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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, November 9, 2020

Guests: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Amy Klobuchar, Nikema Williams, Alex Wagner

Summary

Some top sources tell Axios that Trump has no plan to call for national unity, "no chance", says a person who talks often to the president. A senior Republican who talks often to Trump said the president is angry, volatile, disconsolate. Today Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris issued a special message thanks to black women voters for lifting her to where she stands today. Donald Trump was so fearful of running against Joe Biden that he got himself impeached in his criminal effort to kill a Joe Biden candidacy. And so that means that Donald Trump will enter the history books as one of only two one-term presidents who have been impeached.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali.

And I noticed something about Steve Kornacki, and that is that he has changed his neck tie. He's changed his shirt. That means the election is decided. It's all over for sure, the official --

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: That is correct.

O'DONNELL: -- change of neck tie and change of shirt has occurred. In fact, Ali, last week --

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: You and I have worked with him -- I was going to say you and I have worked with him many times. He never fails to impress.

O'DONNELL: You know, in honor of Steve, this was my little thing. I mean, I was doing it on national television but I'm sure no one noticed. I did not change my neck tie for the entire week, just to an homage to Steve Kornacki and I'm glad that video record is there.

VELSHI: It's good to see you. By the time I saw you on Saturday, it meant this thing had been called and we were ready to move on to the next stage and I look forward to spending it with you.

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: Good evening.

O'DONNELL: Well, Mark Esper was fired by Donald Trump today. He is the secretary of defense who Donald Trump fired today. We'll get House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff's reaction to that later in this hour.

And we'll ask Donald Trump's niece, Mary Trump, what else we can expect from her uncle in the 72 days that he has left as president of the United States. Mary Trump will join us later in the hour.

And so it came to pass after four long, dark, threatening, agonizingly tense years, the most corrupt tyrant in the history of the American presidency was overthrown by 75 million people, the votes of 75 million people. And the tears of election night four years ago spontaneously turned into dancing in the street, literally dancing in the street.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

O'DONNELL: If it was up to me, we would just run that for the rest of the hour.

You have to be of a certain age to have experienced this feeling before. America overthrew a corrupt president once before and drove him from office in 1974, but it was not voters who drove out Richard Nixon, it was a special prosecutor and the impeachment process and the intrepid journalism of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein at the "Washington Post" and others that exposed the corruption and mendacity of Richard Nixon who in his reelection campaign had won 49 states.

And just 18 months after being sworn in to the second term, after that 49-state victory, Richard Nixon was forced to resign the presidency or face the certainty of being convicted and removed from office in the impeachment trial in the United States. And so, at 11:35 a.m. on August 9th, 1974, President Richard Nixon tendered his written resignation to the secretary of the state. And 25 minutes later, Vice President Gerald Ford was officially sworn in as president of the United States by Chief Justice Warren Burger in the East Room of the White House.

And in his first words to the nation, Gerald Ford said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: And so, my fellow Americans, our long, national nightmare is over. And when I say that, I mean it in the spirit of Gerald Ford's statement.

Gerald Ford did not mean that all of our problems were over. President Ford knew that more Americans would be killed in Vietnam for most of the next year, President Ford knew this country still had grave problems and challenges to face, as we do today, but the long national nightmare of having a corrupt president and amoral president, a pathologically lying president who like Nixon was prepared to commit any crime to stay in office is over.

But this drama, unlike the Nixon drama, has a 72-day epilogue remaining, the time left before Donald Trump officially leaves office on January 20th, but every one of those 72 days is a day in which the majority of Americans who want Donald Trump to leave office can finally live every day and fall asleep every night with the certainty that he is leaving office and that is a new feeling in America. That is a feeling that ranges from quiet relief to dancing in the streets for a clear majority of Americans.

So far the epilogue does not include a personal appearance from Donald Trump other than long-lens shots of him on a golf course. Donald Trump is apparently locked in a stunned silence of the loser label that he himself has always wielded as the ultimate epithet. Donald Trump's silence is the Trumpian version of a concession speech.

Trump voters know it. Trump voters know if their man had any fight left in him, he would be at the microphones every day condemning the news media as the enemy of the people, and doing all of the greatest hits of his hate speeches. Instead, he is silent. He is a Donald Trump that Trump supporters have never seen before or heard before, the silent Trump, the defeated Trump.

The presidential powers we are sure to see him exercise in the remaining days are his two favorites, firing people and pardoning people. We saw him fire his second defense secretary today, a defense secretary who took office only because his first defense secretary resigned as a matter of principle in opposition to Trump policies.

Donald Trump pulled the Trumpian stunt them of in effect saying you to James Mattis, can't resign, you're fired. But, of course, James Mattis had resigned. He wasn't fired. He resigned on principle.

Donald Trump who promised his followers he would hire the very best people has fired more people than any other people in the United States because Donald Trump judged them to be the worst people. The man who promised the best people fired them because they were the worst people.

But the worst people in the administration are still there. Attorney General William Barr proved today that not only does he not want to be fired by Donald Trump, he also just might be requesting a pardon from Donald Trump for anything he has done in office as attorney general. And William Barr issued a memo to federal prosecutors today authorizing them to, quote, pursue substantial allegations of voting and voter tabulation irregularities.

Now, William Barr's memo slyly specified in a way that Donald Trump would never understand that he does not want any federal prosecutors investigating that Rudy Giuliani says. The Barr memo says: specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries and the Barr memo also says that investigations should only involve cases, quote, that if true could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual state and so the memo amounts to a trick played on Donald Trump trying to show him that William Barr is still a team player but we all know and William Barr knows that there are absolutely no possible cases that could affect the outcome in any individual state.

That Barr memo will save William Barr from getting fire and have no impact on the process of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as they transitioned to taking the reigns of government away from Donald Trump at 12:00 noon on January 20th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I've named the COVID-19 transition advisory board comprised of distinguished public health experts to help our transition team translate the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan in action, a blue print that we could put in place as soon as Kamala Harris and I are sworn to office on January 20, 2021.

And we'll seek to add other members to this board during this important -- bring additional important perspectives on public health and expertise throughout the transition. This group will advise on detailed plans built on a bedrock of science and to keep compassion, empathy and care for every American at its core, making rapid testing widely available, more widely available, much more widely available, and building a core of contact tracers who will track and curb this disease while we prioritize getting vaccines first to the most at-risk populations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: As the coronavirus continues to run rampant through the Trump White House and Trump campaign, with secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, testing positive, and Trump operative David Bossie testing positive today, in addition to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows already testing positive, the president-elect of the United States of America is trying to make all of us safer, including people who work for Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: This is a crisis who affects everyone. As I said through this campaign, I will be a president for every American. This election is over. It's time to put aside the partisanship and the rhetoric that designed to demonize one another.

It's time to end the politicization of basic, responsible public health steps like mask wearing and social distancing. We have to come together to heal the soul of this country so that we can effectively address this crisis as one country where hard working Americans have each other's backs and are united in our shared goal, defeating this virus.

As we work toward a safe and effective vaccine, we know the single most effect of thing we can do to stop the spread of COVID is wear a mask. The head of the CDC warning this fall for the foreseeable future, a mask remains the most potent weapon against the virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: One of the Trump nightmares that continues tonight is the nightmare for the 666 children. President-elect Biden has promised to set up a task force to do everything he possibly can to end the nightmare for them. NBC News is reporting tonight, lawyers working to reunite migrant families separated by the Trump administration before and during its zero tolerance policy at the border now believe that the number of separated children for whom they have not been able to find parents is 666, 129 of those children were under 5 years of age at the time of their separation.

Donald Trump wanted to continue the torture that those children and their parents are suffering every day and 75 million Americans rose up and said no.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She's a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And, Senator Klobuchar, I wanted to begin tonight with William Barr's memo, because we have some breaking news at this hour adding to that story, and that is the resignation on principle in the Justice Department of Richard Pilger, who has been in charge of election fraud investigations in the Justice Department. And he apparently is so offended by William Barr's memo as issued today that he is resigning his post.

And that is clearly a resignation of principle because what's also clear in the Barr memo is that there's absolutely no chance of a U.S. attorney anywhere finding a case that will reverse the outcome of the election in any state.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Exactly, Lawrence. And you look at how this was done for so many years. In fact, the federal prosecution of elections, if you look at this, the policy used to be that overt criminal investigative measures should not be taken, quote, until the election in question has been concluded, its results certified and all recounts and election contests concluded.

And what has happened here, if you look at, even what the secretary of state of Georgia, who is a Republican, recently said that, sure, in all elections, you find voters, problems, there's prosecutions, very, very minimal, but there's just no evidence of widespread fraud in this election, Lawrence.

And it is not surprising to me at all that a career prosecutor would step aside when the attorney general of the United States clearly once again, are we surprised, doing Donald Trump's bidding comes out when you have election officials all across the country have been commended, Democrats, Republicans, governors, secretaries of states, people just line workers counting the ballots simply doing their jobs.

Our democracy is going to triumph. And that would be my one message today, is that through the whole week that we just saw, including the dancing in the dark, which I wish you could have run the whole show instead of asking me about Attorney General Barr.

(LAUGHTER)

KLOBUCHAR: The answer here is that the process has worked, democracy has triumphed. We have not seen, due a lot of great people, including our own military and cyber security who literally protected our elections this time from major foreign interference, we had a real election and Joe Biden won.

O'DONNELL: You know, I don't mean to minimize the offensiveness of William Barr's memo. It is an outrage to people of conscience in the Justice Department.

What I do want to minimize is its effect. I think we can guarantee viewers it won't have any effect on the outcome of this election. And that's what is so poignant and so important about Richard Pilger's resignation, because since he's in charge of election fraud in the Justice Department, he believes that his reputation is now tainted by the appearance, just the appearance of impropriety that is contained in William Barr's memo and he will not stand even the appearance of that impropriety.

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly, because he is someone that has worked in the Justice Department for a number of years, by the way, made it through this administration knowing how important it is to protect our elections and finally said this is it, because these are made-up theories.

And we -- again, I want to point out Georgia and Arizona where Joe Biden is ahead, Republican governors, one as a Republican secretary of state, the other as a Democratic secretary of state, but Republican governors who are standing by their election process, including the secretary of state of Georgia, Republican, who has basically stood against two senators who have called on him to resign when all he has been doing is doing his job.

And so, what gives me hope honestly is not all this. It is Joe Biden who once again today did his job. Donald Trump firing the defense secretary, Joe Biden appointing a panel of 13 experts who believe in science from all over this nation who are going to get us through this pandemic.

And you have people that have just basically said, I am standing with truth and justice and democracy. And that's what we have to remember.

O'DONNELL: And just to help guide the audience on this, Richard Pilger joined the Justice Department under a Republican president in 1991, he's one of those career people working there who has worked under Democratic presidents, Republican presidents, this is what he could not bear.

I just want to go back to the firing of the defense secretary today by tweet, the first of who knows how many.

What else are you expecting? What else might you be fearing in the next 72 days from the president?

KLOBUCHAR: Anything is possible with this president.

And you have here a defense secretary, reports are that the president didn't think he was loyal enough to him. That the president didn't think that the defense secretary basically obeyed him when he wanted the military to get involved in squelching protests and the like, and instead of the governors at their own discretion deciding when to call in the National Guard, this was something where the president once again has fired someone who is a career person because he just felt like he was mad at him about we don't even know.

And the point of it is that we've got people, this is Veterans Week, we've got military serving overseas, people on the front line, when soldiers sign up, they don't ask who's the guy next to me or the woman next to me, is she a Republican or a Democrat? They do it for our country. And that's why this is so cynical of Donald Trump.

All that being said, I keep going back to Joe Biden's words on Saturday which, of course, was a day of celebration when he said, and looked at Donald Trump's supporters in the eye and said, I've lost elections, I know you're disappointed, but I'm going to give you a chance if you give me a chance, where he called for the end of the grim era of demonization. Let's not forget that, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us tonight, I really appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: All right. Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

And when we come back, the campaign continues in Georgia tonight. The success of the Biden presidency is at stake in two runoff elections in Georgia that will be decided on January 5th. Those are elections to the United States senate. If the Democrats win those two seats, Joe Biden's agenda will be alive and well in the United States Senate.

We'll be joined by Alex Wagner and Nikema Williams, who just won a House seat that was occupied by the honorable John Lewis. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AD ANNOUNCER: Raphael Warnock eats pizza with a fork and knife. Raphael Warnock won't step on a crack in the sidewalk. Raphael Warnock even hates puppies.

REVEREND RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Get ready, Georgia. Kelly doesn't want to talk about why she's for getting rid of health care in the middle of a pandemic so she's going to try to scare you with lies about me.

I'm Raphael Warnock and I approved this message, because I'm staying focused on what Washington can do for you.

And, by the way, I love puppies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: Joining our Georgia discussion now, Nikema Williams. She's the chair of the Democratic Party, who has just been elected to represent Georgia's 5th congressional district, the seat that was held by the late John Lewis.

And Alex Wagner is with us. She's co-host and executive producer of Showtime's "The Circus" and contributing writer for "The Atlantic", and no doubt looking for an Airbnb in Atlanta right now.

Nikema Williams, congratulations, first of all. Guide us through what we're going to be seeing in Georgia now between now on and January 5th on a couple of Senate elections that are the most important I've ever seen.

REP.-ELECT NIKEMA WILLIAMS (D-GA): Thank you for having me, Lawrence. The ad that you just saw, I was a little tickled by it. That is the icing on the cake.

I keep telling all of my friends, get ready because if you're sick of the text messages and you're sick of the phone calls and the mail, this is what you get when you're the center of the political universe, and this is exactly where we are in Georgia. We literally will control the balance of the United States Senate, and just like we delivered for Joe Biden, we have a plan in place to deliver for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

So, Georgia Democrats are ready and we have built the ground game and we're continuing to do the work that we know we need to do to get our voters out to the polls because our country is counting on us.

O'DONNELL: Alex Wagner, and so the story moves to Georgia and it's a big story. If the Democrats don't have 50 senators with Vice President Kamala Harris to break the tie in the Senate, it's hard to think of what legislation could possibly get through a Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell.

ALEX WAGNER, CO-HOST, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, SHOWTIME'S "THE CIRCUS": Yeah. And I think you're seeing that being born out by comments Mitch McConnell is making. The fact that Mitch McConnell is playing footsie with the president's conspiracy theory has anything do with Georgia. McConnell I think believes that unless the Trump base of the Republican Party is engaged and enraged, they're not going to show up to the polls on January 5th.

So, I mean, I think it's not just ads about Raphael Warnock not liking puppies, I think you're going to see an assault on the part of national Republican figures to gin up fear and loathing in and around election results in the hope that, you know, Trump's base stays fired up and goes to the polls.

I would say, Lawrence, having spent a fair amount of time in Atlanta already, I do think the Democrats have a strong hand to play here. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have been talking religiously about health care, the Supreme Court is taking up the ACA in the matter of days, and both Republican candidates on the ballot have to defend themselves against allegations of insider trading.

That is not what you call leading from the front foot. That's not really where you want to be in American politics. It's going to be an interesting race.

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to Jon Ossoff early, the other Democratic candidate, earlier tonight with Chris Hayes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON OSSOFF (D-GA), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: There is a lot of pain and a lot of suffering right now across the United States. And if the Biden administration is unable to mount an effective response to this pandemic and to invest in economic recovery because of Mitch McConnell's partisan obstructionism, more people are going to die and more people are going to lose their livelihoods. This is about human consequences of elections. The national interest and Georgia's interests are aligned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: Nikema Williams, this is again a campaign that's going to be run during a pandemic and it's a pandemic that is getting worse.

WILLIAMS: I mean, everything is on the line, Lawrence. My 5-year-old is in virtual kindergarten right now, and it didn't have to be this way. We have two U.S. senators in Georgia who looked out to line their own pockets and not look out for the people of Georgia, not look out for Americans.

This pandemic didn't have to be this bad. We have a president in place who has already set a COVID-19 task force and we need a Senate that's going to look out for all of us to make sure that we can pass an agenda to keep us safe, to get our -- get people back to work, get Georgians back to work, and get my baby back to school in person safely.

And we're going to do just it that Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. I'm excited. People are telling me that our voters are not going to turn back out. But, Lawrence, they told us that we weren't going to put Georgia blue. So, I'm ready.

O'DONNELL: We have an advanced clip of Stephen Colbert's show tonight where the hero of voter turnout in Georgia and elsewhere in the country, Stacey Abrams, appears tonight. Let's look at some of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STACEY ABRAMS, FAIR FIGHT ACTION: We had a pretty good sense because it was an amazing data team. But Lauren Groh-Wargo who has been my consigliere and my partner in this work, she and I were texting back and forth because we had the numbers that we thought were coming from the remaining counties. And it was that morning, I called her and I said this was the first time I woke up in a November without curling up into the fetal position first.

She was like, I know, I'm afraid! It feels like we're winning. I'm like I know, but don't say it out loud!

And, you know, the numbers got bigger and bigger, and we got happier and happier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: Alex Wagner, if the Democratic P[arty was giving out an MVP award to someone who was not on the ticket, it looks like Stacey Abrams gets that.

WAGNER: Absolutely, Lawrence. She has done what I think a lot of people thought was unimaginable, which is get Georgia very close to turning blue. They haven't voted for a Democratic president since 1992.

And there's also a sneaking suspicion that once you turn Georgia blue, it doesn't go back. I mean, we've been looking at sort of the seesaw of demographic change for a while and no one's known when it was going to happen but I think there was a collective assumption that once that state tips, it's not going to go back.

And a huge lever on the side of Democrats undoubtedly has been Stacey Abrams. That's true in states across the country. And I think, you know, if Georgia does go blue, you will, we talked about Texas this election cycle, I think the same inevitability is going to be true for a host of other states across this country.

And I think, you know, if Georgia does go blue, you will -- we talked about Texas this election cycle. I think the same inevitability is going to be true for a host of other states across this country.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Alex Wagner and Congresswoman-Elect Nikema Williams, thank you both for joining us tonight.

WAGNER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

And up next, what does the silence of Donald Trump mean? Donald Trump's niece, Mary Trump will take inside the mind of Donald Trump and the anguish that he is suffering tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'DONNELL: Today Axios reports -- some top sources tell Axios that Trump has no plan to call for national unity, "no chance", says a person who talks often to the president. A senior Republican who talks often to Trump said the president is angry, volatile, disconsolate.

Joining us now is Mary Trump. She is the author of "Too Much and Never Enough: how my family created the world's most dangerous man", who tonight has only 72 days of danger left that he poses to us as a country.

Mary Trump those adjectives that Axios is reporting -- disconsolate, angry -- that's what you've led us to believe is the state that he would be in tonight.

MARY TRUMP, NIECE OF DONALD TRUMP: Yes, it's perfectly understandable that he would be. He is for the first time in his life in a situation in which he's lost, he's lost decisively and there is absolutely no way to pretend that that's not the case.

Unfortunately, 72 is quite a long time to deal with somebody as unstable as he is in such a position of power. And as we've seen over the last couple of days, the Republican Party, which in my view has entirely disgraced itself, is willing to go along with his utterly false claims of the elections being illegitimate.

O'DONNELL: I want to read something that I saw over the weekend. It was a tweet by Peter Marks, who is "The Washington Post" theater critic and it takes someone with a real eye for drama and great drama to put it this way. He summarizes what he sees as the rest of your uncle's life in one tweet with this simple and haunting line in the middle of this in which he says, "He will never have another good day."

And I find that really convincing, that there is no way living with that label "loser" for the rest of his life that he will never have another good day.

M. TRUMP: That's absolutely right, he won't. Because either he concedes, which I think is impossible or close to impossible for him to do. But if he did, then he would automatically become irrelevant, which is A fate worse than death for him.

On the other hand, if he doesn't concede, every day he drags this out is a day he embarrasses and humiliates himself. So he's going to lose relevance either way. And in the meantime, he is only prolonging his own agony.

O'DONNELL: And on January 20th when he officially leaves office, he will have a pardon. He will have pardoned himself or he would have stepped down for, you know, minutes before noontime so that Mike Pence could have an hour in which pardon him if he just wants to solidify it as a pardon coming from someone else.

But he's not going to leave the building without a pardon. And the pardon brings its own disgrace going into the next year where it would save him from being a federal criminal defendant, but he already seems well on his way in the criminal investigations that are going on in New York City to a high likelihood of being a possible criminal defendant next year in New York.

M. TRUMP: Yes. Well, disgraces abound, don't they? You know, we're in a situation now where whether it ends up badly or not, you know, let's face it, Joe Biden is our next president, Kamala Harris is our next vice president. There are no two ways about it no matter how they try to undermine the results of this totally legitimate election.

But by firing people, by continuing these frivolous lawsuits, by doing his best to undermine the legitimacy of a Biden/Harris administration, Donald and his Republican enablers are undermining American democracy. They're calling into question the one thing that we have always held sacrosanct which is our elections.

So pardoning himself or having Pence pardon him would be, you know, the last in a very long line of crimes against the United States.

O'DONNELL: And Mary, what do you have expect of him emotionally? What do you make of the utter silence, the just won't even go to a microphone now?

M. TRUMP: He does not know what to do. As I said, he is in an entirely new place. It's unfamiliar to him in terms of the experience of it, but what is very familiar to him is the terror of being labeled a loser, which was instilled in him from a very young age by my grandfather.

Also, as you pointed out, he's looking at very serious criminal charges at the state level from which nobody can pardon him, and I'm fairly certain that Cy Vance and especially Letitia James are going to do their jobs and make sure that Donald is held accountable.

I also hope that President Biden creates a crimes commission because America has a long, sordid history of not holding its corrupt leaders accountable. That has to stop or we will never get out of this mess.

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

M. TRUMP: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Today Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris issued a special message thanks to black women voters for lifting her to where she stands today.

Caroline Randall Williams joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.

Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: Today Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris tweeted "I want to speak directly to the black women in our country. Thank you. You are too often overlooked and yet are asked time and again to step up and be the back bone of our democracy. We could not have done this without you."

Joining our discussion now, Caroline William Randall, writer in residence in Vanderbilt University. She wrote a highly acclaimed opinion piece in "The New York Times" entitled "You want a confederate monument, my body is a confederate monument".

Caroline, thank you very much for joining us tonight and I hope you've been able to catch your breath enough to give us your reflections on the moment that we all get to say of Vice President-Elect of the United States Kamala Harris. I'm still not getting used to being able to have a woman's name follow that title and we have been waiting a very long time for this.

CAROLINE RANDALL WILLIAMS, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: I just -- I think that the way that she waded into that speech just really speaks to her generosity of spirit, to sort of the magnitude that she seems to contain in every direction.

You know, she is -- she embodies so many forms of representation. She's 100 percent all of the things she says she is. She's a woman, she's fully a black woman. She's fully her mother's daughter. She's fully the daughter of immigrants. She's fully a half of -- she's a partner, she's one-half of an interracial marriage.

She represents all of the possibilities of America and she does it in this woman's body. She carries so much and I think she carries it so gracefully.

And I'm so -- I'm so grateful to her for being true to all of the things that she comes from in addition to all of the things that she's becoming, you know, especially as it pertains to that tweet about black women.

Because you know, black women will always show up. We'll always do what we're supposed to do and not just because we have some unusual fortitude that makes us able to drag America into the light.

We're not just doing it for the white Democrats. We're doing it for ourselves. We're doing it for the hope of what we want this country to be. And she's going to be able to model that from the top.

And I think that that's going to be really incredible in terms of reframing the world's capacity to see us differently.

O'DONNELL: The breakthrough for Kamala Harris as vice president comes after the breakthrough by Barack Obama, for president. And I remember somewhere maybe at the end of the first year or so of the Obama presidency, someone in California whose opinion I respect a lot said you should really go see Kamala Harris. I didn't know the name. I didn't who he was talking about.

He said, you know, she's the district attorney of San Francisco, you can see her speak tomorrow and here's where you can do it.

I went to this very small event with no other national news media people there at all. I'm not sure there were any news media people. But what I was being told was before I went there was she could be president. I've never heard anybody say to me a district attorney could be president.

And I listened to that and I came away thinking what everybody else I think came away thinking from there which was is she could be president. This is one of those people where you could see it, you could see the possibility.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I'm so envious of you for getting to be in that space and see her that way. And you know, I think that part of it is that she's just so obviously fit. She's got so much integrity, such obvious competence, such a legitimate track record in her career path.

And so the only thing that would make her unpresidential would be the things that just absolutely can't and shouldn't in this moment in America.

The only thing that you could look at her and say well, she's not presidential is because she's a woman or because she's a person of color. And I think once you acknowledge that and then you decide, no, I'm not going to accept those parameters, then you look at her and you say of course, she's presidential.

And I think that that's such an exciting, again, an exciting reframing of how we look at what we need from our politics and from our politicians right now.

O'DONNELL: Caroline Randall Williams, thank you very much for joining us on this important night. Really appreciate it.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for having me.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

And when we come back, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff will join us. We'll get his reaction to Donald Trump firing the secretary of defense today. And what else we can expect from Donald Trump and possibly William Barr in the remaining 72 days of the Trump presidency.

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O'DONNELL: Donald Trump was so fearful of running against Joe Biden that he got himself impeached in his criminal effort to kill a Joe Biden candidacy. And so that means that Donald Trump will enter the history books as one of only two one-term presidents who have been impeached.

Joining us now the lead prosecutor in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

And Chairman Schiff, it seems tonight that historians now have the proof that Donald Trump committed those high crimes because he knew that he could not beat Joe Biden in a fair election.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Lawrence, I think you're right.

The president has been vindicated and (INAUDIBLE) was the realization early on that Joe Biden could beat him. That Joe Biden was a threat to his reelection and indeed Joe Biden proved that he could beat Donald Trump.

And you know, I think the president has shown also in how he's handling this transition, something that's been abundantly clear now for years, and that is he will never act in the nation's interest if it conflicts with his own personal interest.

And right now here's nothing about nothing in terms of what's good for the country. It's only about, you know, saving what's left of his pride and his ego and lashing out to the very end.

O'DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to the way the president fired the Defense Secretary today, Secretary Esper, fired him via tweet and how many more of those do we expect in the 72 days?

SCHIFF: You know, I have to think that we could see a lot of blood letting in the next couple months. Either the Defense Secretary is gone, maybe less could see that coming. Tonight we just got word the top climate scientist has been removed from his post. You have a resignation -- a high profile resignation at the Justice Department of someone who refuse to do Bill Barr's new bidding.

You have new lawyer, a general counsel at the National Security Agency, the NSA who's really not just unqualified for the job but antithetical to the requirements of the general counsel of that intelligence agency that they be utterly apolitical. This is someone who was a former Nunes staffer and engaged in -- had a role in the midnight run episode.

So we're going to see a lot this. Out with anyone the president doesn't like for one reason or other, rewarding some political cronies in these last hours and days.

O'DONNELL: We have the memo that Richard Pilger (ph) filed tonight with his resignation. He's the director of the election crimes branch, public integrity section of the Justice Department. And he's also the winner of an integrity award int eh Justice Department.

He cites that in saying why he's resigning. He said "Having familiarized myself with new policy and its ramifications and in accord with the best tradition of the John C. Kinney award for exception integrity and professionalism, my most cherished departmental recognition, I must regretfully resign from my role as director of the Election Crimes Branch.

And this is simply after William Barr issued a memo to federal prosecutors saying you can investigate possible election crimes here. But he also included other limitations like it has to be a case that will change the outcome in a state which we know is not out there. That case isn't going to be found.

And so this is the classic resignation on principle by someone who didn't want his integrity compromised by that Barr memo.

SCHIFF: You know, Lawrence, I can only think how history might have been different if there were more people like Mr. Pilger who recognized that their greater good would come in resigning their position rather than carrying out things that were unamicable to the national interests. So, you know, hats off to this person of integrity.

Bill Barr has decided that from his first stay in the Attorney General's office to his last he will be Donald Trump's personal lawyer. He will do what Donald Trump wants him to do. He will not be the Attorney General of the United States. He will not do what's in the best interest of the people of the United States.

He will do what he believes he can get away with that's in the president's personal interest. And right now though there's no evidence of systemic fraud in the election, he is authorizing prosecutors to ignore previous Justice Department policy and engage in investigations that will only seek to undermine the credibility of the election, only seek to undermine the election of Joe Biden without changing the result but nonetheless doing this last bit of personal dirty work for the president.

O'DONNELL: And possibly leaving you and the House of Representatives with your committees with some serious investigative issues as to what's been happening in these final days of this administration.

Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff gets tonight's last word.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again.

Day 1,390 of the Trump administration, 72 days until inauguration day.

END

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