Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is now the first black woman to sit on the Supreme Court after the Senate voted to confirm her. The New York AG asks a judge to hold him in contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents. Ukraine begs for more weapons as it braces for a Russian attack in the eastern part of the country.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Lisa Fairfax, Antoinette Coakley, Nina Semmens, the amazing sisterhood of support and lifelong friendship that began in a college dorm 35 years ago. They will all join us tomorrow night. That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE starts now.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, more moves to isolate Moscow as Putin`s war rages on. New evidence of atrocities and Ukraine begging for more weapons.
And history on Capitol Hill as the Senate confirms Katanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court set to be the first black woman to sit on the High Court.
And the Manhattan DA says he`s still investigating former President Trump while the DOJ reportedly plans to dig into those boxes of records taken to Mar-a-Lago as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this Thursday night.
Good evening. Once again, I`m Stephanie Rule. Tonight, the nation marks and historic Supreme Court confirmation. While thousands of miles away Russia`s war on Ukraine is entering a new phase.
The conflict is now entering its 44th day. Ukraine has escalated warnings to residents in the eastern part of the country ahead of what is expected to be an onslaught from Russian forces. Today, at a NATO meeting in Brussels, Ukraine`s Foreign Minister urged the West to step up its military aid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: My agenda is very simple. It has only three items on it. Its weapons, weapons, and weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: We`ll have much more on that just ahead. And as we mentioned, the nation made history today, when the Senate narrowly confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to sit on the Supreme Court, the first black woman to do so in our nation`s history.
The vote was 53 to 47. And after Democrats gave Jackson a standing ovation, most of the Republicans immediately walked out the door. The President and Judge Jackson watch the vote together at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. PRESIDENT: On this vote, the yeas are 53, the nays are 47. And it`s nomination is confirmed.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: All right. OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: History right there before your eyes. Today also brought major legal developments for former President Donald J. Trump. A source tells NBC News the January 6th Committee is weighing in interview with the former president. And according to The Washington Post, the Justice Department plans to investigate how Trump`s White House Records some of which were labeled top secret ended up at Mar-a-Lago before they were finally handed over to the National Archives.
And while he`s not talking to the committee, he is talking to the Washington Post about January 6, telling the paper he wanted to march to the Capitol with the crowd and claiming Speaker Nancy Pelosi was responsible for stopping the violence.
Fact check, Nancy Pelosi does not have total control over the Capitol Police.
Trump also said he didn`t remember getting very many phone calls that day when he was asked about the seven and a half hour gap in the White House call log. We`ve also learned the Manhattan District Attorney`s criminal investigation into Trump`s businesses is still active.
Back in February the two prosecutors leading the case resigned, leaving its future in doubt. Well, today the district attorney said it is still open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALVIN BRAGG, NEW YORK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Prosecutors can disagree on next steps. I thought there were more avenues, more work to be done, more things that we could follow up on interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents, following up on evidence that has not previously been analyzed and looked at or secured by the office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: And that`s not the only legal world for the former president. Today, New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a judge to hold Trump in contempt for failing to turn over documents in her civil investigation into his business practices. And she wants Trump fined 10,000 bucks a day until he does so.
So let`s bring in Capitol Hill correspondent my dear friend Ali Vitali. Ali, take us inside his vote. Even though Judge Jackson`s confirmation wasn`t really in doubt, it is historic. Tell us how the whole thing played out.
ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it wasn`t really a doubt and quite frankly, this is the way that the White House hoped it would go from the very beginning not just having this justice confirmed but having her confirmed in bipartisan fashion. They had three Republicans crossed party lines on this Senator Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney joining with all 50 Democrats and that made this a more bipartisan confirmation than I think many of us thought that it was going to be at the outset of this especially because people like Mitt Romney did not vote for Judge Jackson to go into her current role that she has now.
So it was clearly the way politically, this White House wanted it to play out. But the politics of this moment has always been linked to the history of this moment. And the deeper meaning of it. I mean, you even saw it during the confirmation hearings, when Senator Cory Booker had that monologue moment where he said to the judge, she has earned this spot and that she deserved to be here.
In that moment, we saw Booker really speak to what it meant to have a government and have a court that was reflective of the lived experiences of a wider range of Americans than they`d ever had before the first black woman now being elevated to the Supreme Court.
And you saw that, frankly, even today, when Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black woman to have that role, suggested to Booker and fellow Black Senator Raphael Warnock to write a letter to a black woman in their lives. And Warnock did that. He shared what he wrote to his daughter today saying that today he voted to confirm Katanji Brown Jackson, the first Supreme Court nominee, who looks like you and has hair like yours. That`s really significant stuff.
RUHLE: The idea that you have got to see it to be it is so hugely important. And for that little girl who today she saw it. Can you explain to me what Rand Paul was doing today?
VITALI: He was not where he was supposed to be. Look, this was a vote that was started at 1:45. Everyone knew when the vote was starting. And everyone knew really when they were walking into that room, how they were voting. The fact that this vote was left open, then for several extra minutes, just waiting for Senator Rand Paul to get in there and vote was frankly stunning.
He ran into the chamber well after everyone else had voted after the time had closed, they actually could have at one point stopped, called the vote called it a day just had 99 senators on the record for it.
Our team actually went to his office knocked on the door. His staff seemed flustered and confused. The senator made it but certainly tried to almost take away from the moment a little bit though, of course, when the vote was ultimately called. You heard the cheers in that Senate chamber. Nothing was still in Democrats joined today.
RUHLE: Rand Paul late to the party, but it still went on. Ali, thank you.
I want to bring in our experts and dig a little deeper. Yamiche Alcindor, NBC News correspondent and moderator of Washington Week on PBS, Daniel Goldman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He also served as general counsel for the House Intelligence Committee during the first Trump impeachment, and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jonathan Capehart, and associate editor for The Washington Post and of course anchor of the Sunday show where else right here on MSNBC.
Yamiche, I turn to you first. How big of a day was this not just for the White House, but for the country for our history.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS WASHINGTON WEEK MODERATOR: This was a profound moment in history for our country, for the nation. This is a moment 233 years in the making. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, she shattered a double pane glass ceiling as a black woman. No one with her lived experiences ever been on the nation`s highest court. And there are so many people that I talked to today, including some of her closest friends who said that this moment means to so many people that black women in particular can dream to the moon that little black girls and Black Law School students, people of color and women can look at her and say if she can do it, anyone can do it.
And I should also say that her friends were telling me today about the person that they`ve always seen her to be I talked to one friend Antoinette Coakley, who predicted when they were in college at Harvard and Harvard Law together, that she would be the first black woman on the Supreme Court. She said that`s because she was brilliant. But she was also someone who was empathetic, who convened people who she didn`t agree with sometimes in her dorm room to talk about the law. But she was someone who was already interested even at a young age of reaching across the aisle of really understanding other perspectives.
These women also said that she was the star in the group because I, in some ways, talked to her group chat today, and said that she is someone who is supportive of her friends who shows up for her family and for the people that she loves. And she is someone they say to who will be fair once she`s on the bench.
RUHLE: That is so amazing. I know. I was definitely not friends with anyone in college that I would have predicted would be sitting on the Supreme Court for sure.
Knowing what you know now, spending that time with her group chat. Do you think the nation largely missed out on learning who Judge Jackson is because of all the rhetoric surrounding her nomination, all the nonsense in the hearings?
ALCINDOR: Well, I tell you that. I will tell you that she had 30 years or more than, at least 30 years possibly more, because she will be on the bench for a long time coming. That is the expectation of Democrats.
She`s 51 years old. There are some who definitely feel like this Supreme Court nomination process was painful. And it was messy and it was frankly offensive to her. And one of her friends Nina Simmons, told me that she was pained watching her friend have to answer questions about critical race theory and being accused of being soft on crime and soft on materials that depict when children being sexually abused.
This was a moment they say that that should not have gotten this messy. But they also brought up the Cory Booker moment and said that her family and as our friends really did appreciate Senator Booker, giving her that pep talk, saying that she was a great American and that she didn`t have to worry that God had her back.
So in some ways, it is true that there are people who think that the nation could have learned more about her during her confirmation process. But now she`ll be on the bench for a long time coming in the nation, we`ll be able to learn more about her.
RUHLE: Well, Mitch McConnell didn`t think those hearings were messy at all. I want to share what he told Fox News tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you regret any of the rhetoric under this nomination process?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) MINORITY LEADER: No. Ideology is the point. She was treated very respectfully. We looked at her record. She wouldn`t join Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer and denouncing court packing. She had a clear and demonstrable record of sentencing, particularly in child pornography cases, for example, below the guidelines. So the judges, judicial activist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Jonathan, she was treated respectfully. He saw no issue. What do you think about that?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: Well, I think that`s -- it`s a barnyard expletive. I`ll just put -- I`ll put it like that. I mean, Minority Leader McConnell, what he said there is not uncharacteristic of what he would say. I find it appalling that he would echo some of the false allegations against Judge Jackson when it came to the child pornography cases, leaving out the fact that Republican appointed federal judges made similar rulings, as Judge Jackson.
But look, it`s all part. Stephanie, of the larger gambit by Republicans to pay -- to paint Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as some kind of radical, as someone who`s outside the mainstream, and it`s easy for Republicans to do that, because they paint all people of color, particularly black people, as being radical, as being in some way you`re soft on crime, soft on child predators, pushing critical race theory when that has nothing to do with what she would be doing on the Supreme Court or what she is doing here on the DC Court of Appeals.
It`s shameful that someone with Judge Jackson`s record would be made out to be a radical, and people don`t understand. And Yamiche, I hope you`ll back me up on this. You don`t get to the level that judge and soon to be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is or and having the platforms that she has right now. And being a black woman, being black and being a woman and being a black woman, and being a radical at the same time. It just does not happen.
And when President Biden went to look for someone to succeed, Justice Breyer on the court, he specifically said it was going to be a black woman. He also said it was going to be someone who shared Justice Breyers temperament, judicial temperament, and who did he turn to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who has his temperament but also clerked for Justice Breyer.
So, you know, Republicans spent all that time trying to paint her as a radical. But as Yamiche points out, soon to be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will have at least 30 years on the bench for the American people to see who she really is really how she thinks about those as she thinks about the law, vis-a-vis the cases that come before her and the nation will be better off for it.
RUHLE: Decades ahead of her a lot more than a single day in court. Daniel, let`s change topics. There`s new reporting, saying that the Justice Department is now taking steps to investigate Trump removing presidential records, many that said top secret to Mar-a-Lago, what could this mean for Trump?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, the first thing I think that the Justice Department would want to look at is whether there`s any counterintelligence concerns arising out of those classified materials being an unclassified areas and whether any of them were disseminated when he whether they were given or they were accessed by anyone -- who they were accessed by.
So there`s an initial defensive effort to make sure that they understand who may have seen those documents. But as with many counterintelligence investigations, a criminal investigation could arise from that. This is somewhat similar to the allegations related to Hillary Clinton and her emails, those proved not to arise to the level of a crime, but you cannot be transferring classified materials, you cannot remove classified materials from classified areas.
And so they`re very well may be a criminal investigation. You know, I doubt Trump was doing the, you know, loading the moving truck and moving that stuff out. So it`s unclear whether he would be subject to this investigation. But certainly there were people who packed up those boxes and move them out and took them out of classified areas, and that they will be looked at.
RUHLE: All right. Can you explain this one to us for the last few weeks, most of us have been under the impression that the Manhattan DA`s investigation into Trump and his businesses will shut down. But now they`re saying it`s still open. Plus, New York Attorney General Tish James, she`s trying to get a judge to hold Trump in contempt for not handing over documents. Can you explain what`s going on? And if he is held in contempt? What`s the consequence?
GOLDMAN: Well, I`ll take the DA first. You know, the generally prosecutors don`t talk about ongoing investigations and the DA was handcuffed a little bit in responding to the letter of resignation letter from the prosecutor on the Trump investigation.
But the one thing that DA said previously is that the investigation is ongoing. Today, he went much further to clarify what that means and ongoing means there are new investigative leads that they are pursuing that they did not have at the time that Mark Pomerance and Carrie Dunn resigned.
So it was by leaps and bounds the most fulsome and detailed statement we`ve received from the Manhattan DA, but I think it`s very helpful to go public and to explain that the investigation is actually ongoing with new evidence. And perhaps most importantly, that when the investigation is over, he will explain his charging decision.
So, I think it was very helpful and a good public service that he did that.
On the civil front, that`s the criminal front. On the civil front, Attorney General Letitia James is moving to essentially hold Trump in contempt because he`s not cooperating with a court order. He`s not abiding by a court order to turn over documents. He`s already challenged the request and he`s lost. And you know, the baby`s not getting his bottle. So he`s going to throw a tantrum, but he`s just not going to do it.
The repercussions though, could be serious. The Attorney General`s asking for a fine of $10,000 a day to the Trump and the Trump Organization if they -- for every day they do not turn over these documents. So it`ll be interesting to see what the judge says.
RUHLE: Sure. All right. Thank you. Thank you so much. Yamiche Alcindor, Daniel Goleman. Jonathan Capehart, I`m frustrated right now because I have a lot more questions for all of you. So you better come back soon.
Coming up, Russia keeps attacking Ukraine. And then they keep lying about it. What the people of Moscow are hearing tonight.
And later another big hearing on Capitol Hill today about lawmakers potentially banning themselves from trading stocks. It`s hugely popular with voters. But will it actually happen? THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Thursday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KULEBA: The entire Ukrainian nation has demonstrated that we know how to fight. We know how to win, but without sustainable and sufficient supplies of all weapons requested by Ukraine. These wins will be accompanied with enormous sacrifices. The more weapons we get, and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: As we mentioned, Ukraine is pleading for more weapons ahead of Russia as expected attack and the east. NATO Secretary General said allies are ready to provide more equipment and NBC`s Richard Engel brings us that report live from Kyiv.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All that`s left of the Russian military around Kyiv are their wrecked vehicles, the damage they caused and the casualties they inflicted.
All Russian forces have pulled back from the capital. And as they receded, life here today returned. People out. Listening to music. Soldiers taking a break. Ukrainians doing what`s been so rare these days, smiling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a war. But there is a life.
ENGEL: But in this low, Ukraine is anxious to strike while its enemy is wounded.
Now pleading with the U.S. and NATO allies for more weapons to attack before Russia can regroup after President Biden announced new sanctions on Russia.
Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy said the sanctions seem impressive, but it`s not enough.
The Pentagon which assesses Ukraine can quote absolutely win, according to the spokesman has promised to send another $100 million of tank killing rockets and drones. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Milley today cautioned that pushing Russia out of Ukraine won`t be easy or quick.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, U.S. CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: That`s going to be very difficult. That`s going to be a long slog.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
RUHLE: Our thanks to our colleague Richard Engel. The United States -- the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. UN Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield called it one collective step in the right direction.
So let`s bring in our colleague NBC`s Ali Arouzi in Lviv. Ali, Ukrainians don`t care much about a collective step by the UN. What do they care about tonight?
ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Stephanie. They care about getting weapons, getting armaments to fight the Russians. They know exactly what they need. You speak to man, woman or child, they know in this country they need weapons, weapons, weapons, and in part that`s because they hang on to every word Zelenskyy says. He makes a video message every night and you hear it from them the next day, close the skies, give us airplanes, give us air defense systems, give us tanks to fight the Russians or cities don`t turn into Mariupol, don`t turn into Bucha.
I spoke to one woman who escaped Bucha two weeks ago. She escaped horrific scenes there. And that`s exactly what she told us. Let`s take a listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Every day we wait is procrastination. People die every day. Thousands die every day. And we still wait for weapons. We needed them yesterday. So let the West hurry up and let them help us at least with weapons. If they cannot impose a no-fly zone for some reasons. Let them give us at least weapons which we need very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AROUZI: Given what people have been through like this woman their resolve is still so strong and Stephanie, they are steadfast in the believes that they are going to win this war.
RUHLE: Ali Arouzi, thank you for joining us.
Back with us tonight retired four star US Army General Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam and a former battlefield commander in the Persian Gulf and Julia Davis, columnist for The Daily Beast and the creator of the Russian media monitor. She watches Russia state TV all day long. So we do not have to.
General, I turn to you first. Ukraine says they need more weapons they say it over and over. We know earlier this week, the U.S. approved another 100 million dollars in Javelin anti-tank missiles. What else is needed right now.
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: The Biden teams on a magnificent job who started this war. Once phase one of the Russian invasion failed to grab Kyiv was special operations forces and paratroopers they went into a massive armored invasion. The administration using U.S. European command organized the NATO allies acting not as NATO collectively but individually.
You`ve got a lot of good things across the border the Javelin missiles, Stinger missiles, ammunition, artillery ammunition, it was brilliant. Now, it`s in a new phase of the war.
The Ukrainians have to take their army and counter attack against the Russians. The Russians has pulled a third of their army out of Ukraine badly battered by these incredibly courageous Ukrainian forces. They`re not going to try and seize the east and probably seize Odessa and the South.
Ukrainians need new tools of war anti-ship missiles, technologically advanced weapons, not T 72 tanks, but tanks. It gives them a qualitative edge over the Russians, and it`s going to be quick. Ukraine loses if the war grinds on for a year or more pounding their cities with cruise missiles and airstrikes. So, the balls in our court, we got to step up good.
RUHLE: Julia, let`s talk Russians because Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked today about the massacre that took place in Bucha. And here`s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As regards Bucha, according to your ministry of defense on April 3rd, and I quote, not a single local resident has suffered from any violent action while Russia was in control. I mean, do you really expect the world to believe that?
DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY: We insist on that. We insist on that and we insist on that the whole situation, the situation in Bucha is a well-staged insinuation. Nothing else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: OK, that is utterly insane to us, because we have seen the gruesome, brutal images. But tell us what is on Russia state media, what are people they`re seeing?
JULIA DAVIS, CREATOR, RUSSIAN MEDIA MONITOR: What is on Russian state media is even more ridiculous than what Peskov said. You heard him specifically pronounced Bucha is butcher and that was not a coincidence. In coordinated messages across multiple state TV channels, they have been repeating the most insane conspiracy theory that when President Biden called multiple state TV channels, they have been repeating the most insane conspiracy theory that when President Biden called Putin a butcher, he did that in preparation for the Bucha massacre, which supposedly the West has coordinated.
And Ukrainians have carried out, only to set Russia up for more sanctions, and to be seen as a pariah in the world, which, incidentally, it already is because of its invasion of Ukraine. So this is what the Russians are hearing.
And also, there`s an increasingly genocidal language across their state media. They`re talking about Ukraine not existing anymore. They`re referring to it as a territory formerly known as Ukraine. They`re framing it as a battle against the United States and an existential battle for Russia that if Russia were to lose, it would cease to exist.
So they`re framing it as their troops merely resting and resetting and about to start all over again. So Ukraine definitely needs much more of our help, because Russia sees this as a battle that they must win. And it doesn`t seem like they intend to stop anytime soon.
RUHLE: And are the Russian people still believing all of this? Because until now, Putin has been hiding the real amount of troops that have been killed. But today, that same spokesman, Peskov admitted to, quote, significant losses. Why admitted now? What does that tell you?
DAVIS: Even when he is admitting it, his lying anyway, because they`re only admitting to losing approximately 1,000 men, which is definitely a far cry, and obvious lie. And so they`re still not telling the truth about that.
And as far as the Russians, I`ve seen on their social media, where even the Russians that seem to be sympathetic to their own governments, conspiracy theories thought that the Bucha versus Butcher was just absolutely ridiculous.
There again, we have people here that believe that JFK is going to run in the future presidential campaign. So that obviously some people will believe anything, but sophisticated Russian, certainly are seeing through this messaging. They`re also using VPNs to access the same social media that they used to.
So plenty of people in Russia do know what`s really going on. But because the fear and repressions many of them are choosing not to speak up.
RUHLE: General, something else potentially to be concerned about. It`s normal for military leaders around the world to communicate with one another. But obviously, we`re not living in a normal time.
Earlier, Secretary Austin was asked about this. And he said they have not had communication with their Russian counterparts. They haven`t heard back from them since mid-February. Is that a new concern we should have?
MCCAFFREY: Yes, I think so. Look, around the world, the U.S. Joint combatant commanders routinely have contact with the nations in their area of responsibility, and that includes both allies and adversaries. And that certainly is included the Russians and the Chinese over time.
And it`s a good way to sense what`s going on in the country to reassure one another when tensions are high. This is a serious problem. Part of it, I think, is Putin now is paranoid. Where are the leaks of intelligence coming from any suspects? I think probably rightfully so that his own GRU and FSB may be feeding information for NATO European allies in the United States.
But you know, I`ve been watching these interviews inside Russia, one on one interviews. Some of it`s really frightening, chilling. The 80 percent plus population support of Putin includes language about, we should attack the United States with a nuclear weapon that will stop all this nonsense. It is incredible.
The amount of tribal behavior we`re seeing inside Russia, except for the intelligentsia. And that includes, to some extent, the senior political and military leaders. They do know what`s going on. They are scared to death. Their army has turned into a disaster. They`ve lost control of the thing. And now they`re going to rebuild. And if they have to, they`ll keep this up for years.
So again, the challenge to us -- the height of the Iraq war we were running $9 billion a month in support for the war effort. So we`re going to have to up our game here and provide them with any ship missiles, air defense missiles, M-1 tanks, smart drones, lethal drones. The Ukrainians cannot pull this off with just man-carried individual munitions.
RUHLE: General Barry McCaffrey, Julia Davis, thank you both tonight the only thing that is not new news Vladimir Putin is paranoid.
Coming up, what would it look like if lawmakers were banned from trading stocks? Well, a lot of voters would like to see that. But are enough lawmakers willing to do it. What we heard from a House hearing earlier today when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: It is very rare to have something that voters on both sides of the aisle agree on, which is why we got to focus on it when they do. There are calls to ban, limit or least change the rules around how Congress invests in stocks. Will a House committee held a hearing examining potential reforms today, reforms that would directly impact those members of Congress personal wealth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): It`s our hope that this hearing today will bring us closer to developing a consensus on recommended policy reforms that will combat financial conflicts of interest and restore public faith and trust in our government.
LIZE HEMPOWICZ, PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT: We recommend that you require members of Congress to divest conflicting assets with the option to put any remaining assets in a blind trust that is subject to new public disclosures.
DONALD SHERMAN, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS: The misnomer with respect to qualified blind trust says that it only works if it`s truly blind.
JENNIFER SCHULP, CATO INSTITUTE: It is better to focus on increasing transparency through disclosure.
DONNA NAGY, INDIANA UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: Disclosure hasn`t worked, if anything, disclosure has disclosure of financial transactions, puts it glaringly obvious to the public that the conflicts of interest are there.
SHERMAN: Divestment is an option. And it`s an option that I think is preferable.
REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL): Forced divestment is the option you`re talking about. Right?
SHERMAN: Well, you use force, I would say that being in public services, a choice.
REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK (R-GA): Whatever happens here, we have to keep in mind that every person in this room is an American citizen that has rights and freedoms and part of that right and freedom is to participate in a free and fair market economy.
LOFGREN: It seems like there are more complications than it would seem at first blush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: With us tonight, the man himself David Leventhal, Deputy Washington bureau chief for Insider, his extensive reporting on the huge investments, and massive conflicts of interest from our members of Congress is part of what sparked these calls for change.
Dave, I want you to put this into context for us, because we`re not talking about GM stock that members of Congress got for their high school graduation. Explain how massive it has become 75 different members of Congress suddenly invested in COVID related stocks, just as the pandemic hit, and I`m pretty sure they had a lot more information than you and me.
DAVID LEVENTHAL, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF FOR INSIDER: Well, it`s one of the many findings that we had as part of our conflicted Congress project that published in December. And, you know, we found numerous examples of members of Congress who were engaging in stock trades that to one extent or another could conceivably conflict with their public duties as members of Congress that you mentioned pandemic related stocks, such as Moderna, Johnson and Johnson. Obviously, Pfizer was a big one that was invested in by members of Congress, but also makers of tests, makers of PPE.
And then the list goes on and on with all different sorts of oil investments, energy investments, you kind of name it, members of Congress invest in it, and it raises the questions that you just played out a moment ago.
RUHLE: But those who oppose change, we heard it right there are making this argument. We`ve heard it from Nancy Pelosi. This is a free market system. This is capitalism. They`re private citizens. They should be able to invest. But they get a different deal than everybody else. Shouldn`t they be held to the same standards at let`s say, federal workers, journalists, the financial sector?
I mean, officers of publicly traded companies have huge restrictions on what they can do. So isn`t it disingenuous for members of Congress to say, Why should we be treated differently, they`re treated differently now.
LEVENTHAL: Members of Congress, they are different. So people who are advocating for changes to the rules as they exist today, they`re making the point that, hey, look, members of Congress, they have inside information that they get nonpublic information by virtue of them being members of Congress. They`re also lobbied to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year by the very companies that members of Congress invest in.
So you put that together, and you`ve got a situation that is very different up on Capitol Hill relative to what you or me or just anyone hanging out at home with their stock trade app is doing.
Now the countervailing argument is, look, members of Congress should be able to participate in the economy, they come into Congress, and then they leave. It shouldn`t be treated differently. But I think what we saw from the hearing today, is that that opinion is in the minority. There are many members of Congress who wants to do something about this.
The big question right now is how big are they going to go? Are they going to do something really dramatic, like ban members of Congress from trading stocks? Or are they going to do something more around the margins and periphery, which is definitely a possibility at this point, too?
RUHLE: Well, it`s noisy. You made it noisy because you alerted so many people to it, but what`s the actual likelihood that we`re going to see change? We are calling upon Congress to regulate themselves, to limit their own abilities to make a lot of money that they`ve been making.
LEVENTHAL: Yes, Congress makes the rules for Congress. So it`s not as if some outside organization is going to put the rules in place for lawmakers, you`re going to have to effectively have lawmakers and rely on them to do it themselves.
So as a result, you`re getting these arguments within Congress as to how hard they do want to be on themselves. The Democrats right now, of course, are in the majority in both the House and the Senate. They`re leading the charge here. There are some Republicans who have already co-sponsored bills are definitely out front in trying to advocate for this. Even Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader for the Republicans in the House is said, Hey, I`m very open to doing something like this, too.
But we got a very strong sense from lawmakers today after this hearing, that the clock is ticking. I mean, we`re almost into the fourth quarter of the legislative session. We`ve got elections coming up in November. So the window of opportunity here, if Congress is going to do something is closing and it`s already pretty narrow as it is right now. So they got to do something quick.
RUHLE: Well, everybody talks a big game when the cameras are on and our microphones are in their face. But when it comes time to vote, that can be a very different story. Dave Leventhal, thank you for joining us tonight.
Coming up, as outrage grows over Russian atrocities in Ukraine, China votes to keep Russia on the UN Rights Council. We`re going to go live to Beijing when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: China has refused to condemn Russia`s invasion of Ukraine. The New York Times reports that at home, China is pushing a campaign that paints Russia as a long suffering victim rather than an aggressor and defends China`s strong ties with Moscow as vital.
Let`s bring in NBC foreign correspondent Janis Mackey Frayer. She joins us from Beijing. Janis, last I checked, our ties with China are vital. We`re their biggest trading partner. So why would Xi Jinping side with Russia and what is he telling the Chinese people about what`s happening in Ukraine? He controls the media?
JANIS MACKEY FRAYER, NBC NEWS Foreign Correspondent: Well, those are two separate issues. Let`s first look at the China-Russia relationship. And this is one that has developed intensely onto these two leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. They have met dozens of times. Remember, at the beginning of the Olympics, they released that manifesto, declaring a friendship with no limits.
They have their strategic interests aligned in that both are opposed to NATO expansion, and also to Western dominance. So in that sense, they have been fostering the relationship.
On the other hand, economically, China is dependent on the US and the EU for trade. The trade that China does with Russia is dwarfed by what the trade ties are with U.S. and with the EU. So it`s trying to preserve those ties, not fall under sanctions yet still show the rhetorical support that it believes Russia needs right now.
If we look at what people here are being told, that`s the other story while officially Chinese spokespeople will say that all sides need to cool down, the U.S. has been fanning the flames. You know, sanctions are bad.
On Chinese state media and on China`s internet, there is outright support for Russia. There is the amplification of Russian propaganda, online nationalists here, take it a step further and even mocked Zelenskyy for his pleas for justice, and as well, casting doubt on who is responsible for the atrocities that we`re seeing in Ukraine.
RUHLE: Tell us about what`s happening on the COVID-19 front. We know some regions are in lockdown. I saw a video from a reporter there where authorities are telling people control your souls desire for freedom. That is a very scary sentiment. What`s going on? Are people just sick and tired of this lockdown?
FRAYER: Everything. It`s the playbook that China has used since the beginning of the pandemic and 2020. The difference now is that people are exhausted. We are so tired of travel restrictions. People are dealing with logistical nightmares in Shanghai for getting food. The entire city is locked down. Think about that. This is the financial heart of the world`s second largest economy at a complete standstill.
Truck drivers are not wanting to go into the city to deliver food even the richest people are struggling to get milk and bread but authorities are still sticking to the zero COVID policy and they say they will get this outbreak under control.
RUHLE: And demanding that people control your souls desire for freedom. That is not something you hear often. Janis, good to see. When we come back. One of our favorite activities we`re going to look for the helpers. Helpers unfortunately, in the horror that faces Ukraine when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, the savior of Mariupol. The port city has been one of the worst hit places in the war. Tens of thousands of people have been trapped there for weeks.
Well one brave mechanic named Alexei has taken it upon himself to drive into the city and rescue as many people as he can. Sky News brings us his story in his own words.
So far Alexei has saved 145 adults and 35 children, a hero. And on that note, I wish you all a good night. From all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News, thanks for staying up late with us. I`ll see you at the end of tomorrow.