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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/13/22

Guests: Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Christie Pitney


MSNBC`s continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Battle escalates nationwide over abortion rights.


AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: Yeah, I was going to say, Democrats got caught flat-footed but so they were lied to by some of these justices who publicly in hearing said that Roe versus Wade was settled of the land, and clearly now, they -- it seems at least based on this leak, they think otherwise.

Apologies, Meagan, we`ve run out of time but I`m sure this conversation we`re going to continue to have in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Meagan Hatcher-Mays, Brian Fallon, thanks to both of you for joining us this evening.

And that is "ALL IN" for this week. I`m Ayman Mohyeldin. Don`t forget, you can watch my show "AYMAN" every Saturday at 8:00, Sundays at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on MSNBC. You can stream new in original episodes on Fridays on Peacock.

MSNBC PRIME with my friend Ali Velshi starts right now.

Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, my friend. It`s great to see you. It`s been a long time since we`ve done this together. So, you have yourself a great weekend, but you like me work the weekend. So, have a good night.

MOHYELDIN: My work week starts tonight.

VELSHI: That`s exactly right. You have a good one.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday. We are wrapping up this first week of MSNBC PRIME, which airs at this hour on Tuesday to Friday now. Rachel`s going to be back here hosting "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" at this time on Monday night.

All right. Let`s get to tonight, let me start here. When Germany was defeated at the end of World War II, the Germans had to sign something, and official document basically saying we surrender. And this is it.

This is the document that they signed in 1945, it reads quote, the German high command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to seize active operations at 2301 hours, end quote. 2301 ours is 11:01 p.m. Central European Time on May 8th.

So, on a May 8th, 1945, crowds poured into the streets in the United States, United Kingdom to celebrate the victory over Germany. May 8th is celebrated to this day among Western islands of World War II as the V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day. That`s this Sunday, May 8th, V-E Day. It`s also Mother`s Day, so don`t forget to call your mom.

But you will note, that in that German surrender documents from 1945 at the end of it, the official end of with 11:01 pm, 2301 military time, Central European Time on May the 8th.

But in Eastern Europe, in the Soviet Union, that was after midnight that was already May the 9th. So, to this day in the former Soviet Union in Russia, they celebrate victory day, that`s what they call it there on May the 9th. And boy do they celebrate it.


ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of "NBC Nightly News" with Tom Brokaw, reporting tonight from Moscow.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, once again, from Moscow, where tonight, the Russian people were still celebrating their victory in World War ii.

There was no sign today of a Russian military in disarray. The parade was a reminder of this country still formidable firepower. Nine thousand soldiers followed past the New War Memorial, followed by a column of 250 military vehicles, including tanks, artillery, and rocket launchers.

Thousands of spectators seem to enjoy this tribute to Russia`s past military glory.

Even the President Clinton and the other Western leaders boycotted today`s parade, President Yeltsin wanted his countryman and the rest of the world to know that Russia`s military remains a vital part of this proud nation.


VELSHI: That was 1995, the 50th anniversary of the allied victory over Germany, the Russians had every right to throw a huge celebration of that victory, they still do every year.

Soviet Union lost far, far more soldiers and civilians in World War II than anyone else, 27 million people. But did you catch Tom Brokaw`s they`re saying that in 1995, President Clinton and other western leaders blockade of the Russian parade. They boycotted it because at that moment, on that day, May 9th, 1995, Victory Day, even as Russia celebrated its heroic victory over Germany 50 years prior, Russia was deep into a brutal scorched-earth campaign in the breakaway province of Chechnya.

In fact, the very next segment in that "Nightly News" broadcast from May 9th, 1995, was from Chechnya. It`s impossible to watch it now and not see nearly word for word an image for image the parallels to today.



TOM ASPELL, NBC REPORTER: Grozny is a bombed-out ruin. It took Moscow`s army six weeks to blow it to bits, now, Russian soldiers patrol the city and most of the surrounding countryside. At night, Chechen fighters stay from positions in the mountains. Thousands of civilians died here, where crews still find bodies in the rubble. One of Grozny`s four cemeteries is reserved for the unidentified. The graves are marked only by numbers.

More than half of Grozny`s 400,000 people have returned since the fighting stopped here three months ago, but he since founded city almost totally destroyed.

Ninety percent of Grozny`s buildings are uninhabitable. There`s no gas or electricity. People were collecting water from puddles until the international Red Cross began trucking it in.


VELSHI: The city`s 90 percent destroyed, no gas or electricity. People drinking from puddles. That was Grozny on Russian victory day in 1995.

And on the eve of this victory day, this year, it describes the Ukrainian city of Mariupol where the last Ukrainian troops in that city were held up in a giant steel plant that`s been the sight of ongoing battles with Russian forces for days now. That`s it. You`re looking at it, the Azovstal steel plant.

Hundreds of civilians trapped in that plant as well, though Ukrainian officials say at least 50 more women, children, and elderly people were evacuated today. And those who have been evacuated this week, have told of enduring harrowing sees the plant, sheltering underground bunkers in constant bombardment from Russian forces.

Elsewhere in Mariupol, Russian flags are being held in the streets, Soviet era monuments are being restored, even the roadsides are being changed from Ukrainian to Russian.

Meanwhile, the regional government of the eastern province of Luhansk is warning that Russian forces are preparing a major offensive against a pair of cities there in the next few days. There`s a sense on the ground that Russian forces are trying hard to achieve something that Putin can call, victory in time for victory day on Monday, whether that`s a final takeover of Mariupol, or some other military gain in the east.

Leaders across Ukraine including the mayor of the capital city of Kyiv are warning of the potential for increased missile strikes on Monday. They`re urging residents to avoid large gatherings.

There is a great deal of apprehension among the Ukrainian and Western officials about what Vladimir Putin might be planning for this year`s victory day. U.S. officials have said, Putin might formally declare war on Ukraine that day which would signal and even larger mobilization of Russia`s war machine.

So far, Putin as insisted that Russia`s activity in Ukraine are only a special military operation. Indeed and somewhat ironically you can go to prison in Russia for calling it a war. The Kremlin says it`s got no plans to declare it a war. But Monday will no doubt be an opportunity for Russia to make a show of military might, as it does every victory day.

Russia`s defense ministry says Vladimir Putin will speak Monday on Red Square in front of a parade of troops, rockets, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Plus, there`s going to be a flyer over of jets, as they`re always as bombers and even Russia`s so-called Doomsday Command Plane, which carry Russia`s top brass in the event of a nuclear war, basically just remind everybody that they are actually prepared for a nuclear war.

The fact is that Vladimir Putin does not have a lot to crow about this victory day for all the very real death and destruction it has caused. By any measure, Putin`s invasion of Ukraine has not been a success thus far. In fact, "The New York Times" reports tonight that in the country`s northeast, Ukrainian forces are now going on the offensive using Western provided weapons to try to drive Russian troops back from two key cities.

Speaking of Western help, you may recall that yesterday, anonymous U.S. officials told NBC News that when Ukraine managed to sink the flagship vessel of Russia`s Black Sea fleet last month, it was American intelligence that helped Ukraine locate and target that ship. Well, apparently, President Biden spoke with top intelligence and defense officials today and told them leaks like that about U.S. intelligence sharing with Ukraine are counterproductive and need to stop, a meeting that was then promptly leaked again.

But whatever Vladimir Putin may be planning for Russia`s victory day on Monday, the Biden administration is laying out its own counter programming. Today, President Biden signed a new $150 million weapons package for Ukraine providing artillery, munitions, radar and other equipment.

On Sunday, Biden`s going to meet virtually with G7 leaders a meeting that will also include Ukraine`s president in an event specifically timed for the eve of victory day.


You`ll remember it used to be the G8, Russia used to be the eighth member of it and they were booted out for the invasion of Crimea. On Monday itself, Biden is going to sign the new Lend-Lease Act that Congress passed last month which is going to speed up the process for sending weapons and other aid to Ukraine.

Again, there`s just not a lot for Vladimir Putin to celebrate on victory day this year which is only increasing anxiety in Ukraine and amongst its allies about what Vladimir Putin might do to change that.

Joining us now is Andriy Zagorodnyuk. He is the former Ukrainian minister of defense, the co-founder and chairman of the security think tank Center for Defense Strategies.

Andriy, it is good to see you again. Thank you for being with us again.


VELSHI: Look, there`s a perception amongst many Western intelligence officials that Vladimir Putin may do something to commemorate May 9th, not just because that might be something that would be expected in Russia but because of how poorly this war has been going.

What are your thoughts on this?

ZAGORODNYUK: Well, first of all, obviously, they`ve been they`ve been going poorly. That`s a fact. They couldn`t reach any serious strategic objectives, and failed with many operational objectives, so which means that they`re failing.

And the fact that we started the counteroffensive which means that all those might which was projected for years and decades and all those like numbers of soldiers and troops and the equipment and so on, it doesn`t mean that they are effective and doesn`t mean that they can achieve proper results. So the fact that this has been going to parade and right now they`re going to show on a Red Square, this nice painted, you know, the equipment and so on, it absolutely doesn`t mean that they can be effectively fighting.

And obviously that`s embarrassment. So they need probably to do something about that and that`s what is our concern.

VELSHI: Do you have any -- does it matter this whole talk about whether Russia and Putin may declare war on Ukraine? This is just a weird thing, right, because to Ukrainians -- every Ukrainian I spoke to while I was in the country when we were both in the country thought this was a war. They were also very clear that the fact that this war basically started in 2014.

Does this matter? This business of it being a war or not being a war for Putin`s purposes?

ZAGORODNYUK: I remember talking to you when you were in Lviv, as I remember right and you clearly understand this is a war already. This is a war where Russians are putting all their might, all their capabilities. So the fact that they do declare this or they don`t declare it doesn`t matter for us. We`re already in the war for a long time.

VELSHI: Despite Vladimir Putin`s need for some victory whether it`s before or after May 9th, Russia`s moving slowly in Eastern Ukraine. There is some sense that this is just a continuation of a failed strategy in the battlefield. There`s some sense and it`s been this way for some weeks that they are regrouping for something and there have been warnings particularly in Luhansk that they`re ready for a massive offensive. What do you know and think about this?

ZAGORODNYUK: Oh, there`s been already for a couple weeks and yes, they are, and yes, they`re trying to do this. The problem is that they cannot complete that successfully so far, at least. And but this whole new plan was a new offensive it`s been already for some time. So if they were success -- if they were successful they would be successful for some time.

So this is -- this is not happening according to the plan as well, but it`s tough. I`m not -- I`m not downplaying this. It`s a very tough time right now in the West, in Eastern Ukraine.

VELSHI: Well, let`s explore that a little bit more because the spirit and the morale and the resolve of Ukrainians, both the military the people, the president, it has all been remarkable and to some degree even surprising to the West, who didn`t know much about this.

But it is hard, and if this becomes a protracted war, he advantage lies with Russia. It`s bigger. It`s got the ability to conscript people what happens if you and I are still talking about this in six months.

ZAGORODNYUK: Two things, first of all, conscripting people means they`re bringing lots of inexpensive and very low trained force. So -- and one of the key lessons from this war is that numbers are not which critically decisive, the efficiencies with the size of it, and NATO standards and NATO ways of like handling the operations and planning the forces which Ukraine have taken over the last eight years showing that this is way more effective and way more productive.

So if Russians are bringing more hundreds of thousands of soldiers, of course, it`s going to be a problem, but it`s not going to kill us. But protracted war is something we need to avoid by all costs because this is not where we want to go. We want to assemble critical mass of equipment to capabilities and actually get them out of our country as soon as we can. We`re not interested in a long, long war.


VELSHI: I want to ask you about Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant. To many Americans, it will be reminiscent of the legendary Alamo. It is the last stand whether or not the Ukrainians are able to prevail in that plant, they are surrounded by Russians. What do you know? We don`t know much about Mariupol, right? We get our information from the Red Cross who are evacuating people, but there are no Western journalists operating out of there. We get images like the ones you`re looking at from time to time. What can you tell us about Mariupol?

ZAGORODNYUK: Well, there`s no Ukrainian journalist either because this is a living hell, to be honest. I mean, Mariupol is a horrible place right now. It`s 99 percent destroyed, and our forces are holding in this plant, and obviously they`re doing anything they can but they`re outnumbered unspeakably and it`s extremely tough situation for some time.

And the fact that they`ve been holding there for so long it`s already absolutely remarkable. It`s just astonishing. The fact that they`re still saving civilians which are there in Mariupol and the fact that they are evacuating them as we speak is remarkable as well. And I sincerely hope and as all our other Ukrainians is that they evacuate full civilians and they somehow we still can get to the point when we actually get the victory over Russia.

VELSHI: These images --

ZAGORODNYUK: It`s just a matter of time.

VELSHI: These images that are being shown on the screen next to you are historic images that I think will be remembered for all time when we talk about this war in the end, the resolve of the Ukrainian people and the people in Mariupol who have sustained this assault and this attack for going on two months now. It is remarkable.

Andriy, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us as always.

ZAGORODNYUK: Good to see you again.

VELSHI: Former Ukrainian minister of defense Andriy Zagorodnyuk.

All right. We`ve got much more to get to tonight. Up next, the silence we`re hearing from most Republican politicians this week after the leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade and why Democrats think this issue is going to help them. Symone Sanders joins me next.




VELSHI: If you could hear that with all the yelling, but she was he was doing the Oprah thing, you`re a murderer, you`re a murderer, you`re a murderer. That was the New Hampshire Republican State Representative Susan DeLemus yesterday, shouting at abortion rights protesters from the steps of the New Hampshire state house, calling them murderers.

And while that is how loud some of the Republican uh party is right now about abortion, much of the party is oddly silent. "Politico" points out today that President Trump who`s usually the first to take credit for anything has yet to take credit for Roe`s imminent demise. In fact, he`s pretty much steering clear of it whenever he can.

"Business Insider" asked numerous Republican senators this week about their views on abortion in cases of rape and incest. Most of them wouldn`t give a straight answer. This week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee distributed this three-page memo of talking points to the party`s incumbents and candidates the tone is shockingly defensive. They tell candidates to drastically downplay the reality of what Republicans are doing saying, quote, Republicans do not want to throw doctors and women in jail. Do not capitalized.

I should note as a sort of fact check here that the Republican-controlled state legislature in Louisiana advanced a bill this week after the leak that would classify abortion as homicide and allow prosecutors to bring criminal cases against women who end a pregnancy. As the saying goes, watch what they do, not what they say.

Abortion is going to be a front and center issue for this year`s midterms, not just because it`s a wedge issue, but because every race from U.S. Senate seats to state Senate seats, those elected officials are about to have potentially more power to decide reproductive law than they have had since 1973. Lots of U.S. Senate races but in four where Democrats are at the most risk of losing a seat, Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire and Georgia, all of those incumbent Democratic senators have come out loudly in defense very clearly and loudly in defense of reproductive rights this week, making abortion rights not just a central issue of their campaigns but also one of the main differences between themselves and their opponents who apparently don`t want to talk about this stuff.

As for where the president fits into all of this, my colleague Symone Sanders sat down with First Lady Jill Biden and asked her about the issue this week.


SYMONE SANDERS, MSNBC HOST: As a mother and as a grandmother, what would you say to young women right now? Particularly young women who are upset about the possible erosion of their ability to make decisions about their own bodies?

JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY: Well, I guess the first thing I would say is that how shocking it was actually when we heard the news and Joe and I got the call that, you know, it had been leaked. The president matters, the election of the president matters because he`s the one who puts the justices on the court and then but if this goes to a state level, our state legislators are going to matter too.


So, people have to get involved.


VELSHI: Joining us now is the Symone Sanders. She was Bernie Sanders press secretary in 2016, a senior adviser to Joe Biden in 2020, and then a chief spokesperson and senior adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris and now she is a member of the MSNBC family. Her new show, "SYMONE", premieres tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on this network.

Symone, good to see you my friend. Thanks for being with us.

SANDERS: Great to see you, Ali. I`m happy to be here and so excited.

VELSHI: I want to ask you about this silence, these sounds of silence from Republicans. I`d have thought Republicans would be incredibly loud about this five-decade-old wedge issue, the idea that they have finally succeeded in imminently potentially overturning Roe it`s been a central issue. Why the quietness?

SANDERS: Look, I think, Ali, the quietness is because even a number of folks who are dedicated to electing Republicans, to the Congress the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, they know that throwing women in jail right throwing doctors potentially in jail finding people up to ten thousand dollars or a hundred thousand dollars in some cases that`s one of the trigger one of the trigger laws that are on the books in one at least one of the states in this country, it seems extreme, because it is. And it is not popular.

I think that we have not talked enough about the criminalization of women who are seeking the health care that they need, and I am so glad that you made it very plain for your viewers tonight, because that is in fact the point. And it`s not that Democratic women don`t want to be thrown in jail, Ali, or Republican women, it`s just women period.

So I really think that this is an issue that cuts across political affiliation.

VELSHI: It actually does. You know and it might be that expression the dog that caught the car. Pew put out a new poll today that 61 percent of adults in the United States say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, only 30 percent say it should be illegal. This does not appear to be the best idea for them to be running on in November.

SANDERS: And that`s to say the least. I think abortion being legal constantly polls at or above 60 percent, in polls, if you look at the averages. What is true because, let`s just talk about what is true you showed that clip at the beginning from the New Hampshire state representative, people do not necessarily want -- what they view as an overreaching, right? But everyone understands people across the country for the last years that abortion has been legal. Roe has been, quote/unquote, "settled law", if you will.

Now, Justice Alito is out here now talking about something called law being settled right. I encourage people to read that draft opinion because I`ve never heard about settled right before, we`re just introducing new things into the conversation. But I do think that this is something folks are paying attention to and in my opinion, Ali, it`s a -- it`s a gateway drug for lack of a better term.

First, it is the ability of women to make decisions about their own bodies. Then it is voting rights. Then it is Loving, okay, the case that decided that white people can marry black people and vice versa. And if you think, I am being dramatic, I encourage people, read that draft opinion by Justice Alito. He cites it all, the right to privacy. It is all in there.

VELSHI: And he also cites this idea that abortion, Casey and Roe v. Wade were not -- were not enumerated in the Constitution, which means they are not constitutional rights. That`s a strange thing to say because we are used to and accustomed to and have grown to appreciate rights that are just not written into a document that was written in the 1700s.

SANDERS: Well, Ali, that document when it was written it wasn`t written for you and I the we, the people and the preamble to the Constitution only really applied at that time to white men who owned land. You could just be a white man, you had to be a white man that on land.

Obviously, the we over time has expanded but I think it is very dangerous for us to be talking about the rights that were in the Constitution as it was written because again, it wasn`t written for you and I.

VELSHI: There`s a lot of things that are missing.

Hey, look, we played a little bit of an interview that you had with the First Lady Jill Biden. I believe you`re going to have that on your show tomorrow. What else have we got in that interview that we can expect?

SANDERS: So, the first lady is actually in Eastern Europe right now. She is in Romania. She`ll be going to Slovakia I believe tomorrow. And then on Sunday, she is going to visit the Slovakia-Ukrainian border where she will meet with refugees and families, and in her words she`s going to stand with Ukrainian families on Mother`s Day.

She also talks about her legacy as first lady. So we`ll hear that tomorrow, particularly that she values her independence. And I think her comments about her independence juxtaposed to where a lot of women in this country feel we are right now with rights potential for rights being eroded, rolling 50 years back.


I think it is absolutely fascinating and I hope people tune in at 4:00 p.m.

VELSHI: Symone, it`s so good to have you on the show tonight. It`s so good to have you here at MSNBC. We wish you great luck and good fortune and, of course, I`ll be -- I`ll be crossing on the halls although things go well we won`t be crossing each other too much because that means we`re both not sticking around too long.

We`re good to see you, my friend. Good luck and we`ll see on TV tomorrow afternoon 4:00 p.m. Eastern. "SYMONE" premieres right here on MSNBC at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow and then you`ll have new original episodes Mondays and Tuesdays on Peacock.

All right. Coming up next, Hillary Clinton warns about why overturning roe threatens so much more as Symone was just saying than reproductive rights. We`re going to be joined by the historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat. Stay with us.




HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARTY OF STATE: This opinion is dark, it is incredibly dangerous and it is not just about a woman`s right to choose, it is about much more than that.

And I hope people are fully aware of what we`re up against, because the only answer is at the ballot box, to elect people who will stand for every American`s rights.

And any American says, look, I`m not a woman, this doesn`t affect me. I`m not a black, that doesn`t affect me. I`m not gay, that doesn`t affect me.

Once you allow this kind of extreme power to take hold, you have no idea who they will come for next.


VELSHI: That`s former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton warning that many rights we enjoy as a society not necessarily individually are at risk, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Her concerns echo that of Jim Obergefell, a plaintiff in the landmark Obergefell versus Hodges cases, that established same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

When asked about Justice Samuel Alito`s leaked draft opinion, Obergefell said, quote, I`m terrified. I really can`t put any more simply than that, I am terrified. I`ve been asked if I believe what he says in that decision, that this is specific to a woman`s right to an abortion and really shouldn`t be used on marriage equality. I don`t believe that whatsoever because so many of the things he says in this decision opened the doors to using those arguments against marriage equality, and where does it stop? end quote.

And where does it stop?

Well, the Supreme Court`s draft decision on reproductive rights has brought fear, Republican led states appear more emboldened to go after other rights. Missouri is one of the 13 states with a so-called trigger law that would outlaw abortion the minute Roe v. Wade was overturned, without anybody doing anything, but it could also criminalize contraception. It`s 2022, we`re talking about criminalizing contraception because under the law, the definition of a child`s life would begin at conception.

Texas having already defectively banned abortion within its borders now wants to challenge another different Supreme Court ruling, which states that all children should have a constitutional right to a free public school education, regardless of their immigration status.

We`re seeing a wave book bans across the country amid concerted efforts to curtail free speech in schools, lawmakers in more than two dozen states have drafted 250 voting bills with restrictive provisions according to the Brandon Center, and federal appeals a court reinstated Florida Senate bill 90 that would risk drop boxes and make it a legal to help people register to vote. Or to hand water and food as people wait to vot.

Why would that be? What something like that be illegal? As Secretary Clinton said, I hope people now are fully aware with their up against.

Joining us now is Ruth Ben-Ghiat. She`s a history professor at New York University. She`s the author of "Strongman: Mussolini to the President".

Professor Ben-Ghiat, good to see you. You know that a lot of your reading influences the way I think about things because you drop on history the parallels in history but two moments we`ve seen. So there may be some people in America, agree with it or not, who say this is an isolated matter, the canceling of Roe v. Wade, or a particular book ban is an isolated matter, or a particular voting rights restriction is that isolated matter.

But on the spectrum, from a rollback of Roe v. Wade to book bans on the other side you are an expert on democracy and the taking away of rights, how do you look at this?

RUTH BEN GHIAT, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Yeah, thanks for having me on. I want to repeat something that Hillary Clinton said because it`s backed up by history. And that is she said when this form of extreme take power, takes hold you can`t predict who they`re going to come after next.

And the tragedy of the authoritarianism is not only country after country. I know it`s not going to happen here, our democracy is strong, we`re not going to have a cool. But when it did start to happen and people didn`t see a warning sign, or they thought it wasn`t going to multiplied them, exactly what Hillary Clinton was saying.

Now, we`re at the point where we`re starting to lose our rights, and it`s all related because the floor tirade-ism is about control of speech. We have bans as you mention, on what we can say, what we could control of our bodies, control of sexuality, it`s about taking away our right to decide or future, and that`s with voting.


So, control of mind, a motion, bodies it`s all one thing. And that`s why we shouldn`t see any of these measures as you know something that doesn`t bother us.

VELSHI: What but do you say to people that say it`s a discreet matter, I believe in all these other rights, I believe that abortion is wrong. I don`t support all these other things, how do you make them understand that a vote for this or, political support for this endangers other rights?

BEN-GHIAT: Because these things are never taken in isolation, in fact, you know, the policing of sexuality always evolves the history of authoritarianism going after women, even Stalin who was supposed to be communism and gender equity, he banned abortion. And also policing sexuality so you always have another perennial strongman target is gay people. And it`s very reliable throughout the whole century.

And it`s no accident that the GOP is driving off to Budapest, and that Mike Pence attended this pro-demographic summit of war of Orban in Hungary. There he said openly, he abortion rights would be appealed. And so it goes with the re-modeling of the population to have -- Orban says we only want certain kinds of things. And so, all of this if you study the history of these things and how they link together, how propaganda links to the social policies, you see that it`s all related.

VELSHI: There`s a particular allotting thing that surprised many of us, with the Texas ban which other states are trying to emulate, artillery productive rights been rolled back the state has empowered citizens to help enforce that law in a thing that feels very vigilante like, it`s not just that citizens are empowered to do the work that we think law enforcement would do, but that they can target people who are not actually the participants in the activity.

So, they can go after drivers, whoever help somebody -- that too has remarkable shades in authoritarian history.

BEN-GHIAT: It does, I`ve been tracking this for a long time. I`m very dismayed that it`s coming to task more and more because if you`re trying to wreck civil society, and ruin the horizontal bonds that are behind us, together as citizens what do you want to do you not only have people who work for the state like Stephen -- and all kinds of law enforcement the best thing is to empower citizens to inform on each other and incentivize them in this correction.

So, the Texas bill you know it gives $10,000 to somebody, not only -- provides abortions but assists in them, in that process.

And in Florida, Governor DeSantis through election quote security office, and he has a tip line, so you can report quote election fraud.

So, there is all these measures and it`s very disturbing that Republicans are passing to set Americans against each other, put them in positions of being informers, or even vigilantism which could lead to physical political violence.

VELSHI: Ruth, you have an important book called "Strongman: Mussolini to the President", which I would`ve hoped for largely irrelevant in a book that -- students of history but unfortunately are all now students of history and it`s important and relevant, thank you for being with us again.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a professor of history at New York University.

Coming up next the safe symbol solution for women who assume will not likely be able to obtain an abortion, it`s one that many politicians are trying to prevent. But this one there might be little that they can do to stop.



VELSHI: This week, a Louisiana House Committee voted for a bill that will allow the state to charge people who have abortions with homicide. The bill allows criminal homicide charges for anyone who aids and abortion. It also changes the state definition to a person to include any fertilized egg, potentially, criminalizing things like in vitro fertilization, and certain forms of contraception.

Beyond that, the law would allow the Louisiana legislature to ignore court rulings that it disagrees with. The measure was approved in a seven to vote, just two days after the Supreme Court draft decision, to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked. Perhaps, it was the most extreme piece of legislation to arrive in recent days.

But, it would not be the last, or the most deviously creative. On Thursday, the Tennessee governor, Bill Lee, signed a law that increases the criminal penalty for distributing medication abortion through the mail, or, through telehealth. It makes providing medication for abortions a felony, poet punishable by a 50,000 dollar fine. The only exception was for prescriptions made by a doctor in person.

Now, the new law, particularly, notable. Medicated abortion is posed to become a major battlefield if Roe v. Wade is knocked down as it`s expected to be. Since 2020, medicated abortions have accounted for more than half of all abortions performed in the United States.


Take a look at this chart. Their popularity has increased, since the start of the pandemic. The pills do not have to be taken in, a clinical setting. Patients can take them in their own homes. They are discreet. It is a five- day course of medication, mailed, in an ordinary, unassuming envelope. So, every reason to think, this option may come increasingly popular in a post- Roe United States.

Add to the fact, last year, the FDA allowed the medication to be prescribed, via telehealth, and distributed by mail. In December, the agency made that COVID era rule permanent.

It`s no wonder, 19 states, many of which have these trigger laws on their books ban the use of medication via telehealth. This abortion medication, by telehealth, or require the patient, receiving the medication, to be in the same room as the provider, when taking the pill. Talk about control.

A new battleground, in the fight over reproductive rights, one that is potentially about to become even more contentious, and important.

Joining us now, is Christie Pitney, a D.C.-based certified nurse midwife, who worked with a variety of organizations, related to telehealth abortion, and prescribes the abortion pill, in that capacity.

Ms. Pitney, thank you for joining us tonight.


VELSHI: You`ve watched, I put the chart up about the steady increase in the use of Medicaid abortions. Help us understand why it has become more common among people seeking abortions, and talk about this with the safety of the patient.

PITNEY: Yeah. We`ll talk about safety, it is obviously a safe option for folks. There`s new research since the pandemic that shows it is as safe as the clinic for medication abortion.

The increase, in the usage rate had a lot of different factors to it. Some being, they had no idea that this would be an option, before now. Now, we are seeing more coverage of it. That, and the additional fact that is more accessible in terms of the FDA removing the rent. So, we don`t have to do in-person dispensing anymore.

VELSHI: So, there`s this issue of states that are talking about regulating this, or regulating it. It seems like something that`s relatively easy to get around, given that is something that can be mailed to someone. How would that affect you, or others like you, in states where it is restricted, if the state said you can`t do this?

PITNEY: Yeah, it`s a great question. So, I`m in six states, and only serving in those six states. I would not be able to start prescribing into other states, at this time.

However, there are bills being introduced. For example, Connecticut just signed their bill. I think it is HB5414 (ph), that is putting protections in place for clinicians to start to prescribe over state lines in this manner.

Additionally I work with an organization Aid Access that was started in March of 2018 by Dr. Gompertz (ph) who`s an Austrian-based doctor who prescribes these pills to all states and we were able to bring on U.S. clinicians with the rents changes, but she`s going to continue to prescribe the pills into all states regardless of the SCOTUS decision because of her international standing and the fact that she`s able to follow all of her legal and medical requirements where she`s based out of.

VELSHI: So we now obviously with the pandemic we saw that every time there was something that seemed like a medication or a vaccine came out they were in short supply at the beginning. In the next few weeks and months, it -- once the Supreme Court makes an official decision about Roe v. Wade, there`s a likelihood that we`ll see a surge in people seeking medicated abortions.

Are you thinking about that and planning for it? And do you know what the preparations for that look like? Because obviously there`s going to be need to be more supplies and more access to people like you.

PITNEY: Yeah. So we`re already seeing a huge increase in demand for these services. I can go into numbers a little bit if you`d like, but I can`t speak for the manufacturers however I believe that they`ve seen this coming and they`ve been preparing for it. So everyone that I`ve spoken with says that they`re not anticipating a shortage. We did see that early in the pandemic.

However I think that we`re planning far enough ahead that it shouldn`t be a problem in these times.

VELSHI: And your sense is that obviously in these conversations, people are being made aware of this in circumstances where they otherwise weren`t aware of this and that`s been part of the growing trend?

PITNEY: Absolutely, so I mean prior to SB8, there was some information coming out about these services but not that much and then as of September 1st, I really think that that has picked up significantly.

VELSHI: Christie Pitney, thanks for joining us. Thanks for letting us know about something that that so many people don`t know about.

Christie Pitney is a certified nurse, midwife. She works with a variety of organizations related to telehealth and medicated abortions. We appreciate your time tonight.

PITNEY: Thank you so much.

VELSHI: We`ll be right back.



VELSHI: All right. Friends, does it for us tonight, Rachel is back on Monday, with THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. I will see you tomorrow morning, for my show, "VELSHI". We will talk with the former Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko. He`s got no doubt that Ukraine is going to prevail in this war. He now wants to talk about what rebuilding Ukraine is going to look like.

I`m going to be back here again on Tuesday, for MSNBC PRIME. Don`t forget, if you record Rachel on your DVR, set it to DVR MSNBC PRIME, from Tuesday, to Friday.

It`s time now for "THE LAST WORD", and my friend, Alicia Menendez, is filling in for Lawrence tonight.