Interview with Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA). Interview with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). MSNBC`s continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC HOST: Hello, and thank you, Alicia.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
As Alicia said, this is MSNBC PRIME, airing at this hour Tuesday through Friday. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW continues to air at this hour on Mondays.
Glad to have you with us tonight.
And at this hour, polls have just closed in the great state of Nebraska in that state`s primary elections. Voters today chose nominees for Congress for governor and other statewide offices in Nebraska.
And as you know, Nebraska is a pretty red state. It`s a pretty safe bet, that a lot of today`s Republican nominees will go on to win in the general election later this year. In fact, some of these officers don`t even have a Democrat running for them.
And a place like that where most of the political fight isn`t whether a Republican or a Democrat is going to win but what kind of Republican is most popular -- well, I can tell you a lot about where the Republican Party is right now.
Let`s start with the Trump-endorsed candidate for governor in today`s primary, Charles Herbster, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune largely -- this is true -- from selling bull semen. Hey, someone`s got to do it I guess.
As Rachel discussed at this hour last night, Charles Herbster has been accused of groping by eight women, eight, including a conservative Republican state senator who says Herbster reached up her address at a Republican event in 2019. Some might consider those allegations disqualifying but not of course Donald J. Trump who doubled down on his endorsement of Herbster, holding a rally with him earlier this month and declaring Herbster innocent of any wrongdoing.
Those horrifying allegations against Herbster have gotten a great deal of attention and rightly so. But what you might not know about Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster is his involvement in the events of January the 6th, that on the day of the attack on the Capitol, Charles Herbster was actually in Washington, D.C. with President Trump`s inner circle. Herbster was in the VIP section at Trump`s rally where the president urged everyone to march on the Capitol.
"The Nebraska Examiner" obtained text messages that Herbster sent that day to campaign staffers back home in Nebraska, including this photo. He was very excited to be seated up in the second row at the rally, right behind election conspiracy theorist and noted pillow salesman, Mike Lindell.
As the Capitol attack unfolded, Herbster boarded a private jet to Florida with Donald Trump Jr., a plane he referred to repeatedly in texts as Air Force 3. For the record, Air Force 3 is not a thing, unless of course you`re referring to the classic 1988 line of Nike top basketball shoes of which the Air Force 3 was in my opinion definitely the best version.
Anyway, the night before the riot, January the 5th, Herbster posted on Facebook that he was at the Trump Hotel down the street from the White House, meeting with among others Trump`s sons, Don Jr. and Eric, and Trump`s disgraced ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn who just weeks earlier had called for President Trump to deploy the military to overturn the election. Herbster said he was with, quote, patriots who are joining me in a battle for justice and truth.
Tomorrow, he wrote, is the last official chance for our members of Congress to object to the widespread voter fraud that happened on November the 3rd. There was no widespread fraud. In a text message, Herbster said that night obtained by "The Nebraska Examiner," he described that meeting at the Trump Hotel as a briefing on the final stages of the Trump team`s plans to overturn the election results and keep Trump in office.
He wrote, quote, this is a very, very, very important and informational meeting tonight with full written reports of how this election was truly stolen from us and anyone who does not believe that is true is totally inaccurate. So, we need to think about how that affect my campaign for governor.
Of course the way it affected his campaign for governor was that he got Donald Trump`s endorsement and a huge boost in tonight`s race by being Trump`s devoted ally in spreading his big election lie. And the governor`s race isn`t the only primary contest where this happened in Nebraska.
Take the attorney general`s race. This is one of those contests where there were no Democrats running there were only two Republican candidates for the job, and one of them dropped out of law school after one semester. She said she didn`t really know much about the legal issues facing the state and once she`s in office she would figure out, quote, what you`re allowed to do.
But she knows one thing, that 2020 election was fraudulent. Oh, yes, and the number one thing she would do as attorney general is fix the state`s elections.
How about the race for Nebraska secretary of state, the office that actually oversees elections in that state? Well, Nebraska actually has an incumbent secretary of state, who is running for re-election. He`s a Republican like all of Nebraska`s statewide office holders. He oversaw the 2020 election in which Donald Trump won Nebraska by nearly 20 points. But today, he was facing two Republican primary challenges both of whom say that election was rife with voter fraud, the election Trump won. Why? Well, Nebraska apportioned some of its Electoral College votes by congressional districts. So while Donald Trump won four of Nebraska`s five electoral votes, Joe Biden got one, count them, one electoral vote from Nebraska from the congressional district around the city of Omaha.
And those two Republican challenges for the secretary of state`s job say that that one electoral vote was stolen. Sure, maybe the places where Donald Trump won were fine but that one place where Joe Biden won, that was definitely fraudulent. And if one of them is elected secretary of state, apparently, they`ll prove it. Also, they would get rid of all the voting machines, not replace them, just get rid of all of them.
That was the Republican primary lineup in Nebraska today. But, of course, it`s not just Nebraska. Election deniers and people who were at the U.S. capitol on January the 6th are popping up on Republican primary ballots all over the country.
The leading contender for the Republican nomination for governor in crucial swing state Pennsylvania was at the Capitol on January the 6th and helped Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani in their quest to get Joe Biden`s win overturned in Pennsylvania. He`s been subpoenaed by the January 6th investigation that guy has endorsed a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor who was also at the Capitol on January the 6th.
Apparently, he feels left out by the way. Earlier this year, he demanded to know where his subpoena from the January 6th investigation is, quote, where`s mine? I was there, give me my subpoena.
In Michigan, another capital rioter is among the candidates vying to be the Republican nominee for governor. The Republican nominees for Michigan attorney general and secretary of state are both died in the wool election deniers and pushers of conspiracy theories. The attorney general nominee has even said the incumbent AG, a Democrat should be in prison. Where have I heard that before?
In Georgia, the Republican governor and the Republican secretary of state, those two gentlemen on the left, are being primaried by Trump-backed candidates who say the election was stolen in Arizona. The Trump-endorsed candidate for secretary of state was at the January 6 riot and says if he`s elected, he`ll throw out the 2020 election results.
And in Colorado, a county clerk who is under criminal investigation for messing with election equipment in an attempt to ridiculously prove a 2020 voter fraud conspiracy, she`s thrown her hat in the ring for the Republican secretary of state nomination. The list goes on and on, I could go on all night.
This is the Republican Party right now and the threat to American democracy right now. Joining us is former Florida Republican congressman, Carlos Curbelo.
Carlos, thanks so much for coming on the show. Good to see you again.
Donald Trump has turned Republican primaries into a toxic show about who could lie more about election fraud. That`s key to getting his endorsement. How do you think that dynamic would help Republicans not in primaries, but in the general election in November?
FORMER REP. CARLOS CUBELO (R-FL): That`s right, Mehdi, that`s the concern, because this is no longer race to the bottom. This is a race to hell, because it`s all about who can lie the most, and with most passion and most consistently. That is the process now for getting through Republican primaries.
You want to get Mr. Trump support, how do you do it? By embracing a lie, in a passionate, obvious way that he can see, get his support, and then hopefully win the primary.
Now, if you win the primary and you`re in a super red district, well, that`s okay. You`re probably going to make it to Congress. If you`re in a swing district, that`s where it`s a little more complicated because then you have to pivot quickly and convince those independents and maybe some moderate Democrats that might be up for grabs that well maybe you don`t really believe in these lies.
So, it`s a very difficult balancing act. Some candidates will do it successfully others will fall right off the high wire.
HASAN: I mean, the problem, of course, is in places like Nebraska as I mentioned. You don`t need to worry about a Democrat in the general election. You can just get the nomination and you`re home and dry and then we`re in trouble come 2024.
Carlos, I was struck by an opinion piece posted by "The New York Times" yesterday, with a great title, by the way, about the primaries in Nebraska. It says, quote, it doesn`t matter whether these candidates actually win or not, because their conspiratorial and inflammatory rhetoric has overtaken the discourse, pushing all Republican candidates further and further towards the fringe, regardless of how the final balloting turns out in Nebraska on Tuesday, the real victor will be Donald Trump.
That is the case, is it not? We`ve had a lot of people say, well, Trump`s on the out. He doesn`t have the same power that he had before. But you know, he just elevated JD Vance in Ohio. It`s still his party. Your party is still his party. Well, that`s right, Mehdi, and what a lot of these candidates don`t understand is that Trump`s appetite for this kind of dishonesty is not satiable like you will never fulfill his appetite.
And eventually he`s going to ask you to do something that makes you very, very uncomfortable. He`s going to ask you to try to throw out an election result, or to try to impeach Joe Biden or something of that nature, and that`s when a lot of these people are going to realize the gravity just saying I`ll embrace this lie just to get Donald Trump support because what`s even more sad about all of this is that I`d say 9 out of 10 of these individuals, they don`t believe any of this stuff.
They don`t believe any of this stuff. They`re trained, they`re told, hey, just go ahead, say this and that make sure he`s happy and then move on.
Well, it`s really hard to move on with Donald Trump because he demands absolute loyalty all the time and eventually, for most people, they`re going to be actually something --
HASAN: It`s already happened to Mo Brooks of Alabama who was Trump`s endorsed choice there for the Senate seat and then he wasn`t loyal enough. Mo Brooks and he unendorsed Mo Brooks, and as for people not believing this stuff, you`re 100 percent right. JD Vance was calling Donald Trump America`s Hitler just a few years ago, and now he`s pushing Donald Trump`s conspiracies.
The real issue, the real worry though, Carlos, is that these big lie election deniers are not just running for office all over the country for governor and Senate, but they`re specifically running for offices that manage the elections for the secretary of state roles, and the motive is obvious for that. But it`s pretty dangerous is it not that the Democrats have not been able to get their election reform bills through the Senate because of Joe Manchin, because of the filibuster.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are getting ready to plug all those gaps where their conspiracy where their plan fell apart in 2020, to make sure in 2024, there are no gaps. There are no holes. There are no Brad Raffensperger to hold the line.
It is dangerous, Mehdi, and what it means is that we`re likely going to have to rely on the courts again to prevent people literally from cheating, from trying to steal elections. We are very fortunate in 2020, about 60 court cases, judges appointed by Republicans, judges appointed by Democrats, Supreme Court, which we know is dominated by conservatives. Now, they all turn down all these efforts to try to unjustifiably change the election result. If some of these officials get elected, people who are openly campaigning on an agenda to, you know, steal elections or rig elections or whatever it is, the courts are really going to be the last line of defense.
I guess the silver lining there, the hope is that it worked in 2020, and we`re going to have to count on the integrity of these judges again in future elections if these officials try to manipulate the results.
HASAN: I`m pretty sure people watching at home tonight will not be reassured to hear that judges are going to be the last line of defense for American democracy come 2024.
It`s a worrying time. Former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo, MSNBC political analyst, we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
CURBELO: Thank you, Mehdi.
HASAN: The main goal of the January 6th select committee is to produce a definitive factual accounting of what happened on January the 6th and the efforts by Donald Trump and his allies leading up to it to try and overturn the results of the 2020 election. The committee has now interviewed close to a thousand witnesses. Investigators have in their possession over a hundred thousand documents, including emails, call logs and text messages, some of which we`ve seen.
But as we learned today, they also have tapes, lots of tapes. "Politico" reports that the committee has tapes from the depositions of many of the plus witnesses who have appeared before it, and some of those tapes may soon be made public. Quote, it is quite possible that excerpts of the January select committee`s witness depositions eventually become public according to people familiar with the probe who spoke to "Politico".
You`d have to be woefully naive if you don`t think they`re going to use some of the videos at the hearings one person who spoke on condition of anonymity told "Politico". The committee is holding at least eight public hearings starting next month. And while we still don`t know the format of those hearings or the exact timing, CNN did report last week that the House panel is, quote, planning to produce a multimedia presentation with key evidence as part of its final product.
Joining us now is California congressman and member of the January investigation, Pete Aguilar.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.
Let me jump straight into it. Is this reporting accurate from "Politico" that the January 6 panel may play tape of some of your depositions during next month`s public hearings?
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): What we`re interested as you said was telling the complete story of what happened in January 6 and the events that led up to January 6th. We`ve talked to nearly a thousand individuals as you mentioned, and there is significant evidence that we look forward to presenting to the American public.
HASAN: So, I`m going to ask again -- do we think we`ll see tapes at these hearings? Is there any consideration around the tapes? We know the tapes exist.
AGUILAR: Well, what we want to do is we want to portray this and convey this in a manner that people understand and part of that is telling the full and complete story. So what I would anticipate is that we have live witnesses and we also add, you know, maybe tweets and other media that could be helpful in that. And I don`t want to get ahead of the committee and our process, but I can tell you that it will be layered. It will be honest, and it will tell the full and complete story about what happened on January 6th, the events that led up to that.
HASAN: Okay. So like our viewers at home, I`m going to hold on to the other media line that you just said.
"Bloomberg" is reporting today that the committee is seriously evaluating subpoenaing Kevin McCarthy, House Minority leader and other Republican lawmakers who declined voluntary interviews. Can you confirm those conversations are happening? And if not, why aren`t they happening? Why the reluctance to go after these Republicans?
Well, let`s be honest, in a few months time, they could be in charge of the House. They could be going after members of your party for array of issues -- Hunter Biden`s laptop and the situation at the border and whatnot, and whatnot.
AGUILAR: The committee is focused. We`re disciplined. We`re having conversations each and every day about the investigative steps that are ahead of us. There are still some steps that we need to take before we get to those eight public hearings that we plan to lay out the evidence to the American public. There are still decisions to be made with respect to our investigative tactics and approach.
The committee`s having those on ongoing conversations with a top-flight team of staff members that we -- that we have assembled.
And all of this, Mehdi, is with the mindset that we have to tell that story to the public and we have to make sure that this never happens again. That includes legislative suggestions and recommendations. But obviously, you know, and we put in those letters previously that we feel members of Congress had a direct role in the discussions that preceded January 6th, meetings at the White House, meetings in conversations with Mark Meadows, all of that is significant and we feel that under the rule of law and the system that we have, individuals should follow a lawful subpoena that is given by the committee.
Unfortunately, some of our colleagues --
MEDHI: Just to be clear, Congressman, just to be clear -- there`s been reporting that there`s a split on the committee between some members who don`t want to subpoena people like Kevin McCarthy because they think they think it`ll set a bad precedent. The Republicans will weaponize that against you when they have control of the House. Are you in that group of people or do you think actually forget precedent, Republicans are going to do what they`re going to do, you should do the right thing now?
AGUILAR: Well, the committee is going to do the right thing. The American public can be sure that that`s the case. I will also tell you -- I`m not telling tales out of school here. I want to protect the committee and my colleagues, but there`s no daylight between the members of the committee on the investigative decisions that are being made.
We are making them together we are having these conversations. We are voicing our opinions. We are finding consensus. That is exactly how a committee should work. So I`ve been pleased with the nonpartisan nature of this committee work.
HASAN: One last quick question, we`re out of time, 30 seconds, I`ve got to ask. Elon Musk who`s buying Twitter said today he would reverse the company`s ban on Trump. That means the former president could soon be inciting violence on social media again. How might that affect your committee`s proceedings moving forward?
AGUILAR: Well, I think the president would probably receive counsel that he shouldn`t be tweeting. That`s my belief. I think he gets into trouble when he when he tweets. Clearly, the American public and the Capitol was assaulted in part because of his tweets on December 19th and the day leading up to that, as well as the public events and his speech that he gave on the 6th.
HASAN: Good luck to whichever lawyer has to persuade Donald Trump not to tweet once he`s back on Twitter. California congressman and member of the January Committee, Pete Aguilar, thank you so much for your time tonight.
AGUILAR: Thanks, Mehdi.
HASAN: Today, we also got news about that criminal investigation down in Georgia into Donald Trump`s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. CNN reports tonight that multiple fake electors in that state are now cooperating with the Fulton County DA`s investigation. NBC has not confirmed this reporting but two sources tell CNN that investigators are trying to determine whether those fake electors had any knowledge that their actions were part of an illegal plot overseen by the Trump campaign to pressure election officials and overturn Biden`s victory in that state..
The electors who met with investigators include the state`s Republican Party chairman and they were told that they are witnesses, not subjects of the investigation. Just last week, a special grand jury was seated to hear evidence in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis` investigation.
We`ll be right back with more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): On January 6th of 2021, you had tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting, and yet, the corporate media and Democrats slandered them with a made-up term insurrectionist. And yet, in this instance, that they`re not willing to call off their goons even now, even now as this has the potential to escalate and escalate further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: That was Ted Cruz last night comparing what he described as the peaceful protests at the capitol and the, quote/unquote, goons protesting outside of Supreme Court justices homes this weekend over the leaked decision to overturn Roe.
FYI: his leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell called 1/6 an insurrection as well, but Cruz-style faux outrage was all over Fox yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: We hesitate even bringing these pictures because they`re so awful, but it`s happening and you should see what it looks like. These are protesters. This is the mob outside Justice Samuel Alito`s home in Virginia. They`re disgusting.
As you may have heard, this is the anniversary of January 6th and in commemoration of that, we have done the official network approved solemn anchor outfit white shirt muted tie. Message, reverence.
But actually, if you take three steps back as historical events go for being honest now, January 6th barely rates as a footnote. Really not a lot happened that day.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Democrats are now reversing course once again and they are supporting acts of political violence. As we speak, far left agitators, they`re trying to harass, intimidate U.S. Supreme Court justices and coerce them into saving Roe v. Wade. It is a disgusting, repulsive, despicable attempt to destroy the independence of our nation`s judiciary.
The vast majority in Washington, D.C. today were peaceful, the overwhelming, the 99 percent, as we say.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: These juvenile protests, I`m sure you saw some of the video, their clear attempt to intimidate and harass these justices also to impede the deliberative process at the court, something the Democrats used to warn about.
The breach of the capital on January was a terrible thing. Crimes were committed, some people were unfairly hounded and persecuted and prosecuted. But it was not an insurrection. To say anything different is beyond dishonest and it ignores the facts of that day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: The double standards.
Today, though, conservatives are pointing out that there is currently a law on the books that might mean it is illegal to protest outside of a justice`s house. But don`t be fooled, that is not why they are worked up. If they were concerned with the letter of the law, they would be furious about January the 6th, and the multiple crimes that took place that day.
Instead, they are mad about stuff like this last night about 150 protesters marched to Justice Samuel Alito`s home in Alexandria, Virginia. This is what Tucker Carlson hesitates to show you.
It is so grotesque. Look at them. Forgive me for saying something so tough on television, but they held a candle lit vigil. A couple dozen protesters showed up in the rain outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh`s house on Saturday holding signs and chanting from a distance.
They then marched to Chief Justice John Roberts home and again held signs and chanted from a distance.
Still, yesterday, the Senate passed a bill unanimously beefing up the security provided to Supreme Court justices and their families. Amazing how fast the Senate can move when it wants to.
And look, that`s fine. Justices deserve to feel safe and be able to make their decisions free from fear. But also, I feel like this is all missing some pretty crucial context. In just a decade, between 2010 and 2020, the National Abortion Federation documented three murders, nine attempted murders, one bombing, 20 arsons, eight attempted bombing or arsons, 621 acts of vandalism, nearly 6,000 acts of trespassing, two bioterrorism threats, 186 assaults or batteries, and 551 death threats by anti-abortion activists against abortion providers. Where is the right-wing outrage over that?
HASAN: Tonight, we are keeping our eye on another important primary race in the state of West Virginia. Alex Mooney and David McKinley are both current Republican members of Congress in that state, but because of a drop in West Virginia`s population, those two incumbent Republican members of Congress have been squeezed into one congressional district and forced to run against each other.
Tonight, NBC News is projecting that Alex Mooney will be the winner of that primary. He currently leads David McKinley by around 15 percentage points.
Heading into tonight, former President Donald Trump threw his support behind Congressman Mooney, this after Congressman McKinley committed the two cardinal sins in the eyes of the MAGA movement of admitting that Joe Biden won the election and voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Mooney has since campaigned by relentlessly attacking McKinley and accusing him of supporting Joe Biden`s agenda. But McKinley has been pushing back on those attacks with the help of this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I`ve always said, if I can go home and explain it, I can`t vote for it. And that`s why I oppose Build Back Better. For Alex Mooney and his out of state supporters, to suggest David McKinley supported build back better is an outright lie. David McKinley has always opposed reckless spending, because it doesn`t make sense for West Virginia. Alex Mooney has proven is all about Alex Mooney. But West Virginians know David McKinley is all about us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: That is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin not only endorsing a Republican candidate but celebrating him for voting against President Biden`s signature legislation. Hey, West Virginia voters, don`t believe all that stuff about Republican David McKinley supporting Biden, he`s opposed Biden`s agenda every turn, just like me, Democrat Joe Manchin.
Senator Manchin is publicly and proudly relishing his reputation as the guy who has blocked his own party`s agenda. He has succeeded in killing Joe Biden`s Build Back Better bill.
He has succeeded in killing the Democrats efforts to protect voting rights and now, he`s going to help kill any chance of legislating to protect abortion rights.
Tomorrow, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would codify Roe v. Wade into law, in the wake of the Supreme Court`s leaked draft decision overturning Roe. Every other Democrat in the Senate is lining up to vote for that legislation.
Today, the Senate`s only other anti-abortion Democrat, Senator Bob Casey, came out in support of the bill to codify Roe, and let me just hang a lantern on that for a second. Senator Bob Casey is the son of former Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey Sr., who used to be one of the country`s most outspoken opponents of abortion. Bob Casey Sr. was the plaintiff in the landmark abortion case Planned Parenthood versus Casey. He`s that Casey.
And today, that guy`s son, his namesake, said even he is ready to vote to protect a woman`s right to choose. But it does not matter because Joe Manchin and all Republican senators are blocking any changes to the filibuster that would allow the Democratic majority in the Senate to protect a woman`s right to control her own body.
So what can Democrats do to protect abortion rights now?
Joining us is Hawaii Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator, thanks for joining us this evening.
This vote is expected to happen tomorrow. Republicans will block it. Senator Manchin won`t allow any change to the filibuster. What do Democrats do next to protect abortion rights? What can they do given you have a colleague in the Senate who`s busy promoting a Republican House candidate rather than protecting women`s rights.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): One thing we`ll do is to push for more Democratic pro-choice senators. But this fight is going to be taking place a lot at the state level because it is the state legislators who are passing all of these anti-abortion bills and they have been doing so for decades. So we are going to continue to shed light on the fact that we have a group of radical right-wing justices who are prepared with no qualms apparently to take away a constitutional right that women in this country have relied on for almost 50 years, so much for adhering to precedent.
HASAN: Senator, a lot of Democrats watching at home will hear you say vote for more Democrats and they`ll say, we did in record numbers, in 2018 we turned out. In 2020, we turned out. The Democrats control the White House, the Senate, the House, and yet still no codification of Roe, still no elimination of the filibuster, still no reform of the Supreme Court.
HIRONO: Well, note that the Democrats who control the House passed the bill that we`re going to be voting on tomorrow. So as I said, you know, a 50-50 Senate sucks. That is why we need more than 50 Democratic senators.
So to say that Democrats control the Senate, it`s only because we have Kamala Harris.
HASAN: So let me ask you this -- let`s -- so let`s let me ask you this: If this issue does motivate people to support more Democrats in November, if you miraculously keep and increase your congressional majority as a result of anger over the Roe decision, anything you pass in January can still be overturned by this clearly radical right Supreme Court, isn`t it time for Democrats to start thinking about expanding the Supreme Court, rebalancing it, reforming it, after Trump packed it and the Republicans stole a seat on it.
I mean, if not now, when?
HIRONO: There`s an array of things that we can do for one thing. I think the Supreme Court should have a code of ethics. I think they should have a very clear standard on when they should recuse themselves. They do not have anything like that. They don`t have to tell us when they`re being wind and dying by interests that have cases before them. So there are a number of things that we can do.
But at the same time, I think that people in our country should know that any right, any constitutional right that we think we`ve won that relies on privacy, which is what one of the underpinnings of the Roe decision, should be very, very concerned because Justice Alito denigrated the privacy underpinnings and that means that other rights such as the same-sex marriage, the American marriage equality, and these other words that are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution are subject to reversal. So this is not just about important as it is a woman`s right to choose, but there`s going to be a whole bunch of other things that the Supreme Court will probably undo.
HASAN: And it is about much more than just Roe. It is about the Supreme Court. So I ask again, given you have four justices appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, two justices credibly accused of sexual misconduct, a Justice Neil Gorsuch who`s sitting in what many would call a stolen seat, would you support expanding and rebalancing the court?
HIRONO: I`ve said that I support court reform and I want to start with having them adopt at least a code of ethics. They don`t even have that. So --
HIRONO: You know, clearly, we`re going to need to take this fight to the voters and that`s what we`re going to be doing. I think it`s really important to let people know that we have a bunch of justices who are very radical. And a bill -- the bill tomorrow is partly what I call radical and so, you know, all the -- all of us who thought that for 50 years, pretty much, a woman had a right to make decisions and control her own body suddenly that`s gone. It is entirely not radical for all of us to be voting for the bill, but apparently for the Republicans, who are very, very busy by the way taking away other rights such as our voting rights because they refuse to vote for the Voting Rights Act, par for the course.
HASAN: I`m just going to jump in, apologies, we`re out of time, but I have to ask one last question. Briefly, what is your reaction to protests outside of Supreme Court justices` homes in recent days? Do you support them? Because in "The Washington Post" today, conservative columnist Marc Thiessen points to Section 1507 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code which he says clearly states it`s illegal to protest near the residence of a judge.
Do you agree with that? Is it illegal to protest in the way they`re doing?
HIRONO: The law either is there and it applies, in which case the Department of Justice should enforce it. That`s it. There seems to be an applicable law and so the DOJ needs to determine whether it applies and then enforce it.
HASAN: Hawaii Democratic Senator Maize Hirono, we`ll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
HIRONO: Good evening.
HASAN: One more bit of news to tell you about from the United States Senate tonight. The Senate confirmed tonight economist Lisa Cook to serve on the Federal Reserve`s board of governors. She will be the first black woman to sit on the board since its creation over a century ago. She is an accomplished economist and a former member of the White House council of economic advisers.
But in order to confirm her tonight, Vice President Kamala Harris had to come down to the Senate to break a tie because surprise, surprise all 50 Republican senators voted against Dr. Cook, which means that even though the Democrats had the votes to confirm all 50 Republican senators made sure they were there for this nighttime vote, because they all wanted to be on the record voting against this accomplished economist to be the first Black woman ever to hold this position. Priorities!
We`ll be right back.
HASAN: Russia fired missiles on Ukraine`s strategic port city of Odesa overnight, hitting shopping center and a depot. One person was killed and five others were wounded. The bombardment came just hours after a visit from the president of the European Council. They also say Russia start getting the port in an effort to disrupt the supply and the delivery of weapon shipment from the West of the country desperately needs.
Today, the Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said that that no impact on the flow of weapons and material into the country.
This war is now in its 11th week and despite Putin`s attempts to pummel Ukraine into submission, the country refuses to give Putin easy victory, he expected back in February when he launched the invasion. No city has exemplified Ukraine`s resolve more than Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters remain holed up in a steel plant with at least 100 civilians, preventing Russian forces from taking full control of the city. They also faced heavy shelling overnight that left many of them badly wounded.
This as the Ukrainian foreign minister says his country is now seeking not only to reclaim lost territory but to push Russian troops out of the country entirely, with help from Western allies. At this hour, the House is poised to overwhelmingly approve a billion dollar supplemental package that would fund humanitarian and military aid to help beat back Russia`s invasion.
That vote also comes as Russia`s neighbors move closer to NATO membership. Today, the Finnish parliament`s defense committee recommended joining the alliance with its chairman saying, quote, membership in NATO is the best solution for Finland security. It strengthens Finland`s national defense capability with the support of the union`s significant military resources.
And Sweden`s ruling party is set to decide whether it will also apply for NATO membership next week, and as those countries make preemptive moves to protect themselves from Russia, U.S. officials are voicing concerns about what Putin may do next.
Today, the director of national intelligence Avril Haines gave this warning, quote, we assess President Putin is preparing for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas. She also says the next few months could see us moving along a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory.
Joining us now is retired Army Lieutenant General Steph Twitty, former deputy commander of United States European Command.
General Twitty, thank you for being here.
The director of national intelligence is warning Putin may become more unpredictable. President Biden says he`s worried Putin doesn`t have a way out. What are you most worried about when you think about Putin`s next move?
LT. GEN. STEPH TWITTY, FORMER DEPUTY COMMANDER, U.S. EUROPEAN COMMAND: Or if you think about it, Mehdi, he thought he could take Kyiv in four days, that didn`t happen. He thought he could take the Donbas by 9 May, that didn`t happen.
And so now, he`s taking a look at the thing and there`s no easy answers for him. His troops are underperforming and he has no easy way out here. And so he`s preparing for the long term in this fight simply because the Ukrainian forces have stood up to his force as well, and he has no choice but either to fight or give up.
And so, therefore, we don`t think he`s going to give up that he`s going to fight this thing and grind this thing out until he gets to somewhere where he can either have some type of off-ramp. Right now, I don`t see that off- ramp. I don`t think anyone sees that off-ramp and so, we are where we are. But he`s in it for the long term to try and make something good out of something bad here.
HASAN: So we talk about off ramps, but Ukraine`s foreign minister says the goal is to push Russian forces out of the country completely. Now, Ukrainian forces have done amazingly over the last few weeks, but surely it`s pure fantasy to believe that they can push all Russian forces out of their country out of Crimea?
TWITTY: Yeah. What I`ll tell you, Mehdi, is, in my view they have enough to compete we can`t underestimate the will and tenacity of the Ukrainians. But if they plan to either destroy or push them out of their country, they`re going to need additional weapons, they`re going to need additional troops to be able to do that in my view.
I go back to the Powell doctrine. You want to have overwhelming combat power to be able to defeat the Russians and in U.S. Army Doctrine, we try and have five to one ratio. That means five in terms of rate ratio five over the one, and right now, they don`t do not have that ratio. They have on par in terms of troops, but as you know, the Russians have some significant technology.
And the Ukrainians do not have that technology. They don`t have the MiGs. They don`t have a Navy to speak of. And so, they`re lacking in the technology and the people to be able to destroy or kick the Russians out of their country.
HASAN: How worried are you about conflict between the U.S. and Russia escalating directly? You have members of Congress now talking openly about a proxy war. You have the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin going to Kyiv and saying the goal now is to weaken Russia`s military. How worried are you that this gets out of control?
TWITTY: Well, I`m not that worried. One of the reasons I`m not worried, we keep trying to make this a U.S.-Russia war. We must remember, there are 30 countries that make up NATO. So the other out of the other 29 countries, they`re in this as well. It`s not just U.S. versus Russia. And so, we need to stop trying to make it that.
But what I will tell you is every day that this war goes on, obviously, there`s a chance that NATO can be brought into this fight, and what we have to continue to do is assess that calculus every single day to ensure that we`re not pushing that line to where this could escalate higher.
HASAN: Indeed, well said.
Retired Army Lieutenant General Steph Twitty, former deputy commander of United States European Command, thank you for your time and for your analysis. Appreciate it.
TWITTY: Good to be here, man.
HASAN: Up next, far right cable channel OAN was perhaps the biggest proponent of the big lie. It was -- out of all the major media outlets, but now apparently, they say that`s not the case. Why did they just have a change of heart? I`ll explain next. Don`t go away.
HASAN: At the top of the show tonight, we talked about how some of that GOP proponents of the big lie that Trump somehow actually won the 2020 election, and now are running for a major political office. A sign that some of the most anti-Democratic elements of the post Trump Republican Party are cementing themselves into the party`s foundation.
But this week, we are seeing even the most fringed parts of the far-right media establishment forced to admit that there was no widespread voter fraud. After relentless reporting and how corrupt the 2020 election supposedly was, the far-right One America News Network at this admission yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Georgia officials have concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud by election workers who counted ballots at the State Farm Arena in November 2020. The results of this investigation indicate that Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Shaye Moss did not engage in a ballot fraud or criminal misconduct, while working at the State Farm Arena on election night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: So there you have it. After months and months of reporting baseless allegations that two women will administer the 2020 election in Georgia process to think ballots to steal the election from Trump, OAN is now admitting that those allegations were a lie. There was never an anti-Trump election fraud scheme in Georgia are anywhere for that matter.
Yet, that light was repeated over and over again by Trump and his allies, like Rudy Giuliani, who sought to subvert the 2020 election results. That lie made those to Georgia election workers the subject of harassment, abuse by Trump supporters. Their lives were upended because of this lie. So they sued OAN and Rudy Giuliani for defamation.
That 30-second statement OAN broadcast yesterday was a response to that lawsuit which was settled last month. That is why, after months and months of life, we now have OAN openly admitting that their initial reporting, and I use the word reporting in the lucrative sense, was false.
That, quote, Georgia official concluded there was no widespread voter fraud. Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Shaye Moss did not engage in ballot fraud or criminal misconduct. Their words.
While that doesn`t undo the months of harassment those two women faced, it is one small step towards connecting the record on one of the far-right loudest propaganda networks. And it is another reminder that right now, legal action seems to be the only successful way of pushing back against the election conspiracies and misinformation spread by some on the far right.
That does it for us tonight. Remember you can see my show "THE MEHDI HASAN SHOW" on demand on Peacock, and on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC.
Now it`s time for "TEH LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.