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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, December 10, 2020

Guests: Ayanna Pressley, Ayanna Pressley; Celine Gounder, David Hogg


One hundred and six Republican members of the House of Representatives signed on to a case filed with the Supreme Court, of the United States Supreme Court, by the Texas Attorney General which attempts to simply throw out all the votes that were cast in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin. Interview with Massachusetts California Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted to approval the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in the United States. David Hogg and March for Our Lives are asking for the Biden/Harris administration to become the first administration to appoint a director of youth engagement and a national director of gun violence prevention.



And is your entire "Daily Show" interview conducted in French?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: No, but there is a (INAUDIBLE) moment.

O'DONNELL: Just that. Is that the entirety of the French used in the interview?

MADDOW: Yes, I'm trying to think if there is a Deja vu or something else. But I don't think there was. I think it was just that.

O'DONNELL: By the way, Rachel, what is -- what is the French word for bagman?

MADDOW: Man de bag.

O'DONNELL: There you go. There you go.

MADDOW: I don't actually know French.

O'DONNELL: And you said you were not going to talk about it anymore.

"Bag Man" is a book. "The Daily Show" is her next interview about the book. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you very much.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Seditious abuse. The court should not abide by this seditious abuse of the judicial process. That is what one brief to the United States Supreme Court said today about Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the election results. And Donald Trump has admitted that that is what it's about, overturning democracy.

He put it in writing. It's not about count the votes, not anymore. It's not about counting every legal vote, as team Trump used to say, just a fortnight ago. It's not about that. It's just overturn. That's it.

They're not even pretending there is a way to accurately count the votes so that Donald Trump can win. One hundred and six Republican members of the House of Representatives signed on to a case filed with the Supreme Court, of the United States Supreme Court, by the Texas Attorney General which attempts to simply throw out all the votes that were cast in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin, just throw out those votes and then let the Republicans in that state chose electoral for the electoral college and therefore give Donald Trump an electoral college victory. One hundred and six Republican members of Congress said, yeah, sure, let's do that.

But that also means that 90 Republican House of Representatives are refusing to go on with that, under very intense pressure from Donald Trump to sign on that lawsuit, 90 House Republicans are refusing to do that. My first guest says everything about what Republicans in Washington are doing today and what Republicans in Washington are not doing today.

Steve Schmidt spent his professional life trying to elect Republicans, especially elect Republicans to the presidency. He ran John McCain's presidential campaign. And yesterday, Steve Schmidt said the Republican Party is an organized conspiracy for the purposes of maintaining power for self-interest and the self-interest of its donor class. There is no fidelity to the American ideal or American democracy. Those are Steve Schmidt's words.

Seldom do so few words mean so much. It explains the 106 Republicans defying democracy because they have no fidelity to American democracy and because they are members of an organized conspiracy to maintaining power in there. So, there is no limit to what they are willing though say or do as members of the organized conspiracy. The members of the organized conspiracy for the purposes of maintaining power.

So, of course, there is no limit to what they're willing to say or do as members of that organized conspiracy. The organized conspiracy had a meeting at the White House today, Donald Trump hosted the Texas attorney general who filed a case with the Supreme Court has been correctly labeled seditious abuse of the judicial process.

Other members of the organized conspiracy who were in attendance were the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina and Utah, all of whom signed an amicus brief supporting the Texas attorney general's case. The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been under investigation by the FBI. "The Austin American Statesman" reports federal agents served at least one subpoena yesterday on the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in an ongoing investigation into allegations that Paxton abused his authority by helping a friend and campaign donor.

And today, the day after the FBI closed in tighter on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, he had a meeting with the man who has the ability to make Ken Paxton's FBI problems go away with the stroke of a pen, or in this case, a sharpie, a federal pardon for Ken Paxton, an organized conspiracy for the purpose of maintaining power.

Everyone's self-interest was served in the meeting today at the White House. The Republican attorneys general can go back home to standing ovations from some fanatical Trump supporters in their states, the Texas attorney general is now eventually assured of getting a Trump pardon, and Trump can continue to assault his supporters with emails every day, asking for money to pay for his seditious abuse of the judicial process. Money that Donald Trump will be able to keep and use long after the ridiculous election lawsuits are over.

Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a brief with the Supreme Court today saying Texas seeks to invalidate elections in four states for yielding results with which it disagrees. Its request for this court to exercise its original jurisdiction and then anoint Texas' referred candidate for president is legally indefensible and is an affront to principles of constitutional democracy.

Attorney General Shapiro said that the Texas attorney general's case rests on a surreal alternate reality. Texas's effort to get this court to pick the next president has no basis in law or fact. The court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated.

Ohio's Republican attorney general Dave Yost filed a Supreme Court brief opposing the Texas case, the Texas Trump case. Republican Attorney General Dave Yost says the courts have no more business ordering the people's representatives to choose electors than they do ordering the people themselves how to choose their dinners.

Donald Trump has joined the case in an amicus filing to the Supreme Court, supporting the Texas case. That means Donald Trump personally will once again suffer the full humiliation of defeat when the Supreme Court unanimously rejects the Texas case as is a virtual certainty.

While 106 House Republicans are playing games with the Supreme Court today, all -- all of the House Republicans and all of Senate Republicans today were doing absolutely nothing. Nothing is what they do. It seems to be the only thing Republican members of Congress know how to do. Nothing.

Democrats in Congress have been working all year to pass legislation to provide economic relief to people suffering loss of jobs, loss of income during the coronavirus pandemic, and Republicans sit there and do nothing.

Finally, in the last week, a few Senate Republicans met with a few Senate Democrats to work out a compromised bill for COVID relief. It's the kind of thing in the past that would break the law jamming Congress once the bipartisan group of senators agreed on something, that always meant it could immediately pass the United States Senate and the House could pass the same bill and the job would be done. The compromise would be made. Not now.

Chuck Schumer is the leader of the Senate Democrats. In that position, he is always at the center of negotiations, but he was not a part of the group of senators who reached a bipartisan agreement. But Senator Schumer is willing to go along with that agreement, because that appears to be the best the Senate can do at this time. And that agreement is going absolutely nowhere, and today, Chuck Schumer went to the Senate floor to explain why.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Make no mistake, right now, there's one person, just one person standing in the way. And that is Leader McConnell.


O'DONNELL: Mitch McConnell is not just a member of, he is the current leader of the organized conspiracy for the purposes of maintaining power for the self-interest and the self-interest of the donor class. Mitch McConnell doesn't think there is enough for his donor class in the $900 billion compromise bill. Senator Schumer explained what Mitch McConnell wants for his donor class in his compromised bill.


SCHUMER: You will hear voices say Democrats want to fund state and local services while Republicans, that is Leader McConnell, wants corporate liability shield. Each side wants something that the other doesn't want to accept. But as I said, this is a false equivalency, incredibly false, for two reasons. First, state and local aid has broad bipartisan support, totally unlike the Republican leader's liability provision which is expressly partisan. Second, the two policies are not remotely equivalent in terms of importance or relevance to what's going on in our country right now.


O'DONNELL: Chuck Schumer pointed out that what Mitch McConnell wants is grants sweeping immunity to corporations who put their workers in harm's way during the pandemic. That's what Mitch McConnell wants. He thinks Donald Trump should be able to bring any frivolous lawsuit he want, no matter how abusive of the judicial process, but he does not think that the workers in the meatpacking plant in Iowa that Rachel reported on, who were dying of COVID-19, should have the right to sue that company. Or the managers in the plant, were betting, actually betting, how many workers would get COVID-19.

In Mitch McConnell's America, you don't get to sue your employer who recklessly and willfully injures you, kills you. You don't get to sue for wrongly death for that in Mitch McConnell's America. Donald Trump gets to sue any state he wants if the people in that state voted against Donald Trump.

Steve Schmidt's words explaining all this are certainly worth repeating one more time, and perhaps many more times after tonight. The Republican Party is an organized conspiracy for the purposes of maintaining power for self-interest and the self-interest of its donor class. There is no fidelity to the American ideal or American democracy.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Steve Schmidt, a former Republican strategist and co-founder of the Lincoln Project. He is a MSNBC political analyst.

And, Steve, your words, I want to make them the wallpaper behind me of this show, because what I constantly get outside of the show, people want to know why, why is it happening, why is Mitch McConnell doing this? Why -- does Mitch McConnell have people in Kentucky who need help? Why is he doing this?

And you're explanation yesterday stopped me in my tracks as I sat here last night, and it does seem to explain everything that we're talking about in terms of what Washington Republicans for up to today, both with the Supreme Court and with the refusal to move on COVID relief.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you saw it coming this summer, Lawrence, the astounding moment when the Republican platform became nothing more than a loyalty oath to Trump, an oath of obedience, complete obedience to Trump. That's what the Republican platform was, not even a pretence of policy issues or ideas in it.

So today is a historic day, and I know that sometimes in the instant analysis culture, a fast-moving events, we can overstate the importance of an event and the context of the moment and say that this is a meaningful event in history. Sometimes it's obvious. On September 11th, right, for sure, you can say that on that day, that was a meaningful event in American history. It was a before and after moment.

Today was a before and after moment in the life of the nation, 106 members of Congress broke faith with the American democracy today. They did something that the fascists, the Nazis, the Confederate army was not able to do. They forced a majority or a majority of elected officials of one of the two major parties, a federal house, broke faith with the idea that the people are sovereign, that we're a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Democracy definitionally requires one side being willing to lose an election, to accept results to come back in the next time in competition of ideas. So what we saw today, this breaking of faith, which followed the poisoning of faith in belief in the system, the American system, the American republic which has endured since 1776. It was poisoned this month, faith and belief in it.

And we're going to live with this now for all the balance certainly of our lives, Lawrence, because the competition is now between a Democratic Party, meaning a party that believes in democracy versus an autocratic party. And we've never seen that.

When you see that members of Congress breaking faith with their oath to overturn an election because they don't like the result, we've off the reservation to a place where we might not be able to get back on it from. So it's a very worrying moment, and what it means is now, we're one election away from losing the country to people who no longer believe in democracy.

O'DONNELL: Steve, in the words of Monty Python, let's take a look at the bright side of life if it's there. What about those 90 Republicans in the House of Representatives under intense pressure who refused to sign on to Trump's case in the Supreme Court?

SCHMIDT: So, those 90 Republicans are interesting. What they know are a couple things. They know this is insanity and they know that every person, every member in the group of 106, every one of them knows that Joe Biden won the election.

But they are now in a political party that has an alliance with extremist militia groups, with QAnon conspiracy nuts, with nationalist groups, white nationalist groups, with fascist groups like the Proud Boys. They are a meaningful and important part of Trump's coalition. And these Republicans stand in a coalition with those types of people.

The former Republicans in the organization that we founded are inspired by how Ronald Reagan approached the contest with the Soviets. He was asked, where are you trying to get? He said, we win, they lose. There is no accommodation with these people.

You cannot accommodate the Proud Boys. You cannot accommodate these racists and white nationalists and they can't be part of a political coalition.

There's only two ways to win a fight. You can win a fight through submission or through exhaustion. Submission, think Germany and Japan in 1945. Exhaustion, think of United States and Saigon in 1975.

We must bring these forces, those parts of the Trump coalition to submission, through electoral defeat, which is why it's important to maintain this broad yet fragile Biden coalition, because they have to be beaten until association with them becomes so toxic that you have no chance anywhere, anytime, anyplace in this country, to win an election. And that's going to take many years.

But 90 people, now looking at 106 people at the House lunch. And 106 people are extremist autocrats now. They are not Republicans in any traditional sense.

They have profoundly broken faith with the idea that is central to this country, that the people are sovereign. We don't have a king here. We don't have an emperor, don't have a military junta.

What we have here is government of the people, by the people, for the people, the world's oldest constitutional republic. And its greatest miracle is that every four years, uninterrupted by civil war, by world war, by assassination, by Great Depression, the story of the country is renewed with 35 words, the presidential oath, and the story begins again.

The people renew every four years, the life spring of American democracy by deciding who leads us. Until this moment, we all agreed about this. The fight in the country's history hasn't been whether this was a good idea or not. It's about who gets to participate in it.

Martin Luther King came to the Lincoln Memorial to collect a promissory note. To say this belongs to us too, the American ideal is an ideal for all people. That's what we now have in the country, is a fundamental debate between a majority that believes that and minority that does not. But that minority, because of restricting and gerrymandering and the structure of the Electoral College runs the race with a significant head start.

So, we are in very, very dangerous hours. We now have an internal threat to freedom and liberty in the country. The likes of which we have never, never seen in our history, 106 members of Congress today decided to do away, in essence, with American democracy. It was as historic a vote that has ever taken place under the Capitol Dome.

And without question, in our entire history, there has never been a more un-American vote than the one cast today on this question.

O'DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, the clarity in which you guide us through the times we are living in is invaluable and invaluable to the viewers of this program. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

SCHMIDT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

And when we come back, if you don't understand Mitch McConnell, you're not the only one. He is as Senator Schumer said, the person, the individual who is blocking COVID relief to millions of Americans who are suffering economically under these pandemic conditions. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley joins us next.


O'DONNELL: If you just don't get Mitch McConnell, you're not alone. Here is Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-IL), CHICAGO: I don't get M McConnell. I never have and probably never will. But it would be an absolute travesty if something happened in Congress and there was not any kind of accommodation for state and local governments. I don't know what goes on in that man's mind where he doesn't get it. He lives in a state, Kentucky, that has significant challenges, significant challenges.

I'm familiar with mayors in that state. I know what they are suffering and to basically turn your back on state and local governments at a time when we are hemorrhaging, when we are looking at severe service cuts, putting people out on the street in unemployment, cutting back on services that are actually could be a stimulus to the economy?

That is unbelievably shortsighted, and I hope that the Democrats will hold firm -- I know there is a lot of posturing that goes on in Washington, D.C. but dear god, stop the nonsense. Get something done.

We are hurting here in the heartland and all across our country, and we need the federal government to step up and do their job.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now is Representative Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat who represents Massachusetts's 7th district where I grew up, and it is still home in my heart. She's a member of the Committee on Oversight Reform.

Representative Pressley, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

You Democrats in the House of Representatives have repeatedly done your job in delivering legislation that will provide relief, especially economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, including much, much bigger packages than what is talked about in the Senate compromised vision as of this point, and yet, and yet, all of your work sits stuck on Mitch McConnell's desk in the Senate.

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): He is callous and disconnected from the hardships the American people are experiencing. When he said he was intent of being the Grim Reaper, he has certainly honored that. He has been an obstructionist at every turn.

And instead of advancing a comprehensive relief package to meet the scale and scope of this crisis, they approved 222 far right leaning judges, they are not centering the American people. They have abandoned the American people and ostensibly become one big GoFundMe page. People have set up go fund me pages for diapers, for groceries, for rent.

So, I continue to advocate for direct cash relief, recurring payments. We have to get immediate relief to the American people. We need a rent, and mortgage cancellation, eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, worker protections, extended and expanded unemployment benefits and a massive infusion of federal investment in states and municipalities to support relief efforts, as well as vaccine distribution.

Without that state and municipal aid, we will see great contributors to what is already a tsunami of hurt, because of the confluence of unprecedented food insecurity, unemployment, and families on the precipice of eviction.

The projections in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that I have heard from some advocates are from 60,000 to 100,000 people. We are looking at a looming tent city throughout this country in the midst of a pandemic.

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to what Senator Bernie Sanders said about this.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I will insist that any agreement in terms of a COVID-19 relief package must include not only strong unemployment benefits but a $1,200 direct payment for the working families of this country, similarly structured to what was included in the CARES package of March.


O'DONNELL: Representative Pressley, why can't your colleagues in the House and in the Senate understand that when you lose your job, you lose your income, the solution to that problem is money?

PRESSLEY: Again, they are callous and cruel, and it seems just completely disconnected from the hurt the American people are experiencing.

You know, today, we did see Senator Sanders, a liberal member and a more conservative member, come together to fight that fight for direct cash relief.

But let me tell you a story. I have a constituent who is getting $111 in unemployment benefits. She's a single mom with three children. Her rent is $1,900 a month. She has depleted her savings and has $35 to her name.

People need this relief for diapers, for groceries, for inhalers, for insulin, for rent, which is why, again, we need an eviction and foreclosure moratorium.

This is a public health crisis. We cannot have people unsheltered the fact we are having to beg for people to merely survive, to meet their most basic needs is

Fact we are having to beg for people to merely survive, to meet their most basic needs is unconscionable. But I want the people to know, you are powerful. And that is exactly why now we are at a point where direct cash stimulus or survival checks are even being a part of this negotiation is because of the strength of this movement, the amplification of your stories.

So, we have to remain vigilant, and continue to center (ph) the American people and to get them what really amounts to survival checks -- direct cash relief to mitigate this hurt. They cannot afford to wait until Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in.

O'DONNELL: Representative Pressley, quickly before we go, I wanted to get your position on how you would like to see the coronavirus vaccine distributed in Boston and Massachusetts in your district and around the country?

PRESSLEY: Well again, first and foremost, I'm going to continue to fight for state and municipal and federal support both to support an equitable public health response to the pandemic but also distribution of the vaccine. It needs to go to those that have been hardest hit.

And again, we need the investments in the infrastructure to ensure that that is happening. Those on the front lines, our health care workers but again those communities that have been hardest hit.

The coronavirus is the third leading cause of death for Black Americans. So the most vulnerable and marginalized communities because of the comorbidities of structural racism, because of unequal access to health care, because of transportation deserts (ph) and food apartheid (ph) have been the most vulnerable to contracting this virus, and had the highest rates of fatality.

O'DONNELL: Congressman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, thank you once again for joining us tonight. We always appreciate it.

PRESSLEY: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: And when we come back after this break, today, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted to approve Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in the United States. We'll be joined by a member of President-Elect Joe Biden's coronavirus task force next.


O'DONNELL: On this day, when this country set a new record for new cases of coronavirus in a single day, with 225,318 the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted to approval the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on the totality of scientific evidence available, do the benefits of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its risks for use IN individuals 16 years of age and older?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the safety is pretty well demonstrated and balance that against over 2,000 deaths a day or 2,500 deaths a day, I'm comfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that concludes the vote. We do have a favorable vote.


O'DONNELL: The FDA is likely to accept the recommendation as soon as this weekend. The first 2.9 million doses of the vaccine will be distributed in the United States within 24 hours of that approval.

The first recipients of the vaccine will be health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Tonight, President-Elect Joe Biden said, "We are grateful to the scientists and researchers who developed this vaccine and we are grateful to the scientists and public health experts who evaluated the safety and efficacy of the vaccine free from political influence. The integrity of science led us to this point."

Joining our discussion now Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of President-Elect Joe Biden's coronavirus task force. She is an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at NYU's School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital.

Thank you very much for joining us on this important night, Doctor. How should we interpret this vote today to approve this vaccine for emergency use?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, MEMBER OF JOE BIDEN'S CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Lawrence, we've had such little good news over the past year, I think this truly is a moment to stop, pause and really celebrate the work of these scientists and doctors who have done really heroic work over the last several months.

They have not cut corners. They have done the science rigorously and yet have gotten it to the point where they could present it to the FDA for emergency use authorization.

So, I think, you know, before too long in the next couple of days, maybe next week, we will start to see Americans rolling up their sleeves to get this vaccine.

O'DONNELL: There were I believe 17 votes in favor of approval. There were four votes against. And those four votes said we're concerned about the age being as low as 16 for approval. They actually wanted the age to be -- the age cut off to be 18 saying that there didn't seem to be enough in the data to clarify use for people as young as 16.

DR. GOUNDER: Yes, there weren't as many participants in that 16- and 17-year-old age group so you just didn't have the same numbers as you did in the older ages. But, you know, from what we can see in the data and based on what we know about 16-year-olds versus 18-year-olds there is really no good reason to say that they are going to respond differently, that the safety and efficacy of the vaccine would truly be different in that age group.

O'DONNELL: And is that something that over time as more data is collected, those four members of the advisory panel could change their minds, in effect, and go along and say, ok, we now see enough? Our hesitation is overcome.

DR. GOUNDER: Yes, because we are going to be collecting further data on the vaccine as it's rolled out because they are going to want to get a full standard approval, not just the emergency use authorization.

So, they are going to be collecting data on the 16, 17-year-olds as well as other groups. Younger populations, children, groups like pregnant women, others that were not in the original study. So that is part of the ongoing process here.

O'DONNELL: We have a report from Britain about two health care workers who got the vaccine on the first day who have a history of severe allergic reaction to some medicines and they had a problem with it.

The headline about that story says allergies. Now, is this an instance that involves only allergic reactions to medicine, or does it involve the possibility of a risk for people who just have seasonal allergies, hay fever kinds of things?

DR. GOUNDER: Yes, this is really a much more severe type of allergy, what we call anaphylactoid reaction. So, this is not your standard run of the mill seasonal allergies that we're concerned about. But if you had one of these severe allergies where you've ended up hospitalized, maybe even had a tube put down your throat to keep your airway open that is the level of allergy that we're talking about.

And if that happened, then you probably want to hold off a little bit for more information before getting this vaccine.

O'DONNELL: So, so far, as we sit here tonight, those are the only people who we have evidence might want to consider a pause in this -- in taking this vaccine?

DR. GOUNDER: Yes, I think that's right. You know, and again, pregnant women were not included in the studies thus far so that is another group that we would probably hold off on.

But, you know, I truly do think this is a safe and effective vaccine as a health care provider, infectious disease doctor still seeing patients in the hospital. I will be among the first to be able to get this vaccine, and I will be rolling up my sleeve and getting it.

O'DONNELL: What do you know as a member of the Biden coronavirus task force at this point about the Trump administration's current distribution plans and what the Biden administration is going to have to do to build on those plans?

DR. GOUNDER: Yes. There are plans in place to start vaccinating health care workers to do vaccination in long term care facilities, so nursing homes and assisted living facilities. And we are really picking up the baton from there, building on those plans and also looking at the next phase of vaccination which will be very much focused on critical infrastructure, workers and then after that, older Americans and those with chronic conditions.

O'DONNELL: Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you very much for joining us tonight on this important night.

Thank you.

And when we come back, David Hogg will join us. I will never forget the first time I saw David Hogg speaking on television in Florida after a mass murder at his high school.

He joined us on this program shortly after that. That was a little more than two years ago. He is now a college student and he was very successful in activating turnout of the youth vote in the presidential election that went decisively for Joe Biden. David Hogg joins us next.



DAVID HOGG, CO-FOUNDER, MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: These politicians know they should be scared because we are the future voters and we are the future.


O'DONNELL: That was David Hogg on this program in 2018 after he survived the mass murder at his high school, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Within hours after that mass shooting, David Hogg found his voice and his role in our society when he became one of the most eloquent and compelling activists against gun violence in our history, along with Emma Gonzalez and other students at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School, David Hogg co-founded March for our Lives and was active in organizing record turnout of young voters in the 2020 presidential election.

A Tufts University study shows "Young voters, who nationwide preferred Biden by a 25 point margin -- 61 percent to 36 percent -- were especially critical in the key battleground states that decided the presidential race.

David Hogg and March for Our Lives are now asking for the Biden/Harris administration to become the first administration to appoint a director of youth engagement and a national director of gun violence prevention.

Joining us now is David Hogg, co-founder of March for Our Lives. David, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And I'm checking out that background. Are you in your college dorm? Are you one of the students who gets to attend college as opposed to the virtual version?

HOGG: Sadly, I'm online this year as many of my classmates are at the school currently. And I will be next semester as well.

But I was lucky enough to be able to set up kind of my own version of I guess you could say home office and a kind of student activist center at the same time. So that is currently where I am. It's my own version of my dorm I guess you could say.

O'DONNELL: Well, you've succeeded I think in creating a feeling of a dorm in that room. David, you're now asking for a director of youth outreach. There has been a director of community outreach in the White House. You're modeling this over the kinds of positions that already exist in the White House.

What is your case for aiming at youth, and I assume part of your case is how you delivered, how you helped deliver the youth vote?

HOGG: Yes, I think that's one of the main things. I think we need to get -- you know, I think we always hear politicians say young people don't turn out, but I think we've seen that proved wrong not only in 2018 but in 2020 as well one of the highest record youth voter turnouts in both of those elections in (INAUDIBLE) history.

And I think one of the best ways to keep that voter turnout high is show young people that our vote does make an impact, by making sure that they listen to us, you know, and hopefully the Biden-Harris administration by appointing someone specifically engaging with young people in the United States, hopefully someone of Gen Z for that youth engagement director and with that as well especially in regards to gun violence which we know disproportionately affects young people in the United States.

Appointing a national director of gun violence prevention is essential because we know it's one of the issues that affects us most and one that we care about most and that we've turned out to vote for.

So, by showing young people that when we engage in our democracy, when we do vote, it does make a change and we'll be able to keep that hope -- you know, as high as possible.

O'DONNELL: Susan rice is going to be the leader of the domestic policy advisory group in the administration. Now, gun violence prevention would come within her portfolio. You're asking to add another person specifically concentrating on prevention of gun violence and have that be part of Joe Biden's domestic advisory group.

HOGG: Absolutely. We want someone to help direct, you know, report to the president and advise on this issue that sadly, you know, takes 40,000 American lives annually.

One thing that I would actually like to challenge the administration with is setting an audacious goal over the next four years especially if we're likely enough to get the senate and (INAUDIBLE) gun violence prevention senate to set a goal of reducing gun violence by 20,000 deaths annually.

I think we've seen in every -- more developed countries aside from the United States that it is possible to dramatically reduce gun violence. And we've even seen that in some communities across the United States.

And I really would like to see the administration set that goal and work towards it because I think, you know, no matter if you're Republican or Democrat, I think we can all get behind, you know, reducing gun violence in this country and setting that goal. Because at the end of the day we all want the same thing which is less people to die from gun violence.

O'DONNELL: David, you just cast your first vote for president. You are one for one in terms of casting your presidential vote and having your candidate win. How did that feel for you to finally get to cast that vote for president?

HOGG: It felt really amazing. You know, I remember waking up the day after the election in 2016 and kind of being in a state of shock. You know, I was politically engaged at the time as well because of my experience in speech and debate or at least politically aware I guess you could say.

And I just remember thinking that, you know, I was 16 years old at the time. I couldn't vote, but I made sure to promise to myself I was going to vote not only in the next presidential election but in every election after that because politics really does matter.

you know, to my friends and family that are undocumented, you know, many of my -- you know, just people in general being affected by issues of injustice as a whole in this country and seeing that somebody as overt of a white nationalist as Donald Trump got elected especially in 2016 although we knew obviously about the history of this country. It was still very sad to see.

O'DONNELL: David Hogg, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. Thank you, David.

HOGG: Yes, absolutely. And if I could just say one last thing is that if you're a young person please engage in the Georgia senate races that are coming up. We absolutely need the highest youth voter turnout that we can possibly get there. So please work on those campaigns and let's make sure that we get a senate that's pro gun violence prevention so we can end gun violence in this country.

But please work out the phrases and join March for Our Lives as well. Thank you.

O'DONNELL: David Hogg, still working to get out that youth vote. Thank you, David.

When we come back after this break a special LAST WORD featuring your tweets.


O'DONNELL: For tonight's last word I'd like to read some of your tweets responding to the KIND Fund, Kids in Need of Desks, the partnership that I created between MSNBC and UNICEF to deliver desks to schools in Africa where the kids have never seen desks, and scholarships for girls to attend high school in Malawi where public high school is not free.

Eric tweeted, "It's been a rough year and a lot of extra funding has gone to Democratic causes this year. But I can find the funds to do one desk. I hope my followers can join me even in a smaller donation if they can't afford a desk."

"The desks you are providing are helping teachers maintain social distancing in the classroom this year during the coronavirus pandemic."

Gary Frisch (ph) tweeted, "Made a donation to the KIND Fund to fund a Malawi girl's scholarship in my daughter's name as a Hannukah gift. She was thrilled, daughter that is. Thanks for reminding us of this and happy holidays.

You can go to to give a desk or a girl's scholarship as a gift to anyone on your holiday gift list. And UNICEF will send them an acknowledgement of your gift. No contribution towards a desk or scholarship is too small.

Carl Martin tweeted "I've always said I was going to donate in the past and never did. But with everything going on and the great need in the world for people who need help I couldn't pass by this time."

Thanks to Carl and Gary and Eric and all of you for the $360,701 you have contributed just so far this that's just this week to Kids in Need of Desks.

That is tonight's LAST WORD.



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