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Welcome to political. I'm Ron's Tesla, and this is our weekly roundup, where we bring in a rotating panel of experts to discuss the truth. You need to know behind the most important stories of the week and how they're shaping the political landscape. On our tremendous panel today, returning to politics is former Democratic senator from Alabama. CNN contributor and fellow at Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service, the one and only Doug Jones. Senator, welcome back and thank you so much for making the time for us today.


It's my pleasure. Ron, always good to be with. Also returning to the round up is political strategist, crisis communications consultant and MSNBC political analyst Susan Perko. Susan, as always, good to have you. Oh, it's so great to be back. And I listen to that podcast with Senator Jones, and I am just such a huge fan. And then, you know, another person you had in your podcast, Joyce Vance, was like in and I'm just very impressed with the Alabama contingency.


It is very strong, is very strong.


On today's round up, the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Shervin for the murder of George Floyd, the enormous and exciting scope and scale of President Biden's infrastructure plan and its prospects for bipartisan support and the lasting consequences of the politicization of science and facts during the Trump administration and what the Biden administration is doing to detect manipulation and correct the record. So let's dig in. Ten months after George Floyds death, the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Shoman, who knelt on fluid's neck for over nine minutes, began this week.


And so far we've witnessed the prosecution present their case and heard from several really powerful witnesses. So, Senator Jones, to help us break down the dynamics of this trial. Can you help us understand the difference between each of the charges Chauvin faces and specifically the different burdens of proof each of those charges carries?


You know, this this is kind of a unique it's unique to Minnesota law. So I'm not totally familiar. But you've got a second degree murder charge. You've got a third degree murder charge and you've got a manslaughter charge. Now, that the one thing I want to emphasize about this round to all of these are all homicide charges, OK, these these are not negligent charges. These are all homicide charges. But it's important because they don't carry none of these charges carry an element of intent.


The officer did not have to intend for George Foy to die in order to get a conviction. And that's really important, I think, because people focus on the murder charges almost by because they murder, just murder just sounds so much worse. And it is something that so many people think of. But manslaughter is a serious charge and some it's very difficult often when you're trying to charge a police officer to get those higher charges. But the difference in this is, is the level of is the degree of actions of Chauvin in terms of what he was doing and how it will be perceived by the jury.


And the significance is also going to be the cause of death. We're seeing a lot of emotion in the eyewitness testimony. We know what happened. The question is going to end up being the forensics. And so there is every every time that you go below, like the second degree murder charge, it requires just a little bit less of it. Intended actions, intended actions, meaning what he was actually doing as opposed to intending the death of one is during an assault.


That's murder in the third degree is with a depraved mind. And then the negligent I mean, the manslaughter charge is more of engaging in an action that could likely cause that death or serious injury and did. And so you step these things down each time and the jury is going to take a look at that. Each element of each of these crimes have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And if the jury doesn't think, for instance, it was an assault, then they're not likely to convict on murder in the second degree.


And you'll go down to the third degree and you look at what he was doing. Now, I will tell you what we're seeing right now is incredible evidence about this officer. And what his state of mind was in really applying an unusual and excessive amount of force to George Floyd after he was down, after he was handcuffed, after he was crying for help, after a paramedic was saying, you need to give this guy some assistance, let up on him, and he'd never remove that knee until an ambulance came.


And then as you're as he's walking back and this was the testimony yesterday as he's walking away, this nonchalant attitude that he just put this guy in an ambulance, he was likely dead at the time he got in the ambulance or close to it. And he was it was almost like, OK, what do we do for lunch? And that's a dead state of mind for him. It's going to be really important. But again, we hadn't got to the forensics of this yet.


Right. And I want to talk for just a moment about what prosecutors are going to need to do to convince the jury to convict Shoman of these charges, because my understanding is that the cause of death has already been ruled a homicide.


Is that accurate? It is.


But that is just an opinion of the medical examiner. And it's an important opinion, but it's not going to be the opinion that carries the day necessarily. Ultimately, the jury is going to determine whether this was a homicide or not. OK, and the medical examiner, as will other forensic people, are going to testify and they've got to link. And no matter how you look at it, they've got to link the force that was being applied to George Floyd's neck and his cause of death.


That doesn't mean that his heart condition couldn't have come into play or even some, you know, potentially illegal drugs in his system. But they've got to show that link. There's got to be some link somehow, some way. And I think they've got six or seven medical examiners who are going to make that link, even though the defense obviously is going to try to say George Floyd would this was unrelated to what was happening with him. He was in a different state and it was unrelated.


So it's going to be really important. They've got to make that link somehow some way. But it doesn't have to be the only causation. It doesn't have to be the absolute causation, but they've got to make some kind of link.


So, Susan, there's a specific moment in this trial I want to focus in on, and that is Chauvin's defense attorneys questioning of Donald Williams, the second who was an eye witness, the defense attorney, his name is Eric Nelson, listed off obscenities that Williams could be heard yelling at Chauvel and fellow officers. And then Nelson cited a portion of an interview between Williams and investigators when Williams said, quote, like, I really wanted to beat the shit out of the police officers, end quote.


Nelson then suggested to Williams, So again, sir, it's fair to say that you grew angrier and angrier. And Williams responded, No, you can't paint me out as angry. I would say I was in a position where I had to be controlled, controlled professionalism. I wasn't angry. So this struck me because, of course, he would have every right to be angry. Who like who wouldn't be angry. As they watched that unfold, the entire country was angry when they saw the video of Floyd's death.


And, you know, if a murder witness isn't angry, then there's something wrong. And this pretty obviously seems like an attempt to invoke the racist trope of an angry black person. Right. Black men and women aren't ever allowed to be angry even when someone is being murdered in front of them. But we do know that six of the 12 seated jurors in this trial are white. So how do you think that might have impacted Williams's response to this line of questioning and and how the prosecution and defense will have to frame their arguments in general?


Well, I think that there's something very interesting to keep in mind that that was one witness who was then kind of followed by the the woman who is a member of the fire department. And when she was asked, like, you know, have you been distracted or do you get tunnel vision and asked about going into an emergency or crisis, she goes, no, we're trained. So I and she was dealing with the same type of anger. I mean, the one thing is that you see all the witnesses, they almost all break down.


I just can't. Again, I think if I'm a member of the jury, which I would not be because of my opinions of the matter, but to see a nine year old girl have to testify of witnessing a murder, that is where I would take things in a little more seriously.


And I know it's not to the legal point that the senator talks about, but it is very emotional and it's what it's what everyone is seeing in that kind of I just to draw it out to a bigger picture is that this is now also a cultural trial that we've never quite seen before, how it affects our country's psyche. You know, the closest is if you go back to George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon. Martin. And that was eight years ago, and if you think about how much the movement has progressed and how much now this is in all of our psyche is just not a simple black man being killed.


I mean, it is. And that's what he's on trial for. But the injustice and the movement from last spring and what it means to all Americans now and now, it has influenced a much greater diverse population than any of these trials ever have.


Yeah. Senator, the last time you were on, we talked about the series of trials you tried around the 16th Street Baptist Church bombings in Birmingham, which was really a momentous series of trials. How important do you think this trial could end up being in American history?


Well, I think it's going to be very important. I really do. I think it's going to be very important. But I want to say two things about that. First, it is it's going to be important because it is, as Susan said, it is the trial that galvanized and really put the spotlight on everything that was going on with the racial inequities. And and I'm not sure candidly, guys, I am not sure that this would have gotten the publicity that it did and the momentous occasion that it had had.


We also not been in a pandemic that was also spotlighting the racial inequities in health care and economics and jobs and those kind of things. And then you have that. And then all of a sudden you've got this this event that occurs that is captured on film and in the country is going, oh, my God. And there are those of us who have been preaching this for a long, long time. And we sit and we told you so.


But there were others around this country who just kind of ignored the inequities and thought, well, everybody's doing OK. And so I really think and if you look if you look what happened by August, though, it became a very political issue. And so it's important to move this back. And that's what this trial is doing. It's I hope it is anyway. I hope it is moving it back into the conscience of America to say we've got to do something because law enforcement reform, as much as momentum as we had in the US Senate, in the Congress last summer, it died.


It just it completely fizzled as we got closer to the election and it became a political issue. This is going to put it back, I hope, front and center. And that's the first thing. The second thing, though, is from a prosecutor's perspective and a defense lawyer, quite frankly, perspective, you don't want it to be the trial of the century. You don't want it to be a cultural war. You don't want it to make a history making difference.


Your job is to keep focused on a victim of a crime if you're the prosecutor and not let the other extraneous issues and I say extraneous from a trial perspective, stick with your process like you would try every other case and make sure that that victim gets justice. And if you focus on that victim and the justice for that victim and not look at all the publicity, then I think that this prosecution is going to be in really good shape one way or another.


Again, what I hope, though, is that people don't always get their expectations up so much that if they if they do come back with a manslaughter conviction, that that's going to cause a rift because it shouldn't. It's still a homicide.


And do you think that's why they chose not to pursue murder in the first degree as a charge? Yes.


I mean, I don't I really do not think that you could ever prove that their show even intended to kill George Floyd when they stopped him and put his knee on there. That is a tactic that's been used before. And I just don't think they could ever prove intent. And that would be what was required for murder in the first.


So before we before we move on, I wanted you to talk a little bit about these witnesses and what you're seeing from them. As a prosecutor, you mentioned that they're going to need to present convincing forensic evidence in order to create that link. But how impactful do you think the the witnesses so far will be as the prosecution presents this case and how and and and how a defense attorney would be thinking about moving how moving these witnesses have been? Yeah, no, it it is.


They've been very emotional, as Susan said. Remember, all of these trials with every witness is a piece of a puzzle. Every every witness provides a piece of a puzzle that ultimately has to come together to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And that's what they're doing. And they're and by putting these witnesses on showing how it appeared, that show kind of dug his knee and a little bit harder on occasion that he was so nonchalant. It really shows the jury what they're doing right here, showing the different elements to try to get that charge up as high as they as they.


I will tell you that the you know, I'm not too worried about the fact that, you know, the first witness may have yelled cusswords at the police officers, I would have to if I was standing there. Yeah, right. That was my reaction. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm not concerned that the crowd was somewhat agitated. They should have been agitated. The two things that come to mind for me that that is most important, other than the just the emotion, is that the young lady that took the first video, she was 17 at the time.


And the defense lawyer, I think, made a tactical mistake when he asked her this changed your life. And I was thinking, I'm watching this and I'm thinking, well, course we're where is this going? And you think to ask that question, you would have thought that he might have some evidence that she had tried to monetize that video, capitalize on that, go all that he did. And, you know, and when she would, she said every night, I apologize to George FOID and I think I should have done more.


But then she looked at the defendant and we didn't see this. But I can I can visualize it in a courtroom because I've been there so many times looking at that defendant and said, but that was his job. That was he was supposed to take care of him. That was a very powerful moment. And I'll tell you, that's why I got a little lucky, because she should have she could have said, you bet your ass it changed my life, you know, watching somebody die at the hands of a police officer.


So that was powerful. And then you couple that with the the the paramedic, the EMT folks who are saying, I can help here, give some aid, I can help make sure this is OK. And they kept pushing her back that those were two I think the two most powerful moments in the in the trial thus far.


Yeah. Susan, is there anything else that stood out to you about how this is playing in the media?


I think it's playing out just about as I would expect it to.


I do think it's piercing through in a slightly different way than, again, previous trials that it is it is threaded through our society now in a much different way. It's not just a liberal media trial.


It is something that everyone is very acutely aware of. And I think, you know, and I appreciate what the senator said, because the prosecutor has a single job to do and it doesn't matter what's happening on the outside. But the one thing that has surprised me, I guess, because I feel like it's just so obvious of what this police officer did, and I know it's not murder, but in my opinion, it's murder.


I know that's not the charge, but is that people are are. Are concerned, especially when you speak to people of color that and they're almost expecting that he, too, can get off. And I find I was surprised to hear so much of that in the commentary around the trial when they're not airing and listening to other people, that there are a lot of people who think he can get off and are very concerned about it, which will then have, of course, a different type of implication down the road, whether it's manslaughter or another charge he's found guilty of or even if he's found not guilty.


I mean, the implications there are huge, but I was surprised to hear that thread as well.


And Ron, what's interesting about that and Susan talked about the historic trials, I liken this more in almost the opposite way of the O.J. Simpson trial and the division that that created. And OJ Simpson did get off. And you saw the reaction. You know, it was it was crazy. The reaction there. I don't think that you will have you're going to have a really tough reaction. It's going to be really tough if he is completely exonerated, exonerated by finding a not guilty, if he unlike the Simpson case, if he if he is found guilty, I don't think that you will see the white community in Minneapolis or anywhere else do anything except breathe a little bit of a sigh of relief, even if it's under their breath, because they know people know this should not have happened.


Before we leave this topic, I want to look ahead a little bit and and get each of your takes on how the outcome, regardless of what it is of this trial, may play when it comes to our prospects for sincere police reform around the country. Because I know that as this goes on, that's sort of the background music in everyone's head. Right. What is this going to mean for the way we police in this country? And and I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.


Senator, don't you go first. I think it's going to have a I hope it will have a big effect no matter which way it goes, if if he is found guilty of something, it's going to give impetus for those voices, for police reform that were out there last summer, that were protesting peacefully, protesting to say, we let this moment pass, let's don't let it pass again. The same is true. If he is found not guilty, it gives it gives those voices.


It still empowers those voices to say this. The system is not only broken when it comes to excessive force, but now we know that it is broken with regard to the legal system because you cannot blame the jury. I believe that this jury is going to do their duty and they're going to follow the law and the evidence. And so regardless of the outcome, I hope it doesn't create if he's found not guilty, I hope and I don't think he will be, quite frankly.


But I hope it doesn't create the kind of violence that we saw some last summer. But I do think regardless of the outcome, it will give a lot of get strength back in the voices calling for reform. It will give the administration and those in Congress the opportunity to bring it back up in light of this trial.


Yeah, Suzanne, same question. Do you think that there is any possibility that a conviction might in some way reduce the political will for police reform in the sense that the system worked this time?


I'm going to look at that through a more of a political lens, if that's all right, which is what I do. I guess so. Here you go.


Last summer, what you saw with this with people protesting was basically white suburban people, especially women, really waking up to the fact like, oh, OK, I knew it existed, but nine minutes on this guy's neck, like, it brought a lot of people into it, from Mitt Romney to the street to March for Black Lives Matter.


So right. There you go. Yeah. I mean, like there is Mitt Romney. So and I think that that will never go away. Like the outcome of the trial will not change that. That way it's broken through into our society.


The issue of police reforms are obviously needed. And if he is found not guilty, which again, I can't imagine he is, but I think it'll show the injustice of the system and cause for more. And if he is found guilty, I think it will show that police officers need to be retrained and have you know, there needs to be more reforms there. However, don't underestimate the fact that there will be those who say, oh, now they're going to want to defund the police.


I mean, there are a lot of people, especially on the left, who say defunding the police was exactly the wrong message to send out. Reforming is good. Changing spent spending money differently is very good, but defunding has just such a bad connotation and terrible communication strategy.


Regardless, it's a great intent, terrible communication strategy.


And I mean, I think the center you know, you saw this what happened firsthand in D.C. with that conversation among your colleagues?


Yes, I saw it firsthand what happened in Alabama to me, because I got accused of of supporting people who want to defund the police. But Susan's absolutely right. If if this if he is found guilty, we've still got to separate those folks who say that the system worked. And so we don't need to do anything. Well, the judicial system worked in this case, but the law enforcement system, this guy should have never died. And the law and regardless of the of that, the that's where the reform comes.


And we will have to squelch the politically they're going the right is going to say, oh, this is just going to give impetus for defunding the place. And I think it's going to be really important, important for the Biden administration to counter that immediately, to say this requires more training. This requires additional resources, targeted resources that will help train these officers and give more transparency to the investigations and records that may follow these officers throughout their careers.


And I just couldn't. And harsh consequences because, frankly, having having these people held accountable, the only way you're going, you're not going to change the way people think who have been on the job for 20 years. I'm sorry to say that just a fact. But if you can make them pay for it in some way and there's consequences for those actions, that is also critical. Yeah.


Yeah, absolutely. OK, let's talk about infrastructure. On Wednesday, President Biden unveiled the framework of his two trillion dollar infrastructure plan with a long list of ambitious projects intended to create jobs and strengthen American competitiveness, including one hundred and fifteen billion dollars to rebuild tens of thousands of miles of roads and crumbling bridges. Eighty five billion dollars for public transit. One hundred and eleven billion dollars for water infrastructure. And this list goes on. There is so much in here that we could really do a whole episode on this proposal itself.


But I want to focus briefly on one of the biggest line items, which is four hundred billion dollars for expanding access to in-home care. So this may seem detached from our idea of infrastructure, but it falls into Biden's stated goal of building and fortifying the underlying infrastructure of our entire economy by creating jobs and raising wages and benefits for essential workers. The New York Times characterize this as a salve to underpaid and undervalued caregivers who are disproportionately women of color. And this reminded me of our recent conversation with UT Austin professor Victoria Soto, which you can find on the political defeat released on March 17th, in which she spoke to the return on investment we'd see by adding in by investing in workers and working families at the bottom of the economic ladder.


So, Senator Jones, could you help us see through Joe Biden's eyes? And I know you were going to participate in a briefing today, but the but the weather and the Internet stymied your plans. Could you help us see through Joe Biden's eyes for a moment? And how would this enormous proposal help our economy recover for everyone and specifically for those most economically disadvantaged and also hardest hit by covid?


Look, everyone, there's an important piece of our economy that was ongoing up until the time of the pandemic that people forget about. Everybody thinks that the economy was going good and it was fine. Donald Trump touted the economy and all of the things that he did to help the economy, to help the stock market. The fact of the matter is that the the trillion dollar budgets that Congress was pumping money back in to the economy was what was creating that good economy.


It wasn't a single thing. It wasn't the tax cuts for the wealthy and for the corporations. It was really the federal budget that was putting money in there that were giving money, putting money to create those jobs, do those kind of things. That's really important to remember. And so what what Biden is trying to do at this point is to is to replicate that, because all of a sudden we hit we hit a cliff and we are slowly coming back.


And he is trying to make sure that we continue on that road because every economist is saying pretty much that without this, we're going to continue to see high unemployment well beyond things. And so it's those federal dollars. And it's one of those issues where you can take all of the things that members of Congress and all the things that people in the public are saying that we need and putting it in a package and say, OK, it's time for the government to put their money where their mouth is.


And let's talk about doing this. Let's we all can come together because there's not a member of Congress who would deny that we need better roads and bridges. Our infrastructure is crumbling. We need better broadband access in rural areas and even in areas not just better access, but affordable broadband for folks around this country. There's no one that would deny we need to help our school systems and in-home health care. So what I think this package is doing is saying this is a way to not only continue to let this economy grow and get businesses back in order, but it helps the individuals, because everyone also knows that economic gap, the wealth gap was continuing to grow.


And he wants to stop that slide and he wants to empower these these folks from the from the grassroots up. And I think it's a it's a bold plan. It's a very long bridge to cross with Congress. But it's you got to do it. You've got to put it out there. We didn't have this. We talked about it when I was in the Senate. Donald Trump talked about it. He had big plans. He never gave it to us.


We never saw an infrastructure plan. Now we've got let's just let's figure out how we can discuss and negotiate and figure out, because as everybody knows, the big issue is going to be how we pay for it.


So you mentioned the wealth cap. And I just want to make a little bookmark here that I want to come back to a conversation, another episode about the conservative case. Actually addressing and decreasing the wealth gap in this country because it's a it's a it's a topic of mine. So I want to think here about the money for a couple of minutes. This is a big bill. There's a lot in it. It also costs a lot. For better or worse, the price tag on the package is going to be a topic of conversation for the next couple of weeks.


Biden plans to pay for the plan by increasing taxes on corporations and by rolling back some of the Trump twenty seventeen tax cuts. And as a point of reference, in twenty seventeen before the Trump tax cuts, the corporate rate was dropped from thirty five percent to twenty one percent in twenty seventeen, and Biden's proposing twenty eight percent corporate tax rate. So it would still not be as high as the pre twenty seventeen level. So with this in mind, we have of course already heard big business interests dismiss it outright.


But according to The Washington Post, economists who support the proposal are arguing that the positives far outweigh the negatives of increasing taxes on corporations and that companies can handle this new level of taxation. So this is obviously an expensive plan, but how should we be thinking about it as an investment in in the long term? How is it actually an investment in the benefits corporations? It benefits corporations as well as the American people more broadly, like talk about how this is the underly, this is the foundation of the economy.


The corporations are going to grow on for the next 20, 50, 100 years.


You know, every thing that I learned when I was in the Senate and I had a number of people coming in because, you know, I'm I get concerned about deficits, too. Everyone gets concerned about those long term deficits. But infrastructure plans where you are growing jobs and you are putting money in the economy creates an issue where you're going to get money back for. I don't know the exact figures here, Ron, but for every dollar you put in, you're going to create a dollar or so, maybe a little bit less, maybe a little bit more, sometimes coming back into the Treasury because of the growth of the economy, that you don't do that when you just cut taxes the way it happened in twenty seventeen, tax cuts only return about twenty five cents on the dollar.


Infrastructure is going to return close to dollar for dollar. You know, there'll be people out there that challenge that. And I will say I don't know the exact figures. I know it's a hell of a lot more than twenty five cents on the dollar, though. And so it's going to create that. It's a long term economically. I think it gives both businesses and individuals the opportunity to to do those kind of things, to put money that's going to put money back into the Treasury.


That's going to be the key. The deficit problem is a revenue problem. It is not a spending cut problem. It's really a revenue problem that we have to address. No one wants to raise taxes. But at the same time, I think there can be some common ground on rolling back a little bit of what was done in twenty seventeen. I will be surprised, quite frankly, if they roll it back to twenty eight percent, I look for around twenty five percent or so, which folks like Tim Kaine and others had proposed back in twenty seventeen.


And I do think businesses can can live with that. I think individuals that need that help, that in-home care, that, that broadband, all of that is going to create a lot of jobs and, and keep people working, put people working and putting money back in the United States Treasury.


So, Susan, I saw you nodding when we're talking about the politics of this, and we're going to get to that in a second. But first, what does history tell us about how corporations actually behave when taxes are raised versus their rhetoric beforehand, which we've already begun to see from organizations like the Business Roundtable and the Chamber and the usual crew?


Well, it usually kind of sounds something like wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah. That's where that's when you hear Charlie Brown's teacher, everybody.


But but, you know, the interesting thing, the senator and brought up that twenty five percent number, that's actually where a lot of Republicans thought we were going to land originally even.


I know like like twenty one percent. You're not going to change the equation enough and short. The money didn't get repatriated the way we thought it would. Absolutely not. But now I think it's I know we're going to get into the politics side of it in a minute, but there are other issues at hand, which is the infrastructure is bipartisan in theory, except for what you consider is bipartisan. What infrastructure.


Right. Right. To what is an infrastructure project. So that's where you're going to get to that four hundred million dollars that's supposed to be invested that way is different then a bridge, which is now.


And I'll argue that on top of this, this infrastructure project is supposed to be very climate friendly, which is also a potential for the Green New Deal rhetoric to come back up. And you can bet that Republicans, if you're not going to get on board for a bill that saves lives, that has. Already killed over 500000 Americans. How are you going to get them involved in this? And then again, I know you don't want to get into political side, you know.


Yeah, go for it. But then you have like Joe Manchin, who we hear a lot about all the time, and he has already come out on the record saying we it should it has to be deficit neutral and we have to raise taxes. And and here's the kicker. And it has to be bipartisan.


So you tell me he's signing up for that.


I mean, it's just it's very difficult, which is why I think the Biden administration, specifically President Biden himself, he started this way with covid-19 relief and he's starting with infrastructure. This is kind of an opening bid. The Republicans, when it came to covid relief, said, OK, you want one point nine trillion, we'll give you six hundred million. And then it just stopped. I think that he the president expects real negotiation here and he knows he's not going to get everything he wants and he knows he needs Buy-In because it's one thing to hold the Democratic conference together at 50 votes when it's for for emergency pandemic relief.


Doing it for infrastructure, which people have a lot of different ways of looking at.


It is going to be different and it's going to be a much harder task. But that doesn't mean that they still may not have to do with the reconciliation, because I don't see you ever getting more than five or six Republicans on board for anything.


Yeah, I mean, it also took no time for McConnell to slam the tax hikes and say he's he's not going to support the plan. And right on cue, now that there's a Democrat in the White House, Republicans are once again worried about spending and the deficit, which they seem to forget entirely about during the previous administration. Let's just establish just these concerns aren't and cannot be genuine or at least like they don't feel genuine. So is there a viable way to bring Republicans on board any of them?


Senator Jones, you first. And then, Susan, I want to hear what you think.


I think there is. But you've got to be willing to to listen and and to try to understand those concerns. First of all, I think you've got to separate the. The lack of support on the covid bill, where the infrastructure bill, which Republicans have been touting now for a long, long time to get things done. And the reason I say that is that under the covered bill, a lot of Republicans were not just concerned about the price tag.


They were saying, wait a minute, there's a lot of unspent money that we've already appropriated. Let's see how this goes. The economy is moving a little bit. We don't need to move this fast, this quick. We've already spent so much. There was you know, that wasn't an inappropriate comment to to say, just hold on a little bit instead of just coming in and dumping. Now, from Biden standpoint, that was what he ran on.


And I think he had to do that for the American people and to show folks that he he wants that he's a doer, that he gets things done. Infrastructure. People have talked about it for a long time. Remember the Senate Public Works Committee to get the Carper's committee at the time they passed a trillion dollar highway bill unanimously out of committee a couple of years ago. So there is an appetite for doing this thing. There is going to be concern, but I think you can bring Republicans on board, but you've got to do it.


You've got to really talk and listen. You've got to understand that it can't be in something like this is so important. It can't be my way or the highway. You've got to try to bring public support along. This is not like the covid package where you could just this is what I ran on. This is what I'm going to do, come hell or high water. This is a bigger issue that I think they can get folks. But they they really are going to have to listen and they're going to have to move a little bit either on the amount which the administration saying that they're not going to do, or at least on the pay force because you'll never get it budget neutral under any stretch of the imagination unless you cut short cut social programs or defense and then ain't going to happen.


So but but you really it's going to take a lot of work. It's going to take a hell of a lot of work. Susan, my way or the crumbling highway.


Yeah, I do believe that the president considers this an open bid, an opening bid. So I do think there will be real negotiation. There may have been a missed opportunity here or maybe the administration is going to do this. We've talked about this on other shows, Ron, about how culturally the Republican Party is trying to find a new group of people to talk to you. Exactly what I want to talk about. Yes.


Go specifically, you know, blue collar, you know, representing the man of the people getting away from that idea of being just for the wealthy.


Well, how do you say, OK, man of the people that you are, the Republicans, that you're not supporting jobs for people who are construction workers, who are facility men, who do all of the jobs, who are the blue collar working people, and yet you're going to hold it up over a tax cut to corporations? That's the messaging I would start saying and putting them back on their heels a little bit, show Donald Trump's clip of that going at Mar a Lago, saying he made everyone a lot richer.


Yeah, OK. The billionaires who can afford to go to Mar Lago and and make money off of that tax cut.


Great. But if they're Republicans, like if the Hawley's of the world are really trying to play that card, yeah. They've got to change their tune because they've also missed it when it comes to the 15 dollar minimum wage. If you remember, people started being more open to that because of what it represented. Republicans have nowhere to expand in their current situation. I don't know that they get those voters, those blue collar up voters, but they've got to show that they at least care about them.


And this is a place where they could get by in the Democrats could get buy in from Republicans if making this this is about for the people and and not for the wealthy and and change the dynamic around a little bit.


Yeah. You got to look for those poison pills. They're in there. In there. One of the biggest ones that's going to be the one of the biggest sticking points in this package for Republicans is going to be the pro act, the union organizing. The ability to do that is going to be a huge sticking point. And it may be a little bit of a sticking point with a few moderate Democrats that if that goes a little bit too far, we've got the big union vote going on right now.


I mean, it's over where they're starting to count the votes. And Amazon, it's a big deal for the unions. And Joe Biden is a union guy. But you've got to look at those things to see if there's any way to bring Republicans on board with some of those provisions that in and of itself, you know, is a hot button. Yeah. For Republicans.


And I'll go a step further. I think you really just have to strip it down like we've talked about the voting rights bill or immigration. Like, you've got to strip it down to what it is. Yes. And if you want a voting rights bill passed, you've got to take that dark money. You've got to take out campaign campaign financing, put the voting rights, put it. I'm not saying that these aren't worthy of debate and good questions, but if you want to get it passed, there's a difference.


Like we could talk about it or we could do it.


You want an infrastructure bill, keep it about infrastructure. I mean, that's the best way to get this done. Absolutely.


I completely agree with that. The first one of the few people I've heard say that about the voting. But take away Republicans saying this is nothing but a Democrat progressive leftist wish to get rid of their ammunition and focus on what's going on. I completely agree with that. Yeah.


I want to just ask one question that kind of fills in. Sorry, Ron, please. Senator, do you think that there's enough in the earmarks for some of these Republicans? You know, the potential deal on earmarks is coming up. It looks like it'll probably go through. Is that is that potentially enough for them to bring some stuff back for the district, for their districts and still fight the infrastructure bill so they can say they're getting something via that earmark process?


You know, Republicans have mastered the art of being against something until they're for it.


Yeah, just for you. Until they're going to in the case of spending.


But anyway, you can see what Senator Wicker said about the covid package and then the things to the restaurant. So I do think that if they bring back some earmarks or whatever term they used, that's going to help. You know, I'm from a state that's got the king of earmarks and Richard Shelby, who's the ranking member now on appropriations. And so it is going that's that carrot that's out there, because these folks are going to want to see that and and do that.


That has been such a look. Let me tell you, that's a big deal for Alabama. I mean, Richard has brought home so much to this state to help us in national defense and our defense industry and so many other things. I think that that is the carrot that really could help bring some folks on and whether or not they will continue to just bite the bullet and say, no, no, no, or else try to make sure that there's enough in there for everybody remains to be seen.


That's going to be part of these discussions. You know, and I will tell you guys, if you saw my my farewell speech on the Senate, I implored my colleagues to quit using the term negotiating when they're talking about these bills, because the American people, when they hear that Republicans are negotiating with Democrats and Democrats are negotiating with Republicans, they're thinking that they're just negotiating for themselves. They're not negotiating for us. They need to be talking about finding common ground and how to do that and getting those things and get away from that word because the American people don't like it.


They just think it's a political ploy for each party.


Well, yeah, it's like the word compromise. For some reason, you're not allowed to compromise. And I was talking about this with a group recently, and I referred to Ronald Reagan back when he was a governor and said, you know, if I got 75 or 80 percent of what I wanted, I'd say that's a good day and I can fight for this.


But somehow, if you don't fight for that remaining 15 or 20 percent, you're weak. I mean, and and it's been going on for a while, but it was highlighted in really crass language by President Trump. I mean, there's no doubt about it. The former guy really did a job on the issue of compromise.


We also do this about changing your mind. Right? It's. It's a sin to change your mind in politics for the same reasons as it's in sin to compromise now. Well, you're allowed to evolve, apparently, once in a while. Yeah, once in a while.


Occasionally on a big issue. So, Senator, before we go on, I wonder what you think about what Susan brought up. We talked about on the podcast before this realignment that's going on between the two parties and Republicans trying to make them up themselves out to be the party of the working class now and how this is going to square with that attempted shift. And then we should talk about the politics of this going into the midterms and what this is going to how this could play in the midterms.


Look, Donald Trump won because he was able to get the working class vote. He lost just he lost just enough of them because of his personal way that he dealt with things then because he didn't say wear a mask.


And that's that's that's a big part of that and downplayed the whole thing. And it caused so many lives. But this is nothing new. These are the if they go back to the Reagan Republicans, that's exactly what Ronald Reagan did, is to get these working class Democrats to come forward and to say it is time that you think about us for a little bit because Democrats had moved away. I think about some things. I do think that there's still a struggle right now going to be within within the Republican Party as to where you go, because they have criticized the Chamber of Commerce, for instance, who has moved to a more bipartisan effort.


They they stayed out of my race, for instance. They were staying out of my race was a pretty big deal for them. But he was practically an endorsement.


And in all fairness, you're really you are a really great senator.


So, you know, well, I got I got Chamber of Commerce award, so it would be really tough for them to come in and oppose me.


But you're seeing that shift a little bit. I think that they're having to spend a lot of time, I believe, trying to make sure they shore up the vote in that working class demographic because corporations are moving in a little bit different direction. Yes, they're still essentially fiscally conservative, but on the social issues, they're moving away from the Republican Party. You see so many things about what public companies are doing now in diversity and equity and how the George Floyd death affected them.


You see corporations, despite the rhetoric of the Trump administration, moving ever so slowly but still moving toward embracing some changes to affect climate. And so Republicans are going to have to adapt to that. And if they continue to just simply. Go after the the working class vote, Democrats have to not just fall into a trap, they have to also address those voters by saying, I am we are the party that forever has addressed your kitchen table issues, where the one Democrats brought you, Social Security, Democrats brought you Medicare, Democrats brought you Medicaid, Democrats brought you the 40 hour work week and those things that put food on the table and educate your children.


Democrats had gotten away from a lot of those over the years, and they got to get they got to get back to it and stay on message while still talking about climate and connecting those two. We're creating jobs for the future, your jobs for the future.


And just just one thing, and I'd be remiss not to bring this up because of so many of the people who have participated in your past. When we talk about Republicans and working class voters, we should highlight we're talking about four Republicans, white working class voters, that there's different.


That's exactly right. And that that's why they have to be so laser focused, because working class, that's a lot of people yet white working class.


Now, all of a sudden, you're really narrowing that lane down of who you can potentially appeal to. So and, you know, given the problems within the Republican Party, that's all they can appeal to, is that white working class right now.


Speaking of appealing to people, Susan, if you're a Republican incumbent, right. So if Democrats are able to pass all these big popular policy proposals, if you're a Republican incumbent, how do you run a campaign in twenty twenty two saying, hey, you know, all those big popular things that happened?


I voted against all of them yet, and that is that I disagreed with Republican strategists who said, oh, 20, 20 to so far away, people aren't going to remember those fourteen fourteen hundred dollar checks. You see, that's how clueless the Republican Party can be from their constituency. Yes.


Fourteen hundred dollars is a lot of money that people don't forget getting. That's just not going to be washed away. They're also we're going to buy twenty, twenty two. We're going to see the results of a big vaccination project, a successful one.


So we see that if they get infrastructure through, if the Democrats get infrastructure through, they're going to be building roads literally in people's backyards.


They are going to be like, I'm not going to forget this race. And then in the interim, you can. So what are they going to be able to say? Oh, well, we we stopped some of those people from voting. That's all they've got right now is that they're stopping people from voting.


Yeah. So that bridge is being repaired. We almost stopped it from happening.


I tried really, really bridge. That was difficult. But it's you know, we're so divided, though. I don't underestimate or they'll try the the way to that.


The Republicans will use twenty, twenty two as a culture war.


Make sure infrastructure if an infrastructure passes, you know what it's going to be. It's going to be. Joe Biden passed AOC, that ultra progressive green new deal. Green New Deal is horrible for America. I think that's what they're going to say. I mean, I could I have.


Yes. And I could write this.


And so absolutely right. It's tribalism, pure and simple. And that's exactly what they'll do. They'll say, yeah, there were good things about this for sure. But make no mistake, this is a slippery slope towards socialism and that's where we're headed. These mass mandates, these vaccination passports. Oh, my God, vaccination passports. That is socialism. But but Democrats, if we fall into that trap of trying to answer that persay and not going back to exactly what Susan just said about the road in your backyard, Jamie Harrison, I've heard Jamie speak.


Jamie gives a great analogy a once when he was when he was chairman of the South Carolina party and he went down this old dirt road to an African-American gentleman, older gentleman, and he said he introduced himself, said he was there to warn him to try to vote Democratic. And this guy looked at me, said, boy, you see that dirt road out there? Every politician since Ronald Reagan has come here and promised to pay that dirt road.


Reagan did it. Bush did it. Clinton did it. Obama did it. And he said, you see that dirt road? And he said, yes, sir. He said, it's still a damn dirt road. Just leave me alone and slam the door. So Democrats have to focus on that message of production producing. That's Joe Biden's strength. Joe Biden is a doer. He wants to get things done. And if you're what we're witnessing, this is amazing to me what we're witnessing.


We are witnessing the the melding of the New Deal and Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Society with Lyndon Johnson. And it did so much for Americans. And if we can continue that. And message that the right way we can bust through this tribalism, I am absolutely convinced of it. And just one thing to plan to add to that is people are misjudging or mis estimating what Joe Biden has been doing. He's talking a certain game, but he is playing hardball.


He's not afraid to do what he has to do.


He may sound very nice about it, but boy is willing to really do what is needed.


He said he sees this as his time and he will fight to get these things. Like I said, he may sound very nice, but he is going to play hardball. And I think that's where Mitch McConnell especially just like kind of fell into that trap and blew it on uncovered relief. Exactly.


OK, let's turn to our third topic, which is the politicization and delegitimization of government and scientific institutions. So on Monday, the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy announced the formation of a task force to investigate Trump era political interference in scientific decision making and information dissemination. So according The New York Times, Jane Lubchenco, the new deputy director of climate and the environment at the White House science office, said We know that there were blatant attempts to distort, to cherry pick and disregard science.


We saw that across multiple agencies. We also just learned that EPA administrator Michael Reagan will purge dozens of outside experts appointed by Donald Trump from two scientific advisory panels, which he says will restore the role of science at the agency and reduce the heavy influence of industry over environmental regulations, according to The Washington Post. So we saw Trump's blatant disregard for science and facts whenever he spoke about climate change, and especially when he spoke about covid. But this goes much deeper than that.


There were frequent attempts to suppress almost any information coming from just about any government agency if it could be perceived as damaging to the president information that the American public business community and even people around the world rely on. So, Susan, broadly speaking, how did the credibility of America's agencies take a hit from political interference during the Trump years? And what sort of damage occurs when science and information is visibly tainted by politics?


Well, I think first and foremost was competency. We no one had faith in the people Trump appointed because they were not I mean, at the beginning, he had some good people in various places. But when it came to, you know, the Department of Energy and having a former governor of Texas, Rick Perry, there, like that was kind of a joke there. I think if by executive order he could have eliminated the words climate change, he would have done that.


He just didn't want to hear things that could get in the way of his agenda. He had no openness to ideas, because then you have to admit that he didn't know certain things even on his agenda.


It was his own ego that this comes down to like he didn't understand science. So it doesn't exist. And people, you know, people want to call. I forget there was one website. I think it's like for land use that the difference was, is when the administration came in, they put a beautiful like way, you know, streaming river going on.


And what it replaced was a wall of coal. Would you not like that's the swap, a wall of coal or beautiful streaming river. Like, that's the difference between the administrations. And you can't you can't, you know, make that up. But there is something that I think is long lasting. And that is the importance of trusting our government when it matters. So seeing you know and I know we'll get into Dr. Burke's a little bit, but what Trump did was make it OK to think that experts don't matter.


And they do like in for example, look in New York, when you look at Governor Cuomo, how he first handled the pandemic, he tried to give facts and he gave information.


People around the country were sopping it up because there was a big, big voice for it. Yeah, but now I worry that because he's in scandal that they say, oh, you know what that Cuomo guy like, how much do I need to listen here in New York? Because he's just another one of those politicians. He had me snowed and now people are walking around without mass and being a responsible. So I do worry about the the imprint those four years had on our government and people trusting it, especially when it matters in a pandemic.


Yeah. Senator, what's your take on this?


Well, you know, I'll be really honest about this. We have talked throughout this discussion over the last hour or so in everything that we talk about, we talk about messaging. And the messaging is so important on this. And I'm a little bit disappointed at the messaging. I know what they want to do. I agree with it completely. But for the message to be we're going to where this message is, essentially we are creating a task force to investigate Donald Trump's views of this.


And it puts it in a political term. And I'm really a little bit concerned about that because what they need to say, and this is what Biden campaigned on, you know, we have got a task force to restore confidence in science. Period that we are going to look at ways in the last few years that the public's confidence in science has been eroded and we're going to take steps to correct that. So I think it's a really interesting message that has to come from the administration.


And it can't not be about Donald Trump. It's got to be about science. It's got to be about the facts and putting that forward. So. I really think that the idea is a good idea, but they they need to just see, OK, what happened and how can we correct it and not focus on what happened? We know what happened. We know how they did this. And if they continue to highlight this, except in the terms of, well, this happened and this is what we really need to do and going forward.


So I think it's a it's a really interesting slippery slope for the administration with all of their climate things and all the science that we've got going on with vaccines and everything else to do it in the right way to restore that confidence to Susan's absolutely right. I worry, too, that as much as the credibility that Governor Cuomo built up, he's now nothing he says right now is going to matter. And they're going to say, well, how can I believe anything he says at this point?


The more it's pegged to the person, the more fragile it is. Absolutely. So how so?


How do you think the Bush administration can can build that trust back better with fast with with a constant demonstration of fact by going on the road, by sending folks out there constantly going into areas where they need to go into to demonstrate the issues of meeting, meeting the opposition where they are, not where you want them to be, and giving these messages and talking about these facts and doing it in a way that is not ridiculing or criticizing. If somebody doesn't want to wear masks, don't just berate them, just talk to them about this.


But I think I think that this is going to be really important in this infrastructure package that we were just talking about, about that science. And because what I saw in the Senate is a lot of Republicans were beginning. They were coming around and businesses are coming around the messaging to kind of do this and build on that. I used to say, and I've still said it for years on climate, for instance, we were just arguing politically over who calls the problem.


And everybody want to point fingers at somebody else. Well, now there's a bigger recognition that there is a problem. How do we fix it? And that's the way they I think they need to approach this going forward. Yeah.


I'd like to thank you, Senator, for phrasing it that way, because, like, just in this moment, I learned something kind of about myself and where I should be better because I reacted to that question.


So emotionally charged. Yeah. And and my where I should be more careful about what? Because I just felt so strongly about Donald Trump. You're right. I shouldn't go back that way. The argument does have to be message differently.


And we all also need to kind of readjust ourselves and say the former guy is the former guy for a reason. Let's talk about moving forward. And so for that, I thank you because I am definitely going to watch myself more.


All right, lightning round, because we are coming up on time when we're up to speed on the major stories of the week. What stories are you following that may have flown under the radar or that our listeners might have missed, but that are going to influence our politics in a way we might not be expecting?


Susan, in honor of the senator, I will not call it a recess.


I will call it working at home district where the elected members of Congress are right now.


And I'm looking to see what happens when they are in their districts and visiting their districts. Are they holding town halls? What are they hearing? What what's happening on that local level? Because now we're enough time into the Biden administration. This is their first time back in their districts for a prolonged period of time that they can really kind of judge it. And I'm curious what the local stories will be there.


Senator Jones? I think that what we saw this week, a little bit more under the radar as the issues at the border. We saw a lot at the time, a week or two ago for a couple of weeks. Then it kind of dip down. You haven't seen as much this week. I think that's going to come back up because I think that the issues at the border will continue to drive a wedge between people and folks go to their corners and the issues at the border and how this administration deals with the border is going to be really important going into twenty, twenty two.


You guys, this has been one of the best round ups in a while, I'm so grateful that you could be here today. I really enjoyed this visiting with you both. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Before I let you go, where can people find you on the Internet. Senator. Well, right now, it's hard to find me on the Internet, but, you know, I still do a little Twitter at Doug Jones.


That's my go to. But stay tuned. There are some things in the works that I'm really excited about.


All right, Susan, I have nothing in the works, so I am still at Del Perciasepe on Twitter and I'm at Ronstadt's low on Twitter. Thank you to Susan and Senator Jones for taking the time to have this conversation. And thank you to everyone at home or on the go for listening. If you have questions or advice for us or if there's a topic you'd like to see covered in a future episode of the round up, you can reach us at podcast at Politico Dotcom and you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram at Political Jackpot.


If you enjoy the show, make sure to subscribe or follow us wherever you get your podcasts. And if you want to help us grow and continue the fight to protect our democracy, it would also help tremendously if you could rate interviews wherever you get your podcasts. It really does help new listeners find the show because it helps us rise in the rankings. I'm Ronstadt's. Well, I'll see you in the next episode.