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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/13/22

Guests: Colin Allred, Tressie McMillan Cottom, John Spencer


North Carolina is investigating Donald Trump`s last White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for fraudulently voting in the 2020 election from a fake address in North Carolina; the Macon County Board of Elections confirmed to NBC news that Meadows was removed from the voter rolls citing, quote, documentation indicated he had lived in Virginia and last voted in the 2021 election there. Interview with Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX). Tressie McMillan Cottom says that shame can be functionally good, like when it keeps your pants on in public. Despite the bad rap that shame gets in our overly psycho analyzed culture, it is merely a feedback loop that tells you something about your behavior as well as the expectations of others.



And as soon as you said that, I actually wrote down late May and early June into my schedule. That has been moving overtime. I think the earliest testament they gave a while back was maybe as early as March, but now they are moving into that point.

Rachel, it was also interesting when you reported that report from "The New York Times" about, Donald Trump gave these witnesses permission, authorized them, to speak to the committee. It is such a strange bit in this story. My theory about it, just a theory, just a theory, is that the source for "The New York Times" on Donald Trump authorizing this was Donald Trump. Because the reporters of that story have direct access to Donald Trump, they have in the past.

It sounds like Donald Trump is trying to say, I am in complete control of this. The White House -- the former White House counsel did not go and testify there today on his own without checking with me. I authorized it. That is just a theory, just a theory.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": I am in complete control. He is definitely still differential to me, there is nothing to worry about, all of this is fine, I don`t smell anything burning. I know. That is exactly what I thought as well.

I mean, people who won time delivered a newspaper to the White House while Trump was president are like, executive privilege, I can testify.

But the White House counsel and the deputy White House counsel showing up? The idea that this is something that does not bother Trump at all in terms of privilege claims, it just puts the lie to the whole thing. I would bet money that what you are surmising is correct.

O`DONNELL: And when you asked the congresswoman about it, I was watching her very carefully, she did what she was supposed to do. She did not turn over any cards at all. As a member of the committee, but it certainly had the air of that had nothing to do with anything that happened today. I mean, you didn`t get the feeling that there was the slightest mention of that in the committee today.

MADDOW: Yeah. She was like, you know? It is breaking news, and so we will have to wait and see. We would not want to guess.

Yes, she was very diplomatic about it. There is a lot that is going on right now that is probably creating a burnings smell. A proverbial burning smell around the former president, including what seems to be Rudy Giuliani moving towards the end of his federal criminal investigation around his actions in Ukraine, the White House counsel testifying today, his daughter and son-in-law testifying recently, what has just happen in terms of the civil case against him in New York state, and the New York attorney general.

I mean, all of this stuff is cooking at the same time. I am sure that is a bit hot in here anyway. To the extent that he wants to proclaim that he is in control, I can relate.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to get into all of it with Neal Katyal and Claire McCaskill.

MADDOW: Excellent. Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

Well, we also have a new indication tonight that Attorney General Merrick Garland and this may be the biggest news of the night, that Merrick Garland has authorized the Justice Department to investigate Donald Trump and the Trump White House.

This comes in a letter from the Justice Department to the House Oversight Committee, refusing a request from the committee to provide an inventory of 15 boxes of White House records that Donald Trump took illegally to Florida when he moved out of the White House. And a letter reviewed by "The Washington Post", acting assistant attorney general wrote, quote: The department previously asked National Archives and records administration not to share or otherwise disclose to others information relating to this matter in order to protect the integrity of our ongoing work.

The Justice Department policy is generally to not announce federal criminal investigations. Sometimes we discover that federal investigations are underway when people receive subpoenas to testify to grand juries.


There are several ways that it can leak out and become public information, that a Justice Department investigation is underway.

And this letter to Congress, this letter, it is one of those ways. A letter to Congress from the Justice Department refusing to turn over information to, quote, protect the integrity of our ongoing work. That is the single strongest indications yet that Donald Trump is tonight the subject of a federal investigation.

Neal Katyal of the Obama Justice Department will join us in a moment with his interpretation of the news making letter from the Justice Department. There is another ongoing investigation of someone who worked in the Trump White House, and this one is about exactly, and I mean exactly the kind of voter fraud Donald Trump kept warning against during the 2020 presidential campaign.

North Carolina is investigating Donald Trump`s last White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for fraudulently voting in the 2020 election from a fake address in North Carolina. The Macon County Board of Elections confirmed to NBC news that Meadows was removed from the voter rolls citing, quote, documentation indicated he had lived in Virginia and last voted in the 2021 election there.

Like all cases of voter fraud, Mark Meadows illegal voting had no effect on the outcome of the election. Donald Trump won North Carolina by 74,083 votes. If Mark Meadows and his wife are found to have both fraudulently voted from an address where they have never lived, then Donald Trump`s real winning margin in North Carolina would go all the way down to 74,481 votes.

Donald Trump has not yet condemned Mark Meadows for appearing to commit voter fraud in North Carolina. But at least Donald Trump didn`t say it was genius. Donald Trump deserves that kind of praise for Vladimir Putin`s murderous rampage in Ukraine.

Rudolph Giuliani, as Rachel just said, maybe offering some cooperation to the prosecutors who are investigating his activities and Ukraine. Giuliani is by far the most disgraced former U.S. attorney from the district of New York, and it is that same office that is investigating Giuliani after conducting raids last year to obtain Giuliani`s records, and electronic devices at his home and office in New York City.

CNN is reporting that Giuliani recently helped federal investigators unlocked several electronic devices that were seized in the raids a year ago. Two other lawyers who worked with Donald Trump met with the January 6th Committee today. Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin, they met with the committee. They did not testify under oath.

And here is the interesting tidbit: "The New York Times" is reporting tonight, Trump authorized them to engage with the panel, according to a person familiar with the matter. A person who might be Donald Trump.

One of the people on trial in Washington this week for his part in the insurrection at the Capitol is asking the jury to find him not guilty because Donald Trump made him do it. Thirty-eight-year-old Dustin Thompson drove with a friend from Columbus, Ohio, to Silver Spring, Maryland, took an Uber into Washington, D.C. on the morning of January 6th, and before long he was in the parliamentarian`s office where he decided to steal a coat rack.

He is charged with six counts of obstructing Congress joint session to certify the Electoral College vote, theft of government property, entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly or disruptive conduct and a Capitol building, and parading demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Thompson`s defense attorney Sam Shamansky is arguing in court that Donald Trump, quote, authorized this assault. It was a plot, it was a scheme. It was a conspiracy that began at the highest levels of government. Donald Trump encouraged people like Dustin Thompson to storm the Capitol.


SAM SHAMANSKY, ATTORNEY FOR DUSTIN HOFFMAN: When you have the president of the United States grooming you to believe that the election was stolen, or democracy is at stake, fight like hell, we are never going to concede, it is either you get down to the Capitol and I will be right there with you, or else an illegitimate president is going to take office. So, it`s not hard, at least from my perspective, to understand how vulnerable, unsophisticated, politically speaking, people who have been fed this diet of B.S. would behave in accordance with their president`s wishes.



O`DONNELL: That was Dustin Thompson`s lawyer with Chris Hayes earlier tonight. Dustin Thompson testified in his own defense today saying, quote, I thought the election was rigged to put Biden in office. Thompson now says that he realizes he was misled.

Thompson told the jury, quote, if the president is giving you almost an order to do something, I felt obligated to do that. Like, I had to do something to gain his respect, or like, approval.

Dustin Thompson told the jury that he believed he quote, was following presidential orders to go to the Capitol, that he is now, quote, deeply ashamed. That was the phrase he used, deeply ashamed.

Donald Trump is not deeply ashamed for telling Dustin Thompson to go to the Capitol, and telling Dustin Thompson and the rest of them to lie that he Donald Trump would go with that crowd to the Capitol.

Rudy Giuliani looks like someone from a planet where shame does not exist. And Mark Meadows is not deeply ashamed for voting in a state where he did not live, using address where he has never lived. Dustin Thompson`s shame is well-earned, and his lawyer is trying to convince the jury that shame should be the only penalty that he has to endure, for an attack on democracy. But would he feel any shame at all if he didn`t get caught?

Leading off our discussion tonight is Neal Katyal, who served as acting U.S. Solicitor General at the Department of Justice. He is an MSNBC legal contributor.

And, Neal, let`s work backwards through this series of stories. First of all, the defense, Donald Trump made me do it, for a January 6th Capitol insurrectionist who among other things was in the Senate parliamentarian`s office and stole a coat rack.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. So, I mean, I think first, Lawrence, it`s important to take a step back and look at all of the individuals we mentioned. Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, and now Dustin Thompson, because the contrast really underscores something it goes to show you that fancy degrees, lofty government positions don`t make it better at seeing reality, and seeing the truth. I mean, Dustin Thompson is just an ordinary guy. He sees what`s so many of us see. Donald Trump prevented would happen on January 6. Trump used the bully pulpit for his own selfish, evil, and anti-democratic ends.

Then you look at the fancy guys, the Mar-a-Lago crowd, the Giulianis, the Meadows, Roger Stones, Cipollone, Philbin, all of these people you mentioned, none of them can see it. None of them can see the truth.

So I think that it is not often that you hear defense lawyers opening statements reveal the truth of the thing. But here, this is what happened in court. I mean, the lawyer for Dustin Thompson said it was basically all Trump`s doing. Trump authorized and fomented the January 6th assault.

O`DONNELL: What is your reading of the former White House counsel meeting with the January 6th Committee today, not under oath? And this odd leak of sorts in "The New York Times" tonight from one source saying that Donald Trump authorized them to meet with the committee?

KATYAL: Yeah. So it isn`t surprising as a congressional committee has called them. They are obviously critical witnesses. And the New York Times story says that Trump authorized the, quote, engagement of these two attorneys. I don`t know what that means with respect to engage in Congress. I doubt it means that they are fully cooperating, because the Trump administration`s modus operandi has never been to cooperate.

While executive privilege has been thoroughly destroyed, as an argument for Trump including by Supreme Court decision that was 8 to 1, you know, I`m sure these people will come up with other privileges they will make up attorney client privilege, or this or that, or the other thing if they want to. And if that is what Trump orders them to do.

Now, it is a little weird because the White House counsel is someone who actually maybe trying to break with Trump a little bit. There are some signs of that. There is also some weird text from Sean Hannity, that Congress has, saying that Cipollone threatened to resign, which is interesting, because it might show that Cipollone, this White House counsel, really did threaten to resign.

It also, by the way, Lawrence, your best evidence yet that Sean Hannity has ever tried to investigate the real story.

O`DONNELL: There is that. Neal Katyal, thank you very much for starting us off tonight.

KATYAL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Claire McCaskill, former Democratic senator from Missouri, and David Plouffe, who served as campaign manager and White House senior adviser of President Barack Obama.


Both are MSNBC political analysts.

And, Claire, there is that moment in a January 6 trial where the defense council and the defendant are saying I did it, he did it, because of Donald Trump. And that may not get him off the hook for stealing a coat rack, but there could be some jury sympathies for why he was in that building, and my sympathies, I mean acknowledging that there is something to his argument that Donald Trump urged him to do it.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I think it is a sound defense strategy, assuming that there will be people on the jury that have common sense and can see that it is in front of their face, and realize that Donald Trump did in fact encourage people to do this, and did egg them on, and did work with others to create this mob of insurrectionists on January 6th.

On the other hand, it is a little awkward because the prosecutor is now tasked with convincing the jury that this man is criminally responsible for his own actions regardless of what Trump did or didn`t do. So there will be some things said by the prosecutors in this trial that will really please the lyre that hangs out at Mar-a-Lago.

But, you know, Lawrence, I have to jump in here, this Mark Meadows thing, I mean crystal mason it`s a black woman who went to prison for five years because she voted a provisional ballot not realizing she couldn`t, while she was on parole. And we have the chief of staff, and the president of the United States fraudulently registering in a double wide trailer in North Carolina, and no one has arrested him yet.

That is why people are so frustrated at the current state of affairs in terms of who really is subjected to the rule of law in this country.

O`DONNELL: David, what about that? That is the kind of story, as clear points out, that is a very clear story. That story, the Mark Meadows story, has easy resonance. It goes directly to this Republican charade about massive voter fraud that affects the outcomes of elections. And it is exactly what Donald Trump was saying that Democrats were going to be doing all over the country.

DAVID PLOUFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I wouldn`t be surprised if Mark Meadows bragged to Trump that he did it, and Trump probably gave him an attaboy.

A second thing I`d say, I mean, to Claire`s point, it`s a felony. So, let`s see if we have equal justice here.

But what is scary to me having worked in the White House is this is the White House chief of staff. So, on the one hand, it is a felony. On the other hand, it is indescribably stupid and it just reminds us that this person, this is one of the most important jobs in the world as the White House chief of staff, that this guy looking at all of the intelligence, helping make decisions, helping chart the course, is just a reminder of what we have dodged when Trump lost his second term.

It is frightening. I can`t imagine a White House chief of staff, imagining anything like this, doing anything like this, but I think what is important now is how is he held to account? There is another report today that some Trump supporters down in the villages in Florida, or voting multiple times.

So to your mention at the beginning of the show, these individual things did not affect the outcome. But so far, the only voter fraud I saw that happened in 2020 was Trump supporters, including the guy who spent the most time with Trump in the Oval Office, then anybody in his administration.

O`DONNELL: Claire, that sounds like the message on voter fraud, that what David just identified right there, that it seems Democrats would want to be able to make that point.

MCCASKILL: Yeah. Frankly, I think one of the problems that Democrats have, Lawrence, is that there are so many points to make. Look at the boxes of records that were illegally removed from the White House, they contained top secret files. Now, pick out of context with Hillary Clinton`s emails. It is so unbelievable to me, we have so many scandals, it is like we are numb with scandals. And we just don`t know where to look. It is like the whack-a-mole of scandals. And one pops up almost every day.

I agree with David. This is the most stupid, to have a chief of staff that thinks you can register in a double wide trailer that you have never stepped foot in. This is beyond dumb. And it is clear that they just thought they could get away with it and that the rules don`t apply to them.


O`DONNELL: Beyond dumb are the last words for this segment.

Claire McCaskill, David Plouffe, thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight.

Thank you.

And coming up, one Republican member from the House of Representatives voted against his own bill, and he was asked later why he did that. His answer was, I don`t know.

I think you will be able to figure out why a Republican voted against his own bill in the House when Representative Colin Allred joins us, next.



O`DONNELL: Passing bills to rename federal buildings is the least controversial thing Congress can do, until now. Florida`s Republican senators introduced a bill to name a Tallahassee federal courthouse after Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett, the first African American Florida state Supreme Court justice who then became a federal judge and that bill passed unanimously in December.

As these things usually do, the bill was on its way to pass the House unanimously on a fast track procedure the required two thirds majority vote. The vote was going as expected until Georgia Republican Congressman Andrew Clyde the cane furiously trying to turn Republicans against the bill. Andrew Clyde called the January 6th attack on the capitol, quote, a normal tourist visit. So that`s who he is.

And he took issue with a 1999 opinion written by Judge Hatchett when he was on the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The opinion overturned a local school policy in Jacksonville, Florida, that attempted to circumvent the Supreme Court`s ban on school-sponsored prayer. Judge Hatchett, who died last year, was the first African American to serve on the federal appeals court in the Deep South.

After graduating from Howard University School of Law, Judge Hatchett took the Florida bar exam in 1960, and he was not allowed to book a hotel room in the Miami hotel where that bar exam was then given, because it was a segregated hotel.

Congressman Andrew Clyde got Republicans to change their votes while the vote was underway on the House floor. Two minutes and 30 seconds into the vote, 125 Republicans had voted for the bill and by the end of the vote, only 19 Republicans voted for the bill. The bill failed to meet the two thirds threshold, the House Republican sponsor of the bill voted against the bill himself.

When Congressman Vern Buchanan was asked why he voted against his own bill, he said, quote, I don`t know.

Joining us now, someone who does know, Democratic Representative Colin Allred of Texas. He is a former civil rights attorney.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Can you convince me that racism rife within the Republican Party on the house floor that they had nothing to do with this vote?

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): Yeah, I don`t think I can convince you have that. I just want to say that`s because of votes like judge factors that we`re having a conversation right now. That I became an attorney, I was able to serve in Congress from a state in the south. It`s because of trail blazers like him. And obviously, detail is fully wagging the dog over there in terms of the House Republicans.

And the extremes are in charge. And they got a hold of -- didn`t even understand. And what do I mean by that, the judge in this case was following Supreme Court precedent, Lawrence, you know what that means. When you are an appeals court judge in the ruling comes to you, you have to follow mandatory precedent that`s controlling this case.

He is following president and so they decide they`re going to pieces one piece of information to try and overturn would as you said passed the Senate unanimously.

O`DONNELL: And there is no judge in history who has served on any bench where any party or politician would be able to say, we agree fully with every single ruling that judge has ever made.

ALLRED: That`s right. I mean, that`s going to be the standard and how are we going to have any judges that we`re going to go back and ever revere. I know that your, like I am, a fan of President Kennedy who will paraphrase them a little bit. He said the nation reveals itself not only by the men and women that produces but also by the men and women than honors. And the men and women that it remembers.

This is a man who is worthy of being remembered, a man who is worthy of being honored. But my colleagues in the house on the Republican side, obviously pursuing some kind of different agenda than when I think many of us have been pursuing in terms of seeing the United States as a progressive, as having been imperfect by continuing to try to protect our union. They obviously don`t agree with a path.

O`DONNELL: Is the speaker going to schedule this for a single majority vote at some point in the House calendar?

ALLRED: I hope so. I certainly know that my colleagues from Florida on the Democratic side are going to be pushing for that. We should bring this back up. This judge deserves to be honored in this way.

O`DONNELL: Representative Colin Allred, thank you very much for joining us discussion tonight. Thank you.

ALLRED: Thanks, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL: And coming up, it is my honor and it is going to be funded to introduce to you "The New York Times" newest opinion columnist, sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom whose debut column for "The New York Times" is titled, "What`s shame got to do with it?"

You really have to read this, it is a very important question in an era when the people who have the most to be ashamed of like Marjorie Taylor Greene are incapable of feeling shame.

That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Last month the "New York Times" editorial board was widely criticized. You might even say "shamed" for writing this. "Americans are losing hold of a fundamental right as citizens of a free country: the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned."

There is, of course, no such fundamental right. The Constitution grants to the right to say whatever you want, but it does not grant you any control at all over other people`s reactions to what you say. And there is no constitutional guarantee that you are going to feel good about what you say after you have said it.

This week, in her debut essay as an opinion columnist for the "New York Times" titled "What`s shame got to do with it?", Tressie McMillan Cottom says that shame can quote, "be functionally good, like when it keeps your pants on in public. Despite the bad rap that shame gets in our overly psycho analyzed culture, it is merely a feedback loop that tells you something about your behavior as well as the expectations of others. It is bizarre to think that we should legislate, regulate, or condition away an emotion."

The "New York Times" editorial board last month considered it a grave social problem that 55 percent of people in a poll quote "said that they had held their tongue over the past year because they were concerned about retaliation or harsh criticism."

The "Times" had no idea what word that came to those tongues was being held by those people. How many of them were choosing not to say the N word? How many of them were choosing not to say that thing about Jews? Because they weren`t quite sure of the person they were talking to might be Jewish.

Tressie McMillan Cottom points to a 1964 "New York Times" poll that showed quote, "54 percent of white New Yorkers said the civil rights movement was going too fast." The real problem in the 1960s was that not enough people felt any shame at all.

Alabama`s Governor George Wallace felt absolutely no shame when he tried to block Vivian Malone and James Hood from registering as the first black students in the history of the University of Alabama.

And now, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene who feels no shame about anything complains that Democrats quote, "tried to shame her for supporting the January 6th insurrection".

The "New York Times" editorial board need not worry about Marjorie Taylor Greene`s burden of shame since she is so obviously incapable of feeling any shame for anything at any time.

O`DONNELL: Joining us now -- it is my pleasure to introduce Tressie McMillan Cottom, associate professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the newest opinion columnist for the "New York Times".

Thank you very much for joining us tonight with this discussion of your debut column, which I was just delighted by word for word going through it.

And one very important distinction you make early in the piece, which I would love you to discuss now, is this distinction you make between "shame" and "stigma", and how sometimes people who think they are talking about shame or actually talking about stigma. And then there are other people who don`t even recognize the existence or the function of stigma.

TRESSIE MCMILLAN COTTOM, "NEW YORK TIMES": Absolutely. And thank you so much Lawrence, not only for reading it, but for really pulling out the pieces that really mattered the most to me.

When I was thinking about where we are in the public discourse, and what I think is missing, I give people the benefit of the doubt. And I really always try to do so at least with readers not always with politicians.

But certainly with my readers, I think we are missing the language to talk about what we really wanted to talk about. So this issue of shame, being conflated with stigma was one of the things that mattered most to me. And there are two good reasons for that.

One is that when we talk about being shamed, or feeling ashamed in the way we talk about it these days is too easy to weaponize the idea wen it covers every negative feeling that people have.

It also obscures the fact that sometimes, shame makes you do the right thing. And in public life, our primary concern has to be doing the right thing, not necessarily how doing the right thing will always make you feel.


COTTOM: Stigma now, on the other hand, stigma is what I think a lot of well-meaning people are trying to describe. And stigma is something that people do to you that says there is something about you that is inferior, or unworthy of participating in public life.

What is interesting to me is the way shame has become a political wedge to say that anything that makes you feel ashamed and upsets you because you feel ashamed, has stigmatized you.

And one of the ways that we are doing that is by doubling down on the stigmatization of other people. Trans kids, women, people of color, immigrants, right, who are actually stigmatized meanings their lives are impacted because other people see them as inferior.

That is not the same thing as shame. And arguably, stigma is the public problem we should be concerned with.

O`DONNELL: You approached this as a sociologist and as a brilliant and entertaining writer that you really opened my eyes to perspectives on this that I did not have.

But this point in the poll, in the "Times poll that they`re are so concerned about that 55 percent of people are holding their tongues, I have to tell you in my personal experience, that is a great thing. I mean I grew up in Boston -- in White Boston where the language was extremely racist in over 90 percent of the people. And I watched them over time gradually hold their tongues more and more and more.

And in the holding of the tongue, they actually learned things and improved slightly, at least marginally, their view. That would not have happened if they weren`t shamed into holding their tongues.

COTTOM: Imagine that? Learning something because we are listening instead of speaking. I know, right? You know, I saw that finding and I thought, first of all I think 55 percent is too low.


COTTOM: I would have thought the number would be higher. I would hope that more people were thinking about how they would be perceived by others before they speak.

The reason why that feels so oppressive to some people and why it angers so many people, let`s put a finer point on it, it particularly angers white men, right? There is a reason why they are angry about having to hold their tongue. And that is because for a very long time, just by virtue of who they are in this country, other people have had to hold their tongues around them, right.

So spreading around the burden of being more thoughtful about what you say about other people is fundamentally a good thing. It is not that more people feel like they have to hold their tongue, it is that there are more people having to hold their tongue who used to did not have to hold it.

That is called social progress. That is called democracy, right. Democracy isn`t just all of us being treated equally and having equal opportunity. Democracy is about us sharing the burden of the responsibility for other peoples participation in public life. That is actually a good thing sociologically, and I would argue democratically.

O`DONNELL: Professor Tressie McMillan Cottom, thank you very much for joining us in your stellar debut with your first "New York Times" official column, "What`s shame got to do with it?" Please everyone read it, you will learn.

Thank you very much professor. And please come back.

COTTOM: Thank you so much for having me. I will take you up on that.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has been asking for more weapons to fight back against Vladimir Putin`s invasion. Today President Biden answered that request with another $800 million dollar commitments in equipment and reports tonight indicate that the flagship of the Russian fleet attacking Ukraine has been abandoned by the crew.

That is next.



O`DONNELL: Today the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe released a report concluding that Vladimir Putin`s attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol on March 9th was deliberate. The report found the attack, quote, "constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law and those responsible for it have committed a war crime."

In a speech to Estonia`s parliament today, President Zelenskyy said this.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): They have executed civilians. They tortured them. They raped them. They intimidated them. They ruined maternity hospitals. They ruined food depots and bomb shelters. And they did that knowingly. And they knew that children were sheltering there.


O`DONNELL: The mayor of Mariupol said the death toll in his city now could be more than 20,000 people. Satellite photos from U.S. defense contractor Maxar Technologies show Russian forces continuing their advance into eastern Ukraine today.

On a call today, President Biden told President Zelenskyy that the United States would be providing an additional $800 million in military aid.


O`DONNELL: The Pentagon said today that the military aid will include 11 M1-17 helicopters, 18 Howitzers with 40,000 artillery rounds, 500 Javelins and other anti armor systems, 300 switchblade drones, and unmanned coastal defense vessels.

In a statement, President Biden said "We cannot rest now, as I assured President Zelenskyy, the American people will continue to stand with the brave Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom."

And there are unconfirmed reports from southern Ukraine where the governor of that region said today that the Moskva, Russia`s flagship missile cruiser, its most important battleship in the Black Sea was damaged after being hit with Ukrainian missiles.

Russian state media later reported that that ship`s entire crew, entire crew, was evacuated after the ship was seriously damaged.

Joining us now NBC News correspondent Ali Arouzi in Lviv. Ali, what is the situation there tonight?

ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lawrence, well you know it`s another tragic day for the Ukrainian people. The chief ICC prosecutor called the entire country a crime scene.

But tonight, I also want to bring you the remarkable story of this young woman, actually a teenager, that we met today. She was just 11 years old when the Russians invaded the Crimea area eight years ago. And now at the age of 19, she`s had to escape her home and come here to Lviv.

She goes on a train in Kramatorsk just two days before they bombed that train station. When a bomb that train station, a close friend of hers, just 16 years old was killed in that brutal attack.

I want you to take a listen to what she had to tell us today.


AROUZI: Are you worried that the Russians are going to encircle that whole area?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, really worried. And I think about every day, actually. And they`re scared of that because, I know what it was like in 2014 with Donetsk and all the other, you know, like Russian-controlled area of my region.

And I`m really scared of it because I don`t want to lose my hometown and my ability to live in there and that stuff.


AROUZI: And Lawrence, she`s just 19 years old. She`s a journalist, she doesn`t want to leave this country. She wants to document what`s been going on in her country.

And it`s people like her that make you think, you know, no matter how much pressure the Ukrainian people are under, they just may get through this brutal war.

Because it`s that fortitude that you see amongst teenagers the makes you think, these are some really, really tough people in this country.

O`DONNELL: Yes. So impressive. Ali Arouzi, thank you very much for that important reporting. We really appreciate it.

Thank you.

And joining us now is Retired Army Major General John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies with the Madison Policy Forum. His upcoming book is, "Connected Soldiers: Life, Leadership, and Social Connections in Modern War".

What is your reaction to this report tonight about this flagship of the Russian fleet. Ukrainians saying they attacked it, they hit it. Russians saying that there was, their reports seems to claim that there was a fire on board, not saying what the origin of the fire is. But both sides seem to be agreeing that that ship is out of this war.

MAJ. GEN. JOHN SPENCER (RET), CHAIRMAN OF URBAN WARFARE STUDIES, MADISON POLICY FORUM: Yes, I think it`s huge, Lawrence. I mean it would be the biggest loss of the Russians since they lost the war for Kyiv.

And there`s one thing that I find interesting, the Russians have lied more than they told the truth. And it`s a really funny saying that I like that the Russians are lying, we know they`re lying, they know we know they`re lying but still they lie. So I actually think that the Ukrainians did take this down with a Neptune missile and possibly at great loss of life, not evacuated crew members.

O`DONNELL: And what does it mean in terms of Ukraine`s ability to operate in that region?

SPENCER: Yes, it`s should significantly increase, right. So you would think that the ships that are in the harbor, they`re in the harbor but sometimes they can be seen from Odessa that they`re going to stay back.

And now will decrease their ability to provide naval gun support to the troops within, you know, the coastal area and further in. It`ll greatly help. It`s a huge win and it`ll push the ships back further and hopefully they can take more down.


O`DONNELL: And Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that this new shipment of -- this new $800 million that President Biden spoke with President Zelenskyy about today, is tailored, it`s designed to be effective in eastern Ukraine.

SPENCER: Yes, absolutely. And this is huge. I can`t -- I`m very happy to see some of the things that are on that list, like the Howitzer and the 40,000 rounds of artillery, the fight in the east of Ukraine, this new war that he is trying -- Putin is trying to start for eastern Ukraine involves a lot more open space, right. A lot of maneuvering forces, and you showed that picture of the convoy.

Ukrainians need the ability to reach farther out. The Howitzers shoots, you know, up to 18 kilometers with severe lethality. All those systems, the Switchblade, I`m a personal -- I`m an old (INAUDIBLE) man so even the Claymore (ph) protective anti tank -- anti-personnel mines are huge.

This is a big deal. It seems like we`re really backing, we really want them to win. I really -- I think President Biden`s words were straight. This is genocide. We`ve already seen documented war crimes. Now, crimes against humanity and to be frank, genocide.

O`DONNELL: John Spencer, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

SPENCER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.



O`DONNELL: We ran out of time once again.