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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 9/21/22

Guests: Harlan Levy, Andrew Weissmann, David Enrich, Karine Jean-Pierre, Bradley Moss

Summary

Today New York State attorney general Letitia James hit Donald Trump with the most massive lawsuit he has ever faced. She is filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family and his company. Two presidents -- Biden and Zelenskyy -- address the United Nations today while in Moscow Vladimir Putin threatened to use possibly even nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

Transcript

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: This is a very, very big night in Donald Trump`s legal history. And he`s got some very bad night tonight, and he has more bad nights coming, based on what we know tonight.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST, "ALEX WAGNER TONIGHT": He`s in the middle of the eye of illegal hurricane with a lot coming at him. And I think of all of it, the Tish James stuff might be the stuff that most greatly concerns and disturbs him.

O`DONNELL: Well, it was, until the appeals court rules tonight. And then, and then, he`s sitting down there, trying to figure out which is worse, losing all my money, or being convicted of federal crimes, which the federal appeals court is really paving the way for now.

They are making it very clear that there is just going to be no more roadblocks between Donald Trump and what will ultimately be Merrick Garland`s decision to indict him or not over those documents at his home.

WAGNER: And betting on Trump appointed judges was not the right bet, as we found out.

O`DONNELL: Not this time, not this time.

WAGNER: See the 11th Circuit ruling.

All right. Lawrence, I`ll be watching.

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

Well, the two worst nights of Donald Trump so far are election night 2020, and tonight. On election night, when Fox called Arizona for Joe Biden, Donald Trump knew, he then that he was going to lose access to the White House and to Air Force One. And that`s all the presidency was to him.

But tonight, Donald Trump is staring at the possibility of losing everything, losing everything, including his freedom. Donald Trump began his day by getting hit with the most massive lawsuit he`s ever faced, a lawsuit that could wipe him out, and bankrupt his adult children.

And Donald Trump ended his day about two hours ago by getting completely crushed, and I mean crushed, by a federal appeals court in a 29-page opinion and order citing completely with federal prosecutors against Donald Trump in the case of Donald J. Trump versus the United States of America.

Now, we have spent the last few weeks worrying, openly worrying, that Donald Trump may have poisoned the federal judiciary to the point where laws do not apply to him. And that was the formally stated position of the Trump-appointed federal judge, Aileen Mercedes Cannon, who decided to appoint a special master to examine all the documents seized by the FBI from Donald Trump`s Florida part-time residents, because she believes, and she put it in writing, that Donald Trump deserves special treatment in a situation like this -- special treatment in American courtrooms.

And that was a shocking decision by a federal judge. And a shocking order by a federal judge. And you heard a lot of shock about it on this program. And we have insisted on this program, was the unanimous agreement of our legal experts, that the Trump judge`s opinion was untethered to the law. It was a work of legal fiction.

And tonight, a three-judge panel of the United States court of appeals for the 11th Circuit said, we agree. They said those two words repeatedly in the 29 pages. And they literally met we agree with the federal prosecutors. They literally met we agree with every word the federal prosecutors have presented to us. And we disagree with every word Donald Trump`s lawyers have presented to us. And we disagree with the federal judge who appointed a special master.

But that we agree also extends, as viewers of this program will know, to mean in effect we agree with Andrew Weissmann. We agree with Neal Katyal. We agree with Bradley Moss. We agree with Professor Laurence Tribe.

The appeals court agrees with every expert guest you have heard on this program for weeks now discussing this case. They agree completely.

And here is the possibly most important piece of this agreement. Here is the inspiring part of this agreement that does not appear in the words of the 29-page opinion and order.

[22:05:04]

Here is the reason for hope -- hope that Donald Trump`s poisoning of the federal judiciary is not as extensive or successful as it could have been. Of the three judges who unanimously agreed with the prosecutors in this case, and disagreed with Donald Trump, two of them were appointed by Donald Trump. Judge Robin Rosenbaum was appointed by President Obama. Judge Britt Grant was appointed by Donald Trump. Judge Andrew Brasher was appointed by Donald Trump.

Their unanimous opinion contains the clearest history of this case yet written. And when describing the government record seized by the FBI at Donald Trump`s residence, these judges did not say that those documents belong to the government. They said that the documents, quote, properly belonged to the people of the United States. The people of the United States -- that`s those judges were writing their opinion for. That`s who they were representing in that opinion.

And in that opinion, the judges said the United States argues that the district court likely erred in exercising its jurisdiction to enjoin the United States` use of the classified records in its criminal investigation and to require the United States to submit the marked classified documents to a special master for review. We agree.

The court said that the prosecutor`s likelihood of success in pursuing this appeal is so high that they are now granting the prosecutors exactly what they are asking for, the right to continue using the classified documents in their criminal investigation, and the right to refuse to give those classified documents to the special master for review. The appeals court said that the district court abused its discretion. Judge Cannon abused her discretion, and she did it to help Donald Trump based on nothing that exists in American law.

The appeals court said the district court made no mention in its analysis as to why or how latest Trump might have and visual interest in or need for the classified documents. For our part, we cannot discern why plaintiff Trump would have an individual interest in or need for any of the 100 documents with classification markings.

The appeals court opinion included a history of the classification of documents beginning with World War I, and introduced elementary concepts of classification in instructional passages to Judge Cannon, saying a person may have access to classified information only if, among other requirements, he has a need to know the information. This requirement pertains equally to former presidents.

The appeals court knows what Judge Cannon pretended not to know, that former presidents have the same rights as everyone else who is not president, and not working in the government. The judges said plaintiff Trump has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained and the classified documents.

The three-judge panel was paying close attention to what happened in special master Raymond Dearie`s courtroom in Brooklyn yesterday. The judges wrote, plaintiff Trump suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was president. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified. And before the special master, plaintiff Trump resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents.

And in a panic about classification, tonight, Donald Trump actually appeared on Fox in a discussion with Sean Hannity, claiming that he did declassify all of those documents. And, he claimed, he can, he could declassify documents just spite thinking about it. He actually said that.

But, no Trump lawyers dare say anything like that in any of these legal proceedings.

After pointing out everything that was wrong with Judge Cannon`s approach to the classified documents, the appeals court and then said that the classification does not even matter. In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not changed its content or render it personal.

[22:10:03]

So, even if we assume that point of Trump did declassify some or all of the documents, that would not explain why he has a personal interest in them. He has not identified any reason that he is entitled to them.

The appeals court said the district court abused its discretion in exercising jurisdiction over plaintiffs Trump`s motion as it concerns the classified documents. Judge Cannon`s legal reasoning on blocking the federal investigation of the classified documents and ordering them handed over to a special master, the Appeals Court said, that analysis was in error.

Instead of simply disbelieving the FBI affidavit, that the FBI`s criminal investigation is inextricably intertwined with national security review of the abuse of those documents, the appeals court said we believe the FBI affidavit. The appeals court relied solely, heavily, on an affidavit provided by Alan Kohler Jr., the assistant director of the counter intelligence division of the FBI.

Judge Cannon completely dismiss this affidavit. But the appeals court said through Kohler`s declaration, the United States has sufficiently explained how and why it`s national security review is inextricably intertwined with this criminal investigation. No party has offered anything beyond speculation to undermine the United States representation, supported by sworn testimony, that findings from the criminal investigation may be critical to its national security review.

And so, there`s the appeals court -- those three judges saying that judge cannon engaged in pure speculation, just pure guesswork, aided and abetted by Trump`s lawyers, that the FBI`s assistant director of counter intelligence, Alan Kohler, was simply not telling the truth in his affidavit. The appeals court was shocked at that. The appeals court made a finding that essentially means that this case really, really is all over.

There will be some more procedural twists and turns. But we know now how the procedure of this is going to end. The Justice Department is going to be allowed to do whatever it wants to do.

And then, will come the decision on whether to indict Donald Trump. A decision that will ultimately be made by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Here is the line at the end of the opinion that tells you that there`s really nothing more to discuss procedurally. Plaintiff Trump does not have a possessory interest in the documents at issue, so he does not suffer cognizable harm if the United States reviews documents he neither owns nor has a personal interest in. Thus, an injunction delaying, or perhaps preventing, the United States is criminal investigation from using classified materials risks imposing real and significant harm on the United States and the public.

The United States also argues that allowing the special master and plaintiffs counsel to examine the classified records with separately impose irreparable harm. We agree.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel and former chief of the criminal division of eastern district of New York. He`s professor of practice at NYU Law School. Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general. They`re both MSNBC legal analyst.

And also with us, Bradley Moss, a national security attorney.

And, Andrew Weissmann, that we agree that the appeal court wrote repeatedly applies to everything that all of you have been telling us for weeks now. What were the highlights of that opinion for you?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I`d love to tell you that it`s because of Neal and Brad and my brilliance, but this opinion did not need that. The decision by Judge Cannon was so off the charts, as we talked about, when you have William Barr on your side you, know it`s a bad decision.

So, the 11th Circuit basically took out the big crayons to school Judge Cannon. I mean, they went over each and every argument and. Each time everything was wrong. There is just -- I don`t think there is a single thing in the opinion where they actually said she got something right.

So this was within one day they shut this down, as they should have.

[21:15:01]

And, you know, for today and yesterday, we really saw something that`s hardening, which is the rule of law and action with Judge Dearie, with judges who were appointed by different administrations upholding the rule of law. And that, you know, for us who are lawyers, that is something that is wonderful to see. For not lawyers, it is wonderful to see.

It`s important to remember that there are a lot of judges appointed by Donald Trump who day in and day out are doing their job. This is a good example of that.

The one, and I don`t mean to pour cold water on this because it`s a really incredible day, but the one thing that we do have to remember is that it is going to now be a very bumpy road. We really have to fasten our seat belts. Because, as sure as the night follows the day, Donald Trump knows what is going to happen. He sees an indictment coming, whether it`s federally, and at the state level, he knows that there`s several cases. It is going to happen.

And what is going to happen is that you are going to have a lot more action on his part by his enablers, including on the judiciary, but many others. Sort of the Mark Meadows of the world, Elise Stefaniks, the people who were like Bill Barr and Rich Donoghue, all of those enablers are going to be coming out of the woodwork.

And it really is useful to remember something that Merrick Garland said on Saturday, which is that the rule of law is not a given. It is something that requires constant vigilance. And as we get this next part of where we are, which is going to be holding Trump accountable, that vigilance is going to be really called for.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, as our appeals expert, I want to get your reaction to not just the content of this opinion, which is so clear and so powerful, but the speed, the speed other spots, the speed of the action taken by this appeals court, what does that tell you about their attitude?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So, I want to answer that. But before I do so, Lawrence, I just want to pick up where Andrew started, because I think it`s worth taking a step back and recognizing just how extraordinary this moment, this day is, because over the past months, you and I, we`ve been talking so much about Trump`s legal troubles.

It was almost easy to forget that Trump had never actually been indicted, never been sued, you know, by a state and the or anything like that. But today, things looked different. We`re seeing the former president himself personally facing a major lawsuit from New York, the attorney general with real teeth, in addition to this dramatic 11th Circuit ruling, which is going to likely, I think, bring about a criminal indictment.

And so, with respect to your question about the speed, one day is extraordinary. What`s even more extraordinary is a 29-page opinion that just slams Donald Trump`s legal argument, and slams Judge Cannon. I don`t think I`ve ever actually seen something quite like this amount of an appellate slam of a district court produced in this time period. Basically, they saw zero regret to what Judge Cannon did, zero.

So when the court says, the appeals court says, you`re flashing some language, we can discern no reason why Judge Cannon, you know, rule this way. Or this analysis was an error, that`s all apply way of saying you, your decision is nonsense, nonsense. That`s what the court of appeals is saying to Judge Cannon.

And then, with respect to Andrew`s point, as solemn point about the future. I totally I agree with it. And Trump told everything to his enablers.

But I do want to say, this 11th circuit decision proves Trump`s strategy for the last five weeks, his legal strategy, has actually totally boomeranged on him, because Trump could have not filed all of the special master garbage, and instead could`ve just harangued about the DOJ abuse and declassification nonsense about doing it in his head or whatever. Now the court of appeals has a solid ruling saying the government is interested in this particular investigation, Lawrence, as massive both on the criminal side and on the national security side, so compelling that they have no oral argument. They wrote this decision in one day, and the court of appeals rebuke this nonsense about classification being relevant to this prosecution.

And most importantly, it put it forward, they say, Trump is alleging bad faith on the part of the Justice Department, that the Justice Department is being abusive, they rebuke all that nonsense and say there is no evidence of this. So, now, this investigation goes forward with the imprimatur, with the blessing of the U.S. Court of Appeals, in an opinion written by two of the three of them being judges that Donald Trump personally put on the appeals court.

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has not offered from the start of this case, or any other cases pending against him and investigations against him, he has not offered one word of defense, not one word of explanation or defense.

[22:20:10]

He thinks, tonight on Fox, that he offered a word of defense when he said that he declassify the documents. But the appeals court has already said does not matter whether they were declassified or not.

Let`s listen to what Donald Trump said tonight that his lawyers do not dare say in court. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I did declassify, yes.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Okay, is there a process? What was your process to declassify?

TRUMP: There doesn`t have to be a process, as I understand it. You know, different people say different things. But as I understand, there doesn`t have to be. If you`re the president of United States, you can declassified just by saying, it`s declassify. Even by thinking about it, because you`re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or wherever you are sending it.

And it doesn`t have to be a process. It can be a process. But it does not have to be. You are the president. You make that decision. So, when you send it, it`s declassified.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Bradley Moss, even by thinking about it.

BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Yeah, I saw that clip right before I came on and I try not to burst out laughing.

You know, here, look, here`s the thing about Donald Trump, whenever he starts spouting off this garbage, one thing to remember is there`s always a tiny scintilla of truth buried within what he`s saying. The president, the incumbent president has complete, unfettered discretion to declassify information. That is true.

He is not bound by a process, that is technically true. But if you are actually going to declassify things, all the regulations say you are supposed to do it, and the courts, during the Trump era, on three occasions, one of which has my name in it, said even the president has to abide by these processes. Not just because there`s the obvious issue of is it being put into effect, but the rest of the government has to know about it.

If he is sitting there and thinking in his mind hey, I decided I`m going to declassify the secrets about Iran tonight, the NSA needs to know, there if it was their signals intelligence, or CIA needs to know. You can just willy-nilly do it. And that`s his big problem.

That`s why there is no declaration in the civil case proving he declassified anything. Because he`s got nothing, zero, zippo, zilch, nada.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, Andrew Weissmann, Bradley Moss, thank you very much once again, and congratulation if the appeals court agrees with all of you. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

And up next, the Trump fortune is at risk now that everyone named Trump working in Donald Trump`s company has become defendant Trump. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:27:28]

O`DONNELL: Here is don Trump`s new theory revealed just an hour ago about what the FBI was really looking for with their search warrant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There`s also a lot of speculation because of what they did -- the severity of the FBI coming and raiding Mar-a-Lago. Where they looking for the early Clinton emails that were deleted, but they are around some places? Where they looking for the --

HANNITY: Oh, wait, wait, they said you had it.

TRUMP: No, no, they may be saying, they may have thought it was in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, is Donald Trump paying his lawyers enough money for them to take the chance to actually say that in court at some point?

WEISSMANN: Yeah, you are not going to hear that in court. I mean, this is, the maturity level to which he is stooping is really, is really incredible. And that was the joy of being in front of Judge Dearie, and seeing the appearance yesterday, the joy in reading the 11th Circuit decision. These are adults evaluating a serious matter.

This is just pure, sort of childish distraction. It`s not going to, you know, fool anyone who`s thinking.

O`DONNELL: I wish I could think of him as stooping to that maturity level. I`m afraid that is the maturity level where he lives.

Let`s go to the New York state case. Today, New York State Attorney General Letitia James hit Donald Trump with the most massive lawsuit he has ever faced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good morning.

Following a comprehensive three-year investigation by my office, including witnesses, interviews with more than 65 witnesses, and review of millions of documents that were submitted by Mr. Trump and others, I am announcing that today, we are filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family, and his company.

The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.

[22:29:37]

He did this with the help of other defendants, his children -- Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney.

Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization repeatedly and persistently manipulated the value of assets, to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than what otherwise have been available to the company, to pay lower taxes, to satisfy continuing loan agreements, and to induce insurance companies to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums.

His conduct was all in violation of Executive Law, Section 63-12 which gives the attorney general broad special powers to go after persistent and repeated fraud and illegality. As part of demonstrating illegality on that section of Law 63-12, we show that they violated several state criminal laws including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud, and engaging in a conspiracy to commit each of these state law violations.

We believe the conduct alleged in this action also violates federal criminal law, including issuing false statements to financial institutions and bank fraud. And we are offering those criminal violations that we`ve uncovered to the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Harlan Levy, who served as chief deputy attorney general of New York. Also with us Andrew Weissmann. Mr. Levy, what is that section of law, New York state law, that the attorney general is talking about 63-12? How does it apply here? What are the standards that have to be met?

HARLAN LEVY, FORMER NEW YORK CHIEF DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: 63-12 is one of the two statutes that give the AG really remarkable powers when it comes to dealing with the business community. We`ve all heard over the years about the Martin Act. 63-12 is a law that allows the AG to prosecute people civilly who engage in a persistent, repeated illegality.

But it also has much broader import, like here, when you`re in the fraud context. Because fraud typically is a very demanding violation to prove. There is a whole laundry list of violations, a whole laundry list of elements that have to be met to prove fraud.

On the other hand, to prevail under 63-12, or what is called fraud, the AG need simply prove deceptive acts or concealment, that`s it. There is no laundry list.

So it is -- it is built towards providing a business community in New York that will show high integrity and providing the AG with great powers in enforcing those requirements against the business community.

O`DONNELL: I think people can think about the deposition stage and civil litigation as something that happens after today, after the filing of complaints in the beginning of lawsuits.

But here, you already have depositions in this case of the Trump adult children and of Donald Trump himself. And in Donald Trump`s deposition, he took the Fifth Amendment 400 times when asked these central questions in this particular case.

Mr. Levy, when you have -- when you`re going into a civil litigation with your principal defendant already saying, I cannot answer any of the questions about any of this evidence because it could incriminate me criminally for the same things. What are -- what is your strategy going into that litigation? I mean isn`t it just let`s just go straight to court?

LEVY: Well, that is what -- that`s what they are doing here, right? They`ve gone to court. They have gone in boldly. And when they go to court with someone who has invoked the Fifth Amendment, the court can draw adverse inferences from that invocation.

The court can determine that this is, that what Trump, what President Trump had to say, would have actually reflected badly on him. It is not required to do that, but the court may do that.

[22:35:00]

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, that last line we heard from the attorney general, that she believes there are federal offenses here. She`s referring this not just to the Department of Justice, but also directly to the Internal Revenue Service. And the Internal Revenue Service today issued a response, a standard response, saying we basically -- we get tips all the time, including from individuals. We follow up on the tips. And they could not say anything more.

WEISSMANN: So, I do think it is worth remembering this is a civil case. The standard of proof is just a preponderance. And of course, in a civil case, you may be able to use the invocation of the Fifth Amendment against the person who asserted it. So, these are all big differences between a civil case and a potential criminal case.

But this is now the second time you have a New York prosecutor essentially jumping up and down saying federal government, where are you?

The first time was Alvin Bragg. When Weisselberg pled guilty, he pleaded guilty to committing a federal offense, not just a state offense. And the charge there was replete with saying that the crimes they had charged were not just state crimes, they were federal crimes.

I was struck again today with the New York attorney general saying there are also federal crimes here. And to me, the real issue is we know that the IRS at the federal level has supposedly had an open case with respect to Donald Trump and or the Trump Organization, but it is not clear that that is going anywhere.

And it is remarkable to me that you have the two highest New York prosecutors making that sort of point over and over again. And I think that the reference to the southern district is a way to potentially goose that investigation into action.

And then the final thing is if you noticed, she did not have to say -- Letitia James did not have to say they`re making a referral to the Manhattan district attorney`s office for criminal investigations.

And I think that still maybe the sleeper to keep an eye on. And I think that the fact that she did not have to say that, is because she knows there is that investigation.

Alvin Bragg did issue a press release today, saying I just want to make clear, I`m not issuing any statement other than to say the investigation is ongoing.

And the false business records that form the gravamen of what Letitia James charged today civilly can form the basis for a criminal charge by the Manhattan district attorney`s office.

So, I think we should keep our eyes on that.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann and Harlan Levy, thank you both very much for sharing your expertise with us tonight. We really appreciate it.

WEISSMANN: Thank you.

LEVY: You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, will the Trump family stick together now that they are all defendants who could lose all of their wealth? That is next.

[22:38:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES: The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.

He did this with the help of the other defendants, his children -- Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, David Enrich. He is the business investigations editor for the "New York Times" and author of the new book, "Servants of the Damned: Giant Law Firms, Donald Trump, and the Corruption of Justice.

Also with us Tim O`Brien, senior executive editor for Bloomberg Opinion, and author of "Trump Nation: the art of Being the Donald". He`s an MSNBC political analyst.

David Enrich, in the couple hundred pages of this complaint today, what have we learned about Donald Trump`s adult children who work in the company?

DAVID ENRICH, "NEW YORK TIMES"; Well, they`ve got a big legal problem now themselves. And I think this is something that most observers, certainly myself included, had viewed as primarily a Donald Trump father problem and it`s clear, if the attorney general allegations are to be believed, that their, you know, the fingerprints of not just Trump but the kids are all over this. And there is a substantial legal problem that they are now facing, along with their father.

O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, speaking of book titles, today, Letitia James said that Donald Trump`s work was not "The Art of the Deal". She called it "The Art of the Steel. That has been your analysis for some time now.

TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and that`s been out there for awhile. I think the issue now is whether or not she can make that stick in court, Lawrence.

There`s no question that Donald Trump is a mendacious grifter and he has been at this for quite awhile. I don`t think, there`s not another prosecutor who has come in on his business dealings with this kind of sweep and intensity. So this is a first for him. And I think that the quality of her investigation will get tested in court.

[22:44:52]

O`BRIEN: I think he has also put his children at risk. Now, you know, all three children are adults. They didn`t have to do what their father might have told them to do, but they were part of his business operation. And now they are exposed.

And I think there is -- it is hard to use the term Shakespearean with the Trumps because it isn`t high class drama, but the children have always been somewhat captive to their father for a variety of different reasons.

And at one point Don Jr. was alienated from his father. They all ended up gravitating back towards him and becoming part of this business, and essentially learning how to roll in business at his knee.

And I think that became, you know, sort of routine for them to play fast and loose with the facts and to skirt the boundaries of financial propriety.

And now I think -- and certainly Eric, among the three, Eric took the Fifth, I think more than 500 times. His father took it more than 400 times during their depositions. They`re going to have to come clean with some of that in a courtroom, I think.

O`DONNELL: David Enrich, the Trump adult children here, in a jury`s view, maybe regarded differently from their father or a jury might be satisfied with simply penalizing the father.

As you read this complaint though, will it be -- will that be something that is available, do you think, to a jury looking at this evidence?

ENRICH: You know, that is a good question. And I don`t really know what the answer is, to be honest with you. I`m obviously not a lawyer and all my predictions about what will come of Trump and all these investigations over the years have been not quite dead wrong but not quite right either. So I want to be careful.

But I think what Tim just said is kind of an important point, which is that it`s not -- the fact that the Trump kids are going in there and taking the Fifth as well I think is, as your previous guests were talking about that is something that can be held against them in a civil court.

And to me the big -- big issue here is that this is probably the moment of greatest legal peril that Trump, his children and his company have ever faced. And this is a family and a business that has faced a lot of legal problems over the years.

So the fact there are so many different investigations both civil and criminal, state and federal that are now seemingly reaching a point of traction and action and I think that that would be a pretty scary moment for the family.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I had said, immediately after Joe Biden`s inauguration, that Donald Trump enters the phase of life called Defendant Trump at that point. I did not anticipate that it would be Defendants Trump, plural.

David Enrich, Tim O`Brien -- thank you very much for joining us on what is the beginning of this case. We are going to need your help on it as it proceeds. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

O`BRIEN: Thank you, Lawrence.

ENRICH: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, two presidents -- Biden and Zelenskyy -- address the United Nations today while in Moscow Vladimir Putin threatened to use possibly even nuclear weapons against Ukraine. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will join us next.

[22:48:14]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This war is about extinguishing Ukraine`s right to exist as a state, plain and simple; and Ukraine`s right to exist as a people. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should make your blood run cold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: President Biden spoke to the United Nations today, hours after Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization, he said, of 300,000 Russian reservists to Ukraine.

In a televised speech Vladimir Putin appeared to threaten the use of possibly nuclear weapons, saying, quote, "We will certainly make use of all weapons systems available to us. This is not a bluff."

In response to Vladimir Putin`s threat, President Biden became the 13th president since President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 to raise the issue of nuclear weapons in a U.N. General Assembly address when President Biden said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: President Putin has made over nuclear threats against Europe and a reckless disregard for the responsibilities of a non proliferation regime.

A nuclear war can not be won and must never be fought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: According to an independent protest monitoring group, at least 1,300 people have been detained in 38 cities across Russia at anti-war protests like the one you are seeing on the screen now. That number is expected to increase.

Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy addressed the U.N. General Assembly from Ukraine today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory, punishment for the murders of thousands of people, punishment for tortures and humiliations of women and men, punishment for the catastrophic turbulence that Russia provoked with its illegal war and not only for us Ukrainians but for the whole world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who is here for the first time in her role as White House secretary.

Does President Biden agree with what President Zelenskyy had to say today, especially that point about punishment?

[22:54:54]

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So I just want to start here for a second because it`s really important. I was listening to the couple of clips that you played and I was in the room today listening to the president`s entire speech.

And I watched the heads of state listening to the president of the United States. And the thing that people need to remember and why this is so important, before the president speaks the hall was pretty empty, and as the people here understand that the president of the United States is coming, President Biden is coming, it gets completely full because what he is about to say, everyone knows that the world is going to be listening.

So you think about the message that the president delivered. He talked about how critical, how important it is to strengthen the U.N. He talked about how important it is to make sure that the core principles of the U.N., if you think about the U.N. charter, are upheld, that we stand up for that.

And then you saw him, as you played the clip, he called out, he gave a strong rebuke against Russia and what they are doing to Ukraine, the brutal war that they are doing to Ukraine, and how the shameless violation of those core principles, and what they are doing.

Because remember, this is Putin`s war. This is something that he started. He attacked a country, a sovereignty, its territorial integrity because he wanted to. And so we have to remember, this was an unprovoked war.

O`DONNELL: Were you with the president when he heard what Vladimir Putin said today? Was that something you briefed him on or did some national security people brief him on?

JEAN-PIERRE: So his national security team briefed him on it. Jake Sullivan is traveling with us as well. I was -- I saw the president right before -- actually right after his speech, and I saw him just to talk about what was in the world and how the speech was covered.

But clearly that`s something that his national security advisers would brief him on. But the president has been very clear. He has been very consistent.

And we have warned -- there is also the sham referenda that Putin is calling on, so that they can annex and take away territory from Ukraine. That is something that we have been warning about for some time.

Look, I think the bottom line is, what we have shown, what this president has shown, is leadership across the globe, bringing our allies, bringing our partners together, making NATO grow stronger than we have seen in modern times, and that is so important because what Putin thought he was going to do is, he thought he was going to make us weaker. And what is actually happening is now we are seeing Putin is the one that is weak.

O`DONNELL: The president had a one-on-one with the new British Prime Minister. Did he secure her commitment to continued support for Ukraine?

JEAN-PIERRE: You know, what we have seen for the past several months and the past several days is a continued commitment from countries, from the European countries clearly and also just our allies across the board, our partners, to make sure that Ukraine is able to continue to fight for its freedom.

And you are seeing that, and that is something that the president is going to continue to work on, because it is so important that we step in in this moment, that we help this country fight for its democracy.

That is what the American people need to understand. I know they do, but that`s why we`re involved in the way that we are.

O`DONNELL:L In the campaign for the presidency, the issue of a possible war in Ukraine was not on the front of anyone`s mind. When you went into the White House, it wasn`t something that was likely to come up. It wasn`t in anyone`s mind other than national security people.

Now it`s one of your most important, if not the most important issue that you`re dealing with on a date to day basis. How have you seen this White House unite around that purpose, a purpose that a year ago they didn`t know was going to be issue number one?

JEAN-PIERRE: I think something that people need to understand is that we have a president that was a senator for 36 years. We have a president that was a vice president for eight years. We have a president that is so steeped in foreign policy and understands how this works and understands how leaders think and has that really critical important relationships with leaders for decades.

And so I think having that in the Oval has made a tremendous difference. And it has made all of us understand how important it is to make sure that we stay on this, to make sure that we do everything that we can, we speak to it, we provide this historic funding to make sure that they have the security assistance, to fight again, for their freedom, to fight for their freedom -- for their sovereignty. I`m talking about the Ukrainian people.

[22:59:52]

JEAN-PIERRE: And we have seen them do it so bravely and so that`s what we are committed to doing. It is so important that we step in as one of a leading country in the globe, in the world, when it comes to democracy, fighting for democracy.

O`DONNELL: Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you very much for joining us tonight. This chair is here for you whenever you can stop by.

JEAN-PIERRE: I appreciate it, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: We really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Karine Jean-Pierre gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts now.