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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 8/24/21

Guests: Katie Porter, Norm Ornstein, Dan Berschinski, Josh Green


Today, the House of Representatives has taken a significant step toward making a historic investment that will transform America, cut taxes for working families and position the American economy for long term growth. Democratic Congressman Katie Porter of California is interviewed. The Biden administration and the military are actually conducting the most successful evacuation yet from a war that America lost. Today, Kathy Hochul became the first governor of the state of New York from Buffalo in over 100 years, and the first woman governor of the state of New York. Yesterday, the Democratic governor of Hawaii made the most difficult announcement a Hawaii governor could have to make, asked tourists not to come to Hawaii. The House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection is preparing to request records from telecommunications companies and social media companies as part of its investigation.



Unanimous? The FEC was unanimous on --


O`DONNELL: FCC, sorry. I didn`t know they could be unanimous on what day it is.

MADDOW: Yes. That`s exactly right. Let alone unanimous on the largest fine they have ever recommended for anything like this in the history of the commission. I mean, it`s -- again, we don`t know exactly how this will ultimately bear out, including in the criminal cases related to this.

But those robocalls were to disgusting and to pernicious and had an effect that can`t be undone except by preventing it from ever happening again by deterrence, and this is designed to be that.

O`DONNELL: Yes. This is a very, very important decision. Thanks for that report, Rachel.

MADDOW: Indeed. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, President Biden delivered an important speech today from the Roosevelt Room with an update on the number of people evacuated from Afghanistan, which proves once again this is the best run from a war that America lost, which is the only way to describe what this evacuation.

There is only one evacuation in our history that compares to this one, and that is the military evacuation from Vietnam in 1975 after we lost that war. And by every measure, this evacuation is going much, much better than the Vietnam evacuation and has been from the start. The simple truth is the American military does not know how to do a better job of evacuating from wars that we lose. We`ll have more on that later in this hour.

But we begin now with what the president began with today in his very important speech.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just got off the telephone with the leaders in the House. Today, the House of Representatives has taken a significant step toward making a historic investment that will transform America, cut taxes for working families and position the American economy for long term growth.

Today`s vote in the House allowed them to consider my build back better agenda, a broad frame work to make housing more affordable, bring down the cost of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for drugs, make elder care more affordable, provide two years of free universal pre-K and two years of free community college, provide clean energy tax credits, continue to give the middle class families the well deserved tax cut for day care and health care they deserve, allowing a lot of women to get back to work primarily, and provide significant monthly tax cuts for children through the child care tax credit.

Look, I want to thank Speaker Pelosi who was masterful in the leadership on this. I want to thank every Democrat who worked so hard to reach an agreement and who supported the process for House consideration of the jobs and infrastructure plan, the Build Back Better.

There are differences, strong points of view. They`re always welcome. What is important is that we came together to advance our agenda.


O`DONNELL: If you were betting on nine moderate Democrats who became ten in the House to knock Nancy Pelosi off the legislative track she has set up for the infrastructure bills, you bet wrong. Those ten Democrats publically insisted that they would not -- absolutely would not vote for the budget resolution that would begin the biggest part of the infrastructure bill in the House, which is supported only by Democrats. Unless the House voted first on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate. That was their demand, very simple.

First, we vote on the Senate infrastructure bill. Before we do anything else, we vote on the Senate infrastructure bill and only then will we vote for the budget resolution.

And so today they all voted for the budget resolution first after being promised by Speaker Pelosi that they would be allowed to vote on the Senate infrastructure bill by September 27th. That was the compromise Speaker Pelosi struck to get over the speed bump presented by ten House members.

And, so, the Biden infrastructure legislation remains smoothly on track in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, which has already passed with only Democratic votes.


The $3.5 trillion budget resolution that the House passed today, not a single Republican in the House voted today to improve America`s infrastructure.

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan who is now a candidate for Senate in Ohio told the Republicans what they were voting against.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): What you`re mad about is that we are delivering for the American people. We saved pensions. We cut taxes for working class people, invested in the communities, invested in the schools and now universal preschool. Everyone can go to community college, vision, dental, hearing for Medicare recipients, paid family leave.


O`DONNELL: After the budget resolution vote, the House passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on a party line vote with every Republican voting against voters rights.


BIDEN: I also want to thank everyone who voted to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. You know, advancing -- it`s an act to restore and expand voting protections, to prevent voter suppression and to secure the most sacred of American rights, the right to vote freely, the right to vote fairly and the right to have your vote counted.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Katie Porter of California.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it with these very important votes in the House today.

So, I have to say I didn`t feel a lot of suspense in the maneuver that the ten House Democrats were trying to use as leverage against Nancy Pelosi. It seemed -- by the way, they seemed kind of reasonable about being willing to compromise. They used ultimatum language but also compromise language at the same time.

And so, you`re now moving forward.

Is it fair to say that the Biden infrastructure bills are on track now in the House of Representatives?

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Well, today, we took three -- we moved forward three key priorities. These are priorities that House Democrats ran on, that President Biden ran on. And those priorities were to protect voting rights, to repair our infrastructure and to strengthen our economies so it can compete globally. And today`s vote moved all three of those priorities forward.

Speaker Pelosi has been clear from the beginning we were going to deliver President Biden`s Jobs Plan and his Families Plan together because we understand those things are connected, and what today`s vote did is really set that process up, just as we had expected it to go.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to something that President Biden said today about how this is paid for.


BIDEN: And this is all paid for. Instead of giving every break in the world to corporations and CEOs -- by the way, 55 of our largest companies in America paid zero dollars in federal taxes on more than $40 billion in profit last year. We can ask corporations just to pay their fair share. They could still be very wealthy. They could still make a lot of money, but just begin to pay their fair share.


O`DONNELL: This is a concept that is polling very strongly, usually the paid for side of legislation is the part that doesn`t poll so well. But Americans seem to support the concept of the fair share being paid, especially by rich corporations.

PORTER: Well, of course they should. Everybody should pay their fair share. Those largest corporations make extensive use of our infrastructure, our roads, our ports and our bridges. They sell to U.S. consumers. They take advantage of our American workhorse, public education that our workforce receives.

So, it`s not surprising to me that everybody thinks that tax fairness is an important concept. I think this is something you are seeing in polling and hearing on the ground, I`m certainly hearing this that Democrats, Republicans, independents -- tax fairness is about having a strong, stable, healthy economy.

If we want to complete globally, we need to make some of these investments in paid family leave, in child care, in our infrastructure, and that`s exactly what we`re going to do with this bill.

O`DONNELL: Are there pieces that got knocked out of the Senate bipartisan bill that will find their way into the budget reconciliation bill?

PORTER: Absolutely. The bill that the House sent over to the Senate on infrastructure contained a lot more investments in clean energy, in combating climate change, in coastal resilience, in working on drought resilience. A lot of those things came out with the Senate`s bipartisan process.

So those are exactly the kinds of priorities, the things that need to be done to protect our planet, to strengthen our economy that the House is going to be looking to work with our Senate counterparts on to put in the budget process.


And the committee structure is going to have the ability right now.

I sit on the National Resources Committee. We`re having discussions about not only what we want to put in the budget reconciliation process but also how we`re going to pay for it.

O`DONNELL: And what is the schedule for the committee`s reporting back so that the budget reconciliation bill can be voted on in the House? Is that a September vote?

PORTER: I think that`s going to be a September vote. We go back and we`re going to be there in Washington for two weeks at the end of September. We`re hearing -- I think we`ll see different committees come forward at different times. But I suspect that we`ll start to see some of the contours of this legislation come forward here after Labor Day and up through September 15th or so.

The goal is to give Congress members on both sides of the aisle in both the House and the Senate a chance to be in conversation to flush out these plans. The president has laid out key priorities. He talked about two free years of community college. He talked about tax fairness. He talked about addressing paid family leave, child care.

Now we have to get down to exactly what that`s going to look like on the ground. What are the programs going to look like? Are they going to be universal? Are they going to help everybody?

What can we do on prescription drugs? What can we do to expand vision and dental and hearing coverage to seniors?

We know what our priorities are. Now, we`re going to have to figure out how we`re going to deliver them and how we`re going to pay for them.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Katie Porter, thank you very much for starting off our discussion tonight. I really appreciate it.

PORTER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

PORTER: And joining our discussion now, Norm Ornstein, congressional historian, emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Also with us, John Heilemann, MSNBC national affairs analyst and host of the "Hell and High Water" podcast from "The Recount".

And, John Heilemann, we have convened this group before to judge just how on track the infrastructure bill is. And I remember a question last week was, are the Democrats in the House, the ten Democrats it turned out to be a speed bump or a roadblock? I think we picked speed bump. Nancy Pelosi got over that speed bump pretty easily, John.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah, really easily, right, Lawrence? There is a little reporting. What struck me is hyperbolic reporting at the beginning of the week where it was like, oh, man, this is going to be a tough week. And Nancy Pelosi is not even speaking to these moderates. Man, this is getting ugly on Capitol Hill.

And I just -- you know, I thought, this is a real thing, you know, some work is going to have to happen here. But by the standards of tough acts that Nancy Pelosi has had to deal with in her career, this was not the highest degree of difficulty. I think in aggregate, and I know, Norm, you and I have talked about this before, in aggregate is whole thing they`re trying to do is about as hard as anything I`ve seen Congress try to pull off.

But overcoming those ten moderates who, you know, it turned out, as you pointed out in your opening were kind of folded -- I mean, they feel like they got a victory by getting a date certain on the vote but they sold out pretty quick and pretty cheap and I think Nancy Pelosi knew that was going to happen.

O`DONNELL: And, Norm, Nancy Pelosi isn`t even -- isn`t even granting the point that there was a deal. She is simply saying, no, we just clarified when the vote would be in September. And, I mean, we`re laughing because just in the past we have all seen these kinds of ultimatums derail legislation and become, you know, real, you know, sometimes delay them for months at a time.

And we`ve kind of developed this confidence that, well, if this problem is thrown in front of Nancy Pelosi, it will disappear.

NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: You know, let`s give props to John who said so many times on this show that you should never underestimate Nancy Pelosi. I will tell you, Lawrence, I have been around the House for more than 50 years. I have known every leader from John McCormick and Jerry Ford on. I have seen weak leaders and strong leaders, corrupt leaders, leaders who were followers.

I have never seen a leader as masterful, as adept at politics as Nancy Pelosi. And just keep in mind that if we get through all of this, there is some pressure on Chuck Schumer now with timing to get 50 Democrats onboard in the Senate. But with no leeway in the senate, with not a single Republican willing to support any of this including the Voting Rights Act that got unanimous support the last time before it was gutted by John Roberts in the Shelby County decision.

Being able to lose only three, she got every single Democrat, and if all of this goes through with those margins, if we get -- you know, it will not be $3.5 trillion. It might be $3.2. Whatever it might be, it is amazing this could happen with those numbers and let`s give the props where they belong, and that starts with Nancy Pelosi.


O`DONNELL: And, John, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema did the Ted Cruz move, not as dramatically as Ted Cruz did back in the day, but they reached across the campus and tried to influence the House of Representatives, which is -- which is simply not done. It`s not supposed to be done. And they had absolutely no effect.

They were trying to encourage the ten moderate Democrats to hold the line. And in the end, Nancy Pelosi really crushed Joe Manchin and Senator Sinema in that attempt.

HEILEMANN: Yeah. I mean, the thing about that, Lawrence, is it is not supposed to be done. And the only penalty for trying to do it is the penalty that was inflicted on Manchin and Sinema this week is they look ineffectual. I`ll use that as a noun rather than an adjective. They look sort of pathetic for having tried. And it gives you some sense that we know these two chambers have their own dynamics and their own way of operating. That`s what this highlights more than anything is that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will use their power in the Senate to obstruct concessions. We`ve seen it before, we`re going to see it again.

In the House, it is very hard for individual members, certainly, and even small clicks of individuals to act in that same way, especially when you have a strong leader. There is just more punishment that can be dolled out. There is more pain that can be inflicted. And, so, you just ultimately you will find yourself looking at each other and saying, am I really going to capsize Joe Biden`s agenda and am I really going to get in the cross hairs of Nancy Pelosi? Is that really my political interest, my personal long term interest? I don`t think it is.

That`s the difference between the Senate and the House. Joe Manchin gets rewarded for the way he is in the Senate and these moderates understood that there was no upside in standing Nancy Pelosi`s way on this.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann and Norm Ornstein, thank you both very much for reconvening the Supreme Court of the infrastructure bill here on THE LAST WORD. Really appreciate it.

ORNSTEIN: You bet.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the evacuation from Afghanistan that the Biden administration has already achieved in that evacuation what many reporters called impossible just last week. We will be joined next by a West Point graduate who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan who says what we are seeing in Afghanistan now was inevitable. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: The secret is beginning to get out. For over a week now, contrary to most media reporting, the Biden administration and the military are actually conducting the most successful evacuation yet from a war that America lost.


BIDEN: As of this afternoon, we helped evacuate 70,700 people, just since August the 14th, 75,900 people since the end of July. Just in the past 12 hours, another 19 U.S. military flights, 18 C-17s and one C-130 carrying approximately 6,400 evacuees and 31 coalition flights carrying 5,600 people have left Kabul, just in the last 12 hours. The total of 50 more flights, 12,000 more people since we updated you this morning.


O`DONNELL: Last week, there were some brave reporters on the scene in Afghanistan who actually predicted that that could not happen, predicted that we wouldn`t get 50,000 people out of Afghanistan.

The Pentagon, press secretary general, the press secretary, Admiral John Kirby, today explained the difference between the first day of the evacuation and today.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: The crush of those first few days as reduced as more order and structure around the airport has increased, security, the processing flow itself has just gotten better and the crowds around the airport are smaller than they were before. So the situation around the airport right now is just not the same. It`s not as chaotic as it was in this first couple of days.


O`DONNELL: This is only the second time, second time the American military has mounted a major evacuation from a war that we lost. The first time was Vietnam. The Americans were driven out of Vietnam at gunpoint in those final days. The final two American soldiers killed in action were killed by rocket fire during the evacuation. They were killed the day before the final helicopter left Vietnam. Their bodies were left behind in a Saigon hospital.

The evacuation from Vietnam w much, much worse than anything we have seen in Afghanistan this week. The evacuation from Vietnam should have taught people like George W. Bush, who watched that evacuation on television from the safety of his home in Texas, that we do not know how to fight and win ill-defined wars in places like Vietnam and Afghanistan, and we have no idea how to safely evacuate everyone from a lost war in places like Vietnam and Afghanistan.


President George W. Bush, even after our experience, wrongly entering the Vietnam War, losing that war, and evacuating from that war in disgrace and dishonor made the mistake of believing that he could do it. He could do it in Afghanistan. George W. Bush believed he could do the impossible.

Our next guest is someone who paid a heavy price in the war that George W. Bush started. Dan Berschinski is a West Point graduate who was a U.S. Army infantry platoon leader in Afghanistan in 2009. In a "Washington Post" article he wrote, quote, the awful scenes we are now witnessing were inevitable.

Inevitable is the same word that the Republican White House press secretary used in 1975 to describe the fall of Saigon and the frantic, chaotic final days of the American evacuation from Vietnam, inevitable.

The day after the final helicopter left Vietnam when the White House press secretary was asked how many people were evacuated, he said, quote, there is no complete count of the number of people we were able to evacuate. No complete count. That was the official White House count. No complete count.

Press secretary said, quote, as many were evacuated as was realistically possible, and everyone knew that thousands of people were left behind. And everyone knew there was nothing we could do about that because the way we evacuate from a war that we lose is not up to us. It is up to the people who are shooting at us or choosing not to shoot at us as the Taliban have chosen so far.

In his "Washington Post" article, Dan Berschinski tells the story of his last day of service in Afghanistan. On August 18th, 2009, two days before a national election, I was supposed to partner with Afghan army forces to reconnoiter local polling sites. As I walked across our base that morning, I learned that my Afghan partners had fled overnight. They did not want to risk their lives to protect their own polling sites.

Within ten hours, Sergeant Troy Tom, a 21-year-old from Shiprock, New Mexico, was killed by an improvised forward device. My forward observer, Specialist Jonathan Yanney, 20 of Litchfield, Minnesota, was also killed by an IED. Several hours later, I too, stepped on an IED trigger. But my bomb was small. Instead of killing me, it only severed both of my legs above the knees.

Joining us now is retired U.S. Army Captain Dan Berschinski. He`s a senior fellow with the Eisenhower Media Network.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.


O`DONNELL: And one thing that fascinates me about your background is the West Point piece. And one thing I have been wondering about is what is the West Point study course on evacuating from wars that we lose? And how much time do people spend at west point studying the evacuation from Vietnam in the event that we have to apply that same kind of evacuation again?

BERSCHINSKI: As you would imagine, I never had any courses on how to evacuate a forever war. We`re all witnessing it firsthand, unfortunately.

O`DONNELL: And what has been your reaction to what you have been seeing in these final days in Afghanistan?

BERSCHINSKI: Well, my first reaction was a huge high of relief after watching for the vast majority of my adult life -- 9/11 occurred when I was a senior in high school. So, after watching this war drag on for over 20 years across four presidential administrations, I am greatly relieved that we finally have a president in Joe Biden who acknowledges the truth and is willing to take and endure the political risk to bring this war to its inevitable end.

O`DONNELL: And what we`re seeing this week and what we`re seeing in the coverage is the political risk that previous presidents had feared facing, apparently. You mention that in your "Washington Post" piece about how the previous presidents with jurisdiction over this war will not be penalized for having done nothing to change the course of it.

BERSCHINSKI: Right. None of the three prior administrations will face any meaningful damage, perhaps reputational damage for even that. So, more frustrating for me, I have to admit, is the fact that we have an entire multiple, I guess, generations of general officers throughout our military who have abetted this catastrophe of an effort, to be honest.


I love the military. I love my job leading soldiers. I love soldiers, I`m incredibly proud of all the work that American soldiers put in in Afghanistan.

At the individual level, we did help Afghans. We built schools. We defended schools. We built medical clinics. We provided infrastructure that the Afghan government could not provide to its own people and ultimately we allowed for an entire generation of Afghan citizens to experience basic human rights and freedoms that they have never had a chance to experience before. I`m incredibly proud of what we have done there.

That said, I`m incredibly disappointed in the decision-making and poor advisement that our general officers have displayed over these last 20 years. The Pentagon deserves its share of the blame here.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST :You write in "The Washington Post" about your encounter with a shopkeeper that explained to you why the Taliban was going to eventually be in the position that they`re in tonight in Afghanistan. Talk about that, what you learned in that encounter.

BERSCHINSKI: When I met with that shopkeeper, he simply reminded me that no matter what, I was a transient in Afghanistan. I would leave. The coalition forces would eventually leave. And the Taliban would still be there.

I think what`s getting lost in a lot of the commotion as we watch this withdrawal is the fact that Afghanistan is simply returning to the status quo after all of our effort. The country is just going back to the way it was.

The Taliban ran the country prior to 9/11. Then we invaded. Six to 12 months after we successfully destroyed al-Qaeda and pushed back the Taliban, that was the only point at which we had leverage to exact any sort of favorable terms from the Taliban.

And instead of utilizing that leverage, we chose to dig in, make it obvious that we were there for the long haul. But obviously we can`t be there for forever.

And the Taliban are Afghans. They live there. It is their country. They simply outlasted us, just like the shopkeeper told me they would.

O`DONNELL: And the -- that was also the story of Vietnam, was that they knew eventually Americans would leave. Was Vietnam in the minds of people in Afghanistan during all those years that it was dragging on and on and that there is a model for this. And eventually the Americans simply leave. That`s what they do.

BERSCHINSKI: I don`t know what sort of education in history the Taliban and its strategists might have or might not. But I have to imagine and hope that it was certainly in the minds of our planners.

You know, the previous administration`s national security adviser H.R. McMaster wrote literally the book on Afghanistan, how it all went wrong and how we found ourselves in a quagmire there. And yet he was more than happy to advise President Trump to maintain the status quo and spend more lives, spend more time, spend more American money.

So the real question we should be asking is have the American people, have the government that we elect to represent us -- has that government learned from this? Has the Pentagon learned from this?

And I think that`s the only silver lining in this entire debacle is can America learn from this? And will we choose to do something different in the future when we are inevitably presented with a similar situation.

Capt. Dan Berschinski, thank you very much for your service. Thank you for joining us tonight with your invaluable perspective on all of this.


O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, today Kathy Hochul became the first governor of the state of New York from Buffalo in over 100 years, and the first woman governor of the state of New York. And that means big changes in the culture of governing in New York state.

That`s next.




GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): I stand here as the 57th governor of New York. But I could not get here without the courage and sacrifice of others. The courage of the early suffragettes who began the long march for equality, and the elected women who came before me, paving the way for this day. They taught me resistance.

The courage of my grandparents as teenagers fleeing great poverty in Ireland in search of a better life. They taught me perseverance.


O`DONNELL: New York`s new governor wore white today in honor of the women`s suffrage movement in her first day on the job as governor of New York.

She is New York`s first woman governor and the first New York governor in over 100 years from New York`s second largest city, Buffalo. After three consecutive governors who were men from New York city, Governor Kathy Hochul represents a change in culture in that office in more ways than one.


HOCHUL: That begins with a dramatic change in culture, accountability and no tolerance for individuals who cross the line. Today I`m directing an overhaul of state government policies on sexual harassment and ethics starting with requiring that all training be done live instead of allowing people to click their way through a class.

In a new era of transparency, one of my hallmarks of my administration to me is very simple. It will focus on open, ethical governing that New Yorkers will trust.

I`ll sign an executive order requiring ethics training for every employee of New York state government, which shockingly is not required across the board.



O`DONNELL: Governor Hochul says her top priority is protecting New Yorkers from COVID-19.


HOCHUL: None of us want to re-run of last year`s horrors with COVID-19. Therefore, we will take proactive steps to prevent that from happening.

Priority number one, we get children back to school and protect the environment so they can learn and everyone is safe. We need to require vaccinations for all school personnel with an option to test out weekly at least for now.

New York is launching a back to school COVID-19 testing program to make testing for students and staff widely available and convenient.

I`m also immediately directing the Department of Health to institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools. When I consulted with Dr. Fauci last week we discussed the urgent need to ensure vaccinated individuals receive a booster dose at eight months.

I`m prepared to do whatever is necessary including reopening mass vax cites so a booster is available for all New Yorkers who meet that timetable.


O`DONNELL: Like most lieutenant governors, Kathy Hochul has been working in obscurity for years, visiting all 62 counties of the state every year, but remaining invisible to most New Yorkers thanks to a governor who always refused to share the spotlight with her.

Today Governor Hochul told New Yorkers what to expect from her.


HOCHUL: As I undertake the weighty responsibilities before me, know that I have the confidence, the courage and the ability to lead New Yorkers forward and make New York`s women proud.

You will find me to be direct, straight talking and decisive. I will not be deterred. And I`m willing to be bloodied and martyred in the pursuit of doing what`s right for the people of this great state.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, Hawaii`s lieutenant governor Josh Green, who also works as an emergency room physician treating coronavirus patients has been harassed at his home by anti-vaccine anti-mask fanatics who hate him for a few reasons, including that he is Jewish.

Hawaii`s lieutenant governor Dr. Josh Green will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Yesterday the Democratic governor of Hawaii made the most difficult announcement a Hawaii governor could have to make. He asked tourists not to come to Hawaii. His economy is based almost entirely on tourism. Hawaii is the state with the second highest percentage of people with at least one vaccine dose at 85.6 percent.

Over the past month, the seven-day average of new cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii has increased by 270 percent. And coronavirus hospitalizations in Hawaii have increased by 436 percent.

19 days ago, on August 5th, Hawaii announced a mandate that state and county workers would have to show proof of vaccination or face weekly tests. And almost every night since that announcement unmasked, anti- vaccine protesters have gathered outside the building where our next guest Hawaii lieutenant governor Josh Green lives with his wife and two children ages 14 and 10.

This video shows the protesters near the lieutenant governor`s home holding signs that read, "Stop the lies. Protect the right to choose to live free. And the last mandate is communism." Also "no forced vaccinations".

The Associated Press reports some protesters yell into bullhorns and shine strobe lights into apartment units. Green said flyers with his photo and the words Jew and fraud have been plastered around the neighborhood.

Green, who is Jewish, has been tearing them down and turning them over to the state attorney general`s office. Ironically, Green wasn`t home during a recent intense weekend of protests. He was on the Big Island working on his other job as an emergency room doctor and treating mostly COVID-19 patients during a record surge in coronavirus hospitalizations in the state.

And joining us now is Dr. Josh green, lieutenant governor of Ohio (SIC). Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Dr. Green. What is your feeling about these protests? Some leaders an order that goes out about state and county workers and the protests erupt. Is it state and county workers who are up there?

LT. GOV. JOSH GREEN (D-HI): No, it is anti-vaxx individuals. Thank you for having me, Lawrence.

Look, I totally support people`s right to freedom of speech and to protest and gather peacefully. Some of this has been somewhat ugly. It`s people that don`t believe in science. It`s people that, unfortunately, are willing to scare others away from becoming vaccinated, away from wearing a mask.

And we have a pandemic amongst unvaccinated like we`re seeing all across America. The tragedy is these individuals are going to get sick and that makes me sad.

I`m not going to lie. I mean, it is sometimes upsetting when people are at your home because I have a wife and children and great neighbors, so it is really inappropriate.

But I will be taking care of these individuals as their physician in the coming weeks when they catch COVID. And we`ve had that big surge as you described, patients in the hospital. We`re at about 120 percent capacity in our hospitals right now because so many unvaccinated individuals have caught COVID.

O`DONNELL: You are the lieutenant governor of Hawaii, not the governor. Why do they think you`re in charge?


GREEN: Well, I`m very vocal. I`m a physician. And I`m a voice of reason on behalf of science. And that makes me a lightning rod.

Look at the end of the day, science is going to stop this pandemic, not science fiction. And you can`t beat the biology of it. COVID, especially the delta variant, is just crushing people who are not vaccinated.

And I`m trying on bring calm and peace to the discussion. But a lot of people are afraid and those protesters are afraid. They`re behaving badly, of course, but when people get sick with delta, they end up terrified in the hospital. And this unsettles all of society.

You`re just seeing a piece of the unsettled society. But it`s ok. Look, I will absorb some of the anger and rage as long it means that we can get to the other individuals and get them vaccinated or get them wearing masks.

People look at me for health leadership because I`ve been a doctor more than a politician in their minds.

O`DONNELL: What do you tell your kids about what`s happening outside of their home? And what these people are saying about their father. And do your kids know about the anti-Semitism that is being expressed out there?

GREEN: They do. This might amuse you, Lawrence. So I`m a Jewish guy married to a Mormon here in Hawaii which is the way we do things. We are very multicultural. My wife is Hawaiian. I`m a, you know, a person from Pittsburgh and New York. And so our kids are a mix, they`re half.

So we really embrace multiculturalism, multiple religions in our household. We have the high holidays for Judaism and we celebrate Christmas together because that`s a part of our tradition.

And I just tell my children, they know that their dad can deal with this. What they need to do is to be smart. They need to study. My daughter who`s 14 is vaccinated.

My 10-year-old son is actually in quarantine right now because in his public school, one of the other students tested positive. So he`s in ten- day isolation. He`s healthy, Sammy.

And I teach them science and I teach them that we`re going to come together as a country when we get through this crisis. They don`t love it. It does upset them. My son was more upset I think than my daughter.

But I teach them America is a place where people can express themselves and also we have to be forgiving. I also teach them to get ready for a future of caring for people because if this continues, we`re going to need to provide a lot of care for people who have lost their way like these folks.

O`DONNELL: A wise lieutenant governor, Dr. Josh Green. Thank you very, very much for joining us tonight. Thank you for the work you`re doing. And we really want you to come back and tell us how things are going in the future. Thank you very much.

GREEN: I promise.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the investigation of the January 6th attack on the Capitol could include obtaining phone records of members of Congress. Neal Katyal joins us next.



O`DONNELL: The House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection is preparing to request records from telecommunications companies and social media companies as part of its investigation. The special committee chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters the committee is seeking records from several hundred people including members of Congress.

Joining us now is Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. Solicitor General and an MSNBC legal contributor. Neal, can the committee obtain these phone records?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: They can. And it is a sign, Lawrence, of a very serious investigation. It is not something investigators would do on a lark. It is done because they think evidence otherwise are going to go missing. And that tool doesn`t always work against sophisticated entities who use encryption or disappearing messages like Signal.

But Lawrence, the folks we`re talking about in Congress here aren`t well -- sophisticated. And so it may be that they will do this, that it will yield some information.

What`s significant to me is the request to phone companies. That suggests they don`t trust people to just voluntarily turn it over.

O`DONNELL: And what does it mean in terms of the legal ability to fight these requests from people who suspect that their records would be involved?

KATYAL: Well, they can certainly try. I don`t think it`s going to succeed. And I think even, you know, President Clinton for all his faults, you know, when he was faced with all these requests turned over and reconstructed the entire email system to give it to Congress to the tune of $12 million expense.

So I`d hope that these people would just say, hey we don`t have anything to hide. Some of the members of Congress have said that and turn over the information voluntarily.

If they don`t, yes, you can go to court and I think these members of Congress will lose. These kinds of immunity, kinds of arguments are pretty bogus.

I mean we`re talking about, Lawrence, an insurrection against the United States with possibly some of it from happening within. So I think courts are going to bend over backwards to get that information.

O`DONNELL: Now, any phone calls, any verbal communication that occurred at that time won`t be part of this evidentiary collection. It will just be this phone number spoke to that phone number.

KATYAL: Correct. Although the request it seems like the reporting today indicates that they were also may be seeking emails or other things as well.

So you could have substantive communications. And I think that`s the bad news for the Mo Brookses of the world. I mean their day is going to come.

They got used to having a crony in the executive branch running things. But now there is an independent nonpolitical investigation that`s going to go on. And Lawrence, it is kind of like the milk crate`s Tiktok, you know. It`s all good for a while, it looks good and then all of a sudden it isn`t.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you very for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

That is tonight`s Last Word.

And a programming note, Kathy Hochul will make her first TV appearance as New York governor tomorrow morning on "MORNING JOE" right here on MSNBC.



BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again.

Day 217 of the Biden administration.

The president now facing the most critical week in his eight months in office thus far.