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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 6/22/22

Guests: Neal Katyal, Barb McQuade, Geoff Bennett, Tom Nichols, Nick Troiano, David Gura


In the fifth 1/6 public hearing, the committee plans to highlight Trump`s pressure campaign at the Department of Justice. America;s deepened political divide has reached extremes. Plus, the risk of recession amid rising inflation.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Mark Shields gets tonight`s "LAST WORD". THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the corruption campaign, the former guys attempt to pack the Justice Department in his quest to legitimize his big lie just how deep it ran on the eve of another major hearing. And it is hard to avoid America`s deepening political divide. What can be done to bridge the gap? We`ll talk to someone with solutions for people over party.

Plus, Biden`s push for a gas tax holiday isn`t coming and will it help and in the fight against inflation? Are we headed for a recession? As the 11th hour gets underway on this Wednesday night.

Good evening, once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. The January 6 committee is on the eve of revealing more crucial evidence about a key part of Donald Trump`s plan to overturn the 2020 election. The panel`s fifth hearing starts tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. It will focus on how Trump himself pressured his own top justice officials to go along with his plan and how they repeatedly resisted.

Trump also tried to install a loyalist to lead the Department of Justice, a man named Jeffrey Clark, who backed his false claims of fraud. Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, the man Trump tried to replace with Clark will be testifying along with his former deputy Richard Donoghue and another official Steven Engel.

We heard from Donoghue at yesterday`s hearing in a tape deposition. He told the story of a January 6 2021 Oval Office meeting where he, excuse me, January 3rd 2021 Oval Office meeting where he threatened to resign if Trump made Jeffrey Clark Attorney General.


RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president said suppose I do this, suppose I replace Jeff Rosen with him, Jeff Clark, what do you do? And I said, sir, I would resign immediately. There is no way I`m serving one minute under this guy, Jeff Clark.


RUHLE: Donoghue also told the committee the DOJ never found any credible evidence of fraud that could change the outcome of the election. We`ve also learned the panel is postponing hearings that were originally planned for next week until later in July.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We`ve taken in some additional information. That information is going to require additional review by staff and the committee that we did not have when we had initial planning for the committee.


RUHLE: That new evidence includes never before seen footage from a documentary by British filmmaker Alex Holder. He`s expected to sit for a private deposition with the committee tomorrow morning. He spent time interviewing Trump and his family before and after January 6. NBC News has obtained images from holder`s upcoming documentary. We can see him with Trump at the White House and talking with the president`s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka.

NBC News has also confirmed and York Times report that Ivanka spoke with a filmmaker in December of 2020 about the election, and she said her father should quote, continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted.

. But here`s the thing. The Times accurately points out that her comments reflect a very, very different tone than the testimony she gave to the January 6 committee. As the panel`s investigation and hearings continue, there are also new concerns about security.

The Washington Post reporting the number of violent threats against members of the Committee had increased over the last 24 hours. That paper says all committee members are likely to receive security detail.

The Post also reporting that the Justice Department is expanding its investigations and this is really important into that fake electors plot. FBI officials confirmed to the Post that subpoenas have now been issued in several states.

We got a lot to cover tonight, boys and girls so let`s get smarter with the help of our leadoff panel. Geoff Bennett joins us, Chief Washington correspondent for PBS NewsHour and an MSNBC political contributor. Barb McQuade is here, veteran federal prosecutor and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. She worked with the Department of Justice during the Biden transition, and is currently a professor at the University of Michigan School of Law. And Neal Katyal is here, Department of Justice veteran and former acting Solicitor General during the Obama administration, who has argued dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In short, all three guests are brilliant, brilliant friends of the show, and we are lucky that they`re here tonight.

Neal, what sticks out to you about these new subpoenas in his fake elector scheme? How big a deal are they?

NEAL KATYAL, FMR. ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, I think these subpoena are important but more on the kind of lower level climbing that was going on.


So these are subpoenas to people, including, you know, kind of high up state party officials who were making these fake random slates of electors and so on. And, you know, the whole plot here was Trump thought that by naming alternative slates of electors, that he could cast enough uncertainty into the election so that Pence could hand it to him on January 6, that is not a thing in our U.S. Constitution. It`s completely made up and bogus.

And the subpoenas go to that and more to the lower level side, not really to was Trump behind it, as the evidence showed from the committee yesterday. So it`s an important step, but it`s only a step.

RUHLE: OK, Barb, isn`t that the issue. So they`re going to go for these fake electors, you know, these lower mid-level people, but the fact that they are not going to the root cause of the rot, we`re not talking Trump or his family, or Bill Barr, it almost seems like January 6, were yes, the rioters are being prosecuted, many are going to jail. That`s a good thing. But you`re not getting the root cause of all this?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I would add the word yet after what you just said. I know it`s frustrating to sit back and wait for all of this to take place. But it really does take an enormous amount of time for the Justice Department to not only replicate what the January 6 committee has done, but to also make sure they have probed every potential defense that Donald Trump or others could raise down the road, because they have to prove a case of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

And, you know, as we heard Merrick Garland say back on January 5, the way they build cases is by taking what`s in front of them, and building on it one step at a time. And so that`s what they`re doing with these fake slates of electors. They`re building but when you say about getting to the rot, but at the core, that`s what it takes. It takes building there.

So they`ll talk to these people who sign their name and ask them why. And they`ll say, because someone told me to who was that? They`ll talk to that person? Why did you tell these people to sign their names? Because we heard it from whatever it is the Trump campaign, and who did you hear it from? And by that way, they will trace it back as far as it goes. It maybe it goes all the way to the top, but they can only get there by investigating. And what they do Stephanie is they investigate crimes, not people.

RUHLE: All right, but here`s the thing, Neal, I see you nodding yes, it takes time. But Merrick Garland is not going to be in that job forever, let`s say Republicans when the midterms, win the next presidency, doesn`t all of this investigating fly out the window?

KATYAL: No, because I mean, unless they tried to do something radical, like trying to defund the Justice Department or something like that. The just formal investigation goes on past the midterms. It`s true the Congressional investigation when which is why I think they the members of Congress have put such pressure on themselves, try and wrap up this congressional side of the investigation by September.

But on the big questions that Garland is confronting, you know, did the President -- did the former President committed a crime? A felony, as already one federal judge has said he has, that he has basically up until, you know, the end of 2024, at least for that. Obviously, you know, he shouldn`t take all that time. This is one of those grave crimes of in grave events in our nation`s history. So I think, you know, speed is warranted here. But he`s got time, Steph.

RUHLE: Geoff, why are we clearing our schedules for 3:00 pm? Tomorrow, what do you think`s going to go down?

GEOFF BENNETT, PBS NEWSHOUSE CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, remember at the outset of these hearings, Congresswoman Liz Cheney said that the committee had uncovered evidence of what she described as a seven- point plot, a seven-point scheme involving Donald Trump to overturn the election.

Tomorrow is the fifth hearing. So what you`ll hear from the committee is them detailing the fifth part of this plot, and it was Donald Trump`s attempts to pressure the Justice Department, pressuring DOJ leadership to say that there was a fraudulent election when there was none, pressuring the DOJ to file lawsuits, in effect, acting as the personal law firm of Donald J. Trump, which it was not.

At one point according to the evidence, pressuring the DOJ to send letters to states to promote the integrity of the election, which is rich, given everything that we now know, and then Steph, when all of that failed, the President then threatening to fire or replace DOJ leadership.

And so, among the people that we`ll hear from tomorrow is the former acting Attorney General, who along with the then-White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, engaged in what Cipollone described as a murder-suicide pact, that if Donald Trump did move forward with trying to install his loyalist Jeffrey Clark, atop the DOJ, to in effect, do his bidding, that there would have been mass resignations.

And so, again, the Committee will choreograph this hearing in the way that they`ve done the other ones. They`ll lay out the hard facts, but then wrap all of that in the personal narrative to make it more compelling.

RUHLE: Neal, while it`s a surprise to absolutely no one, that Trump would launch this pressure campaign. Why is it essential for the committee to lay this out? Why should we truly understand this, this part of the story?


KATYAL: It`s an important part of the plot and a very important part of what Donald Trump did to our democracy and the rule of law. So, you know, take a step back, the Justice Department is not like other cabinet agencies. It`s not like the Commerce Department or whatever. It`s special. It`s relatively a political Lady Justice is its symbol, you know, blindfolded. And you take that oath, and I saw it, you know, twice at the Justice Department when I was there in two different administrations, where the Attorney Generals, the Attorney General`s themselves the lawyers that the judges from the career folks, people like Barbara, they take that oath incredibly seriously.

So I was in Democratic administrations, we went hard after Democrats Attorney General Holder went hard after Dan Wesolowski (ph) and stuff like that didn`t go after Republicans. That`s the Ethan`s. And what Trump`s Justice Department did his pervert that at every turn, you know, from Jeff Sessions, to Matthew Whitaker to Bill Barr, who has a bunch of political people doing Trump`s fitting.

But and here`s why it`s so significant what`s going on tomorrow. Even with those folks, they found a line that they couldn`t cross and they had they threatened to resign if Trump installed Jeffrey Clark as the acting Attorney General, because Jeffrey Rosen the current acting Attorney General wouldn`t do the business -- wouldn`t do the bidding of Trump.

Can you imagine how bad you have to be just how evil to get your entire hand-picked Justice Department to resign to mass resign? But that`s what happened here. These were not like deep state folks. These were Trump`s own people, his most hardcore supporters saying, oh, we can`t do that to the rule of law. They found a line. That`s what`s -- that`s why the story is so important.

RUHLE: Barbara, you`ve got an op-ed coming out tomorrow on MSNBC daily writing about Trump and his justice department, and why it`s so important to hear from these witnesses. Why?

MCQUADE: Well, this was an effort by Donald Trump to use the Justice Department in the words of Richard Donoghue for improper ends. He was trying to use this as one of the plot points that he was trying to do. He had at one point said just say there was fraud, and leave the rest to me to let us the Justice Department to legitimize the fraud. And then Jeffrey Clark plan to write letters to Georgia and other swing states saying falsely we have detected irregularities in the election in your state. And we encourage you to convene your state legislatures to select alternate slates of electors.

This was an absolute effort to utilize the Justice Department to overthrow a free and fair election. So, I think what we should expect to hear tomorrow will be some really breathtaking testimony.

RUHLE: Geoff, let`s talk about this documentary that`s coming out are people in Trump World concerned? I mean, what we`ve already heard what Ivanka told the documentarian of we`ve got to, you know, use every legal method to exhaust to make sure we get to the bottom of this is quite different from what you told to the January 6 committee. I believe Bill Barr. I think nobody watches.

BENNETT: And look, it`s my understanding that this documentarian has 11 hours, Steph. 11 hours of footage of direct camera interviews with the former President Donald Trump and his family members to include Ivanka. Imagine what would have been said, what could have been said leading up to January 6 in the throes of this plot, as the President was trying to lean on every lever, lean on every small d democratic institution to overturn the election. Imagine what he was saying to this documentarian. And one of the reasons --

RUHLE: Why they ever agreed to do this? Hold on a second. This argumenterian doesn`t come from the MAGA world. He`s a British independent documentary filmmakers, why on earth would they say yes to this?

BENNETT: To live inside the mind of a narcissist. One can only imagine, right? I mean, I don`t have a good -- that`s a great question for which I don`t have a good answer. But it`s one of the reasons why the committee is now taking a two week, potentially two or three-week pause, and just going to pour over all of this new evidence to include this documentary and more information that according to Congressman Jamie Raskin has come from people watching these hearings, and just basically sending in more information. The committee has to go through all of this as they continue these public hearings.

RUHLE: I want to talk Pat Cipollone, Barb. Adam Kinzinger spoke about leading tomorrow`s hearings and stepped up pressure on the Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. Watch this.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): We do want Pat Cipollone to come in and cooperate more. You`re going to see tomorrow. Men that did not necessarily want to be out there talking about this stuff, but they understand their oath to the Constitution and their responsibility to the country. We want Pat Cipollone to come in, and be cooperate in a robust way. There`s no reason he shouldn`t.



RUHLE: Here`s why he won`t want to. This is Trump`s boy, Barb.

MCQUADE: Yes, I think Pat Cipollone has the potential to be the John Dean of this moment. He was there. He`s the White House counsel. He knows what`s happening. He was the one who uttered that phrase, the murder-suicide pact. And he was there. And he too, threatened to resign, along with those Justice Department officials if Trump persisted in replacing the Attorney General and sending out these letters, and who knows what else he may have been party to.

It sounds like he did the right things and tried to push Trump to stop from some of his most illegal impulses. But he could tell an awful lot. And to the extent he`s relying on executive privilege. We know that the Supreme Court has already said that the interest in investigating what happened on January 6, over -- outweighs any interest in protecting executive privilege in this instance, so that is a fig leaf, he should come forward and do the right thing.

RUHLE: Executive privilege, no dice on this one. I want to change subjects to a really important one, Geoff. Tomorrow, the Senate is set to hold a procedural vote on this gun safety bill. How likely is it to become law?

BENNETT: It`s expected to pass. We heard from the congressman from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, who really spearheaded this effort on the Democratic side, the 14 Republicans so far who voted to advance this legislation, he says that they -- he expects at least in the upper chamber to move that number up to 15 or 16, so that add that to the 50 Democrats who will vote in support, even in the House, even though the Republican Party is actively officially whipping against this, that means encouraging their members to vote no.

I`m told that the Democrats and other moderate Republicans that they do have the votes to move forward. So the expectation is that the vote in the Senate either happens tomorrow, late afternoon, early evening, or maybe pushes into Friday, and then from there, the House will pick it up and in due time, it`ll head to President Biden`s desk for his signature.

RUHLE: Hold on a second.


RUHLE: Even if -- even though, I mean, Mitch McConnell is supporting this. Mitch McConnell is a yes. And they`re whipping other Republicans to say no, that doesn`t add up to me.

BENNETT: It`s the difference between the House and the Senate, the way that the house is organized. There are more members that represent smaller numbers of people in their districts. I mean, it was set up this way by the founders that you have more partisanship in the House than you do in the Senate. Every member of the House is up for reelection this year.

The 14, most of the 14 Republicans in the Senate who are expected to vote in support, most of them are retiring, or they`re not up for reelection. So that has a lot to do with it, too.

But yes, I mean, you have Mitch McConnell over in the Senate saying that this does nothing to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. And over in the House, you have Republicans who are talking as if the Second Amendment is as sacred as scripture.

So yes, on this issue, this gun issue, it`s a major dividing issue, as we of course, well know, but even on this particular vote, it`s something on which Republicans can`t even agree. And it`s not even, you know, they`re not banning assault weapons. They`re not raising the age, you know, by which you have to be able to purchase an assault weapon. This is basically, you know, sort of common sense stuff that they`re trying to do here, Steph.

RUHLE: I don`t know one might say that raising the age limit on AR-15 is common sense as well, but it is a start, and it looks like they have the votes. Geoff Bennettm Barbara McQuade, Neal Katyal, thank you all so much for starting us off this evening.

Coming up. Our friend Tom Nichols is here to discuss what Trump`s super fans are really afraid of how new truths about the former guy will impact conversations in a divided America.

And later, we`ll talk to the director of a group that is working to bridge that divide that is currently defining so much of our politics and what we can actually do about it. Not getting defeated, looking for solutions. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Wednesday night.




KINZINGER: The threats are constant they`ve increased. The reason I released this letter this was sent directly to my home, directly to my wife. And it went on to threaten execution not just to me, but of her and my five-month-old child. The depravity of what`s existing out there the fact that there are people that literally would come up with this idea of killing a five-month-old because you disagree with me being on the January 6 committee.


RUHLE: Some six, six stuff. That is Congressman Adam Kinzinger talking about a letter he received on Sunday, he will lead tomorrow`s January 6 committee hearing. And my next guest is warning as more truths about Donald Trump and his attempted coup come out, I fear there will be more irrational anger and threats from people who cannot bear the truth.

He also asks this important question what Trump`s supporters so afraid of?

Tom Nichols, the author of those very wise words joins us tonight. He`s a professor at the Naval War College at the Harvard Extension School. Tom, when I first saw your headline, I thought, Yes, I want to read this personally, but I don`t know if I want to bring this on TV because all Trump wants is more attention. But then I read it and I read how important this is. Help us understand what are Trump supporters so afraid of?


TOM NICHOLS, PROFESSOR, NAVAL WAR COLLEGE AT HARVARD: I they are living with a lot of cognitive dissonance and think about the dynamic here. Republican officials, Republican Trump officials from Bill Barr, on down, including Republican officials in places like Georgia, come on television, they testify that your worst fears about what Donald Trump were trying to do are true. And the reaction from some of the Trump supporters watching is to threaten Adam Kinzinger and his family.

That`s another way of saying stop telling me these things. Stop saying these things out loud. Because I think for a lot of these folks, they had just kind of buried it. They want to move on. They know they were conned. They know Trump was awful. They know that there was an attempt and a coup, and they don`t want to be reminded of it. And I think that the more that comes out, the angrier they`re going to get.

And look, that`s a normal human reaction. Nobody likes to find out that they were taken that they were conned, that they were wrong. But in our current political environment, that leads to people saying I will literally threaten public officials for providing this this outlet for the truth.

RUHLE: But here`s what`s interesting. Rusty Bowers was one of those very brave people who spoke to the committee, who resisted Trump`s attempts to push him to change the outcome of the election in the state of Arizona. As a result, he was terrorized, his family was terrorized.

And then today, here`s what he told the AP. If Trump is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I`d vote for him again, simply because of what he did the first time before COVID. It was so good for the country.

What do you think of that? OK, he shared with us this pressure campaign he experienced from Trump that would break how our democracy works. And in spite of that, he`d vote for him again, because he really liked his immigration policy.

NICHOLS: But I think you heard Attorney General Bill Barr say the same thing. Well, I hope he`s not the nominee. But if he`s the nominee, I`m going to because part of the rationalization part of the whole infrastructure of self-rationalizing beliefs that I think a lot of folks adopted when Trump became president was, he`s terrible. I know he`s awful. But Republicans have to control the White House and the Congress because the far left will destroy America. Trump is awful. But he`s the only thing as awful as he is. He`s the only thing standing between, you know, America and the abyss.

And I think, again, these are rationalizations that people have to adopt, for the sake of just kind of getting through the day about why they voted for Donald Trump. But in the case of Bowers is, it`s really interesting, because there`s the people who are terrorizing Bowers, agree with him about everything. They just didn`t want to hear the truth about this one thing.

RUHLE: But if we don`t have free and fair and functioning elections in this country, then does anything else really matter behind it?

NICHOLS: Well, it`s an argument I`ve made that if you lose the Constitution, then you lose everything. And I`ve made this argument to people on the left as well who say, Well, if I don`t get the things I want, then you know, I maybe I won`t vote.

For people on the right and the left no matter what your policy issues are, if you lose the Constitution, if you lose our democratic system, you lose everything. And I think people like Bowers and Bill Barr are trying to thread this hip -- very hypocritical needle where they say I want somebody -- I want a far right candidate to win the election. I hope it`s not Trump. But even if it is Trump, as long as it was done legally and constitutionally, I can get behind it because they just avert their eyes and stop thinking about the fact that what Trump`s platform is the next time around will be the destruction of the constitution.

RUHLE: So is Ron DeSantis, the person who solves this for them? Our colleague, Steve Kornacki pointed out a new poll showing Ron DeSantis is the preferred candidate in 2024. Is that because he offers all the Trump policies and none of the Trump stank?

NICHOLS: He`s Trump without the mess so far, and I think that there are five Republicans -- so far. But I think there are plenty of Republicans who want a reason to go back to voting for the Republican Party, because they still believe that it was just a personal issue with Trump, and that the rot did not spread right down to the grassroots.

And again, I`ve argued and I`m a former Republican, I still think of myself as a center-right conservative. I`ve argued that the Republican Party has to be -- has to be just voted out down to the grassroots and that party has to just start over again.


But I think for a lot of people, they`re looking at somebody like DeSantis and saying, Well, if we just get rid of Trump than all of the other problems in the party, all of this, you know, the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and the Boeberts, and the Jim Jordans and all that, that`s not really a problem. It was just about Trump and then they can rationalize coming back to the party and supporting it because Trump has gone, which I think is a mistake, but.

RUHLE: We will see what happens that poll showing Ron DeSantis in the lead is from New Hampshire, not national, but Tom, you might be in luck as a center right former Republican. When we come back, we`re going to be talking to someone who`s working on how to find real solutions for the center in the current construct. We`ve got two political parties pushing further to the right, further to the left. Is there a lane to get in the middle? Maybe we`re going to help out Tom on the other side of the break.




SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): We know this is an issue that divides much of the country depending on where you live, and maybe even divides people living in the same household. But I think we have found some areas where there`s space for compromise. And we`ve also found that there are some red lines and no middle ground.


RUHLE: Texas Republican John Cornyn was talking about the bipartisan gun bill making its way through Congress right now. But he could have been referring to all sorts of issues. And as you may already know, this deep political divide even impacts who we hang out with, about two thirds of Republicans and Democrats say their core friend groups are mostly people in their own political party. So how do we pull the country back together?

With us tonight to discuss Nick Troiano, Executive Director of Unite America, a national organization trying to bridge the growing partisan divide with political reforms and candidates who put people over party.

Nick, I`m so excited to have this conversation, because millions of Americans consider themselves centrists. But the way our two parties are structured, specifically our primaries, we keep pushing further to the right further to the left and away from the millions of Americans that are in the center. Is there a way to solve for this?

NICK TROIANO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNITE AMERICA: There is, Stephanie. I think we spend a lot of time focused on who we elect, not enough time focusing on how we elect because it`s the systems of our elections that are really pushing our parties further and further apart. And I think our politicians as a result are much more polarized than we the people, we`re not seeing the type of solutions and bipartisan policymaking in Congress as the American people want and deserve. And the core reason of that is because of our system of partisan primaries.

You know, in the last election, it was only 10 percent of Americans who elected 83 percent of Congress, because the vast majority of our elections are decided, not in the general election in November, but in the primary election. And that problem is getting even worse, this election cycle after the latest round of redistricting, we`re going to have the least competitive elections of our lifetime, it`s going to lead to the least accountable Congress of our lifetime.

So if we want different outcomes out of Congress, we have to change the process. And fortunately, there`s a growing movement to do that at the state level all across the country.

RUHLE: Well talk us through it because Unite America has four suggestions for election reform, more competitive districts, viable choices, independent voters, and accessible voting. All of these on paper sound like great, great, great, great, but how does any of that actually become a reality?

TROIANO: I`ll give you the best example, which is what`s happening in Alaska. In fact, Senator Murkowski was one of the 14 Republicans who voted to advance the bipartisan gun legislation. She`s the only Republican up for election this year. And what`s notable is that this is the first time where the senator doesn`t face a partisan primary. She`s standing for election in front of all Alaskan voters because in 2020, Alaskans adopted a ballot measure that replaced both party`s primaries with a single, nonpartisan primary.

So all the candidates compete in one election, all the voters get to participate on that ballot, the top four finishers go to the general election and through an instant runoff, whomever wins a majority of support gets elected. And so it gives voters more voice and choice and elections and incentivizes candidates and leaders to campaign and be responsive to the whole constituency, not just the 10 percent, who may vote in a partisan primary.

Now, imagine if additional states were to adopt this reform, we can have dozens of our elected leaders in Congress finally being able to be responsive to the majority of Americans and not the political extremes.

RUHLE: Nick, the operative word here is imagine. Alaska is literally and figuratively really, really far away. What is the likelihood and the timeline of this happening in more states?

TROIANO: Well, the good news is that in close to half the states they have ballot initiative processes available so citizens can literally petition to get this change on the ballot to go right to the voters and more states are working on it.


I would keep an eye on Nevada, which may have an opportunity to vote on this come November, and citizens can organize and other states that have this available to them. And also we can organize to pressure our lawmakers in state legislatures around the country to adopt these reforms. Because our Constitution gives us that ability, it allows the states to determine the time place and manner of their elections.

What`s incumbent upon us is to realize that instead of fighting each other in these daily political battles, let`s join forces together to fix the system. Because we don`t have to all agree on policy and all the issues of the day. But we can agree that the extremism has gone too far, big problems aren`t getting solved. And we don`t deserve elections that are simply between the lesser of two evils. If we joined forces across the political spectrum and demand these changes, Stephanie, I think big change can happen rather soon.

RUHLE: Has it gone so far that finally a third party will really emerge in a significant way? For years and years we`ve said this makes sense. But now we talk all the time, can`t these parties get along? Can`t they just fit under one big tent? Why should they have to? Why should someone like AOC who has an extraordinary platform and deep beliefs? Why should she have to conform and get on board with a centrist when they`re far, far, far from what she represents? Is this a moment where you`re actually going to see things change?

TROIANO: Well, it goes back to the challenges of our electoral system. You know, a majority of Americans are now independent over 60 percent would like to see new competition to both parties. But we are unlikely to get that until we change the rules of the game. Because right now, take it from me, I ran as an independent for Congress in 2014. And the number one challenge you face is that voters who want to support you fear that doing so would be a wasted vote, or would spoil the election and elect their least preferred candidate.

A system like rank choice voting or instant runoff voting can remove that spoiler effect and allow voters to vote their true preference. So states like Maine have already adopted it statewide, states like Utah and Virginia and Colorado are beginning to experiment with this at a more local level. These are the electoral reforms that need to be in place in order for new competition to emerge. And in order for voters to get the kind of government they deserve.

RUHLE: Rank choice voting. Or like someone you actually like, novel idea. Nick Troiano, thank you for joining us. Please, please come back soon. We need to educate our audience with what you`re doing, and why it could really make a difference. Coming up.

TROIANO: Thank you.

RUHLE: President Biden makes his case for a gas tax holiday with inflation the top issue for so many Americans, but could it come with an even higher cost like a recession when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I fully understand that the gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problems. But it will provide family some immediate relief, just a little bit of breathing room as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.


RUHLE: A few states have already suspended their own gas taxes and nationally prices are averaging just under five bucks a gallon that is six cents cheaper than it was a week ago. But here`s the thing, this gas tax holiday, most experts are warning that it would probably not make a very big difference at the pump. So let`s find out why they`re potentially doing it and bring in our dear friend and former colleague David Gura, business correspondent for NPR and one of my favorite tweeters out there.

David, let`s talk about this. Even if it gets through Congress, and there`s a good chance that won`t, we`re not going to see a huge drop in prices definitely not to where gas was six months ago or a year ago. So why is it a good idea?

DAVID GURA, NPR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I think that the President wants to convey to the American public, he`s taking this seriously the gas prices are extremely high. And there`s a lot of pain across the country. And I think you`ll see kind of the meaning of economics and politics and also disagreement between the two things in what the President announced today. And his chief economic adviser was speaking with my colleague, Mary Louise Kelly, on all things considered tonight and acknowledged the fact that it`s just going to be something that sort of makes a difference around the edges.

And that is a fact. I mean, as you say, if Congress does this, it`s going to be a difference of a few cents to the $5 cost of gas right now. That`s a small amount. But it`s something. And I think that the larger package that the administration is pushing for here, involving states, more states, following suit and cutting their state taxes could make something of a difference here.

But I think what he has to do is square with the American people how long this pain is likely to continue. And that`s a very ugly and difficult thing that the President would have to convey. There are no signs that this war is ending anytime soon. And really, there`s no sign that the cost of oil and the cost of gas is going to come down anytime soon, Steph.

RUHLE: Then to that point, I want to share a bit of what Fed Chair Jay Powell said today when he was testifying, talking about inflation, watch this.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: I don`t see the likelihood of a recession as particularly elevated right now. You should know that no one is very good at forecasting. recessions, it very far out. We`re just we just no one`s been able to do that regularly.



RUHLE: David, isn`t it sort of unrealistic that we`re folding our arms and saying, the President needs to level with us? How long are we going to experience this pain? Or why is Jay Powell getting it wrong with predicting this? Are we forgetting that we had a once in a lifetime pandemic, that`s why they flushed the system with cash. And when they said, Oh, we think it`s going to be temporary, just transitory inflation, then a war broke out that almost no one forecast, so it`s easy to say, in hindsight, they should have would have could have done this. These are unprecedented things we`ve experienced.

GURA: It was fascinating to watch that hearing today, because you had Democrats saying that he`s moving too quickly now. And a lot of Republicans saying that he moved too slowly, as sort of the contours, inflation can come into focus. I`ve heard a much more humble Jay Powell a lot more humility in the way that he`s speaking, he`s describing the difficulty of what the Fed is trying to undertake here.

And I actually see a lot of similarity between what he`s trying to do and the challenges he faces and what the President faces as well, it`s this kind of challenge of there being this desire for real sense of urgency versus the reality of the matter. And the Fed is notoriously slow moving, it takes a long time for policy to sort of keep up or change the pace of where things are headed.

We`re at a time when people and yes politicians as well want to say things happen quickly. And as you say, the Fed Chair has administered this very difficult medicine and we know the side effects are going to be quite severe. But we`re not going to be able to gauge or see the efficacy of that for many months, it`s going to take a while. And that`s a real challenge here.

And as you say, and the Fed Chair said it today as well, there is what the Fed can do. And there`s what the Fed is incapable of doing. So the Fed is the institution that historically does fight inflation. There are so many forces here that the Fed can`t control. The Fed is not going to find an end to this conflict that`s taking place in Ukraine, it`s not going to be able to really remedy what`s going on with the supply chains around the world.

So in a sense, its hands aren`t totally tied, but there are things that are out of its control. And that makes this job all the more difficult for Jay Powell coming out, as you say, of this really unprecedented crisis, where the Fed or the central bank had to react in really unprecedented way. He`s in a very unenviable position here as he starts his second term. And, you know, as you say, forecasting is so difficult for the -- for any economist, because to get right. And he announced that today in his remarks before the Congress.

RUHLE: OK, another thing the Fed can`t do, though, is control media hype or political agendas. In some ways we`re talking ourselves into an inflation frenzy. When you talk about it every minute of every day, then every possible business out there raise their prices. Why? Because they can because no one`s going to argue, why are you raising that price? Inflation, inflation, inflation, every restaurant, I can`t get enough workers. And they`re not acknowledging that because of COVID. And outside seating, they`ve now doubled the amount of customers they serve every day.

And in the same way that we talk and panic so much about recession we`re getting people panic for a recession coming, isn`t that adding to some of these issues? And that`s something that Jay Powell can`t touch.

GURA: This is such a crucial point. And I remember a few months back talking with Wall Street analysts, just about this kind of increasing bearishness that you were seeing on Wall Street, how contagious that is. I think that this is a real problem. And you see it with the number of companies who are announcing layoffs, JP Morgan announced they`re going to lay off 1,000 people who kind of work on the housing side mortgage side of things today.

There becomes a sense that this could be somewhat self-fulfilling it. There is this fear leading to actions that could sort of kickstart or accelerate recession. I think it`s something definitely to watch for in the weeks to come, Steph.

RUHLE: And we should remind our audience a recession does not mean the Great Depression. They happen. They happen every few years, sometimes for a long period of time, sometimes for a short period of time. It is a normal part of our economic cycle. Mr. Gura, always good to see you. Thank you for staying up late.

GURA: Thank you, Steph.

RUHLE: Coming up. So many people who heard Lady Ruby and her daughter speak this week. Now they want to help how Americans are stepping up when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you?


RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, helping the helpers. We`ve been learning this week about the impact the big lie has had on dedicated public servants, election workers Shay Moss and her mother Lady Ruby Freeman have described how they were targeted by Donald Trump himself and his angry mob.

Many of us were moved by their wrenching descriptions of just how much their lives have changed, and really been destroyed since then. About six months ago back on in December, Lady Ruby described some of her experiences on a GoFundMe page. She wrote this in part, quote, I`ve had several death threats, terrorist threats, people coming to my home, I no longer feel safe living here. All I wanted to do was support the country that I worked for for over 20 years. That county excuse me. I just needed a new beginning and a fresh start.

And in the hours since yesterday`s hearing, thousands, thousands of people are now pitching in in a very big way. Lady Ruby initially asked for $30,000 in donations. But last night we checked and she surpassed that by 200 grand.

But here`s the thing, Lady Ruby and her daughter should not have to fundraise and start over for just being a volunteer poll worker and actual patriot. And there`s another way to show your support for people like Lady Ruby and her daughter Shay. And many, many others who help our voices be heard every election day.

As actor George Takei suggested earlier today. The best way to honor Ms. Moss and Lady Ruby is to become a poll worker. Pass it along. You can find out how to it turns out any American can apply and as the website points out most poll workers do in fact get paid.


But they never ever, ever should get threatened for trying to do the right thing. So as Americans help these two brave women, more of us can help in their mission to protect our democracy.

And on that note, I wish you a very good night, from all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News. Thanks for staying up late with us. I will see you at the end of tomorrow.