President Joe Biden delivers speech on "Battle for the Soul of the
Nation". Interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Great coverage as always.
And we are excited to have a live interview tonight with the newest
Democrat elected to Congress. Last night, Mary Peltola defeated Sarah Palin
in the special election for Alaska`s deep red, at large congressional
district. She will join us right here live, coming up.
And we will have the latest from the courtroom where Donald Trump`s lawyers
faced off of the Department of Justice today.
But we start tonight with a stark warning from the president of the United
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Too much of what is happening
in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump in the MAGA Republicans
represented extremism that threatens the foundations of our republic. There
is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and
intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat
to this country.
MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in
the rule of the law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They
refused to accept the results of a free election and promote authoritarian
leaders. And they fanned the flames of political violence that are a threat
to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to
the very soul of this country.
They look at the mob that stormed that United States Capitol on January
6th, brutally attacking law enforcement, not as insurrectionists who placed
a dagger the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.
They see their MAGA failure to stop a peaceful transfer of power after the
2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections.
And now, America must choose to move forward or to move backwards, to build
a future obsessed about the past, to be a nation of hope and unity and
optimism or a nation of division, of fear, and of darkness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: That was President Biden tonight delivering a speech in
Philadelphia, calling on Americans to save democracy from authoritarian
forces within the Republican Party. It is the challenge the president has
called the battle for the soul of the nation. That battle was epitomized by
a hoard of angry insurrectionists attacking the Capitol and striking at the
heart of American democracy on January 6th, following Donald Trump`s claims
of a stolen election.
Today saw the longest sentence handed down by the DOJ for any rioter
involved in the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Former NYPD Officer Thomas
Webster was sentenced to years in prison for his role in January 6th
attack. Here is Thomas Webster on that day beating his brothers and sisters
in blue with a flagpole here he is seen trying to rip off the mask of a
police officer who had fallen to his knees while trying to protect the
The Justice Department says it has arrested more than 860 people involved
in the attack on our nation`s capitol. So far, eight January 6 defendants
have faced jury trials, all eight were convicted on every count they were
charged with including Thomas Webster. Many more January defendants have
pleaded guilty in court.
Today, January 6 writer Julian Khater pleaded guilty to two counts of
assaulting law enforcement officers. Khater was the insurrectionist who
attacked officers Brian Sicknick and Caroline Edwards with bear spray
during the melee outside the Capitol. He can be heard on a recording from
that day telling the telling a fellow writer give me that bear bleep before
spraying the officers with a highly toxic chemical mixture. Officer
Sicknick suffered two strokes following that attack he was taken to the
hospital and put on a ventilator and he died the next day.
Officer Edwards went on to give harrowing testimony um at the very first
January hearing about the injuries she suffered that day. She likened what
she saw on January to a war scene telling the country it was carnage. It
That is the kind of violence that Republicans have tried to whitewash or
explain away by calling it legitimate political discourse. Just today, the
de facto leader of the GOP, Donald Trump, told the host of a right-wing
Internet show that if he is re-elected president he would consider full
pardons for January 6th defendants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT (via telephone): And I will tell you I will
look very, very favorably about full pardons if I decide to run and if I
win, I will be looking very, very strongly about pardon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: As Trump mulls over the idea of pardoning rioters, the Justice
Department continues to bring charges against those involved in the attack.
Today, the lawyer for the right-wing paramilitary group the Oath Keepers
was indicted on three felony counts of obstructing an official proceeding
and obstructing justice. Several members of that group were previously
charged with seditious conspiracy or an effort to overthrow the government.
They will go on trial at the end of this month.
The efforts to seek accountability for what happened inside the White House
that day also continued to move forward. Tomorrow, Trump White House
lawyers Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin are expected to testify before a
federal grand jury is part of the Justice Department`s ongoing
investigation into the attack.
Meanwhile, the January 6 Committee continues its own investigation.
Tonight, it sent a letter to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich asking him
to voluntarily testify before the committee. Their letter to Gingrich is
full of new allegations about what the White House was planning both before
and after the Capitol attack.
The committee claims that after the election, Gingrich was involved in the
creation of TV ads promoting the false claim that the election was stolen.
They say he urged the Trump team to promote the false election fraud claims
that centered around election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss who both
testified to the committee about the harassment they faced as a result of
The letter also alleges that the former house speaker was involved in the
fake electors scandal the one that`s being currently investigated by both
the committee and the Justice Department. After laying all of that out, the
committee writes to Gingrich, quote, accordingly, you appear to have been
involved with President Trump`s efforts to stop the certification of the
election results even after the attack on the Capitol.
The shocking revelations out of Mar-a-Lago may have pushed the January
investigations out of the headlines for a while. But as President Biden
laid out tonight the ongoing threat to democracy is still one of the
fundamental challenges of our time and the investigation into January 6 may
be the country`s best shot at holding accountable those men and women who
threaten one of the country`s most basic freedoms.
Joining us now is Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland, a
member of the January 6 committee.
Congressman Raskin, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): You bet.
WAGNER: Let me just first start with where you think the country is at.
The president offered a very pointed I would I would call it a line of
criticism. It was bluntly an attack on mega Republicans who he accuses of
being usurpers of democracy which is obviously paraphrasing. Do you think
we are on the precipice of civil war?
The polling around this shows that Democrats think it`s likely by a
percentage of 39 percent, Republicans 58 percent of the GOP believes we are
on the precipice of civil war. Where do you believe we are?
RASKIN: Well, it was a superb speech that President Biden gave in
Philadelphia and he talked about the defense of democracy and the defense
of equality. I think we need to elaborate further, the defense of freedom.
It was Lincoln after all who said that constitutional democracy is the
beautiful silver platter upon which rests the golden apple of freedom.
And in America, democracy is clearly under attack as we saw on January 6,
and as we see in these continuing assaults on elections and election
officials across the country. But freedom`s under attack too by a Supreme
Court that has been gerrymandered by Donald Trump`s party and by the
justices that he packed quite illegitimately on the court by preventing
hearings for example in the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme
So in any event, you know, there is a lot of chatter about Civil War.
Lincoln did say that a house divided cannot stand and the nation couldn`t
survive half slave and half free. I suppose the major political fault line
we`re seeing right now is between a nation that is half free choice for
women and half theocrat and half misogynist.
And I don`t know that that can last for a very long time. I think we will
become either a country that is equal and free for all citizens, including
women, including with the right to travel or as the Republicans want, as
Mike Pence has argued for, they will pass a national law banning abortion
and really driving women into a permanent second-class status in the
WAGNER: I mean, and I think you`re right to call into -- before
reproductive freedom but this is also -- it felt like a speech for history,
right? This was a moment when you have a president speaking to a country
that`s in crisis, that could be at a breaking point. And I wonder as
someone who`s on one of the key committees that`s investigating sort of how
we make amends, how we hold accountable the actors who are trying to
Do you feel like these investigations -- do you feel like this committee
work is getting us closer to a more peaceable union or is it fracturing us
RASKIN: No, it`s definitely unifying the country around the Constitution,
around the rule of law and around basic Democratic values. And I think that
that may have something to do with President Biden`s speech, the fact that
we`ve focused everybody`s attention on the fact that we`ve got the MAGA-
dominated Republican Party positioned outside of the constitutional order.
I would add only a couple of points to the president`s excellent speech.
One is that democracy is not a static thing but it is a dynamic process.
And Tocqueville remarked in democracy in America that voting rights and
democracy in our country are either shrinking and shriveling away and we`ve
certainly been in a contractionary mode, or they`re growing and they`re
expanding, and that`s been the history of course of the struggle of women
to be full participants in democracy, the struggle of African Americans to
have full voting rights and to be full participants and so on.
Well, I think that just as 37 states have had to argue for Democratic
inclusion, there are more would-be states seeking inclusion membership,
including Washington, D.C., 713,000 disenfranchised tax-paying American
citizens. They want statehood. Three and a half million people in Puerto
Rico who have tasted the bitter price of colonial disenfranchisement as
recently as Hurricane Maria where they got cheated out of hundreds of
millions of dollars of aid and instead Donald Trump threw paper towels at
We need a constitutional amendment guaranteeing everybody the right to
vote. We need the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. In other words, we`ve got
to get democracy moving again. It`s not just a defensive question of
protecting what we got, but making sure that democracy moves and adapts to
the challenges of the new century.
WAGNER: Well, right, and part of moving forward is coming to a conclusion
about what happened, right, and it`s agreeing what went wrong. For example,
on January 6, and I would love to turn our attention to the committee work
because there is fairly big breaking news this evening about your request -
- or your request to speak to former Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the
president`s casual advisors, if you will.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the specific actions undertaken by
Mr. Gingrich that have piqued the committee`s interest?
RASKIN: Well, you know, we`ve spoken obviously to more than a thousand
witnesses at this point and we`re interested in talking to anybody who can
shed some light on why this dangerous assault on American democratic
institutions took place, how exactly it took place, and then what are we
going to need to do to fortify ourselves against coup`s insurrections
political violence, attempts to manipulate the nooks and crannies of the
electoral college in order to entrench minority rule and to get losers
propelled to the presidency.
So I think that Newt Gingrich speaking as one member to my mind was
involved in that process and used whatever knowledge he has to try to
promote and absolutely insidious and indefensible interpretation of the
Constitution, but we`ll see.
I mean, you know, this is why we ask people to come in, people tell us
things. We get certain kinds of indications. We want people to testify
themselves and most people have done that without lying and coming forward
and telling what they know there are other people who have tried to battle
us who have invoked phony privileges and tried to elude the process. But
the truth is being known and for every person who tries to lie and cover up
the truth, there are another five people who come forward to tell us
exactly what happened.
WAGNER: Yeah, I want to ask about that because Chairman Thompson, Benny
Thompson, has suggested that lots of Trump cabinet members are willing and
happy to accommodate the committee`s line of questioning that the work is -
- has been ongoing through the summer. Is there anything you can tell us
about what might happen next month? Is there a plan to hold more hearings?
Is there anything you could tell us about any of the topics you have been
focusing on? We`ve heard reporting about the 25th Amendment with this
Gingrich invitation. We`re hearing about the fake slates of electors. Is
there anything you could give us by way of guidance in terms of the
RASKIN: Well, the country has learned a remarkable amount from the
hearings that we`ve had. There are certain open questions on the table that
people approach me about all the time when you know I just bump into them
in the airport or on the street or whatever. I mean, people want to know
you know, yeah, was there in fact a cover-up, was there an effort to
destroy all of those texts in the Secret Service and in the Department of
People want more clarity on why the National Guard was not a visible
forceful presence from the beginning the way that it was, for example, when
Black Lives Matter came to the capitol on June the 2nd of 2020.
So we`re going to try to answer some of those questions and I am very
determined to find out what exactly Trump had in mind in trying to ride
back to the Capitol like Mussolini to storm in with the mob to get himself
declared president and how exactly did they think that was going to unfold
on the floor of the House of Representatives.
So we need to tie up some loose ends but the main thing really, Alex, now
is to make recommendations to the country and to the Congress about what
needs to be done to make sure that we are never caught like this again by a
fascist street movement and inside bad faith strategic actors who are
determined to overthrow the constitutional order.
And, you know, I wish only that Joe Biden had placed his excellent analysis
in a global context because the autocrats and the kleptocrats and the
theocrats all over earth are marching against democracy and trying to
destroy democratic institutions and we need to defend it here. We need to
make it work. We need to make democracy grow in order to turn around that
America -- the cause of America like Tom Paine said really should be the
cause of all humanity in terms of promoting democracy and human rights and
WAGNER: I just have one last question for you about the investigation that
has been front and center in the news in the last several weeks that of the
Mar-a-Lago documents that were uh taken by the FBI. Does the committee have
an interest in those documents given that some of them seem to be fairly
key documents from the President Trump`s time in office? Have you been in
communication about reviewing those once the ODNI is done with its review?
RASKIN: Well, under House resolution 503, our charge is to examine what
happened on January 6 and why and then to make recommendations about
preventing any repetition in the future. To the extent those documents bear
on those set of questions then we`re interested. But you know, I`ll make a
remark as just one member of Congress who`s lived through the Trump period,
the guy is a one-man crime wave and I was completely unaware of the fact
that he had pilfered, you know, top secret classified documents from the
White House and taken them with him to Mar-a-Lago. I think most if not all
of the members of our committee were completely taken by surprise by all of
That`s a separate stream of investigation from what we`re looking at, just
like the alleged rapes and sexual assaults and the real estate fraud and
the bank fraud and Trump University, all of these different criminal and
civil offenses have a different genesis. But the guy is obviously like a
mob boss who wakes up and decides who he`s going to try to rip off or
exploit that day. But we`re paying attention to the protection of American
constitutional democracy because for us, that`s the center of the threat
that he poses to the republic.
Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland and member of the January
6 committee, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
RASKIN: Thanks for having me.
WAGNER: We have much more to get to this hour. We are going to talk live
with the woman, the Democrat who beat Sarah Palin to be Alaska`s next
member of Congress.
We will talk to Senator Amy Klobuchar about President Biden`s speech and
what she as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee thinks about Trump`s
Mar-a-Lago document drama. But next former, U.S. attorney Joyce Vance will
join me to unpack what happened in a Florida courtroom today where DOJ
lawyers faced off with Donald Trump`s legal team.
Stay with us.
WAGNER: An overdue library book -- yes, folks that was Team Trump`s
argument today in a federal courtroom in Palm Beach, Florida, where they
were trying to characterize the pickle Donald Trump has gotten himself into
after repeatedly failing to return classified documents and records to the
Trump`s lawyers said in court today, quote, we`ve characterized it at times
as an overdue library book scenario. No biggie. Those classified and top
secret documents they are just like an overdue library book.
That interesting argument was made by Trump`s lawyers today during a
hearing this afternoon to determine whether or not a federal judge should
grant Trump`s request to appoint a special master to review the documents
that the FBI retrieved from Trump`s home. Yes, documents like these top
secret classified documents found squirreled away throughout Mar-a-Lago in
his office, his bedroom and his storage room.
The Trump-appointed judge did not issue a ruling from the bench as to
whether or not she would appoint a special master per Trump`s request, but
she did say she would unseal a more detailed inventory of the documents
taken from Mar-a-Lago. Her ruling and the unsealing of that document could
come at any time.
We have no idea when we are going to get it. So know that we have all of
our eyes on you, PACER. That`s a legal joke.
In court today, the Justice Department had a simple reminder for the former
president and his legal team about just whose documents they really are.
They pointed out today that Trump, quote, is no longer the president and
because he`s no longer the president, he had no rights to those documents.
He was unlawfully in possession of them. That ends the analysis, full stop.
It does not get any clearer than that. The Justice Department argued that
the appointment of a special master on claims of executive privilege would
be quote unprecedented because that`s claiming executive privilege against
the executive branch, which seems sort of impossible. The DOJ also argued
that adding a special master at this point would cause delays, not only for
its own ongoing criminal investigation, but for the Office of the Director
of National Intelligence and her ongoing damage assessment of the
Remember, the Justice Department has said their initial review of the
documents is complete its special review team, that filter team, has
already set aside a small handful of documents deemed privileged and the
appointment of a special master could delay the important work that damage
assessment about the fallout from those classified top secret documents
hanging around Trump`s club and what all that means for national security,
also whether or not those classified documents contain national secrets
that improperly held would be a violation under the Espionage Act.
Meanwhile, Team Trump said a special master must be appointed because we
need to lower the temperature on both sides. We need to take a deep breath
-- from the man who brought you calls of targeted violence against FBI
agents a plea for everybody to just please get along.
Joining us now is Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the northern
district of Alabama, current professor at the University of Alabama Law
School -- School of Law, and co-host of the podcast "Sisters in Law".
Joyce, thank you so much for being with me this evening.
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me, Alex.
WAGNER: So let`s talk about this third party review this special master
where you know I`m I know you`ve seen the court minutes that we have and
the judge`s ruling, where -- where do you think she`s going to land on
this, do you have any indication based on the events of today?
VANCE: She`s given every indication that she`s inclined to use a special
master and her approach to the government has been a little bit of a plea,
come on, what`s it going to hurt to do this? But that`s not how the law
You could say this in every case, every defendant would love to have an
investigation into their criminal conduct slowed down and have an outside
person reviewing everything that DOJ does, but that`s not how our system
works and doing this is just another way of Trump demanding that he receive
special treatment, that he be set above the law. I hope the judge will see
through this and not go along with it.
WAGNER: Well, it`s not just the appointment of the special master. It`s
what the Trump team wants from the special master. Today, in court the
Trump attorney said Trump they want a third party special master to share
all of the evidence with them, including the affidavit laying out the
Is that the bridge too far or do you think that that could be legitimately
VANCE: No, that would be an absolutely illegitimate step to take. This
judge is a former federal prosecutor. It`s tough to believe that she would
approve that sort of a strategy because what Trump is really trying to do
here if you take a step back and look at the pleadings. This is just an
effort to delegitimize the Justice Department.
There`s no legal basis for appointing a special master and giving him this
extra look-see into the government`s work. He`s in essence trying to argue
that the jury of public opinion, you can`t trust the Justice Department and
that`s what this is all about. He doesn`t have a defense. He`s acknowledged
having the documents. We can all see for ourselves that they`re classified.
So his only strategy is to trot out this tired old approach that he`s used
time and time again when he`s been in trouble and to say, you can`t trust
DOJ, they`re at fault. They`re coming after me. It`s a witch hunt. I should
have a level of oversight into their investigation that no other subject in
a criminal case is entitled to.
WAGNER: What about the unsealing of the detailed inventory of items seized
from Mar-a-Lago. What can we expect there? I mean what does that
VANCE: So it`s important to note that DOJ offered this up. In their
response brief, they specifically said in a footnote by the way judge we`re
submitting this enhanced return of service this inventory of what we took
from Mar-a-Lago under seal like you asked us to.
But in light of the extraordinary circumstances in this case, we`ll agree
to unseal it and we`ll agree to let President Trump take a look at what
we`ve got. So we know that this was something DOJ offered in good faith. I
don`t expect that we`ll learn much if anything about the nature of
classified documents. We might learn for instance more detailed information
about the number of top secret documents that have SCI access,
compartmented, sorts of access listed on them.
But, Alex, something that I`m looking for here is in the response, DOJ said
that some of the evidence that they seized had evidentiary value. It wasn`t
classified documents per se, but it had evidentiary value. And in a case
like this where you`re trying to establish who was in possession of
documents, it can be very helpful to know that you`ve found several
classified documents in a drawer with the former president`s passports. So
maybe some of this evidence that we`ll learn about will be more identifying
I mean, if his wallet is in there, if it`s a notepad, he`s been taking
notes on is in there, that`s all very valuable in showing who`s in
possession, who had control of these items. Did he know that they were
there? It`s reasonable to believe that if you know his passports were in
there, he would know what else was in that drawer. Very helpful to DOJ if
it`s looking to develop a prosecutable case.
WAGNER: The irony is that we first learned about the seizure of the
passports from Donald Trump and it may turn out to be a sort of smoking gun
in all of this. The more information he puts out there or requests, the
worse the picture becomes for him.
Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney, thank you so much for your time and
expertise this evening. We always appreciate you.
VANCE: Thanks, Alex.
WAGNER: Still to come this hour, we will talk to the woman who beat Sara
Palin last night, Mary Peltola and is set to become the first Democrat to
represent Alaska in the House in half a century.
And then, could Democrats actually stand a chance at holding on to the
Senate and the House in November? Are they allowed to even express that out
loud? Senator Amy Klobuchar will join me next to talk about the midterms,
Trump`s latest legal woes, and her recent trip to Ukraine.
WAGNER: About an hour, President Joe Biden wrapped up his prime time
address to the nation. In addition to offering a broad thesis about
American democracy, the president gave Democrats their marching orders, a
playbook if you will for the November midterms as his party seeks to hold
off Republicans from retaking Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Not every Republican, not even the majority Republicans are MAGA
Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know
because I`ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans. But
there`s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven
and intimidated by Donald Trump and the migrant Republicans, and that is a
threat to this country.
MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards, backwards to an
America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to
contraception no right to marry who you love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: So there it is, straight from the head of the Democratic Party,
hit Republican opponents hard on social issues from reproductive freedom to
gay marriage and don`t mince words about just how serious the stakes really
Joining us now to discuss that strategy and Democratic fortunes is Senator
Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who sits of course on the Judiciary Committee.
We should note that she just returned from a trip to Ukraine, a country
fighting every day to preserve their own democracy.
Senator, it`s always great to see you. Thanks for joining me tonight.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, thanks, Alex, and congratulations on the
WAGNER: Thank you. Thank you for being on the new show.
I want to start first with your trip to Ukraine time the president laid out
a pretty epic thesis about the state of affairs here in America and the
darkness he sees encroaching on our democracy and I wonder having just
returned from Ukraine where it`s such a pitched battle between the forces
of light and darkness whether you see any parallels between the forces of
autocracy there and what`s happening at home domestically.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I certainly do in fact that`s what I was thinking as I
listened to the president`s beautiful and forceful speech. I was thinking
of the people of Ukraine putting their lives on the line, ballet dancers
wearing camo. You`ve got young men who have left their families behind gone
into danger`s way on the front line, all to stand up for democracy.
And when we met with President Zelenskyy, Senator Portman and I did for
over an hour, he wanted the people of America to know how grateful he is
for all we have done, humanitarian aid feeding their people economic aid
and, of course, military aid. An embassy employee told me that she got a
take out food from a Ukrainian restaurant and someone wrote on it knowing
she was American, thank you for the HIMARS, the rockets that we have -- the
missiles that we`ve let them uh use there in Ukraine. It`s an amazing
And so, how does it relate? These people are putting themselves on the
line, and what the president asked the American people to do, whether they
are independents, moderate Republicans, Democrats, put their votes on the
Vote for freedom, vote for democracy because as he gave this speech in
defense of democracy, Donald Trump in the very same day literally implied
that he wanted to pardon insurrectionists. That is a contrast, standing up
for democracy, putting our freedoms on the line, and that`s why you see
Democrats doing so well in these races across the country.
WAGNER: He`s also trying to do something that seems fairly tricky, because
on one hand, he`s painting this vivid picture of the threats on the
horizon. At the same time, the president`s saying I`ve never felt more
optimistic about America. You know, the hope and the unseen was a central
part of his message.
But it`s hard to do that, isn`t it, especially if you`re a Democrat, out on
the campaign trail. I mean, how do you balance those two seemingly
I thought one sentence summed it up from the speech when he said we honor
the will of the people. We don`t deny it. That to me sums it up because,
yes, you`re talking about democracy, honoring the will of the people but
you`re talking about honoring the will of the people by having their backs,
by bringing down the cost of pharmaceuticals and by passing in bipartisan
infrastructure bill, it`s helping people getting broadband out to people in
every corner of this country, by standing up for our veterans who are
stationed next to burn pits. That`s honoring the will of the people.
And as you talked about earning earlier, honoring the will of the people is
also saying women should be able to have the right to make their own
decisions about their health care instead of a bunch of politicians.
And when you look at what just happened in Alaska, and I can`t wait to hear
our new congresswoman who I know is going to be on your show very soon,
look, look what happened in Kansas. People turned out in droves to stand up
for the principle that women should have the freedom to make their own
decisions about their health care instead of politicians.
So I think it all relates because I think he struck a good balance today
about talking about the -- what would happen if Donald Trump and his allies
took charge again, but also what is happening now can be if we keep putting
in people who respect that democracy and want to get things done.
WAGNER: And I think -- you know, it`s right to talk about abortion being
relevant in the midterms it`s something a Pew poll shows that 71 percent of
Democrats say abortion -- abortion is very important in the midterms. But
then you look on the flip side of that, a different poll in "The Wall
Street Journal" on today says that the Mar-a-Lago search, the Mar-a-Lago
search makes 64 percent of Republican voters more likely to vote in the
I mean, on one side, we`re talking about an essential sort of question of
freedom, abortion, and the other hand, on the Republican side, the
motivator is an FBI search of documents the president swirled away with him
that were not his. What does that tell you about the ability of two parties
to come together and the stakes in this in this November election?
KLOBUCHAR: Okay. Well, first of all, "The Wall Street Journal" must not
have talked to the people I talked to at the Minnesota state fair today
when I`m just walking around the fair. People are really concerned about
someone stealing the nation`s top secrets. They understand that there are
patriots all over the globe that are helping our country and revealing
their names and the intelligence that they brought us could put them at
grave risk. There are countries that want to do us in.
Look at the evil, inhuman barbarism of Vladimir Putin right now. There are
terrorists that want to do us in. And for the president -- to have the
former president, to have taken those documents and stored them away in his
desk as we just found out after saying he`d given them all back through his
lawyers and you`ve got a place where they`re literally renting out croquet
sets and golf carts and putting the nation`s top secrets in that situation
I think is absolutely outrageous. And that`s why the Justice Department is
looking into this.
So when you look at it in terms of national security, there are a whole lot
of moderate Republicans and independents that are on the side of national
security, on the side of the FBI, and that`s the case we have to make.
WAGNER: And hopefully, that`s what`s motivating them to vote and not
indignation over the fact that the FBI knocked on the front door of Mar-a-
Senator Amy Klobuchar, we are glad you`re back home safe and sound. Thank
you for your time tonight.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
WAGNER: As Senator Klobuchar just said, we will be joined live by Democrat
Mary Peltola the first Alaska native elected to Congress and the woman who
beat Sarah Palin. She joins me live, coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: In Alaska, State Senator Don Young, a Republican, apparently
has won a narrow victory in yesterday`s election for Alaska`s only seat in
the U.S. Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: In 1973, Republican Don Young ran for and won Alaska`s only
congressional seat in a special election. That same year, Mary Peltola, the
Democrat who would one day replace him, she was born. She would also go on
to win Alaska`s lone House seat through a special election, although this
time around, the process was very different.
It was a ranked choice election, meaning that voters get to rank their
preferred candidates in order. If no candidate receives more than 50
percent of the first place votes, the race becomes an instant runoff in
round two. The candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated and their
votes go to the next choice. This keeps happening until two candidates are
left and then the candidate with the most votes wins.
It sounds kind of confusing but to win an election like this requires a
sort of crossover appeal and as it turns out, that is just what Mary
Peltola has spent her career preparing for. She spent a decade serving in
Alaska state house where she developed a reputation for being, well, nice
and for working across the aisle with folks you might not expect. The most
surprising example of which is probably former Governor Sarah Palin. The
two say they bonded as expectant mothers working in the state capitol at
the same time.
And although Palin admits that the two have very different viewpoints, she
has said that Peltola is a beautiful soul who has a heart for Alaska. In
any other state, this sort of friendship might seem surprising but this is
Alaska and doing the unexpected has kind of become Peltola`s thing.
During her campaign, she vocally supported abortion rights. She also voiced
support for universal background checks while campaigning in a pro-gun
state. And in the end, it worked. Voters have elected her to finish the
term of the late Congressman Don Young. She is now the first native woman
to represent Alaska in Congress.
Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman-elect Mary Peltola of Alaska.
I know you`re not tired of hearing the intro Democratic congresswoman-
elect, am I right?
MARY PELTOLA (D), ALASKA CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT: Thank you so much, Alex. And
no, it hasn`t gotten old yet.
WAGNER: Good. First, congratulations, and second, let`s talk about what
went down. For people who aren`t that familiar with the way ranked choice
voting works, is it generally the case or usually the case that because of
the system, you often end up with candidates who are less partisan and more
palatable to both sides? Is that a fair assessment of how it all works in
PELTOLA: Well, we`re still learning the process in Alaska as well. This
was the very first election that has been conducted under the new rank
choice voting system. But I am very optimistic and I think what it allows
to happen is steering away from the closed primary process, which has
really shown us that that has created an environment where folks are trying
to out-Democrat each other or out Republican each other to the point that
we wind up with very extreme candidates, sometimes fringe candidates who
get elected and then are not able to negotiate well when it`s time to solve
our challenges and they`re not really able to compromise or build
And I think that the beauty of ranked choice voting is it`s going to
attract more middle-of-the-road candidates and allow more middle-of
candidate -- middle-of-the-road candidates who are much more in line with
the average voter I think in Alaska, as well as across the United States
who are we do tend to be very middle of the road as an electorate.
I wonder, I mean is that why Sarah Palin didn`t win and do you think she`s
learned that lesson? You all, you, Nick Begich and Sarah Palin are still
running for this seat the permanent seat come November. When she lost, she
impugned the ranked choice voting system and said though we`re disappointed
in this outcome Alaskans know I`m the last one who will ever retreat.
Instead, I`m going to reload.
I mean, I understand Alaska is a pro-gun state but Palin has a tendency to
speak in these kind of extreme, Trumpy, MAGA-ish semi-word salad epithets,
and I wonder if you think that kind of extremism has a place in not just
ranked choice voting but in the Republican Party if they`re going to do
well in November? I mean, is that why she lost?
PELTOLA: Well, I think this election -- for this special election, just to
fill out the remainder of Congressman Young`s term, I think that it really
showed us that there is an appetite for folks who are not consumed by
partisanship, who really want to bring people together.
You know, early in your -- earlier in your program, you talked about some
of the issues that we`re facing as a nation. I think we`ve seen some of the
foreign aggression come out of Russia and China which is very concerning to
me as an American, and it makes me realize that no other Americans are my
enemies. It doesn`t matter what party you`re from if you`re an American you
are not my enemy.
And I think that that kind of um messaging appeals to people there`s an
appetite for that I think that we saw where that takes us on January 6th.
And I just think that people are craving people who want to build
coalitions and unite us as Americans rather than divide us.
WAGNER: Do you think that there are Republicans in the House that feel the
I certainly hope so. I certainly hope so. And I`m very optimistic about
both ranked choice voting but where we`re going as a country, I think that
there is just such an appetite and such a demand for people who want to
work together and want to cooperate with each other.
We have very serious and pressing issues that are facing households across
the nation. We`ve got skyrocketing inflation. We`ve got housing shortages.
We all want jobs with livable wages. We all want good schools to send our
There are so many more things that unite us than divide us.
WAGNER: Democratic Congresswoman-elect -- I`ll say it again -- Democratic
Congresswoman-elect Mary Peltola of Alaska, the first native person to
represent the state, it`s about damn time. Thank you for your time.
Congratulations on your win.
We`ll be right back.
WAGNER: That`s it for us. But before we go, we have an update for you. On
the heels of President Biden`s primetime speech about the ongoing threats
to democracy, Wisconsin election officials are seeking to establish a new
office to fight back on misinformation. On Wisconsin. Good luck to you.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.