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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  January 11, 2022 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> good evening rachel. who's breaking during this hour, includes us from politico about senator sinema, meeting with a small group of senate democrats on rules changes this evening. in the lbj room, in the capital. this is possible indication that the public pressure that both joe biden and judge schumer put on senators manchin and sinema today, might be nudging them a bit. the report says that the senators in this meeting, in addition to sinema were, tim kaine, angus king, jon tester, brian schatz, elizabeth warren, ben cardin, chris coons, maggie hassan. rachel you were talking earlier about how some moderates in the senate have been on board for a rules change. and maybe among the most effective people lobbying these
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to hold out. to see textures in that room, tim kang, angus king, that is a very important part of that dynamic. along with elizabeth warren and others. >> yeah. just look at maggie hassan. maggie hassan was sort of the prototypical moderate, senate democrat. she's up for reelection, she is incredibly practical. she is a low profile workhorse. senator who focuses on getting things done in new hampshire. has been in the past, totally opposed to any senate rules. within just the last couple of months, she came on the show, came on my show. it explained why she believed on voting rights and election protection specifically, particularly around the risk of election subversion that president biden was talking about today. now sees it as no question that the rules have to be changed. so this can be passed by majority rule. maggie hassan embodies the change that so many of these moderates, including tester and warner and cain and the others
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have gone through. yeah, that is who you would want talking to a senator who might be thinking seriously about where she wants to end up and end up in history. >> rachel, there is a certain lot of talk today about why didn't they do this a year ago. why did joe biden give the speech say, ten months ago, that he gave today. one reason, there are two reasons. one was the big biden legislative agenda that they believe had to go first. because this is in fact alienating to those two democrats. could end up losing their votes on everything else. but you didn't have the rest of these democrats on board a year ago. there was no indication that you had jon tester a year ago. he didn't necessarily have, angus king. didn't have taken. it took a year. to get to this point, where it really is these two. >> yes. that is an excellent point. all of those senators that you
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are describing, angus king, gave that unbelievable senate floor speech. where he explained his movement on this issue and why he now supports the rules change. that was a phenomenal speech. maggie hasse, that kind of description. those are all relatively recent as you pointed out. democrats had to get their. but also, joe manchin had to go through his -- said no, you democrats are doing the wrong bill. if we do this bill the way i do. are joe, you are at the bill that. he got to rewrite all the voting rights legislation. that's proving to himself, in front of all of us, that the republicans weren't going to vote for any of it. he had to go through that process too. and also, senator sinema, as bench illustrious set here on the show, had to get to a point where it was looking like she was going to be arizona standing in the way of the martyr luther king holiday. they would have to do was the
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last to ratify the martin lives a king federal holiday, or to act on it. she now faces having that kind of a role in history. on national voting rights, in a way that maybe didn't feel right to her, that it does now. as where she stands, as we are less than a week out from the mlk day. that being the deadline by which democrats want to get this done. >> you made that point about senator sinema in one of our discussions recently today speech by joe biden, named donald trump specified him. all of the problems that he represents in what has happened to voting rights and his lying. but he is doing. trying to force a republican state legislature. but without naming them, president biden repeatedly put all of the pressure of his jury repeatedly on these two democratic senators. they have not had that moment before. so tonight, they are senator
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sinema in discussion about how can the rules possibly be changed in the senate to do this. >> looking at the transcript of the presidents beach will you are doing that. do you want to be on the side of dr. king, or george wallace? you are on the side of jonge louis -- you to be on the side of abraham lincoln, or jefferson davis? those are not open questions in modern american life. they cannot be, for anyone who is in public service. to put it that starkly and just laid out in those terms. that has the ring. if your sentient and you are elected official, the hasse during free. and i imagine that is one senator klobuchar just said, some of the drama tonight. meeting on u.s. capitol hill right now >> seems like it is going to move fairly quickly to the senate floor, possibly as early as monday's next week could be. it is definitely going to happen, going to be action
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there. before martin later gained. >> before monday of next week, could happen as soon as tomorrow, anytime leading up to monday. don't sleep. >> yeah, exactly, that is the message. thank you rachel. >> thank you lawrence. >> well, joe biden went to georgia today because as he said, he is tired of being quiet. >> look, it's also time to pass the john lewis voting rights advancement act. i've been having these quiet conversations with members of congress for the last two months. i am tired of being quiet. >> no more quiet conversations. from the start, the biden legislation agenda has had the multi stage strategy that included voting rights as the final stage. the first stage was to pass all
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of the domestic, economic and social policy agenda in year one. president, the democrats in congress, got most of that passed, not all. and now, with time running out, voting rights legislation, the president has decided to put the build back better bill aside, so that the senate structure can bring up voting rights in the senate. senator schumer, and president biden have now run out of things to say to democratic senator joe manchin and kyrsten sinema, in trying to privately persuade them to change the rules of the senate, to allow a vote on voting rights and so, chuck schumer took his argument to the audience of the few, but this morning where he said quote, we are working very hard to try to persuade joe manchin and kyrsten sinema. now saying that publicly, naming those two names publicly, means that chuck schumer has given up on private persuasion and that is what it means when joe biden said today, i am
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tired of being quiet. president biden and senator schumer are in effect now asking for public pressure on joe manchin and kyrsten sinema. so >> i ask every elected official in america, how do you want to be remembered? consequential moments in history, they present a choice. do you want to be the side of dr. king, or george wallace? do you want to be on the side of john lewis, a bowl connor? do you want to be on the side of abraham lincoln, or dress or some davis? this is the moment to decide. to defend our elections. to defend our democracy. >> joe biden has always known that putting enormous pressure on two democratic senators could lose him their votes. not just on voting rights, but on everything else joe biden wants to do. and that is why he waited until now.
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joe biden wasn't going to take the chance of having joe manchin quit the democratic party, which is a possibility. until joe biden got most of his legislation agenda passed. and then there was precious little time left on the senate clock for voting rights. and now, joe biden and structure are going to bring voting rights legislation to a vote in the senate, knowing that they might lose. they both know, that at least having a vote in the senate, is better than having no vote at all. it's only in the 21st century, that virtually every suspense is disappear from the senate. now that senate leaders also never bring anything to the floor, without having the votes to win. chuck schumer, is now going old school. he is going to the senate floor, knowing that he has now, only 48 of the 50 votes that he needs. and he and joe biden are hoping that the pressure, the public pressure on raising your hand
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to say yay or nay on the senate floor, might just, might be the only way to in the end, get those two votes. for voting right. i have seen this play work in the senate. and i've seen this play not work. but with the vote will do, is clearly identify the problem. the bill doesn't pass, you will know exactly who blocked it. who block voting rights legislation. we already know that all 50 republicans will block it, and now joe biden instructors, plan to give united states senators nowhere to hide on voting rights. >> every senator, democrat, republican and independent, will have to declare where they stand. not just for the moment, but for the ages. will you stand against voter suppression? yes or no. that is the credentialing through. we stand against election
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subversion? yes or no? will you stand for democracy, yes or no? here's one thing that every senator, every american should remember, history has never been kind to those who have sided with voter suppression over voters rights. and it will even be last kind for those who signed with election subversion. >> finally today, president biden, the 36 year veteran of the united states senate said this. >> i believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave, that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bill. to make them vote. let the majority prevail. and if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this. >> leading off our discussion
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tonight, democratic congressman of south carolina. the third ranking democrat of the house of representatives. thank you very much for joining us. joe biden today as president finally said what he had been wanting to say procedurally. which is he is very willing to support a change in the senate rules, get rid of the filibuster, whatever it takes to pass voting rights. >> yes he did. thank you very much for having me. i listened to that speech today, very intently. and i think that the president said exactly what he needed to say. and the tone was exactly what it needed to be. i think we are now poised to tackle this issue in a way that gives us a possibility of bringing along those two senators, that have been a bit reticent about this issue. i want to remind your listeners,
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those who are looking in, the bill that the president endorsed today the freedom to vote act. is not the house passed bill. it joe manchin's bill. he asked for time to put something together, that he thought made sense and thought that he could get people, republicans to support. he was given that time. and he did and now, he is supporting the filibuster that's a filibuster of his bill. so, the freedom to vote act is joe manchin's legislation. that stacey abrams endorsed, when he first proposed to. i followed her and supported the bill. and today, the president of the united states came out with a full endorsement of joe manchin's bill. so, it would seem to me, that
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joe manchin will be in support of his own legislation if he were to support changing the rules and removing the filibuster from the spell. >> it is such an important point, that this is joe manchin's compromised version of legislation that he did in pursuit of republican votes. and today, when asked about the possibility of changing the rules, he still seems to think that he should pursue republican votes on that to. let's listen to what he had to say today. >> we need some good rules changed. and we can do that together. can change the rules with two thirds of people. democrats and republicans, changing the rules to make the place work better. getting rid of the filibuster does not make it work better. >> what was your reaction to that? >> well you know, senator manchin has on occasion, said that in order for the thing to
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work right, it needs to be bipartisan. i'm going to remind him. that the 15th amendment to the united states constitution, the amendment that gave the former slaves the right to vote, my four beers. that was a straight party line vote. it was not bipartisan. so this notion, that there has to be bipartisan, in order to be good. let's just say, put into law. that is poppycock. so we need to move forward with this legislation. i would hope that joe manchin would take a look at history and be guided by the history the history of the 15th amendment, as well as the history of what is now the john lewis voting rights act. which passed by a unanimous senate vote the last time.
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diversion was before the senate. >> the president actually made the point today, that at the end of his career, strom thurmond, in the senate, was better on voting rights then all of the current republican members of the senate. >> that is absolutely correct. i knew strom thurmond very well, knew his family. his wife, his sister gertrude. i had desks next to each other, when we both worked in state government together. strong thurman and i talked about the voting rights act. he supported. he did, after a while come out against. but he filibustered in 1957, the civil rights act. that he told me on more than
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one occasion, that he was a bit embarrassed about having done so. >> there seems to be no trace of embarrassment in those 50 republicans. >> yeah, that is the way it seems. at least one republican came out for the john lewis. from alaska. i think she's still there. i do believe there are others who would come out in favor. if we get some movement for leadership. i don't know if mitch mcconnell is making statements that he is making for him to say that some sort of power grab. is it a power grab to want the right to have your vote counted? it's not a power grab. you are trying to be a part of this great experiment that we
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call a democracy. and i would hope that senator mitch mcconnell would recognize that as such. he supported this kind of legislation in the past. he's made some calculations recently. i want to remind him, that this could very well be a miscalculation on his part. >> what would you say to senator manchin and sinema tonight if you could be in these private discussions with them? >> i would say to both of them, remember the history of the country. remember what has got in this country to be what it is today. we are not the same country that we were in 1776. nor 1976. we are in a mature, environment, around the world. this country, this democracy, cannot continue to flourish if
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we do not continue to show other countries the way we should go in as a nation. and that is the threat that we have before us today. so i would say to them, look at how far we have come. you know, west virginia, is west virginia because it broke off from virginia over the issue of slavery. i would remind senator manchin, that west virginia has a tremendous history. it's a good history, on the subject. i think that he ought to reflect that history as he goes out into the future. arizona. it's a bit different, a little newer state than west virginia. i would say this to senator sinema, just remember. the 18th amendment was required for women to get the right to vote. just remember that history. and remember that there is a requirement of you today, as we
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march off into the future together. because this is a different country. then it was back during the 18th amendment. and the 15th amendment. >> the honorable james clyburn, always an honor to have you join us really appreciate it. >> thank you very much for having me. coming up, -- now holds the house seat that john lewis held for 34 years flew home to her district with the president and vice president on air force one tonight. just arrived back in washington and will join us next. ed back in washingto ed back in washingto and will ow! i'm ok! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ only in theaters december 17th.
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democracy. we stand on the grounds that connect clark atlanta, atlanta university, morehouse college, near spelman college, the home of generations of advocates. activists, educators, preachers. young people just like the students here. who have done so much to build a better america. we visited the sacred church to pause, to pray, to miss tournaments just king. spent time with their family. here is the district has pointed out, representative, and reflected the life of beloved friend john lewis. >> joining us now is georgia congresswoman, and kate williams, also the chair of the georgia democratic party. holds the congressional seat once held by john lewis.
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thank you very much for joining us tonight. you have the right down to atlanta on air force one with the president and vice president. why do you believe it was important for atlanta to be the site of today's speech? >> thank you for having this conversation lawrence. i think that it is clear to point out that, while georgia was also the cradle of the civil rights movement, georgia has also been ground zero for voter suppression. and if we look at what happened with all of the legislation that we have seen across the country introduced to suppress the vote, it was all in response to georgians. showing up in force and electing, not one but two democratic senators and delivering our electoral college votes for joe biden. georgia's the epicenter of everything that happens, and continues to happen for everything of the democracy in this country. it grounded us, and why we are
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continuing to fight. especially in the district that was once held by john lewis. and we all have an obligation to stand up for his legacy. continue to do his work, voting rights, regardless of their zip code, get across the senate. >> the president localized a significant amount of the speech. he outlined in very specific detail with the georgia legislator has been up to since the presidential election. he talked about what happened in the last presidential election, and the trauma in georgia, including possible crowds by donald trump. let us listen to that part of the speech. >> what happened last election? former presidential allies ensued and threatened state and local election officials. election workers, ordinary citizens. subject to death threats. menacing phone calls, people stalking them in their homes.
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-- he said quote, i just want to find 11,780 votes. >> and the defeated former president is of course under criminal investigation for that request to the secretary of state. the situation in georgia could worsen apparently. georgia legislature has not stopped in their new attempts to change even more elections. >> lawrence, the georgia legislature just reconvened yesterday in atlanta. we are already gearing up for more attempts to suppress the getting rid of dropbox's altogether. when i think about this, where i think they want to think is that is this a democratic, or republican issue? lawrence, this isn't a partisan issue. when you suppress the vote, you are suppressing it for
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everyone. has a great impact on communities of color, new voters and younger voters. but this is not a partisan issue. when you look at the john lewis voting rights act, which is the voting rights act that has been reauthorized president after president after president. even republican president. the last time it was reauthorized was under george w. bush, a republican president. and it passed the senate 98 zero. so this is not a partisan fight. donald trump and his team wants you to think that it is. but it is something we have to stand up for our country. we have to stand up for democracy. and we need people to decide what side they are going to. beyond this is our civil rights movement and we have work to do to get this across the finish line. >> kate williams, thank you so much for joining us on this important day, really appreciated. >> thank you lawrence. >> joining us now is david thomas, he is president of morehouse college. president thomas, what did it mean to you to have the
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president on campus today delivering the speech. >> it meant a lot. to us here at morehouse college. as well as the other schools that make out the atlanta university consortium. as the congresswoman was saying, atlanta was the cradle of our civil rights movement. right here in morehouse college, martin luther king is our most well-known graduate. and learn much of the philosophy that he brought to the civil rights movement right here on this campus. from the likes of benjamin maze, former president of morehouse college. and it was an important moment. we had any of our students, from all of the schools that make up the atlanta university center here. to really understand the message that this fight to preserve our democracy is a
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mantle that they have to pick up. just as in the 19 50s. our students picked that mantle up. and brought much of the change that we saw. that became known as the modern civil rights movement here in the country. i think it was important as well. for them to understand the importance of georgia. in terms of being on the front line in this fight to make sure that we don't compromise basic rights that defines citizenship in our country. and that is the right to vote and participate in our democracy. >> vice president harris told the students that future generations are counting on them. let's listen to that. >> do not succumb to those who would dismiss this assault on voting rights. as an unfounded threat.
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who would waive us off as a partisan game. the assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every american, in every community, in every political party. if we stand idly by, our entire nation will pay the price for generations to come. >> how did the students respond to the vice presidents appearance on campus? >> enthusiast stick. they were excavated. they applauded her comments. i think they -- those comments sunk in in many of the students i spoke to, as i was departing the campus. they were echoing her words, and also talking about organizing for the next election that's going to happen in georgia, where we were also
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be voting on continuing the senatorship of raphael warnock, who's also morehouse graduate. our students were motivated, they're already talking about organizing around the vote and around this issue of voting rights. >> what do you see is the future of georgia, given the organizational enthusiastic there is on the democratic side of politics to try and maintain voting rights in georgia? >> i think that, those who are working to press the vote are going to be sadly awakened, because what i see is a lot of grassroots energy in our communities to have people come out and show that you can't
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suppress the right that so many people died for, here in this community and throughout our nation, in the time that i've lived. i was born in 1956, if you go back to then, and you think about where we are now, there is a commitment not to go backwards. i think this is actually helping to galvanize and mobilize, in particular, communities of color, but also those who see this not as a partisan battle, but a battle for democracy. >> morehouse college president, david thomas, thank you very much for joining us on this very important day. we really appreciate it. >> thank you for the invitation. >> coming up, even races south carolina senator, strom thurmond, was at the end of his career, a better supporter of voter, greats better than any republican serving today. professors general lonnie cobb
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all theorize the voting act three times. we held hearings, we debated, we voted. we were able to extend the act for 25 years. in 2006, the voting rights act passed 309 out of 333 house representatives, and 98 zero in the senate with the votes from 16 current sitting republicans, in this united states senate. 16 of them! voted to extend it. -- chairman, some of our friends sitting down here will tell you, strom fermon voted to extend the voting rights act. even strom thurmond came to
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support, but republicans today can't and won't. >> joining us, now jelani cobb, professional of journalism at columbia. msnbc political analyst. chairman of the african american studies at the prince been -- msnbc contributor. professor cobb, president biden offered a few different historical frames of where we stand tonight on voting rights, including that point we just heard, that even strom thurmond eventually got there. getting to a place where no republican senator stands tonight. >> right. first of all, i'm really excited. ammo graduate of morehouse, some glad you have a president of morehouse, lawrence. happy new year. yes, i think president biden made a great point with regards
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to the historical commitment on part of republicans to pass voting rights. i think we need to add a bit of historical nuance. even those trump thurman supported the voting rights, and even though ronald reagan supported it, ronald reagan in 1981, supported voting rights act with the stipulation that he wanted to eat some of the requirements. reagan, although he signed -- embraced the voting rights act, he foreshadowed the shelby decision. opening the door for where we are now. i want to be more nuanced and how we think about previous republican support for the voting rights act, in some days when we see now, the foundation has been late for the crisis that we have in terms of policies that republicans have embraced over the last decade. >> professor cobb, you wrote in the new yorker, martin luther king junior spoke of the
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intransigent optimism that had led activists to fight for change, in the face of skepticism about what could actually be achieved. that is where we stand tonight, skepticism that you can get those votes in the united states senate to change that rule that will have to be changed, in order to pass anything. >> i want to start by saying -- for the purposes of these conversations, i'm not going to hold it against against professor carbon is morehouse people -- significantly, martin luther king himself, a morehouse graduate, did -- you talked about the speech he gave in 1965, he placed this in terms that would be strikingly familiar to us, right now. he said the removal of the ballot from the hands of black voters was necessary before southern elites could erect an
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infrastructure, a social economic astronomer, that disadvantaged all poor people. that is exactly what we're looking at. when we look at what's happening with build back better, when we look at what's happening with a whole array of things around covid and health care, that african american vote, the denial of it, will only make it easier for the forces that want to make the situation even worse, for more on vulnerable people. dr. king is summoning optimism in the face, of that biden is doing the same today. >> professor, joe biden could've given the speech at the white house today, but what did he add to it today by going to atlanta, visiting with dr. king's family? >> he brings the got gravitas of history. he brings the gravitas of the president. to bring the weight the -- symbolic weight insignificance
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of recent history to bear on this issue. i think it was very important for us to understand that our democracy, as a multi racial democracy, we are very young, we haven't been a multi racial -- i would argue, lawrence, since 1965. that was barely then, because you remember took us a while to implement the voting rights act in 1965. by the time reagan is elected, it took us time to undo the gains of the civil rights movement. to go to atlanta is to give us a sense of the importance, the significance of the moment. this is why i think the president insisted that you have to choose aside if you're going to be for democracy, or if you're not. if you're going to be for voter suppression, or you're not. if you'll before voters immersion, or not. making that choice right now, lets us know the stakes of the game. >> professor cobb, what did you make of the presidents use of history to frame the speech today? >> i think it was a great
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deployment of this. this is been on his mind, we can even make a link between this in the speech that he gave on january 6th, where he was referencing the ways in which the worst parts of american history are resurrecting themselves. he was -- he has been harkening back to this, in the same token,. at the same time, as you well know, there are lots of people who don't want to talk about history. they want to talk about the here and now, it's a loud contingent of people who are very dissatisfied with what they think the administration is done this far. that was also a sub theme with what was happening today in london. >> professor, jelani cobb -- howard morehouse rivalry to the screen for us tonight. thank you very much for joining us, always appreciated. >> thank you. >> coming up, why the republican senators from the
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it's extraordinary. >> you have made the point, donald trump didn't convert to the republican party to trumpism, but donald trump revealed what the republicans really are. >> i don't see how you can disagree with that. nobody made people vote for
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donald trump, and nobody made people like donald trump. 16 people ran against him in all lost. i think the way in which the party has embraced the dark or of trumpism is very telling. it's as if he gave everyone permission to be there were self. it used to be politics -- you certainly came out of the school, politics was about appealing to the best in us. donald trump appeals to the worst illness. the republican party, which again, didn't even pass a platform. the platform was wooden trump wanted. it's like an official stamp on an autocratic leader, and that's with the republican party for, the most part has become. >> if donald trump is messing in the senate elections, and putting one republican against another in primaries, possibly endorsing challengers to incumbents, is that -- who does that help in the end?
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>> i think it's stake by steak. i've come to the conclusion -- it's been 30 years that the really are two parties in america. one is autocratic, one is democratic. the democratic party is pro democracy them. i want democrats to win, because having these food fights in the republican party probably, on the, whole helps democrats win. it certainly -- anytime you have internal us dissension in a party, it's not good for winning an election. so, i think 22 and 24 are the most consequential election since 1860. i want democrats to win, because it's the only way that you're gonna help the republican party redeem itself. you have to burn the current republican party to the ground and rebuild. there's no fixing what we have now. >> stuart, when you see donald
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trump saying, i'm never going to endorse that trump again, when voters see him endorsed a candidate this year, they can be sitting wondering, when is he going to call them a jerk and retract that endorsement. >> yeah. what's going to happen -- they're going to win. you're not going to beat an incumbent. how many incumbent senators of oscar primaries, you can count on one hand. i think -- this is all -- this is who we is. nobody is advising donald trump, there's no strategy. it's the same as when he was president. >> stuart stevens. thank you very much for joining us again, always appreciated. >> thank you. >> tonight's last word is next. next waaaay longer than detergent alone.
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helping our kids get back in the classroom, the school board focused on renaming schools schools that weren't even open . please recall all three school board members now. for the sake of our kids, we can't wait one more day, never mind a whole year for a fresh start. and there you have it. woah. never mind a whole year wireless on the most reliable network nationwide. wow. big deal. we get unlimited for just 30 bucks. sweet, but mine has 5g included. relax people. my wireless is crushing it. that's because you all have xfinity mobile with your internet. it's wireless so good, it keeps one-upping itself. take the savings challenge at or visit an xfinity store to learn how our switch squad makes it easy to switch and save hundreds. time for tonight's last word. >> the president bears
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responsibility for wednesday's attack on congress by mob rioters. >> kevin mccarthy, friend of donald trump, gets tonight's last word. the 11th hour starts now. >> good evening, i'm stephanie ruhle. day 357 of the biden administration. today, the president and vice president word inland to georgia, the epicenter of the civil rights movement, to make their strongest case yet for voting rights. together they urge the senate to pass the new voting protections, still being blocked by all 50 republicans. biden threw his support behind changing the senate rules to make that happen. >> we must stand strong and stand together to make sure that january 6th, marks not the end of democracy, but the beginning. the freedom to vote act takes on election subversion to protect nonpartisan electors,
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officials who are doing their job from intimidation and interference. it's also time to pass the john lewis voting rights advancement act. i've been having these quiet conversations with members of congress for the last two months i'm. tired of being quiet. the threat to our democracy is so grave, that we must find a way to pass these voting rights build, the made them vote let the majority prevail. and at that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the senate rules. including getting rid of the filibuster for this. i support changing the senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights. >> why has president biden made this is number one focus? well according to the


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