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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, January 15, 2021

Guests: Madeleine Dean, Margaret Love; Bina Venkataraman


Prosecution possible for lawmakers in Congress who abetted and aided the Capitol insurrection as Speaker Pelosi details security review. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) answers questions regarding sending articles of impeachment to the Senate. Everything you and Donald Trump ever wanted to know about pardons. Joe Biden says the rollout of the COVID vaccine has been a disaster, but he has a plan to fix it starting next week.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: This weekend, South Carolina and Utah will be closing their state capitals. Virginia's closing the whole area around the state capital. Oklahoma is activating its National Guard to protect its state capital. Wisconsin has boarded up its state capital.

We know of at least a half dozen other states that have put up new fencing around their capitals for this weekend. It is all because groups of Trump supporters are pledging armed shows of force this weekend in the states.

And we will see if that comes to pass. We'll also see if we are ready for them this time. But that's going to do it for us, at least for now. Now it's time for "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. And I have two questions for you if you have 30 seconds.


O'DONNELL: And by the way, these are questions to which I did not know the answer when I woke up this morning. I had a feeling about one of them and then the other one answer completely shocks me. On pardons, can Donald Trump issue secret pardons?


O'DONNELL: By the way --

MADDOW: But --

O'DONNELL: Okay, okay.

MADDOW: -- if -- I think yes, but if that person tries to use the pardon to avoid being prosecuted for something, they have to make it known to the court, so it doesn't stay secret forever. I think that's the answer. I'm not a lawyer. I don't know.

O'DONNELL: Well, we're going to deliver the answer later in the hour. And then the other one is, is there a form, is there a particular form the pardon has to take? I mean, for example, could Donald Trump just sit at the desk and hand write it out himself that would be okay?

MADDOW: Probably.

O'DONNELL: I didn't know the answer to either one of these.

MADDOW: I don't know.



O'DONNELL: Stick with probably. Don't -- you're on solid ground there, but, Rachel, its way wilder than you think, okay. It's way more than probably. The range of form of the pardon is whatever he wants it to be. We are going to get into details about this later in the hour with a former chief pardon attorney from the Justice Department, Margaret Love --

MADDOW: Excellent.

O'DONNELL: -- who has shocked me today with her answers to those questions. This is a lot weirder situation than I thought. We're going to be on pardon watch for the rest of his presidency and we might or might not know exactly who he has pardoned.

MADDOW: Yes. Well, Margaret Love is fantastic. I'm glad that you've got her on there. And I will tell you, the closer the powers of the president get to directly derive from the Constitution, the more surprising the technical details of it tend to be.

Stuff that happens like thorough legislation and there's a law and regulations that explain how you are supposed to do something, that all easy to remember and easy to figure out and it tends to be this sort orderly.

When it's just like the president is supposed to do and it and it says so in quill pen on the Constitution, that stuff is almost always super weird, so.

O'DONNELL: Yes. I have found it stunning. And thank you for participating in tonight's quiz, Rachel. Really appreciate it. And by the way, you did better than I did when I was thinking about it this morning. You did way better than I did when I was thinking about it without the answers. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: I await my prize. Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Okay. Thank you. Well, the most self-incriminating criminals in history are being rounded up tonight one by one, the invaders of the capitol who recorded it all for the FBI in their selfies and tweets and Instagram posts, have left an easy trail for the FBI.

Some of them have tried to delete their self-incriminating postings on social media but it was too late. And that leads us to wonder what might be getting deleted in the offices of Republican members of Congress who might have been what Nancy Pelosi calls, possible "accomplices in this insurrection."


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): When we're talking about security, we have to talk about truth and trust. In order to serve here with each other, we must trust that people have respect for their oath of office, respect for this institution. We must trust each other. Respecting the people who sent us here.

We must also have the truth, and when -- and that will be looked into. If, in fact, it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that.


O'DONNELL: Accomplices, aided and abetted. That is very, very strong language from the Speaker of the House. We have never heard language like that from a speaker about members of the House of Representatives. And so, it is going to be the year of the defendant in Washington, criminal defendants named Trump or criminal defendants who committed crimes including murder for Donald Trump.

Federal investigators have opened at least 275 criminal cases and charged at least 98 individuals for their involvement in the invasion of the capitol. The FBI suggested today there will be hundreds more defendants. Here is Steven D'Antuono of the FBI's Washington field office.


STEVEN D'ANTUONO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN-CHARGE, FBI WASHINGTON: This is an unprecedented incident. If this an investigation -- if this investigation was a football game, we'd still be in the first quarter. So, let this be a reminder, the full force of the FBI is investigating the heinous acts we saw last week and we will leave no stone unturned until we locate and apprehend anyone who participated in the violence.


O'DONNELL: The FBI is getting a lot of help. The FBI says it has received almost 140,000 photos and videos from the public.


D'ANTUONO: To those of you who took part in the violence, here's something you should know. Every FBI field office in the country is looking for you. As a matter of fact, even your friends and family are tipping us off. So you might want to consider turning yourself in instead of wondering when we're going to come knocking on your door, because we will.


O'DONNELL: Peter Stager of Arkansas was arrested in Arkansas by the FBI after they received a tip from a confidential source of information. According to the charging document, FBI special agents interviewed a confidential source who stated he recognized Stager from two videos posted on a twitter thread.

The first video depicted Stager amongst a large group of individuals on the stairs of the U.S. capitol building. Stager climbed the stairs while holding a flagpole with the United States flag affixed to it and used the pole to repeatedly strike B.M. while B.M. remained prone on the steps of the U.S. capitol building.

Clearly present on B.M.'s uniform across his back are the words "Metropolitan Police." In the second video, confidential source identified the male speaking as Stager who stated, everybody in there is a treasonous traitor. Death is the only remedy for what's in that building.

B.M.'s name is not revealed in the charging documents for his own protection. Jenna Ryan of Frisco, Texas, is a real estate agent who prosecutors say took a private jet to Washington last week for the January 6th insurrection incited by Donald Trump. Jenna Ryan was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building -- in any restricted building on the grounds without lawful authority and one count of disorderly conduct on capitol grounds.

In a twitter post she said, "It is one of the best days of my life." Jenna Ryan was pictured on a now-deleted Facebook live video saying, "Life or death, it doesn't matter, here we go," as she approached the entrance to the capitol.

Robert Packer, the man pictured wearing a Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt, was arrested and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on the capitol grounds. He was one of many American Nazis at the Trump rally and the invasion of the capitol who loved Donald Trump and hate Jewish people.

Robert packer is one of the Trump supporters who also is a Hitler supporter. His sweatshirt is his way of cheering on Adolf Hitler's extermination of 6 million Jews and wishing that Hitler fulfilled his ambition to kill every Jewish person in Europe. Speaker Pelosi said this today about Robert Packer.


PELOSI: To see this punk with that shirt on and his anti-Semitism that he has bragged about, to be part of a white supremacist raid on this capitol requires us to have an after-action review to assign responsibility to those who were part of organizing it and incentivizing it.


O'DONNELL: The Capitol Police have opened an investigation into whether members of Congress have inappropriately given visitors access to the capitol ahead of the storming of the building last week. Capitol Police spokesperson said the matter is under investigation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she has named Russell Honore, a retired army general, to lead a security review of the capitol after the invasion of the capitol.


We must subject this whole complex though to scrutiny in light of what happened and the fact that the inauguration is coming. To that end, I have asked retired Lieutenant Generous Russell Honore to lead an immediate review of security infrastructure, interagency processes and command and control.

The general is a respected leader with experience dealing with crises. As a former vice director for operations, J3 with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his focus was military support to civilian authorities -- military support to civilian authorities. And he has experience with the national capitol region's security.

House leadership has worked with General Honore, seen up close and personal his excellent leadership at the time of Katrina. Members are moving forward with strong oversight from committees, of course, to have after-action review.

There is strong interest in the Congress in a 9/11-type commission, an outside commission to conduct that after-action review. In the meantime, I'm very grateful to General Honore for taking on this responsibility.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now, Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director of counterintelligence for the FBI and an MSNBC national security contributor. He's the author of the new book, "The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau's Code of Excellence." Also, with us, Glenn Kirschner, former career federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst.

The case begins with the FBI, so we will begin with the FBI. Frank, this investigation they say is in the first quarter. They have almost 100 arrests already.

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, sadly, I think the investigation is going to go into overtime because this thing's far from over and is likely to continue well beyond the departure of this president from the Oval Office.

So, every single one of the FBI's 56 field offices is working 24/7 on a daunting avalanche of leads and social media posts, trying to distinguish between an aspirational guy sitting on his couch and a guy who is actually going to move forward and execute. They're in a race against the clock, Lawrence, because we've got the inauguration coming, threats to capital buildings and state houses around the United States.

And then they've got to deal with why they weren't able to get out in front of this. And that is another national discussion about the tools needed to actually prevent acts of domestic terrorism like we can do on the international terrorism side.

O'DONNELL: Frank, if an FBI agent is out there tomorrow with one of the suspects who they have cornered through the selfies and other evidence, a lot of them have been talking, and talking somewhat freely to the FBI agents. If one of them says something like, congressman so-and-so gave me a tour the day before and I told him what we were going to do, I mean that would be the most, you know, smoking gun version of that theoretical conversation.

Does that agent then have to make a special report on that and what would happen to the -- how would that then become an investigation of the member of Congress?

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, actually, Lawrence, I have reason to believe that we may already be there in the sense that there is investigation of who is responsible for enabling and facilitating this. And I would be surprised if members of Congress were not part of the scope of that investigation.

So, all the intel is being gathered. By the way, you know, I think the assistant director in charge of the Washington field office was polite when he said, don't wait for the knock on the door. In some of these cases, there will be no knock on the door because there's a search warrant and the door is going to fly off because they're going to search for that kind of evidence that you are talking about.

Names, phone numbers, who did what with whom, who took photos and told people about plans and designs of the building. I think that's already in the works. All of it gets reported up and centralized at headquarters and I think prosecutors are going to take or try to take an enterprise investigative strategy here, groups, organizations, funding, and enablers.

O'DONNELL: Glen, is there a special focus on the killing of the police officer and how to zero in on everyone who was involved in that?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, there should be, Lawrence, because as the Supreme Court has said, death is different, and as a former homicide prosecutor myself in Washington, D.C., you know, murder is the mother of all crimes. And I can tell you when a police officer is killed, sort of like when a young child is killed, we tend to pull out all of the stops.

We try to do that for all homicide victim. Everybody gets very excited and very determined when somebody who has sworn to protect and serve the community himself or herself is killed. So there will be an exploration, I'm sure, of felony, murder, liability to see how wide a criminal net investigators and prosecutors might be able to cast to see who is responsible for the murder of the police officer. And the other thing I'll add to just sort of join what both you and Frank said.

There's another indication that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is digging in to possible complicity by members of Congress because they are not only running this investigation in my former office out of the national security division, which is exactly where I would expect it to be housed because an insurrectionist attack on the U.S. capitol is a national security matter.

However, they also have our public corruption section at the D.C. U.S. Attorney's Office assigned to this case full bore, which is an indication -- that's a unit that investigates and prosecutes corrupt government officials. That's an indication that they are looking potentially at complicity by members of Congress.

O'DONNELL: Frank, what about the White House? We have some open evidence about members of Congress being involved with these people and at the planning stages of the rally in the first place, but there are people working in the Trump White House who might also be in a similar position to say some of the congressman who openly, through twitter, communicated with those people?

FIGLIUZZI: Yes. You've heard the phrase "follow the money". This is going to be follow the phone calls, e-mails and texts and personal meetings, and they are going to do that. You know, I found something very interesting about the reporting about what was going on with Trump during the insurrection.

All reports indicate he was casually watching television. If you are a Secret Service agent and there's an insurrection under way against our government, the first thing that is triggered is moving your protectee, the president, into the bunker or getting him out of harm's way.

If he's sitting there watching television, there seems to be an assumption that he has nothing to worry about, that the insurrection is not targeted at him. I think that's one of the things we need answers for. Let's hear from the Secret Service detail about why he wasn't moved to the bunker and whether he understood that he was not threatened.

O'DONNELL: Glenn, what are you looking for next?

KIRSHCNER: So, I'm looking for a whole series of arrests. We see arrests taking place all over the country. There was one of the insurrectionists who was wearing the horns, Jacob Chansley, I believe his name. When he was presented in court, the federal district court judge in, I believe, Arizona said she saw evidence of a violent insurrection and an attempt to overthrow the government.

And federal prosecutors went on record saying that there was "strong evidence" that the rioters were intending to capture and assassinate elected officials of the United States. And let me tell you, as a former federal prosecutor, I would never make such a dramatic statement in court unless I had the goods to back it up.

So, I think you are going to see rolling arrests occurring all over the United States with all of those people either being extradited to D.C. if they're ordered detained or perhaps being released and ordered to appear in court in Washington, D.C.

O'DONNELL: Glenn, a quick point on that comment that the prosecutors in Arizona made. The Washington office retracted those words later in the day, saying it's kind of a miscommunication. Is the Washington side of this being much more careful and restrained in what they're revealing at this point and waiting for more evidence before they bring the full strength of charges?

KIRSHCNER: They're all -- I don't know if they're being more careful than restrained, Lawrence, or if they're doing the White House's bidding because the acting attorney general for the District of Columbia is a young man named Michael Sherwin. And he worked night and day to make sure Mike Flynn's case would be dismissed.

He's engaged in some other questionable investigative decisions. He will soon be gone, and the good news is we'll have a law enforcing, law-abiding attorney general and 94 U.S. attorneys around the country.

O'DONNELL: Glenn Kirschner, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you very much for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

And we have a programming note. I will be back here live Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. with a special hour on the transfer of power. We'll bring you the latest on the security arrangements for the inauguration and much more. That's Sunday night, 10:00 p.m. live here on MSNBC.

And up next, one of the prosecutors in the next impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Congresswoman Madeleine Dean will join us.


O'DONNELL: Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to say when the House will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. "The New York Times" reports that this timing has Democrats weighing whether to bring their case to the Senate immediately, potentially handicapping Mr. Biden's first few days in office and distracting from his inauguration, or waiting until a few days after he is sworn in.

"Business Insider" reports today Mitch McConnell is telling Republican senators that "their decision on whether to convict President Donald Trump during the upcoming impeachment trial will be what he calls a vote of conscience."

This comes after Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski revealed that she thinks Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense by inciting violence adding, "Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence and the House has responded swiftly, and I believe, appropriately, with impeachment."

And joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. She serves on the House Judiciary Committee and is serving as an impeachment manager in the next Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Congresswoman Dean, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Do you have any more information about the possible timing of the delivery of the article of impeachment and then the trial that will follow?

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): I don't have more information for you on the timing. I do sense an urgency certainly in our caucus, certainly in our country, but I do not have any preliminary information on timing. That will be up to the speaker.

O'DONNELL: You are going to be presenting a case to a more receptive Senate on the Republican side than the first impeachment trial. Mitch McConnell saying to his Republican members, it's a vote of conscience. So it sounds like when you listen to Senators Murkowski and others that this is a persuadable case for many Republicans in the Senate.

DEAN: Well, Lawrence, let me say to you, I am so honored to have the solemn duty of being one of the members of the team of nine who will be impeachment managers, led by an extraordinary person, Jamie Raskin, Congressman Jamie Raskin.

And I want to say that this is a very different time. It's a sad and tragic time for our country, and we have Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Read her words. She said, never has there been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States among other incredibly clear, powerful and unambiguous words.

So, I am honored to have the solemn duty. I look forward to doing it, and I hope that we will be able to show not only our country but, of course, the jury of senators that our president, sadly, is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors for which he must be convicted.

O'DONNELL: Do you expect to be asking to bring witnesses into the senate trial as the democrats requested last time?

DEAN: Well, of course, I won't preview for you the trial and we're deep into our preparations and I'm, again, so honored to be a part of it. But think about it. I was a witness. You were a witness. America was a witness. The world was a witness.

Our jury of senators were witnesses and victims to the crimes that took place on the capitol. Sadly, the capitol is a crime scene, and so witnesses are ever present and surrounding this case.

O'DONNELL: Yes, I made that point the other night, that this is the first time that we all have seen the impeachable offense, the accused impeachable offense. It occurred on television. We saw it, incitement to insurrection. So, that's a peculiar situation that no impeachment trial has ever had before.

DEAN: Oh, it's insane. And just -- I know you are somebody who prizes words. Before I came to public service, I was a professor of writing at La Salle University in Philadelphia. I prize words and clarity. Incitement to insurrection is absolutely what took place.

Guess what? It's also the president radicalizing people through his lies to come attack their government, to attack a co-equal branch of government, where they hoped to assassinate the speaker, they hoped to hang the vice president, the Republican vice president, and they hunted down any member of Congress they could, killing five people in their wake.

There's never been a sadder, more serious time for our country, and we don't have to look any further than Liz Cheney to say there's never been a greater betrayal.

O'DONNELL: You do already have public statements of some of the invaders of the capitol saying that the president sent us here, we are invited here by the president. They attribute the reason they're there directly to Donald Trump in their own words. And so that linkage of Trump's statement to action, which is to say incitement, exists in some of the public comments they've already made.

DEAN: Yes, isn't that so incredibly tragic and sad and true? This president through his series of lies radicalized people. It wasn't like he invited them on any day of the week, in any month of the year to a field trip to Washington, D.C.

This was January the 6th when he knew that we had a constitutional obligation to move forward and to certify the electors for this election. He told them time after time after time, I won this election, I won it by a landslide. Lie after lie after lie. Radicalizing them, playing on their fears, playing on their ignorance, playing on their bigotry, playing on smearing others.

And what he did was send them up the road, Pennsylvania Avenue, saying I will be with you and you must undo this wrong. Of course, it was a set of lies. He lit the match. I called it a fuse up Pennsylvania Avenue. This is a president guilty of the worst and highest crimes of misdemeanors and, sadly, he played on these people's fears and ignorance.

O'DONNELL: Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thank you very much for joining us at the end of this long and difficult week for you. I wish you a restful weekend. Thank you very much for joining us.

DEAN: Thank you, Lawrence. I appreciate being with you.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

With the clock ticking down his final hours in the White House, we don't know who Donald Trump is pardoning and in some cases we might never know. Everything you and Donald Trump ever wanted to know about pardons is next with the former chief pardon attorney of the Justice Department, Margaret Love. She has some information that will scare you.


O'DONNELL: As we sit here, as I do every night, waiting for Donald Trump's next pardons, when is he going to issue the next pardons. It occurred to me today -- a question occurred to me today -- can Donald Trump secretly issue pardons? Can he secretly pardon his sons or his daughter or his son-in-law? Can Donald Trump secretly pardon himself?

We'll get the answer to every question you can think of about presidential pardons in a moment from a lawyer who used to be the pardon attorney in the Justice Department. And be prepared to be shocked at what she has to tell us about the president's pardon power.

Can Donald Trump pardon everyone who invaded the Capitol in the insurrection that he incited, even if he doesn't know all of their names? Of course, the president's pardon power only applies to federal crimes. And so no matter what Donald Trump does he is still a subject of a criminal investigation by local prosecutors in Manhattan.

And "The New York Times" is reporting tonight prosecutors in Georgia appear increasingly likely to open a criminal investigation of President Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Joining us now is Margaret Colgate Love, former U.S. pardon attorney under Presidents George H.W. Bush and then Bill Clinton. For the past 23 years she has represented applicants for federal pardons and commutations.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. You have shocked me so much today. I have been relaying questions to you.

Let's start with the secret pardon because what I started to wonder is who is left in the White House to write these pardons for Donald Trump. And then I thought, well, can he just write them himself. And my guess, I'm going to give you what my guess was. My guess was that he could write them himself, but it might require some very specific language and he could just keep them secret.

MARGARET COLGATE LOVE, FORMER U.S. PARDON ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me, Lawrence. It is a pleasure to be here.

The writing does not have to be in any particular form, but we have never had secret pardons. And the whole idea of a pardon is that it is a very public document no matter what the document looks like. In fact, it doesn't even have to be a document. It could be a statement, and it is usually written down after the fact but there's no reason it needs to be written down to begin with.

O'DONNELL: Ok. Let's go over this because this is the part that shocked me the most. So it can be Donald Trump just sitting at the desk and saying, I hereby pardon Donald Trump Jr. for any federal offense for the last ten years or whatever -- however he wants to phrase it.

But you are saying it doesn't even have to be written. He could just say to Donald Trump Jr., you are hereby pardoned of any and all federal crimes during the last seven years or whatever he wants to do, that's all it has to be?

LOVE: Well, he would have to be able to prove it. So, if there was no one else there, there were no witnesses, if there was no evidence of it, then I would think it would be sort of a heavy lift for him to claim the benefit of it.

O'DONNELL: Ok. So, the way to do it orally is to make sure there are enough witnesses there, but the written form can take any form Donald Trump wants. But he could also just give that pardon to Donald Trump Jr., who can just take it home and they don't have to tell anyone about it unless Donald Trump Jr. Gets charged with a federal crime?

LOVE: Well, you're using a lot of sort of extreme hypotheticals that have never really happened, although there have been times. For example, Ronald Reagan issued a pardon very shortly before he was assassinated -- or attempted assassination. And that pardon of two FBI officials was quite a controversial one.

It never came out until about six weeks later. So that -- and that was written, and pardons usually are written. And if they're written not at the time, they're almost always written very soon thereafter.

But all of these requirements are a little bit loose when you are getting to the edges of things.

O'DONNELL: Let's go to the question of pardoning the people who invaded the Capitol. Does he need the names of the people he wants to pardon? There's about 98 of them who have been named and charged already. Or can he -- is there some version of a just blanket pardon for anyone who entered the Capitol on January 6th?

LOVE: Yes, he can pardon anyone who entered the Capitol on January 6th. There's a long history of amnesties in our history. And we've had many, many amnesties usually during wars or after wars.

But there is no reason that I can think of that the president could not pardon a class of people. He would have to define the class in a way that later someone could take the benefit of the pardon. But as far as the pardon power is concerned there's no real reason.

I'll tell you one thing though. There's never been an amnesty that I have been able to find out that was not conditional in some fashion. In other words that you would give someone a pardon in return for either laying down your arms or doing two years of public service the way Gerald Ford did with the Vietnam amnesties or with the Mormon bigamists. The condition was that they not marry more than one person.

So, amnesties have generally been conditional. There's never been an amnesty that I can think of where it would not be conditional.

O'DONNELL: One quick final point. The pardon power -- the president has pardon power it says in the constitution, except in cases of impeachment.

Some people are saying that he cannot pardon the invaders of the Capitol because they are part of and in the evidence of the impeachment case against the president. So, it intersects with impeachment, therefore, he cannot pardon those people?

LOVE: Well, that isn't the case. I think the plain meaning of that language I think is that the person who is being impeached, you cannot pardon for what the person is being impeached for. But I have never heard it argued that anyone who is associated with the events leading up to the impeachment would somehow be not immune from the pardon power.

O'DONNELL: Former U.S. pardon attorney, Margaret Love, you have really expanded my understanding of all of this today in some frightening directions. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

LOVE: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Really appreciate it. Thank you.

LOVE: Thank you very much, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Up next, Joe Biden says the rollout of the COVID vaccine has been a disaster, but he has a plan to fix it starting next week.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, our plan is as clear as it is bold. Get more people vaccinated for free, create more places for them to get vaccinated, mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people's arms, increase supply and get it out the door as soon as possible.

This is going to be one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken by our country, but you have my word and we will manage the hell out of this operation.


O'DONNELL: Today Dr. Anthony Fauci said this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still optimistic that we can get 100 million doses in 100 days?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You know, I really do think so. I mean we've discussed this with the Biden team, and we think it is quite feasible that we can do that.

Right now, even now we have gone from a half a million a day to 750,000 a day. I believe strongly that it's doable.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now, Bina Venkataraman, who served as an adviser to President Obama during the Ebola epidemic. She is now the editorial page editor of "The Boston Globe.

Bina, why is Dr. Fauci confident that this can get done with the Biden team while he is on the team currently struggling trying to do this?

BINA VENKATARAMAN, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Well, I'm sure Dr. Fauci, Lawrence, is getting some information from the transition team about their plans and obviously there's a lot that's become public about President-Elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' plan and just the differences in what they plan to do.

I mean there's a basic supply issue here where the president-elect wants to invoke the Defense Production Act to try to get a more steady supply of vaccines. But there's also a communications issue.

If you look at what the governors of various states have been saying, what's been happening with respect to shortfalls, there's a sort of mismatch of expectations to what is actually being delivered. And the hope of expanding the number of first doses, that was supposed to happen by the end of this month, has sort of been dashed by new communications from Health Secretary Azar recently talking about how the stockpile has already been depleted and that really what's going to be available are these booster second doses.

So I think just in terms of getting that clearer communication, Dr. Fauci is probably seeing that, I would imagine -- I don't know firsthand -- from the transition team.

I think there's another element of this that is not contingent on the political transition that is important to point out, which is that we have been under investing for decades in public health infrastructure in this country. We don't have a well-funded local and state public health department.

So the problem that is being solved here is a huge logistical challenge. In fact, it was miraculous to see the pace at which vaccines were developed for COVID-19 within a calendar year from identifying the virus to actually developing these vaccines.

But the hard -- really hard part is turning out to be the shoe leather, the logistics, the supply chain, sort of that infrastructure for mass vaccination that the United States just hasn't had despite being a leader in medical innovation.

O'DONNELL: Isn't there also this confusion about which government is in charge of this? I read articles saying that the state is in charge. Then there's an article saying the county is in charge of how you're going to get it. Others seem to indicate the city is in charge. And these are different reports all over the country.

VENKATARAMAN: Well, there needs to be a coordinated federal effort. Now, keep in mind we don't have a nationalized health care system here like Canada or the U.K. where we can just have a clear concentrated supply of vaccines, have them all distributed through the same health care system. We have a more feudal system in terms of state control and the way that vaccine distribution happens.

That said, there needs to be a federal coordination in public health crises of all kinds. The national government is responsible for the pandemic response and we saw this in the contact tracing, the efforts around testing and tracing early on in the pandemic that there really was a lack of federal leadership. And there is a need for President-Elect Biden and the new administration to come in and really seize that role of federal government to coordinate among states, provide clear guidance.

Obviously we've seen the CDC step up a little bit more in recent weeks to provide guidance around vaccination. And there needs to be some discretion at the state level.

So Dr. Fauci in those same statements earlier was talking about how there is almost a scarcity mind set happening at the state level where states aren't actually administering all the doses they even have because they're sort of following the CDC guidance almost too strictly in some instance when they don't have as many health care workers to vaccinate, for example or have some reticence among that community. They could be vaccinating the elderly, for example.

So, there is a need for states to have some flexibility and to exercise some discretion but there needs to be very clear communication at the federal level, very clear coordination and obviously the supply chain, the negotiation, the purchasing power, the ability to get those vaccines marshalled from the company to be distributed is necessary.

O'DONNELL: Bina Venkataraman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

VENKATARAMAN: Thank you for having me, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

On Sunday night, Dr. Anthony Fauci will be one of my guests for our special transfer of power. Once again, that's Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. live here on MSNBC.

And coming up, a message of hope for tonight's LAST WORD.


O'DONNELL: To see the big picture of what America is going through at the end of this week, we need the turn to a big thinker.

Anand Giridharadas writes, "This is not the chaos of the beginning of something. This is chaos of the end of something. It is not the engine of history. It is the revolt against the engine of history. We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail."

And joining us now is Anand Giridharadas, MSNBC political analyst and publisher of "The Ink" newsletter.

Anand, what are the signs that the future will prevail?

Anand Giridharadas, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the trajectory, this is Martin Luther King's birthday. And he spoke of that arc bending and the arc is been bending, has been bending, has continued to bend. And it is very easy to lose sight of that fundamental through line and that fundamental narrative in American life given what has happened. Right?

We have last week was insurrection week. This week was impeachment week. Next week is inauguration week. We never got infrastructure week. And it is dark. It's very, very dark.

But I think if you look at so much of this darkness, it is not the darkness of the beginning of something. This is not a launch party that you're seeing on the other side of the screen. This is a funeral for something. It is a funeral for white supremacy. It is a funeral for a kind of outdated, outmoded male power.

It is a mourning for a time in which certain Americans could feel and claim to be the default of an American and not have to share.

And what we have witnessed in this era alongside the depredations of Donald Trump is another story too, a longer story. This was also this past year that just ended, the year of extraordinary protests on the streets for Black Lives Matter that also corresponded with an extraordinary shifts in main stream white opinion about racism.

This was also the year gone by in which white people were in the reading they were doing and what was happening in their work places and beyond. Grappling with race in ways that were unthinkable five, 10, 15 years ago.

And so I have been trying as a practice because I'm as despairing as everybody else right now, to remember that what we are witnessing in so many of these dark days is backlash -- backlash. It is not the engine of history. It is a backlash against the engine of history.

These people that you're seeing are not the future. They are the barnacles on the future that is going to happen with or without them. And what I try to remember is that what we are actually heading towards -- and allow me to get a little patriotic for a moment but I think this is a patriotism that is factual and justified.

What we are trying to do in the United States of America is actually build a kind of country that has not existed in quite this form. Perhaps ever in history, which is to build a majority/minority, democratic, multiracial super power that looks like the world, that is a country made of all the countries and we're actually getting there.

And these people are terrified of a future in which they have to share. But that future day by day, hour by hour, workplace by workplace, school by school -- that future, that looming future is I believe the dominant story of America.

O'DONNELL: I have to say, I've been thinking -- trying to think in the direction that you've been thinking. And for me, the sign, the clearest sign that the future will prevail will be and is the inauguration of the vice president next week -- Kamala Harris.

That is the face of our future and it is a face we've never seen at an inauguration in one of those offices.

Anand Giridharadas, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.


O'DONNELL: That is tonight's LAST WORD.



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