has dedicated 30 days of action on voting rights. We all need to do our part.

Now is the time. This is a now or never moment for our country, and we need to stand for America.

O`DONNELL: Beto O`Rourke and Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, thank you both very much for starting off our discussion tonight. Thank you

And coming up, breaking news from the "New York Times" tonight that Manhattan prosecutors conducting a criminal investigation of Donald Trump could charge his top financial officer as soon as this summer.

Daniel Alonso, former chief assistant Manhattan district attorney will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Breaking news tonight on the Manhattan district attorney`s criminal investigation into the Trump organization`s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. "The New York Times" is reporting that Allen Weisselberg could face charges as early as this summer as the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney`s office appears to have entered its final phases. "The Times" also reports that prosecutors have obtained Weisselberg`s personal tax returns, which would provide the fullest picture yet of Weisselberg`s finances and whether or not he paid taxes on numerous, very expensive benefits given to him by -- and his family by Donald Trump.

Prosecutors are trying to turn Weisselberg to testify against Trump, but "The New York Times" says even if Mr. Weisselberg chooses not to assist the investigation into his boss, charges against him could portend trouble for Mr. Trump, signaling that the prosecutors have identified what they believe is misconduct at his family business.

And joining us now is Daniel Alonso, former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York and more importantly tonight, former chief assistant district attorney in the Manhattan district attorney`s office.

Thank you very much for joining us once again tonight.

What is your interpretation of this breaking news from "The New York Times"?

DANIEL ALONSO, FORMER CHIEF ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, MANHATTAN: It`s more of the same. We are seeing an advance of a criminal investigation that happens all the time in state court and in federal court when prosecutors have their eye on someone, you sort of get this drip, drip, drip of what is it that they`re getting in, and in this case, it`s such intense interest we`re hearing about it.

So, in the ordinary case, you wouldn`t hear about it, but what we heard today is that they`re actually now focusing, perhaps, on actually prosecuting, actually filing charges against Weisselberg and that they got his personal tax return. Now, that doesn`t surprise me. You would expect that they would have his personal tax return. They would have gotten it either from the state tax department or from Weisselberg`s own accountants.

But what they`re trying to do here is they`re trying to build a tax case against Weisselberg. If that makes him flip against Trump from the point of view of the D.A., all the better, assuming Donald Trump committed a crime, but as I said before here, Lawrence, it is always possible that the case will be people against Allen Weisselberg. We don`t know right now.

But there is every indication that on a variety of fronts, they are focusing their sights on Allen Weisselberg.

O`DONNELL: And with the kinds of things we`re talking about, private school tuition in New York City which can run $60,000 a year. Free rent, free apartment in New York City, which could be worth a quarter of a million dollars a year or more, easily. You could be talking about, over a period of years, over a period of, say, five years, well over a million dollars in income, in effect, where the taxation was evaded.

ALONSO: Yeah, so, two things about that. One is the tax authorities forever have taken a dim view of taxpayer-financed fringe benefits, right? So we don`t want to let employers give fringe benefits to their employees, which is a benefit for both of them and have us, the taxpayers, foot the bill. So they`re taxable for a reason. It`s very, very important.

The other point is the well over a million dollars. You`re right. New York City is very expensive and I certainly know about the private school tuition, so it is definitely something that hurts. I will say that it`s about the tax amount, right, not the total amount, so if it was a million dollars in benefits, you`d have to figure out how much income tax he owed so just using roughly 10 percent for New York, you`d have about $100,000 in tax loss over a number of years.

And unfortunately, New York law doesn`t let you aggregate years. So it`s not as serious as it might have first sounded when you said it, but it`s still a felony. It still carries potential state prison time, but it is not, you know, the lock him up and throw away the key kind of thing.

But I also think this is not the only thing the D.A. is looking at with respect to Weisselberg. We have lots of other things.

O`DONNELL: Why would we be getting a sense of timing at all on this? Where do you think this leaking is coming from?

ALONSON: Oh, God, I`ve always said that leak investigations are a fool`s errand. It`s very, very hard to find out where this kind of stuff comes from.

You know, when I was a prosecutor, I always thought it was the defense. As a defense lawyer, I think it`s the agencies or the prosecutors. I mean, we really don`t know where this is coming from, but I think that is "New York Times" reporters have good sources and they have been the ones that have been pretty much keeping us apprised.

So, you know, I`m glad and I know your listeners are glad that they are, but I wouldn`t speculate where it`s coming from. I`ll tell you one thing. It`s certainly not coming from Cy Vance. That`s a guy who keeps his mouth closed about investigations.

O`DONNELL: Dan Alonso, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.

ALONSO: Thanks, Lawrence. Appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, today, the FBI director refused to answer when asked about the FBI`s involvement in obtaining phone records of Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Andrew Weissmann, who once served as FBI general counsel, will join us next.


O`DONNELL: In a House hearing today, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi asked FBI director Christopher Wray about the subpoenas of the phone records of Congressman Adam Schiff and Congressman Eric Swalwell by the Trump Justice Department.


REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): The leak hunt began when the FBI sent a subpoena to Apple in February 2018. You don`t dispute that report, correct?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I really can`t discuss a specific investigation. I really don`t want to get out in front of the Justice Department on this. You know, decisions about subpoenas are really best directed to them.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: And the FBI interviewed witnesses in connection with this leak investigation, correct.

WRAY: Again, sir, I really can`t discuss any specific investigation.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I`m not asking you to discuss any specifics of the investigation, but the FBI was involved with these investigations, correct?

WRAY: When there are leak investigations, typically the FBI is the investigative agency. Yes, correct.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Good. That`s the -- that`s what we thought. The FBI was involved with this investigation.

Now sir -- and this is during the time that you are the FBI director. Did you ever discuss the Apple subpoenas with Jeff Sessions?

WRAY: All right, Congressman, I understand the question. I really don`t want to get out of the Justice Department on this. As you know, the attorney general --


KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sir, you`re just being asked a simple yes or no question. Did you discuss the leak investigation with Jeff Sessions?

WRAY: Congressman, again, respectfully, I`m not trying to be difficult here. But the inspector general has been asked to look into this. I have a very good working relationship --


KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sir, you`re being evasive. These are yes or no questions, sir. You`re under oath. These are yes or no, simple questions that we need to get to the bottom of.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel and former chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of New York. He is an MSNBC legal analyst.

Andrew, in your old job, what would you have advised the FBI director to say today?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I actually found this quite a painful day to watch, because a lot of directors and other people don`t relish going up in front of congress and testifying, and sometimes you`re subject to unfair abuse.

Sometimes the questions are, you know, not merited. But that`s irrelevant because these are congressional oversight committees, and they`re entitled to answers. It`s particularly upsetting to hear the FBI director refuse to answer to a congressional oversight committee on the grounds that the DOJ inspector general is investigating.

That`s a DOJ`s own inspection service, but Congress has its own independent oversight responsibilities so the idea that the FBI director says I`m not going to answer because we`ve got an internal process going on is really the height of impropriety.

And I really think there`s some cognitive dissonance going on right now at the Department of Justice where you have the FBI director, who is a holdover but is now -- now is, you know, part of the Garland DOJ, performing the way he did today.

At the same time, you have the Garland Department of Justice handing over pursuant to a House request, not even a subpoena, various documents related to the White House`s election interference.

So, to me, that smacks of the attorney general getting his house in order and you know, I think there`s still going to be some shake-up in terms of how they present themselves to Congress and the American public.

O`DONNELL: Can the attorney general order Christopher Wray to answer those questions to Congress?

WEISSMANN: Yes. The attorney general and the deputy attorney general are senior to the FBI director, who reports to both of them and all of them report to the president of the United States.

So, you know, this is -- the clip you played is a good sample of the FBI director`s performance today, and again it was, you know, it was disheartening because now he is a member of the Biden administration, and so, when he speaks or, in this case, really gives a lot of stonewalling answers where Congress was really pulling teeth to get any sort of statements about what actually went on, on January 6th.

Whether this was an intelligence failure, whether it was a law enforcement failure, whether politics or race played a role -- a whole series of questions that the public is entitled to know the answers to. It was disheartening to hear the FBI director dodge and, you know, bob and weave.


O`DONNELL: And he kept using this phrase, "I don`t want to get out ahead of the Justice Department on this". And I was wondering if what he was intentionally or not implying is that the Justice Department might be doing something else public soon about this.

WEISSMANN: Look, that is -- that is possible, but let`s get real. He`s the one who is under oath, being asked questions by Congress. And so it is not bad for the Justice Department to understand that when people go up there for a hearing, they are going to have to answer questions.

And they may be expecting to do things on their own timeline, but you know what? Congress gets to dictate what that timeline is.

And I also think it`s a good time for this administration to really set a different tone in terms of the separation of powers. We just lived through four years with the executive stonewalling Congress and Congress largely cowering from the executive. And this is really a good time for -- to have that change.

You know, I just was reading Jane Harmon`s book where she -- you know, long-time member of Congress, talked about the incredible shrinking Congress and that it`s time for Congress to really exert its power. It has the ability to do oversight now. And it should have a more willing Justice Department to answer questions.

And I`m confident that the attorney general and the deputy attorney general have that view of their obligations to Congress.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Your expertise on this is invaluable. We really appreciate it.

WEISSMANN: You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And up next, you`ve heard from members of Congress on this program, congressional experts, others about what`s happening in the Democrats` negotiations with Republicans in Congress on an infrastructure bill and other matters.

Now it`s time for you to hear from someone with a different perspective, not a congressional expert, not a historian, not a pundit. A guy who used to cheat at card games will tell us the fundamental mistake Democrats are making in their negotiations with Republicans. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: You`ve heard many legislative experts analyze the moves and countermoves of the Democrats and Republicans negotiating an infrastructure bill this year. But there`s another perspective that might explain what you`re seeing better than any of us who have worked in Congress.

Our next guest tweeted this. "I used to rig card games for a living. I`d watch people sit down and lose everything again and again. But they didn`t lose because they played by the rules and we didn`t. They lost because it wasn`t a game. It just looked like one. Democrats think it`s a game."

Derek DelGaudio went from the life-threatening work of rigging big stakes card games to taking his slight of hand skills with cards and awe-inspiring magic to a hit one-man show off Broadway that took audiences on an illuminating and deeply emotional journey that left most of them in tears.

The show in and of itself began with each member of the audience picking a card before they took their seats, not a playing card, a card that identified how they see themselves.


DEREK DELGAUDIO, CREATOR, "IN AND OF ITSELF": People need something to call you. So, you search. You look at the roles the world offers you, trying to find the one that reflects who you are.


O`DONNELL: Later in the show, Derek DelGaudio then guesses exactly which identity each member of the audience chose, and when Derek DelGaudio looks into their eyes and tells them who they are, it is a profoundly intimate and moving moment.


DELGAUDIO: An explorer. And a Good Samaritan. And a vegan. An alchemist. An independent. A maker. And a good time. If I`m right so far, you may be seated. A visionary.


O`DONNELL: You can watch Bill Gates` reaction when Derek DelGaudio correctly tells him how he sees himself in the film version of "In and of Itself", brilliantly directed by Frank Oz. And available now on Hulu.

And joining us now the writer, creator, performer of the profoundly wonderful work of art, "In and of Itself", Derek DelGaudio.

Derek, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

I want to go to that tweet of yours, which is actually a couple of years old now, where you say that Democrats` mistake is that they think they are in a game and Republicans don`t think that at all.

DELGAUDIO: Yes. It`s just an observation that I made based on my experience working as what`s known as a bus stop dealer. In my 20s, I was hired to use my skills to decide the narrative for the evening and I sat there and watched as people interacted with what they thought was a game but it was actually the simulation of a game. And it was making it look as close to a game as possible is what made it successful. And I just noticed some of the parallels between that and our current democratic process.

O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s -- and it`s really clarified it for me, is that it does look exactly like the game -- the legitimate game that I used to be in when I worked in the Senate of negotiating, trying to negotiate bipartisan deals.

But you discover, as you watch Republicans do this, that no, no, no, they never meant it. They were never going to be there at the end in a real deal.

I want to go to what we just saw, because I saw your show at the little theater in L.A. years ago where the first time I saw it -- saw it at least twice in New York off Broadway. Saw it again this weekend. I watched the film version yet again, so that`s maybe two or three times watching the film version.

And I cried once again at the end and at other points in it because it, you know what -- I can`t finish the sentence because and that is what I want you to help me with.

I`m not sure what is happening to those people when you are looking at them and telling them who they are. What -- why is that such a deeply emotional point?

DELGAUDIO: Unfortunately I think it`s fairly simple in that we don`t see each other. And what we know about one another and what we think we know about each other gets in the way of what really is. And I think the simple act of recognizing someone and their humanity and who they are is a gift in this day and age and the fact that it affected people so deeply is a testament to how that doesn`t really happen often enough.

O`DONNELL: We`re watching an amazing magic trick because you do this with every single member of the audience and that is some kind of amazing magic trick. And that has its own awe when you see something truly great like that that is inexplicable.

But this goes beyond that into this deeply personal moment. And you can see -- one thing you can see in the film you couldn`t see in the theater was kind of up close reactions that you were able to see of each of these audience members when this happens.

And it is kind of at the end of an hour and a half on a road that they never knew where they were going and it turns out it was about them.

DELGAUDIO: Yes. Basically the unspoken secret of the entire show is that it is not about me. It is actually about you. It`s about everyone. And I use my own personal narrative and stories as a proxy to allow people to enter the ideas and hopefully find their own way into it.

And by the end of it, I pull back the curtain and reveal what it`s been about the whole time which is -- which is all of us.

O`DONNELL: It has the most amazing things I`ve ever seen on a stage that are called magic. And it has so much drama and it has so much personal narrative of your own in there.

How would you describe it? What is -- there`s no phrase, no quick phrase that I`ve thought of that describes your show.

DELGAUDIO: It`s a theatrical existential crisis.

O`DONNELL: Ok. Yes. That gets closer to it than anything else with amazing magic tricks and moving narrative and a kind of audience interaction that I`ve never seen.

DELGAUDIO: Well, yes. They`re the other half of the experience. It is not something I could have done on my own certainly. They helped tell the story and they are a significant part of it and it wouldn`t exist without them.

O`DONNELL: Derek DelGaudio and the amazing "In and of Itself" will be on your Emmy ballot in the category of Outstanding Variety Special. That is not an endorsement. I don`t try to tip the scales here on the voting.

Derek, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

DELGAUDIO: It`s an honor, Lawrence. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up in tonight`s good news the tribal lands that Donald Trump tried to take away are now being restored by the new Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump redrew weather maps of hurricanes because he is a buffoon and he redrew other maps because nothing is sacred to Donald Trump.

In his first year in the White House, Donald Trump redrew the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah decreasing its land area by nearly 85 percent. This shocked the five tribal nations for whom the land is their ancestral homeland, and it horrified paleontologists and environmentalists, fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years have been found there.

In 2019, in her first year as a member of Congress, Deb Haaland went on a camping trip to Bears Ears. In an interview at the time she said, quote, "There are some pretty amazing ruins there and you know I don`t even like to call them ruins because in our culture, in Pueblo culture, if you acknowledge our ancestors they are there. The spirit of the people never leaves.

Deb Haaland is now President Biden`s Secretary of the Interior and "The New York Times" is reporting she has sent an official recommendation to the president to restore the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument to the boundaries created by President Obama.

The secretary`s recommendation is a necessary procedural first step in restoring the boundaries. Secretary Haaland also recommended the restoration of boundaries of other national monuments that Donald Trump reduced and opened up to the possibility of mining and other uses.

What a difference an election makes.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.