IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 6/2/21

Guests: Beto O`Rourke, Ben Rhodes, Andy Slavitt, Lance Dodes


President Joe Biden is facing a challenge that he did not know was coming when he was running for president, and that is the Republican Party`s coordinated, nationwide effort to block everyone`s vote. The group of Israeli political parties has reached an agreement to form a coalition government that would replace Israel`s longest serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When President Biden asked Andy Slavitt to serve as a White House senior adviser on COVID-19, he agreed to go back into government service to make sure the vaccination program succeeded. Now that we are on the threshold of the long, hot summer of Donald Trump`s discontent, which will not end with him being reinstated, it`s time for a check on Donald Trump`s mental health.



We have Ben Rhodes joining us tonight. I loved your interview with him last night about his book. We have real current events business to conduct with him about what is going on in Israel. So, he`ll be joining us on that.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Excellent, excellent.

O`DONNELL: Last night with Ben and the book and the full context you brought to that was really wonderful.

MADDOW: Well, thank you. I mean, Ben Rhodes has had a singular seat to recent history and his, the soberness with which he is approaching this moment and how his book is about how we are buffeted by all of the same forces that have pushed all of these great countries around the world into a really authoritarian space is a very sobering analysis from anybody but particularly given what he`s seen and where he`s been I found that book to be kind of a -- it changed my view on the world.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. You took us on that journey with him last night that he actually literally took after the 2016 election to go around the world and try to figure out what`s happening. We learned a lot just from that and there is more in the book.

MADDOW: Excellent. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be joined later in this hour on the 134th day of the Biden presidency with someone who will consider the 134th day of hell that Donald Trump is living in as the no longer president. Dr. Lance Dodes who has considered Donald Trump`s mental health in the past at the very beginning with the very beginning of the Trump presidency when his mental health became a matter of public display, Dr. Lance Dodes will join us again tonight to consider where Donald Trump`s mind is and how it is functioning at this stage of what will be the rest of his life as not president of the United States.

President Joe Biden is facing a challenge that he did not know was coming when he was running for president. This was not an issue in the Democratic presidential primary debates. This was not an issue in the two debates Joe Biden won against Donald Trump.

This was not an issue that Joe Biden saw coming but it is the number one issue facing the Biden presidency, and that is the Republican Party`s coordinated, nationwide effort to block your vote, and I mean your vote no matter what state you are living in.

Republican state legislators and Republican members of Congress have made it very clear that they do not believe all voters are equal. They believe Republican voters are better than Democratic voters. Better people.

Republicans believe their better people should be able to vote and everyone else should be blocked. And they have more than one way of blocking your vote in your state. If you don`t live in a state controlled by a Republican legislature and governor and no one is trying to restrict your ability to personally vote in your state, don`t think that Republicans don`t know how to block your vote.

If you live in California, where Republicans in the legislature cannot pass any laws to restrict your votes all of your state`s electoral votes are going to go to the Democrat in the next presidential election. We know that now.

But the Electoral College will be able to deny victory to the Democratic candidate if the Republican plan to block votes in Georgia and Texas and Arizona and other states is successful, because California voters might get their wish in the presidential election and they did get their wish in the presidential election last time only because Georgia voters and Arizona voters, Pennsylvania voters, and others, voted for Joe Biden.

But if the Republican legislatures in Georgia and Arizona and other states are able to rig the next election, the votes of California voters, biggest state in the Union, those votes will be denied the victory that they deserve in the presidential election by those state legislatures and those other states that are far away from California.

Like Georgia where Stacey Abrams has been working on this issue for years. Tonight, she joined our first guest Beto O`Rourke on Instagram and made the point that the Republican attack on voting rights is an attack on every voter in every state.


STACEY ABRAMS, FAIR FIGHT ACTION: We`ve got to amplify this so this is a national conversation. They are successful when they convince us it is parochial, only happening to some people. It`s only happening in the South. It`s only happening to black people.

No. This is happening to all of us. We all have to be heard. We are the power.

It is not hyperbole. This is not idealism. We have to create such a clamor that to do otherwise, to do anything other than save our democracy from these to use your word pernicious laws is to do a disservice to our country.

BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: You`re so right to point out the effect and the outcome and who ultimately is targeted and who ultimately will pay the price in our democracy.

In Texas, it`s black voters, voters of color. It`s young voters. It`s the very old, those who live in big cities.

And I think you also made a great point it also affects everyone if you really want this government of, by, and for the people to work when you start cutting out parts of the people you no longer have democracy. You no longer have this government.


O`DONNELL: Republicans are using race to suppress the vote for Democratic candidates. Race is an easy identifier for Republicans when they are trying to block people from voting for Democratic candidates because black voters vote so overwhelmingly and consistently for Democratic candidates. That`s why Republican legislators in Texas and elsewhere have tried to block black churches from running successful Souls to the Polls voting drives on Sundays.

The latest Texas voting restriction bill that was blocked in the legislature when Democrats walked out and denied a quorum necessary to have a vote, that bill eliminated voting on Sunday morning immediately after church. And now, at least one Republican in Texas who supported that bill wants you to believe that that was a typo. That they meant to have the Sunday voting hours begin at 11:00 a.m. but someone dropped the digit and made it a one and then extended that typo to change an "A" to a "P" and 11:00 a.m. became 1:00 p.m. the kind of thing that in 16th century would have been called a scrivener`s error.


TEXAS STATE REP. TRAVIS CLARDY: That`s one of the things I look forward to fixing the most. Call it scrivener`s error, whatever you want to. I talked to our team yesterday kind of regrouping of what happened. That was not intended to be reduced. I think there was a -- you know, call it a mistake if you want to. What should have been 11 was printed up as one.


O`DONNELL: Scrivener`s error? Okay.

The problem with that is one of the Republicans supporting the bill in the debate actually, specifically defended the 1:00 p.m. start time written in the bill. It was a specific subject of the debate. And everyone heard that.

Now, one Republican is trying to claim that was a scrivener`s error. Why? Why are some Republicans in the Texas legislature actually embarrassed by what they`ve done, what they`ve tried to do? What other mistakes are they ready to apologize for? What happens next in Texas?

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, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know how hard you are working on this every single day now.

What are we seeing in this Texas legislator who is coming up and saying, oh, no, sorry, the 1:00 p.m. was a scrivener`s error, we made a mistake? Any other mistakes they want to admit to at this point?

O`ROURKE: I think they are just hoping you wouldn`t notice. That might be why. The Senate version was debated literally through the small hours of the night into the morning and was passed I think at 5:30 a.m. El Paso time.

The next day in the House, they had dumped on them 20 new pages of amendments they didn`t have time to read before the debate and the vote was going to be called but thank god for the Texas House Democrats who though they were in the minority were able to stop this voter suppression bill SB- 7 that had all the provisions you just described and also included one that would allow the state of Texas to overturn a lawfully, Democratically decided election based on simply the allegation of fraud.

It is something that folks threatened to do in 2020 if passed in Texas the legislature would have the power to do that in, say, the 2024 presidential election when now 40 electoral college votes are at stake. So, it`s very clear what they are trying to do but also clear they tried to do it under cover of darkness. Now that they`ve been stopped, now that the Texas Democrats have bought us some time we have to make the most of it.

The only way really, Lawrence, to do that is to ensure that the United States Senate and President Joe Biden pass the For the People Act. It is within their power unlike the Texas Democrats in the minority they are actually in the majority. They can do this. They just have to decide they want to and get it done.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Marc Elias said about that. He is the election lawyer working for the Democrats all over the country bringing lawsuits all over the country fighting these things and says the solution is national.

We can give it -- I`ll read this from the "New York Times" about this meeting that he had with the Senate Democrats last week where he was in there.

I`ve been in those meetings in the Senate where they are all gathered in one room. Senator Manchin was there and the "New York Times" report indicates Senator Manchin just listened silently to Marc Elias throughout that discussion. Then when it was over, he told reporters I`m learning. Basically we`re going to be talking and negotiating, talking and negotiating, talking and negotiating.

What`s your reaction to that?

O`ROURKE: I`m so glad you played some of that Instagram live interview with Stacey Abrams earlier. She recounted this wonderful story that took place in 1964. Andrew Young, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went in to visit President Lyndon Baines Johnson and said we have to pass a Voting Rights Act. President Johnson was purported to say, I don`t have the power. Congress isn`t going to do this.

And when they left, Dr. King apparently said to Andrew Young, you know, we`ll get this done. Andrew Young said how in the world are we going to do that? Dr. King said we`re going to get the president some power.

I think that`s what Stacey and other civil rights and voting rights leaders are doing. We know President Biden wants to sign this into law. He mentioned it yesterday at the commemoration of the Tulsa massacre and connected it to voting rights and civil rights and the fight before us right now.

But we, the people, of this country need to help give him and those Senate Democrats who want to get this done the power to get it done because I firmly believe we will not get a second crack. If we lose democracy in this year in 2021, it`s not like we get another shot in 2022 or 2023. Once we lose it, it is gone forever.

And with more than 360 voter suppression bills spread out across 47 state legislatures, the first successful attack on the U.S. Capitol since the war of 1812 just five months ago, and now conspiracy theorists spreading the rumor that somehow Donald Trump is going to rise from the ashes and take control of our government again, it`s not beyond what is possible to think that there will be more political violence and more attempts to suppress votes or overturn elections.

This one is on us. We`ve got about a month left to us before the Texas legislature is called back into special session and try to pass this again. We`ve got about two months before we lose this opportunity over the summer to get this bill done.

I really hope we can rally the country, the cause of democracy in passing the For the People Act.

O`DONNELL: You know, what you just said is exactly why I present this as the number one issue. I am not the only one. It is so obvious that if you lose democracy, if you lose that, you won`t be able to achieve any of your other aims through your vote, if they manage to block it this way.

And trying to explain this to people who live in states, you know, like Massachusetts, California, where their particular voting process is never threatened by a Republican legislature, there is the linkage that Stacey Abrams was making tonight that, yes, but your vote in California is fed into an Electoral College that can be corrupted by these Republican state legislatures.

O`ROURKE: That`s absolutely right. You won`t have a Democratic nominee win the presidency in future years if the voter compression laws pass, because in addition to making harder for people to vote, it must be clear, they`re making it harder for black Americans to vote, in Texas for those with disabilities, for those who live in big cities. They are also now reserving the right to overturn elections.

And so, there goes your opportunity to win Texas, to win Georgia again, to win Arizona, to win Iowa. I mean, this is literally happening across the country. And just what gets me, Lawrence, is that the Republicans are so focused on getting this done and it sometimes feels like Democrats are, you know, blindly seeking some kind of compromise from a party that hoisted this insurrection upon us in the first place, trying to suppress the vote across the country, and is really dragging down democracy with it.

We`ve got to stand for something. If as Americans we don`t stand for this democracy, that men and women in uniform fought and died for, that men and women in the civil rights era fought and died for then who are we at the end of the day? I sure hope the Democrats stand for this if they stand for anything at all. This is their chance to prove that to the country.

O`DONNELL: Beto O`Rourke, thank you for joining us on this most important issue. Please come back whenever you can. We really appreciate it.

O`ROURKE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Ben Rhodes will join us with the news that Israel`s longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, might soon be able to concentrate full-time on the criminal charges that he now faces in an Israeli courtroom now that a coalition has been formed to replace him as prime minister. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: The group of Israeli political parties have reached an agreement to form a coalition government that would replace Israel`s longest serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The plan is for Netanyahu`s former defense minister, Naftali Bennett, now the leader of a right wing party to serve as prime minister for two years, after that, a centrist party leader, Yair Lapid, would take over as prime minister.

Israel`s parliament would have to vote to ratify the new government. That vote is expected in the next 12 days.

Joining us now is Ben Rhodes former deputy national security adviser to President Obama. He`s an MSNBC political analyst. His new book has received rave reviews from Barack Obama and Rachel Maddow. So, what more does it need? It is entitled "After the Fall: Being American in the World We`ve Made."

Ben, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Twelve days is a very long time with a fragile and complex coalition in the Israeli parliament that might or might not produce a new prime minister. How do you read the situation tonight?

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, we`ve never seen anything quite like this. What you essentially have is Lapid, the one with the mandate, who`s a secular centrist who supports the two-state solution with Naftali Bennett who is a hard right nationalist who has spoken about annexing the West Bank, together with the first time in Israeli government, an Arab party, coming into this mix.

What they all have in common is they would like to see Netanyahu out. That is the unifying principle of this new coalition. It is fragile but it does appear that this is really the most likely next government and this could be the end of 12 years of Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is not a huge mandate for a new government but, again, the thing that has unified this kind of incredibly diverse coalition that runs the gamut in terms of the spectrum of Israeli politics is people who think it is time for Netanyahu to be out and frankly to face accountability for his corruption crimes.

O`DONNELL: So what happens in the life of Benjamin Netanyahu if 13 days from now he is no longer prime minister?

RHODES: Well, look. He`s been indicted. He is facing corruption -- very serious corruption charges.

That personal corruption accepting gifts but also structural corruption, using the power of his office to corrupt the Israeli media, to try to exert leverage over the things the Israeli media would say about him. And so, this is very seriously the accountability he faces. In a way, it mirrors the circumstance faced by Donald Trump who was his closest ally who he fully embraced in a way that I think contributed further to the polarization of some of the issues around the U.S./Israel relationship in an unfortunate way.

So I think people have thought as Israel has gone through four different elections and Netanyahu has fought tooth and nail to stay in power, part of the reason was he wanted the immunity that came with being prime minister. He wanted the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, to pass immunity so he couldn`t be convicted of his corruption charges.

Well, if this goes forward, he`s going to have to face the music. I think that was part of the motivating factor as well as the sense it`s been 12 years. It is time for Israel to move on. It`s time for new leadership here.

O`DONNELL: It seems that one of the calculations in the coalition can be that even though I am engaging in a coalition with my opponents as some of these parties are, obviously, putting this together, maybe this new government won`t last long, which is okay, because it will at least get Netanyahu out.

RHODES: That`s 100 percent my read on the situation, Lawrence. Lapid, again, was the guy tasked with forming the government and he is offered the position of prime minister to Naftali Bennett who is a political rival. Now, under the agreement, Lapid would become prime minister in a couple years but most of us are looking at a situation, don`t expect this government to last for its full mandate. It is likely there will be some kind of election at some point in the coming years.

But I think what the politicians have calculated is, look -- and I think there is reason behind it beyond political interest. Israel has been deadlocked in its politics with four elections. Bibi Netanyahu has been an incredibly polarizing figure there. He sought very effectively to divide the opposition.

I remember being in a car, Lawrence, with Barack Obama going to Shimon Peres` funeral, very poignant moment, and saying, look, Peres had this amazing legacy, part of the founding generation of Israel. He built so much to be proud of.

What is Netanyahu`s legacy? Obama looks at me and he said, well, it`s breaking the Israeli left. And that`s what Netanyahu has done with such great skill. He`s divided these different parties, these different factions, held power, led to a kind of a right wing drift in Israeli politics.

And I think the politicians are saying let`s move beyond the Netanyahu era and fight it out probably in some future election. For now, they`re probably not likely to deviate significantly from Israel`s policies with respect to the Palestinians. They`re probably will be less overt kind of getting into American politics as Bibi did on things like the Iran issue and they`ll focus on domestic issues until ultimately they face another election.

O`DONNELL: Ben Rhodes, the new book is "After the Fall: Being American in the World We`ve Made", rave reviews from Rachel Maddow and Barack Obama. Ben Rhodes, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

RHODES: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Andy Slavitt has succeeded once again at managing a massive health care challenge for the president. He did it first for President Obama. Now he has done it again for President Biden. Andy Slavitt will join us next.

O`DONNELL: Like Pete Buttigieg, Andy Slavitt is a graduate of Harvard University. In Andy Slavitt`s case, Harvard Business School.

And like Pete Buttigieg, Andy Slavitt went to work as a consultant at McKenzie and Company which specializes in solving problems for big businesses. Pete Buttigieg and Andy Slavitt have taken their problem solving skills to government in different ways with Andy Slavitt mastering the complexities of the government`s delivery of health insurance and health care services first by saving the Obama care Web site for President Obama and then serving as a deputy administrator and then the acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services in the Obama administration.

It was Andy Slavitt`s college roommate who steered him toward the health care sector but not by giving him career advice. His college roommate, Jeff Yurkofsky, was a physician, married, and had twins when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

When he died five months later, his widow and children moved into a spare room at Andy Slavitt`s house where the Slavitts had a newborn baby of their own. Andy Slavitt saw up close how crushing medical bills could be.

Another college roommate of Andy Slavitt Rob Keil says I think he became very passionate because he saw a huge problem.

Andy Slavitt did not expect to return to government after serving in the Obama administration but he never saw a bigger problem than the coronavirus pandemic. And when President Biden asked him to serve as a White House senior adviser on COVID-19, Andy Slavitt agreed to go back into government service to make sure the vaccination program succeeded.

Here is what Andy Slavitt said in his first appearance on this program as an adviser to President Biden.


ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: By the time we get to summer, by the time we get to Independence Day, we`re going to be in a situation where many of the things in our lives, not all of them, but many of the things that we cherish so much namely spending time with one another, we`re going to have that back.


O`DONNELL: And joining us now for his exit interview of sorts from the Biden administration is Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID response.

And Andy, we always knew that this was a temporary appointment that you were going into basically try to wrestle this vaccination program in this first quarter of the year, first half of the year in dealing with the COVID pandemic.

Where do you think we are tonight?

SLAVITT: Well, thank you for having me on. It certainly has been a great honor to serve. Look, I think where we sit today, we`re not done by any means, but we have all lived through what perhaps may be one of the most spectacular transformations of a country and a country`s well being in as short a period of time from the time that President Biden took office when COVID was killing thousands of people a day, we couldn`t produce vaccines, the people were very scared and frustrated. To today when we really have a much more manageable situation and a situation where if we continue to do what is in front of us now.

The worst is behind us. We have plenty of things to worry about the rest of the globe. We have plenty of problems that we had before the pandemic that we can start worrying about again but we can start reuniting with our families. We can start moving on with our lives. We can start moving on from this period of time.

Andy, knowing that you were coming in temporarily, how do you feel tonight with what you`ve accomplished and how does it compare to the way you felt on your first night on the job? What was your confidence level on your first night on the job that we`d be as successful as we have been so far?

SLAVITT: So first of all, I knew I was joining a great team. Jeff Zients, Ron Klain, and the president who was just so committed to showing the country that if we pull ourselves together and our best selves, we can do anything.

And he was committed not just to that but to expertise. And he was committed to equity for everyone. And so that was a good feeling.

I will admit, Lawrence, it was a very heavy feeling. Thousands of people dying every day. Knowing that if we made wrong decisions or didn`t act quickly enough thousands more would die.

It was one of the heaviest feelings I think many of us have ever felt. I will tell you that the day that we got on to the Internet or I remember getting on the Internet and saw a picture of a woman hugging her grandmother -- her elderly grandmother for the first time, it felt like something that so many of us across the country, not of course, just the White House, but scientists, people distributing vaccines, nurses, doctors, front line workers had worked so hard for. And it was emotional.

O`DONNELL: Was it deja vu for you when we were all kind of complaining about how hard it was as we were trying to find appointments in say February and March for coronavirus vaccines and the online system was vexing almost everywhere in the country?

SLAVITT: You know what was really interesting at the time we were getting pressed pretty hard, you know, can you fix the technology? And of course people looked to some of us who had been involved in technology before.

And the thing that I noticed and the thing that I believed and I think one of our seminal moments was saying to the public the truth as we understood it which was the following. We have a shortage.

It actually got nurses sending me e-mails and notes saying for the first time they felt things were going to be ok when they simply heard us telling the truth that we have a shortage. And look, if did not have any of the books you wanted to buy you would think it was a lousy Web site. It wasn`t a Web site problem. It was that we were left with a shortage and we had to fix the shortage.

Once we fixed the shortage we actually built tools, text lines, and other things for young people because we anticipated that the challenge wasn`t going to be getting people to appointments. The challenge was going to be getting the next set of people to whom they weren`t willing to go through all of the trouble to actually get to the system. And that`s where we started focusing our technology efforts.

O`DONNELL: You got -- you were steered to the health care system when you were sitting there with Jeff Yurkofsky`s widow and trying to figure out how to pay those crushing bills. You helped them pay those bills that he incurred on the way to his death, a physician who when he got that diagnosis only had five months to live.

Such a personal and tight and emotional connection to the gravity and to the grueling nature of people trying to deal with the health care system. How do you feel tonight about what you`ve been able to accomplish in these two tours in government. And what you could turn to, your old roommate, Jeff, tonight and tell him about what you were able to accomplish?

SLAVITT: Well, thank you for bringing that up. You know, I think what you just told is a story that`s probably familiar to many, many, many people in this country which is being faced with the twin challenge of a scary health issue and figuring out how to pay for it at the same time.

Now, I will tell you that, you know, his -- they had twin one-year-olds when Jeff and Lynn lived with us when Jeff passed away. And a year ago or not a year ago, when I was in end of the Obama administration I got a chance to invite his then I think 15, 16, 17-year-old daughter to the White House and for an event. And it was incredible to see her there.

But I don`t count, you know, I don`t count my experience as particularly unique. Unfortunately I count my experience as a little bit of the American story. Thankfully with people like President Biden, with people like President Obama, there`s opportunities for people like me and millions of others across the country to get involved, to make a difference, to fix what we don`t like and, you know, to show what we can do as a country again.

And that was part of what I think this presidency has set out to do and I know it is going to achieve.

O`DONNELL: Andy Slavitt, thank you on a personal level for helping to get this vaccine delivered to me which I appreciate and hundreds of millions of other people. And thank you for your service in this government this time around and last time around. Thank you very much.

SLAVITT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Donald Trump thinks he`s going to be reinstated as president, which means it`s time for a check on Donald Trump`s mental health.

We will be joined once again by former Harvard medical school professor of psychiatry, Dr. Lance Dodes, next.


O`DONNELL: We are 134 days into the Biden presidency which means we are 134 days into Donald Trump`s living hell, 134 days of Donald Trump living his worst life.

In November when Joe Biden won the election Peter Marks predicted that the final chapter of Donald Trump`s life would be like this. He will never have another good day. Loser label will haunt him. The law will pursue him. Mental illness will hobble him. His properties will bankrupt him. So far it appears all of those things are coming true.

Donald Trump is a loser being pursued by the law in a Manhattan grand jury and a grand jury in Atlanta investigating possible election interference. Donald Trump is trying to unload properties where business has collapsed like his Washington, D.C. hotel.

And the latest evidence that mental illness is hobbling Donald Trump is contained in this tweet by "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman. "Trump has been telling a number of people he is in contact with, that he expects he will be reinstated by August."

A former crack addict is now taking credit for the idea of Trump`s August resurrection. Mike Lindell, who sells pillows and is being sued for his lies about the election, told the daily beast today, quote, "If Trump is saying August, that is probably because he heard me saying it publicly."

Now that we are on the threshold of the long, hot summer of Donald Trump`s discontent, which will not end with him being reinstated, it`s time for a check on Donald Trump`s mental health.

Joining us now is Dr. Lance Dodes, retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He contributed to the book "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 psychiatrists and mental health experts assess a president."

Dr. Dodes, thank you for joining us once again tonight. It was the talk of being reinstated that made me want to talk to you again tonight. This is Donald Trump thinking, perhaps, that in August he will be president again.

What is your professional reaction to that?

DR. LANCE DODES, RET. CLINICAL PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Donald Trump is delusional. But this is not news. We`ve known this for the past four years at least.

He keeps insisting on things as true which are demonstrably false. That is the definition of delusion. I think what we are seeing is a continuation of his grandiose delusion that he is better than everyone, more important than everyone, and consequently no one else matters. He doesn`t care about anyone else. It is all about his own power.

Part of the hell that you speak of is that I think that he is enraged which is not unusual for him. I don`t think that he is capable of being sorrowful at his loss though because he doesn`t know that he`s lost. He is deluded about it.

So I think that what we are seeing is the increasingly desperate attempts to hold on to this power which will continue. We`ve said this for the last four years. The more pressure he is under the more he will be outrageous in his demands, the more the lies will increase. The big lie technique will get bigger and bigger.

O`DONNELL: Yes. You have consistently said in effect it will get worse. Donald Trump`s condition will get worse. And it will get worse because the pressure increases. That was one of the factors.

Certainly a grand jury investigation in Manhattan is a very significant increase in pressure along with the other grand jury investigation that`s happening in Georgia over his election interference. Those are new kinds of pressures for him because he is no longer president. There is nothing he can do to interfere with those.

DR. DODES: Right. And lack of power is the thing that he can`t stand and doesn`t acknowledge. Since it can`t be true in his world, in his delusional world, he has to do -- he has to change reality to the extent he can to make it so.

So he creates, you know, the illusion that he has some information and things are going to happen. He promises that he`ll be back in office and what not. It is, you know, it`s more of the same and I think that if none of these things pan out for him I think what we`ll see is that he will become even more overtly deluded.

And I`ve said for sometime although I can`t be sure but he is probably -- he is certainly at risk of leaving the country rather than facing the law.

O`DONNELL: So is it possible that there might come a day if he is, say, convicted of a crime in New York that something could happen where he could have that moment where he kind of admits where he really is in the world?

DR. DODES: I don`t think so. That would be a sign of mental health actually. You know, the ability to grieve is normal. I don`t think he can do that. I think he can only become more enraged and more psychotic.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Lance Dodes, thank you very much for joining us once again. We always appreciate it.

DR. DODES: Sure. Good to be with you.


DR. DODES: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Zerlina Maxwell and Jonathan Alter will discuss how the Republican Party continues to try to rig the next presidential election for Donald Trump who we`ve just heard is becoming more psychotic and as prosecutors close in on him and he tries to find a buyer for his now failing Washington hotel.

That`s next.


O`DONNELL: On the 134th day of Donald Trump`s life as the loser who is no longer president, his feelings of utter humiliation forced him to shut down his blog. If you`re in high school and you don`t know what a blog is, ask your grandparents.

Trump`s blog was shutdown because according to a "Washington Post" report, he quote, "didn`t like that this platform was being mocked and had so few readers." And now Donald Trump is trying to escape from the financial burdens of his sinking Washington hotel. The "Washington Post" reports that Donald Trump has put the hotel on the market once again after already failing to find a buyer.

The same person who is unable to sustain interest in a blog is still capable though of convincing Republican state legislators to try to rig the next presidential election for him, even if he is a convicted felon by then.

Joining us now is Zerlina Maxwell, the host of the program that needs only one word in the title "ZERLINA" which airs on Peacock. And Jonathan Alter, columnist for the "Daily Beast" and an MSNBC political analyst. His latest book is "His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life".

Zerlina, the Trump delusion, the collapse of the Trump so-called blog, the collapse of the Trump hotel, and yet, and yet Republican state legislators around the country still try to rig the next election for him.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, PEACOCK HOST: -- really been thinking deeply about this, Lawrence, because I don`t understand the strategy in the long term.

I sort of see the short-term calculation. The Republican base is very much still beholden to Donald Trump. They believe 63 percent of base, believe that the election was stolen from him. I don`t know how they reconcile that with all of the House members on the GOP side accepting the election results in the same election. But they`re not really big on facts on that side right now.

And I just think that they`re in a space in which they`re beholden to the person who lost. It`s almost like, you know, a great television show, well not a great television show in this case, but it goes one season, gets canceled, and has only cult following that very much cares about a reboot of that show or a new season of that show. But everybody else has moved on.

I think the country in this case is that party that has moved on. We want to go beyond Donald Trump. And I think the long term impact of the Republican Party sticking with him this long is going to -- they`re going to face consequences of that decision in the long term.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, we saw a consequence last night in New Mexico, special election to fill the seat in the first congressional district, Deb Haaland`s seat. She`s gone on to the Biden cabinet. And the Democrat Melanie Stansbury, won 60.3 percent of the vote.

She had a bigger margin there than Joe Biden. she had a 24.6 percent -- 24.6 percent margin. Joe Biden had a 23 percent margin in that district. Deb Haaland just in the last election had only a 16 percent margin. So the continuation of Trumpism does not seem to be helping.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that was an urban district, a heavily Democratic district. And I don`t think we should read too much into it. But the larger point Lawrence, is that this assumption that the Democrats are necessarily going to lose seats in the 2022 midterms because of voter suppression, because of the normal physics of American politics, where the party out of the White House almost always loses seats, that assumption might be false.

And the reason for that is some of what Zerlina was talking about, that, you know, disgust with Trump is still alive in the land. And also, when you try to take away people`s right to vote, the backlash against that, the fact that they`re for black voters, that their parents and grandparents in some cases died for the right to vote, you could see turnout in a midterm election that matches or approaches turnout in a general election -- excuse me, in a presidential election year.

If that happens, if the midterms approach presidential level turnout, it`s a blowout for the Democrats. Then you have a totally new set of circumstances, you know, Joe Manchin doesn`t have as much power. And we`re dealing with a post-Trump era. And he`s not a factor anymore in 2024.

O`DONNELL: And Zerlina, it`s hard to imagine what the Republicans will be running on in two years in terms of actual platforms. What they were running on in New Mexico was basically just attack the other side.

Just everything the other side says is wrong. And then ascribe falsehoods to them, you know, defund the police, all that kind of stuff. It didn`t work. The Democratic candidate was talking about what she actually wanted to do, and what she supported in governing policy.

MAXWELL: Well, I think that Democrats should look at this particular race. And I`m not saying -- I think I agree with Jonathan, you don`t want to look too deeply into one race and extrapolate that out. But I think there are some things that are instructive.

If Democrats are focusing on what they`re going to actually do for the American people and regardless of whatever technical device like the filibuster is in the way, they get those things done.

It doesn`t matter what Republicans say. Republicans are going to call Democrats socialists and they`re going to say that the socialist agenda is scary and that`s what Democrats want to do.

That message is not going to change. It might be tweaked a bit depending upon what Joe Biden is able to accomplish but the overall message is the same.

So Democrats, I think, would be smart to try to lean into a message about the things that they`re going to do for people that will improve their lives.

If you give people real results that they can point to and say, well, I can go to the doctor, I didn`t have to pay a co-pay for my birth control because of Obamacare or something tangible like that, I got a vaccine because of the competence of this administration, then that`s something that you can take to the bank.

That brings people to the polls to keep that particular party in power, regardless of what the message the other side is spinning.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, we only have a few seconds left. Joe Manchin has a meeting scheduled with the NAACP next week. And we know that is only going to be about the 60-vote threshold in the senate.

ALTER: Yes. And he`s not going to -- he`s not going to bend on that. So we`re not going to see real change on that any time soon.

But you know, I think Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer are playing a longer game with Manchin. They`re trying to bring him along.

And Zerlina makes the key point. Last year, the Republicans literally did not have a platform for their campaign for the first time since the invention of political parties in the 1790s. They stand for nothing. That gives the Democrats a big advantage.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, Zerlina Maxwell -- thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate.

ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence.

MAXWELL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And that is tonight`s LAST WORD.