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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

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June 17, 2014

Guest: Evan Kohlmann, Wendy Weiser, Jamal Simmons, Rashema Melson

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

Tonight`s lead, to catch a terrorist. Today, President Obama announced
that special forces captured the suspected ring leader of the terror
attacks in Benghazi. Ahmed Abu Khatallah allegedly played a pivotal role
in the attacks that left four Americans dead. His capture fulfills the
promise that President Obama made to the American people the day after the


send a message to the world that when Americans are attacked, no matter how
long it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to
justice. And that`s a message I said the day after it happened. And
regardless of how long it takes, we will find you. And I want to make sure
everybody around the world hears the message clearly.


SHARPTON: Khatallah is now on his way back to the United States to face
justice in American court of law. This is a big victory for President
Obama and for the American people. But the reaction from some on the right
has been -- curious.

Check out the anchor`s reaction on FOX News after a correspondent`s report
on the president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember him telling me at that news conference,
look, it took us a long time to get bin Laden. We ended up getting him.
We are going to get these suspects as well. Well, they have gotten one
there, John.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Good news there, I guess.


SHARPTON: Good news, I guess? Is he serious? Today`s news brought out
all the conspiracy theorists. Rush Limbaugh thought the arrest was a
distraction from Iraq.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Isn`t it an amazing timely
coincidence here that they have found a militia leader of the Benghazi
attack and they have arrested him? Isn`t it amazing timing?

It`s quite obvious that this is a very timely headline given how things are
falling apart in Iraq.


SHARPTON: It`s quite obvious that Rush doesn`t know what he`s talking

One GOP senator had another distraction theory. Senator James Inhofe
said, quote, "the administration would like to say, all right, we have
apprehended someone. Isn`t that great, to deflect the attention away from
the real Benghazi problem," end of quote.

So now Benghazi is a distraction from Benghazi? These right wingers
stopped making sense a long time ago. Bu the president doesn`t let that
get in the way. He is still focused on what`s important as commander in


OBAMA: We continue to think about and pray for the families of those who
were killed during that terrible attack. There are a lot of dangers out
there and a lot of challenges and our diplomats serve with incredible
courage and valor in difficult situations. They need to know this country
has their back and will always go after anybody who goes after us.


SHARPTON: Joining me now are NBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann, MSNBC`s
Krystal Ball and former congressman Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq war vet
to serve in Congress.

Thank you all for being here tonight. This is a big development.

Patrick, what`s your take on how the right wing is responding to this

PATRICK MURPHY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Rev., it`s the same old thing. I
mean, whatever President Obama does, no matter good or bad, they are
attacking it like it`s not a good thing. And you know, the fact that Rush
Limbaugh calls it a distraction, let`s be very clear.

This is a great day for our country. We do not forget those who do harm to
Americans. We bring bad guys to justice. It may have taken ten years but
Barack Obama through the Navy SEALs brought bin Laden to justice in ten
years. Today, it took two years to bring one of the masterminds behind
Benghazi and four Americans killed especially our ambassador. So today is
a great day.

The fact that, though, that Rush Limbaugh calls this a distraction, you
know, here is a guy -- we are talking about a distraction? Here is a guy
who got four deferments from Vietnam because he had pimples on his butt.
I`m serious, Rev. That`s why he got his deferments from Vietnam from
serving. And you know, he is one of the hawks in the country rallying
people up. And he can`t even for one day say it`s a good thing for
America. It is just unbelievable.

SHARPTON: It`s almost an immediate reaction. We are talking about four
Americans were killed. We are talking about their families. And we
finally see someone being brought to justice.

And Krystal, some at FOX News, anchors at FOX News, who went way passed
that and even suggested that this capture was designed to help Hillary
Clinton during a book tour. I mean, watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have the former secretary of state who was in the
middle of a really high profile book tour. And I think convenient for her
to shift the talking points from some of the things that she has been

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s all too neat and it`s too cute. And I want to be
grateful. I always want to give the benefit of the doubt to our
authorities. But in this case, it feels too neat on the timeline.


SHARPTON: I mean, talking about going from the absurd to the bizarre,
Krystal. I mean, is there no limit to them?

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: They have lost their minds. Whether
it`s the president orchestrating this or Hillary Clinton somehow
orchestrating this, it`s so bizarre.

SHARPTON: How about a book tour?

BALL: It doesn`t make sense. There have been all kinds of conspiracy
theories about all the things that Hillary has been orchestrated to fall
her away during the book tour and before the book tour.

But you know, it really speaks to the sad fact that, a, the Republican
party cannot not even admit when something clearly good happens for the
country under President Obama`s watch. They can`t go there at all. And b,
they have really lost touch with substance and facts. And in order to
critique him, in order to be the opponents that they want to be, they have
to range into this realm of conspiracy theory. Because that`s the only way
to get there when something so clearly good has happened for the country.

SHARPTON: Evan, I mean, let`s get a sense of how serious this is. Because
I -- I think this is a big deal. Khatallah is a senior member of the
Libyan terrorist group, fought to be a ringleader, a ringleader in the
Benghazi attack. I mean, Evan, what else do we know about him?

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: This is a guy who spent most of his
life in prison in a Libyan prison. He was released shortly after Gadhafi
lost or shortly before Gadhafi lost power. And since then, he`s been a
major leader in Ansar Al-Sharia which is you named it as the major Libyan
terrorist group. This is a group that actively sending al Qaeda fighter to
fight in Algeria, in Syria, in Afghanistan, all over the place.

This guy is a very serious player. And what`s worse is that there is
evidence that he was actually on scene during the attack on Benghazi. He
was coordinating, allegedly, coordinating the attack. And when fighters
there turned to him and said what should we do now, he turned to the
embassy, allegedly, and said "flatten it." So this is someone --

SHARPTON: So let me get this right. Here is a guy that it is alleged was
on the scene giving directives that day of the attack that led to four
Americans being killed. And the people that want to investigate Benghazi
have every kind of theory of distraction rather than deal with the possible
ringleader of what caused this horrific act.

KOHLMANN: It goes beyond that. Because at one point, he actually left the
consulate. It is believed he went back to Ansar al-Sharia headquarters and
then begin planning the second phase of this which would the shelling of
the CIA annex.

This is a guy who it is believed, at least the U.S. justice department,
played a significant role in this. This is not a new indictment. This is
not a new chase. They have been looking to pull this guy in now for over a
year and a half. The opportunity came up. They took it. This is the
danger to the United States. This person hates the United States, hates
U.S. government.

SHARPTON: And they went in Libya and took him. They went in and got him.

You know, Congressman, two months ago Republican congressman Mike Rogers
criticized President Obama on this. He said, quote, "we have numerous
people that we know participated in the Benghazi attacks affiliated with al
Qaeda that are still on the battlefield. We have the capacity to get them,
but there is no planning to get them."

And he blamed it on, quote, "this administration`s more kinder, gentler
approach to terrorism." But today the same congressman, Congressman
Rogers, turned around and said this about the capture.


important thing to send that message to terrorists wherever you are that
the United States will not tolerate the deaths of Americans, attacking
Americans wherever you are. We`ll get you. And we`ll bring you to
justice. Those are important messages, a little long overdue. I`m very
happy for the folks who put the operation together. Well done.


SHARPTON: Now, he was happy for the folks that put it together. They were
putting it together when he was talking about the kinder, gentler Obama
administration. This was being planned then, Congressman.

MURPHY: Reverend, I serve with Congressman Rogers in the intelligence
committee. He`s a former FBI agent and army officer. You know, he
obviously didn`t get the memo that bin Laden was killed and brought to
justice. There was nothing kind or gentle when you send in the navy SEALS
in and that`s what President Obama ordered and then happened because of the
heroic efforts of those Navy SEALS.

And in this case, I mean, some of these arguments from the right, what you
see, what you played earlier, it`s almost un-American why you can`t cheer
for one of the biggest terrorists that killed four Americans is beyond me
and frankly, is why most Americans are dumbfounded by the response.

SHARPTON: I have to ask this, Krystal, because that`s what this is about.
But Senator Lindsey Graham doesn`t want the military to turned this
terrorist over to the courts just yet. He says, quote, "don`t torture him,
but have some quality time with him."

Now, help me out here. Quality time, is that the new version of enhanced

BALL: Yes. I noticed that same thing. Senator Kelly Ayotte had similar
language about making sure that we get all the information from him
possible. I`m having flashbacks to some of the debates that I thought we
put behind us. John McCain, of course, also and others calling for him to
go to Guantanamo Bay instead of having faith in our American criminal
justice system where we have very successfully tried and convicted, I
think, 500 terrorists since 9/11.

So, it is a flashback. I think they are bringing these things up to incite
their base, to again ignite debates that put President Obama on his heels
rather than celebrating the victory that they themselves have been calling

SHARPTON: It`s very interesting. At one level they say it`s a
distraction. Another level they want to guide how they spend quality time.

But tell us about the interrogation, Evan. What kind of interrogation?
What will happen?

KOHLMANN: Look. It is important to understand that the first thing that
most likely happened to this individual was he was taken from Libya and he
was put on a U.S. military vessel, likely somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Now, it`s not hard to figure out what happened next. Most likely the first
person to talk to him aside from maybe a doctor were military interrogators
who don`t have to worry about Miranda rights because they are not
prosecuting him in court.

When the FBI agents take custody of someone, presumably at that point, we
have reached the phase where there isn`t any more actionable intelligence
that can been taken from this person. That would reach the faith, that it
is time to put this person through the judicial process. And any
information that they disclose, we want to make sure we can enter that as
evidence in court. But that`s after military interrogators should always
spoken to him. That after we should have gotten any intelligence that
would save American lives in the near future. So that is not -- it`s a
kind of red herring argument. That`s really not how it works.

SHARPTON: All right, I am going to have to leave there. Big, big, big

Evan, Krystal and Patrick, thank you for joining me tonight.

BALL: Thanks for having us, Rev.

SHARPTON: And be sure to watch Krystal on "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00
p.m. eastern right her on MSNBC.

Coming up, the Benghazi obsession. We`ll show you why a right wing panel
wasn`t really serious in looking for answers.

Plus, President Obama`s election was a start and so is what Republican-led
states are doing since that night. You will want to see a new report on
voter suppression.

And the Mississippi Senate race takes another troubling turn. We`ll tell
you about the KKK ties to Chris McDaniel. Please stay with us.


SHARPTON: Our facebook community has been active all day since we seen
this great reaction to a story we brought you last night about Victoria
Wilcher. She is the Mississippi 3-year-old whose face was disfigured by a
dog attack during a recent visit to a KFC. An employer allegedly told her
on that visit and her grandmother to leave because she was upsetting
customers. Her family was outraged asking on facebook, "does this face
look scary to you"?

William says, no, she is a cutie.

And Joyce says, just shows the heartless attitudes out there. Praying for
this baby`s healing.

To add your comment, please head to our facebook page now. And tell us
what you think about this issue or any other on your mind.


SHARPTON: Want an idea of how far the Republican party has moved? Just
look at the Heritage Foundation. Once a respected conservative think tank
it`s developed into a home for conspiracy theories and personal attacks on
the president. And that couldn`t have been made clearer than at a panel
held yesterday on Benghazi.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did our leadership, our government, President
Obama, our secretary of state Hillary Clinton at the time, sit back the
night of the attack?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the president of the United States ordered the
military to do everything in their power to respond, why wasn`t one rifle

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The policy of engaging, legit mating, funding, and in
some cases arming jihadists under this administration. We have had people
with identifiable associations, some of them quite extensive to the Muslim


SHARPTON: It`s like the greatest hits of a far right Web site. Things
took on ugly turn after a Muslim American woman asked a question.


SABA AHMED, LAW STUDENT: My name is Saba Ahmed. I`m a law student at
American University. I`m here to ask you a simple question. I know that
we portray Islam and all Muslims as bad. But there is 1.8 billion Muslim
followers of Islam. We have eight million plus Muslim-Americans in this
country. And I don`t see them represented here. But my question is how
can we fight an ideological war with weapons?


SHARPTON: Seems like a reasonable question. Just listen to part of one
panelist`s response.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you look throughout history, when you look at
all the lessons of history, most Germans were peaceful. Yet the Nazis
drove the agenda. And as a result are, 60 million people died. Almost 14
million in concentration camps. Six million were Jews. The peaceful
majority were irrelevant.

On September 11th in the United States, we had 2.3 million Arab-Muslims
living in the United States. It took 19 hijackers, 19 radicals to bring
America to its knees, destroy the world trade center, attack the Pentagon
and kill almost 3,000 Americans that day. The peaceful majority were

So for all our powers of reasons and us talking about moderate and peaceful
Muslims, I`m glad you`re here. But where are the others speaking out? And
since you are the only Muslim representative --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And since you are the only Muslim representative
here, you took the limelight instead of speaking about why our government
and I assume -- are you an American? You are an American citizen.

So as an American citizen you sat in this room and instead of standing up
and saying a question or asking something about our four Americans that
died and what our government is doing to correct the problem, you stood
there to make a point about peaceful moderate Muslims. I wish you brought
ten with you to question how we can hold our government responsible.

It is time we take political correctness and throw it in the garbage where
it belongs and start calling a spade a spade.



SHARPTON: Bringing in Nazi Germany? And going after a woman who asked a
question because she didn`t bring more Muslims to the event? Here is how
the questioner responded.


AHMED: As a peaceful American-Muslim, I would like to think I`m not that

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement

AHMED: I guess that`s me right now, sir. Thank you.


SHARPTON: This panel was built as a serious event. But that`s only
because all these right wing panelists seemed to be interested in were
cheap attacks and punch lines.

Joining me now is "the Washington Post" Dana Milbank who attended that
event and wrote a column about it. Heritage ugly Benghazi panel, was the
name of the column.

First, Dana, some have said you overstated the ugly tone in the room toward
the Muslim questioner. What`s your response to that?

certainly, a lot of the folks on the far right take issue with the column,
whether they were there or not. There was one fellow at "Politico" who
said he had a different view, although he didn`t attend the event. And he
based it on a nine-minute video clip out of the 65 minutes that were there.

But I think to be in the room, there is no doubt that it began as a
Benghazi event and devolved into this sort of Muslim baiting, gradually
over the entire thing. And I think you had to see the shouts and taunts in
the crowd to appreciate what they had done to this woman there. So, I
think it`s a lesson on needing to be in the room to experience that.

SHARPTON: Now, another -- one of the panelists implied the Obama
administration wasn`t pursuing those responsible for the Benghazi attack.
I want to play that sound.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we know, when we absolutely know with certainty
who killed our people and who was responsible for directing attacks on the
sovereign territory of our mission abroad in Benghazi we bring them to
justice. We don`t let them go free sipping frappes with journalists in
juice bars 18 and 20 plus months after the attack.


SHARPTON: What`s your reaction to that, Dana?

MILBANK: Well, in fact, he had already been captured by then as we have
now learned. And I can guarantee you wherever he`s being taken tonight, he
is not. And whatever he`s doing he`s not sipping frappes in a juice bar.
That was one of the --

SHARPTON: I might say as point of information, they are referring to a
"New York Times" story. And I believe they were sipping frappes when they
were interviewing, ironically the guy that was captured -- the interview
happened some time ago. But ironically it was the same guy that`s now been

MILBANK: Exactly. He`s no longer on a frappe diet. So, I think that was
one of the few legitimate things that could said about Benghazi. Why
didn`t we get the guy? OK. Well, they got the guy, at least a very
significant part of that. So, what do you do know? Where do you take the
complains? And fortunately, I have seen what I saw there yesterday was
they moved beyond the facts of Benghazi and what happened in 2012. And it
became a lot more about the danger posed by Muslims.

SHARPTON: Now, some on the right have said that this wasn`t a heritage
event. It was just in their space. But on their Web site, they said they
were cosponsoring the panel. So, what do you, Dana, make of that argument?

MILBANK: Well, Heritage foundation itself said it wasn`t the sponsor.
That is interesting. I think this shows why it is important to actually
show up at these events. Because I did. And the program they handed out,
Reverend, said that Benghazi accountability coalition and the heritage
foundation cordially invite you to a symposium. And there it is.

SHARPTON: So, that`s the program that handed out at the actual event?

MILBANK: At the actual event with the actual heritage logo on it. And the
forum that I wrote about was introduced by the head of lectures for the
heritage foundation. It was a heritage event.

SHARPTON: Now, let`s look at who these Benghazi panelists really were.
One panelist was Frank Gaffney. In the past, he questioned President
Obama`s citizenship, he claimed the president is a Muslim, and he suggested
a top aide to Hillary Clinton is connected to the Muslim brotherhood.

Another panelist was Bridget Gabriel, the southern poverty law center has
labeled Gabriel part of an anti-Muslim inner circle. She also claims
radicals have infiltrated the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, and state department.
These were among the panelists.

MILBANK: Right. If you had these people by themselves individually, they
would be dismissed. People wouldn`t be paying attention to it. But they
are being assembled by the heritage foundation which until very recently
was taken seriously in Washington as this powerful conservative think tank.
I think under Jim DeMint, the former senator, it is more of an activist
organization without a lot of thinking going on there.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank, thanks for your time.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, we have seen the long lines and talked about voting
rights under attack. Today a new report shows what happened after
President Obama won in 2008.

And from homeless shelter to Georgetown University, the valedictorian who
beat the odds is ahead. Please stay with us.


SHARPTON: It was an historic moment. President Obama`s victory in 2008.
But almost right away Republicans started to pass laws, suppressing voting
rights. The President has talked about the voting fight this year.


OBAMA: America did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to
gain the right to vote for themselves and for others only to see it denied
to their kids and grandchildren. We`ve got to pay attention to this.


SHARPTON: Yes, we`ve got to pay attention to this, especially when you see
a stunning new report about voting rights under assault. That`s next.



OBAMA: It`s been a long time coming. But tonight, because of what we did
on this day in this election at this defining moment, change has come to


SHARPTON: Then President-elect Barack Obama on November 4, 2008. It was a
historic day. The nation`s first African-American president swept into
office by the most racially diverse electorate in American history.
African-Americans and Hispanics went to the polls in record numbers.
Sometimes waiting hours to exercise their right to vote. Today that right
is under attack. A new report on voting drives, the point home including
disturbing details about what happened to voting rights since that 2008

Here are the 11 states where African-American turnout was highest in that
election. Since then, seven have put new voting restrictions in place.
It`s part of an onslaught that brought new restrictions to 22 states since
2010, nearly half the country. Republican legislatures control 18 of these
states. They say it`s all about preventing voter fraud.


GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We have loopholes in the voting law
which is frankly allow people to vote once, twice or even more. We have to
make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure there isn`t voter

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Americans have a sacred right to vote. It`s
not right that it would be diluted by a noncitizen.

GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: Voter impersonation and inaccurate
inflated voter rolls obviously is a concern.


Three GOP governors from North Carolina, Florida and Mississippi all
pushing the same myth. In North Carolina in 2012, voter fraud was alleged
.00174 percent of the time. In Florida between 2000 and 2012, the rate of
alleged fraud was .0005 percent. And out of all the votes cost in
Mississippi since 2000, .00006 percent have led to fraud convictions.
Voter fraud is a flat out myth. The laws are a solution to a problem that
simply does not exist. And we can`t and won`t let them roll back our

Joining me now is Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center, she`s the lead author
of that new report the state of voting in 2014. And democratic strategist
Jamal Simmons. Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: Wendy, your report found seven states where African-American
turnout was highest in 2008 are rolling back voting rights. What was your
analysis of why this is happening?

WEISER: You know, we have seen starting in 2010, a real significant move
in states across the country to cut back on voting rights and race is been
a significant factor explaining where and why that happens. And our report
documented that there have been other studies that have shown that the
greater -- the increase in turnout in African-Americans voting the more
likely a state is to pass or introduce laws cutting back on voting. We
also see and our report found this as well. The higher the increase in
Hispanic population growth, the more likely the state is to cut back on

SHARPTON: And none of the states have any high percentage. Not even one
percent of alleged voter fraud.

WEISER: Now absolutely. And these laws are absolutely not targeting voter
fraud. Nobody is for voter fraud.


WEISER: We have good systems in place to protect against voter fraud.
What these laws and what the courts are finding is these laws don`t protect
against voter fraud, they just cut back on voting. Hundreds of thousands.

SHARPTON: Jamal, this is some pretty rough stuff. I mean, 50 states were
partially or wholly covered by section five of the voting rights act.
Since the Supreme Court gutted the law last year, nine of the states have
imposed new voting restrictions. I mean, this is just one year. What`s
going to happen in the next year and beyond? Is this fight only going to
get more intense, Jamal?

SIMMONS: Well, it is going to get intense. Because what conservatives --
let`s be real here. This is really being led by Republicans and
conservatives in these states that are trying to hold back the rising
population of African-Americans and Latinos who are coming into the voting
booth and who are picking people who represent their interests. And so,
instead of trying to compete for those votes, they decided to try the
short-term strategy of shutting those votes down to keep those people from
being able to exercise their will in an effective way. But here is the
problem with that. Forty three percent of people under the age of 30 are
not right.


SIMMONS: And a lot of people who are right who are under the age of 30
actually agree with the same values of that larger 43 percent. That`s a
short-term strategy that`s going to lead to a long-term destruction for
these conservatives if they don`t figure out how to compete for these

SHARPTON: Interesting, Wendy. Because the report looked at the 12 states
with the highest Hispanic population growth between 2000 and 2010. You
alluded to that. Nine of them have imposed new voting restrictions. I
mean, is this a political strategy to disenfranchise a key voting

WEISER: You know, we are less concerned about why this is happening, then
how this is happening and who this is impacting. And it`s very clear that,
you know, this is a, you know, the evidence is very clear that it is
motivated by discriminatory purposes and who is impacting is African-
Americans, Latinos, young voters, older voters, veterans. These are the
people that they are disproportionately affected by these laws. And we are
seeing this, you know, in the courts being a significant factor in the
push-back against these laws.

SHARPTON: What really really bothers me, Jamal, is in 2012 when they
started in a lot of states, as you know I toured the states. I watched
people standing in line for hours. And as I was in Florida with Bishop
Curry, in Ohio and other places, watching the lines. At the same time we
are preaching democracy around the world while we are standing up with
bogus state laws, making people suffer to exercise their right to vote. I
mean, this is outrageous to me, Jamal.

SIMMONS: Absolutely. In fact, if they want to go to fair voting, fair
voting would be getting a proper number of voting machines inside districts
where you know there will be a large turnout on Election Day. And instead
of that, you have very few voting machines and his long lines, and you end
up with poll workers who aren`t the best trained and can`t help people get
through it. And in fact, I`ve been in politics for a long time, I remember
being in states when there were stories of sheriffs sitting outside a
polling places holding shotguns as African-Americans were on their way in
and go vote, trying to scare people away from going in. There`s always
been this kind of undercurrent of intimidation and restriction that has
kept people from being able to exercise the franchise.

SHARPTON: You know, Wendy, 93-year-old Rosanell Eaton faced a literacy
test when she voted over half a century ago. I recently talked with her
about her fight against North Carolina`s new voting laws. Listen to this.


ROSANELL EATON, DENIED RIGHT TO VOTE: I can`t imagine that I`ve got to go
through the same thing that I went through 80 years ago. At least 75 as a
child. And I started with my intention to carry through. And that`s why
I`m out here today fighting for our rights. Because it`s not right the way
they are treating us. And trying to just make a dish out of us.


SHARPTON: I mean, Wendy, did these voter suppression efforts backfire when
these kinds of stories become public and immobilizes voters?

WEISER: Absolutely. People are pushing back. There is a lot of anger at
these new voting restrictions that are being put in place. We are actually
seeing voters show up at the ballot box. Not just waiting in line for, you
know, five, seven hours to vote. But voting against new voting
restrictions when they are put forward at the ballot box. This is, you
know, something that we think will have a significant backfiring effect.
You know, against courts are also pushing back. And that`s a real
significant silver lining here. The courts had actually then ruling in
favor of voters here. And that`s what we hope there will be more
improvement before the 2014 election.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to be on this. I`m going on tour around all
over the country, particularly these states this summer and we`re going to
really show this all over the country as we tour with civil rights groups
around this country. Freedom summer 2014.

Jamal Simmons and Wendy Weiser, thank you both for your time tonight.

WEISER: Thank you.

SIMMONS: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up -- Mississippi Senate race takes another weird turn.
We`ll tell you about a Ku Klux Klan connection revealed today.

But first, the uplifting story of hope and never giving up. How this
amazing teenager went from homeless to Georgetown University. You will
meet her next.


SHARPTON: High school is a trying time for almost any teenager. But for
teens who don`t have a home to call their own, it`s even more difficult.
That`s what makes Rashema Melson`s story so inspirational. Her father was
killed when she was just seven-months-old. For years she and her family
bounced from apartment to apartment, from state to state. And for the last
two years, she`s lived at the Washington, D.C. general homeless shelter.
In a single room with her mother and two brothers. It`s a hard life to
imagine for any child. But Rashema beat the odds. Last Wednesday, she
graduated first in her class from D.C. Anacostia High School and delivered
her class valedictorian`s speech.


I have learned that time doesn`t wait, pity or adjust for or to anyone and
life is not fair. Life is not fair. But despite that harsh reality you
must keep striving for success through the pain, tears, and feelings of
lost hope.


SHARPTON: That`s what Rashema did to get through four years of high
school. And this fall, she will finally have a place to call home when she
attends Georgetown University on a full scholarship.

Joining me now is Rashema Melson. Rashema, thank you for being here. And
congratulations on your graduation last week.

MELSON: No problem. And thank you so much.

SHARPTON: How does it feel to have graduated first in your class?

MELSON: I just feel that I set an example for everyone else. I just
always know that I want to do good. Regardless of where that puts me at,
number one, number five, I`m just happy that I did it and graduated.

SHARPTON: You know, give me a sense of what it`s like living in a shelter
for the past two years. It`s four of you in one room.

MELSON: Sometimes it`s irritating. It`s frustrating. You know. Because
we don`t have our own privacy so sometimes we take out anger on each other.
But then at the end of the day you have to realize that and put the
situation together with your family and it makes you can come together even
stronger than before. Yes, it`s hard. But you know, if you have faith and
you know that this is not where you will be for the rest are of your life.
You can do it and you can always get out of it.

SHARPTON: Wow. You know, some of us -- I and others feel that -- but how
did you managed all your studying and getting your homework done living in
a shelter?

MELSON: I was very dedicated. I knew that it was the only way out. And I
knew that if I didn`t do it, it wouldn`t get done. So, I buckled down and
I did what I had to do.

SHARPTON: I know you strived to make all A`s in high school. What`s
driving you to work so hard? What is it that`s driving you?

MELSON: Number one, my family. I just want to do better for them and
myself as well. Two, I want to be successful. And three, I feel like
you`re nothing without education or you`re nothing without a background.
When you fall, what you have to set up on, you have to build a foundation
to better yourself. So, education is my foundation and base.

SHARPTON: You know, you gave your classmates a little advice in your
speech last week. I want to play a clip. Watch this.


MELSON: I started to give up. But God gave me a sign that he wasn`t
putting me through this to punish me but to show others how to be resilient
and persistent with the goals of life. If we keep striving and don`t let
anyone knock us off our path or deter us from our goals we can do anything
we put our mind to, no matter what. Resilience, perseverance, discipline,
determination and dedication is the key to your success. Each step we take
is paved with possibilities. Now go unlock the door to see your future.



SHARPTON: How have you managed to keep so positive despite the hardships
that you have had to endure?

MELSON: I have learned that misery loves company. And you have a
conscience. And when you`re feeling down it`s so easy to be bloomy, so
easy to feel like, oh, I can`t do this. It`s too easy to fall in the dark.
And you know, I feel like, you need to work hard, get up, stay positive.
And that`s how I did it. I was always optimistic. I never let anything
bring me down. I will fall but I will always get up, I always persevere no
matter what.

SHARPTON: You`re going to have to leave where you are. You will going to
have a new home at Georgetown. How hard will it be to leave your mother
and your brothers at that shelter?

MELSON: That is the thing that I have been thinking about. Sometimes I
beat myself up over it, you know, saying, you know, I can`t do nothing
personally about the fact that they will still be there and that I`m
leaving. Sometimes I look at it as being selfish. But I say, if I better
myself and if I do good and I can come back and pull them up along with me
and other people as well. So, I`m bothered by it but I`m not much worried
because I know that by me being doing great, it will help them be great as
well and set a good example for my little brother.

SHARPTON: Tell us about your aspirations. What do you plan on studying?
What careers are you interested in?

MELSON: I plan to study biology. I want to go premed and I want to become
a forensic pathologist.

SHARPTON: What advice do you have for other kids or people that maybe
older than kids that`s watching tonight that have faced a rough ride in

MELSON: I just say there is nothing that you can`t do in life. And there
is always a way, no matter how hard it is. And I feel like, the harder you
work, the better the outcome would be, the better the reward would be. So,
work for it and do your best.

SHARPTON: Rashema Melson, I really thank you for your time tonight. And
again, congratulations on all your hard work

MELSON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the Mississippi Senate showdown. Why is a former
Klan member donating hundreds to Chris McDaniel? Stay with us.


SHARPTON: The GOP is taking nutty to a new level. Republicans have
already started campaigning against Hillary Clinton. And they`ve got a new
mascot to help. Meet the RNC squirrel. Because, as his t-shirt says,
another Clinton in the White House is nuts. He`s been showing up at
Hillary`s book signings. And he has his own twitter account. He`s even
the star of a brand new ad. This squirrel sure is a tough nut to the
crack. But I feel like I have seen him before. I seem to remember the
orange costume. Oh, yes, we have. It`s the ACORN squirrel. He`s back.

The RNC used the exact same costume in 2008 to attack Barack Obama for a
bogus ACORN scandal. Here`s the crack-up. This is the GOP in a nutshell.
They are recycling costumes like they are re cycling talking points. Do
the Republicans think we won`t notice they are being nutty obsessors? Nice
try. But here is a new costume for you. We`ve gotcha.


SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the Mississippi showdown between republican
senator Thad Cochran and Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel just got a
little weirder. First, there was the blogger arrested for sneaking into a
nursing home. Then a campaign staffer for McDaniel was found locked in a
courthouse. Now a Mississippi attorney and former Ku Klux Klan member says
he donated $800 to McDaniel.

The Daily Beast broke the story today revealing call for his Klan past and
how he represented an imperial wizard of the white knights of the Ku Klux
Klan who died in prison after being convicted of the murder of civil rights
activist Vernon Dahmer. This isn`t McDaniel`s only brush with neo
confederates. Last year, he spoke to a gathering of the sons of the
confederate veterans. This is why we must watch this one closely.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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