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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/7/22

Guests: Ivanna Klympush, Mariah K. Watson, Matt Zapotosky, Melanie Amann

Summary

MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A historic day in the U.S. Senate today, as Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson is confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. . "The Washington Post" reports that the Department of Justice has started investigating Trump for taking 15 boxes of presidential records, including classified material to his home in Mar-a-Lago.

Transcript

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Rebecca Roiphe, it`s great to have you in person. Thank you very much.

REBECCA ROIPHE: Thank you. Nice being here.

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" for this Thursday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts with Ali Velshi. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Chris, thank you. Good evening to you. We will see you tomorrow.

And thanks to at-home for joining us. As you know, Rachel is on hiatus but I have some news tonight that she will be back next week. Rachel will be once again be the host starting Monday night.

But tonight, I am joining you from the city of Lviv, Ukraine. We`ve got a lot of developments to get to, not just here in Ukraine but in the United States as well. A historic moment today, as the United States Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court in a bipartisan vote. We will have more on that vote and what it means to Black women and all Americans at the first Black woman has been confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Also tonight, we`ll look at a whole mess of potential legal troubles facing Donald Trump, including the new attorney general moving to have the former president held in contempt for failing to comply with her investigation.

So, a lot of moving parts to keep up with tonight. But we begin win in Brussels, where Ukraine`s foreign minister met with the United States secretary of state and other top diplomats from NATO countries. When he arrived, he did not mince words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINE FOREIGN MINISTER: I came to Brussels to participate in the NATO ministerial and to hold bilateral meetings with allies. My agenda is very simple. It has wet three items on it. It`s weapons, weapons, and weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Ukraine`s foreign minister told NATO allies today that his country needs more weapons now because even as Russian forces have withdrawn from the area around the capital, Kyiv, the next phase of the war is about to begin in the Donbas, in Ukraine`s east.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KULEBA: As we speak, the battle for the Donbas is underway. It has not reached its maximum scale but every day, the heaviest fighting takes place in that part of Ukraine. And more is to come, unfortunately. The battle for Donbas, will remind you -- and I regret to say it but this is true -- the battle for the Donbas will remind you of the second World War with its large operational maneuvers, involvement of thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, planes, artillery. Either you help us now, and I am speaking about days and not weeks, or your help will come too late.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Leaders in Ukraine`s east, along with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy are urging residents there to evacuate ahead of the expected Russian onslaught. The regional governor of Luhansk in the Donbas region warned that this may be, quote, the last chance for civilians to escape and that that window may be closing rapidly.

The governor reported today that Russia bombed a right vital railway line, cutting off the only whale evacuation route from the Donbas. He said that multiple trains full of evacuees are now stranded, as Ukraine`s east, already devastated by Russian bombardment braces for further attacks, there are for few firm commitments from NATO allies on sending the weapons to Ukraine.

The prime minister of neighboring Slovakia is traveling to Kyiv to tomorrow along with a president of the European commission. He says Slovakia is ready to provide Ukraine with Soviet-made anti-aircraft missiles, but only if Slovakia can first secure a permanent replacement anti aircraft system to defend itself.

And in the U.S. today, measures to cut off normal trade relations with Russia and ban Russian oil imports passed the Senate unanimously, and the House almost unanimously. The EU approved a ban on Russian coal. And in the U.N. General Assembly, there was a vote to yank Russia off the U.N.`s Human Rights Council.

This flurry of activities ahs been sparked in large part by the grisly images and reports from the towns around Kyiv where Russian forces have withdrawn. But today, in a rare interview with a Western media outlet, Vladimir Putin spokesman told Sky News that photos and satellite images of dead civilians left behind by Russian forces are all fakes, and lies staged by the Ukrainians. Though, he did admit that Russia has, quote, significant losses of troops which he calls, quote, a huge tragedy for us, end quote.

It`s an unusual acknowledgment and piece of truth from the Russian government. But there was yet more evidence today refuting the denials from Putin spokesman -- Russian radio traffic reportedly intercepted by German intelligence.

[21:05:10]

Those intercepts reportedly included Russian soldiers discussing the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Ukraine. We are going to be talking to the German reporter who broke that story a little later on the show.

And, of course, the denials from the Russian government also continue to be refuted by evidence on the ground. And I must warn you, sadly, as I do every night now, that some of what we are about to show you is disturbing. Because in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, they are continuing to collect bodies, which have been found in mass graves, as well as individually buried in yards and in gardens.

Volunteers are bringing bodies to the cemetery in Bucha say many of the victims were often shot in the head, blindfolded with their arms tied. As of last night, Ukrainian officials had counted 320 civilian casualties in Bucha alone, and many more remain to be found.

This video handout from Ukraine`s emergency services shows workers combing through the rubble of a short apartment blocks in the nearby town of Borodyanka, searching for bodies. Officials have warned that the toll here maybe even higher there than in Bucha.

And as NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez reports tonight, Ukraine says that bombings and executions are not the only ways that Russia is trying to break the will of the Ukrainian populace. It may also be trying to starve them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Near her apartment, Nina Tarasova (ph) leads us to three shallow graves, neighbors lost. One of them was just 30 years old. Russian troops ravaged her neighborhood outside Kyiv for more than a month.

How hard has this been?

It was cold, she says, and we had no food.

In another suburb, 80-year-old Olga Diumini`s (ph) top floor apartment exploded. Russian soldiers broke open doors, choking off her town from food and supplies.

What`s the hardest part about moving on from this?

I have a feeling it is all a bad dream, she says.

But the nightmare is not over. Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy is accusing Russia of using hunger as a weapon, reminiscent of Stalin`s forced famine during the 1930s.

The Ukrainians say that the Russians are now blocking food and water from southern cities, like Mariupol. And in villages outside Hostomel, the Russians went house by house.

Did they take your food?

They were stealing practically everything, she says, starting with food and ending with even children`s toys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Under circumstances like those, it is little wonder that Ukraine is begging Western allies for more support and more weapons. The question is, will they get what they say they need and will they get it in time?

Joining us now from Kyiv is Ivanna Klympush, a Ukrainian member of parliament. She`s also the chair of its committee on the integration of Ukraine to the European Union.

Ms. Klympush, thank you for being with us tonight.

Ukraine`s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, was in Brussels today asking NATO allies for more help because he is concerned, as many people, are that Russians regrouping for an assault on eastern Ukraine. And he said, because of that, Ukraine needs military aid in days, not weeks.

You work with the EU. You know how this bureaucracy works. What has to happen to get you the weapons you need?

IVANNA KLYMPUS, MEMBER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Well, first and foremost, I would like to reiterate, yes, Ukraine needs additional military support, massive military capacity is needed in order to ensure that we are winning in this war against evil. We also need more sanctions and we also need financial support.

But in order to get -- to get it to work, we definitely have to go from pre-war bureaucracy to something that is something that with -- engagement of everyone and totally give up on pre-war procedures and delivering -- taking the decision, political will is needed and from taking the decision that we need to execute very, very quickly.

VELSHI: Do you feel that that has changed? Because I sense, from being here in Ukraine that certainly the discoveries out of Bucha over the weekend changed the way things have been going so far.

Is that motivating people in terms of political will? To get you both the money, the aid and the weapons that you need?

KLYMPUSH: Well, I think that, basically, the whole policy of many of the European states have actually changed a lot since the beginning of this war. But definitely Bucha and Irpin and Borodyanka and Hostomel, all those atrocities that have been revealed to the world after those towns were liberated are adding to the readiness, to the resolve, to the capability of different nations to act.

[21:10:12]

And I think the major role here is also lying with this is societies that are pushing their politicians to help our country in order to ensure that our values do prevail.

VELSHI: It is remarkable, though, to listen to your foreign minister, your president, and members of parliament like you and then listen to what the Russian government is saying. Today, Vladimir Putin`s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, repeated a line that has taken hold in Russia, calling the atrocities in Bucha and the other cities you mentioned a forgery aimed at smearing Russia.

How do you fight back against that type of messaging, that the Russians are continuing at the United Nations and in the media?

KLYMPUSH: You know, I think the whole world has already seen that Russia has a serious track record of lies, manipulation, and it`s trying to continue doing this. We have seen this from the very first start of the war, back in 2014. Remember MH-17, when it was down by Russian troops, with the support of the Russian military?

That particular incident, as they called, it was portrayed by Russia in like seven or eight different ways, where they were trying to picture it as something that had no relations to the Russian Federation. We know a couple of years later that it was already connected, indeed connected to the Russian Federation.

So, at this time right now, Russia is just continuing on its lies. And we have to ensure that our major weapon is truth. And that is what we are coming with. And that is how we can probably break the neutrality of some of those nations that are -- some of those democracies that are still indulging Russian propaganda today, like India, for example, or south Africa or Brazil.

VELSHI: The world`s biggest democracy continues to vacillate on what to do about Russia.

There is an interesting piece of truth that did come out today. And that is that Vladimir Putin spokesperson also admitted that Russia has suffered what he called a significant loss of troops into the beginning of the invasion. Tell me what you make of that candid this about the losses because up until now Russia has been downplaying the troop losses that they have had. They are now admitting that this is as bad as some people are saying.

KLYMPUSH: Not some people are saying, but as probably our armed forces are reporting. I think it is getting more and more difficult to hide. And in the big country of Russia, it`s difficult to find those losses that they have been suffering because more and more people are getting information that their sons, their husbands and their brothers are not coming back because they lost their lives in Ukraine fighting against Ukrainians. And I think that that is causing this particular kind of change and shift in the narrative that Russia is presenting to the world.

VELSHI: Ivanna Klympush is a member of Ukraine`s parliament, Ms. Klympush, thank you for being with us this evening.

KLYMPUSH: Thank you for having me.

VELSHI: Up next, a historic day in the U.S. Senate today, as Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson is confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. We will talk to someone who`s got a special insight into what today means.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:18:24]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this vote, the yeas are 53, the nays are 47. And this nomination is confirmed.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: You hear that? They are still going. That went on for almost a minute before they were gaveled to order.

That was a sound from the floor in the gallery of the Senate after it voted 53 to 47 to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, the country`s first black woman vice president announced the confirmation of the country`s first black woman Supreme Court justice. The applause that followed was the sound of history made and progress sustained.

Nearly all of the 47 Republican senators who voted against Judge Jackson after working overtime to prevent or confirmation left the room as that sound grew louder.

Senator Mitt Romney stayed, on his feet, applauding the moment. The senator was one of three Republicans who broke ranks with the party`s rigid stance against Judge Jackson. He voted yes based on the judge`s merits. So, he joined in the joy that filled the Senate chamber.

Just ahead of the vote, Senator Warnock, the first black senator from the state of Georgia, explained that joy this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Mr. President, I rise to today to express my -- in voting to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. What a great day it is for the United States of America, for our system of government and the grand march towards the fulfillment of the sacred covenant we have with one another as an American people, e pluribus unum, out of many, one.

[21:20:20]

Ketanji Brown Jackson`s improbable journey to the nation`s highest court is a reflection of our own journey, through fits and starts towards the nation`s highest ideals. She embodies the arc of our history.

Like my brother, Senator Booker, I know what it has taken for Judge Jackson to get to this moment, and nobody is going to steal my joy. Yes, I`m a senator, I`m a pastor. But beyond all of that, I am the father of a young Black girl. I know how much it means for a Jackson to have navigated the double jeopardy of racism and sexism and to now stand in the glory of this moment, in all of her excellence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: And Judge Jackson`s did stand in the glory of that moment with the president, who nominated her to fill Justice Breyer`s seat.

The two watched together as the votes came in. They felt the arc of history bend. We will get to hear from Judge Jackson tomorrow when she delivers remarks alongside President Biden and Vice President Harris.

This is what the vice president had to say about the vote today after she gaveled it in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: I am overjoyed and deeply moved. There is still so much yet to accomplish. And that we can accomplish, including on a day like today that is so historic and so important for so many reasons. And I do believe it is a very important statement about who we are as a nation, that we have just made a decision to put this extraordinary jurist on the highest court of our land. It is a good statement about who we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: It is a good statement about who we are. It is also a reminder of who we have been and how we are still striving and sometimes succeeding to become more perfect.

After 233 years of Supreme Court rulings, there had been 115 justices, 108 were white men, five were women, two were black men, and 31 year since the last black justice was confirmed, we will finally have a Black woman justice, someone who is exceptionally qualified, highly respected and will make the Supreme Court look just a bit more like the country it serves.

This is who we are today. And that evolution matters. It matters to the country and specifically to the Black women who will now stand on Judge Jackson`s shoulders as they become tourists, working to help make the union more perfect.

"The New York Times" spoke to women who are members of the Harvard Black Law Students Association, where Judge Jackson is an alumna. It`s a small group, fewer than 140 Harvard law students are Black, 84 are Black women. That`s out of about 1,700 total students enrolled in the law program.

One of those 84 students, Mariah K. Watson, told "The Times", quote, I`m grateful for the hard steps and all that shipping away that Judge Jackson is doing right now, so that the path is cleared or at least a little clearer for those who seek to come after her.

Joining us now is Mariah K. Watson, a third year law student at Harvard Law School and president of the Harvard Black Law Students Association.

Ms. Watson, thank you for being with us tonight. I just have to ask you first, what was it like to see this today?

MARIAH K. WATSON, HARVARD BLACK LAW STUDENTS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: This was historic. I -- we were together as a group of law students, our external vice president, the women law students associations of Harvard came together to bring us as a classroom together to give us a classroom to stream it. So you can imagine the uproar in the room as students were elated, to say the very least, that a promise had been fulfilled and one of our very own has been nominated to the highest court in the land.

VELSHI: You told "The New York Times" that Judge Jackson has made the path for those who seek to come after her a little clearer. I want to ask you about the path she had to walk, which included graduating from Harvard Law School, followed by years of experience on the bench, 24 hours of testimony very recently that questioned her record and character. This was her path to becoming a social justice on the Supreme Court.

[21:25:01]

Tell me how you have digested this over the last several weeks. WATSON: It`s been -- it`s been complicated across the law school. I think if you look at the other quotes, we know that she was amazing. Not only at the things that she mentioned but she was on the law review. She served not only on the federal circuit at the court of appeals level but also as a district court judge for many years. She knows the law backwards and forwards. And she has been excellent in everything that she has attempted to do.

So, part of the digesting is saying, well, you almost have to be without flaw. And she is amazing. And we do not take away from that. But the way in which she had to be perfect, not only in her professional life, but also in her personal life, and the deep, in-depth questions that they asked, nothing was off limits.

So, we don`t know. This is what becomes comes before us. If you want to ascend to this level, and you are a Black woman, that means you will fight twice as hard to get there.

VELSHI: I want to talk about something that you said to Senator Alex Padilla of California. That as a Harvard student that she once asked herself, do I belong here? Can I make it in this environment?

There is a lot of language we are hearing now about who belongs in spaces. And that includes the Supreme Court, or where you are at Harvard Law School, places where there are relatively few black women. Who needs to see that people who look like Judge Jackson belong in those spaces? The women who might follow her path? Or is it the 47 senators who voted against her?

Who needs the proof that she has had to provide?

WATSON: I think it is both. I think it is the women who are trying to follow in her footsteps. As we look across the classroom or even in walking down the halls, and seeing the portraits of professors that do not look like us. And we are reading opinions written by people who do not reflect who we are.

And you are wondering, am I meant to be here? Is this the right place for me? And where the success lead?

So, I think part of it is knowing that, as Black women and as Black people, and as just women in general, it`s that we can ascend to these levels. And that now we have a role model.

But I think it is equally important for the 47 senators who voted no and the people who maybe share similar ideologies, for why they voted no, to see that Black women can be brilliant, can be fair. And can function at the highest levels and do it really, really well. And I think that that is something that needs to be seen.

I think there are a lot of assumptions we do not always talk about, around what it means to succeed and be brilliant when you are part of a marginalized community. And I think showing her credentials and her amazing this, that she is going to bring to the court, is going to hopefully chip away at some of those assumptions.

VELSHI: You have done something that many of us have not done. You met Judge Jackson in person. Can you share a little bit about that experience and in particular willingness to make yourself available to aspiring young lawyers?

WATSON: Absolutely.

Judge Jackson, now Justice Jackson, or soon to be, regularly visited Harvard Law School. And I had the good fortune of meeting her in the fall of 2019. She came to speak to the Black Law Students Association in a lunch.

And she talked to us about diversity in the judiciary. And she answered every single question that we, as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed -- had about what it meant to be here and how she persevered in her classroom, when she didn`t feel like presenting or felt like she could not speak on things that she really cared about. Or, how did she make herself known on campus?

She talked about the importance of legal writing. She talked about the importance of understanding the law and having an intimate command of the doctrine. She talked about how to show up, even when you do not feel like you can. And she talked about how she did it. It is just an amazing opportunity.

She also talked to us about court competition, and ways we could show our beautiful, brilliant, Black community in spaces and not just in our organization.

VELSHI: What an experience to have met her and to have heard her speak.

Mariah, thank you for joining us. Mariah K. Watson is a third year law student at Harvard Law School and a graduate of the Harvard Black Law Students Association. We are grateful for your time and for sharing of your experiences with us tonight.

WATSON: Thank you.

VELSHI: Before we go to break, I want to draw your attention to something else that happened earlier today. Shortly before announcing Ketanji Brown Jackson`s historic confirmation vote, Vice President Harris said did something that was rather unexpected. Take a look at this, you can see on the left-hand side of your screen. She pulled out some paper. It turns out that that was vice presidential stationary.

She proceeded to hand it over to the only two black Democrats in the Senate. Senators Cory Booker and Raphael Warnock.

[21:30:03]

Apparently, the vice president told them she hadn`t assignment. She wanted each of them to write a letter to a young black woman in their life as a way of commemorating the state in history.

Senator Raphael Warnock has shared the letter that he wrote. It is addressed to his daughter Chloe and it reads: Today, we confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. In our nation`s history, she is the first Supreme Court justice who looks like you, with her like yours. While we were voting on the floor of the Senate, a friend of mine, the vice president of the United States, handed me this piece of paper and suggested that I would write a letter to someone who comes to mind.

By the way, she is the first vice president who also looks like you. I wrote this note to say that you can be anything, achieve anything you set your heart to do. Love you, Dad.

You got a lot more to get to tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:35:39]

VELSHI: I would`ve gone there in a minute. That`s how former President Donald Trump says he feels about the attack that happened at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. No regret for the role he played in stoking the insurrection. The only regret that the private -- prevented him from marching with the mob.

Trump made these comments in a published interview with "The Washington Post". Asked about the seven and a half hours of missing White House phone records of the day of the insurrection, Trump responded in his singular patois, quote, from the standpoint of telephone calls, I don`t remember getting it very many. That`s despite the fact that there are multiple records and witness accounts showing phone calls he both made and receive that day that are missing from the official record.

His own daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is president for at least one of those calls, testified to the January 6 committee for nearly eight hours this week, just one of the many investigations into Trump`s conduct that appears to be moving forward right now.

Today, the New York attorney general said in a statement that she is asked a judge to fine Donald Trump $10,000 per day until he complies with the subpoena for documents that his lawyers were supposed to hand over a week ago.

We also got a surprise statement today from another New York prosecutor investigating Trump, the district attorney in Manhattan. Now, for weeks, you remember, there were indications that prosecutors were winding down the Manhattan district attorney`s investigation into Donald Trump. It looked like maybe this was going to be one investigation that the former president did not have to worry about.

But then today, the Manhattan district attorney released a statement saying that his investigation is still on, quote, it`s still on. And this is what he said: In recent weeks, the Manhattan district attorney`s office has been repeatedly asked whether our investigation concerning former President Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, and its leadership is continuing. It is, end quote.

So it does not look like the former president can rest easy about that investigation anytime soon. And on top of that today, we found out about yet another investigation into Donald Trump. "The Washington Post`s" Matt Zapotosky reports that the Department of Justice has started investigating Trump for taking 15 boxes of presidential records, including classified material to his home in Mar-a-Lago.

For weeks, members of Congress have been trying to investigate whether Trump violated the presidential records act by taking those documents back to a private home. And now, it appears that the Justice Department is planning its own probe into the matter.

Joining us now is "The Washington Post" Justice Department reporter Matt Zapotosky,

Matt, thanks for joining us tonight. Tell us first, well what do we know about this last piece of news that we`ve got, this Justice Department investigation, how far along it is and do we know specifically what they are investigating?

MATT ZAPOTOSKY, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s in it`s very, very early stages. So, what they are investigating here is that there was classified information in these 15 boxes of documents. Some of them top secret, and even beyond that.

So when classified in formation spills out into the world, generally, the department wants to see who saw it that didn`t have the appropriate clearances, how did it get out there, his anyone potentially criminally mishandling this classified information? We remember that that was the focus of the Hillary Clinton email investigation that wrapped up back in 2016. It`s a similar issue here, right, there is a classified information that somehow made its way out of government confides and the FBI is going to try to get to the bottom of that.

I say this is in its early stages because as far as we can tell, they haven`t done subset substantial things that they have done or that they will do. One is sort taking stock part of what`s the national archives has done, what is in these boxes, what is classified when was it classified, at what level was a classified, and also sort of establishing the chain of custody, interviewing people to know how and how this was packed up.

We don`t have evidence that they`ve taken those steps yet, but we do know they`ve taken some preliminary steps, had some discussions with the Archives, and they are moving towards -- they will investigate this soon.

[21:40:06]

VELSHI: So that`s the Department of Justice.

Now, the House Oversight Committee has been trying to investigate this for sometime. The chair of this committee, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, said that they`ve actually been stonewalled by the Justice Department. What`s that about?

ZAPOTOSKY: Yeah, that`s in part I would say how we were able to learn this news, So Carolyn Maloney sent the Justice Department a letter today saying, hey, I asked the National Archives who took possession of these 50 boxes for their inventory of what was in these 15 boxes. At the National Archives told me, Carolyn Maloney, we can give that to you because the justice department, essentially, has asked us not to. So, Maloney writes to the Justice Department saying, you are interfering with my investigation and I want to know why.

Now, it`s very likely the reason is because the Justice Department is investigating as we reported, when the Justice Department is investigating, they generally do not like Congress sort of tracing around in the work that they are doing. But they have not told that. And she`s very frustrated.

And Congress has its own aims here. Some of which are separate from the Justice Department. The Justice Department is going to be laser focused on this classified issue and these federal records issues. But Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney wants to investigated all and while this Justice Department an inquiry investigation is going, she may have a hard time doing that.

So far that`s frustrating her. It`s also frustrating her that the Justice Department won`t tell her exactly what they`re doing.

VELSHGI: Matt, excellent reporting, you and your colleagues. Thank you so much. Matt Zapotosky took covers the Justice Department for "The Washington Post". We appreciate you joining us tonight.

Still ahead, the new reporting that German into intelligence intercepted radio communications between Russian soldiers as they talk about indiscriminate killings in Ukraine. The reporter who broke that story joins us after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:46:38]

VELSHI: Today, Putin`s press secretary Dmitry Peskov was pressed in an interview with Sky News about evidence that Russian soldiers killed civilians in Bucha, Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOST: As regards to Bucha, according to your ministry of defense on April 3rd, and I quote, not a single local resident has suffered from any violent action while Russia was in control. I mean, do you really expect the world to believe that?

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY: We insist on that. We insist on that and we insist that the whole situation, the situation in Bucha, is a world staged insinuation. Nothing else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Peskov is presented with satellite imagery, geolocated video evidence, witness testimony compiled by Human Rights Watch and amnesty international, but he insists, a bold fake made by Ukrainians in conjunction with private satellite imagery companies all Western media, and Western governments, all to make Russia look bad.

As of last, night Ukrainian officials accounted 320 civilian casualties in Bucha alone. The mayor there saying that almost 90 percent of those found dead had bullet wounds, not shrapnel wounds. Meaning they had been individually targeted.

No matter how much evidence there is presented, the Russian government continues to deny everything, to say it`s all fake.

Now, today, the German publication, "Der Spiegel", has reported new evidence that will be hard for Russia to deny. Radio traffic intercepted by Germany`s foreign intelligence service of Russian troops discussing the murder of civilians.

Quote: The radio traffic and makes it seem the atrocities perpetuated on civilians in Bucha were neither random acts nor the product of individual soldiers who got out of hand. Rather, the material suggests that the troops spoke of the atrocities as though they were simply discussing their everyday lives. Some of the intercepted traffic apparently matches the locations of bodies found along the main road through Bucha, end quote.

In one clip, the newspaper says, a soldier apparently told another that they had just shot a person on a bicycle. In another, a man and parent lee said, first to interrogate soldiers, then you shoot them.

Joining us now is Melanie Amann, who in addition to being the lead byline on this reporting today is the Berlin bureau chief for "Der Spiegel", and member of the paper`s editorial leadership.

Ms. Amann, thank you for making the time for being with us tonight.

I want to ask you about this intercepted audio. How much audio is there? How many different conversations where there and what are the kinds of things that you could hear being discussed on it?

MELANIE AMANN, DER SPIEGEL CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Our sources have told us that there was a briefing of foreign intelligence service in Germany which is abbreviated BND, they were briefing members of parliament in a classified session about the radio traffic they have intercepted from Russian troops. The exact number I cannot tell you, but they apparently did read a few of these intercepts with the politicians with quite shocking content where the Russian soldiers were exchanging, basically, hints and information, how they were treating civilians in Ukraine, and committing murder, committing all kinds of atrocities.

[21:50:10]

Like saying, for example, first we interrogate, and then we shoot them. And now this is of course the report that our sources gave to us. We haven`t personally been able to listen to these intercepts. But the sources accounts do lineup. It`s quite shocking, actually.

VELSHI: Beyond being possible evidence of war crimes by individual soldiers, one of the things that you read about is the reason this audit was so significant is because it could be used as evidence that these may not have been rogue independent actors but soldiers carrying out orders as part of a plan, help us understand what you have reported on that demonstrates that?

AMANN: Exactly, I think it`s hard to underestimate the value of these intercepts when it comes to analyzing the military strategy of the Russian army. Indeed, they were -- the atrocities committed, the killings are not just random acts of violence, of people acting out, or maybe acting under the stress of war whatever, like another horrible fantasy, but it`s actually coldly calculated mess that has been spread through a big part of the Russian army.

The political relevance is that these interceptions dismantled the propaganda of the Russian government, of the Kremlin, not only other pictures, fake these people were not killed by Russian troops, and the whole propaganda from -- if you have people saying on record, soldiers, saying on record, this is how you treat civilians in this country, like shooting a guy on the bicycle, things like this. So, this is what makes these intercepts so important.

VELSHI: The -- there can be signals intelligence that kid matched to the satellite images to identify specific perpetrators and that could be important in building a war crimes case. But there`s added significance, some of the audio, not all of, it has been traced to the region north of Kyiv where Bucha is located. But there`s also -- there also seemed to be already a lot of other cities.

How do you understand that?

AMANN: There`s also apparently audio transmissions from the region of Mariupol and other parts of the country. But especially from, like you, said north of Kyiv, the nation`s capital, where we know that atrocities have been committed, pieces of the puzzle add up. We are confronted with actual proof that the people who were there may have committed these atrocities. So they will be invaluable in the court of law.

VELSHI: I want to go back to the beginning of this. You said that the radial was intercepted by German intelligence.

Do you have a sense of how they intercepted it and how they are working with other nations to do so?

AMANN: I do actually. It would be interesting, so far, our intelligence in this war has not proved as valuable as, for example, your American services because the intelligence provided and the analysis of this intelligence has been flawed. They had underestimated the war.

With these intercepts, suddenly they really are ahead of the pack, if you want. Because, ironically, they are using a technique, they`re using infrastructure that is come from the cold war. They`re using these antennas, 30 meters high, that are located in Bavaria which other European countries have long dismantled since the Cold War. This infrastructure has been there for decades and it`s used to transmit the shortwave transmissions from the Russian army.

After the Soviet times, many countries thought, we don`t need this anymore, the Germans kept it since we are orderly and we stick to what we have and we`ve always poorly financed our military and security services. I guess this is why this clunky rusty stuff is still around. And now it`s proved extremely valuable because we can listen in on what the Russian troops are discussing on their shortwave transmissions.

VELSHI: That is a remarkable story. Your entire reporting on this is really remarkable. Thank you for being with us.

Melanie Amann is the editor-in-chief of "Der Spiegel" and the lead byline of this important piece of reporting. We thank you for your time tonight.

AMANN: Thanks for having me.

VELSHI: And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Two programming notes before we go tonight. The first one, I mentioned at the top of the show, as you know, Rachel has been on hiatus, but I`m happy to tell you all she will be back come Monday night. So, get ready for that.

That in the meantime, tomorrow is set to be yet another big news day. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be at the White House tomorrow, following her historic confirmation at the Supreme Court today. She is expected to make remarks alongside President Biden and Vice President Harris. It`s not something that you will want to miss, and MSNBC will have live coverage of this tomorrow afternoon.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you tomorrow from Lviv.

It`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Lawrence, I always admire the fact that you`ve got a real grasp of history and U.S. political history, and many of those things I`ve not shared with you. But tonight, we get to share and experience and that is the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, in this effort to be a more perfect union, I think we took a big step today.