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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, September 24, 2020

Guests: Stuart Stevens, Renee Graham, Benjamin Crump, Mazie Hirono, Jon Ossoff


According to the latest polls, Donald Trump will have to get rid of millions upon millions of ballots because Donald Trump is losing, and he is running ten points behind Joe Biden in the latest national poll. Today, demands are growing for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to release the grand jury transcript including demands from Breonna Taylor's family. A new CNN poll finds that 59 percent of Americans say that the winner of the presidential election in November should nominate the next Supreme Court justice. Georgia's Republican Senator David Perdue says he's ready to vote on Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court as soon as possible.



And now that people are paying attention to the United States Senate and its role in the confirmation process, it is a pretty good time I think to remind voters they have a chance to change what the Senate looks like. Jon Ossoff is going to join us tonight at the end of the hour, running for Senate in Georgia, where they have not elected a Democrat for the Senate since I think 1996. We have time to check that before he gets here.

And he's running basically in a tie right now in Georgia. So, Georgia is possible for the Democrats with the Senate race.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I'll tell you, Lawrence, since the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the conversations about politics that I had and about public service that I had were all the first ones were all about Justice Ginsburg. And the second round of conversations that I had sparked by that were all about people that I know trying to find ways to contribute to Senate races around the country, trying to figure out ways to phone bank and make donations and to otherwise meaningfully effect the Senate.

It was like step one, step two. My anecdotal experience of how people reacted to that, I think the Ginsburg situation has changed all of that.

O'DONNELL: Rachel, as you have been speaking, I have been glancing down at my script here because I just got the word the teleprompter is not working tonight so you might want to stay around and watch how this hour goes without teleprompters.

MADDOW: I will be right here if you need me. I don't have teleprompter for your hour either.

O'DONNELL: Yeah, there you go.

MADDOW: So if you want to just make it up --

O'DONNELL: It can be done. Yeah, we'll do it the old-fashioned way.

Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: I'll be right here. I'm not going anywhere.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Luckily, I wrote this stuff. So I remember most of it. Get rid of the ballots. "Lock her up" is now morphed into "get rid of the ballots".

That's become in effect the Trump campaign slogan and the Trump campaign tragedy. It became the strategy yesterday when Donald Trump said that. And get rid of the ballots are the first words of a "New York Daily News" op-ed piece today with the headline the president is a psycho path. "The New York Daily News" is 101 years old, which makes it New York City's youngest circulating daily newspaper. And it carries a headline in 2020 that was unthinking when "The Daily News" was founded in 1919. The president is a psychopath.

The article is written by two psychologists and it says, get rid of the ballots and there won't be a transfer said Donald Trump on Wednesday. This comment is a direct and dangerous expression of his anti-democratic intention. If unstopped, Trump may well destroy our 244-year-old democracy. It is time to stop pulling punches. It is time to stop relying on political pundits to weigh in on Trump's behavior, which they often soften and even normalize.

We are psychologist and we are convinced that Donald Trump is a psychopath. His malignant behavior over the past four years is growing and escalating right before our eyes. Trump's psychopathy will change us forever if he is not stopped.

And today, "The New York Times" published an op-ed piece by the newspaper's distinguished columnist Michelle Goldberg which says the president, quote, daily defiles his office with corruption, disloyalty and sadism. The president of the United States is an aspiring fascist who would burn democracy to the ground to solve his diseased ego.

Michelle Goldberg in "New York Times" print refers to the rotten and squalid party that is enabling him. These are all words that could not and did not appear in "The New York Times" about American presidents and now fit well within the bounds of the contours of mainstream comment about this president.

"The New York Times" is 169 years old. And it's had to find new language to deal with Donald Trump because Donald Trump has brought new language to the presidency, like get rid of the ballots.

"The New York Post" is 219 years old. It is the oldest New York City newspaper. It was founded by Alexander Hamilton. But it is now owned and operated by an Australian born billionaire who like Donald Trump got his start in life by his rich father.

And history will show Rupert Murdoch's most significant contribution to his adopted country has been the perversion of television into a presidential propaganda channel named after the animal in the forest that legend has it is most cunning and to put it mildly untrustworthy, Fox.

And so, Rupert Murdoch's "New York Post" and Rupert Murdoch's propaganda television will do everything he can to support Donald Trump and Republicans might do to get rid of the ballots.

Barton Gellman has delivered reporting that is the stuff of nightmares, specifying how Donald Trump and an army of lawyers hope to get rid of the ballots, specifically in Pennsylvania where the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party confirmed to Barton Gellman that strategizing is already underway for Republicans to block the counting of mail-in ballots after election day and then Pennsylvania's Republican legislature would intervene and award Pennsylvania's electoral votes to Donald Trump.

But don't worry. Don't worry about that particular scenario because that will never happen in Pennsylvania, and here's why. Although the United States Constitution granted the power to choose electors to state legislatures, all state legislatures have passed laws signed by their governors that give the voters in their states the choice of electors and they exercise that choice when they cast their vote for president.

And the only way for that to change is for the Republican legislature in Pennsylvania to pass legislation that repeals current Pennsylvania law and grants to the legislature alone the power to choose electors no matter where you put the chances of Pennsylvania Republicans in the legislature actually trying to do that, no matter whether you think there is a 1 percent chance or a 99 percent chance. If they did that, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, would veto it end of story. So that particular nightmare scenario is never going to happen because there is a Democratic governor in Pennsylvania.

But Barton Gellman's reporting on other angles the Trump lawyers want to play in November is a very helpful wakeup call to what should be an army of Democratic lawyers ready to go battle with the Trump lawyers. But if such an army of Democratic lawyers exists, they have not publicly reported for duty, and they certainly don't have a spokesperson like the Republican lawyers do. The president of the United States saying, get rid of the ballots.

According to the latest polls, Donald Trump will have to get rid of millions upon millions of ballots because Donald Trump is losing and he is losing big in the latest polls. Donald Trump is running ten points behind Joe Biden in the latest national poll. But more importantly, Donald Trump is running behind Donald Trump in just about every state poll you can find.

Donald Trump is polling behind where Donald Trump finished four years ago in most states. Donald Trump cannot afford to lose a single voter who helped him squeak out an Electoral College victory four years ago and according to the polls he has already lost millions of those voters.

Tonight, a Fox poll shows behind where he finished in each state they polled four years ago. Donald Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 1 percent four years ago. 44,000 votes out of 6.1 million votes cast and tonight Donald Trump is running behind Joe Biden by seven points, which is at least 400,000 votes, possibly more than that because the voter turn-out will be bigger.

Donald Trump won Ohio by four points and tonight Donald Trump is running four points behind Joe Biden in Ohio.

Donald Trump knows he is losing voters in every state and he knows he is going to lose the vote by several million votes.

And so, for Donald Trump, it all comes down to get rid of the ballots. There is really no other choice for him. But it does present Republicans with a choice. What do we do about a presidential candidate whose only hope and only strategy is to cheat?

Olivia Troye is a lifelong Republican from Texas who recently made her own personal choice about what to do. She was Vice President Mike Pence's staff person in the coronavirus task force. And after leaving that job, she has joined Republican Voters against Trump, and she delivers this warning about the president who wants to get rid of the ballots.


OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER PENCE AIDE: I really had to sit down and dig deep and say, no matter how hard I work, it doesn't matter because the president is so disconnected from the reality of the problems across our country. It will no longer be America after four more years of Trump.

He wants people out on the streets. The president claims to be pro-law enforcement. He is putting our law enforcement in harm's way purposely because he thinks it serves as an agenda.

I would say to my colleagues, if you're going to speak out, right now is when it matters most. We all lived it, we know that President Trump cares only about himself.

Given where we are as a country, now is the time to tell the truth.


O'DONNELL: After two days of repeated public statements of how he wants to corrupt the Supreme Court by appointing a woman to the Supreme Court who will rule in his favor in cases brought by Republican lawyers to get rid of the ballots, Donald Trump got precisely what he deserved today when he stood at the entrance of the Supreme Court at Ruth Bader Ginsburg's flag draped casket.


O'DONNELL: Vote him out, a little different than what he's used to with those rally audiences.

Leading off our discussion tonight are John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He's executive editor of "The Recount" and co-host of Showtime's "The Circus."

Stuart Stevens is with us. He's a former chief strategist for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign. He is now the author of "It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump".

And Renee Graham is with us. She's an opinion columnist and associate editor of "The Boston Globe".

Renee, let me start with you and what you are hearing when you hear a president say, get rid of the ballots.

RENEE GRAHAM, COLUMNIST & ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE BOSTON GLOBE: What he's essentially saying is, I'm going to cheat. What he's saying is, I don't think I could win any other way, so I am going to sabotage the election. And if it means that I have to get rid of the ballots to do that, I'm going to do it.

You know, Donald Trump isn't mincing words. At this point, he's literally done everything but belt out and I'm telling you I'm not going. No matter how much the White House or Republicans try to walk back his comments, there is no reason to believe that he will commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

O'DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, give us a professional's reading of these polls tonight.

STUART STEVENS, ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT 2012 FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST: Trump should lose. It's pretty straightforward. You know, people forget that Trump really won for one simple reason. He ran in a year that a Republican could win with 46.1 percent. Romney lost with 47.2 percent.

So even if every voter that showed up for Trump last time showed up again, it wouldn't be enough in all likelihood. Why was he able to win 46.1, because third party doubled. The non-white vote declined for the first time in 20 years.

Now, you look around the country at the protests, and there is protests and there is several unrest and there are cries for justice, but there are also get out the vote rallies. I think if you have an election Tuesday, you have record nonwhite vote across the country, and that's a disaster for Trump and he knows it. So he's on track to lose. It's really not complicated.

O'DONNELL: John Heilemann, I think we're facing some journalistic challenges in discussing the president's new slogan, get rid of the ballots, because there is that problem of as we talk about it, we are making it sound possible to Trump supporters who might not have considered it before. We're helping in some ways to deliver that message to Trump supporters even as we try to dismantle what the president is saying he can do and show where the strengths are in the actual governing resistance against this possibility.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah, Lawrence. I mean, I hear that kind of thing all the time. People say, well, don't give him any ideas.

Trust me. You can't get how to lower opinion of Donald Trump's intellect and creativity than my opinion of it. But I do know that the one thing is as dumb as he is and uncreative as he is, he's very, very interested in keeping all the power. He's been sending the message long enough that he plans to try to steal this election and he's staying it very directly.

He's telling us how he plans to do it, that we should all assume that given the enablers that he has surrounded himself with, some of those people are very smart and they're very creative and they're very ruthless. People like Bill Barr and others that work on his campaign, they are thinking about every angle. There is nothing we could say on television that has not occurred to Donald Trump and the hacks around him who are trying to figure out all the ways, all the nefarious ways they could go about stealing this election.

I just think that if you're going to -- if this is going to be a battle in the post-election period, a legal battle, a political battle, a battle of public opinion, a battle of potentially what will involve people protesting in the streets, I think it is better for people who care about free and fair elections to have as clear a vision about what might happen in all of its ugliness so that they go into this battle for the principal of free and fair elections. They go in arms, intellectually armed, I mean -- armed with awareness of how far this president will go.

There is a better chance of us in the end having a free, fair and accurate outcome of the election if the people who are fighting against it know what they're up against.

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to what Nancy Pelosi said about this today.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Now, we do know who he admires. He admires Putin. He admires Kim Jong-un. He admires Erdogan in Turkey. He admires people who are perpetuating their role in government.

But I remind him, you are not in North Korea. You are not in Turkey. You are not in Russia, Mr. President. And, by the way, you are not in Saudi Arabia.

You are in the United States of America. It is a democracy.


O'DONNELL: Renee Graham, now we see where that add admiration for dictators has taken him.

GRAHAM: We always knew it was coming to this. You know, this isn't a surprise.

You know, Donald Trump may not know what foreshadowing is, but he is an ardent student of it. He is always talking about these things. Because he has no sense of humor, he's never joking.

So when he was admiring Kim Jong-un or when he let Erdogan from Turkey have his body guards assault American protesters on American soil and said nothing about it, we already understood what Donald Trump wanted to be. Those are the men Donald Trump aspires to and those men hold power with an iron fist and that's exactly what he's trying to do.

The thing that's unnerving is if you think about Lyndon Johnson on Air Force One in 1963 when he was sworn in as the 36th president, this wasn't just procedure, it was to let the American people know and for the world to see the constitutional continuity, to show that an assassination will not send the nation spiraling into political chaos.

And Trump is promising chaos in November. And to believe otherwise is a fool's bet.

O'DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, in the first lawyer battle over the presidency, the Republicans won in 2000, where are the Democratic -- the Democratic army of lawyers? Are they -- are they going to be outflanked by this Republican army of lawyers?

STEVENS: Well, I hope not. I'm working with the Lincoln Project, and we're working on that front.

Look, I think that what Trump does is test people, and he's tested Bill Barr and Bill Barr will do anything he wants. He's testing Republicans. And I thought for the most part the response of Republicans to what he said yesterday was very weak.

I mean, if you look at Mitch McConnell's statement it was we will have a transfer of power to the person who wins. Trump isn't planning on saying put me in power because I've lost. He's planning on how he's going to win.

Listen, you know, when you work in politics, you know it's pretty boring. It's blocking and tackling. But I really the new days from now and the election is dangerous as since before the civil war.

O'DONNELL: John Heilemann, the notion that the Democrats are ready to fight this, I don't think has been made clear. Do they need to make a public presentation of what their strategy is, what the -- who is the legal team for the Pennsylvania case, who is the legal team for the Florida case, who is the legal team for Michigan?

HEILEMANN: Look, Lawrence, I sat with Jen O'Malley Dillon, the manager of Joe Biden's campaign for "The Circus" a couple weeks ago, and I had directly this conversation with her where I said a day did not go by when I did not meet up with an anxious Democrat who wanted to have some reassurance, wanted to know that the Biden campaign and the totality of the Democratic Party was prepared, fully prepared for what might unfold, all the various eventualities that might unfold on the legal front.

She was quite -- she was quite emphatic that they were. She was rhetorically strong on the matter. They are -- they are walking a delicate line, I think.

They want people to believe that their votes will count. They are worried, I think, that if enough people think that their votes might be subverted that they might be decided to stay home. So they want to instill confidence that all the well, while at the same time meeting this nervousness that we are talking about here.

I do think you are right. It is going to quickly evolve into a place where a greater degree of detail and a greater degree -- a greater assertive showing on that front is going to be necessary if Democrats, if that campaign and others in the party want to have the full confidence of the voters that they need to win in November and beyond, later than November.

O'DONNELL: Yeah. If I'm a Pennsylvania voter, maybe my confidence is helped by showing me the legal team who is going to be fighting to make sure my vote is counted.

John Heilemann --


O'DONNELL: -- Stuart Stevens, Renee Graham, thank you all for starting us off tonight.

STEVENS: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

A quick programming note about Monday's show. Monday night, to my shock and surprise, will actually be the tenth anniversary of the launch of this show ten years ago and our very first guest was the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden. There is two younger looking guys there.

We would love to have Joe Biden return for our tenth anniversary Monday night, but he will be in debate prep for the presidential debate the next night. And so, we are going to make LAST WORD history another way.

For the first time, we will be joined by a candidate for vice president of the United States. Vice presidential candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, will join us Monday night at 10:00 p.m. Senator Harris has been a guest on this program many times in the last ten years, beginning when she was the district attorney of San Francisco and then when she was California's attorney general, and then in her role as a United States senator.

And Monday night will be Kamala Harris' first interview on this program as a candidate for vice president of the United States. That's Monday night 10:00 p.m. Kamala Harris right here.

Up next, what was the evidence that was actually presented to the grand jury in Louisville? That's what the lawyer for Breonna Taylor wants to know.

Benjamin Crump joins us next.


O'DONNELL: A curfew is in effect again tonight in Louisville, Kentucky. That curfew has now been extended through the weekend. Last night, police arrested 127 people during protests in Louisville.

Police have also identified and arrested a suspect in the shooting of two police officers last night. Both officers are recovering and in stable condition.

Today, demands are growing for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to release the grand jury transcript including demands from Breonna Taylor's family.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Kentucky Senate candidate Amy McGrath who tweeted: We shouldn't have to take his word for it.

Joining us now live from Louisville is NBC News correspondent, Shaquille Brewster.

Shaquille, what is the situation there at this hour?

SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, the clear message from law enforcement here in Louisville is that they are enforcing that curfew we know has been extended through the weekend. You see the law enforcement presence behind me. I can tell you 15 minutes before curfew started, that's when you saw hundreds of officers come out in force when they have been avoiding some of the areas through the day. Protesters still marched through the streets in the name of Breonna Taylor.

What we're seeing now is many of those protesters have gone behind this church you are seeing there. There is about 100 to 200 unfold there. The church opened up its doors. They allowed there is some food there. There is waters for protesters and they're seeking refuge there.

Despite this, we have been seeing law enforcement still doing those arrests. You mentioned the number of arrests that we saw last night. Well, tonight on their livestream, we saw at least a few dozen arrests happening.

Law enforcement making clear that they are here and they're taking their curfew seriously.

I actually talked to protesters, though. I actually talked to the people who continue to march, the people who continue to cry out the name of Breonna Taylor. The message that you hear is not only outrage, is not only anger but it's deep pain. There's still a lot of hurt in the community.

I spoke to a dad who brought his two kids down to the park where it has become a memorial for Breonna Taylor. He says it is the first time he has engaged in a protest in, since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed back in March.

He said the reason why he brought his kids down there is because he wanted to show solidarity with this movement and outrage and pain he felt after that grand jury decision.

But right now, things are peaceful, but you see that strong police presence on the streets of Louisville -- Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Shaquille Brewster, thank you very much for joining us with that report. Really appreciate it.

And joining us now is Benjamin Crump. He's the attorney for Breonna Taylor's family.

Attorney Crump, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I want to, first of all, note that you achieved a very substantial significant and legally important settlement for Breonna Taylor's family of $12 million from the city of Louisville just last week for the wrongful death which they admitted to in this case, and that is being kind of left out of the picture for I think most people looking at this when they're trying to figure out what happened in that grand jury.

How are those two cases -- how is the civil case relevant to the grand jury, and what are you hoping to find out about the grand jury proceedings?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, BREONNA TAYLOR'S FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: Well, Lawrence, I think that the civil case is totally separate from the criminal proceeding. Mayor Fischer and the city leadership entered into this landmark pretrial settlement with Breonna Taylor's family not just for the $12 million that was to compensate her family for the wrongful death, which was significant for a black woman, one of the largest in the history of the United States of America in a police shooting of a black woman, but equally significant for the systemic reform.

But that had nothing to do with Daniel Cameron and this grand jury proceeding because we are all bewildered, Larry. We are still trying to figure out what did Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron present to that grand jury? Did he present any evidence, Larry, on behalf of Breonna Taylor?

And if he didn't then what he essentially did was made a unilateral decision to exonerate these police officers for killing Breonna Taylor and to ensure that Breonna would never get justice.

And that's why we are demanding, Lawrence O'Donnell, the release of the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings so we can see if Breonna Taylor had any voice in that grand jury room.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The other significance of the civil case is that the lawyers for the city of Louisville firmly believed in order to reach that settlement with you that if they went to trial on the civil case, testimony would be introduced that a jury would return a minimum of $12 million.

They had to believe that the evidence that you would have presented in a civil case would have been overwhelming. And so we wonder tonight what kind of evidence was or was not presented in that grand jury.

CRUMP: You know -- and my co-counsels attorney Lonita Baker, Sam Aguilar (ph) and I have discussed many times, Mr. O'Donnell, is the fact that the whole basis of why the Louisville Metropolitan Police were at Breonna Taylor's house and used a battering ram to bust open the front door was a probably cause affidavit that was a lie.

The United States Postal Service said that they did not report that Breonna Taylor was receiving packages at her apartment as they put on that probable cause affidavit, which was used as a basis for the judge to sign this no-knock warrant.

And so did Daniel Cameron present that? And if not, then why? Did Daniel Cameron present the fact that there were 12 neighbors who reported and we have on recordings that said they did not hear the police knock and announce their presence.

There is only one neighbor who said that and you see Daniel Cameron keep parading and proclaiming but they don't tell you that that neighbor had on two previous occasions said that he didn't hear the police knock and announce themselves.

Did Daniel Cameron present that to the grand jury? Did he present those 12 neighbors to the grand jury? We want to know. And obviously this whole self-defense notion that the police were justified in killing a third party innocent person because another person they allege had threatened them, well that is not the law in Kentucky on self-defense.

And why doesn't Kenny Walker, her boyfriend, who is a law-abiding citizen, never been arrested, is a registered gun owner have a right to the Second Amendment to protect Breonna and himself on what he thinks is intruders based on an unconstitutional, no an illegal no-knock warrant?

So Daniel Cameron, we have a right to know since you talked about transparency. What did you present to this grand jury to get this bogus return talking about wanton endangerment?

O'DONNELL: Attorney Benjamin Crump who has become America's lead lawyer in representing the victims of police use of deadly force. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We always appreciate it.

CRUMP: Thank you so much, Mr. O'Donnell.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

And when we come back, the fight to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We will discuss the stakes to Americans especially involving health care and what Donald Trump hopes will be the Supreme Court awarding him the presidency.

Senator Mazie Hirono joins us next.


O'DONNELL: A new CNN poll finds that 59 percent of Americans say that the winner of the presidential election in November should nominate the next Supreme Court justice. Yesterday Donald Trump said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's better if you go before the election because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling -- it is a scam -- this scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think it's very important that we have nine justices.


O'DONNELL: So that's the president saying he expects the justice he nominates to rule for him in election cases in the Supreme Court.

Today the Senate passed a resolution by unanimous consent introduced by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin in which the Senate, quote, "reaffirms its commitment to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution of the United States and intends that there should be in disruptions by the president or any person in power to overturn the will of the people of the United States."

Senator Mazie Hirono, who will be questioning the next Supreme Court nominee in the Judiciary Committee voted against all of the judges on Donald Trump's short list for the nomination.

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. She's a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight.


O'DONNELL: Senator, I have to ask you, when you see Donald Trump now publicly a couple days in a row saying he expects the ninth justice, the woman who he intends to nominate, he expects that justice to rule for him in cases that he will bring to the Supreme Court involving this election. Isn't a mandatory question and demand to this nominee that she recuse herself from any such case in the Supreme Court?

SENATOR HIRONO: Well, of course, she will deny that she's had any such understanding of conversations with the president. But we know that the president is going to select someone who will not only side with him if he should bring a court challenge to the election results but who will also vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act and pushing millions and millions of people off of health care. So the American people need to know that what's at stake is their very health care because you know, Lawrence, that the Supreme Court is going to hear the Affordable Care case November 10th. They want somebody in that Supreme Court seat to hear that case so that that person, he or she -- Republicans don't care whether it is a he or she -- they expect the Supreme Court justice that they push through to vote down the Affordable Care Act.

O'DONNELL: I want to listen to something that the FBI director said today about election fraud.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We have not seen historically any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise.


O'DONNELL: So that's the FBI director, direct contradiction to what his boss, the president of the United States, says every day.

SENATOR HIRONO: Thankfully we have an FBI director in Chris Wray who tells us the truth, which is very unique among the president's inner circle of people, his various directors, et cetera. Most of them are too busy being sycophants to this president.

So, yes, there has been no election fraud (INAUDIBLE) or otherwise shown but the president keeps talking about it because he's the one who 's trying to set the stage for a rigged election. And in fact, the Republican Party is doing everything they can, spending some $20 million, plus another $100 million that they have in undisclosed money to try to keep as many people from voting as possible.

So he's trying to rig the election. He is the one who is trying to rig the election.

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to what Nancy --

SENATOR HIRONO: Not to mention getting support from Russia to do that.

O'DONNELL: Well, let's listen to what Nancy Pelosi said about that point.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): You are not in Russia, Mr. President. And by the way, you are not in Saudi Arabia. You are in the United States of America. It is a democracy.

He's trying to have the constitution of the United States swallow Clorox.


O'DONNELL: Senator, the president apparently is going to keep saying these things. And whether -- I can't believe that he is more careful when he's in private conversations with his potential Supreme Court nominee, but even if he didn't mention it in private, he is in effect speaking to the nominee through -- publicly when he makes those statements about he expects the ninth justice to rule for him.

SENATOR HIRONO: Of course. The president makes his position really clear. And so all of the things that he plans on doing that will obstruct justice, he already thinks that the law doesn't apply to him. He just puts it right out there.

And so he doesn't even have to have these kinds of conversations with his nominees. It's very clear. And so first on his hit list is the Affordable Care Act. 100 million people in our country have pre-existing conditions, including probably the six million who have been testing positive -- who have tested positive for COVID. They will probably be deemed to have pre-existing conditions.

So the Supreme Court nominee that he selects and pushes down our throats, thereby stealing two Supreme Court seats will have an immediate impact on everybody sitting around that kitchen table. Imagine if you don't have health care. You have a preexisting condition, you're going to be sitting around trying to figure out how to pay your bill. That's just hit number one.

Hit number two will be reproductive rights. And I use the term rights because there will be other rights that will be in jeopardy. We have voting rights, (INAUDIBLE) rights, LGBTQA.

The next Supreme Court justice will be expected to not expand any of those rights, not to protect any of those rights. That is what is at stake in this election.

O'DONNELL: Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We always appreciate it.


O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, it's all about the United States Senate. This confirmation of the next Supreme Court justice is happening and it's happening at Mitch McConnell speed because the Democrats do not control the Senate.

Can they flip that control in this election? Is this Senate confirmation process going to help Democratic candidates take back the Senate? We will be joined by Jon Ossoff, Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia who has a very solid shot to win there.


O'DONNELL: And here's what Lindsey Graham sounds like when he is in full panic mode.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): My opponent will raise almost $100 million, honestly, in the state of South Carolina. He raised $6 million from the time Justice Ginsburg passed away within 72 hours. And God bless Justice Ginsburg, we're celebrating her life, I appreciate waiting this Saturday to announce the replacement. But I am being killed financially. This money is because they hate my guts.


O'DONNELL: Quinnipiac poll shows Jaime Harrison tied with Lindsey Graham, who won his last reelection by 16 points. Jamie Harrison joined us on this program Monday night because control of the United States Senate is so important in this election.

We're going to continue our ongoing discussions with senate candidates around the country. Tonight we will be joined by John Ossoff, who is running against Republican Senator David Perdue in Georgia.


STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT: John Ossoff is putting in the work. And we see David Perdue sweating. David Perdue cannot account for his behavior over the last six years and he cannot show his work.

Jon Ossoff has put a lot of pressure on David Perdue and we are seeing the results in poll after poll showing that Jon Ossoff is not only tied neck and neck but in some polls is ahead.


O'DONNELL: Jon Ossoff joins us next.


O'DONNELL: Georgia's Republican Senator David Perdue says he's ready to vote on Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court as soon as possible. That was not what Senator Perdue said in 2016 after Justice Antonin Scalia suddenly died. And that hypocrisy is on vivid display in Jon Ossoff's new Senate campaign ad.


SENATOR DAVID PERDUE (R-GA): I have consistently said the Senate should not hold hearings or schedule a vote.

The Senate should not hold hearings or schedule a vote on any Supreme Court nominee.

On any Supreme Court nominee.

No Supreme Court nominee should be considered for the Supreme Court --

-- until the American people choose our next president this November.

Until the American people have chosen who they want to be their next president.

The American people deserve a voice in this process.

The responsible course of action here is to refrain from initiating the nomination process --

-- in the midst of a presidential election.

I also believe that it shouldn't be taken up in lame duck.

No consideration during the lame duck.

You can't have it both ways.

You can't have it both ways.

It's the principle.

About the principle.

It is about upholding the principle.

This was my position before the election. This is still my position today.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia, Jon Ossoff.

Jon, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. Did you expect that Senator Perdue would so easily flip-flop on this issue?

JON OSSOFF (D), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you for having me. And frankly, yes, I did. Senator Perdue is not known for his integrity. Remember this was the guy, too busy trading medical stocks and dumping his casino shares in January and February to be honest with his own constituents about the threat of COVID-19.

So he's now completely reversed himself after those adamant words on the floor of the U.S. Senate, thrown his so-called principles out the window because they want to rush through a judge who will overturn the Affordable Care Act, rip health care away from people who are already sick, and overturn Roe v. Wade.

O'DONNELL: You're running strong in Georgia and Joe Biden is running strong. A "New York Times" poll showing Joe Biden tied with Donald Trump at 45. Is the Biden momentum and the possible Biden turnout helping your campaign?

OSSOFF: There is massive momentum in Georgia right now. I mean remember, Lawrence, that just two years ago, Stacey Abrams only lost statewide here by 1 percent. Georgia is becoming younger and more diverse by the day.

Voters across the political spectrum are shocked and in horror at the federal government's botched COVID-19 response. The GOP is now rushing forward with an effort to take health care away from people as we approach this election. And we have all of the momentum.

But Mitch McConnell's super PAC, Lawrence, has literally spent more money against me than any other Democratic challenger in America. The stakes here are high, but we've got an edge.

O'DONNELL: I want to guide the audience on how to look at these polls. The one we just put up showed Senator Perdue at 47. Showed you, Jon Ossoff, at 45. When an incumbent polls below 50, that incumbent is considered in trouble because generally the remaining undecideds break for the challenger.

And so, Jon, to see you at 45 and the senator at 47 in what is a tie -- that's a very strong polling position for you now.

OSSOFF: Yes. These polls are going to be neck and neck all the way through Election Day. This is just a very, very tight race, and it's really going to come down to our ability to inform voters about how and when they vote.

Remember, Georgia is the front line in the struggle for voting rights. We have Stacey Abrams doing incredible work here to protect ballot access. My campaign is working hard. We're working to honor the legacy that Congressman Lewis left us with, struggling, fighting for voting rights here in Georgia. And it's going to take a full-court press to ensure that we can protect everyone's right to access the ballot.

And there's a huge surge of what are in effect new voters in Georgia. 337,652 Georgians who did not vote at all in 2016 have already requested mail-in ballots for this election. It seems unlikely that those are voters who are happy about what happened in 2016.

OSSOFF: Lawrence, young voters, voters from diverse communities, the momentum here is electric. I'm telling you, we can feel it every day.

Two statistics for folks at home. First of all, 1.2 million Democratic primary voters in Georgia this year. That's double two years ago and almost quadruple the 2016 presidential.

Second statistic, Stacey Abrams lost the governor's race in 2018 by just 55,000 votes. We've added more than 750,000 new voters to the rolls here since then. That's why Mitch McConnell is spending $60 million against me. And I need help from folks to ensure we can get out the vote, protect ballot access, protect voting rights. It's elect Jon, for folks who want to help us out.

O'DONNELL: Jon Ossoff, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Jon Ossoff, Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia. Very, very important race this year. Thank you very much for joining us.

OSSOFF: Always a pleasure.

O'DONNELL: Jon Ossoff gets tonight's LAST WORD.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again. I'm Ali Velshi in for Brian Williams, who has the night off.

Protests are under way for a second night in Louisville after a grand jury declined to directly charge three police officers in the death of Breonna Taylor. We're keeping an eye on the situation.


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