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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 8/4/22

Guests: Neal Katyal, Geoff Bennett, Michael McFaul, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Steve Israel, Michael Steele, Vin Gupta


Texas jury orders Alex Jones to pay Sandy Hook parents more than $4m in defamation suit. Brittney Griner sentenced to more than nine years in Russian prison. DOJ charges 4 officers in father Breonna Taylor shooting. Democrats, Sinema reach deal on Inflation Reduction Act. U.S. declares monkeypox a public health emergency. Gas prices decline for 51 days straight.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, a ton of major legal headlines, the verdicts in Alex Jones and Brittney Griner`s trials, and new federal charges for the officers involved in that fatal raid Breonna Taylor`s apartment.

Then, breaking news on Capitol Hill, Democrats have a deal on the Inflation Reduction Act, but they still managed to hook up the super-rich. And the Biden administration escalates its response to monkeypox, declaring it a public health emergency. What does it mean and how prepared are we to deal with it, as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this busy Thursday night?

Good evening once again, I am Stephanie Ruhle. Far right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is now learning the cost of calling the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history a hoax. Jones has lied repeatedly over the last 10 years about the very real Sandy Hook massacre, calling it a fake. Late today, a Texas jury ordered him to pay more than $4 million in damages to the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, one of the 20 young children and six teachers murdered in that shooting. Jesse`s parents wanted at least 150 million for defamation. This afternoon, their lawyer said the next step in this case is the real name of the game.


MARK BANKSTON, ATTORNEY FOR SANDY HOOK PARENTS: The jury just returned a verdict for compensatory damages exceeding $4 million. That`s a darn good start. We now have the punishment phase. I think it`s perfectly expectable that we`re going to see an over nine figure judgment against Mr. Jones.


RUHLE: That punishment phase of the trial begins tomorrow. Jurors have already heard about the damage done by Alex Jones` lies.


NEIL HESLIN, FATHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: I can`t even describe the last nine and a half years living hell I and others have had a door because of the negligence or recklessness of Alex Jones.


RUHLE: And Jones may soon face even more legal Jeopardy. Yesterday, the lawyer for the Sandy Hook parents revealed the defense attorney had accidentally turned over two years` worth of text messages from Alex Jones`s phone. This morning, the lawyer suggested those texts include messages from Trump ally Roger Stone.


BANKSTON: I`ve been asked by the January 6 committee to turn the documents over.


RUHLE: There`s other legal news making big headlines tonight, a Russian court has convicted WNBA star Brittney Griner of drug charges and sentenced her to a total of nine and a half years in a penal colony. Greiner was detained in Russia back in February after she was arrested for carrying vaping cartridges with cannabis oil into Moscow. Today, she asked the judge for leniency.


BRITTNEY GRINER, WNBA STAR: I want courts to understand that it was an honest mistake, I had no intent on breaking any Russian law. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime. And I hope that in your ruling that it doesn`t end my life here.


RUHLE: In a statement, President Biden called the sentence unacceptable and said Griner is being wrongfully detained. The U.S. has offered to swap Griner and another imprisoned American Paul Whelan for convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25 year sentence in federal prison.

And there was also a major development today in a high profile case that sparked outrage across the nation and even the world. More than two years ago, police officers in Louisville killed Breonna Taylor during a botched raid on her apartment. No one has ever been convicted of any crime related to her death. But now federal prosecutors are charging four of the officers involved with several crimes, including lying to a judge to get a search warrant.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We alleged that the defendants knew their actions and falsifying the affidavit could create a dangerous situation. And we allege these unlawful acts resulted in Ms. Taylor`s death. The charges announced today also alleged that the officers responsible for falsifying the affidavit that led to the search took steps to cover up their unlawful conduct.


RUHLE: Today, Breonna Taylor`s mother spoke of her long fight for justice.


TAMIKA PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR`S MOTHER: What we`ve been seeing on day one, you`re learning what we`ve been seeing what`s the truth that they shouldn`t have been there and that Briana didn`t deserve that. Today is overdue but it still hurts. I`ve waited 174 days for today.


RUHLE: I said it at the top, we have got a lot tonight. So let`s get started and get smarter with the help of our leadoff panel tonight, Geoff Bennett, Chief Washington Correspondent for PBS News Hour and MSNBC Political Contributor, Michael McFaul former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and MSNBC International Affairs Analyst, his book titled, "From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin`s Russia," And Neal Katyal, 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.


Neal, I got to go to you first on his Alex Jones situation $4 million. The lawyer for the parents called this a good start. Is he right to expect a lot more in the punishment phase, what could it look like?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Absolutely. So, you know, in our system, there`s two different types of damages. There`s compensatory damages, making up for the horrible treatment than, you know, the life that these parents have endured for nine and a half years. And that`s what the jury put it for a million dollars today. But separately, there`s the punitive damages side, and punitive damages can be very large awards, you know, sometimes even as much as a billion, $2 billion.

Here, I think it`s reasonable to think that with a $4 million compensatory verdict, the jury is going to come back with a big number against Alex Jones. And I think one reason for that is just, you know, the degree of wrongdoing by Alex Jones here is extraordinary, and punitive damages exists to try and say to everyone, you know, you can`t behave that way.

And, you know, we now know that Alex Jones lied about what was in his text messages in the like, that evidence was turned over by Alex Jones`s own lawyer, I guess a big whoopsie. That kind of lawyer seems like someone who I don`t know Donald Trump`s probably going to hire in the next few days, it seems like he meets his qualifications. But you know, something is very wrong, Stephanie, when it`s a lot easier to get a hold of Alex Jones`s text messages, then texts, for example, from federal agencies, like Secret Service, and others that are legally required to preserve them. So it`s an interesting study in contrast today.

RUHLE: Neal, you say that kind of tongue in cheek, but in all seriousness, what does that say about the state of our country, the state of our government, that that`s where we are, he can get a true conspiracy theorists text messages, but not the Secret Service or Department of Justice, like for real.

KATYAL: Yeah, I don`t mean that -- yeah, exactly. I mean, you know, you don`t have to be a conspiracy theorist to think there`s something incredibly ominous about the fact that all of these text messages on the January 6 investigation have gone missing, not just from one agency, like Secret Service, but also from the Department of Homeland Security. And we learned today from the Pentagon as well. And at this point, I don`t think we can accept claims that this is some sort of comedy of errors. It`s not looking fun hits, not looking like a series of accidents that looks like a serious and deliberate attempt to undermine our democracy, plot a coup and try and cover up for it afterwards. Maybe that`s not true. And that`s all in advance. But I think they Alex Jones, things just demonstrates, look, people say their text messages, you know, there`s something really weird. You know, when I was in the government, I used to go and print out my emails on Saturdays to make sure there was a record of them all. Here, these people aren`t just printing them out -- not printing them out, they`re like actively burning and destroying the records.

RUHLE: Geoff, I want to go back to the Sandy Hook situation. Many people are saying to these parents, they finally have justice, it`s a huge win for them. But what does justice really look like? You have spent a lot of time over the last decade, getting to know many of these families, speak to us about what Alex Jones` actions has done to them. If losing your six or seven year old child in a brutal murder isn`t enough, talk about how his actions terrorized them.

GEOFF BENNETT, PBS NEWSHOUR CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: These families, Steph, have been tormented not only by the heinous ways in which their children were ripped from this world. But to have to deal with these conspiracy theories, these vile and viral conspiracy theories put forward by Alex Jones and one of the fathers said that he felt as if his son`s legacy had been tarnished by all of this. And so for all of Alex Jones` followers who have tormented these families day in and day out this $4 million in the words of another family member, the reason why the money was important was because they felt as this $4 million, this fee that the amount of money that Alex Jones don`t have to pay that was the only thing that would get him to stop. But there was no other way that he would be able, that they would force him to stop and that they would find some new path forward.

RUHLE: Ambassador, let`s talk about what happened in Moscow today. It was agonizing watching it. I was following you on Twitter. And it was though you were frantic, trying to understand what was happening in court. Is this all about making an example of Brittney Griner?


MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Hard to say, I was surprised by the sentencing, I thought she was going to get a bit more lenient sentencing, but now we waited for this moment. She decided to take this option of pleading guilty to speed up the process. She now has a sentence. And now she`s waiting as is Paul Whelan and maybe Marc Fogel too, another American who got 14 years for a similar crime. They`re hoping that there can be a trade done for Viktor Bout that you talked about. Bout is a really bad guy. He is a real criminal. He has tied to Russian intelligence services. I think that`s why Putin wants him back so badly. But in this case, three innocent Americans for one guilty Russian, I think is a good deal. And I hope Secretary Clinton -- Secretary Blinken, excuse me, and that the entire State Department team can get this deal done.

RUHLE: Let`s talk about where we go from here, Ambassador. I want to share what we heard from a spokesman for Trevor Reed`s family who of course, was released recently on a swap. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time to get at the negotiating table and hammer out a deal. These deals are never neat and tidy. They`re often politically unpopular, they leave a sour taste, but it`s a country needs to decide if we`re willing to bring our people and what we`re willing to do to get that outcome.


RUHLE: What`s your take? What do you think Putin really wants here?

MCFAUL: Oh, he wants Viktor Bout. And if -- just go on Wikipedia, everyone and look it up. It`s clear to me just from his Wikipedia page, the kinds of relationships he`s had with Soviet intelligence, and then Russian intelligence, running arms all over the world, guess what, that`s what Vladimir Putin is doing today. He has a group called the Wagner Group that`s doing this all over the world. This is a guy who is close to him. These KGB guys, they`re loyalty each other so he wants to get them out. And I think he might even want him for services in the future.

So I think that`s been clear since I was ambassador, by the way many, many years ago whether or not they can do this deal. You know, it`s not clean. It`s -- nobody likes it. Nobody likes guys like Viktor Bout getting out of jail. But it seems like it`s ripe for a deal, and I hope they can get it done.

RUHLE: Geoff, you also spent a lot of time down in Kentucky after the tragic death, the murder or the shooting of Breonna Taylor, I should say. And here we are today, two years later, the Justice Department decision to file charges against the officers. Is this a surprise or was it a long time coming?

BENNETT: Well, it was a long time coming in the sense that the DOJ over the past two years had done a lot of investigatory and prep work leading to this, in large part because officials in Kentucky didn`t. And so you heard Breonna Taylor`s mother Tamika Palmer say that she has waited 874 days for some semblance of justice. And so that came today in the form of Attorney General Merrick Garland and Kristen Clarke, the Assistant AG for civil rights, now charging four former and current Louisville Metro Police Department officers with federal crimes related to the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

And what the DOJ alleges is that three of these officers used false and misleading information to obtain the search warrant that sent police officers to her front door using a battering ram to break down the front door and then they shot blindly. This is according to the DOJ, shot blindly into her home. Beyond that, there are other officers who are accused of meeting in May 2020. She was shot and killed in March 2020. So they met just months later, allegedly in a garage to basically get their story straight, to "Merrick Garland to agree to give investigators false information."

Beyond that, there`s also allegations that an officer falsified a report to delay and impede the criminal probe into her death. And then there`s an allegation of excessive force that one of the officers went from the front of the home to the side of the home, and then shot 10 rounds into a bedroom window, killing Breonna Taylor. And it`s important to remember, Steph, so often the victims as years go by, they sort of lose dimension. They sort of like lose their humanity. But Breonna Taylor, she was 26 when she was killed, she shouldn`t be 29 today, she was an EMT, and her mom said that she was more concerned about the fact that Breonna was a frontline worker. This is March 2020 early days of the pandemic, pre-vaccine, her mom was more concerned about her contracting COVID, were concerned about the risks she faced at work than any risks that she would have faced in her bedroom.

And so we`ll see -- go ahead I`m sorry.

RUHLE: No, no continue.

BENNETT: So we`ll see what comes of these charges. There was another -- this one I think is particularly heinous that one of the officers said that he met with the postal inspector to verify that the suspect that they were looking for lived at Breonna`s address and said that the suspect was received packages, received mail at the address. The DOJ said that didn`t happen, that the officer made it up.


RUHLE: I want to talk about the investigators because the Kentucky Attorney General who led the state investigation issued a statement earlier today, basically defending the inquiry. He said that these federal charges could be used to divide Kentuckians. How is that going to go over with the people who are close to this case, people who worked on this?

BENNETT: It`s not going to go over very well. And Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky AG, Daniel Cameron, who`s now running for governor. At the time, this news broke of these federal charges, he on Twitter had posted a video where he was inviting people to offer him one liners, offer him jokes that he could put in some campaign speeches. That`s what he was doing when this news was coming down. And again, the DOJ today lived up to their mission to step in and protect the rights of the American people when state officials either fail or refuse to and so now, the DOJ under Merrick Garland and Kristen Clarke, they brought federal charges in the George Floyd case. They brought charged charges in the Ahmaud Arbery case. And now they brought charges in the Breonna Taylor case, the first time the DOJ has ever brought federal charges against police officers for the killing of a black woman.

RUHLE: Neal, I see you nodding. You want to weigh in?

KATYAL: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I agree very much with what Geoff is saying. I mean, you know, the timing, it`s been so long for this. She was killed on March 13, 2020. We have the George Floyd murder two months later on May 25, 2020. And yet we`ve already in that case, brought the first case to trial and a conviction. Other two cops are going to trial shortly, special prosecutor in that case, and we`re already at the appeal stage with Derrick Chauvin`s appeal. So you`ve got that, conviction of murder by the state of Minnesota there, whereas here you have Kentucky doing nothing. They`ve never attempted to prosecute the two white police officers who shot and killed her. And they let these other folks go as well. And Geoff is absolutely right. You know, the evidence here looks really damning against these officials. I`m so glad to see Merrick Garland bringing these charges. It`s an incredibly important step in showing that how federal legal action even if it`s severely delayed, Stephanie, can be really important.

Now, the feds are not charging murder, the way that state officials would against the cops, they`re charging federal civil rights offenses, because that`s the tool book they have -- the toolkit they have at the federal level. So it`s an important step. And it`ll, you know, do something to provide some justice for Breonna Taylor`s, you know, murder.

RUHLE: Ambassador, back to Brittney Griner, in terms of our leverage our ability to negotiate, the fact that we continue to give so much support, along with our NATO allies to Ukraine, in this conflict between Ukraine and Russia. How much does that handicap our ability to have any leverage? I mean, Putin`s number one priority right now on the world stage is to defeat Ukraine? And we`re certainly not helping them do that?

MCFAUL: It`s a great question. I don`t have a great answer. I know in the past, when I was in the government, and most certainly during the Cold War days, that we managed to compartmentalize these things, we managed to disagree radically as we do in Ukraine, literally over war in one place, and then cooperate in other places. So during the Cold War, for instance, we were fighting proxy wars in places like Afghanistan, but also talking about arms control, also cooperating in space. And I hope that our diplomats in both Moscow and Washington can do that same kind of compartmentalization to try to get a deal done here.

RUHLE: OK, but our diplomats in Washington might be able to, do you really think Russians will, I mean, the timing isn`t coincidental that Putin would do this while there`s so much conflict going on?

MCFAUL: Again, it`s a great question. I don`t have a great answer. I don`t know what Vladimir Putin is thinking. Except one thing I know for sure, he really wants Viktor Bout out of jail. They`ve been trying to get Viktor Bout out of jail since I was the U.S. Ambassador almost a decade ago. Every single meeting I was in, almost every single meeting, maybe not everyone but with Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, his name came up. So we may think of him as a criminal but they think of him as a hero. And for Putin to get him out of jail, he`ll be celebrated. I`ll bet he`ll meet with Putin. It`ll be declared a giant diplomatic victory for Russia.


RUHLE: A hero and homeboy to Putin, a cold stone criminal to the United States. Neal Katyal, Geoff Bennett, former Ambassador Michael McFaul, thank you all for joining us tonight.

When we come back we`ve got breaking news on Capitol Hill about that big inflation bill making big progress tonight. And is that the GOP showing its true colors at the CPAC gathering down in Texas right now. How can they possibly, possibly justify this guy?

And later, the nation`s newest public health emergency, we`ve got a doctor standing by to talk monkeypox and explain why it is considered such a real threat right now. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on Thursday night.



RUHLE: Breaking news tonight from Capitol Hill where it appears there is a deal on the Inflation Reduction Act that even Kyrsten Sinema is satisfied with. What is not in it, closing the carried interest loophole, which allows the richest of the rich private equity giants to pay less taxes than the rest of us.

So let`s bring in Leanne Caldwell, the author of The Washington Post, Early 202. And she`s now got a brand new newsletter to write tonight. Leigh Ann, let`s put carried interest over to the side for a moment. This thing is a big, big win for Democrats, isn`t it?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, THE WASHINGTON POST LIVE ANCHOR: It absolutely is. This is something that after fell apart months and months ago that no one thought it was coming back. There was some talk that perhaps they would get something. And then a deal last week with Senator Manchin and Senator Schumer shocked the political world, especially everyone on Capitol Hill. And Senator Sinema was the last outstanding issue. They had been working furiously to get her on board for the past week, because she was not involved in those previous negotiations. And now that she`s on board, this really looks like it`s going to pass. And this is going to be the most expansive, the biggest investment and climate change proposals this country has ever seen. There`s a lot of health care priorities that are in this that are going to help seniors, especially. But there`s still some obstacles here. So you can`t spike the football yet. But if Democrats get this done, this is huge for the midterm elections and huge for the Biden agenda.

RUHLE: All right, but let`s bring back this carried interest issue because preserving this loophole does absolutely nothing to help the people of the state of Arizona, the only people who are celebrating this are really rich private equity guys who are on mega yachts on the Mediterranean tonight, by preserving this loophole, does this not say to the American people, yes, big donors dictate policy?

CALDWELL: Yeah, it`s really difficult to understand the politics that Senator Sinema is putting forward here regarding ensuring that this loophole is not closed. You know, as far as Democrats are concerned, taxing the rich is still politically popular, even though Republicans are trying to hammer Democrats saying that they`re going to raise taxes. Well, most Americans anyway, even a lot of independent voters think that taxing the rich is OK. But, you know, Senator Sinema has been adamant about this, from the beginning of these negotiations. She has been adamant on not raising the corporate tax rate above 21%, where it`s at now that`s not in this legislation, in large part because of Senator Sinema. And so she really is bucking the party here on many of her tax policies, but they were able to come to some sort of agreement, but this loophole is still going to be open, Steph.

RUHLE: And it is not about additional taxes for the rich when it comes to carried interest. It`s simply asking them to pay the same thing everyone else does. Leigh Ann, I know you got to go work on that newsletter. So we will leave it there and dig deeper now with Michael Steele, former RNC Chairman and former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and Steve Israel, former New York Congressman, now Director of Cornell University`s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs. Steve, what`s your response to this deal? A very big win for President Biden.

FORMER REP. STEVE ISRAEL, DIRECTOR, CORNELL UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE OF POLITICS & GLOBAL AFFAIRS: Well, it`s a huge win and also well timed. We are 95 days away from the midterm elections, tough environment for Democrats. August recess is actually started now. The House will be called back next week to vote on the Senate Bill, assuming it passes. August is the time when members are out in their districts. They`ve got to have a message, the message has to reflect that we`re making progress on the economy. Now, they have that message. Again, assuming the bill passes, nothing could be more important to the Democrats chances of retaining the majority in the Senate. And if not retaining the majority in the House, at least closing the gap then the passage of this bill.

RUHLE: Michael, your take, governing is about choices. And they made a choice tonight.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: They did and look, it was a great effort. I`m sure there was a lot of FaceTime between Sinema and Manchin to carve out what was necessary to get this done. It is a big deal, this is -- as this close to the election, the Republicans now are going to have to find another layer of messaging to go to the country with is not enough to say, oh, you know, they want to raise your taxes, they want to do all these bad things. Because in this deal are some things that a lot of Americans want to see happen is not just, you know, left wing agenda, there`s some really common sense things around health care, and certainly the environment that people appreciate. So it`s a -- this is a big deal for the Biden administration.


Now, here`s the rub. Here`s the rub. How can they sell it? How well do they sell it? How do they make the case? How do they send it home? How do they get the candidates running in these whacked out districts with these whacked out Republican candidates on the defensive when they want to talk about all kinds of crazy conspiracies, Democrats now can look at those candidates and go OK, let crazy do crazy in the corner. What we`ve done is we`ve provided your family and your community and our state an opportunity to move forward. So it`s going to be very interesting to see how they craft that message on this very, very significant opportunity and when.

RUHLE: Steve, Joe Manchin is often the target of a lot of anger from other Democrats around the country, but getting something like this through leading it, the fact that Joe Manchin, a wildly unpopular guy among a lot of his colleagues who represent as a Democrat in the reddest of red states. Might he be, you know, just the secret weapon for Democrats in the end?

ISRAEL: Well, look, I know Joe Manchin well, I served with him. He`s a friend full disclosure, not only with Joe Manchin, but with so many members of Congress, it ain`t over till it`s over. And you are only as unpopular as it takes to do something like Joe Manchin did, and Senator Sinema to make you popular again.

Most people knew that when reconciliation was pronounced dead that the obituary was premature, that there was still time to get this done that there would be extra innings. Now that we are -- and the timeframe for that was really where we are now, you think Democrats could not afford to go home in August, without messaging to Michael`s point. Now they have the message, they have the bill. They have policy solutions, and Joe Manchin did come through for them at the end of the day.

RUHLE: Michael, since you are already on the crazy beat tonight, let`s talk Republicans because while Democrats are addressing inflation, the autocratic leader of Hungary was riling up conservatives down in Dallas, Texas at the CPAC conference today, here`s a bit and it pains me to even air him speaking but a bit of what he had to say.


VIKTOR ORBAN, PRIME MINISTER OF HUNGARY: Politics, my friend, are not enough. This was is a culture of war. The globalist can all go to hell. I have come to Texas.



RUHLE: You hear that cheering, it didn`t stop there. He touched on several issues now some central to conservatives, immigration, homosexuality and support for Russia. They can`t possibly say, who was this guy, didn`t know him. There, he was in Dallas getting cheered on. Is this who the Republican Party is today?

STEELE: Yes -- yeah, I think we just need to stop beating around the bush and understand what our reality is here. When a lot of people want to do a one off and say, well, it`s CPAC, and CPAC has kind of always been a little bit quirky. CPAC launched the opportunity --

RUHLE: Quirky? OK, hold on, hold on. People can just get around that, oh, they`re just quirky?

STEELE: Yes, yes. Come on, you`ve heard that, I mean, people say that stuff all the time, isn`t it? But that`s how they do the one off on CPAC. Oh, you know that, they`re just -- the young Republicans and they`re kind of spitfire. And they`re a little bit this, a little bit that, but that was not always the case. And so when you don`t see the Ronald Reagan`s and the George Bush`s and the leadership of the party going there, flocking there, setting the tone and carrying a message to the country. What you see now is a bunch of Froot Loops in a room just cheering each other on and now embracing authoritarianism, which is antithetical to everything Reagan and Republicans have said they stood for.

So yeah, we`ve now -- you know, we`ve crossed the Rubicon. So what`s next? What`s next is going to be what this upcoming election is about. Because I`m looking American, and I`m telling you, I`m telling you, right? What you hear in Texas is coming to a community near you. It is coming to a state near you, it is going to be a natural part of the ethos. And the noise we here in this country, if you don`t get a grip on this now, don`t just think this is a Republican part problem, because it is not exclusively Republican, all right?


So the reality is out there that we all need to guard against this authoritarian effort, that is yes, born out of the Republican Party, unfortunately, but it is. But it`s now incumbent on the rest of us, my friend Steve and others, to lock arms together and create a united front against this autocratic BS because it is not American, it is certainly not conservative.

RUHLE: Then, Steve, you ran the DCCC, how do Democrats sound the alarm and message against this? The average American doesn`t know who Orban is, they might not even know anything about CPAC. But to Michael`s point, this conversation, these politics, they`re coming to a community near you.

ISRAEL: Exactly, exactly. Michael is so right. And Ronald Reagan has to be spinning in his grave at the prospect of the conservative movement that used to be the bulwark against tyranny in the world, giving the stage to a tyrant who endorses and supports Vladimir Putin and engages in the kind of invective that the Nazis engaged in, in the 1930s and 1940s.

RUHLE: My producer is yelling that we have to go, but I can`t. I have to interrupt you, this argument, Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave, baloney. There Republicans in Congress right now saying nothing. What is Mitt Romney saying about this? Absolutely nothing. What is former President George W. Bush saying about this? Absolutely nothing. So hearing this, like Ronald Reagan would be devastated. Where are the living breathing Republicans today who subscribe to Ronald Reagan politics warning this country?

ISRAEL: You can -- Liz Cheney and maybe eight others?

STEELE: Yeah. What he said? Yeah, that`s all right.

RUHLE: All right then. What he said Mitt Romney, I`m looking at you. Michael Steele, Steve Israel, thank you for joining tonight.

Coming up, it is rarely fatal, but it is spreading fast. And despite what you may have heard, anyone can get it. The facts on the nation`s newest public health emergency, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




SECRETARY XAVIER BECERRA, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I want to make an announcement today that I will be declaring a public health emergency on monkeypox. We`re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously, and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus.


RUHLE: There are now more than 6000 cases of monkeypox in this country more than anywhere else in the world. And declaring the outbreak a public health emergency means the U.S. can now speed up its response to the virus, especially in states in desperate need of vaccines. There are still a lot of questions surrounding the outbreak. And that is why we are turning to Dr. Van Gupta, a Critical Care Pulmonologist in Seattle. He`s also on the faculty at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Dr. Gupta, I am so glad you`re here, talk to me like I`m a patient. How severe is this and who`s at risk?

DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Stephanie, good evening. So what we -- here`s what we know to all your viewers out there that, unlike say COVID-19, which can easily spread through the air, through these tiny droplets. So we`ve been talking about for two and a half years. Here, it`s almost the exact opposite with monkeypox, where you need close, physical contact with somebody who`s symptomatic likely has the classic lesion of rash of monkeypox that is classic, when somebody develops symptoms, usually they`ll have a red rash to begin with. You need close contact physically to that rash, Stephanie. So that`s a key component here.

It`s part of the reason why to the general public out there, just to put you at ease a bit because we`ve been talking a lot about this, that this is a very different risk than COVID to you. This is not the same risk to the general public as COVID-19 has been because transmission dynamics are very different, you need close physical contact. It does appear that members of the LGBTQ community are heavily impacted. We`ve been talking about that for a very long time now. So there does appear to be a sexual transmission component here. But Stephanie, as we learn more, as we test more, FTAs, putting more tests out there. And likely in the next four to six weeks, we`re going to be testing more, we`re going to see that this is not -- just going to be restricted to that specific community, schools are going to open up, congregate living facilities. So we`re going to see some edge cases there, but close physical contact, specifically in these communities, that`s what we`re seeing.

RUHLE: But for the people who do get sick, they can get very sick and the last time you joined us, you talked about the unnecessary red tape that surrounding treatments. We have the tools to help the patients, but we couldn`t get those tools to them. Will this declaration finally change that?


GUPTA: It will and so credit to the FDA, the commissioner of the FDA and our leaders of the HHS, they`ve -- they have responded to what was a slow start to this crisis. And today`s response here is and declaration is an important move here, Stephanie. Let me clarify why. There`s something called the expanded access program in which the FDA, CDC are basically making available something called TPOXX for short. Something we you and I talked about, it`s a medication that actually has never been tested in human beings in terms of its effectiveness at fighting off a monkeypox infection. We have animal data, studies in animals showing it might be effective. We know it`s safe in human beings, healthy volunteers not infected with monkeypox. So we`re taking in some ways a leap of faith here that this is likely to be effective in humans, you don`t have that data, which is why this expanded use program is important. So that the FDA, CDC can make it as available as possible, but can collect data as well, so that we can have information to get it finally approved. So that`s why there is still some measure of paperwork, but it`s vastly more streamlined than it was two weeks ago, Stephanie. Now, you can get at your community health center, and more places outside the big gleaming academic medical center. So that`s critical.

Also, I`ll say from this declaration today, Stephanie, something really important that Commissioner Califf mentioned, Dr. Califf of the FDA, that it looks like we might be actually be able to divide existing doses of the monkeypox vaccine by five and administer them intradermally. So for those who`ve had a PPD test to see if you`ve been exposed to say tuberculosis, if you`re a healthcare worker, you get this all the time, it`s actually a more shallow way to get a vaccine, Stephanie, than the way we say get the COVID shot, which is widens the muscle, right down at a much deeper shot here, you would actually get a pretty superficial shot. And what we`re seeing and the FDA is going to be rendering a final verdict shortly, is that you can get 20% of the vaccine that currently exists. So five doses in one, we can split it up to five more people, it`s as effective if administered in this superficial way. More vaccines, more people, that`s a good thing, number one. Number two is really critical that if even if they go that way, that that second dose four weeks later is going to be key to really fighting off any infection for those that are high risk for exposure.

RUHLE: And a key to getting smarter and safer as having you join us. So thank you for being here tonight, Dr. Vin Gupta.

Coming up, remember all that pain at the pump? Well, there has been a whole lot of relief these days. Look for facts sake, when we come back on gas prices when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



RUHLE: Have you noticed, it is not costing you as much to fill up your gas tank. That is because gas prices have fallen for 51 straight days. We told you right here, we were going to cover gas prices when they`re high. And for fact sake, we`re going to keep covering them when they go down. And that is what they`re doing.

A month ago you are shelling out on average, four bucks and 81 cents a gallon. Now that`s down to $4.14. And get this, AAA says in 20 states drivers are seeing prices below four bucks a gallon. So what`s behind the drop? Well, there`s a few factors one, Americans are driving less because of high prices. We`re talking less than the first summer of the pandemic. That`s when the only traveling you could do was in your car, a van or an RV. Then there are those increasing fears of a recession that is also pushing down demand and prices and analysts are predicting that prices will continue to tumble over the next few months. But there are some caveats. The war in Ukraine could still impact global supply or hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico could shut down refineries. Both of those would drive prices up again.

Meanwhile, we will get a better look at the economy and labor market when the July jobs report is released tomorrow morning. It`s expected to show fewer jobs were created than the month before with the unemployment rate remaining very low right around 3.6%. Of course we will be here to break all of that down for you tomorrow night.

Coming up, she told us when the time was right. She take the jacket off and do not miss a moment. She`s ready to do it, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




RUHLE: Here you are fighting for veterans, you have been there since last week. How long are you willing to stay?

SUSAN ZEIER, MOTHER-IN-LAW OF LATE SGT. FIRST CLASS HEATH ROBINSON: We`re going to stay until it passes. Every day is critical for these veterans. Cancer can`t wait.


RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, remember your oath. Susan Zeier sure did. She kept her promise and stayed right there on Capitol Hill with veterans and their families until the PACT Act was passed earlier this week. The actual legislation is named in honor of her son-in-law Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson. He died from a rare form of lung cancer that he was convinced was caused by burn pit exposure while he was serving in Iraq. Susan says she has been wearing Heath`s army jacket for nearly five years now, carrying him on her shoulders as she fought for veteran`s health care. And shortly after the bill finally did pass, well that was the moment Susan decided she could finally surrender that jacket. Take a look.


ZEIER: Now, I got to retire for good.



ZEIER: Yeah, take off.


ZEIER: You did it, yeah. You did it. Heath made me promise him was that, I would carry on his story to help these other veterans. I`m just thrilled today that it passed because we don`t want to see another family suffer like ours did.


RUHLE: Our most sincere congratulations to Susan, the veterans Jon Stewart and all the advocates who worked so tirelessly to get these veterans the help they need. And I know this word gets tossed around a lot, a lot of people claim to be one. But if you`re wondering what a patriot looks like, it`s Susan Zeier.

And on that note, I wish you all a very 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.