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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 4/1/22

Guests: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Jen Psaki, Vladyslav Atroshenko, Jason Beardsley, Peter Baker, Julia Davis, John Brennan, Justin Wolfers, etc.

Summary

Russia Blames Ukraine For Fuel Depot Attack; U.S. Sends $300M In Additional Military Aid To Ukraine; EU, China At Odds On Pressuring Russia To End War; Economy Added 431,000 Jobs In March; Ginni Thomas` Influence During Trump Administration; Fmr. Ukrainian Tennis Player Defending Kyiv.

Transcript

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, Ukraine reportedly strikes inside Russia for the first time, helicopters hitting a fuel depot. But inside Ukraine, a mass evacuation in Mariupol fails as the city remains devastated. And the new reporting about just how close Ginni Thomas was to President Trump`s West Wing. The insane and unworkable, list of people to hire and fire from the wife of a Supreme Court justice as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this Friday night.

Good evening, once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. As the invasion of Ukraine enters day 38, a potential new flashpoint in the war after a brazen strike inside Russia, Moscow says Ukraine attacked a fuel depot just across the border. It is the first time Russia has reported a Ukrainian airstrike on its territory since the invasion began. Tonight Ukraine`s President Zelensky was asked about that attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Did you order the attack into Russian soil, the Ukrainian helicopter attack on a Russian military depot across from Kharkiv, across the border in Russia?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE: I`m sorry, I do not discuss any of my orders as Commander In Chief, the leader of this state, and there are things which I only share with the military, for armed forces of Ukraine, and when they talk with me. You need to understand that on that territory that you mentioned, you have to know they were placing their shooting systems and firing those missiles themselves. Everybody must know that if we are pressed in a corner on our territory, we will respond the way we can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: NBC`s Richard Engel is in Ukraine with more on that strike.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS, CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Russian officials say Ukraine took the war to Russia, launching a cross border attack with two combat helicopters. This video appears to show their tracer rounds, destroying a fuel depot 20 miles from the Ukrainian border. A senior U.S. defense official tells NBC News that Ukraine was responsible for the daring raid, Ukraine`s first of the war.

But Ukraine`s official response seemed deliberately ambiguous with defense officials saying they couldn`t confirm or deny involvement, the Kremlin tonight criticizing the strike on the Russian facility, saying it could harm ongoing peace talks. But the attack pales in comparison to what Russia has done just 45 miles away across the border in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where Russian artillery and rockets have destroyed hundreds of buildings, and as we saw today, flattened nearby towns, in some areas, not leaving a single home standing.

At the hospital in (inaudible) a farm worker was taking a break with a friend when he heard that dreaded whistle and a Russian bomb exploded next to him. His friend was killed. Down the hall, Elena 20 years old who works the register at a supermarket was shot when Russian troops opened fire on a bus full of civilian passengers. She says eight people were killed and that the Russians went through their pockets and bags and stole their money. But today it was Ukraine that sent a message to Russia that it too can reach across the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: Also tonight The Pentagon says that the airport outside Kyiv has now been abandoned by Russian forces. As you can see in this new satellite image on your screen, Russian control of that airport would have allowed them to fly troops directly into the Capitol.

Meanwhile, European Union leaders appealed to China for help in getting its ally Russia to end the invasion. That plea came during a viral summit in Brussels. China said it would press for peace in its own way and rejected a tougher stance toward Russia.

And as the fighting intensifies the fear Russia could use chemical weapons has now pushed the U.S. to sign off on Ukraine`s request for protective equipment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The U.S. government is providing the Government of Ukraine with life-saving equipment and supplies that could be deployed in the event of Russians` use of a chemical and biological weapon against Ukraine we are providing it as we are providing a range of materials and equipment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: The Pentagon has also announced war military aid to Ukraine, $300 million in equipment will soon be on the way. The New York Times reporting the U.S. will work with allies to transfer Soviet made tanks to support Ukrainian forces in the country`s Eastern Donbas region. The Time says the tanks are being sent in response to a request that came directly from President Zelenskyy.

[23:05:00]

Let`s bring in my colleague NBC`s Ali Arouzi live in Lviv very early in the morning. So thank you for being here. Tell us what you know about this apparent Ukrainian attack inside Russian territory. This oil depot, how important was it?

ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s important, Stephanie, because as you mentioned, this is the first time that the Ukrainians have penetrated Russian air space, flown into there and hit an oil depot. And it was a daring mission. They had to fly at very low altitude. You could see the helicopters flying just above tree level but it seems to have been a success. And it was important because that fuel is being used to funnel the Russian war machine here to keep that tanks and other armaments going. And it`s a big morale boost for the Ukrainians. It shows that their Air Force is capable of carrying out these sorts of strikes.

So, big morale boost for the Ukrainians, as well. And it also shows that they`re willing to take these risks, to fly these very dangerous missions, but it`s not new for them. They`ve done these sorts of missions in the Donbas region over the years. They`ve struck Russian positions there since 2014. So they`re quite skilled at pulling off these kind of missions. But amazingly, as you mentioned, the Russian said that this may harm future negotiations, given what Moscow has done to Ukraine. That`s quite a statement coming from them, especially as Zelenskyy has said he`s willing to meet Putin anytime, anyplace.

RUHLE: I know you also spoke to the mayor of a city that has been successfully resisting Russian forces. Another thing that certainly boosts morale, what did he tell you?

AROUZI: Well, that`s a great interview we had with the mayor of Chernihiv, that is a cascading disaster there, Stephanie. That`s a place that`s turning into something like Mariupol, it`s been surrounded by the Russians, they don`t have any food, water, electricity, the most vulnerable people, they`re in really bad shape. But they are holding on really strong. Let`s take a listen to what the mayor had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADYSLAV ATROSHENKO, MAYOR OF CHERNIHIV, UKRAINE: The Russian army were looking to enter the city from three sides, they encircled us. We`ve been in their way, maybe that`s why they`re so angry at us that we don`t give up and show our resistance. We`re ready for everything, humanitarian crisis, bombing, until Ukraine either loses or there is a peace agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AROUZI: And it`s very interesting when he says, either there`s a peace agreement or loses, he went on to say by losing, he means they have to kill everybody in that city before they give it up. He said there has to be no person standing in that city before they`re willing to give it up. And the Russians have blown up bridges going into that city. They`ve blocked off all the roads going to that city. So there`s no humanitarian aid, getting in there.

He told me that civilians take boats through the river. They`re guided by the Ukrainian army to get very, very small supplies and food to the people that are in that city. And he also said there`s about 100,000 people left in that city. None of them want to leave. They just want to stay there, defend the city and help everybody else who is in there.

RUHLE: The resolve of the resistance in Ukraine is extraordinary. Ali, thank you so much for joining us.

I want to bring in our experts Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times. He spent years as the Moscow Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, closely watching the rise of Vladimir Putin. Jason Beardsley joins us, a decorated US military veteran with over 20 years of experience in the Army and the Navy. He`s now the National Executive Director for the Association of the Navy, and Julia Davis, Columnist for The Daily Beast. She is the creator of the Russian media monitor. She spends her days watching Russian state TV, so you and I do not have to.

Jason, I want to start with you. How significant is that strike on the fuel depot inside of Russia?

JASON BEARDSLEY, NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ASSOCIATION OF THE U.S. NAVY: That`s an excellent move by Zelenskyy`s forces. He`s really beleaguered and hampered in cities like Mariupol and your great report on the ground for Chernihiv and really he`s only got several options. You either got to break those seizures by destroying those artillery pieces.

I think General Petraeus makes a good point in getting the Ukrainians the Switchblade drones that will blow up and destroy them or he`s got to come up with something more creative, what he did to harass and interdict the rear lines of the Russian supply logistics, a beautiful move if that was them, well done to them. And that`s the kind of thing he`s going to need to do, wage diplomacy by war to affect the negotiations that will happen at the end of this. He`s got to keep harassing their rear lines.

RUHLE: Peter, your paper has no reporting tonight on how the United States is going to be transferring Soviet made tanks to Ukraine, what more can you tell us?

[23:10:00]

PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, well part of the challenge of course in the United States and Europe in trying to arm the Ukrainians to fight against the Russians is not to give them equipment that they wouldn`t know how to use, right, not to give them military equipment that you guys, American army or Western European armies that the Ukrainian soldiers aren`t trained in.

Well Soviet tanks are the kind of equipment that many Ukrainian troops have some experience in and therefore will be more useful to them. And so they, the Biden ministration is going to be trying to find a way to facilitate the transfer of these old Soviet made weaponry from Eastern Europe to Ukraine in a short amount of time is something that President Zelenskyy would ask for something he`s been prodding the West to do for a while now. And obviously, this is a response to those kind of pleas.

RUHLE: Jason, it`s good they know how to use these tanks, but are tanks what they need right now?

BEARDSLEY: Well, they need a combination of things. And I think Peter`s report is spot on. The White House is smart in trying to get them material and equipment that they can integrate immediately, the tanks will count. But as you`ve seen, tanks really rely on terrain advantages that do not redound to the type of terrain we`re seeing in the springtime around these cities. So they`re more effective if they can use air assets, air defense artillery, and again, drones and UAVs to knock those out. These are big targets. And by the way, nobody has supplied Ukraine with more tanks than the Russians. The Ukrainians keep taking those tanks, flipping them and turning the back on the Russians. So we`re seeing that already, I recommend getting a lot of the air assets, air defense type things in their hands immediately.

RUHLE: Julia, tell us about Russia`s reaction to the strike on their territory. That`s got to be embarrassing.

JULIA DAVIS, CREATOR, RUSSIAN MEDIA MONITOR: It was. They were almost reluctant to talk about it. They seem quite stunned and taken aback to see the war come home to Russia. They have initially predicted that this would be a cakewalk that they would take all of Ukraine in 11 minutes, all of a sudden there is a huge shift in their predictions.

I found it pretty telling when tonight on their state TV program, 60 Minutes, Pyotr Tolstoy, who is a Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, predicted that there would be a parade in Kyiv on Khreschatyk, the main street. And then he added, I just hope it`s a Russian one. So the attitude went from very cavalier to all of a sudden cautious, and they`re also explaining to their audiences that they`re essentially fighting all of NATO, and not just Ukraine. So this was a brilliant move for Ukraine and the message was certainly heard and received.

RUHLE: Jason, I want to share a bit more of what we heard this evening from President Zelenskyy. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE: If we don`t have heavy weapons, how can we defend ourselves? How can we fight against one of the strongest armies in the world? Our military, our people, soldiers are stronger than the Russian Federation, .but they have a lot more weapons. So these forces are not equal. And they will say, excuse me, you now have enough of what you were given. And we cannot go and die for your territory. These are serious challenges.

Powerful weapons are needed to Ukrainians, heavy weapons will give us an opportunity to talk with them at the negotiation table. Give us missiles, give us airplanes, you cannot give us F18 or F19, or whatever you have, give us the old Soviet planes. That`s all, give them into my hands. Give me something to defend my country with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: It`s not a surprise that President Zelenskyy asks for more support every single time he has a public stage to do so. But we also know that the Pentagon just approved another $300 million worth. In your estimation, how well has the U.S. and our allies done in getting military aid to Ukraine?

BEARDSLEY: Not well. I think we have the initiative and we want to do that but there`s a lot of things on the ground logistically that have to happen to get it done right. What we know is Ukrainians that are in the fight, Mariupol, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson they are waiting to get their hands on these promised pieces, javelins, stingers, the Switchblade drones, they don`t have them in hand. So it`s not just a question of initiating the legal regulatory administration of it, but how do you get it on the ground secure if these are military weapons, moving through Europe by land and other means going into a combat zone. This is not an easy thing to do in times of war, it`s still difficult in times of peace.

[23:15:00]

So logistics, logistics, logistics, that`s the whole game. And by the way, that`s why the Russians have been hampered and beleaguered from day one, their logistics are horrible. So if we can beat them to the punch, figure out how to flow that material into the hands of Ukrainians, Zelenskyy is right, he`s got the advantage and he`s got to play for the long run, which is putting the Russians on the heel, embarrassing them and humiliating them so he gets maximum concerns at the leverage table.

RUHLE: Peter, you know, when you`re here, I`m always going to ask you to take us to the mind of Vladimir Putin. Earlier today on our air, former CIA Director John Brennan shared his thoughts about Putin. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Putin has tremendous monopoly on political power inside of Russia. But if you bring together the tremendous losses on the battlefield, and all of those Russian soldiers who have been killed, together with the economic pressure that it`s facing, internationally in terms of sanctions, and then the demonstrations and protests in Russia, and if there`s going to be some bloody confrontation between security forces and Russian citizens on the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other things, I think that combination of pressures really does raise questions about the continued viability of the Putin regime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: Do you agree?

BAKER: Well, I think there`s something to that. Yes. I mean, look, in the 22 years that Vladimir Putin has been in power, there has never been a moment when he has put so much stress on his own country when he has basically cut it off from the rest of the world, economically, culturally, politically and much less of course, that military losses that they`ve taken in Ukraine.

Now, he controls the media. He has shut down what little independent media there has been there. Julia knows better than I do what they`re telling the Russian people and there are polls showing, even independent polls showing that he does have a lot of support among many Russians. So he has an apparatus around him to control the message to control the information space to some extent, for a while. But I think that over time, you do wonder whether or not it continues the way it has, that could bring additional pressure on him.

But when body bags are coming home, there`s a family back in their hometown in Smolensk, and you have in Orenburg (ph) and Novosibirsk and places like that, that are now going to have to bury their sons, in some cases daughters for a war that they don`t really fully understand against their Slavic brothers.

Ukrainians are not an enemy of the Russians in the way that, you know, perhaps the Afghans or the Chechens or others have been. These are people that they consider to be fraternal, you know, relatives in effect. And they`re asking the Russian people to sacrifice enormous amounts of blood and treasure and for what, and I think that over time, you can see that beginning to put stress on even a strong regime like Putin`s.

RUHLE: Then given all of that, Julia, you watch Russian state TV all day, how do the Russian people currently see the war? Putin might control the media, but to Peter`s point thousands of soldiers are dying.

DAVIS: Yes, and so far, the Russian media is only admitting to one thousand men lost, which is obviously a far cry from their real losses. And also the truth has been seeping in and coming through every time President Biden makes a message, they kind of have to address it. So by just basically stating it, that message is already getting out there, even though they`re trying to disprove it.

So I believe the Russian people are starting to understand what`s really going on but the propagandists are still trying to brainwash them into believing that they can win this militarily, that this will not be solved diplomatically, and that they need to go all the way and only when they win the rest of Ukraine will the West eventually come to terms with it. So they`re still trying to build up the momentum to keep this war going.

RUHLE: Does that mean military parents don`t even know if their sons and daughters who are fighting are alive or dead?

DAVIS: I`m sure that large quantities of them have no idea what`s going on and those that do know are obviously being discouraged from speaking out. The kind of regime Putin is running right now they don`t have the media that they could go to. They don`t really have a platform to safely speak out.

RUHLE: The truth matters, but only if you hear it. Thank you all so much for starting us off this evening. Peter Baker, Jason Beardsley, Julia Davis,

Coming up, huge jobs report out today with unemployment nearing pre pandemic levels. But do Americans feel as good about these numbers? We`ll soon find out. And later new reporting on the "insane hiring memos" Ginny Thomas cooked up for the former president, just how much influence the wife of a Supreme Court Justice had in Trump`s White House, THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Friday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE: By many metrics, the U.S. economy is in excellent shape. Today`s jobs report showed 431,000 jobs added in March bringing unemployment down to 3.6. And wages have gone up rising by an average of 5.6 percent over the last 12 months.

Can the momentum of this economic recovery get us past the inflationary woes weighing on Americans, with us tonight to discuss, Justin Wolfers, Professor of Economics & Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

Justin, for anybody who has a teenager at home who`s been saying they can`t find a summer job, this report proves that they are liars. I mean, employers are hiring, they`re paying and people are going back to work. How do you read this thing besides really strong?

JUSTIN WOLFERS, PROF. OF ECONOMICS & PUBLIC POLICY AT UNIV. OF MICHIGAN: Let`s start with really strong and let`s move beyond those teenagers. A big part of the weakness over the past year to the extent that we`ve had it has been older Americans who are afraid to return back to the workplace or worry that there was an opportunity for them. And what we`re seeing over a run of jobs report is there is opportunity. We`ve seen the pandemic start to recede and so I think the message the economy is giving is welcome back there`s work for you.

[23:25:00]

And there may even be pay rises coming up too.

RUHLE: How tricky is this, though, for the Biden administration, while these economic numbers are good, some of those seniors you`re talking about might be going back to work, not because they feel like there`s an opportunity, but they feel like they can`t afford their lives? I want to share what former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill had to say about how the Biden administration has to deal with inflation. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D) MISSOURI: Democrats are really in a bind here, because everything is good in the economy, except what people remember most and that is what was their checkout total at the grocery store yesterday? And what did they pay at the pump two days ago? That`s what people remember, not that their wages have gone up because the increase in wages is being eaten by this inflationary spiral.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: What do you think about that?

WOLFERS: First of all, Claire McCaskill has got a fantastic kitchen.

RUHLE: She does.

WOLFERS: But you know, on the economics of this, she`s absolutely right, that inflation is incredibly unpopular among the American people. The good news is your purchasing power, what economists call your real wage, aren`t determined by what`s going on with inflation. The reality is over hundreds of years, and across dozens of countries, when inflation starts to rise, wages tend to rise too and keep up and most people will be able to get a reasonable quality of life.

Now, it`s easy for me as an economist to say the reality is that people are hurting and the double whammy here for the Biden ministration is it`s not just that inflation is higher, it`s that inflation of the prices that people see most often at the pump and at the grocery store, they`re the ones going through the roof. There are prices that are going down, things like technology, healthcare is not doing so bad, either. They`re really important, but we don`t see them as often.

RUHLE: But let`s go back to the grocery store. Do you believe that prices need to be as high as they can or are there a lot of businesses hiding behind that? Oh, it`s inflation. When I think about food, in the United States, we produce the majority of what we feed America, why should prices be this high?

WOLFERS: Well, American farmers have the option of either sending their wheat off to you know, make the next box of Wheaties or they can send it overseas. And so when Ukraine is not exporting wheat, that directly affects the price of wheat for American companies. And so the reality is that the input prices are determined overseas and there`s a lot going on, on the supply side of the economy. There`s not just Ukraine and Russia, there`s also just global supply chain snails, which are causing immense havoc.

You know, one part of that is war, another part is we shouldn`t forget, this is an economy coming out of a pandemic. We turned our lives upside down and it`s taking a little while to get things back and right again,

RUHLE: I want to ask you about what happened at Amazon today. We have seen this labor movement grow in the last few years. Talk about unions, for a while now and today it happened, Amazon workers in Staten Island voted to unionize. It is the first Union for the company. How big of a deal is this?

WOLFERS: You know, I`ve read the headlines, but I`m not sure I fully agree with them. You know, the American labor movement has been in a very, very long run decline, and now is a relatively small share of the workforce. Today`s vote, I think was something like 2,600 workers for 2,100 workers against that`s a vote in a company of 1.6 million workers in an economy of 150 million workers. You know, it was a Staten Island work warehouse. And you know, maybe you could say if he can make it New York, he can make it anywhere but seems like a kind of union friendly place. And so I`m not as confident this spells a sharp turnaround for the union movement, but we`ll Scarborough ends his interview with.

RUHLE: it`s a really important reminder that, if you could just say that for us again, we talk about the labor movement, but unions have actually been shrinking over the last few years, yes?

WOLFERS: Not just the last few years, the last 50, 60, 70 years.

RUHLE: A lot of talk not a lot of change just yet but we`ll see, who knows, maybe Amazon is changing that. Justin always good to see you, Justin Wolfers. Thank you.

Coming up, new reporting on White House meetings (inaudible) between Jenny Thomas and the former president himself, just how close she was to the White House as her husband was designing cases when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RUHLE: Buckle up for this one, new reporting on how much access Ginni Thomas had to the former president before January 6, The Daily Beast reporting she was notorious for providing Trump himself written memos on who he should hire and fire working him "into fits of vengeful rage." The report says that according to people who saw them, the fire lists were particularly problematic as they were frequently based on pure conjecture, rumor or score settling or even steadfastly MAGA aides were targeted for being part of the "Deep State" or some other supposedly anti Trump coalition. The report notes Ginni Thomas did not respond to request for comment on this very story but I hope she knows she`s always welcome to sit down here for an interview, with that let`s welcome co-author of that piece--

[23:35:00]

Asawin Suebsaeng, Senior Political Reporter for The Daily Beast and Harry Litman, Former U.S. Attorney and Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General. He helped prepare Justice Breyer for his confirmation.

Asawin, break this down for us. Who were on these lists and what did Trump himself do with them?

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, as to who was on some of these lists, I`m sure you would recognize some of their names, they included stars and top personalities of a competitor network to MSNBC, known as Fox News. Dan Bongino was on one of them, so was Sheriff David Clarke, not on Fox News so much anymore, but used to be a lot.

Something that we reported earlier today was that someone who Ginni Thomas pushed directly to Donald Trump and was on at least one of these lists was none other than Frank Gaffney. For your viewers who are not completely initiated or remember quite who Frank Gaffney is, he is someone who is one of this country`s most notorious anti-Muslim and anti-Islam bigots.

He is someone who has pushed rabid anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and pushed Muslim ban like policies and policy prescriptions long before Trumpism came along. And this was someone who was determined by other White House officials to be even to, shall we say, bananas for even the Trump administration, for even President Trump`s entourage. So that`s the kind of caliber of what you`ve had populating these higher lists. And we haven`t even gotten to the purge list yet.

RUHLE: Oh, my gosh. Harry, last week, before this reporting, you had serious concerns about conflicts of interest and Clarence Thomas being able to sit on the Supreme Court given his wife`s views. Does this now take it to a whole other level?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, sort of. To me now, it`s really clear. The big problem with Ginny Thomas is Ginni Thomas. Even if she weren`t married to him as Asawin just detailed, she waltzes in and gives these lists of really marginal and incompetent people, flatters the President and walks out and heads begin to roll and the purge list that Asawin is about to talk about that such crazy lefties as Karl Rove and the like.

I mean, we knew already last week, she was extreme. We knew already that she was bananas. I`ll take his word in believing in the big lie. Now we learned that maybe on top of everything else, she is powerful and influential and personal. That`s a really big part of any administration. To me that`s harrowing, without regard to her being married to a justice that she is, is more harrowing in two respects. One, she could be trading off that relationship for the influence she has. And two, it`s not proven, but if they are sort of birds of a feather in the kind of relationship they`ve always had, if in any way the justice of the Supreme Court entertains these views, and has to hear cases that`s head spinning.

RUHLE: Asawin, you say these interactions have taken on new significance since the January 6 committee released text messages between meadows and Jenny, how so?

SUEBSAENG: Well, it`s because the depths in which she interact with Trump when he was still at the highest power in the White House, the kinds of memos that she helped compile that she floated, not just to Trump, but other senior administration officials, it shows you the degree of influence that not only she had, but her vast conservative network, which I think is more accurate to say was a very far right network and other individuals of that guild had over this president, look that is something that I don`t think is a mystery to any of your viewers.

It`s something that has been known for a long time in terms of what kind of ideologue had influence during those four years of the Trump presidency. But now, we`re trying to peel back as many layers as we can on the story of this particular player in Trump order, especially when more and more information has come out about how just mobbed up she was in the coup attempt that Donald Trump and numerous other Republicans were trying to perpetrate in 2020 and then 2021.

And in terms of the kind of people who she tried to get the Trump administration to hire, I`ll give another example of a name that was on one of the higher list that was flagged by the White House personnel office, they would annotate these, how they would describe these insane memos. And some of the names would have markings next to them that indicated they posted way too many offensive or crude jokes to social media. And sometimes there`d be things that would be as extreme as suspected for an intelligence asset or spy. That is the quality of material that we`re working with here.

RUHLE: This is amazing. Harry, normally a Supreme Court justice, I mean they are untouchable, they`ve got a lifetime appointment. How much pressure does this put Clarence Thomas under?

[23:40:00]

LITMAN: You know, I think just medium because they have this rule that says they`re going to decide for themselves. You saw that George Will article today that said, at least where recusal comes in, you know, it`s a kerfuffle and (inaudible), meaning that unless he`s really ruling on something, and you can imagine that he would be, say, to turn over evidence that includes or emails, he`s going to hold to his view and no one can really stop him. Chief Justice Roberts can walk down the hall and say, you know, Clarence, we`re not looking great and he can push back and say you need nine people to decide. So I think this is really tarnishing the view that many people hold him in, but I don`t think the pressure is really ramping up to anywhere near over the bathtub level.

RUHLE: OK, so he doesn`t feel a need to recuse himself. There`s no signs that he`ll resignƒ_"

LITMAN: IT`s his call.

RUHLE: But spouses of everybody`s family members, right, you`re allowed to have your own political views, your own career. But this woman literally is the wife of a Supreme Court justice, and she is making lists on who the President of the United States should fire and getting them to them.

LITMAN: And she is executing them, right?

RUHLE: Clarence Thomas feels no obligation to at least address this to the American people. Trust in the courts, it`s so important.

LITMAN: I agree. I agree. The answer is that`s right. He probably doesn`t. And by the way, it`s not that she makes the list, she executes the list. She waltzes past a Chief of Staff any well-run government wouldn`t let that happen, and Steve Bannon, no lesser in authority calls her a force of nature. Isn`t a black guy yet another for the Supreme Court? Yes. Does it reach under the law the levels of recusal and will he feel deep pressure to do it? Look, I could be wrong but my view is he`s going to stick to it. He`s never been known for the care and consideration he has for his opponent`s views. And he and she, I do and this is one of the problems, think about this in terms of their good guys and bad guys. And that`s an issue.

RUHLE: Harry, we just have to remember the reason she`s able to waltz into the White House past the Chief of Staff is because she`s married to a Supreme Court justice.

LITMAN: 100 percent.

RUHLE: Asawin, amazing reporting. Harry, always great to have your insights. Thank you both for being here tonight.

LITMAN: Thank you.

RUHLE: Also tonight, the federal judge in Ghislaine Maxwell`s sex trafficking case just denied her request for a new trial. Jeffrey Epstein`s longtime confidant had requested the new trial after a juror came forward and said they were a victim of sex abuse, and that came up during deliberations. The juror did not indicate that on the questionnaire, but the judge said tonight that it was not deliberate and the juror could serve fairly. Maxwell still faces up to 65 years in prison. She will be sentenced in June.

Coming up, a live update from Kyiv from a professional Ukrainian tennis star who picked up a rifle to defend his country`s capital when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

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[23:45:00]

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RUHLE: The Mayor of Kyiv had a message for anyone wishing to return to the city. "The risk of dying is pretty high, adding that big battles are being fought around Ukraine`s capital. It comes after Russia said it would scale back attacks in the area earlier this week."

For more from the ground, I want to bring in Sergiy Stakhovsky, the Former Professional Tennis Player from Ukraine. He famously beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon, but he put down his tennis racket to defend his country when the war began over a month ago. It is good to see you again. I wish it was on a better evening. But here we are. What can you tell us about the fight near Kyiv?

SERGIY STAKHOVSKY, FORMER TENNIS PLAYER TO FIGHT FOR UKRAINE: Well, the fight was intense, but it`s starting to move away from Kyiv, slightly. The Ukrainian forces have been able to clear a couple of cities which are border lining with Kyiv, such as Irpin, Bucha, a little bit, those cities are completely torched. There`s nothing left from residential part.

I would say the situation keeps getting better in terms of people actually are coming in back because I think the resource that they had to move away and to live in a different city just drained and they had to come back because there was no other way. I think that Ukrainians is going to be regrouping as well because Russians are pulling up towards the Chernobyl area and, and Belarus, and most likely, you know, try to shift their attention to Kharkiv and press more in terms of trying now to split the Ukraine in half because the whole occupation of Ukraine didn`t really work for them so far.

RUHLE: The last time you and I spoke, you said you had only had a short lesson on how to use a rocket launcher. What have you done since then? Have you been involved in any fighting?

STAKHOVSKY: I think it`s a good part that I haven`t, I didn`t have let`s say orders to go up but we were doing some (inaudible) parts just near the front line. And I`d say (audio disturbance) theoretic lessons on the systems. I still had a couple of - I had a shooting range practice with a (inaudible) rifle. So as it is now I just hope that I will not have to use it because they are pulling out of Kyiv but we don`t know what that situation is going to involve whether there is going to be some drastic changes in this situation right now.

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RUHLE: Your father and brother were with you in Kyiv, working as medics at the hospital. Are you all still together?

STAKHOVSKY: My brother is still here, my father moved away, he moved out he moved to Czech Republic, because where we were staying, there was a direct threat of artillery, let`s put it that way. One time, it was almost impossible to sleep because the bombs were exploding every, let`s say 5, 6, 7 minutes. So he decided to take his nephew and two sons of her out of Ukraine. And for a while he`s been in with my mother, probably a week. It`s been a week.

RUHLE: We talk a lot about what this is for women and children who have been forced to flee. But it`s also difficult for husbands and fathers like you who are left behind fighting, what is it like for you to be away from your wife and children?

STAKHOVSKY: Well, I think it`s slightly brutal. It is not something that I would wish anyone to experience. But there`s a lot of fathers and wives who left someone behind or who sent someone away and stayed behind. I think it`s about 50 percent of the military personnel in Ukraine has a family, has kids who they left, whether it`s father or mother is fighting. So I`m nothing out of ordinary, just the level of willingness of people to defend their country just so great. You know, everybody`s willing to risk a life. I`m not saying that - it`s heroic, unfortunately, we have a lot of people who died, and those families will never see their fathers or mothers or brothers. And that is something that in the modern world should never happen in the first place. And we should all think about that in the first place.

RUHLE: Last week, I know you posted a video calling out Russian athletes who participated in that rally that was staged by Putin. Why was it important thing for you to do?

STAKHOVSKY: Well, for me, always, you know, that sports is not politics. There`s no politics in sport, and you should not get mixed. That`s always the message we hear from all the leaders and especially from Russia lately. And that just proves us how much sport is connected to the politics. How political figures are trying to get behind, get support from the sports figures and promote themselves to the sport and their needs and their deeds, actually. And for me, it was just outrageous that you had Olympic champions and medallists standing on the stage promoting the war in Ukraine, promoting the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, and it`s bizarre. It should never be - I mean, we`ve seen this unfortunately in history, but that was about 80 years ago. It was Hitler`s Germany. And this is if we are going that way, then the world should brace in because Ukraine is just the beginning.

RUHLE: Sergiy, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

STAKHOVSKY: Thanks.

RUHLE: Stay safe, Sergiy Stakhovsky joining us from Kyiv.

Coming up a tribute to a living legend you might not have ever heard of but stick around, you should, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

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I still love this uniform partly because there`s a silent message to every little girl of color that I pass on the street.

RUTH: She loves the uniform and I love Betty, the last thing before we go tonight, celebrating retirement Ranger Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest active park ranger retired today at the age of 100. She became a legend at California`s Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park, drawing in crowds of people. She honored the women who worked in factories during war time. She did read stories of World War II with their own personal experiences.

The great granddaughter of a slave, but he worked as a file clerk in a segregated unit during the war. She later became a political and community activist, as Glamour magazine`s 2018 Woman of the Year honoree, the profile pointed out she worked in Union halls under Jim Crow segregation, established the first black household in a discriminating California suburb, fought for black history to be represented in the national park system, and recorded it all in her memoir, Sign My Name To Freedom.

In glamorous tribute video, she spoke about her role as a park ranger.

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The park happened, I was in my 80s felt that I could have a voice. And the city of Richmond had been selected as the only place in the country that had enough still standing structures through which to interpret that history. But when I came here and saw the first PowerPoint, and realized that all the structures that would have told my story had been removed. The story they were telling about Rosie the Riveter was a legitimate story, that the feminist story was an important story that needed to be told. But that story was incomplete. As an interpretive ranger, I`m making the connections with that history.

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RUHLE: Betty Reid Soskin was introduced to President Barack Obama during the National Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington DC, and in her pocket was reportedly a photograph of her great grandmother. We wish Betty a very happy and much deserved retirement and to my team, you`re right, I cannot make it through a full week without shedding a tear, but on that note I wish you a very good night and from all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News.