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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, June 3rd, 2014

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POLITICS NATION
June 3, 2014

Guest: Ken Gude; Phillip Mudd, Maria Teresa Kumar, Jim McDermott, Carl
Deal

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE ED SHOW: That`s "the ED Show." I`m Ed
Schultz. "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.

Good evening, Rev.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed, and thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, America doesn`t leave soldiers behind. Today, there are
real question the about how Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was captured and whether
he willingly left his unit.

NBC News has learned the army is performing a full inquiry into the
circumstances surrounding his capture. But today, President Obama says the
United States has a commitment to any captured American soldier no matter
how he fell into enemy hands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has always
had a pretty sacred rule. And that is, we don`t leave our men or women in
uniform behind. And that dates back to the earliest days of our
revolution.

Let me just make a very simple point here. And that is regardless of the
circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still
get an American soldier back if he`s held in captivity. Period. Full
stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We don`t leave our women or men in uniform behind. It`s as
simple in a self-evident statement as that, one that shouldn`t really need
defending. And yet apparently it does. Especially from the right wing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be very, very careful before you run the
President out at claiming victory at earning the release of somebody who in
effect went AWOL apparently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s one thing to trade terrorist for a real POW,
someone who`s taken on the battlefield, fighting honorably for or country.
It`s another thing to trade away five high-ranking terrorists with someone
who walked away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It is a disturbing idea that the military should pre-judge the
guilt or innocence of this captured soldiers without a trial to evaluate
who`s worthy of being rescued and who`s not.

Now, some are even going after Sergeant Bergdahl`s father, Bob, for a tweet
he sent to a Taliban spokesman four days before his son was released. It
said, I`m still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay
for the death of every afghan child. Amen.

"The New York Daily News" accused Bob Bergdahl of tweeting with the enemy.
And over at FOX, some are saying Bob Bergdahl`s beard looks suspicious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has learned to speak Pashto, the language of the
Taliban and looks like a Muslim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? I mean, he says he was growing his beard
because his son was -- because his son was in captivity. Well, your son is
out now. So, if you really no longer want to look like a member of the
Taliban, you don`t have to look like a member of the Taliban. Are you out
of razors?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This implication is nasty and transparent, that somehow Bob
Bergdahl is un-American, and somehow the United States government should
consider that when thinking about the rescue of his son.

To be sure, many Americans have questions about the release of these
Taliban prisoners and Democratic lawmakers want to know more about how it
was handled, but these are tough issues and there should be questions of
policy not politics.

Joining me now is Phillip Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA`s
counterterrorism center, and Ken Gude, senior fellow with the center for
American progress.

Thank you both for being here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Phillip, there are a lot of issues swirling here. But isn`t the
basic question whether you leave an American soldier there or not, isn`t
that the basic question?

PHILLIP MUDD, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE CIA`S COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER:
I think it is. Look, I`m not a politician. I served in the Bush White
House, Bush 43. I was nominated by President Obama for a job. You talk
about complicated questions.

I don`t believe this is complicated. You have five members of Taliban
captured on the battlefield. You have one serviceman captured on the
battlefield. I don`t care how he was captured. He`s an American. He is a
serviceman. The commander-in-chief has the right to authorize a
battlefield transfer, a transfer of prisoners. Isn`t that complicated to
me. They can debate it on the hill, they can debate it in Washington. I
don`t see why this is so difficult.

SHARPTON: Ken Gude, where do you stand on this?

KEN GUDE, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think Phil is
exactly right. I mean, this is not a very difficult issue. And especially
when we understand that the five Guantanamo detainees that were transferred
very likely to have to be release back to Afghanistan relatively soon
anyway because of the specifics around their case. They`re Taliban, not Al
Qaeda. They were not prosecutable in either a military court or American
federal court. And because the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. involvement in
the war in Afghanistan is winding down, we were probably going to have to
let them go anyway. So, this really wasn`t much of a trade.

SHARPTON: Let me make sure I`m understanding you, Ken. You`re saying they
could not have been tried with what they were charge with, that they were
being held in Guantanamo Bay for. They could not be charged in military or
criminal court here and they would have been sooner or later, with the war
winding down let go anyway?

GUDE: That`s exactly right. . It was probably sometime relatively soon
after our combat role in Afghanistan ends at the end of this year, we would
have had to have released them. We couldn`t prosecute them in our courts.
They were party only to the conflict in Afghanistan. They were Taliban,
not Al Qaeda. And our war in Afghanistan was ending. We were going to
have to let them go. This wasn`t even much of a trade. So I don`t really
quite get all the hullabaloo about it.

SHARPTON: That`s very interesting.

Let me go back to you and ask you this, Phillip. Former soldiers from
Sergeant Bergdahl`s own platoon are critical of him. Here`s what they say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all served together and we were all in it together
over there and he broke that bond by leaving us. You rear just going to
let these guys go for somebody you`re already saying you know walked away?
That`s just not right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s an American soldier. He still is. You can`t
leave anybody behind, but to label him as a hero when all he did was leaf
his guard post and get real heroes killed, those are people who did
something influential, not just, you know, leaving their guard post.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, their anger is understandable, Phillip. But, you know,
does it change the basic point that this country`s committed to rescuing
its captured troops even if it`s to face military justice back here on
American soil.

MUDD: I can understand their anger. But when I was an analyst I was
taught to the clear about differentiating among three things, what you
know, what you don`t know what you think.

We know an American soldier was lost on the battlefield. We think or
speculate that he left because maybe he had some psychological problems,
maybe we wanted to go AWOL. There is story about him wanting to walk over
to Pakistan and India, we don`t know that.

The two separate question should we retrieve a soldier? Yes. Should we
ask him questions later on about his motivations for leaving and maybe even
prosecute him in a military tribunal? Yes. Those two questions are
separate.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Ken, what bothers me when I hear all of this, and
I agree with Phillip. Either you`re going to prosecute, investigate or
find out none of it is true. But the alternative is, are we suggesting
that we just leave them there to die. I mean, what are we saying, Ken?
With no litigation, no investigation. There`s a suggestion that he should
have been left there to perish?

GUDE: Well, another puzzling thing about this whole episode is that Bowe
Bergdahl was kind of a cause celeb on the right before he was rescued. I
mean, it was just two weeks ago that one senator Kelly Ayotte issued a
press release demanding that the department of defense do everything in its
power to secure his release.

Senator Mitch McConnell, he joined others in the Senate also urging that
the defense department do everything it possibly could to get Sergeant
Bergdahl out.

SHARPTON: Mitch McConnell said this?

GUDE: Mitch McConnell said this. And now that he`s out, now that it
appears to be associated with President Obama, it`s the worst thing that
has ever been done and could possibly lead to impeachment.

So I just find the politics around this so distasteful. And I really find
it unpleasant that we have to sit here and argue and defend the principle
that we need to bring all of our troops home. It`s just crazy.

SHARPTON: I mean, you know, late today, we even hear, Phillip, Senator
Feinstein, Dianne Feinstein suggesting the administration might not have
acted legally by not consulting Congress. Feinstein says I strongly agree
we should have been consulted. Laws should have been followed. I deeply
regret that it was not. How important is this? Put this into context for
me.

MUDD: I think adults need to sit in the room across the aisle with the
President and discuss it. Both sides, I hate to tell you, are right.
There`s a law that says the President is supposed to consult with Congress
about release of Guantanamo prisoners.

There is another law that says the President is commander-in-chief. And
when there is a battlefield decision, he is the ultimate decision maker.

I know what he intent (ph) law is, in this case, I was there with the FBI
and CIA and watched this roll out. Neither side is wrong, but spitting
across the aisle and citing law doesn`t work in Washington. Everybody`s
got a law that supports their case. You`ve got to say OK, we disagree, how
do we work it out? That`s why that city doesn`t work.

SHARPTON: Which is why it comes back to what I said in the beginning, Ken,
that this should be about policy, not politics. Because when you`re
sitting there telling me Mitch McConnell and others were calling for the
administration to do all within its power just not too long ago to release
this very same person who they`re now in many ways denigrating, this is
politics, it is not policy at all.

GUDE: Yes. It`s just a terrible episode. And I think getting to the
congressional notification point, you know, I wish the Obama administration
had managed to provide some measure of advanced notice to Congress. They
didn`t need to do the full 30 days. I think the exigencies of this
particular case would have warranted a much shorter time frame.

But I think we could have avoided some of the controversy if the Obama
administration had just placed a few calls to the leaders of the Senate and
house intelligence committees and the leaders of the parties of the various
chambers to just inform them, maybe even only a matter of a few hours
before the plan was actually executed. That would have eliminated at least
some of the complaint.

But no one in Congress has asserted that the President doesn`t have the
authority to make this move. They are complaining only about the fact that
they weren`t notified in advance. And that`s just bickering around the
edges.

SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to leave it there. Phillip Mudd and Ken
Gude.

And I want to thank you both for your time this evening.

And let me say this. I think the issue here is that we have an American
serviceman that should not be prejudged, certainly not abandoned, left to
perish because of some speculation, unproven allegation. Even if they
prove to be right, they should be proven in a military process here, or
other legal process. But we cannot now set a precedent that we`re going to
guess, decide, and therefore based on that rescue or not rescue someone who
will be left in the hands of enemies to perish or die because we think
something may have been amiss.

Coming up, move over Benghazi. There`s a new impeachable moment in town
and it`s coming from Dick Cheney and the right wing media complex.

Plus, there`s a battle raging in Washington to fight for economic equality
and fairness.

And today, a major milestone in that fight. Labor history was just made in
Seattle. We`ll live in that city ahead.

And how can we stop billionaires like the Koch brothers from flooding money
into our elections? Democrats have a new plan today.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The controversy surrounding the release of Sergeant Bergdahl is
dominating the conversation on social media today. And we want to know
what you think.

Why are some Republicans upset over Sergeant Bergdahl`s release? Is it
because they`re angry at him? Or are they worried about the threat posed
by five released Taliban prisoners? Or is it just another chance to
criticize President Obama?

The poll is live on our facebook page and on twitter. So vote now and be
sure to leave a comment. We`ll have your answers later in the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Forget Benghazi. There`s a new right wing attack in town. Now
they`re using Sergeant Bergdahl`s release to slam President Obama and look
who`s one of the first to run in front of a camera?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they
have, in fact, negotiated with terrorists and I don`t think they got a very
good deal. There`s a distinct possibility that these five will, in fact,
go into battle. I think the whole transaction represents really bad staff
work. I would be very, very careful before you run the President out at
sort of claiming victory after having earned the release of somebody who
went AWOL apparently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Really bad staff work? Says the man who got us in an
unnecessary war? The guy who sent our soldiers into battle doesn`t think
the President got a good deal. And his want-to-be successor piled on, too.

Sarah Palin took to facebook to attack the President saying he, quote,
"blew it."

And others accused him of helping terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President may have very well committed a federal
crime by giving material assistance to a terrorist organization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the government shutdown, the President said he
wouldn`t negotiate during the shutdown. But yet obviously negotiating
here. So he won`t negotiate with you guys but he negotiated with the
Taliban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only reason why this thing is announced, the only
reason why this happened is because the President is trying to get the VA
off the front page of the newspapers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andy McCarthy, a friend of this program has a new book
out. He says the President should be impeached for this. That`s what he
does say. It`s crimes and misdemeanors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my view, it`s a very, very valid argument that
people are going to start talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Release an American soldier from captivity and get impeached?

Some Democrats have raised concern that members of Congress should have
been notified about the deal earlier. But this stuff, accusing the
President of helping terrorists and negotiating with the Taliban is really
beyond the pale.

President Obama said we don`t leave our men or women in uniform behind.
Too bad so many on the right don`t leave any chance to attack behind.

Joining me now, Patrick Murphy, who is the first Iraq war veteran to serve
in Congress.

Thank you for being here, congressman.

PATRICK MURPHY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: They`re attacking the President for getting a soldier home. And
Dick Cheney is leading the charge. What`s your reaction?

MURPHY: Rev., this is the same Dick Cheney that when he was of fighting
age in his 20s and the Vietnam war was going on and everyone was getting
drafted, he said I have better things to do than serve in Vietnam. But yet
he wants to disparage the commander-in-chief. He wants to go against a
whole military ethic that we leave no one behind.

Now listen, whether it`s the sergeant deserted or not, if he deserted,
court-martial him. Let him rot in jail. Let him rot in an American jail.
But we bring those who are missing in action home. We do all we can. This
was an easy call and a right called on.

SHARPTON: The operative word, Congressman, is if. We don`t know if any of
that is true. What I don`t understand is how we are going to suggest,
imply, infer, to leave him there to die while we speculate on any of these
things.

But let me ask you, because one of the reasons I was very happy to have you
on, you served in Iraq. And we call found out what happened with the
weapons of mass destruction that didn`t exist. How do you feel when you
see Dick Cheney, the proponent of that war sitting up in judgment of this
administration doing something as clear as bringing a soldier home that was
held in captivity.

MURPHY: Dick Cheney doesn`t get it, Rev. He never got it and he`ll never
get it. And you know, I pray for his soul to be honest with you because
I`m just going to leave it at that. I pray for him because he needs to
understand that he was part of the one of the most strategically colossal
mistakes in American history. That over 4,486 men and women died in the
Iraq war which was unnecessary where clear 19 men that I served with
(INAUDIBLE). And it was Barack Obama who came in after the Bush/Cheney
left who tripled the amount of troops in Afghanistan to smoke out the lad
and bring him the justice. Now, he`s bringing those troops home.

But for Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin who, you know, did half
a term of governor before she quit on that job, to criticize President
Obama for doing the right thing, and to say things, like he should be
impeached, the rule is, the law is you have to consult with Congress.

Republican congressman Mike Rogers, Rev., you know, he`s the chair of the
intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, said, we were
consulted. We were presented a plan on a prisoners swap back in 2011. He
did his job. It is now time to stop with politics.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this, Congressman, quickly. Those that served,
three fellow officers that served with Bergdahl that have been very
critical of him, what would you say to them tonight?

MURPHY: I would say, Gentlemen, thank you for your service. If this is
true, let`s do an investigation. Let`s have you testify at his court-
martial here on American soil. But let`s bring him home first. Let`s do
what is our standard, bring everyone home because we leave no one behind.

SHARPTON: Congressman Patrick Murphy, thank you so much for your time
tonight.

MURPHY: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Senator Elizabeth Warren is talking about a rigged
system that favors the rich. But something just happened in a major city
that could level the playing field.

And are GOP lawmakers trying to create segregated voting districts? It is
the next big battle at the Supreme Court. That`s ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s primary night in several states tonight. And in Alabama,
that means it`s voter ID night. For the first time voters in Alabama must
show a photo ID to vote. The state`s Republican Party is so concerned
about fraud they`re even sending people out to look for it, offering $1,000
reward for information that directly leads to a conviction of a felony for
voter fraud.

But the real fraud is the law itself. MSNBC.com`s Zachery Roth introduced
us to a new face of voter suppression. 93-year-old Willie Mims. Willies
has been voting since he first registered back in World War II. But today,
when he went to vote in Alabama, he was turned away because he doesn`t
drive and doesn`t have a form of ID.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIE MIMS, 93-YEARS-OLD: I went down there and they told me I had to get
something with my name on it. I said I don`t know how to go over there
anyway. I just decided just let it alone. And I come home back here and
lay down and took a nap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is a solution to a problem that doesn`t exist. It`s an
assault on the voting rights of minorities and we won`t stop fighting it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The game right now in America is
rigged. It is rigged so that those at the keep doing better and better.
And everyone else is under increasing pressure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Senator Elizabeth Warren on
her fight to level the playing field, she has been a powerful voice in the
fight for economic fairness. And a big part of that fight lies in raising
the minimum wage. We`ve seen the fight explode across the country.
Recently minimum wage workers are struggling to make ends meet. And as
they fight to stay above the poverty line, CEO`s are raking in record
salaries. The average salary is $10.5 million. President Obama says give
America a raise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: A majority of Americans, not just
Democrats, not just in the tenants but Republicans too, support raising the
minimum wage. It`s the right thing to do.

(APPLAUSE)

If you work hard, you should be able to pay the rent, buy your groceries,
look after your kids. This will help families, it will give businesses
customers with more money to spend. Say yes to that, give America a raise.
I firmly believe it`s time to give America a raise.

To join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise!

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, on Monday, America didn`t get a raise, but Seattle did.
The city council unanimously passed an ordinance for a $15 minimum wage.
The highest in the nation. Supporters packed the council chambers for the
vote and cheered the passing. This fight is not over, but Seattle is
becoming a city of hope for the working poor in this country. Now it`s
time for Congress to act.

Joining me now is Seattle -- from Seattle is Congressman Jim McDermott,
democrat of Washington and Maria Teresa Kumar, the president of Voto
Latino. Thank you both for being here.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO PRESIDENT: Thank you, Reverend.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Good to be here.

SHARPTON: Congressman, your city is leading the way on the minimum wage
fight. Will it spur action in Washington, do you think?

MCDERMOTT: Well, you know, Rev, the people in this country, they are
getting restless. And a little town out here, Sea-tac voted to change the
minimum wage. Everybody thought it was kind of a freak. Because it`s only
a little teeny town.

SHARPTON: Right.

MCDERMOTT: Well, yesterday, our big city, Seattle, gave a $15. And that
shows you, this is moving across this country. The President is talking
about it, and everybody recognizes the middle class is being squeezed.
Seattle, it takes $16.02 cents an hour to stay above the poverty line if
you consider all the things that people have to pay for. So we`re just
trying to keep people at the poverty line, which isn`t -- that`s not high
living.

SHARPTON: It takes $16.02 cent an hour to stay above the poverty line in
Seattle. So going to $15 still doesn`t quite bring you over the poverty
line. So all of them that act as though this is some great handout and
some kind of system of just giving people things really don`t understand
what they`re talking about.

MCDERMOTT: That`s about absolutely right. When you talk about rent, rents
are high and food. And gasoline is $4.15 cents a gallon. And you start
down the list, you can eat up $16 an hour, $15 an hour real quickly trying
to take care of a family of four. So we`re just trying to keep up with
this and give people a chance to make it.

SHARPTON: Maria, you know, when we look at some of these facts about
minimum wage, Americans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage 71
percent favor an increase in the federal minimum wage rate from $7.25 cent
an hour to $9. Proposals to increase the minimum wage have been introduced
in 30 other states, and these wage increases would pump an additional $22
billion into the economy. I mean, it just make sense socially. It makes
sense economically, it makes sense politically to do this. I mean, why
would they go against this, Maria?

KUMAR: I mean, the idea of working poor should be an oxymoron.
Unfortunately it`s a reality for millions of Americans. But when we look
at raising the minimum wage, such as Seattle does, or the President`s
proposal, which was $10.10 cents, you`re talking about raising over 58
percent of working poor to actually middle class. That`s significant,
because all of a sudden, as the congressman stated, all of a sudden
they`re thinking not about how to make ends meet, but also how do they
actually have upward mobility so that they can invest in other things, not
just putting food on the stable and making ends meet.

And that`s huge. Because at the end of the day, we have to take a step
back and saying, why are we working every single day? Are we working every
single day so that we`re not, you know, we`re not suffering and making sure
that our children are not suffering? Or is it so that we can have a
thriving middle class where we can continue being an economic powerhouse.

SHARPTON: You know, Congressman, we saw Senator Warren at the top of this
segment. And she also talked about how the GOP is trying to stack the deck
against the poor. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: Look at the basic premise behind the Ryan budget. Preserve lots
of loopholes for those at the top, cut taxes right for those at the top.
And how do they plan to pay for it? By cutting the investments that create
opportunity cut the investments in education, in infrastructure, in
research. The things that help build a future. That drives us toward more
inequality, but more critically, it undercuts the basic premise of this
country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Your reaction to that statement, Congressman?

MCDERMOTT: Well, you know, my family came here with nothing. And my
grandfather had a second grade education. My father had only a high school
education and all the kids in our family have got degrees in college and
advanced degrees. And that`s what America has made possible in the past,
but you can`t do that again, you can`t do that today if you`re working two
or three, seven dollar an hour jobs to keep your family together. You
haven`t got money to give your kid a chance to go to college. And then
you`ve got to start thinking about your parents and what`s happened to
them. The middle class is being squeezed, and the real American dream is
being snuffed out by these guys who will not give money back at the top.

SHARPTON: But do the American people, does the middle class citizen
understand that? I mean, you` got all these rich guys, these billionaires
flooding the political system with money that is totally have people voting
against their own personal economic interest, Congressman. How do we break
through? And make people understand that it`s them, it`s not somebody
else. It`s them that`s suffering from these decisions.

KUMAR: But I think, Reverend, I think just the fact that you have over 38
state that that introduced minimum wage loss demonstrates that, yes, you
can be stagnant right now at the Congressional level, at the national
level. But work is being done at the state level. And that`s what --
because it means that American people are paying attention and at least
saying OK, Congressional members, you guys are in a stalemate, let`s make
sure that we get action at the state levels, so that it translates into
victories like we saw today in Seattle.

SHARPTON: But can we push the state movement? The states that are
operating to Washington so it happens on a federal level congressman? Or
is there too much money floating around where we can`t move your
colleagues?

MCDERMOTT: If the voters come out in this election and their first
question to their candidates is, do you support an increase in the minimum
wage, you`re going to start to see some people get pretty antsy. Right now
people say well, they`re quiet back home, so it must not be bothering them.
But if the people start letting them know that it`s bothering them, you`re
going to see some people wake up tomorrow and say what`s going on? Seattle?
I hope that`s not going to go on.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, I`m going to have to leave it there. Thank
you so much, Congressman Jim McDermott, Maria Teresa Kumar. Thank you both
for your time. Have a good night.

KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.

MCDERMOTT: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Republicans scheme to hurt democratic voting goes to
the Supreme Court. We`ll have that story. And how do you stop
billionaires like the Koch Brothers from secretly funneling millions into
our democratic process? There is a plan. The fight is on in Washington
today. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today, Senate Democrats held a hearing on a new plan on a
constitutional amendment to stop the flood of billionaire money trying to
buy our elections. Since Citizens United, mega rich donors like the Koch
Brothers have been funneling millions of dollars into elections, often in
secret. Democrats want to change that by amending the constitution to let
Congress regulate this so-called dark money. Make sense, right? Not for
Senator Ted Cruz, for him, it`s basically the end of the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This amendment here today, if adopted would
repeal the free speech protections of the First Amendment. Citizens are
still astonished, that members of Congress would dare support repealing the
First Amendment. Mr. Chairman, when did elected Democrats abandon the bill
of rights? This amendment if adopted would give Congress the power to ban
books and to ban movies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Repealing the First Amendment? Abandoning the bill of rights?
What`s he talking about? The GOP`s argument makes no sense. Unless you
buy the idea that money is the same as free speech. Which means that
people like the Koch brothers simply have more speech than the rest of us.
It`s not fair and a new film looks at what it`s doing to our democracy.

Joining me now are the filmmakers behind "Citizen Koch," Carl Deal and Tia
Lessin, thank you both for being here tonight.

Thanks so much for having me.

SHARPTON: 2011, you guys went to Wisconsin and you went to cover the
recall of Governor Scott Walker, but what you uncovered was the influence
of the Koch-backed group, Americans for Prosperity, now here`s a clip from
the film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hi. This is jerry. I`m a volunteer for Americans with
Prosperity. I want you to know that Mayor Tom Berry has raised taxes in
Milwaukee every year but once since he became mayor.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you think in the post Citizens United world that
you have more freedom?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It doesn`t impact us at all. We don`t do election
advocacy.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Again, Citizen United impacts Americans for Prosperity
in no way, shape or form.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This is not election advocacy? What about your
corporate funders? Isn`t it just another way for them to get money to
elections?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We don`t discuss our funding. But we -- we don`t
discuss our funding.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, how can they say with a straight face they don`t do
election advocacy when , I mean, you have them on film calling, talking
about Berry, the candidate there. I mean, how can they say this?

CARL DEAL, "CITIZEN KOCH": I know, I mean, they`re talking about a
political candidate in the days before an election.

SHARPTON: Right.

DEAL: Look, we saw that, actually, we didn`t really expect to bump into
Americans for Prosperity or the Kochs in Wisconsin when we went there. You
know, they sort of inserted themselves into the story that we were
covering. We wanted to see what it looked like, what kind of impact
Citizens United was going to be having at the state level. That`s what
drew us into Wisconsin.

SHARPTON: But you know, Tia, when you go back and ask Scott Walker`s
campaign spokesperson about billionaire donors like the Koch Brothers which
backs the Americans for Prosperity who they identify themselves on the
phone, that`s what was so stunning to me in the film. They`re actually
saying who they are. But when you asked about what does Walker get in
exchange for this kind of support, well, let`s listen to the answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What do out of state billionaires like Jones and Bob
Perry and Foster Friess and the Koch Brothers seek to get from Governor
Walker? They contributed million of dollars to his campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: More than 76 percent of the governor`s contributions
have been for $50 or less.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How about the high-dollar donors.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Sure. I`m not in position to speak about for these
contributors campaign. But what I can tell you is more than 76 percent of
our contributions --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You`re not answering the questions.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`ll take another question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: They don`t really want to talk about this, do they, in terms of
the high-dollar donors. She had one chord guitar and played that, you
know, line they gave her, but they really don`t want to elaborate on the
high donors.

TIA LESSIN, "CITIZENS KOCH" FILMMAKER: They don`t want to elaborate. And
they expect not to be asked. You know, and frankly, we weren`t invited
back to another Scott Walker campaign event after that.

SHARPTON: Do you know the Koch Brothers Carl also backed the anti-union
push of Governor Walker. An agenda with a devastating impact on union
workers. And you talked about it in the film. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Walker is a bully and I was a union man. And if it
wasn`t for the union, I couldn`t have retired. I would have worked until I
was 100.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: My wife and I are county workers and when I took the
job, I took a pay cut for benefits. And I`m losing my benefits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How does the Koch Brothers financial interests dovetail with the
anti-union agenda that we see in the GOP.

DEAL: Well, look, one of the things that was surprising us is we learned
that this union busting is really all about -- it`s a cynical political
strategy on the part of these extremists like the Koch Brothers. What they
want to do is take the money of organized labor out of the political
process entirely. And of course, you know, the money of organized labor is
just sort of an aggregation of funds of ordinary working Americans. And,
like you guys were saying, they want to spend their money as much as they
can, as much as people will permit without anybody knowing what they`re
doing.

SHARPTON: And that`s the real concern, aside from parties, is having
billionaires on one side with no counterbalance. And they knock out any
counter kind of balance. When you see the Koch networks spent over $400
million in 2012, Americans for Prosperity plan to spend $125 million this
year. I mean, do most Americans really realize the secret money that`s
been funneling the right wing causes and candidates in your opinion?

LESSIN: Yes. The right wing tries to hide it and corporate interests try
to hide it. You know? Because they know that would not be popular. This
is the money of the wealthy drowning out the rest of us.

SHARPTON: Interesting film. Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, congratulations on
the film. And thank you so much for your time. Go to CitizenKoch.com for
more information on the film, including when it`s coming to a city near
you.

We should note that we reached out to Koch industries for comment on this
film and have yet to receive a response. Ahead, it`s a big political
night. Primary elections around the country, and a night we must talk
about a voting story with supreme implications. And we have news on the
mother accused of trying to kill her children by driving her van into the
ocean, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Big news in the case of the mother accused of trying to kill her
three children. Ebony Wilkerson, the pregnant mother who drove her three
children into the Atlantic Ocean back in March has been released from
prison after posting her $90,000 bond. Earlier this year, she drove her
minivan carrying her three children into the ocean in Daytona Beach,
Florida, telling police she was trying to escape an abusive husband. The
judge ruled she`s not allowed contact with any of her children, including
her newborn son. Wilkerson is charged with three counts of attempted
murder, his awaiting trial, set to begin in August. We`ll continue to
follow this story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There are primary elections in several states today. A new
voter I.D. laws are on full display. But tonight, another voting story we
need to talk about. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a major voting
case from Alabama. Democrats there argued that Republicans in their state
have redrawn legislative maps to intentionally marginalize African-American
voters. For example, here was Alabama`s third Congressional District
before the lines were redrawn. And here it is after GOP redistricting.
What does the change mean? Well, suddenly the district`s overall white
population jumped to nearly 71 percent. As a result of these changes, more
and more districts in the state are becoming segregated. And this same
plan is being used by republican legislators all over the country to limit
democratic power.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The black caucus has been worried that the new lines are
diluting the black population, making it harder for the Democratic Party to
win elections.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Our Virginia lawmakers manipulating black voters in
order to maintain their grip on POW.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Texas added four new Congressional seats in 2012 when
the Republicans drew maps to create three new districts that favor them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: State GOP lawmakers are getting down right creative in the
district maps that they`re drawing.

Take a look at the North Carolina`s 12th Congressional District. That
little zigzag it does through the state, assures that it encircles African-
American communities, limiting their influence on other districts. Here`s
another from Pennsylvania. In some areas, this district is only 800 feet
across. So why the weird outline? In this instance, it is done to make
the district more firmly republican. That`s why this Alabama case matters.
Republicans are literally shifting the outcome of power by playing with
maps. It`s not right and it`s not fitting of our democracy. And now for
the results of our question of the day.

Why are some Republicans upset over Sergeant Bergdahl`s release? The
response to this one was overwhelming, a whopping 90 percent of Politics
Nation viewers figures just another chance to criticize President Obama.
Eight percent think the GOP are worried about the threat posed by those
five released Taliban prisoners, and two percent think the GOP is angry at
Sergeant Bergdahl.

Marty says, "Obama took action and the Republicans need another Benghazi."
Jackie, "Why are they upset? Because Barack Obama brought him home, plain
and simple."

Tammy says, "They are desperate for anything to make their party relevant."

Well, thanks to all who voted. And head to our Facebook page to post your
comments. Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right
now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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