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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 6/30/21

Guests: Adam Kaufmann, Adam Schiff, John Yarmuth, Steven Dennis, Jonathan Alter


A New York grand jury files criminal indictments against Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg to be unsealed Thursday. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California is interviewed. Passing a budget resolution is the single most complex and difficult thing a chair of a Budget Committee has to do. After a budget resolution is passed, other committees of the House and Senate go to work on the specific legislative changes that are only outlined in the budget resolution. President Biden doesn`t yet have every Senate Democrat agreeing to everything he wants in the infrastructure bills, but the public agrees with the president, according to a new poll.



And tomorrow afternoon, we will of course be reading every word of these indictments, which should be made public some time in the mid-afternoon tomorrow.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And you know me. I`ll be acting them out on television if past is any prologue.

O`DONNELL: That`s correct, yep. They`re going to be up there on the screen. No one is going to miss anything important in those indictments. And it will be a big revelation about exactly where is this case legally as of tomorrow night. That`s going to be a very, very important stage of this.

And that question of what comes after this, as you were addressing with your guest earlier, is where there will be a lot of focus tomorrow night. But the question is what clues will we have? In those indictments will there be clues our experts can tell us point to something else in the future?

MADDOW: And how serious the jeopardy is for the Trump Organization. I mean, how -- the prospect that the president`s business might face very serious charges, that those charges might be enough to effectively or directly drive the company out of business, I mean, that`s an existentially challenging prospect for the former president. And that, of course, happens while potential superseding indictments are looming in this case, as you were just describing.

There is also an I don`t know going criminal investigation of which he is the center in Georgia. I mean, like tomorrow is day one of a whole new saga in his life that I think is going to make him a very unpredictable figure and I think is going to -- I think it`s going to be something we all need to be very open minded about in terms of how it will change the news on a day-to-day basis.

O`DONNELL: Defendant Trump officially begins tomorrow. It will be the company Trump that becomes a criminal defendant, but, you know, that`s what you get when you name the company after yourself. So the question becomes any other uses of the word Trump in future indictments, that will be the big question tomorrow night.

MADDOW: Exactly, exactly. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

Well, this is actually why I never thought he would run for president. What will happen at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow in Manhattan is exactly why I thought he would never, ever run for president. Based on the kind of businessman Donald Trump appeared to be, always appeared to be, described by Marco Rubio when he was running against Donald Trump as a con man, based on that con man character that he so clearly seemed to be, I believed Donald Trump`s businesses and financial affairs could not survive the kind of scrutiny that a presidential campaign would have tracked.

So based on no inside information, based solely on how thoroughly sleazy a human being Donald Trump has always appeared to be, I thought he would never run for president because this would happen. And what will happen as a result of him launching a presidential campaign is now happening.

NBC News reports the Manhattan district attorney`s office and the New York attorney general`s office together have obtained indictments against the Trump organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg. Two people familiar with the matter tell NBC News the charges are expected to be unsealed in court tomorrow in Manhattan.

One Trump representative told NBC News earlier today that the charges will be unsealed around 2:00 p.m. As NBC News reported last week, the charges center around the scheme to pay compensation to Weisselberg and possibly others off the books by the Trump Organization. "The Washington Post" reports Weisselberg is expected to surrender Thursday morning at the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. Two people familiar with the plan said he is expected to be arraigned later in the day in front of the state court judge. The Trump Organization will also be arraigned, represented in court by one of its attorneys.

This would not be happening if Donald Trump did not bring new scrutiny to his businesses by running for president. This is not a political prosecution. This is the kind of attention you get when you run for president and certainly the attention you get when you become president. This is the attention I always thought Donald Trump`s financial affairs could not possibly endure.

Today, the Brookings institution released a report from four recognized legal experts in white collar crime including the former Republican Justice Department official Donald Ayer which includes that, quote, Trump is at risk of eventual indictments even if he is not named in that initial filing. The authors wrote a 54-page analysis of the applicable New York state law that Donald Trump may have violated. The lawyers write: We conclude based on the publically available information that Trump is at serious risk of eventual criminal indictment in New York state.

The report identifies five areas Donald Trump could be charged. One, allegations of falsifying business records, two, alleged tax fraud, three, alleged influence fraud, four, scheme to defraud banks and, five, enterprise fraud allegations.

In an apparent attempt to distract attention from the criminal charges, Donald Trump went to the southern border today. It did not work.


REPORTER: Your response to the charges? Can you respond to the charges?


O`DONNELL: Today, the lawyer for Allen Weisselberg`s former daughter-in- law Jennifer Weisselberg told "Business Insider", told she is ready to testify against Allen Weisselberg at trial.

We are very gratified to hear the reporting that the D.A.`s office is considering bringing criminal charges. We had been working with them and other investigators since late last year and have provided investigators with a mountain of evidence about not only fringe benefits but also other potential tax issues.

We will discover in the indictments revealed tomorrow what other potential tax issues could be involved.

And today in an interview with MSNBC`s Hallie Jackson, Jennifer Weisselberg said that she believes there is legal jeopardy for Allen Weisselberg and for Donald Trump personally, involving things that happened after Donald Trump became president.


HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC HOST: Who do you think has leverage on him? What do you think that leverage entails?


JACKSON: What is the leverage?

WEISSELBEG: It`s with the presidential inaugural committee.

JACKSON: Can you tell us anything more about that?

WEISSELBERG: I mean, it seems like it bleeds into the Trump Organization, and there were some things going on after Donald was already president where they were capitalizing on making money for themselves. And it looks like in depositions that Allen Weisselberg was involved along with the CFO in the White House to orchestrate that money. And one of the organizations that stole the money, let`s say it was the Trump Org.

JACKSON: Do you believe that the former president himself holds any liability here?

WEISSELBERG: Absolutely. Absolutely. I believe he`ll get the indictment.

JACKSON: Against him?



O`DONNELL: And leading us off tonight is Adam Kaufmann, former executive assistant district attorney and former chief of the investigation division at the Manhattan District Attorney`s Office. He served as a prosecutor there for 18 years.

And, Mr. Kaufmann, what will you be looking for in these indictments tomorrow?

ADAM KAUFMANN, FORMER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR MANHATTAN: It`s, you know, I feel like I`m here a day early, Lawrence. I`m quite eager to see what the indictments reveal. Sometimes prosecutors draft indictments that are sort of a bare bones recitation of just the minimal language to track the statute. So here you would have in all likelihood indictments that track the New York state tax fraud statutes and set forth there was some type of tax fraud and that there was a certain amount of money that the state was defrauded from.

But other times prosecutors draft what we would call a speaking indictment where they give more information, where they sort of describe what a fraudulent scheme might have looked like. And it will be interesting in this case to see whether the district attorney has asked the grand jury to vote a bare bones indictment or speaking indictment that really says to the public what their case is about.

O`DONNELL: And what you see that we now have confirmation that Allen Weisselberg will be indicted, not clear whether he will be the only person indicted tomorrow. What does that tell you about the focus of these indictments?

KAUFMANN: So there is a few things that come to mind from those facts. And the first is that, look, it`s been widely reported that prosecutors have been pressuring Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate with the investigation. And thus far he has steadfastly refused to be a cooperative witness.

And, so, one of the things that happens in an investigation like this is you`re saying to the witness, look, if you don`t cooperate, you are going to get indicted. You are going to get indicted. And it seems they reached a point where he wasn`t going to cooperate. So the prosecutors are carrying through on their threat to lodge charges against him.

The other thing that`s really not clear at this point is whether Mr. Weisselberg is going to be charged for his role in receiving benefits that were undeclared or if he`s also going to be charged for his role in possibly setting up those kinds of benefits for others where the Trump Organization was engaged in this type of tax fraud.

You know, there is nothing so unusual about a tax fraud case involving off the books, off the -- under the table money, you know, payroll tax scams are prosecuted all the time. And, so, Mr. Weisselberg in this sort of unusual circumstance of this case could be prosecuted both as someone who received a benefit but also as someone who set up the benefits and caused others to receive this type of under the table benefit type of income.

O`DONNELL: So you raise such an important point about Allen Weisselberg being the person who would be arranging these benefits, both for himself and others. And Donald Trump, who doesn`t leave written records of his communication with someone like Allen Weisselberg, in order to know for a jury`s satisfaction that Donald Trump approved that or directed that, that`s where you would have to get Weisselberg`s testimony saying Donald Trump told me to do this in the way that Michael Cohen testified in his own case that Donald Trump ordered him to commit those campaign finance crimes.

KAUFMANN: Exactly right. You need someone who is in the room that said Donald Trump ordered this to happen. Donald Trump approved this. It was Donald Trump`s decision. And without that evidence, you can`t have criminal culpability.

I think we also have to remember that, you know, in all likelihood, this is the first -- the first stage, the first round of what will be when the grand jury sits for another four, four and a half months, it`s the prosecutors clearly are bringing a first round of charges against the Trump organization, some corporate -- we don`t know if it`s the Trump Organization at the parent level or a subsidiary level, unknown until tomorrow.

But they`re bringing this first round of charges. But it`s, from what I have been hearing, it sounds like this is not the end. This indictment is a first round and the investigation is continuing and presumably will be looking at things like bank fraud, insurance fraud, falsification of books and records, perhaps the Stormy Daniels payment. I mean, there is a lot for them to still do.

O`DONNELL: Adam Kaufmann, thank you very much for your guidance on this tonight. We really appreciate it.

KAUFMANN: Thank you, Lawrence. Nice to be here.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He`s chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Chairman Schiff, as a former prosecutor yourself, you know that we don`t know what we need to know until we can read those indictments. We now know we will be reading them some time after 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

What will you be looking for in these indictments?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I`ll certainly be looking for what kind of evidence is indicated in the indictments, how specific they are. But, look, I think this is not uncommon at all. It may be a very narrow indictment. It may be just the opening salvo in terms of the prosecution.

It`s not uncommon to start out with a certain baseline charge and then you build a case more and you go back with a superseding indictment. But the particular charges against the CFO will be significant. What kind of exposure does he have? Because that will determine how much incentive he has to cooperate. And from what employees of Trump Organization say, he was a very detailed person, just like Donald Trump.

And in order to make a case, if there is going to be a case ultimately made against the former president, you`re going to need someone who was close to the former president, had intimate conversations with him, knows where the bodies are buried, knows how the records are kept, knows where the documentation is. That certainly sounds like Mr. Weisselberg.

So I will be particularly interested in the quality of the evidence and the nature of the charges against him.

O`DONNELL: I want to read for you and the audience some new reporting from "The New York Times" about this tonight saying over the last few months, Allen Weisselberg has continued to show up at Trump Tower, at times coming face to face with Mr. Trump.

But now, the Trump Organization`s lawyers have taken steps to avoid the appearance of any impropriety. In the past, many of Mr. Trump and Mr. Weisselberg`s conversations were private and behind closed doors. Now, they are under instructions to meet in the presence of a witness.

And, Chairman Schiff, that clearly indicates that if they are actually complying with that, that both Donald Trump and Allen Weisselberg recognize how much trouble they`re in.

SCHIFF: Well, it certainly means that Donald Trump`s lawyers recognize that he can put himself in further jeopardy by saying things to Weisselberg, by -- you know, potentially encouraging him to hide things from authorities or make false statements to authorities. We know for the Mueller investigation that that`s not unusual conduct for this former president.

And so, the president`s lawyers are trying to protect him. Allen Weisselberg may not be cooperating now. That doesn`t mean he won`t cooperate in the future. So I think that`s what`s going on, but, look, the president has ignored the advice of his lawyers in the past and who knows whether he`ll follow that advice now.

O`DONNELL: Do you, as a former prosecutor and someone who has spent considerable time investigating Donald Trump in the first impeachment investigation -- does this feel like an inevitable turn of events for someone who has behaved the way you have seen him behave up close in the presidency?

SCHIFF: Yes. I mean, this is a grifter from start to finish. He brought his swamp from New York with him to the Oval Office. And, you know, this is a guy who used his charitable foundation as a personal political slush fund. Can we be surprised if that same organization, albeit the business and not the foundation would now be the subject of indictment?

But at the same time, you know, while I thought an indictment of the corporation was likely. I still think it`s a steep hill to climb to indict the former president. The quality and quantity of the evidence would have to be very significant. It`s relatively easy to make a case against the corporation, but to be able to follow that criminal liability to the very top, you need people inside cooperating. That`s again why Weisselberg is so important.

But everything about Donald Trump`s life, everything about his every day in office spells corruption. So, none of this is surprising. It`s just the same kind of grift in private practice that he imported to the White House.

O`DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, what is the political impact of the name Trump appearing in criminal indictments tomorrow the Trump Company which Donald Trump has always said he hires the best people. Zerlina Maxwell and Jonathan Alter will join us next.


O`DONNELL: He must have thought that today was going to be the day. For days there have been indications that today would be the die the Manhattan district attorney would reveal indicts against Donald Trump`s company and his chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

And Donald Trump`s plan for bad news has always been to create a diversion by creating another news story that competes with and he hopes overwhelms the bad news story about Donald Trump.

That is probably why Donald Trump went to the southern border today in an event that was carried live by exactly zero news networks. The Fox propaganda channel, which in no real sense is a news network, covered the event for a total of seven minutes.

And so, the most desperate for attention former president in history failed in his missions today and there will be absolutely no way he can distract attention from what the Manhattan district attorney is going to do tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

Joining us now, Zerlina Maxwell, host of the program "Zerlina", that airs on Peacock. And Jonathan Alter, columnist for "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Zerlina, I had signed up for Peacock, belatedly, I`m sorry to say, just for you and began watching so everyone should be doing that.

Zerlina, the master of diversionary tactics in publicity, Donald Trump, seems to have run out of tactics. He`s not president anymore. He can`t launch any missiles tomorrow. Looks like there`s no way he can change the subject now.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, PEACOCK HOST, "ZERLINA": Well, thank God he can`t launch any missiles, Lawrence. I think we`re all sleeping a little bit better in the post-Trump era.

But in all seriousness, I think, you know, tomorrow, it feels like the start of the accountability chapter and if I were to title this book, I know I wrote "The End of White Politics", this would be the end of the grift. Everything about Donald Trump from the very beginning of his public persona has been fake. It has been fantasy.

And there has not been a lot of real underneath the reality star sort of persona as this businessman going back to the very beginning. And so, I think finally, we`re coming around to a place where he can be held accountable. But we`re only at this place, Lawrence, because others have failed to hold him accountable in the past.

And so I think it is a lesson for all of us that accountability needs to come a bit sooner because it can become very dangerous if you allow somebody who thinks laws are suggestions, and you give them the nuclear launch codes.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, Donald Trump once again creates history. We`ve never seen anything like this in history. A former president involved in indictments like this.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLTICAL ANALYST: Yes, he`s breaking a new ground in this. What`s interesting to me in the last couple of days is what it looks like his defense is going to be. You know, of course, he predictably is attacking the New York prosecutor as a Marxist, Leninist, radical Democrat. Cy Vance isn`t even running for reelection. And so the political motive here, I don`t think is going to carry through.

And then the other thing he said was New York will be devastated, exclamation point, in his -- in his statement a couple of days ago in anticipation of this. You know, as if nobody will ever want to do business in New York again because Donald Trump`s company was indicted. That really doesn`t make a lot of sense.

And I thought the phrase sounded a little familiar. New York will be devastated. And two years ago, various jurisdictions were raising property taxes on golf courses in New York state, and then President Trump issued a statement saying New York will be devastated if taxes go up on golf courses. So he`s kind of flailing here a little bit in the way he`s going to handle it.

Having said that, I think his critics need to keep their expectations in check because the fact that Weisselberg hasn`t flipped yet and he knew it was very likely going to be indicted suggests that it might be pretty hard to flip him. I don`t know anything that anyone else knows, but we need to take a real wait and see attitude here and not assume that true accountability has fully begun.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, we`ll know it at 3:00 tomorrow with the potential penalties Allen Weisselberg is actually facing and that, Zerlina, will tell us how much pressure he is feeling. He is old enough that a year would be a very difficult stretch to have to do behind bars for somebody like that. But this is the life -- this is what happens in the life of Donald Trump as Michael Cohen can tell everybody who still works there.

MAXWELL: That`s the really confusing thing about it so I think there`s still a lot we don`t know and Jonathan is right we should have our expectations on a measured level and then we will see the details tomorrow.

But I think to your point, Allen Weisselberg has been there for 50 years and so he knows everything. It`s clear that if they had evidence in which they do, they would use that to get him to flip. But maybe he`s like, look, I`m safe. Donald Trump has my back. He hasn`t had this whole time.

I would just like to introduce him to Michael Cohen and others who have gone to prison protecting Donald Trump and now say that that was a mistake. And so, I think, you know, he`s -- I hope Allen Weisselberg is sleeping okay tonight. It`s a good thing we don`t have to wake up to a tweet. I thought about that today and I was at least relieved about that.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. Zerlina Maxwell and Jonathan Alter, thank you very much for joining us on our final segment of speculation about what might be in the indictments that we`re going to read tomorrow. Thank you very much for joining us.

ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

MAXWELL: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Congress is on the verge of doing something it has never done before, passing to budget reconciliation bills in the same year. The chairman who has to get that done, the chairman of the house budget committee, John Yarmuth, will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Our next guest has already made history in the House of Representatives this year, and he is going to make history again. It is a bit of history that he shares with Bernie Sanders.

John Yarmuth is the chair of the House Budget Committee. Senator Sanders is the chair of the Senate committee. They passed through their committees the single biggest budget resolution in history which became the legislative frame work for President Biden`s COVID relief bill.

And now, John Yarmuth and Bernie Sanders are going to do it again. They`re going to pass another budget resolution which will be bigger than the first budget resolution that they passed this year.

And so, to add to the historic nature of the second budget resolution, it will be the first time in history that the House and Senate chairs of the Budget Committees will have passed more than one budget resolution in the same year. Passing a budget resolution is the single most complex and difficult thing a chair of a Budget Committee has to do. After a budget resolution is passed, other committees of the House and Senate go to work on the specific legislative changes that are only outlined in the budget resolution.

It normally takes a few months for the committees to finish that work, which they then send directly to the Senate and House floors to be passed together in what is then called a budget reconciliation bill.

The reconciliation bill in bookkeeping terms reconciles the numbers that were outlined in the budget resolution with real and specific legislative changes in taxes and spending that add up to those same numbers.

Today Speaker Nancy Pelosi said once again that she expects the partisan bill to first be passed in the Senate -- the bipartisan bill to first be passed in the Senate, sent to the House where she will then hold it until John Yarmuth`s budget resolution is ready to pass the House.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What I said last week, and I reiterate now, is that in the House of Representatives that particular version, as it is, is something that we would take up once we see what the budget parameters are of the budget bill that the Senate will pass.


O`DONNELL: The challenge facing Chairman Yarmuth and Chairman Sanders is that they have to write a budget resolution that will get almost all of the Democratic votes in the House and has to get all of the Democratic votes in the Senate. And one of those Democrat votes in the Senate doesn`t sound ready yet to give President Biden everything he`s asking for in that bill.


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): If they think in reconciliation I`m going to throw caution to the wind and go to $5 trillion or $6 trillion when we can only afford $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion or maybe $2 trillion and what we can pay for, then I can`t be there.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky. He is the chair of the House Budget Committee, the history-making chair of the Budget Committee.

REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D-KY): Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Chairman -- Mr. Chairman, you have that difficult position in the House. You could write a bill in the House, a budget resolution in the House that could easily pass the House. But you know that you have to have something identical to what the Senate passes.

And you just heard Joe Manchin say what he believes at this stage he`s not willing to do. He`s not willing to go above maybe $2 trillion, maybe $3 trillion.

The president wants to go much higher than that. What do you say to Senator Manchin?

YARMUTH: Well, I say to him that, by the way, Senator Manchin, there are 221 of us who are in the same position in the House and another 49 in the Senate who are just like you. Every one of us basically has the leverage to kill or succeed in passing a resolution. And, so, the attention that`s paid to him, I understand.

But every one of us is in the same position. And that makes, you know -- on an every day basis, getting Democrats together is herding cats, and this is herding all the cats and making sure that everyone knows that we don`t have right now, each of us does not have the normal independence that we would have.

We have to -- we have to basically say there is an ultimate goal. We all support the goal. We have to figure out how to get there. And that`s -- you know, Nancy Pelosi always says unity is our strength. And I say in this case, unity is our only chance.

O`DONNELL: Let me -- let`s try to take us through the timetable here for the audience so they know what to expect. It is not going to happen tomorrow.

It seems to me what I`m hearing from the speaker is that she expects understandably the Senate to pass their bipartisan agreement on infrastructure first. That bill when it passes the Senate immediately gets sent to the House. Speaker Pelosi takes that bill says thank you, puts it over here and then waits for the other action to be done on what will probably be the Democrats` only reconciliation version of the bill.

And it sounds like Chuck Schumer is saying that he expects your budget resolutions to be ready to be passed before the August recess, so by the end of July. Does that sound right to you?

YARMUTH: Right. That`s what we`re trying to accomplish because then, you know, the legislation that actually implements, as you described so well in your intro, the legislation that actually accomplishes what we`re trying to do through reconciliation will be drafted by the various committees of jurisdiction during the August recess and then we could take them up in the fall.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And so then you would come back in say September, early October and you would have that so-called reconciliation bill, which would be the final piece of it that eventually gets passed at that point through the Senate in the House. And you could theoretically pass at that point if the speaker is holding the bipartisan Senate bill, theoretically you could pass them roughly on the same day.

YARMUTH: We could. But that doesn`t matter. I mean, yes, obviously the speaker is strategizing that because a lot of people say, well, there is a risk that we would pass a bipartisan bill and then lose some votes on what ends up being probably a more expensive what we called the care economy provisions -- child care, job training, senior care, early childhood education and some of the climate change legislation that is so important to many of our members.

So that`s the linkage. That`s the reason for the linkage. But, you know, it`s not going to be easy. I`ve met with the Progressive Caucus today. I met with the Blue Dogs today. And remember, what we`re trying to do in the reconciliation process is so that we don`t have a filibuster in the Senate, we don`t require 60 votes.

And so every one of the 50 votes in the Senate is necessary. And we can only lose four right now. It will be three -- soon be three in the House. So essentially every vote is critical. That`s -- it`s quite a task that we`re facing.

O`DONNELL: I want to talk to you about one very important infrastructure project, which is the Brent Spence Bridge, which of course as you know, the audience doesn`t know, connects your state of Kentucky across the Ohio River with Ohio -- hugely important bridge. And it`s an important bridge to Senator McConnell, who is working as hard as he can to kill both versions of this infrastructure bill.

Are we really going to be -- is Kentucky really going to be watching Mitch McConnell take credit for improvements in a bridge after he fought against the legislation that got it done?

YARMUTH: I hope we get it done. But no doubt that mitch, whom I`ve known for many years will take credit whenever he can. But one of the things that`s fascinating in the American Jobs Plan, the president`s proposal, there is a $25 billion set aside that is designed to -- for the ten most critical regional infrastructure projects. One of those, I think it usually ranks about second on the list, is the Brent Spence Bridge.

So this is a real opportunity for Kentuckians and not just Kentuckians and Ohioans but basically people all through the Midwest to do something that is absolutely essential. Because the Brent Spence Bridge is probably not very far along than the (INAUDIBLE) bridge that we saw in Memphis, Tennessee.

I mean, it is definitely in need of replacement. It`s probably about a $2 billion project. We could fund it out of this set aside fund in the American Jobs Plan, which Senator McConnell will adamantly oppose.

O`DONNELL: House Budget chair, John Yarmuth, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

And I know that no president in history has ever asked more of a House Budget Committee chair. He`s lucky to have you there. I know you have the skill to do it, but you`re going to need some luck to do it. Thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Chairman.

YARMUTH: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, how many Republicans support passing a Democrats-only reconciliation bill as part of Joe Biden`s infrastructure package? Zero Republican members of Congress support it. But 36 percent of Republican voters support it.

The political power of the Biden infrastructure plan is next.


O`DONNELL: President Biden doesn`t yet have every Senate Democrat agreeing to everything he wants in the infrastructure bills, but the public agrees with the president, according to a new poll. 62 percent of likely voters support passing the bipartisan Senate bill, which is based on the president`s American Jobs Plan and the Democrats-only reconciliation bill, which is based on the president`s American Families Plan; compared to only 31 percent who oppose that. Passing both bills has the support of 86 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Independents and even 36 percent of Republicans.

Joining us now is Steven Dennis, senate reporter for Bloomberg News and Jonathan Alter is back with us. And Steven, those 36 percent of Republicans out there who support both of these infrastructure bills do not seem to be very well represented in the United States Senate.

STEVEN DENNIS, SENATE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: No, they don`t. I mean, one thing that the Democrats are really doing differently from 12 years ago is they`re focusing a lot more on sugar, you know.

12 years ago the Democrats were nearly in charge of all three, you know, the House, the Senate and the White House and they were pursuing cap and trade, very controversial. The Republicans could easily call it a tax increase on turning on the lights.

This time around the Democrats are talking about sugar. They`re talking about tax cuts for EVs. They`re talking about upgrading the grid. They`re talking about roads and bridges -- things that are a lot easier to sell. And they`re standing fast on the Biden pledge of not raising taxes directly on anybody making less than $400,000 a year.

And so if you hear that, you know, hey, I`m going to get some roads and bridges and I might get some child care down the line, and there`s elder care and there`s a lot of things that poll very well, you know, I`m not surprised that you`re seeing some polling like that and I`m also not surprised you`re seeing Republicans dig in because they don`t want tax increases, you know.

Their agenda has been for decades to cut tax rates, not raise them. And so you know, those are their allies, the business community, et cetera.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Alter, the more I listen to the president about it, the more it sounds like he believes the road to Democratic success in the next congressional campaign and the presidential campaign is paved, as they say, with this infrastructure legislation.

JONATHAN ALTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": Yes, he has to put points on the board. And this is the most popular way to do it. And I think it`s on track. I`m not, you know, sanguine about it. But the complexities are -- you can overcome them.

And I think you saw with John Yarmuth that, you know, these are very skillful, legislative operators. They don`t have to deal with Republicans on the reconciliation package.

And you didn`t see Republicans headed for the exits on the infrastructure bill when, you know, they got mad about the process and mad at Biden and his press conference because they know their constituents want this. And it`s very, very hard ultimately to vote against something that people want.

O`DONNELL: And Steven, the Democrats are not -- they`re not running out to the microphones to say, here`s my line, you can`t cross this line. It`s very common in the past in a situation like this to have, you know, three or four lines being drawn by different people or different factions of Democrats in the House. Maybe another two lines being drawn by some Democrats in the Senate, saying absolutely I will not vote for it if x.

When you`re not hearing that rhetoric, that`s when, at least for the time being, it`s going smoothly.

DENNIS: I wouldn`t call it smooth sailing. I think it`s going to be an incredibly difficult and complex, you know, sort of dance here. You`ve got the bipartisan bill that`s still being written as we speak, the details are still being fleshed out.

At any minute Mitch McConnell can pull the rug out. He still has a CBO score he can complain about and other things on process. You know, so even -- you know, just that first step is not guaranteed.

The budget resolution is going to be a bear to get passed. And that`s just the easy part doing the budget resolution because it doesn`t have all the details in it.

And then that final -- that final reconciliation bill, you know, if you think about it, Democrats have 10, 12 years of pent-up things that Mitch McConnell has successfully blocked. And this is their once chance to do things that Mitch McConnell can`t veto.

So every group out there who has something they want to do -- on immigration, on the environment, on climate, on health care, on pre-k -- on all of these things, this is your one shot.

And the thing is, you know, nobody really knows right now, including Joe Manchin, how much he`s going to let through that key hole. And, you know, this could very well extend three or four months before they get that final package written.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And I think that`s the important scheduling thing we established with Chairman Yarmuth tonight. This is not happening before the August recess. There`s so much to do.

Jonathan Alter, Steven Dennis -- thank you both for very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence.

DENNIS: Great to be here.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona recently wrote, "The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles."

That was largely true in the 1990s but it has not been true in the 21st century. And Senator Sinema used to know that. She used to know that the Senate rules could be used for evil. That was her word -- evil, 11 years ago.

In 2010, in the second year of the Obama presidency, when Kyrsten Sinema was a 33-year-old member of the state legislature in Arizona, she accurately described how dysfunctional the United States Senate had become because it is forced to work under what she called this "false pressure to get to 60 votes".


Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AR): Well, the Senate, we no longer have 60 votes. Some would argue we never had 60 because one of those was Joseph Lieberman. But that`s -- whatever. And Nelson, too.

So now there`s -- I think it`s the president so eloquently sort of (INAUDIBLE), none of this pressure, this false pressure to get to 60.

So what that means is that the Democrats can stop kowtowing to Joe Lieberman and instead seek other avenues to afford (ph) health reform. And so it`s likely that the Senate will move forward a process called reconciliation which takes only 51 votes. And by the way, is not unusual.

You may recall that before the Democrats took the Senate in 2008, that the Republicans controlled the Senate for quite some time, in fact, since around 1994. They never had 60 votes and they managed to do a lot of really bad things during that time.

So, the reconciliation process is still quite available and we will use it for good, rather than for evil.


O`DONNELL: Arizona state representative Kyrsten Sinema gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Perhaps Senator Kyrsten Sinema might listen to her.