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

Guests: Adam Serwer, Colin Allred, Gina Hinojosa, Tim O`Brien, E.J. Dionne


Texas Republicans just released a new voting restrictions bill for tomorrow`s legislation special in Texas. Democratic Congressman Colin Allred of Texas, and Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa are interviewed. Donald Trump found seven more lawyers to follow in Rudy Giuliani`s footsteps by lending their names to the most frivolous lawsuit Donald Trump has filed since his failed election lawsuits. The Biden infrastructure plan is now on track to be passed as two separate pieces of legislation: one, a bipartisan compromise; and the other, a Democrats-only bill using the budget reconciliation rules that allow it to pass senate with 51 votes.



And we have E.J. Dionne join us tonight because he`s done something -- it`s almost like cheating. We have this really complex legislative thing that`s coming along, the infrastructure bill on two different tracks, two different pieces of legislation. And he`s actually gone and talked to the legislators in charge of the legislation instead of just like hanging around on the sidelines and guessing, is it on track, is it off track? And he has very good news to report later in the hour about just how on track all of it is.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Actual data. Not just jibber jabber. This is not allowed in great detail on cable news. You have to do this very carefully.

O`DONNELL: Chairman -- the actual chairman of the committees that are actually controlling this thing, you know, so we`ll get into it on the real legislative mechanics of it. There will be a lot of missed signals. There`s going to be a lot of misconceptions about what is going on at any given time. I think if you stare at the right players in the House and Senate, you`ll know where we are. So, E.J. is going to give us that guide tonight.

MADDOW: I trust him implicitly. I can`t wait.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And so tonight, we will speak of Donald Trump and Hitler. Not to compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler but because Donald Trump spoke about Adolf Hitler to his White House chief of staff in 2018 on a trip to Europe commemorating the end of World War I. Donald Trump spoke admiringly of Hitler.

According to a new book by "Wall Street Journal" reporter Michael bender, the book says Donald Trump spoke these utterly loathsome and fully evil words to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Hitler did a lot of good things. Michael Bender interviewed Donald Trump for his book and Donald Trump denied saying that to John Kelly.

Today, that poisonous statement about Hitler attributed to Donald Trump land in the world, to no surprise whatsoever, none. Anyone who has been watching Donald Trump with an intense disapproval is unlikely to be even slightly surprised that Donald Trump would think exactly that about the most evil dictator in human history.

And supporters of Donald Trump cannot be surprised that he is reported to have said that, especially Donald Trump`s American Nazi supporters. The people who come to his rallies, believing that Adolf Hitler did a lot of good things, but could have done more. Donald Trump has supporters who wore t-shirts saying 6 MWE. Meaning 6 million were not enough. The problem they have with Hitler`s murdering 6 million Jews is that Hitler did not murder enough Jews and those people, in those t-shirts love Donald Trump.

Americans who love Adolf Hitler love Donald Trump. People who have that kind of poison in themselves always believe that they can spot in it someone else. And America`s most poisoned human beings, America`s Nazis, look at Donald Trump and see their biggest hero since Adolf Hitler. Now they have a news report saying Hitler did a lot of good thing, which probably confirms their admiration for Donald Trump.

A spokesperson for Donald Trump today issued a statement today that Donald Trump said Hitler did a lot of good things. Ku Klux Klan members love Donald Trump. The former Klan leader supported Donald Trump`s run for presidency in 2016 that what became the controversy of the day for the Trump campaign in 2016, Donald Trump pretend not to know who David Duke is or what he thinks.

But that didn`t bother David Duke at all. Because David Duke knew that that was what a winning politician was going to have to say in a situation like that. So the racists who love Donald Trump because they believe he is one of them have never believed his denials about being one of them. They just see that as something Donald Trump, a smart politician, has to say.

But they believe that they know where Donald Trump`s heart is. America`s Klansmen, America`s Nazis believe that Donald Trump has in his heart what they have in theirs. Sheer hatred. So they will be cheered tonight with the news reports that they will firmly believe that Donald Trump said Hitler did a lot of good things.

The reason Donald Trump`s Nazi followers will believe that he said that is the same reason that many Trump opponents will believe that he said that. And that reason is that Donald Trump repeatedly has demonstrated and fully embraced cruelty, here and abroad.

He embraced and claimed to fall in love with the most murderous dictator alive today. North Korea`s Kim Jong Un. One of our first guests says cruelty is not an effect of Trumpian politics. Cruelty is a point.

Quote, a politics of cruelty and exclusion that strategically exploits vulnerable Americans by portraying they will as an existential threat against whom acts of barbarism become not only justified but worthy of celebration. So for years, Donald Trump in his Republican followers championed and celebrated the idea of taking health insurance away from millions of Americans by repealing the Affordable Care Act. They weren`t even slightly troubled by the extreme cruelty of that. And Americans were spared that cruelty, by exactly one vote.

Senator John McCain, who supported most of the Trump agenda, simply could not bring himself to cast that vote in favor of cruelty and what turned out to be the final days of his life -- one vote by one Republican who is no longer with us, spared us that particular cruelty. And Donald Trump remains enraged at John McCain in his grave to this day.

Now, Donald Trump wants to take away voting rights from Americans. They want to make black Americans in Georgia stand in long voting lines without access to water, because that kind of cruelty is the point. That`s what Donald Trump thinks. Some people deserve daring to vote and daring to vote against him.

When you find Republicans who are troubled by Donald Trump`s cruelty but still vote for him, they talk about the things they agree with Trump on, like tax cuts or Supreme Court justices. And then they invariably say something like, Trump did a lot of good things. Exactly what Donald Trump said about Adolf Hitler.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Adam Serwer, staff writer for "The Atlantic". He is the author of the new book, "The Cruelty is the Point". Also with us, Jelani Cobb, staff writer for "The New Yorker" and professor of journalism at Columbia University. He is an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Adam, I want to begin with you and your point about cruelty, because people who have been following Donald Trump closely for years and following his cruelty will on both sides of this not be surprised to hear him quoted saying that he admires Hitler for a lot of good things he says.

ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yeah. I mean, it is an extraordinary statement. But on the other hand, we did not need a private recollection from John Kelly, a man who after all spent a great deal of time trying to have Donald Trump carry out his agenda to understand what Donald Trump was about.

Donald Trump has illustrated from the beginning that a part of his appeal is his targeting of vulnerable constituencies, religious and ethnic minorities with state forceful because he understands that a big part of his coalition used those communities as an existential threat to them. And he exploited that fear and he exploited that fear by acting cruelly toward those communities when he was president.

O`DONNELL: Professor Cobb, when I read that quote today, I just was looking forward to simply opening your microphone tonight and saying, just give us your reaction to what we`ve learned today about Donald Trump.

JELANI COBB, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, the terrible horror of this is that I don`t have a reaction. I mean, we understood who this personal was from the outset when he said, at the beginning, the inauguration of his political career, he started out by calling Mexicans rapists and then proceeded downhill from there.

So this is entirely consistent with the character that has been displayed, as well as consistent with the other points that John Kelly made two years ago, actually, a year ago. About his comments and not understanding what soldiers fought, what was in it for them, and his disparaging comments about people who`ve been injured in the course of war.

I think his cruelty is extraordinary. I think Adam really nailed when he pointed out that he had kind of reached into the reptilian core of people`s brains and that enabled them, empowered them to display their own forms of cruelty. And I think that was the high that people got from those four years of his political span in the White House, that they were able to exhibit and air as much cruelty as they had in their hearts.

O`DONNELL: And, Adam, your thesis also seems to cover what we`re seeing in the voting rights bills that are being brought up by Republicans in state legislatures around the country, attempts to restrict voting in certain ways, knowing who they`re targeting by doing that.

SERWER: Yeah. I mean, look, the book is focused on cruelty is a part of politics. Obviously, cruelty is a part of human nature. We`re all capable of cruelty. But his book is about cruelty, specifically the way that it is used to demonize certain groups so you can justify denying people their basic rights under the Constitution and exclude them from the political process.

And our system incent vises this because it`s possible for one party to hold power without winning a majority of vote. If you`re the party that represents this constituency that is afraid of losing power becomes more urgent to persuade them that they`re on the verge of destruction so anything they do to disenfranchise the rival constituency is justified.

And as you`re saying now, even though Trump is gone, Republicans understand their hold on power and the party as it currently exists is relying on excluding other Americans from the political process so they don`t cater to their interest and needs and rights.

O`DONNELL: Professor Cobbs -- go ahead, please.

COBBS: I would look into that. I think Adam is right. I think to make the situation even more perilous, is that like other great atrocities in human history, they laid the groundwork for framing this cruelty as an act of self-defense.

SERWER: Exactly.

COBBS: So, when we see the imprisonment of infants, on the southern border, people are framing this as saying it`s in response to an invasion - - of people who are coming to harm the country. And so, now, we have all six atrocities that can be justified, and there`s really nothing that can be justified maybe thinking people are defending their own lies.

O`DONNELL: Adam, if Donald Trump were to just to play golf for his whole life, completely ignore politics from this day forward, will the cruelty leave our politics?

SERWER: I don`t think it would for two reasons. One, Trump showed the Republican Party how much they could get away with, with pursuing this style of politics. And to, as long as the majoritarian lovers of American democracy can be leverage in this, where the Republican Party will have an interesting exploiting this kind of politics in order to maintain power.

The only thing that can change this kind of politics is by altering the system to be more fair, so the Republican Party has to reach out beyond its base, to a more diverse constituency, that will compel them to respect Americans Democratic rights. That`s what had to happen with the Democratic Party in the mid 20th century, and it`s what has to happen now, if we are to get of this place we are in.

O`DONNELL: Professor Cobb, we are, of course, stuck with the two anti- Democratic structure of the Senate. That adds to that, with the anti- Democratic rules of the Senate, creating super majorities of a body that is already not representative of the country.

COBB: That`s right. I would also add gerrymandering, and it makes this a matter not simply of the senate, but also the House,. and also sly legislators as well. So you have all these dynamics, that are there to be used, and also the same time the Republican Party doubling down on politics that alienate African Americans, alienate Latinos, alienate many Asians, people have different communities, and really go for the smaller and shrinking vote of white Christian Americans.

The only way they can make it work, is by the same members that analysts talking about, to install a kind of permanent minority ruling in the United States.

O`DONNELL: We have periods and politics, in the seventies, eighties, nineties, where the battle that the parties were fighting over the same voters. They were folding over this possibly undecided group that was in the middle and, Adam, that middle is no longer where the fight is, apparently, for Republicans, anyway.

SERWER: Yeah. I mean, I think as long as the Republican Party`s base is ideally geographically distributed to take a vantage of the mal- apportionment in the Senate, the electoral college, gerrymandering in the House, it`s going to be difficult to have that center in our politics, because they are successful in using racial polarization to their advantage.

Again, you know, if the Democrats want to make our system more fair, they are going to have to take some big steps. That`s the only way, honestly, for the Republican Party -- the only way politician`s changes if there means of politics change. And currently, the Republican does not feel any pressure to pursue power in any other way than the sort of Trumpian politics that we are currently seeing at this moment.

O`DONNELL: Which, Professor Cobb, of course, brings us to the rules of the Senate, and the 60-vote threshold, and what can the Democrats do with their current 51 votes to change that?

COBB: I mean, this is really -- I mean, I`m going back to the point of the filibuster, it`s really a kind of existential question. And whether or not the filibuster will be tossed out or at least amended in such a way, that allow these voting right bills to be passed. And any hope of countering what`s happening with these legislatures across the country, that is really what we have come down to. It seems to be, in particular the case that Manchin and Sinema just mention, even a kind of refusal to see exactly what is at stake here, and what the implications are for all sorts of communities and really more broadly, for the whole Democratic coalition.

Last thing, and disenfranchising black voters, you necessarily disenfranchise millions of white voters as well. White voters who happen to vote for the same candidate as many African Americans well.

O`DONNELL: Adam Serwer, his new book is "The Cruelty is the Point: The Past, Present and Future of Trump`s America", Adam Serwer and Professor Jelani Cobb, thank you both very much starting off our discussion tonight.

COBB: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Texas Republicans just released a new voting restrictions bill for tomorrow`s legislation special in Texas. Texas Congressman Colin Allred, who is a former voting rights attorney himself, will join us. Along with Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa.


O`DONNELL: Just two hours ago, Texans Republicans revealed their latest addition of their voter restrictions bill, for the special legislative session that starts tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. As reported on this program last night, the bill now does not include the provisions that would make it easier for Texas Republicans to overturn the results of an election, the bill no longer restricts Sunday morning voting, a provision that was designed to hinder the souls to the polls tradition at black churches.

The bill still contains several restrictions in a previous bill including banning 24-hour voting, banning drive-through voting. Criminalizing election officials who proactively send mail-in ballot predictions, and it adds new ID requirements to vote by mail.

The country`s leading voting rights attorney Marc Elias tweeted tonight, if Texas enacts this bill, it will be sued.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Colin Allred of Texas. He has worked as a voting rights attorney. Also with us, Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa.

Representative Hinojosa, what happens tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.?

STATE REP. GINA HINOJOSA (D), TEXAS: Well, probably nothing much happens tomorrow. Tomorrow, we will show up. It is a day of formalities, really.

There are time line that`s have to be complied with even by the Republican majority before any bill can be passed. And so, tomorrow should not be too eventful. At least we`re not anticipating that.

But we will have a fight on our hands within this special session that takes place within the next 30 days.

O`DONNELL: So what about hearings on this bill? What about a full airing of it? Because there`s now disputes of Republicans -- disputes among themselves about who put what provision in the last one? And how did that get in the bill last time? We don`t know how that happen.

HINOJOSA: It`s a circus, isn`t it?

We did succeed with our walkout and breaking quorum. We did succeed in putting enough attention on these provisions of the bill to make even the Republican author of the bill in the House disavow the provisions of outlawing Sunday morning voting, and the provision that would make it easier to overturn the will of the people, overturn an election.

So we did have that victory by using our power to break as the minority in the legislature.

And so yes, we have a new bill. It looks like some sharp edges have been taken off of it but it is still not a good bill. And, ultimately, what we need to remember is we do not have a voter fraud problem in the state of Texas.

Our secretary of state testified that our elections with safe and secure. The 2020 election was safe and secure. So this effort to pass some sort of voter suppression bill is merely a furtherance of Donald Trump`s big lie. It is putting partisanship and politics above people and we just need to let the people vote.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Allred, we have two members of the Texas legislature here last night who were able to enjoy a celebration of sorts about knocking out that provision, making it easier to overturn elections. That was such a huge victory for the Democrats. But that was last night. And now we are on the verge of the restart of this very, very tough challenge for the Democrats in the Texas legislature.

What are you hoping for from your perspective in Congress?

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): Yeah. Well, first of all, let`s say how successful the walkout was that Gina was a part of that they were able to get these egregious provisions out of the bill. As she said, it`s still a very bad bill. And one of the provisions you didn`t have in there in your excellent summary was allowing poll watchers to have free movement in the polling place. We know that there are Republican groups who are planning to try to intimidate voters. And that`s certainly going to be a challenge.

I know Marc Elias is going to be on that because that is intentional. We know what the intention is there.

And like you, Lawrence, I want to know who put this language in that they said that no one knew how it got in there. Where did it come from? Which groups were behind it?

Look, as we talked about many times, as you talked about in the last segment, we have to do something at the federal level to make sure that whatever in this bill, restrictions that are being placed in Texas, that we can provide some relief to make sure that our democracy is protected.

This is just -- it is so important and I want to thank you for covering this closely what`s happening in Texas. We were already the state was hardest to vote and they`re trying to make it worse.

O`DONNELL: Representative Hinojosa, do the Democrats -- do you have a strategy going into this that you can share with us or might you have secret strategies that you can at least acknowledge but not share with us?

HINOJOSA: Well, right. So, our strategies for gamesmanship purposes can`t be broadcast on national TV.

But yes, we are committed to fighting this with everything we`ve got, using everything in our toolbox to make it so we protect voting rights and not make it harder for Texans to vote.

We already as a state rank consistently within the bottom ten states for voter turnout. We do not have a voter fraud problem in the state of Texas. We have a voter turnout problem. And so we should be making it easier to vote.

We saw in Harris County where Houston was located, these innovative efforts to get people the vote with these drive-through places to vote and by trying to proactively send out applications to vote by mail, to only those who are qualified. We`re seeing in this bill an effort to try to make that illegal which is the opposite of what we should be trying to do.

So, yes. We are committed to fighting this bill ultimately. The congressman is right. We need the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed. We need the For the People Act passed.

This is a federal strategy to suppress the vote. This is a national strategy by the Heritage Foundation PAC and we need a national response in Congress.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Allred, it seems when you look at these bills, that Republican legislatures simply literally looked at everything that worked well and helped voter turnout like drive-through voting, for example. And said, okay, we`ve got to kill that right away.

ALLRED: They did. They knew. These were disproportionately used by communities of color in Texas and across the country.

You know, Americans did an amazing thing in the last election. We came together in a pandemic and had record turnout in a presidential election. And folks were worried that they might get sick and die just by voting but they still did it. We should be celebrating that.

And, you know, Gina mentioned the big lie. You know, Lawrence, I was there on January 6th. That was six months ago now. I was on the House floor when we tried to break in. We had to evacuate. We were determined to make sure that we did come back and certify that vote.

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): But that big lie is motivating what we`re seeing right now. This special session is motivated by that big lie. It`s still with us. We have to beat this. We have to beat it with federal legislation. To do whatever it takes, you know, Lawrence, you`re the Senate guy, whatever it takes to get past the super majority requirement there.

Because this is a -- you know, this is a four-alarm fire and we have to have some federal protection. We`re starting to do our part in the House. We just have to have a partner in the Senate.

O`DONNELL: Texas Congressman Colin Allred and Texas State Representative Gina Hinojosa -- thank you both very much for joining us on this important subject. Thank you.

ALLRED: Thanks, Lawrence.

STATE REP. GINA HINOJOSA (D-TX): Thank you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Donald Trump has found some more lawyers willing to take Rudy Giuliani`s place and put their names on Donald Trump`s latest frivolous lawsuit.

Donald Trump is going to lose these cases just the way he lost when he sued Tim O`Brien. Tim O`Brien will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Having already lost his license to practice law in New York, today Rudy Giuliani lost his license to practice law in Washington, D.C.

Also today, Donald Trump found seven more lawyers to follow in Rudy Giuliani`s footsteps by lending their names to the most frivolous lawsuit Donald Trump has filed since his failed election lawsuits.

Seven lawyers disgraced themselves forever today by attaching their names to Donald Trump`s new lawsuit, suing Twitter for not allowing him to tweet. Along with a separate lawsuit suing Facebook for not allowing him to Facebook. And of course, YouTube for not allowing him to YouTube.

Social media companies banned Donald Trump when he proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he is a danger to society on January 6th.

Legal experts reading, the identical lawsuits filed against each of the companies told "The Washington Post" today, quote, "The lawsuits are dead on arrival based on a crack pot theory and are nothing more than a publicity stunt."

Only one of the lawyers actually signed his name to the civil complaints filed in federal court in Florida. Matthew L. Baldwin claims expertise in insurance litigation and criminal defense. In his years as a prosecutor, he has handled homicides and proudly announces on his law firm Website that his cases were covered by "Court TV", "Dateline" and "48 Hours Mystery". Unfortunately for Mr. Baldwin, none of this lawsuit will be on TV because it will be thrown out of court.

The six other lawyers who put their names on the lawsuit are actually not now legally allowed to even practice law in Florida where the lawsuit was filed.

The lawyer who signed the lawsuit, the only one apparently allowed to practice law in Florida, did not participate in Donald Trump`s press conference today, announcing the lawsuit, but a lawyer from Washington, D.C. named John P. Coale did most of the talking for the lawyers and like Rudy Giuliani before him, he lied.


JOHN P. COALE, DONALD TRUMP`S LAWYER: This suit is really about freedom of speech. We`re going to prove that they are government actors. Therefore, the First Amendment does apply.


O`DONNELL: Everything you just heard him say is a lie. Social media companies are not government actors. This is not about freedom of speech. It is not about the first amendment.

The question for attorney John Coale is how much more lying is he willing to do for Donald Trump? The same officials who took away Rudy Giuliani`s license to practice law in Washington today have authority over John P. Coale`s license to practice law. And they have learned to watch Trump lawyers very closely.

Minutes after that press conference, Donald Trump immediately sent out a plea to his followers to send him money to help pay his new lawyers.

Joining us now is Tim O`Brien, senior columnist for Bloomberg opinion. He is the author of the book "Trump Nation". And Tim O`Brien famously was sued by Donald Trump back when Tim was a "New York Times" reporter.

And to put the quick end of the story is you won that lawsuit. It was a huge mistake for Donald Trump to do it.

So here he is with another lawsuit. And Tim, I think this one is going to be thrown out of court really fast. I don`t think we`re going to get much ongoing entertainment value from this one.

TIM O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG: Alas, Lawrence, part of me wishes it would make it over some minimal hurdle so we could just enjoy the sort of carnivalesque slaying of all of his legal arguments. And then see him quit through discovery. But of course, it will never get there because the suit is essentially the definition of frivolity.

They just have no grounds for this. And I think they know this obviously as you pointed out. I don`t think the goal of this lawsuit was to create new precedent around free speech. I don`t think the goal of it was to mount a robust defense of the small fry (ph) in the Internet era.

This whole thing was meant to fire up Trump`s base at yet another series of American institutions. It is meant to defray trust again in all of the forces in society that are trying to regulate Donald Trump. And it ignores all of the hurdles this legal team has to face in getting this suit anywhere into a courtroom that will even bother to listen to it.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter right now from these sorts of lawsuits.

Facebook and Twitter in their own corporate bylaws require any litigation from users to be adjudicated in California. These guys filed in Florida.

A federal judge in Florida recently tossed a law that Governor DeSantis passed forbidding social media platforms from dumping politicians from their sites. There is just nothing on the ground here that is going to allow this to go forward.

And with the one curative thing that can come out of this would be for the courts to actually sanction the lawyers and sanction Trump because he`s had decades of -- there`s actually a class of lawsuits like this known as slap lawsuits that abuse the legal process and the judiciary to further non judiciary goals.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And in your lawsuit, you actually got to the discovery stage, which Donald Trump regretted greatly. Because you were able to compel him through subpoenas to turn over tax returns to you and other information. And so that is the part of this that, of course, would destroy Donald Trump if these companies ever got to the discovery stage and they got to subpoena information from Donald Trump.

But it has to survive a motion to dismiss in order to get to that stage. And it clearly won`t.

It is also a fund-raiser for Donald Trump. He immediately went to work fundraising off of the lawsuit.

O`BRIEN: You know -- and if we were lucky enough to get to the discovery process, one of the things that would come out of this because the reason he was kicked off of those social media platforms is that he incited an insurrection on January 6th.

And the defense attorneys for all of these companies would have a field day probing any communication at the White House level or among Trump`s political operatives, not only on January 6th but in the months before as they establish a fact pattern around whether Trump did premeditate in addition to fomenting the insurrection on January 6th.

They will never want to get there. When we got into discovery in our lawsuit, Trump ended up trying to settle. And our attorneys rejected his efforts to settle the case because at that point we had our hands on his tax returns and his business records and were able to use those things to depose him.

And nobody in this current lawsuit would ever want to get to that stage with him.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And so at that point, Trump just dropped the lawsuit which is what he would do here. I mean what the audience has to understand and I think many do is that if you file a lawsuit against anyone, you have immediately made yourself available to be subpoenaed by the other side to testify under oath in a deposition whenever they want that to happen.

And of course, Trump would have to avoid that at all costs in this case, so he would just drop his case when those subpoenas arrived.

O`BRIEN: If the court let him. If the court let him.


O`BRIEN: In our case, the court -- you know, the court ended up dismissing the case but he still had to go through discovery. So he loses control of the process and he ends up as he always does, shooting himself on the foot with these kind of things because he`s jumped into it for the publicity value without thinking about the long term consequences of this kind of legal buffoonery.

O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien who beat Donald Trump in court when Donald Trump sued him, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

O`BRIEN: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, as I told Rachel earlier, E.J. Dionne will join us next with his reporting on the two-track infrastructure legislation that is moving through Congress now and will be giving us very complex, very dramatic days in the House and the Senate over the next few weeks.

E.J. is going to tell you exactly which players to keep your eye on. Then you`ll know if this is on track or not as it proceeds.

E.J. Dionne joins us next.


O`DONNELL: Here`s how Mitch McConnell set the stage today for the most complex legislative drama we have seen in Washington since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): My friends, this is not going to be done on a bipartisan basis. This is going to be a hell of a fight over what this country ought to look like in the future and it is all going to unfold here in the next few weeks.


O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell is of course talking about the Biden infrastructure plan which is now on track to be passed as two separate pieces of legislation. One, a bipartisan compromise and the other, a Democrats-only bill using the budget reconciliation rules that allow it to pass senate with 51 votes.

There is going to be a lot of noise along the way. There is going to be a lot of misinterpretations about what`s happening day to day. There will be several suggestions that the whole thing is falling apart.

But if you keep your eyes on the key players, you will always be able to tell if the legislation is still on track.

One of the most important players is obviously Senator Joe Manchin. But he is frequently treated by the news media as if he is the only important player in this drama.

Our next guest has been talking to two key players in the legislative drama who have more power over the process than Senator Joe Manchin.

Joining us now, E.J. Dionne, an opinion columnist for "The Washington Post" and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

And E.J., you`ve actually spoken to the chairman of the House and Senate Budget Committees where the first outline of the Democrats-only bill will be written. What are you learning from the Budget Committee chairman Bernie Sanders in the Senate, Budget Committee chairman John Yarmuth in the House who appeared on this program last week?

E.J. DIONNE, OPINION COLUMNIST, "WASHINGTON POST": One of the things I`m learning is one of them said is in this process, everybody is Joe Manchin which is to say that the margins in both Houses are so small, in the Senate it is 50-50, in the House. they only have a couple of votes to spare. So that every member with a demand has some real power because their votes are going to be sought after.

I think what Yarmuth and Sanders are trying to do is to negotiate this bill, not only with their committees, and by the way, one of the advantages Democrats have is both the House Committee and Senate Budget Committees have pretty broad representation.

Almost every wing of the party is there. So it`s like a stress test. If it gets out of those committees, if they can reach an agreement, then it`s very likely the rest of the Senate Democrats can reach an agreement.

But they`re not going to do the traditional thing of the House passes one bill and the Senate passes the other, and they go to conference.

What they`re talking about now is a kind of pre-conference. They`re negotiating now. They`re exchanging ideas now because in the house, for example, there are a lot of vulnerable Democrats in kind of moderate or swing districts. And they don`t want to vote for one bill that they have to answer for, only to have to vote for a second bill.

They`re willing to go along with something quite big. But they want to cast one vote for something that will pass, not a vote for something that is symbolic for negotiation purposes.

And so I loved your introduction, Lawrence because I think you`re exactly right. This is going to look like it`s falling apart a number of times before it comes together.

But the sense I get from the committee chairs and from other senators I`ve talked to and members of the House, is that Democrats know that if they don`t get something done, if they let this collapse, the whole party, from center to left, will look terrible.

Joe Biden will take a defeat, and nothing would be more certain to cause them to lose both Houses in 2022 than a catastrophe like that. Everybody wants to avoid that.

O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell doesn`t have any power over the Democrats-only bill, but he does, I think, still have some power over the bipartisan agreement that the Senators worked on because it looks to me like McConnell only has to pull away, you know, one or two, maybe three Republicans from that bipartisan agreement and that thing collapses in the Senate.

But let`s concentrate for the moment on the Democrats-only bill, which in many ways is more complex.

What I watch for is what does Joe Manchin say that Bernie Sanders cannot live with. And what does Bernie Sanders say that Joe Manchin cannot live with? And I`m not hearing that right now.

I`m not hearing a red line being drawn by either Bernie Sanders or Joe Manchin in a way that prevents the two of them coming to an agreement.

And for me, they represent both ends of the Democratic Party in the House and the Senate. And if they can get together on something, that is going to be the bill.

DIONNE: I think that`s right. I think that one of the issues will simply be the size of it. The number Manchin has thrown out is $2 trillion. The number that Bernie has thrown out is $5 trillion to $6 trillion.

I have a suspicion that both of them are at a negotiating position. Funnily enough, President Biden, who seems to have a knack for finding the center of the Democratic Party, proposed something around $4.5 trillion.

So there will be arguments about the number. there will be arguments about the size of the increase in the corporate tax. But again they`re not arguing about whether to raise it.

Manchin -- by (INAUDIBLE) 28, Manchin --

O`DONNELL: I think we have a --

DIONNE: -- and on -- I`m sorry?

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, E.J.

DIONNE: I`m sorry. They`re in the same ballpark there. And on a lot of the substance, most Democrats are for all these things, they want to expand health care. They want to expand child care. They want help people go to college. So I think the question is just how much can you fit into this bill? And how big can it be.

On the filibuster, I heard a fascinating thing today which is the possibility that they might only get five or six Republican votes but several Republicans who wouldn`t vote for it, would agree to support cloture.

So that you`d separate the two that you`d have Republicans letting the bill go forward, but not all of them voting for it. That would make McConnell very unhappy, but it`s an interesting possibility.

O`DONNELL: That kind of vote used to happen in the Senate all the time. Voting to allow cloture but then voting against the bill. It used to be considered two different things, but it`s a new Senate now.

E.J. Dionne, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: Tomorrow is another big day for the most important story of this year, the Republican assault on democracy.

A special session in the Texas legislature will open tomorrow morning for Texas Republicans to begin trying to pass their revised voter restrictions bill.

Also tomorrow, President Biden plans to meet with civil rights leaders at the White House to discuss the status of voting rights bills in the United States Senate. And tomorrow night, we will be joined by former attorney general Eric Holder.

Attorney general Holder is the chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee which he started with President Barack Obama.

Gerrymandering is how Republicans plan to win the midterm elections in 2022. Donald Trump`s former doctor, now a Republican congressman in Texas, actually admitted that.


REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TX): We have everything working in our favor right now. We have redistricting coming up. And the Republicans control most of that process in most of the states around the country. That alone should get us the majority back.


O`DONNELL: Eric holder will tell us about a new initiative that his committee is launching to help people fight back against Republican gerrymandering efforts. We are lucky to be able to talk with Eric Holder tomorrow night about that and much more.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.