Today, "The Washington Post" was the first to break to news the postmaster general of the United States is under FBI investigation. NBC News has confirmed that federal prosecutors are investigating Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz for possible obstruction of justice involving an ongoing sex crimes investigation which also involves Matt Gaetz. Senator Manchin expressed confidence that West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito will bring enough Republican votes to a bipartisan version of an infrastructure bill.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I have a little quiz for you. Play along with me on this.
Let`s say you are in charge of locating nuclear power plants. Like, it`s your job. You have to do it. You have to pick, OK?
You have to pick a spot in the United States of America, okay? Let`s say you`ve got two locations. Okay, one of them is a place called the middle of nowhere. The other one is a place called Earthquake Bay.
And that`s all you`re allowed to know. You are not allowed to know where that is. That`s the only info you get is the name of the place, okay? The name of the place. Which place do you pick, middle of nowhere or Earthquake Bay?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I will tell you, as somebody who likes to fish and likes to be alone, most of the places I most love in the world are called by someone the middle of nowhere. Those are most of my favorite places on earth, but since we`re not talking about me fishing and instead about nuclear power, I`m going with option "B."
O`DONNELL: Yeah. So, 1964, they decide, let`s do it in Earthquake Bay, which is the old name, the very old name for that piece of the Pacific Ocean that`s right there at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which is one of the most dangerous locations in the history of nuclear power plant location.
How would you like to be the current member of Congress representing that district, and they`re trying to figure out what to do with the nuclear waste that`s going to last, I don`t know, a couple of hundred years in the neighborhood? He`s going to join us at the end of this hour and tell us what his hopes and dreams are for the survival of southern California with that poison there.
MADDOW: Whatever else you are doing in preparation for that segment, please tell your control room right now to change the rear projector for that segment do Earthquake Bay if it`s not already called that. You have to claim it because somebody`s optioning that for a disaster movie right now.
O`DONNELL: It`s the name for tonight`s episode of this show. "Earthquake Bay with Lawrence O`Donnell."
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, today at the White House press briefing, this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The FBI`s been investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with his former business. Does President Biden believe the postmaster general should step down or be replaced?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He`ll leave the investigation and the process for it to the Department of Justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So we see two bits of news there. One, the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and two, we now have a president who will not comment on anyone who is under criminal investigation by the FBI.
And we have an administration in which no one will comment about someone who was under investigation by the FBI. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will not say a word about it.
That`s not the way it was in the previous administration, the administration that made Louis DeJoy the postmaster general after he contributed over $1 million to Donald Trump.
Our first guest tonight cannot comment on the criminal investigation of the postmaster general because President Biden has appointed her to the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service, which has the power to remove the postmaster general and appoint a new one.
Amber McReynolds is one of the three new Biden appointees to the nine- member board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service, and she is the first member of that board in history who has any expertise in voting and elections and specifically mail-in voting, and she has a lot of expertise in that. It`s the kind of voting that Donald Trump opposes -- mail-in voting -- except when he mails in his own ballot like he did in the last presidential election.
The postmaster general is not being investigated by the FBI for what he did or did not do to the speed of delivery of mail in the last election. Louis DeJoy is being investigated for possible campaign finance violations in the 2016 election.
According to "Washington Post" reporting, employees at DeJoy`s former company, quote, alleged they were pressured by DeJoy or his aides to attend political fundraisers or make contributions to Republican political candidates and then were paid back through bonuses.
That is a violation of the federal campaign finance law, as described in that reporting. That is why the FBI is now investigating the postmaster general.
In a House hearing last year, Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee asked DeJoy if he repaid employees for making contributions to Donald Trump, and DeJoy said -- under oath -- that`s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it. The answer is no.
If DeJoy`s answer turns out to be untrue, then he could face perjury charges for that testimony. The postmaster general`s spokesperson said, Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector. He`s always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them.
One way or another it is very likely our next guest. Amber McReynolds will be choosing the next postmaster general during her five-year term. Amber McReynolds served as Denver`s director of elections before she became an advocate for mail-in voting.
If you had an easy time voting by mail last year like everyone in the state of California who automatically received a mail-in ballot at home, then you can thank Amber McReynolds for the urgent advice she gave to several states when they realized the coronavirus pandemic would force them to conduct mail-in on a scale many of them had never done before.
Yesterday, the governor of Nevada signed a new law that provides that every voter in Nevada will automatically receive a mail-in ballot in every election. Our next guests will be doing everything that she can to make sure that the postal service delivers those ballots on time and lives up to the inscription in granite, over the entrance of the majestic post office across the street from Penn Station, on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
And that inscription says: Neither snow, no rain, no heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers, from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Joining us now is Amber McReynolds. She is a member of the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
AMBER MCREYNOLDS, MEMBER, BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: Great to be here. Thanks for having me, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to what you are seeing develop in mail in balloting. It`s been attacked by President Trump, relentlessly, former President Trump. Attack by Republicans. And here is the state of Nevada standing up and saying it`s the way to do it, that`s what we`re going to do.
MCREYNOLDS: That`s right. And, you know, up until 2020, there were multiple states, including states like Utah that have expanded mail-in voting lately. They did so prior to 2020.
Montana and states like Arizona and Florida all have been expanding vote by mail for a long period of time. So, there has been growth in this use and method of voting for the last 20 years now. It became a partisan issue because one person started attacking it, from the White House last year. And, you know, we`ve spent the last year really fact checking and putting out the current information or research to avoid that.
The other thing I would say is, there are multiple states that are expanding it after their experience in the pandemic, including many northeastern states. Vermont passed a unanimous bill out of committee that advanced on to their floor in both chambers, and we expected to be signed by the governor, if it hasn`t done so. Yeah, just like what happened in Nevada.
So, there are multiple states advancing this and moving forward. And there are other states are frankly, feeding into and believing the lies and conspiracies, and trying to restrict voting access in a very partisan and direct attack on voters of all partisan stripes. This hurts everyone when voters access is hurt.
O`DONNELL: The biggest state in the country with the most voters, California, sent out a ballot to every single one of their people. If they were going to be glitches in the system, it would have been, presumably, and the biggest one. California reporting on the mail-in ballot process, seemed flawless. There were no complaints about it certainly from anyone in California.
And voters took to it. Many of whom had never voted that way before. They adapted to it immediately.
MCREYNOLDS: That`s correct. And California as you mentioned is the largest state with a large population and they also are home to five counties that are larger than upwards of 40 states. So, they have significantly large jurisdictions within California. They had a tremendous experience and they worked together collectively, election officials and legislators and voting rights groups, nonprofit organizations.
They all worked together to pull off a significant transformation in a pandemic. Now, they`re looking to make that permanent. I will never say elections cannot be improved. If we weren`t trying to improve policies, processes, and procedures after every election, we`re doing it wrong. We should always be looking for opportunities to make voting more accessible for anyone and everyone that wants to participate in the election.
So, you know, I`ll never be one to say everything was perfect, but certainly, it was amazing to see would election facials did across the country during a pandemic. I`m really excited and optimistic about the future of not only vote by mail but other innovations in the election process to continually improve the voting experience, because we need to put voters first and that`s the key to all of this.
O`DONNELL: You`ve used the phrase for what I call vote by mail, you`ve used the phrase vote at home. What I like about that phrases and expresses just how simple and user-friendly you want the voting experience to be. And in the past, up until the vote by mail movement, voting has always been about -- having to fit your life into the voting process.
It`s going to be this many hours at your polling place, no one is available for all of those hours. Someone might be able to go afterwards. Someone might be able to go before work. And so, the -- this idea if I can do it at my kitchen table, whenever I need to do it, it seems to me is the highest likelihood there is of getting high voter turnout.
MCREYNOLDS: Well, that`s exactly right. The benefits of voting at home as we describe it, and the reason we say voting at home is because while voters were receiving their ballots through the mail at home, there are options to submit that ballot back including dropping it off in person at a low voting location, the clerk`s office, dropping it at drop box, or using the United States Postal Service to deliver it back.
And the great thing about voting at home as you have those options. And as you mentioned, you`re not restricted to the days and times the government sets for you. You can do it at night, your kitchen table, like I do with my children. I have an eight and ten year old.
And every election, they help me with my ballot. They ask me questions like what does governor do, mommy? What does the mayor do? What`s a school board?
I use it as a civics lesson every single time a ballot arrives. We have that experience every election and they go walk with me down to the drop box or the mailbox and submitted back in.
So, the opportunity really with voting at home is tremendous for parents, children, anybody working multiple jobs are going to school. Anyone that wants to be more informed about what`s on their ballot because you have time to actually research issues, get informed, you might spend a few days, and that`s fine. You`re not constricted by when the government tells you that you can show up to vote at a voting place.
O`DONNELL: Quickly, before we go, what do you say to Republicans who had been strong users of absentee voting, as they used to call it? Mail-in voting, strong uses of it until Donald Trump was told not to. What do you say to them when they say we suddenly believe, suddenly now believe there is more opportunity for fraud in mail-in ballots?
MCREYNOLDS: Well, I would -- I would strongly urge them to get the facts and research. We have a mid-buster type document on our website.
But I think also ignore the disinformation. The lies and conspiracies threatening spreading right now about the voting process whether it be voting by mail, or voting technology providers, or what have, you is massive. And this information continues to be the biggest election security issue that we face.
We have to continue to fight it handedly every day with the facts and figures and evidence-based elections and all of the research that goes into this. So, I`d encourage them to ignore the noise and use the method of voting that works for them. And get more information from local officials or state officials if they have questions about it.
O`DONNELL: Amber McReynolds, I think it feels lucky for us to have someone on the postal board of governors with expertise in mail-in voting for the next five years. That seems like a desperately needed area of expertise for that group. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MCREYNOLDS: Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: Appreciate it.
And just as the United States of America reaches peak vulgarity in the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine by offering people 1 million dollars to get vaccinated, a lot are open to people who get vaccinations, giving people guns if they get vaccinated, giving them beer to get vaccinated, while other parts of the world are suffering and dying every day because they cannot get this vaccine that we have to give people 1 million dollars to get -- just when we hit that peak of uniquely American vulgarity, embarrassing ourselves to the entire planet, the Biden administration today announced a commitment to distribute at least 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of this month.
And although COVID-19 is under control in the United States, globally, we have seen more coronavirus cases in the first five months of 2021 around the world than in all of last year. "The New York Times" reports, North Americas, 60 vaccine doses have been administered for every hundred people compared with 27 in South America, and 21 in Asia. And in Africa? The rate is two doses per hundred people.
Finally, thanks to President Biden, some help is on the way.
Coming up, in our next segment, Congressman Matt Gaetz is being investigated for possible to obstruction of justice in the investigation into whether or not mitigates was involved in a sex trafficking of a 17- year-old girl. Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann will join us next.
O`DONNELL: NBC News has confirmed that federal prosecutors are investigating Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz for possible obstruction of justice involving an ongoing sex crimes investigation which also involves Matt Gaetz. The obstruction investigation is focused on a phone call that a witness in the sex crimes case allegedly had with Matt Gaetz`s former girlfriend.
"Politico" reports, at some point during the conversation, the ex- girlfriend patched Gaetz into the call. Sources say, some know exactly what said, the discussion on that call is central to whether prosecutors can charge Gaetz with obstructing justice, which makes it illegal to suggest that a witness in a criminal case lie or give misleading testimony.
Congressman Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and has repeatedly denied that he violated any laws. Congressman Gaetz`s office issued a written statement with no name sign to it. Such statements used to be the job, responsibility of a man name Luke Ball (ph), who was Congressman Gaetz`s director of communications, until he quit his job when this controversy erupted. So he would after release written statements like this.
Congressman Gaetz pursues justice, he doesn`t obstruct it. After two months, there is still not a single on record accusation of misconduct, and now the story is changing yet again.
Today, in Florida, a federal judge signed off on a plea agreement submitted by Matt Gaetz`s former associates, Joel Greenberg. NBC News reports Greenberg admitted to having spent over $70,000 in 150 transactions to pay women for sex from 2016 to 2018. One of the women was under 18 for part of the time Greenberg paid her for sex acts with him and others.
Joel Greenberg has pleaded guilty to a total of six charges, including child sex trafficking and wire fraud. Prosecutors agreed to drop more than a dozen other charges in exchange for Greenberg`s full cooperation and the sex crimes investigation. Joel Greenberg is scheduled to be sentenced on August 19th.
Joining us now is Andrew Weissmann who served as FBI general counsel and was chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of New York. He`s an MSNBC legal analyst.
Andrew, I imagine for a federal prosecutor like yourself, watching this development today, there`s a lot to interpret there?
ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. So, as we talked about earlier, the fact that Greenberg is cooperating is itself quite significant, because you don`t cooperate with somebody that criminal record, unless you have in your sights, somebody for people, more than one, who are as culpable are more so than him.
So, that is step number one. But the story today from "Politico" about an obstruction investigation, that is something that when I was a prosecutor, we would sink our teeth into for two reasons.
One, obstruction is a very simple, clear charge. Juries get it. That is like going to a crime scene with police tape around it and the defendant removing a piece of evidence. So, that strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system and it is a really easy crime to convey to a jury. Not a lot of technicalities.
And the other thing that is good about an obstruction charge is, it tends to show the underlying guilt of the person, because why would you obstruct if you are innocent of the underlying charges? So, this is again, we don`t know if the government is going to be able to prove it. But if they could, this is another proverbial nail in the coffin and quite significant evidence.
O`DONNELL: Does Greenberg`s scheduled sentencing of August 19th tell us anything about what we might expect before that?
WEISSMANN: You know, it doesn`t. I think it`s because some judges like to wait until the very end of a person`s cooperation, and then sentence the defendant just wants after the cooperation is complete. That is, I think if I were judge, the preferred way to do it.
But there are many judges who don`t do that. They will just schedule the defendants sentencing as soon as they get the pre-sentence report. And then, if the person cooperates further after sending sing, they can re- sentenced the person to a lower sentence.
So, the date of sentence here doesn`t to me, single that much. But I do think that it is correct to anticipate charges in this case. And I would say sooner rather than later.
O`DONNELL: Quickly on that point before we go, let`s say you are a defense council in a case similar to this. And someone`s friend goes in and this is a day where he pleads, you see exactly what he`s pleading to, you see everything that you saw today. You turn to your client if you`re defense counsel, and give them more time of day type of timetable on what to expect?
WEISSMANN: You know, this is -- you know, I`m going to make analogize to, my sister is an oncologist, and she says that she has the -- it`s time to get a speech, which if there`s something you`ve been putting off its, a good time to do it. I think here, in this case, you would tell your client, you need to be prepared for this.
This is one where you are not going to be saying, you know, the odds look good here. You`re going to be thinking you have to get ready for the charges and really prepare for the press part of it. The legal part of it will. And you have to hunker down on that.
But one thing you would definitely tell your client, don`t talk to witnesses.
WEISSMANN: So the fact that Matt Gaetz was on the phone, I`m sure his lawyer is having a small heart attack about the fact that happen.
O`DONNELL: Yes, good old-fashioned advice. Don`t talk to witnesses.
Andrew Weissmann, thank you for joining us once again tonight.
WEISSMANN: You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, because "Drunk History" has been canceled by Comedy Central, one of the great tragedies of television, we`re going to have to do a sober history of the filibuster tonight. A concept that you would think when you hear about it, began in drunkenness and continues that we. We will have a guest appearance in this episode of sober history by Joe Manchin. Garrett Haake will also appear as a questioner of Joe Manchin.
Jonathan Chait and Gene Robinson will also analyze the weirdness of the filibuster next.
O`DONNELL: NBC News Garrett Haake followed Joe Manchin to West Virginia today to talk about, what else? The 60-vote rule in the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You`ve talked a lot about the idea the filibuster is something that --
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): That`s not the --
HAAKE: -- no it`s not. But encourages bipartisanship. We can finish where we started about your idea of bipartisanship.
MANCHIN: My idea of --
HAAKE: What have you seen in the last six months that makes you think that this senate can still work in a bipartisan fashion?
MANCHIN: Oh my goodness, we did what -- what did we do just recently was the -- was the hate crimes bill.
That came out. Worked, we had amendments on the floor. Even the people who voted -- who had their amendments voted down still voted for bill.
The process worked. We`re working through processes now. Let it work. Give it a chance. I have been here ten years. First time I`ve seen the place try to work. Because you know what, it`s frustrating but we`re the most deliberate body in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The most deliberative body in the world is a label that the Senate gave itself. Senator Manchin expressed confidence that West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito will bring enough Republican votes to a bipartisan version of an infrastructure bill.
Garrett Haake asked, what if that doesn`t happen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAAKE: Are you ready to go it alone with just Democrats --
MANCHIN: No. I don`t think you should. I really don`t. I`m not --
HAAKE: At all at any time?
MANCHIN: I don`t think -- right now basically we need to be bipartisan. If we can`t become -- I`ve always said this. I`ve never seen a pothole that had a Republican or Democrat name on it. It will bust your tire, no matter who you are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the "Washington Post". He`s an MSNBC political analyst. And Jonathan Chait, a columnist for "New York Magazine". He wrote an article yesterday, very important one, entitled "The Fake History of the Filibuster Won`t Die. Senators keep repeating a made-up origin story."
And I thought I knew everything about the filibuster, but I learned a lot in that article. And I`m so glad we have convened our two most deliberative guests we could possibly have to discuss the world`s greatest deliberative body.
Gene Robinson, you`ve -- Joe Manchin just said an odd thing, he said, I have been here ten years in the Senate which by the way in senate years is not a long time, right?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
O`DONNELL: Been here ten years and he`s never seen the Senate work correctly until they passed the hate crimes bill. And they had amendments and some people got their amendments defeated but still voted for bill. Yes, that`s the way it`s supposed to work.
But it hasn`t worked a single day before, according to Joe Manchin in his ten years and yet he`s still kind of falling for the "greatest deliberative body in the world" lie.
ROBINSON: Yes, I don`t get it. It`s the exception that proves the rule, and the rue is that the Senate doesn`t work at all. The Senate -- it`s a way for the minority in the Senate to block everything the majority in the Senate wants to do except for Supreme Court nominations and tax cuts, which manage to get through.
Everything else requires 60 votes, and nobody`s got 60 votes. Nobody`s going get 60 votes in the foreseeable future. So the Senate doesn`t work.
And you know, Manchin, I don`t know, you know, what sort of fantasy he has. I do know he can choose his words carefully. When he was asked, well, should the Senate just go ahead with reconciliation? He said, well, I don`t think we should. He didn`t -- you know, he doesn`t think we should. That`s not a Sherman-like statement about reconciliation.
But he`s been pretty Sherman-like about the filibuster and I don`t get it. As Jonathan pointed out in his wonderful story, you know, the filibuster is, you know -- it`s a fabrication. It`s not a part of our founding documents, not part of the founders` grand design.
Well, he`s the expert on this, but it`s a ridiculous anachronism, and it should go.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And I have to say, you know, anyone who`s worked in the senate, we`ve all -- those of us have come to see that it has to be changed and basically eliminated.
We all at some point lived on the winning side of those, you know, 43 to 57 votes, and we were the 43, and we won. And so we always kind of had those in our heads when we were doing these defenses of the filibuster, which we completely believed.
I want to give you one now from Senator Sinema. And Jonathan Chait, this is going to be a giant softball for you to just hit out of the park. But what the audience should know is everything you`re about to hear her say was something that was considered absolutely true by about 100 members of the Senate as recently as 10 years ago, certainly 15 years ago.
Let`s listen to what Senator Sinema said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): The filibuster was not created as a tool to accomplish one thing or another. It was created as a tool to bring together members of different parties to find compromise and coalition.
You think about our founding fathers, when they created the senate, it was designed to be a place where you pooled the passions of the house, where you worked together to find that compromise and importantly where you protect the rights of the minority from the majority regardless of which party is in the majority at the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jonathan, your reaction to that?
JONATHAN CHAIT, "THE NEW YORK MAGAZINE": None of that is true. And it`s extraordinary that for so many years people still say this. I compared it to the myth of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree, which I think most people know now didn`t really happen. But people talk about the founders creating the filibuster as it happened, they didn`t. they specifically rejected the super majority requirement when they designed the constitution.
The filibuster emerged by accident. It was a rules glitch in the 19th century, and then it got pared back again in the 20th century Twice. No one created it for any reason and the founders certainly didn`t create any protections for the minority party. They didn`t even think there would be parties when they designed the constitution.
O`DONNELL: Sorry to say we are rushing through this deliberative -- what was supposed to be a deliberative discussion tonight.
I recommend to everyone, get Jonathan Chait`s "New York Magazine" article, "The Fake History of the Filibuster".
Gene Robinson, Jonathan Chait -- thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Sorry we have to bring this closure to this particular discussion. Thank you very much, both of you.
CHAIT: I will not have (INAUDIBLE). Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Well, Donald Trump says he`s going to be reinstated in the presidency in August. His delusional true believers who are as delusional as he is believe it. But what will happen to them, to those possibly millions of believers when it doesn`t happen?
Kurt Anderson wrote a book about such delusional people. And he will join us next.
O`DONNELL: We have a date. We have a date for the end of the world, the end of the world as we know it. Donald Trump has given us a date. In a tweet "New York Times" reporter Maggie Haberman said that Donald Trump, quote, "expects he will be reinstated by August. What happens when he doesn`t get reinstated?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. LANCE DODES, PSYCHIATTRIST: I think he can only become more enraged and more -- and more psychotic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Dr. Lance Dodes, a former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School on this program last night.
What happens to those Trump believers when the 31 days of August come and go and Joe Biden is still president while Donald Trump is still cheating at golf? Do they become more enraged and more psychotic?
The "Conservative National Review" reports today, quote, "Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he along with former Senators David Perdue and Martha McSally will be reinstated to office this summer after audits of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed.
The scale of Trump`s delusion is quite startling. And what about the scale of delusion in the Trump true believers, who might number in the millions?
Kurt Anderson chronicles such collective American delusions in his bestselling book "Fantasyland". Joining us now is "New York Times" bestselling author Kurt Anderson. His latest book is "Evil Geniuses: The unmaking of America".
Kurt, when I -- when Donald Trump gave the date, it took me back to all those stories in "Fantasyland" of people who gave the exact date, the exact date when the world would end -- these Americans with visions.
And then the world didn`t end, and what happens? What happens to the followers? What happens to the Trump followers on September 1st when Joe Biden is still working and sleeping in the White House?
KURT ANDERSON, AUTHOR: Well, the smart prophets who give specific dates as they have for hundreds of years, especially in this country, don`t give dates, right? It`s -- oh, this is the end of the world is around the corner. The second coming is around the corner.
But like a date always gets you into trouble. The first big date giver was this Reverend Miller in 1844 who gave a date in the month of I think March. It was going to end. Millions of people, like today with Trump, were ready for that. Didn`t happen. He said oh, it`s October. It`s October 1844. And didn`t happen then. And then many of them were disappointed. It became known as the Great Disappointment.
But those followers, many of them, became the Adventist religion -- the 7th-Day Adventists and here they are still today.
So, you know, if you`re invested in believing untruths, which is so central to Trumpism, to the Republican Party these days, one prediction of the failure to reinstate, as if that`s a thing in the constitution, won`t necessarily stop them.
I mean, who knows what horrible deep state thing will have prevented it. And it`s not just, you know, Christian religion. I mean the astrologer Jeanne Dixon famously gave one of these end of the world things. Jim Jones who later ended in Jonestown, I think -- I often think of when I think of Donald Trump.
2012, the world was supposed to end or transform in this Mayan prediction. It happens again and again. But the true believers keep on believing. I mean I think we`re getting down to his -- the true base because now, as has been reported, he actually believes this.
So he is not just the charlatan fooling the suckers, he is among them, delusional apparently, as they.
O`DONNELL: You have always -- you`ve recently taken to using a diagram to explain Trump in terms that you`ve always explained Trump. And one of the biggest bubbles of explanation of what Donald Trump has just said is stupidity, and that is one of the most important ones that you use. There are other bubbles that you use where it`s self-promotion and other things.
But stupidity explains a lot of what you hear from Donald Trump, and yet in most of the kind of people in the political world of analyzing what he says tend to leave that out and tend to think that there`s something else going on.
ANDERSON: No, it`s important. I mean the three main bubbles are lies, stupidity, and delusion. And you know, there are plenty of liars in the world, plenty of liars in politics. So believing or understanding that the stupidity and now full-on, full-scale clinical delusion are what he`s about is hard for people to accept.
Because of course, he did this brilliant thing, right he got elected president. So how can he be stupid? But he is so shamelessly stupid just about how government works, how this reinstatement in August would work. because it is like, you know, the extraterrestrials are going to come. Or it`s that kind of -- wait -- what`s the basis for this reinstatement?
No. He is really dumb. And when you combine the dumbness with this fantasy, which is the only way he can imagine ending the nightmare of, you know, his blog failing and -- and not having the attention of the world that he had, you know, six months ago.
O`DONNELL: Kurt Anderson, thank you very much for joining us again tonight.
ANDERSON: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, what if they put a nuclear power plant on your favorite beach? That happened to Mike Levin`s favorite beach before he was born, and now he`s the congressman representing the district with that beach. Congressman Mike Levin will join us next.
O`DONNELL: A Chernobyl waiting to happen -- that`s what MIT professor Kate Brown calls the nuclear power plant very unwisely located on an otherwise beautiful stretch of beach in southern California.
It wasn`t just that the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant built in the 1960s defaced one of the most beautiful and valuable stretches of beach on the planet. It`s also that it`s located on a body of water that was called Earthquake Bay on a 1855 map before California real estate sellers decided they better make some local name sound a little less scary.
I for one have always found it impossible to drive by a nuclear power plant on the Pacific Coast highway without imagining the worst, which is why in 2006 we imagined the worst in an episode of NBC`s "The West Wing".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: How many people are still in San Andreas?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 30,000.
SHEEN: I don`t want to release any radiation until everyone`s been evacuated. What`s the alternative.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An explosion that spreads radiation all over southern California, may parts of Arizona and Nevada, sir.
SHEEN: How much would we have to vent?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think it would be within EPA`s parameters for an acceptable dosage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s Santa Ana season in southern California.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which could be good, if the winds stay consistent, the radiation could drift out over the ocean.
SHEEN: How do we speed up the evacuation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell people we`re about to spill radiation into the air, good chance that will speed them up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In 2013, the aging nuclear power plant was finally shut down when a radioactive leak was discovered just as we had imagined on "The West Wing".
Now comes the impossible part -- what to do with the 3,600,000 pounds of nuclear waste that is sitting on that beach in sub standard, thin-walled canisters. Canisters that can remain deadly for hundred of thousands of years?
Who gets to make the decision about what happens to this deadly waste that can threaten millions upon millions of people for hundreds of thousands of years?
The man who got 81 million votes sleeping in the White House tonight? No. The governor of California, is it up to him? No. No one who anyone voted for to deal with such problems gets to decide what happens to that nuclear waste.
It`s all up to someone you`ve never heard of, Mitchell Beckloff, a local Los Angeles County judge who got exactly zero votes in his last election to his judgeship in 2016 because he was running unopposed as an incumbent and according to local election rules when a judge is running unopposed their name doesn`t even have to appear on the ballot.
Judge Mitchell Beckloff might be a great judge. I don`t know. But he should be sitting there deciding wills contested by families, not what happens for the next couple hundred thousand years. I don`t know.
What do we do with something like this? What we do know is that everything about this story is just crazy. Locating a nuclear power plant on Earthquake Bay without every knowing what to do about nuclear waste in that power plant or any other nuclear power plant and then leaving the decision about the nuclear waste 53 years later not to a nuclear scientist, not to a president being advised by nuclear scientists but to a single judge in a busy urban courthouse.
Imagine being the member of Congress representing that district whose own home, whose own life is threatened by that nuclear waste.
Joining us now is that congressman, Democratic Congressman Mike Levin of California. He represents California`s 49th congressional district and he is a member on the committee on natural resources.
Congressman Levin, at this stage, it seems, it`s all up to Judge Mitchell Beckloff in a lawsuit that has been filed to try to force the proper handling of that waste. What are the possible outcomes here?
REP. MIKE LEVIN (D-CA): Well, thanks for having me, Lawrence. And you know, there is pending litigation right now, but make no mistake, the decommissioning continues at San Onofre. They`re in the process -- I in fact, was just there a couple days ago -- they`re in the process of taking apart the domes that many are familiar with as they drive down the southern California coast.
And let`s just be clear about this. The problem, as much as a problem as you laid out well at San Onofre exists, it`s really the symptom of a bigger problem, and the bigger problem is we have nowhere to send the waste at San Onofre.
In fact, we have nowhere to send the waste at the 80 or so spent nuclear fuel sites across the United States. So that`s what I`m focused on in Congress is trying to develop solutions to our nation`s spent nuclear fuel challenges. And this is an issue that has gone on far too long without concrete action from Republican administrations and Democratic administrations alike, and we`ve got to fix and mow is the time to do it.
O`DONNELL: And what are Judge Beckloff`s options in this lawsuit at this point?
LEVIN: Well, I think they could stop the decommissioning process as it is ongoing now. They could force changes in the way it`s being done, but the reality is that there are about 125 or 126 canisters worth of waste. It will get up to about 135. Then once it`s stored there, once the rest of the plant has been decommissioned and a lot of that low level waste has been sent off to Utah and other places, the question is what to do with that high level radioactive waste.
And you laid it out well, Lawrence. You`ve got within 50 miles of that plant nine million people. I live about ten miles away from the plant. You`ve got active and inactive earthquake faults and oh, by the way, you`ve got rising sea levels.
So one of the things that I decided is important is that we`ve got to prioritize moving the waste from the highest risk sites in the United States. And we`ve introduced legislation in the last Congress. We`ll be reintroducing it in this Congress that says for all of the nation`s nuclear waste, move the waste first from those sites with the highest seismic risk and highest population density.
That just makes all the sense in the world. And there`s nowhere worse you could put a nuclear power plant than right in the middle of metropolitan southern California. And that`s why we`ve got to get that waste off the coast as quickly and as safely as we can.
O`DONNELL: Yes, southern California, high population density location for that plant but also Earthquake Bay. I mean what -- 1964 they think yes, Earthquake Bay is fine, let`s just build it right here?
LEVIN: Well, you probably should have told us that before we bought our house but nonetheless, the reality is this is a beautiful community. We all want to stay here. And we know that earthquakes are a reality. The folks there at the plant will tell you that it can withstand a pretty powerful earthquake, but Lawrence, I don`t want to find out, which is again, why we need solutions and my hope is that they can be bipartisan solutions.
There`s no reason that spent nuclear fuel should be a Republican or a Democratic issue. So we`re going to come together, a group of us in Congress and we`re going to try to work on this and get it done.
O`DONNELL: We now live in a country where the single most important environmental decision -- single most important decision ever made by an individual government official will be made by Judge Mitchell Beckloff.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Mike Levin, thank you very much -- go ahead. Sorry.
LEVIN: My great hope is that President Biden will lead on this issue. Secretary Granholm will lead on the issue. We want to work with them. we want to figure this out. And we can get it done if we work together.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Mike Levin gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.