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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 4/13/22

Guests: Kevin Baron, Alina Polyakova, Melissa Murray, Tim O`Brien, Bill Bratton, James Carville, Yamiche Alcindor, David McSwane

Summary

President Biden today announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine, bringing the total U.S. security assistance committed to Ukraine to $1 billion in just the past week. Sweden, Finland edge closer to joining NATO in wake of Russia`s invasion of Ukraine. Two of Donald Trump`s top White House lawyers are slated to speak with the Jan. 6 select committee. Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has been removed from the voter rolls of North Carolina. Suspected Brooklyn subway shooter Frank James was arrested by patrol cops in the East Village neighborhood of New York.

Transcript

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We ran out of time once again THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.

[23:00:18]

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight after a phone call and a plea from the President of Ukraine, President Biden signs off on more military aid, another $800 million and weapons and ammo soon on its way.

Then, Donald Trump made him do it. The new courtroom defense from an accused capital rioter who says he just wanted the form of guy`s approval.

Plus, got him, the suspected New York subway shooter in custody tonight after a 30 hour manhunt, as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this Wednesday night.

Good evening. Once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. Ukraine`s fight to end Russia`s invasion is now entering day 50. With heightened alarm over Russia has renewed offensive in the East and the promise of even more military aid from the US.

President Biden spoke to Ukrainian president Zelenskyy by phone today and said he has signed off on an $800 million security package that includes more weapons and ammunition that follow Zelenskyy`s latest Twitter post, which is pleading for more help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We`ve been defending ourselves against Russia much longer than they invaders blend. We have destroyed more Russian weapons and military equipment than some armies in Europe currently possess. But this is not enough. Freedom must be armed better than tyranny. Western countries have ever seen to make it happen. The final victory over the tyranny and the number of people save depends on them. Arm Ukraine now to defend freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: The U.S. is also expanding its effort to share intelligence with Ukraine about Russian forces, and Moscow is now warning the U.S. and NATO that it will consider any vehicles carrying weapons into Ukraine as legitimate military targets.

Also tonight, the New York Times says the Biden White House is considering sending a high level official, possibly a cabinet secretary or senior member of the military to Kyiv as a show of support for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Prime Ministers of Finland and Sweden today signaled they are seriously considering joining NATO, which would end decades of neutrality for both countries. Should that actually happen? It would bring the Western military alliance that much closer to Putin, who has already threatened serious military consequences.

We got a lot to cover. So let`s jump right in. Kevin Bacon joins us the executive editor of Defense One with more than 15 years in Washington defense, national security and foreign affairs scene. And Alina Polyakova, the President and CEO of the Center for European Policy. She`s also a professor of European Studies at the Johns Hopkins University.

Kevin, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was on this network earlier tonight. And I want to share what he said about this new military aid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We`re really focusing this package much more closely on the fight today, given what the Russians have now done in terms of reprioritizing their efforts in the east. These new capabilities that the President authorized will help them in that fight in the east.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: Kevin, I think you said -- I think I said Kevin Bacon. It`s always on my mind. I obviously meant Baron. How much of a difference can this $800 million package make? And specifically, what`s in it?

KEVIN BARON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR DEFENSE ONE: What`s in it that`s mostly have noticed helicopters, number one. You know, the U.S. has resisted sending direct air support for the Ukrainians. You know, we went through weeks and weeks of how to get fighter jets to the Ukrainians and whether, you know, the United States couldn`t provide them perhaps they could factorial and get another nation like Poland to do it.

The concern of all of this has always been the same. Trying to avoid giving Russia a reason to go into direct combat or direct confrontation with American forces the American equivalent, if you have a fighter jet taking off from an American base, for example, the worry was Well, that makes that base game for a Russian attack, not just the plane that`s in the air.

So, giving helicopters is number one. Other things that are important are more long range fires, you know, Howitzer guns, 155 millimeter power guns, Howitzer guns, and about 300 armored personnel tank, personnel vehicles, as well as about I think also 300 switchblade drones, this is all ground warfare air Defenses, longer range defenses to help defend the territory of the east and face off the kind of weapons that the Pentagon says that the Russians are amassing like Kirby just said.

RUHLE: Alina, I want to share a new and pretty interesting take from former U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul he wrote this and an op ed for The Washington Post.

[23:05:07]

This threat of escalation, however, is cheap talk. Putin is bluffing. He is deliberately allowing the U.S. intelligence community to discover data about escalation in order to scare us away from helping Ukrainians win. Is he right? I mean, especially when you think about Putin, pledging to pursue this conflict to the end, and he says peace talks are dead.

ALINA POLYAKOVA, PRESIDENT AND CEO CENTER FOR EUROPEAN POLICY ANALYSIS: Well, it should be in our interest as the United States and Europe and the bottom NATO alliance to make sure that Ukraine wins. And what Putin de facto is doing is he is deterring the United States, which, you know, obviously, is an absurd thing to say the U.S. outmatches, together with NATO Russian capabilities exponentially.

And Putin knows that, of course, and he has been using threats around nuclear escalation or threats around direct conflict with U.S. forces, being a declaration of war with NATO as a way to limit our ability to help Ukraine when I was very happy to see this new security assistance package from the White House, but I will say it is still not enough.

Ukraine really needs more air defense systems to actually match the massive Russian forces in the Donbas. They are significant, and currently they do outmatched Ukraine.

So when Mr. Putin makes these threats, we need to think about what are our interests, rather than allowing him to deter us in this war.

RUHLE: We will likely see more threats, worse threats if we end up seeing Sweden and Finland, seriously consider this NATO membership. Kevin, what would it look like?

BACON: The threats of the membership --

RUHLE: If they were to join NATO, what would Putin do?

BACON: Well, a good question. The Russians have already warned the Finns, specifically their neighbors, that there will be consequences. But who knows, you know, who can blame the Finns and the Swedes for wanting to jump right in and after seeing what`s happening to Ukraine, they don`t want to be the next Ukraine. And it`s clear that that Putin does not want to challenge any of the NATO countries directly. He could hate -- that`s never been his goal. It`s not what Ukraine is about. You know, he may have talked a lot about NATO`s defense.

All the more important thing is that what it allows NATO to deploy under the guise of NATO, more forces and more firepower and more defenses into Sweden and Finland, that there are already. There`s already plenty of that in the north, but it just adds a little bit more. And it does horrible. Putin never wants it, which is to unify, you know, Europe, you know, somebody tweeted today, you know, how badly of a decision have you ever made that it caused Sweden and Finland to join NATO?

That`s how significant this is. This is something that folks thought maybe would never happen. Definitely not happen as fast as this.

RUHLE: Alina, The New York Times reports that the U.S. and Ukraine are now working to break through the Russian propaganda firewall and try to spread a different narrative about the war trying to get the truth to Russians. How could they do it?

POLYAKOVA: It`s incredibly difficult. And of course, we`re trying meaning RFP ARL which is an independent media outlet but does receive U.S. Congressional funding has been amping up like really basic things from before the digital age, radio transmissions of AM radio waves. They`ve also been putting out so called Mirror sites, these are sites that Russians can look up for a limited amount of time that surpass Russia censorship laws within the Russian government eventually comes up to them and shuts them down. So it`s a constant process they have to feed.

But the avenues for getting information. Truthful information for Russians are very, very limited. You know, we`ve seen in the last several weeks, the Russian government moves very, very aggressively to ban Western social media, Facebook, Twitter, I think YouTube`s days are numbered at this point from Russia, because they`re afraid of Russians learning the truth, of course, and they`re closing every single potential avenue for Russia to learn what is actually happening in Ukraine.

We have a very, very long fight ahead of us. And it`s going to take a lot of resources, financial resources, and really us rebuilding what we lost after the Cold War, which is our ability to pierce the Iron Curtain.

RUHLE: Kevin, we got an update today on one of the very first examples of Ukrainian forces boldly standing up to the Russians. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UGIR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISORY TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY: If you remember that proverbial Russian warship, it was the actual warship Moskva (INAUDIBLE) of that threatened Ukrainian border guards and who told them -- they told that Russian ship to go away using slightly different language, well that ship is on fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:10:00]

RUHLE: Russian state media says the same crew that the Ukrainians told to go F themselves have now been evacuated from that burning ship. Clearly, Ukraine sees this as another big win. But can they withstand an even more brutal phase of the war even when they, yes, it`s great when they have these wins, but given what they`re facing?

BACON: Well, it depends how far it`s going to go. I mean, I`ve seen the reports of the ship tonight, and I can`t wait to find out the details of exactly how that was able to happen.

The big concern that I`ve heard in the last week has been that what you`re what we`re -- the Pentagon is expecting the Russians to do what everyone is talking about this shift to the east is preparation for a major new offensive to take all the Donbas and everything they can in that area.

This could be the bloodiest, hardest fighting we`ve ever seen, by far, that any civilians in the way, forget about it, that this is going to be, you know, this is different than pot shouting from afar with missiles. This isn`t terrorism, China, you know, indiscriminately aiming at neighborhoods. This is the first real attempt to take and hold a significant amount of territory.

And who knows, it could be this that would lead to the end of the conflict. And Putin would be happy to take that as a win or a loss handler look at but it`s not going to be easy. It`s not going to be quick. So how bad is it for the Ukrainians will depend on what Zelenskyy was saying, How much then that NATO and the West is going to give them so that they can defend themselves and hold off the Russians? They could. It`s possible that Ukrainians right now have an almost unlimited amount of ammunition and weapons and supplies behind them. They have everything short of American and NATO warplanes striking the Russian forces inside of Russia.

And it depends on the Russian side of how much Putin is willing to just keep funneling in waves and waves of troops and armor and arms each one of those being less and less qualified or as experienced or as good as the former as they reach deeper into conscripts and their storage -- their stores of arms behind that.

So, it depends how quickly the Russians can go, how much the Ukrainians are able to withstand them. But, you know, we may know sooner than later how bad it could be.

RUHLE: All right, Kevin Baron, Alina Polyakova, thank you both for joining us this evening. Tonight, we`re also following new developments in the January 6 investigation. New York Times reporting the House Select Committee met virtually with former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy, Pat Philbin. Those interviews were said to be voluntary and not under oath.

The Times adds Trump quote allowed the lawyers to talk to the committee. Also the times and Reuters say the Biden White House has authorized the release of even will records from Trump`s presidency to the House Committee. The latest batch will be delivered April 28.

Meanwhile, the third January 6 defendant to face a jury, a man named Dustin Thompson is now offering an unusual defense. Today, he told jurors that he stormed the Capitol and stole a bottle of liquor and a coat rack because he was following presidential orders.

Thompson also testified that he didn`t have any strong male role models in his life and was hoping to gain the respect and approval from former President Donald J. Trump.

With that, let`s bring in our experts NYU Law School professor Melissa Murray, she works as a law clerk for Sonia Sotomayor on the federal bench before her nomination to the Supreme Court. And Tim O`Brien, Bloomberg opinion senior columnist who literally wrote the book on Donald Trump.

Melissa, this interview between former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and his deputy, and the January 6 committee was not under oath, and Trump gave his blessing. Given that why should we trust what they said? What should the committee have just subpoenaed them?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR: Well, I think this committee could have subpoenaed them, but they seem to be willing to talk and again, Mr. Cipollone, and Mr. Philbin, were always pushing back according to their accounts on the President`s most outlandish views of how the election might be taken back from the Democrats. So they have always sort of presented themselves as the voices of reason in the Oval Office during these tumultuous times.

Whether or not the Committee could have subpoenaed them, the fact that they did so voluntarily, I think gives them an imprimatur of legitimacy to their testimony at this point. But again, the testimony is really preliminary at this point, it wasn`t taken under oath, it`s likely that they will be brought back in for interviews and even depositions on this wasn`t even transcribed.

So they seem to be more exploratory than anything else. And the idea that the President bless this and waive the privilege, again, is as more I think, fanciful than actually informative of the President isn`t really -- the former president isn`t in a position to exert this kind of privilege, at least at this point.

RUHLE: Tim, The New York Times got a hold of an audio from a former aide of Roger Stone, who is urging Trump backers to intimidate lawmakers into overturning the 2020 election. Listen to this

[23:15:05]

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JASON SULLIVAN, FORMER AIDE TO ROGER STONE: It`s got to be a multiple front strategy. And that multiple front strategy, I do think, is the descend on the Capitol. Without question. Make those people feel it inside. OK? So they understand that people are breathing down their neck, and we`ve had it and they`ve done it enough. We`ve got to be perfectly clear about it. No, I`m not inciting violence, or any kind of riots or anything like that. But we need to allow it to be like Jericho, OK?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

URHLE: OK, that`s really bad. However, that wasn`t Donald Trump`s voice. You know Donald Trump very, very well, even if he wanted this to happen. Do you think we`re going to get any evidence, anything in writing anything in audio with Donald Trump himself giving the directive?

TIM O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION SENIOR COLUMNIST: Well, I mean, look, we already know so much about Donald Trump giving directives, we know that he tried to intimidate Mike Pence, there`s a record of that. I do not think we`re going to yet tape of Donald Trump audio of Donald Trump being recorded in the Oval Office, saying, I`ve been in touch with the guys over in the Willard Hotel. And I`ve been in touch with Roger Stone is walking the mall with me. And we`re going to raid the Capitol, and we`re going to declare martial law.

But we have a lot of witnesses who`ve already said this. We have his own daughter saying, I`m glad that Mike Pence stepped down or stepped away from carrying out an intrusion, interference with electoral count.

But at the end of the day, if this is going to get any real traction, that Donald Trump is going to be painted accurately. I think as the architect of a coup, not just someone who is inciting violence, we`re going to have to get more evidence.

RUHLE: Melissa, now, the January sixth committee has this audio, could it actually help the defendants who are saying Trump told them to do it?

MURRAY: I mean, again, this whole idea that Trump is sort of the mastermind behind this, and that his speech was intended to encourage and indeed did encourage those individuals to storm the Capitol. We`ll see how that theory plays out before this jury.

But the real question is, Tim says is whether or not there`s actually evidence that goes to show that not only did he say these words, he actually said them with the intent that it would provoke the kind of response that the defendants are saying it had. So you really need to have more evidence of the former president`s mental state what he thought, what he thought he was doing when he made these statements.

The fact that these individuals determined that he wanted them to go to the Capitol is one thing, but whether or not it actually forms the predicate for some kind of criminal liability for the former president. It`s a different matter entirely.

RUHLE: Tim, what about this guy today? Who said he had no strong male role models? And he was just trying to win over the President, could that even remotely be a viable defense here?

O`BRIEN: I think it`s also crazy that it also ended up he sold a coat rack and a bottle of booze at the end of the day.

RUHLE: I mean, you`re taking a coat rack home with --

O`BRIEN: You`re inside the Capitol. I think it`s actually a good defense. Other defendants have used it, they have said that Trump is the person who inspired them to go there and break windows and break down doors and threaten members of Congress.

I think it`s -- I think any -- anybody in this situation right now is not going to say I did it voluntarily. They are going to finger the person who inspired them to go there. And of course Trump did, he was tweeting about it in the weeks before the event. He was encouraging people to show up. His MAGA followers have been waiting with bated breath to take his orders for quite some time. So I actually think it is a good defense.

RUHLE: Melissa you`re shaking your head?

MURRAY: Well, I just want to know that this is a defense that many criminal defendants will lodge particularly in circumstances where they`re involved in the drug trade or gang violence. They didn`t have male role models. They fell in with these popular charismatic male role models. And in many cases, when those defendants are black and brown, it is absolutely unavailing in those cases. So if it actually works here, that will be very interesting on its own and present some wide disparities from its use in other contexts.

RUHLE: I know we`re out of time, but I do have to hit this that Trump`s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. He`s now being investigated for all things, voter fraud. He has been kicked off North Carolina`s voter rolls after officials determined he was registered there. And in Virginia, it is an extraordinary ironic twist. But besides being ironic and make major headlines, is this going to change anything, Tim?

O`BRIEN: It`s not going to change anything at the end of the day about them finagling and being hypocritical about voting rights. It is a reminder that Donald Trump was surrounded by profoundly stupid people. You know, when he said he was going to bring the best people into his White House, he ends up with a chief of staff that is do is doing voter fraud with a mobile home that he does not even live in he`s never visited and this is the quality of person that Donald Trump is relying on as a screen for value in the White House.

[23:20:08]

And it`s a reminder of the kind of people that are going to be in the White House again if Trump gets reelected.

RUHLE: Well, there you go. We`re going to end on that note then. Tim O`Brien, Melissa Murray, thank you so much. Coming up, after 30 hours on the run, the suspected subway shooter now facing the possibility of life in prison. We will ask the former NYPD Commissioner, if there were some red flags that were missed.

And later, his political rally cry. It`s the economy stupid has arguably even more important for Democrats today. James Carville is here with Yamiche Alcindor on this mixed messaging and culture war complications, THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Wednesday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:25:30]

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D) NEW YORK CITY: 33 shots, but less than 30 hours later we`re able to say we got him.

KEECHANT SEWELL, NYPD COMMISSIONER: We hope this arrest brings some solace to the victims and the people of the city of New York. We were able to shrink his world quickly. There was nowhere left for him to run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: Tonight, the man suspected of carrying out yesterday`s mass shooting on a packed New York City subway is in federal custody. Sources tell NBC News that 62 year old Frank James called into tip line himself, saying he was at a nearby McDonald`s in the East Village.

Police found him and arrested him shortly after ending an intense manhunt. They are still looking into a motive.

With us tonight former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, he is the only person to lead the police departments of America`s two largest cities, New York and Los Angeles. His latest book, "The Profession: A Memoir of Community Race, and the Art of Policing in America" is out now.

I`m so glad you`re here because I`ve got a question for you Commissioner. Frank James was able to evade police for 30 hours. And he almost turned himself in. Was this good policing or good luck that they caught him?

BILL BRATTON, FMR. NYPD COMMISSIONER: Good luck on his path that he avoided detection in a city of 8 million people who had been alerted significantly by you in the media, working with the police to get his image out to the public. Part of the ongoing investigation will be to determine what was he doing from the time he committed that act of violence in the train till the time you evidently die all the time shoppers and effectively turned himself in. That will be part of the investigation.

RUHLE: It turns out that James had posted several violent sounding messages on social media, including criticism against New York`s mayor. Do you think that there were red flags that were missed?

BRATTON: I don`t know that based on what I`ve heard up until this point, in terms of as awful as those messages were as threatening as they were, who saw them? And if they saw them, did they report them? Please do not reviewing every social media message in America, that`s for sure. You don`t have the legal right to do that.

So absent somebody who may have seen his rants, not even sure anybody saw them that evidently, we`re not so concerned that they didn`t weren`t authorities. None of them showed him brandishing a firearm. He`s presents himself almost as somebody who`s living in an alternate reality.

So no, I don`t think red flags were missed. He purchased a gun legally back in 2011 I think it was at that time. He has a criminal record. But as it relates to New York crimes, back in the 90s, I don`t have all the details you can see with his arrest record, but his history.

But at this point, based on what I`ve seen largely through the media, I`m not seeing red flags that were missed.

RUHLE: He does have a record nine arrests since 1992. Yet he was able to buy that gun legally. Should that be OK? Is it time to change the laws?

BRATTON: Good luck with that, you know, damn right well, that this Congress is never going to change those laws. He purchased it legally. That`s unfortunate. I am a strong advocate for more gun control. But we have a nation that basically has a Congress that will not support it. So again, we`re barking up the wrong tree on that one. He purchased it legally.

RUHLE: Police today said that the subway cameras, the surveillance cameras are owned and operated by the MTA and it`s up to the transit authority to make sure they`re working. Is that good enough?

BRATTON: Well, that`s current system. The police department is not responsible for most of the cameras in the city. They have a significant number of their own cameras that I connected that they review and monitor, very familiar with the subway system, having been Chief of Police back in 1990 in that system, and cameras in the subway environment, always maintenance problem with the fact of the steel dust that is eminent -- emanating from the steel wheels of the trains on the steel rails. That dust gets into everything and corrosive very quickly.

So the maintenance procedures of the MTA adequate obviously not in the event that an incident that the cameras in a particular station, a PHP inoperable, that`ll have to be part of the ongoing investigations and reviews as to what were the maintenance practices at the MTA and they were deficient.

[23:30:11]

That`s one area that certainly needs to be improved. I made a recommendation when I was police commissioner in 2014-15 to the MTA, hearing that they were about to buy thousands of new subway cars, that they equipped close subway cars with closed camera, so closed circuit cameras. And in this era of 5g technology that would allow the conductor rollout offsite control centers to monitor every one of the 6,000 subway cars in New York all the time.

You`ll be interested to see if as those cars were ordered, did they automated with closed circuit TV. I`d be willing to bet they probably did not because they didn`t want to spend the money.

RUHLE: Well, you have been criticizing politicians for not doing so. Maybe now they will listen. Commissioner Bill Bratton, thank you so much for staying up and joining us tonight.

Coming up, the President is taking his economic record on the road. But another prominent Democrat says some in his own party are muddying the message. James Carville will explain when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:35:53]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I`ll talk about how investments in the bipartisan Innovation Act can help build on the remarkable progress we`ve made over the last year and getting our economy back on its feet through the American Rescue Plan and laying a foundation for an economic renewal that`s made in America through the bipartisan infrastructure law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUHLE: President Biden headed to Greensboro, North Carolina tomorrow scheduled to speak at the country`s largest historically black college on inflation and efforts to rebuild supply chains, i.e., the economy.

So let`s discuss with us tonight Democratic strategist James Carville, who helped elect former President Bill Clinton in the early 90s. And Yamiche Alcindor, NBC News correspondent and moderator of Washington Week on PBS.

Mr. Carville, you are the man who coined the phrase, it`s the economy stupid. But here`s the thing, today, you got to be pretty smart to explain this complicated economy. So how are Democrats going to do it?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I don`t know if you`d have to explain it, of course, you got the bad economy inflation, which actually the core inflation rate was bad as they thought the good economy. You got hourly wage workers have more leverage than they`ve ever had before. More people quitting jobs and getting better job than you ever had before.

And the hope is, is that between now and November, that wage growth exceeds the inflation rate. And there`s some people I think there`s a reasonable chance of that. So you go out and you talk about the good things in economy and bad things resolve themselves. That`s all you can do. You have no other choice.

If inflation is eight and a half percent in November, we`re going to lose. OK? If wage growth is 6 percent, inflation is 4 percent, you might be in the game, but you got to -- you need a little luck here.

RUHLE: Well, making it simple. Well, Yamiche, the President is going to speak about the economy tomorrow. Does he have a new message?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS WASHINGTON WEEK MODERATOR: Well, as you know, the President is going to be heading to North Carolina and going to an HBCU -- HBCU in his swing states. Of course, North Carolina is incredibly important. Democrats want to flip ascendancy. They`re trying to hold on to the chamber, and the President is really going to be trying to pivot more to domestic issues, saying that he understands inflation is at a 40-year high that things need to change. He`s going to be making the case that he has a plan and an action.

But the problem, of course, Stephanie, is what James just touched on. And it`s this idea that one, he has a limited amount of things that he can do as President to impact inflation, but also people, Americans are so focused on surviving. They`re so focused on just trying to make away with the prices being so high. The President`s going to be able to say, are trying to say, I hear you, I understand you, I want to connect with you. But it`s a tall order for the Biden administration to actually make this pivot with all the other challenges this White House is juggling right now.

RUHLE: All right, James, last night I talked to a strategist who said Democrats are going into the midterms disappointed, because Joe Biden hasn`t gotten much done. But the thing is, he`s gotten a lot done. He just got a Supreme Court justice on the bench, he passed the American Rescue Plan, the largest infrastructure law, comprehensive vaccine rollout and our economy, while complicated, is in recovery. There`s a lot of great things, the Democrats need to do a better job selling these wins.

CARVILLE: Thank you. No, some Democrats need to shut up and quit saying the President hadn`t done anything for you, because he`s done a lot. And if you look at his approval rating, just among Democrats, it`s running somewhere 15 to 20 points below where it should be. And a lot of that is from the yapping that comes from Democrats telling other Democrats and Joe Biden hadn`t done anything for you when in fact, if you`re an hourly worker, or you have a challenge you`re raising, and you`re in poverty, Joe Biden has done more for you than anybody else has ever done for you.

You look at this outstanding Supreme Court Justice. You look at the contempt and the disrespect and how ill mounted that word hurts. If you`re a Democrat, I don`t care what you are, what gender you are, what race you`re with anything, if you don`t see that and you`re not outraged and doesn`t make you want to vote, I can`t do anything for you. You`re just a whiny, complaining person. Don`t want to activate you and motivate you to get out and vote.

[23:40:04]

You look around and you see the power that hourly workers have and people who we claim that we care about. You look at how much their lives improve. You look at 2 million people, a Yale study today said 2 million lives have saved because of a vaccine distribution that took place under the Biden administration.

So, this idea that he hadn`t done anything for anybody, particularly the Democratic base is just insane. It`s wrong. It`s demonstrably approval that is wrong.

RUHLE: Then why is that happening? Where does it come from? It makes no sense.

CARVILLE: Because you get on television complaining that the President hasn`t done anything for you. Right. He`s done a lot for the people that we as Democrats say that we care about and look at the way that they are treating the Justice now, Justice Jackson, look at what`s going to happen in the Supreme Court. They`re going to tap dance on your head. And they don`t care. Because they believe and I hate to say it, they may be right, that the Democrats a weak lame party. And that just maybe we can stand in for Joe Biden talking about the great things he`s done then we don`t deserve to win this election in 2022.

RUHLE: All right, Yamiche, without getting into specifics of the law, Alabama`s governor signed an anti-LGBTQ law, Alabama along with a bunch of other Republican states doing this. Here`s what I don`t get. Is the state of Alabama in such great shape they`ve got huge issues with poverty, water problems, voting rights, how is it that an anti-LGBTQ legislative agenda is more important than issues that are impacting the daily lives of thousands of people in that state? How does this become their number one priority?

ALCINDOR: Well, Stephanie, it`s such a great question, because critics of what`s happening in Alabama say that this is all about politics. It`s all about an election year, and that Republicans in some ways understand what really motivates their base that they make this argument about culture wars, they want to lean in on transgender rights, they want to talk about crime, they want to talk about critical race theory, they want to get people feeling like America is slipping through their fingers.

And Democrats in some ways are trying to focus on the nuts and bolts. They`re trying to focus on inflation. They`re trying to tell people that their student loans are differ. They`re trying to say, look, we are doing something for you. But this is a messaging war. That`s what a lot of election years are about.

But James is frustration, the idea that it`s like Democrats need to make sure that they have a message that it`s clear, that frustration is a frustration going across the Democratic Party.

And just last week, President Obama, former President Obama, at the White House told our Peter Alexander, ABC News, Democrats have a message and they need to be able to tell that message. They need to be able to tell their story in this election. If they can`t do that, they`re not going to be able to win. And that is the message of Democrats and Republicans have their own message. And it is that America is changing too much. Your kids are at risk. And here`s what we`re going to do to try to help us save your kids.

It might be a message that`s problematic. It might be a message that even filled with some falsehoods, but it`s a message that is rallying up their base and getting them to the polls.

RUHLE: James, I would guess jobs, health care, education, that would get Republicans to the polls. Why is an anti-LGBTQ agenda such a win for them?

CARVILLE: First of all, that`s only -- they don`t have any other agenda. Mitch McConnell says see me after the election to not run or anything. So let`s take six-tenths of 1 percent of population, these children who are, I don`t know, five times more likely to commit suicide have mental problems, why are we picking on them? Unless you`ve been trying to help these trans kids, have wanted to try to get along in the world and not have to do terrible mental problems that they have.

It`s just -- the point of it is just cruelty. It`s just to be mean to hear some people that are vulnerable. And let`s just go out and put them front and center make them to issue an election because we don`t have anything to run on other than brick Scott and Ron Johnson plan, raise money on 40 raise taxes on 40 percent of the people in America who cannot afford.

RUHLE: And that gets Republicans excited to vote.

CARVILLE: I`m not a Republican. So, I will get me excited to vote. I`m a Democrat, but gets me excited voters to see the way to Judge Jackson to see, which gets me excited to vote is to see it hourly workers now have some options in front of them and more pay up health care.

But yes, I can`t explain it to you because I may -- I`m a flawed person in many ways. I`m a bad person. I don`t think I`m a cruel person. And this is just being cruel to people that don`t need our compassion. They don`t need our cruelty.

RUHLE: Well, it sounds like you`ve got a lot to be excited about coming to midterms. James Carville, good to see you, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you as well.

CARVILLE: Thank you. Thank you, Yamiche. Thank you, Steph.

RUHLE: Coming up, the pandemic is still with us and with more opportunities to fleece the taxpayer.

[23:45:00]

Our next guest has a stunning new report on the depth of pandemic related fraud. You know we are following the money here when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

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RUHLE: With COVID cases climbing, the Biden administration has extended the mask mandate on planes and trains until May 3rd. And speaking of masks, the CDC started recommending masks to the public two years ago this month, but if you recall medical grade masks were in short supply and price gouging was rampant.

[23:50:07]

ProPublica reporter David McSwain tweeted, data we analyze revealed a broader trend. Anyone with an email address and an LLC could get multimillion dollar contracts to make supplies, masks, gloves, test kits, et cetera, with no real vetting. The Trump administration having failed to prepare and respond was pandemic buying.

Joining me now to discuss as part of our ongoing reporting on the fleecing of America, David McSwane, himself, is a reporter for ProPublica and the author of the new book "Pandemic Inc.: Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick."

David, this is such a distressing and important book that you wrote, The COVID pandemic is one of the worst moments in modern American history. How come every element of the response is littered with theft and fraud?

J. DAVID MCSWANE, PROPUBLICA REPORTER: Well, I mean, we expected some of this, it`s human nature, it`s certainly an American tradition to try to get rich off of a crisis. But we sort of had this perfect storm of about a decade of defunding the Strategic National Stockpile really are sort of first line of defense for a pandemic or biological attack. And then you add to that the Trump administration, which was sort of systematically, you know, de railing bureaucracy, and we were flat footed, not ready, the Trump administration is in denial.

And we ended up in this position where the federal strategy really became to just throw hundreds of millions of dollars and eventually billions out the door to mercenaries, or is one of the main characters in the book calls and Buccaneers and Pirates or national well-being was in their hands and the federal government got taken for a ride and taxpayers, in a lot of instances got screwed.

RUHLE: Your reporting started literally on a private jet in April of 2020. And eventually, the guy who invited you on that jet, pled guilty to fraud on a $35 million contract. When did you know something wasn`t right?

MCSWANE: I had a suspicion something wasn`t right from the beginning. I was poring over the early contracts and just taking a look at company names and trying to figure out who was new. And this company had never received a federal contract. It was really big 34 and a half million dollars for the Veterans Administration which oversees the largest hospital network in the country.

And I figured I`d just call him and ask him how he got this contract and how he was to deliver something like 6 million masks. And he said, Well, I`m the real deal. I`ve got them. I`m hopping on a private jet tomorrow to deliver them. And I said, Well, that`s really interesting. Would you mind if I tag along. And almost immediately, literally, as we were taking off, he, you know, he divulges that he doesn`t actually have the mask, he says they were bought out from under him. But he had a line on, you know, he had another line on masks, and there`s all these characters, these brokers and secret investors involved and, and I said, Tell me more and just sort of went along for the ride and it set off really just, you know, a crazy and outrageous year of reporting, year and a half really.

RUHLE: OK, that`s masks. How did all 50 states who thought they were getting test kits, ended up with many soda bottles?

MCSWANE: Right, so this was a company, an LLC that was created in about six days later got a $10 million contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And looking at the deal, I just thought their name was funny. But a colleague of mine pointed out these are the PCR tests. These are the, you know, the fancy science laboratory grade tests, and this company had no experience whatsoever in the medical space.

So we were curious, and we sort of threw it into a story about how the government was clearly just hiring anyone and everyone, and eventually got a tip from a state public health official who said, you know, I`ve heard of this company, I got these tests, and they`re completely unusable. I was shocked. They`re just thrown into bags. And I don`t think they`re sterile. And a colleague tells me that actually many soda bottles.

So we followed up and I eventually went to the warehouse and witnessed as temp workers for this company were in this hot on air conditioned warehouse, literally using snow shovels to move these little soda bottles into bins. And you know, squirting saline and throwing them in a truck.

And when we told FEMA, what we saw, they had to warn all 50 states and territories that they can`t use those test tubes. And this was at a critical time. We were behind on testing. And you know, just a crucial piece of addressing the pandemic and that says about back further.

RUHLE: And you were the one that notified FEMA. Quickly, I have no time but I have to ask. How did so many in the marijuana business end up basically having a huge share of the mask market? Last I checked you can`t use a bong with a mask on where`s the connection?

MCSWANE: True. So, this was strange. In the marijuana industry they`re sort of in this no man`s land where it`s federally illegal but states have legalized it.

[23:55:05]

So you have folks who are accustomed to getting money from private investors and working outside of banks. And they happen to be sort of tangentially connected to the medical supply chain and new folks in China.

So, I just started to notice this trend of people who were involved in dispensaries suddenly, masked brokers and some were telling me they had made six, you know, six figure paydays in just a week. And just over and over completely different groups of people who didn`t know each other, I`d find they had some connection to the marijuana business.

RUHLE: Making buckets of money in our country`s most desperate hour. David, you must, must come back. This book has so much in it and the fleecing of America matters so much to our audience.

MCSWANE: Thank you.

RUHLE: David McSwane, thank you. Coming up, the successful rescue mission under the rubble in Ukraine when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

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RUHLE: I`m not letting you go tonight without little puppy love. Throughout this senseless war in Ukraine, we have seen countless images of Ukrainians clinging to their pets as they attempt to reach safety. Beloved cats and dogs were part of families, and they bring comfort to their owners, which is why it was all hands on deck to rescue one Ukrainians man`s trapped puppy after his house was destroyed by Russian shelling.

The Donetsk Regional Police Service came and share this video of rescuers using their bare hands to rescue this puppy from the rubble. After clearing away the larger pieces of debris, they were able to brush off the dust and dirt and safely scoop up this little black pup. Holding his puppy in his arms the owner told the officers thanks to the boys for doing everything so quickly and promptly here.

One good thing happening during a really difficult time. Now from all our friends and colleagues across the networks of NBC News, I thank you for staying up late with us. And I`ll see you tomorrow.