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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/26/22

Guests: Stuart Stevens, Jon Ossoff, Tom Nichols, Steven Donziger


"The New York Times" released new audio today of Kevin McCarthy saying what he really thinks. Interview with Senator Jon Ossoff. In an historic display of allied unity against a European aggressor not seen since World War II, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met today in Germany with defense officials from over 40 countries unified in the mission to help Ukraine beat Russia in Vladimir Putin`s war. human rights and environmental lawyer Steven Donziger has just been released from house arrest in a federal case filed against him after he successfully sued Chevron for destruction of the rain forest in Ecuador.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, what`s 30 seconds between us? Come on. Take your time. No problem.

Rachel, it all began on your show when Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns revealed the tape, what was that considered the tape, the McCarthy tape. And you ask them, was anything else taped?

It turns, out a lot more of a state. And we are now in week two of the rolling McCarthy tapes.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": And, you know, when I had Mr. Martin and Mr. Burns on the show, and we played the tape of him talking about asking Trump for his resignation, which McCarthy had specifically denied saying, they immediately, said one of the other things that he did, and I`ve seen this reporting in this book, that advance cop in part of the book, was that McCarthy had asked for social media companies, Twitter, to cut off other Republican members of Congress in the same way that that cut off Trump.

And when they describe that to me, I was shocked when they said that there was also tape of that. That in, fact there is, that`s part of the tape those released a night, and those one of three tips released tonight. So, there is a lot out there. Kevin McCarthy`s life is getting more and more the vehicle by the second, but it`s not like there`s anybody else that`s rising up to take over the reins of House Republicans to try to take over the speakership. I`m not sure anybody would reach that drop on their will stymie.

O`DONNELL: And, it`s Tuesday, so, we have plenty more tape opportunities this week. I am expecting at least one or two more tapes.

MADDOW: Well, the Burns and Martin book doesn`t come until a week from today so it`s a long on around.

O`DONNELL: And then, what are you saving for publication day? You must be saving something. There`s got to be some tape for that. So we`ll see.

MADDOW: Yeah. It`s going to be a long week for Kevin McCarthy. And it`s just Tuesday, as you said.

Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

Democrats in disarray. That is a favorite Washington media theme. As soon as any two Democrats can be found to publicly disagree on anything, the Democrats and the sort headline is ready to go. But we have never seen anything like the disarray and the outright madness on display in the Republican Party that we are seeing right now, and we are seeing it in Georgia.

Thanks to the madness of Donald Trump and Trumpism, and thanks to the beating Jon Ossoff delivered to the Republicans in his winning Senate campaign that gave control of the United States Senate to the Democrats, disarray, to put it mildly, has developed among the Republicans in Georgia. Jon Ossoff crushed David Perdue`s hopes for reelection to the Senate. And, now David Perdue is desperately running for governor of Georgia, with Donald Trump support against incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Donald Trump`s hatred of Brian Kemp is based on Governor Kemp`s refusal to commit state and federal crimes and try to overthrow the election results for the president in Georgia. And before I tell you which of these candidates is way ahead of the other, take a look at the Republican disarray in Georgia caused by Donald Trump and Senator Jon Ossoff, who will be joining us on this program tonight.


FORMER SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R-GA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: First off, folks, let me be very clear tonight. The election in 2020 was rigged and stolen. All the madness we see from the Biden administration, all that started right here in Georgia when our governor caved and allowed radical Democrats to steal our election.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: I don`t need to be lectured by someone that lost their last election about what our voting laws are.

PERDUE: You`re the top cop in the states. It`s your job to make sure that we prosecute voter fraud.

KEMP: The fact is, if you haven`t lost your race to Jon Ossoff, we would`ve lost control of the Senate and we wouldn`t have the disaster that we have in Washington right now.



O`DONNELL: So, there`s Governor Kemp, once again, authorizing that Jon Ossoff won his Senate race against David Perdue fair and square and if the current Georgia polls prove true, David Perdue is on his way to another crushing defeat in Georgia, which means that Donald Trump is on his way to another crushing defeats in Georgia. We will discuss that and much more when Senator Jon Ossoff joins us later in this hour.

"The New York Times" released new audio today of Kevin McCarthy saying what he really thinks, and of course, it was secretly recorded audio of the conference call with the Republican House leadership because Kevin McCarthy never says what he thinks and public, only the secrets McCarthy tapes can show us what he really thinks.

The possible suspects from taping the call include all of the members of the Republican leadership at the time, January 10th 2021, which included then House Republican conference chair, Liz Cheney. And the suspect list includes many others because, as "The New York Times" notes, several staff members for all of the members of Congress who participated in that call, we`re also listening in on the call. And then a position to tape it including and this is very important for a life of government these office, including Kevin McCarthy`s staff.

It could be McCarthy`s staff the tape could be coming from inside the McCarthy house. On the call, Kevin McCarthy refers to briefings, from the FBI says a donor sixth attack on the capitol, indicating the lives of some members of the House may be in danger. Kevin McCarthy expresses his worry that Republican members of the House like Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks and others, should stop attacking Democratic members of the House by name and some Republicans by name, presumably, because Kevin McCarthy feared that if the FBI reports were true, one of those members of Congress could be the victim of severe or deadly violence, which, could then, be rightly attributed to Republican encouragement.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The other thing that we have to do is, these members on either, whatever position you`re on, calling out other members, that stuff`s got to stop, especially in this nature. When I get off right here, I`m going to call Gaetz, the pension is too high, the country`s too crazy. I did not want to look back and think we caused something, or remain something, like someone got hurt. I want to play politics with anybody.


O`DONNELL: "The Times" reports that Kevin McCarthy vowed to do something about the rhetoric from his wilder members, but the times also reports that Kevin McCarthy actually did absolutely nothing.


MCCARTHY: Okay, the other thing I want to bring up, and I`m making some phone calls to some members, I just -- I just got something sent now about Newsmax something Matt Gaetz said that he was calling people names and saying anti Trump in this type of atmosphere, and some other places. This is serious stuff people are doing that has to stop.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): I think, Mo and Louie`s comments, too, a lot of members have said some real concerning things about.

MCCARTHY: Did they say something today too?

SCALISE: Not to -- I mean, Mo was at the rally, the, we`re kicking (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and taking names thing, at the Trump rally.

MCCARTHY: Gonzales, just sent it to me, some calling Gaetz, I`m explaining to him, I don`t know what I`m going to say, but I`m going to have some people call him too, but the nature of what -- if I`m getting briefings, and I`m going to get another one from FBI tomorrow, this is serious (EXPLETIVE DELETED), cut this out.

SCALISE: Yeah, that`s, it`s potentially illegal what he`s doing.

MCCARTHTY: Well, he`s putting people in jeopardy, and he doesn`t need to be doing this. We saw what people do in the capital, we know those people came prepared with a rope, with everything else.


O`DONNELL: In a court filing, the January 6 committee describes testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, in, which Ms. Hutchinson testifies about the members of Congress who she knew, she personally knew, were involved in discussions with Mark Meadows about urging Vice President Mike Pence to overthrow the Electoral College results on January 6th.


"The New York Times" reports that Cassidy Hutchinson said, members of Congress involved in the discussions at various points included Representatives Scott Perry, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, Representative Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, and Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, Representative Jody Hice and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

The court documents revealed that message incident also testified that in one discussion, Mr. Perry endorsed the idea of encouraging supporters to march at the Capitol, and that no one on the call objected to the proposal. She made clear that the members of Congress were inclined to go with White House guidance about directing a crowd to the Capitol.

The night before the attack on the Capitol, Congressman Matt Gaetz appeared on Fox and talked about, quote, tens of thousands of people potentially marching in the streets in Washington, D.C. tomorrow.

In his recent book, Mark Meadows claim that Donald Trump ad-libbed the line in his speech saying that people should march to the Capitol, and that he would march with them, and that no one knew he was going to say that. Cassidy Hutchinson contradicted in her under oath testimony to the January 6 committee.

She said Mr. Meadows had said, in casual conversation, oh, we`re going to have this big rally. People are talking about all social media. They`re going to go up to the Capitol. Mark Meadows own staff member Cassidy Hutchinson testified under oath that Mark Meadows said before January 6th, quote, they are going to go up to the Capitol.

One reason why the Justice Department still hasn`t acted on the January 6 committee`s recommendation of a criminal prosecution of Mark Meadows for contempt of Congress, for refusing to testify the committee, might be -- might be because the Justice Department might be investigating Mark Meadows for possible criminal involvement in encouraging the attack on the Capitol, as Cassidy Hutchinson`s testimony indicates.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Stuart Stevens, a veteran of Republican presidential campaigns. He is author of, "It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump."

Also with us, Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post". He`s an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Eugene, we are in week two of the McCarthy tapes. And we suspect there are more on the way. Matt Gaetz out tonight with an enraged attack on Kevin McCarthy. And Steve Scalise saying they are weak, the state show that they are weak. And, so the disarray is in full bloom in the Republican House.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, Lawrence, what is going to be our alliterative reference to the Republicans in ruin? Republicans in riot? Something like that? We`ve got a settle on one because that`s what`s happening at the center right now is Kevin McCarthy who has to be the most inept lawyer I`ve seen in Washington a long time. He lies, he lies about the lies.

He tells people in these calls that we were just released today, I`m going to do this, I`m going to do that. He doesn`t seem to be doing any of it. How did this man become the leader of the minority caucus in the House?

And how does he intend to be speaker when it doesn`t seem to be that his numbers can actually trust anything he says? Even when he is trying to do the right thing, like keep people like Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mo Brooks and the others under some semblance of control. It`s a mess. It`s a mess.

O`DONNELL: And, Stuart, he cannot trust anyone around town. He`s not like the mafia walls like on top on the phone because the phone is being tapped by his own people. He`s going to have to meet people out in one spot parking lots and pat them down to make sure they`re not wired now.

STUART STEVENS, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yeah, I mean, look, this is like a Lord of the Flies, and poor Kevin McCarthy is going to end up like Piggy with this brains bashed out. That`s -- you can`t accommodate terrorists, and that`s what these Republican members are.

And this whole myth that we keep indulging ourselves and, it`s somehow an office would transform someone. Once Donald Trump becomes president, he`ll start acting like a president. Once Republicans get in power, they`ll act responsibly.

I mean, that`s absurd. The idea that non-democratic people become more democratic when they get more power is never been proven to be true. That`s the exact opposite.


So, I -- Kevin McCarthy is just somebody who thought he could cut a deal with those people. But they`re going to eat him alive.

O`DONNELL: Gaetz, Congressman Gaetz tweeted tonight, this is the behavior of weak men, not leaders. He said, while I was protecting President Trump from impeachment, they were protecting Liz Cheney from criticism. And, he goes on from there, ranting on from there.

Kevin McCarthy`s struggles -- we see the struggle he was in about time, and now that whole struggle has revisited itself know that the tapes come out. He`s going to have to go through it all again.

ROBINSON: Yeah, absolutely, it`s going to go on and on. It`s not ironic, it`s just insane that public enemy number one and today`s Republican Party is Liz Cheney, a lifelong, rock ribbed, conservative Republican, daughter of Dick Cheney, a Republican`s Republican. You know, she couldn`t be more conservative, she couldn`t be more dedicated to what used to be the party`s ideals. And she is the worst thing that you can say about Kevin McCarthy, or anybody, but they are allied somehow with Liz Cheney.

That says everything you need to know about just how off the rails today`s Republican Party is. And we really should worry what happens to the House of Representatives, what happens to this country, if these people actually do regain control, because they`re worse than ever.

O`DONNELL: And, Stuart, the essence of the conspiracy for weeks became January 6th, aimed at Vice President Pence simply throwing out electoral results. I know those people seem to wonder why Al Gore didn`t do that in what was his own presidential election when he was the vice president, and on January 6th, did not throw out Florida`s electoral results. Didn`t try to, basically, grab the election from self in any way.

But Mike Pence didn`t actually decide according to all the reporting on this. He didn`t decide not to do that. Until about 24 hours before the moments was going to come real`s going to have to basically participate in the certification of the Electoral College.

STEVENS: I mean, look, what do we know? We know that there was a conspiracy to end the transference of power in the United States of America, which is to end the American experiment . At the center of this was Mike Pence. He`s the vice president of the United States. He knew that this was happening, and we do when they`re gravel started democracy released and 1960 happened? He waited to see which side was going to win.

You`re not calling Dan Quayle because you are outraged, you call the FBI because you`re outraged. You call the press conference because you are outraged. Pence is the guy that waited to see who was going to win, and when it was clear that they weren`t able to pull this coup off, he went with the winning side. And with the idea of praising Pence here for doing what was constitutionally obligated to do, it`s very dangerous. It`s really sort of the dumbing down of any sort of moral responsibility.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, the Pence call to Quayle is reported as calling Quayle to ask him, can I do this? Actually trying to see there`s a way to do it. And professor Quayle had to explain to him the Constitution of the United States.

Stuart Stevens, Gene Robinson, thank you both very much for starting off our discussion tonight, really appreciate it. Thank you.

And, coming up, the senior senator from Georgia, Jon Ossoff, will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Thanks to our next guest, this man is no longer a member of the United States senate.


PERDUE: First off, folks, let me be very clear tonight. The election in 2020 was rigged and stolen.


O`DONNELL: Senator Jon Ossoff of beat Republican David Perdue, and took a Senate seat away from Republicans, and in the process helped create havoc in the Republican Party in Georgia, with David Perdue now running a Republican from primary against Republican Governor Brian Kemp. The Republican versus Republican attacks in that race have been savaged, Donald Trump has publicly expressed his hatred of Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Trump endorsed David Perdue, but David Perdue with the Trump endorsement is running far behind in the polls, with Kemp running at 53, and Perdue at 27, with Donald Trump`s support. No senator has ever done more damage to the opposing party, simply by winning an election, the way Jon Ossoff did.

Jon Ossoff lost in his first campaign for a House seat, and then in his next campaign he aimed higher, and won a Senate seat. Thanks to Jon Ossoff, never getting out and winning that Senate seat, President Biden has been able to confirm 59 federal judges at this point of his presidency, more than any other presidency since 1962. And, President Biden confirmed a Supreme Court justice, while he was at it, with Jon Ossoff serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Without Jon Ossoff in the Senate, none of that would be possible. Ossoff is one of the calming and steady voices in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson. And today, Senator Ossoff chaired a subcommittee hearing on a hugely important issue, Georgia`s military families, and American military families stationed around the world.

Here`s Garrett Haake`s report for NBC Nightly News.


GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Captain Samuel Cho (ph) and his family was living on Fort Gordon for only two months, when it`s eight year old daughter developed a severe rash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her skin became harden and rough and reptilian in nature, and where she would scratch, it would bleed profusely.

HAAKE: He says a base physician diagnosed her with severe atopic dermatitis, blaming mold in their hone as the likely cause. Kicking off a month long battle with the bases housing contractor Balfour Beatty, first to remove the mold then to break their lease when the company failed to do so.

I can`t imagine how frustrating that must be for you, as a dad, to want to be able to help your daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, we found a very frustrating, because it was delayed over and over and over again.

HAAKE: Balfour Beatty operates more than 43,000 homes at 55 U.S. bases. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on investigation citing numerous in services in which the company failed to properly respond to repairs and environmental hazards, including molds.

Technical Sergeant Jack Torres was forced out of his home on a Texas airbase for 12 weeks of mold removal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These displacements caused my family great amounts of stress, as you can imagine.

HAAKE: Last September, Balfour Beatty pleaded guilty for major fraud against the United States, ordered to pay more than $55 million in fines and restitution.

Today, the company`s executives on the hot seat.

SEN. JON OSSOFF (D-GA): Why should you believe, Mr. Taylor, the company they engaged in fraud against the United States is fixing this?

RICHARD TAYLOR, BALFOUR BEATTY EXECUTIVE: I reject the suggestion that it`s systemic failure. Things go wrong. We don`t always get it right the first time. We`re not perfect.

HAAKE: Now stationed in South Korea, Captain Cho flew 7,000 miles to make sure these failures would be the last.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one else is here to speak up for my daughter.

HAAKE: Garrett Haake, NBC News, the Capitol.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now on our Washington studio, is Senator Jon Ossoff of Georgia. He`s a Senate Homeland Security -- Homeland Security Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Rules Committee.

Senator Ossoff, today, it was chairman, today you are trying your first subcommittee hearing?

OSSOFF: That`s right. I chair the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is the chief investigative body in the U.S. Senate. Just a few months after I took office, I sat down with military families at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Georgia, to hear what they needed from their senator. They told me nightmarish stories about the conditions they endured and the housing on post. And the appalling treatment that they suffered at the hands of the company that managed to house.

I told him I would take action, launched an eight-month intensive bipartisan investigation, as the chair of the subcommittee. We reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents, interviewed dozens of witnesses, today we released our findings, and we held this hearing to spotlight some of the heroic stories of the service members.

These are folks who give so much for their own country, they sacrificed so much. They and their family should not have to sacrifice a safe home. We are talking about kids getting sick, living in military housing on bases in the United States. It`s a travesty, and that`s why have been so committed to this investigation, and have an old into account those responsible.

O`DONNELL: So, what is the solution?

OSSOFF: Well, what I`ve done is establish a facts, and that is step one. Step two is for Congress to engage with the Pentagon, and a Department of Justice, to determine if their solution is legislative or administrative. The company responsible for this ongoing mistreatment was engaged from 2013 to 2019, in a scheme to defraud the United States.

And what our investigation revealed is that the mistreatment of military families is ongoing. We established those facts through our investigation now the work is to develop legislative remedies.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to get to the massive Republican Georgian politics in a minute, but I want to stay with us because one of the reasons I want to talk to you tonight is that this is an example of, when I guess we would acquired by partisanship happening the Senate. Things like this, work like this is getting done in the Senate, but it is not grabbing those headlines in a way that other things do.

What can you tell us about what it`s like when you are actually engaged in real bipartisan work like this on the committee?

OSSOFF: Well, this is why I ran for office, is to use the power of the Congress to serve my constituents, to serve the people.

When we have members of the Armed Forces who put their lives on the line, in defense of our nation whose family is make these enormous sacrifices, and in return they have to live in homes where the ceilings are caving in, where there is asbestos, lead, mold and mildew contamination, when they`re giving you the run around while they try to address and repair these issues very well your kids are getting sick, every day they`re out there serving out country, that should offend every single American.

Congress should be doing more work like this. Instead of folks using the power of government to thank each other on go partisan grounds, just to try to gain power, we need to focus on serving the people who elected us. That`s our jobs.


O`DONNELL: So I`ve never seen a Senate election, a Senate win, change our politics so much. First of all your win gave Democrats control of the Senate.

This is sequentially, as I recall, your race was called, hours after Senator Warnock`s race was called. So technically you came in as the 50th, you are the last one elected. You made Chuck Schumer the majority leader. You`ve got control of the Senate for the Democrats, which is just a giant accomplishment for one Senate election.

And then you managed to destroy the Republican Party in your state while you are at it. And they are now at each other like we`ve never seen before.

You know, I`m not paying too much attention to the Republican infighting in Georgia. But I am focused on ensuring that my brother, my colleague, my friend, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock is reelected to the Senate.

On the political side, that is my highest priority. I cannot speak highly enough about the work that Senator Warnock is doing, about the place and way he has established himself as a moral voice in the U.S. Senate.

And so, you know, I want to urge everybody out there to prepare to suit up, as Senator Warnock would say, you know, strap your shoes on. Get ready to knock doors again. Get ready to make calls. Get ready to write postcards because Georgia is going to need you again. Senator Reverend Warnock is going to need you again. It`s going to be all hands on deck.

O`DONNELL: Can you explain to the viewers why if you both got elected on the same day, somehow you get to be the senior senator.

OSSOFF: Is just the alphabet. It`s just the alphabet. But you know, Senator Warnock does give me a hard time about that. I`m putting in the work to ensure he comes back next year.

O`DONNELL: so when you watch David Perdue running now and saying that the election was stolen. He seems to be saying that you stole the election from him, as well as Democrats stealing the election from Donald Trump.

OSSOFF: Look, I already beat David Perdue. I`m not going to get into it with David. David and Governor Kemp can fight it out. And they`re slugging it out and I`m going to let them do that.

What I`ll say is this. The effort by the outgoing administration to seize and retain power, to defy the will of the people, to use all of the instruments of federal power, the Department of Justice, the intelligence community to subvert constitutional processes in the U.S. Senate that sustain the peaceful transfer of power.

Those are examples of the abuse of political power. Those are examples of the misuse of office. Those are examples of folks who have been so consumed by their addiction to and lust for power, that they see power is just a means to more power.

I see power as a means of serving ordinary people. I see power as a means of standing up for that military family in Augusta, Georgia; for that service member who`s going out every single day in a military intelligence battalion, protecting our country from cyber threats, developing critical intelligence for our national security, who has to come home at night and risk the ceiling caving in in their kids bedroom because the home is riddled with mold.

So look, they`re fighting it out politically on the Republican side in Georgia. Every single day I go to work and think about out how I`m going to serve the people who elected me.

O`DONNELL: Senator Jon Ossoff, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

OSSOFF: It`s my pleasure, and it`s as always, ElectJon -- Help me help us in Georgia.

O`DONNELL: Jon Ossoff, really appreciate it.

And coming up, Vladimir Putin reached an agreement in principle with the U.N. director general today about evacuating civilians from Mariupol. But of course, no evacuation has taken place.

And the European alliance against Vladimir Putin today showed the most unity against a European aggressor since World War II.

That is next.



O`DONNELL: In an historic display of allied unity against a European aggressor not seen since World War II, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met today in Germany with defense officials from over 40 countries unified in the mission to help Ukraine beat Russia in Vladimir Putin`s war.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I`d like this whole group today to leave with a common and transparent understanding of Ukraine`s near term security requirements because we`re going to keep moving heaven and earth so that we can meet them.

You know, Putin never imagined that the world would rally behind Ukraine so swiftly and surely.


O`DONNELL: In a major shift today, Germany announced the shipment of dozens of armored anti-aircraft vehicles to Ukraine for the first time. Today the Kremlin accused the United States and NATO of engaging in a proxy war with Russia by supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned the risk of nuclear war is quote, "serious, real and should not be underestimated".


O`DONNELL: United States officials telling NBC News that the United States has been providing real time intelligence sharing that`s allowed Ukraine to protect their air defenses and aircraft and to better target Russian forces.

The U.N. Secretary General met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow and said Putin agreed in principle to let the United Nations and Red Cross help evacuate civilians from Mariupol.

Russia has not allowed any civilians to evacuate Mariupol since that agreement was announced today. Ukraine says Russian forces conducted 35 airstrikes on this steel plant in Mariupol in the last 24 hours where the last Ukrainian soldiers are holding out and 2,000 civilians remain in the basement of the plant without food and water.

Mariupol`s mayor says, a third mass grave was discovered. The mayor said, the local people were forced by Russians to dig the graves in exchange for food and water.

Kentucky`s junior Senator Rand Paul disgraced himself in the Senate once again today and in history as Vladimir Putin `s best friend in the United States Senate.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If you look at the countries that Russia has attacked over the last years -- Georgia, leaving forces in Transnistria in Moldova, and then repeatedly Ukraine. These are countries that were not part of NATO. It has not attacked NATO countries for probably --


SENATOR RAND PAUL (R-KY): You can also argue the countries they`ve attacked were part of Russia.

Blinken: Well.

PAUL: Or were part of the Soviet Union.

BLINKEN: I firmly disagree with that proposition. It is the fundamental right of these countries to decide their own future and their own destiny.


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

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So in Mariupol, we can start there because we had this meeting in Moscow. The situation remains dire. That, according to Ukrainian government officials.

And they`re telling, us look, they just don`t believe Vladimir Putin. We`ve heard this before from him. He said last week that the army would not fire on that plant and, of course, as you said, it was shelled heavily overnight.

The other thing that`s happening there are these forced evictions. The Ukrainian government telling us that 474 people, in their words, were abducted from Mariupol and forced to move to Russia and put in camps.

It sort of goes to show you the level of distrust even if there were a cease-fire, even if the red cross were able to get into that city, there is not the level of trust really to carry out an evacuation at this point.

7.7 million internally displaced persons now here across the country, Lawrence, and that number is growing almost exponentially. 600,000 this month alone. That`s one in six Ukrainians. And so many of them, according to the United Nations are now are now trying to return to their homes.

About 15 percent are on the move. And so many of them are finding their homes completely destroyed. We had the chance to visit a suburb here of Kyiv, the suburb of Irpin. It was the site of the fiercest fighting in and around the capitol. Really the place where the Ukrainians were able to stop the Russian advancement.

We with a 59 year old woman. This was her first trip back to her house, that`s her house there. Here was part of her story Lawrence, take a listen.

OLENA GRABKO, RESIDENT OF IRPIN: So at first, I felt hysteric. And then I just felt nauseous. And I was like a zombie. And when they shelled us, I just asked God to kill me straightaway.

It`s scary, it`s horrible. It`s very scary. And everything that`s been happening is something unexplainable, because a mentally ill person deprived us of everything.


PEWRRY: On the diplomatic front, in just the past hour, Lawrence, this from the U.S. embassy in Kyiv on Twitter. Quote, "Great to be back."

Today members of the embassy traveled to Lviv -- again that`s in the western part of the country -- to meet with key partners including the MFA Ukraine. The visit was a first step, ahead of more regular travel and the immediate future. Preparations are underway to resume operations in Kyiv. So hopefully that U.S. embassy will get opened soon, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you very much for your reporting tonight. Please stay safe.

And joining us now is Tom Nichols, a former professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He is a contributing writer at "The Atlantic", where he is the author of "Peace Field" newsletter.

Tom, let`s begin with Rand Paul saying in the United States Senate today, in a hearing to the secretary of state, "You could also argue the countries they`ve attacked were part of Russia."

TOM NICHOLS, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Yes. Apparently, Senator Paul corrected himself and said, part of the Soviet Union, as if that makes it better. As if that somehow justifies what the Kremlin is doing in trying to bring Ukraine under Kremlin control.


NICHOLS: The Republican Party has become beyond -- I suppose, beyond any expectation that anyone ever knew of the old Republican Party has become such a pro Russia, Putin-friendly party, that it really beggars belief, but here we are.

O`DONNELL: This assembly today in Germany of these 40 countries unified without the slightest bit of dissension about it. No reluctance on the part of any countries. Germany raising their involvement, increasing their involvement, now going for real heavy weapons that they are shipping to Ukraine.

There seems to be a confidence building among these allies in opposition to Vladimir Putin.

NICHOLS: And it`s important to point out that the meeting took place in Germany. This wasn`t just a meeting that the Germans approved of; it`s a meeting the Germans -- that happened on It happened on German soil with 40 countries, which really is amazing.

And it`s not just building confidence, Lawrence. I think it`s an understanding that Russia has become an existential threat to so many of these countries, the way it has to Ukraine.

That the illusions of the past 30 years and the hopes of the past 30 years, I once share some of them, are now gone, and I think the Europeans have finally decided that Putin`s Russia is a threat that requires banding together.

And not just under the aegis of NATO or the European Union, but as civilized countries facing this kind of barbarism.

O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols, thank you very much as always for joining us. Really appreciate it.

And coming up, human rights and environmental lawyer Steven Donziger has just been released from house arrest in a federal case filed against him after he successfully sued Chevron for destruction of the rain forest in Ecuador.

Steven Donziger will join us next.



O`DONNELL: After 993 days in federal custody, mostly under house arrest, human rights and environmental lawyer Steven Donziger is now a free man. In 2011 lawsuit, Steven Donziger won $9.5 billion in a court judgment against Chevron in Ecuador over toxic waste dumped in the Amazon rainforest, poisoning thousands of indigenous people. Chevron then sued Steven Donziger, accusing him of withholding evidence in that lawsuit.

A federal judge in the southern district of New York ordered Steven Donziger to turn over his computer and cell phone to Chevron`s lawyers. When Steven Donziger refused to do that, the judge tried to have him prosecuted for criminal contempt of court, but the U.S. Attorney refused to prosecute the case.

Then in a rare legal procedure, the judge appointed a private corporate law firm as special prosecutors to prosecute Steven Donziger for criminal contempt of court after federal prosecutors declined to do that.

The law firm had actually done legal work for Chevron. Steven Donziger was denied a jury trial and that case lost his law license and was found guilty in that case by a different judge and sentenced to six months in prison. After 45 days in prison, he returned to house arrest until yesterday.

And joining us now is Steven Donziger. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. How did this happen to you? And what is next for you?


I mean, you know, it`s a long story, but it`s a pretty simple story, mind you. I work with a team of lawyers, working with indigenous peoples in the Amazon of Ecuador. We won a major pollution lawsuit against Chevron in the courts of Ecuador where Chevron accepted jurisdiction and where Chevron (INAUDIBLE) trial will be held.

Chevron vowed never to pay the judgment once we won. There is significant, I`d say voluminous scientific evidence against the company. So then they decided to target me and call myself a weapon of mass destruction really to get people not to focus on what were significant environmental crimes they committed in Ecuador, including the deliberate dumping of cancer-causing oil waste on to indigenous lands and into indigenous waterways.

They wanted to target me with claim that I was a racketeer. And the entire case down in Ecuador was a fraud, even though it had been affirmed by multiple appellate courts of an Ecuadorian candidate.

So all of this led to these various attacks on me over the years, I withstood the attacks until Chevron convinced this one U.S. judge to order me to turn over my computer, cellphone, confidential case information with Chevron.

I didn`t flout the order. I basically said, please hold me in civil contempt so I can appeal this at the appellate court, which I did. And while what I believe -- was in a law (INAUDIBLE), by the way, no attorney has ever been charged with a crime for what I supposedly did, other than me.

He did charge me with criminal contempt. And he appointed this Chevron law firm. So I`m essentially the first person in our country, in the history of our country, as far as we can tell, who`s been prosecuted privately by a corporation and deprived of his liberty by a corporation.


DONZIGER: I`ll say the 993 days is extraordinary. The longest previous sentence ever imposed on a lawyer for my (INAUDIBLE) level. And I`m certainly innocent but even found guilty. The longest previous offense was 90 days in home confinement. And I`ve now served or I served over ten times that amount.

So this to me was retaliation by Chevron, taking control of an element of our federal judiciary to attack its main adversary, and have him locked up and it`s -- I think it`s pretty scary.

O`DONNELL: Steven Donziger, just a stunning story. Congratulations on finally getting it behind you. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

DONZIGER: Thank you Lawrence. Appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And we`ll be right back.



O`DONNELL: The 11th hour has arrived and "THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts now.