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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, November 17, 2020

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Laurence Tribe, Katie Hobbs


Tonight, in a Twitter statement, that Twitter said is not true, Donald Trump said that the recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud, and therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Senator Amy Klobuchar is interviewed about the firing of Chris Krebs. Today, President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris met with a group of experts on foreign policy, intelligence and national security. An official with Georgia secretary of state's office was said to be listening to the phone call when Lindsey Graham suggested throwing out legally cast ballots in Georgia. The day after Senator Sherrod Brown complained about Republicans not wearing masks on the Senate floor, 87-year-old Republican Senator Chuck Grassley tests positive for COVID-19 after speaking on the Senate floor yesterday.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: You've just given both of our audiences the best news they could possibly hear this week, Ali, and thank you very much for filling in for Rachel. I know how much she appreciates and I know how much she trusts you to carry that hour as you've done so well.


O'DONNELL: Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: I appreciate it, Lawrence. You have a great show tonight.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, another day, another Trump vengeance firing. Tonight, Christopher Krebs got fired by a Trump tweet which Twitter has labeled inaccurate. Christopher Krebs was the administration's cyber security official who came from Microsoft to the government to work on making our election processes secure. Last week, Christopher Krebs said that the 2020 election was, quote, the most secure in American history.

And tonight, in a Twitter statement that Twitter said is not true, Donald Trump said, quote, the recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Luckily, for Christopher Krebs, he is going out with the badge of honor that he will need for the rest of his life, in explaining why he went to work in the Trump administration. He can now legitimately say he went to work in the Trump administration to help guarantee the security of our elections and he can prove that he did a good job because Donald Trump fired him. If you leave the Trump administration on January 20th without being fired by Donald Trump, you will carry that disgrace to your grave.

That's what Emily Murphy is trying to do. She is the administrator of the General Services Administration, who is personally refusing to sign her name to the paperwork that would officially begin the transition of the Biden/Harris -- to the Biden/Harris administration. Emily Murphy is the typically corrupt Trump appointee who is working every day now in violation of a law that orders her to authorize this transition and provide the necessary resources, including office space to the Biden/Harris transition team.

The law doesn't give her a choice. We'll hear more about the details of that law tonight from Harvard's constitutional law professor Lawrence Tribe.

Emily Murphy has of 4 days left in her job and she's still afraid of being fired by Donald Trump, for doing the right thing, for following the law. Emily Murphy looks at Christopher Krebs tonight and sees what she doesn't want to be, a fired Trump official. She does not see and cannot see Christopher Krebs' clarity of moral vision. She does not see and cannot see Christopher Krebs' faithfulness to his oath of office.

Emily Murphy is a typical Trump appointee who is now violating her oath of office every day and remaining faithful only to her oath to Donald Trump. And so, we should not at this point in covering the madness of Donald Trump in the final 64 days, we should not at this point focus our outrage on the firing of Christopher Krebs as much, although there should be that outrage, but as much as we should focus our praise of Christopher Krebs for doing his job, for helping to secure our election process, for following his oath of office, and we should share in his pride of a job well done.

Tonight, Christopher Krebs told NBC news, quote, I'm proud of the work we did at CISA. I'm proud of the teammates I had at CISA. We did it right.

Earlier today, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, took its place in history not just as the permanent location for the Little League World series, but as the place where former New York federal prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani returned to the courtroom as a practicing lawyer for the first time in 30 years and was instantly disgraced by doing the kind of thing that he does on the Fox propaganda shows.

Rudy Giuliani stood up in federal court in an election lawsuit that does not in any way allege fraud and said to federal Judge Matthew Bran, an Obama appointee, quote, it's a widespread nationwide voter fraud. And when Judge Bran pressed Giuliani on the issue of fraud, Giuliani was forced to admit in court, quote, this is not a fraud case.

Now, Giuliani had to say that because he was not on TV. He was in a courtroom. And if Giuliani did not say that in that courtroom, he could have been disbarred because then Rudy Giuliani would have been lying to a federal judge in court, and that could have been the end of Rudy Giuliani's right to practice law in the United States of America.

Rudy Giuliani is very likely the single worst lawyer to appear in an American courtroom today. And he wants to be paid $20,000 a day now for -- I think it's 20,000 -- yeah, $20,000 a day for his role in the frivolous Trump lawsuits, all of which have already been thrown out of court or on their way to being thrown out of court.

Now, Rudy Giuliani wants $100,000 a week, $400,000 a month to go into courtrooms and allege widespread nationwide voter fraud before judges then force him to admit, as he always will, that there is no fraud. He wants $400,000 a month to do that, and that money will not be paid by Donald Trump. That money will be paid by the contributors who Donald Trump continues to solicit and beg every day in multiple emails a day with begging subject lines like "Can you chip in?"

In any other context, Donald Trump would call the people who contribute that money to be paid to Rudy Giuliani to humiliate himself in court suckers. That's the word Donald Trump would use for people who fall for a scam like that if the scam is not being run by Donald Trump. When it's being run by Donald Trump, he only calls those people suckers in private.

As of today, in the continuing vote counting, president-elect Joe Biden has now received more than 79 million votes, which is more than 5.5 million more votes than the loser Donald Trump, delaying the official transition has not delayed President-elect Biden's choice of White House staff members, jobs that do not require confirmation by the senate.

President-elect Biden announced today that Jen O'Malley Dillon who managed the Biden/Harris community will be deputy chief of staff. Longtime aides Mike Donilon and Steve Ricchetti will step in respectively as senior adviser and counselor to the president. The Biden campaign's general counsel Dana Remus will be counsel to the president. And Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana will leave Congress to become senior adviser to the president, and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Today, Congressman Richmond said this.


REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): President Trump should stop playing games with the lives of the American people, and so Operation Warp Speed, which was his operation to get the vaccine created and to figure out a way to distribute it, we should be getting briefed on that so that we can offer our input and we can be ready on day one that the vaccine is ready to distribute it logistically.

And so the fact that we are not having an orderly transition -- and you saw the vice president say this yesterday -- could cost lives. And that, I think, would be sinful and a tragedy.

So, we're continuing to press upon the Trump administration to engage in a full fledged transition and give us access to not only cabinet members and national security briefings, but also all of the information related to Warp Speed so that we can -- we can get that out.


O'DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, John Brennan, former director of the CIA. He is a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC.

Also with us, Jelani Cobb, staff writer for "Te New Yorker" and professor of journalism at Columbia University. He is an MSNBC political analyst.

And, John Brennan, let me start with you and your reaction to the firing, the vengeance firing of the night, Christopher Krebs.

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, I think you teed it up exactly right in your opening, which is that Chris Krebs is representative of talented and very hardworking and patriotic Americans who are doing their level best to keep their fellow citizens safe and secure. Chris Krebs has a tremendous reputation as well as a lot of expertise on cyber security.

And I know that he was working day and night, along with his fellow teammates, to try to protect this election, and clearly he was doing it in a nonpartisan fashion, and also to the great irritation of Donald Trump. And so, I think as we've seen before, what happened at the Pentagon, we see now what's happening also with Chris Krebs, this is score settling.

I also point out another Chris, Chris Wray, who I think is standing firm despite the headwinds that he is feeling from the White House and also probably from the A.G.

So I think we should all give thanks to people like Chris and others who really are fulfilling their obligations and as you point out, their oath of office to this great country of ours.

O'DONNELL: And Jelani Cobb, I can't help but be struck at the contrast between Emily Murphy and Chris Krebs, and Emily Murphy's inability to see that the way that Chris Krebs is going out is really now the only honorable way left to exit the Trump administration.

JELANI COBB, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. But I don't think that honor was really very high on a list of people who were in those positions, and the people who have a sense of honor have been consistently antagonized.

I mean, if you thing about that list, you have Colonel Vindman on it. You have Colonel Vindman's twin brother on it. You have Marie Yovanovitch on it. You have the former ambassador to Ukraine. You would have the list of inspector generals who have been fired.

And then, you know, there is a strange addition to that list that also includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions who in his capacity did, you know, terrible things to facilitate some of the worst behaviors of this administration, including the caging of children on the border. But we should also remember that Jeff Sessions was fired for the thing that he did that was actually ethical, in recusing himself from the Mueller investigation. And so that became, you know, the bone of contention that really drove a wedge between Sessions and Trump, ultimately leading to his ouster.

And so I think there's an overall pattern here that's not really hard to discern and it really is fundamentally kind of where you come down on the issue of corruption.

O'DONNELL: John Brennan, we see Joe Biden -- president-elect speaking today to the prime minister of Israel, the prime minister of India. Not as many calls as he would be having if the transition was officially under way, but many of the key calls are happening. They are being made. What is being lost as we still -- as Emily Murphy continues to delay the transition?

BRENNAN: Well, what's being lost is the ability of his transition team to understand exactly a all of those challenges and opportunities and problems that the (AUDIO GAP) administration is going to inherit on day one, on January 20th. And whether you're talking about COVID or whether you're talking about international issues, these are things that Biden's colleagues as well as the ones that are, you know, briefed him today are really trying to understand what it is that they need to do in order to ensure that this country's national and homeland security is going to be safe and secure.

And so, today, when he was briefed by a number of former government experts and practitioners, he has brought together a very impressive array of diverse and very experienced people to be able to hit the ground on day one. However, they're losing time because these are matters that really require advanced preparation and they have not been able to get into these agencies. Speaking about CIA, the CIA has a number of covert action programs that the Biden administration will inherit again on day one, and they need to understand exactly what those covert action programs are, which ones they want to continue, which ones they want to modify and which ones they might want to terminate.

O'DONNELL: Professor Cobb, I look back now four years ago on that photograph, the famous imagery of Donald Trump sitting in the office with President Barack Obama. There was President-elect Trump.

And I now look at that imagery through I think the way the -- the eyes of the way of Donald Trump. The way he looks at that imagery as weakness. He -- I think he looks at that as weakness on the part of Barack Obama because he had to invite me into his office because I was more powerful.

And he believes he's demonstrating -- he gets to demonstrate power over Joe Biden by not inviting him into that office and by not going forward with the transition.

COBB: You know, there's an old cold war reference that when Gorbachev was leaving power and Boris Yeltsin was assuming power, Yeltsin went to visit Gorbachev and once he secured power, he said that's the last time I talk to him. Anything that he wants, he has to walk to me.

And it's that kind of bravado or that kind of macho mentality that is fundamentally, by the way, incompatible with democracy. You know, the idea that there is an interest that is superior to your own ego is, you know, fundamental to what we think of as a Democratic society. And that really, really speaks to kind of the way that Donald Trump has approached his office. There's nothing novel about that.

We've known that in his relationship with Putin, his admiration for him and all of these kind of strong men figures, and I also thing that's why it's so difficult for him to countenance him gracefully handing over the reins of the White House to Joe Biden.

O'DONNELL: Professor Jelani Cobb and former CIA Director John Brennan, thank you both very much for starting off our discussion. Really appreciate it.

BRENNAN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Coming up, more on Donald Trump's firing of cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs. Senator Amy Klobuchar is the top Democrat on the Senate Committee with oversight on elections. She has worked closely with Chris Krebs and she says his firing is, quote, a gut punch to our democracy.

Senator Klobuchar joins us next.


O'DONNELL: Tonight, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar issued a breaking news statement about Donald Trump's firing of the director of the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Agency, Christopher Krebs.

Senator Klobuchar said, as the lead Democrat on the rules committee with jurisdiction over elections, I have worked closely with director Krebs to protect our elections. He has been truthful and straightforward with the American people about the threats to our democracy and following the election he has done important work to stop the spread of misinformation that undermines the American government.

We need more people like Director Krebs working in government and it is wrong that he was fired.

Joining our discussion now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Senator Klobuchar, you worked with Mr. Krebs, worked with him closely. What can you tell us about him in the way he did his job?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Let's remember, Lawrence, he was appointed by this administration. And I always thought from the beginning that he signed up for this because he was a patriot and he felt that our cybersecurity is paramount. We know it's one of the biggest threats.

And I do want everyone to understand at home, his jurisdiction wasn't just over elections, as important as that was. It was all of our critical infrastructure, and that's why it's housed in Homeland Security. Thousands of people work there.

So while Donald Trump has fired all kinds of good people, he actually fired one that's heading up an agency that protects our power grid. So, people should understand that. And he's someone that has respect on both sides of the aisle today.

I noticed today, Rob Portman, the Senate Republican, issued a statement today saying good things about him -- Richard Burr, Ben Sasse. He continued briefing senators together from both parties right up to the election with what was going on with our election infrastructure.

And, yes, it was a secure election. There was still attempts by foreign governments, but his good work and the people under him foiling away with this administration, they did their jobs without fear or favor, and he should not have been fired.

O'DONNELL: "The Washington Post" says that he expected to be fired. They report the dismissal was not unexpected, as Krebs told associates last week he expected to be fired. His latest tweet about the security of the election was followed similar earlier assessments by his agency, including on its Rumor Control web page angered the president according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

And so, Director Krebs knew what the likely result was of telling the truth.

KLOBUCHAR: He did. And I actually talked to him and called him last week, as I did many times during the last few years, as I know many Republican senators did, when you wanted to find out the truth about something. And he said I'm just going to keep doing my job.

And he knew the threat was out there and he kept doing it. And I'd always look at that rumor website and I would always think, wow, this is actually going on with this Trump official that he's putting this out there and telling the truth. And I guess, eventually, I caught up to him and he got fired like so many have by tweet today by the president of the United States.

O'DONNELL: And there's such a contrast between the way Christopher Krebs has approached his work and Emily Murphy, the administrator of the GSA, who has the power as we sit here right now to just sign her name to the document that begins the transition. The law gives her the power, not the president. The law expects her to exercise that power, but she apparently lives in fear of what happened to Chris Krebs tonight.

KLOBUCHAR: You know, I don't know why you go into these jobs, especially those involving so much responsibility in our government, if you're not going to put our country first. And as Joe Biden said today, you know, we're in the middle of the worst part of this pandemic right now.

In my state, the obituaries on Sunday literally filled up most of the local section of our newspaper, dominating all the news stories.

And Joe Biden needs a transition. He needs to be able to have the space and vet the people and get the security briefings and everything else so that he can hit the ground running when he gets in there. And for these people, if the president -- Trump's going to deny him that, but not people who are under their wing.

When you just go along with President Trump right now with these kinds of crazy things, you are literally being complicit. And we just can't afford to mess around anymore.

O'DONNELL: One of the primary processes that could get started right now are FBI background checks on people who Joe Biden is considering for the information. Every once in a while those background checks turn up something that makes you take that resume and take it out of the pile. And the sooner you can get to that stage of the background checks, the better. That's one of the things that's being delayed.

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. And everyone should want to have people who can pass FBI background checks in power and you want to get that information. We remember at the beginning of President Trump's administration, there were all kinds of problems with some of the people, and I being on the Judiciary Committee, you'd be surprised what you find out sometimes in those background checks.

O'DONNELL: Well --

KLOBUCAR: Sometime it is may not be fatal, but you get information and the public deserved to have people who are free of corruption in these critical positions.

O'DONNELL: Speaking of free of corruption on the Judiciary Committee, we were surprised to -- what we discovered today about the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham. Turns out there was a witness on the phone call that he made to the secretary of state of Georgia in which the secretary of state of Georgia took that call to be Senator Graham suggesting that he throw out legally cast ballots.

I don't suppose you have ever picked up the phone to call the secretary of state of, I don't know, Illinois or Iowa, to say, what are you doing with the ballots, but what -- how can Senator Graham continue as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee under this kind of cloud?

KLOBUCHAR: I don't know. I mean, my whole goal right now is that we win those Georgia Senate races and then he won't continue as chair, Lawrence.

And so, part of this is supporting the work that's going on all across the country, including by the Georgia secretary of state, who people, Democrats and Republicans, just like we saw in Michigan today, who are simply doing their jobs. They're counting the ballots. In the case of Georgia, they're recounting the ballots.

Look what just happened in Arizona. That's a Republican governor there. And they have been just doing their jobs.

And I think after a while when these frivolous lawsuits -- so many of them have already been thrown out -- it is very clear that our democracy is strong, and every single day is a stress test on this democracy. Today, with the firing of Chris Krebs another one.

But my hope is those hardworking men and women who go to work every day just to do their jobs in that agency will continue to do their jobs to protect the cybersecurity of our nation.

O'DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you for rushing to join us tonight about this breaking news story about the firing of Chris Krebs. We really appreciate your insight on that. Thank you very much, Senator.

KLOBUCHAR: He's a good guy. It just shouldn't have happened. Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Senator.

And when we come back after this break, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe will join us to explain how you can violate the law and not be a criminal if your name is Emily Murphy and you're Donald Trump's appointee at the General Services Administration who is refusing to sign the document. That would authorize the Biden/Harris transition team to officially begin working on the transition of power.


O'DONNELL: Today President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris met with a group of experts on foreign policy, intelligence and national security.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: So you know that I've been unable to get the briefings that ordinarily would have come by now. And so I just want to get your input on what you see ahead. And to state the obvious, there's no presidential responsibility more important than protecting the American people.

And so I appreciate you taking the time. I'm anxious to hear what you all have to say.


O'DONNELL: In that discussion President-Elect Biden heard from former ambassadors to the United Nations Samantha Power, Retired General Stanley McCrystal, Retired Admiral William McRaven, former deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken among many others.

The Biden/Harris transition team later put out a statement saying they would continue meetings with experts who served in government saying especially as the lack of GSA ascertainment prevents the transition from meeting with and hearing from current executive branch officials.

The problem is of course Emily Murphy who is the Trump-appointed administrator of the General Services Administration and who is empowered by law to ascertain the apparent winner of the presidential election and unlock the federal government's resources to, according to the law, quote, "promote the orderly transfer of the executive power."

The law gives Emily Murphy this power, but it apparently does not provide a penalty if Emily Murphy violates this law. Presidential transition act of 1963 says, quote, any disruption occasioned by the transfer of the executive power could produce results detrimental to the safety and well being of the United States and its people.

Joining our discussion now is Laurence Tribe, university professor of constitutional law at Harvard, who was won 35 cases in the United States Supreme Court, according to my count.

Professor Tribe, thank you very much for joining us tonight, and if I've undercounted those victories, please send me a note.

First of all, I know a big point of confusion for the audience is this notion that you can violate a law -- someone in the GSA administrator's position can violate a law but there is no crime involved because it wasn't written as a criminal statute and there isn't really any enforcement mechanism for that law.

LAURENCE TRIBE, UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, HARVARD: I'm afraid that's true. When Congress passed the law in 1963, it assumed perhaps overoptimistically, that people who take an oath to protect the United States, to protect our security, to protect all of our people by mechanically ascertaining the apparent winner -- that's all it has to be, the apparent winner -- that they would do their duty. It's not just a power she has, it's an obligation.

And in the 60 years between 1960 and now, in that 60-year period, in every presidential election with the sole exception of 2000, the ascertainment which unlocks the transition process was made within a day or two of the election.

Even as ballots were being counted, absentee ballots were coming in, mail-in ballots were coming in, ballots were coming in from overseas, there were recounts going on, there were lawsuits going on. None of that needs to stop if she just does her duty and says the apparent winner is Joe Biden.

But she apparently doesn't care to do her duty and the result, as the president-elect has said, may be needless death and suffering. And the people who may die because COVID is not adequately taken care of or because our national security is not adequately protected include many of the people who voted for as well as many of the people who voted against Donald Trump.

It's a problem that affects the whole country. And for her to take this unprecedented action of simply locking up the cabinet and saying the transition will not go on until noon, apparently, of January 20th next year is just outrageous.

O'DONNELL: And, Professor, I have to tell you, that as someone who worked in government at the staff level, I am ignoring Donald Trump in this matter, in that I think we can presume that Donald Trump wants her to do what she's doing. He may not have even have had to directly communicate that to her.

TRIBE: Right.

O'DONNELL: Or even have it communicated to her. She just might be correctly intuiting that from Donald Trump.

But every staff person I know who worked in government would not violate a law like this. They would do the right thing, they would sign the document and they would sit there waiting to be fired by Donald Trump. And as we saw with Mr. Krebs, who we discussed earlier in the show.

And so the attention being shifted to Donald Trump here and away from Emily Murphy, and this may be my bias as a former staff person, really bothers me because it is -- the law grants her all of the power here, all of it, and she refuses to use it.

TRIBE: I think it's impossible to exonerate either her or the president.

Clearly if the president made it obvious to her that it's ok for her to do her duty, she would do it. She's obviously trying to curry favor with this president, for whatever reason. It's kind of stupid, too, because if she were to do her duty and simply ascertain what we all know, and that is that the apparent winner is Joe Biden. Then any failure in the first 100 days of the Biden administration would fall squarely on the shoulders of that administration.

By stubbornly refusing to ascertain the obvious and preventing the transition from operating smoothly, she essentially creates a situation in which those failures will be on her, will be on Trump, and the attempt by the Trump people to say that all of the flaws in the early days of the Biden administration are really Biden's fault will be frustrated. They really will have nothing to lose by allowing the transition to go forward. They could continue with their frivolous lawsuits. They could continue with all of their recounts and all of the efforts to stall.

None of that would have to stop. It's simply that the American people would be protected by allowing a smooth transition of power.

If it should turn out miraculously that the winner ends up being Trump, no harm, no foul.

O'DONNELL: Professor, quickly before you go, is it time for us to reconsider the way we write administrative law like this and consider the concept of penalty to the administrators for violating these laws?

TRIBE: It sure is. I mean, there's a lot to be rewritten once the new administration is in place. We assume the degree of honor that apparently can't be assumed, and I think we need to put in place mechanisms that are much more squarely designed to enforce the rules that we write. So far we've relied too much on the virtue of citizens, and unfortunately, not all of them are worth that trust.

O'DONNELL: Professor Laurence Tribe, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight. We always appreciate it.

TRIBE: Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

After this break, now there is a witness, an official with Georgia secretary of state's office was listening to the phone call when Lindsey Graham suggested throwing out legally cast ballots in Georgia.

That's next.


O'DONNELL: Today Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (ph) said that an audit of voting machines in Georgia found no evidence of tampering during the election.

In an interview with CBS, Secretary Raffensperger further described a call that he had with Senator Lindsay Graham of South Korea in which the Senator talked about throwing out legally cast ballots in Georgia.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, when Senator Graham called, just assumed that he was calling about the two runoff's for the so I called him back -- and then start during our discussion, he asked if ballots could be matched back to the envelope, the absentee ballots. Can you match it back to the envelope. I explained our process. After it went through two sets of signature match, at that point they were separated, but then Senator Graham implied for us to audit the envelopes and then throw out the ballots for counties with the highest of frequency error of signatures.

And then -- I tried to you know, how to explain the deaths because it's a signature match you couldn't tie this signatures back anymore, you know two of those ballots. Just like if you voted in person, my name is not my ballot. And so you can't be tied back to me that's really something that's been around for over a hundred the secret ballot.


O'DONNELL: Today a staffer for Secretary Raffensperger who said he was listening in on the call with Senator Graham, corroborated the details of the secretary's account.

Senator Graham said today that he spoke to top election officials in other states like Nevada and Arizona but Nevada's Secretary of state said she never spoke with Lindsey Graham.

And Arizona's secretary of state Katie Hobbs tweeted, "this is false. I have not spoken with Lindsey Graham."

And joining us now is Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs. Secretary Hobbs, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Lindsey Graham says he called you and had the same kind of conversation with you.

KATIE HOBBS, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: That is absolutely not true. I have not spoken with the senator.

O'DONNELL: So Lindsey Graham's not telling the truth about that. He certainly isn't telling the truth about the secretary of state of Arizona or the secretary of state of Nevada and he wants us to believe that he's telling the truth about the secretary of state of Georgia and that he did not in any way ask for throwing away ballots.

What is your assessment of this story? How would you guide us in thinking about this as we see it, as the evidence unfolds now?

HOBBS: Well, I think it's highly irregular for any elected official to insert themselves into the election process in another state. Elections are state functions. They're run by state statutes and state officials.

And so I think it's highly irregular that he is trying to insert himself in this conversation at all. and if he had actually called me, I would have said that to him.

O'DONNELL: Has a United States senator from another state ever called you about voting in Arizona and the counting of votes in Arizona?


O'DONNELL: Have any of the Arizona senators ever called you about counting of votes in Arizona?

HOBBS: I have been in communication with our state's -- one of our senators and senator-elect regarding this election, but it wasn't specific to, you know, anything about the procedures that are involved in the process.

O'DONNELL: Ok. Those would be normal discussions that you'd have. I mean, I am prepared to declare, and I defy anyone to prove this otherwise, that Lindsey Graham is the first United States senator in history to make a phone call across state lines to talk to a secretary of state about voting in that state.

And as you say, if you had received such a call, it, first of all, would have been quite shocking and pretty easy for you to dismiss.

HOBBS: Absolutely. Yes, I would have just said what is your business calling me about this? This is Arizona's election. It doesn't concern you at all.

O'DONNELL: What is your assessment of what you're hearing from Secretary Raffensperger on the way he handled this.

HOBBS: Well, look, I think he has taken a lot of heat from his own party and I respect him for standing by his process and the procedures. They're following the law, as far as I can tell, in the state of Georgia. And I have a lot of respect for the secretary for the heat that he's taken from members of his own political party.

O'DONNELL: Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs, I am sure of two things tonight. Lindsey Graham will stop lying about calling you and he will never call you. I think those two things are guaranteed.

Thank you very much, Secretary Hobbs, for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

HOBBS: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Dr. Anthony Fauci agrees with Joe Biden that the transition to the Biden/Harris administration must officially get under way in order to protect the country from COVID-19 and distribute a vaccine next year.

And the day after Senator Sherrod Brown complained about Republicans not wearing masks on the Senate floor, 87-year-old Republican Senator Chuck Grassley tests positive for COVID-19 after speaking on the senate floor yesterday.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: How do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What's the game plan? It's a huge, huge, huge undertaking. More people may die if we don't coordinate.


O'DONNELL: That was president-elect Joe Biden yesterday, and here's Dr. Anthony Fauci today.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would like to see the interaction with people who might be coming in and be doing the things that are being done now by the task force and by the people in the health system.

Obviously there's no doubt that it is better to have a smooth transition.

O'DONNELL: Today the American Hospital Association and the "The American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association released a joint letter addressed to Donald Trump saying, quote, we urge your administration to work closely with the Biden transition team to share all critical information related to COVID-19, real-time data and information needs to be shared to save countless lives.

As Republican senators continue to support Donald Trump's and Emily Murphy's illegal delay of the transition risking lives one of the Republican senators who supports the illegal delay of the transition has tested positive for COVID-19.

87-year-old Chuck Grassley of Iowa who was speaking on the senate floor yesterday, the day when Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown denounced Republican senators for not wearing masks on the Senate floor, announced today that Ms. Chuck Grassley has tested positive for COVID 19.

Senator Grassley said he is "quarantining in Washington and is quote, following CDC guidelines".

Joining our discussion now, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, inspections diseases, physician at Boston Medical. She's an MSNBC contributor.

And Doctor -- that Chuck Grassley note at the end where he says he's following guidelines? It's so tragic to think that this is what it took to get Chuck Grassley to follow CDC guidelines.

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It is Lawrence. And you know, it's the rest for the rest of it in this country. It's taken these to potentially have our governors, our leaders follow this.

Parts of our country are drowning and others are about to get submerged in this crisis. (INAUDIBLE) Reports 22 percent of our hospitals are reporting shortages of health care workers. 12 states are reporting constrained or severely constrained ICUs, and we can't even protect our vulnerable.

There's a 17 percent increase in nursing home cases over the last week, just last week alone. And that's worrisome because the winter we've been warning everybody about, we're at the start of it, and the holiday travels are going to make the cases worse which are going constrain the health care demands across the country even worse than what we've seen so far.

O'DONNELL: We've seen Dr. Anthony Fauci increasingly liberated in his public comments saying today that we need a smooth transition. He's actually worked with vice President Biden and with Ron Klain who will be the White House new chief of staff on the ebola crisis and other matters.

And so at a personal level those individuals will have an easy transition together. They know exactly what it's like to be back at the table with Dr. Fauci.

But there's so many more people involved in this who are being denied access to getting the kind of start they need. And the risk to lives seems to have absolutely no meaning to Donald Trump.

DR. BHADELIA: And, you know, from what we hear the president hasn't really attended any coronavirus meetings in months. But Lawrence, I want to drill down into the type of data that I've heard from president-elect Biden's COVID transition team ask for. It's when a new general walks into a war, it's what they want, right. It's the lay of the land.

And so what they're looking for is intricate AT tests, data on facility level, the utilization, availability of health care workers, how much PPE they have.

They want an understand, a detailed understanding of the strategy moving forward. What is Operation Warp Speed going to do to make sure that over 300 million people are successfully vaccinated.

And they want to get a sense of our arsenal. They want to know what's in the stockpile. These are all necessary pieces of information, and not getting those are absolutely hurting people in this country today because it's a continuum.

We cannot stop and have a period of luxury of time because science, the miracle of science has now gotten us two vaccines that look highly effective. It wouldn't be the final horror act of 2020 that it's the politics that keeps us from getting those vaccines to the people who need them.

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to Dr. Fauci today disagreeing with Donald Trump and agreeing with President-Elect Joe Biden that we need a national strategy.


DR. FAUCI: We need some fundamental public health measures that everyone should be adhering to, not a disjointed one state says one thing, the other state says another thing. We need to respond as a nation not in a fragmented way.


O'DONNELL: What you can see there is that on January 21st there is going to be one voice coming out of the Biden White House, and it's going to sound an awful lot like Dr. Anthony Fauci whether Dr. Fauci is speaking in that moment or Ron Klain is speaking or President Trump is speaking, there's going to be full agreement.

BHADELIA: There is. It's an agreement with every public health expert. A majority of the public health experts who are in the mainstream have said since the beginning of this crisis. It's not that, you know, different states are having to deploy very different levels of outbreaks so yes, they're having to deploy different levels restrictions. But we're not even following the same guidebook.

Once up a time, White House (INAUDIBLE) reopening guidelines. If you remember it's very detailed guidelines and since then we've seen no work on the part of the federal government to try to bring the states together into this consensus moving forward because it's going to be a bigger crisis as we move forward as I said after travel, after Thanksgiving.

O'DONNELL: Well, we will have a President Biden, a White House chief of staff Ron Klain, and a Dr. Anthony Fauci and a coronavirus task force in complete agreement on January 21st.

How we get from here to there could involve a great deal of unnecessary tragedy.

Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, thank you very much for joining us once again tonight.

DR. BHADELIA: Thank you, Lawrence.

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



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