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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 9/13/22

Guests: Katie Benner, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, Luke Broadwater, Tim Miller, Juanita Tolliver, David Gura, Andy Borowitz


NYT: DOJ taking steps not to rush Trump investigations. Lawmakers ask Archives for accounting of Trump records. Sen. Graham proposes national abortion ban after saying abortion should be left to the states. Gas prices drop but food, housing costs remain high.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield gets tonight`s "LAST WORD". THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, did the FBI get it all? Does Donald Trump still have classified documents? The pressure is on his lawyers to say yes or no. And the pressure is also on prosecutors. Will they charge the former president? New reporting tonight from the New York Times.

Then the senator from South Carolina wants abortion restrictions nationwide. That means blue states too. The rules according to Lindsey Graham.

Plus, our complicated economy, gas prices may be down but almost everything else is up who`s to blame and how do we fix it as THE 11TH HOUR gets underway on this Tuesday night.

Good evening once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. And we`ve got brand new reporting from the New York Times tonight about the likelihood of a Justice Department prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

The paper`s Katie Benner is one of our next guests. She and her colleagues write this, "The department could consider potential charges against Mr. Trump much sooner in the Mar-a Lago documents case than in the January 6 investigation. The people familiar with the inquiry said. The report goes on to say it is unlikely that Attorney General Merrick Garland would be in a position to weigh criminal charges against Mr. Trump in either the January 6 related inquiry or in the documents investigation before the midterm elections."

Also, this evening, a federal judge in Florida has unsealed more information from the affidavit that the FBI used to get the Mar-a-Lago search warrant five weeks ago. Earlier, former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman weighed in on that investigation.


GEOFFREY BERMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: What strikes me is the most significant revelation is that the Department of Justice is investigating Donald Trump and those around Donald Trump not just for the mishandling of classified information but for obstruction of a subpoena requiring the production of that classified information. That is a very, very serious charge. And if that were in the Southern District of New York, that would have the highest priority and we would be moving on it very, very quickly.


RUHLE: That means it`s serious.

Meanwhile, there`s this interesting nugget from the National Archives. The agency told the House Oversight Committee, it is still not sure whether Donald Trump has turned over all of the presidential records that were removed from the White House as his presidency ended.

I got a lot of questions about that. So, let`s get smarter with the help of our leadoff panel tonight. Luke Broadwater, Pulitzer Prize Winning Congressional Reporter for the New York Times, Katie Benner, Pulitzer Prize Winning Justice Department Reporter for the New York Times and Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a former federal and state prosecutor in New York, she clerked for Merrick Garland and Justice Sandra Day O`Connor.

Katie, you are the reporter du jour. So, I want you to start with a clarification here. You are not saying that Donald Trump will not be charged. You`re saying he`s just not going to be charged before the midterms? Is that right?

KATIE BENNER, THE NEW YORK TIMES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: Correct. And possibly not even this year. And when we spoke with our sources about this, they walked us through the timeline, and it does make a lot of sense. So, in the documents case, we don`t know when this court battle over the special master will end. And even without the special master investigators felt that they had about a month or two of work still to do. They had witnesses they want to interview. They wanted to determine whether or not Donald Trump had indeed returned all the documents that he should to the federal government. That is work that takes you through basically the end of the year, and at the Justice Department were to appeal the special master`s case, we have no idea when how long that would take pushing any decision about whether to charge Donald Trump with obstruction and possibly the two other crimes that the Justice Department has highlighted in its application for a search warrant out even further. So that is the math on the investigation into the documents issue.

On January 6, what we`re finding is that investigators are moving with great speed. They`re moving very aggressively, as we saw from the 40 or so search warrants issued last week, but they have not yet articulated any clear theory around charging the former president. Really what they`re doing is they`re focusing on gathering tremendous amounts of information to look and see where there are connections between the various strands of that investigation. One relates to the fake slates of electors that were put forth in swing states that fall falsely claimed that Donald Trump in one of those states another is looking at the planning for the rally and whether or not there was any sort of misdeed happening that could violate a federal statute in the planning of the rally. And then there are also questions about Donald Trump`s financial pack that he`s relied on since leaving office.


Now, while all those things are very interesting, a lot of information is being gathered, and it still needs to be sifted through, and it is a lot. So, I don`t think we would expect anything to come of that for a little while.

RUHLE: Tali, the average person watching probably doesn`t feel like this is happening at grade speed, especially when you consider this guy likely wants to run for president. You know, Merrick Garland and you know how these investigations work? What do you think of Katie`s reporting the charges are not coming anytime soon?

TALI FARHADIAN WEINSTEIN, FORMER NY FEDERAL AND STATE PROSECUTOR: Well, I agree with everything that Katie said, and I would never disagree with her math. And I think it`s also important to remember that there is this unwritten rule in the Department not to take overt actions in the 60 days, and possibly even sometimes the 90 days before an election.

Now, that rule is unwritten on purpose, because it`s just a consideration. And it`s not clear that it would even apply to Donald Trump, because he is, of course, not a candidate in November, he is more just specter sort of hovering over that election. But it does add a sort of an ingredient of caution into what the department is should be doing, can be doing between now and November.

And again, when it comes to overt actions, I think it`s important to note that there`s really nothing to prohibit the department from continuing to investigate, and it would not do that. You can`t just stop and investigation. And we`ve seen lots of signs, including in what Katie just recounted that three, four investigations are proceeding and now we are seeing public signs of them in a way that we did not just a few months ago.

RUHLE: OK, but Tali, we also know that Donald Trump is trying to slow play this as slow as possible. Is there another unwritten rule that says you can`t charge somebody who`s running for president because that could be around the corner?

FARHADIAN WEINSTEIN: Well, that`s the thing about unwritten rules. They`re foggy, and they`re sort of soft around the edges. And look, you`re exactly right, Stephanie, that that is what he`s trying to do. That`s -- the thing about this special master dispute is that the things that he has, the subjects that he put into his filing about the special master this week, really have nothing to do with a special master. He`s sort of previewing some defenses and defenses are appropriately raised, argued after an indictment, after somebody who`s charged with the crime. He is trying to front load those issues, and really change what it means for there to be a special master. A special master supposed to be a kind of helper to the district court to do something discreet, like segregate some documents, is not supposed to be a preliminary decider of major legal questions. But of course, anything that Trump can push into the front of an investigation rather than for these issues to be decided after indictment is obviously very advantageous to him. And that`s his strategy.

RUHLE: All right, Luke, your reporting tonight, I`m going to say is the mind blower of the day. How is it that the National Archives is not even sure if Trump has more documents in his possession? If this highly classified information is so very important, and should be kept under lock and key? How the hell don`t they know what they have and where it is?

LUKE BROADWATER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Right. So, we learned today from the House Oversight Committee that they had a call recently with the National Archives staff to staff call, and on that call, staff from the archives told them they are not 100% sure that all the material has come back from Donald Trump that should be in the possession of the archives. And this was very concerning to Congress. And so, what Congress is asking now is that the archives present them with an assessment of all the materials they`ve gotten back from Donald Trump, and whatever materials they believe are still missing. And then they want them to go to Donald Trump`s attorneys, and ask them to certify that everything has been returned. And if there`s anything else missing, to certify what`s missing?

So, you know, obviously, this comes with a president who has had a history of tearing up presidential records, who we know from our colleague, Maggie Haberman, perhaps flush records down a toilet. So that there could be things or he was known to take boxes with him as he went different places. Are there still things at Mar-a-Lago that weren`t turned up in the search, are there things at other locations? So, these are the kinds of questions they want the Archives to be asking.


And it is possible, there are some documents that they may not know were created, and were also destroyed. So, you know, the Archives only knows what they know if Donald Trump created something, been made no other record of it and then destroyed it. And that shouldn`t be in the Archives. They might never -- they might never get that document back, even though it belongs to the people and not to him.

RUHLE: OK, then Luke, is the National Archives folks aren`t sure who wouldn`t be sure? Because this idea, we`re just going to go back to Donald Trump and his lawyers and ask them, let`s remind our audience, they asked Donald Trump to return everything, he didn`t. They gave him a subpoena. He didn`t. And then those same judges said, yep, we gave you everything back. And then they didn`t as we learned from the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago that turned up 100 classified documents. So, who is it that can assure us when and if all of the records have been returned?

BROADWATER: Right, it`s a troubling question. I mean, you know, we know that Donald Trump and his lawyers negotiated, perhaps not in good faith at some point. It took 20 months to try to get the records back at one point they certified everything had been returned. Obviously, when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, they found many, many more documents that had not been returned. And they hauled boxes and boxes of documents out.

And so yeah, I don`t know -- if the Archives -- there is a way for the Archives to track some documents that they know exist, but are not in their possession. Actually, that`s how this whole investigation got started. They knew of certain documents that existed, and that they did not have that Donald Trump had with him still. And so, if they still have documents like that out of there -- out there, there could be evidence again, for them to ask for another search, whether that`s at Mar-a-Lago or some other property.

RUHLE: Katie, today we heard from ex-NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik, he received a subpoena in the Justice Department January 6 investigation, and I want to share what he said.


BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER: So, they wanted to talk to me about my time working for the election fraud investigation that the legal team was conducting. They gave me a subpoena at that time. They are targeting every single person that either worked with is related to, worked on a campaign or represented the president legally as an attorney.


RUHLE: That`s a lot of information. That`s a lot of people. He`s just one of the 40 subpoenas in the last week. So, what does that tell you about where we are in the investigation and the work ahead?

BENNER: And Mr. Kerik said that the Justice Department wants to know about actions taken around the election pertaining to the election, which makes total sense because keep in mind, the broad January 6 investigation is being -- is looking at whether or not people improperly tried to impede Congress to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden`s when and why. And so of course, investigators will be looking to associates of the Trump campaign to see whether or not have any information pertaining to that larger question.

RUHLE: Tali, I want to turn to the January 6 committee investigation, which obviously is separate from the DOJ. Earlier today, we heard from Chairman Bennie Thompson, watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you circling in on a date for that next hearing? Is September 28th an option you`re throwing around?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That date? September 28th?

THOMPSON: That`s correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talked about the Committee`s cooperation with the Justice Department, is that involving at all?

THOMPSON: We have a meeting on Friday. I plan to bring it up. I think now that the Department of Justice is being proactive. I think it`s time for the committee to determine whether or not the information we can gather can be beneficial to their investigation.


RUHLE: OK, whether or not the information they`ve gathered is beneficial to the DOJ. If I`m the Committee, Tali, why wouldn`t I give all my stuff to the Department of Justice, all the work that went into it came from taxpayer dollars?

FARHADIAN WEINSTEIN: Well, as you know, Stephanie, the January 6 investigation has been ahead of the Justice Department investigation, and that`s unusual and somewhat out of order. Generally, it`s certainly easier for everybody if the criminal process happens first, and there has been some competition between these two. It`s kind of interesting to contrast that with the speed and precision of the Department of Justice investigation in the Mar-a-Lago documents matter where they haven`t had also to manage the fact that some of this stuff was being publicized and is being -- brought out by a different branch of government.


To answer your question, of course, that information has to be transmitted. And the Department of Justice has requested that it be just despite the fact that they would, I think would have rather gathered it themselves. And I do expect that ultimately everybody will see everything.

RUHLE: Luke, one of the goals of this committee, of these hearings is to inform the American people, we`re 55 days out from the midterms, any chance they`re going to have these hearings as people are going to the polls?

BROADWATER: Well, I think they intend to keep having hearings. But the question will be whether they have accumulated enough evidence and have enough key witnesses to bring forward a hearing that can captivate the public, the way so many did, throughout June and July. They are eyeing that last weekend of this month for the next hearing. But it`s very much very much still in flux. I mean, they don`t even have a topic yet for the hearing. There are different ideas being kicked around. We were just talking with Benny Thompson tonight on the Hill about what their plans are. So, I think things are rolling. I mean, it would not surprise me at all to see more hearings next month. I know Liz Cheney wants to keep these hearings going and keep the Committee`s work going right up until the last day of this Congress.

RUHLE: They -- these hearings don`t come with legal consequences, though. So, what can they deliver, Katie?

BENNER: I think that what Luke is talking about really highlights the difference between the Justice Department and the committee. The committee can deliver political -- like sort of they can deliver a political feeling, a sentiment, they can try to actively sway voters, the polls, that is something the Justice Department expressly should not do, and is not doing because its mandate is to serve up equal justice under the law, not try to impact the outcome of a political election.

However, the Committee, especially Liz Cheney has made clear they want to impact this election. They want people who support the former president who are putting forward the idea, the false idea that Donald Trump won, they do not want these people to win their elections. So, they are using this deliberately as a political tool to impact elections.

Now, the caution here and the reason why this is hard for the Justice Department, is because should the Committee -- because the American public is often conflating these two things. And should the Committee in the end deliver a criminal referral to the Justice Department after taking part in a very, very political act? How will that impact the public`s view of the Justice Department`s own work and Merrick Garland`s decision in the end regarding whether or not to prosecute Donald Trump?

RUHLE: Well, we will be watching. Luke Broadwater, Katie Benner, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, thank you for starting us off tonight.

Coming up, Senator Lindsey Graham introduces a nationwide abortion ban. Did anybody in his party want him to do that? Juanita Tolliver and Tim Miller on what it means for the November election.

And later, less pain at the pump. But you`re paying more for just about everything else. We`re going to explain the news we got today about our complicated economy. THE 11TH HOUR just taken off on a Tuesday night.




SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: The point I`m trying to make as I`ve been consistent, I think state should decide the issue of marriage and state should decide the issue of abortion. Here`s what I think, I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say after 15 weeks, no abortion on demand.


RUHLE: That right there is what you call a flip flop from Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He has now introduced a bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks. While the bill has no chance of passing while Democrats control Congress, Graham is hoping to change that. But here`s what Mitch McConnell had to say.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level.


RUHLE: Hmm, I`m going to need help understanding this one. So, let`s bring in Juanita Tolliver, Veteran Political Strategist to Progressive Candidates and Causes, and our old friend Tim Miller, a Contributor to the Bulwark and former Communications Director for Jeb Bush. He wrote the new book. Why We Did It.

Tim, you speak McConnell ease? Can you translate this for us because you don`t sound like he likes what Lindsey Graham is talking about?

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I think McConnell ease that`s something like what an AG double hockey sticks is Lindsey Graham doing? I`m trying to I`m trying to win back the Senate. I think is basically was his answer to that question. The Graham proposal conceivably, it had it been done a different way in a different time and different weeks, like might be something that the Republicans could have campaigned on. But he had -- he made a lot of problems. There`s a lot of problems with that.

One it`s two months before the midterms. Two, the way this 15-week ban works if you are a state like Texas that has about any law at five weeks, or a state like Missouri that has -- a heartbeat bill or South Carolina, your laws stay, it doesn`t move those laws back to 15 weeks and so it`s kind of the worst of both worlds for Republicans where the Democrats can still campaign against Republicans on these just horrifically unpopular state bills. And in the Senate the Republican caucus is divided over the question of what to do about a federal bill. So, this is just another example of Lindsey Graham not having the greatest political antenna.


RUHLE: OK, but Tim, Lindsey Graham is not a dumb man. He`s a strategic guy. Why on earth would he do this? I mean, abortion has never even been a big issue for him.

MILLER: I think Lindsey Graham is a little too smart for his own good. I think he thinks he`s strategic. I think sometimes he`s strategic. But he`s a lot of times recently, he thought he`s being strategic and turned out to be wrong. On January 6, and January 7, when he said the party was ready to move on from Trump. He thought that was the strategic move that turned out to be wrong. You know, back in 2016, when he talked about how terrible Donald Trump was, and that we should get rid of them. You know, for his standing within the party that turned out to be wrong. He was right on the merits when it came to immigration. But that was a wrong strategic impulse within the Republican Party for politically. So, you know, Lindsey Graham is a smart guy, but smart people make really dumb strategic choices all the time. And Lindsey Graham has made a lot of them lately.

RUHLE: Juanita, as devastating as the overturning of Roe vs. Wade was for Democrats, they are seeing this now as a political opportunity. And I want to share with Chuck Schumer said earlier today.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MAJORITY LEADER: Proposals like the one today send a clear message from MAGA Republicans to women across the country, your body, our choice, rather than expanding women`s rights MAGA Republicans would curtail them. Rather than give individuals the freedom to make their own health care choices, they`d hand that power over two radical politicians.


RUHLE: Your body our choice, should that be a bumper sticker right now?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, no lies detected on my end Steph, run with it. And I think Democrats need to keep it front and center and this egg from fraud -- that we got today in this form of this horrible of national abortion ban. I think it`s going to do that work for Democrats so that they can continue to leverage the momentum they have and they can continue to draw the contrast with the extremist MAGA Republicans that they`ve painted him to be that Republicans have lived up to bang because they`ve shown that they`re hell bent on controlling and punishing women and pregnant people. They shown that this was never going to end with Roe being overturned, and that this is their intention. And I hope Democrats across the country run that 15 second that we heard from Lindsey Graham earlier today, where he said, when Republicans take back Congress, this is going to be put for a vote. This is what they want to focus on. And I need that in ads across the country.

I know multiple progressive organizations are investing in ad campaigns, they need to put that clip in there so that voters know plain as day what`s at stake, because what is clear, based on what we`ve seen thus far is that Democrats are mobilizing at historic rates, independents are swinging more Democrats and even some anti -- or excuse me, pro-choice Republicans are even willing to vote in support Democratic candidates because none of them want anything to do with this outrageous push from the GOP.

RUHLE: Go broader than this though, Tim, isn`t small government states` rights sort of the tagline for all things Republican, how do they spend this one?

MILLER: Well, it was an easy fallback for a while, right? When there was a net -- when Roe v. Wade was in place. I think we`ve learned during the Trump years that there are a lot of Republicans maybe not every single one but a lot of them that weren`t so earnest about their arguments when it came to the conservative principles of state`s rights and many other issues before that. And so, I think that a lot of them are changing because the political (inaudible).

And just to add one thing to what Juanita said, there instead even just pro-life -- or pro-choice Republicans, excuse me, that are on the wrong side of this, there are some pro-life Republicans that don`t want a five- week ban and a bounty on women`s heads. They say -- they think that they say that they`re pro-life. But what the Republican Party is doing right now is not how they would define pro-life. And so, this is why the stuff that Lindsey Graham is putting forward is so unhelpful politically.

RUHLE: So, the question I have is, who is it helping? And why is Lindsey Graham doing this? Juanita Tolliver, Tim Miller, thank you for joining us tonight.

When we come back, gas prices are going down. But why is almost everything else so expensive? We`re going to get to the bottom of it when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



RUHLE: Gas prices keep dropping and the labor market continues to be strong, good news. But Americans are still feeling financial pain from inflation, from food to housing it is still costing way too much as we saw in today`s heated inflation numbers.

And at the same time today the White House was celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act which is going to take a long while to make a financial impact. All of that proving that our economy is still more complicated than ever. NPR Business Correspondent and our dear friend David Gura back with us.

David, here`s the big question, right, it was prices are going higher and higher. The Fed is addressing this. The Fed raised rates and prices are still high. You go to get a hamburger so cost a ton of money. You go to buy a bicycle. There`s not the supply chain issues there once were but the prices are still so high.


DAVID GURA, NPR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: They exist to some extent but you`re right and it`s spreading across the economy. Look at the data that we got today and there`s very little that is notionally good in all of it. Yes, used car prices, prices didn`t rise as much as they had in the past. But you saw in everything else in furniture, in the cost of medical care and dental care, so we`re seeing inflation spread, get routed and spread. And that`s what`s most concerning when you look at these data, yes. This all kicked off with COVID-19. Yes, there were supply chain issues. But it started to spread more than that.

And I think that what Fed policymakers fear so much, is that they have been aggressive over these last few cycles, they`ve raised rates by three quarters of a percentage point over and over again, they`re going to do it again next week, they buy a point people are speculating.

RUHLE: OK. But here`s the problem.

GURA: Yeah.

RUHLE: So, prices are high, they don`t seem to be getting lower, what`s the Fed going to do? Raise rates, because that`s the only tool they have. They raise rates, that makes it harder for businesses to do business. And that could tip us into recession.

GURA: That`s been the fear all along. And there`s been this conversation about a soft landing, you don`t hear that from the Fed chair anymore. But there was this belief that the Fed could do this, we wouldn`t hit a recession, things would end up, OK. If we keep seeing the rate increases that we`re seeing, the likelihood of recession gets higher and higher. So, the Feds in a really difficult position here. I think that would surprise me today. So, I like looked at the data and then saw the response in the stock market is there was this kind of blind optimism among --

RUHLE: Which went way down?

GURA: Way down, more than -- only 1000-point Trump`s bring us together, which I am grateful for that, at least, Steph, but you had this optimism that things were getting better, you heard a lot of kind of happy talk from Fed policymakers last week, they were doubling down on their commitment to fighting this. And then that didn`t pan out. So, the Fed is in a really difficult position here. We`re going to see that next week when they meet once again, they`re trying to make this happen. And it`s not happening yet. Talk about the complicated this of the economy. It`s really plummeting from mixing so many people to policymakers as well.

RUHLE: David, for people who run businesses, they have no incentive to lower their prices. And isn`t that the big problem here, this idea, oh, they`re going to lower prices, is anywhere in your life, are you suddenly seeing the cafe around the corner, say we`re going to drop our prices?

GURA: There`s a bagel shop two blocks from my apartment. And there`s a handwritten sign over the cash register apologizing for the fact that prices have gone up and noting that they will come down in the future. And I know that to be -- we know that to be a fallacy. That`s not going to happen. But there is the sense that this is a short-term thing and things are going to turn out. All right, I`m going to go back to the way that they were. That`s not going to happen. And kind of a crazy thing about this moment is consumers are still spending. And that`s something else that`s really making it so that what the Feds doing isn`t working here. People got more money from stimulus checks. And although they had more money on hand to pay for things, so they`re still willingly doing it, maybe less so than they were.

RUHLE: Some people.

GURA: Some people, yes.

RUHLE: And some people who are suffering before COVID are suffering even worse now. And they`re suffering when they go to the grocery store.

I want to ask about one other purchase, not just groceries, Twitter. Today, Twitter shareholders voted and say, that`s right, Elon Musk is in the clear to buy our company. And Elon Musk still saying, nope, I want to scrap the deal. So, what`s going to happen there?

GURA: He`s still trying, we are weeks away from the start of this trial that`s going to take place in Delaware. And something that the head of the court who`s overseeing that trial, has said over and over again, is there can`t be a delay here, if you delay, it`s going to really potentially have a negative effect on -- worst negative effect on Twitter going forward. So, we had testimony today from a whistleblower from a big employee at Twitter, who is head of security making all kinds of allegations. Elon Musk tried to introduce that as a way to delay the trial that`s scheduled to start in October, the judge said no, that can happen. But you can`t introduce the testimony of this whistleblower. So, it`ll be interesting to see what happens there. But this is continuing a pace. Yes, what happened with among shareholders today is kind of expected. They did vote in favor of this. What else are they going to do going forward here. But we`re kind of full speed ahead to this trial that starts ended October.

RUHLE: And again, he made a bid for this company saying I don`t need to do any due diligence, I want to buy it. This whistleblower came forward, after Elon Musk said, I want to scrap the deal. So, is a cord even if Twitter has -- even if Twitter followers love him? Even if this man is hugely popular? Is he going to be able to walk away from this deal? All these arguments he`s making? It`s as though his Donald Trump`s lawyers, they don`t make sense.

GURA: It`s looking increasingly unlikely. And as much as he is seemingly panicking or trying to delay or change the course of this trial, this whistleblower testified today and he tweeted, a popcorn emoji as the testimony took place. So, there`s still this element of we`re all having fun here watching this unfold. Well, $44 billion is a huge amount of money is at stake. I mean, far be it for me to guess what`s going to happen with this trial, but the odds don`t look good from those I talked to.

RUHLE: And we`ll be watching. David Gura, thank you so much.

GURA: Thanks, Steph.

RUHLE: When we come back, some of the things that our politicians say are crazier than fiction. So how are America`s satire writers coping with all of this? Well, Best Selling Author Andy Borowitz joins us next. If you haven`t read his work, you will want to after you meet him, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R) GEORGIA: Pelosi is gazpacho police spying on members of Congress spying on the legislative work that we do, spying on our staff and spying on American citizens that want to come talk to their representatives.


RUHLE: Hi, so in case you forgot it, the gazpacho police another example of the comedy coming off Capitol Hill these days. As our next guest writes in his new book, "People sometimes call our nation the American experiment. Recently though, we have been lab rats and another perverse American experiment, seemingly designed to answer this question. Who is the most ignorant person the United States is willing to elect?"


I am almost afraid to answer that question, so I would like to bring him in, New Yorker Satirist Andy Borowitz. His new book called Profiles in Ignorance: How America`s Politicians Got Dumber and Dumber, joins me now.

Andy, as I start, you`re a satirist.


RUHLE: Given our current political climate, given how off the rails we are, is your job gotten harder or easier?

BOROWITZ: Way harder. I mean, when Trump was elected, everybody said, oh, man, you`re just going to be able to phone it in, the jokes will write themselves. Absolutely the opposite is true. Because my whole job is taking the real news and stuff that you report and make it more ridiculous. And with Trump, that was impossible, because I was like wrack my brain, trying to think of something crazy insane, he would say. And then 10 minutes later, he would like say that thing. So, it wasn`t fake news. It was just early. And that wasn`t really my job. So, it`s harder, it`s harder now.

RUHLE: But let`s say on that fake news, given the amount of misinformation out there, and how politically absurd things are. How often do people mistake your comedic writings for actual factual events?

BOROWITZ: Every day. I would say every day. It`s there`s a lot of debate on Twitter about whether something, you know, I did a whole thing about Lauren Boebert being confused about the 19th Amendment. I don`t know if you follow that story a little bit, but he she said the God only gave us 10 amendment amendments to Moses. So, it was a lot of confusion about that about whether she knew what that was. It happens pretty much every day. And sometimes it`s like major media corporations in China pick up a story and run with them. They think it`s true. So, it`s a problem. It`s one of the reasons why this book is all nonfiction. I just stuck to the facts this time. I didn`t make a thing up.

RUHLE: You started your career writing for some of the most sort of beloved American shows, the facts of life, my -- one of my favorite square pegs. But truly you`ve spent your career studying American culture, where would you say we are right now?

BOROWITZ: Well, right now we`re in a sort of a dangerous, surreal place where we`re kind of celebrating ignorance. You know, when I was a kid, we were sort of living in the space age, everyone wanted rocket cars. And we were really into the Apollo program and space and all that stuff. You know, Dr. Jane Goodall, we all want to be scientists. And now we don`t trust scientists. We want to fire scientists when they go on Capitol Hill. And we have you know, we have governors who hire Surgeon Generals, who say we should be taking horse medicine. I don`t want to take horse medicine. I`m not a horse. I want to make that very clear, Stephanie, just full disclosure.

RUHLE: You just play one on TV.

BOROWITZ: Exactly.

RUHLE: But we`re not just celebrating. You know what you`re saying people wanted to be smart, they wanted to achieve. I want to understand what our leaders are doing because there`s something you wrote about that caught our eye. He wrote about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and you write, "In a desperate attempt to approximate their leaders appeal, some strenuously pretended to be dumber than they were imitating Trump, like a bunch of sloppy drunks at karaoke."

BOROWITZ: Yeah, I mean --

RUHLE: OK, you went to Harvard University, all the men I just mentioned, are Ivy League graduates.


RUHLE: So, what are they doing here?

BOROWITZ: Right. Well, all these guys are Ivy League educated guys, not that everyone went to the Ivy League is smart, by the way, including me, I want to make full disclosure. But what they`re trying to do is they`re hiding their elitist credentials, because I think that`s alienating and they think that`s not going to get the MAGA crowd. So, they`re doing intentionally ignorant things. I mentioned the, you know, the horse medicine thing. But Ted Cruz, you know, is making Mr. Potato Head. Like the gender Mr. Potato Head is like the burning issue. It`s really like he`s trying to be kind of Trump light. It`s like the way Trump needs to take on Rosie O`Donnell. He`s taking on Mr. Potato Heads, so.

RUHLE: And what do you think of these actions, right? To me, you write a lot about Steve Bannon, right? You said on January 6, he was busy washing his hair. That`s funny. But think about how smart and calculating Steve Bannon is. The fact that he is that smart, yet presents himself the way he does, acts the way he does. Is that diabolical and dangerous?

BOROWITZ: You know, it can be. I mean, I think this is all dangerous. I think in a perfect world or even in an imperfect world, the people we elect and the people who work for those people would all be smart and would be serving the public good, but we`re not in that place right now. I`d like to get back to that place. I actually have some hopeful signs that I see out there. I think that`s --

RUHLE: Like what?

BOROWITZ: That was tremendously hopeful a couple of weeks ago, that Alaska decided that had enough of Sarah Palin, that was a great development. You know, my book is all about how politicians have gotten dumb and dumber. Sarah Palin is an icon and that story, she`s -- we have a whole big section about her in the book. And I was a little bit afraid, you know, when I was watching those returns and Alaska was going to happen I then that was awesome that people asked to say no we actually don`t want a national joke representing us in Congress, so --


RUHLE: Then why did you write the book because when you get to the end of the book, you`re basically making a very serious call to action and the American people, was that your intention when you start it?

BOROWITZ: Not really, when I started, I thought, gosh, Dan Quayle has said so many hilarious things. I want to collect them all and put them in a book, and this is going to be a light hearted romp, and we`re all going to laugh and laugh and laugh about what dopes there, except that as I got into the history, you see how the ignorance of these politicians have ruined people`s lives, OK, and they`ve gotten us into wars, and they`ve made pandemics worse, AIDS, the Coronavirus, all these things. You can`t help but be a little serious when you grapple with that stuff. At the end of the book, it is a call to action and saying, you know what? Ignorance has trickled down but knowledge can maybe rise up and so we work as citizens, man I`m sounding serious tonight.

RUHLE: You sure are.

BOROWITZ: Really given it to you, if we work as citizens to elect smarter politicians, we can reverse this trend. And you know what? There`s an election --

RUHLE: But these are smart politicians.

BOROWITZ: They are. I`m talking about smart politicians who will not be afraid to be smart. Barack Obama, very educated guy, also not afraid of appearing smart.

RUHLE: He`s smart, and don`t be afraid to act that way.

BOROWITZ: That`s right.

RUHLE: Andy, great to meet you. Thank you so much for joining.

BOROWITZ: Great to see you. Take care.

RUHLE: And again, his new book is called Profiles in courage: How America`s Politicians

BOROWITZ: Ignorance.

RUHLE: What did I just say?

BOROWITZ: Courage.

RUHLE: Oh my gosh.

BOROWITZ: That was John Kennedy`s book. And I`m no John Kennedy.

RUHLE: Profiles in Ignorance: How American Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber. I was just presenting that for you right there. It is outright now. It is a must read.

When we come back. It is such a simple, yet effective argument. It is surprising it took so long for someone to make it or at least to spell it out so well. Let me show you when THE 11TH HOUR continues.




CHRISTINA BOBB, TRUMP ATTORNEY: I have not specifically spoken to the president about what nuclear materials may or may not have been in there. I do not believe there were any in there. The legal team has done a very thorough search and had turned over. We`ve been very cooperative with the Biden administration and the DOJ and turned over everything that we found we had, so it`s my understanding on very good belief based on a thorough investigation that there was nothing there.


RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, where are the lawyers? That right there was Trump`s attorney Christina Bobb. She`s a former OAN TV presenter, a 2020 election denier, and is now on the frontlines of Trump`s legal war against the Department of Justice over the search at Mar-a-Lago.

And as you might remember, Bobb is the lawyer who signed a letter certifying that all classified material had been returned to the Justice Department. Well, it turns out that was not true, which led our friend and MSNBC contributor Melissa Murray, to tweet this, "MAGA making attorneys get attorneys." And all of this got Leigh McGowan, aka PoliticsGirl, thinking, thinking about this. Watch.


LEIGH MCGOWAN, POLITICSGIRL: OK, let`s work from the premise that Donald Trump is completely innocent. Let us begin from the starting point. The Trump is a completely innocent billionaire who is an amazing president, a brilliant businessman, and he`s being unfairly targeted by an overzealous corrupt Justice Department. Let`s just say all of that is true, which I believe is what some people feel. If that is the case, then where are his lawyers? I don`t mean the ex-OAN host supermodel he met at Mar-a-Lago or the expat and low-level defense lawyer he hired without meeting, both who are now in legal trouble themselves. I mean, where are the top of their class Harvard Law School defense attorneys out of New York or Dallas or Miami or Los Angeles? I mean, this is a high-profile client, a Republican billionaire ex-president who wouldn`t want to represent him, especially if you`re working from the premise that he is completely innocent, and the subject of a gross overstep by the FBI, and there is endless proof that everything he`s done is completely justified. Where`s the crack legal team? Where are the firms charging 1000s of dollars an hour, he should have the best legal minds in the country tripping over themselves to represent him. Where is the team put together from the Federalist Society lawyers?

Leonard Leo and Donald Trump had a deal. They support him to become president and they get to pick all of his justices, including the three Supreme Court picks. Being the front runner for the Republican nominee for president should give Trump first draft pick of any top-notch conservative lawyer he wants. So where are they? There was a period of time just after the 2020 election when he was represented by a great firm in New York, but they quit before they took his stolen election case to court. That`s how we ended up with Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani. No one else would do it. Why not? Who doesn`t want to represent the president of the United States, especially if there`s tons of evidence proving his case. Careers are made on such high-profile wins. So where are the conservative Republican bulldog defense attorneys? Where is Trump`s Johnnie Cochran saying if it doesn`t fit, you must acquit. People represent guilty murderers all the time for profit and high-profile wins. Which lawyer turns away a rich, innocent high-profile client? It`s a legitimate question, because no matter what you hear on TV or true social or Facebook or from Trump himself about planted evidence of a corrupt FBI or declassified information, ask yourself then where are the lawyers? Because if everything Trump and his defenders have said is true, then they wouldn`t be a line around the block to represent him but no one is there.


So next time you go to defend him ask yourself why no one who would make money from doing the same thing will take the job? Because I think that tells you everything you need to know.


RUHLE: PoliticsGirl with some food for thought to take us off the air tonight. Where are the lawyers?

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