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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/25/22

Guests: Hakeem Jeffries, Mary Trump


Interview with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-CA). Former President Donald Trump is held in contempt for failure to produce documents. A Republican governor who wants to be president now has an accomplishment unlike any other governor in history. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has now signed into law a bill that will create the single biggest property tax increase in history, 25 percent.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, and thank you for your reporting about the French election. That`s more than I`m going to do. I`m really having this one sentence later in the hour.

But -- and that`s because, there are a few things I don`t know. I know that -- this is April 25th, and they`ve got the election winner. But, I don`t know when the French Electoral College meets. Is that around the world day? And then, does the parliament ratified Electoral College thing around Bastille Day? It`s somewhere in there, right?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: When they riot and threatened to kill the vice president as a way to try to keep the person who lost in power? Yeah, that`s -- I don`t speak French, so maybe I`m just missing it.

O`DONNELL: Wait, is it possible that they elected a president for five years just by having an election? Like just an election?

MADDOW: Just by having a vote.

O`DONNELL: Just a vote, whoa. Okay.

MADDOW: This deserves more research, I can tell. Yes.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, yeah, let`s get into that.

Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

Well, if you try to describe Donald Trump in one word, you might. Today you might choose the word contempt. That`s the word that I would choose today. Donald Trump has always seethed contempt. Contempt at me more than ten years ago when I was the first person to call him a liar, first person in this business the column a liar forwarding was saying about President Obama`s birth certificate. That contempt eventually spread to the entire American news media with Donald Trump contemptuously calling all of us the enemy of the people.

Donald Trump had contempt for every Republican candidate who ran against him from Republican nomination in 2016. He called Senator Rafael Cruz, lying Ted. He called Marco Rubio, little Marco. He gave out Lindsey Graham`s private cell phone number publicly to contemptuously harass Lindsey Graham.

Donald Trump has always been this way for his entire adult life, certainly his entire public life in New York City. He has always been contemptuous of anyone who didn`t praise him. That was his standard. Praise him, or you get his contempt.

Donald Trump is contempt personified, and today, he takes his place in his is the first former president of the United States to be held in contempt of court by a judge. We will cover the official finding of Donald Trump`s lifetime of contempt later in this hour when his niece, Mary Trump, joins our discussion.

We begin tonight with Donald Trump`s contempt for Congress on the day where he urged a Trump mob of Republicans to go on to the Capitol and fight like hell. Those were his words on generous except. Fight like hell. And his mob did that.

We have more information today about Republicans who believed, at this time, that Donald Trump was in control of the Trump mob at the Capitol. I know Donald Trump had the power to stop the attack on the Capitol that he had encouraged.

CNN`s reporting on newly-revealed text messages and possession of the January 6 committee, and in those messages, the committee obtained from Donald Trump`s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, Donald Trump`s third fired White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, texted his successor Mark Meadows during the attack that he needs to stop the snow. Can I do anything to help?

O`DONNELL: Mick Mulvaney does not say he needs to try to stop this now. Mick Mulvaney obviously thinks it was fully within Donald Trump`s power, his personal power, to tell his mob attacking the Capitol to stop, and they wouldn`t stop -- they would stop immediately. That`s clearly what Mick Mulvaney thinks in that text.

Donald Trump`s first fired chief of staff, Reince Priebus, texted his successor, tell them to go home. Reince Priebus believed Donald Trump had the power to tell attackers to go home.


And they will simply give up on their ambition, their dream to hang Mike Pence. They will give up on their dream to kill Nancy Pelosi, because supremacists believe the Republicans attacking the Capitol were under Donald Trump`s personal control.

Congressman William Timmons texted Mark Meadows, the president needs to stop this ASAP.

Even Marjorie Taylor Greene knew where Donald Trump should do during the attack on the Capitol. At 2:28 p.m., she texted Mark Meadows saying, please tell the president to calm people, this isn`t the way to solve anything.

Reporting by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their book "Peril" indicates that while Marjorie Taylor Greene was saying police stole the president to calm people, the president was watching TV and enjoying, reveling in the attack on the Capitol. Sometimes, the current never gets pulled back like this, and you can spend the rest of your life wondering who is stupider, Donald Trump, or Marjorie Taylor Greene?

Now, thanks to the January 6 committee, we have an answer. Marjorie Taylor Greene knew where Donald Trump should do when the capitol was attacked, and Donald Trump did not. Donald Trump was enjoying the show on television, and Marjorie Taylor Greene was telling him, this isn`t the way to solve anything.

Donald Trump Jr. has spent his entire life watching up close just how stupid and incompetence his father is. And so, he knew during that attack on the capitol that his father would have no idea what to do. He also appears to have known that none of the people working for his father knew what to do. And so, Donald Trump Jr. urgently texts mark meadows to tell the White House chief of staff something that Donald Trump junior believes that the White House chief of staff doesn`t understand, and he knows for certain that is why they didn`t understand.

Donald Trump Jr., his text says, he`s got to condemn this crap, ASAP. The Capitol police tweet is not enough.

And then, Donald Trump Jr. felt he had to text Mark Meadows again saying, this is one you go to the mattresses on. They will try to screw his entire legacy on this if it gets worse.

For those of you have been wondering who is stupider, Donald Trump, or Donald Trump Jr., there is no mystery left tonight. As stupid as Donald Trump Jr. so obviously is, he is easily smarter than his father. In that text, Donald Trump Jr. knows that the Trump presidency is over. Donald Trump Jr. is not stupidly staring and to a TV cheering for the attackers in the Capitol, thinking that they are going to rescue the Trump presidency from congresses certifying the election federal college vote in favor of Joe Biden. And then ensuring that Donald Trump would be inaugurated the second time on January 20th.

Donald Trump Jr. knows all of that is madness. Just madness. And that the only thing still at stake for Donald Trump while the capital is being attacked, is Donald Trump`s legacy, because of the Trump presidency is over.

They will try to scoop his entire legacy on this if it gets worse. That`s why Donald Trump Jr. Said. And it got worse. Donald Trump Jr. was right. His father got impeached, again. And in his father`s impeachment trial in the Senate, the most bipartisan vote for conviction in history was delivered in the Senate with a solid majority of 57 senators voting guilty.

And yes, the first sentence of Donald Trump`s legacy will include the phrase, twice impeached. Donald Trump`s best friend at Fox, Sean Hannity, urgently texted Mark Meadows during the attack on the Capitol. Can we make a statement, an ask people to leave the Capitol? Sending that text means, that Sean Hannity believe two things, one, that Donald Trump did have the power over the mob of the Capitol.

And two, that Donald Trump was not going to ask them over the capital to leave. And no one working for Donald Trump was going to tell Donald Trump that he should tell his mob at the capitol to leave the Capitol.

Sean Hannity knows long term very well. Donald Trump Jr. knows launching very well. And they were both sure that Donald Trump was not going to do the right thing on his own during the attack on the Capitol. That`s why they were texting Mark Meadows.


Two weeks after the attack on the Capitol, Sean Hannity sent an I-told-you- so text, of sorts, to Mark Meadows. The text says, well, this is as bad as this can get. And the text links this video of Mitch McConnell speaking on January 19th.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they try to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government who stayed in that line.

But we pressed on. We stood together, and said an angry mob will not veto power over the rule of law in our nation.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, he`s the chair of the House Democratic caucus and was an impeachment manager for the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

The January 6 committee is in possession of these texts, and this is presumably the tip of the iceberg of what they`ve discovered. What can you tell us from your leadership position about the schedule of the committee to go public with their hearings and have televised hearings revealing their information?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Good evening, Lawrence. Great to be with you.

It`s my understanding that at some point there will be a second side of public hearings, but we haven`t been read into a particular schedule. I think the January 6 committee under the leadership of Chairman Bennie Thompson continues to do a phenomenal job of leading its charge, which is follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution and uncover the truth, and nothing but the truth, and make sure that that gets presented to the American people, one, so that there`s accountability culpability, and responsibility over what took place.

And also, a roadmap put forward for how to prevent this type of violent attack and insurrection from ever happening again.

O`DONNELL: The Republican Party in the House seems just now proving themselves to be impervious to lying, in this case, Kevin McCarthy is lying. Kevin McCarthy lied publicly about what he said to his members after the attack on the Capitol. And, then by the end of the day where he lied, last week, a tape was produced on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" showing that Kevin McCarthy was lying about that, and now today, Kevin McCarthy is lying again.

Let`s listen to what he had to say when questioned about his communication with Donald Trump about the proof that was shown here on this network last week that Kevin McCarthy told his members that he was going to ask Donald Trump to resign. Let`s listen.


REPORTER: Have you spoken with President Trump recently? And did you speak with him last night?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No, I spoke with him twice today. I just spoke to him an hour ago.

REPORTER: How is your conversation? Did you talk to them about "The New York Times" report? And the conversation you had about --

MCCARTHY: The conversation was very good because, the conversation was what they said we did, we never did. I mean, I never asked President Trump to resign. We both talked about that. We`ve talked about --

REPORTER: You spoke with him about resigning?

MCCARTHY: No, let me be very clear, you`re misinterpreting. I have never asked the president to resign. So when the book said was not true.


O`DONNELL: Just to be clear, with the book said was, he told his members he was going to hang up the phone with them, and then call the president and ask him to resign, which he`s now saying, I never asked the president to resign.

JEFFRIES: Monday, House Republican Party doesn`t care about issues, they don`t care about ideas, they don`t care about inspiring Americans to our better angels. They just lie.

And facts all matter, hypocrisy is not a constraint to their behavior. They believe that shamelessness is a superpower. And this is what happens when you fall under the spell of a corrupt individual, and demagogue like Donald Trump. That`s what has occurred.

You don`t get any leadership from Kevin McCarthy or anyone else on the other side of the aisle, because it`s being run by Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, and that group of individuals. That should frighten the American people. That`s why we are going to fight like hell to protect and defend our democracy.

O`DONNELL: As you go into what is now an election year, it`s normally difficult for the parties to work together an election year because they are competitive.


It`s been impossible for you to work with Republicans at all at any point during this Congress. The only example we have our two where the members of the January 6 committee.

Would doesn`t mean to governing in the United States when the other party is not just opposed to your position, but is lying about your positions, lying about who you are, lying about where your support, and lying about what your party supports?

JEFFRIES: Well, we have to continue to move the business of the American people forward undeliverable for them by then, he there`s been tremendous progress that has occurred with respect to both pandemic, as well as the economy. Eight millions jobs created, 3.6 percent unemployment, fastest rate of economic growth in four years.

We just have increased, although that was accomplished in a deficit, which was reduced more than 250 billion dollars. In President Biden`s first year. That, said we still have to do things to bring down inflation, to lower costs for everyday Americans. And, I think many of us, undone allusion, that the Republicans in the House are going to work with us, to try to solve problems every day Americans. Because this time in clear they believe in governance and democracy at this particular point in time, with the exception of a handful of individuals that you mentioned, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, thank you very much for joining and starting off our discussion tonight.

JEFFRIES: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Mary Trump will join us after her Uncle Donald spent the weekend publicly claiming that he is not a stupid as we think he is, and after he today, became the first former president of the United States to be held in contempt by a judge. Mary Trump joins us next.



O`DONNELL: On Saturday, Donald Trump went to Ohio, supposedly to campaign for JD Vance, a candidate for Senate that graduated from Yale Law School and now pretend to be as stupid as Donald Trump.

I say supposedly because Donald Trump never campaigns for anyone except himself. In that campaign rally speech, the stupidest man ever to win the Electoral College said this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They used to call me, JD, they said, maybe stupid, so I said, to Dr. Ronny, you know, Dr. Ronny? He is now a great congressman in Texas, very popular, I think he won by 52 points or something. But he is now a great congressman.

I said, Ronny, I don`t like when people call me stupid. I have great heritage, an uncle who is a great, great genius. My father was a genius. We have a lot of geniuses. I don`t like being called stupid.

Is there a test or something I can take to prove to these radical left maniacs that I`m smarter than them? Is there a test? He said, sure there is a test. It`s called the X test.


O`DONNELL: The man who claims he passed the X test them got distracted by his own image in a TV monitor while he was giving that speech about how smart he is.


TRUMP: He had a fake, phony election. And by the way, did you see -- oh! What`s a handsome president. Wow.



O`DONNELL: And, in other Trump news today, a judge in Manhattan, after finding Donald Trump in contempt of court, ordered him to pay $10,000 today until he complies with the New York attorney general`s state subpoenas and joining us now is Mary Trump, niece of Donald Trump. She is the author of `The Reckoning: Our Nation`s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal".

Her new podcast is, "The Mary Trump Show".

Mary, let me begin with a question about how you are feeling since you were not mentioned in a genius section of the Trump speech about all of the geniuses in your family.

MARY TRUMP, AUTHOR: I am crushed. Although, I would like to point out to Donald, that sometimes genius gets a generation. Clearly, he was not factoring it into his calculation. I do find it fascinating that just because my uncle was a physicist and my grandfather was really good at using federal money to screw working people over that that is somehow redounds to Donald`s intelligence. Yeah.

O`DONNELL: I want to turn --

M. TRUMP: What do you say, man, camera, person. I don`t know.

O`DONNELL: I want to turn to your professional insight here as a psychologist. What you are seeing when you see a patient, let`s call him that -- out there with a microphone, talking about, I don`t like it when people call me stupid. And then he goes on to draw more attention to people calling him stupid. And then attempts to prove that he is not. And I think it is an objective -- he did not prove that. What is happening psychologically with a person?

M. TRUMP: I have often referred to Donald as a black hole of need.


And it`s never enough. Any compliments people give him, it`s never enough to fill that void. Partially because what they are saying isn`t convincing to him because they`re only saying what he wants to hear. And also because he knows it isn`t true. He knows he is a deeply unintelligent person.

He knows he is severely damaged and has severe limitations. So, he is always trying to fill a need that isn`t un-fillable. And it is sort of like when he talks about love. It is clear that he doesn`t understand what it is because he has never had experience with that.

And it ends up, as you say, just proving the point he is desperately trying to avoid having be proven. So, that clip you showed was a perfect example of how he keeps digging and then he gets distracted by another example of his narcissism, which again, is unending.

O`DONNELL: And I want to keep going back to that previous segment for you to referee a point that I passed judgment on, but I would prefer your judgment on. And that was the question of, who is stupider, Donald Trump or Donald Trump Jr.? I think we saw it on January 6th. Donald Trump Jr., in those tax, knows what his father should do and he also appears to be convinced that his father does not know what to do and I get the feeling, that is not the first time for Donald Trump Jr., thinking, my father has no idea what to do next.

And I have heard from people who worked on the television show that they used to do, that that was a common experience. Around the set, Donald Trump Jr. was always saying that his father was lost and had no idea what to do. So, that seems like a dynamic that has been going on for a while.

M. TRUMP: You know, it`s really interesting. I have had people ask me about the relative intelligence of the siblings, but never their intelligence in relation to their father. So, I think you are a lot kinder to Donny than I would be, certainly.

But when I see in that moment it is a perfect example of Donald`s inability to be strategic, even if it`s at his own expense. And think about why that is in that instance. Not because he was necessarily stupid, although we can certainly make that argument, but because his ego was getting fed because all of those people that violent mob, was fighting for him, democracy be damned.

O`DONNELL: The contempt finding today in a New York court, it is the first time, and it`s kind of remarkable that such a contentious man who has been in litigation all of his life is being held in contempt, certainly in his post-presidency, being held in contempt for the very first time.

You are in litigation with him now. It could come to that in your litigation. What do you think it means to Donald Trump?

I assume for him it is just another stage of the litigation. Okay, we have to a contempt order today. That`s $10,000 a day. We`ll play around with that as long as we have to. I wouldn`t think that it would be anything Donald Trump would be struck by.

M. TRUMP: Yeah, Lawrence, I completely agree with you. And this is one of the tragedies of what we are dealing with right now. There seems to be no way to hold this man accountable and he desperately needs to be.

But what? So he has been held in contempt. He will delay. His lawyers will delay.

In the meantime, if anybody thinks that he is going to see his hand and his own pocket and pay the $10,000 daily fine, I have a bridge down the street that I can tell you. It is never going to happen. He will either raise funds from the people he continues to dupe or, as he has in previous instances, he will make the Republican Party pay for his legal fees.

O`DONNELL: And I`m sorry, as you go forward in your litigation with him, are there any models that you are seeing in the behavior with the civil litigation with New York state attorney general that, as you are looking at it, it gives you a route to how to handle your litigation with him?

M. TRUMP: Honestly, all we can do is keep plugging away. And know that we have the facts on our side. We have the case. And hope that they don`t continue to throw up roadblocks, which again, it`s all that they do.

And the advantage that I think Letitia James has and her office has and that I have and that a couple of other people have is that, for the -- I think for the very first time in Donald`s life, we can wait him out because we have allies who are willing to give us the kind of help that so many other people have never had when faced with the onslaught of delays and, you know, forcing people to spend money they don`t have that Donald has always been able to do in the past.

O`DONNELL: I want to take a quick look at Piers Morgan`s interview with Donald Trump, which is, there`s a lot less there than the promos suggest. But it is kind of an interesting -- literally an interesting look at your uncle and the way he looks physically in this clip. Let`s take a look at this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I`m a very honest man. Much more honest than you actually.



MORGAN: It was (INAUDIBLE) -- you lost.

TRUMP: Only a fool would think that.

MORGAN: You think I`m a fool?

TRUMP: I do now. Yes.


TRUMP: Excuse me.


I saw him in a way that I have not seen it before. This up close, HD camera, showing the absurdity of the makeup and the sweating and just the tension that he is dealing -- and he is dealing with, you know, this kind of ridiculous interviewer who was soft balling him the way through almost the whole thing.

M. TRUMP: Yes.

O`DONNELL: What did you see in that?

M. TRUMP: I actually saw another clip from that and the first thing I see is another failure of the circumstances in which we are living. Donald should not be in a position to be sitting for interviews like this. He should be indicted. He should be in depositions.

He should not be free to go on national television or I`m not even sure where Piers Morgan`s interview is being shown. But he should not be in a position to get on any significant platform and peddle his lies about a stolen election. That the only person trying to steal that election was him and his significant number of sycophants and enablers, right.

And he certainly should not be allowed -- and this is the other clip I saw -- to claim that the Ukraine war or that Russia`s war against Ukraine, would not be happening if the 2020 election hadn`t been rigged.

It is so dangerous that there is no pushback. And that he continues to be given the opportunity to spread his lies, as you said, with practically no pushback from somebody like Morgan, who I guess is another despicable white man allowed to fail up.

O`DONNELL: Mary Trump, thank you very much for joining our discussion once again, we always appreciate it.

M. TRUMP: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, we have a winner. We have the governor who is forcing the biggest property tax increase in history ever forced by a governor`s action. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis` attack on Disney turns out to be an attack on Florida taxpayers. Their taxes are going to go up 25 percent. No governor has ever done anything like this.

That is next.



O`DONNELL: A Republican governor who wants to be president now has an accomplishment unlike any other governor in history. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has now signed into law a bill that will create the single biggest property tax increase in history, 25 percent.

That is how high property taxes will go, how much higher they will go, in Orlando area after Ron DeSantis signed a law that repeals Disney`s special status in that area. Property taxes around Disney World are going to increase by 25 percent, thanks to Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

Disney World pays taxes to the counties that surround it. Disney paid $40 million last year to Orange County and will continue to pay that. But Disney will no longer have to pay the special taxes in the geographic area that it controls because Republicans in the Florida legislature and the Republican governor rushed a bill through the legislature that repeals the Disney special status in that area. Which means they repealed Disney`s obligation to pay $163 million a year for the right to, in effect, govern the area that its property is located on.


Now because these are Republicans that we are talking about, it is very unlikely that they had any idea what they were actually doing when they tried to penalize Disney by dissolving its special status to operate what they call the Reedy Creek Improvement District where Disney World is located.


SCOTT RANDOLPH, ORANGE COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR: The moment that Reedy Creek doesn`t exist is the moment that those taxes don`t exist. You are literally taking $163 million a year of taxes that Disney pays to Reedy Creek and wiping it down to zero.


O`DONNELL: That is Scott Randolph the Orange County tax collector. He knows what`s going to happen now that Florida Republicans threw away $163 million in local tax revenue from Disney.


RANDOLPH: I don`t see how Orange County doesn`t raise property taxes by 20 to 25 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 20 to 25 percent.

RANDOLPH: That is what Orange County would probably have to do to cover this financial situation.


O`DONNELL: No governor in history prior Ron DeSantis, has done anything to increase anyone`s property taxes by 25 percent. That has never happened before.

If you are paying $10,000 in property taxes in Orange County, Florida now, you`ll be paying at least $12,500 in property taxes when this law takes effect in 2023.

And thanks to Donald Trump and Washington Republicans, none of that property tax increase will be tax deductible to you -- zero. Republicans in Washington effectively eliminated the tax deductibility of property taxes.

Randy Fine thinks the Republican Florida legislature is a hornets` nest. He said, quote, "You kick the hornets` nest, things come up. And Randy Fine is proud of the hornets` nest and being a hornet himself.

Republican representative Randy Fine was the sponsor of the bill to eliminate the special Disney district, which eliminates $163 million in Disney taxes.

Hornets are profoundly stupid creatures and so, Randy Fine`s self- comparison to hornets could not be more apt. It is now Republican doctrine that government taxation and regulation of businesses should not be based on economic theory but should be based on how friendly and supportive and encouraging any individual business is to Republicans.

That is the governing principle on business regulation and taxation in the state of Florida now and no doubt among Washington Republicans.

They used to pretend campaign contributions had nothing to do with it. They used to pretend it was all about economic theory. And now, actually, they have a point when they say campaign contributions have nothing to do with it because there is apparently no amount of money that you can hand over to Republicans to buy political protection from them if you ever publicly disagree with anything they say or do.

Disney contributed $10.5 million to Donald Trump in the presidential campaign year 2020. And in the same year Disney contributed $1.2 million to Joe Biden`s presidential campaign. It is very common for corporations to give to both sides and it is very common for them to favor and sometimes heavily favor one side.

Disney might have thought that by investing 10 to 1 in Donald Trump over Joe Biden, but as a corporation they proved their Republican loyalty. But that is not good enough anymore.

Now Republicans want corporations` money and they want corporations to surrender freedom of speech. They want Disney and Disney officials to surrender their First Amendment rights in order to do business in Florida.

The self-proclaimed hornet, Randy Fine, does not believe that anyone working at Disney has any right to voice an opinion about the Florida legislature`s new law governing what public school teachers can and cannot say about human sexuality.

And that is why, Florida Republicans have a erased Disney`s $163 million tax bill and given that tax bill to local property taxpayers in the Orlando area. Randy Fine says that one of the reasons Disney has no right to an opinion about anything that the Florida government does is that Disney is a guest -- a guest in the state of Florida. That is his word, "guest". Little does he know, there is no such thing as a guest in law.


O`DONNELL: The snowbirds that travel from the north of the country to spend the winter in Florida all have the same rights of the people who live in Florida every day of a year. They don`t surrender a single right when they visit the state temporarily. And if they spend enough time in the state every year, they have the right to vote in Florida.

So Randy Fine has invented the notion that Disney is a guest in the state of Florida, even though Disney has been in the state of Florida longer than Randy Fine has been alive and longer than Ron DeSantis has been alive.

The biggest difference between Ron DeSantis, Randy Fine and the vengeful hornets they compare themselves to it is that hornets never try to justify who they attack.

Coming up, we will get the latest in Ukraine from Cal Perry, who is in Kyiv tonight. That is next.



O`DONNELL: Pretending to be religious, Vladimir Putin attended church on Sunday for Russian Orthodox Easter, holding a candle while he continued to order his military forces to commit mass murder and war crimes in Ukraine while that very Easter ceremony was going on.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy responded saying, quote, "Killing children, destroying lives, covering it up with cynical and total lies, what has been done against peaceful cities -- all that Russia is doing in the territory of Ukraine is definitely not Christianity. This is what Christ opposed."

On Sunday, Ukraine received a strong show of support when Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a trip to Kyiv to meet with President Zelenskyy.

During the three hour meeting, the top cabinet officials pledged more weapons and military aid to help Ukraine win and to weaken the Russian military.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We don`t know how the rest of this war will unfold, but we do know that a sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene.

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: They have the mindset that they want to win. We have a mindset that we want to help them win. And we are going to do that.


O`DONNELL: Within hours of the American cabinet members` visit to Kyiv, Ukraine`s railway had said Russian targeted five different railway stations in western and central Ukraine.

Ukraine`s defense minister said the longer range weapons supplied by the U.S. and its allies will fundamentally change the picture of this war.

The Biden administration announced it would return U.S. Diplomats to Ukraine this week and reopen its embassy in Kyiv. President Biden nominated Bridget Brink (ph) to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, the first person to serve in that position since Donald Trump fired Marie Yovanovitch in 2019.

More bad news for Vladimir Putin when the French President Emmanuel Macron won reelection with a 16-point winning margin over pro Putin challenger Marine Le Pen.

Russia continues its assault in eastern Ukraine, but is being pushed back as it tries to advance on several towns, according to Ukraine`s military. The last Ukrainian soldiers are still holding out inside that steel plant in Mariupol, as Russian forces bombard the city.

Ukraine officials say Russia again blocked civilians from evacuating despite claiming they would open a humanitarian corridor.

Joining us now is NBC News correspondent Cal Perry in Kyiv. Cal, what is the situation there tonight?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Lawrence, yesterday was an extraordinary day here on the ground. You spoke about Orthodox Easter Sunday. We have that visit from the two top American secretaries. They traveled some 12 hours on the train from Poland, making their way here, in fact, after President Zelenskyy had given up the visit, giving away the secrecy of the visit.

They decided that it was important enough to carry on anyway. Certainly, U.S. security officials probably would not have been happy with that visit being given up, but they came here anyway.

There are so many analysts who said that the presidential palace in which this meeting took place would not be standing and there it is, just a few feet from where I am now, that meeting took place.

And we had really a marked change in tone, once these two leaders made their way back to Poland, they made it clear that in the eyes of the American government, a weaker Russia is what here should be the final goal. Take a listen to what it is that the Secretary of Defense had to say once .


AUSTIN: We want to see Russia weakened to a degree that it can`t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine. So it has already lost a lot of military capability and a lot of its troops, quite frankly. And we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability.



PERRY: Now, included in those losses, Lawrence, according to the United Kingdom, the Secretary of Defense who spoke to parliament -- 15,000, he said, dead Russian troops. According to the Ukrainian government, they are actually having difficulty getting some of those bodies back to Russia. That the Russians are not interested in receiving those dead Russian soldiers back.

And amongst the weaponry that was very important to the Ukrainians here, Howitzers -- long-range artillery pieces, seven of which are already in the country. The rest are on their way. The Ukrainian defense minister saying he thinks that could be a game-changer. A way not just to keep the Russians at bay, but to actually pushed them back, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal, any indication that the attacks in the west in the train stations were a response in effect to the Defense Secretary and the Secretary of State visiting Kyiv?

PERRY: Yes. Certainly, that is the way the Ukrainian government is taking it. These rail lines have been left alone by the Russians by and large until today, earlier this morning. which is again about 14 to 16 hours after the secretaries left.

The other thing that seems to be clear is they wanted to strike those lifelines that those weapons are coming into, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal perry, thank you very much for joining us from Kyiv tonight and please stay safe.

And we will be right back.



O`DONNELL: And we`re out of time. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts now.