MSNBC`s continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Interview with Sean Penn. Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson has the votes for her Senate confirmation later this week. And the newest member of the Supreme Court appointed by Donald Trump offered a truly childish defense of Clarence Thomas yesterday.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali.
And tonight, we are going to have our first in the studio gust in two years and two months. My friend Sean Penn is going to join us. He`s just back from Ukraine. He has interviewed President Zelenskyy there. He has much to tell us about what he`s experienced there.
VELSHI: Well, as someone who gets the set and that seat for you every now and then, that`s a beautiful milestone to be celebrating tonight. Enjoy your show, my friend. I`ll see you tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Ali. Thank you.
Well, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, is 60 years old. He will probably live long enough to personally refute everything that he said at the United Nations today, when he lied about the war crimes Russia was convincingly accused of at the United Nations today by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Russian ambassador has spent his entire career as a diplomat, but he began his career in a foreign ministry of a different country, a country called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Vasily Nebenzya and the rest of the rest of the Soviet foreign minister became members of the Russian foreign ministry.
Vasily Nebenzya knows that Russia, since long before he was born, has been in a permanent cycle of imperialistic expansion followed by collapse and loss of Russia`s imperialistic gains. Ambassador Nebenzya knows that Russia is going to lose and Ukraine in the same way that the Soviet Union lost in Afghanistan. And that just as the Soviet military`s loss and Afghanistan spirit of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia`s defeat in Ukraine will speed up the end of Vladimir Putin`s reign, which could mean the end of Vladimir Putin`s life.
Ambassador Nebenzya was a little kid when the Soviet Union partitioned East and West Germany, and built the Berlin wall. And he was working with the Soviet foreign ministry while Vladimir Putin was working in the KGB in East Germany, when the Soviet Union became so weak that the people of Berlin simply climbed up onto the fearsome Berlin wall and chipped away at it with chisels and hammers on sledgehammers, and knocked it down. And then they danced on the grave of the Soviet Union in the process.
Ambassador Nebenzya has seen it all, from the collapse of the Berlin Wall, to the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, and so you know dot knows that Vladimir Putin has put Russia in an unwinnable situation. Ambassador Nebenzya`s position became all the more uncomfortable today when President Zelenskyy reminded the United Nations that in the Nuremberg trials after the World War II of Nazi war criminals, one of the convicted war criminals was Germany`s minister of foreign affairs.
But like his Soviet predecessors at the United Nations today, it was Ambassador Nebenzya`s day to life for his government to the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VASILY NEBENZYA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Now, we`re seeing blatant, criminally staged events with Ukrainian civilians who were killed by their own radicals and the best traditions of Goebbels to accuse the Russian army. Those killed in the areas from which the Russian forces withdrew after encouraging peace negotiations in Istanbul.
Now, it turns out that we shouldn`t have withdrawn. I`m talking about Bucha, first and foremost. I understand that you were -- you saw corpses on her testimonials, but you only saw what they`ve shown you. You couldn`t ignore the flagrant inconsistencies in the version of events which are being promoted by Ukrainian and Western media. The fact that the corpse says, we`re not there right after the withdrawal of the Russian forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No one believed him. He knew that no one believed them. The American ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told Joy Reid earlier tonight that no one of the United Nations believe the word that the Russian ambassador said. No other ambassador offered support for Russia today, including China`s ambassador to the United Nations.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to broker a cease-fire in Ukraine, and was publicly discouraged two weeks ago when President Biden first call Vladimir Putin a war criminal. Not because President Macron thinks Vladimir Putin is not a war criminal, but he thought that language would be harmful to the diplomatic process.
Today, President Macron`s deputy ambassador to the United Nations was no longer constrained by diplomatic concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLP)
NATHALIE ESTIVAL BROADHURST, FRENCH DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE U.N.: We are still shocked by the horrific images that were shown in the video this morning. France condemns in the strongest terms the massive atrocities committed by the Russian forces. These atrocities could constitute more crimes, but also crimes against humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The video of the French deputy ambassador was referring was brought to the United Nations by President Zelenskyy and show after his speech. The video includes the most graphic and horrifying images of the massacre of civilians ever presented to the United Nations Security Council by the president of a country suffering such horrors.
I watched the video in its entirety when it was presented to the United Nations, I will never watch it again. The video was only one minute and 23 seconds long, but it seemed like an hour, when I was watching it.
We are going to show you 12 seconds of this video, in just a moment. And if you feel you must watch it, to bear witness to what Vladimir Putin is doing in Ukraine, let me just warn you, that it is going to be worse than you think.
Not everyone should see this video. Not everyone can be hard to see this video. And so, this is the time to turn away from the screen for the next 12 seconds.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
O`DONNELL: In his speech to the United Nations before showing that video, President Zelenskyy described in detail the kind of murder and torture victims that would be shown in that video. And he predicted exactly incorrectly how Russia would lie about the videos, saying that was staged. And President Zelenskyy said that the massacre in Bucha depicted in the video will not be the last one that Vladimir Putin inflicts on Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The massacre in our city of Bucha is only one, unfortunately, only one of many examples of what the occupiers have been doing on our land for the past 41 days. And there are many more cities, similar places where the world has yet to learn the full truth. Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernobyl, Borodianka, and dozens of other Ukrainian communities. Each of them is similar to Bucha.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is "Washington Post" reporter Robert Klemko. He has been reporting on the war crimes investigations in Ukraine.
Robert, thank you very much for joining us tonight. That point that President Zelenskyy made that we are going to be seeing more and more and more of this kind of atrocity in Ukraine, what can you tell us about what to expect and we have covered?
ROBERT KLEMKO, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, from what I hear from Ukraine`s top prosecutors, we understand that they have at least five different law enforcement agencies working on collecting as many testimonies and photos and videos of war crimes as they possibly can. They believe they have up to 50,000 investigators working on this task right now.
They are combing the countryside, going to some of the smaller towns and western Ukraine where refugees and displaced persons have been sleeping in schools and churches, and people`s homes and the raging interviews that can last up to three hours, pinpointing exact times and places when Russian soldiers arrive, and potential crimes they committed; and hoping to pair a lot of that testimonial data up with photos and videos that have been submitted to a war crimes form through the Ukrainian government website.
So, they hope that to build a comprehensive prosecution against Vladimir Putin and his military in the event that it becomes possible to actually prosecute.
O`DONNELL: One point that President Zelenskyy made today in the United Nations is that he has invited all of the news media to come into Ukraine to investigate this themselves independently.
He is very open to as much investigative power as people want to bring to this.
KLEMKO: That`s been the case. That`s been our experience. We haven`t had any pushback from the Ukrainian government in terms of learning more about what the Russians left behind in the Kyiv area. Obviously, there are still security concerns here, and none of us are rushing into the recently liberated areas.
But the Ukrainian government has been transparent so far in terms of allowing us to do a investigation ourselves into many of these alleged war crimes. Maybe it`s a misnomer now to call them alleged. I think it`s fair to call them apparent.
O`DONNELL: President Zelenskyy made specific references to Mariupol, as well as other places, but we have seen the scope of the devastation in Mariupol, and it seems that we have to be bracing for a very large number of victims there.
KLEMKO: Yeah, I think that`s the case. And I think that there is a potential that that area has just been so devastated by cluster bombing and the like that some of the really clear cut evidence that you`ve seen outside of Kyiv just may not be available anymore. I mean, from all we hear about Mariupol and the people that come out of those areas who have just left recently in the last few days, the area has been completely and utterly devastated.
O`DONNELL: Robert Klemko of "The Washington Post", thank you very much for starting off our coverage tonight. Really appreciate it.
KLEMKO: Have a good day.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And today at the United Nations, President Zelenskyy said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY: Anyone who was given criminal orders and carried out them by killing our people will be brought before the tribunal, which is similar to the Nuremberg tribunal. I would like to remind Russian diplomats that a man like von Ribbentrop has not escaped punishment for crimes in World War II. I would also like to remind you that Rudolf (ph) (INAUDIBLE) also did not go unpunished. Nobody of them escaped the punishment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Neal Katyal, who served as acting U.S. solicitor general at the Department of Justice where he worked on war crime investigations. He is an MSNBC legal contributor.
Neal, what was your reaction to a we are hearing today about the war crimes at the United Nations both from President Zelenskyy, as well as the French deputy ambassador and others?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Lawrence, I`m gratified that we`re all talking about in a serious way now. As you know, for more than a month, I`ve been having war crimes on my mind and thinking that`s where this would go. And I`ve been upset with France, and I`ve been upset a bit with the United States because I don`t think we can ignore the images, and I don`t think we can ignore like the video you`ve just shown us. And I say that is someone who is a prosecutor, having seen the video more times than I can recount.
But this is horrific and wrong. So, I`m glad to see the progress. And at the same time, I want to caution, these war crimes prosecutors are really hard. I spent a long time trying to build one at the Justice Department in different context. They`re incredibly hard to do.
And so, there are two basic problems. One is kind of, who can prosecute? Who was the jurisdiction to do so? And the second is, how do you prove the crimes against particular defendants?
So, just to start you with the first. How do we prosecute? How these of been prosecuted? There are three basic possibilities. Ukraine itself could prosecute, the International Criminal Court could prosecute, or possibly the United States can.
Ukraine itself is kind of the preferred mechanism, that`s the way that international law operates, even the International Criminal Court differs to that. So that`s possible. The Ukrainian prosecutor has already said that she is doing that investigation, and as Mr. Klemko from "The Washington Post" reported, there are as many as 50,000 investigators in Ukraine are doing them.
The harder one is the International Criminal Court, because there are many mechanisms available to that court don`t really fully work in this context.
O`DONNELL: There are many captured Russian soldiers in Ukraine right now, presumably some of them as individuals if the evidence dictates could fall under Ukrainian prosecution directly for these were crimes. But what would be -- if you see the scenario for Vladimir Putin is ending up in serious jeopardy here would be the collapse of the regime.
And we have seen that kind of model before where the regime collapses and they basically find him over an effect or let him become taken in for one of these trials.
KATYAL: That`s exactly right, Lawrence. There is a lawyer problem and there is a practical problem. The lawyer problem is, is it a crime, can you prove that the person at the top is the one who actually ordered the war crimes?
And often, these types of thugs at the top, you know, we talk about another context of the last four years, are very good insulating themselves and operating through henchpeople. But, you know, that can probably be surmounted.
The other problem is you have to have physical custody over the person. Now, the International Criminal Court was able to get that in certain context like Congo and the like, Milosevic also brought to justice, in that way. But you do have to have physical custody in order for a prosecution to have any real meaning.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to some of the kind of testimony that the will surely be thousands of witnesses like this. Richard Engel interviewed one in Ukraine. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: They started to ask, where are the Nazis? Give us their addresses, he says.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They said, we are Russians, we came to liberate you.
ENGEL: The soldiers grabbed arena`s husband, Oleg, and took him out in front of the house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They made him take his sweater off. Then they put him on his knees and shot him in the head. I went on the street and blood was still pumping from his head. I started to shout, kill me too, because I have only one husband.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Neal, that is -- that is definitely testimony of war crimes.
KATYAL: Yes and that really, Lawrence, underscores why the United States need to do everything possible to meet these prosecutions. Now we`re not a member of the International Criminal Court. And indeed Congress in 2002 passed a statute to try to prevent us from helping the International Criminal Court. But it does have exceptions for certain work rhymes and like. And I think this is available here.
So the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has already said, that investigation has to been opened. And we need to provide evidence, some of the work we do from our intelligence community in terms of electronic evidence, should be provided. We have to do everything possible to bring these monsters to justice.
O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you for sharing your expertise on this with us tonight, really appreciate it.
KATYAL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And up next, Sean Penn is just back from Ukraine where he spent time with President Zelenskyy before and after Putin`s invasion of Ukraine. Sean Penn joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Our next guest, Sean Penn, began working on documentary about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The world only knew President Zelenskyy as the man on the other end of the phone call that got Donald Trump impeached the first time. Sean Penn began traveling to Ukraine long before Vladimir Putin decided to invade the country.
As we watch from afar, Sean Penn and his documentary camera crew watch from up close, as Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the former comedian, actor and now president, became a struggling politician who lost his popularity in office and fell to a low in the polls of only 31 percent support a few months ago.
Sean Penn was there when Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and Volodymyr Zelenskyy`s polling support shot up to 90 percent as President Zelenskyy more bravely than we have ever seen before, took on the burden of wartime president.
Unlike any other wartime president that we have ever seen, President Zelenskyy has been in the line of fire every day, refusing to leave the capital city for a safer location, when the United States offered President Zelenskyy safe passage out of Ukraine so he could safely command his troops from a foreign country.
President Zelenskyy delivered the bravest and now most memorable quote from a wartime president when he said, I need ammunition, not a ride.
Watching all of that a close and having gotten to know President Zelenskyy, Sean Penn now says that he believes Volodymyr Zelenskyy was quote, born for this.
And joining us now is Sean Penn, two-time Oscar-winning actor, director and a founder of Community Organized Relief Effort known as CORE, which first went to work after earthquakes in Haiti 12 years ago and more recently ran one of the largest vaccination sites in the world administering COVID-19 vaccines to 10,000 people a day at Dodgers Stadium. CORE is now providing services and supplies to Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
Sean, you are just back from Ukraine I don`t want to ask you a time it is in terms of your jet leg and all of that. Let`s begin with President Lewinsky and what you felt in meeting him, being with him, the day before the invasion, and the day after the invasion.
SEAN PENN, OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR: There are the privileges in life of seeing your children born and seeing them find happiness, and then there is the sort of macro, it`s hard to come by. And it was in that macro, and personally, that man really great privileges that anyone could ever have.
I had met the man for the first time, face to face, we`ve known each other over Zoom in preparation for the documentary. And then COVID made things difficult to travel. And so than, we were meeting for the first time it turned out to be face to face, will turn out to be the day before the invasion.
And we agreed to meet the next day. And by morning, the invasion was on. And we did meet the next day.
And so, to meet someone, and it`s always a thing important to say, my takeaway was that part of what makes him so particularly extraordinary is that in that courage, he`s the face of so many Ukrainians.
And yet, it`s not conceivable that he could`ve known the day before, what he would really be able to rise up. And it`s not conceivable having that him during the invasion that he was born for anything but to be able to rise up in this extraordinary way. I mean, this is leadership that we aspire to.
This is freedom of thought and, you know, true leadership that mostly is just so moving. It`s the kind of moving that we need to be able to get this country, that`s borderline, kind of populists lap dance of a nation at this point. We`ve got to get back on track together, and realize that, you know, Ukraine with all its diversity, has a unity we`ve never seen in modern times with a challenge it has.
And if we can`t do that, much less supply the military resources they need, because they`ll fight the fight, they just need the resources. But if we can show solidarity and acknowledge the inspiration that that is, as a man, as a leader, as a nation, the Ukraine has become, then I don`t know where we fall in the legacy of life.
O`DONNELL: There were early comparisons to Winston Churchill, because Winston Churchill was so inspiring to the British in the worst days of the war when London was being attacked and the United States was not in the war yet as an ally. It looked like Britain could easily lose this war. And he said, you know, we will fight on the beaches, we will fight to the last breath.
And President Zelenskyy delivered a similar form with a very big difference. Very big difference. That he was actually in the line of fire.
Now, Winston Churchill was too in the bombing of London but he was much more protected. This was someone who we all had reason to believe, if he remains there, he`s going to be dead. I mean, the first few days of this, first week of this, I woke every day wondering is Zelenskyy still alive? For the first week.
Did you get that feeling from him, that did he feel on that first day like this could be his last day or tomorrow could be his last day?
PENN: When you`re moved as I was by this kind of courage, and the tenderness of his humanity is present also. I don`t have much time to decide if this is my friend. I don`t know if I`ll see him again.
So I decided he`s a great friend that I love. And so, the part of me that wanted to say I want you to -- you know, maybe not be in Kyiv, finally such an arrogance because who are we, you know, the echoes of "give me liberty, or give me death," this man embodies everything that is the American aspiration.
And what an opportunity for all of us to see living example of what we want to be and be part of creating that, and defending it.
O`DONNELL: And we`re not -- we`re seeing that he`s now one of over 40 million. But this is a unanimous Ukrainian personal response.
Talk about the Ukraine you found last November before when it was a vibrant country. We`ve met Mariupol in death. Mariupol may turn out to be the most devastated place in Ukraine. You are there in November in Mariupol. What was that place that you found when it was -- before there was a whiff of war?
PENN: Mariupol is a very industrial town.
And we`d, you know, come -- I think it was a 14 hour train ride from Kyiv and we went down to their front lines in the trenches and met with the soldiers. And you know, when we first get down there, you know, any industrial town in America and Ukraine, there`s always talk -- talk about (INAUDIBLE) industrial scent, I guess.
And then you get down on the ground with the people on the civilians or the military who are fighting to defend it and that`s your take away.
You know, having been there and met with those soldiers and imagining the horror show they`ve seen. But they`re ready to do it again and again, and they will win. There`s no question in my mind. I know that I`m talking live on television, and it`s going to come back in the year or two years, four years like, you know what, that`s me. they`re going to win. The question is, at what cost? At what cost are we going to let them pay it. It`s really the thing we have to ask ourselves.
And so much has been made about, you know, what level NATO should get involved in with it, and so on. There`s a lot of debates, but the simplest one is not how are the Ukrainians going to win it, but what happens if Russia does? Because that`s going to come to our doorstep very fast in so many ways.
And you look at Poland where to date, it has taken the enormous weight of the number of refugees. So we have to think in terms of sums of supporting not only those governments nationally, but the municipalities that are supporting those refugees. And the Polish people have opened their doors in ways we have never seen before.
But they`ve got about a 5.2 percent poverty rate. So you know, pretty soon, people are going to get upset about what they considered as border crosses getting services that they`re not getting. So we have to get in there now. We have to get in there now. We have to get more of the U.N. organizations and NGOs into Ukraine, which is doable in terms of security. And it`s doable principally because you have so many Ukrainians who will meet you at the border, pick up those trucks and supplies and they`ll get it where they got to go.
O`DONNELL: One of the NGOs in there is your organization CORE. You`ve got people in Poland. What are they supplying? What do they need?
PENN: Well --
O`DONNELL: By the way, let`s just say the name of the Core Website so people can go and contribute.
PENN: Core Response.
Ok. I`m a proud contributor of Core and I hope everyone helps out tonight.
PENN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead.
PENN: But was the question, sorry?
O`DONNELL: What is Core doing in Poland and what help do you need with Core?
PENN: So we`ve scaled up, you know, a few foreign staff in Poland, Romania, now also in Ukraine. We have about 200 people, about half of those, a little over 200, but half of those are Ukrainians who were already living in either Poland or in Romania. And then about half of them are Ukrainian refugees who have come over.
I want to say one thing about refugees also is that you have these extraordinarily courageous women who took these children across these borders not wanting to leave their husbands behind, but doing so in some generally mutual decision with those husbands for the children`s safety.
And they`re coming to a brand-new place, a brand-new time. So with Core, you know, we are doing a lot of support on sustainable shelter. Certainly immediate needs in terms of food and so we warehouse out of Krakow on Poland inside.
And just trying to push out, push out, push out. And we were in -- I went with my colleagues and Core team to Lviv last week, I think it was and met with local governments there. And there are very doable routes within the chaos to get was needed to these people.
It`s such a unique time, because, I have (INAUDIBLE) friends calling up saying can you get them weapons? Because we`ll give money for weapons. Well we certainly, NGOs can deliver up to level four body armor. It`s certainly a consideration that we`re making. I think we`re all looking for things that Ukrainians tell us they need most and where they need it.
O`DONNELL: Sean, we need to squeeze in a commercial break because I really want to keep this conversation going, if you can stay for a few more minutes.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to rearrange the schedule of the show. We`re going to be right back with Sean Penn.
O`DONNELL: And we`re back with Sean Penn who is just back from Ukraine. Talk about the unity that we see in Ukraine, it is not just a unity of military purpose and defeating the Russians. But there`s also political unity. This 90 percent support of the president.
By the way, Franklin Roosevelt never had 90 percent support during World War II. And we thought of ourselves a bit as a unified country then.
O`DONNELL: What does it feel like to be in the thick of that unity?
PENN: Yes, that I think is the highest impact that I took away. Because, you know, I`ve spent a lot of time depressed and angry and frustrated certainly enhanced since 2015 campaign through the Trump administration and through a lot of the difficulties that we`ve been having throughout the Biden administration.
What I have forgotten -- neglected, I suppose to consider about any of this is human beings including myself is it wasn`t just what we`re seeing that was going on, it was what we were missing that was going right.
And to be in Ukraine and to feel that despite many political differences, even some, just like anywhere there are ugly positions on things but not on this, not on being able to determine their own dreams. And they look at each other and they say we`re together.
In a way that is so heartbreaking for an American to experience. Your first heartbreak, of course, is for those under fire the Ukrainians. But very quickly, you connected to what you`ve been missing, and what you were promised by the dream was the aspiration of your own country.
And your own country now (INAUDIBLE). So I think we`re at, you know, it`s a horrible moment in so many ways, but it`s an exciting moment in history to follow the lead of the Ukrainians, because they are proof of theory.
They`re going to win this thing because they are together. And what they`re going to win is otherwise impossible to win. And it`s a certainty.
And I go back, you know, when we look back on it, what role will we have we played in diminishing the death, the maiming, the rapes, the destruction of this country that`s going to have so many demands of reconstruction, and where will we be then?
This is in my lifetime but I would say, they`re offering us is the greatest opportunity we`ve ever had to be the America we`ve always wanted to be. And we`ve got a figure out where we`re going to do to support them in doing that.
O`DONNELL: Sean Penn, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
PENN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for the work you do with Core. My first two vaccinations were done at your stadium. Thanks entirely to you.
And again, I personally want to support, and I hope our audience supports the work you`re doing with Core in Poland. Please come back, and keep us posted on what`s happening with Core in Poland, and as the documentary on Ukraine proceeds.
You`re going to Washington from here?
PENN: I am. Yes.
O`DONNELL: Are you going to be gathering information from people in Washington, or delivering them information about what you found in Ukraine?
PENN: I think it could go either way.
O`DONNELL: Ok. It could. Sean Penn, thank you very much.
PENN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And coming up, Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson has the votes for her Senate confirmation later this week. And the newest member of the Supreme Court appointed by Donald Trump offered a truly childish defense of Clarence Thomas yesterday. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Here is Vice President Kamala Harris` reaction today to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson securing the bipartisan support of 53 senators for her confirmation vote which could come by the end of this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s the right thing and I cannot wait to watch her be sworn in as the next justice on the United States Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No justice in the history Supreme Court has been suspected of or accused of anything as bad as what we already know Justice Clarence Thomas has done. Justice Clarence Thomas participated in a Supreme Court decision that involved the activities of his wife. And those activities involve and illegal overthrow of a presidential election.
Justice Thomas was the only one of nine Supreme Court justices who voted to block the delivery of Trump administration evidence to the January 6 committee, evidence that could include communications from Clarence Thomas`s wife.
Communications from Clarence Thomas`s wife already turned over to the committee showed that she was urging the White House on the illegal overturning of a presidential election.
The newest member of the Supreme Court appointed by Donald Trump went to a Republican political shrine yesterday, the Reagan Library in California to offer the most childish possible defense of Clarence Thomas and his wife.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think there should be court on what`s spouses should and shouldn`t do?
JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think, most of the spouses would be very happy about those guidelines. Certainly when I try to give my husband guidelines about what to do and not to do in the house even that doesn`t go over very well.
No, I mean the court is very, like I said, everybody`s very attentive to those kinds of things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Eddie Glaude, chairman of the African American Studies Department of Princeton University and an MSNBC contributor and David Plouffe who served as campaign manager and White House senior adviser to President Barack Obama. He`s an MSNBC political analyst.
And Professor Glaude, we just heard a Supreme Court justice say that the reason not to have any rules is that "When I try to give my husband guidelines, about what to do and not to do in the house, even that doesn`t go very well," and that`s the kind of thing that gets a laugh at the Reagan Library in the middle of the worst scandal any Supreme Court justice has ever been involved in.
EDDIE GLAUDE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Lawrence, it reveals that the justice doesn`t quite take this seriously and the folks who were listening to her, they don`t as well. There`s a sense in which when I listen to her comments, that there`s this kind of seductive fantasy about the innocence of the court. And she performed it.
And we see, for those folks and for her that what Justice Thomas and Ginni Thomas allegedly have done doesn`t raise an alarm. And that to me is very, very dangerous.
O`DONNELL: David, you worked in the White House. There are a few things more important then Supreme Court nominations and confirmations. What does this mean to the Biden White House? what does it mean to the Supreme Court?
DAVID PLOUFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s a great moment for the country, Lawrence, another piece of history made. She is one of the most qualified jurors ever to be nominated so I think she`ll make an outstanding justice.
And I think that you know we need people who are willing to be truthful and to be honest about conflicts of interest. Because what you mentioned in the lead up here, that Clarence Thomas is the only one of the nine to vote to allow Trump evidence to basically not be permitted to be heard by January 6th when his wife was thick as thieves with Roger Stone and the My Pillow Guy planning the insurrection.
You know, it`s historically concerning. So this is a great moment for the country this week, when she is going to get confirmed. But I think just as we`re worried about other institutions our country and will they survive, you know, this has been a really dark period for the court.
O`DONNELL: So we saw that there were American Nazi supporters of Donald Trump at the insurrection at the Capitol, arrested, convicted now of crimes in that. And so there is a political party in this country that for which Nazis have an infection. That is the Republican party.
Let`s listen to what Republican Senator Tom Cotton, just when you think they had already gone as low as they can go, let`s listen to what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR TOM COTTON (R-AK): The last Judge Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg and prosecute the case against the Nazis. This Judge Jackson may have gone there to defend them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Professor Glaude, your reaction.
GLAUDE: Well, it`s nonsense. And you know, we are awash in stupidity. That`s just another example. But I think I want to echo something David said. What we`re experiencing here is the juxtaposition of two things.
One, there is the excitement around the fact that we`re going to have our first black woman on the Supreme Court. That`s going to happen. It`s indicative of a new world, a new America trying to be born.
And it`s juxtaposed with the ugliness, the ugly underside of America. You think about January 6th, the coup, and you think about January 7th, the certification of the election of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
In these days, there is this collision, Lawrence, of an old America desperately clinging to life and a new America, desperately trying to be born.
O`DONNELL: David Plouffe, President Obama returned to the White House today for the first time since he lived there. And he was there to share with President Biden, the announcement of expansions to accessibility of the Affordable Care Act. This will help get health insurance to a few more hundred thousand more people.
And President Obama has said that that`s the kind of story that Democrats should be running on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what do you say to Democrats worried about the midterms? What do you tell democrats worried about the midterm?
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve got a story to tell, they just got to tell it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David, your reaction to that.
PLOUFFE: Well first of all it`s great to see him back there. You know, Lawrence, it`s been over five years. Looked pretty natural and a great moment to step back and talk about all the Americans who benefited from the Affordable Care Act.
He`s right. Listen, any good story, you know, has heroes and villains. So I think, for the Democrats this year, they`re going to have to talk about all the good things they`ve done on health care, on the economy, on getting us on the other side of the pandemic, on supporting schools.
But you`ve also got to fill in the blanks that the price of change here is too high. If you hand over power to the likes of Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and Marjorie Taylor Greene, we`re not going to recognize our country.
O`DONNELL: David Plouffe and Professor Glaude, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
Thank you. Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The reason we are here today is because President Biden, Vice President Harris -- everybody has worked on this thing, understood from the start that the ACA wasn`t perfect.
To get the bill passed, we have to make compromises. We didn`t get everything we wanted. That wasn`t a reason not to do it.
If you can get millions of people health coverage and better protection, it is, to quote a famous American, "a pretty big deal".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Obama gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts now.