The new phase of the war could be even more violent, according to U.S. officials. Russia`s assault on civilian areas continues, as Putin reportedly appoints a new general to oversee the offensive. Elon Musk decided not to join Twitter`s board of directors, leaving him free to expand his financial stake in the company.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Among those at the White House for today`s event was Parkland High School shooting survivor, David Hogg. After the White House event, David Hogg said, Am I happy about everything the administration is doing and do I think it`s enough? No, but this is a step forward. When you have 100 percent of the power you can get 100 percent of what you want. When you don`t and you have 50 percent of the power, you can get 50 percent.
That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Miles long military convoy signaling the start of a new offensive in Russia brutal seven-week war on Ukraine. As officials they are described and unthinkable toll on civilians.
Evidence is said to be piling up against the former president, could criminal charges be next? We`ll get into the debate over that, as well as his son in laws record a deal with the Saudis.
And what`s ahead for Trump`s once favorite form of communication after Elon Musk refuses a seat on Twitter`s board. All of that as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this Monday night.
Good evening. Once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. Tonight, the Pentagon is warning there may soon be a major escalation in Russia`s war in Ukraine. Moscow still bombarding cities and towns as we enter day 48 of the conflict. But there are new signs, Russia is now preparing for a significant assault in eastern Ukraine`s Donbas region after failing to capture its capital of Kyiv. The latest satellite images show an eight mile long Russian military convoy that is now on the move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: We believe this these are these are the early stages of a reinforcement effort. They`re trying to organize themselves better for a now more geographically confined, and more specific set of target objectives now in the Donbas specifically in in the south.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: And Ukraine`s president says Russia now amassing tens of thousands of troops for its next offensive. Putin has also reportedly tapped a new ground commander to lead his forces in Ukraine. He`s a general who oversaw troops in Syria, and who has a history of using ruthless, cruel tactics while targeting civilians. Some have referred to him as the Butcher of Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: There`s no question about this individual`s brutality. This has already been a brutal campaign in Ukraine and we can expect to see more of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Russia has continued to assault I`m Mariupol is a big part of its strategy to try to change the direction of the war. NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez is on the ground in Ukraine for us tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This body camera video shows a firefight in the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol where Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy now says it`s likely tens of thousands of people are dead, though that number cannot be verified.
After its defeat around Kyiv, Russia is now shifting its assault east the country`s largest city in the East, Kharkiv is seeing more deadly airstrikes. In the suburbs of Kyiv after Russian forces retreated a clearer picture of the destruction is emerging. The death toll is rising now topping 400.
(on camera): Here in Bucha, a painstaking recovery is underway. Forensic investigators are still exhuming the bodies from this mass grave and war crimes prosecutors are on the scene.
(voice-over): Today Sasha Kashinokov (ph) came to pay respects to his good friend who was buried here. He also tells us his father-in-law died of hunger. I want the world to know that this is genocide, he says.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
RUHLE: Thanks to Gabe Gutierrez. At the UN today the focus was on the Ukrainian women and children who have been driven from their homes and the dangers now they are now facing as refugees. It is estimated more than 4 million people have fled the country altogether, while about 7 million are displaced inside the countries and officials say reports of rape and sexual violence are on the rise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA THOMAS GREENFIELD, U.S.AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: 90 percent of refugees from Ukraine are women and children. When men like President Putin start wars, women and children get displaced. Women and children get hurt. Women and children get raped and abused and women and children die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: A war against women and children. With that let`s bring in this evening`s experts Jason Beardsley, a decorated U.S. military veteran with over 20 years of experience in the army and navy. He`s now the National Executive Director for the association of the Navy, and Julia Davis, columnist for The Daily Beast, the founder of the Russian Media Monitor. She watches Russian state TV every day, so we don`t have to.
Jason, Austria`s Chancellor had a very rare meeting with Putin today for what he said were very tough talks and I want to share how he described Russia`s next moves heading to eastern Ukraine saying this quote, The battle being threatened cannot be underestimated in its violence. That`s tough to hear. I mean, things have already been horribly violent. So what do you think comes next?
JASON BEARDSLEY, NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ASSOCIATION OF THE U.S. NAVY: Well, we`re going to see a lot more of what we`ve seen really atrocious activities by the Russian military. We should be clear with the audience that these are not normal habits for military professional military does not do what we`ve seen in Bucha, and other places, great reporting on the ground.
But that`s the kind of thing that signals that Vladimir Putin lost control of this invasion early on. He`s got a lot of pressure from the inside. And now he`s trying to save face. So they`re going to resort to repositioning in the Donbas region. And look for this to get about as ugly as it`s been, and more.
But here`s the challenge. And this we should be clear about too. The military that Russia has fielded does not have good command and control. Their nodes are not together. They don`t have good logistics. So there are opportunities here for the Ukrainians to turn the tide once again. But it`s really going to require some amplified logistics from the United States and the West. And I got to tell you, Stephanie, little disappointed that it`s been this slow going so far.
RUHLE: Well, I want to talk about that because President Zelenskyy and others, Jason, have said they need more military aid and they need it faster. But we just heard from the Pentagon today, saying they`re trying to get long range defense air systems, they`re is that the right move, what would change things what would satisfy you? I hear your disappointment.
BEARDSLEY: So it`s a great move, but it`s very late in this campaign. And meanwhile, the maneuver capability of the Ukrainians on the ground really beg and plead for the Javelin type, toe type anti-missiles. But in the same breath, they need communications, encrypted communications, that allows maneuver elements that are smaller than the armor elements to move around them, harass and interdict them in the rear, and also those switchblade drones that will just loiter over a target and blow up.
The Ukrainians need an advantage here and United States has got supplies and logistics down. We`ve done this over and over again. So for my money, I`m not sure why it`s taking so long.
RUHLE: Julia, there`s reporting that Putin may view May 9th, as a critical point in his conflict, what`s the significance of that date for Russia?
JULIA DAVIS, CREATOR RUSSIAN MEDIA MONITOR: Stephanie, the significance of that is great. That is the victory day. They were anticipating. There would be a victory parade by that time. And they were expecting to march in Kyiv of a lot of their troops have arrived was their dress uniforms, expecting just that and a lot is determinative on the outcome of the next offensive and Donbas.
Like Jason said, this is crucially important that the Ukrainians have everything that they need. I`m hearing from the state media and their military experts that a lot will be dependent upon how this goes and whether or not Putin will continue marching further into the rest of Ukraine from here.
RUHLE: Julia, you`ve got new reporting, that is definitely going to get our audience out of bed that Putin and his allies are hoping to fight back by disrupting the upcoming U.S. elections, and possibly putting Trump back in office. Tell us about that.
DAVIS: Well, they`re pursuing a twofold objective with making this kind of information, come out in public and have it having their experts discussing that in the open. One, they know that Trump never met any tyrant that he wasn`t willing to side with as long as he sided with him first. So they want to remind Trump that Putin is still on his side.
And the Secondly, you can`t quantify the importance of the releases that they`re doing to help Trump, for example, with releasing the Hunter Biden information. And since Putin doesn`t believe in favors, and the Russians have an expression that the only free cheese is found in the mousetrap, they`re trying to cause Trump to believe that they`re helping him and if he were to get back in the office, they will expect a lot of things in return.
And the other part of this information war is to again, create conflicts and divisions exacerbate our divisions politically, and make the public doubt the veracity of the election results, making Russia seem like it`s omnipotent. It`s omnipresent. It`s participating in everything, whether or not what they`re doing has an actual impact on our elections. So they`re stirring up trouble on these two fronts.
RUHLE: Jason, let me ask you about this new ground commander that Putin has put in place in Ukraine, nicknamed the Butcher for what he did in Syria. How big a deal is this?
BEARDSLEY: Well, let`s put it in context. He`s been on the ground as the third senior in this military action so far. So let`s give him a report card and greet him as an F for failing. Yes, he was instrumental in Syria, that is a different kind of warfare. Russians are always violent, they use mass, they use mercenaries, they recruit minorities, they use a lot of people to throw at a problem, and they don`t care how they get it done.
Again, the real advantage here lies in the Ukrainians taking advantage of one, the repositioning of the Russian forces while they`re repositioning and out of communications, you got to hit them. And number two, you`ve got to be more mobile than they are.
Now, that eight-mile convoy you talked about earlier, is a demonstration that Russia has not got this, right, you don`t line up tanks, ducks in a row on elevated paved highways. That`s just a begging for a target.
So, and I`ll say one final thing on the compromised or the information from Russia coming out to disturb the election. I think Julia gets it right there in the end by saying, look, the Russians are always trying to mess around, they`ll take credit for anything. They hope to sow dissension among us.
But the real frank truth is, they`re not going to be able to impact the vote by vote election coming up this fall. So, let`s not take them too seriously. The Russians that make a habit of lying.
RUHLE: Julia, take us to the Russian living room, as we`re watching this Russian convoy move and we`re bracing for the upcoming attacks. What a Russian people seeing on TV, what do they know about it?
DAVIS: On their regular plain vanilla news channels, they are basically sticking to a very simplistic portrayal of what`s going on. The Russian troops are supposedly doing great, they don`t have many casualties. Most casualties are on the Ukrainian side. And everything is going according to Putin`s genius plan, which is the only way they would ever dare to talk about it.
On their talk shows where they discuss the news in more detail and bring on military experts, they`re starting to admit that a lot of information is getting through and they are demanding more censorship, which they say in the time of war is reasonable.
I found it interesting this one top propagandist mentioned that he was having a conversation with one of the wounded Russian soldiers who complained to him but the Western portrayal of this war and the propagandists responded to him, don`t worry about it. History is written by the victors. And after we win, we will write it our way.
To me that was a telling glimpse that they are aware of what is really happening. They are aware of the way the media in the West is covering it. But ordinary Russians are told not to read it, not to watch it, because it`s just anime propaganda. And once they win, then the West will move on. And they will portray these events in whichever way they like to.
RUHLE: Rewriting history. Julia Davis, thank you so much for joining us. Jason Beardsley as well. Thank you both.
Few Americans knew the dangers of Vladimir Putin better than our next guest, Bill Browder. I`m honored he`s with us is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management. He became a political activist and one of the Kremlin`s biggest enemies have to his tax lawyer was tortured, and later died in a Moscow prison.
Browder`s advocacy has led to the passage of the Magnitsky Act in dozens of countries which imposes sanctions on Russian oligarchs, and those close to Putin himself. His newest book, "Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin`s Wrath" is in stores tomorrow.
Bill, thank you for joining us tonight, someone you know very well. Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, has reportedly been detained yesterday. I want to share with you what he told us on the show just a couple of weeks ago, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, RUSSIA OPPOSITION POLITICIAN: This is not only about restoring international stability and restoring peace in the middle of Europe, but it`s also about saving our own country saving Russia from this paranoid, deranged and dangerous strongmen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Our own Ali Velshi spoke to him yesterday. How significant is this potential arrest?
BILL BROWDER, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT FOUNDER AND CEO: Well, it`s hugely significant. Vladimir Kara-Murza is one of the major voices criticizing Putin from within Russia. Almost everyone else is scared to do that. He`s trying to show that they should all do that. And now being arrested is a very scary thing. And we know that bad things happen to people, enemies of the Putin regime who are arrested and so I have big fears for what may come next.
RUHLE: The power of Putin`s wrath is now on the world stage. You know firsthand what it`s like to be targeted by him, not during a war time, given where he is now. How concerned are you?
BROWDER: It`s terribly concerning. You know, I was actually having dinner with Vladimir Kara-Murza two weeks ago, when he was in London, he was on his way to Russia. And I begged him not to go. And he said, I have to go. Because if I`m asking the people of Russia to stand up to Putin, how can I be afraid to go? And I said, it`s a war, we`re at war with them. There`s nothing that anyone can do if you are arrested if they decide to go after you, but he chose to go. And it says a lot about him as a brave individual. But it`s also extremely scary for those of us who know him and care about him.
RUHLE: Another Putin expert like you, Fiona Hill, told The New York Times that American presidents from George Bush to Barack Obama never fully understood who Putin was, or what he`s capable of. Do you agree with that assessment? And if so, are we now facing the consequences of that today?
BROWDER: I completely agree with that. So you had George Bush, he said, he looked Putin in the eyes and so his soul. You had President Obama who said, we need to reset relations. We had Trump who said Putin is a good guy. And here we are. And by the way, all of these presidents looked the other way when Putin did terrible stuff.
Putin invaded Georgia, no consequence. He took Crimea, no serious consequence. He bombed civilians in Syria, no consequence. Poisoned using Novichok in England, no consequence. And Putin got to think he could do anything, no consequence.
And so, if there had been consequences before, I don`t think we would be in this situation right now.
RUHLE: What do you think about what we`re doing now?
BROWDER: Well, it`s too little too late. You know, once Putin get started on these things, he can`t back down. He has no reverse gear. He doesn`t know compromise, he has to show strength.
And so we`re in a battle to the end, either he gets defeated by the Ukrainians, or he wins. And he ends up coming for us next in Estonia, with NATO or Poland or something like that.
RUHLE: Then if you were advising President Biden, if you were advising NATO, what should we do right now?
BROWDER: What we should do is give the Ukrainians everything they asked for, more military equipment.
RUHLE: They want a no-fly zone.
BROWDER: Yes. And they should give a no-fly zone, a no fly zone --
RUHLE: Even if that escalates this into a world war three type scenario,
BROWDER: We are in a world war three scenario. If we tell Putin we want to back down, because we`re so afraid of a world war three type of scenario, then he will continue to threaten until we are in a world war three type scenario. Putin is only -- he only understands strength. And we have to demonstrate strength.
RUHLE: In your new book, you write this about him, quote, the Magnitsky Act put all of his wealth and power at risk that made him very angry man, his crusade against the Magnitsky Act wasn`t just philosophical, it was personal. We genuinely hit Vladimir Putin`s Achilles heel.
Explain them how all of these sanctions are hurting him, and even the Magnitsky Act, Putin has become one of the richest men on the entire -- in the entire world.
BROWDER: So he is the richest man in the world. He`s stolen an enormous amount of money from the Russian people. And that money is held by oligarchs in the West. And so as we look at this war, and we say, How do we stop him, one of the ways we can stop him is by cutting off his supply of money. And how do we do that? We freeze the central bank reserves. We freeze his offshore money by going after the oligarchs. And the third thing we have to do is stop buying his oil and gas. And that`s something for the Europeans, because every day we send him a billion dollars to fund his war with Ukraine by buying as oil and gas.
RUHLE: Then let me ask you about the sanctions overall, do you think we`re really punishing Putin or the oligarchs? Or have they had plenty of time to figure out where to squirrel their money away? So we`re not even touching their wealth?
I mean, to sanction his daughters last Friday, I`m pretty sure over the course of the last seven weeks, they figured out where to hide their dough.
BROWDER: Well, there`s no question that they`ve hidden their dough. But the key is to go after the oligarchs, the oligarchs are the rich ones. They`re the sort of individuals -- they`re the corporate size individuals. And the moment you sanction them, even if they`ve hidden their money away. They can`t move it around. No bank will accept to their money. They can`t transact, it becomes like, the bloodstream where the blood stops pumping. You put them on the sanctions list is devastating. Don`t let anyone tell you otherwise.
RUHLE: Are they feeling pain yet?
BROWDER: Oh, my God. Are they feeling pain? Serious pain. This is a good thing. We should do more of it. We`ve only sanctioned about two dozen of these guys. We should go for the full 100.
RUHLE: All right. Bill, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.
BROWDER: Thank you.
RUHLE: Bill Browder again, his new book is called "Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin`s Wrath" in stores tomorrow.
Coming up. The investigators say the evidence over January 6 is there. So what does that mean? The dilemma for those looking to hold Donald Trump accountable.
And later, following the money, how did inexperienced his wealth manager convinced the Saudis to hand over billions and what the deal could mean for 2024. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Monday night.
(BEGIN VIDOE CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We have not made a decision about referrals on the committee. I think that it is absolutely the case. It`s absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing, what a number of people around him were doing that they knew it was unlawful they did it anyway.
RUHLE: January 6 Committee leaders are said to have enough evidence to make a criminal referral of the former president to the Justice Department. But there seems to be a disagreement over whether they should.
New York Times reporting the debate centers on whether making a referral, a largely symbolic act would backfire by politically tainting the Justice Department`s expanding investigation.
But we welcome one of the reporters on that very story. Luke Broadwater with the New York Times. And Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney and former senior FBI official.
Luke, break this down for us the arguments from those in favor and against the criminal referral because a civilian like me would think a criminal referral, there`s not a debate a crime is a crime.
LUKE BROADWATER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Right, well, so the January 6 Committee is a legislative committee and their primary function, their primary duty is to write the authoritative report about January 6, and to recommend changes to laws that could prevent something like this from happening again.
That said in the course of their duties, they have said, if they pick up information about crimes, they will consider referring them to the Justice Department. We now know from the committee from top investigators from the Vice Chair cell phones, CNN, that they do have that evidence, they do have enough evidence to make that referral.
But the question now is a political one. Is it in their interest to look like they are encouraging the Justice Department to make this prosecution? Or should they simply lay out the evidence in a report? And then let the Justice Department take it from there?
So in some ways, the referral may be a semantic issue, where you have the report saying something very similar to what a referral could be. It just wouldn`t come in a letter directly to the Justice Department. But those are the types of discussions that are underway right now.
RUHLE: Chuck, despite Luke`s excellent reporting, and laying this out so eloquently, it`s still dizzying for the American people. I get that the committee is worried about looking partisan. But is that something that should concern the attorney general or the DOJ?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, Stephanie, imagine you`re the Attorney General, and you want to play it down the middle, you want to be a political and nonpartisan, you want to follow the facts and apply the law. I don`t see how a criminal referral from the House helps you at all.
And here`s why, Stephanie. First of all, Department of Justice doesn`t need a criminal referral. They have the authority that already inherently to bring criminal charges if they need to. Also a referral has no evidentiary value. It has no legal value, it has no precedential value. It`s a political act.
So if you`re that apolitical Attorney General, and you get a mostly partisan referral, asking you to do something, well you know what, that could be counterproductive. And so I heard what you said at the beginning, I disagree with you rarely, unless some trepidation. But I think that making a criminal referral is a very, very bad idea.
RUHLE: But does it tell us if the Department of Justice, if the attorney general has not acted, but the committee says they have something? Does that mean that there isn`t something that reaches the standard for the DOJ to act?
ROSENBERG: Yes, possibly, that`s one explanation. You can make a criminal referral on a letter as Luke described, simply because you think you have enough information that would be of interest to the Department of Justice. That`s all well and good.
To bring a criminal charge, you need a reasonable probability of conviction. That`s our standard in the Department of Justice. And that means convincing a jury unanimously by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. So there could be a delta, a chasm between what the House thinks they have, and they believe it`s sufficient, and what the Department of Justice believes it needs in order to ask a grand jury to return a charge against somebody.
RUHLE: So if what the January 6 committee is doing has no influence on the Department of Justice, could the Department of Justice be investigating the former president and we just don`t know it?
ROSENBERG: Absolutely. In fact, if they are doing that, they`d be using a federal grand jury. And the Rules of Criminal Procedure require prosecutors and agents to not disclose publicly the work before a federal grand jury until and unless they bring charges. So that could absolutely be the case, Stephanie.
RUHLE: Luke, your reporting says the committee has now interviewed more than 800 witnesses and has another 100 interviews lined up how close are they to wrapping this up?
BROADWATER: Well, it`s described to me that they`re coming into the final stages of their investigatory stage and they`re starting to enter what they call their public facing stage. So within the next month or two, they should be done with their interviews, mostly done with their interviews. They leave the door open that they could bring in people gain or if new evidence comes up they could keep investigating it.
But then they will shift to laying out sort of a public education phase, where there will be a series of hearings starting in May or June, and then a public report and scheduled tentatively for September, those things can always get shifted as evidence comes in.
But they`re getting close here to finishing up their work. They`d still some big questions left. There`s some very key witnesses who have not yet come in. There`s a couple that have been scheduled that could be quite revelatory, and they`re going to have to make decisions about whether they ultimately call for Donald Trump himself and Vice President Mike Pence himself to come in. And those are decisions that are still an open question for the committee.
RUHLE: Chuck switching topics, the White House cracking down on those untraceable ghost guns, they`re now requiring serial numbers on the parts. A serial number seems like common sense. But gun groups are saying this is government overreach, which is it?
ROSENBERG: It`s common sense, it`s not overreach. If you were to buy a gun from a licensed dealer, Stephanie, you would give that person your name, your date of birth, your social security number, your address, and on that form would be the list of the weapons or weapon that you were buying with the serial number, with the make, with the manufacturer.
So if we find that gun at a crime scene, we have a lead. We have evidence. We know who we need to talk to. We`re finding lots and lots and lots of ghost guns, guns without serial numbers at crime scenes. And that just makes it more difficult to find the people responsible for the crime and to hold them accountable. Common sense you bet it is.
RUHLE: Before you go Chuck, you know the President`s choice to head up the ATF. What should we know about this man, Steve Dettelbach he`s a name not many of us are familiar with.
ROSENBERG: A good man. A career federal prosecutor in Cleveland, Ohio, also served as the U.S. Attorney in a big important office in Cleveland, Ohio. I know I like him, I trust him. I think he`ll be an excellent head of the ATF. I just hope it gets confirmed.
RUHLE: I know in my life am I trust him. That`s not the Chuck Rosenberg seal of approval. I don`t know what is Chuck, always good to see you, Luke, you as well. Great reporting tonight.
Coming up, the $2 billion investment, raising all sorts of ethical red flags, maybe some financial ones too. When THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: We are following the money yet again. The New York Times reporting that six months after leaving the White House, Trump`s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner secured himself a $2 billion investment from a fun led by the Saudi Crown Prince. It happened despite doubts from the Crown Prince his own investment team.
The Times reporting the following quote, the full Board led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia`s de facto ruler and a beneficiary of Jared Kushner support when he worked as White House Advisor overruled the panel.
For more, let`s get in at one of the reporters on that very story, Kate Kelly. She covers money, influence and policy for the New York Times and is a CNBC contributor. Well, baby Kate, this is quite a story. Jared Kushner has only ever worked for his parents and for his father-in-law. He has never managed money for anyone. How unusual is it for the Saudi government to give someone with no background in investing 2 billion bucks to manage?
KATE KELLY, THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: Well, I think it`s pretty unusual, although, I do think a little bit about SoftBank Group, which started the Vision Fund and didn`t have direct and experience in this area, even though they`re a multinational conglomerate. But it`s very unusual.
And as you`ll see, from our story, Steph, and the documents that we looked at, there were a lot of reservations expressed at the senior official level at the public investment fund, which manages $620 billion for Saudi Arabia`s people.
They talked about unsatisfactory due diligence, i.e., research in the potential investment in all respects. They talked about the lack of germane experienced by the principal, in this case, Jared Kushner. They talked about fears that the PIF would bear the bulk of the risk and responsibility for helping this fun to succeed and also bearing the downside if it did not.
RUHLE: So what happened MBS has overruled him and said sorry, guys, he`s my boy.
KELLY: Well, we don`t have all the details. But we do know that this official panel that is charged with reviewing investments on behalf of the PIF met and concluded on June 30th of 2021, that the majority of them were not comfortable proceeding at that time.
However, about a week later, the full board which is chaired by MBS approved the investment. There`s a little bit of a gap in terms of our understanding of what happened between the one and the other, but clearly the full Board found differently.
RUHLE: But they didn`t just give him money. They`re paying Jared higher fees than other people they`re invested with. They`re also invested with another former Trump administration official Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. And you`ve reported this, the Saudis agreed to pay Mnuchin`s firm, only a 1 percent asset management fee, compared to 1 -- one and a quarter percent for Mr. Kushner. So on a $2 billion investment that would pay Kushner`s firm 25 million bucks a year.
25 million bucks a year before he even makes one single investments he gets to take that home. Now Steve Mnuchin, like them or not actually has a good track record as an investor. How can they explain this? Jared gets an extra quarter point kiss?
KELLY: Well, as you notice that first of all, these rates are actually lower than your typical 220 model 2 percent management fee for a private equity fund. But yes, even within that, you have a clear contrast between Mnuchin and Kushner in these documents that we reviewed. With Mnuchin, they say due diligence very satisfactory. We`re especially happy not only with his past track record, but his future interests, which included cybersecurity, media and entertainment. His treasury experience is very germane. We`ll give him a 1 percent management fee and a billion dollars to work with.
In Jared`s case, as we`ve discussed, they were concerned they were not satisfied with the due diligence, and yet they get -- they give them $2 billion and a one and a quarter management fee.
So yes, I mean, if you talk to folks in the region, about these interactions with Jared Kushner and why the sovereign wealth funds might invest with him not all have, by the way. I mean, we`ve also David Kirkpatrick and I have reported that the Emiratis in general, for example, were hesitant to invest with Jared Kushner because of the lack of a track record.
But those who do, it`s hard not to see it as a potential wielding of soft power, trying to keep relations cordial between the folks that they knew and trusted and then Trump administration who, after all, may be empowered again, if the former president chooses to run again in 2024, and is successful.
RUHLE: Then even if this stinks to the high heavens, even if this is just a thank you note for all of the help and support Kushner gave especially around that green light after U.S. intelligence confirmed the responsibility of greenlighting of Khashoggi killing on the part of MBS, Jared Kushner overruled that and supported MBS. Could this all just be MBS saying Thanks, Jared, and it`s legal?
KELLY: Well, I mean, there`s no doubt that there`s been a rapport between those two leaders, right. Prince Mohammed and Jared Kushner, WhatsApp buddies have spent a lot of time together. Kushner was there numerous times during the Trump administration and has been in the past year is our understanding.
And you`re absolutely right. And Kushner was involved in negotiating deals with American companies to the tune of $110 billion in weapon purchases by the Saudis from American manufacturers. He urged a soft touch when it came to his father-in-law responding to the intelligence reports suggesting very strongly that MBS directed the killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. And then, of course, there`s the war in Yemen. And the fact that little or nothing was done to try to allay that or put a stop to it, in terms of the Saudis involvement, and the American influence potentially over the Saudis.
So, yes, I mean, you`ve got a lot of steps there that suggest that Kushner in particular was stopped on MBS. Now, right now, whether this is a thank you, whether this is regarded as a down payment on future political capital, ethics experts would tell you they`re worried about both.
What`s interesting, though, is it`s not illegal. There`s actually no law, or even a rule, even a White House rule for outgoing staffers that would prevent this kind of situation from happening.
RUHLE: I know I`m out of time, but I have to ask any comment from team Jared to your reporting?
KELLY: I don`t remember the exact words but they told us something to the effect of they were proud to have investors that conducted thorough due diligence, like the PIF and they didn`t elaborate beyond that.
RUHLE: Did you ask for an interview with Jared?
KELLY: Of course.
RUHLE: And they were proud to say no, thank you. That`s an important thing for our audience to take away. Proud to get investors not so proud to sit down with the stellar reporting led by Kate Kelly. Kate, thanks so much. I appreciate you joining.
Coming up, why Elon Musk could have been could end up being an even bigger headache for Twitter if he`s not sitting on the board of directors when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: There are more questions tonight about the future of Twitter, the world`s richest man and largest individual shareholder of the company backed out of plans to join its board of directors. But that means he is now free to expand his stake even further.
Twitter CEO released a note to staff saying this in part, there will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged. The decisions we make and how we execute is in our hands. And no one else`s. I don`t know about that.
So let`s bring in to discuss Casey Newton. He`s the founder and editor of the Platformer News and contributing editor to The Verge. Casey, you know this man very well, Elon Musk. A lot of people saw the news that he wasn`t joining the board and they were relieved saying like, Oh, it`s not going to shake things up. But isn`t the exact opposite going to happen as a result of him not joining the board? He`s got a bigger stake than anyone.
CASEY NEWTON, PLATFORMER FOUNDER: That`s exactly right. And not only that, but he`s no longer bound by the rules he had agreed as a precondition joining the board.
You know, normally when someone of a company have to pledge to honor the fiduciary responsibilities of the shareholders, and then of course immediately after saying he would do that, Elon began tweeting all sorts of crazy things. So, now he can sort of keep on doing that and won`t have to worry about shareholder lawsuits.
RUHLE: So now he`s going to be getting everything he wants. He`s a huge shareholder, and he will use Twitter the platform to push all of his demands to hate tweet at them as much as he wants, and get the millions of people who follow him all wound up, isn`t this his dream outcome?
NEWTON: It seems that way to me. But I think it`s worth noting that we don`t really know what Elon wants. I think the best theory of the case that I`ve heard is that this is the world`s richest man simply trying to have some fun. He clearly loves using Twitter. I think the idea that he`d want to own a huge chunk of it and sort of make it more fun for him personally to use makes a lot of sense.
But what does he want beyond that? Is there a financial outcome that he`s looking for? Does he want to own a lot more of the company than he does now? These are all still big question marks. And so far, Elon hasn`t really said anything about it.
RUHLE: Does it seem like this is an investment he`s looking to make money on? Or is this an investment he`s using as a disrupter? I mean, he has an awful lot of fun on Twitter as is.
NEWTON: He does. And we know it`s interesting when Elon Musk like something, the stock price just goes up. So you know, on paper, I think he`s already made about a billion dollars on his investment into Twitter. For most investors, that would be an incredible outcome for Elon. It`s just kind of another day in the market. So, you know, he remains a fascinating figure, but I think not one that many of us fully understand.
RUHLE: Any reason to believe the SEC is taking issue with how he acquired this stock and the timeframe in which he did.
NEWTON: There is you know, if you acquire 5 percent of a public company, you`re supposed to file something with the SEC letting people know sort of giving other shareholders a heads up about what`s happening. Elon didn`t do that. He filed a behind the schedule.
And as a result, the Washington Post reported that he`d been able to acquire his shares and Twitter at what wound up being a discount of $156 million. So that is the sort of thing that the SEC generally takes an interest in. And it -- I think it will be somewhat surprising. If he doesn`t face at least some kind of fine for the way that he went about this.
RUHLE: Question will be able to find the greater or less than 156 million, most likely less than. Casey, great to have you, an Elon Musk expert in the house. Thank you and coming up. President Zelenskyy gut wrenching flee to the world to stop using Russian oil, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
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DMYTRO KULEBA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF UKRAINE: As long as the West, let`s put it this way, continues buying Russian gas and oil, it is supporting Ukraine with other hands with one hand while supporting Russia war machine was another hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight stop bloody energy. Ukraine sPresident Zelenskyy recently posted this to his Instagram account buying Russian oil and gas you are financing the killings of Ukrainians act more decisively stop feeding the Russian military machine. He also posted the following video which I will warn you contains some very graphic important content.
President Zelenskyy`s powerful plea to Europe and to the rest of us to stop and think before buying oil from Russia.
That takes us off the year this evening. And on that note, I wish you all a very good night. And from all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News, thank you for staying up late with us. I`ll see you at the end of tomorrow.