Interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci who is the director of the National Institute Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, and who on January 20th will become President Biden's chief medical advisor on COVID-19.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Ali.
We have Dr. Anthony Fauci tonight. This is his first appearance on this program. This is something I've been looking forward to all year. Obviously, we have so many questions for him. He predicted this would be a dark winter for us with the pandemic.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Yeah.
O'DONNELL: And that's where we are tonight.
We're also going to have Jon Ossoff join us later in the hour as the days close in on that Georgia election that will decide who controls the Senate. Jon Ossoff will be joining us once again on that tonight.
VELSHI: You have a great show and a great New Year, and I will see you next year, my friend.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Ali. Thank you very much.
Well, Anthony Fauci graduated first in his class from Cornell Medical School in 1966, and two years later, in 1968, the country endured the most turbulent presidential campaign year since the Civil War.
President Lyndon Johnson abandoned his re-election campaign. Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy was assassinated a month after the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The Democratic Convention brought a week of rioting to Chicago.
There were large and small protests somewhere in America, virtually every day in 1968, when the country seemed irreparably broken into irreconcilable political factions over the Vietnam War.
It was that year that Dr. Anthony Fauci went to work at the National Institutes of Health when he was 27 years old in 1968.
Dr. Fauci is still there, 52 years later, with the angers and arguments of 1968 long forgotten, having been replaced by the turbulence of the 2020 presidential campaign and arguments over wearing masks and social distancing, arguments that will someday also be forgotten. Nowaday JD (ph), Dr. Fauci has emerged as the most important defender of public health.
Public health is the most complex challenge a physician can face. Private health care involves diagnosing individual illnesses and injuries in isolated circumstances with the mission of restoring the health of individual patients, one patient at a time. Dr. Fauci has 330 million patients who are threatened every day by the coronavirus in this country and whose health depends on following Dr. Fauci's guidance.
Dr. Fauci has told us what to do to stay safe, and he has told us what is coming. He told us that this winter would be, quote, a really dark time.
And here we are tonight having set a record of the largest number of deaths in a single day from COVID-19 at 3,428. And the highest number of current hospitalizations for COVID-19 at 125,220 people in hospitals tonight with COVID-19.
And to guide us through this dark time, we are joined now by Dr. Anthony Fauci who is the director of the National Institute Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, and who on January 20th will become President Biden's chief medical advisor on COVID-19.
Dr. Fauci, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
Here we are on this dark day that you predicted would come. How much darker is it going to get this winter?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, unfortunately, I think that January is going to be a bad month. And the reason for that is that we already are at very, very high levels of infection, hospitalizations and deaths as you mentioned in the data that you showed very, very clearly. It speaks for itself.
The problem is that when you have the amount of travel that we've had understandably during the holiday season, a rather prolonged holiday season from Christmas through New Year's, people congregating together, wanting to be together with their loved ones, which is again understandable.
But what people will do is they likely will congregate indoors with larger numbers of people than they should, and that is a very precarious situation when you're dealing with a respiratory borne illness.
So I would imagine as we get a couple of weeks into January, things could get worse than they are now. I hope that they don't, but when you look at the history of what happens following events like Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, et cetera, it is likely that we'll see an uptick in everything -- in cases, followed by hospitalizations, and then followed by death -- super imposed on an inflection curve that you showed in one of your charts that you showed a moment ago, that's very, very clearly precarious.
When you see something go up like that, when you have a baseline of infection of a couple of a hundred new cases a day and over 200 deaths per day, 125,000 hospitalizations, the system can't handle much more than that.
So, hopefully, people will listen to the public health measures of wearing masks uniformly, keeping distances and avoiding congregant settings. I hope they do that in the couple of days that we have left in the holiday season.
O'DONNELL: The new variation on the virus that was discovered in the U.K. is now here. It's been reported in Colorado. It's been reported in southern California.
I've heard you say and others say that it is more contagious. I'm not sure what that means.
Does that mean if I am taking the same precautions I've always been taking, if I am in the presence of this variant of the virus, I am somehow more likely to get it even taking the precautions I have been taking?
FAUCI: No. I don't think so. I'm glad you brought it up in that context because that can be misleading to people.
If you take appropriate precautions, you don't have to worry about any viruses. It's when people are at that borderline of maybe doing it sometimes, maybe not that a more contagious virus can slip through the public health measures.
So I don't want people to be thinking that if they wear masks, if they take care to make sure they keep social distancing, they avoid crowds, you're going to be okay. When you have a more transmissible virus, that means the virus will take the opportunity under circumstances where people are not practicing public health measures, that it will be more easy for them to get infected.
So don't get discouraged. Keep doing the public health measures that we're talking about.
O'DONNELL: So this new more contagious version is not more likely to get through my mask?
FAUCI: Well, you know, you really can't say that because we haven't done the study to prove it. But, you know, you always get caught when you haven't done a study to scientifically prove something about a mask. But the fact is that if you double down on your public health measures, extraordinarily unlikely that you're going to get infected.
If you're out there not wearing a mask, being in congregant sessions -- situations, you're going to put yourself at risk. But you can't give a quantitation whether you're going to be a risk or not. Just do the public health recommendations and you'll be okay.
O'DONNELL: Let's listen to what Vice President Pence and the secretary of health and human services said about the delivery of 20 million vaccinations during the month of December.
Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under Operation Warp Speed, we are poised to have a vaccine for 20 million Americans before the end of December.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you still expect to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of the month even though you just shipped out 3 million doses this week?
ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: Oh, sure, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: They were saying -- they were saying that two weeks ago. Did you know that was untrue when they were saying it?
FAUCI: No. I think they said that in good faith, in fairness to both the secretary and the vice president. They were saying that in good faith, because the plan was to have 20 million doses available for 20 million people, with the 20 million held in reserve for the second dose.
The fact that we're now ending the month and we haven't reached that, I believe that that's just one of those things that happens when you're getting a massive program going. And hopefully, we will get momentum picking up and we'll make up for that little bit of a loss that we have. So, there were I think 11 million or 12 million doses that were actually shipped, 2 million to 3 million were actually put into someone's arms.
What we wanted was 20 million shipped and 20 million in the arm. It didn't happen. Hopefully, as we get into the first week, second week in January, they'll be playing catch-up.
But I think the statements that were made at that time were made in good faith.
O'DONNELL: Doctor, do we know why it didn't happen in terms that allow us to project that it can happen? That -- and certainly, the new administration by February will be able to realize that kind of promise of 20 million doses in a month or less than a month.
FAUCI: You know, what I'm -- what I'm more concerned about is that I believe that the actual shipping, the transportation of the doses from where they're stored, when they've been filled and finished to the individual locations will be according to what the projection is. I have a concern about the implementation of the vaccine into people's arms by getting support. And I believe the local jurisdictions do need more support.
I mean, it's reasonably easy when you're doing it with health care providers because they're in the hospital for the most part. You have people who know what they're doing. They can vaccinate them pretty easily. When you start getting out to more in the community, it's going to be more difficult.
So what I would hope that we get the kind of support locally to the local jurisdictions, the counties, the cities, the states. That they can then do what we hope they're able to do is to keep up with the demand of getting a considerable number of people vaccinated each day.
I mean, if you want to get to what we've been talking about, namely a level of herd immunity, which by my estimation is somewhere between 70 percent and 85 percent of the people getting vaccinated -- if you want to do that in a reasonable period of time, you have to vaccinate a lot of people every day. And that's the thing we really need to prepare for, to really turning on the after burners to get people vaccinated as we get into January, February, and March.
O'DONNELL: Dr. Fauci, let me go to a technical point about the vaccines and about the vaccination process because we've got a story that was an inevitable story. I don't think anyone really should be terribly angry about this. There was some human error with some vaccine.
It was left out of refrigeration for about 12 hours. That wasn't discovered in time. Some of that vaccine was injected into some patients after it had fallen out of the refrigeration protocol that was necessary for it, but it's a very small amount.
That will surely happen again from time to time because these have to be handled in such delicate ways. It's human error. That's going to happen.
But what happens to that vaccine, what happens to that patient if a patient gets an injection of a vaccine that has been improperly handled according to the temperature guidelines? Is that a harmless event that -- or is there something to be concerned about, about what we are then injecting into that patient?
FAUCI: That does not become a safety issue. That becomes a potency issue. So what might happen -- we don't know, but likely, if you look at the particular guidelines of how you handle these -- that if in fact if it loses some of its potency, they may not get as adequate an immune response you would like them to get.
But when you have -- it's sort of like an expired medication. It's not going to cause a person harm, but it may not help them as much as a vaccine that went through the proper cold chain protocol.
O'DONNELL: And what would you recommend to someone -- do we know yet what to recommend to someone if that's discovered, that oops we discover a few days after the fact that we gave you a vaccine that had not been properly refrigerated for too long?
O'DONNELL: Do you come back in for another vaccination, or do you just wait?
FAUCI: Well, what -- I'm not -- I don't want to make policy on your show.
FAUCI: But what I would do as a scientist -- what I would recommend is that the person come back after a period of time, draw their blood, see if they've made antibodies against the particular spike protein. If they haven't or they're suboptimal, I would go back and again literally start from scratch because they're going to have to come back from a boost anyway. If you give them a boost and you find out that their antibody level didn't go up, I would just revaccinate them. If you made a mistake, then you owe it to the person to revaccinate them.
O'DONNELL: I'm so glad you've spoken about this, Dr. Fauci, because I have to tell you that out here in the world, these are the questions I'm getting all the time. Is this possibility of a vaccine -- when people hear about that ultra refrigeration that it needs, they worry about the consistency of it and how important that is to the process.
I want to go to Joe Biden's plan. You'll be advising him on January 20th in the White House. He's saying he wants 100 million shots in the first 100 days of the Biden presidency. Given our experience so far, is that possible?
FAUCI: You know, it's possible if you put a full-court press at the local level. And this gets back to what I just said a couple of minutes ago, that if you really want the local authorities, the states, the counties, to be able to do that -- and it is doable -- it's not going to happen spontaneously. You've got to give them the capability, the resources and everything it takes to do it. You can't just say go ahead and do it because quite frankly, many of them are not capable of doing it.
So, if you really want to be successful with that, and I think you can be, so that the projection that the president-elect has made I think is reasonable. In fact, he might even want to do more than that. And we do -- if you want to do more than that, if you want to at least do that, you've got to give the states and the local authorities the capability of doing it. Whatever resources they need, they've got to be able to get to do that.
O'DONNELL: What does the possibility of other vaccines coming online in the United States mean to the vaccination program going down the road?
We have the AstraZeneca vaccine. The U.K. is getting ready to use that one. That doesn't require extraordinary refrigeration, but it also reportedly has a much lower effectiveness rate, something on the order of 65 percent.
What does that mean to the future of the vaccination program here?
FAUCI: Well, the good news is that there are multiple vaccine candidates that are going to be operational within a period of time. We already have the two that we're talking about now, the Moderna and the Pfizer which are mRNA vaccines.
You have AstraZeneca, you look at the level of effect, it is not as high as the others, but there still is a utility to that. We have Janssen with Johnson & Johnson which is a single dose with less cold chain requirements. And we have Novavax coming in which is a different type of a platform, mainly a soluble protein.
So, the more, the merrier. If we want to get people in the United States who need to be vaccinated vaccination, we're going to need multiple candidates.
So, when people always talk about, is this one a winner and is this one a loser, as long as the efficacy was in the range that we want and its safety, it's good news -- not only for the United States but for the rest of the world, because these are companies not only going to make doses for us in the United States, they're going to make doses for virtually anybody in the world.
So when I hear another company come in, get approved, get those vaccines out, good for them. That's great news. That's what we need. The more the merrier.
O'DONNELL: Dr. Fauci, when I was working for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Senate, I heard him say more than once to people who were temporarily coming into government for a couple of years to serve in an administration. He would sometimes say, well, you know, there's no sense getting involved in this if you're not going to stick with it for 30 years.
You're someone who's done that. You've stuck with it for 52 years, and I have to ask you why, because that is a very uncommon career choice for physicians or for anyone in public service. Why have you dedicated your life to this?
FAUCI: Well, first of all, basic and clinical biomedical research is one of the most exciting things you can do if, in fact, it suits you. And it suits me, and I love it.
The enormity of the problem is a stimulus, it's electrifying. When you look at all the good that you can do -- and if you go back decades and decades, you know, I really -- even though I've been doing it for 52 years, it started in earnest with my ability to do leadership things when I became director of the institute more than 36 years ago, but that was in the early years of HIV.
And if you look at all the things we've been able to do with HIV, going from a disease which was uniformally fatal to develop drugs that have been now not only lifesaving but have allowed people to live essentially normal lives, to be able to address outbreaks like Ebola and Zika and the pandemic flu. And now, to have science come to the rescue with COVID-19, because we're going to end this terrible scourge we're going through by vaccines.
And vaccines are the result of fundamental, basic and clinical research which led to the vaccines.
So, to me, that's ample reason why I've been doing it for 52 years.
O'DONNELL: Dr. Fauci, I always say to my own personal doctors and nurses, I'll never be able to thank you enough. And I know that I'm speaking for millions of Americans when I say to you tonight, we will never be able to thank you enough. And I'm so honored to be able to tell you that at the end of this difficult year that we've all been through and have done better with thanks to your guidance.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you very much for joining us here tonight and for everything you've done this year and every year in your career.
FAUCI: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. Thanks.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, it is now Mitch McConnell versus everyone in America who needs more financial help to survive the coronavirus pandemic. John Heilemann joins us next.
And later in the hour, Neal Katyal will explain just what a pointless political stunt it is for Senator Joshua Hawley to say he will object to the Electoral College vote when it is presented to the United States Senate next week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Let me just make it clear for the majority leader that 10 out of the poorest 25 counties in the United States of America are located in Kentucky. So maybe my colleague, the majority leader, might want to get on the phone and start talking to working families in Kentucky and find out how they feel about the need for immediate help in terms of a $2,000 check for adults.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Tonight, the only thing standing between people in Kentucky getting $2,000 in relief payments is their senior senator, Mitch McConnell.
Joining us now is John Heilemann, executive editor of "The Recount", host of the "Hell and High Water" podcast and MSNBC national affairs analyst.
John, how is this playing out politically?
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, I think, you know, the most important thing in politics right now are the two Georgia Senate runoff elections on January 5th. I know you've been focused on them like a laser since November 3rd, really. And I think in any conventional analysis given the distribution of votes in November and the general tendency of runoff elections, you would have said that Republicans were more likely than not to win both of those races.
And what has happened over the course of the last seven, eight weeks has been a conspiracy of stupidity on the part of Donald Trump, crazy, crazy conservative activists and lawyers like Lin Wood, and Mitch McConnell, to do everything in their power to fight the trends that favor the Republicans in Georgia and have given, along with other factors, have given the two candidates in those Georgia Senate races a better chance, I would say at this point, better chance than even of winning votes in this race in Georgia on the basis of the fact the Republicans cannot get out of their own way.
And all three of them are -- all three of those forces, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the nutty right, the conspiracy theory right have all basically taken actions in this period that have done everything they can to depress Republican turnout and drive Democratic turnout in Georgia. And I can't -- I can't imagine -- I mean, look, we can still -- I'm not predicting what the outcome will be, but I can say how Republicans have been shooting themselves not just in the foot but the head and stomach and heart for weeks on end now, and Mitch McConnell's move is the most recent of those bullet wounds to the Republican cause.
O'DONNELL: What we're seeing Mitch McConnell do and what some other Republicans are saying to back him does seem like a preview of what Joe Biden will face from Republicans in the Senate next year.
Let's listen to what Chuck Schumer said about it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: After all the insanity that Senate Republicans have tolerated from President Trump, his attacks on the rule of law, an independent judiciary, the kind of conduct that led to his impeachment, is this where Senate Republicans are going to draw the line? $2,000 checks to the American people? That is a bridge too far? Please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: John, as soon as Donald Trump is leaving the presidency, the Republicans in the Senate suddenly discover there's a deficit and they care about the deficit suddenly.
HEILEMANN: Yeah. Yeah.
And what we've heard, Lawrence, for months from Mitch McConnell as he's tried to resist further assistance to American suffering in this economy and suffering from COVID, what we heard from him for months was we're not going to try to push a more generous bill out of the Senate because I know Donald Trump will never sign such a bill. I know Donald Trump, I've talked to Donald Trump, I'm in touch with Donald Trump. There's no point in Senate Republicans passing a bill Donald Trump will not sign.
And what has happened now with Trump sabotaging the bill the way he did and putting the $2,000 payment on the table, it's revealed the extent to which Mitch McConnell has not been acting -- not only been acting in good faith but not acting on the basis what he thinks Donald Trump will sign. We already know what he'll sign and still Mitch McConnell doesn't want to pass this bill.
And so, I think, you know, you're right, 100 percent right that it gives us a very good sense of just how poisonous, just how difficult the environment is going to be for Joe Biden. I think that's true whether the Democrats have a bare 50-50 with Vice President Harris as a tie breaking vote, whether they're in that position or whether they're in a narrow minority.
Either way, Mitch McConnell is announcing right now that his attitude towards the Biden presidency is going to be very much like his attitude was towards the Obama presidency. He's going to be obstructionist. He's going to be difficult to deal with. And it's not going to be -- it's not going to be any different.
We know Mitch McConnell. He's told us who we are and he's telling us again.
O'DONNELL: So, let me see if I get Donald Trump's pitch to voters on Monday straight because Donald Trump is going on Monday as is Joe Biden, last day of the campaign before the election. Donald Trump is going to go to Georgia on Monday. He's going to say elect these two Republican senators who now suddenly say they agree with me that you should get $2,000 checks. Elect them so that they can keep Mitch McConnell as the majority leader who will prevent you from getting $2,000 checks?
HEILEMANN: Yes, it's madness. It's madness, Lawrence. I'll say I actually don't know that I necessarily know what it is Donald Trump is going to do on Monday. I think he's a total wild card in this scenario.
And I think that that argument that you just laid out is the -- would be the logically consistent but obviously illogical piece of politics that he would have to put forward if he was describing the situation honestly.
But exactly what he does, the extent in which he tries to put the boot in McConnell while maybe trying to help these Georgia senate incumbents, or he could just decide at the last minute to blow the whole thing up.
I really have -- I mean I would not bet a dime on what comes out of Donald Trump's mouth on Monday and whether it hurts or helps the cause of anyone other than we know that it will be in some way in the furtherance of what Donald Trump thinks his best interest is.
And that may be going back to conspiracy theorizing about Brian Kemp, talking about the election being rigged. I mean it could easily go that way knowing that Trump only cares at this point about himself. And his self-interest may not align with either Mitch McConnell or with the two Georgia Republican incumbents down there, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
O'DONNELL: John Heilemann, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
HEILEMANN: Happy new year, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Thank you. Happy new year, John.
Coming up next, at least one Republican senator will start his presidential campaign on the senate floor next week by objecting to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' electoral college victory.
Neal Katyal will explain the legal idiocy of that stunt. Next.
O'DONNELL: The electoral college votes locking in Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election will be delivered to Congress next week on January 6th. Congress will accept that electoral college vote, but not before Missouri Senator Joshua Hawley launches his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on the Senate floor on January 6th.
Senator Hawley announced today that he will, quote, "object during the certification process on January 6 to raise these critical issues".
And the critical issues that Senator Hawley raised in a press release today include election laws in Pennsylvania and the wicked unfairness of Facebook and Twitter.
Nothing Senator Hawley does on January 6 will stop the congress from accepting the electoral college results, but it will allow Senator Hawley to make a speech on the Senate floor during a process that does not usually include speeches by senators.
The only suspense between now and then is how many other Republican senators will decide to launch their presidential campaigns exactly the same way on the Senate floor on January 6th.
Joining us now to once again consider ridiculous legal questions that are beneath the scholarly dignity of a law professor is Neal Katyal. Professor Katyal is a former acting U.S. solicitor-general and now an MSNBC legal contributor.
And Neal, it is in your role as an MSNBC legal contributor that you have addressed some of the most preposterous legal notions in American history just this year all from Republicans. And here is the latest.
Guide us through what is supposed to happen on January 6th and what Senator Hawley imagines might happen.
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Ok, so first of all, Lawrence, let me just say that was an extraordinary interview with Dr. Fauci. You answered so many questions -- he answered so many questions that we all have that haven't been asked before. I'm so glad you asked them.
It was an extraordinary interview of an extraordinary public servant. And you did quite a public service in doing that tonight.
So January 6th is supposed to be very simple. Literally the vice president of the 12th amendment of the Electoral Count Act is to open up the certified votes from each state. These have been certified by the governor and the like under their state processes and then give them to a group of tellers who are supposed to tabulate them.
Now, what Senator Hawley is proposing is that the vice president and he can object, and then there can be debate over who won the election. And at the end of it that he and his Republican colleagues supposedly somehow get to decide who actually won the election.
And to call this nonsense, Lawrence, is very mean to the word "nonsense". 59 different courts have evaluated these claims. They've all rejected them across the country. Many of them have been opinions written by Trump's own appointees to the federal courts.
The FBI has rejected it. Bill Barr, his attorney general, has rejected it. Mitch McConnell has rejected it.
But now Josh Hawley, a senator comes and says I know better. And why does he claim he knows better? Because he says there's a study done by a Pennsylvania state legislator who has a CPA and therefore knows data.
And, you know, that guy took incomplete data and tried to say there's a discrepancy. And, you know, I'm sure the guy has a CPA and maybe that makes him like qualified to be Trump's tax accountant given the ignorance of data, but I don't think that that's enough. And that's what the Pennsylvania secretary of state said today that you're looking at incomplete data sets.
And you know, even if they make this objection on January 6th if Hawley goes ahead, all that would mean is that the House and Senate separately have to deliberate on the objection. And they both would have to agree to throw out the votes of any particular state under the Electoral Count Act. The chances of that happening with a Democratic House is zero.
So in the end you have to feel bad for the great state of Missouri because imagine you're trading in this phenomenal senator you have in Claire McCaskill and you get who? You get Tucker Carlson's insecure younger brother. Good job, Missouri.
O'DONNELL: The function that the Vice President has here is he's the president of the senate. And so he basically is the minister of these kinds of things in the senate. As you've said, it's the same function that the vice president has but usually delegates to any senator who takes his place when he's not there basically.
On a vote in the senate, when they vote on an amendment, when they vote on a bill in the senate, they count the votes down there at the clerk's desk and then they hand a piece of paper up to the president of the senate. And the president of the senate reads those numbers. The vote was 52 yeas, 48 nays.
The president of the senate is not allowed to change those numbers that he's handed. This is exactly the same thing, isn't it?
KATYAL: Exactly. I want you to listen to this op-ed I wrote for "The New York Times" yesterday. It's true that the vice president presides over the count but that means to ensure decorum and order.
And what these folks are saying, these Republicans are saying basically is like it's the dude at the Oscars who opens up the envelope and says who won best picture, that that person like gets to decide who won best picture.
Of course not. We're in a democracy. It's you and me and the 300 million plus other Americans who decide on our destiny, not Josh Hawley.
O'DONNELL: So we are not going to have a Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway moment on January 6th in the United States Senate. They're actually going to declare the winner to be the winner.
Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
And again, I'm sorry we have to bring your intelligence down into the Republican legal gutter to analyze their latest tricks.
Thank you very much for doing it for us once again.
And when we come back, the final drama of the election year will come next week in Georgia. Georgia's Democratic senate candidate Jon Ossoff joins us next.
O'DONNELL: Joe Biden and Donald Trump will be campaigning against each other once again on Monday in Georgia where Joe Biden will be urging Georgia voters to vote for Democratic senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. And Donald Trump will be campaigning for Georgia's Republican senators' reelection campaigns and probably attacking the Republican Georgia governor while he's at it.
Today Jon Ossoff released this new campaign ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can send Jon Ossoff to the senate to beat this virus and rebuild our economy, to make sure everybody can afford health care and to carry the torch John Lewis passed to us with the new voting rights act that secures equal justice for all.
Georgia, you have the power. And now it's time to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Joining us now Georgia Democratic candidate for United States senate Jon Ossoff. Thank you for joining us once again tonight.
The campaign now is down to these final days. What is the most important element of the campaign now? Is it the TV advertising which must be virtually every commercial on Georgia television at this point for one candidate or the other? Is it getting out there into real contact with voters?
JON OSSOFF, GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE: Hey, Lawrence, good evening. Thank you for having me. Always a pleasure to see you. Thanks for the opportunity.
Look, it is movement level energy right now in Georgia. Something special is happening in this state right now. We are shattering turnout records. Young voters are shattering all-time records for participation in a runoff election. Black voters are shattering all-time records for participation in a runoff election.
You've got two disciples of Congressman John Lewis -- one white, one black -- raising the new south to eject from their thrones these two pandemic profiteers, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler who have so badly failed and betrayed us.
It's all about getting out the vote, Lawrence. But my number one concern is these attacks on voting rights in Georgia. They're trying to disenfranchise black voters as we speak. They have filed lawsuit after lawsuit to purge the rolls, to remove ballot drop boxes.
It is the new Jim Crow. It must be opposed with everything we have. And I'm urging folks watching across the country to recommit to victory here and voting rights in Georgia. Visit electjon.com -- electj-o-n.com, chip in $3 right now to help us defend voting rights, win the U.S. Senate and open a new and brighter chapter in American history.
O'DONNELL: Your opponent Senator Perdue has been -- had an open invitation on this program. He has never used that invitation. Same thing with Senator Loeffler, the other Republican senator. He now says and she now says they're completely supportive of $2,000 per person in relief checks going out.
And yet they voted for the $600 version with Mitch McConnell, and they do not object to Mitch McConnell objecting to and blocking the $2,000 payments.
OSSOFF: Well, point one is David Perdue should come on your show. I went on Fox today. I don't know why David Perdue is afraid of coming on MSNBC.
Point two, is that Mitch McConnell must move $2,000 checks right now through the Senate. If David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were serious about supporting that policy they'd be calling on the majority leader, soon to be minority leader, to advance the house bill.
David Perdue doesn't mean it when he says he supports $2,000 checks. This is why even David Perdue's supporters here don't respect him anymore. The guy turns on a dime because the elections five days away.
He's telling Republican establishment donors behind closed doors that Donald Trump cost them Georgia while he's pretending in Georgia, he's pretending in public, he thinks Donald Trump actually won.
This guy is just phony. He's in it for the money. He's in this position and wants to hold onto this position to keep profiting from it. He doesn't have courage of his convictions. He has no core beliefs. And he's losing the faith of even his most ardent supporters here.
But if he had the people in mind, he would be in Washington right now, urging Mitch McConnell to send $2,000 to every American because folks have credit card bills that are way over max, prescription drugs they can't afford, car payments that are past due, light bills piling up, child care they can't afford.
The people need help and the senate must pass help for the people and if this senate will not then the new senate with Reverend Warnock and I in attendance will pass direct stimulus relief in just a few weeks.
O'DONNELL: Former Georgia politician Newt Gingrich agrees with you on this, thinks Mitch McConnell is wrong to be blocking the legislation that would ensure that $2,000 checks. Let's listen to what he said about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER REPUBLICAN SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I really am very worried that if he plays a clever parliamentary game it may look good inside the senate but IT could cost us two senate seats and control of the senate. SO I would beg him to bring up the $2,000 payment as a free standing, independent vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Clearly, Mitch McConnell is not listening to Newt Gingrich. And Newt Gingrich knows a little more about Georgia politics than Mitch McConnell does.
OSSOFF: But you know what is so sick about that? He is right that the Senate must act to send money to people but is Newt Gingrich saying the Senate should act because people are suffering and need help? No. Newt Gingrich is saying the senate should act just for cynical, short term political reasons.
It's about time that we elected people in this country who had a heart for the people. Who weren't just thinking about an election in five days. Who don't just support help for working families when they have to face the voters but are thinking about working families at all times. Who aren't working to rip voting rights away from the very people they represent.
We lost John Lewis this year. But we can honor his memory by winning these two races in Georgia. And I'm asking everybody to help us defend voting rights here. Help us get out the vote here. Help us win these elections and turn the page on these four years of hatred, these four years of racism, these four years of total dysfunction. We have good work to do helping people.
And I'm asking folks to go to electjon.com and help us now.
O'DONNELL: Jon Ossoff, thank you very much for joining us again tonight.
OSSOFF: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: And coming up after this break, my final LAST WORD of the year.
O'DONNELL: We expected a big drop in contributions to the KIND Fund this year because so many of you have lost jobs and lost income during the coronavirus pandemic but once again to my utter astonishment you have set another record -- a record for contributions to the KIND Fund just in the last month of $3,530,420. The most we've ever raised in a single year.
Those contributions provide desks for classrooms in Malawi that have never had desks and scholarships for girls to attend high school in Malawi where public high school is not free and the girls' graduation rate is half the boys' graduation rate. You can contribute any amount at any time during the year at lastworddesks.MSNBC.com.
Tiwonge Mazizwa was sent home from high school because her parents could not afford the school fees but your generosity sent her back to high school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIWONGE MAZIZWA, KIND FUND SCHOLAR: To me, the scholarship has helped me go further with education. Without the scholarship, I would have dropped out by now because my parents could not afford to pay for my school fees.
It is important to educate the girl child because educating a girl is educating the whole nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Tiwonge Mazizwa gets tonight's LAST WORD.
But the LAST WORDs we will put on the screen tonight are the names of the remarkable group of people from coast to coast who produce this show every night and deliver it into your homes.
They had to relearn how to do their jobs this year under COVID safety restrictions. We weren't sure that the new process was going to work but they made it work. Their determination in delivering this program to you leaves me in awe of their ingenuity and dedication.
Here then are the people who brought you THE LAST WORD this year.
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