Russia increases attacks on Mariupol. Humanitarian crisis worsens in Mariupol. Ukraine fighters battle to hold Mariupol. Russia tests nuclear-capable missile. Biden administration preparing to announce new military aid package for Ukraine. Ukraine soldiers in Mariupol surrounded by Russians. Commander pleads for evacuations from Mariupol. DOJ appeals ruling lifting transit mask mandate.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, (D) NEW YORK : Police officers lost their lives as a result of the events of January 6. And the cult says it`s legitimate political discourse?
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries gets tonight`s Last Word. The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the bloody fight for the east, the city of Mariupol under Siege, a commander there warns the Ukrainians maybe in their final hours, then the Justice Department decides to appeal the federal mask mandate reversal. So after all those celebrations in the sky and in the airports what now?
Plus, Republicans going all in on the culture wars. Is Florida`s battle against Disney, the party blueprint ahead of the midterms as the 11th Hour gets underway on this Wednesday night.
Good evening once again, I`m Chris Jansing, in for Stephanie Ruhle. Tonight, Russia is escalating the battle to control Eastern Ukraine as the war enters day 57. Putin`s war has brought relentless devastating attacks to the region, particularly in Mariupol that has been under siege since the start of this war. Russian forces are closing in and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says more than 100,000 civilians are trapped amid the fighting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): The situation in Mariupol is worsening. Unfortunately, so far, we are not able to achieve positive result there. Our troops are now defending hundreds of wounded and civilians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: Some civilians have taken shelter inside the basement of the sprawling steel plant along with Ukrainian fighters who are holding out against Russian attacks. Today, there was an effort to open a humanitarian corridor and evacuate civilians in Mariupol. But Ukrainian officials said it did not work as planned. NBC`s Matt Bradley has the latest from Ukraine.
MATT BRADLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new images of Russian backed troops surrounding a steel mill in Mariupol, Ukraine`s last stronghold there. And an urgent plea from the Ukrainian commander hold up inside warning without help, his soldiers could be down to their last days or even hours.
Major Sirje Valina (ph) telling me in a video message, they`re still defying Russian demands to surrender and civilians are taking shelter there too. There are women and children among them, he said. They too are under constant shelling. As Russia intensifies its assault in the country`s east, they`re solidifying their occupation of the country`s south, raising Russian flags over government buildings, planning to introduce Russian currency and appointing pro-Russian officials.
JANSING: Our thanks to Matt Bradley for that report. All this as Russia tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile today. Putin warned that those who might threaten Russia would, "think twice." Although the Russian Defense Ministry said the weapon needs more testing before it can be deployed. The Pentagon says Russia did alert the U.S. before that test took place.
And President Biden is now scheduled to deliver remarks on Russia and Ukraine tomorrow morning. As NBC News has reported, the Biden administration is preparing to announce another substantial military aid package for Ukraine this week. A Senior Pentagon official said today, the U.S. has been facilitating the shipment of aircraft parts to Ukraine, and that Ukraine now has 20 more warplanes because of those spare parts.
We begin in Lviv with NBC News Ali Arouzi. Ali, this new military aid package for Ukraine, what are you hearing from people there? And do they think it`s enough?
ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. Well, look, I mean, they want the really big stuff. They want the airplanes and they want the skies closed. That`s what you hear from all the Ukrainian commanders we`ve spoken to and heard from, but this is keeping them in the fight, those switch blades, those javelins, and that artillery is essential for them to fend off the Russians.
We spoke to the governor of the Luhansk region the other day, and he said, look, we realize that the Americans are not going to close the sky, the NATO isn`t going to close the sky. But it`s that artillery that are giving -- that they`re giving us which is enabling us to keep the Russians away from the front line, and it`s a battle of artillery on the Eastern Front of Ukraine. And they say if their artillery is depleted, if the Russians managed to destroy their artillery, then that will pave the way for the Russian tanks to come in. And then they need javelins to hit those tanks. So it isn`t exactly what they want. It`s not all of the packages they want, but it`s certainly helping them fight the Russians and it could tip the scales in the Ukrainians favor but obviously in places like Mariupol, it seems too late for that kind of weaponry.
JANSING: Ali Arouzi, thank you for that.
I want to bring in Mariupol city council member Maksym Borodin. Thank you so much for being with us. What can you tell us about the situation in your city tonight?
MAKSYM BORODIN, MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Situation is critical. We understand that all the Russians speaking about the lead, as a people from (inaudible) to free fled from the bomb shelter, no one believes for this, because some of the civilian people in this bomb shelter is connected with our police officers, who is our combatants. And we understand these children, Russia can take anywhere they want. And today, all the people Russia takes is like hostages. I see some new video from the Russian media, when they tell that they can take blood from our soldiers who are surrender without their will. So it`s -- this country is barbaric. It`s not about Geneva convention or something else, they can do all they want.
JANSING: Let me make sure I understand you correctly. What do you know? And who have you spoken to that describes that kind of situation right now?
BORODIN: There are some people with our military who are owners of style (ph), they have connection with outer worlds, and was internet. So we know the situation. And today is -- our government tried to make a green corridor to Mariupol. It`s about, I don`t know which is take but it not worked. Russians is not do what they tell. When they promised us to help, to evacuate a lot of the people.
In fact, there are no green corridor to the Ukraine and not occupied part of Ukraine. So the Russians only led some people to get out for their side for occupied territory of Russia. And the same situation with humanitarian aid. There are no enough aid from Russia side and there are about hundreds of 1000s people are left in Mariupol. And they not -- they don`t have any food, any water, electricity, and all others, and medical help. So the situation is terrible and catastrophic. All the world needs to help Ukraine to get humanitarian aid to Mariupol. And to arm Ukraine now with a heavy weaponry because without heavy weaponry Mariupol is not be the last city, the Russian make a genocide.
JANSING: Tell us Maksym, more specifically, what is it that you need? What is it realistically that you think that the international community can do? And have people from Mariupol been in touch with President Zelenskyy and what is his plan?
BORODIN: All the civilized at Worlds need to understand that there are no reason to fair that Putin was -- how it`s a, nervous, with the help of zero. Anyway, we need all to understand if in any help west get to Ukraine, Putin anywhere can use nuclear weapons or something else on Ukraine or on as he -- on another European country, because it`s not about how much the help Ukraine get. It`s about if he can get Ukraine in total, but without help of the world, it`s never stops. He goes further to zero Europe and he makes more terroristic attacks to the overworld. He don`t need a piece in Ukraine or in the world. He needs aggression because he has a catastrophic situation in his country. And the war is only way to make his people to not think about the problem in Russia, but to see on another countries.
JANSING: Maksym Borodin, thank you so much for taking the time. Our thoughts are with all of the people of Ukraine and hopefully we`ll talk to you again soon under better circumstances.
With that, let`s bring in our experts Kevin Baron, Executive Editor of Defense One with more than 15 years in Washington`s Defense, National Security and Foreign Affairs Scene. Vivian Salama, Reporter with The Wall Street Journal who`s covered U.S. Foreign Policy and national security issues for nearly two decades, and Julia Davis, Columnist for The Daily Beast. She`s the creator of the Russian Media Monitor and watches Russia state TV, so we don`t have to.
Let me start, Kevin, with what we just heard from the city council member. The situation, we`ve known that the situation Mariupol has been absolutely devastating. It`s a humanitarian crisis. I don`t think anyone is surprised to hear that any hope for our humanitarian quarter didn`t materialize. But what can be done, Kevin?
KEVIN BARON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR DEFENSE ONE: I, you know, I don`t know. And I don`t think the Pentagon does, either. You know, I was reading most read -- the most recent statements from the podium there in the last couple of days. And, you know, there`s definitely been a shift in the kind of weapons that the United States has been willing to provide. And you`re hearing from the White House too, that it`s expected to be a long range artillery fight, a ground fight between two forces that are familiar with the terrain. They`ve been fighting over for eight years. But frankly, it`s come down to a small number of forces and circled in that city without a significant, you know, NATO backed, pushed back on the Russian troops. I can`t see any other outcome, but a bad one for those there. And it leads toward the, at least, in fact, that conclusion toward the towards some direction of it, where Russia gets what it wants in that region, it gets that land bridge and the Donbass, which many people hope is all that Russia will want and that could lead to some sort of entered this conflict. Others think, you know, they`ll believe it when they see it. But without, you know --
JANSING: Did you think, Kevin, it`s a pivotal point right now?
BARON: Do I see, say it again?
JANSING: Do you think it`s a pivotal point right now could go either way?
BARON: I think it`s pivotal for Mariupol, but not for the Donbass region. I mean, Russia has already flooded the whole region. So, you know, the Ukrainians have shown, you know, don`t count them out, even at the last minute and every city, and this could, you know, be prolonged, you know, more than the hours and the days that, that the Ukrainian commanders in Mariupol or are saying they have left, but you know, listen to what you`re hearing from them directly.
JANSING: Vivian, I want you to hear something that former U.S. ambassador Bill Taylor said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Ukrainians will say remember Mariupol, they remember Mario, because Mariupol is the essence of their fight, it is the essence of their determination, to be independent, to be free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: I know that you`ve been in Mariupol. You`ve been in touch continuing touch with people who are still there. What do you see this fight means in the larger picture and having been there and knowing people who are from there, give us your thoughts about what`s happening on the ground right now?
VIVIAN SALAMA, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTER: Chris, honestly, Mariupol was a symbol of resilience for the Ukrainians after what happened in 2014, when the Russians took over Crimea and began to foment violence and fighting in the Donbass region, Mariupol was really on the cusp of that and was very close to falling at that time, it was under constant shelling. But he came back, the Ukrainian military was able to sort of push that frontline away 10, and then 20, and then 30 miles away. And they were sort of very proud of that fact that they were able to bounce back. And this place that was once predominantly pro-Russian or tolerant of the Russians is of Russian speaking city, started to lean more into that Ukrainian nationality, that national identity, and really was one of the success stories for the Ukrainians in the post 2014 Maidan era.
And so now, obviously, when they see it going, facing such turmoil, and I tell you, I don`t even think we know the extent of the destruction of the massacres that have taken place. But we know it`s really, really bad. And it`s devastating for Ukrainians because they do feel that it`s not only obviously an atrocity and a catastrophe beyond belief, but it is also such a setback for them in terms of trying to rebirth themselves in the post Maidan era.
And so it is something that people are just very devastated across the country for what has happened there for so many reasons, let alone the human lives that have been lost to this conflict.
And there`s one other thing, Chris, that I wanted to just mention to you. You`re talking about this humanitarian corridor that they`ve been -- they were trying to set up today and it failed. One of the issues is that you have a lot of civilians packed in with the military in this steel plant on the outskirts of Mariupol. And they tried to set up the humanitarian quarter there and get people out, it failed, because negotiations collapsed. Logistics were bad. But keep in mind that within days of the Russians taking over, coming into Mariupol at the beginning of this war they destroyed the cell towers and so Mariupol has been this isolated bubble throughout this whole conflict. It is very remote. I tell you from experience, it takes hours and hours of driving, there`s no real direct trains from Kyiv, or any of the other big cities. And so it`s very hard to even get there, let alone to be in contact with them. And now with the cell towers collapse, they`ve really had no communication to the outside world. Let alone the ability to get any information about, hey, there`s a humanitarian corridor, get there if you can, so that you can get out.
And so obviously, a lot of setbacks, but we`re very afraid of what the outcome will be once we know the extent of it.
JANSING: And Julia, the descriptions that we already have some of the pictures we already have, what we just heard from Maksym is in direct contrast, and he mentioned this to Putin`s propaganda, right? Which is something you`ve paid a lot of attention to how Russia is using propaganda during this war. One example today, Vladimir Putin trying to convince children that this unprovoked war is justified, how is this messaging to the Russian public different now than it was at the beginning of this invasion? What are you seeing?
JULIA DAVIS, CREATOR, RUSSIAN MEDIA MONITOR: I`m seeing distinct change in them having to address the accusations that are coming in from all over the world about the barbaric acts that they`re committing. And that caused frustration to them, to the point that the head of RT, Margarita Simonyan, wish they were more like China and be able to control the internet and limit access. But since there are people still have access to the world around them by using VPNs and in other ways, they are forced to actually show more of what`s going on in Ukraine, except they`re trying to show it in a completely different way. And when they talk about Mariupol, they express absolutely no fear of killing any people within it. They`re actually feeling bad that they will destroy the steel factory itself, because they already portray Ukraine as their own country, and call it the territory formerly known as Ukraine. And they said, it`s too bad, we`ll have to destroy this plant, because that would mean we`re ceding large part of that industry to the Chinese. So it`s being portrayed quite callously. And while they are showing more of what`s going on there, the picture they`re trying to paint is completely different than that from the rest of the world.
JANSING: Let me also ask you, Kevin, about what you think we might need to know about Russia`s ICBM test today, how the West views it, do they need to view this as a very clear threat?
BARON: No more than Russia nuclear weapons are in general, like the White House was kind of clear that this was a pre-scheduled test, it was it was notified through START treaty. The U.S. does these as well. The U.S. held back on one last month or early in April. So it`s unclear if they`ll continue on schedule. Usually, we don`t know when those are coming. They`re just, they`re announced and they`re one off tests. So I hesitate to have any kind of outsize worry about ICBM nuclear threats.
If there`s any nuclear threat to be concerned of, we`re getting, you know, experts on that and writers sending in commentary to Defense One. Recently, saying that NATO should be really training their troops to learn how to fight on a battlefield in the future that has tactical nuclear weapons, which are smaller size, for lack of a better word, not the ones you`re going to see on an ICBM headed to Washington, but ones that you might see on cruise missiles or other types of types of delivery, on the battlefield in Europe, because we`re generations from any real training of NATO troops that have been exposed to nuclear blast like we were in the 50s. That`s also a far off, you know, scenario. You hear -- you`re hearing calming statements on both sides and Russia and NATO. But, you know, I wouldn`t trust Russia more than you could throw the right now. But we keep hearing from the Pentagon that the Pentagon feels the U.S. at least is fully capable of defending its, you know, all of its interests and territory and citizens from the nuclear threat. They`re not making any changes to the posture or defensive plans, and they`re monitoring every day.
JANSING: Kevin Baron, Vivian Salama and Julia Davis, thank you.
Coming up, the DOJ is appealing the judge`s ruling that overturned mask mandates on planes and trains. We`ll ask our legal expert what`s next. And what it all means for travelers right now?
Later, with Republicans ramping up the culture war ahead of the midterms. We`ll ask our political experts how Democrats can fight back? The 11th Hour just getting underway on Wednesday night.
JANSING: The Justice Department is now appealing that Trump appointed judges` decision to overturn the mask mandate on public transportation. In a brief statement, the DOJ said in light of today`s assessment by the CDC that an order requiring masking in the transportation corridor remains necessary to protect the public health. The department has filed a notice of appeal. For now, passengers will be able to continue traveling without masks.
With us tonight, Professor Melissa Murray of NYU Law School. She was a law clerk for Sonia Sotomayor on the federal bench before her nomination to the Supreme Court. Great to see you. How is this all going to work? Map it out for us, what can we expect in the coming days and months?
MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: So the appeal is going to be filed to the 11th Circuit, which is the Intermediate Appellate Court that sits in Atlanta. From there, it can progress to the Supreme Court, it surely will progress to the Supreme Court. But here`s the rub, Chris, this mask mandate was set to expire on May 3. So while this appeal is likely going on, we`re going to be in a situation in these next couple of weeks while that appeals happening, where the mask mandate is actually going to expire.
And so, I think there`s some strategy going on here, the DOJ, they did not immediately challenge this decision by Judge Micelle. They took a couple of days, they said they were waiting for the CDC`s guidance now they filed the appeal. I think what`s going on here is that they`re waiting because they do actually want that mask mandate to expire. Because if this appeal goes to the 11th Circuit, and then onto the Supreme Court, it`s unlikely to be reversed. This is a six to three conservative supermajority that has already expressed considerable skepticism for the CDC`s authority to fight various aspects of this pandemic.
The DOJ is also likely worried that this decision not only invalidates the mask mandate, it also seriously challenges the CDC`s authority to respond to any public health crisis, whether now or in the future. It would be best for this decision to be entirely overruled. But that`s unlikely. But if this mask mandate expires on May 3, as it will while this appeal is pending, then the appellate court can send it back to the district court to vacate the underlying order, which is the closest the administration is likely to get to a reversal in these highly, highly partisan times.
JANSING: Or how big do you see the threat to the CDC and its authority? I mean, this is yes, it`s about the law, but it`s about public health. COVID cases are rising nationally. That`s one of the things DOJ was watching, one of the things the administration was watching.
MURRAY: I think that`s exactly right. I mean, that is the tension here. We had a federal judge, not someone who is a scientist, not someone who`s an epidemiologist making this decision. But it is completely consistent with what we`ve seen, not only from this court, this from Judge Micelle`s court, but also from the Supreme Court. We earlier saw the Supreme Court invalidate the eviction moratorium that the CDC issued. There is a broad assault on the entire apparatus of bureaucracy on the ground, that these administrative agencies lacked the authority to take the steps to ensure public safety to ensure workplace safety. And so I think they are genuinely worried that a decision like this can then be copycat it by other courts and eventually be used to really hobble the CDC and other administrative agencies.
JANSING: All right, there are also new developments in the January 6 investigation. The New York Times is reporting tonight that Alex Jones is looking for an immunity deal to detail his role in the rally before the attack on the Capitol. What kinds of things will DOJ look at in deciding immunity? And how important could this be for the investigation?
MURRAY: Well, first, it`s worth noting that Alex Jones has had a rough couple of days in the courts. And he`s already seen his organizations declare bankruptcy this week earlier, there was the issue of the defamation suit brought by the Sandy Hook plaintiffs where he did not present a case in court, and they got a judgment by default.
Now, he`s in this position to provide information to the Department of Justice, whether or not he`ll be granted immunity really depends on the nature and quality of the information that he is able to provide. He previously testified before the January 6 Special Committee, and he said that during that particular testimony, he pled the fifth multiple times, he can`t do that and expect to get immunity. So he really has to give up something and it has to be substantive.
JANSING: Also tonight from the Times some members on the January 6 Committee say they`re considering rewriting the Insurrection Act, that`s of course, the 1807 law that gives the President pretty broad authority to deploy the military within the U.S. to respond to a rebellion. Let me read for you how the Times sums up the arguments.
Proponents envision a doomsday scenario in which a rogue future president might try to use the military to stoke rather than put down an insurrection or to abuse protesters. But skeptics worry about depriving a president have the power to quickly deploy armed troops in the event of an uprising as presidents did during the Civil War and the civil rights era. What`s your take on this debate?
MURRAY: I mean, I think this is all part of the long hangover from the four years of the Trump administration. We know that former President Trump threatened to use the Insurrection Act to put down civil protesters in the wake of the George Floyd protests and 2020. We know that the Insurrection Act It has been used multiple times throughout our history to deal with uprisings but also to facilitate the exercise of civil rights.
As you note, LBJ, just deployed the Insurrection Act to send the National Guard to Selma (ph). JFK use the National Guard to integrate schools. And so this is an important act. But again, the fear is it`s not going to be used to facilitate the exercise of rights or to preserve the peace, but rather, will be used by again, a rogue president for purposes that are more nefarious.
And so the question of rewriting this, I think, is something that they are definitely thinking about, but others worry that if you hobble the president require that the President consult with Congress before deploying the Insurrection Act, then you`re really depriving a president of the authority to respond swiftly and expeditiously to emergency situations. But again, that was always the fear with the former president that he would respond to expeditiously and without a lot of consultation.
JANSING: Melissa Murray, always good to see you. Thank you.
Coming up, why Florida Republicans are now going after Disney as they ramp up their culture war. We`ll ask our political experts what Democrats can do to push back when the 11th Hour continues.
JANSING: And the battles in this culture war grow more bitter by the day. A Michigan State Senator`s counterattack went viral, a fiery and passionate rebuke of a completely unfounded smear made by a Republican colleague and a fundraising email. Here`s what she said tonight about fighting back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SENATOR MALLORY MCMORROW, (D) MICHIGAN: What I would prefer to see happen is I`m not going to file a lawsuit but I want more straight white, middle -- upper middle class, suburban moms to stand up and take the hit too, because then it doesn`t mean anything and it`s revealed for the hateful bull that it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: Some Republicans don`t seem to like it when their culture war tactics are called out. In Florida, for example, Governor Ron DeSantis is now retaliating for Disney`s pushback against his "Don`t Say Gay Law." He wants the state legislature to end a special self-governing statute for Florida`s largest private employer.
Let`s bring in you Yamiche Alcindor, NBC News Correspondent and Moderator of Washington Week on PBS and Bill Kristol, author, writer, thinker and political. He`s a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations and editor at large at the Bulwark.
Good to see both of you. Bill, I don`t know how much you`ve watched Senator McMorrow, but a lot of folks think she`s been giving a masterclass on responding to bad faith attacks. In fact, James Carville said he showed the clip as instructional video, and that he`s going to start talking that way. What do you think? Should Democrats be taking notes?
BILL KRISTOL, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yeah, I think James is right, as he often is. You can be -- you could fight back hard without being radical. And you can make clear that you`re speaking for traditional mainstream American values of tolerance and decency, and treating everyone equally, that you`re not sort of -- you`re not on the fringe, as they say, but you can`t just play defense, you know, it`s -- when did you stop beating your wife? Well, I haven`t -- I never did or, you know, you have to be outraged. They`re charging people who being pedophiles, they`re charging people with terrible things, really, things that are almost unimaginable that will happen --
JANSING: And may -- it`s just all made up.
KRISTOL: And most -- yeah, it`s all made up. And the people who think, you know, for me, I`ll just this is a tiny digression. But to me, the breaking point, in a way was the hearings for Judge Jackson, Justice Jackson, where Republican senators basically accused her of being pro pedophilia, because she had followed or check, you know, slightly got under the sentencing guidelines, in some cases, which most federal judges have done as well. It`s so beyond the pale. It`s so astonishing to charge this of an extremely highly regarded, and apparently very decent judge justice become justice Supreme Court. Totally false, a total sphere. And again, what was striking to me she can`t really respond. You`re there in the hearing.
Where were the senators, why didn`t Democratic senators really denounce these Republicans? Why did they sort of, well, these discharges aren`t sticking, so we`ll get by, it -- she`ll get confirmed? Well, she was. But you`ve got to make people pay a price for this kind of -- these kinds of spheres, and this kind of demagoguery. And I think voters respect you when you stand up and say, this isn`t outrage that I`m being attacked this way, or the other decent people are being attacked this way.
JANSING: So, Yamiche, look, you`ve been in Alabama, right, covering new laws targeting trans youth. So I`m curious about this whole idea of speaking up, fighting back, not just you know, as Bill just said, no, I haven`t -- I don`t haven`t beaten my wife, but really getting out in front of this. What are you saying?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It`s a real challenge for Democrats, because when I talked to Democrats, they sort of sound like Elizabeth Warren`s op-ed in the New York Times, where she said, Democrats really need to get stuff done like lower prescription drug prices, that they really need to be able to get a reconciliation bill through Congress when you hear President Biden he`s really focusing on inflation and focusing on sort of what he`s doing to try to make this economy which is already in some ways going wild when you think about the unemployment rate. How it`s going to be better for Americans.
But then you listen to Republicans, and they`re -- it`s almost like they`re on a completely different planet. When Republicans are talking about sort of the state of America, they`re not just talking, they`re not talking about inflation, a little bit about inflation, but they`re really talking about sort of America, continuously slipping through the fingers of what it traditionally is, you think about, of course, what happened in Alabama, the first state to make it a felony to provide gender affirming medical care to transgender youth, you think about what happened with Ketanji Brown Jackson. And as Bill just mentioned, the fact that they were basically accusing her of being soft on crime and soft on people who are producing materials, showing child abuse, sexual child abuse, and then you think about critical race theory. And the false claims there were they were trying to tie her and so many other Democrats to this idea that critical race theory is being taught to young children`s when it is not.
But you see Republicans, they are really, really feeling like this is going to be a strategy that works for them. They`re looking at Virginia, and what happened with Governor Youngkin, and how he was able to lean in on critical race theory and scare parents, basically, including a lot of white parents, frankly, out in the rural areas to come out and vote in high numbers. That is, what is scaring people. That is what is sort of energizing the Republican base. And Democrats are sort of, especially Democratic base voters, they`re looking to be energized. And it doesn`t seem as though talking about inflation is the way to do it.
JANSING: Let me ask you about something that`s going on, on the Democratic side. I`ll get quick reaction from you both. And I`ll start with you, Yamiche, since you covered him, Bernie Sanders, saying, well, you know, what, if Joe Biden doesn`t run, maybe I will. What do we make of that?
ALCINDOR: It`s remarkable to hear Senator Sanders do that. I covered him very closely in 2016. But he`s someone who has wanted to be president for a long time. And by the way, he`s been consistently saying, his message about the working class and what Democrats need to do for a very, very long time. So it`s surprising to hear that the Senator two years before 2024, talking about this, it also was interesting, because obviously, he said that he would do it. He would run again, if it President Biden didn`t run again. But of course, Vice President Harris, there`s no mention of whether or not he would challenge hers, which would be pretty remarkable given that she is both a historic vice president, but also, frankly, is the Vice President. It`s really sort of showing what maybe some Democrats see as a weakness there on her part, and the ability to challenge her.
JANSING: What do you make of it, Bill?
KRISTOL: I don`t think too much of any. He just made his comment. But I would say generally speaking, I`m struck talking to an awful lot of Democrats in the next last few weeks. If Joe Biden doesn`t run again, there`ll be a wide open race for the presidency. I don`t think there`ll be the deference to the Vice President. And I`m not so sure that you`d have Joe Biden wants to run again other people won`t take a shot at it because I don`t --
KRISTOL: People respect Joe Biden, they think is that a good job in many ways, but I`m not sure they`re everyone thinks he just gets another four years automatically. So I think 2024 will be interesting on the Democratic side as well as the Republican side.
JANSING: Yeah, we can all agree, it`s not going to be boring. Bill Kristol, Yamiche Alcindor, I`m sure I`ll see you before but maybe on the campaign trail get again, thanks to you both.
Coming up, some desperate Ukrainian families fleeing the war are running into the harsh realities of U.S. immigration laws. We`ll hear how one group is trying to put families back together when the 11th Hour continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the administration have any plans to announce a program that would make it easier for Ukrainians who already have family ties in the U.S. to be expedite that to the U.S.?
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are working, so we`ve obviously announced, the President has announced plans to accept 100,000 Ukrainians into the United States if they want to come, of course, we`re working to finalize the details of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: While the White House works on Biden`s plan to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians into the U.S. there is disturbing new reporting on some young refugees who have already tried. The New York Times reports dozens of Ukrainian children and caregivers have been separated at the southern border under a law designed to prevent migrant children from being trafficked. The Times goes on to say, "For Ukrainian children, the separation from their caretakers has been an unexpected shocking twist in their escape from a warzone. U.S. authorities have not released figures on how many Ukrainian children have been separated from caregivers. But volunteers working with the refugees said they have counted at least 50."
As to comment Homeland Security told us "The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act defines any child who is not with a parent or legal guardian as unaccompanied and requires that the child be transferred to HHS for care and custody and screened for signs of human trafficking. Any potential guardian must by law be vetted prior to reunification to protect against trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable children."
With us tonight, Casey Revkin, co-founder of -- excuse me, the nonprofit, each step home, which helps migrant families navigate the reunification process. Thank you for being with us, apologies for my allergy attack. Tell us what your group is seeing and hearing from the border, what do you know about these children?
CASEY REVKIN, CO-FOUNDER EACH STEP HOME: So what I know is that these children are coming being war, and they`re coming with close family members or close family friends, and they`re coming with notarized documents from their family saying, I`m entrusting my child to his or her aunt or his grandmother, and they are coming to the border and are then being separated. They are shocked, and they don`t know what to do. And it is incredibly traumatic for them.
JANSING: Look, of course, we want to protect children from human trafficking. Is there though a better and faster way based on your experience for the Feds to keep these already traumatized kids, with their caregivers, or at least shorten the period of time that they`re a part?
REVKIN: Absolutely, there`s a solution. So we`re not arguing that they don`t vet the caregivers. Right now, they`re separating the families and then vetting the caregivers. And this process takes weeks, sometimes months. And I don`t understand why it doesn`t happen a lot faster. They could put investigators there at the border to do the vetting on the spot. It takes minutes, sometimes a day to do a background check to buy a gun. These are children being traumatized by separation, why not invest in people to speed up that vetting process?
JANSING: One of the things that really struck those of us who read this New York Times article was the example of a caregiver who days later learned that the child she`d been separated from at the Mexican border had been transferred to a migrant Children`s Shelter in the Bronx. I mean, is it so legitimate, that caregivers are not told where these children have gone again, because from the government`s point of view, they want to make absolutely sure that they`re legit, right? They want to make sure that these kids are not part of some human trafficking.
REVKIN: Right, so what happens is, is they`re first taken at the border, and then they`re held in the Border Patrol facilities, which are run by the Department of Homeland Security. And those are the horrible, horrible facilities that we`ve seen on the news with the mylar blankets and the cages. But then because they`re children, they have to be transferred to a different division of the government, and they`re transferred to shelters or facilities, if you use your own word, run by the Department of Health and Human Services. And those facilities, they`re about 200 all across the country. And the kids are just sent there. And they don`t consider where the sponsor is, when choosing where to send the child. So the child could be at the other end of the country from where the sponsor is.
JANSING: I mean, I don`t think anyone who saw the pictures of the children who have been taken out of the arms of their fathers who stayed behind to left their families behind who has been through the trauma of war, we see them when they were crossing the border. Nobody can watch that and not feel it, not understand how horrific it is. Tell us what an organization like yours Each Step Home can do to help. And what more frankly, the federal government can and should be doing? Are they doing enough once these children get here?
REVKIN: Right. So what we do and as far as I know, we`re the only organization that does this, is we help the families navigate the reunification process. It is cumbersome, there is a 25 page application to apply to the government and say that you`re not a trafficker. And maybe the family doesn`t have a printer and a scanner. And so we help them fill that out and send it in. And they are overwhelmed. I mean, this family from the New York Times story, this woman arena, she was the aunt, she came here with her 14 year old son. She was already in her 14 year old nephew. She was already here. And she met her nephew at the border and tried to cross with him and he was taken away. She was just -- she just had so many questions. What happened? What could she do? Could she hire a lawyer? Could she fly somewhere? Could she do anything to get them out faster? And she wanted to know what are these facilities like? And she -- I mean, she was so devastated. It was 10 days from when they were separated at the border before she got the first phone call, saying where he was and what she could do.
JANSING: Casey Revkin again, the organization is that Each Step Home and we thank you for all that you do and we thank you for helping us to understand what`s happening.
REVKIN: Thank you.
JANSING: Coming up, some heroes wear capes, others eat kibble. We`ll meet one of those when the 11th Hour continues.
JANSING: The last thing before we go tonight, Ukraine`s tiny hero. Nine weeks ago, these neighborhoods did not look like this. Now, they`re littered with still potentially lethal remnants of military tanks and ammunition. Before people can return home, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine moves in and serving at their side, meet Petron, the adorable Jack Russell Terrier saving lives in Ukraine. He works with the rescuers in the northern city of Chernihiv, sniffing out Russian bombs, wearing his protective vest and relying on his keen sense of smell. Petron has helped defuse nearly 90 explosive devices. And ever since the savvy Ukrainians share Patron story, he`s gone viral, gaining fans all around the world.
The two-year-old puppy is even inspiring paintings, drawings and cartoons that show him hard at work or just posing in a hero stance. State Emergency Services is now thanking those artists saying their works motivates not to give up no matter how hard it is to keep the bar high and to fight with new strength knowing how many people are still waiting for help, and how many people believe in us.
There are reports Petron is rewarded each night with a little motivation of his own, a serving of his favorite food, fresh cheese.
And on that note, I wish you a good night. From all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News, thanks for staying up late. See what the end of tomorrow.