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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 8/25/21

Guests: Dana Nessel, Laura Jedeed, David Rothkopf, Val Demings, Amy Klobuchar


A federal judge delivered in a 110-page opinion and order, not just sanctioning all nine lawyers who put their names on a fraudulent election lawsuit in Michigan, but also referring the matter for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment. The evacuation in Afghanistan continues tonight with the Biden administration saying today that they take responsibility for the evacuation. Last night, House Democrats passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on a party line vote 219-212. Not a single Republican voted for the bill. Senator Amy Klobuchar was in Wisconsin today advocating for the For The People Act to block the Republican assault on Democratic voting rights.



As we know, Judges generally have the emotional range of accountants. There`s just -- you know, there`s just not that much. And there`s not that much of an opportunity to present it. That`s what`s so striking about Judge Linda Carter`s opinion and order tonight, 110 pages, where she just -- she works so carefully within the bounds of the law, but you can feel the outrage in that opinion.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Hold on, I`m just going to get it. I`m not leaving, I`m just getting it off the side of my desk here where I have it.

This is me reading this opinion today. This is not a good use of highlighters. I should have highlighted what I didn`t think was worth reading. It is one of those rulings for the ages. And it is designed to speak to the general public.

Plaintiff`s counsel advanced this lawsuit for an improper purpose and will be held to account for their actions. This was about ensuring a preferred political candidate remained in the presidential seat despite the decision of the nation`s voters to unseat him.

I mean, it is like chest-pounding when it comes to defending the integrity of the judiciary and what lawyers are responsible for when they are allowed into the court in the name of the bar. But in terms of what they were trying to do in the overall project that Trump was trying to pull off with these lawsuits? It is a -- this is a civic document that is for public consumption.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal is going to join us because, of course, this will be appealed. We`ll get his assessment. He`s an appellate lawyer. We`ll get his assessment of what chances are on appealing this thing, because there`s a good 50 pages of it that is legal boiler plate in the middle, establishing her authority for all of this.

And we`re also going to be joined by Michigan`s attorney general, party to this case, who won in this court tonight. And so it`s such an important opinion, and it`s going to -- we`ll see if -- what happens to it as it works its way up the federal appellate system, if it can even make it up the appellate system at all. Neal will be very helpful on that.

MADDOW: Yeah, I mean, to see a judge refer -- a federal judge refer a lawyer for potential disbarment is such a big deal. That gets headlines whenever it happens. But in this case, for it to have happened to all nine lawyers involved? To all nine lawyers, including the ones who were like, I didn`t actually sign that, I didn`t really actually work on it. My name`s on this? I didn`t know my name was on it.

And she was like, lightning bolt -- no, forget it, you`re dead. This is a serious thing.

O`DONNELL: And, of course, Rachel, you remember the hearing that we watched. The virtual hearing which was just back in July where she was so careful of allowing each one of them whatever they needed to say in their own defense, whenever they wanted to say it, she kept extending the time to allow them to say more in their defense, which they kind of never did. They kept making all these irrelevant points that she was incredibly patient with. And you can see she was demonstrating all that patience so she could have this day, this night, with this opinion, where she just covers every singing angle word that was said in that hearing.

MADDOW: That`s right. She gave them every single opportunity. That was also the hearing where one of the lawyers was reduced to shouting, "I am not a potted plant, I am not a potted plant!" that was the first sign that this ruling in the end was not going to go well for the Trump lawyers. But even I didn`t expect it was going to go this badly for them.

O`DONNELL: It`s one of the few absurdities that she did not quote in the opinion.

MADDOW: That`s exactly right.

O`DONNELL: I am not a potted plant, that defense was not mentioned.

Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, Rudy Giuliani is not alone. He is not the only Trump lawyer who has now been sanctioned. Rudy Giuliani has lost his right to practice law in New York state and in the District of Columbia. And we will be joined in a moment by Dana Nessel, the attorney general for the state of Michigan, where a federal judge delivered the breaking news of the night in that 110- page opinion and order, not just sanctioning all nine lawyers who put their names on a fraudulent election lawsuit in Michigan, but also, as Rachel just mentioned, quote, referring the matter for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment.

For every one of the lawyers who put their names on this lawsuit, which Judge Linda Parker called, quote, an historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.


Judge Parker said the case, quote, was about undermining the people`s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so. Judge Parker said, quote, plaintiff`s attorneys have scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way. The judge said that the lawyers knew or should have known that what they were asking for in their lawsuit was legally impossible.

The lawsuit actually asked the judge to issue an order to, quote, transmit certified election results that state that President Donald Trump is the winner of the election. Instead of doing that, the judge is ordering the lawyers, who asked her to do that, to pay the attorneys` fees for the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit, who defended the integrity of the Michigan election against this frivolous lawsuit -- Rachel and I watched all of that almost six-hour virtual hearing that Judge Parker conducted when she was considering whether to order sanctions in this case.

And the lawyers facing sanctions in that hearing were as inept in their own defense as they were in filing the fraudulent lawsuit.

Here`s just one example of the lies told by these lawyers in the lawsuit, which included references to witnesses that were full of falsehoods. Plaintiffs intentionally lied by filing the partially redacted declaration of Spider, who plaintiffs identified as a former U.S. military intelligence expert and former electronic intelligence analyst with the 305th military intelligence which was signed by Joshua Merritt, who never completed the entry-level training course at the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion and is not an intelligence analyst.

Judge Parker dismantled each attorney`s defense point by point. Some of the attorneys said because they were not admitted to practice law in Michigan, the judge had no authority over them to which the judge cited the Michigan rules of professional conduct, quote, a lawyer not admitted in this jurisdiction is also subject to the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction if the lawyer provides or offers to provide any legal services in this jurisdiction.

The judge found that attorney Lin Wood was not telling the truth when he said he did not realize that his name was going to be included in this lawsuit as one of the lawyers in the case. The judge questioned Lin Wood closely about this during the hearing, and Lin Wood said then, I do not specifically recall being asked about the Michigan complaint. Would I have objected to be included by name? I don`t believe so.

And in that same hearing, Sidney Powell, when questioned by the judge, contradicted Lin Wood saying, my view, your honor, is that I did specifically ask Mr. Wood for his permission. In her opinion and order today, the judge wrote, the court does not believe that Wood was unaware of his inclusion as counsel in this case. Wood is not credible.

The judge put it out that Lin Wood actually took credit for filing this lawsuit in a brief that he submitted in another case in Delaware in which Wood claimed he, quote, represented plaintiffs challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election in Michigan. Emily Newman tried to escape sanctions by claiming that she spent, quote, maybe five hours on the matter from home.

Michigan lawyer Gregory Rohl said he spent be sanctioned, quote, because he read the pleading only on the day of its filing. The judge wrote in response to that, Rohl read an 830-page complaint in just well over an hour on the day he filed it, so Rohl`s argument in and of itself reveals sanctionable conduct.

The judge pointed out, because Rohl was the only lawyer involved who was admitted to practice in the eastern district of Michigan, quote, the complaints could not have been filed without Rohl`s signature. Judge Parker ridiculed the defense that the lawyers believed all of the false claims in the lawsuit. The judge said, of course, an empty head but pure heart does not justify lodging patently unsupported factual assertions, in such cases ignorance is not bliss, it is sanctionable.

Some of the lawyers compared their false assertions to the kinds of things so-called journalists on the Fox Channel say every night, to which the judge said, quote, attorneys are not journalists.


It therefore comes as no surprise that plaintiffs` attorneys fail to cite a single case suggesting that the two professions share comparable duties and responsibilities. Although the First Amendment may allow plaintiffs` down to say what they desire on social media in press conferences, or on television, federal courts are reserved for hearing genuine legal disputes which are well grounded in fact and law.

Judge Parker wrote, circumstances suggest that this lawsuit was not about vindicating rights in the wake of alleged election fraud, instead it was about ensuring that a preferred political candidate remained in the presidential seat despite the decision of the nation`s voters to unseat him. Sanctions are required to deter the filing of future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged and our Democratic institutions cannot be trusted. This lawsuit should never have been filed.

And leading off our discussion tonight is Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

You were -- your office was involved in this lawsuit defending the state. In effect, defending the voters of the state in the way they cast their votes. What is your reaction after reading those 110 pages?

DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I`m -- you know, I`m relieved at Judge Parker`s findings, her conclusions. The fact that she frankly -- she issued each and every one of the requests that we have made and the city of Detroit have made in terms what was we believe the sanctions should be. She actually went further than that in ordering all of the attorneys, actually, to attend continuing education classes, which I have never seen before in regard to an order by the court.

They`ve been ordered to complete classes in both how to file proper pleadings, and also in election laws, since they demonstrated they know nothing about election law whatsoever, and really have no business in filing this lawsuit to begin with.

So I`m relieved because I think it`s important, this decision, this ruling by Judge Parker is incredibly important in terms of maintaining our democracy and so that people understand that even if you can brazenly lie on television or in a press conference or on social media, there is one place still in this country where you must rely on the truth, and that is in a court of law and in our system of justice.

But Judge Parker is not one to suffer fools, and these Trump attorneys made incredible fools of themselves, clearly.

O`DONNELL: So the money sanction that is they are each and all liable to pay attorneys fees for the state of Michigan for the city of Detroit. Do you have any idea how much money that`s going to be that they`re being ordered to pay? Because the attorneys` fees hasn`t yet been calculated.

NESSEL: It`s for the city of Detroit attorneys and also for my attorneys at the Department of Attorney General in Michigan. So there`s been a request made for us to calculate exactly what those hours are based on the pay of my attorneys and based on the billing for the city of Detroit attorneys. And so, we`ll be submitting that in a timely fashion.

I imagine it will certainly be tens of thousands of dollars, depending on what the city of Detroit attorneys are billing, it could be much higher than that.

O`DONNELL: You mentioned that order she gave them about submitting to continuing legal education study of some kind. She also requires them to report back to her, basically, on what they`ve learned in that course. And so, they presumably, these lawyers, most or all of them will want to appeal this entire order and try to delay the implementation of anything in this order.

What do you expect the prospects to be on appeal?

NESSEL: I expect that they will not be successful if that`s what they attempt to do. This is a 110-page opinion. And it is exhaustive in its detail. And in terms of the legal support that Judge Parker lent to the decisions that she`s made.

So I don`t expect that there will be any success on the part of the plaintiffs` attorneys in the event that they appeal. And, you know, I think that she, Judge Parker, I mean, she gave incredible substance to the reason and the rationale behind each and every one of her orders.


And if ever there was a case of attorneys that require this type of sanctioning, and that I would argue, it`s appropriate for each and every one of them to be disbarred, it`s in a case of this magnitude that had this kind of impact where you have such a substantial portion of the population in the United States now that no longer has belief in the accuracy, and in the safety of our elections.

And in fact, Judge Parker ties the events of the insurrection on January 6 at the Capitol directly to this lawsuit and to the allegations that were made in this lawsuit. And I think she`s correct in doing so.

O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction, before we go to the other big legal story out of Michigan today, and that is that the sentencing of one of the people who participated in the plot to kidnap and murder Governor Gretchen Whitmer, he was sentenced to 75 months in prison, Ty Garbin. He is cooperating in this investigation. He got 75 months in prison.

What does that tell us about what we`ll see in this prosecution, in this case, going forward?

NESSEL: These are the federal cases that we`re talking about right now. It`s a federal defendant. There are six of them. There are an additional eight defendants that we are prosecuting in state court for my department.

What I would say it suggests is that these defendants, in the event that they`re convicted, are facing very, very lengthy sentences. And I think it sends a powerful message about domestic terrorism in this country and the fact that there`s a price to pay in the event that you`re involved in this kind of conduct.

O`DONNELL: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, thank you very much for joining us on this important day for Michigan. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

And joining us is Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general, and an MSNBC legal contributor, and expert appellate attorney.

Neal, let`s say the nine now-sanctioned lawyers come to you tomorrow and they ask you what their prospects are for appealing this judge`s order.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Pretty close to nil. Remember, Lawrence, when Donald Trump`s legal team misspelled "United States" on the first page of their submission for him? That wasn`t the lowest point. This is.

I mean, team kraken really faced the kraken, the 110-page meticulous opinion that I think is really hard to appeal. Before explaining why, I can imagine viewers asking, why are we talking about this? Why are we starting the show with this?

The reason is because this line wasn`t just big, it is still persistent, this lie. That`s why the judge`s decision is so important in restoring truth and telling the story about what actually happened. And look, I think it is incredibly rare for a federal judge -- I don`t know that I`ve ever seen it -- to use language like this.

I certainly believe that lawyers should be able to zealously advocate within the law and within the facts, but I think the judge here explains something most of us knew, which is, this wasn`t facts. It wasn`t law. It was a disservice to the bar. It was a disservice to the country.

So you asked about prospects on appeal. And I think that they`re really, really hard. Because after all, I think this decision is monumental, but it`s a long time coming. I mean, literally, the defense of these lawyers was, you can`t sue crazy. I`m serious. The legal strategy, what they said to the judge was to argue that their claims were so ridiculous to buy, even though they made them in official court proceedings, that nobody truly would have believed them.

And I don`t think it`s a good sign, either on appeal or in trial court, when your best defense before one court is to say, well, you told blatant lies in another.

O`DONNELL: The other part of the order recommending investigations for possible disbarment, that will be carried out by the individual states who have jurisdiction over these lawyers where they`re admitted to practice. That goes forward -- that referral goes forward no matter what they try to do on appeal?

KATYAL: A hundred percent right. They`ve all got disbarment proceedings coming as a result of this order. I can`t wait to see Sidney Powell argue that the briefs that she submitted were fabricated by Hugo Chavez, and, you know, some bizarre plot to prevent her from keeping the sweet campaign contributions that the RNC was giving.

And, you know, under this order, at the attorney general said, she`s got to pay her opponent`s legal fees and I bet she regrets having the Republican National Committee keep so much of that election "defense" money that Donald Trump was raising in basically seeking funds for this faux litigation.


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

And coming up, the evacuation in Afghanistan continues tonight with the Biden administration saying today that they take responsibility for the evacuation. That`s next.



JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, just a week ago, plenty of people were saying we couldn`t do 50,000. We`ve done 82,000. So just to put into context, again, that`s a flight yesterday every 39 minutes. That is thousands and thousands of people coming through the airport every single day, 19,000 people yesterday.

I think these numbers do provide context, and we`re going to continue to press every single day to get more people who are eligible out of the country. We`re on track to have the largest U.S. airlift in history. And I think that speaks for itself.


O`DONNELL: Today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave an update on what the State Department knows about Americans in Afghanistan.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Based on our analysis, starting on august 14th when our evacuation operations began, there was then a population of as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave. Over the last ten days, roughly 4,500 of these Americans have been safely evacuated along with immediate family members. Over the past 24 hours, we`ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely.


O`DONNELL: People who suggest that America will somehow lose credibility and honor by leaving anyone behind in Afghanistan who helped the American forces in any way over the last 20 years forget that America already lost that credibility on April 30th, 1975, when the last American helicopter left Vietnam, leaving behind thousands of people who helped the U.S. forces during the Vietnam war, and leaving behind by mistake in a Saigon hospital the bodies of the last two soldiers killed in action in Vietnam who were killed by rocket fire while the evacuation was going on.


The world knew then that America will give up on a multi-decade war when it gets tired of fighting and losing that war, and that the United States will try to get as many people out of that country as possible, but it will always look like this. And we will always leave people behind, and we will always forget, always forget that, whenever we are deciding to start the next hopeless American war.

The only thing we are learning in the evacuation from Afghanistan is the State Department and the Defense Department have gotten slightly better at this in the 46 years since the last time they did it. What we are seeing in the American exit from Afghanistan is disgraceful because the American war in Afghanistan became a disgrace when it turned into an endless war.

The secretary of state said something today that no one in the White House or the State Department or the Defense Department said in 1975 when we evacuated from the lost war in Vietnam.


BLINKEN: I take responsibility. I know the president has said he takes responsibility. And I know all of my colleagues across government feel the same way.


O`DONNELL: Here are the three words that President George W. Bush, who started the war in Afghanistan, has never said about that mistake that we are living with tonight. "I take responsibility."

Joining us are David Rothkopf, foreign affairs analyst and columnist with "The Daily Beast" and "USA Today". He`s host of "The Deep State" radio podcast. Also with us, Laura Jedeed, who served two tours in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne.

You were both with us the first night of the coverage of this evacuation.

And, Laura, you had written movingly about it at the time what you were feeling. I wanted to check in with both of you, especially you, Lara, who had been there, fought in this war, on what you`re feeling, what you`re seeing at this stage of the evacuation.

LAURA JEDEED, AFGHANISTAN ARMY VETERAN: Honestly, David mentioned this earlier today on Twitter, but it`s really quite amazing what`s happened. It`s not perfect. We`re leaving people behind, that`s awful, that number keeps going up. This morning, the number that I saw was 70,000. It`s 82,000. Now, it`s 87,000, this is astounding.

It should have gone better. It should have been more organized. But given what happened, I think this administration should be a little bit proud to take responsibility of this evacuation.

O`DONNELL: David, your reaction on where we stand tonight?

DAVID ROTHKOPF, FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Exactly where Laura said she was. The reality is that this is a tough situation. As you said, there`s no way to end a war and lose a war and make it look like you`re winning the war. But this administration has taken a bad hand and done a number of things that show a lot of character and a lot of capacity. They said they would leave Afghanistan. The last three presidents didn`t have the courage to do it.

When they had to do the evacuation, they mobilized, but Jen Psaki has said it`s going to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. Sometime in the next 24 hours, we will pass 100,000 people having been evacuated from Afghanistan in under two weeks. That`s extraordinary.

But you also had Tony Blinken, as you say, accepting responsibility, and answering tough questions, just as National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan did yesterday. He said, this is how many people were there, this is what we know, this is what we don`t know, this is how we`re solving it.

And, you know, what more do you want from a government than doing the right thing, acknowledging its errors, mobilizing all the resources at its disposal, and doing everything that it can to help American citizens and our allies?


O`DONNELL: It does seem that a lot of the coverage has succumbed to this Hollywood notion of we never leave anyone behind. That, of course, is not true.

There has never been an evacuating army (AUDIO GAP) leave people behind in Vietnam.

And Laura, one of the things that troubles me about that note in the coverage is, there`s a presumption in it that the American military is so good that it knows how to do this perfectly. And the only people who possibly could have screwed this up are civilians in the government who didn`t allow the American military to do it perfectly. And this notion that the American military can deliver perfectly in situations like this.

What bothers me about it is it feeds the notion that the American military can do anything. That it can go into Afghanistan, say, at the orders of George W. Bush and be successful militarily in a country where no one has been successful before.

And that`s kind of my fear in the underlying tone of this coverage is, well, you know, it didn`t have to be this way. My presumption at the outset was that it had to be this way if you go into Afghanistan, if you ever do try to get out.

LAURA JEDEED, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Absolutely. People want a Hollywood ending just like you said. They want a fairytale. There is no happy ending to this story. The two choices are to get out, and it was always going to be ugly.

And, you know, Biden was not my preferred primary candidate, but I will give him this, he has taken responsibility. He`s done the hard thing. He`s putting up with the negative media attention.

And the other option, the only other option, is a forever war. And anyone who thinks that`s a good idea, I would encourage them to read "Bring the War Home" by Kathleen Belew.

Exposure to violence overseas breeds violent extremism at home. We saw this after Vietnam. And we`re seeing it now with the rise of the far right. These things are connected.

And colonialism comes home to roost and for the sake of our future and our soul, I think we have to end this and get back to living life without being at war all the time.

O`DONNELL: And David, one of the pressures in the coverage now and in commentators and partisans is the August 31st deadline, tremendous pressure on the president to move the August 31st deadline.

As if that`s completely up to the president of the United States in a country we are being driven out of.

ROTHKOPF: Absolutely right. Again, there is no happy ending when you lose. The president of the United States and his team are negotiating, as Jake Sullivan said yesterday, daily with the Taliban about this. But the Taliban have said, you`ve got until the end of the month.

The president has said, again, to his credit that we have to make contingency plans if we are not done, we may have to do other things to protect our citizens. And I think there`s a very substantial incentive for the Taliban to enable us to get everybody out because so much of their economic resources are controlled in U.S. And allied banks. So much of their GDP is dependent on, you know, international capital flows, that we can apply pressure to them in ways that will make them go along with this.

So, you know, they`re managing this in exactly the right way. It`s ugly, it`s painful, but it`s the best of all the options that are available to us right now.

David Rothkopf, Laura Jedeed, thank you both for joining us once again. We really appreciate it.

JEDEED: Thank you Lawrence.

ROTHKOPF: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, there was not one Republican vote in the house last night for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Congresswoman Val Demings will join us next.




REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Those who worship at the altar of voter suppression will fail. Those who worship at the altar of Jim Crow-like oppression will fail. Those who worship at the altar of turning back the clock to make America hate again will fail. We`re not going backward.


O`DONNELL: Last night, House Democrats passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on a party line vote 219-212. Not a single Republican voted for the bill. The legislation would restore key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act weakened by the Supreme Court rulings by restoring federal oversight of state changes to election laws and by making it clearer how to challenge discriminatory voting laws.

"Slate" described the bill as, quote, "Court reform. It is the clearest indication yet that House Democrats are getting serious about reining in an out-of-control Supreme Court."

At least 18 states have enacted 30 laws that restrict voting access just this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. ABC News identified at least eight states, including Arizona, Georgia and Florida, that have, quote, "enacted ten laws so far this year that change election laws by bolstering partisan entities` power over the process or shifting election- related responsibilities from secretaries of state."

Joining us is Val Demings of Florida. She`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee and she is now a candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida.

Congresswoman Demings, thank you very much for joining us tonight. The House passage last night with zero Republican votes suggests that that could very well be the same Republican count in the Senate. So how do you go forward from here?


REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well Lawrence, it`s great to be back with you.

And let me just say, it wasn`t that long ago when we had a Republican president who signed legislation supporting expanding -- extending the Voting Rights Act. It wasn`t that long ago when we had Republicans in the House of Representatives stand with John Lewis and join him in protecting the precious and, as he said, almost sacred right to vote.

But as you indicated, we`re in a different house now. And you know, to just hear you say it again, it`s still shocking to believe that zero Republicans in the House of Representatives stood up and supported protecting the right to vote. And also to fight against discriminatory practices at the ballot box.

But we`re not going to stop, just like John Lewis and so many other people of all races did not stop. Some lost their lives in the fight, we know that. We`re not going to stop. We`re proud of the legislation that we passed last night in the name of that voting rights hero, John Lewis.

It is headed to the Senate. We expect the Senate to do the right thing. You know, I said awhile ago that if the filibuster, that antiquated procedural process, stands in the way of pertinent legislation, particularly voting rights or civil rights, then we should get rid of it.

So we`ll see what happens. But our expectation is now changing, our commitment will not change, we`re not going anywhere. As Hakeem Jeffries said last night, we`re not going backwards.

O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar is going to join us in the next segment to discuss what happens when you send this bill that`s passed by the House to the Senate.

You`re running statewide in Florida now. What is your confidence level at this point that you will be running in a fairly run election for United States Senate in the state of Florida?

DEMINGS: Well Lawrence, you know, last cycle our governor said that Florida had an election process that really should be a model for the nation. Yet as you`ve already indicated, Florida too, has joined the efforts to institute discriminatory practices at the ballot box.

Look, I`m going to run my race. And I`m going to control the things I can control. I`m going to demonstrate that Marco Rubio (AUDIO GAP) voting rights. He`s certainly not going to stand up to protect civil rights. He didn`t even stand up to help Floridians in the middle of a public health pandemic.

And so we`re going to run, we`re going to run hard. And if there are people who are listening to this and they want to support candidates who will stand up for the precious right of voting, then I would ask your viewers to visit my Website,

O`DONNELL: Florida is in a very difficult position with COVID-19 tonight, the worst numbers the state has ever seen. Florida`s doing worse than any other state in the country right now. The death numbers, the infection rate -- all-time high.

What is failing in Florida`s governmental approach to this?

DEMINGS: Well Lawrence, you know, the numbers are absolutely painful. And we`re watching every day the numbers go up. We`ve seen increases in the number of our children who are contracting the virus.

If you look at hospitalizations and deaths in Florida, those numbers are startling. We need to -- those who are in elected office need to lead the decisions that are made regarding the response to COVID-19 and now the new delta variant, up to our health officials or health professionals. We need to lead with science and not politics.

We`ve seen one time after the other where our politicians have made this -- the health and safety of Floridians, the health, safety, and well-being of our children -- a political issue. I certainly haven`t seen our senior senator from Florida speak out on this issue.

We know that the best way -- the best weapon against the virus is to get vaccinated. We`re pushing that with everything that we have. But we also need to listen to the health care professionals and let them lead.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Val Demings, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, will the Senate make an exception to the 60-vote threshold rule to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act? Senator Klobuchar will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar was in Wisconsin today advocating for the For The People Act to block the Republican assault on Democratic voting rights. She joined Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin for a discussion with community leaders on the urgent need to protect voting rights in Wisconsin and states across the country from Republican efforts to suppress voting and/or meddle with the vote-counting process.

This month Wisconsin`s Democratic governor vetoed bills passed by the Republican legislature that would have added restrictions to mail-in ballots. And the governor warned county officials not to cooperate with Republican-led efforts to conduct an Arizona-style fraud-it.


O`DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar is among the group of Senate Democrats, along with Senator Raphael Warnock, and Senator Joe Manchin, who have been working on a revised version of the For The People Act that reportedly will incorporate changes proposed by Senator Manchin.

Senate Republicans have twice blocked the For The People Act from even more moving forward to be debated in the Senate.

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She is the chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Congresswoman Val Demings in our last segment just talked about the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights bill last night in the House with zero Republicans votes -- zero Republican votes.

That suggests probably a very similar number of Republican votes in the Senate. What are you going to do about the 60-vote threshold on this kind of legislation in the Senate?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well the first thing we`re doing is to get an agreement on our legislation, Lawrence. And we have had really positive, positive work being done over the last few weeks.

I have been in Minnesota, but I`ve talked to Senator Manchin a number of times, as have the rest of the group that you just showed up on the screen. And some of this is public. I mean he is agreed to a bill that would include same day registration as a national standard.

And from what we heard today in Wisconsin, except for the governor they would have really, really messed up a lot of their laws. Two interesting facts, they would have only had one drop-off box for the entire city of Milwaukee, if he had not vetoed that bill. And students with four-year and four-year degrees with those kinds of IDs wouldn`t be able to use those, but two-years could.

So clearly he made some great, great -- some great decisions in vetoing those bills. But it just shows you why we need federal standards because you don`t have that in every zip code, in every state in the country.

As for the John Lewis bill, that is a very important piece of this because that will allow us going forward to have the Justice Department focus on some of those states that have been enacting discriminatory laws.

Where this goes, we know Senator Murkowski has publicly voiced interest in supporting the John Lewis bill. So we have at least one Republican that is very interested in this bill. And there may be more.

So right now, we`ll take what the House has given us, the work that they`ve done in getting it. Some of the requirements put out by the Supreme Court after their Shelby decision and then we will go from there.

O`DONNELL: Senator Murkowski has also said, as the only senator who has been -- Republican senator who`s been inclined to say anything positive about this, that she cannot imagine another nine Republicans joining her on any voting rights legislation so that means never getting to 60.

This kind of legislation normally requires the clearing of that 60-vote threshold. Senator Manchin seems to have suggested at various times that he might be open to some kind of exception to the 60-vote threshold on voting rights. Is there any progress on that -- on that issue that you can tell us about?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, you know, first, we`re getting the bill. We`ve got to have general agreement on the bill, and he`s come a long way on that. And so just work in progress, very closely reaching a conclusion soon.

As for the filibuster, you know, Lawrence, I want to abolish it. I have had it when I`ve got fires raging in the northern part of my state, and we`ve air quality from the Canadian fires worse than it`s ever been in Minnesota`s history one day.

I want to act on climate change. I want to work on immigration reform. And I find the filibuster to be an archaic procedural mess. And so that`s the first thing.

Second thing is where some of the other senators will be on that. As you know Senator Manchin has indicated a willingness to look at the standing filibuster, which is really the talking filibuster, which would require people to actually be there if they`re going to block major legislation going forward, as they did say during the 1960s. So that is a move in the right direction. And right now, getting the bill done, and we go from there.

But every single week, we see more bad bills being introduced in legislatures across the country.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Lawrence. Great to be on.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

We`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul delivered some bad news to New York that is not actually new information. She changed the official count of COVID deaths in New York state by using the CDC number instead of the state of New York`s number as reported by former governor Andrew Cuomo.

The CDC`s number of total deaths from COVID in New York state is 55,395. That is about 12,000 higher than the number reported by the Cuomo administration.

Many of those deaths were nursing home patients who apparently suffered from COVID and died from COVID but were not tested for COVID. Today, on NPR, Governor Hochul explained the change.


GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what is happening. And that`s whether it`s good or bad, they need to know the truth. And that`s how we restore confidence when they know that I will always be truthful and very transparent in my approach to government. And not just with respect to nursing homes -- every aspect of government.


HOCHUL: That`s been what I`ve done for 27 years of elected office. It`s not a new concept for me. There is going to be no drama and no surprises from my administration.


O`DONNELL: Governor Kathy Hochul gets tonight`s LAST WORD.