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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 3/23/22

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Angela Robinson, Paul Butler, Kurt Volker, Jane Burbank


Ketanji Brown Jackson`s confirmation continues, and so does the Republican nonsense. President Biden lands in Brussels as Ukraine`s army surges and Russian losses mount. A high level defection from the Kremlin, and the grand theory pushing Putin to war. Rep. Mo Brooks says Trump asked him to "rescind the 2020 election," remove Biden and call special election.



SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): But they didn`t stop loving this country even though this country didn`t love them back.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: You can get an amen. Thank you, Senator Cory Booker and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, we needed that. And that`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.




JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Senator, I`ve answered this question many times from many senators who`ve asked me, so I`ll stand on what I`ve already said.


HAYES: Ketanji Brown Jackson`s confirmation continues and sort of the Republican nonsense. Tonight, what we learned from the second round of questions.


BOOKER: God has got you. And how do I know that? Because you`re here, and I know what it`s taken for you to sit in that seat.


HAYES: Plus, the president lands in Brussels as Ukraine`s army surges and Russian losses mount tonight, a high level defection from the Kremlin, and the grand theory pushing Putin to war. And an NBC exclusive, just what exactly was Donald Trump asking Congressman Mo Brooks to do?


REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): I explained to the President, that what he asked is legally impossible. It violates the United States Constitution. And I`m not going to do it.


HAYES: But ALL IN starts right now.

Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The Senate Judiciary Committee just wrapped its third day of public Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. After 10 hours of on camera testimony, the proceedings now moved behind closed doors.

Throughout the day, Democrats and some Republicans asked substantive questions on key decisions that likely will come before the court questions of methodology and approach, while other Republican senators chose to once again err their conspiracy theories and grievances about past confirmation hearings.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The meetings they had with Judge Kavanaugh, it was literally ambushed. He was ambushed. How would you feel if we did that to you?

JACKSON: Senator, I`ve appreciated the kindness that each of you has shown me.

SEN. ALEX PADILLA (D-CA): What do you say to some of them who may doubt that they can one day achieve the same great heights that you have?

JACKSON: I hope to inspire people to try to follow this path because I love this country. Because I love the law.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Why isn`t it rational to sentence people who have thousands of images on a computer to more time as opposed to somebody who has one or two pictures in the mail? In other words, the more images there are, why wouldn`t you want to send that person to more time rather than less? Why isn`t that rational?

JACKSON: Senator, I`ve answered this question and I`ll stand on what I already answered.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-MD): Your nomination turned out to be a testing ground for conspiracy theories and culture war theories. The more bizarre the charges against you and your family, the more I understand the social media scoreboard lit up yesterday.

I`m sorry that we have to go through this. These are not theories that are in the mainstream of America. But they have been presented here as such.


HAYES: But after enduring two days of attacks from Republican, Senator Cory Booker drove it all home with this supportive message.


BOOKER: It`s not going to stop. They`re going to accuse you of this and that heck, in honor of your person shares your birthday, you might be called the communist. But don`t worry, my sister. Don`t worry. God has got you. And how do I know that? Because you`re here, and I know what it`s taken for you to sit in that seat.


HAYES: OK, here`s the thing. Supreme Court confirmations are just they`re knockout drag out battles. That is the nature of the job. You`re vying to be one of just nine justices with a lifetime appointment. People who essentially have unlimited veto power of the American political system, no one should expect anything less than a contentious process. It`s a very, very difficult and serious job. We live in a democracy, this is how it goes.

But even by those standards, the hearings for Judge Katanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman ever nominated a Supreme Court in over 200 years of this country`s history has been stomach churning.

We knew going in that her race and gender would be an issue for some Republicans. But I have to say I have been taken aback by the facially racist nature of much of the questioning Judge Jackson faced and I say racist, because there`s no other way to accurately describe it, whether people want to call it racially tinged or whatever.

Yesterday, Jackson repeatedly faced a line of questioning that assume she was soft on crime or sympathetic to criminals or maybe even like crime.


And the only reason I can determine is that it plays the assumption that a black person is inherently associated with criminality in some way, which is, of course, racist, one of the oldest, most pernicious and dangerous racist tropes in America. She was also asked multiple times to disown or disavow the views of other black public intellectuals, just other people that also happen to be black who have ideas about the country, specifically the 6019 project and critical race theory.


SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): You serves on the board of a school that teaches kindergarteners five year old children that they can choose their gender and teaches them about so called white privilege.

You have made clear that you believe judges must consider critical race theory when deciding how to Senate`s criminal defendants. Is it your personal hidden agenda to incorporate critical race theory into our legal system?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): One portion of the book says babies are taught to be racist or antiracist. There is no neutrality. Another portion of the book they recommend to babies confess when being racist. Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Does United States need more or fewer police? Do you know how long the average inmate convicted for murder serves in prison in America? Let`s turn to right. Do you know how long the average inmate convicted of rape serves in prison?

In 2020, murders increased by the fastest rate ever in the United States? Do you know what percentage of murders are solved in America? Do you know how many -- what percentage of sexual assaults and rapes go unsolved in this country? Do you think we imprison too many violent criminals are not enough?


HAYES: Now, Republicans will tell you in their very best gaslighting voice that what you just heard from, say Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas are just questions about criminal justice as a former Federal public defender trial judge member of the Sentencing Commission.

And to that, I would just say it is a tremendous coincidence that the last time a Democrat nominated a black judge the Supreme Court, they faced the same line of questioning. It was a long time ago back in the summer 1967 when President Lyndon Johnson nominated the legendary civil rights litigator Thurgood Marshall to be the first black justice on the Supreme Court.

Two Southern Democrats Judiciary Committee Chair James Eastland of Mississippi, a legendary and notorious figure and John McClellan of Arkansas teamed up to derails Marshalls nomination, with exactly the same kind of racist questioning that presupposes that a black judge is soft on crime.

The idea was that Senator McClellan, a former prosecutor would be able to trip up Judge Marshall with his line of questioning. McClellan first asked Marshall quote, I would ask you if you do not agree with me that the mounting incidence of crime in this nation has reached a critical stage? Doesn`t that sound familiar? To which Marshall replied, I agree with you absolutely. And not satisfied McClellan kept going, quote, Do you regard crime is having reached proportions where it endangers or jeopardizes the internal security of our country? Marshall responded in part quote, I am as worried as anybody about the mounting greater crime but I do not think to yet reached the point where it cannot be dealt with and dealt with affirmatively.

McClellan, undeterred, went on to ask quote, Is my understanding correct that as of now, you do not think that the crime rate in this country is reached proportions were dangerous and jeopardizes our internal security? And after some back and forth Marshall responded, quote, I have got faith in my government. I know my government will not let it happen. To which McClellan of southern segregationist staring down the first black nominee for the Supreme Court responded quote, well, I`ve seen a lot of things happen that I did not think whatever happened too.

Boy, wonder what he was talking about.

Ultimately, the plan by those two vile southern racists failed, Justice Thurgood Marshall was confirmed and spent more than two decades on the court. Just as it seems Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will ultimately be confirmed. And as the first black woman on the court is with her name, which will endure.

Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, they too put themselves on the record for history but only as embarrassing footnotes in the historic ascendance of a truly what appears to be by every possible metric gifted American Supreme Court justice.

I think we`re honestly at least I hope that future generations will need to look back on their behavior during Jackson`s confirmation just as we were able to look back on the racist barrel scraping the senators of the 1960s.

Senator Amy Klobuchar is a Democrat representing Minnesota. She sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and question Judge Jackson today.


Did you feel that way in that room during the questioning from some of your colleagues?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): You know how I felt in the room? Of course, their questions were absolutely over the top over and over again. But what I felt, I felt the grace of our next justice on the Supreme Court, Judge Jackson.

And in the words of my good friend, Cory Booker, we`re not going to let them take that joy away from us today, and certainly not from her or her parents who attended segregated primary schools and work their whole life to sit there at that moment and see their daughter, a legal star, from high school on, someone who was a star debater went on to serve at every level of the federal judiciary has more experience as a judge going into this job than four current Supreme Court judges did when they had their nomination hearing. That`s what we saw today.

So as a former prosecutor, Chris, you know, this happened, and it is really hard to reconstruct the case. But yet she was able to actually explain the problems with the sentencing guidelines the fact that something like two- thirds of judges, federal judges have downward departed and made different changes on these kinds of crimes, and also able to account for the fact that every single one of those defendants that my colleagues brought up to her she had sent to prison.

And they were literally going under every detail to try to trip her up. And in my mind, she was a strongest could be a pillar of strength. And that is why she is going to end up on the Supreme Court and carry her head high.

HAYES: You asked an interesting question today about the sense but I thought that was an interesting question for the following reason. There are six current members of the Supreme Court appointed by Republican presidents including three, three appointed by Donald Trump. And Ketanji Brown Jackson, if confirmed, we`ll probably honestly be doing a lot of dissenting.

Why didn`t you ask that question about dissents? And what do you think the -- what is the importance of someone who is likely in the near term to be serving on many big high profile contentious issues in a in a minority of the justices?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, the first thing I`d say is Judge Jackson has proven to be a judge that can bring people with her. I asked her about a number of opinions were colleagues from pointed by presidents from the opposite party had sided with her where the Supreme Court sided with her, she talked about making narrow decisions so you can bring people with you.

But on the other hand, we know she will dissent at times. And what I asked her about what`s beautiful words about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, what she had said, what the rabbi said at her eulogy after the notorious RBG left us and that was that Ruth Bader Ginsburg`s dissent were not just opposition, they were blueprints for the future.

And that so many times and the judge, Judge Jackson did a beautiful job today of talking about the past and the lone dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson and how that dissent, Judge Arland went on to become the blueprint for the future when it came to Brown v Board of Education.

Those were the kinds of moments that I will always cherish from that hearing. And as despicable as many of the questions were, what I saw there was a woman that could handle it all and our next Supreme Court justice.

HAYES: All right, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who of course serves on that Judiciary Committee that just concluded three days of public hearings into this nominee. Thank you very much.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Angela Robinson is a retired Connecticut superior court judge who wrote a column for The Washington Post titled history shows why it`s time for a black woman to sit on the Supreme Court and Paul Butler is a professor of law Georgetown Law Center, previously served as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice`s Public Integrity Unit.

And Judge Robinson, let me start with you. I mean, there was a bunch of things going on. Honestly, anyone`s record in these situations is fair game. You have a long public life and public career, totally fair game.

But as if, as someone who did serve as a judge, I wonder your reaction to that this sort of obsessive attempt to try to make her look soft on child pornography, and all of the kind of implicit work that was being done ideologically about how the criminal justice system works and how downward departures are inherently suspect, et cetera.

JUDGE ANGELA ROBINSON, FORMER CONNECTICUT SUPREME COURT JUDGE: It was really challenging to watch and as a retired judge, I had great empathy for because I understood that she had to really carefully calibrate all of her responses.


But as someone who studied history, this is not new. I mean, the way they went after Judge Jackson was very much a play from an old playbook. They were waging a war of attrition, to try to wear her down, to try to get her to show in some way that she wasn`t the brilliant jurist that she is.

So, it was challenging to watch, because she shouldn`t have had to go through that. But we know from history that that`s the path you have to walk to break through ceilings.

HAYES: Yes. And in terms of the motivation here, Paul, I thought this was a really revealing moment. So, Ted Cruz has a bunch of eruptions. At one point he wants to interject and enter something to the record. Durbin says no, I`m not giving your floor time. And then Noah McCaskill is watching this tweets, Ted Cruz looks like he`s checking his mentions after his back and forth with KBJ and Durban. He`s had his head down during all testimony. Even assassin tellers are clearly listening to their Democratic colleagues. And now even for him. And then an LA Times photo journalist, Kent Nishimura says, can confirm this. He was searching Twitter for his name. This was right after his exchange, Chairman Durbin, and I felt like OK, well, I mean, we knew this was what was going on, but it explains a lot.

PAUL BUTLER, PROFESSOR GEORGETOWN SCHOO OF LAW: Senator Cruz and many of the other Republicans have abandoned their constitutional responsibility to advise the President on his most important nominations. Instead, they`re doing performances for Fox News.

And Chris, as you saw, well laid out. None of this will come as a surprise to Thurgood Marshall, the first black man on the Supreme Court. 55 years ago, during his confirmation hearings, he got attacked for being soft on crime and a judicial activist.

But Chris, here`s the thing, Justice Marshall ended up being confirmed by a vote of 69 to 11. Nobody expects Judge Jackson to get that many votes, even with her superlative qualifications. And her judicious responses to the race basic -- race baiting Republicans, it really makes one question how far we`ve come as a nation, especially when not one of the 100 senators who will vote on Judge Jackson`s confirmation is a black woman like Judge Jackson.

HAYES: It`s a good point. And we should also note, judge, that Ketanji Brown Jackson was elevated to the appellate court by Joe Biden last year, where she got if I`m not mistaken, I think three Republican, three or four Republican votes. Yes, it seems clear that she won`t get those as time around for no reason, right?

I mean, like it`s just that their -- people are not paying attention to that vote. But back when they weren`t, there were at least a few of them were like, Yes, this is clearly a qualified person.

ROBINSON: Absolutely. I mean, but it`s not surprising. When Constance Baker Motley, for whom she references quite often went through the Judiciary Committee, they waive a very similar attack. They tried to paint her as a communist, as you`ve already said, and they tried to wear her down, they basically spent almost nine months trying to wear her down.

So, we know that Judge Jackson will persevere. She said that in her statement, and we know that she will get through but no, I don`t think she`s going to get those three Republican votes.

HAYES: Yes, there`s that old phrase, the best revenge is living well, and in this case, Paul, I think the best revenge is confirmation and lifetime tenure for many years to come in a role that in the immediate future is going to be a very difficult but important one on a court that seems poised to do some really, really, really destructive stuff.

BUTLER: Yes, and questions about Judge Jackson sentencing and her judicial philosophy are entirely legitimate. And the judge has excellent answers, but the Republicans don`t care. They`re treating her like she`s a defendant in a criminal case. It`s an extraordinary level of disrespect.

But Chris, these questions about crime, the Republicans are playing with fire. There`s a tragic history that comes from this white supremacist association of black people with crime. This is a woman with three cops in our family who`s been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. This is a judge who set a lot of people to prison.

But the Republicans care nothing about disrespecting a black woman. Anita Hill was the last black woman to have a prominent role in a Supreme Court hearing. And while the Democrats have evolved since then, the Republicans they`re just doubling down.

HAYES: Yes. Cotton question should we be catching more murderers is such an insulting and despicable and condescending and stupid question. And let me just say that Ted Cruz if you`re watching this, I learned long ago name searching yourself on Twitter is a path to spiritual desolation and eternal sadness. Turn away from it. Angela Robinson and Paul Butler, thank you both.


Still to come, President Biden heads to an emergency NATO meeting in Brussels as Putin`s war enters its fourth week, plus the estimated number of Russian casualties is rising and there are signs of dissent within the Kremlin, the latest diplomatic fight and the military battles after this.


HAYES: Today, President Biden traveled to Brussels where he will attend an emergency NATO Summit on the situation Ukraine. Tomorrow, the President will also meet with G7 leaders at address the European Council.

And on the eve of these key diplomatic reunions, he learned that one of the legendary diplomats of our time, the first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright died at the age of 84. Secretary Albright family fled the Nazi occupation of Prague and later Soviet dominated Eastern Europe coming to the United States as refugees.


Exactly one month ago, the day before Russia launched its full scale attack on Ukraine, Albright wrote this prescient piece titled "Putin is Making a Historic Mistake." She wrote that invading Ukraine would ensure Mr. Putin`s infamy by leaving his country diplomatically, isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance. How true those words were.

Ahead of President Biden`s arrival, NATO`s Secretary General announced a variety of new measures intended to bolster the Alliance in this standoff with Russia. NATO will send more troops to Eastern European countries bordering Ukraine, including Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria. They will also be sending more support directly to Ukraine like equipment to help protect against the potential use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. That announcement came with a stern warning to Russia.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Russia must stop its nuclear saber rattling. This is dangerous and it is irresponsible. NATO is there to protect and defend all allies. And we compare very clear message to Russia that the nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought.


HAYES: A NATO official also confirmed new numbers of casualties in Ukraine. Listen to this, the Alliance estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops have died in the first month of fighting. The say that number could rise to 30,000 or even 40,000 if you include the number of injured capture missing. 40,000 troops would be 20 percent of all the Russian forces sent into Ukraine. Again, it`s impossible to know the exact number here.

Russia has refused to disclose its casualties. But there are plenty of reasons to suspect the human toll of this for Russian soldiers is just unimaginably high.

Amid the utter devastation across Ukraine, like in the city of Mariupol, where this new drone footage shows just some of the damage of sustained Russian shelling and attacks. We have seen numerous reports and images of deceased Russian soldiers just left out to rot and even left in the streets on battlefields.

But whatever the true number is, the cost of this war has already been very high for Vladimir Putin. President Biden is visiting the European continent to make sure that the pressure on Putin does not wane.

One of the most important advantages Ukraine has had in this battle against a much more powerful foe is the world`s attention. And as the war moves into a new phase, which many observers are now calling a stalemate, Biden and European allies are working to keep Putin`s atrocities in focus.

Tomorrow, they will reportedly announce new sanctions against Russian lawmakers. Over 300 members the Russian parliament will be targeted in an effort to increase pressure on Putin.

NBC News correspondent Cal Perry joins me now live from Lviv, where he`s been following a day`s developments. Cal, will you tell us about this -- the reports about the Ukrainian forces managing to fight the Russians back in some areas surrounding Kiev today.

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So I think this is a fascinating pivot point and a really interesting moment for the President to be arriving. When you put up those numbers, those figures of Russian soldiers dead killed or captured, I think we can expect that number to rise exponentially because on the eastern part of the Capitol tonight, we understand that a counter attack is actually breaking through Russian lines.

So instead of just holding the Russians back or slowing them down, we now understand that Ukrainian forces are making gains back in the city of Kyiv, that`s on the eastern part of the city.

On the western part of the city, we understand there was a counter offensive but the Russians dug in. They actually have made entrenched defensive positions. That`s an ominous sign probably of what`s to come because that`s what we`re seeing take place in the eastern part of the country.

In the city of Mariupol it is being wiped off the map. Civilians there are in bunkers. At best, we know the hospitals have been overrun by Russian soldiers. Some of those hospitals are only operating underground.

Now the situation there is devastating as it is in Kharkiv, as it is in Chernihiv, where we see the Russian soldiers getting bogged down, where we see them being slowed down. They are now shelling these residential areas and they`re doing so 24 hours a day around the clock, in fact, in the city of Mariupol. It`s happening now from the sea as well. And there`s a concern that it`s going to happen in Odessa.

The question about a ceasefire and negotiations is the key one here, as Biden sits down in Brussels. There`s been a concern here by the Ukrainian government, that engaging with the Russians gives them time to reorganize militarily that the Russians are only engaging with them to buy themselves time. With Ukrainian army making gains, it raises this interesting question. Do you go for a ceasefire? Chris,

HAYES: Cal Perry, as always great reporting. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.

Kurt Volker is the former US ambassador of NATO, also a former Special Representative for Ukraine, and he joins me now.

Ambassador, first, I just want to get your reaction to these NATO estimates of casualty.


And then again the number -- no one knows the actual number and there`s something sort of McCobb about sort of telling the death town. But it`s just -- the numbers are shocking. I mean, they`re just astoundingly high. I have never seen anything like it certainly not in wars the U.S. has participated in order and other battles in recent memory. This would represent like, military, you know, defeat and destruction at a level that`s really hard to match in recent times.

KURT VOLKER. FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Absolutely. And you saw that there`s a very wide range, the Pentagon was saying 7,000 to 15,000. So that`s a huge range there. Ukrainian estimates are over 15,000. The Russians posted something and then immediately took it down and said it was over 10,000.


VOLKER: So you know these numbers are high. And to put it in some perspective, it is more than the U.S. lost in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over 20 years. It is on the par with what the Soviet Union lost in Afghanistan. So these are extraordinary numbers for just four weeks of fighting. It shows the disarray, the lack of effectiveness, the lack of morale of the Russian forces.

HAYES: Your ambassador of NATO, what do you see as the main objectives to this urgency summit happening this week?

VOLKER: Right, well, objective number one is to convey that the alliance is unified. We have a single position facing Russia, and that we will protect allies. We will defend Alliance territory against any threat. So that`s number one.

But number two is the one that President Putin is going to be watching. He`s going to want to know what is NATO prepared to do. And what will NATO not do in order to help Ukraine survive.

And here I think NATO`s message needs to be very strong, it needs to declare an interest in Ukraine survival as an independent state. And it needs to warn Vladimir Putin off of any use of weapons of mass destruction.

HAYES: What is -- there`s this sort of debate right about whether you take things off the table or not whether you draw red lines or not, whether there`s a kind of useful ambiguity in, you know, Putin not knowing what the Alliance`s position is, and there are others who say, Well, that`s a good way to end up in a nuclear war, right. Like, the transparency of this sort of game, theoretical interchange between these nuclear powers is actually vital. Where do you come down on that?

VOLKER: Right. Well, if you look at the way the Russian military has performed, it has been abysmal. Putin is in a vulnerable position. He`s not winning against Ukraine. The last thing he wants is to draw NATO or the United States or individual allies into the fight against Russian forces. So he`s going to be very careful about that.

And so I think we are not doing quite enough at this point, to warn Putin about some of the more extreme things that he might be considering these attacks on civilians, these leveling of cities, possibly use of nuclear weapons, we have to be a little bit more willing to say, we will support Ukraine, we will push back if you do something like that, don`t do it.

HAYES: Final question. You know, whether you come down on NATO membership for Ukraine, whether it should have been taken off the table or treated seriously and expedited, didn`t NATO end up kind of screwing Ukraine either way, by essentially, you know, allowing them a path towards NATO that clearly spooked and freaked out Putin, but never actually getting them under the nuclear umbrella and leaving them to the worst of both worlds?

VOLKER: Right, I do agree with it. I think the 2008 formula where NATO said you will be a member of NATO someday, but we`re not going to offer you the Membership Action Plan your roadmap to get there. We`re not going to do that. And that was 14 years ago.

So nothing happened on Ukraine`s path to NATO over 14 years. And I do think that that was a signal of President Putin. We`re not serious. And that did give him a sense of a green light. It`s also the reason why in 2008, right after that summit, you also invaded Georgia.

HAYES: Right.

VOLKER: you could tell that we weren`t serious about supporting Georgia either.

HAYES: All right, Kurt Volker, thank you very much for your time tonight. Ahead of the new recording of Congressman Mo Brooks phone interview with NBC News in which he describes how the former president asked him to overthrow a free and fair election. As well as signs of dissent from within Vladimir Putin`s ranks, he reportedly suffers his first high level defection, what Putin sees as his next move after this.



HAYES: Today, we saw the first high level defection from Vladimir Putin`s government in protest of his unprovoked war in Ukraine. Putin`s climate envoy Anatoly Chubais was reportedly resigned from his post and left the country that comes as another top Russian official apparently tried to leave her job, but Putin wouldn`t allow it. He denied the resignation of Elvira Nabiullina, the governor of Russia Central Bank.

There`s a sense at least from reporting that we can gather and it`s difficult to penetrate that circle is closing in around Putin the amount of people he trusts is thinning. U.S. officials say that finger pointing has begun within Russia spy and defense agencies as it is clear the invasion is not going as planned.

I`ve also been reports deemed credible buddy you as the commander of the Ukraine unit in a Russian intelligence agencies actually been placed under house arrest.

And take a step back, it continues to be remarkable just how much human misery and destruction one man`s decision is rod.


But it`s also why it`s so important to understand that one man`s motivations. My next guest wrote about that and opinion piece New York Times titled The Grand Theory Driving Putin to War. Jane Burbank, the author of that piece, Professor Emerita of History, and Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University joins me now. It`s great to have you here.


HAYES: This has been the subject your scholarship for a long time. What is your sort of your understanding of Putin`s theory of what he is doing? And what is driving?

BURBANK: Well, to put it simply, the theory is Imperial recovery, recovery, the Empire that was last 1991. We can look at the thinking of people who are in the Russian elite, during the 1990s. And we can see the development of ideas that give them now a new foundation for trying to recover the Russian Empire.

HAYES: He made mention explicitly to the Russian Empire in the speech --


HAYES: -- before you talked about Catherine the Great. He also talked about even, if I`m not mistaken, talked about Lenin and Stalin making mistakes, essentially giving up too much the Empire which not normally the way we think of it. Why do you think -- what does it mean if this imperial reassembly is essentially the project here for how we understand what off ramps there might be?

BURBANK: Well, we could look at the recent history of Russia`s attempt at clawing back parts of the empire. First would be Chechnya, Chechnya situation where leaders, some leaders in the Republic inside the Russian Federation, tried to rebel in the 1990s. And that was the result of that was two vicious wars. And the end of the war was basically the flattening of the capital Grozny. And eventually, the recruitment of a clan leader, who could become a Russian dependent in the new Chechnya part still of the Russian Federation.

Second example, Georgia, an independent country, hence more like Ukraine. And here, the result of a war successful from the point of view of the Russians was the de facto, de facto influence on of two new areas that used to be part of Georgia and now are debatably sovereign states, but very much dependent on Russia.

So when we think about Ukraine, obviously one such solution would be some kind of territorial division.

HAYES: Right.

BURBANK: But after the last month of war, I think it`s very difficult to imagine that Ukrainian leaders want to give up any of their territory, flattening of capitals, the capital, the cities, countryside, destruction of village that`s going on as we speak. And Putin succeeded in uniting Ukrainians against him. So it`s unlikely that he would be able to find a strong man as in Chechnya to lead a Ukraine dependent on Russia.

HAYES: There`s also two examples we should note of essentially Russian Imperial overreach leading to collapse, Tsar Nicholas famously in 1917, in which is the wars, both the brutality of the war, the costs of it, what it did the price of bread that leads to essentially the implosion of that Russian Empire and the Bolshevik Revolution.

And then there`s some make the linkage between the Afghanistan war and particularly Imperial encounters of the Soviet Union, leading at least urging on the collapse in 1991. Do you see that the precariousness here similarly?

BURBANK: Well, I`d like to think back to 1905 when, again, after a mistaken war against Japan --


BURBANK: -- when the Tsar wanted to have a victorious war. The country was shaken by a general strike. And this was the beginning of the 1905 revolutions, which resulted in a constitutional reform and the Tsar giving up much of his powers. That would be the optimistic scenario.

HAYES: Yes. That sort of bourgeois democracy or pseudo democracy did not last very long about 12 years. Jane Burbank, thank you very much.

BURBANK: Thank you.

HAYES: Breaking news tonight, a stunning admission from U.S. congressman that Donald Trump asked him to rescind the 2020 election as recently as September of last year that NBC News exclusive report right after this.



HAYES: Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks has been one of Donald Trump`s most the biggest supporters until a few hours ago. Brooks was famously on stage the pre-coup rally on January 6, he`s now running for Senate in Alabama and he had Donald Trump`s endorsement of course until recent polling began to show Brooks falling way behind in the Republican primary like a dog.

And so Donald Trump has now suddenly revoked his endorsement of Mo Brooks because Trump says the man who wore a bulletproof vest the insurrection rallies to quote woke. Now if you haven`t grabbed the popcorn yet, now`s the time because tonight Mo Brooks appears to be in full retaliation mode and is cleaning out the closet on Trump spilling the beans publicly about Donald Trump`s illegal push to overturn the 2020 election.


VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Did he directly tell you to fight to decertify the election, the 2020 election?


BROOKS: He did not use the word decertify. He used the word rescind.

HILLYARD: Rescind. What did that mean to you?

BROOKS: Well, I`m a lawyer. Rescind means that you render it null and void.


HAYES: Rescind. The rest of that jaw dropping interview and the reporter who got it next.


HAYES: Donald Trump has officially rescinded his endorsement for Republican Congressman Mo Brooks and Alabama Senate race in response Brooks is now coming forward with what he says he knows about Donald Trump`s plot to undermine and overturn democracy as we know it.

Today, Brooks released a statement saying in part that Trump had asked him to rescind the 2020 election, like put Trump back in the White House and hold a new election. Just now our own NBC News correspondent Vaughn Hillyard spoke to Congressman Brooks on the phone and asked him about these remarkable claims.


HILLYARD: Did he directly tell you to fight to decertify the election, the 2020 election?


BROOKS: He did not use the decertify. He used the word rescind.

HILLYARD: Rescind. What did that mean to you?

BROOKS: Well I`m a lawyer. Rescind means that you render it null and void.

HILLYARD: Do you guys have the power to do that in Congress?


HILLYARD: And then immediately remove Joe Biden, I guess that would be through impeachment?

BROOKS: Through the rescission of election results.

HILLYARD: Got it. And then he did he say that he wanted Congress to immediately put him back into the White House?

BROOKS: OK, you`re using the word Congress. My statement doesn`t say Congress. We never got that far, because I explained to the President, that what he has is legally impossible and violates the United States Constitution. And I`m not going to do it.

HILLYARD: So how do he wants you to put him back into the White House?

BROOKS: Through a rescinding of the 2020 elections.

HILLYARD: And then she requested of you to create a new special election for the presidency?

BROOKS: Well, that would be the natural follow-up to the rescinding of the election.

HILLYARD: Did he directly say that there should be a new special election for the presidency?

BROOKS: In one of the conversations he mentioned having a subsequent election for the presidency.

HILLYARD: In this was after this Labor Day?

BROOKS: After September 1st of 2021.


HAYES: Vaughn Hillyard, who conducted that interview joins me now. Great work, Vaughn. Trying to get to the bottom of this. So a few things here. So --

HILLYARD: We did study this American government.

HAYES: Right. I mean, I guess, to start there, right, like the ask isn`t just plainly illegal and unconstitutional, but like, not really sensical in the sense of like, there is no plausible mechanism for the thing that he`s asked.

HILLYARD: Right. And I think Mo Brooks was trying to work his way through his own conversation with Donald Trump. We`re talking about eight months after January 2021, when Donald Trump was out of the White House here.

And when we`re talking about Mo Brooks, why do we care about Mo Brooks? This is the man, the staunch ally of Donald Trump, who on January 6, just moments before that insurrection, stood on that stage of the so called Save America Rally and spoke into that microphone, quote, today`s the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass. This is the man that Donald Trump today by rescinding his endorsement through off of his ship.

HAYES: But also the idea, I mean, we know, look, we know that Trump -- we know that Trump refused to let, you know, except the free and fair election, right, that he promoted a big lie that he worked every angle possible to forestall the peaceful transfer of power up into including talking to the mob sending them towards the Capitol.

What -- We`re learning from this is that he is actively at least as of Labor Day, like actively now attempting to reach out to people in power to like, install him now.

HILLYARD: Install him now did Joe Biden out of office and get him back in and then do this so called the subsequent special election here, and that is why this is more than January 2021 that we`re talking about.

This is a political active machine here. Donald Trump`s super PAC has more than $110 million. That`s more than the DNC, the RNC combined here. This is a man who still essentially runs this Republican Party. There is no widespread dissent or uprising here. He is on his way to win the nomination here again, that`s why this goes beyond January 2021.

But the big question here is if you were throwing off an ally like Mo Brooks, are you potentially overplaying your hand here? He is trying to primary with Republican challengers, nine current Republican congressmen and women here at some point in these months ahead, do some of these individuals look to Mike Pence, look to others to finally say, We know we`ve been doing this for six years, but enough is enough.

HAYES: Well, and also, I mean we should be clear here. He says the reason he`s rescinding Mel Brooks is something that Mo Brooks said months ago, when it becomes -- it`s very clear to me at least that he backed the wrong horse in this primary and his endorsement isn`t carrying water because Mo Brooks is pulling a distant third.

HILLYARD: Where`s his influence.

HAYES: That`s right.

HILLYARD: Excesses Donald Trump`s thing, usually only picks winners.

HAYES: Right.

HILLYARD: Right? But now two months before the primary, his candidate appears to be a loser. He is now third in several polls here in right before a potential -- his potential candidate doesn`t even make the runoff. He`s rescinding his endorsement here. And that is where I bring up overplaying his head.


HILLYARD: He`s made several endorsements here in 2022. If he`s not able to prove that those Republicans like Mo Brooks are able to be successful when he goes on to Alabama stands on that stage and tells Republican voters vote for my guy and they say sorry, we appreciate you but we`re not going to vote for your guy. Does that start to make other Republicans question Donald Trump`s relevance in influence here and 20 --


HAYES: I think we are seeing that happen day by day before our eyes. I think that`s the subtext here.

HILLYARD: Mo Brooks.

HAYES: Vaughn Hilliard, great reporting thanks for joining us.

HILLYARD: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi. Good evening, Ali.