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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 7/22/21

Guests: Malcolm Kenyatta, Cliff Albright, Miguel Cardona, Kavita Patel, Zerlina Maxwell, Gerrit De Vynck, Ro Khanna


Democrats fight to protect right to vote, Republicans embrace Trump`s election lies. Schools are gearing up to reopen next few weeks just as COVID cases on the rise fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, and just as some states are seeing a troubling increase of COVID increase cases among children. The Delta variant now accounts for more than 83 percent of new COVID cases in the United States. Today House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy called the January 6th Select Committee`s investigation, quote, "a sham". Companies are tracking you and millions of others around the globe all the time using smart phone data.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Yeah, we`re going to do it the way we did in college, Rachel. What`s with going to sleep and waking up for 6:15? We`re going to watch THE LAST WORD, and then we`re going to watch "THE 11th HOUR" and then we`re going to watch Rachel again at midnight, then THE LAST WORD.

You know, we`re going to stay up. People are going to be wired for watching the opening ceremony and it`s going to be fun. It`ll be a bit of honest competition in our world, Rachel. We talk in politics a lot about competition and how so much of it is rigged. We`re going to watch honest competition for the next couple weeks and I`m excited about that.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": There`s a reason why we all love sports and it`s because we love meritocratic competition.


MADDOW: And that is what it is, and if there`s a reason we love it, and there`s no shame in that.

VELSHI: Have a good night. Rachel

MADDOW: Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: All right. Tonight, we are sounding the alarm. Now is the time to protect the right to vote. Everyone`s right to vote, not next, week know what`s the nonsense? And Texas is over, or the fraud-it in Arizona is done, if it`s ever going to be done-- not when the next election comes around, but in fact, now.

Each moment wasted is another moment for Republicans to stop more of us from exercising that right. And that`s how it`s going to go. In a brand-new report, the Brennan Center for Justice finds that just since the start of this year, 2021, 18 states have passed 30 laws to restrict voting access, 18. We`re only halfway through the year. You can bet more coming.

Last night, President Biden reiterated that he wouldn`t advocate for getting rid of or weakening the filibuster in order to pass voter protections. He said, and I quote, I want to make sure that we bring along not just all the Democrats, we bring along Republicans, who I know no better. They know better than this, end quote.

I`m sorry to tell you, Mr. President, but Republicans apparently do not know better. Just listen to yourself earlier this month.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To me, this is simple, this is with subversion. It`s the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history.


VELSHI: That`s a really good speech, at the National Constitution Center. He hit all the right points, except how to fix it, because Republicans don`t know better. Well, I don`t know, maybe they do know better, they just don`t care.

Case in point: "The Associated Press" reviewed more than 3 million ballots cast in Arizona and the 2020 presidential election and found 182 possible voter fraud cases under review. When anything looks on usual they say looks like a voter fraud.

Of the 182, only four have been charged. Four. Two registered Democrats, two registered Republicans. No one has been convicted. No votes in Arizona were vote counted twice.

But Republicans in the state, still after these months, are carrying a fake fraud-it in Maricopa County. It has not ended. They don`t know better.

You can knock down their election conspiracies over again even in the court of law as has been done, and they will still tell you that there is fraud. It is embarrassing, it is shameful. Republicans used to be afraid of shame, but now, the entire GOP says the quiet part out loud, shame be damned.

It`s why similar idiotic fake audits are being attempted in other states, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. They want to subvert the will of the people to stay in power. I`d like to wait for Republicans to wake up and do the right thing, but that isn`t going to happen, they don`t know better, Mr. President.

What they do know is that their efforts to keep voting safe are working. Not keeping voting safe, they`re just working to keep people away from ballots. More people in more states are going to find it harder to vote the next time they go to the polls because of voter security efforts by the GOP. And those people are, by and, large people of color, students, busy working moms.

So folks, Democrats have got to meet the moment but the moment demands. No half measures, no water down bills, Democrats must blow up the filibuster. Or if you`re a traditionalist and you kind of like the filibuster, just carve out an exception for the most important thing, voting reform.

I`m not some blind idealist. I don`t expect that this message will change the minds of Joe Manchin, and Kyrsten Sinema, or Joe Biden, but it should, and the alarm needs to be sounded by you as much as by me, over and over again.


If Senate Democrats eliminate the filibuster rule and passed the For the People Act, the right of all eligible Americans to vote will be protected. If they don`t, more Americans will find that right has been diminished. That might not seem obvious, today what is diminished? Either you have the right to vote or you don`t?

All across America, I can show what diminishing the right to vote actually means. It discourages people from voting. It intimidates them. It makes it hard for them to vote.

Some of you might really not get wet is so urgent about this moment. You might have never had a hard time voting, I never had a hard time voting. You`ve never been stopped at the polls.

But just because it doesn`t happen to you or to me doesn`t mean it should be happening to anyone in this country. It`s in the Constitution. You should be outraged for the people whose rights are being diminished.

And two, just because it hasn`t happened to you yet, doesn`t mean it cannot happen to you in the future. The right to vote, as we are learning, is not a given and if someone`s right to vote is curtailed or threatened, the overall will of the people is threatened.

So get up and sound the alarm like I am, this country has always, always tried to move toward a more perfect union. People have died for that. The least we can do is not stay quiet and let Republicans destroy that.

Heading off our discussion tonight are Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta. He`s running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. And Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter Fund. He`s the host of the podcast "Black Power Revisited".

Thanks to both of you for being here this morning.

Representative Kenyatta, you and I talked on Monday, and you made it clear. You sort of had a moment in which you said, let`s stop talking about the B.S. about this. Let`s stop tweeting about the John Lewis and all the great things about him, let`s get this done because there will not be another chance. If these states get away with what they are doing, that is the whole ball game.

STATE REP. MALCOLM KENYATTA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: You know, Ali, you said it very well in your lead up. We know exactly who Republicans are. We know exactly who the opponents to a free and fair elections are.

Now the question for each and every one of us is who are we? What are we willing to do in this moment? And I did say it earlier this week, it is not enough for us to lionize the civil rights heroes, the giants, who fought, bled, and died to get us to where we are.

We`ve written, about learned about their sacrifices. Now the question is, what are we willing to sacrifice? Democracy, requires something of us.

I gave a speech at Gettysburg talking about the moment that we find ourselves in, talking about the bloody battle that was fought and raged on that hollow ground to preserve the union, and now we have to, each, look in the mirror and ask what are we willing to risk to preserve the union for our kids and for grandkids.

You know, Cliff, Rashad, so many others were arrested protesting to ensure the right to vote. So many people have been standing up, putting their bodies on the line to ensure that this experiment in democracy sustains for the future.

And let`s be very clear, this isn`t -- this is an experiment. There is nothing written on the tablet somewhere that says America has to succeed. It`s succeeds because every time we see a new generation of people step up to call us higher, and if we are silent in this moment, if we think that this is some sort of movie wherever works out in the end, we will be sadly mistaken if we lose this fight.

I have zero faith, zero faith with in the arsonists that they are trying to burn our democracy. As we said, we need to get rid of the filibuster and get to work and preserve our union.

VELSHI: So, Cliff Albright, that`s been suggested. Jim Clyburn suggested it, saying you all can hang on to your filibuster for other things, but not for voting rights. But when Malcolm said you need to know who you are. You know who they are, the people who are trying to stop people from voting. You need to know who you are.

I have to say, for the average person, watching the show tonight, they think they`re an American citizen. They may think they voted Democrat. What do they do, what does success look like for the average person who should be outraged that one of their fellow citizens vote is being subjugated right now? What do they actually do?


I think, you know, folks have got to -- you know, there`s a saying, you got to cut the cost. They have to think of what the cost of this democracy, right, and what`s the risk? People have to get involved in all sorts of ways, there have been a lot of people doing phone calls and text messages and doing social media outreach and all of that.


But we are at a point now where the attacks against voting rights are a serious as President Biden said they were a week ago in his speech, very passionate, if it is accurate that it is at risk in the way that he said it, that this is the biggest risk to the civil war, then we`re going to have to do more than just direct action that when we have been doing. That is why led by sisters with a black woman last week who took action to the Hart Senate Office Building, to the Senate offices, and had a protest and got arrested, we did the same thing today because it is going to take that type of nonviolent direct action civil disobedience, unfortunately the same type of actions that we saw in the `60s leading up to the voting rights act before the for Voting Rights Acts were passed. We had to go through a voting rights movement in the black belt of Alabama and Mississippi. It`s going to take that kind of civil disobedience to get the voting rights we need now and to end the filibuster.

VELSHI: The civil rights activists like Dolores Huerta and other have said, it`s going to need that kind of movement. But, you know, back then, it was easy to get into that movement because you knew where the line was. You knew what broke the law walking into a colored place somewhere or sitting at a counter that was not allowed for what they called colored people at the time. All that could be done.

What does that civil resistance look like today, Malcolm Kenyatta? Should Americans of good conscience be prepared to do something that gets them arrested, to fill up the courts to make politicians understand that Americans will not let these things happen to them?

KENYATTA: There`s nothing more sacred and nothing that is more worth our sacrifice. I grew up in a Black Pentecostal Church saying don`t wait for your neighbor because your neighbor might be waiting for you. That is true right now as well.

Some folks are waiting around for somebody else to sound the alarm, for somebody else to step up. Cliff is absolutely right. We`ve seen so many black women in particular on the front lines of this movement. We can`t wait around for somebody else to sound the alarm, for somebody else to put their bodies on the line.

We have to be willing to do that. You know, I`m forever grateful for those Texas Democrats who their governor threatened arrest for them leaving the state. We have people who`ve been arrested for them leaving the state.

This is the only moment we have, the only moment we have. And if folks don`t step up, I don`t know what`s coming after this.

VELSHI: Cliff, President Biden had said that voters will show up again despite how hard you work to keep them back. I want your response on the other side.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, the American public, you can`t stop them from voting. They tried last time. More people voted last time than any time in American history in the middle of the worst pandemic in American history. More people did.


And they showed up. They`re going to show up again. They`re going to do it again.


VELSHI: So, Biden`s -- he`s relying on the idea that you can push, you can discourage, you can take out ballot boxes, you can take out 24-hour voting, you can take out mail-in voting, you cannot give people water in their 12- hour lines when they vote, but they will overcome. Do you believe him?

ALBRIGHT: No, I don`t. We`ve said it before. Not just me, but most of us that are in this space of organizing, electoral organizing. We cannot out- organize the levels of voter suppression that we`re seeing now.

It is insulting and unfair that the president would expect that in lieu of passing actual voting rights legislation that he`s going to count on us to do another herculean effort in order to overcome what is now historic levels of voting suppression bills, that weren`t even laws, that weren`t in place during the last cycle, but now will be in place.

We can`t out-organize that and we can`t out-litigate that. We need voting rights legislation and it cannot be sacrificed at the altar of the filibuster, right? We can`t on the one hand say voting rights are sacred and on the other hand, worship at the altar of the filibuster.

You can`t worship two gods, right? He`s got to pick a side. So, we cannot put that burden on the backs of community groups to have to organize.

Real quickly, just one example in Kansas, there was talk about right here in this network, a bill that says basically organizing groups cannot act like they`re elections officials, which is so vague, it can be interpreted as you can`t do voter registration because those organizations could literally face criminal penalties. You can`t out-organize that.

VELSHI: I think there`s a role for the president and for the executive branch, and I think as I`m hearing from you, there`s a role for every single one of us. We are in the next few days going to have to think about what that role is.


Everybody in America who believes in democracy has got to take this on as their own personal fight with people like you at the lead of it.

Thank you, Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta and Cliff Albright. We appreciate you kicking it off for us tonight.

Coming up, the American Rescue Plan authorized billions of dollars for COVID mitigation efforts in schools.

And with the delta variant on the rise, that vitally important to making sure kids can get back to school in this fall?

The United States Education Secretary Miguel Cardona joins me next.


VELSHI: Schools are gearing up to reopen a next few weeks just as COVID cases on the rise fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, and just as some states are seeing a troubling increase of COVID increase cases among children.

And North Carolina, where children are back in school, 15 percent of infections last week were in children 14 years in younger.

The American Academy of pediatrics just updated guidelines for schools that all individuals over 2 years old regardless of whether they`ve been vaccinated wear masks. That guidance is substantially stricter than what the CDC says which now recommends that individuals will over 2 must wear masks indoors only if they haven`t been vaccinated.

But the American Academy of Pediatricians and the CDC agree that schools must prioritize in-person learning. The academy says, quote, given what we know about low rates of in school transmission, when proper prevention measures are used, together with the availability of effective vaccines for those age 12 years and up, the benefits of in person school outweigh the risk in all circumstances.

Our next guest is the education secretary of the United States, Miguel Cardona. He`s been traveling the country. He`s advising schools on this very issue and he`s promoting the more than $122 billion in the American Rescue Plan that schools can use to improve ventilation systems.

Joining us now is the secretary of education, Miguel Cardona.

Secretary Cardona, very good to see you again.

I have to ask you -- that is tricky one because the federal Education Department has an ancillary role in the decisions made in schools, which tend to be state and local responsibilities. But you have guidance that you can offer and clarity that you can provide, and already we`ve got confusion between the CDC and the American physicians about something as basic as masks.

Here in New York City, I was somebody circulating a campaign, unmask our kids. So, the basic matter of masks and children going back to school is not yet resolved.


One thing we can agree on is that our students deserve to be in the classroom every day, all day in the fall. And I know that we`re gearing up for back to school, and the question of masks has come up.

So, you know, to me, we want our students in school, so requiring masks or having masks in our schools is just another mitigation strategy to get our students safely back into schools. As you said earlier, you know, school officials and health officials should be working together to make sure policies are put in place that get students in school.

This isn`t only about reducing transformation, while that`s the primary goal. It`s also about building confidence and sending children back to school.

VELSHI: So what role -- I just don`t want to have a re-go of last summer where everybody was saying something different to everybody else. Where do you stand and what will your department do to sort of say, hey, we`ll deal with some of the ventilation, big issue, serious issue in a lot of schools, water and ventilation, but this is how schools should look?

Are you in any position to offer that guidance or provide some baseline rules about schools?

CARDONA: Well, definitely. I mean, we know we want our schools to be safe environments for our students and our staff. And we know what works. We have a year`s worth of experience under our belts, a years` worth of science.

And, you know, in my experience, reopening schools in Connecticut, we know what works. We know when you layer on the mitigation strategies, you can have children going to school daily without spread. And that`s what we`re expecting. We want our students in school, we want the mitigation strategies followed, and we want to make sure the decisions are being left to the educators and the health experts who know their communities best.

VELSHI: So, we`re looking at neighbor states, according to the "Sun Sentinel" here. Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Vermont, all having passed legislation prohibiting school districts from enacting mask mandates. On the other hand, six states -- at least six states, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, Virginia and Washington will require masks for K-12 students. Who decides, or does everybody decide this on their own?

CARDONA: You know, what I`m noticing -- that`s a little bit different from last year, is that this has become too politicized. Last year, we found success when we allowed our school leaders and our health experts to make decisions, communicate with parents, build confidence and safely reopen our schools.

I think the more it becomes political, the more challenging it`s going to be for educational leaders who have worked extremely hard to safely reopen schools. And for educators who want to see students in the classrooms.

So let the decisions be on the shoulders of the educators and the health officials that did it last year and they`re prepared to do it again this year.

VELSHI: All right. Let`s talk about ventilation. You`ve actually got some money for that in the Relief Act. How is that being deployed and give us some examples of the kinds of things that -- how it`s identified as a problem and what gets done about it?

CARDONA: Thank you, Ali. So last year, we heard from parents, from educators that ventilation is a concern. We know the American Rescue Plan, $122 billion, as you mentioned, is out there and it could be used to address some of those safety needs around ventilation and air quality.

Tomorrow, I`ll be in Atlanta visiting a school that used the American Rescue Plan funds to improve ventilation systems and air quality and build confidence in the community.


But we also know that, you know, ventilation is a part of a bigger infrastructure issue, and the American Rescue Plan can be used to improve ventilation systems. But I visited schools as old as 130, 140 years old like in Philadelphia, and the idea of rebuilding our schools and making sure that we`re taking care of our infrastructure, our school infrastructure need is critically important.

In the Build Back Better agenda, $100 billion towards school infrastructure is critical to make sure that all students across the country have access to a high-quality learning environment so they can thrive. And that`s what we`re also talking about.

Short-term ventilation issues and air quality issues, the American Rescue Plan is helping with that. But infrastructure for our schools is a long- term issue.

VELSHI: What other infrastructure in school issues can that money go toward? I know you`ve identified ventilation, which may not have been at the top of everybody`s list except that we`ve had this pandemic. But what else? Once you get past ventilation, what are the big issues that schools need in terms of fixing?

CARDONA: You know, I visited schools that were so old that the windows were painted shut. I saw schools with poor air flow. I saw schools where closets were being used as work spaces. You know, we`re retrofitting a bit too much and putting students in schools that are very old.

If we want to prepare our students for the workforce of tomorrow, we need labs in our schools where students can learn hands on, state-of-the-art facilities where they can get the highest levels of learning to be successful in life.

Unfortunately, in my visits -- I visited 16 states over the last three months, I saw schools that were topnotch and brand-new, and then I saw schools that I wouldn`t want to send my own children.

So we have to do better and we have to make sure we look at infrastructure as equity also for our students.

VELSHI: Secretary, good to see you. Obviously, this is close to your roots because you have been involved in education, so you`re getting to look at this from a different perspective. Good to have you here. We hope you`ll join us again.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, thank you for joining us tonight.

Coming up, Dr. Kavita Patel joins us to talk about the new variants and how worried you should be.



VELSHI: The Delta variant now accounts for more than 83 percent of new COVID cases in the United States.

Here`s CDC director Rochelle Walensky earlier today.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Compared to the virus we had circulating initially in the United States at the start of the pandemic, the Delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains.

It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of and that I have seen in my 20-year career.


VELSHI: Joining us now is Dr. Kavita Patel, former White House health policy director in the Obama administration. She`s a physician and fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Dr. Patel, good to see you again. This is a treat. It`s the second time this week. But it`s never actually a treat when I`m talking to you two times in a week because it means something serious and bad is happening.

And that is Delta variant, which is spreading obviously among unvaccinated populations. But it`s spreading and doing damage within vaccinated populations.

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTTION: Yes, Ali. Good to be with you. I wish it were on a better topic or at least a topic of improvement.

Our cases are going up and obviously with that, hospitalizations and deaths are going up. And as you mentioned, there`s a spillover effect. It`s not just the kind of breakthrough infections that we`re talking about. We`re actually now seeing especially in frail elderly, we`re seeing these second kind of breakthrough infections, fully immunized people leading to hospitalizations and unfortunately deaths.

That`s not common, but we certainly have, like, a majority of the population that is still unvaccinated, that they`re susceptible. And as long as we don`t have that wall of immunity, Ali, we`re all eventually susceptible and I think we have to start understanding that as a population.

VELSHI: What is the correlation, scientific or otherwise, between a large unvaccinated population and those of us who are vaccinated getting infected?

PATEL: Yes. So in terms of kind of the correlation, essentially -- it almost -- it doesn`t nullify your immunization but it creates such a ripe environment for the virus to literally do what it`s supposed to do -- replicate, proliferate, mutate.

And with that is a series of mutations like we`re seeing in the Delta variant that can pose a threat to you, the individual, who is vaccinated.

And even more kind of important, I think, you were just talking with the secretary. Many of us are in these mixed households. So if I`m immunized but several of my children are not, then there is a serious high concentration of potential viral activity and potential threat to you, the parent who is immunized.

We`re seeing children spreading this much more efficiently. They don`t get as sick. They don`t go to the hospital as often, but I`m just going to offer you Ali, sending our children to the hospital is a pretty low bar. We should probably set a higher bar in protecting our kids, and that all goes back to what you talked about, getting more people vaccinated as adults who can.

VELSHI: I`ve been interviewing people who are remarkably patient. They go out into communities. They talk one-on-one, half an hour, 20 minutes, whatever -- they convince people to get the vaccine, which I think is great.

These people who are not getting vaccinated are threatening the rest of us. They are threatening people who are immunosuppressed. We are seeing high levels of death in infection and death among certainly immunocompromised communities in this country.

It is -- this behavior is actually killing other people. It`s now just a matter of you make your own choices. Is there anything that can happen maybe with full approval of these drugs that can allow places like the place I work -- I would like NBC to mandate that you don`t come to work if you`re not vaccinated.


VELSHI: That`s not the official policy of my company, but I`d very much like it to be the official policy of my company. Will making the drugs fully-approved change the ability to do that?

PATEL: I think it will change it, especially for employers. You`re in good company. I`m also in the same boat. I`m employed by a place that does not mandate the vaccine, even though I would love to see -- and I`m a health care worker -- I would love to see that. Full approval will help large employers. I really do also hope it helps the federal government.

We should have federal workers who are also critical workers themselves mandated and required. But I also do think, Ali, at the end of the day it`s not going to necessarily move the needle.

Here`s some good news, if I can give good news.

VELSHI: Do it.

DR. PATEL: We actually have seen an increase in vaccinations. We saw 600,000 vaccinations in the last 24 hours. It`s almost double from a week ago.

So I am hopeful that as we`re starting to see, you know, conservative media, figures who are influential that that can turn a little bit of the tide.

But to your point, it`s going to take some blunt policies.


DR. PATEL: Look at what Macron is doing in France. It`s going to take some hard truth for our country to accept this.

VELSHI: Because this is an ivory tower conversation we`re having, Kavita, in a country that has all the vaccine we need when there are triple digits of countries that have no vaccine.

DR. PATEL: Yes. I actually -- saddest thing, I have a wonderful medical assistant. Her family is all in El Salvador. We are throwing away doses that expire. And she begged me -- she begged me like could I give them to her.

And Ali, honestly, I thought about it. And that`s the state we`re in. We`re living in, you know, the five richest countries that have taken up almost half the vaccines, and the world is kind of burning around us and why should we care?

The only reason we`re talking about the continued threat of variants, they`re not just our unvaccinated population -- the world`s unvaccinated population. Some have estimated that just $50 billion of global investment could help to really scale the manufacturing force needed to give everyone one shot in the country. And I hope that`s a conversation we take more seriously.

VELSHI: I hope so too.

Kavita thanks. Good to see you. Kavita Patel is a physician. She`s a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Coming up, to hear Kevin McCarthy tell it, what we really should be focusing on when it comes to investigating the insurrection at our nation`s Capitol is Nancy Pelosi`s member selection process.



VELSHI: Today House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy called the January 6th Select Committee`s investigation, quote, "a sham". Kevin McCarthy helped sabotage the bipartisan 9/11-style commission that would have investigated the insurrection. He picked unserious pushers of election conspiracies to be part of the Select Committee.

But sure, it`s a sham because of Nancy Pelosi. It`s obvious why Kevin McCarthy is pulling this political stunt. He`s actually afraid of what the committee is going to find. After all, before the first hearing was even held, we learned that Trump thought the insurrection was an act of love.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a loving crowd too, by the way. There was a lot of love.


VELSHI: A lot of love? Pretty clear that McCarthy wants to avoid more horrific comments like that from coming out.

Here`s Speaker Pelosi earlier today.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It was not all love, hugs, and kisses. This is deadly serious. This is about our constitution. It`s about our country. It`s an assault on the Capitol that is being mischaracterized for some reason at the expense of finding the truth for the American people who are there to seek the truth.

We`re there to get the truth, not to get Trump. T-r-u -- truth.


VELSHI: Speaker Pelosi said this in defense of her decision to reject two of Kevin McCarthy`s unserious picks to the Select Committee.


PELOSI: These people are going to act up, cause a problem, and people said to me, put them on and then when they act up, you can take them off. I said, why should we waste time on something as predictable?

It is my responsibility as Speaker of the House to make sure we get to the truth on this, and we will not let their antics stand in the way of that.


VELSHI: Joining us now is Zerlina Maxwell, the host of the program, "Zerlina" which airs on P peacock. But before that, a good friend of mine who used to be with me on this show an awful lot and another good friend of ours, Jonathan Alter, a columnist for the "Daily Beast" and an MSNBC political analyst. He`s the author of his very best "Jimmy Carter: A Life". Thanks to both of you for being here.

Zerlina, I just talked to Kavita Patel who said the good news is there are pockets of Americans who are getting vaccinated. They had been stuck and they`re moving because remarkable conservatives in this country are getting their vaccines.

Steve Scalise on Saturday decided to get his vaccine after being skeptical about the whole operation. Hannity talked about taking this virus very seriously. He also did say, though -- he stopped short. He said I`m not urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine because I`m not a doctor. That`s not what I said. I said to take it seriously, it can kill you. Because God forbid, you overstep and tell people to get a vaccine that might save their lives.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, RADIO HOST: Ali, at the end of my show every single day, I say please go out and get your vaccine. And the reason why I say that is because it`s the way that we as Americans can do our civic duty in this moment.

The public health moment requires all of us to do our part and, in so many ways, you know, we always talk about American exceptionalism and we love to think that we`re part of this American team. But essentially a lot of us are coming up short in terms of our responsibility to our neighbors.


MAXWELL: And I think certainly when you see people increasing their level of vaccinations and going out to get those vaccinations. Now that the Delta variant is the dominant variant in the country in all 50 states I think that shows that people are starting to take this more seriously.

But it`s a little bit too late. There are so many people`s lives who`ve been shattered, not just the ones that were lost but also the family members and the extend family members of all of those families and communities. And so I do not think that Republicans can change their tune now and get too much credit. But it`s good that they finally decided to listen to the scientists, like the rest of us.

VELSHI: Some of them did. So in Florida there`s still this "Get Fauci Out of Florida" campaign that`s going on, even though Ron DeSantis seems to have softened his view a little bit on the whole operation.

A guy named Madison Cawthorn, representative, was having an interview. He was having an interview with the former Trump lawyer, Jenna Ellis, you`ll remember her. She was one of that group of three who was holding those press conferences after the election.

Here`s what they were talking about with respect to Fauci.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): We wanted to prosecute this guy to the full ability of the law because I`ll tell you, to lie to the American people just to get your name in the news, just to see your face on the cover of books, just to get fame and fortune, I`ll tell you, Dr. Anthony Fauci does not deserve either fame or fortune.


VELSHI: I don`t know what to do with that, Jonathan Alter. I mean we`ve been interviewing Fauci for -- I`ve been interviewing him for over a decade. This is not a fame and fortune seeking guy.

I don`t even know what Madison Cawthorn is talking about. But it is this -- the talking points have taken control of the message.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I put it a little more strongly than Zerlina. Madison Cawthorn has blood dripping from his hands. So do all those who have gone on TV and chosen their ratings over the lives of the American people.

Those politicians who have chosen appealing to the base over the lives of the American people. The Republican Party is a blood-soaked party -- full stop.

This might sound rather dramatic, but we`ve already lost more than 600,000 Americans. And just in the time that they have been suggesting to people that they don`t need to be vaccinated, an awful lot more Americans have died.

The only people who are dying of this disease at this point are those who are unvaccinated. Some are getting infected, even if they`ve been vaccinated. But it is no longer a fatal disease if you have been vaccinated.

And the fact that they are not accepting this and explaining to their people is the height of irresponsibility. It`s one of the most irresponsible moments in all of American history when we have a good cure, and people for political reasons won`t tell them to save their own lives.

VELSHI: Not particularly sure, Zerlina, what the political gain is. I wouldn`t have though -- when we`re picking sides, I wouldn`t have thought, hey that`s a good side. Let`s go with the anti-maskers or anti-vaxxers.

MAXWELL: Well, not only that, Ali, I never thought that people would put, you know, politics over their own personal safety. Like, I didn`t think people would march off of the cliff with the Republican Party and the Republican Party would march off of the cliff with Donald Trump. But that`s the place that we`re in. And I think that`s the part that is the scariest.

We`re post-insurrection. We are post-2020. And so we know what this movement is capable of. And so I think that we all have to take, as Nancy Pelosi said, all of this deadly seriously because you have the pandemic raging and then you also have the threat of potentially more violence because they still won`t tell the truth about the election.

So they lie about the science. They lie about the election. And I really would just like to get back to a place where we can all agree that Joe Biden won the election and that COVID is real and that these vaccines work. And then we can move on from there.

VELSHI: All right. We`re going to move on from this conversation.

Stay there because we`re going to keep you around for another conversation right after this -- Zerlina and Jonathan.

Up next, some conservatives say they`re worried about a microchip in a vaccine. Wait until you find out what can be done using the data from your smart phone, next.



VELSHI: Companies are tracking you and millions of others around the globe all the time using smart phone data. The vacation photos you post, the questions you enter into search engines, your location histories, even the movies you stream online.

Businesses use all of that information to better market products and deals and politicians frankly to you. Or it can be used to target you. A Catholic sub-stack obtained data signals from the location based Grindr app. This sub-stack then used this information to track a phone belonging to or used by Monsignor Jeffrey Burl -- an executive officer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Just before Pillar (ph) published its story Burl resigned.

So how did the sub stack get this information? Its own report describes the process sounding like a "Black Mirror{" episode. And a warning, quote, "commercially available app signal data does not identify the names of app users but instead correlates a unique numerical identifier to each mobile device using particular apps.

Signal data connected by apps after users consent to data collection is aggregated and sold by data vendors. It can be analyzed to provide time- stamped location data and usage information for each numbered device.

After users consent to data collection, how many times have you done that to make those pop ups go away?


VELSHI: In a statement to the "Washington Post" on Tuesday, a Grindr spokeswoman said, quote, "The alleged activities listed in that unattributed blog post are infeasible from a technical standpoint and incredibly unlikely to occur. There`s absolutely no evidence supporting the allegation of improper data collection or usage related to the Grindr app as purported."

Now what we do know is that the apps on our phones collect personal information about their users, about us. According to the "Harvard Business Review" collecting and selling data is estimated to be a $200 billion business. But there are no federal laws in the United States restricting the collection or the use of location data.

Joining us now are Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He`s a member of the House Oversight Committee. And Gerrit De Vynck, technology reporter for "The Washington Post".

Welcome to both of you.

Gerrit, let me start with you. What`s the problem to be solved here in the story that I`ve told? We all understand that we don`t have laws to control these things. And we all have options to opt out of certain data collection and seems like none of us use that option.

GERRIT DE VYNCK, TECHNOLOGY REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I mean we have the option, but the option is really stop using your smart phone. And that`s really not an option for most Americans.

You know, this is just the world that we live in at this point and to put it back on the consumer to say oh it`s our fault that we`re being tracked. That our data is being collected by dozens of companies, this isn`t just Google and Facebook.

It`s, you know, any app on your phone can be selling some of that data and they anonymize it. But that doesn`t mean that that anonymous data can then be combined with other data sets, sliced and diced by other companies and then sold on and used as it was in this case to identify specific people doing specific things.

VELSHI: Congressman Khanna, how do you manage this? How do you propose the idea that the government does get involved in regulation of this in a sophisticated way without, you know, without crushing industries that are probably pretty good and useful to people.

But this isn`t what it`s designed for, right? We`re not supposed to -- people are not supposed to be using Grindr so that they can be outed.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Ali, first of all this shows that this isn`t some technical issue. What happened to this priest is deeply scary and offensive. It`s what (INAUDIBLE) surveillance capitalism. Basically you can use data to expose people, to manipulate them, to threaten them.

This is why we need an Internet bill of rights that has clear, informed consent which informs people you have to opt in, not requiring you to opt out.

It`s why we need to have data minimization. You shouldn`t be allowed to collect data that`s not necessary. And the consent shouldn`t just be for collecting the data. It should apply to anyone who uses the data.

We know what we need to do, it`s just that Congress frankly hasn`t acted. Europe has acted with the GDPR. We haven`t acted.

VELSHI: I want to just show some polls to you both. The Morning Consult did a poll that said should Congress prioritize privacy legislation among Americans: 83 percent yes, 8 percent no, 9 percent no opinion. Morning Consult did another poll about that in which it`s 86 percent yes, 6 percent no, and 8 percent no opinion amongst Democrats.

Then they asked Republicans. It`s not that far off. 81 percent of Republicans say yes, 12 percent say no, 7 percent have no opinion.

This is bipartisan, but Gerrit, do we know what good legislation looks like? It`s been tried -- California has got some legislation. Europe`s got some legislation. Europe`s done more thinking about this than we have.

Do we know how you get good legislation that allows you to use your phone the way you want to use it but doesn`t let people manipulate your data?

DE VYNCK: Yes. I mean there`s a ton of proposals out there. I mean Europe has had privacy regulation for a couple years now. I think a lot of people would say that it maybe hasn`t been quite as effective as, you know, people wanted it to be.

I think really the problem is that we just sort of, you know, created this situation where commercially we`re used to using a lot of things for free. And the way that that`s funded has been through advertising.

And so you might download a weather app and say oh, like this is just to see what the weather is in my area is. Of course I`m going to share my location with them so that I can see what the weather in my area is.

But in those terms of service that you agree to they`re taking that location data and selling it to the data broker that is then selling it on to someone else. And that`s how that weather app is making money and that is provided to you free. So that whole system would have to change.

VELSHI: Congressman Khanna, it does seem that there`s bipartisan support for this. Is there some meaningful legislation that can tackle this? The hearings we`ve had on social media and the Internet have not been all that fulfilling recently.

KHANNA: Oh, there is. I mean this was originally after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. We go them in Congress five years and we have the Internet bill of rights almost 3.5 years ago. Every six months they tell me the Energy and Commerce Committee is going to come up with privacy legislation. They haven`t done it, and it`s because there are a lot of special interests that are involved.

And Gerrit is absolutely right that Europe`s legislation wasn`t effective. I represent Silicon Valley. Let me tell you what these tech companies did, they created dark patterns to get people to consent.


KHANNA: So basically they have screens that were brighter and boxes that forced people to check. So we need to beef up the technological competency of our regulatory agency. Right now the tech companies are running circles around Congress and around the regulators.

VELSHI: Thanks to both of you for this important conversation. Congressman Ro Khanna and Gerrit De Vynck. You`ve got tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" begins right now.