Today, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for the first time in his 37 years in the Senate went to the floor to give a speech pleading with the House and Senate not to impeach Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Donald Trump asked Vladimir Putin to release information about Hunter Biden`s business dealings. President Biden spoke to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for nearly an hour today. President Biden pledged to send another $500 million in aid to Ukraine.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And, Ali, let`s hope that is not the last joint space mission between Russia and United States. Let`s hope something of that can be salvaged.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Let`s hope, Lawrence. Enjoy your show tonight.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Ali. Thank you.
Reporting by our first guest tonight, Bob Woodward, forced Mitch McConnell to do something today that he has never done. Most people who have served in the United States Senate had never done what Mitch McConnell did today.
Today, Mitch McConnell for the first time in his 37 years in the Senate went to the floor to give a speech pleading with the House and Senate not to impeach a Supreme Court justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The last few days, the latest chapter, the left`s quest to delegitimize the Supreme Court found its latest outlet. This time, it`s a coordinated effort to nullify the presence of Justice Clarence Thomas on the court, the far left wants another crack and with a tried and failed to do way back in 1991. Washington Democrats are now trying to belittle this exemplary judge of 30-plus years out of a entire legal subject or off the court altogether. Far-left House members are talking about dusting off their parties impeachment induction for a third consecutive year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can live a lifetime in the United States Senate and never worry about a Supreme Court justice being impeached. In fact, you can live and in many lifetimes incentive and never worry about impeachment. But Mitch McConnell is worried about that today after reporting by our first guest tonight, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, about Clarence Thomas`s wife`s communications with the last Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about illegally overturning the presidential election. There is nothing more rare in American government than the impeachment of a Supreme Court justice. We had more presidents assassinated than Supreme Court justices impeached.
It happened only once in 1804 when Justice Samuel chase was impeach by the House for, quote, 20 tending to prostitute the high judicial character with which she was invested, to the low purpose of and electioneering partisan. Sound familiar?
Evidence revealed by Bob Woodward indicates that Clarence Thomas might be guilty of at least that, as well as specific violations of federal law as described on this program last night by a Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: It specifically says that no justice said I`ll participate in a manner where he has reason to know that his spouse or her spouse has in issues, the interest here is very direct. What Clarence Thomas did was illegal. If he continues to participate in matters that arise from the attempts to get information to the January 6 committee or anything related to the 2020 election, he is going to be violating the law again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The majority of senators voted to convict Justice Chase in 1805, but not a two thirds majority. So justice chase remained on the Supreme Court who is that in 1811. Mitch McConnell knows that the evidence against Clarence Thomas is so damning at this point that he felt the need today to publicly stress that even if the House were to impeach Clarence Thomas, the Senate would do the same thing that it did for Samuel Chase. This time, the Senate would not come close to a two thirds vote to convict and remove Justice Thomas. Mitch McConnell has spent his entire political career, beginning in the early 1970s, reading earth-shattering reporting by Bob Woodward, beginning with Bob Woodward`s reporting on the Watergate crimes on the Nixon administration that force President Nixon to resign.
Mitch McConnell knows that when Bob Woodward reports stories that are very bad for people and power, those stories rarely, if ever, get better for those people as more evidence is revealed. Mitch McConnell knows that Bob Woodward`s reporting of the evidence already gathered by the January 6 committee about Clarence Thomas`s wife will only get worse as more of her communication with the Trump administration are likely to be revealed. Including possibly with Jared Kushner, who will surely be asked by the committee when he appears for voluntary interviewing tomorrow, if he is the Jared in one of the texts reported by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
On November 13th, she texted Meadows about her outreach to Jared, potentially a reference to Jared Kushner, the president`s son-in-law and senior White House adviser. She wrote: Just forwarded to your Gmail, an email I sent Jared this a.m. Sidney Powell and improve coordination now will help the cavalry come and fraud exposed and America saved.
Sidney Powell is the attorney who has been sanctioned by a federal judge for her improper conduct for participating in Trump election cases.
The wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas wanted Sidney Powell to be the lead lawyer for Donald Trump in cases that Mrs. Powell and everyone else cheering for those chases hoped would end up in the United States Supreme Court, where Clarence Thomas and a majority of the Supreme Court would then, in this vision, save America. That is what`s Virginia Thomas believed it was at stake in the illegal attempts that she encouraged to overturn the presidential election.
In an early morning text to Mark Meadows, Virginia Thomas wrote, Mark, don`t want to wake you. It sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the kraken and save us from the left taking America down.
Release the kraken is a line from the movie "The Clash of the Titans", referring to a giant sea monster.
Given the delusional nature of Virginia Thomas`s communications, it is not clear whether she is using that phrase literally or figuratively.
In another text to Mark Meadows, Virginia Thomas supports another delusion. Quote: Watermark ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump and military white hats sting operation in 12 key battleground states, she wrote. During that period, supporters of the QAnon extremist ideology embraced a false theory that Trump had watermark mail-in ballots so he could track potential fraud.
Now, think about that. Virginia Thomas was hoping that it was true that the president of the United States tampered with ballots in over 12 states and had them illegally marked in a way that would allow the president to trace everything that happened to those ballots. Now, it would be a crime if the president did that. It is also impossible for the president to do the. It is impossible on its face.
No sane person could believe the. QAnon followers believe it. Virginia Thomas wanted to believe it.
The Supreme Court justice spouse can be delusional. That in of itself is not scandalous. Supreme Court justice`s spouse can have serious problems separating fact and fiction. The Supreme Court justice`s spouse can have serious problems dealing with reality, recognizing reality, but a Supreme Court justice cannot have any such problems and fulfill his oath of office.
A year and two months after the insurrection of the capital, Virginia Thomas first publicly said in a friendly interview that she attended Donald Trump`s rally near the White House before the attack on the capitol. She told me a Trump friendly interviewer that she left early because it was too cold.
Now, imagine the scene, at the Thomas dinner table, on the night of January 6, when the Capitol is still under siege, the Clarence Thomas and Virginia Thomas not discuss anything that happened in Washington that they, on January 6? Were they watching TV while they were eating dinner, like everyone else in Washington and watching what was happening at the Capitol? Were they talking about what they were seeing on TV?
Did Clarence Thomas and Virginia Thomas discuss what was happening in Washington on January 6 like everyone else who lived through the in Washington, D.C.? Did Virginia Thomas not tell her husband at dinner on January 6 that she was at the Trump rally right before the attack on the Capitol? Did Clarence Thomas not realize at that moment that he could never participate in any Supreme Court cases involving generous except?
A year after, Clarence and Virginia Thomas discussed whatever they discussed at the dinner table on January 6. One full year after that, Clarence Thomas participated in a Supreme Court decision about the release of Trump administration documents and communications involving the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
Those communications contained by the January 6 committee included communications written by and received by Clarence Thomas`s wife. And Clarence Thomas was the only Supreme Court justice, the only one, who voted to prevent those communications from being delivered to the January 6 committee.
Clarence Thomas recorded decision as a member of the United States Supreme Court was to side with the people in the Trump administration, including Donald Trump, who were trying to illegally overturn a presidential election, he was the only Supreme Court justice who made that choice. No Supreme Court justice in history has ever been accused of or suspected of anything worse than what we already know Clarence Thomas did.
Leading off our discussion tonight, Bob Woodward, two time Pulitzer Prize- winning author and associate editor of "The Washington Post", where he has been working and living these reports since 1971.
Bob, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
I just wanted to begin with a new report that we have adding on to your reporting. This today from "The Guardian", you revealed the seven and a half hour gap in the White House phone logs on January 6, "The Guardian" is reporting that at least one call that should have been on those logs was made to Senator Mike Lee. That call came through a Michaels phone the way a call comes through when it is officially coming from a White House phone, the 202-395-0000 identifier.
What do you make of that? That indicates that there was at least one phone call, if that is true, that should have been on those White House logs and is not on those White House logs?
BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, there are a number of calls that should have been. For instance, converse -- there are so many, you cannot keep track of it all. This astonishing seven hour and 37 minute gap that you and I go back to the 1970s in Watergate, it was only a 18 and a half minute gap.
It is astonishing. It is not believable because Trump is making calls that day. Now, this is January 6, the day of the insurrection, I think arguably the most important day of the Trump presidency. He is making ten calls in the morning. Then this gap of seven hours and 37 minutes, and then he makes a dozen calls in the evening.
So, what`s happened? Our records and there are accounts of people that he was talking to. So, clearly, it` s incomplete, it is one -- as one lawmakers to Robert Costa, my coauthor from peril, the book we did on this, report said that it looks like a possible cover-up. Because this is not an accidental time in Trump history or American history because it is the seven and a half hours during the violence of the insurrection itself.
O`DONNELL: Bob, what does it feel like to you? With all your experience covering these kinds of stories. I say these kinds of stories because there have only been a couple, the next story now this Trump story.
I mean, compared to your discovery of this seven and a half hour gap to when you discovered there was an 18 and a half minute gap on the Nixon tapes? How did you feel about those two moments?
WOODWARD: You feel that trying to be a reporter and try to get more information. Make sure you confirmed the accuracy of it, and then ask the question that always lingers, what does this mean? In the case of Nixon, if you recall, Rosemary Woods, his secretary, said she accidentally erased it. There was a famous picture of her stretching to reach the pedal on her desk a racing the Nixon tapes, and a phone call or something else in the office.
So, this does -- as sometimes things did not make sense, and of the I think the really interesting point in all of this is, if you think about this country -- I have been reading Barbara Tuchman essays recently, my wife said you ought to look to this. Barbara Tuchman in 1976 wrote an essay, and what she said is unique about in America is that it is a country founded on an idea, and that idea is democracy.
And what you have in all of this, it is a crime to subvert a lawful function of the U.S. government. I think you and I would agree, or most people would agree, that is one of the most important functions of the government is this certification process of saying Joe Biden won the presidency. In fact, he got all the electoral votes he needed. It was 306 to 232 for Trump.
So, the Congress specified in law and constitution made him president. Since that time, in fact before that time, Trump has been trying to say if I lose the election, it is rigged against me. When he lost, he said that he actually won.
But that is a subversion of democracy. The January 6 committee, I am sorry to be so long, Lawrence, has said that this is a crime. A judge earlier this week said that it is likely a crime.
If you look at the law and the history of this law, go back 100 years, there was a chief justice named Taft who had been president who said this clearly is a crime if it involves dishonesty and trickery. And, of course, that the finds Trump actions on this.
O`DONNELL: The Ginni Thomas texts that you have revealed are exclusively going back and forth between Mark Meadows and Virginia Thomas. We see Jared Kushner`s name being mentioned in there. Jared Kushner clearly going to be asked by the committee, what about your communications with the Virginia Thomas? So, there are -- there`s conceivably several other people, within the Trump White House, who will have these kind of communications with Virginia Thomas that may or may not be revealed.
WOODWARD: That indeed -- Bob Costa and I checked on Jared and talk to a spokesman for him, and he indicated that he didn`t recall getting anything on this. So, we`ll see.
But this -- as you know so well, this is about the perception of the honest functioning of government, all branches. This is, as my colleague Bob Costa calls it, a dangerous, looming entanglement between Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, and it needs to be explained.
We have a system, thank God, -- used to always say, the truth emerges. Sometimes it takes a long time. I think it will, once again, take a long time.
O`DONNELL: I don`t know anyone in Washington who`s done more to help the truth emerge than Bob Woodward -- and, Bob, thank you very much for starting off discussion tonight.
WOODWARD: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, Professor Eddie Glaude and John Heilemann will join us next with more on Clarence Thomas, and Donald Trump`s latest requests for a favor from his friend, the mass murder, war criminal, Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, at least he`s consistent -- consistently immoral and unpatriotic, to be appealing to Putin at a time when Russia is killing Ukrainians, once again for dirt on his opponents, it just once again shocks the conscience. But look, he sought Russian help in 2016 and made use of it. He tried to extort Zelenskyy to help him in 2020.
So now, here we are in 2022, Donald Trump is back at it again. Still the same unethical, unpatriotic man he`s always been.
This man, Donald Trump, cannot change. He will not change. He is who he is. He will always seek to cheat. He will always seek to get foreign help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: As we report on this program last night, yesterday, in an interview, Donald Trump asked Vladimir Putin to release information about Hunter Biden`s business dealings. Donald Trump said, I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it.
Today, North Dakota Republican Senator Kevin Cramer said he had no idea what Donald Trump was talking about, but he completely agrees with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): Well, I don`t know if he has dirt on Biden, if he does he should reveal it. But he`s a war criminal so I don`t expect it. He sitting around thinking about ways you can reveal other information, if in fact he has it.
And I don`t -- I don`t know that he has it, so I don`t know what the president might be talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Eddie Glaude, chair of African American studies at Princeton University and an MSNBC contributor. And, John Heilemann, executive editor of the recount and co-host of and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus". He`s an NBC News and MSNBC national affairs analyst.
And, Professor Glaude, there is Donald Trump mirroring the sociopathic inclinations of Vladimir Putin. Neither one of them carrying one bit about how many babies Vladimir Putin murdered in Ukraine yesterday, when Donald Trump needs a favor, he`s going to ask his pal for a favor.
EDDIE GLAUDE, JR., MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. It`s just confirmation, Lawrence, of what we already know. One just has to ask oneself the question, how much do we need to know in order to hold this man to account? He has affinity with strongmen. He imagines himself as one.
And he speaks the quiet part out loud. What we have to confront, I think, over and over again, is why does he have a currency in our politics? We see, even in a time of war, even a time of barbarity and cruelty on part of Putin, he can still act in this way, and it seems as if he`s not being held to account.
O`DONNELL: And, of course, Senator Cramer spoke for all Trump supporters today when he said, I don`t know what he`s talking about, but of course, I agree with him.
Let`s listen to what -- more of what Senator Mitch McConnell said today on the Senate floor, in his first speech ever, ever, pleading that`s Supreme Court justice not be impeached.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: I have total confidence in justice Thomas`s impartiality in every aspect of the word, of the court. Each of the nine justices should feel free to make every single judicial decision they make, with total independence, and complete freedom, what cases they hear, how they hear them, how they rule, whether and when they recuse themselves, and whether and when they retire. I hope none of the justices give any of the radical left`s during this pressure campaign a minute`s thought.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, it was such an extraordinary speech because he, not only set of the house, listen if you impeach him, the same thing is going to happen to -- he`s not going to get convicted, but then he said to the Supreme Court, don`t you dare change or ethics practices in any way, don`t any of you recuse yourself from anything that you don`t like -- he was speaking to Chief Justice Roberts, and the other members of the court, saying, you should protect Clarence Thomas in the moment like this.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that`s the sign, Lawrence, of the conservative establishment in Washington D.C., of whom Mitch McConnell`s president pro tem, closing ranks around one of its own, Clarence Thomas. You see it across the board.
The Ginni Thomas/Clarence Thomas thing is interesting power couple in D.C., because she clearly revealed herself in these texts to be bat crap crazy, I always say in the show. She`s the craziest, dumbest relative you have, who puts the craziest, dumbest theories on Facebook on a daily basis, about conspiracy theories. She`s that nuts.
Clarence Thomas has never given any occasion that he`s nuts. The conservative establishment loves Clarence Thomas. The far-right activists - - part of fringe of the party, and their higher echelons love Ginni Thomas. That`s a perfect Venn diagram to take you all over Republican Washington that circling among him.
I`ve got to say, I`ve really heard Mitch McConnell -- you and I have talked about Mitch McConnell many, times over many years, the war that is never come out of his mouth about him is stupid. But, the intellectual argument that he`s putting forward there is just stupid. It shows that he`s taking - - it can`t be that Mitch McConnell really believes that every judge should have absolute freedom to determine which cases he refuses himself or, herself, in, or she doesn`t.
I mean, is Mitch McConnell really claiming that if a sitting justice had a vast amount of stock in a company, that that justice should be allowed to resign over that case? I mean, clearly not, right? So, I just think it`s a sign of not being stupid, but just proving this thing, he`s so desperate to protect Thomas, he`ll say things that are beneath his considerable intellect.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, McConnell obviously doesn`t believe any of those things that he said.
Let`s watch this -- let`s watch the issue. The issue of recusal, as it came up, and as it was answered, by Ketanji Brown Jackson. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): So, now, you are on the board of overseers of Harvard. If you`re confirmed, do you intend to recuse from this lawsuit?
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: That is my plan, Senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EDDIE GLAUDE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right, I mean -- well, we`re awash and stupidity (ph) is done so it`s not just simply Ginni Thomas.
But theirs is this a sense in which there is one set of rules for one group of people in this country and there`s another set of rules for other folks. And some people are ok with being hypocrites, and other people are trying toward some kind of moral consistency.
Look it seems to me, Bob Woodward said something in the last segment, Lawrence and I thought was really important. He said American`s an idea, but America`s more than an idea. America is an argument. America is a fight, and we have been fighting undemocratic forces since our founding.
And so we have in this moment, people who believe that they`re above the law, people who believe they`re outside of the norms of democratic life. Folk who think that America of a certain sort belongs to them and the rest of should be thankful.
Some folks believe their liberty is natural while others is acquired and given. And so what we`re seeing over and over again is an idea of American- ness, of American identity, that we have to trouble, that we have to contest
These people fundamentally, in my view, Lawrence, don`t believe in democracy. And they`re revealing it over and over again.
O`DONNELL: Professor Eddie Glaude and John Heilemann, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
O`DONNELL: And coming up with reports that Russian military officials are too afraid to tell Vladimir Putin the truth. We will be joined by former KGB agent Jack Barsky who will return to this program and once again give us his reading of what is happening inside the Kremlin. Jack Barsky is next.
O`DONNELL: Today Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy said that the official count of children murdered by Vladimir Putin`s war in Ukraine is 145. And then he said, this is just official statistics in the occupied territory we cannot identify all the casualties.
It`s quite probably that we have lost thousands or hundreds of kids just kids.
Today, Defense Department press secretary Admiral John Kirby said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, DEFENSE DEPT. PRESS SECRETARY: If the Russians are serious about deescalating, because that`s their claim here, then they should send them home. But they are not doing that, at least not yet. That is not what we are seeing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, the mayor of one Ukrainian city that was shelled all night by Russian forces said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR VLADYSLAV ATROSHENKO, CHERNIHIV, UKRAINE (through translator): This is yet another confirmation that Russia always lies. They are saying about reducing intensity, they actually increase the intensity of strikes. So whenever Russia says something, this needs to be checked carefully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In a new video tonight, President Zelenskyy said, quote, "There is a negotiation process that is ongoing, but it is still only words without the specifics. We do not believe anyone in any beautiful verbal constructions. There is a real situation on the battlefield. We will not give anything away and we will fight for every inch of our land, for every one of our people."
A U.S. official tells NBC News that Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his senior advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because they are quote, "too afraid to tell him the truth".
The official said, quote, Putin did not even know his military was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president.
The official added that the U.S. has information that Vladimir Putin feels misled by the Russian military, creating a persistent tension between Putin and the ministry of defense stemming from Putin`s mistrust of the leadership there.
President Biden spoke to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for nearly an hour today. President Biden pledged to send another $500 million in aid to Ukraine.
And joining us now is NBC News correspondent, Ali Arouzi in Lviv. Ali, what`s the situation there tonight?
ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lawrence. Well, President Zelenskyy confirming what U.S. officials have been saying and what his own military commanders have been saying that there hasn`t been a dramatic withdrawal of Russian troops. The Russians said that they were going to scale back their operations in order to build mutual trust but they continue to shell Kyiv and fight in its suburbs.
They said they were going to reduce their troops in Chernihiv, but that city experienced heavy bombing throughout the night. That continued turn today.
Further east in Kharkiv, they have been fighting heavily again with the Russians there. They say now that their focus may shift to the Donbas region where the Pentagon says a thousand foreign fighters have joined the Russian troops.
And that shift in focus maybe because the assault on Kyiv has been such a disaster.
The Russian military power has shrunk far faster than Moscow had anticipated and that has given a renewed confidence not only to the Ukrainian troops but to the Ukrainian civilians.
But all of this fighting, as it keeps raging on, has also sparked a massive humanitarian crisis. The biggest in Europe since the Second World War. And the numbers are staggering, 4 million Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes. Another 6 million Ukrainians are displaced within their own country. and those figures will only keep growing as this war continues to drag on, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Ali, is there any indication that the peace negotiations or cease-fire negotiations are giving any sense of hope to the Ukrainian people, or are they just on hold waiting for something real to happen?
AROUZI: Well Lawrence, I think any Ukrainian you speak to here are deeply skeptical that these talks are going to yield any results anytime soon. And the reason for that is they will tell you that Vladimir Putin has shown no signs of wanting to end this war anytime soon.
You talk to all Ukrainians here, they say, look, these talks have gone on, there`s been several rounds of talks, some at a high level between the foreign ministers, but they haven`t given any tangible results to alleviate the pain that this country and its civilians are going through, and especially all those children that you mentioned earlier.
So no, there isn`t much hope that these talks are going to gain much traction at this time.
O`DONNELL: Ali Arouzi, thank you for reporting once again. Please stay safe.
AROUZI: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And joining us now is Jack Barsky, a former KGB agent who defected to the United States in 1988. He`s the executive producer and subject of the podcast, "The Agent", available on all major streaming platforms.
Jack, thank you for joining us once again.
What do you make of these reports now that we have today -- American intelligence reports saying that Vladimir Putin is sitting in the Kremlin and feeling misled by the Russian military about what was happening in Ukraine?
JACK BARSKY, FORMER KGB AGENT: If you don`t mind, before I get to that answer, it is about was just said, about what Putin says and what he does.
If Vladimir Putin has learned anything in the KGB, it is how to lie. I lived a lie, I learned that too. You cannot trust any word that comes out of his mouth, period. You have to judge him by his action.
Now, when at first it came up that he -- it appeared that he was misinformed by his intelligence services, I already said, you know, the intelligence service knew exactly what would happen.
You know, they had tons of agents, and still do in the Ukraine, they knew that the Ukrainians would fight like hell. But it appears that there is a mix of things.
Putin did not want to believe what they told them because as a dictator, you always know better. And they were afraid to tell the truth, there is this rather infamous video where Putin has an interchange with a head of the SVR by himself, a very powerful man in Russia, and this man was shaking in his boots.
This is the fate of all dictators. They rule by force, they rule by intimidation and fear, and as such, they will not be told the truth because the messengers are afraid of being punished by the message. That is where we are at now. It`s a dysfunctional hierarchy.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Admiral Kirby said today at the Pentagon about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRBY: If Mr. Putin is being kept in the dark by his ministry of defense, when he does learn the truth, when he actually begins to realize how badly his military is doing in Ukraine, you don`t know what kind of reaction that`s going to cause in him.
So there is real potential here for potential escalation. Again, nobody wants to see that.
And it could also affect his approach at the negotiating table. If Mr. Putin is being not informed about what is going on in the ground, it could affect the way they are negotiating certainly and lead to worse outcomes for Ukraine, potentially as a result.
O`DONNELL: What is your reaction to what Admiral Kirby said?
BARSKY: He is right, Putin has been unpredictable. I do not even know if he is amenable to hearing the truth because that is not his truth.
And there is really no good way out for him in this thing. You know, if he opens his ears and somebody is bold enough to tell him the truth, he might actually escalate because I think he`s on a one way street.
O`DONNELL: Jack Barsky, thank you very much for joining us again. Thank you. Really appreciate it.
BARSKY: You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, we`ll get another live report from a radio reporter in Kyiv, who will join us once again, with his invaluable descriptions of life and sometimes death in Kyiv. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VITALI KLITSCHKO, MAYOR OF KYIV, UKRAINE: We received yesterday information right now the Russian forces move away from Kyiv. It`s not true. All night we listen to sirens which means rockets are back and we listened to huge explosions, east of Kyiv and north of Kyiv. This means the battle is there, that people died still.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the mayor of Kyiv speaking today.
Also today, the Kyiv Regional State Administration confirmed that, quote, "In the past 24 hours, more than sure 30 shellings of housing estates and infrastructure facilities have been recorded. In some areas around Kyiv, Russian forces have moved out but have reportedly left land mines behind, preventing residents from safely returning.
And joining us once again is Andriy Kulykov, a Ukrainian radio reporter in Kyiv. Thank you very much for joining us once again.
What is the situation there tonight, and what is the understanding about the Russian threat that remains in Kyiv?
ANDRIJ KULYKOV, UKRAINIAN RADIO REPORTER: The understanding is very, very acute because yesterday, we had incessant fire both incoming and outgoing for six hours. There were all these sirens about this kind of stuff.
Then there was a lull for I would say four hours or so. Around midnight, there were huge series of explosions, mostly from the Ukrainian air defense. But some of the explosions were very similar to rockets, either falling down, being shot down by the Ukrainian air defense, or hit some targets on the ground.
For the last three and a half or four hours, there again was a lull, but we know that it can start again any moment.
As far as Russian troops around the city are concerned, yes they have moved out in some directions, but I honestly think, as many people here think, that this is just a regrouping.
O`DONNELL: And when you are hearing these attacks, do you have any sense of how close to you they are?
KULYKOV: Yes we have learned to know this and because I had to move my location because I lost the internet connection in my flat and had to move much closer to the very heart of the city.
Today, the last series of explosions was very near. I think that the Ukrainian air defense was firing practically above my head. And of course, the central part of the city of Kyiv itself is very well protected by the Ukraine Air Defense.
But then again, the pose -- I mean the center of the city poses a very desirable target for the Russians. So both advantages and disadvantages of being in the center of the city.
O`DONNELL: And in all of this, how are people, when attacks aren`t going on, how are they able to get food and the things that they need?
KULYKOV: The air alarm lasts usually for three or four hours. So after this, you may go out, and the stores are working, mostly. And besides everyone by now has some storage or food. For instance, I have my fridge back home, very much stuffed to ability.
However I remember I talked to a lady from Mariupol in southern Ukraine, who lived under the Russian siege for almost three weeks. When we talked about how she was able to scrape, she said, do you have enough food? I said I have a week`s supply of food in my fridge. She said, I also thought that a week supply would be enough for me.
But mostly In Kyiv, there`s no alarm as far as food and water is concerned. It`s mostly about the psychological pressure that we are in. And in some areas of the city, it`s also about real danger.
And mind you, the level of air pollution in Kyiv is now nine times over the limit, due to the fires that are burning in different places of the city. And also, in the Chernobyl zone where the peat (ph) layers are on fire and some of the woods (ph).
And of course, when the crowd -- when the air moves in the direction of Kyiv, this poses another threat for us. Not only will they breathe in -- many people had some three or four days ago, had difficulty breathing, because of the soot and smoke in the air.
But it also poses a danger of nuclear residue rising into the air, and making our life even more dangerous than it is.
O`DONNELL: Andriy Kulykov, it is remarkable what you have endured so far, and continue to endure, with other Ukrainians who remain in the city.
Thank you very much for joining us again tonight, and we hope you stay safe.
KULYKOV: Thank you. I`ll do my best to.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.
President Biden received his fourth COVID-19 vaccination today on camera, at the White House. The FDA recommends an additional booster for anyone over 50 years old to receive their booster more than four months ago.
Yesterday, the CDC confirmed that the BA.2 sub variant of omicron, which is causing surges in Asia and Europe, is now the dominant strain of COVID in the United States.
Tonight`s LAST WORD is "booster."
THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts now.