Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just told the Senate that they would be working on Saturday to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Interview with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. Interview with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). Andrea Campbell is the Democratic candidate for mayor of Boston. She`s currently the Boston city councilor representing District 4.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Nicolle.
And this is the point where I usually give Rachel the Boston accent alert because Marty Walsh is going to join us tonight, former mayor of Boston, now labor secretary. And I think I might slip a little when I`m talking to Marty. My Boston accent might crack.
There`s another very special Boston accent we`ll hear later in the hour and that is my father, Nicolle, who I wish was still with us to hear this. A 1963 recording of him arguing a case, an important case in the United States Supreme Court. When I was listening to it today trying to find something the audience would understand because of his Boston accent, I felt so bad for Chief Justice Earl Warren and William O. Douglas and all of those people sitting up there trying to understand this guy from Boston. Eventually they ruled in his favor, but that Boston accent is later in the hour.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST, "DEADLINE: WHITE HOUSE": Well, I always watch Rachel`s show and your show in my sweatpants with my mommy water and I had to obviously get through this show in a different way but I am racing upstairs to change into sweat pants and watch your show and all the Boston accents with my mommy water in hand. I can`t wait.
O`DONNELL: Great. Thank you.
Well, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just told the Senate that they would be working on Saturday to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. There remains a slight possibility Senator Schumer will be able to get the unanimous consent of the Senate to vote on final passage of the bill as early as tonight but that would require Mitch McConnell`s full cooperation.
And last night, on the floor of the Senate, Republican Rob Portman who is usually closely aligned with Mitch McConnell put public pressure on McConnell about an important bridge that joins their two states -- Ohio and Kentucky. The Brent Spence Bridge crosses the Ohio River, joining the two states.
And last night, Senator Portman who has been the lead negotiator on the bipartisan infrastructure bill for Republicans let Mitch McConnell`s voters in Kentucky know what is at stake for them in this bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): For 25 years I`ve been involved in the effort to try to find the funding to replace this bridge, because it needs it. Finally, we`ll have the ability to do that. We`ll have the ability to help with Kentucky and with Ohio and with the federal government working together with the local community to complete this Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project. Why? Because we are putting an incredible amount of money into not just bridges but bridges like this one, bridges that are major commercial bridges, bridges that are functionally obsolete which ours has been for years, bridges that desperately need the help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, Senator Schumer explained why what we`re seeing in the Senate tonight could never happen when Mitch McConnell was majority leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: This Senate is operated much differently under Democratic leadership this year than it did under Republican leadership over the past six. We`ve taken more amendment votes this year than nearly any year in recent memory. In fact, we`ve had more roll call votes on amendments this year only half way through than during the past two years where the Republicans were in charge combined.
In other words, one-half of the year in 2021 where Democrats got in charge, we`ve had more amendments than in all of 2019 and 2020. So, any talk that we are not working the Senate whenever we can in a fair and bipartisan way is just wrong.
Legislators should have a chance to legislate. No one can deny that we kept our word here in the Democratic majority. Today, we`ll consider even more amendments and hopefully can bring this bill to a close very shortly.
Our goal is to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period and we will stay here to get both done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Portman and the other Republican senators negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure bill promised that it would be fully paid for and not add to the deficit but after Senator Portman and the Republicans dropped from the negotiated bill a provision they had already actually agreed to that would increase IRS enforcement of tax law and therefore bring in more tax revenue, today, the Congressional Budget Office found the bipartisan bill is not fully paid for and would add $256 billion to the deficit over a ten-year period, an average of only $25 billion a year.
The idea that bridge building and other infrastructure spending, capital spending should be paid for in full from the start is like saying that all of us should pay for our big capital investments in full up front and none of us should ever have mortgages on our homes.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill is not fully paid for simply because the Republican negotiators did not allow it to be fully paid for.
President Biden lost a very important ally and supporter of his infrastructure legislation today when the president of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka died suddenly of a heart attack at age 72.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was an American worker always fighting for working people, protecting their wages, their safety, their pensions, and their ability to build a middle class life. I`ve also believed the middle class build America but I know who built the middle class -- unions. Unions built the middle class. There is no doubt that Rich Trumka helped build unions all across this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is the former president of the Laborers` Union Local 223 and the former mayor of Boston, President Biden`s secretary of labor, Marty Walsh.
Secretary Walsh, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
First of all, I want to begin with why this legislation is so important to your friend Richard Trumka?
MARTY WALSH, SECRETARY OF LABOR: Because it was about putting Americans to work. You know, President Trumka really fought hard and fought for this legislation and he was excited about President Biden`s presidency. And he knew that this spending -- whether roads and bridges or electric grids or whatever it is, waterways, it was important for workers, but it`s also important, he understood, for the American people and communities all across this country that were going to have those investments made which is union members living in those communities.
O`DONNELL: The CBO score came out today. That sometimes is a big event with legislation. Sometimes it is kind of what people expected.
We`ve heard from a couple Republicans saying they will now vote against the bill because it is not fully paid for. But those same Republicans voted against even discussing the bill. So that doesn`t sound like you`ve lost any votes yet.
Do you expect this CBO score to cause a problem for the legislation in the Senate?
WALSH: I don`t think ultimately it will. I think that, you know, the investments that are being made in this country through this infrastructure bill will probably make up some of that potentially lost revenue as we move forward here. But I think at the end of the day, there`s too much at stake for members of both parties to not see this bill go through.
When you talk to -- I heard Senator Portman a minute ago speaking, I think last night you said.
Those projects are really important for America and the American people at an overwhelming majority want to see these projects happen. So, I think it`s incumbent upon all of us and the Senate to work hard through the rest of tonight and the next couple days and get this bill done.
O`DONNELL: When legislation like this has moved in the Senate and the House in the past and there`s never been legislation this big, but infrastructure legislation the only cabinet secretary you tended to see around Capitol Hill pushing it was the secretary of transportation because of all of this highway building and rail transportation, a lot of transportation issues in the bill. But President Biden created a team, including the labor secretary, yourself, and several other members of the cabinet to push this.
How has that helped? How has that coordination and in your particular case the emphasis on labor helped with this legislation?
WALSH: Well, I think it showed the commitment by the White House and the Biden/Harris administration to Congress, to the Senate, about the importance of passing this legislation and also allows us the opportunity to go across America and talk about this.
I`ve been to about 17, 18 states right now talking about this infrastructure bill and the importance of it and the magnitude that it can have in America.
And I think that it`s been good. And certainly when you have Secretary Raimondo from Commerce, Buttigieg from Transportation, Fudge from Housing, Granholm from Energy, Walsh from Labor, and the other cabinet secretaries, it touches all of us. It touches our constituencies that we`re responsible for in our cabinets.
O`DONNELL: When -- as you go forward with the other -- the companion bill which is a Democrats-only reconciliation bill, what is in that bill that`s important to labor?
WALSH: Jobs training, a hundred billion dollars in job training, apprentices, apprenticeships as well, but also for the American worker, child care, for the American worker, the cares economy, for the American worker all -- you know, universal prekindergarten and all of those things that we`ve been talking about.
The American worker, it impacts every single one whether somebody working on the job and having reliable child care for their kids while working or good schools to go to or whatever, or taking care of an elderly parent. That whole bill encompasses everyone in this country and certainly all of the working people in this country.
O`DONNELL: Senator Schumer has moved for a cloture, moved for an end to this process so they can then get to a final vote on it. They`re going to have the vote on that cloture motion I think Saturday, probably get you to a vote on final passage early next week Monday, something like that.
But there remains a possibility -- we were hearing reports of a live possibility of a unanimous agreement in the Senate tonight to just wrap it up tonight and get it done. What can you tell us about that possibility of a unanimous consent agreement which would require Mitch McConnell`s cooperation?
WALSH: That is a lot of inside baseball right there and I`m not going to interject myself in the conversations between Leader Schumer and Mitch McConnell. So, I`m going to -- I`m going to leave it for them to decide what the best process forward is.
O`DONNELL: And going forward on the next bill, which Senator Schumer says the Senate has to do immediately, a budget resolution that will include all of those other aspects of the Biden infrastructure package you were just talking about and cost much, much more, what is the timetable for that?
WALSH: Well, certainly we want to see that bill as quickly as possible as well move through. These two bills are honestly transformative for America. It`s an investment that America`s never seen.
The American public likes the investment. It`s not wasted money. It`s very important issues all across our country so the bipartisan infrastructure bill is building up our physical infrastructure, and the other bill is about our cares infrastructure.
So I think it would be -- I`d love to see them move quickly. I know there`s going to be a lot of conversation and negotiations, and all of the cabinet as well are going to be very involved in this process as we move forward here.
O`DONNELL: Quickly before you go I want to ask you about from your perspective as former mayor of Boston. I think you were the 54th mayor of Boston, all of them white men. There`s now a mayor`s race in Boston where there is no white man among the front-runners. One of the black women front-runners for mayor will join us later in this hour, Andrea Campbell.
What is your reaction to the historic change in Boston politics that has produced this extraordinary field of candidates, including two black women in the front-runner positions?
WALSH: Well, I think this is an exciting time for Boston. There is going to be an opportunity here. There is a mayor`s race going on. There are people working hard in this race and it is an exciting time for this city.
I think many people have seen Marty Walsh, Tom Menino, Ray Flynn, Kevin White, they remember those names and remember those faces and I think there is a real opportunity for our city in a very positive manner.
Boston has changed. The face of our city has changed. We`re an international city. We`re a diverse city, and it`s time -- it`s the time for it.
O`DONNELL: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, former mayor of Boston, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. Always appreciate it.
WALSH: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And joining us now is Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. He is running for United States Senate in Ohio.
Congressman Ryan, Senator Portman was on the floor last night fighting for that bridge over the Ohio River, that Mitch McConnell has so far been something of an obstruction in terms of achieving that.
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Yeah, no doubt. We`ve been talking about this bridge my entire career and this is something that shows and illustrates how impactful this infrastructure bill is going to be, Lawrence, in Ohio and all across the country.
Communities like Cincinnati that have been dying for this bridge, increased productivity, increased safety.
I worked closely with Sherrod Brown to get the "build American, buy American" provision in this so we are actually buying American steel and products to be able to build this stuff.
So, this is huge and you`re going to see it go throughout the supply chain.
I said, Lawrence, this is the most pro-business bill I`ve seen in my time in Congress because it is going to increase productivity. It`s going to facilitate moving product. It is going to be great for growth and it`s just another way of looking at it in context of the top 1 percent who never make its way down to the rest of the country.
O`DONNELL: The Republicans always talk about basically governments only obligation to business is to cut their taxes. That that is the only way government can do anything that is pro business. This clearly demonstrates the falsehood of that.
RYAN: Yeah, no doubt about it. And here`s the contrast. I mean, here is the way I look at this -- China is breathing down our neck, right? They are spending 7 percent to 9 percent of their GDP on infrastructure. They`re building ports not just in China but all around the world to get raw materials out of places like Africa, you know, the rare earth metals for our phones, our computers, our satellite systems.
So, they have a really long term plan but a lot of that is infrastructure. And here, we`re fighting to try to get the 1 percent, 1.5 percent of our GDP for infrastructure. So, I think what we`re doing is really a down payment on what we need to do to be competitive.
Of course, we have to cut workers in on the deal. A lot of these are going to be union contracts, you know, middle class wages out there benefit, you know? And just to say what a loss today, Rich Trumka. What a soldier for working people and not just union people but working people because the unions helped raise wages for everybody.
I think this is an opportunity for us really to out-compete China. We`re from Ohio and we play a lot of sports. This is about a competition and we need to do it here if we`re going to out-compete China for these jobs in the future.
O`DONNELL: The infrastructure package is a combination, these two bills. What does the -- assuming the bipartisan bill passes the Senate by, say, Monday or Tuesday, something like that, what does that do for the momentum of this legislation both in the Senate and the House?
RYAN: Oh, I think it`s going to be huge. I mean, the American people want to see this. They want to see what we`re doing with infrastructure. They want to see us come together, work together in a bipartisan way.
I think this is really important. There`s a lot more to do with infrastructure and then as Secretary Walsh said with the cares economy. So, this is about the investment to help us compete.
And then the next phase is the breathing room that we need to give families around child care costs, around family and medical leave, around early childhood education so our kids are going to be able to eventually out- compete China but that`s also reducing the out of pocket costs for child care, for families, because they`re getting kids into school early.
So, this is all starting to come together and I hope the American people start seeing what we`re trying to do both for outcompete China and then finally cut these middle class workers in on the deal. Give them some breathing room.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Tim Ryan, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
RYAN: Always great to be with you, Lawrence. Thanks.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, a new warning about COVID-19 that, quote, it is likely we will have another surge within three weeks of school starting and the impact will be worse with lower community vaccination. That`s the view of one expert. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Today, the White House and the Department of Education announced a new push to get more teenagers 12 and above vaccinated. So far, 29 percent of teenagers ages 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated and 40 percent of teenagers 16 and 17 are fully vaccinated.
The White House plan includes hosting pop-up vaccine clinics at schools, sending local pediatricians to PTA meetings to answer questions about the vaccine, and incorporating vaccinations into physicals for student athletes. An epidemiologist at the University of California, San Diego, tells NBC News, quote, I expect there will be a new, additional wave of COVID-19 cases with the opening of schools and especially among the age group of those below 12 years old. It is likely we will have another surge within three weeks of schools starting and the impact will be worse with lower community vaccination.
Today, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What is your message to governors like Governor DeSantis in Florida and Governor Abbott of Texas who had banned mask mandates?
MIGUEL CARDONA, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: You know, don`t be the reason why schools are interrupted. Our kids have suffered enough. I am worried decisions that are being made that are not putting students at the center and student health and safety at the center is going to be why schools may be disrupted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`ODONNELL: Joining us now, Dr. Kavita Patel, a former Obama White House health policy director and MSNBC medical contributor, and Dr. James Hildreth, president and CEO of the Meharry Medical College and infectious diseases expert.
Dr. Patel, this -- is the situation with children now a different condition than we`ve seen in the past because of the delta variant?
DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Lawrence, good evening to you.
It is different in the sense that children now comprise the, one of the largest groups of unvaccinated individuals. So we are seeing so many sheer numbers of cases. Lawrence, it is troubling to see most hospitals in Texas and Florida but especially children`s hospitals at over 100 percent capacity. Not all COVID but a large driver is COVID.
So, we have to watch the pattern closely because you`re right. In the past we did not necessarily attribute the previous strains to being, quote- unquote, worse in children. It still feels that way but the numbers just given the fact that there are so many unvaccinated children not eligible for the most part that we`re seeing this and it`s troubling. I think the degree to which we saw signs of this, Lawrence, earlier where the CDC had a study that showed that about one-third of children ages 12 to 17 actually that needed hospitalization ended up in ICU and a lot of them had comorbidity.
So we are kind of dealing with the fact that honestly, Lawrence, many adults didn`t step up and get vaccinated.
O`DONNELL: Well, we have such an adult, a video, a difficult video to watch. This as man in Virginia, a COVID patient, Travis Campbell. He is 43 years old. In this video he is telling people not to make the mistake that he made. Let`s watch this.
(BEGI VIDEO CLIP)
TRAVIS CAMPBELL, COVID PATIENT: I messed up big time, guys. I didn`t get the vaccine. That`s okay. I made a mistake. I admit it. And I have taken my responsibilities now.
So please, for the love of God, if you really want to have a chance, don`t fall for all the TV rhetoric and social media. Just protect yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Dr. Hildreth, I suspect Travis Campbell speaking from his hospital bed that way through a ventilator might be more effective than anything medical experts can say.
DR. JAMES HILDRETH, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MEHARRY MEDICAL COLLEGE: Lawrence, thank you for having me.
I think you`re right. There have been so many stories of people who had an opportunity to get vaccinated who did not do so, who end up in hospital in ICU and on a ventilator and it is so unnecessary. We have three really safe, effective vaccines. And, unfortunately, the TV rhetoric and social media is spreading myths and misinformation about them. I think it is very unfortunate.
The one thing we all need to do to put this behind us is to get vaccinated. And so, I agree with you.
O`DONNELL: We have a report from Florida of a 16-year-old. This is a statement from Wolfson Children`s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. We can confirm a 16-year-old patient at Wolfson Children`s Hospital of Jacksonville passed away on Thursday, due to COVID-19.
We encourage everyone to continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask, washing hands, and getting vaccinated if eligible.
Dr. Patel, I don`t -- I just don`t know what else it takes to convince parents of 16-year-olds and younger children that they need protection.
PATEL: Yeah, Lawrence, nothing breaks my heart more than to have to tell parents if their child comes into clinic or E.R. and urgent care that they have COVID that we need to isolate them and separate them. Can you imagine? Any age having to be physically removed from your parents so that you don`t put others at risk and it breaks my heart.
So, I don`t know what to say except that I have been trying a different tactic with my patients, saying, look, I get it. This is all very scary. Why don`t we break down what it is you`re scared of?
Lawrence, here`s -- the good news we are showing people across the country are listening. Vaccines are going up not as fast as I would like them but it`s something I want to continue. Get your children vaccinated and ask the questions you need to ask for all parents out there.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Hildreth, this has been challenging for medical professionals in a way that in certain ways that nothing else ever has, including this need to try to communicate the urgency of this and watching what fails in that communication effort and trying to come up with new things all the time. Have you and other medical professionals hit a wall in trying to figure out how to communicate this urgency?
HILDRETH: Lawrence, we have in a sense hit a wall but are determined to break through the wall. It is that important. The single most important thing isn`t the message but the messengers.
I think that those leaders who are discouraging their followers from getting vaccinated is reprehensible, also hypocritical because most of them have been vaccinated themselves.
So yes, we`ve kind of hit a wall but we are determined to break through it. I want to say to the parents of children with chronic conditions like asthma or have obese children, they should especially be careful to make sure their children are protected because as was said earlier most of the children getting really sick and who are dying from COVID-19 have an underlying condition. So for those parents who have children that fit that category it`s especially important that they take steps to protect their children.
O`DONNELL: Dr. James Hildreth and Dr. Kavita Patel -- thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
DR. HILDRETH: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
DR. KAVITA PATEL, PRIMARY CARY PHYSICIAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up three law professors -- Laurence Tribe, Barbara McQuade and Joyce Vance -- have written a road map for the Justice Department to follow in investigating Donald Trump. Joyce Vance joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Three law professors, two of them former federal prosecutors have written a road map for federal prosecutors that appears in "The Washington Post" today under the headline "Here is a road map for the Justice Department to follow in investigating Trump."
Harvard Law School`s Laurence Tribe along with the University of Michigan Law School`s Barbara McQuade and the University of Alabama Law School`s Joyce Vance write, "As evidence of Donald Trump`s efforts to overturn the 2020 election mounts, the time has come for the Justice Department to begin, if it hasn`t already, a criminal investigation of the former president`s dangerous course of conduct. The publicly known facts suffice to open an investigation.
Now, attempted coups cannot be ignored. If Merrick Garland`s Justice Department is going to restore respect for the rule of law no one, not even a former president can be above it, and the fear of appearing partisan cannot be allowed to supersede that fundamental precept."
Joining us now is Joyce Vance, one of the authors of that opinion piece. She`s a former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal contributor.
And Joyce, one of the points in there and a parenthetical is "if they have not already begun such an investigation". Would we know if the Justice Department has already begun such an investigation?
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: We wouldn`t necessarily know. If it was my case and I was a prosecutor, I would prefer that the public have no visibility into whether or not I was investigating. That`s how DOJ is supposed to conduct its investigations.
O`DONNELL: And another point in here that was illuminating to me is you mention as one of the possibilities to investigate a violation of the Hatch Act`s criminal provision. And I don`t know that I remember that the Hatch Act has a criminal provision but I know it now.
We used to see Kellyanne Conway violate the Hatch Act every day by campaigning on the White House driveway but that doesn`t have a criminal penalty in it. Describe what could be the criminal violation of the Hatch Act that you think should be investigated?
VANCE: The violation here, Lawrence, is coercing political activity. You`re right. What we all generally think of as the Hatch Act, this prohibition against people in the executive branch engaging in partisan political activity -- that is a prohibition. That is something that until the Trump administration -- really government employees -- didn`t get close to that line. It was just such a forbidden zone.
Of course, we saw it flagrantly violated for the last four years. But there is a criminal component here. There`s a provision that makes it illegal to try to coerce a federal employee into engaging in inappropriate partisan activity.
In this case I think that would be something akin to helping out the Trump campaign and so for instance the pressure campaign that the former president pushed onto acting attorney general Jeff Rosen might substantiate this charge.
Our point is that these crimes, and there are a number of them that we suggest merit serious, continuous investigation until the Justice Department determines whether or not the former president committed them or not. It is that investigation that`s merited based on what we publicly know.
O`DONNELL: You mentioned several things -- conspiracy and other things specifically in the piece. Everyone should read the piece to see what those are that should be investigated.
But you also make the point that choosing not to investigate because you`re afraid of the way it would look politically, is in fact poisoning the investigative process with politics.
VANCE: DOJ is not going to be able to ignore the gorilla in the room. And today was a great day for DOJ. They announced really important civil rights work, this new police investigation in phoenix. There are some criminal prosecutions in the works.
All of that good work is for nothing if the American people don`t see a serious investigation into the former president`s conduct around the insurrection on January 6th. That`s not looking at something political that a prior administration did.
And we all appreciate that there is great hesitance in our system of government for a new administration to appear to be going after for political reasons its predecessors. That is not what the investigation that we suggest is.
This was a foundational effort to damage American democracy. And DOJ has to do its job here.
O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
VANCE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, Boston can feel like a small town sometimes. And it might feel that way to you when I tell you about my family connections to two of the black women who are running for mayor of Boston right now. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Boston is a major American city but for some of us it can feel like a small town. After Boston`s acting mayor Kim Janey appeared on this program in April, my cousin Holland O`Donnell told me that her father my cousin Kirk O`Donnell was co-captain of his high school football team with Kim Janey`s father, Cliff Janey, in 1964 at America`s oldest public school, Boston Latin School.
O`DONNELL: City counselor Andrea Campbell is running for mayor against Kim Janey in a field of front-running candidates that for the first time in Boston history does not include a white man.
My father knew Andrea Campbell`s grandfather. He loved that man. And my father made history with Andrea Campbell`s father Alvin Campbell.
April 25th, 1963 was a good time to be an Irish Bostonian in Washington, D.C. With John Kennedy still in the White House and our local congressman John McCormick as speaker of the house.
But it was a terrible time to be a black defendant in any American court. Andrea Campbell`s father was in federal prison that day doing 25 years for bank robbery, and my father was in Washington that day to get him out of prison.
It was my first day in Washington. I was 11 years old. My father had gone from being a Boston police officer to a lawyer and I sat in the front row of the United States Supreme Court that day watching him try to convince Chief Justice Earl Warren and the rest of the court that the FBI manipulated the eyewitness testimony in Alvin Campbell`s trial.
It was the second time my father argued this case to the court. Three years earlier the court sent the case back to the trial court for further review. In his first argument to the Supreme Court my father described the problem with the eyewitness testimony this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL SR., LAWYER: Dominic Staula went in that courtroom and identified three defendants, positive and partial. The summary of Toomey, the FBI agent, he said, "I never saw a third person in the bank."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Three black defendants got convicted of bank robbery without the jury knowing that the key eyewitness in the case in his first interview with the FBI said there were only two bank robbers.
After his second argument to the Supreme Court on that spring day in 1963 my father walked my brother Michael and I across the street to the Capitol to visit our local congressman. But since the speaker of the house was busy and couldn`t see us, one of his lieutenants in his leadership team Congressman Tip O`Neill who represented the congressional district my mother grew up in took us to the congressional dining room for a cup of coffee.
Everyone had already had lunch and we were the only people in the dining room. My father ordered coffee. And when Tip O`Neill asked me what I wanted I said strawberry ice cream. Tip ordered the same thing.
I remember the white table cloth. I remember the bowl. I remember the spoon. And the three scoops of strawberry ice cream that Tip and I each had.
And I remember what it felt like a month later when the Supreme Court`s opinion was issued and we learned that my father had won the day. He beat President Kennedy`s solicitor general Archibald Cox, and Alvin Campbell got out of prison. And I felt like I was a witness to history.
I wish my cousin Kirk who taught me so much was still with us to witness the history being made in Boston this year with his football co-captain`s daughter now serving as the first woman acting mayor of Boston, the first black mayor of Boston. Kirk O`Donnell served as deputy mayor in that same city hall in the 1970s.
I wish my father were still with us so he could see what Alvin Campbell`s daughter has achieved. Andrea Campbell was born in 1982 when her father would still have been serving that 25-year sentence in prison if the Supreme Court had not ruled in his favor.
Andrea Campbell graduated from the best public high school in America, Boston Latin School, then Princeton University, and then the UCLA School of Law. She became the first black woman elected city council president.
My father would be in awe of Andrea Campbell and what she has achieved. I wish he could meet her. I`m going to meet her for the first time after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA CAMPBELL (D) CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR, BOSTON: My name is Andrea Campbell and I deeply love this city. I`m running for mayor because every neighborhood deserves real change and a real chance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being raised in a foster family, to make it through Boston Latin, to make it to Princeton and UCLA Law School, she could work anywhere she wants. She could go live anywhere she wants. She chose Boston.
CAMPBELL: Let`s make Boston a great city for all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Andrea Campbell, Democratic candidate for mayor of Boston. She`s currently the Boston city councilor representing District 4 which is right beside District 3 where I grew up.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. This is really very special for me to be meeting you this way. This is really a great moment for me. and I wish my father could see this.
I want to go --
CAMPBELL: Thank you, Lawrence, for having me.
O`DONNELL: Let`s get to the issues that you`re facing in this campaign and beginning with what may be the most urgent issue of the day which is the delta variant of COVID-19. Boston is not -- has a big public school system with all those elementary school kids that we`re all worried about. But it may be the biggest college town in America.
You`re going to be flooded with college kids coming in in the fall. What does Boston have to do in the face of the delta variant?
CAMPBELL: It`s simple. We have to continue to get folks vaccinated and particularly focusing on communities of color and those harder to reach communities and vulnerable populations.
Right now we`re doing a lot of that work in the community. It`s, of course, very unfortunate and deeply disappointing to hear our acting mayor`s recent remarks comparing pushing for vaccination and proof of vaccination to slavery.
And so I`ve called that out and to say, we cannot perpetuate misinformation or push information that just doesn`t make sense. It`s our responsibility not to -- misinformation out there, but to make sure that folks in our communities have correct information, get vaccinated because we know it saves lives. And that`s the only way we`re going to continue to protect residents in the city Boston going forward.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what acting Mayor Kim Janey said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM JANEY, ACTING MAYOR, BOSTON: I want to take a moment to address the comments about slavery and birtherism I made the other day. I wish I had not used those analogies because they took away from the important issue of ensuring that our vaccination and public health policies are implemented with fairness and equity.
If vaccine passports were imposed today with the government mandate to ban unvaccinated residents from venues, like restaurants or gyms, that would shut out nearly 40 percent of east Boston and 60 percent of Mattapan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What is your reaction to that?
CAMPBELL: She has it terribly wrong. We`re pushing for folks to get vaccinated and using all the tools in our tool kit to do just that, whether it is incentivizing residents.
We know from the New York City model of requiring folks to have proof of vaccination, they`ve seen a 40 percent uptick in folks getting vaccinated. That`s what we want. So that they can, of course, go to our schools, go to restaurants, go to bars and we can continue to open up our economy.
But if we do not get folks vaccinated, we will be making a grave mistake. And so the misinformation and that rhetoric is not helpful.
And I have to keep stressing this point. I live in Mattapan right now which as you know, is a larger community of color. It has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the entire city of Boston.
So there`s a collective effort to change that. And so we need information to get out. We do not need misinformation and we have to remind folks this is critically important. Otherwise we will not continue to be able to open our economy in the city of Boston.
O`DONNELL: What is your top issue in this campaign other than COVID-19, if we can say that`s separable from other issues.
CAMPBELL: Housing affordability. It`s too expensive to live in the city of Boston and so I have a tremendous track record on making sure that folks have access to homeownership opportunities and all the things they would need to be able to afford to live in the city.
Policing reform is a major topic of discussion. That is near and dear to me because for me it`s -- this work, as you mentioned in your opening remarks, it`s always been about breaking generational cycles of inequity in the city of Boston and criminalization.
And so that is a critical issue. And then ensuring that every resident, whether they`re born in Boston or just got here this morning, are afforded the same opportunity I had growing up in the city of Boston.
Because this city on the one hand, gave me everything, the life torn apart by incarceration that allowed me to go to Princeton University and be successful. But on the flip side, killed my twin brother who died while in the custody of a state prison at the age of 29.
And so the question has always, how do we change that? How do two twins born and raised in the city of Boston have such different life outcomes? So we have a lot of work to do in the city of Boston to ensure that every resident has access to the same opportunity regardless of their neighborhood or their demographic or if they got here this morning or if native born.
O`DONNELL: How did you do it? How did you get to where you are with all the challenges that you faced growing up?
CAMPBELL: I had access to excellent schools. I went to five excellent Boston public schools, including Boston Latin School. I had excellent teachers. I had mentors. I had jobs as a young person. I had access to socio-emotional support.
You name it, incredible opportunity that allowed me to develop a sense of resiliency, of course, and without my biological parents who are both deceased, including my biological grandparents, took off and be successful.
And that picture you see, that`s my aunt and uncle who are my parents. I had them. My twin brother, on the other hand, went to schools that did not have the same resources that I was afforded. Did not have the same opportunities.
And so this work for me has always been about breaking those generational cycles of inequity, but also pushing the city of Boston in this moment in time when we`re talking about systemic reform to say, yes, we`re a world- class city. But we`re not a world-class city for everyone.
CAMPBELL: We have a staggering racial wealth gap. We have inequities in our school system, our health care system. So we can continue to be a world class city while we must make sure it`s for everyone.
And so my life has always been about the possibilities of our city, the pain of when the city doesn`t work for everyone. And I jumped into this mayor`s race back in September to say that we have the opportunity to change life outcomes by ensuring we are providing every resident with equal and equitable opportunity.
O`DONNELL: Andrea Campbell, I`ve been looking forward to this moment. I`ve been thinking about your grandfather who I met when I was a little kid and your father who I met when I was a little kid and my father, of course, who knew them both. And this is kind of a very special moment for me.
Andrea Campbell, candidate for mayor of Boston, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
CAMPBELL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Andrea Campbell gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.