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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, November 11, 2020

Guests: Dana Nessel, Renee Graham, Denise Turner Roth, Evan Osnos; Reverend Raphael Warnock


Joe Biden Names Ron Klain as White House Chief of Staff; Donald Trump Has Not Made Public Remarks since His Election Loss; Trump Campaign Files Empty Lawsuits with No Proof of Fraud


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Ali and thank you very much for that final report in your hour tonight. That is such an important and long overdue recognition.

VELSHI: Thank you, sir. You have a good evening.

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Ali. Well, Georgia's Republican Secretary of State ordered a full recount of the presidential vote in Georgia while saying that he doesn't expect it to change Joe Biden's 14,000 vote advantage in Georgia and it definitely will not change the results in the senate campaigns because the recount is only of presidential votes.

At the end of this hour, we will be joined by Raphael Warnock, Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia. He came in first in a field of over 20 candidates in last week's voting in that race for that Republican seat now being held by Republican senator Kelly Loeffler.

Election Day now is set for January 5th for the runoff. Raphael Warnock will join us at the end of this hour.

The two Senate campaigns in Georgia will determine which party controls the United States Senate. And that's why Raphael Warnock getting tonight's last word is so important as we approach that January 5th runoff.

And as we complete this record breaking fifth day of silence from Donald Trump, the restoration of sanity is fully underway with the selection of Ron Klain as the next White House Chief of Staff.

I suppose I should be more careful with the word next because with 70 days left, Donald Trump still has time to fire his fourth White House Chief of Staff, and perhaps a fifth and a sixth, but Ron Klain will be the White House Chief of Staff beginning at 12:00 noon on January 20 and he will be the most qualified White House Chief of Staff in the history of that position.

Ron Klain will be the White House Chief of Staff whose past work experience in the White House in multiple roles means he will need less on the job training than any previous White House Chief of Staff.

It doesn't mean he will be the best White House Chief of Staff we have ever seen. That depends on his performance, in what everyone knows is the most difficult job in Washington.

But it does mean that sanity is being restored to the White House because qualifications matter again.

Donald Trump has had four White House Chiefs of Staff, each of them unqualified for that position. Each of them disgraced themselves in that position by publicly lying for Donald Trump. Each of them was the worst possible White House Chief of Staff until the next one turned out to be even worse.

And now comes Ron Klain, a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law School who served as a Supreme Court clerk before becoming Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices and all Federal Judges.

Then serving as Chief of Staff to Attorney General Janet Reno in the Justice Department, then moving to the White House as Chief of Staff to Vice President Al Gore, and then served as Chief of Staff to the Vice President once again when Joe Biden became Vice President in 2009.

President Obama named Ron Klain as his White House Ebola Response Coordinator at the height of a frightening public health crisis that Ron Klain and President Obama managed to control.

There is no Ron Klain in the Trump administration. There are incompetent buffoons, whose highest hope is that they make it to "Dancing with the Stars" like Sean Spicer did.

There are corrupt profiteers like the President himself, and there are pathological liars like the President himself. One of those pathological liars has been installed at the Justice Department this week by Donald Trump for the remaining 70 days of havoc that Donald Trump might try to bring to that department.

Retired Army Brigadier General Anthony Tata, who has called President Obama, a Muslim and a terrorist leader cannot do any serious damage to The Pentagon in 70 days.

There are too many smart people there to stop him. And if he tries to do that, he will go to prison, because on January 21st, the Inspector General of what will then be the Biden Defense Department and the Inspectors General of every department of the Federal government will begin investigating everything that the Trump crew has been up to -- everything -- every big and little thing and the Inspectors General will refer any criminal findings to the Biden Justice Department for investigation by the F.B.I. and prosecution by the Biden Justice Department.

And so it's all over. The reign of the corrupt is over. The reign of the incompetent is over, and if they try anything on the way out the door, Joe Biden and Ron Klain are going to assemble a team that will track them down and make them pay.

Now, most traditional observers and respecters of the transition process are outraged, understandably, that Donald Trump's behavior in losing this election. I count myself among the traditional respecters of the transition process, but I for one am grateful, I mean grateful for the disgraceful marker that Donald Trump is leaving for history.

The marker that I predicted he would, never giving a concession speech, not facilitating the transition, not attending the inauguration of Joe Biden.

None of those things will endanger this country in any way. None of those things will worsen the reputation of this country in any way, whose reputation could not be more damaged internationally than it was four years ago, when the Electoral College handed over the presidency to the person who came in second in the vote.

Donald Trump is not tarnishing our international reputation now, by what he has done since Election Day. It is impossible for Donald Trump to make our international reputation any worse than he has already made it for four years.

No one in the world is surprised that Donald Trump is behaving badly. All of our most powerful and important allies are calling Joe Biden and congratulating him on his win. Today, added to that list were the leaders of Australia, Japan and South Korea calling in their congratulations to President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

South Korea's very existence depends on the President of the United States. South Korea does not fear Donald Trump's wrath about placing a congratulatory call to Joe Biden because South Korea knows it's all over for Donald Trump.

Five days. Five full days and nights of silence from Donald Trump. The man who wants to hear his own voice more than anyone alive has not allowed you to hear his voice for five days and nights for the first time in the history of his political career.

Silence. The silence is the concession speech. The concession was never going to be words, not from Donald Trump. The silence is the concession speech. Take it for the gift that it is. Five full days and nights of your life without the sound of that voice.

If you were dancing in the streets this weekend, you should still be dancing in the streets because nothing bad has happened since then.

Yes, Donald Trump being President is dangerous, but that is not a new danger. And I promise I'll tell you as soon as I see something dangerous happen in this transition.

A hundred and forty thousand people a day getting infected with COVID-19 is the real danger this country is facing, not the petulant President whose days are numbered.

Now many people are scared by things that they haven't seen before. That's understandable. But don't be scared by Donald Trump's silence. It is the silence of a terrified man who is desperately trying to raise money online on the lie that he has not yet lost the presidential election.

It is the silence of a man constantly sending out the neediest e-mails in political history with pathetic subject lines like "I need you right now." All to trick gullible people out of their money.

It is the silence of a man who is terrified of what his life will become on January 20th. He will spend next year as a defendant in important civil lawsuits against him and possibly as a criminal defendant in New York State.

He will leave the White House under a cloud of pardons for his associates, for his children, and most importantly for himself and he only has a couple of weeks left to try to trick people out of their money to pretend to fight the result of a presidential election that has been decided.

In just nine days, Georgia will finish its recount and certify the election results on November 20th. Three days later, Pennsylvania will certify their election results. Michigan will certify their election results on the same day.

And the day after that, Nevada will certify their election results. Arizona comes six days after that, then Wisconsin, and with every certified election result, Donald Trump's ability to raise money continues to collapse on December 14th when the Electoral College votes, Donald Trump will only be able to raise money from people who believe the Earth is flat.

The judges hearing Donald Trump's election lawsuits do not like what they are hearing because they are not hearing real lawsuits brought about real issues.

A Pennsylvania Judge questioned Trump lawyer, Jonathan Goldstein about an allegation of fraud involving a grand total of 592 ballots. The Judge said, "I am asking you a specific question and I am looking for a specific answer. Are you claiming that there is any fraud in connection with these 592 disputed ballots?"

Goldstein, "To my knowledge, at present, no."

End of case. "The Detroit Free Press" reports that affidavits from more than a hundred people included in a new Republican lawsuit filed in Michigan Federal Court, quote, "Do not provide evidence of widespread fraud or egregious misconduct."

Donald Trump knows that all of the lawsuits are hopeless. But he needs Republican lawyers to continue to get embarrassed in courtrooms day after day so that he can continue to try to trick gullible people out of their money.

Hitting off our discussion tonight, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

Can you update us on the so-called legal controversies in Michigan, if any, are actual real legal controversies?

DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I guess, it depends on what your opinion is of a real legal controversy. I will say that we have had an onslaught of litigation just since I think this morning when I was asked to be on the show, we've had more lawsuits come in.

One of them was recently asking to throw out the votes of three of our biggest counties, which would disenfranchise voters of 1.2 million people in our state, and all of that without any affidavits or anything alleging any specific.

So I mean, so many of these lawsuits are so frivolous, so lacking in merits or any factual reality that I think normally an attorney would be sanctioned for having filed these lawsuits, and might even be disciplined, might even be held in contempt in some sort, for having brought them.

But what I will say is that the Trump administration has a spotless record in that they have lost every single case that has been heard thus far and I believe that they'll continue on in their losing streak as long as they continue to file the kind of baseless claims that they are now making here in our state.

O'DONNELL: Does the Attorney General -- do you have a role in these cases -- I know -- I see who the plaintiff's side is, but who is the defendant side in these cases in Michigan?

NESSEL: There have been a number of different defendants whose actions have been filed against. Sometimes it's the Secretary of State, who my department defends or the State Board of canvassers, my office also defends.

Sometimes it could be Wayne County or the Wayne County Clerk, or even the City of Detroit or the City of Detroit's clerk. So they have filed a number of different actions against a number of different defendants, but really with one primary goal, and that is to stop the election from being certified either at the county level, and specifically counties that went for Biden in very large percentages, or to stop the State Board of Canvassers from certifying the election.

So that essentially, it would create a situation potentially, I guess, that the slate of electors could be faithless in the state legislature which is, you know, held by Republicans, majority Republicans in both the House and Senate could send faithless electors to Washington, D.C.

But of course, that's predicated on the election not being certified. And hopefully that will not occur.

O'DONNELL: But they would have to pass new legislation signed by the Governor because the legislature has handed over their ability to name electors to the voters through legislation. So that's only correctable through legislation and that is true in all 50 states. So that's not going to happen anywhere.

NESSEL: Well, obviously, we don't think that's going to happen. And we hope that the -- you know, the people of Michigan have spoken loudly and clearly.

And if you recall, back in 2016, while Trump won the State of Michigan, it was barely over 10,000 votes. But of course, the Democrats, you know, they didn't respond by filing multiple pieces of litigation and lawsuits. They didn't respond by claiming that there was fraud in the system.

What Democrats did was they found new candidates, they organized and in 2018, they won all the major elections in the State of Michigan and did pretty well in 2020 as well.

They didn't attack the system. They just improved their game. But unfortunately, that's not the attack that the Republicans have taken. But I have every confidence that this election will be certified and that the person who overwhelmingly won the state, which is of course, Joe Biden will be certified, and then all 16 of our electors will be representing Joe Biden and his candidacy, because he is really the winner in the State of Michigan.

O'DONNELL: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, thank you very much for starting off our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me.

O'DONNELL: Thank you. We're joined by Renee Graham, an opinion columnist and associate editor at "The Boston Globe." And Renee, I know that my -- I don't know what you call it -- nonchalance about Donald Trump's behavior now is unusual.

I know that cable news is filled with banners saying alarming and dangerous and scary. But it turns on the notion that it is somehow scary that Donald Trump is violating a norm, which he has done every single day since he came down the escalator.

RENEE GRAHAM, OPINION COLUMNIST AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR AT "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Well, that's the interesting thing about a lot of this, Lawrence, is that the sentence that Donald Trump is attacking democracy.

He has attacked democracy since he was a candidate. He was talking about voter fraud and rigged elections when he was still running for office. So this is just a pretty much a continuation of the same.

What we have now because we've only got what -- he has got 70 days left in his tenure is this is the mad scene in this tragic opera at this point.

This is the Mad King trying anything he can to stave off reality. But he's got millions of people helping him do that, you know, so he has got people looking for fraud, looking for this and all they're really finding is Donald Trump's reflection.

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to what John Fetterman, the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania had to say about this.


LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): Math doesn't care about his feelings. It doesn't care about anyone's feelings.

The math in Pennsylvania is damning for the President. The bottom line is, is that there is no truth to any of this. And at some point, we all have to collectively accept it. Yelling voter fraud, when there is no evidence whatsoever of it is yelling fire in a crowded theater, and it is harming the democratic franchise of our country and the peaceful transition of power and we cannot accept that.


O'DONNELL: Renee Graham, if Donald Trump yelled fire in a theater that I was in, I wouldn't move. I wouldn't leave my seat. I wouldn't even be slightly concerned.

GRAHAM: You know, I probably wouldn't either. But no, here's the problem, we have all of these people who have looked upon the most mendacious President in American history as the last arbiter of truth and there's nothing true about anything he is saying.

Again, he is doing now what he has done for the last four years. He is lying. He is stalling. He is making things up.

He is throwing out conspiracy theories. He has got nothing left in the tank. This is it.

You know, you don't have to appreciate math. But math is math. It's not going to change. He lost. He failed. He simply can't accept that.

It doesn't matter whether or not he accepts it, the facts are the facts. And we all know how this President feels about facts. But that's irrelevant. It's over. But he is going to continue to drag this country through broken glass because he just can't accept the fact that he lost.

O'DONNELL: Renee, about 22 percent of American voters of Americans of voter age ever see Twitter at all, ever. I actually haven't seen Donald Trump's tweets this week and I've been, you know, looking at Twitter a fair amount.

But what I care about is his silence. It is his inability to stand in front of a microphone, in front of a camera and say a single word. We haven't heard a single word from him for five full days.

He has set a new record today after setting a record yesterday of Trump silence.

GRAHAM: Do you miss that voice? I don't. I'm happy he is saying nothing. Right? I mean, what can he possibly say? How many more ridiculous press conferences do we want to sit through, you know where he is going to claim -- make claims that are blatantly untrue?

You know, it's just too much. Maybe someone has gotten his ear and just simply said, Mr. President, we're not helping your cause. But you know, at the end of the day, there's nothing he can say.

Better he stays hidden. Better he stays away from the cameras. Nobody wants to hear the latest lie and the latest conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is going to spin.

O'DONNELL: Renee Graham, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight.

GRAHAM: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, our next guest officially authorized the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration four years ago when the outgoing President of the United States was an adult. That's next.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are already beginning the transition. We are well underway, and the ability for the administration in any way by failure to recognize our win does not change a dynamic at all in what we're able to do.


O'DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Denise Turner Roth. She served as the Head of the General Services Administration under President Obama from 2015 until Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. You're one of the people who has been there before at this moment of transition. When you authorized -- officially authorized the transition and the transition funding to begin in the last transition, when did you do that? And on what basis did you make that decision?

DENISE TURNER ROTH, FORMER HEAD OF GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: That actually occurred the following morning. I'm thinking around 10:00 a.m. There were a couple of things that had happened before in the evening prior in terms of the state results, one thing that we were looking at, as well as the general major media outlet reporting.

And then over the evening, we had signals from the Clinton campaign that they were going to concede, so all of those items together, really fed into our decisions.

But if you recall that evening, last night, it was pretty late, I think it was around midnight that I decided that we would wait until the next morning before we took the next step.

O'DONNELL: And are you aware of any problems during that transition? Any lack of cooperation on the part of the Obama administration for the incoming Trump administration?

ROTH: We were fortunate to have a very smooth transition, and I think actually, the incoming administration acknowledged our team for that purpose. There are quite a few people at the General Services Administration, especially career employees who have done this multiple times and are very strong at delivering a solid and smooth transition and that's what we were able to accomplish that year as well.

O'DONNELL: And the transition was I understand it, written in 1963, refers to an apparent winner that you can in that position that you had ascertain the apparent winner so that the transition can begin and that the beginning of the transition does not necessarily mean that the apparent winner will in the end be the official Electoral College winner.

ROTH: The apparent winner doesn't -- also doesn't suggest that we have to wait for a concession. The point is, a reasonable assessment of the circumstance in terms of who the apparent winner is to begin that process.

The whole notion with the Presidential Transition Act, which was put in place in 1963 was really focused around how do we ensure transition occurs in a way that is smooth as possible that we can take down the barriers, whether its costs in terms of the transition, whether -- and certainly preparedness or space or otherwise.

So the real focus is ensuring that if there is a transition that incoming President is prepared to take over day one.

O'DONNELL: Now, if you saw these flurry of lawsuits around the country, recognizing that not one of them is about more than a few hundred votes in controversy, not one of them is about an amount -- a number of votes that could change the outcome of a state. Would lawsuits like that in any way slow down the authorization of a transition?

ROTH: I would certainly be looking for whether there is some aspect of the results that is going to put the results in doubt. You know, I'm just in the general public at this point, and so I haven't seen that as of yet.

But that's what I would have been relying on. But I'm sure that there are others within the administration that are advising the current administrator.

You know, really what I'm focused on at this point is the roles and activities that happen during a transition are very key for a smooth transition of government and it is important to happen as quickly as possible.

Every day that is lost really does impact our abilities to have that transition happen in the way that's most effective.

And as a country, we're in a very critical moment and having this move forward, I believe is very essential.

O'DONNELL: Denise Turner Ross, thank you very much for your perspective on this tonight. I really appreciate it.

ROTH: Thank you. Good to be with you.

O'DONNELL: Thank you. Up next, we've now seen Joe Biden make his two most important presidential personnel decisions, a Vice President and a White House Chief of Staff. What does that tell us about the man who will be the 46th President of the United States?

Evan Osnos of "The New Yorker," the author of a new biography of Joe Biden joins us next.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Joe Biden's sister Valerie was his campaign manager in every one of his Senate campaigns and in his previous presidential campaigns. Mike Allen was lucky enough to get Valerie Biden Owens to agree to a rare on-camera interview with Axios.


MIKE ALLEN, AXIOS: What was the moment in the campaign that angered him most?

VALERIE BIDEN OWENS, JOE BIDEN'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: What angered him most? Calling the military losers and suckers when Beau Biden served in Iraq like many other men and women in America.

ALLEN: Sounds like an extremely visceral reaction from the now president-elect.

OWENS: These men and women put their lives on the line to keep us safe and the commander in chief calls them suckers and losers? Are you kidding me? What kind of moral compass does this man have?


O'DONNELL: Joining us now is Evan Osnos, staff writer for "The New Yorker" and author of the new book "Joe Biden: the life, the run, and what matters now".

Evan, let's start with Valerie. Let's start with his sister. I've seen -- this is actually my favorite campaign structure, the trusted family member -- in this case a sibling -- as the campaign manager.

The senator I worked for Senator Moynihan, his wife, Liz, was his brilliant campaign manager. Jack Kennedy had Bobby Kennedy. It's just something I really like seeing. What does Valerie mean to Joe?

EVAN OSNOS, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, you hit the nail on the head. Moynihan and Kennedy were some of Joe Biden's inspirations coming up in this business. And their partnership, Valerie Biden, Valerie -- now Valerie Biden Owens, but back then 48 years ago this month was a pioneer in her own right. A female campaign manager at a time when that was extremely rare.

This was a family operation. You know, she was running the campaign. His brothers were helping to raise money. And Joe Biden and of course his late wife Neilia Hunter and their three kids were out on the road.

And from the very beginning of that career all the way through six runs for office she has been intertwined with Joe Biden's thinking. She understands how he thinks about basic moral commitments. And let's be clear. She's also pretty savvy on the subject of politics.

So when you heard her say the other day in her interview with Mike Allen of Axios that there's no way that Joe Biden's going to tell you today he's not running for a second term, that's also smart politics. Because if he did that then immediately the conversation would shift to talking about who's going to run instead.

So they know how to do this. They've been at it a long time. It's one of the reasons I think why you see them right now.

Frankly, they're not as disturbed as many Americans are by how uncertain things feel in Washington because they've seen a lot of political stunts in their lives. And what they're encountering now from the outgoing president is a stunt like no other.

O'DONNELL: If you asked me to bet a year ago on who Joe Biden would choose as a White House chief of staff, it would have been Ron Klain. I would have made the safe bet. And it seems like Joe Biden has made both the safe bet and the smart bet.

OSNOS: Yes. You know, I've been fortunate to be talking to Ron Klain for my understanding of this campaign going back a long time. And one of the reasons why Joe Biden relies on him is because Ron Klain tells him what he actually thinks. Not even if it sounds all that great to Joe Biden in that moment.

One of the things you get out of Ron Klain, of course, is obviously very specific experience in dealing with the ebola epidemic. And I think in some ways it's worth pointing out that part of the reason why Americans sometimes forget the ebola period is precisely because it was not a catastrophe in America.

And just to juxtapose that against the outgoing chief of staff in this White House who has said to us until recently that the United States in his words is not going to be able to control this epidemic. It's just a completely different mindset.

I will say one other thing. Ron Klain mentioned to me at one point that strategically Joe Biden made a choice in this campaign during the primary, that every time he was up on that debate stage and he's getting beat up by some of his opponents, he could have thrust the knife, you know. He could have gone after them.

But he made a decision that at the time if he did that he was going to be left with a party that was too weak to take on his opponent. So there was a kind of deeper strategy there that sometimes we didn't appreciate from the outside.

O'DONNELL: And that is a choice that I've seen Joe Biden make. In my own experience working in government I've been in the governing chamber with the door closed with both Ron Klain in some circumstances, Joe Biden in other circumstances, and those meetings can sometimes get tense, depends on how many people are in the room.

But I've never seen anyone leave one of those rooms with bad feelings about either Ron Klain or Joe Biden. Even if they left the room disagreeing with them.

OSNOS: You know what I think it comes back to is a basic fundamental sense of perspective. That's the word that keeps occurring to me, Lawrence, as I think about these appointments, these choices, and ultimately the way that they're thinking about this moment. They have been through serious legislative fights. They've been through technical challenges in governing.

And what that gives you, the accumulated effect of that experience, is that you know in effect that even if you're going to have a fight on a question on Monday, and it can be a very serious policy disagreement, that you still need to be able to come back on Tuesday and make some common ground. Otherwise, what are we doing here? That's how you end up with paralysis.

So you find in that combination of personalities and of governing philosophies a basic belief that to put a fine point on it, that government is possible. And that's -- we're at a stage right now in this country given the range of problems, both short-term and long-term, that that's their basic orientation. And it goes all the way back to the beginning of Joe Biden's career and takes you up until today.

O'DONNELL: Evan Osnos, the new book is "Joe Biden: the life, the run, and what matters now". Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Evan. We really appreciate it.

OSNOS: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Up next, while Donald Trump says nothing and does absolutely nothing, the United States hit a record high number of reported cases of coronavirus today and a record high number of hospitalizations. That's next.


O'DONNELL: Today the United States reported its highest ever daily total of new coronavirus cases with 144,270 and the highest ever number of coronavirus hospitalizations with 65,368.

Today NBC News confirmed two more White House aides have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending an election night event at the White House. And Politico reports President-Elect Joe Biden has formed a special transition team dedicated to coordinating the coronavirus response across the government. The group consists of dozens of transition officials and cuts across a slew of federal agencies. The COVID-19 team is largely separate from the coronavirus task force that Biden unveiled on Monday.

Joining our discussion now, Dr. Kavita Patel, an internal medicine physician and MSNBC medical contributor. She served as a policy director in the Obama administration.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. It seems like these numbers now are going up every day. The days are getting darker earlier as winter closes in on us. Is this the trajectory we're on now?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Lawrence, thanks for having me.

And I'm worried this is the trajectory we're on. In fact, Lawrence, the numbers we're seeing today, if you think about what we expect with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, we might see 200,000 cases a day. That's not inconceivable. And when you think about the resulting death and hospitalizations, it's terrifying. It really is.

After former White House Trump official Steve Bannon called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Fauci said this in an Australian interview.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's obviously been very stressful. I mean to deny that would be to deny reality. When you have public figures like Bannon calling for your beheading, that's really kind of unusual, I think. That's not the kind of thing you think about when you're going through medical school to become a physician.


O'DONNELL: Dr. Patel, that is over. The country is now 70 days away from sanity being restored in the White House. What kind of a change will that make for Dr. Fauci's work and for everyone else working in government?

DR. PATEL: Oh, Lawrence, it will be an incredible change. I mean, many of us in public health breathed a huge sigh of relief just with the appointment of the task force because it signals that science matters, that health professionals such as myself and Dr. Fauci, that we matter.

And I hope that this reverberates all the way to local jurisdictions, Lawrence. The number of death threats that local public health officials who have either been forced to resign or have literally had to have 24/7 security detail just for advocating for masks is mind-boggling.

So I do hope it actually changes the national tone and all the way down to local jurisdiction.

O'DONNELL: Let's look at the change of tone Joe Biden is going for on masks. Let's look at what he said on Monday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Please, I implore you, wear a mask. Do it for yourself. Do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement. But it is a good way to start pulling the country together.


O'DONNELL: I expect us to be hearing that from President-Elect Biden a couple of times a week.

DR. PATEL: Yes, Lawrence. The clear messaging, just very honestly, very basic language. And also a very emotional one. You could hear in his tone not only his emotional plea to everybody, but there's a sincerity there.

He talks about people that are not going to be at the dinner table because of their deaths or their hospitalization. So I expect this almost on a daily basis. We are finally going to see a functioning White House coronavirus task force.

Lawrence, my fear, though, is that to get there we're going to see millions more Americans being affected by COVID-19 and unfortunately deaths that follow.

O'DONNELL: Well, Ron Klain is the White House chief of staff to have it up and running on day one. Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

Georgia, Georgia, Georgia. There is a recount in the presidential race in Georgia which the secretary of state says will not change Joe Biden's 14,000-vote lead and campaigns for two Senate seats to be decided on January 5th.

The Democratic candidate for one of those Senate seats, Raphael Warnock, will join us next and get tonight's LAST WORD.


O'DONNELL: Raphael Warnock came in first in a crowded field of candidates running for the Georgia Senate seat of Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler and now he is in a one-on-one runoff with Senator Loeffler with the election day of January 5th poised to determine which party will control the United States Senate.


RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I've always thought my impact doesn't stop at the church door. That's where it starts. Fighting for affordable health care, fair wages, to protect the dignity of work.

This race for Senate is about who you think best represents you. If you're looking for a billionaire, I'm not your guy. But if you want someone who's been through some of the same challenges as you. I'm Raphael Warnock and it would be my honor to serve you.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now, Reverend Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and a Democratic candidate for United States Senate in Georgia. Thank you very much for joining us once again tonight.

What is your reaction to the secretary of state ordering a recount in the presidential race in Georgia today?

WARNOCK: Thank you so very much, Lawrence. It's great to be here with you again. And happy Veterans Day to all of our veterans. We're grateful for them and their families and how much they've given for our freedoms.

Listen, Georgia is ground zero for voter suppression. We've been fighting the good night on this front for years. And it's unfortunate that Kelly Loeffler is once again making a political calculation, as she has attacked the integrity of the elections here.

And at the end of this long count, listen, Joe Biden will be the president and Kamala Harris will be the vice president. And I look forward to working alongside them to protect people's health care, particularly those with pre-existing conditions.

O'DONNELL: The Republican secretary of state was in effect threatened by your opponent and by the other Republican senator David Perdue, who Jon Ossoff is running against. They both demanded that he resign if he didn't order this hand recount.

WARNOCK: Yes, it's quite unfortunate. And what we have seen with Kelly Loeffler over and over again is that she tends to make political calculations that have much to do -- much more to do with her than the people she's supposed to be representing.

But this is, you know, just beyond the pale. This is beyond whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. This is not about right and left. This is about right and wrong. And so it's quite unfortunate that once again she's sowing the seeds of division.

And that's what happens when people have no vision. They traffic in division. She doesn't know how to lead us, and so she's trying to divide us. I'm happy to offer my service as the next United States senator from the state of Georgia to focus on the things that I hear Georgians talking about.

They're concerned that they may lose their health care in the middle of a pandemic. She seems to think that's a good idea. I think it's a terrible idea. And they're still waiting for COVID-19 relief all of these many months.

O'DONNELL: What is the number one issue between now and January 5th in your Senate campaign?

WARNOCK: Well, I've been traveling all across the state on a bus tour across Georgia. I moved from Savannah where I'm from, to Statesboro, from Murrieta to Macon. I've been in small rural towns. And people are concerned about their health care.

I was down in Cuthbert, Georgia a couple of weeks ago, Randolph County, where the eighth hospital in our state has closed. Eight hospitals in ten years. And much of this is because Georgia has refused to expand Medicaid.

And it's about time that Georgia would have a United States senator who would stand up and fight for ordinary people, make sure they have health care, make sure that our seniors don't have to choose between prescription drugs and buying food.

This is the work I've been doing my entire life as the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church, led by Martin Luther King Jr. I happen to think that health care is a human right, and I intend to stand up for it in the United States Senate.

O'DONNELL: Do you want Joe Biden to come to Georgia? Do you want Kamala Harris to come to Georgia? Kamala Harris was in Georgia during the presidential campaign. Barack Obama, Michelle Obama -- do you want the national help of Democrats who can turn out crowds like that?

WARNOCK: Well, we're honored by the support that we've received from all across this country. Georgia seems to be on everybody's mind.

But the real movement is right here on the ground. And this is work we've been doing for years in this state. This is not magic. This is hard work. We've been engaging voters.

I was chair of the new Georgia project. We registered some 400,000 new voters in this state. We are helping people to empower themselves by finding their voice in our democracy, and we're seeing the results of that in this very moment. The other side knows it. They're running scared. And that's why they're going to run a campaign focused on distraction and division.

I intend to speak to people's everyday concerns and push forward the message that we Americans go through dark and difficult days but we get through it and the way we get through it is we get through it together.

O'DONNELL: You had a lot of first-time voters in this election here in November. How do you convince them to re-energize and come back out in January?

WARNOCK: I don't think voters show up to vote for politicians. And that's the problem with our politics right now. The politics too often is about the politicians. I think voters vote for themselves.

And so what I plan to do is to lean into my own story. I'm one of 12 children in my family. It's remarkable that I'm running for the U.S. Senate. I grew up in public housing. I'm number 11 out of 12 children. I'm the first college graduate in my family.

My story reminds us that the American promise is very much alive, it's just slipping away from too many people. And it is those people who are on my mind and on my heart as I go to bed at night, as I visit waiting rooms and critical care units as a pastor.

And I want to take that commitment and their stories and their issues to the United States Senate.

O'DONNELL: Raphael Warnock, Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

WARNOCK: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Raphael Warnock gets tonight's LAST WORD.



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