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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 7/13/21

Guests: Julie Johnson, Alex Dominguez, Derrick Johnson, Beto O`Rourke, Jocelyn Benson; Nan Whaley


Senate Democrats agree to a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. President Biden urges Congress to pass voting rights bills. In a federal court in Michigan yesterday, the lying Trump election lawyers all had their own defense lawyers trying to save them from being punished by a federal judge for lying in court. Today, 369 mayors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to the Democratic leaders and Republican leaders of the House and Senate asking them to take immediate action on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Biden has agreed to with a bipartisan group of senators.



And while you were working, we have breaking news on the Biden infrastructure package. The Senate Budget Committee as -- Democrats only on the reconciliation version of it, they`ve unanimously agreed tonight, the Senate Democrats on the Budget Committee to a $3.5 trillion package. Chairman Bernie Sanders will be getting through the Budget Committee. It includes Medicare expansion for dental, vision --


O`DONNELL: -- dental care and vision care.

This is really -- these numbers are extraordinary, but the actual details of what`s in this legislation, include things people have thought made sense for decades, literally decades but never saw the opportunity. But here we are on the -- on the Democrats-only bill tonight, Budget Committee unanimous agreement. That means it`s going to make it out of the Budget Committee. Mark Warner represents what you`d probably consider the Manchin wing of the Budget Committee. Bernie Sanders represents the other side of the Democratic Party. They`re all in agreement.

MADDOW: So, Lawrence, on a scale of 0, nothing`s happening to 100, Joe Biden is signing the legislation -- where does that put us on the number line in terms of how close we are to the beginning? What`s that?

O`DONNELL: It`s way up there for this package. The bipartisan package is its own track and is holding together remarkably well. President Biden`s going to do something truly extraordinary tomorrow. He`s actually going to go to the Senate Democrats luncheon in the Capitol tomorrow, something he went to for 36 years as a senator. I know he went a few times as vice president.

I personally, I never saw the president do that in either party when I was working in the Senate. So it`s a really rare thing. But I can almost feel Joe Biden`s eagerness to get up there and really lock in the deal in the full Senate -- full Democratic side of the Senate tomorrow after what they`ve accomplished in the budget committee tonight.

MADDOW: So you think that this gets us closer to the end than the beginning? I mean, there`s been so much -- like there`s been a lot of news about every procedural step here and I sort of feel a little bit gun-shy about which one of these steps matters. But on this one since it`s Democrats only, you think this is -- this is -- this is a close to the end hurdle?

O`DONNELL: The only suspense if it is that that you`re waiting to hear is what does Joe Manchin think? He`s not a member of the budget committee but, you know, Mark Warner and Joe Manchin are together on that bipartisan version of the bill. They`re very close together. I doubt that the Budget Committee would have ignored what Joe Manchin thinks in coming to this agreement.

But even if they did, even if Joe Manchin as this proceeds wants to in some ways reduce the number, that`s still possible within the way this moves. But I have to believe that Joe Manchin`s interests were probably very strongly represented by Mark Warner on that committee because what you want to do is come out of the Budget Committee with the shape of what it`s really going to be. And that information is available to you.

You know, Bernie Sanders is in a meeting every week. This is brilliant construction by Chuck Schumer, I think, but he`s in a meeting every week, Bernie Sanders with Joe Manchin in Chuck Schumer`s so-called leadership team. Which at that table has Joe Manchin, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders for Chuck Schumer to exactly understand what is possible with all 50 members.

It`s a really representative group of what you need to have on the Senate floor. So I really have to believe with all that communication that Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin have every week that Chairman Sanders knew what he had to do to get not just the unanimous vote of his committee but all 50 votes on the Senate floor.

MADDOW: A, thank you for explaining that. I did not understand that at all, before you just explained it. And B, thank you for letting me interview about this on your program this evening.


I owe you some real estate. You go get it back from me tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: It`s my favorite thing. You know I`d come on early to do that.

Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, John Bucy and his wife Molly didn`t want to bring their 17-month old daughter Bradley on an airplane this week. Bradley`s too young to be vaccinated for coronavirus and too tiny to wear a mask. So they decided to drive.

"The Washington Post" reports, quote, busy got the call Sunday afternoon after grabbing four hours of sleep following the nearly 24-hour house committee hearing that had finally adjourned around 7:30 a.m., scores of Texans had testified against the voting bill but it passed along party lines. He and his wife loaded their Jeep Wrangler and were on the road within two hours and spent the other 23 hours driving straight through Washington alternating driving and baby duties.

Texas Representative John Bucy`s wife Molly is 27 weeks pregnant. They did not want to have to make that drive. None of the Texas Democrats who left the state to deny the Texas House of Representatives a quorum wants to be in Washington tonight. But they have made the trip to Washington to resist what President Joe Biden today called an assault on democracy.

When Vice President Kamala Harris met with the Texas Democrats today, she gave them a standing ovation and then said this.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The courage and the commitment and the patriotism that you all have evidence by your actions in addition to your work and your words -- and I know what you have done comes with great sacrifice both personal and political. And you are doing this in support and in defense of some of our nation`s highest ideals.


O`DONNELL: This afternoon, Texas Democrats met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who said everything is on the table. That was his line, everything is on the table -- when it comes to passing voting rights legislation in the Senate, which means a change in the Senate`s 60-vote threshold must also be on the table.

Here`s what Senator Schumer said today to reporters before his meeting with the Texas Democrats.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: These folks are going to be remembered on the right side of history. The governor and the Republican legislators will be remembered on the dark and wrong side of history.


O`DONNELL: Texas Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to direct their sergeant at arms to arrest the Democrats, but Texas has no authority to do that outside of the state of Texas. NAACP President Derrick Johnson who will join our discussion tonight has offered to cover bail costs for the Texas legislators facing arrest saying, quote, we are fully invested in good trouble.

Today, President Biden went to the birthplace of American democracy where he delivered a speech on voting rights in Philadelphia`s National Constitution Center.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let`s think about the past election. A 102-year-old woman in Arkansas who voted for the first time on the very spot she once picked cotton, a 94-year-old woman in Michigan who voted early and in person in her 72nd consecutive election. You know what she said? She said this election, was, quote, the most important vote that we ever had.


O`DONNELL: President Biden had a message for the loser of the last presidential election.


BIDEN: In America, if you lose you accept the results, you follow the Constitution, you try again. You don`t call facts fake and then try to bring down the American experience just because you`re unhappy. That`s not statesmanship.


That`s not statesmanship. That`s selfishness.

Audits, recounts are conducted in Arizona, Wisconsin. In Georgia, it was recounted three times. It`s clear. For those who challenge the results and question the integrity of the election, no other election has ever been held under such scrutiny and such high standards. The big lie is just that, a big lie.




O`DONNELL: The president repeatedly focused on what he called election subversion, the most dangerous threat to the integrity of our elections in our history.


BIDEN: It`s no longer just about who gets to vote or making it easier for eligible voters to vote. It`s about who gets to count the vote, who gets to count whether or not your vote counted at all. It`s about moving from independent election administrators who work for the people to polarized state legislatures and partisan actors who work for political parties. To me this is simple, this is election subversion. It`s the most dangerous threat to voting in the integrity of free and fair elections in our history.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight are Texas State Representatives Alex Dominguez and Julie Johnson, both attended the meeting with Vice President Harris today.

And, Representative Julie Johnson, let me first of all thank you because last night I know you were operating the light on the bus, the camera light for Representative Gina Hinojosa who was -- there you are holding up that light for her, as she is doing her appearance here on this program.

And I have to tell you, the shot looked great. It really looked -- Hollywood cinematographers could not have done better on that bus.

How are you feeling today after this trip and after the encouragement you got from Vice President Harris?

STATE REP. JULIE JOHNSON (D), TEXAS: Well, you know, our meeting with Vice President Harris was really meaningful for all of us. It was important we be able to communicate to her what`s happening on the ground in Texas, how moms with kids and are working full time, we need to be able to drive through and vote not have to drag five children into a poll to vote. And all the other issues that are happening in our state.

So it was really empowering for us to meet with her, hear her words of encouragement but really for her to hear our pain, to hear the pain of constituents and what we`re going through. And, Lawrence, you know, one thing us girls we stick together. So we`re all here to help each other out, and it was my pleasure to hold the light for my dear friend.

O`DONNELL: Representative Dominguez, Republicans saying you`re just on a road trip having fun. It`s just going to Washington for fun and games.

STATE REP. ALEX DOMINGUEZ (D), TEXAS: Well, it couldn`t be further from the truth. It`s always great to be with my colleagues such as Julie Johnson and a number of other Democrats here. But more importantly, we`re hear to fight for our constituents, not just in Austin, at the Capitol there, but the Capitol here was well.

We`re hopeful that we can meet with enough people and push forward successful legislation. We need Congress backing the For the People Act. We need the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. That`s why we`re here. We`re here and we`re working for them and we`ll always keep working for them.

O`DONNELL: Representative Johnson, Senator Joe Manchin has said that he`s eager to meet with you or some of you, at least, some reasonably sized sample. What would you like to discuss with Senator Manchin?

JOHNSON: We just want Senator Manchin to understand what is happening in our state and what the impact of this bill and the legislation that we`re fighting so hard for would be on our voters and how hard it would be for hardworking folks to go vote, for people who work two jobs and have family and kids who are disabled to go vote, that would subject our voters to intense intimidation by poll watchers. You know, Lawrence, one of it things we want him to understand is the legislation being offered would allow people like the insurrectionists of January 6th who want to go be poll watchers stand inches of voters as they cast their ballot and intimidate them with our election judges having no opportunities to meaningfully kick them out of the polls.

And that is terrible and intimidation in its worst form, and we`re determined to stop it.

O`DONNELL: Representative Dominguez, you succeeded by your first walkout in changing this legislation in some ways, including removing the kind of provision that President Biden today said is the worst thing that is being considered by Republican state legislatures and actually did pass in Georgia, and that is changing the way votes are counted and giving Republicans more control over the way votes are counted and more control over changing the actual vote count.

DOMINGUEZ: You know, Lawrence, as our former Governor Ann Richards would say, you can put lipstick on the pig but it`s still a pig.

This is still a terrible piece of legislation.


I don`t think we`ve had a piece like this in the state of Texas in a number of decades. And the reason it is we heard our Supreme Court Justice John Roberts several years ago say that discrimination is over, racism is over.

I`d like to say that would seem like a dog whistle for state legislatures throughout the entire country to try to pass this specific time of voter suppression legislation, and we`re here to put it a stop to it.

O`DONNELL: Texas State Representatives Alex Dominguez and Julie Johnson, thank you both very much for starting off our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you so much for having us.

DOMINGUEZ: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And joining us now is Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. You stepped forward and said you`re prepared to support these legislators in any legal battles they might find themselves in, including being arrested.

DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: Absolutely. We are prepared to help pay hotel bills, for them to stay out of Texas, (INAUDIBLE) if they need to, or whatever needs to take place. This is the type of fight we must be in at this moment. We have a short window.

We don`t have six months to get this right. We have until the middle of September because when the census data is released, it starts the redistricting process. This would be the first redistricting process without the full potential of the Voting Rights Act. That is something we have not gone through.

Can you imagine all of the gains of the last 60 years could be eroded whether being elected to a water board, city council, county commission, state legislative body? Everything is on the table. You know, it`s great they`re coming to terms on the infrastructure bill, but there`s nothing more important than ensuring we protect the rights of voters in this moment.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to something the president had to say today about Republicans, and he actually asked them directly, have you no shame.


BIDEN: I`m asking my Republican friends in Congress and states and cities and counties, to stand up for God`s sake and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?


O`DONNELL: Derrick Johnson, do you have an answer for that?

JOHNSON: Well, they have no shame. You know, I`ve been beating this drum for a while. The subverting of democracy started with platforms like Facebook to allow the big lie get rolling -- the big lie, all of the auditing of the elections. At this moment of time in our democracy, the Republican Party have declared war.

NAACP, we`re nonpartisan. We`ve been in the exact place for 112 years, that all citizens should have a right to fully engage and vote. Our franchise is our courage and we must in this moment stand up like we never stood up before.

The president has set a tone, now let`s get some outcome, because at the end of the day, speeches won`t do it, public policy will. We must get the type of public policy in place to protect the rights of voters, from Georgia of Texas to Arizona back to Michigan. Anything less than that will be unconstitutional, in my opinion, even though we have a Supreme Court who`s also positioned to underwrite the rights of voters across the country. Our democracy is under attack.

O`DONNELL: Congressman James Clyburn delivered I think the most powerful presidential campaign endorsement I`ve ever seen. And the Biden presidency might not exist without James Clyburn`s endorsement in that campaign.

Tonight, Congressman Clyburn was on just an hour ago on this network with Rachel Maddow saying that he wants Joe Manchin to agree to a change in Senate procedure to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for voting rights legislation.

That`s all he`s asking for now is just do it for voting rights legislation. He has asked President Biden to ask Joe Manchin to do that. There`s no one more influential in this mix than James Clyburn. And he says he has his own private communication with Joe Manchin and so far, it`s going well.

JOHNSON: But what I heard him say is get it done. However you need to get it done, get it done. So, I don`t want to get into the distraction of a procedural question around a filibuster.

We know the filibuster was being used by segregationists -- Senator Eastland from Mississippi for many years to impede progress. We shouldn`t have that discussion. The only discussion I want to have is get it done, the rights of votership be protected at all costs. We cannot surely live up to the mandates of our Constitution if we`re not willing to ensure the protection of our votes.

O`DONNELL: Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, I`m honored to have you join us tonight.


Really appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, another Texan crusading for voting rights, Beto O`Rourke will join us next.



BIDEN: In Texas, for example, Republican legislature wants to allow partisan poll watchers to intimidate voters and imperil impartial poll workers. They want voters to dive further and be able to be in a position where they wonder who`s watching them and intimidating them, to wait longer to vote, to drive a hell of a lot -- excuse me -- a long way to get to vote. They want to make it so hard and inconvenient that they hope people don`t vote at all. That`s what this is about.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Beto O`Rourke, former Democratic congressman representing El Paso, Texas.


He is the founder of Powered by People, an organization helping elect Democrats in Texas.

Thank you very much for joining us again tonight.

I want to get your reaction to President Biden`s speech today and his specifics about Texas.

BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I thought it was so powerful. And he laid out in the starkest terms the attack that we`re seeing right now in our democracy. He connected all the dots, the big lie, the insurrection on the 6th of January, all these attempts in different state legislatures to make it harder for people to vote. And he singled out Texas in that speech I think in part because this is already the toughest state in which to register, cast a ballot. And the Republican controlled state legislature and the Republican governor are trying to make it even harder especially on those with disabilities, on black and brown voters, on voters who live in big cities.

The speech was wonderful and a speech the country needed to hear. The only thing missing, though, Lawrence, was a call to make an exception to the filibuster for voting rights legislation. He diagnosed the problem perfectly.

He laid it all out for us so that we understand just how perilously close we are to losing our democracy, but then he did not provide the prescription we`ve been waiting for which is we must summon the political courage and will to change the rules of the Senate where a pro-democracy Democratic majority has the votes to get voting rights legislation like the for the people act passed. That`s what`s missing.

So I hope this is just the first of many speeches the president is going to give, and in the next one he will make the case for changing the filibuster. That is an imperative if we`re going to save democracy.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more about what the president said today especially in terms of the last election where at least last time around as he puts it, democracy held.


BIDEN: Because of the extraordinary courage of election officials, many of them Republicans our court system and those brave capitol police officers, because of them democracy held.


O`DONNELL: One of the fascinating things about that is that one of the Republicans who helped the system hold as he put it was the Georgia secretary of state who has since then joined this change in Georgia, which he approves of, in their new election law, which actually gives the secretary of state less authority than before.

And so, as good as he was in the last election, the Georgia secretary of state is not on the helping side of this issue now.

O`ROURKE: Yeah, there`s a really important passage in that speech where he talked about who will be able to count their vote and whether your vote will count at all when Republican controlled legislatures can take control of local elections boards as they`re doing in Georgia right now. Then the victory he enjoyed in the November 2020 election, first Democratic nominee to win the Electoral College votes in that state in I don`t know how many decades, I don`t know, Lawrence, if that is possible in 2024 when those Republican controlled election boards can overturn the count of the vote. They`ll now have the power to do that.

And as you know, that was a provision that was in the elections bill in Texas during the regular session. We may see its reappearance in the current version of it, but it would allow the state of Texas to overturn statewide elections going forward.

So, you know, though the president said we must organize and band together and do this as Americans I agree with all of that. But it`s insufficient to the challenge at hand. That organizing will not stop the overturning of elections in Georgia and Texas. What we need is voting rights legislation, and we need the For the People Act specifically.

And we need the president to make the case to the country, to the whole country that we need to make an exception in the filibuster rule for voting rights legislation. We made exceptions for Supreme Court justices, federal judges, budget reconciliation issues. It can pass on a simple majority.

Let us make an exception for democracy. That`s all we`re asking for. Not for Democrats, not for Republicans but for America in this 245-year and counting experiment. That`s what`s at stake at this moment.

O`DONNELL: There`s also a little noticed exception in the Senate as I`m sure you know that fast tracks international trade agreements. They can get fast tracked through the Senate in a way that voting rights cannot at this point.

But it seems, you know, what you`re saying about this rule, about that 60- vote threshold and Joe Manchin`s position on it, does seem to be something that President Biden knows well and has been at least privately with James Clyburn working on Senator Manchin on this very issue.

I mean I think as you know those are the kinds of things that they do in private as long as they possibly can and try to get to some agreement in private. And we`re going to find out whether they get there privately or not at some point.

But the focus of the Texas legislators now is on Joe Manchin and they`ve got a meeting, hoping for a meeting with him, on Thursday.

O`ROURKE: Yes, those Texas legislators are the moral leverage that this debate needed. And I`m so grateful for their heroism and courage by coming up to Washington, D.C., leaving their families, their homes, their jobs and facing arrest when they return to the state, putting it all on the line for democracy, for America. And it`s hard to see that example and not be inspired. It`s hard to see their courage and not look at yourself in the mirror and say, hey, what am I doing for my countrymen, and that`s all of us across the country asking that question especially I hope those Democrats who are in the political majority in the Senate.

I mean, this is their moment of truth because it is our moment of truth. And they have the power to deliver right now. So I hope those Democrats from Texas will stay there for as long as it takes to get this done.

The special session in Texas lasts through the beginning of august. That seems to fit nicely with the U.S. Senate voting schedule. I hope that they can bring the For The People Act back for a vote and then make -- and then take a vote on amending the filibuster to make that exception for voting rights.

And if they do, I think we`ll have a lot of gratitude owed to those Texas state House and Texas Senate Democrats who made the trip to Washington.

O`DONNELL: How is the Democrats` trip to Washington playing in Texas?

O`ROURKE: You know what, we are behind them 100 percent. Yesterday we put the call out powered by people asking folks to pitch in whatever they could to support those Texas Democrats so they have the resources they need while they wage this fight in D.C.

As of this moment I think we`re over $450,000 raised -- $5, $25, $50 at a time -- 100 percent of which, by the way, is going to them. Those who have the courage in their convictions, we`re going to make sure that we have their back.

And so those are the people of Texas putting their money where their mouth is, saying we support you, we know that you`re taking the fight where it needs to be won in the United States Capitol, and you stay as long-as you need to get the job done.

Because if we don`t have voting rights, if we don`t have democracy, then anything else that we care about, an economy that works for everyone, health care for all, racial justice, confronting climate change before it`s too late -- none of that is possible if we can`t vote.

They get that and so they`re fighting that good fight up in D.C. right now.

O`DONNELL: Beto O`Rourke, thank you for joining us tonight. Always appreciate it.

O`ROURKE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, in a federal court in Michigan yesterday, the lying Trump election lawyers all had their own defense lawyers trying to save them from being punished by a federal judge for lying in court.

Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson will join us next.



O`DONNELL: "We can`t undo what happened, but this court can do something to let the world know that attorneys in this country are not free to use our courts to tell lies." That is what David Fink, lawyer for the city of Detroit told Federal Judge Linda Parker yesterday in Michigan.

The lying lawyers he was talking about are the nine lawyers who put their name on an utterly fraudulent lawsuit asking the state of Michigan to overturn the presidential election and award the state`s electoral votes to Donald Trump.

The city of Detroit and the state of Michigan are now asking a federal court to punish the Trump lawyers for the lies they told in court in that case.

David Fink asked the court to impose, quote, "the strongest possible sanctions against the Trump lawyers". He said, quote, "These attorneys should never again be allowed to appear in a court in our jurisdiction or frankly anywhere else."

Rudy Giuliani who has already been barred from practicing law in the state of New York and Washington, D.C. because of the lies he told in other courts is not one of the lawyers who put his name on the Michigan case and so is not subject to sanctions in this case.

David Fink knew how dangerous lying about the election was even before the January 6th attack on the Capitol. David Fink filed the request for sanctions against the lying Trump lawyers one day before the attack on the capitol, the day before.

And in that filing the day before the attack on the Capitol, David Fink wrote, "The extent of the factual and legal errors in this complaint would warrant sanctions under any circumstances. But here the court`s processes are being per perverted to undermine our democracy and upset the peaceful transition of power."

And the very next day in Washington Rudy Giuliani, the leader of Trump`s lying lawyers, told the Trump mob on January 6th to go down to the Capitol and, quote, "have trial by combat".


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Michigan`s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I have to say I watched that hearing. It was on Zoom available for all of us to see with utter fascination -- what these lawyers -- the details of what these lawyers had actually done, actually said in court and the documents they actually brought into court that turned out to be fraudulent.

JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Truly, yes. You know, I used to be the dean of a law school here in Detroit. And we train our students to be lawyers who will uphold the law, who will respect our constitution and who won`t use the law to sow seeds of doubt falsely, through frivolous complaints about the integrity of our elections. And that`s precisely what happened here.

And there needs to be consequences for that. Not just for our democracy and the foundation of our entire rule of law but to send a message to future attorneys, others who may be trying to explore these shenanigans in future elections that there`s no place for that here in Michigan or anywhere else.

And that`s what this Rule 11 sanctions hearing is primarily designed to do. To hold those who misuse their power as attorneys, to hold them accountable.

O`DONNELL: Now, the federal court cannot disbar them because they don`t actually have jurisdiction over their law licenses, but the judge could recommend it to the authorities that control that.

One of the defenses that we heard yesterday, which stunned me, was that lawyers have a First Amendment right to lie in court. They were actually claiming a First Amendment right to do this.

The judge asked for a single case -- could they give her a single case saying that lawyers have a First Amendment right to lie in court, and of course, they couldn`t do that.

BENSON: No. And lawyers have a responsibility to uphold the law, to seek justice on behalf of their clients. Not to lie and file frivolous, meritless complaints, all of which were dismissed that are really designed as a PR strategy to undermine the public`s faith in our elections.

That is not what the courts are for. And there`s no room for lies and misinformation in a court of law, particularly a federal court of law that`s designed to enforce and uphold the principles of our federal constitution.

So this sanctions hearing is really what has been established in federal court to protect the sanctity of the courts as a place where justice can be sought and served, not as a place where people can sow seeds of doubt and spread lies and deceive people about the truth and the integrity of our democracy.

O`DONNELL: Rudy Giuliani is already temporarily disbarred pending full permanent disbarment, which surely is coming in both New York and Washington. Is that enough to scare off lawyers from doing this in the future?

BENSON: Perhaps. But remember there`s a lot of things happening here. We`re also seeing attorneys benefit financially through fund-raising efforts and others in Arizona and Michigan by spreading this misinformation.

It`s become -- you know, challenging election results you don`t agree with became in the 2020 election cycle a strategy for undermining the public`s faith in our democracy but also a cottage industry of those trying to gain fame, influence, maybe political power and raise money and build, you know, wealth off of lying to people.

So there`s a lot of accountability that needs to happen. This is one of those pieces particularly for those attorneys. But political accountability is important as well. And voters have the ability to hold leaders accountable who lie to them about their democracy at the ballot box.

So we need to seek accountability in every way we can, because this cannot become the norm in our democracy. We have to respect the will of the voters, not try to overturn it if we disagree with the results.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Biden said today about what the Trump lawyers were up to.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than 80 judges including those appointed by my predecessor heard the arguments. In every case, neither cause nor evidence was found to undermine the national achievement of administering the historic election in the face of such extraordinary challenges.


O`DONNELL: It just makes you wonder, Secretary Benson, how many times do they have to lose to believe they`ve lost in court?

BENSON: Well, as long as it becomes profitable to spread the big lie. As long as they can get attention and perhaps win elections even by spreading false information. And that remains to be seen as we approach the mid-terms next year.

But there`s a lot of ways I think people will still try to profit and gain power off of lying. But it`s going to take leaders on both sides of the aisle, as many have, to consistently stand up and prioritize saving democracy as the number issue of our time.

I`m grateful that the president and the vice president, who was in Detroit on Monday, have prioritized this issue.


BENSON: But we need even more actions than ever before really in also recognition of folks like those Democrats in Texas who have put their jobs, their careers and so much on the line just to raise awareness about the need to do more, to protect democracy against those who will try to change the rules of the game or lie to voters in a way of -- with a goal of trying to undermine the will of the people and overturn it in future elections.

O`DONNELL: Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BENSON: Thank you. Always a pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the Biden infrastructure plan is very much on track tonight. It`s on both tracks tonight.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill got a big endorsement today, and tonight, the much bigger Democrats-only bill got the unanimous agreement of all of the Senate Budget Committee Democrats led by chairman Bernie Sanders. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: The liberal Democratic mayor of New York city and the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City have something they agree on -- the Biden infrastructure plan. Today 369 mayors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to the Democratic leaders and Republican leaders of the House and Senate asking them to take immediate action on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Biden has agreed to with a bipartisan group of senators.

The bipartisan group of mayors supports the bill`s, quote, "comprehensive investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, passenger and freight rail, drinking water and wastewater, clean energy, and electrification, legacy pollution clean-up, cyber attack and extreme weather-resiliency, and universal broadband access".

Here is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking tonight about the breaking news that the Democrat-only $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that is now unanimously supported by every Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee and ready to go for a vote in that committee.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Every major program that President Biden has asked us for is funded in a robust way. This wonderful plan that (INAUDIBLE) American families in a so-profound way more than anything that`s happened in generations.

We are very proud of this plan. We know we have a long road to go but we`re going to get this done.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Nan Whaley. She is the mayor of Dayton, Ohio and the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Thank you very much, for joining us tonight.

Your letter to the leadership is about the bipartisan agreement which we already knew more about than the Democrats-only agreement that was reached tonight.

And that is the agreement that really will make a difference in the visible infrastructure that people see every day as they move through their lives. How important is it to Ohio?

MAYOR NAN WHALEY (D), DAYTON, OHIO: It`s super important, Lawrence. I mean not only is this about investing in our future, making sure that our communities can move around and have safe, clean drinking water, make sure that we can be connected.

But it`s also creating amazing good-paying jobs that Ohioans can use and have. So really the investment in the infrastructure package is so important for the future of my community and communities all across the state of Ohio.

O`DONNELL: Were you surprised you were able to get such a large bipartisan group of mayors. You`ve got Bill de Blasio of New York City. You`ve got the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City and a lot of others.

WHALEY: Not really, Lawrence. You know, I think the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the work that we do is all about bipartisan work. It`s how we supported the American Rescue Plan earlier this year.

And look, we thrive on wanting to get it done. You know, when are you a mayor, you don`t have the luxury of debating very much, you just have to move and make sure that these problems get solved.

Infrastructure has been something that we have been calling for, for years. We see an opportunity with the bipartisan package and mayors long and always work in a bipartisan manner at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

O`DONNELL: The American Society of Civil Engineers gives your state of Ohio, I`m sorry to say, a C minus grade on its infrastructure report card. It seems this is more important to Ohio than it might be to several other states.

WHALEY: Absolutely. And you know, Ohio is the heart of it all, right? So, all roads lead through it and unfortunately a lot of those roads and bridges are pretty -- in pretty bad shape.

One bridge that is discussed a lot is the Brent Spence Bridge that moves from Ohio to Kentucky that again still cannot move because we don`t get an infrastructure package.

You know, this is about commerce and freight. But it`s also making sure that every day Ohioans can get to work, can make sure they have access to jobs and to make sure that we have broadband and all of the, all of the things you need now to really hold a job in this -- in this -- in this country.

Ohioans need that investment. And we will not be able to afford it and do it without the federal government coming up in a partnership.

The conferences also made a point, and as mayors we know that the best decisions are the ones made locally and we want make sure that this partnership is, you know, passed in Washington, D.C., but allows for local control in these discussions and decisions because mayors and the communities they lead really know best on what they need. Every city has different needs even in Ohio.

O`DONNELL: If you can have a word with the president tonight about what you need in the infrastructure bill, what would it be?


WHALEY: Well, I think the most important thing that mayors would say and what I would say, Lawrence, is let`s get this done.

We have a unique opportunity right now where everyone is focused around infrastructure and we need to make sure that we deliver to the people of Dayton, to the people of Ohio and to the people of America.

We can do this and mayors stand ready both Democrats, Republicans and Independent mayors stand ready with the president to get this done.

O`DONNELL: Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio -- thank you very much for joining us tonight.

WHALEY: It`s a pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. We`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: To mark MSNBC`s 25th anniversary, "MSNBC DAILY" is featuring 25 days of essays on important issues.

The series began Monday with Rachel`s essay on American elections.

Today, Joy Reid writes about how our history informs our present.

And you can read my essay tomorrow about the last 25 years and the next 25 years at

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.