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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 4/26/22

Guests: Tali Farhadian Weinstein, Jeremy Bash, William Taylor


NYT: McCarthy feared some GOP Representatives could incite violence against lawmakers after 1/6. Russian official warns of nuclear world war. Russia cuts natural gas supply to Poland, Bulgaria. U.N. expects over 8 million to flee Ukraine by year end.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: THE 11TH HOUR has arrived. And THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, they feared their own party, stunning new audio from GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, calling out members of Congress as security risks after January 6. It's another bombshell, but will it change anything?

Plus, Russia warns the West, it could go nuclear if we keep sending weapons to Ukraine, as we ask what happens next with the millions of refugees forced to flee.

And an NBC News exclusive, a formerly pro-Russian billionaire now changing his tune on Vladimir Putin. His message for the Kremlin as the 11th Hour gets underway on this Tuesday night.

Good evening, once again. Good to be with you. I'm Stephanie Ruhle. Tonight, there are more stunning revelations in recorded audio obtained by the New York Times. In these newly released tapes, we hear how the top Republican in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy feared people in his own caucus could incite violence against their fellow members in the days following the January 6 riots.

The Times says the audio is from a January 10, 2021 phone call that McCarthy held with other GOP House leaders about the fiery comments from some of Donald Trump's most vocal supporters.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER: The other thing that we have to do is these members on either whatever position you are, calling out other members that stuff's got to stop. Tension is too high. The country is too crazy. I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don't want to play politics with any of that.


RUHLE: McCarthy was especially worried about Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who slammed several fellow Republicans, including Liz Cheney for criticizing Trump after the insurrection.


MCCARTHY: I just got something sent now about Newsmax, something Matt Gaetz said where he's calling people's names out saying an anti-Trump in this type of atmosphere. In some of the other places. This is serious stuff people are doing that has to stop.

REP. STEVE SCALISE, (R-LA): Mo and Louie's comments too, a lot of members have said some real concerning things.

MCCARTHY: If I'm getting bracing -- I'm going to get another one from the FBI tomorrow. This is serious sh (bleep).

SCALISE: Potentially illegal, what he's doing.

MCCARTHY: Well, he's putting people in jeopardy. And he doesn't need to be doing this. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, at least people came prepared with everything else.


RUHLE: Serious bleep, potentially illegal. According to the Times, McCarthy also not happy with Alabama's Mo Brooks. You remember Brooks, he's the guy who wore body armor on January 6, and he talks about American patriots taking down names and kicking ass McCarthy implied what Brooks did was actually worse than Trump telling the crowd to fight like hell.


MCCARTHY: You think the president deserves to be impeached for his comment? That's almost something that goes further than what the president said.


RUHLE: Now, the day after that phone call, McCarthy urged Republicans to dial back the rhetoric.


MCCARTHY: Later after this call, I'm going to get another briefing from the FBI. When we say a member's name, when we incite -- or we -- in our hearts maybe we think we aren't doing it. This is not the moment in time to do it. Watch our words closely. Do not raise another member's name on a television and I'm just warning you right now, don't do it.


RUHLE: Don't do it. I don't know about that. Because tonight in a tweet, Matt Gaetz described the minority leaders calls as sniffling, and he accused McCarthy of disparaging Trump and the Republicans in Congress who fight for him.

Not surprisingly, these tapes have also caught the attention of the January 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson. McCarthy, of course has refused the panel's request for an interview. But Thompson says he'll be asked yet again.

Of course, McCarthy has made it abundantly clear he wants to be House Speaker should Republicans win the majority in November. Well, tonight reporters asked if these new tapes would hurt his chances. And McCarthy gave a one word answer. Nope.

With that, let's bring in our experts and find out what they think. Former Missouri Senator and MSNBC Political Analyst Claire McCaskill joins us. Michael Steele, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee and former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and Tali Farhadian Weinstein, former federal and state prosecutor here in New York. She clerked for Merrick Garland and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.


We have a lot to cover. Claire, I have to go to you first. Because it is not a surprise that this happened. But it is shocking to actually hear it. You're a member of Congress up until just a few years ago. Where does this rank on the totally crazy scale?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Listen, nothing in these tapes surprises me or shocks me, not one word of it. It's a little shocking how inept McCarthy has been lying about things he said, there for one brief shining moment when he actually had some courage to speak out against what Trump had caused on that fateful day. But nothing in the tape surprising me. I think that surprises me the most. And you referenced it today, frankly, Stephanie in your Twitter feed. And that is, they've got to be losing their minds over who's leaking these tapes. They've got a real problem within their caucus, because there are clearly people who are very upset at the inability of Kevin McCarthy to do something about people who are going to white nationalist meetings, who are carrying loaded guns into airports just to get a cheap headline. And who are saying things that could get people hurt, who could get members of Congress hurt, he has no courage to do anything, because his power is more important than his principles.

RUHLE: Then to that very point, Michael Steele, why has Kevin McCarthy needed to lie all of these months? What he said there on those tapes, all of it was totally rational. He's basically saying, guys, let's pull it together. Let's not attack one another. People could really get hurt here. An average American would say, yeah, all that makes perfect sense.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Yeah, but the reality for someone like Kevin McCarthy is it just goes to his powers. It goes to what his end goal, endgame is. His endgame is to become speaker. So what he did was played middle. One was Donald Trump the other was his caucus. You know, everybody is, you know, running around hair on fire, saying, oh, Kevin lied, lied to the New York Times, he lied when he said, I never told the president. Of course, he didn't lie. He didn't lie about that. He didn't tell the President that he should step down. He had no intentions of ever telling the President he should step down. But what he told his caucus is something very different. And as for those leaks.

The interesting thing about the leak is, it goes back to what I said a year ago, there is no love inside that caucus to make Kevin McCarthy the next Speaker of the House, is not just the Marjorie Taylor Greene's of the world. You're going to see a much more concerted effort. I mean, Fox News is just the tip of the yummy barrel for what you're about to see coming out about Kevin McCarthy over the next few months.

So, you know, and this idea that Donald Trump is going to be his boy in the end. Oh, OK, bank on that crazy. So, you know, Kevin understands at least that reality for himself, that he's playing a very dicey game with some people who are less -- has less scruples than he does. And so he's just trying to box and parry and thrust and do all of those moves as much as he can, which is why, you know, in one sense, he's not that worried because his attitude is well, who you're going to go to, where there is Scalise and there are others waiting in the wings for Kevin to do what Kevin did the last time he was up for speaker and that is to take bigfoot insert in small mouth and just watch what happens.

RUHLE: All right, well, let's forget scruples because, Tali, this is not about who's a good guy, who's an honorable person. I want to remove ourselves in the shock department and go to the legal department. Anything we've heard tonight, does any of it matter? Because the only things that matter are winning elections and following the law?

TALI FARHADIAN WEINSTEIN, FORMER NY FEDERAL AND STATE PROSECUTOR: Of course. So, obviously, what rang in my ear, Stephanie, is when Steve Scalise says about Matt Gaetz, it may actually be illegal, what he's doing.

And I think that's important for two reasons. First of all, it tells us that there may actually be some evidence of incitement here, or give courage to prosecutors who may be looking at incitement charges around January 6th than the days afterwards. Because one of the things that's so hard about an incitement case is to show a likelihood that the things you said may actually lead to violence.

Well, here we have two Republican members of Congress saying, well, we're actually worried here. We saw them bring a rope to Congress. This is a really volatile time. Why is he throwing a match, you know, into this really volatile situation? It might go up into flames.

The other is that it tells me a little bit about how they understood January 6, you know, they had been warned we now know we're going to get to the to the subject of the text messages from Meadows that things may really be dangerous here. And they might have believed that on that day as well.


RUHLE: And do you think tapes like this would matter to Merrick Garland?

WEINSTEIN: I'm sure that he's listening to them.

RUHLE: I hope that he's watching.

Michael, one person who has actually been pretty muted thus far about McCarthy is Trump but tonight, Tucker Carlson, let it rip. Watch this.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Unless conservatives get their act together right away, Kevin McCarthy or one of his highly liberal allies, like Elise Stefanik is very likely to be Speaker of the House in January. That would mean we will have a Republican Congress led by a puppet of the Democratic Party.


RUHLE: Highly liberal allies, Elise Stefanik, who tried -- who took Liz Cheney down. I mean, that is pure crazy town. OK, but in all seriousness, if you've got this leak ton going, and you've got Tucker Carlson going after him, does McCarthy have a real chance to be the speaker if Republicans win? Or is this just crushing him?

STEELE: You know, I think there's still a little bit more drama to get played out here. You know, little tacos is doing his thing for the cause for sure. The reality of it is, you know, this -- it's interesting watching this worm turn for Kevin McCarthy the way it has. And the fact of the matter is, it goes back to my earlier point, there is no love inside this wing of the Republican Party, this sort of pool, a cesspool of political characters for someone like Kevin McCarthy, nor is it for Elise Stefanik, whom they all praised and patted on the back for the purposes of showing and Liz Cheney the exit, right?

But again, this is all a very tenuous transactional relationship very much in the Trump mold. And to the extent it stops being a transaction that's favorable to your narrative, your messaging, and the money that you're grifting off of it. You know, you better believe a Tucker Carlson is going to go on Fox and start saying the crazy you heard tonight.

RUHLE: Claire, what do you think is happening within the Republican Party? Because for the most part during the four years when Trump was in office, despite what they have -- they may have said privately, they held their nose and they stood behind him as their fearless leader. Are we seeing things change publicly here? I mean, these aren't Democrats leaking these tapes?

MCCASKILL: Listen, here's what Kevin McCarthy had a front row seat for. He had a front row seat when the extreme element of their caucus ran John Boehner out of the speakership. He had a front row seat when that same element in their caucus ran Paul Ryan, out of the speakership. He has watched what happens when you try to tangle with the most vicious and extreme elements of his party. And now Tucker Carlson has taken up a weapon against him.

Now, watch Sean Hannity carefully because that will tell you where Trump is. And I think if Kevin McCarthy thinks cozying up to these guys is going to help him, I fear he might be mistaken. And he might go the same road that Boehner and Paul Ryan went.

RUHLE: But Claire, again, these were bipartisan meetings. These are Republicans taping one another. Did you tape your former Democratic colleagues when you remember Congress?

MCCASKILL: No, I did not. No need. But they were also staff on some of these calls. So that's why it's going to be very hard for McCarthy to figure out who is the guilty party here. I don't think Liz Cheney would do this. I, frankly, don't think a member would do this. But I think a staffer who is, was freaked out at the fear that was palpable in the House chamber when shots rang out and someone was killed, right outside the doors to the House of Representatives, I think the staff that worked there, were traumatized by that. And I think they had continued to be very upset behind the scenes over the failure of the Republican Party to take it seriously.

RUHLE: Michael, is there a chance these leaks are actually stealing the January 6 committee's thunder, if these are their big ahas, that's going to be a big uh-oh when it comes to public hearings?

STEELE: No, I think quite the contrary. I think these leaks should be adding more fuel to their fire. I think these leaks should be clarifying what steps they should be taking. Not just for the January 6 Commission, but also for the DOJ.

I mean, Stephanie, how much smoke does this gun have to admit before there are consequences. I mean, we're tiptoeing around tonight, you know, the chairman of the committee, you know, with all due respect saying well, you know, in all probability will likely ask, you know, the Speaker Kevin to come before the committee, again.


No, issue that damn subpoena at first thing in the morning. I mean, why are we playing nice because these people have positions inside of government, all of us on this panel would not be treated with the idea that we can just show up if we feel good that day, or if we may, or may not have something to say.

I mean, so this part of it is frustrating for a lot of Americans who want to know exactly what happened, but more importantly, whose fingers were on the triggers that cause Americans to riot against its government. And I think this commission has a responsibility right now, on this evidence, there are more tapes coming next week when this book comes out. So I mean, this should be perfect fuel, to give them the impetus to do what they need to do. And for the DOJ to look at all of this collectively, and say, hmm, I think we're going to have to fill out some forms here and send around some paper.

RUHLE: Fill out some forms. Tali, you're the legal expert, what do you think?

WEINSTEIN: You know, I think that every day we are seeing the atmosphere around this grow. You know, what I think we're all still sorting through those text messages from Mark Meadows. And we're seeing them resonant with what we've just been talking about tonight, right? More evidence that there was real fear. On that day, there was awareness that there was going to be violence on that day, and importantly, some connections to the president that up until now have been quite slippery.

RUHLE: But Tali, you've devoted your career to being a civil servant. If in the end, none of this matters. If in the end, there are no consequences. What does that say about our government?

WEINSTEIN: I'm not willing to answer to that question, Stephanie, because you yourself said there are multiple ways for people to be held accountable for this kind of behavior, both through the political process, and through enforcing the law and accountability. And now what we are seeing is evidence, audio recordings, text messages, which are the best kinds of evidence, and we've waited a long time for them. Folks have been sitting on them, and now they're starting to come out.

RUHLE: Then, I know I'm out of time. But Claire, I have to ask, from the political process standpoint, at this point, should Democrats be immediately turning all of this into campaign ads? And does this kind of content get undecided voters motivated to show up in November?

MCCASKILL: Probably not. I do think that there is an obligation of the commission to do really good public hearings, where they very clearly lay out the mountains of evidence. But I do think what the Democratic Party should be doing is talking about things like inflation, and talking about job creation, and talk about the things that they did in the infrastructure bill. And to make sure people understand that signing up for the Republican Party is not signing up to help people do better economically around their kitchen table.

RUHLE: Claire, you know, you're always welcome to come on the show when you want to talk about economic issues and kitchen table issues, because that's what gets people to vote.

MCCASKILL: We need to talk about -- I want to come back and talk about the staff that funded true social, where all the money went. And can Elon Musk ever make Twitter a successful business, that would be a fun segment.

RUHLE: Claire McCaskill, I'm going to give you all night long to come back and talk to me about that. Because, you know, that's all I'm actually interested in. So please come back and do that.

Claire McCaskill, Michael Steele, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, thank you all so, so much.

Coming up, as Russia ratchets up the nuclear rhetoric. Still more military aid is pouring into Ukraine. We're live in Kyiv tonight.

And later, an NBC News exclusive. We hear from a Ukrainian oligarch, once very pro-Russia. He tells us why he turned on Putin and why he says he will never ever win. The 11th Hour just getting underway on a busy Tuesday night.




LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Nobody wants to see a nuclear war. Nobody can win that. I think it's unhelpful and dangerous for the rattle sabers and speculate about the use of nuclear weapons.


RUHLE: Russia again threatening nuclear war, and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is entering a 63rd day. And as Moscow targets locations further inside the country, the U.S. and its allies are sending even more military help.

I want to start with NBC's Cal Perry joining us live from Kyiv. Cal, give us an update of what it's like on the ground there?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think what's changed the last 24 hours is people are now reacting to the rhetoric that you're playing there, not just of course from the American side. But the Russians not just talking about nuclear war but Vladimir Putin last night saying that if Ukraine continues to strike targets in Russia, he will start bombing Kyiv again. He will start bombing the Ukrainian capital, you see behind me. That has changed the posture here on the ground. Stephanie.

RUHLE: I spoke to people at a border crossing today who said they're actually seeing quite a few Ukrainians come back into the country. You know, people think oh, it's safe when they're on the other side. They want to get back to their homes. Are you actually seeing that people moving back to Kyiv despite the stepped up attacks?

PERRY: We are. And 7.7 million people are internally displaced. The U.N. says about 15% of them are on their way home. We had a chance to follow somebody as she returned to her home for the first time in a month. Her house completely destroyed. Olena, take a little listen to what she told us about her story, Stephanie.



OLENA GRABKO, IRPIN RESIDENT (through translation): So at first, I felt hysteric and then I just felt nothing. And I was just like a zombie. And when they shelled us, I just asked that God to kill me straight away.


PERRY: Emblematic of a population shellshock, Stephanie. The danger is still there on this trip that we took yesterday. We found a mortar round that had landed in a parking lot unexploded. It is that unexploded ordinance that is still a danger as people try to return to their homes. Stephanie.

RUHLE: Cal Perry, thank you, stay safe there tonight.

I want to now bring in Jeremy Bash here with me in studio, former Chief of Staff at the CIA and the Pentagon. And William Taylor, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. He's also the United States Institute of Peace, Vice President for Russia and Europe.

Jeremy, Russia is insisting that the risk of nuclear war is real. Yet we continue to keep pumping military aid which is much needed into Ukraine. How concerned are you about this threat?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER, CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, we have to keep pumping military aid and I think the threat from Russia needs to be taken serious. But let's unpack what happened when Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken went to Kyiv met with Zelenskyy. What did they say? They said first, Russia is failing. And that's true. Their Plan A failed, and they went to Plan B to move their troops to the east into the south.

So I think in the Pentagon parlance, you don't try to waste a crisis. If Ukraine is prevailing, and Russia is bleeding, I think it's to our advantage to allow Russia to suffer. We want to set Russia back. We don't want them to retain the military capability to keep Ukraine under threat forevermore. And so I think Secretary Austin, not only assess the situation correctly by said, we want to see Russia weakened. But he's correct in making that as U.S. policy.

RUHLE: What message does it send Russia when you see Secretary Austin bring together for the country's standing together? That kind of coordination doesn't happen overnight.

BASH: No. It shows that we have a posse, that we have friends. It's one of America's best assets in the world, our network of alliances. It's one of the things that the Biden administration is absolutely prioritize, and it freaks Putin out. Putin's view is that when he can go mano a mano, with a country one on one, he can win, he can prevail, Russia versus Ukraine, but Russia versus Ukraine plus 40 countries, Putin is done.

RUHLE: I like that Putin is done. Ambassador, Moscow is now cutting off gas to Poland and Bulgaria saying it's because those countries are refusing to pay for their fuel in rubles. Here's what I don't get, doesn't that end up hurting Russia? They now can -- they're they need as much money as they can get in whatever currency and now, they've cut off two countries?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: You're absolutely right, Stephanie. That's exactly what's going on. They are now losing revenue. The West has been talking about putting an embargo is stopping buying the oil and gas from Russia. And the Russians are now making it exactly possible at a time when it's getting warmer.

So the heating season has passed, and now they are losing the revenue.

RUHLE: Jeremy, NBC News is reporting that it was U.S. intel that was able to share information with Ukraine that enabled them to shoot down a Russian plane that was carrying hundreds of troops. What do you know about that?

BASH: Well, there are three ways that we're helping the Ukrainians. One is the weapons we've talked about. The second is training. We're training them on howitzer and other advanced systems. But the third critical way that we're helping the Ukrainians is by collecting, analyzing and disseminating to them actionable intelligence so they can see where Russian forces are operating. And this is a huge benefit to the friendship with the United States. We've got the most powerful intelligence community in the world, and we can provide that information to Ukraine, safeguarding sources and methods of course, but when we can provide that to Ukraine, they have a decisive advantage on the battlefield.

RUHLE: Ambassador, the Pentagon says it's keeping an eye on explosions in Moldova, that's the small country just southwest of Ukraine. Why is that so significant?

TAYLOR: Significant, Stephanie, because they keep saying, they're going to go all the way to Moldova. They say they're going to go across the south, they're going to -- that means they're going to go through Odessa. Odessa is the last big port, less is the large port there on the Black Sea.

So their ability -- the Russian ability to go all the way to Moldova would be a challenge, would be a problem for Ukraine because he would cut them off from the Black Sea. However, it's unlikely that they will be -- that they have the ability to do that. They don't have the troops. They have the manpower to do that. They're struggling in some of these main areas of the fight. What you can see there in Donetsk.

So they don't have the capability to go all the way across. They're having a hard time even getting to Odessa, though, they're being stopped at Mykolaiv. So, I don't worry too much.

Now, they are trying to provoke some action there by these --we've heard about these false flags. Well, this is probably what's going on in Moldova, in Transnistria.

RUHLE: Jeremy, is it fair to say that the Biden administration is taking a stronger stance against Russia and if so, is it strong enough?


BASH: Well, I think it's effective. I mean I think that's what we want. Look, they've marshaled the world community to slap unprecedented sanctions on Russia. They've provided troops to the Eastern Flank of NATO and unprecedented level of troops. We provide unprecedented levels of weaponry, testing the limits of indirect war.

So, I think we have had Ukraine's back there, obviously prevailing on the battlefield and Russia is failing. And I think that shows that our support for Ukraine has been successful to date. But nobody should be complacent. This is very fragile. We have to remain vigilant.

RUHLE: Ambassador, Ukraine's foreign minister says the quicker Ukraine gets more heavy weaponry and more sanctions on Russian oil and gas, the quicker they win. That seems sort of obvious in theory, but technically, is that true? And can we actually make that happen?

TAYLOR: It can't happen, Stephanie, it certainly can. Ukrainians can win, they do need what the foreign minister said. They need the heavy weapons now, the lighter weapons that they use successfully north of Kyiv, great in the forest, but this is -- we're now on step. We're now on planes. Where it's not like Kansas. They need heavy weapons, long distance weapons, and they need it now. They're anticipating the big thrust, the big push from the Russians across Donbas. And so the foreign minister is exactly right. And they can win, if they get those weapons.

RUHLE: Jeremy, what's your biggest concern looking ahead and the days and weeks?

BASH: I don't know what Putin's off ramp is. I mean, what he wants to do is he wants to get out of any war crimes prosecutions. I don't know anybody who's going to abide by that. He doesn't have military options. I think the Ambassador sized up the state of the military conflict well, it's going to be armor force on force battle. And I worry that Putin who still has options like chemical and nuclear weapons, we'll turn to those options.

RUHLE: Does he have any off ramp, Ambassador?

TAYLOR: You know, this business about off ramps, he got himself into this problem, he can get himself out. He knows how to do this. He can sit down and negotiate with President Zelenskyy. President Zelenskyy has gritted his teeth. He doesn't want to negotiate with this guy who's committed war crimes against him, but he's willing to sit down if that will stop the war on his terms, on Zelenskyy's terms. So Putin, you know, if he has an off ramp, great, but we need to we need to support the Ukrainians in their pursuit of this war.

RUHLE: He can sit down and negotiate. It is highly unlikely that he will. Thank you so much to Jeremy Bash, Ambassador William Taylor for joining us this evening.

Coming up, next, he spent nearly six weeks reporting on the millions of Ukrainians fleeing for their lives. My dear friend and partner Ali Velshi and I compare notes under desperate situation and what comes next for the refugees outside the country and around the world, when the 11th Hour continues.




RAFAL TRZASKOWSKI, WARSAW, POLAND MAYOR: We have 300,000 coming to just one city, so of course, it puts an enormous strain on the city services because we have granted Ukrainians citizen like status, access to free education, to free healthcare, to free social protection. So, of course, the service of the city are pretty strange. We can envisage a second wave and of course, you know, 3 million refugees in one country that's a hell of a lot.


RUHLE: Sure is. It is worth repeating. This is a war against humanity itself. More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries. And Poland alone has already taken in close to 3 million refugees.

My dear friend and partner Ali Velshi is back after five weeks of reporting in the region. Welcome home.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Nice to see you, Friend.

RUHLE: You were on my mind last week when I was in Poland. I was naive. I was at a border crossing. And I had this notion that when people would cross the border, they would somehow have a look of relief or happiness. But that wasn't the case. Because when you cross the border, your journey has just begun. Most people don't have the currency, don't speak the language. Can you speak to what the refugee journey looks like?

VELSHI: Yeah. Remember the first night I was on TV with you when I got to Budapest and it was the same thing.

RUHLE: When you gave the woman directions at the train station?

VELSHI: Right. But that was exactly the point, right? She had landed somewhere she knew she wasn't in Ukraine anymore. She wasn't even sure where she was. And clearly, I also wasn't, that's the problem. The level of confusion, the languages are not the same. Certainly in Hungary, it was impossible in Poland, there's some overlap. Because there are Slavic languages, the money, you come into Poland with Ukrainian money or go to Hungary, nobody's going to change your money for you, not without giving you a discount. And all of these people who you saw, mostly women and children had left a father, a brother, a father or, you know, a son behind. So there's no relief. There's some sense that I might not die now that I'm in Poland, or I'm in Hungary, or I'm in Moldova.

But there's no actual relief. This is not, oh, great. My life is starting all over again. The Poles are trying to help them, particularly these cities like Warsaw where more than 300,000 people have gone with education, with social services. It's -- it'll keep them alive, which is great. It's a hard drive in that.

RUHLE: But for how long are these neighboring countries going to be willing to do it? You just heard it, right?


RUHLE: Poland offering free health care, free education, that's great. But they could also face serious backlash over time from their own people. Look at the election in France. Yes, Macron won, but there are a whole lot of people supporting Marine Le Pen who are anti-immigrant.


VELSHI: Everything, all the right wing movements are in Europe are about anti-immigrant stuff stemming back to 2015.

Denmark, which is actually really likes immigrants and has lungs social safety net, they started getting a negative reaction to refugees after 2015. Hungary basically tell us, if you can come in here, move off as soon as you can. And Poland is done a much better job of this. But in the end, by the way, Poland's got a little bit of a labor shortage. So they're -- they can benefit from some of it, because Poland has been a place where mostly people have left over the years to Ireland, the U.K. and Germany, but they don't have a 3 million person labor shortage.

So at some point, people start to say, hey, are these people using my health care? Are they doing this? This is not correct, but it is how people sometimes think. So in a short war, the Ukrainians will be welcomed in Poland, in a long war this may turn out to be one of those things. They're going to start to face difficulties, and they still won't have their menfolk who are back in Ukraine. So they can't move on to something else.

RUHLE: To that point, right? So when we hear the Biden administration announcing we will be opening up to take more refugees. The Ukrainians really want to come here, I didn't -- there weren't full families crossing the border, right? It's women and children, leaving their husbands, leaving their adult sons behind, because they really want to be on the other side of the world?

VELSHI: So I think generally, keep -- generally speaking, people want to come to the United States. But yeah, if you're -- if you know that there's somebody who might be 500 miles away from you, you may not be in great contact with them. But there's a chance that you will see them next week or one day or they'll get out of the country or Zelenskyy will allow fighting age males to leave. But while you have family there, I think it comes very hard to envision your new life in America or Canada or something like that. Poland, Hungary, Moldova, the Balkan states, they all make more sense in the short term.

RUHLE: Are those countries going to be turning? Let's say to us in the coming months and saying, hey guys, when you're going to cough up some dough and help us, right? When I was in Poland, I'm looking at all the increased police. When you're at a refugee center, the huge COVID testing, that's local, military, local police departments that they're having to pay for that in the long term?

VELSHI: UNHCR, the International Rescue Committee, they all said it's going to be 4 or 4 million refugees. We hit that in no time at all. Now, generally speaking, refugees want to stay as close to their origin country as possible, which is why after Syria, most of them went to Turkey, or Jordan.

Well, until about a week ago, Turkey -- well, Turkey was by far the biggest refugee recipient country in the world. Poland is now number two, two. Weeks ago, Poland was or, whatever, before the war started Poland was like 100 out of all the countries. So folks want to stay close to home.

RUHLE: That's the wear out.

VELSHI: It's going to wear out the rest of the world has to take the refugee crisis seriously. It doesn't look as serious as it did six weeks ago. But there's still millions of people who are not in their home country who have to make a go of it. You saw them, you looked in their eyes, you know, these are real people who need real help and the world's got to step up.

RUHLE: We're going to keep paying attention.

VELSHI: Yes, we are. Whoa, look at that.

RUHLE: Ali Velshi.

VELSHI: Look at that. This is Velshi and Ruhle.

RUHLE: This is Velshi and Ruhle.

VELSHI: This is the way it goes.

RUHLE: When we come back, you know, I just going to throw this this one.

VELSHI: Yeah, yeah. Sorry, good thing does.

RUHLE: The Velshi and Ruhle come back. Ali Velshi gone for five minutes, and it throw -- and he spills water.

VELSHI: Sorry about that.

RUHLE: My partner Ali Velshi cannot mess with me.

When we come back, the Kremlin helped make this man very, very rich. But now he is denouncing Putin. Our exclusive interview with an oligarch changing his stance on Russia when the 11th Hour continues after we mop up the room. Thanks Ali Velshi.



RUHLE: Crank up the volume, we've got an NBC News exclusive tonight. Dmitry Firtash, remember that name? Ukrainian billionaire so-called oligarch. You might remember him from the first impeachment of President Donald Trump. For years he supported pro-Russian causes in Ukraine. But with his homeland now under Russian attack, he is speaking out against Putin and speaking exclusively with our own Tom Winter.


TOM WINTER, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: What has your reaction been to what you've seen going on in your homeland?

DMITRY FIRTASH, UKRAINIAN BILLIONAIRE (through translation): I want to cry. It tears apart my soul.

WINTER (voice-over): One of the richest men in Ukraine, Dmitry Firtash made billions in natural gas, mining and agriculture and long supported pro- Putin political forces in Kyiv.

FIRTASH: Do you believe that in 2022, in the center of Europe that such a massacre can be taking place, no normal person could believe it.

WINTER: Firtash has made a career of trying to bet on the right party, the right player.

FIRTASH: I was never pro-Russian. But you have to understand that I'm a businessman.

WINTER: So now fear Firtash is doing something he's never publicly done before, taking aim at Vladimir Putin.

FIRTASH: He is never going to come out victorious.

WINTER (on camera): If you could pick up the phone call him, what would you tell him?

FIRTASH: It's time to stop. There will be no victory. The longer this war takes, the worse that will be for the Russian people.

WINTER: Do you think that your personal safety is a concern?

FIRTASH: I don't really have a choice.

WINTER (voice-over): Putin's wrath isn't the only risk he faces. Here in the U.S. he's accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring to pay bribes abroad in his fighting extradition in Austria.

(On camera): After paying the largest bail bond in Austrian's history nearly $174 million Firtash has been living at this villa under house arrest for the last eight years here in Vienna.


WINTER: What do you say to the indictment against you?

FIRTASH: 100% not guilty.

WINTER: In that case, there's a specific filing that says you're an upper echelon associate of Russian organized crime. What's your response?

LANNY DAVIS (off cam): As I discussed with you, and we're in the middle of a criminal case, how improper that statement in open court was, and we've instructed Mr. Firtash not to dignify it by answering.

WINTER: That's Lanny Davis, former Clinton spokesperson now representing Firtash. Firtash has other connections to U.S. politics. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Rudy Giuliani held up a memo prepared for Firtash's Austrian attorneys, as part of an effort to fight his extradition. The memo from Ukraine's former chief prosecutor talking about Hunter Biden.

(On camera): Your name came up in connection with the impeachment of then, President Trump specifically an effort to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden. Did you ever try to do that?

FIRTASH: I never took part in the digging up of information, whether it be on Trump or Biden. The fact that I'm being dragged into this whole situation connected to Giuliani, I never met him, not by phone, nor in person.

WINTER: Mr. Firtash, the U.S. says you're a criminal. They allege you're an organized crime, your homeland has you sanctioned. Why is it do you think so many people allege so many bad things about you?

FIRTASH: You know, when you want to know something about a person, you should look at who his enemies are. And then you can judge what this person's worth.

WINTER: Firtash says he'd rather go back to Ukraine right now and fight if prosecutors would let him and experience what he calls the new Ukraine.

FIRTASH: We have to say a big thank you to Mr. Putin. And I believe we should be building him a monument in the very center of Ukraine, because he turned out to be the only politician that in the last 30 years managed to unite the country as one whole.


RUHLE: NBC Investigations Correspondent, my dear friend Tom Winter is here tonight. Tom, here's what amazes me, this guy has billions and billions of dollars. Why hasn't he left Austria to avoid extradition? We could call him back here at any time.

WINTER: Well, you have that question. And I think pretty much anybody in the FBI that handles organized crime for Eastern Europe has that question as well as federal prosecutors. So I asked him that, and he says, look --

RUHLE: So you're saying, I could be a member of the FBI in Eastern Europe, I've got job?

WINTER: One could say that's a possibility. But when you make it through the test, then yes.


WINTER: Then you got it. My -- I've got faith in you. Look, he says on the record, I will not flee. He says that because of his family he doesn't want to be labeled as somebody who flees. He doesn't want his children to have for the rest of their lives, be known as somebody whose father fled these charges. So he is adamant it according to his own words, that if the order finally comes to appear in a Chicago courtroom, he'll be on that plane and he'll be here in the USA.

RUHLE: That's he issues with USA. Let's talk about his issues with Russia.


RUHLE: Because several oligarchs and their families have died under very mysterious circumstances since Putin invaded Ukraine. Is he not worried about his own safety, his family safety?

WINTER: I think his answer to that question was really interesting in what he didn't say, he certainly did not say there's no threat. And I think when he looks at the totality of the circumstances and just being in Ukraine period, he's lost, he says eight employees. Even though his mother refuses to leave, his 80-year-old mother refused to leave Ukraine. I think when he looks at the environment that he might be heading back to, he could be in potential danger. If he does go back to Ukraine.

RUHLE: His mother is --

WINTER: Which he wants to do.

RUHLE: His mother is still there. Strong woman, got on moms.

Tom Winter, incredible reporting. Great interview exclusive to NBC News. Thank you for bringing it here.

Coming up, very important news today, on lightbulbs that will likely have the former guy pretty upset. You want to catch this before the 11th Hour wraps up.




DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: And then they were forcing you to buy light bulbs it cost a fortune. So I signed something a couple of days ago that gives you the right to continue to use the incandescent light.


RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, the former guys bright idea. Back in 2019, the Trump administration blocked an energy efficiency rule from light bulbs that was set to go into effect in 2020.

Now, this rule was not part of some super going green, liberal agenda. This rule was passed in 2007, under the Bush administration in order to phase out of older incandescent bulbs. Well, today the Biden administration announced it is reversing Trump's decision giving companies 75 days to phase out the older inefficient bulbs and take them out of production. So, now that is back on track, but we did a little research. What possible reason did Trump have to want to keep those older bulbs in the first place?


TRUMP: And I look better under an incandescent light than these crazy lights that are beaming down.




TRUMP: They took away our light bulb. I want an incandescent light, I want to look better, OK.

The new bulb is many times more expensive. And I hate to say it, it doesn't make you look as good.

I say, why do I always look so orange? You know why, because of the new light it's terrible. You look terrible.

Of course, being a vain person that's very important to me, it's like, it gives you an orange look, I don't want an orange look.

So the new light bulb costs you five times as much, and it makes you look orange. And I was more interested in the orange than I was at the cost.


RUHLE: Our investigative reporting did not end there. Since it was so important to the former president, we decided to check in and see how his complexion is looking these days.


TRUMP: I think it's ridiculous and it's sad.


RUHLE: There you have it. And on that note, good, sad or bad, I wish you a very good night. From all of our colleagues of the networks of NBC News, thanks for staying up late with us. I'll see you at the end of tomorrow.