tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC April 15, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
>> it's like i swore. when we got this report -- beep. i did not swear. apparently it was some weird technical hiccup. our director, rob, told me it was literally like a physical slip, oops, hit the beep button. there was no curse word there. there was no hidden coded message. i promise if i was ever going to put a secret coded message in a script, i would go like [ bleep ]. i'd make it less subtle. that will be our secret word. if i ever say [ bleep ], then you will know i'm sending a code even if [ bleep ]. that will be our deal. but, no, i didn't accidentally swear or disclose classified information while talking about konstantin kilimnik tonight. that's going to do it for us tonight. watermelon. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. good evening, lawrence. >> good evening, rachel. i think they were just warming
up the bleep machine for me. >> have you ever been bleeped on your show or elsewhere? >> i have not been bleeped. as much as i deserve it, i have yet to be bleeped. but, you know, speaking of classified information, you're going to love this transition. chairman adam schiff is going to join us with his reaction to these russia revelations today. and, you know, he might know this answer and might not be able to tell us, and that is when did we know? when did we know what kilimnik did with that information? >> yeah. >> when did the united states of america intelligence services know that? was that during the trump administration? was that suppressed by them? >> especially when the senate intelligence committee said just last year, we don't know anything about what kilimnik did or who he talked to because we didn't have any visibility at all in his communications. is it -- do we newly have this information because of some new capability that gives us
visibility into something that we previously couldn't see, or did some part of the government know this under trump and they didn't feel safe saying it until trump was gone? it's just -- >> mm-hmm. >> it's such a bombshell, and it's so fascinating that they released it in this specific way today. i'm -- i am -- i am totally, totally riveted by this story. >> yeah, and there are those -- there's two possible dimensions, right, to the trump suppression of information. they had it. the president knew they had it. the president basically suppressed it. donald trump suppressed it himself, or they had it. they suppressed it themselves at the bureaucratic level, afraid of letting it go up to donald trump, not knowing what he might do with it. >> right. or it's newly developed. they have some new technology or some new source or method that allows them to do this. but if it's not new -- the oversight -- the committees in congress, including chairman schiff's committee that oversees
the intelligence community, they should know of all people -- they may not be able to tell us, but they should at least know if the intelligence community has some newly developed capability that allowed them to disclose this to the american people. they should know if it's new or if this is something that the government has been sitting on. >> well, we're going to listen very carefully to his answer. he might just say, no, we didn't know that. but if he says anything other than, no, we didn't know that, i think we have to listen very, very carefully to what he might be saying. >> yes. >> yeah. >> i'm going to sit right here and watch you do that interview. >> great. thank you, rachel. >> thanks, lawrence. >> thank you. well, as the trial of derek chauvin for the murder of george floyd completed the final day of witness testimony today, it has become ever more clear that this country is just beginning to reckon with the challenge that police use of deadly force presents to our founding
guarantee of a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. for a couple of hundred years, the problem was ignored. then in the second half of the 20th century, civil rights lawyers started, just started to take notice of unjustifiable killing by police officers, especially of unarmed black men. police officers and police departments began to face civil rights lawsuits for wrongful death, but almost no police officers were ever charged criminally for unjustifiably killing a person. then came the age of video, including police body cam video, and america is finally just beginning to understand what black americans always understood through life experience about unjustifiable police use of deadly force. we have protesters taking to the streets again tonight in brooklyn center, minnesota, over the police shooting and killing of an unarmed black man during the derek chauvin trial for the
murder of george floyd happening just ten miles away in minneapolis. and we have protesters on the streets of chicago tonight after police body cam video was released today showing a 13-year-old black boy killed by a single gunshot from a chicago police officer's firearm. at 2:30 a.m. on march 29th, the chicago police officer began chasing 13-year-old adam toledo down a dark alley after police reports of gunshots fired in the area went out over police radios. we're going to show you a portion of that video and freeze it at the point when the shot is fired. "the new york times" describes the video this way. the video -- the key section of which takes place in a matter of about one second -- leaves significant questions about the sequence of events and whether the boy was armed at the moment he was shot.
"the new york times" slowed down the police video as well as a second video released by the authorities. as the officer fires the single shot, adam is raising his arms and appears to be empty-handed. in the moments before the shooting, "the times" analysis shows adam can be seen holding what appears to be a gun, which he drops behind a wooden fence just before he raises his hands. we will now show you a portion of that video, which i must warn you is deeply disturbing. but the portion of the video that we are not showing is much, much more disturbing, really unwatchable because it shows the boy lying on the ground, dying. here is the video of the police pursuit and the shot.
>> stop right [ bleep ] now. hey, show me your [ bleep ] hands. drop it. [ sound of gunshot ] >> shots fired, shots fired. get an ambulance over here now. look at me. you all right? where are you shot? 24/in the alley, west alley. need an ambulance. gunshot victim. shots fired by the police. >> chicago mayor lori lightfoot, who is the mother of a 13-year-old boy, said this today before the video was released. >> let me just say that they are incredibly difficult to watch, particularly at the end. i say that not only as a mother of a 13-year-old myself but as a mayor who's deeply passionate
about protecting our young people. we live in a city that is traumatized by a long history of police violence and misconduct. so while we don't have enough information to be the judge and jury of this particular situation, it is certainly understandable why so many of our residents are feeling an all too familiar surge of outrage and pain. and it's even clearer that trust between our communities and law enforcement is far from healed and remains badly broken. >> today former police officer kimberly potter made her first court appearance in minnesota on zoom. she spoke only to confirm her presence at the hearing. kimberly potter is charged with second-degree manslaughter. her next court date is scheduled for may 17th. today daunte wright's father said this. >> my son was very much loved. we loved him a lot. and the way he was killed, he did not deserve that. so i just wanted to say that.
i felt like i had to just tell you guys what's going on is unfair. these young black men being killed. can you blame my son or anyone else from being scared of the police? we teaching our kids how to act around police. this -- i just had to say something. thank you for listening. >> and just ten miles away from that, this morning the defense rested in the trial of derek chauvin for the murder of george floyd after derek chauvin decided there was nothing he could say to help his defense. >> have you made a decision today whether you intend to testify or whether you intend to invoke your fifth amendment privilege? >> i will invoke my fifth amendment privilege today. >> the prosecution recalled to the witness stand dr. martin
tobin to dismiss a theory raised yesterday by a doctor testifying for the defense that carbon monoxide poisoning from the tailpipe from the police vehicle could have contributed to george floyd's death. >> i want to first ask you about the issue of mr. floyd's potential exposure to carbon monoxide. >> yes. >> were you able to hear testimony regarding this yesterday? >> yes, i was. >> were you able to see this particular slide and the highlighted statement at the bottom, the seven minutes mr. floyd's carboxy hemoglobin could have increased by 10% to 18%. >> correct. yes, i saw that. >> would you first just tell us right off the bat, do you agree with that proposition that's highlighted there? >> no, i do not. the 2% of carboxyhemoglobin is
within the normal range. you and i have levels of carboxy heem globen of somewhere between zero and 3. >> and so in other words, as to the statement that his carboxyhemoglobin could have increased by 10% to 18%, in your view, that's not possible? >> it's simply wrong. >> and it was at most 2%? >> at most, 2%. >> normal? >> very -- i mean which is normal. >> joining us now, kurt burke halter, a criminal law prefer at new york law school where he is the director of the 21st century policing project. he is a former nypd police detective. also with us, david henderson, a civil rights attorney and former prosecutor. professor burke halter, let me begin with you and the continuation, and i guess the final session of our analysis of testimony. basically we had dr. tobin come back onto the witness stand today to simply say that what they heard the day before from
the defense doctor was just wrong. he couldn't have been more clear about that. what was your reaction to this short round of testimony today by dr. tobin? >> well, lawrence, my reaction was twofold. first, you know, you hit the nail right on the head. he was very clear. he was very direct. that's something we have not seen during the week. to a certain extent, witnesses being very clear, very direct. so that was the first to rebut this theory, the first purpose he served, to rebut this theory about this carbon monoxide poison, which kind of took us all by surprise. the second purpose he served, whether it was intended or not, was to, i guess, for better or worse remind the jury what a credible expert witness looked like. and i think that's going to stay with the jury. so we had a litany of defense witnesses this week, and as we've discussed, they didn't seem as credible as the witnesses the prosecution put
forward with regards to their experts. so here this is the last person that the jury sees, you know, as far as witnesses are concerned. and i do believe that people tend to remember the first thing that they saw or heard and the last. i thought it was very helpful for the prosecution to have tobin come back in today because of several different reasons. >> and the judge has now given the jury and the lawyers a long weekend. no session tomorrow on friday, but final arguments will begin on monday. david henderson, in a trial like this, the lawyers can use every minute of that time preparing for those final arguments. what do you anticipate hearing in those arguments next week? >> well, lawrence, i think your point about preparing is one of the smartest things the defense did. that was burn out the clock to prevent the judge from forcing them to close on friday instead of giving them until monday. i think what you're going to hear on monday is the prosecution doing something that it's very easy for us to forget, especially in light of some of the testimony we saw today.
and that is remind the jury of what they've heard over the past three weeks. we've been having conversations each night about this case. the jury won't get to deliberate until monday, and they need to be reminded of all the evidence they've heard. the prosecution will also put the context on what the experts have testified about. i think jerry blackwell is just the person to do that because he, as someone who's handled toxic tort cases, is used to arguing substantial cause as a factor in contributing to someone's death. and i think what the defense is going to do is simply try to raise every instance they can of an example of something that could have contributed to george floyd's death aside from derek chauvin's knee. that's essentially what we should expect with the closing arguments on monday. >> kirk burke halter, it was an odd thing for me today watching mr. chauvin decide not to testify because of the use of the fifth amendment, which was introduced by his lawyer, which
was an unnecessary element of that discussion. i've never heard the defense lawyer or a judge for that matter, in talking to a defendant about not testifying, using the fifth amendment in that discussion because the fifth amendment, of course, includes the reason you're not testifying is that if you do, you might actually incriminate yourself. >> yes, lawrence. i actually don't necessarily understand that strategy by the defense because even the layperson understands the fifth amendment, right? we've seen movies where, quote, unquote, gangsters invoke their fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. so i'm always leery when using some legal term, some legal doctrine that the jury may be aware of, but also may misinterpret. from the court's end, i think this was a smart move with regards to the judge because
certainly he doesn't want to be overturned on appeal for anything kind of out of left field like an effective assistance of counsel and so forth. so i think it was good, effective as far as the court's concerned to get this on record. but, yes, i was rather confused also about invoking the fifth amendment. you just don't see that quite often in this type of case. >> and, david henderson, this judge has issued an interesting order to the jury every day. he says, don't watch the news, period. when i've been in trials where they don't want juries consuming news, they say, don't read any articles about this case or follow any news about this case. they don't mind you following news about, say, you know, the infrastructure bill. but here we have tonight news all over the country, chicago, also in neighboring brooklyn center, minnesota, of cases of police use of deadly force that communities are protesting
against. and so don't watch the news in this case, the judge really means it. he doesn't want them consuming information about these other cases. >> i think that's exactly right, lawrence. and i think that what the judge is also acknowledging is the reality of the way we receive our news today. think when he was growing up, if you didn't walk outside and get your morning paper, if you didn't watch the nightly news, you largely didn't know what was going on. but with the advent of cell phones, everyone knows what's going on all the time. and i think that something you just indicated is an important feature of this trial at a time when there's so much news about police misconduct and excessive force. one of the things that this prosecution team did really well, and i started off being somewhat skeptical of their approach to the case to be honest. but one thing they did for a community that really needs it, a community that's been through philando castile, george floyd, and now daunte wright, and they reassured the public that justice can be served through a
commitment to prosecution when it's necessary. and i think you have to give them credit for that. >> david henderson and kirk burke halter, thank you very much for joining us discussion tonight and leading us off. really appreciate it. >> thank you. coming up, house intelligence committee chairman adam schiff with his reaction to president biden's new sanctions on russia for interference in our elections. that's next. ♪ (car audio) you have reached your destination.
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today the treasury department says that konstantin kilimnik passed trump campaign internal data to russian intelligence to help donald trump get elected in 2016. in explaining new sanctions against russia today, the treasury department said, during the 2016 u.s. presidential election campaign, konstantin kilimnik provided the russian intelligence services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy. the mueller report found that
trump campaign chairman paul manafort shared campaign information with his business partner, konstantin kilimnik. according to the mueller report, that information included, quote, manafort's strategy for winning democratic votes in midwestern states. donald trump won the electoral college by winning those midwestern states. konstantin kilimnik is one of 16 people and 16 entities that the biden administration sanctioned today for russian interference in the 2020 election. the u.s. intelligence community said in a report released last month that konstantin kilimnik, quote, took steps throughout the 2020 election cycle to damage u.s. ties to ukraine, denigrate president biden and his candidacy, and benefit former president trump's prospects for re-election. in announcing the new sanctions today, president biden said
this. >> when president putin called me in january after i was sworn in to congratulate me, i told him that my administration would be looking very carefully now that we had access to all the data at the issues to assess russia's role and then determine what response we would make. when we spoke again this week, i told him that we would shortly be responding in a measured and proportionate way because we had concluded that they had interfered in the election. if russia continues to interfere with our democracy, i'm prepared to take further actions to respond. >> our next guest, congressman adam schiff, led the first impeachment trial of donald trump for seeking foreign interference in the 2020 election to harm the candidacy of joe biden. >> in 2016, he invited foreign interference in our election. on the day after that tragic chapter appeared to come to an end with bob mueller's testimony, donald trump was back
on the phone, this time with another foreign power, ukraine. and once again seeking foreign help with his election. >> joining us now is congressman adam schiff of california. he is chairman of the house intelligence committee. thank you very much for joining us, mr. chairman. and as rachel and i were discussing at the beginning of this hour, we were wondering what you knew and when you knew it about konstantin kilimnik passing information to russian intelligence services. >> lawrence, as you pointed out, the chain here is the trump campaign chairman paul manafort and his deputy chairman are giving polling data and strategic information about their strategy in the midwest to kilimnik, who the deputy chairman acknowledges they knew was a spy or they believed was a spy. and in fact as the treasury department has acknowledged was a spy and is providing this to russian intelligence.
and not just russian intelligence, but the same services that are involved in trying to help trump win in that election. that's what most people would call collusion, and i don't know how the no collusion crowd explains that. so in terms of when did we know this, we certainly knew for a long time that the trump campaign was giving internal polling data and strategic information to someone linked to russian intelligence. but this goes further and says that this was an intelligence agent. that was the senate intelligence committee's bipartisan conclusion, and now we know that this information got back to these intelligence agencies. so pretty direct chain here. >> can you tell us if this was -- if this is newly developed information, developed during the biden administration, or whether this was known within the intelligence community during the trump administration? >> you know, that's a good question. we certainly knew that there were links between kilimnik and
russian intelligence. but this statement by treasury goes further than anything i've seen the intelligence community relate so far. now, it may very well be that the agencies had reached this conclusion before, and i don't know whether that was shared or not shared. but it's the first time that i'm seeing it in print and certainly the first time it's being made public. >> what else do you think we might end up learning? in what areas might we end up learning new things about 2016 or 2020 elections? >> well, you know, i think we'll continue to learn more, and this is frankly the case with the intelligence process, and that is you may learn about past events when you get new information, when you get new data, because it's historic data. it's not data about the present. so hard to tell, but i think as we're seeing now with this
additional information about manafort, that either mueller had the information but was trying to protect sources and methods, or this is truly new information that came about either during the trump administration or during the biden administration, and i'm not clear exactly when that point was. >> what is your reaction to the sanctions as they were issued today? >> very powerful. it will definitely put a crimp in the russian economy, and it's the kind of sanction that the biden administration can turn the screws on so they have the flexibility to really clamp down further if the russians escalate or continue to engage in this kind of malign conduct, this kind of election interference, this kind of cyber hacking or attacking. i like the fact that they're going after these russian private companies that are aiding in these destructive hacks and that they're going after individuals that have culpability in terms of russia's illegal occupation of crimea.
so it's pretty dramatic, i have to say. you know, when i saw it, i thought thank god we have a president again who's willing to stand up to vladimir putin. >> and what do you think that means in terms of our relations with russia now, that vladimir putin understands clearly as of today more vividly than before even the difference between dealing with a trump presidency and a biden presidency? >> well, first off, he knows he's not going to manipulate this president simply by flattering him, praising him in some way, that he has to fear this president. this president is willing to follow through. these are not hollow words that the president is taking action. but at the same time, you know, i think the administration is being very smart and being very open and saying, look, we're willing to meet with you. we're willing to sit down with you. we're willing to find common ground on things like the limitation of nuclear arms. but you engage in this other stuff, and we're going to come after you, and we're not fooling
around. and that's, i think, the way you need to treat the russians, which is don't take them by surprise. tell them what you're going to do, and if they cross the line, you got to make sure you do it. >> and what other devices, techniques, strategies does the administration have beyond sanctions if there's more to respond to? >> you know, i think the most powerful thing -- and sanctions, you know, truly have their limits, and we found out just how limited the impact of sanctions can be. but what this administration can do is rebuild our international alliances, rebuild a multinational strategy when it comes to constraining bad actors like russia. we can strengthen the international institutions that have atrophied over the last four years that give teeth to the rule of law and the rule -- you know, and the rule of the road. and so building those international partnerships
frankly is something that terrifies the russians. but more than that, it also terrifies the chinese. china has been really able to exploit the fact that traditional allies of ours have been alienated from us. but that's not going to be the case anymore. >> chairman adam schiff, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. we really appreciate it, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> thank you. and coming up, house republicans have gone from "locker up" to "innocent until proven guilty" because a federal criminal investigation of matt gaetz for sex trafficking bothers them less than hillary clinton's email. john heilemann and zerlina maxwell join us next. hey, hey, no, no limu, no limu! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ saturdays happen.
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politicians, innocent until proven guilty. that's the new standard for the party that has spent years chanting "lock her up." kevin mccarthy, the disgraced leader of house republicans, who personally voted to overturn the results of the presidential election, says he has spoken to the thoroughly disgraced congressman matt gaetz, who also voted to overturn the results of the presidential election. here's what kevin mccarthy said today about the conversation he had with matt gaetz about a federal criminal investigation of congressman gaetz for possible sex trafficking. >> i've spoken to mr. gaetz about the accusations. he's told me he's innocent of the accusations. i explained to mr. gaetz the rules of our conference. if there was something to come forward, we'd take action. >> joining us now, john heilemann, nbc news and msnbc national affairs analyst, host and executive producer of showtime's the circus. also with us, zerlina maxwell.
she's the host of the program "zerlina" that airs on peacock. and, zerlina, i just feel like all i have to say is, zerlina, matt gaetz, go. >> yeah. i mean that's pretty much where we are, lawrence. but i think i always go back to this. you know, the republican party is in disarray, and they don't stand for anything, and they have really prominent and loud supporters of donald trump who are finding themselves in a lot of trouble. and matt gaetz is smart. i'll give him credit for this. he's following the donald trump playbook of what to do when you are accused of incredibly serious allegations. and i think, you know, i don't know how long kevin mccarthy thinks that innocent until proven guilty is going to work, but certainly they need to review his committee assignments because he's on one of the committees that oversees the justice department, the judiciary committee in the house. and so i think those are the kinds of decisions republicans are going to have to make. the bigger picture, though, is
the fact that the details of this case are serious. i mean there are, yes, websites called sugardaddies.com. but at the end of the day we're talking about young women who, if you have to emphasize, well, she definitely just turned 18 and you are a grown congressman, then you have a lot of questions that the fbi certainly are going to want to ask you because that's not a good sign if you have to emphasize, oh, well, no. i checked, and she had just turned 18. i don't know who you are doing hanging out with high school students. >> let's take a look at the moment today when kevin mccarthy was asked by a reporter what he knew about former speaker paul ryan having to talk to matt gaetz -- his staff having to talk to matt gaetz about his behavior and how to professionalize, let's say, his behavior as a congressman. and when we watch kevin mccarthy's answer, you'll be able to see what kevin mccarthy
looks like when he's lying. let's take a look at that. >> when paul ryan was speaker, his staff had a conversation with matt gaetz about his professional conduct. >> okay. >> were you ever aware of any red flags -- >> no. >> any concerns about his conduct when you were majority leader? >> when i was majority leader, i wasn't part of that discussion. i didn't know about that. lots of times as speaker or leader, if you have discussions with members, i guess for the privacy, they have that. i did not know about that till the -- till i read it in the article. >> john heilemann, if you want to watch kevin mccarthy lying on a loop, you just set up that piece where he says, i did not know about that until i read it in the article. this is -- this is a problem that's not going to go away for him. >> oh, yeah. lawrence, well, it's a problem that's not going to go away for him until matt gaetz goes away for him, which, you know, might
be more imminent than kevin mccarthy would like to acknowledge. i would just like to point out that it seems a little strange to me that you're saying, lawrence, that you've isolated a moment where we finally can see what kevin mccarthy looks like when he's lying. i would say something like 84% to 87% of the time that kevin mccarthy's on camera, he's lying. that's not exactly a very common -- very unusual circumstance. i just find it, you know, it's extraordinary given, you know, kevin mccarthy, his ostensible claim here is despite having read widespread reporting over the course of the last few weeks in which republicans and others have been saying to newspaper -- to journalists in both newspapers and on television that matt gaetz liked to go around and made many of them very uncomfortable by showing them photographs of barely clad, not necessarily of age, disconcertingly sleazy, scummy, hoo la hoop kind of photographs.
this was common knowledge in the republican caucus. i mean it was sort of like you look at the guy's twitter feed, right, and mccarthy's claim right here is not just an obvious lie, but it's a lie that makes him look absolutely out of touch with what he's supposed to be most in touch with, which is his caucus, his membership, the things that are going on. you're the leader of this caucus, right. you're supposed to know about important stuff that's going on and kevin mccarthy is, i know that everybody else knew about this but he never showed me the hula-hoop picture, so hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil whether it comes to matt gaetz. >> we're going to squeeze in a quick break here, and when we come back with john and zerlina, joe biden beat donald trump last year, and joe biden is beating donald trump again this year. joe biden has more support from his party than donald trump ever did.
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as president joe biden approaches his first 100 days in office, he has consistently been polling at levels not seen since the obama presidency. a recent a.p. poll had president biden's approval rating at 61%. yesterday's morning consult/politico poll had president biden's approval rating at 59%. "the new york times" reports that democrats who were lukewarm about joe biden as a presidential candidate are embracing him now as president. quote, he began his term this winter with an approval rating of 98% among democrats according to gallup. this represents a remarkable measure of bipartisan consensus, outpacing even the strongest moments of republican unity during the presidency of mr. trump, whose political brand depended heavily on the devotion of his gop base.
and zerlina maxwell and john heilemann are back with us. zerlina, those polling numbers for joe biden are really impressive, but the ones that matter are his polling numbers in the united states senate with the 50-50 senate. how does he get his infrastructure package through? how does he convince joe manchin that there might have to be changes in senate rules to do that? >> i've been thinking a lot about kyrsten sinema and joe manchin in this particular moment in history, lawrence, and i know that, you know, joe manchin likes the attention, and certainly is the sort of senator that, you know, will go to the cameras and engage. and kyrsten sinema is not that way, so they're very different personality-wise. but at the end of the day, both of them have to go to sleep at night and understand the moment that we are in. do they want to be in the history books as the two moderate senators that stood in the way of the protection of the voting rights of the black,
brown, indigenous and aapi voters that gave democrats the majority in the first place? because they can go down in history as the folks that protected the rights of those people and those communities and the democratic base or the people who stood in opposition. and i think that they need to either figure out how they can be a part of getting ten republicans to hop onboard to make sure that the biden administration and the federal government writ large is able to deal with the pressing problems of the day, or they need to come to some sort of -- i don't know -- come-to-jesus moment and understand that the filibuster is not a democratic part -- or it is not a part of a true and healthy democracy. majority should rule the day, and in this country, the republican party right now is an anti-democratic party. so they have to pick a side. >> and, john, politico is
reporting that mitch mcconnell is being very nice to kyrsten sinema and joe manchin and is urging all other republican senators to be very, very nice to them and to praise them and, you know, mitch mcconnell's been around long enough to have seen democrats walk across the aisle and change parties to join the republican party in states where that was a more comfortable place for them to be. >> he has. and, you know, it's going to be a fascinating thing to watch, lawrence because, you know, one of the great overstatements of our conventional media wisdom, which has been in place for a very long time, which is this notion that sort of joe biden and mitch mcconnell kind of like each other deep down and they've been able to do deals together because they like each other. they don't like each other at all, and particularly joe biden doesn't like mitch mcconnell. but what joe biden prides himself on is being an equal to mcconnell as a master of that institution. biden thinks that he can go toe to toe 0 as a tactician with
mcconnell and what you have here and what you're leading to, i think, especially over this infrastructure bill, is what's going to be a protracted dance over the coming months. this is not going to be a slam dunk like the covid relief package. this is going to be a lot of performative politics, a lot of tactical politics, biden trying to demonstrate to sinema and manchin that he's going the extra mile to get republicans, only he's getting slapped down over and over again, trying to say to them, look, i'm doing everything i can and i don't have a partner on this side of the aisle, so you guys have to come with me now. and mcconnell doing his dance to try to convince manchin and sinema that whatever their views about the things that zerlina is pointing out rightly in terms of history, unfortunately there's an awful lot of senators and congress people who have been much more focused on getting elected than their legacies. you see mcconnell will be making that they're regauge claim to keep then on the side of what he will portray as the z but with
that open door of, hey if your friends in the democratic party don't like you, joe, don't like you, kirstjen, it's warm on this side of the aisle. i this inc. you're going to see a lot of that. it's going to be a fascinating both sides try and seduce and scare both of these two senators to get them on their side. >> thank you both for joining our discussion tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. >> good to see you, lawrence. coming up in a 50-50 senate, joe manchin has become more powerful than he ever has been, and he's been getting a lot of public advice from people who know nothing about west virginia politics, about how to handle himself in the senate. we'll be joined next by two people who know a lot about west virginia politics and how joe manchin appeals to west virginia voters. that's next. s to west virginia voters that's next.
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joe manchin is described in virginia heffernan's los angeles times as the democrat whom democrats must love to hate for his obstruction to president biden's agenda. the town of farmington is not so small. she writes, if you live in hollows and small towns tucked into nearly impassable mountains, it's still an ordeal just to get electricity and newspapers, and forget about cable tv, wi-fi and the memes that come with those things. rural west virginians are less
beholden to, and also less served by, utilities, dominant culture and governments. this strandedness looks dangerous to many. to others, including plenty in my family, it looks like freedom. heffernan writes, manchin's never going to look like a california democrat. but he doesn't look like a california republican either. i'd almost say that, as a politician, he's nonbinary. i would almost say someone who knows the real deal about west virginia politics, virginia's mother, nancy heffernan. virginia, i've been to farmington, i haven't been there a lot, but i've driven through those hollows, that's the only word for them, they aren't towns. and i know that i know nothing about west virginia politics and i might be one of the few willing to admit that as we all
try to become experts on what joe manchin is going to do next. how do you explain joe manchin being able to get elected in a state that loves donald trump and republicans as much as it does? >> well, what i was trying to indicate with that passage you read aloud is that there is something -- west virginia is almost determinedly unassimilable to america. it's one of the states that is deliberately out of sync with the rhythms, with the memes of the rest of the nation. in some ways that makes manchin the perfect representative. he has the early democratic spirit that much of the state has abandoned, but he also can talk to those in red states. so he often holds contradictory views. like a lot of people in appalachia, he's pro labor and in many ways he's anti-green energy or he's not very progressive on energy. but he's also -- his colleagues
in west virginia say this is a guy almost entirely without idealogy, and we've seen sort of cartoonish implications of idealogy in the past four years, and it's great to see someone who is a short-term tactician. to give you an example, he's the only person in the senate who has gotten both a d and an a from the ara, and who has backed funding for planned parenthood and has refused funding for planned parenthood. some of the most, you know, hot button issues of our time, he will change in subtle ways just so that you almost can't read him. it seems he wants to stay inscrutable. >> nancy, is it easy for voters in west virginia to admit they voted for a democrat in senate? >> my father ran a utility in
west virginia. it was called the wohl power company. people called him liten water coffey. later he installed cable television for the town as well. today the infrastructure in west virginia is crumbling and everyone is out of work. now, that means that there is a work force there that could build green energy. and i think if pop were around, he would work to provide clean energy, his company would probably be called war, wind and solar and he might have speed internet as well. >> well, it sounds like we have
some west virginia support for the biden infrastructure bill. we'll have to follow how much support joe manchin gives to that bill. virginia and nancy heffernan, thank you very much for joining us tonight and letting us hear the real voice of west virginia, if only for a minute. thank you very much. >> thank you, lawrence. >> thank you. a programming note, you can listen to this program and any other msnbc show any time, anywhere with any device with tune in. go to tunein.com/msnbc2021, and that is "tonight's last word." "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. well, good evening once again. while this was indeed day 86 of the biden administration, we are for the fifth night in a row watching the now familiar scene in