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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, January 11, 2021

Guests: Jason Crow, Beto O`Rourke, Daniel Goldman, Ezra Klein


Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado is interviewed. Senator Cruz now joins a handful of U.S. senators in American history who have had their home state newspapers demand their resignation. On Wednesday, the House will once again be considering the impeachment of Donald Trump for one article of impeachment that accuses the president of incitement of insurrection. All of Donald Trump's enablers and supporters in Washington, from the White House to the Senate, to the House of Representatives, are counting on you to forget what they did.



And I remember last week when -- at first, it sounded like, they might, maybe there will be some kind of impeachment movement then it was very clear after you interviewed Adam Schiff on your program that impeachment was really happening. Here it is, they're going to set a new speed record for impeachment this week.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yeah, it will be -- I mean, when we talk again in two nights, it will either have just happened or it will be in the process of happening. It does seem like Wednesday's the day and then on to the Senate under terms and circumstances that we I think are still evolving. And we'll all be turning to you for help understanding the Senate rules at that point in terms of how McConnell and company will or won't handle it.

O'DONNELL: Yeah. I didn't see any way to get this to break McConnell's view of the unanimous consent necessity, but now it turns out there is this 2004 new rule in the Senate for emergency situations that allows both the majority leader and the minority leader to bring an action forward and so Chuck Schumer may be, according to that rule, empowered to get this trial going in the Senate.

We're going to know more about that every minute. There's more and more study coming out on that.

MADDOW: Yeah. Yes. And thank you for asking Laurence Tribe my question about how many senators have to -- the fact that the two-thirds vote to convict the president is only of the number of senators present. It doesn't have to be all 100 senators there for that vote. And so if 20 or 25 Republicans decided to stay home, the Democrats could actually probably put together a conviction of the president with just their votes, as long as all the Republicans weren't there.

O'DONNELL: What'd you think I was going to do? Friday night, Professor Laurence Tribe was coming on. You asked me to ask him this procedural question. What'd you think? You think was going to ignore that? Come on. Come on, Rachel. Of course.

MADDOW: No, it wasn't very nice for me to ask you on TV to do it, though. I'm sorry.

O'DONNELL: It was very effective, though.

MADDOW: Yes, it was. Any time you want me to agree to something or feel very embarrassed about saying no, you just ask me right here and then everybody holds us to account.

O'DONNELL: Yeah. That's the way it works. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence. I'm sorry.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Trump has always been a wolf in wolf's clothing. That is the title, headline, of Ezra Klein's first essay as a columnist for "The New York Times." Ezra Klein will join us tonight at the end of this hour for tonight's LAST WORD.

Beto O'Rourke will also start our discussion tonight. This is first public address, television interview, since the invasion of the capitol. With Donald Trump planning travel to Texas tomorrow, Beto O'Rourke has something to say about Donald Trump coming to Texas. While he's being charged with incitement of insurrection by the House of Representatives.

Daniel Goldman was special counsel to the House Intelligence Committee for the first impeachment investigation of Donald Trump. He will guide us through what to expect in this second high-speed version of impeachment of Donald Trump in the House of Representatives this week. Daniel Goldman will join us later in this hour.

Our first guest tonight is Congressman Jason Crow. He was one of the House managers of the prosecution of Donald Trump in the first Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Congressman Crow is a lawyer. He's a veteran, an Army Ranger, former Army Ranger to achieved the rank of captain while earn earning decorations and commendations including the Bronze Star for his three tours of duty in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jason Crow is who you wanted in your foxhole on Wednesday.


REP. SUSAN WILD (D-PA): What was going through my head was, frankly, terror. Unlike Jason, I don't have combat experience. I'm very grateful to have been in the foxhole with Jason. It's the closest I have ever come to something like that.

And I will tell you that what's going -- it's -- it was a scene of total confusion and chaos. At least for somebody who had never been in that kind of experience.


O'DONNELL: Jason Crow told his friends who he was protecting in the House gallery to take off their pins identifying themselves as members of the House. Those pins convey a unique and awesome privilege. The privilege to walk onto the floor of the House of Representatives.

The president doesn't have that privilege except by invitation. Floor privileges in the house and the Senate chamber extend only to members of the House and Senate in a very small number of staff. Most of the tens of thousands people who work on the staff of the House of Representatives and the Senate never step foot on the floor of either chamber. Not once.

And that very strict policy on floor privileges has always given those of us who have ever had floor privileges the feeling that we were in the safest place in the world, until Wednesday afternoon when Donald Trump sent his supporters to the Capitol. These are the people who apparently believed that every Trump lie beginning with the lies about Barack Obama's birth in 2011, including the lies about Mexico paying for the wall, and the last lie that Donald Trump told those people on Wednesday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After this we're going to walk down, and I'll be there with you, we're going to walk down -- we're going to walk down -- any one you want, but I think right here -- we're going to walk down to the Capitol, and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness.


O'DONNELL: He lied. And that, that is the ultimate coward's lie. The "let's go." And then he doesn't go.

He sent those people up there, some of them to their deaths, with no intention of going, himself. And now, Donald Trump will never be allowed to step foot in the capitol again. Never. Unless he insists on testifying in his own defense in his Senate second impeachment trial.

What you see Jason Crow doing in this photograph is letting his friends, Susan Wild, and others an him feel protected because Jason Crow knows what to do in that situation. Because Jason Crow is going to defend them against the invaders. That's the personal drama captured in that photograph, but there's something else happening in that moment. That is a picture of Jason Crow protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States because that's the kind of person he is.

Yes, he took an oath to defend the Constitution, but that's not why he's defending it. An oath doesn't change the person who takes the oath. Eight senators and 139 Republican members of the House, including the Republican leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy, were attacking the Constitution in that building on Wednesday and they continued attacking the Constitution after the invasion.

The first oath that members of Congress took in 1789 was simply, "I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States." That oath wasn't considered strong enough during the civil war years and so it was strengthened to root out possible traitors in the House and the Senate.

The oath put in place then is still the oath taken by every member of the House and Senate including the staff. I took this oath when I joined the Senate staff in 1989.

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. That I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.

In the 1860s, when that oath was written, it was inconceivable to the men who wrote it that anyone would put one hand on a Bible and raise the other and ask God to witness a pledge that he did not mean, to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to do that with true faith and allegiance. No one, no one, would take that oath unfaithfully, they thought. They thought they had written an ironclad oath.

That's what defending the Constitution of the United States looked like on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021. That's what true faith and allegiance looks like 160 years after those words were written. True faith and allegiance means nothing to Kevin McCarthy and the other 138 members of the House of Representatives. True faith and allegiance means nothing to eight Republican members of the United States senate. Nothing, because an oath cannot change a person.

The oath of office is just a pile of words that are said during a photo op for those Republicans who violated their oaths on Wednesday. Every one of them said, "so help me God" and every one of them was lying when they took that oath and said, "so help me God", every single one of them.

There was a time when they would all be expelled for what they did and it wasn't that long ago. But this might not be that time because it requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate or the House to expel a member.

Today, in one of his opening moves for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, depraved Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put Cuba, Cuba, on the list of state sponsors of terrorism along with Iran, Syria, and North Korea. That's the whole list.

Pompeo's pandering to what he sees as the Cuban vote in Florida is a lie. Cuba is not a state sponsor of terrorism, as the world knows, but Donald Trump is a state sponsor of terrorism. Senator Joshua Hawley is a state sponsor of terrorism. Senator Rafael Edward Cruz is a state sponsor of terrorism and they should all be removed from office immediately.

Most of the Republican senators who I knew when I was working in the Senate in the 1990s would vote to expel Republican Senators Hawley and Cruz for encouraging weaker minds like Alabama's freshman senator Thomas Tuberville to violate their oaths of office.

Republican John Danforth is an Episcopal priest who served as a Republican senator from Missouri when I was working in the Senate. Since I was working on the Democratic side of the Senate, I worked against Jack Danforth on legislation more often than I worked with him on legislative compromises but working with him was always a valuable lesson in what honorable bipartisan compromise could achieve.

Everyone respected Jack Danforth. He took his oath seriously. Senator Danforth said this about Senator Hawley the day after the invasion of the capitol.

I thought he was special. And I did my best to encourage people to support him, both for attorney general and later the U.S. Senate, and it was the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life. I don't know if he was always like this and good at covering it up or if it happened. I just don't know.

In a moment, Jason Crow will tell us what security precautions are being taken for the inauguration next week. Today, Joe Biden said this.


REPORTER: Sir, are you at all afraid of taking your oath outside --


REPORTER: -- given what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEAMLE: Hey, guys, thank you. Let's go. Thank you.


BIDEN: Obviously, he's gotten -- I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside. And we've been getting briefed. But I am -- I think it's critically important that there be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatened people's lives, defaced public property, caused great damage, that they are held accountable. And I think that's viewed by the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans in the Congress.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now is Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Congressman Crow, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

I want to work backwards from what we just heard Joe Biden say. What extra precautions that you know of are being taken for the inauguration?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Hi, Lawrence. Good to see you.

So, you know, I was on a briefing earlier this evening. I'm not going to go into the specifics due to operational security considerations. I think it's important that members of Congress and the Capitol police and those involved in the security preparations for the next ten days don't disclose the enhancements to the security situation.

I will say that I'm in the process of gaining that confidence. I don't yet have the information that I need to say with confidence that they're prepared. I'm going to conduct my own assessment and I'm in discussions with congressional leadership as well as law enforcement, in military, to get the information that I need to have the confidence that I need that we're prepared for, responding to, this domestic terrorist movement.

O'DONNELL: Take us back to what we saw in that photograph where you're holding Susan Wild's hand and you're advising other people trapped in the gallery at that point. That was in the visitors' gallery. You were up there because you don't want the House floor to be crowded because of COVID and that actually made you more exposed because there are more entrances to that visitors' gallery than the House floor. It's less protected.

What were you telling Susan Wild and others?

CROW: Well, what had happened there is they had evacuated already leaderships and the members on the House floor. I believe, most of the members that were with me, about two dozen of us, believe that they had forgotten that we were up there, that we had been essentially abandoned by the security personnel as they did the evacuation on the floor because they did that evacuation first. We were left up there.

By the time they started our evacuation, the mob had encircled and trapped us. That's when we had to lock the doors and create barricades to keep the mob out. Where we stayed for about 30 minutes as the mob tried to ram down the doors and gain access to the chamber.

So I was telling Susan what I think any friend would say, is that I was going to be there for her. I wouldn't allow harm to come to her. Yet at the same time, I was running through a mental checklist in my mind as to what I had to do to defend ourselves if we had to. So, including taking off pins, I was looking for any weapons that I could use, coordinating with Capitol police for an emergency force to come and extract us from the chamber, as well as just thinking about different ways of getting us out of the chamber at that point.

O'DONNELL: What could you have used as a weapon in that situation?

CROW: The only thing I could find was my pin in my pocket, Lawrence. So the chairs are actually bolted to the floor. So I had my pin.

Actually, honestly, there was a couple of minutes where I was thinking about asking one of the officers for his gun because I'd been in combat. I'd used lethal force in combat. I've led over 100 combat missions and I do know that I'm capable of using that type of force if I was necessary to defend my friends and my colleagues.

I didn't know whether or not the police were capable or willing of doing that. So the thought crossed my mind that at some point I might have to ask one of the officers for a weapon if I had to use it.

O'DONNELL: Were you afraid, and how afraid were you judging your colleagues to be?

CROW: Yeah, I was afraid, and I think that's really important to admit because we were trapped. We were surrounded by a violent mob.

I've seen riots. I've seen mobs before in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've seen what they're capable of. They can, you know, tear people apart, literally.

So I knew that we were in a very difficult situation and that's one of the reasons why I decided to call my wife, tell her I loved her and to relay that to my children as well and I certainly haven't felt that way, I haven't been in a position where I felt like I would have to fight my way out in over 15 years.

But to be honest with you, it was actually worse as I look back on it, as I process that experience, than it was in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I was a ranger, I was trained, I was armed. I was prepared for it. It was what I was there to do.

None of us were ever expecting to be in that position and as vulnerable as we were that day. So, that's something that we're still coming to terms with and grappling with, but we will and at the same time, we have to process that and move forward and be the leaders this country needs during this very difficult time.

O'DONNELL: Congressman Jason Crow, I know many people have said to you many times, thank you for your service. I'm going to say it tonight -- referring to this last week of your life and your heroism on that day and Susan Wild was very lucky, as she said, to be in the foxhole with Jason Crow. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

CROW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Coming up, Beto O'Rourke tweeted: Don't let him change the subject. Ted Cruz is guilty of trying to overturn a lawfully decided election, of helping to incite a violent insurrection that resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer and of pursuing sedition for his own political gain. Resign.

Beto O'Rourke will join us next from Texas.


O'DONNELL: Donald Trump plans to go to Texas tomorrow and lie, he will lie about the border wall that he promised would be built and paid for by Mexico and cover every inch of the border from the gulf of Mexico to the Pacific ocean, 1,954 miles. Donald Trump has managed to create 47 miles of new barrier on the southern border. That's about 2.5 percent of the border that Donald Trump has managed to cover.

It is traditional for senators to accompany the president when he comes to their state. No word if Ted Cruz is going to join President Trump tomorrow in Texas. Senator Cruz now joins a tiny handful, tiny handful, of United States senators in American history who have had their home state newspapers demand their resignation.

"The Houston Chronicle" editorial board writes: Senator, those terrorists wouldn't have been at the Capitol if you hadn't staged this absurd challenge to 2020 results in the first place. There is no election to hold you accountable until 2024 so we call for another consequence, one with growing support across Texas. Resign.

Joining our discussion now is Beto O'Rourke, former Democratic Congressman from El Paso, Texas. He is the founder of powered by people, an organization with the goal of helping Democratic candidates get elected across the state of Texas.

Beto O'Rourke, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I want to give you an open mic as it were to comment on Senator Cruz, "The Chronicle" demanding his resignation and Donald Trump coming to Texas tomorrow.

FORMER REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX): Lawrence, thanks for allowing me to join you tonight, and I'm glad that you cited the editorial from "The Houston Chronicle." There was also the "San Antonio Express News" in a strongly-worded editorial that also called for Senator Cruz's resignation. And as you have seen from some of his colleagues in the Senate, there's also a growing effort there to potentially expel him all of which I think is the right course for us to take because it if there is not accountability, if there are not consequences, if there's not justice for someone who was willing to sacrifice our democracy on the altar of his own political ambition, then mark my words, this is going to happen again and a future effort will be successful, an effort to overturn the legitimately lawfully democratically decided election for president or any office in our country.

And so not only must Donald Trump face consequences, either resign or be impeached, and there must be a vote on impeachment. Every Democrat, every Republican, has to be on the record for that. There has to be consequences for Senator Cruz, for Senator Hawley, and others who participated in this attempt at sedition and insurrection, otherwise, we will lose our democracy.

And then following that, we've got to strengthen our democracy. I certainly hope that the House will pass HR-1, that the Senate will pass it as well and Joe Biden will sign it into law. This is going to help strengthen our democracy, help to ensure that we have greater registration, participation, ethics and campaign finance, and that we hold accountable those in positions of public trust so they cannot abuse their oaths of office.

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to what one Republican senator, Senator Toomey of Pennsylvania, said about the president.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): I think the best way for our country, Chuck, is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible. I actually do believe that the president has disqualified himself. I don't think he's a viable candidate for office ever again.


O'DONNELL: Beto O'Rourke, one of the challenges of the resignation of a politician is it actually requires some modicum, an ounce or two, at least, of honor, as Richard Nixon showed when he resigned the presidency and part of his resignation was he knew he would be convicted in an impeachment trial in the Senate. But another element of it, might be a very small element, was he didn't want to put the country through that.

Where is the decency in Ted Cruz that would guide him toward resignation?

O'ROURKE: You knew he had none when Donald Trump as a candidate insulted his wife, falsely claimed Ted Cruz's father took part in assassination of JFK, only to see Ted Cruz do everything he could to support Donald Trump, support a man who put kids in cages, who caused the deaths of children on the U.S./Mexico border, who separated families, who inspired a gunman to drive 600 miles and kill 23 people here in El Paso, Texas, a little more than a year ago.

Ted Cruz stood by his side all the while hoping to ride that Trump tiger of the Trumpist core all the way to the White House in 2024 and I'm certain that that's what motivated him on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday to try to overturn this election. He did so cynically, I think hoping, perhaps, or knowing that his effort would be unsuccessful but that he could claim credit with the Trump crowd to be able to do that.

And, again, if we fail to ensure consequences for that, we become complicit in these crimes. And this hole that they've blown open in our democracy, they'll walk right through it in a future election, maybe as soon as 2024.

Lawrence, it's not enough that Joe Biden's about to be sworn in on the 20th. As grateful as I am for that fact, this coup is rolling right now in real time, and it is not over. And the people of Texas are in harm's way when the president of the United States comes here and he's sure to rile up his supporters, to bring danger to the Rio Grande valley, a part of our country that's seen so much death due to COVID, this president's failure in leadership, the horrors of family separation and the inhumane treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers.

To add all of that up and then this insult to the president in his last days coming here, he absolutely should not come here and we should do everything in our power to make sure that his visit is as brief as possible and as safe as possible for the people of the Rio Grande Valley who've already gone through way too much here.

O'DONNELL: Beto O'Rourke, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

O'ROURKE: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Coming up, Democrats in the House of Representatives fast-tracked the impeachment process last time. That was a fast process. But this time, they're going even faster.

Daniel Goldman was special counsel to the first impeachment investigation of Donald Trump, and he will join us next.



DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER COUNSEL, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Even though President Trump was saying repeatedly that there is -- there is no quid pro quo, Ambassador Sondland, relayed to you that the facts of the matter were that the White House meeting and the security assistance were conditioned on the announcement of these investigations. Is that your understanding?



O'DONNELL: Our next guest, Daniel Goldman served as majority counsel of the House Intelligence Committee, during the first impeachment investigation of Donald Trump. On Wednesday the House will once again be considering the impeachment of Donald Trump for one article of impeachment that accuses the president of incitement of insurrection.

"The New York Times" reports, "Last-minute changes were made late Sunday to cite specific language from Mr. Trump's speech last Wednesday inciting the crowd, quoting him saying 'if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore'."

Joining our discussion now is Daniel Goldman, former House impeachment inquiry majority counsel. He's a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

What do you make of this impeachment case as described in that article of impeachment? And how fast can this be done in the House?

GOLDMAN: Well, we know it can be done by Wednesday since there's a vote scheduled for it. It will go to the Rules Committee tomorrow and then they'll vote on it on Wednesday.

You know, unlike the Ukraine impeachment where we really needed to figure out what happened, we had the call but there was a lot more surrounding the call, in this case, much of it was right out in the open, including the horrific scene that we've now seen more video of from last Wednesday where members of the House and the Senate were barricaded and evacuated and there was an angry mob streaming in that was directly incited that morning by President Trump.

You can put together a very powerful case as the House has done with this article of impeachment just based on the public record. And if you were to add in some of the online statements by -- on Qanon Web sites and others sort of fomenting this rebellion, this insurrection, and declaring their intention of invading the Capitol, you have a pretty strong case that (AUDIO GAP) inciting this insurrection.

O'DONNELL: Republicans accused you and the members of the House of going too fast on impeachment. Last time you took about 90 days from start to finish on developing that case.

Surely on Wednesday we'll be hearing the accusation from the Republican side that this is a rush to judgment and it needs more time. How would you respond to that?

GOLDMAN: Well, I'd ask them to look in the mirror. They also were evacuated. They also were fearful for their own safety. These -- this mob was chanting, "hang Mike Pence".

It was -- it was a bipartisan mob, so to speak, or certainly a nonpartisan mob, going after anyone and everyone who was not supporting the unlawful overthrow of the -- or delay of Congress' role and certainly overturning a lawful election.

So, I just -- I think that the reason why this is going so fast is that this -- the House has tried to coerce Vice President Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment to remove the president. They are unwilling to do that so the next thing that can be done is impeachment. And that's exactly what the House is doing as fast as they can.

Mitch McConnell could certainly bring the Senate back in on Thursday, if he wanted to. If there was an urgent need to remove the president, Mitch McConnell can do that.

I know he got out in front of the game by issuing a memo to say that they couldn't do it until next week. That's not true. That's not how it actually works. And Mitch McConnell knows better.

So, this is a true test of our own democratic values. And I think if Republicans who are claiming that there are -- we need calls for unity now or this is too fast, or impeachment will divide the nation.

Do they think we did not see what happened last week? It feels as if we are at a real precipice right now and impeachment is the last resort first step that needs to occur.

O'DONNELL: Donald Trump told his supporters to go down to the Capitol and fight for their democracy or fight for their government as he put it. But he also at the event he sponsored, he had Rudy Giuliani stand up and say into the microphone, "let's have trial by combat". Giuliani urging combat on these people.

Donald Trump, as the sponsor of that event, I assume in a legal sense is responsible for what Rudy Giuliani was saying.

GOLDMAN: Well, potentially in civil litigation, you would not have him be responsible in a criminal case except if he knew what Rudy Giuliani were going to say.

And look, if this were to go to a real trial in the Senate, there would be additional investigative steps that you'd want to take, particularly to figure out what exactly Donald Trump knew about what was going to happen when the ralliers went to the Capitol.

Did he know they were going to invade the Capitol? Or did he think there was going to be a peaceful protest? There's plenty of information out there that was clear they were going to try to be violent or try to push their way into the Capitol. The open question is how much Donald Trump knew about that.

O'DONNELL: Daniel Goldman, thank you for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, never forget. Everyone who helped Donald Trump become president is counting on you to forget that they did that. Everyone who worked for Donald Trump in the White House will spend the rest of their lives claiming that they were the ones who prevented Donald Trump from doing much more damage as president.

The people who worked for and supported and gave money to the worst, most criminal president in history will be lying about what they did for the rest of their lives and counting on you to forget which is why we must never forget. That's next.


O'DONNELL: Adam Schiff said this week, said today, After that failed insurrection, over 100 Republicans in the House went right back to where they left off, continuing the big lie about the election, continuing to try to discredit the electors from various states, and disenfranchise millions. And those Republicans are counting on you to forget that.

All of Donald Trump's enablers and supporters in Washington, from the White House to the Senate, to the House of Representatives, are counting on you to forget what they did. That's why members of the cabinet are resigning at the last minute now. They are pretending that they just discovered that Donald Trump is a lawless criminal leader of people eager to break the law in his name.

Now those law breakers are a tiny minority of the 74 million Trump voters but it is enough to bring madness and violence and murder to the Capitol on Wednesday and perhaps somewhere else again.

Those people have been with Donald Trump from the minute he started lying about President Obama's birth certificate in 2011, the racist hatred that Donald Trump unleashed with his lies about President Obama's birth was the jet fuel that made his presidential campaign take flight in 2015.

In his first presidential campaign, he urged his supporters to beat up any protesters at Trump events and told them the lie that he would pay for their criminal defense lawyers if they were charged with assault.

Nothing about Donald Trump changed this week. And every person who agreed to work for Donald Trump after he so obviously revealed who he is during the 2016 presidential campaign is complicit in what happened at the Capitol.

Some of those people like Anthony Scaramucci and Michael Cohen, turned against Donald Trump before the cabinet members who began resigning this week. But the only reason Michael Cohen turned against Donald Trump is because he got caught committing crimes for Donald Trump. And the only reason Anthony Scaramucci turned against Donald Trump is that he got caught on tape in an insane rant to a reporter that even Donald Trump found insane.

The truth about Anthony Scaramucci and Michael Cohen is that they wanted Donald Trump to be president and they did everything they possibly could to help Donald Trump win the presidency including, in Michael Cohen's case, committing crimes.

Never forget. Never forget that about them because everything Donald Trump has done in the presidency, including incite an insurrection, was completely predictable before Donald Trump even announced his campaign for president.

Donald Trump has always been who he is tonight. And anyone who claims they couldn't see that until now is lying.

This is what happened when Richard Nixon was forced out of the presidency. Suddenly no Republican in Washington could remember supporting Richard Nixon. They all agreed that he was a criminal.

The people who helped Donald Trump become president and the people who worked for him and supported him and gave him money while he was president are hoping that you will forget what they did. Never forget.

Ezra Klein and Mara Gay will join us after this break.


O'DONNELL: "Trump has always been a wolf in wolf's clothing". That is the headline in Ezra Klein's first essay in his new job as a columnist for "The New York Times". The sub head is "By enabling the president, Republican elites helped make the storming of the Capitol possible".

Joining us now Ezra Klein, an opinion columnist for "The New York Times"; and Mara Gay, a member of "The New York Times" editorial board and an MSNBC contributor.

And Mara, I watched what happened last week and I just kept thinking, what did you think was going to happen when you were supporting this guy for president in 2016? How did you think this was going to end?

MARA GAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. You know, one of the saddest things for me seeing as an American, a human being first, just concerned for everyone's safety and yet in the media.

But also as a journalist, and particularly a black journalist is that there are a lot of us, and it's not only black journalists but many people, many voices including Ezra who have been saying for a very long time that this is the face of the Trump movement at its worst.

It doesn't mean every Trump supporter of course, supports what happened at the Capitol last week. I'm not saying that. But there is a really deep seated strain of antidemocratic activity, of extreme right wing and in many cases, racist and anti-Semitic, virulent strain that runs through this movement. And it was always going to come to this if we didn't confront it.

And unfortunately, a lot of us were not taken seriously, I think. And so this is a frustration that I've had which is why I really enjoyed seeing Ezra's column because I think it is important that you take haters at face value and you take them for their word.

And those of us who have family history with that have learned that firsthand. So I just think that Donald Trump, he was dismissed for years as, oh well, it's just his tweets, you know.

And now it has literally come to our door step. What we thought were only external threats from other countries turns out one of the greatest threats to this democracy is from within.

O'DONNELL: Ezra, I find it ironic that on the day Mike Pompeo wants to call Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, we have a president of the United States who is a state sponsor of terrorism.

EZRA KLEIN, OPINION COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": There is a story President Trump used to tell when he was on the campaign trail in 2016. It's terrible and there are a bunch of versions of, the scorpion version. But he called it the snake version.

And in his version, people remember it. Somebody picks up a snake and the snake needs to get across the river and the snake says don't worry, I won't bite you. and then in the middle of the river, of course, the snake bites him. And as they're both going down the person says why did he do this? Why did you bite me? And the snake says I was a snake. You knew what I was when you picked me up.

And Trump always told that story as a story about Syrian refugees because he is a bigot. But I always thought and I wrote this at the time. It was a perfect story about Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is always 100 percent clear about what he was. What he would do. He always called his shot. The one thing -- Trump is weird in that he's a liar and yet there is an essential way that he is very, very honest.

Everything he says is factually untrue but in terms of what he intends to do, he is actually quite clear. When he lost to Ted Cruz in Iowa back in 2016, he said it had been rigged. When it looked like he might lose to Hillary Clinton, he said he would say it had been rigged.

When he was in the debates in 2020 and they asked him will you commit to a peaceful transition of power, he said he refused to say yes. Everything that happened here was clear well in advance.

And every time Republican leaders signed on board with him, they made it likelier. Every time they signed on board, knowing what he was going to do, knowing what he had said he would, they made it possible for him to do it.

And that's why I think one of the really important things in all this is that we do not locate this just to Donald Trump. The villains here as much as him and maybe in some ways more than him because they were the ones who are more duplicitous.

They're the ones who were doing this cynically, not seriously in certain ways were Kevin McCarthys of the world, the Ted Cruzes of the world. The Hawleys of the world.

Ted Cruz who said every terrible thing he could possibly imagine about Donald Trump as did so many of the other who ended up -- who ran against him and then ended up serving in his cabinet or backing him in the Senate -- they could have stopped this again and again and again.

Donald Trump told them what he was going to do and every single one of them who now resigned saying it was too far -- why wasn't it too far when he said it was coming?

They're covered in shame. They have brought this upon us every bit as much as Trump himself did.

O'DONNELL: Mara, during the 2016 campaign when I didn't think Donald Trump could win the presidency, sometimes in the idle thought moment, I would think boy, it would be so funny to see him as president because then he would discover that the Speaker of the House is so much more powerful than he is. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is so much more powerful than he is.

I thought Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would contain this madness in my imagined presidency that I didn't think was going to happen. And it turns, they were -- they couldn't have been worse. There is nothing Mitch McConnell could have done to more corrupt the ground for Donald Trump than what he did.

GAY: That's right. There was a lot of hubris among Republicans and others who thought that they could control this president. And when push came to shove, Trump supporters are not loyal to the Republican Party. They are loyal to him, at least the base.

And that's a problem that the Republican Party as well as the country is going to have to deal with moving forward. What the Republican Party does in the next two to four years is going to really I think determine in some ways the fate of our democracy. Whether they are able to pull themselves together and recommit to democratic values. It is essential.

O'DONNELL: Ezra, what Mara just described is Donald Trump himself actually. He wasn't a Republican before he decided I'm going to run for president as a Republican because that's a party I think I can corrupt.

KLEIN: Yes. Donald Trump -- I don't know what to say about this party actually -- the Republican Party has long been an engine for turning white resentment politics into tax cuts for rich people.

And Donald Trump as a rich guy who is also a resentful white dude figured out in certain ways in the 2016 campaign, how to rhetorically unbundle those ideas. He then governed by giving tax cuts to rich people. And partially that's why he ended up being so weak in 2020.

The parts of Donald Trump that were making a break with the more toxic parts of the Republican agenda, at least in terms of polling, the Paul Ryan agenda, didn't end up show up when he came into governance.

But something about Donald Trump that I always thought was important was that he really took the core of the conservative base which is his white resentment politics and he brought it to the forefront of the Republican Party.

That's always I think where the energy in the Republican Party was. But it had been somehow channeled into plutocratic policies.

That's still a little bit true but he has begun -- he has begun to break that bargain in a way that makes I think the white resentment part very much the face of the Republican Party's future.

O'DONNELL: Ezra Klein and Mara Gay get tonight's LAST WORD. Thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

Thank you.

That is tonight's LAST WORD.



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