Senate voted to advance infrastructure bipartisan bill, 17 GOP senators, including Mitch McConnell, joined Democrats. President Donald Trump calls his acting attorney general nearly every day at the end of last year to alert him to claims of voter fraud or alleged improper vote counts in the 2020 election. Donald Trump found a new way to lose in the Senate today in the infrastructure vote and he found a new way to lose in Texas last night.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali.
And we have big news out the Senate tonight. The bipartisan vote was much bigger than many of us expected, many more Republicans joining. A total of 18 Republicans supporting the bill, the one absent senator -- yeah, the one absent senator was a Republican who supports the bill.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Oh, okay.
O`DONNELL: Seventeen Republican Senate votes on the Senate floor, but 18 in reality already there, including Mitch McConnell.
VELSHI: You remember the days there were big votes in the Senate like that, these days I was talking to Senator Tester and I said, unless you`re naming a post office, you are doing something completely noncontroversial, it`s unheard of these days to get 18 people joining with Democrats. So, it`s quite something.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, it really is. I saw your interview with Jon Tester and his confidence and his confidence throughout this process is one of the beacons that I kept my eye on because he`s very realistic about what the possibilities are. He`s not somebody who, you know, throws around a lot of false optimism.
O`DONNELL: He is one of the keys for me on watching it get this far. It`s not all the way there but this vote is a huge hurdle for the bill to get over.
VELSHI: I`m looking forward to your show tonight, Lawrence. Have a good one.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Ali.
Well, as I say, the Senate delivered a huge vote tonight, a huge win, very important, huge win for Joe Biden in the Senate tonight. It was also a huge win for Chuck Schumer`s legislative strategy in the Senate, of passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill followed by a larger Democrats-only bill, and at the very same time, this part was completely unnecessary and he brought it on himself but at the very same time, it was a humiliating and crushing defeat for Donald Trump.
Any real movement on infrastructure legislation was going to in effect be a humiliation of the Trump presidency`s complete failure on infrastructure and its repeated pretending that they were going to have an infrastructure week, but Donald Trump actually found a way to make tonight`s humiliation much more devastating for himself, by actively intervening in the bipartisan negotiations something no ex-president before him ever did.
Former presidents stay out of legislation, but because Donald Trump constantly reaches for new levels of imbecility and because he seethes with jealousy at Joe Biden`s ability to do what he could never do, Donald Trump decided to threaten the Republicans who were negotiating with Democrats and Joe Biden on infrastructure. On Monday, he called them, quote, weak fools and losers. And based on experience with how much Republican senators feared Donald Trump in the past, we had reason to suspect that Donald Trump would be able to scare off some Republicans from cooperating with Democrats.
Here`s the amazing thing. Instead of pulling one or two senators away and ruining the 60-vote threshold on this, the amazing thing is, in fact, since Donald Trump started threatening those Republicans, the number of Republicans supporting the bipartisan infrastructure bill doubled. That`s right. It doubled. It doubled to 18, including Mitch McConnell, who voted for proceeding to the bipartisan Biden infrastructure bill.
Mitch McConnell stood on the Senate floor and defied Donald Trump today. The final vote was 67-32, 17 Republicans voted for the bipartisan bill. And as I said, the one senator who was absent Republican Mike Braun also actually supports the bipartisan bill.
In a celebratory bipartisan press conference after the vote, Republican Mitt Romney said this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Some time ago, Ted Kennedy made a line of celebration like this and I`ll use it. He said something of this nature, he said, I will apply it this way, when Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell vote for the same bill, you know one thing, one of them hasn`t read it. But in fact, in fact, both of them have. Both of them have been very involved. We`ve let them know what`s going on in this process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney is first time legislator. Almost all of the senators who negotiated this bipartisan bill had never really legislated before in the United States Senate because the leadership of both parties in the Senate have taken all legislative powers away from most senators.
None of the committee chairman have the kind of power they used to have. So senators are not experienced legislatures any more. It is wrong to use the word legislature only to mean the people who are elected to positions in legislative bodies. The reality is the staff, the Senate and house do most of the real legislating and know ten times more about it than the elected officials, they are in every sense legislators.
The most experienced legislator in that sense in these negotiations is Steve Ricchetti, an adviser to President Biden who has been managing complex negotiation from the White House for Democrats since the Clinton presidency. Much of my confidence in the possibility of a successful bipartisan negotiation and vote in the Senate on infrastructure has been based on my personal knowledge of the skill set Steve Ricchetti brings to this work. When I was working in the Senate, I worked with Steve Ricchetti when he was in the White House and watched him masterfully handle the tensions and technical difficulties of complex legislative packages.
With Ron Klain as the White House chief of staff and Joe Biden as president, the Biden-Klain-Ricchetti team is unmatched in the history of White House legislative experience.
Republican Senator Ron Portman did the standard thing tonight, the traditional thing in these situations, by thanking people in the other party and in the White House who he had been working with, but this time -- this time he knew with every word he spoke tonight he was defying Donald Trump, who just this morning threatened the Republican senators again this time calling them, quote, weak, foolish and dumb.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): We worked very closely with the White House on this. And in fact, Senator Sinema and I have been negotiating with the White House in addition to our colleagues and I want to thank them. I want to thank Steve Ricchetti in particular who has taken the lead for the White House, also Brian Deese and President Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And then this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PORTMAN: I`m very pleased with our ability tonight to move on to legislation and continue to demonstrate that.
SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): One question. It is the White House calling, so I need to get going. It`s Steve. I shouldn`t answer while we`re here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Steve Ricchetti never stops calling even when the deal is done. President Joe Biden was in Pennsylvania today at a Mac truck factory when he got the word that they had a deal and this the Senate would vote tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You may have heard that in Washington, I was just on the phone, looks like they reached a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure, fancy word for bridges, roads.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Transit systems, high-speed Internet, clean drinking water, cleaning and capping the orphan wells, over thousands of them abandoned, and abandoned mines, and modern resilient electric grid to build.
I`m working with Democrats and Republicans to get this down because while there`s a lot we don`t agree on, I believe we should be able to work together on the few things we do agree on. I think it`s important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In just one tweet, Bloomberg`s Jennifer Epstein captured everything that no one working in the Trump White House ever knew about how legislation gets done.
Quote, Biden administration`s engagement on infrastructure since June 28th, White House Office of Legislative Affairs had at least 330 meetings and calls with members of Congress and their top aides. Jobs cabinet secretaries had 100 with numbers, since jobs plan release on March 30th, 998 legislative affairs meetings and calls.
And leading off our discussion tonight is someone who was in dozens of those meetings and made dozens of those calls, Cedric Richmond, White House senior adviser and the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Thank you very much for joining us Mr. Richmond. Really appreciate it.
CEDRIC RICHMOND, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: When did you get the word that there was a deal and was there any point where your confidence had become shaky about this?
RICHMOND: No. Through the whole process, look ago the people who were involved including the bipartisan group of senators, but also the president. I think I was on one of the stations couple weeks ago and said people continue to under estimate President Biden and he continues to deliver. And it`s really because he has such an intentional team.
So, you talk about Steve Ricchetti, and you have to talk about Anita Dunn and Ron Klain and Louisa Terrell, also along with Brian Deese and Susan Rice.
I mean, the thing that is so special he says let`s keep our head down, do the work, we don`t have to grand stand, we don`t have to beat our chest. Let`s just deliver for the American people. So, it`s the same thing we did with vaccines, getting them shots in the arms. It`s the same thing we`re going to do with the infrastructure and then go to the family plan and we`re going to keep waking up every day to make people`s lives better.
O`DONNELL: One thing that I know the president does and I know the real pros in legislation do is they ignore the things that are said by people they`re negotiating with when those things aren`t particularly helpful or seem to be in conflict. And, you know, not surprisingly, a few weeks down the road, that thing that seems to be in conflict disappears.
I`m going to raise all those issues tonight, it may be one of those things that has made to disappear overtime, but it`s Senator Sinema who issued a written statement to an Arizona newspaper, senator referring to the other track of infrastructure legislation the Democrats-only bill that will go through reconciliation. She said about that, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion.
Now, that`s kind of odd because all Democrats, including Senator Sinema, had a celebration with President Biden when that $3.5 billion deal was agreed to by the Senate Budget Committee members.
What is your reaction to what Senator Sinema had to say tonight?
RICHMOND: Look, we find Senator Sinema to be thoughtful, to be very deliberate about what she`s doing. But also, this is the legislative process, this is sausage-making process. So a lot of times, you just can`t -- people will make their positions known but that`s why it is called legislating.
I think what President Biden is doing is showing the real art of making the deal. And so, yes, we read the statement. We take Senator Sinema at her word, but this is word but this is a long process and this indicates where she is at this moment.
So, every statement is a snap shot in time. And we look forward to continue to work with her. She played a very important role in this bipartisan deal and we expect her to play a big role in the Families Plan as we invest in the human infrastructure and the American people.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Senator Schumer tonight after this big procedural win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: My goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure -- both -- my goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period. Both. It might take some long nights, it might eat into our weekends, but we are going to get the job done, and we are on track. Again, the vote tonight means we`re on track to reach our two-track goal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What is so interest being that is Senator Schumer has said that from the start and yet there came a point few weeks ago where some Republicans acted as if they were surprised when senator Schumer said that again after the bipartisan deal was first agreed to at the White House with the president. And so that`s one of those examples of -- what I would just call noise in the legislative process where those Republicans pretended that they didn`t know there was a second track. And now, tonight, it`s completely noncontroversial that there`s a second track and there`s 18 senators, Republican senators supporting the bipartisan deal.
RICHMOND: This is legislating as it best. This is presidential leadership at its best. This is what the American people tell me as I travel the country.
Where you agree with Republicans, agree, get it done. Move on. In the places where you don`t agree, go fight about it.
So we agree on this historic investment on infrastructure in this country, removing lead service lines going to our schools and homes. Historic investment in Amtrak. But we may not agree on the investment in people, adding four years of free education so we can win the future.
But where you agree, get it done for the country. And where you disagree, go fight. Now, we have every intention of winning the fight and President Biden has won every fight so far.
So we feel good about it. But this is what people want. Get together. Make progress. And where you don`t agree go hash it out.
So, we`re going to hash it out on the families plan. We`re going to take our case to the American people why it`s important to invest in them and their future and the care economy and clean energy. All of those things are just as important as the physical infrastructure. And we`re going to make the case for it and we feel good about it.
O`DONNELL: Senator Richmond, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. Always appreciate it.
RICHMOND: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And joining us now is E.J. Dionne, opining columnist for "The Washington Post" and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
And I need someone in the senior ranks of the press corps who has seen everything, E.J., in order to discuss what we`re seeing tonight, because I had a lot of confidence that the vote was going to get over 60 because of the players involved who I know and who you can tell from the grandstand are really expert at what they`re doing. But I would not have predicted to you 67 votes on the Senate floor and one of them was going to be Mitch McConnell. And actually another Republican who was absent would have brought it to 68.
E.J. DIONNE, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah. No, this was really striking. I got to say, I hope Donald Trump is watching your show tonight because I think he through a shoe at the television set when Cedric Richmond said President Biden is showing the real art of making a deal. He was the one who claimed he could make a deal, Biden is the guy who can.
And I too never expected it to get this high. I think both of us thought this was going to pass. And the reason we thought it was going to pass is, A, the strategy made sense. You can`t get the moderates to vote for a big bill, but you can`t pass the bipartisan bill if you don`t pass the big bill to get the progressives. And there`s going to be a lot of back and forth between them but they`re going it get there.
The person I thought of tonight if I could just do a shout out to someone no longer with us is a congressman called Steve LaTourette who I interviewed him a couple years before he died. He was pretty conservative but he was old-fashioned. He liked roads, bridges and transit, and he said he quit Congress because we couldn`t pass a transportation bill anymore.
I would love to be able to call Steve LaTourette and say, guess what, they are passing a big transportation bill. And I think you`re seeing something bigger than just one bill. You`re seeing a real shift away from the view that government can`t to any good any more.
I think that comes straight out of the pandemic where both parties realized you had to spend a heck of a lot of money to get us out of that mess.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump quadrupled the size of his humiliation in this. This morning, just this morning, he said in a written statement, if this deals happens lots of primaries will be coming your way. So that means about six or seven in 2022, Donald Trump has to tonight start recruiting Republican primary challengers to about seven of these Republican senators depending how many decide to run for election, who are up in 2022.
And yet they knew that. They saw every word Donald Trump said and they went out there and defied Donald Trump tonight and they did it in large numbers. And Mitch McConnell`s vote, by the way, one thing that occurred to me, one reason for his vote is not just getting the bridge in Kentucky that he desperately needs but also protecting his members who have been threatened by Donald Trump to show that the actual Republican leader of the Senate is on board with this bill also at this stage, anyway.
DIONNE: You suggested something at the beginning, Lawrence, that I agree with which is I think the intervention helped the Democrats put this together. Couple days ago, I got a text from a top Democratic aide who said will the Republicans follow Donald Trump? Or will they try to make a deal?
And I think this might be significant. You know, Donald Trump will have a lot of power in that party. There are a lot of Republican rank and file who will vote with Donald Trump.
But I think Republicans are starting to realize that a very close relationship with this man could really hurt them, especially among swing voters in the suburbs and now even among some of his working class supporters who basically like transportation bills. They like building roads.
They like the jobs that are involved here.
And then I also think McConnell may have been persuaded by the idea if they`re going to attack the bill, they better not be complete constructionist. So, maybe their full obstruction strategy also died tonight
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
DIONNE: Great to be with you. Thanks.
O`DONNELL: And coming up, we`ll be joined by Congresswoman Susan Wild who was with President Biden in her congressional district in Pennsylvania what he got the word the Senate reached a deal on infrastructure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: When I put my hand on that bible on January 20th, took the oath of office, I made a commitment to the American people, we`re going to change the paradigm, so working people can have a fighting chance again, to get a good education, to get a good job and a raise, to take care of that elderly parent and afford to take care of their children.
And stop losing hours and lives stuck in traffic because the streets are crumbling. The waiting for slow, spotty Internet to connect them to the world. That`s what the economy we`re building is all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Our next guest, Democratic Congresswoman Susan Wild, represents the Pennsylvania district where President Biden spoke today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I want to thank Congresswoman Wild for the passport into her district. Where are you?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
There you are.
You`ve been a tireless champion for the working men and women of the Lehigh Valley, helping us pass the tax cut for families with children, people are seeing now in their bank accounts, showing up in their bank accounts, every month, and working with our administration to expand home care for seniors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Susan Wild of Pennsylvania.
And we want to begin with this photograph of you in the presidential limousine, riding with the president and Pennsylvania`s governor, Tom Wolf. You`re on the way to the Mack Truck plant in Macungie, Pennsylvania.
The president was at the plant or was he -- did he get the phone call from Steve Ricchetti or Ron Klain in the car? On the way to the plant, telling him about the bipartisan agreement in the Senate?
REP. SUSAN WILD (D-PA): I believe he got it when he got out of the car and before he started his remarks. There was a brief of time where I wasn`t with him. I think he got the phone call then. I was receiving text from colleagues in Washington at about the same time telling me we had a deal.
So, when he came out and announced it, it was great news.
O`DONNELL: So, this deal, actually, 32 Republicans in the Senate, but only 32 this time, voted against everything you try to accomplish at the Mack Truck`s factory today, that there`s an industry and factory that depends totally on the quality of the infrastructure that those trucks roll out over every day across this country.
And -- but it does look like this bipartisan bill is on track.
What`s your reaction from the perspective of the House of Representative what`s happened in the Senate today?
WILD: I am absolutely delighted. It was great news. It got a huge cheer from the audience today when the president announced it. I think it`s really remarkable, you mentioned 32 Republicans senators who voted against it. But on the other hand, we know that 17 voted for it, so it was the best example of bipartisan we`ve seen in a while.
A week ago, we were afraid this deal was almost dead. So I was thrilled it`s going to be -- infrastructure will do a world of good for districts like mine.
O`DONNELL: And what about the reconciliation package that is being put together in the Senate Budget Committee, also will be done in the House Budget Committee. That will be an even larger infrastructure package. How does that look tonight in relation to this bipartisan deal?
WILD: I know that there are senators who have stated that they wouldn`t vote for it. All I can say to that is we`ve come a long way in just a week. I think that the power of discussion and negotiation, compromise which sometimes seems like a lot of art in Washington, it has been resurrected and I think we`re going to be able to get to the point where we can get this thing across the finish line and have a very resounding vote in favor of both the infrastructure package and ultimately the reconciliation package.
It may not look like it does right now. It may not have everything in it that people want, that`s the whole point of compromise and negotiation.
O`DONNELL: You`re in one of those districts that you face a lot of Republican voters every day. You got to talk to them. You represent them.
What is their sense of -- that you`re getting from them about the job that President Biden is doing so far?
WILD: I am overwhelmingly getting a very good sense from my constituents, people who quite honestly have been really happy with the steady hand that he`s brought to the administration.
That we have gotten so much done in just a few short months. There have been people in my district that have approached me about their small businesses, restaurants -- but not just restaurants -- a lot of smaller businesses out there that have said that they were on the brink of closure.
And the work that has been done by the president and by Congress in getting the American Rescue Plan across the finish line has been a game changer.
So I am overwhelmingly hearing positive remarks from people. Very much in line with the president`s goal numbers which have been pretty steady.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOSTA; I know some of what you went through on January 6th in the attack on the Capitol you have talked about it. Congressman Crow has talked about his experience with you. In fact there`s a photograph we have of Congressman Jason Crow with you and comforting at the time of what seemed like the most dangerous period of the attack on the Capitol.
What was your reaction to the testimony that we heard yesterday from the police officers who defended you and saved you on that day?
WILD: You know, like so many Americans I watched yesterday -- I watched as much as I could. We had a lot of committee work going on at the same time.
I was mesmerized by what I heard. And the thing that really came home to me during their testimony was how close we members of Congress were to grievous bodily harm and how they literally saved the day for us.
So notwithstanding the picture that you just showed and how that day effected me, I have so much gratitude for these officers, for all of the Capitol police and for the D.C. Metropolitan police who really saved us and prevented harm to the members of Congress, that quite honestly, many of those terrorists as they were called by one of the policemen were there to inflict.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Susan Wild, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
WILD: Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: And coming up, we have breaking news from "The Washington Post" tonight about daily phone calls -- daily calls that Donald Trump was making to his last acting attorney general trying to get him to overturn the election. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from "The Washington Post tonight". Quote, "President Donald Trump calls his acting attorney general nearly every day at the end of last year to alert him to claims of voter fraud or alleged improper vote counts in the 2020 election according to two people familiar with the conversations. The personal pressure campaign which has not previously been reported involved repeated phone calls to acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen in which Trump raised various allegations he had heard about and asked what the Justice Department was doing about the issue.
Rosen told few people about the phone calls, even in his inner circle. But there are notes of some of the calls that were written by a top aide to Rosen, Richard Donoghue, who was present for some of the conversations, these people said. Donoghue`s notes could be turned over to Congress in matter of days."
Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California. She is the chair of the House Administrations Committee which held a hearing today on election subversion.
Congresswoman Lofgren, your reaction to this "Washington Post" reporting tonight.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, it`s in keeping with many of the other reports we`ve had about the president`s efforts to try and subvert the election, frankly, and we will certainly, I`m sure in the Select Committee want to know more about that.
O`DONNELL: You`re on the January 6th committee that held a hearing yesterday. You`re investigating what led up to the attack on the Capitol as well as everything that happened that day.
O`DONNELL: But the question of what led up to it is rather broad. It is not exactly clear where that boundary is. Were these phone calls to the attorney general part of what led up to what happened on January 6th?
LOFGREN: Well, we`ll find out. We`re going to follow the facts where`s they lead us. You know, as one of the officers said yesterday, you know, a hitman was sent.
We need to find out who sent the hitman. How did this happen? How was it organized? What motivated it? Who funded it? And the like. And so we will have a broad inquiry and follow the facts and find the truth.
O`DONNELL: There is some written testimony now that we`re looking at tonight that former Acting Attorney General Rosen gave to Congress in May. And it now just has a lot more between the lines as we read it.
And this is what he said in writing. "During my tenure no special prosecutors were appointed, whether for election fraud or otherwise. No public statements were made questioning the election. No letters were sent to state officials seeking to overturn the election results. And no Department of Justice court actions or filings were submitted seeking to overturn election results."
And as we read that now we are left to wonder, are those the specific things that Donald Trump asked him to do every day? And he`s putting in writing that he didn`t do them without -- at that point anyway, telling us that those were actually being requested of him all the time.
LOFGREN: Well, we`ll find out the answer to that. You know, those statements it`s like, well, of course not, because none were warranted. But perhaps it was as you`ve suggested really an outline of what he was refusing to do at the president`s request. Rather than speculate we will find out the answer.
I also, as you know, today we had a hearing in the House Administration Committee which I chair, another aspect of the violence that is being used to try to subvert our system of democracy and that is the violence that`s being directed at regular election officials who are being threatened with guns.
We heard from the election official, local election official in Maricopa County who described a scene that was quite similar to January 6th, except they didn`t actually invade the counting center.
So we have a pattern here of subversion of the electoral system that we need to take very seriously.
O`DONNELL: And Republican legislatures including Georgia`s for example, and Texas have been trying to formalize into their state laws what Donald Trump was trying to do over the phone with the attorney general by basically being able to change the outcome after the vote count, that`s what they`re trying to put into some of these laws. Your hearing today was addressing something of that.
LOFGREN: Yes, so we have a bill that would preclude some of what the states are doing to replace the local election officials who are, you know, just counting the ballots. I mean, this has not been something that has been high profile. This has been a boring activity for centuries where you just count the ballots.
Now partisans are seeking apparently to take over this function and to skew the results. We can`t let that happen and this bill would prevent it.
We had a hearing today that was very helpful but chilling as well. Because although the registrars and election officials didn`t engage in hand-to- hand combat like our brave officers testified about yesterday, they are facing off with armed militants who are seeking to subvert the electoral process. Can`t let that happen.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
LOFGREN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump found a new way to lose in the Senate today in the infrastructure vote and he found a new way to lose in Texas last night.
Maria Teresa Kumar and Professor Eddie Glaude will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump lost big in the Senate today when the Biden bipartisan infrastructure bill moved forward with 17 Republican senators defying Donald Trump`s threats against them when they voted to proceed to the bill.
And Trump lost last night in Texas. Last night voters in north Texas chose Republican state Representative Jake Ellzey to fill a vacant house seat over a candidate endorsed by Donald Trump.
Jake Ellzey bet Republican Susan Wright, the widow of former Congressman Ron Wright -- 53 percent to 47 percent. The special election run off was to finish Ron Wright`s term in the 6th Congressional district after he died earlier this year from COVID-19.
Donald Trump carried that district in 2016 by 12 points but in 2020 he won the district by just three points. Donald Trump endorsed Susan Wright in the final days before the May 1st election which then went to a run off.
During the runoff, Donald Trump issued three statements reaffirming his endorsement. He recorded a robocall for Wright and he headlined a telephone for her Monday night before the election and Donald Trump`s candidate lost.
Joining us now Maria Teresa Kumar president and CEO of Voto Latino and Eddie Glaude chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Princeton University. His latest book "Begin Again" is now out in paperback. Both are MSNBC contributors.
And Maria Teresa, something`s happening in Texas.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Lawrence, you and I have talk about this a lot. And that is that Texas is not that ruby red state that everybody thought. If anything it is becoming much more of a moderate state.
And the district that you`re discussing you have a large influx not just of a growing Latino population but also young professionals coming in because industry in Texas is changing.
You`re seeing a lot of folks such as Amazon coming in, Apple coming in -- sorry -- Toyota coming in. And with that more educated individuals and a changing demographic that it`s one of the reasons why you have Republican Texas legislatures trying to prevent people from voting because it`s not the Texas of ten years ago.
O`DONNELL: And full field who ran originally for the seat included Democrats and -- the Democrat came in third just right -- just below the line of qualifying for that runoff. So there`s interesting future for that district.
Professor Glaude, it is a fascinating night in the Republican world. We saw these 17 Republican votes on the Senate floor tonight, after -- after Donald Trump called them fools, after Donald Trump threatened every one of them with primaries in the next election and when they`re up for reelection. That`s a vote that was unimaginable a short time ago.
In fact, I certainly didn`t anticipate it being that big tonight -- that vote both against Donald Trump and for the infrastructure package.
PROFESSOR EDDIE GLAUDE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right, Lawrence. It may be an indication that Trump may be losing at least some grip or hold on the Republican Party. But we have to be careful. Remember that Trump has, you know, a litany of losses, right -- whether he lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, the presidency -- he lost a number of midterm elections, a number -- you know, campaigns and the like.
That`s not where his power resides. I think Donald Trump is a kind of cultural phenomenon. And he sits at the nexus of the kind of dis-ease, discomfort about the demographic shifts that Maria talked about. And the sense that the country is changing.
So his power rests in his ability to sow chaos. And how that translates politically varies, I think. So we need to see that on the one hand, as him losing the grip, but on the other hand we need to understand where his power resides, and that is sowing chaos culturally.
O`DONNELL: And of course Republicans still begging for his endorsement, Republicans traveling from Wyoming to see him for his endorsement to run and challenge Liz Cheney in a primary. Let`s listen to what Liz Cheney said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Look, almost every member of the Republican conference understood in the days immediately after January 6 what had actually happened and many of them said so publicly.
And the fact that so many members of our leadership and others, the fact that they`ve gone from recognizing what happened on the 6th to protesting in front of the Justice Department on behalf of those who were part of the insurrection, is something that I can`t explain. I think it`s a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Marie Teresa, she can`t explain it. It is a disgrace, but Donald Trump loves every bit of that disgrace.
KUMAR: Oh, and I think what the infrastructure bill shows us is two things. One is that when it benefits the Republicans to send money back home and help secure the elections, they`re willing to be against Donald Trump.
But when it`s talking about voting and access to the voting booth, securing the sanctity of that voting booth, they use Donald Trump as a foil.
And what Professor Glaude just said was absolutely right. They will use Donald Trump as a foil to create that cultural chaos to help encourage that white nationalism that basically brought us the insurrection on January 6.
What I found so striking yesterday, when the officers were talking, was how harrowing the account was, how they, all of them, talked about how they wanted to be recruited, the white officers, how they were trying to recruit them, and the African-American officer and Latino officer, how they were being stripped down as being un-American.
And that testimony and the reaction of January 6 and their experience synthesized what we`re talking about when it comes to what Donald Trump represents. He is part of a white nationalist party and the insurrection has everything to do with the changing demographics of this country. And a fair-fought election that a multicultural America brought forth in Joe Biden and the administration.
O`DONNELL: We`re actually going to hear some of that testimony you were talking about in the next segment.
Maria Teresa Kumar and Professor Eddie Glaude, thank you both for joining us tonight.
KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: On January 6, for the first time I was more afraid to work at the Capitol than in my entire deployment to Iraq. In Iraq we expected armed violence because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the army or as a law enforcement officer prepared me for what we confronted on January 6.
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O`DONNELL: Aquilino Gonell is an immigrant from the Dominican Republican. He is now a Capitol Police sergeant and yesterday he told us about yesterday how many times he has raised his hand to take an oath to protect this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GONELL: On July 23, 1999, the day before my 24th birthday, I raised my hand and swore to protect the constitution of the United States. Because this country gave me an opportunity to become anything that I wanted.
At that time, I had already started basic training with the Army Reserves. In fact I raised my hand several times in ceremonies to pledge my commitment to defend and protect the constitution of the United States. When I joined the Army Reserves, when I was promoted to sergeant while in the army, when I was promoted during my naturalization ceremony, and my reenlistment in the army. When I joined the United States Capitol police. And lastly, when I was promoted to sergeant three years ago.
I have always taken my oath seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Trump mob, who Donald Trump sent to attack the Capitol, believed that Sergeant Gonell had no right to be there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GONELL: I was in the front line, and they -- apparently they seen even through my mask, they saw my skin color and said, you`re not even an American. Regardless whether I was in the military, they don`t know that. They`re yelling and saying all these things to me.
GONELL: I mean, when I heard that, I wasn`t even thinking about any racial stuff. But for me, I wasn`t even thinking about that, I`m there to stop them regardless. I`m not thinking what they were yelling in terms of my skin color or my race.
I know I`m an American soldier, former soldier, and a police officer. I didn`t take that into account when I was defending all of you guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Sergeant Aquilino Gonell gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.