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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 8/1/22

Guests: John Brennan, Barry McCaffrey, Yamiche Alcindor, Matthew Dowd, Joyce Vance, Susan Zeier, Robert Reich


The United States killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike. The United States killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a "precision" strike in the centre of Kabul. Former President Donald Trump finally waded into Missouri`s crowded GOP primary for U.S. Senate Monday night. Kansas is the first state in the nation to put the question of abortion rights directly to voters since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I`ll see you tomorrow day and night full coverage of tomorrow`s big primaries and all the results and THE 11TH HOUR starts right now.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, President Biden`s major announcement a drone strike taking out the al Qaeda leader, one of the masterminds of 9/11 what it means for the war on terror or national security tonight.

Plus, it is the eve of key primaries across the country with the future of democracy and abortion rights on the ballot. And we are back on Capitol Hill with the push to pass the PACT Act to help sick veterans with another boat eminent as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this Monday night.

Good evening. Once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. And while this is the eve of yet another crucial set of primaries, with just 99 days to go until the midterm elections, we begin this evening`s broadcast with major news in the still ongoing war on terror. President Biden made it official just a few hours ago.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: On Saturday, in my direction, the United States successfully concluded an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed the Emir of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. After carefully considering a clear and convincing evidence of his location, I authorized the precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield, once and for all.

This mission was carefully planned. Rigorously minimize the risk of harm to other civilians. We make it clear again tonight, that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States we`ll find you and take you out.


RUHLE: Al-Zawahiri was an Egyptian born physician who founded the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He formed an alliance with Osama bin Laden back in 1998. He was indicted for the simultaneous bombings of multiple U.S. embassies that year that killed more than 200 people, including 12 Americans. He was closely linked to the bombing of the USS Cole in October of 2000, and was believed to be one of the main architects of the attacks on September 11. He became the leader of al Qaeda after bin Laden was killed back in 2011. And he`s been on the FBI Most Wanted terrorists list. The State Department was offered a reward of up to 25 million bucks for help and his apprehension.

Tonight, the FBI has updated that entry to deceased.

As the Washington Post sums it up, it was al-Zawahiri brains and blood drenched hands that guided the world`s most notorious terrorist movement. Our next guest says this move decapitates the group behind the horror of 9/11. And he would know.

I want to bring in John Brennan, former CIA director and MSNBC senior national security and intelligence analyst and retired four star US Army General Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, and a former battlefield commander in the Persian Gulf.

John, how big of a win is this for the US in terms of the war on terror?

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it`s a very big win for a variety of reasons. One is that it has taken out the leader of al Qaeda. This is an individual, al-Zawahiri, who has been involved in terrorist activities for the past 40 years.

And then he boldly relocated from Pakistan to Afghanistan`s capital, Kabul, and it demonstrates the reach of American counterterrorism capabilities and our intelligence collection capabilities, that we were able to find al- Zawahiri in Kabul, and take this action, as President Biden said, with meticulous planning and with careful regard for preventing any type of civilian casualties.

So I do think it demonstrates that we`re going to not relent in terms of our efforts to take out al Qaeda leaders as well as the leaders of other terrorist organizations that present a threat to U.S. interests in persons.

RUHLE: Let`s talk about the precision here, general, because a senior administration official says this guy was taken out while he was standing on a balcony and his nearby family members were not hurt. How does this type of drone mission happen?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, look at as Director Brennan says, this is really a brilliant operation. It was the sum total of the intelligence community the massive overhead satellite photography we can bring to bear on a problem that signals intelligence. I`m sure they CIA still maintains an agent, network and country.

And then finally, these drones, which will put eyes on a target for weeks at a time and they`ll track every car that visits and their license plate, and they`ll put it all together and end up with a target folder that they can then take action on which is what they promptly did.


You know, I think we should remind ourselves though, that when this major terrorist was killed, he was in the home of a senior Taliban official, it looks as if the Haqqani Network was also sponsoring them, which may mean total complicity on the part of Pakistan. So we are over the horizon, we have a limited ability to influence actions on the ground. But this is a very encouraging step by a brilliant operation by the CIA.

RUHLE: So John, what does that mean that the Taliban and al Qaeda are merging are working together?

BRENNAN: Well, it`s a very worrisome development that al-Zawahiri did relocate to Kabul, but as general McCaffrey said the Haqqani Network is, I think, an instrumental part of this story.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, who`s the head of the Haqqani Network, which is a criminal paramilitary drug organization on the pack Afghan border. He is the Minister of Interior of the Afghan government. He is closely aligned with a lot of these terrorist organizations. He himself has blood on his hands and carried out a number of operations against U.S. targets in Afghanistan as well as against the Afghan government.

So it`s unsurprising in many respects that these long standing ties between the Haqqani Network and al Qaeda are now resurrecting in the form of Zawahiri, coming into Afghanistan. And this is something that I think we have to get to the bottom of.

And as general McCaffrey said, I think the Pakistani role in this also is crucial. Does the lottery move across that border with the either the knowledge or the support of the Pakistani ISI, which is their intelligence organization, because of their deep rooted ties to the Haqqanis.

RUHLE: But General part of the deal when the United States withdrew from Afghanistan a year ago was a pledge to not allow terrorist groups to operate within their territory. Given that, and what we just learned, how`s the U.S. supposed to respond?

MCCAFFREY: Well, I think we need to recognize Afghanistan is an utter disaster, their military and governmental entity came apart as we withdrew from Afghanistan. It`s a big difference between having 4,000 people in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and having no overt American presence there. Our leverage is limited.

Having said that, I think the one of the conclusions we need to draw from this is the poor Afghan people who are now under the control of Taliban, you know, position of girls and women is now back to near slavery conditions. There, starvation is imminent. And yet, despite this, the Taliban have embraced a terrorist overt threat to the United States and our allies.

So we need diplomatic engagement with these people, somehow, we need to moderate their overt hatred of the United States and the danger they pose to our military and our civilian population.

RUHLE: John, this was carried out, though, by the CIA, not the military, talking about the significance of that to our civilian audience.

BRENNAN: Well, President Biden said that the U.S. carried out the strike. He didn`t name the organization that did it. But I must say, having worked at CIA for many, many years, including as its director, the CIA, along with the National Security Agency, the NSA worked very closely on these counterterrorism operations, as well as with the military.

And as General McCaffrey said, these platforms, the predators, the drones, that primarily intelligence collection platforms, they collect full motion video, they collect technical signals, and then they`re used to carry out these very precise strikes within inches they`re laser guided.

And so over the course of the last 15 years or so, there has been the technology that has been developed. They are on the missiles, the platforms themselves, that really allow these exquisite operations to take place.

Despite the fact that we don`t have a presence on the ground Afghanistan, President Biden was true to his word that that we withdraw our troops who were still going to have the capability to detect these threats and to take action when appropriate, and we did this past weekend.

RUHLE: Well, even if Al Qaeda is decapitated, I can`t imagine they`re just going to take this and move on in, general. What should we be looking out next from them?

MCCAFFREY: Well, I think there`s always been a reaction it says look, it`s like mowing the grass and you kill one of them and another one pops up replace them but there`s no question that we put these organizations into terrorist organization into a real panic when we eliminate their key people.

Particularly we have an opportunity then to exploit the outcome of it if we have people on the ground and can seize codes and telephones et cetera.


So this is a bloat al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has been severely limited in its capability anyway during the past 20 years, both by the CIA and over tier one military counterterrorism operations will continue to do that. There`s been some spectacular successes by both the military and the agency in Syria in recent months.

So I think the Biden administration done an excellent job of staying focused on what we`ve got to do, which is when we see these targets come up, eliminate them or ask our allies to take care of it. So it`s a good day for the National Security United States.

RUHLE: Well the President said if you are a threat to our people, the U.S. is going to find you. And we did. John Brennan, General McCaffrey, thank you both for joining us tonight. I appreciate it. And remember, the President did pull off this mission while he is facing COVID. And with Congress on the verge of passing a major tax and climate bill, which gets us to the night`s other big story.

The politics behind the next round of primaries just 99 days until the midterms, and a few hours from now voters go to the polls in five states, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state. One of the most closely watched decisions will be in Kansas, the first state to put abortion rights on the ballot since Roe vs. Wade was overturned.

Voters will decide whether to remove abortion protections from the Kansas State Constitution.

Tomorrow will also be the latest and perhaps the most revealing test or former President Trump`s political influence within the Republican Party. Several races could help determine just how much GOP voters believe his baseless and totally false claims of a stolen election.

In Arizona, Trump has endorsed a slate of complete election deniers including Kari Lake for governor and Blake Masters for Senate. In Michigan, Trump back conservative commentator Tudor Dixon is running against four other Republicans, including a January 6 rider to take on Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

And just tonight, Trump announced his endorsement in Missouri Senate primary in that closely watched contest the candidates include controversial former governor Eric Greitens and Attorney General Eric Schmidt.

In a statement this evening Trump revealed that he is supporting Eric. So far he has not yet said which one.

With that, let`s get smarter with the help of our leadoff panel this evening, Yamiche Alcindor, NBC News correspondent and moderator of Washington Week on PBS and MSNBC political contributor Matthew Dowd. He is a former George W. Bush strategist and founder of Country Over Party.

Yamiche, you have been in Missouri for days talking to voters, talking to candidates, including both Eric`s are seeking the GOP nomination. How are they reacting to the statement from Trump? I`m the real Eric.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Stephanie it`s just a baffling situation here in Missouri. Former President Trump has injected even more chaos in already a heated and tight and crowded GOP primary to all of these candidates are trying to replace Senator Roy Blunt in the Senate.

What you heard and what we saw today was really former President Trump trying to flex his muscles. He started off the day by saying that he was going to endorse someone sometime today. Several hours went by before he`d sent out this message that you just said was really about quote Eric, in all caps. We don`t know which Eric it was.

Eric Schmidt earlier in the day. And Eric Schmidt is the Missouri Attorney General. He told me that he was welcoming the idea that former President Trump would be able to endorse me wanted his endorsement. He has now said that endorsement was for him.

But Eric Greitens, who is the embattled former governor, he resigned in disgrace. 18 months after he was inaugurated, he is facing allegations of domestic abuse, sexual abuse. I asked him specifically because all this while all this was happening, and this all this chaos started happening, I was at an Eric Greitens event at an airport. Listen to what Eric Greitens told me when I asked him, how are you so certain that he`s talking about you? And also are you worried that voters are confused by all of this? Because former President Trump at this hour has not used the last name so you`re not sure which Eric he`s talking about. Take a listen to what Eric Greitens told me.


ERIC GREITENS (R) MISSOURI U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: It`s incredibly clear because he was very clear. He wants a MAGA champion. Everybody here knows I`ve been behind President Trump, stood behind him on election integrity.


ALCINDOR: So there you have him. He tried to make his case that he is other Eric. I should also say, Stephanie, this wasn`t confusing enough. There is a third Eric in this race. He`s not a leading candidate. But even though we`re likely sure that former President Trump is thinking as the top two leading characters so there`s another Eric that we should just be keeping our eye on.

People that I`ve been talking to think that it was going to be Eric Greitens because Donald Trump Jr., emphasis on the junior, the son of the former president, he has been in support of Eric Greitens. Eric Schmidt has been seen as someone who was moderate, who has tried to attack right at the last moments of this race but not someone who a lot of people in Trump world see as a MAGA loyalist.


So it`s a very interesting race to watch. And I`ve just never covered anything like this. I`ve covered Trump for years. But the fact that we still at this hour don`t know who he`s talking about in his endorsement just tells you how much former President Trump has influenced here, but also how much he`s also wielding the power that he has over the GOP.

RUHLE: Influence power or just creating a whole lot of chaos. Matthew, I know you recently talked to voters in New Hampshire. And I want to share a bit of what they told you with our audience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re seeing here, but we have something a phenomenon we haven`t seen before, which is a real distrust in the accuracy of elections. That`s never been a problem here in New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are lots of folks in this state who are convinced that the voting machines are you know, rigged.

KYRI CLAFLIN, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I don`t know how the people can voters can come together, when they fundamentally disagree on reality.

MATTHEW DOWD, MSNBC Political Contributor: what`s your sense about where we are today as a country or where the health of our democracy is?

CAROL WARD, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I think it`s breaking down honestly, for me. I just feel like I`m even more concerned now than I was four years ago.


RUHLE: Is that what people there are worried about? The democracy is at stake?

DOWD: Well, first, I want to let your viewers know on election night, they really ought to win and we start getting returns in the political canary in the coal mine of what`s happening across the country is going to start with New Hampshire, there`s two competitive House races. There`s a competitive Senate race, in fact, that Democratic senator only won by 1,000 votes 2016, 0.1 percent. And the House member that`s competitive there, one of the House members, the district he`s in as a Democrat was carried by George W. Bush twice, Barack Obama twice, Donald Trump won the first time and Joe Biden when he defeated Donald Trump. So it`s going to give us a really good indication.

What`s interesting is something that I picked up in the last month or six weeks talking to voters is that yes, voters are concerned about inflation. They don`t like inflation. They`re worried about the economy. But there`s this really deep seated unease about the state of our democracy and where we are as a whole on a number of bigger issues, like Roe vs. Wade, like guns, but the January 6th Commission seems to for many of these voters revealed something more important to them, which is, yes, I`d love inflation to be lower. But I`m really worried for the first time in my life, about the state of our democracy.

And I think that`s the missing piece that some people have not picked up on, is how much people are concerned today, like they`ve never been before in their lives, about what`s going to happen with the fundamentals of our democracy.

RUHLE: And is that energizing people to vote or having people just wash their hands of the system entirely, because there`s all sorts of people who don`t like Donald Trump, but at the same time, don`t necessarily identify with Joe Biden, and they`re not happy with the system?

DOWD: Well, seven, you put your finger on, I think the most important group of voters in this election, which is voters who don`t like Donald Trump, and who also are uneasy and don`t like Joe Biden, it`s about 15 percent of the electorate.

And right now, when you look at the polls, that group today leans democratic. Six weeks ago that group leaned Republican, and so that`s going to be the fundamental divide -- his decision maker in this at this time. Voters, yes, it`s a complex series of issues. There bear -- the Democratic voters have become much more motivated in the last six weeks, again, through a combination of issues like Roe, like guns, and like the January 6 Commission.

So right now, it didn`t it wasn`t the case, six weeks, eight weeks ago, Democrats night now are more energized than Republicans today. The reverse was true two months ago.

RUHLE: Two months ago, isn`t that extraordinary how things have changed so much. Yamiche, take us to Kansas because there is this major referendum on abortion rights in Kansas tomorrow? How important is this to voters there?

ALCINDOR: It`s incredibly important that we have a great -- our great reporter Dasha Burns was there covering this day in, day out. This is a constitutional amendment that will really decide the access that women have in that state to abortion. It`s also in some ways a nap. It`s a (INAUDIBLE) what is going on in the nation, which is that Republicans now having won this big victory from the Supreme Court having Roe overturned. They`re now trying to figure out sort of what they want to do with that victory and how they`re going to take it to the electorate and how access is going to look awful for women all across this country.

So I`ve heard not only from women in this state, which I was in Missouri, but from women all over this country that they are really, in some ways very, very concerned about abortion access. So watching Kansas, seeing how that vote go, seeing how that constitutional amendment ends up or how abortion ends up in the Constitution is going to be critically important for all the other states. So I think it`s a very, very interesting thing to watch.


I also -- I should also notice I`m covering the two areas that are fighting over this endorsement. I also have been talking to some Republicans, especially one young Republican Woman I`m thinking about she`s pro-choice. She says she wants to be Republican, she thinks the Republican Party has done some good things. But she`s worried that they`ve just gone too far when it comes to abortion rights, and she thinks that women need to be able to make private medical decisions for their own selves.

I also talked to a woman who is sort of pro-life she really didn`t believe that abortion should have to that woman should have to ask that they have now but she says even in her case, she wants to have exceptions for rape, for incest. Those are the things that you`re not seeing in some states.

So even the people who are pro-life who are sort of really happy about the Supreme Court decision, they too are saying this has gone a little too far. And we should you shouldn`t go too far as a country of taking away abortion access. So, Kansas is going to be absolutely someplace to watch but also nationally, this is going to be a critical issue in the midterms as Republicans and Democrats fight it out.

RUHLE: Overturning Roe v. Wade in theory, a conservative win on the Supreme Court could be cursing Republicans in the midterms. Yamiche Alcindor, Matthew Dowd, thank you both so much stay here tomorrow night all night long. Steve Kornacki will be tracking the results at the Big Board.

But coming up next, the longest sentence yet goes to a rioter convicting of heading up the mob that overwhelmed police at the Capitol. The message the Justice Department is hoping to send.

And later, it is the tax loophole that favors the super rich and it could be the one thing holding up Joe Manchin`s climate and tax deal. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a very busy Monday night.



RUHLE: An important courtroom decision today could have a major implication for the Justice Department`s January 6 investigation. The first rioter to go on trial in the Department of Justice`s criminal inquiry. Guy Reffitt has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison. That is the longest punishment yet in cases connected to the attack.

Reffitt was convicted on five felony charges in March, including transport of a firearm in support of civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Here`s what his daughter said just minutes after the sentencing.


SARA REFFITT, DAUGTHER OF JANUARY 6 RIOTER GUY REFFITT: To mark my dad is this horrible person and then having a prosecute like this when somebody is maybe even able to get elected again. Doesn`t seem right to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump deserves life in prison that my father`s in prison for this one.


RUHLE: Let`s welcome former U.S. attorney and University of Alabama law professor Joyce Vance. She spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. Joyce, prosecutors wanted a 15-year sentence saying his crimes should be treated as a type of terrorism. But the judge said no way. Is seven years long enough to send a message to other defendants?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So I think the question comes in two parts, Steph. First off, there`s this rather arcane sentencing guidelines calculation question. And the judge isn`t really being asked to pass on whether the act itself was an act of terrorism. I think we can all look at the conduct on January 6 and agree that what Guy Reffitt did was domestic terrorism. He tried to use coercion or intimidation to influence the government. That`s the technical legal standard and the sentencing guidelines. But the judge also had to consider whether applying it here would have been consistent with other sentences that have been imposed in these cases.

And since this is the first one, and since other defendants have engaged in very violent acts, I think the judge was really being cagey and trying to make sure that the sentence would stand up on appeal. So all that is to say that, as a technical legal issue, I don`t think that it`s as problematic as some people have suggested.

You know, the sentence that`s imposed here is a little bit more than seven years, had the terrorism enhancement been applied, it would have been closer to 10 years. And what the data on criminal sentencing tells us is that the most important components are that it happens promptly in relationship to the crime and that did here and that the imposition of punishment be certain so swift and certain matters a lot more than light.

Here`s seven years certainly sends a message to people who might contemplate supporting Trump or others in the future and acts of violence or intimidation against the government. Seven and a quarter years of your life is a big chunk of change to spend in prison.

RUHLE: Well, over the weekend, the Washington Post reported or published the audio of Matt Gaetz, Congressman Matt Gaetz talking Trump pardons with longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, prompting this observation from campaign veteran Stuart Stevens, former Republican where he wrote what happened to the GOP under Trump isn`t complicated or novel. A gangster family took over an organization and turned it into a criminal enterprise. But instead of this being a waste disposal company in Jersey, it is one of two major American political parties.

Well, I might take issue and that waste disposal company being in Jersey. Does he have a point while the DOJ goes after individual riders, there is a much bigger criminal enterprise to take on. And if they don`t you`re just going to keep getting a bunch of low level hit man.


VANCE: You know, I think it`s tough to quibble with the characterization here. If anything, this sounds like Gaetz was trying to imitate an old Sopranos episode, it was just painful to hear this kind of conversation about something as important as the pardon power, which is supposed to be used to do justice by a president. And here they apparently contemplated using it for exactly the opposite reasons.

I think that we can be reassured to some extent by developments last week that suggests that DOJ is now finally in this arena. But of course, delay is problematic and whether or not we`ll get to the end and whether those who are the most culpable for prosecuting or for perpetuating the big lie. And for events on January 6, whether they will ultimately be held accountable is obviously something we`re not going to know for certain until it`s over. And that`s a little bit unsettling for all of us as Americans.

RUHLE: All right, well, here`s what I want to know for certain, Joyce. Donald Trump and his family delayed their testimony in the New York Attorney General`s civil investigation into his business practices to mourn the death of his ex-wife, Ivana Trump.

But since that during that period of time, Trump has hosted this major Saudi golf tournament in New Jersey. Trump has spoken at rallies and he`s out there endorsing candidates. When is he going to start answering questions? He appears to be out of the mourning period.

VANCE: If you can host a Saudi sponsored golf tournament, then I`d say that you are sufficiently prepared emotionally to go back and to testify. The decision about the date will sit primarily with Tish James, the New York Attorney General. I`ve not heard yet that she set a new date for this to occur. But obviously it`s primed to take place immediately if not sooner.

RUHLE: All right, then, we`ll be watching. Joyce Vance, thank you for joining us. Hopefully your dog Bella is on your lap. We thought we might see her tonight. Maybe next time. Coming up, we`re going to check back was one of the family members who was spending their nights on Capitol Hill. Why? Because she is demanding health care funding from, excuse me, health care funding for veterans when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




JON STEWART, COMEDIAN AND VETERAN ADVOCATE: These are the people that I owe a debt of gratitude to and we all owe a debt of gratitude to and it`s about time we start paying it off. So my suggestion is this. They`ve been here all night, for many nights. And when the senators start rolling back in here, I don`t know if you know this, but they`re allowed to stay open past five. They`re not a public library. They`re allowed to stay open past five.

So my suggestion to this Senate would be when you come back, if all the members aren`t here, keep the lights on. Keep the doors open. And don`t leave here tonight until you do the right thing by these folks. Simple as that. Don`t make this harder than it is. That`s it. We`re not leaving.


RUHLE: We`re not leaving. It is a message Senate Republicans have heard since they blocked a bill last week that would have expanded health care to millions of veterans who are exposed to toxic burn pits. For the fifth night in a row, dozens of veterans and their advocates, their families are camped out on the steps of the Capitol pushing for GOP support.

Another vote on the PACT Act could come as early as tomorrow. Let`s welcome back one of those protesters. Susan Zeier, mother-in-law of late Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson. She joins us again from the steps of the Capitol tonight.

Susan, thank you for being here. When you and I spoke Thursday night, your goal was to speak to any of those Republicans who voted against this bill and change their mind. Did you get to speak to any?

SUSAN ZEIER, MOTHER-IN-LAW OF LATE SERGEANT FIRST CLASS HEATH ROBINSON: I didn`t personally but some of the veterans organizations and Jon Stewart did have meetings today with some of the senators and we`ve gotten some positive feedback.

RUHLE: What is your message? I mean, we could see another vote as early as tomorrow. And what do you want them to know? What do you want them to hear?

ZEIER: I want them to know that this bill is crucial for our men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and even in some other countries. It`s going to not only provide health care for them, but it`s also going to provide disability benefits and survivor benefits for the loved ones.

There have been other bills proposed that cost less money, but they basically will cover the health insurance and the health care but there`s nothing for the families once their soldier passes away.

RUHLE: What could a bill like this have done for your son-in-law? He was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer and as we all know it`s from burn pit exposure.


ZEIER: Yes. Heath was active duty when he was diagnosed. So as far as the healthcare and the, you know, financial part of it, he was good. It was after he was put on -- entered in the VA system after he was medically separated, is when everything kind of went to hell. The VA denied him a prescription medication to mitigate an excruciatingly painful side effect from his cancer treatments, because it was $2,000 a month.

So Heath was suffering and he asked my daughter and I to overdose him because the VA denied him that medication. So they were also denied caregiver benefits for my daughter to take an unpaid leave of absence from work and be compensated because he was 100 percent service connected which is important.

But he -- the VA said that he did not prove that his lung cancer was connected to burn pits so they denied him. This bill would change that because the presumption would be there. He -- The veterans would stop being denied.

RUHLE: Susan, I am so, so sorry for what you have gone through, for what your daughter has gone through. And here you are fighting for veterans. You have been there since last week. How long you willing to stay?

ZEIER: We`re going to stay till it passes. We`re not going anywhere like I think someone shouted when Jon Stewart was speaking we`re determined to show the senators that they need to stay here until this passes because we`re going to stay here until it passes. Every day is critical for these veterans. Cancer can`t wait. Your cancer treatment can`t wait. And every day a veteran will die from one of these toxic exposure illnesses or even suicide because they they`ve lost all hope that help is coming.

RUHLE: Susan Zeier fighting for the lives of American veterans, something she should not have to be doing. She`s doing it bravely. Susan, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.

ZEIER: Thank you, Stephanie for having me.

RUHLE: When we come back, former Labor Secretary Robert Wright here on the fight to close a tax loophole that benefits the super, super rich, but Joe Manchin is climate and tax deal could do about it when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




RUHLE: A loophole that Trump, Mnuchin and Gary Cohn all said was going to close so what is carried interest.

Make the argument for me why carried interest should be in there because the White House just said we wanted it out. Congress wants it in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I can`t make that argument. I`ve advocated strongly to remove the carried interest --

RUHLE: Then who wanted it in?

Private equity firms who seem to be keeping that beautiful loophole carried interest that`s not being taken away.


RUHLE: After years of talking about it, Senator Joe Manchin is reconciliation deal might finally start to address the carried interest loophole. But what is carried interest? Carried interest is a share of the profits that private equity or hedge fund managers take as compensation. It`s a performance fee. And under existing law, this money earned by these executives, a tiny group of the most highly compensated business people on earth they get taxed at a capital gains rate of just 20 percent. Why does that matter? Because that is that is about half the typical tax rate of other high income earners, which is why politicians on both sides of the aisle as well as voters who actually know what this thing is, had been demanding it gets changed for years and years.

And tonight, like every other night, I have invited any lawmaker or industry executive that supports this provision to come on this show and explain why. But like every other night over the last five years, absolutely no one said yes. But former Labor Secretary Robert Reich did and he joins us now.

Mr. Secretary, walk us through how egregious this loophole is because it`s not even like it benefits Wall Street, not Main Street. This is specifically for the richest business people in private equity, the people who make hundreds of millions of dollars a year. And until now this provision has been privately preserved while no one pays attention.

ROBERT REICH, FMR. LABOR SECRETARY: That`s right, Stephanie, this is a loophole for the super rich, the richest of the rich, and there is no redeeming social value. There`s no argument, nobody can provide an argument. And that`s why Barack Obama promised to get rid of it and denied because the industry has so much power. And that`s why even Donald Trump promised to get rid of this loophole, but did not. And Joe Biden promised.


It is there in the tax code because the private equity industry, and everybody who is relying on this carried interest loophole wants it there. It is a huge benefit financially to them.

RUHLE: People campaign on it. And then once elected, they hope the general population forgets which we do, because it`s obscure, but it could bring our government over the next decade, something like $14 billion. Yet at this point, Joe Manchin, who wants this to be added to this new package is heading for a collision course against Kyrsten Sinema. Could this thing ended up tanking the Manchin plan?

REICH: Well, I hope not. It would be a scandal if it did. And a pox on everybody involved who did not allow this to go through. I mean, Kyrsten Sinema does like and is supportive of this loophole. I don`t know why. Could it be because she has been a big recipient of Wall Street money? Maybe. I don`t want to impugn her integrity.

But there`s no question that she has got to give way on this. 15 votes are necessary Democrats, every Democrat in the Senate is going to have to vote for this huge bill, of which a part of it is closing this loophole.

RUHLE: But how did Democrats and Republicans move on from this? How do they campaign in the next election if right out there in the open, there was the opportunity to close it? And Kyrsten Sinema wouldn`t do it?

REICH: Well, I think what basically the Democrats have to do is put this bill on the Senate floor and have her vote against it, you know, just dare her say, you know, are you really going to hold up this entire bill? Are you really got to show the country that you are there protecting the richest of the rich with a loophole that nobody can justify? Well, maybe that`s what`s necessary. Maybe that kind of heat would be enough to do it.

Otherwise, I don`t know where the Democrats go, I suppose. I mean, Democrats could come up with maybe something else to fill this gap. But it is such an egregious, such a purposeless and such an obvious payoff to Wall Street and to the riches of the rich, that it`s going to be very hard to justify.

One final point. Both Democrats and Republicans have been the recipients of money from private equity and hedge funds, and from the big money behind them. And so this is a kind of an equal opportunity bribery problem.

RUHLE: Well, my quick last question, then, should Joe Manchin walk away from it, right? $14 billion is a lot of money. But in the grand scheme of things, this reconciliation bill, this package has a lot more in it, a lot of good. Should he lose this if he can`t get Sinema to budge?

REICH: Well, he may have to ultimately. Joe Manchin, though, has been standing up against this loophole for several years. Two years ago, his name, he was one of three senators who put their name on a bill to get rid of this loophole. He said last week, when he advanced this particular compromise, he said, I carried interest has got to be in here. So he`s put a lot of his credibility on the line.

RUHLE: Imagine your boss was getting taxed just 20 percent. Well, you are getting taxed 37 percent. That`s what this is. And nobody can explain why that`s a good idea. But if they`d like to, I`m here every night at 11. Robert, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

REICH: Thank you very much, Stephanie.

RUHLE: Coming up, the very good news at a Texas for a young survivor of the Uvalde school shooting when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, Mayah Strong. There are still so much we do not know about the Uvalde school shooting and delayed response that led to the deaths of 19 school children and two adults.

But tonight, we have some good news to share. After 66 long days in the hospital, the final shooting survivor 10-year-old Mayah Zamora has been discharged. Mayah arrived at University Health San Antonio on May 24th in critical condition. According to her family`s GoFundMe page, she underwent numerous surgeries while at the hospital to help her recover from numerous injuries.

University Health announced Mayah`s discharged on Twitter saying this. Today it was a happy day at University Hospital. Our final patient from the vault a shooting 10-year-old Mayah Zamora was discharged. She passed out roses and left in style thanks to HEB grocery store. She is our hero, and we cannot wait to see all the two accomplishes in the future. Hashtag Mayah Strong. They also posted the following video of her leaving the hospital. Please watch this.


We are wishing Mayah continued success in her recovery and her trip back home. Mayah Strong is right. And on that beautiful note, I wish you all a very, 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.