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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 8/4/21

Guests: Uche Blackstock, Ashley Simmons, Victoria McClane, Norm Ornstein, EJ Dionne


Mark Zuckerberg uses the most expensive lawyers in the world. So if you try to sue Mark Zuckerberg and you lose, not only will you not win any money but it might cost you a massive amount of money if the court orders you to reimburse Mark Zuckerberg for his attorneys fees. Today district attorneys in Manhattan County, Westchester County and Nassau County opened criminal investigations of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo`s conduct, requesting materials from the New York attorney general related to accusations of sexual harassment that occurred in their jurisdictions. According to a new Quinnipiac poll released today, the bipartisan infrastructure Bill is supported by 65 percent of Americans. Today the Senate approved seven amendments bringing the total of approved amendments to 12. Dr. Anthony Fauci says he fears that the coronavirus could continue to spread and mutate into deadlier strain. A group of parents in Arkansas are suing the Republican governor over a law that makes it illegal to mandate mask wearing in schools.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, "VELSHI": Lawrence, I`m always happy to see you but, a little speechless after a conversation I just had with one of these Afghan interpreters who we speak about in the abstract, but they are not abstract. They are real people who are really worried about their lives and their families and he made a plea to President Biden to Americans to just do their part and get these people out of Afghanistan and get them to safety. I think it`s what we owe them after the work they have done for us.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We obviously do. It`s an important interview, Ali. It is the kind of commitment that no one would have doubted one America first invaded Afghanistan, and to think we could, 20 years later, be wondering what`s the obligation is or trying to calculate what the obligation is it such a strange situation.

VELSHI: Yeah. It is a little weird, it takes your breath away.

Lawrence, you have a great show tonight. Thank you, my friend.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Ali. Appreciate it. Thank you.

We will be joined later in the hour by the chair of the New York state Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs, who is now saying that the Democratic governor of New York should resign. This is an unprecedented political situation in New York. We will get to it later.

We will begin tonight with the delta variant of COVID-19 which is bad enough and now there is a new variant called delta plus and there will be new variants after that until, and unless the vaccine gets the pandemic under control around the world, the delta variant now makes children possibly more vulnerable than ever before.


DR. MARK KLINE, PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF, CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL NEW ORLEANS: The delta variant of COVID is a game-changer. It seems to have a propensity for causing severe disease in children and adolescents.


O`DONNELL: That is Dr. Mark Kline, infectious disease specialist who`s the head of Children`s Hospital in New Orleans, where every bed is now fully occupied. Dr. Kline joined us here last night.

Remember when Tucker Carlson said in April, if you see a child wearing a mask, you should call the police to arrest the parent of that child? The Fox anti-mask network is owned and operated and encouraged by 90 year old billionaire Rupert Murdoch who went to England to get the vaccine before was available to him in the United States.

Rupert Murdoch has to authorize the propaganda is on his payroll to attack any doctor, any infectious disease expert, mayor, a governor and President Biden forever suggesting that we should wear masks under any circumstances. But Rupert Murdoch will not allow anyone on the Fox payroll to attack Israel. For the way the Israeli government is responding to the new threat of the delta variant.

Yesterday, Israel reimposed restrictions to stop the rise in COVID infections including allowing only vaccinated people, and indoor gatherings of 100 people or more, and recovering masks at outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people. Every night, Rupert Murdoch said since team out to attack anyone in America who says that any activity should be limited to only vaccinated people, and to attack anyone in America who said masks should be used to outdoors by anyone.

Rupert Murdoch will not allow those super spreaders of lies to attack Israel for imposing vaccine passports for indoor events, and requiring masks outdoors because Rupert Murdoch authorizes this propaganda to only use anti vaccination laws and anti mask laws as leverage in the political battle that Rupert Murdoch has been waging in the United States for decades. Rupert Murdoch created a television network 25 years ago with the sole purpose of helping Republicans and herding Democrats and making as much money as possible along the way.

Rupert Murdoch believes that COVID-19, and vaccinations, and masks, are nothing but political ammunition for him to use and his never ending war against Democrats. If Rupert Murdoch cared at all about how many Americans and Fox viewers even are being infected with COVID-19 and dying from COVID- 19, he could bring a massive amount of persuasion to support good public health policy in this country.


But he doesn`t do that.

With public health experts trying to warn us about what`s coming while Rupert Murdoch and Republican elected officials continue to spread lies about the situation, the world is trying to figure out what to the do next as the rate of infection is increasing everywhere. New cases in Israel have increased from a low of nine cases on June 9th to 3,834 cases reported yesterday.

This week, Israel became the first country to administer a third dose of the COVID vaccine offering a booster shot to people over 60 years old. The World Health Organization has come out in temporary opposition to booster shots until the rest of the world can get the first doses of the vaccine.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, W.H.O. DIRECTOR-GENERAL: So far, more than 4 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally. More than 80 percent have gone to high and upper middle income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world`s population. I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the delta variant, but we cannot and we should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines, using even more of it while the world`s most vulnerable people remain unprotected.


O`DONNELL: "The Washington Post" reports on the spread of, quote, a new coronavirus delta variant, which some experts believe to be more transmissible than the original delta variant. It has been detected in several countries including the United Kingdom, the United States and India. Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci says he fears the country could be, quote, in trouble. That was his phrase in trouble in the fall unless unvaccinated Americans get vaccinated.

Remember, just a couple months ago, we were having about 10,000 cases a day. I think you`re likely going to wind up somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 cases.

And that is exactly what`s happening. On June 27th, the United States reported 9,351 new cases. Yesterday, the United States reported 103,455 new cases. That is a 1,119 percent increase in daily new cases in less than 7 weeks.

Dr. Fauci says he fears that the coronavirus could continue to spread and mutate into deadlier strain. He said, quote, if we don`t crush the outbreak to the point of getting the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated, then what will happen is the virus will continue to smolder through the fall and winter giving ample chance to get a variant. There could be a variant that`s lingering out there that could push aside delta.

He added, if another one comes along that has an equally high capability of transmitting but also is much more severe, then we could really be in trouble. People who are not getting vaccinated mistakenly think it`s only about them, but it isn`t. It`s about everybody else also.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Laurie "Garrett, a Pulitzer Prize- winning reporter covering global pandemic and Dr. Uche Blackstock, an emergency medical physician and founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity. Both are MSNBC contributors.

And, Laurie, let me begin with you on this issue of the booster which Israel has gone to. You`re saying we are going to need a booster. What about the World Health Organization`s issue that moving to a booster in the rich countries before the poor countries are even getting their first shot is a problem?

LAURIE GARRETT, MSNBC SCIENCE CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Lawrence. Thanks for inviting me to join you tonight. Usually I have a knee jerk reaction in favor of anything that`s aiming to provide greater global equity. And, of course, especially for countries that are amongst the poorest in the world and the last to ever receive vaccines and drugs. But the problem we`re in now is that the most likely place for the origination of super, super strains is the United States and other wealthy countries where a substantial percentage of the population remains unvaccinated, some percentage is partially vaccinated and perhaps not likely to get their full round of vaccination.

And then finally we have a huge percentage of individuals like myself who got their first dose way back in January and their second dose in February.


So that we`re now approaching a point where our entire neutralizing antibody response has retreated and we`re in our B cell memory response, that sort of memory that says oh, if I see the bad guy again, I`ll start making antibodies. But it takes a little time to do that. It`s not right there ready to go.

And what that means is that we`re very vulnerable to reinfection. So we have this sort of perfect storm happening in the wealthy world of under- vaccinated plus unvaccinated plus those who were vaccinated so long ago that it`s going to take time for their bodies to muster a full-scale neutralizing antibody response.

And, Lawrence, when you put it all together what it means is that we really are going to be a breeding ground for new terrible strains of viruses. And this is a terrible situation because if we don`t bring ours under control, by the time vaccine gets to my friends in Zambia, my friends in Thailand, my friends in Vietnam, by the time they all have access the virus would have mutated and the vaccines will be less and less efficacious as time goes on until we`re throwing garbage out the window.

This is terrible situation. The United States is responsible for creating a disaster for the rest of the world not just for ourselves. And we`ve got to solve this problem, especially since today, Lawrence, the Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that the majority of people who have not yet gotten vaccinated actually believe that the vaccine is more dangerous to them than the disease COVID.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the governor of Florida said today with Florida being now the worst affected state in the country.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state. If you`re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I`m standing in your way. I`m not going to let you get away with it. Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID. I don`t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Blackstock, I`m not going to ask you to respond to the imbecilic comments of the Republican governor of Florida, but this is a good chance for you to speak to the people of Florida, to tell them what they need to do to protect themselves as the virus rages through their state.

DR. UCHE BLACKSTOCK, FOUNDER & CEO, ADVANCING HEALTH EQUITY: Right. So it`s almost unconscionable what I just heard there. It`s dangerous. It`s incredibly irresponsible, but I think what Floridians need to understand is that we are in dire, grim circumstances right now. We`re at a cross roads where we don`t do anything and we will see the worst of the worse or we actually can employ some preventive measures. And so what they can do, we know that masking works.

And unfortunately, we know that their governor has restricted mask mandates in businesses and in schools, unfortunately. But they can also wear masks. They can also physical distance. Testing is also important. I feel testing has been forgotten recently, and testing needs to increase as well.

Parents need to purchase rapid tests that they can actually perform at home especially if there are other children in school and teachers who are unvaccinated. That`s incredibly important. I think they need to understand this is a very grim circumstance. They need to employ those preventive measures that we know work so well or else we`re going to see this delta variant just devastate the entire population of that state.

O`DONNELL: Laurie Garrett, the situation in Florida is something that we could see duplicated in other states. What are the states that aren`t suffering so badly right now, what do they need to do? They can`t just pat themselves on the back and say, look, you know, we`re much better off than the worst states.

BLACKSTOCK: Well, Lawrence, I think the real danger zone area that we`re in right now is mayors, governors, political leaders are kind of kicking the can down the road and saying to businesses, it`s up to you to decide whether or not your customers and your employees should wear masks. It`s up to you to enforce it somehow. And to face legal action and violence in the case of, for example, airline attendants trying to enforce mask rules on jets.

And it`s really a difficult situation because, frankly, without a mandate from the state saying under these circumstances masks must be worn, you`re putting employers and various business people in terrible, terrible positions both legally and otherwise. It`s just -- it`s awful.

And so I feel -- I feel like politicians are trying to wash their hands of problems that really they should be embracing full on to protect their constituencies.

O`DONNELL: Laurie Garrett, and Dr. Uche Blackstock, thank you very much for starting us off tonight.

GARRETT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, a group of parents in Arkansas are suing the Republican governor over a law that makes it illegal to mandate mask wearing in schools. The Republican governor now says he regrets signing that law. Two mothers who filed this lawsuit will join us next.



O`DONNELL: In April, Arkansas`s Republican governor signed a bill preventing local officials from requiring masks to protect against the coronavirus. Now, Governor Hutchinson is admitting how profoundly stupid that was.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: I signed it at the time because our cases were at a very low point. I knew it would be overwritten by the legislature if I didn`t sign it, and I was not supportive of -- I`d already eliminated our statewide mask mandate. And so, I signed it for those reasons, that our cases were at a low point. Everything has changed now.

And yes, in hindsight, I wish that had not become law. But it is the law, and the only chance we have is either to amend it or for the courts to say that it has an unconstitutional foundation.


O`DONNELL: Governor Hutchinson issued a state of emergency in Arkansas last week. Coronavirus cases are up 69 percent in the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are up 55 percent. Deaths are up 246 percent. Arkansas also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, only 37 percent of the states population is fully vaccinated.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, there has been a 690 percent increase in coronavirus cases in children under 12 years old.

Our next guests, two Arkansas mothers who have children under 12 have filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas state legislature and the governor asking a judge to overturn the mask ban. The lawsuit says they are seeking, quote, protection from an irrational act of legislative madness that threatens K- 12 public school children with irreparable harm.

Joining us now from Little Rock are Veronica McClane and Ashley Simmons.

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

And, Ashley Simmons, let me begin with you. We just heard the governor say he regrets signing the bill, and he thinks one of the possible remedies is that courts will declare it unconstitutional. This is exactly what your lawsuit is attempting to accomplish.

ASHLEY SIMMONS, SUING ARKANSA TO OVERTURN MASK MANDATE BAN: Yeah. We believe that our kids are entitled to a safe environment, and the lawsuit is really to advocate for not just our kids but all of the children of Arkansas. Arkansas has a high rate of poverty. And my personal children are special needs and need to be in-person learning. But yeah so --

O`DONNELL: And, Veronica McClane, everyone is mandated to wear seat belts and there`s no big protest about it. You do it. And the car insists you do it. It makes a lot of noise and beeps at you if you don`t. But here is masks that are saving lives at this point possibly at a rate greater than seat belts do. How did it come to this in Arkansas?

VERONICA MCCLANE, SUING ARKANSAS TO OVERTURN MASK MANDATE BAN: It came to this because we have a majority Republican legislature, and they are digging their heels in and politicizing the public health of Arkansans. Masking and vaccines are the only thing that are going to get us through this.

And so what we`re seeing is, you know, the person -- the senator who wanted this bill, you know, will tell people that his children will never wear a mask and that, you know, it`s your choice if you want your children to wear a mask that`s fine. But we know scientifically that everybody needs to be wearing a mask in order for it to have the full level of protection. And we know they`re not 100 percent, but we have to stop playing political games and put the lives of our children at the forefront of this pandemic.

O`DONNELL: Veronica, how do you feel about your children gathering in school or anywhere else in this situation?

MCCLANE: I`m terrified. I`m sad. I`m angry. My child -- I have an 8-year- old and a 3-year-old. My oldest has been virtual since March of 2020. We`ve been lucky to be able to provide a learning environment for him, but, you know, he`s been out of school for so long we`re very concerned about his mental health and, you know, socio emotional development. And at this point it`s about all the children.


While we have the opportunity to keep our child at home not all the parents here in the state of Arkansas have that option.

O`DONNELL: And, Ashley, how do you feel about sending your children into a classroom or anywhere else under these conditions?

SIMMONS: I haven`t slept in weeks being extremely concerned about the state of the cases going up and the fact that I have a high-risk son. There`s a lot of anxiety that goes behind it but also a lot of just, you know, we got to do something. These kids are our future, and it`s our responsibility as the adults to protect them. So, yeah.

O`DONNELL: Ashley Simmons and Veronica McClane, thank you both very, very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

MCCLANE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, two lawyers in Colorado are now going to have to pay Mark Zuckerberg a massive amount of money after suing Mark Zuckerberg, accusing him of stealing the presidential election from Donald Trump. A federal judge is penalizing those lawyers by order them to pay Mark Zuckerberg`s attorneys fees. That`s next.



LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Mark Zuckerberg uses the most expensive lawyers in the world. So if you try to sue Mark Zuckerberg and you lose, not only will you not win any money but it might cost you a massive amount of money if the court orders you to reimburse Mark Zuckerberg for his attorneys fees.

And that`s exactly what happened today to two lawyers in Colorado who filed a massive lawsuit, the biggest in American history asking for $160 billion because the lawsuit said the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump by Mark Zuckerberg.

Reid Nureiter, a federal magistrate judge in Colorado today ordered the two lawyers who brought that lawsuit to pay the attorneys fees for all of the defendants which include state government officials as well as two very rich companies who use very expensive lawyers -- Facebook and Dominion Voting Systems.

The lawsuit also included as individual defendants Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

The two lawyers who filed the lawsuit, Gary Fielder and Earnest Walker, claimed the defendants engaged in concerted action to interfere with the 2020 presidential election through a coordinated effort.

So this lawsuit said, "Without a single shred of evidence that Mark Zuckerberg was conspiring with his wife and actively conspiring with the governor of Michigan, the secretary of state of Michigan, the secretary of state of Georgia along with several other individuals and with the Dominion Voting Systems Company."

According to this lawsuit all of those people and companies were constantly communicating with each other and conspiring to steal the election from Donald Trump. The lawyers claimed that they represented 160 million American registered voters.

They claim they represented us. And they asked for $160 billion in damages. These lawyers were trying to trade financial positions with Mark Zuckerberg. They were actually trying to become richer than Mark Zuckerberg with this lawsuit.

Judge Nureiter used careful legal language to describe the lawsuit calling it frivolous, disorganized and fantastical. The judge also said the lawsuit is, quote, "the stuff of which violent insurrections are made".

The judge does have the power to disbar the two lawyers. That is up to the state of Colorado Bar Association. Gary Fielder and Earnest Walker, who dreamed of becoming billionaires through this lawsuit could now be bankrupted by this phony, frivolous lawsuit.

They have no idea tonight how much money they owe Mark Zuckerberg and the other defendants because the lawyers for the defendants have not yet submitted their bills in this case.

Other judges in other jurisdictions around the country are considering the same sort of penalties against Trump lawyers who filed totally false lawsuits on behalf of the Trump campaign.

And speaking of frivolous lawsuits, Donald Trump filed a hopeless lawsuit today trying to prevent the IRS from handing over his tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Donald Trump will lose that lawsuit because the right of the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the two tax writing committees, their right to see individual tax returns is clearly written in tax law. And it includes absolutely no exceptions.

Joining us now is Jonathan Alter, columnist for the "Daily Beast", and Paul Butler law professor at Georgetown University and former federal prosecutor. Both are MSNBC analysts.

And Paul Butler, let me begin with you and this judge sanctioning the lawyers in that Colorado case and forcing them to pay the attorneys fees for all of the defendants, the dozens and dozens of defendants that they charged in their lawsuit.

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC ANALYST: When a lawyer files a brief she`s required to sign her name. That means that the case is being brought in good faith and supported by evidence. It`s very rare, but when that standard is not met the lawyers can be sanctioned for ethical violations. That`s what happened today.

BUTLER: They`re not being penalized because the judge threw out their case which he did in April. These lawyers are being punished because they should never have filed the case in the first place.


BUTLER: And the judge`s opinion goes in because the lawyers claimed that there`d been widespread fraud in the 2020 election a fantasy. The judge says no reasonable lawyer would have brought the case and that the lawsuit was one big conspiracy theory that had the effect of sowing doubt about the legitimacy of the Biden presidency.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan, the Trump campaign was not involved in this lawsuit in any way. This was two independent hustlers who decided to go for the $160 billion they thought they could get.

But the Trump lawyers in other states are facing exactly the same situation. In fact, Michigan`s governor who was involved in this case in Colorado has brought it to the attention of the judge in another case in Michigan saying look at how this judge found, you should do exactly this to the Trump lawyers.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC ANALYST: Right. There needs to be a counter attack here, Lawrence. Because the stakes are enormously high. It`s not just a frivolous, stupid set of lawsuits. It`s about whether we`re going to become a Banana Republic like something out of the musical "Evita", you know.

Whether these folks will be able to litigate elections many, many months after the elections are over. We can`t have that in this country, so we need to sanction the Banana Republicans, disbar the Banana Republicans and sue their butts off in every jurisdiction.

If you`re a lawyer who wants to do a patriotic act and protect our democracy, get involved in combating these local Trump lawyers who are trying to wreck our democracy. That`s what we need to focus on now.

O`DONNELL: Paul Butler, the judge was referring to what Jonathan was just talking about in the opinion. But the judge did it just in a phrase, just in a portion of a sentence, a reference to the claims made in this case are the stuff that insurrections are made of.

And so this judge was clearly mindful that this kind of lawsuit was part of the fuel of what happened on January 6th. But -- but that was not part of the way the judge was justifying the finding against these lawyers on attorneys fees. That was done meticulously and carefully within the very narrow confines of the ways the law allows that.

BUTLER: That`s right, Lawrence. And one example of that is that the judge said that this lawsuit was a cut and paste job. and he was particularly mad that the lawyers repeated a lie tweeted by then-president Trump that Dominion had deleted almost three million votes.

When the judge asked the lawyers for the basis of that claim they said it came from the president of the United States. The judge said repeating something just because Trump said it was reckless and inflammatory.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And Jonathan, it`s such a fascinating document to read because it is so precise and so careful and so tailored to this particular case. But as Paul just said moments like that and that other phrase the judge used about insurrections, but that very specific judicial -- formal judicial finding that Donald Trump`s tweets are nothing close to legally admissible facts anywhere speaks very loudly outside of the kind of legal confines of that document.

ALTER: Yes. And you know a lot of these judges that are ruling against the Trump campaign are Republicans. So we do have push back here from our democratic institutions. And I think that`s, you know, a bit of good news.

You know, authoritarians have always assumed that democracies are weak and they won`t fight back. And we`re seeing here that judges and litigants and, you know, election equipment companies like Dominion are saying, wait a minute, we`re going to push back and we`re going to push back hard and we`re going to bankrupt you if you keep attacking democracy this way.

This is an extraordinarily important deterrent effect because we can`t have these folks pulling this stuff after the next election or our democracy will be gone. We can`t keep litigating elections. We`ve got to shut this down, so today was very good news.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter and Paul Butler -- thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight.

ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, according to Jay Jacobs, the chair of the New York State Democratic Party, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has, quote, "lost his ability to govern both practically and morally". Jay Jacobs will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Today district attorneys in Manhattan County, Westchester County and Nassau County opened criminal investigations of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo`s conduct, requesting materials from the New York attorney general related to accusations of sexual harassment that occurred in their jurisdictions. The governor disputes some of the allegations and denies wrongdoing.

A new Marist poll today shows that 59 percent of adults in New York want Governor Cuomo to resign. 59 percent also say that if the governor refuses to resign the state legislature should impeach him.

"The New York Post" is reporting tonight that the New York assembly is quote, "wrapping up its probe of Governor Andrew Cuomo and could draft articles of impeachment by the end of the month. Sources with the matter said Wednesday and the "Associated Press" reports a majority of assembly members now support beginning impeachment.


O`DONNELL: Today New York State Democratic Party chair Jay Jacobs released a statement calling for the governor to resign. "The governor has lost his ability to govern both practically and morally. The party and this state will not be well-served by a long protracted removal process designed only to delay what is now clearly inevitable."

And joining us now is Jay Jacobs, New York State Democratic Party chairman. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mr. Chairman. Really appreciate it.

Have you spoken to Governor Cuomo about this?

JAY JACOBS, CHAIRMAN, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Yes, I did. I spoke with him today. I would not have issued that statement without talking to him first.

O`DONNELL: And how long was that conversation? What did you say? What did he say?

JACOBS: I would say it was somewhere in the neighborhood of about 15 minutes. And you know, I will give you a brief on it rather than going into the detail of who said what.

But I just stressed to the governor that I thought it was time for him to resign. I thought that his legacy was too important to allow us to go through this protracted impeachment process, which I think would damage it.

And I think it would be bad for the state and bad for the party. So I thought that now was the time. And I didn`t see any other possible way for him to overcome this.

O`DONNELL: You`ve worked in Democratic Party politics in the state a long time. I don`t know anyone with your experience who knows the governor who could imagine what that phone call was like. It`s a call you never dreamed of making a year ago. Was the governor angry during this phone call?

JACOBS: No, the governor was not angry with me. I think perhaps he was disappointed that I was unwilling to hold out a bit longer. He wants to make his case. He may do that tomorrow. We had talked about that.

But he certainly wasn`t angry. I think he listened to what I had to say. And I think it was just a sad conversation from my point. You know, I thought it was particularly sad, and it was a difficult conversation to have.

And I had to be rather clear and direct with him, and that`s, you know, never easy to do. But you do have to do that.

O`DONNELL: We have reporting tonight from the "Associated Press" and elsewhere that there are enough votes in the assembly to impeach the governor already. There are enough votes in the state senate to then convict him and remove him from office. Is that your reading of the vote right now in the legislature?

JACOBS: Yes, I think that`s a correct read. You know, I`ve spoken to the speaker. The speaker Carl Hasty is, you know, a very practical and smart political figure in our state. And he knows his conference and the assembly conference. From what I have heard the various members are all aligned that way.

O`DONNELL: Does Governor Cuomo have the same information about these vote counts?

JACOBS: I`ve told him that. I was very direct with the governor as to where support was, and that he didn`t have the support anywhere that he needed it.

I was very clear about that. And I`ve always been very clear and very honest and open with him on matters like that.

O`DONNELL: Did the governor indicate there was any stage, any possibility of him resigning at some stage perhaps if articles of impeachment pass or if the assembly impeaches him might he resign before a senate trial?

JACOBS: You know, we didn`t have that specific conversation. I can only tell you from knowing him and from, you know, as best I could reading the language over a phone and hearing what he had to say that he certainly understands the realities.

He`s hopeful I think that he can turn things around. He`s done that before. Never count out Andrew Cuomo. We`ve seen, you know, his political ability. And so I think that, you know -- I think at some point he`s going to get an understanding of what the realities are and he`s going to make the right decision.

O`DONNELL: Let`s talk about what happens if the governor does resign or if the legislature removes him from office, which it could do presumably by the end of the year.

The Lieutenant Governor Cathy Hochul would become governor of the state of New York. Like most people in most states have no idea who their lieutenant governor is, even after voting for the lieutenant governor. It`s just a slot on the ballot and they can`t give you the name.

Cathy Hochul from Buffalo, not well-known outside of Buffalo very much. What will New York voters learn about Cathy Hochul if she becomes their governor? What can they expect from her as governor?

JACOBS: Well, they`re going to see she`s eminently qualified. She`s been in government a long time. And while the general public may not know her as well, political people do, members of the party do.

She`s been in all 62 states -- she`s been a very active lieutenant governor. She knows the states, knows the issues. She`s also got a great manner about her and I think that she`ll have the capacity to work with the legislature in ways to bring about the change that New York needs and to lead us in the way that we`ve been used to being led by Andrew Cuomo.


JACOBS: One of the great things Andrew Cuomo, I think, did as governor was select someone like Cathy Hochul as his lieutenant governor who is absolutely ready to serve in the position of governor.

O`DONNELL: I just want to get a transcript item correct here. I think I just heard you say possibly misspeak and say 52 states and I think you meant or said 62 counties, right? New York has 62 counties.

JACOBS: Right. 62 counties -- sorry.

O`DONNELL: I just want to get that straight. And getting to all 62 of New York`s counties is not an easy thing. It used to take Senator Moynihan six years to cover all 62. He was always proud of doing that.

New York State Democratic Party chair Jay Jacobs, thank you very much for joining us with this important story. We really appreciate it.

JACOBS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, good news for Joe Biden which is that Americans think his infrastructure plan is good news. A new poll shows huge bipartisan support for the bipartisan structure bill that is running smoothly on track in the United States Senate tonight. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: According to a new Quinnipiac poll released today, the bipartisan infrastructure Bill is supported by 65 percent of Americans.

Today the Senate approved seven amendments bringing the total of approved amendments to 12.

Senator Tom Carper, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee is serving as the fore-manager of the bill and he said this today about the amendment process.

SENATOR TOM CARPER (D-DE): It`s in good spirits. And I think we are actually making a good product, a complex, large project that the infrastructure bill will actually make better and we`re doing it in a bipartisan way.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now are congressional historian Norm Ornstein. He`s an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. And E.J. Dionne, an opinion columnist for the "Washington Post" and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

And E.J., I`m struck by the polling on this bill. It kind of -- it helps explain why it`s moving so smoothly in the Senate, but Quinnipiac also polled the very partisan Democrats only reconciliation version of infrastructure, which is a much bigger bill, and that has the support of 62 percent -- virtually the same.

And so the support does seem to be helping drive these bills through Congress.

EJ DIONNE, OPINION COLUMNIST, "WASHINGTON POST": Right. You know, what Joe Biden wants to do is big and it`s bold, but it`s not radical in the sense that he`s proposing a bunch of ideas that come out of nowhere.

They`re all very popular, and obviously the physical infrastructure bill is just good old-fashioned government. Gretchen Whitmer got elected governor of Michigan on the slogan, "Fix the Damn Roads".

And the idea of fixing the roads was so popular, that when they focused group the dam, they didn`t want to offend anybody, they discovered the dam made it more popular and that`s how much people think that the government should invest in these matters and that`s also the case in things like child care and health care.

So, yes, he is on a very good track right now, President.

O`DONNELL: And Norm Ornstein, Donald Trump seems to know when he`s losing. There he was threatening every Republican who was even thinking about participating in this bipartisan bill. They defied him.

17 Republicans voted against his wishes to get this bill started. And now he`s gone completely silent, I guess, afraid of illuminating how crushed he got by those Republican senators.

NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: He doesn`t want to admit that he`s a loser. You know, there are a couple things going on there, Lawrence.

One is the poll numbers that you suggested. This has long been popular across all the categories in the United States. I also think that there is some resentment on the part of Republicans.

The fact is that we had 200 weeks of infrastructure week throughout the Trump presidency. They kept calling it infrastructure week but they never moved on a bill where Republicans could have gotten credit for it.

So now I think the desire to gain some credit and not be left behind and not have to have that sort of lame excuse that they had with the American Rescue Plan of crowing about things that they voted against combined with the reality that they`ve got seats to worry about in 2022 has meant that they`re more than willing to take on Donald Trump, and that`s an interesting phenomenon.

O`DONNELL: Yes, E.J., watching this, I mean I am just in awe of it every day because at the outset, I just didn`t see how it`s possible. I mean, a very simple attitude about these things. If it`s never been done in the Congress, I don`t think it can be done.

The likelihood of something, you know, being doable, it`s never been done is rather low. This has never been done. This two-track process on infrastructure, it`s working and so far is working flawlessly.

And I remain in awe of the strategic vision of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and all their staffs who could see from the outset that this was possible.

DIONNE: I agree with you, although I think we should prepare ourselves. I think it`s all going to work in the end, too. I agree with you on that.

But I think it`s going to get dicey because a lot of people in the House are not entirely happy. The progressives don`t like all of it. Peter DeFazio, the chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has his own bill that he thinks is better than this bipartisan bill. So there`s still a lot of work to do.


DIONNE: But you know what, Lawrence, you know this is the old-fashioned Senate. Emily Cochrane of the "New York Times" has a great piece and she noted, they pause every few hours to congratulate themselves as being bipartisan at a very difficult time. Pausing to congratulate yourself, I think, is a senate thing.

O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, Norm Ornstein -- thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.