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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/14/22

Guests: Valerie Biden Owens, John Arquilla


Former President Trump refuses to condemn Putin`s invasion. Former Trump White House senior advisor Stephen Miller testified to the January 6 committee. Interview with President Joe Biden`s sister and campaign manager, Valerie Biden Owens. The Russian navy`s flagship, the most fearsome piece of floating military equipment in Vladimir Putin`s war against Ukraine has now sunk.



And I learned a new word tonight and it`s one of those where it`s even without a dictionary, you just sort of get it in context. And that of course is the word chippy, which -- well, which sources used in describing Stephen Miller`s eight hours of testimony to the January 6th committee today. It got a little chippy.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chippy. Yeah. There`s a whole bunch of British words that are like that that don`t have a definition that makes sense in American English. Like, chaffed (ph), right? Like, oh, I was chaffed about that.

You don`t really need to know what that means to know, like, oh, it kind of it`s -- it`s automatic (ph) poetic. Like you kind of get it.

I mean, I think chippy is the sort of thing. But who knows? It could be some term of art that you and I are totally misinterpreting.

O`DONNELL: I`m going to do everything I can to find a spot in the next hour to use the word chippy, and the way it is intended to be used. I`ll see if I can do it. It`s -- I don`t know.

MADDOW: I use the word caboose in I was told it in a troubling way during the show, in my hour. So if you get to where you`re trying to use chippy and it doesn`t work, just throw caboose in there and then we`ll distract to my worries.

O`DONNELL: Nope, no, thank you, no, thank you. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, the stakes could not have been higher in the last presidential election. The rule of law, sanity, democracy itself to name a few -- that is some of what was at stake in this country but now we know that the very existence of Ukraine was at stake in our last presidential election, and maybe that the life of Ukraine`s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was at stake in our last presidential election.

Jonathan Chait put it this way in "New York Magazine" today. Quote: Had 44,000 votes in Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin swung the other way, Zelenskyy would probably be at this moment be an exile in a Russian prison, or dead.

Is Vladimir Putin evil? It is a question that no one is really struggling with anymore. The affirmative answer to that question has united everyone from Sean Hannity to Sean Penn, everyone except Donald Trump.

Two weeks ago, on the night that Sean Penn appeared on this program, he also, appeared on Sean Hannity`s show in a remarkable discussion between two people who disagree on everything except Ukraine and Vladimir Putin.

In the interview after Sean Hannity called Vladimir Putin evil, Sean Penn said this --


SEAN PENN, ACTOR: But if there is a God, there will be vengeance beyond all possible comprehension.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump still cannot bring himself to say anything like that. Donald Trump does not have the moral clarity of Sean Penn, or Sean Hannity, when it comes to Vladimir Putin.

Two days before Vladimir Putin`s invasion of Ukraine, when Vladimir Putin publicly obtained encouragement and the authorization for an invasion in a truly foolish procedure that was televised, Donald Trump said, quote: there was a television screen, and I said, this is genius. Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine -- of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that`s wonderful.

So Putin is now saying, it`s independent, a large section of Ukraine.


I said, how smart is that?

The next day, in responding to criticism of the Putin genius comment, Donald Trump said this --


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Trump said, Putin is smart! I mean he`s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I`d say that`s pretty smart. He`s taking over a country, literally a vast, vast location. A great piece of land with a lot of people and just walking right in.


O`DONNELL: Today, Vladimir Putin admitted that the sanctions are hurting Russia saying, quote, the most urgent problem here is the disruption of export logistics.

But Donald Trump thought that it was worth $2 worth of sanctions, it was $2 worth of sanctions. And Donald Trump said Vladimir Putin was pretty smart to take those $2 worth of sanctions and exchange for taking over a country. What he called a great piece of land. Donald Trump believed that Vladimir Putin apparently believed that Russian troops would be, quote, walking right in.

Donald Trump had nothing but praise for Vladimir Putin just walking right into Ukraine. Sean Hannity has publicly said, he`s been friends with Donald Trump or 25 years. And in the Trump White House, Sean Hannity was regarded as the real White House chief of staff, the one who never got fired, the one who had full access to Donald Trump, who could give the president advice through the television screen, or over the phone, whenever he wanted to. And so, Sean Hannity would like Donald Trump to be president again, which is one reason that Sean Hannity has been on a dedicated mission to get Donald Trump to say that Vladimir Putin is evil.

On march 10th, two full weeks into Vladimir Putin`s invasion that was in of itself a war crime, Sean Hannity try to guide Donald Trump to, in effect, retract his statements about the invasion being genius and being pretty smart, and after a few minutes of warm up conversation, Sean Hannity tried to give Donald Trump the perfect setup for finally saying the right thing. The perfect setup wasn`t good enough.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You came under some fire when you said that Vladimir Putin is very smart. I think I know you a little bit better than most people in the media, and I think you also recognize he is evil, do you not?

TRUMP: Well, I was referring to the fact that he said this is an independent ration, talking about Ukraine. And I said, this is before there was any attack. He`s calling it an independent nation.

Now, a lot of things are changing, when you look, it doesn`t seem to be the same Putin that I was dealing with.


O`DONNELL: You also recognize he`s evil, do you not? Well, I was referring to the fact that he -- and he goes on.

Minutes later, Sean Hannity tried again from a slightly different angle.


HANNITY: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Is that how you viewed Vladimir? Did you view Vladimir Putin and people like President Xi, and Kim Jong-un, and the Iranian mullahs as enemies that you needed to keep close?

TRUMP: I got along with those people. I got along with them well. It does mean that they`re good people. It doesn`t mean anything other than the fact that I understood them, and perhaps they understood me.


O`DONNELL: Not only would Donald Trump not call Putin evil that night, but he wouldn`t even call him and enemy two weeks into Vladimir Putin`s war. Two weeks into Vladimir Putin killing babies, killing innocent civilians, constantly in Ukraine.

Sean Hannity is not giving up on the dream of another Trump presidency, and he apparently has not given up on the dream of getting Donald Trump to look at Vladimir Putin through a moral frame.

Sean Hannity tried again last night after for nine days of Vladimir Putin`s war, 49 days of Vladimir Putin murdering now what we know to be hundreds of babies, 49 days of Vladimir Putin targeting hospitals, apartment buildings, trying to murder as many Iranian civilians as possible. Weeks after President Biden said he was guilty of war crimes, and in the same week that President Biden said for the first time that what is happening in Ukraine`s genocide, Sean Hannity could not get his friend Donald Trump to use the word evil about Vladimir Putin, or what Vladimir Putin is doing in Ukraine.


HANNITY: I asked you the last time you were on whether you think that this is evil in our time.


Do you believe this is evil in our time?

TRUMP: I think in 100 years, people are going to look back and they are going to say, how did we stand back and NATO stand back which, in many ways, that called the paper tiger.


O`DONNELL: We did not stand back. NATO did not stand back. We are supplying Ukraine with weapons they are using to survive.

Some of those weapons have appeared to have some of the most feared warship in the fleet. These weapons have killed soldiers at a rate higher than other combats since World War II.

Donald Trump reached for those lies that the United States and NATO have been standing back. Instead of answering Sean Hannity`s clear question, do you believe this is evil in our time? Donald Trump refused to answer that question and he just rambled, and Sean Hannity could not given Donald Trump a stronger signal that he need to answer this question the right now than by pointing out to him that he already exact him this exact question the last time he was on Sean Hannity.

Sean Hannity is not in the business of surprising Donald Trump with questions on TV. We have every reason to assume that Sean Hannity told Donald Trump directly that he was going to ask him, do you believe this is evil in our time? And perhaps just to remind Donald Trump that he already told him that he was going to ask him this question in the actual interview, he once again told him he was going to ask the question in the interview before he asked the question.

He said, I asked you the last time that you are here whether you think this is evil in our time. Do you believe this is evil in our time? And Donald Trump said nothing.

He said a couple hundred words that included NATO, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, NATO becoming rich, he says something insulting about Chuck Todd, but he did not dare, did not dare to say one insulting word about Vladimir Putin, not one word.

Leading off our discussion tonight former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who is an MSNBC analyst, and Peter Beinart who is tonight`s making his debut as an MSNBC political analyst. He is a professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York and we are lucky to have him here.

Ambassador McFaul, we have a right to expect, at this point, real unity of views own what`s happening in Ukraine, what Vladimir Putin is doing there, and how did discuss this in moral terms. And the one person who seems clearly incapable of doing that, who has access to a microphone, is Donald Trump.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC ANALYST: You`re right, Lawrence, and don`t expect me to explain that. I`m going to leave that for Peter.

But I do -- I mean this sincerely, I hope that he is -- and of one, as we see in political science, no one else in the Republican Party is still appears to this absurd, ridiculous position that he has taken. I would know today that a Trump supporter who are known well, Senator Steve Daines from Montana, my high school debate partner, by the way, is in Kyiv today.

As a conservative Republican, he is in Kyiv today. He is not having any trouble whatsoever calling what he sees as evil. And I hope that other Republicans will do that so that Mr. Trump will get with the rest of America because, I don`t know a single person anymore that is in his camp except him and I can`t explain it. I honestly cannot explain it. I hope you guys can.

O`DONNELL: Peter, it`s good to have you in this discussion and pretty much the only discussion we will have on this program. Especially because I know in your work, you are always seeking the moral frame of whatever the issue is. Sometimes that`s not hard to find, sometimes there`s a struggle and sometimes there are struggles with moral questions and balancing issues inside a moral question. This one seems simple enough for sean Hannity to frame for Donald Trump, but for some reason, for some reason, Donald Trump will not ever, ever say an insulting word, a negative word of any kind, it`s not even insulting if you`re describing Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, it`s a fact. But he takes his time in those answers to use whole sentences to say nasty things about Chuck Todd.

PETER BEINART, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Donald Trump worships power. And I think for Donald Trump, if you have power, morality doesn`t matter.


The only thing that matters to Donald Trump really is, are you a winner or a loser? If you`re a winner, which means you have power, might and even if you use it in the most ghastly, horrific possible ways, you`re a winner and you`re someone that Donald Trump admires, someone that Donald Trump wants to be like.

Maybe if Vladimir Putin gets booted from power and ends up in The Hague, Trump will say that he is a loser. But he won`t speaking moral categories because I really don`t think that Trump thinks in moral categories. He only thinks about the glorification of power, and his disdain for weakness.

O`DONNELL: Ambassador McFaul, you know Vladimir Putin better than Donald Trump, better than you know Donald Trump, certainly, and better than Donald Trump does. It sounds like there is an awful lot of similarity between them. It sounds like if someone was trying to get Vladimir Putin to say something negative about Donald Trump during the presidency, that would be virtually impossible.

MCFAUL: That`s right, Lawrence. There`s a long history of that. There is where I call that illiberal international around the world. They`re strongmen that really love power as Peter just said. They have a kind of conservative, orthodox, nationalist, anti-multilateral, you know, anti-LGBT in the case of Putin, and they have for years been interacting with each other and supporting each other.

So, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Salvini in Italy, Le Pen in France, Farage in the U.K., and Mr. Trump and ideologically, those leaders that I just described have a lot more in common than people that believe in democracy and freedom. And there are people that believe in democracy and freedom in all those countries I just described, but the fight between democracy, the war between democracies between autocratic Putin and democratic Ukraine today.

But before that, there was this illiberal international, they were all united. I would hope that this horrible heinous war in Ukraine will finally break it up. But so far, Mr. Trump has decided to stick with Mr. Putin.

O`DONNELL: Peter, I was struck by Jonathan Chait`s point today in "New York magazine", that if Donald Trump had won this election, it`s entirely possible that President Zelenskyy would be dead tonight.

What might you imagine the situation in Ukraine being tonight if Joe Biden had not won the presidential election?

BEINART: I think Donald Trump`s Ukraine policy will look a lot like his COVID policy, which is to say, it would be a national security bureaucracy that we`re trying to help Ukraine just like Americas public health bureaucracy was trying to fight COVID. What Donald Trump would do would be insert himself and that every day or two creating other chaos by saying that foreign policy equivalent of, bleach can cure COVID.

Probably, he`d be deeply resentful to the fact that Zelenskyy is more popular than him and getting more attention because it`s really what Donald Trump pathological narcissism cares about the most, and NATO would be in chaos. It would be unable -- NATO would be not able to function in a coherent way it`s been functioning. Because Donald Trump would be basically causing utter chaos every day or two just in order to hear himself speak. And yes, that would be very, very bad for the Ukrainians.

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Michael McFaul, thank you for joining us. And Peter Beinart, thank you very much for joining us on the first one I hope are many returns to this program. Thank you both for starting us off tonight.

BEINART: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, I was just following orders did not work as a defense for Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg and it did not work as a defense today in a Washington courtroom for one of the Trump supporting criminals who was quickly convicted by a jury. The Republican appointed judge in the case called Donald Trump a charlatan, which is much more polite than what the defense lawyer called Donald Trump. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Today in Washington, a federal judge said, I think our democracy is in trouble because unfortunately we have charlatans like our former president who doesn`t, in my view, really care about democracy, but only about power.

Judge Reggie Walton who was appointed by President George W. Bush said that after deciding that the January 6 defendant who was just found guilty by a jury in his courtroom would not be allowed to go home while awaiting sentencing. Judge Walton made it clear that that sentence will include prison time when he said: The inevitable reality is that whether he does time now or does time later, he`s got to do time.

Thirty-eight-year-old Dustin Thompson who broke into the Senate parliamentarian`s office, where he stole a coat rack and a bottle of bourbon has got to do time because his defense of "I was just following orders" did not work with jury. His defense lawyer told the jury that Dustin Thompson was a, quote, upon in the sixth game, this assault on our democracy, orchestrated by an evil and a sinister man who is stop and nothing to get his way on January 6. You had, frankly, a gangster who is in power making those statements.


The prosecutor told the jury that the defendant is, quote, an adult, not a child. President Trump didn`t hold his hand as he walked down to the Capitol.

Also today, former Trump White House senior advisor Stephen Miller testified to the January 6 committee. According to other witnesses, Stephen Miller was present for meetings about overturning the presidential election, and participated in writing the speech that Donald Trump gave that sent his supporters to attack the Capitol.

As Rachel reported in the last hour, one source says that the eight-hour questioning of Stephen Miller today got chippy at times.

Stephen Miller attempted to block the January 6 committee from obtaining his phone records because the married 36-year-old father of one child said, he`s on a family cell phone plan with his mother and father.

Joining us now is Ryan Reilly, justice reporter for NBC News Digital who was in the courtroom today in Washington.

Ryan, was this a case where the defendant turned down a possible plea agreement offer in favor of going to trial?

RYAN REILLY, JUSTICE REPORTER, NBC NEWS DIGITAL: Yeah, you know, mostly these cases, they`re offering some sort of plea deal so evidently it wasn`t some that he was willing to go along with. And it was a more remarkable trial because over the course of a few days, as the jury heard this evidence, there wasn`t much light between the defense and prosecution. They all sort of agreed on all of the fact there were stipulated. It was really hard to object to those facts because, it was just so well-documented what he did.

He`s caught on closed circuit cameras. He`s closing for a photo with the coat rack that he stole. You can see on camera coming out with a bottle of liquor. He texts his friend who was there. And then, of course, the governor was able to obtain some of the cell phone records from Uber and from Google showing where exactly he was all day.

So, you know, when he said that he was there for part of Rudy Giuliani`s speech actually the prosecution was able to say no you are still up and -- coming down an Uber during that four silver springs. So we did actually show up until closer to Trump`s speech. So it was really remarkable how well the government was able to pinpoint exactly where he was during the entirety of this event.

O`DONNELL: And in cases like this, it`s standard for the defense lawyer to tell the client that, look, if you take the plea, you`re going to get less time that you will get if you put everyone through a trial. And then get found guilty. And then only that, in this case, the judge actually said that given that this was news testified his own defense, the judge actually said, he didn`t believe his testimony, thought he wasn`t telling the truth under oath.

REILLY: Yeah, that was a remarkable moment and thinking that he lied. There was one moment earnings testimony where the defendant essentially claimed that, oh maybe he grabbed that correct because he was worried it was going to be used as a weapon. But then a few minutes later, of course he`s texting with his codefendants saying, oh, you can sell this to somebody for $500 outside.

So, you know, the coat rack was in the courtroom, that was when the key pieces of physical evidence that was sitting in front of jurors all day it was really just remarkable to see again how they just were able to pinpoint exactly what they did.

But there wasn`t march for him to really go on. This was sort of I think a spaghetti in the walls or the fence, just throwing it out there and hoping that the jury was able to make some sort of political point in saying that they think that Trump should be held accountable.

But what the prosecution laid out is that, this is an either or scenario. Essentially, you could say that, you think that Donald Trump is responsible for what happened on January 6th and you can still hold this individual defendant accountable for his actions. This 36-year-old college educated married man who went and stormed the Capitol and then sent all these pictures about it. And then try to make it out like he didn`t really have a choice in the matter and that he was just sort of brainwashed and following Trump.

O`DONNELL: Well, this verdict might be the prosecutors get more guilty pleas from defendants who are thinking of taking their chances with a jury trial, in this case.

Ryan Reilly, thank you very much for reporting on this. Really appreciate it.

REILLY: Thanks so much for having me.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, half of the most successful brother and sister act in the history of American politics, Joe Biden`s campaign manager, his sister Valerie, will join us next.



O`DONNELL: In January of 1997, our next guest received the following note from her brother accompanying a gift. "To Valerie, my sister, my teacher, my friend. Your faith with the spark. Your work fired the flame. Your love made me believe again. With thanks, admiration and love, Joe."

That was Joe Biden`s thank you note on the day that he was sworn in as a senator for the fifth time, the note was to his sister, Valerie, who was his campaign manager in his 1996 Senate reelection campaign. Just as she had been his campaign manager in every other campaign that he ran.


O`DONNELL: Valerie Biden was 26 years old when she ran her brother`s first campaign for United States Senate. She now says, "Looking back on my track record -- 50 years, seven Senate campaigns, one county council race, three presidential elections -- I can boil down what I know about how to run a successful campaign and an enduring candidacy into one simple idea. If you win the heart of the voter, the rest will follow."

That is from the new book that tells the story of the most successful brother-sister act in the history of American politics, the book is "Growing Up Biden: a memoir by Valerie Biden Owens". Doris Kearns Goodwin says, "As future historians seek to understand the Biden family, there will be no better place to start than this intimate, warm and beautifully written portrait." And Jon Meacham says, "This is a book about love, laughter and life itself."

And joining us now is the campaign manager turned author, Valerie Biden Owens. Thank you very much for joining us for this discussion. I really appreciate it.

And you know, I go into this book thinking, well, I know them both. I know Joe Biden. I know Valerie Biden. I didn`t know the half of it, I didn`t know the 10 percent of it.

This is such a revelation and such a full story, especially of you jumping into things that you apparently do not know how to do and then do very well. What`s the trick of that?

VALERIE BIDEN OWENS, JOE BIDEN`S SISTER AND CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It is the naivete of youth when I started the campaign with Joe. And first of all, thank you, Lawrence, that was a beautiful introduction and I hope it`s taped so that I can send it to my brother. I think that would be important.

The reason that we managed is that we, you know, we didn`t know any better. And when I was a young girl, my brother would say, my Biden word of honor. You know, my brother took me with him whenever he went. He`s three years older than I and he said whatever he could do, I could do better.

He said I was smarter than he was, I was kinder than he was, none of which was true. But he put such confidence in me that he made me believe that if he believed in me that I wanted to work as hard as I could to be the young woman that he thought I could be.

So we jumped into this campaign in 1972. We had no one in power. We had no influence. We had no money. And we had no structured Democratic Party. But we had vision, hope, passion, creativity and we had the best candidate in the state.

And that`s how we just continued the journey from when I was a little girl, I was his side kick and he said I`m running for Senate and I thought well, heck if you could do it at 20 years old running for Senate then you know, I could be your campaign manager. And that`s what we did.

O`DONNELL: You know, I only worked in -- I was involved in two Senate campaigns, the last two reelection campaigns of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan which were run campaign manager by his wife Liz Moynihan. And what I found in that was that it was very valuable to have someone, a family member, someone close to the candidate like that because it was like having the candidate in the room. Is that the way it worked on Biden campaigns?

OWENS: Yes. And it was -- look, there are many capable, extremely capable campaign managers and political scientists who are out there who have a PhD in running a campaign. I had a PhD in Joe Biden. So -- and with that PhD I knew 99 percent of the time what his answer would be, I wouldn`t get it the same way. His was by Jesuit logic, mine was mostly by instinct.

But we came to the same conclusions. We had the same goal. And it was all about trust. So when I was a campaign manager, it doesn`t mean that I was so brilliant. It meant that I knew my brother, he had complete trust in me and he could go out and do what he could do best which is listen to the voters, hear what they had to say, talk about his values, see how they can mesh together and, you know, win the election.

And he knew that everything back at the ranch at the headquarters was ok. Because I had no agenda. I wasn`t building a resume, I didn`t want a new job. I was his sister. And it`s about trust in each other from the time we were kids.

So he got to do what he did best which was to be the best Joe Biden there was.

O`DONNELL: You also had the advantage of the campaign like that of the ability and the power to sharply disagree with the candidate if necessary and know that you`re still going to be in that job tomorrow.


O`DONNELL: What were the biggest disagreements you ever had with Candidate Biden?


OWENS: They were minor. I mean the goal was always the same. And you`re right. I mean I`m his sister so he can`t fire me and, you know, he can`t disown me so I`m there.

The only disagreements I`ve ever had is sometimes is in delivery. Look always -- again, we were raised together, we have the same goals and same ideas. But sometimes I could say, he would say to me, hey Val that was a little sharp. Or did you really want to come on so strong or maybe you should`ve emphasized this a little bit more.

So it was only in degrees, we never had a disagreement on the goal and where we were going. Sometimes just in approach shots and sometimes I have a weirder sense of humor than Joe, and he would say hey Val, you know, that wasn`t really so funny. Or I would say to him, Joe that was a little sharp and he`d say oh yes.

Because, you know what, the glory of having your family member that you trust and that you love is that you are not surrounded by sycophants. And that`s a very tremendous disservice to be surrounded by sycophants (INAUDIBLE) because their job and their reputation depend on it.

So you don`t want, you know, you don`t want to have to tell your boss that you think that they`re doing this the wrong way. Only a profile in courage does that.

So that`s the advantage having a brother and sister team or a husband and wife or someone that you completely trust.

O`DONNELL: There`s a passage in your book that in its way describes the stakes in the last presidential campaign. When you are describing the candidate that your brother was running against this time, Donald Trump.

It says about Donald Trump, "He had the mind not of a president, but of a vengeful dictator and running against him felt almost degrading. To put this man on the same stage, in the same league as my brother, to present this guy as an alternative to Joe Biden was nauseating. As a sister and a citizen, I was appalled.

Well, we now know in today`s news that apparently he will not be on a presidential stage again. Because Republicans have pulled out of the very concept of presidential debating. But that indicates that the stakes for you in that election could not have been greater in who you were trying to keep out of the White House for the next four years.

OWENS: Yes, two parts to that debate which I`ll get to but 2020 was the only election that I was not enthusiastic about Joe getting in. Because I believed and I was not disappointed in my expectations that the former president would do anything he could to destroy my brother and my family and to go after them.

I knew that we would -- I believe that we would be a target. And we were. And I thought, you know, gee, why, Joe? I mean why? And Joe said to me after Charlottesville, he said, Val, I can`t look in the mirror and walk away of who Joe Biden is because I`m afraid of a bully. Remember, Joe, when he was a little kid, from the time he was a little, he stuttered terribly. He couldn`t string more than three or four words together at a time.

So he knows what it`s like to be bullied and to be shunned and to be put in your place. And he said, I am not walking away because of fear. I believe that I have something to say that meshes with the American values of returning the soul -- restoring the soul of America, rebuilding the middle class and uniting us. And that`s just what he did. There is no daylight between the private man and the public person in my brother.

And as to the Republican National Committee announcing that it`s not going to have a debate well, I`m a campaign manager. And as you know, Lawrence, that if you don`t want to debate, it`s a sign that you`re scared to debate. So I think it says it all in their walking away.


OWENS: Did I answer your question?

O`DONNELL: Yes you did. And we`re out of time, I`m sorry to say, I could go on and on about this book. I have so many more questions. The book is "Growing Up Biden". The author is Valerie Biden Owens.

OWENS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very, very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

OWENS: Thank you Lawrence. I appreciate it. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.


O`DONNELL: And coming up. We will talk with a leading military strategist whose advice to Vladimir Putin echoes a famous German general`s advice in World War II. "Make peace, you fool." That`s next.



O`DONNELL: The Russian navy`s flagship, the most fearsome piece of floating military equipment in Vladimir Putin`s war against Ukraine has now sunk. This is the ship that famously threatened the Ukrainian border guard officers on Snake Island as the ship approached Ukraine on the first day of the war. That confrontation has been commemorated now on a new postage stamp in Ukraine with a raised Ukrainian middle finger aimed toward that ship.


O`DONNELL: This could be the most important sinking of a warships since Germany`s most fearsome warship, the Bismarck, was sunk by the British in 1941 in a crucial turning point in the battle for control of the North Atlantic.

Russia`s ministry of defense confirmed the sinking today in a statement saying that a fire on the ship was quote "caused by the detonation of ammunition".

Ukraine says it hit the warship with two Neptune missiles. Today the Pentagon said it could not confirm exactly what sunk that ship that was named after Russia`s capital city.

A senior defense official told NBC News that all of the Russian ships in the Black Sea have now moved further offshore from where they were operating.

After British Prime Minister Boris Johnson`s visit to Kyiv last weekend, President Biden said he`s thinking about it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you send senior officials to Ukraine?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we`re making that decision now. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who would you send?

BIDEN: Are you ready to go?




O`DONNELL: For his "New York Times" column, Thomas Friedman asked our next guest, military expert John Arquilla what he would tell Vladimir Putin. The answer was I would say "make peace you fool".

That was a deliberate echo about what a German general phoned from Normandy to the commanders in Berlin after the successful D-Day landings of American and British troops. When a general phone in the devastating news to Berlin and was asked, what shall we do, he famously replied, "Make peace you fools. What else can you do?"

Joining us now is John Arquilla, military strategy expert and former professor at the U.S. Naval post-graduate school. He is the author of "Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Cyber Warfare". Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

In Tom Friedman`s piece and in your book you mentioned the three new rules of war. What are they and how are we seeing them in Ukraine?

JOHN ARQUILLA, MILITARY STRATEGY EXPERT: Well, the first rule is that many and small beats few and large. The Ukrainians are operating in very small squads and the Russians are operating in 40-mile long convoys -- makes them quite vulnerable.

The second rule of war is finding beach flanking. This is no longer mass on mass and turning a flag. This is now about being able to locate where forces are. And in this wired world, the Ukrainians are able to get a great deal of information about Russian positions just from people calling in on smartphones or looking down from Google maps. It`s truly the first war of this sort in which finding is the key.

And the third new rule of war says forming beats surging. You don`t need masses of forces if you have small teams armed with smart weapons that can strike from many directions simultaneously, as Ukrainians have been doing against these long columns of Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers.

What we are seeing is really the next phase of battle as being portrayed by the Ukrainian resistance.

O`DONNELL: When I was thinking about the sinking of the Bismarck today, it was just one ship, but it was a very important ship, very important German ship. And there seemed to be in addition to the military value of sinking that ship. At the time, it`s before my time of course, this is just from my reading of history, there seemed to be a tremendous morale value and sense of momentum for the allies in the sinking of the Bismarck who is very important to Winston Churchill, just that one ship.

Is that part of what we are seeing in the sinking of this Russian ship?

ARQUILLA: Oh absolutely. When the Bismarck was sunk, the Germans became very much more cautious about the use of their other surface warships. just as the Russians are going to become much more cautious now.

And I tend to believe the Ukrainian account of what happened, it includes a lot of information about how they were using drones to distract the air defenses of the ship.

If just one or two missiles were shot at the ship, it`s designed to defend against that. And so it does look like they were using these -- some of the smart drones they have to distract the air defense and then allow the missiles to go through and hit the vessel.

Whatever happened, in fact, the real matter is that the Russian use of sea power is going to become very much more circumspect. The fact that they are moving away from the coast suggest that they have a fear of these missiles too.

O`DONNELL: The strategy for Russia in eastern Ukraine seems to just be to reduce everything to rubble and then what is it -- if they do that, what is it that Russians takeover when they march into that rubble?


ARQUILLA: Well, they end up with an empire of rubble, if that`s the way they want to do it. I think we do have to be careful in this next phase.

The Russians always learn from adversity, they learn from it. You know, the winter war against the Finns back in 1939, in 1940. And they learned about it in Chechnya when they were defeated the first time there and came back smarter.

They are going to be smarter now. And the fact, there`s so many more armored personnel carriers suggest they`re going to have a lot more infantry this time.

And I think Ukrainians have to be careful about asking for heavier weapons, tanks, and 155 millimeter artillery. The heavier they get, the more vulnerable they will be to the Russians, the less mobile they will be. I think they should stick with the things that have been working for them.

O`DONNELL: Professor John Arquilla, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

ARQUILLA: My privilege, Lawrence. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And we will be right back.



O`DONNELL: Tonight`s LAST WORD is "chippy".