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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

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Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: January 6, 2015
Guest: Angela Rye; Ed Rendell, Faith Jenkins, Karen Desoto, Tara Dowdell,
Chris Witherspoon, Alyona Minkovski

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

Tonight`s lead, Republicans` disarray in Congress. It was supposed to be a
triumphant day for the GOP, their big takeover of Congress. Instead,
Speaker Boehner faced the kind of revolt we haven`t seen in over a century.
One after another, tea partiers is rising to nominate their right wing
colleagues to take Boehner`s job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I placed in the nomination in the name of
Daniel Webster, a congressman from the great state of Florida.

REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE (R), OKLAHOMA: The name of judge Louie Gohmert, a
representative from the great state of Texas.

REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), KENTUCKY: The name of the honorable Ted Yoho.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Speaker Boehner kept his post, but only after losing the support
of 25 Republicans. No speaker has seen over 20 defections since this guy
in 1923. That`s how rare it is to see what we saw today.

And despite retaining the gavel, the problems for speaker Boehner weren`t
over. Starting with the congressman in charge of counting the votes, house
whip Steve Scalise. There he is. After the Boehner vote, today Scalise
came under more pressure for speaking at a white supremacist event in 2002.

Civil rights hero Congressman John Lewis called on Scalise to apologize.
And there`s even pushback from within his own party with "Politico" quoting
that Scalise may be quote "toxic in some GOP circles.

So on day one of the new Congress, the GOP is on the defensive. And
President Obama is throwing down the gauntlet. Today, the White House said
it would veto the first bill the GOP Senate is planning to pass, the
keystone pipeline.

And the president called on Congress to work with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m confident that there are
going to be areas where we disagree and there will be some battles, but I`m
also confident that there are enormous areas of potential agreement that
would deliver to the American people. And we just have to make sure that
we focus on those areas where we can make significant progress together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But in 2015, can speaker Boehner work with the president? Even
if he can`t even count on Republicans to work with him?

Joining me now is MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt and political
strategist Angela Rye. Thank you both for being here.

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Rev.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: So Kasie, Speaker Boehner has seen the worst revolt yet from the
tea party and new pressure on Scalise. Is this how day one was supposed to
go?

HUNT: There`s no question that Republicans are starting this out on a note
that they didn`t really want to begin with. And this is, as you say, a
bigger revolt than we`ve seen. But I do think it`s important to note that
this coalition of the aggrieved, if you will, that`s how one Republican put
it to me privately, was not a unified front by any stretch. All these
members sort of come from different wings of the conservative side of the
Republican party, if you will. You had some libertarians. You had a
handful of long-time members. You had mostly new members.

And you know, many of these members haven`t actually been in Washington
during the time when there was a Republican president. So they`ve only
known divided government with a democrat in the White House. And that
really colors how they`ve spent their years here.

They have been fighting primarily against their speaker and the challenge
for house speaker John Boehner and also for majority leader Mitch McConnell
in the Senate is going to be to show these members what it could be like
with a Republican president and to make sure that they`re setting up in
their view a governing agenda that paves away for them to put a Republican
in the White House.

Now, there are a lot of questions about whether or not they`re able to do
it. And I think we got a taste of what it might be like today.

SHARPTON: It`s an uphill battle. But, you know, Angela, the news about
Scalise has actually put David Duke back in the public eye. And he insists
the group where Scalise spoke was a quote "civil rights organization."
Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVD DUKE, AMERICAN WHITE NATIONALIST: I`ve never supported white soup
supremacist and got to read about the paper. This wasn`t a hate group. In
fact, the European American unity and rights organization was an
organization and its charter dedicated to true civil rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, he never supported white supremacists, but he was a member
of the KKK, Angela. You know, with these kind of clips in the news,
doesn`t Scalise need to explain himself further at the GOP press conference
they`re holding tomorrow?

RYE: I think he absolutely has got to explain himself. The statement put
out by his press person is certainly not enough. The fact that he called
himself David Duke without the baggage when in fact David Duke`s very name
is the baggage, is problem enough. That is not a brand that Steve Scalise
himself, nor the Republican party, and especially not the Republican
leadership can afford at all to be associated with.

It`s a huge problem, and I think that at some point, if it doesn`t or when
it comes to fund-raising dollars, when it comes to whether or not they`re
able to gin up their base and who are broaden their base, it`s going to
have to be addressed as soon as he becomes more of a threat to this own
party and the leadership.

SHARPTON: Kasie, let me ask you a factual question. The Scalise
controversy also is putting the spotlight back on diversity in Congress.
Now the new Congress is 80 percent male, 80 percent white, 92 percent
Christian, and that makes it the most diverse Congress in history. They`re
bragging about that. Does this speak to the disconnect between Congress
and the American people that they`re supposed to represent.

HUNT: It does represent, I think, the pace at which things change here on
the hill. And I think if you talk to anyone who is advocating for more
representation from African-Americans, more representation from women,
they`d all say that, you know what, this is not good enough. But on the
other hand, they are showing they are making progress. I think from many
of the women members in particular, you did see some women lose, and
democratic women are talking about the fact that Republicans have fewer
women now. But on the whole, women members have been making progress.

SHARPTON: Now, Angela, the GOP House is vowing to vote on the president`s
healthcare laws this week, changing the definition of a full-time worker.
"Mother Jones" reports the change would force 1.5 million Americans to lose
insurance. Is that really how you show America that you`re governing
responsibly?

RYE: Well, you have to remember, Rev., that these folks aren`t about
demonstrating anything to America, writ-large. They`re about pleasing
their base, most of which are in their very gerrymandered congressional
districts. So a lot of them, to Kasie`s point, I know she said that many
of the members who voted in opposition of speaker Boehner today, are those
same members who came in after President Obama won.

So they are the tea party, let`s take our country back members. These are
the folks who thrive off of opposition politics and the folks who came in
saying they`re not only going to protest President Obama but also the
speaker. So these folks aren`t trying to deliver much. Speaker Boehner is
trying to keep them in line. And I think sooner or later, he`s going to
realize he is going to needs the Democrats a little bit more than he
thought.

SHARPTON: OK, Kasie, we have day one of the new GOP Congress and already
two big veto threats from the president. The keystone pipeline and that
change on how the affordable care act defines the workweek. That`s the
take-away from the day, not exactly a unified let`s Kumbaya moment.

HUNT: I don`t think after all the discussions from Republicans won about,
you know, how this would usher in a new era of cooperation. I think that
people on both sides of the aisle recognize that that wasn`t how this was
necessarily going to start. I think, you know, Republicans are being
pretty confrontational, at least with the health care changes in
particular. I mean, Keystone is something where there are many Democrats
who actually are going to back it. Then they do have 60 votes for it in
the new Senate and that includes a number of Democrats.

But, you know, this is not necessarily going to be a Kumbaya moment for
both sides. We`re heading into a 2016 presidential election. That is
going to start to set the context for everything that`s happening up here.
And that by nature is going to set, first Republicans against Republicans
as they fight out the primary. But also Republicans against Democrats in
the same mold that we`ve been seeing for the past six years.

SHARPTON: Angela, these veto threats by the president on keystone and on
those rearrangements with the affordable care act, if they happen, how
contentious can that be, will that be, or do you think it would just be one
side versus the other like political ping-pong or do you think we`ll really
going to see some fur fly?

RYE: I don`t know about fur. What I do know is the contention will start
as soon as Mitch McConnell comes in, brings that bill to the floor, and has
to deal with that open amendment process he decided he need it, with the
members again, who were elected to protest him, the president, and so on
and so forth.

So the president doesn`t have to do much, but to just say he`ll veto the
bill. The fight won`t be there. The fight will be in both chambers of
commerce, Rev.

SHARPTON: Do you think, Kasie, as we go down the road, the challenge will
be, as I think you aptly put it, that they, they, being the Republican
leadership, show the young new members the importance of electing a
Republican to the White House and the process? But do you think the
challenge will be also, since they`re not unified, because you very
objectively pointed that out, because they didn`t even agree, 25 voted
against him, biggest we`ve seen since 1923, but they didn`t all vote for
the same speaker either. It was some for different candidates. How do you
unite insurgents that are not even united themselves?

HUNT: Well, in some ways, that makes them easier to divide and conquer, if
you will. I mean, if Boehner had a tight-knit unified opposition that
actually, you know, was able to make a pitch and say, hey, if you join us,
we might actually end up in charge, it would be a completely different
story. And you know, that`s not what you saw today.

I think the challenge for Republican leaders as they`ve laid it out in
recent interviews, Senator Mitch McConnell in particular was, is going to
be to rein in some, you know, some of the members who while they might be a
small group, are still able to force the conversation to a place that
national Republican leaders don`t want it to go. And I think you are going
to see that in places like immigration, where the interests of these very
conservative members, whether it be their districts or whether be their
personal interests and may be running in a presidential primary, somebody
like Ted Cruz, don`t converge with what Republicans view as the imperative
for winning a general election in 2016.

So the hard line against say in immigration policy versus needing to appeal
to Hispanic voters. And I think you are starting to see that play out
already. You saw that some today with Jeb Bush who came out of it, as he
announce his leadership pact, we`re not going to cede any demographic, we
are not going to see any voting group, any voters as we try to work to
appeal to these people. That`s potentially going to be very different from
what`s coming of Republican Congress unless the GOP leaders can get their
caucuses and lie.

SHARPTON: Kasie Hunt, Angela Rye, I`m going to have to leave it there.
Thank you both for your time tonight.

HUNT: Thank, you, ref.

RYE: Thank you, Reverend.

Coming up, Jeb Bush 2016. Does his potential new push for the White House
include an attack on his brother`s presidency?

Also tonight`s justice file, murder charges for a 30-year-old man accused
of killing his rich dad, because his allowance was too small.

And prison time for the man once considered one of the GOP`s rising stars.

All that, plus the amazing Biden, Joe being Joe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I look at this.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You see, he`s my saluting
guy, Charlie. Now, remember me when you`re president, OK?

All right, good boy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: If Hillary doesn`t run, is this what we`ll see on the campaign
trail? That`s ahead in "conversation nation."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Breaking news, NBC reporting that there is an active shooter
incident in progress at VA clinic in Ft. Bliss Texas. Officials say the
base is now on lockdown. Both military and civilian police are in a stand-
off with what is believed to be a lone shooter. No word yet on any
casualties. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today a big announcement from Jeb Bush. He formed a political
action committee that will let him raise money before a potential run for
president. His group is called "Right to Rise." And his mission statement
seems strangely familiar.

The group says millions of our fellow citizens across the board, middle
class, feel as if the American dream is now out of their reach. Where have
we heard that before?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The middle-class families, folks losing their homes, losing their
jobs, losing their savings. All pushing that American dream a little
further out of reach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Must be a coincidence. What else does Jeb Bush Pac say? Quote,
"the playing field is no longer fair or level." How about that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Give us a level playing field, we will not lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is getting a little weird. Jeb`s PAC also says while the
last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they`ve been a
lost decade for the rest of America. Really?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We had seen a decade in which jobs were being shipped overseas.
And wages and income of working people were going down, even though folks
at the very top were doing very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So Jeb Bush sure has a winning campaign message, but it was a
winner for Barack Obama. Now, before you think Jeb will be running as a
Democrat, remember his new Pac is called "Right to Rise," and he got that
name from this guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The American system
of freedom and free enterprise has done more to help the poor, more to give
people the right to rise in this country than any other economic system
ever designed.

Spread the right to rise in America.

Remove those barriers so people can have the right to rise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So Jeb`s platform is a dash of income inequality, with a helping
of Paul Ryan. I remember when that thing was called compassionate
conservatism.

Joining me is former Pennsylvania governor and former head of the DNC, Ed
Rendell.

Thanks for being here, Governor.

ED RENDELL (D), FORMER GOVERNOR, PENNSYLVANIA: My pleasure, Rev.

HUNT: What do you make of Jeb Bush`s message? Is he aiming for a kinder,
gentler GOP?

RENDELL: Yes, he is. And I think in terms of the general election, if Jeb
Bush were to win the Republican primaries and get the nomination, I think
he`d be definitely a dangerous candidate. He talks about -- I heard him
talk about he almost have to lose the Republican primaries to win the
general election and he`s right.

What governor Romney did, and you and I know this, Governor Romney didn`t
campaign as the governor of Massachusetts. Had he done that, he might have
won. He went so far to the right to appease Republican primary voters,
that it was impossible for him to get back and claim the center.

What Jeb Bush is trying to do with compassionate conservatism, stake out
the center, hope there are enough right-wingers in the primary, that
there`s enough vote that wants to win and understand there has to be a
compassionate conservatism, so that`s a winning formula for him not only to
get through the primaries, but to contend in the general election.

SHARPTON: Let me push on that, because you know, Jeb Bush could have a
problem with the tea party conservatives in states like Iowa and South
Carolina. And here`s what he said, you referred to is, he said recently
about the primary process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I kind much of know how a
Republican can win, whether it`s me or somebody else, and it has to be much
more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to, you know, to be
practical now in Washington world, lose the primary to win the general,
without violating your principles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Lose the primary, win the general, which you cited. But could
he survive the primary? How does he do that?

RENDELL: It`s going to be very hard, because he`s already staked out
positions on immigration, I might add, education that are very difficult
for the tea party and the radical right to swallow.

For example, common core. When I became governor, Jeb Bush was in his
second term and he led us, the governors into adopting common core,
standards for graduation. Lifting standards to make sure that American
kids who graduate from high school are prepared for college or the
workplace. It was a great idea. We all signed on, Republicans and
Democrats.

Then the tea party got on it and said, here`s Washington in trying to
dictate to the states and dictate to localities. And now it`s become
almost a poison pill to talk about common core in the Republican primaries.

I don`t think Jeb Bush can win the Republican primaries. He would be the
best candidate in terms of the general election, he be the best candidate
in terms of being president. And I hope by saying that I`ve doomed his
campaign.

SHARPTON: Now, one of the biggest issues for Jeb Bush`s candidacy,
Governor, notwithstanding that, would be his brother. Now, here`s what he
said about that back in 2013.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I don`t think there`s any Bush baggage at all. I love my brother.
I`m proud of his accomplishments. I love my dad. I`m proud to be a Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, check out what his PAC said today. Quote "while the last
eight years have been pretty good ones for the top earners, they`ve been a
lost decade for the rest of America.

But the past eight years includes part of his brother`s term. I mean, is
that an accident, or is Jeb trying to slowly create some distance from his
brother?

RENDELL: Well, I think he has to create distance from his brother, just
like whoever the democratic candidate will have to talk about the good
things that President Obama did, but differ with him on certain areas.

But I think the biggest problem for Jeb Bush and George W. Bush is going to
be foreign policy. The American people don`t want to go back to the George
W. Bush foreign policy. They have had enough of wars, they have had enough
of nation building, and that`s going to be Jeb Bush`s biggest problem in a
general election, is how to differentiate himself from the George W. Bush
foreign policy. I don`t think he can successfully. That`s going to be his
biggest hurdle.

SHARPTON: Former governor Ed Rendell, thank you for your time tonight.

RENDELL: My pleasure, Rev.

SHARPTON: We`re following breaking news, NBC news reporting that there is
an active shooter incident in progress at the VA clinic in Ft. Bliss,
Texas. Officials say the base is now on lockdown. Both military and
civilian police are in a stand-off with what is believed to be a lone
shooter. No word yet on any casualties. More on this after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Back in 2012, the right-wing had a ton of predictions about what
a second term for President Obama would look like. Let`s just say it
wasn`t all sunshine and daisies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: If this president`s re-elected, you`re going to see chronic high
unemployment for another four years or longer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gas prices will be up around $6.60 per gallon.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The country`s economy is going to
collapse if Obama is re-elected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And how many of those doom and gloom prophecies came true?
None.

Unemployment is at 5.8 percent, a six-year low. Gasoline has dropped to
$2.19 a gallon. And the stock market is booming, hitting record highs.
Guess the fortune cookies that all those Republicans were reading went a
little stale.

But there was another political fortune teller back in 2012, this guy.
David Seegel, a Florida CEO featured in a documentary about his wealth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SEEGAL, CEO: So you ask me why I`m building the largest home in
America. My answer is because I could. Everyone wants to be rich. If
they can`t be rich, the next best thing is to feel rich. And if they don`t
want to feel rich, then they`re probably dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A man of the people. Seegel made headlines back in 2012 for
threatening to fire employees if President Obama won re-election, saying
he`d be forced to because of that awful Obama economy.

But now that same CEO is giving out raises and calling it the best year in
his company`s history. David Seegel proved his own prediction wrong.

Did all these fortune tellers of the right think we wouldn`t notice their
crack in their crystal ball? Maybe they can predict this. Nice try but we
"Got You."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, "POLITICS NATION": Time now for the Justice
Files, joining me, our legal analyst and host of "Judge Faith," Faith
Jenkins. And legal analyst and professor at New Jersey City University
Karen Desoto.

We start, ladies, with the former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. He
was sentenced today to a two years prison sentence for his federal
corruption conviction. The sentence is much lower than the 10 to 12 years
prosecutors recommended. After the ruling, he said he disagreed with the
verdict and vowed to appeal it. He also said he never betrayed his oath of
office, but said he failed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: I`m a fallen human being.
I`ve made mistakes in my life. I always try to put the best interest of
the people first as governor, but I have failed at times in some of the
judgments that I`ve made during the course of my governorship have hurt
myself, my family, and my beloved people of Virginia and for that I`m
deeply, deeply sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Prosecutors wanted between 10 and 12 years, but the judge
went with two, saying he was moved by the outpouring of support for
McDonnell and his military service. His prison term is slated to start
February 9th. Faith, he gets two years. Is that fair?

FAITH JENKINS, HOST, "JUDGE FAITH": The judge looked at a number of
factors here, but I will say, his punishment is among the most lenient
we`ve seen in recent major public corruption cases. When you look at this
case, even the U.S. probation office recommended 12 years --

SHARPTON: Right.

JENKINS: -- because they looked at the fact that he didn`t take a plea
deal. He didn`t accept responsibility.

SHARPTON: Now, he went to trial.

JENKINS: He testified on the witness stand. They say he obstructed
justice and they showed at least eight different times where they believe
he committed perjury.

SHARPTON: But let me go Karen on her point about recent trials.
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, 14 years. Former U.S.
Congressman William Jefferson, 13 years. Former Alabama Governor Don
Siegelman, six years. Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, two years.
Why the difference?

KAREN DESOTO, NEW JERSEY CITY UNIVERSITY: Well, I mean, the
difference is because the judge decided to deviate from the standard
practice and sentencing rules. His reasons for that he stated, but it is,
it`s very odd that --

SHARPTON: Obviously, it`s not apples to apples, but it does seem like
a big difference.

DESOTO: When you practice federal law, you know that when you do go
to trial, that you`re taking a risk because they`re so harsh with the
sentencing and also because your client is going to be doing serious time.
You know, they don`t give you good time like they do in state court. So
it`s a very serious matter and they`re very rigid. So to get two years
under these circumstances is very surprising.

SHARPTON: Faith, listen to what one of his attorneys said about the
prison term.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY ASBILL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We hope he never goes to prison. If
he gets bond pending appeal, he will not have to go to prison if we win the
appeal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How realistic is that? Can he get out of this? Is there a
potential for a strong appeal here for what you`ve seen?

JENKINS: Well, they are going to appeal based on what the attorney
said today and I think they`re going to challenge the constitutionality of
the statutes under which he was convicted of. I don`t think it`s likely
that you`ll going to see a reversal here on appeal. I think that his
attorneys are probably ecstatic that this judge sentenced him to two years
given the prosecutors asked for 10, the U.S. department of probation asked
for 12. And you asked for no jail time at all and for him to do community
service. I mean, if you look at the precedent of other governors and other
public officials who have been sentenced, they don`t get community service.
So they knew that he was facing some years here.

SHARPTON: But Karen, can he win an appeal? I mean, is there
constitutional questions here?

DESOTO: Here`s the problem with appeals. I`ve done appeals for a
very long time. And what I can tell you is that I have gotten cases back
that I was surprised that I did so well. And other cases that I was
surprised that they didn`t listen to me. So, you know, you`re taking, you
have a 50/50 shot. Obviously on appeals, when you`re doing an appeal, odds
are 90 percent of the time you`re going to lose. There`s always that
little --

SHARPTON: Ninety?

DESOTO: Not more than 90 percent of the time when you do an appeal,
you are going to lose. So it is very rare, indeed, that you will win on
appeal. And most appellate attorneys will tell you just that, you are
probably not going to win. If you do, you win on things like jury charges
or certain instructions that were given to the jury, not the type of things
that you would normally consider to be appealable issues.

SHARPTON: All right, now to a 30-year-old Princeton grad, one of
Manhattan`s elite, accused of murdering his father over his allowance.
Thomas Gilbert Jr. is accused of shooting and killing his father and making
his death look like a suicide. He`s in jail right now and is expected to
be in court Friday. Gilbert`s father started a multimillion dollar hedge
fund. Officers say he and his son argued about his allowance a few days
ago. His dad paid his $2400 rent each month and gave his son an allowance
of $600 a week, but he reportedly wanted to cut that to $400 a week. And
that allegedly sent his son off. Police say on Sunday he showed up at his
parents` luxury apartment and asked his mother to go to get him some food.
Fifteen minutes later she came home to find her husband dead. Where is
this case going? Ever heard of a case like this before?

DESOTO: Well, I`ve had heard of many cases like this, and I`ve had
clients like this. The unusual part is that he`s very handsome and very
wealthy and therefore very privileged. Of course mental illness is not
towards socio-economic. And my guess would be you just don`t kill your
parents. I`m sure that there`s history there. I know that there`s been a
lot of alleged reports that he may be mentally ill. That there was an
order protection in other case. So, there might be some --

SHARPTON: So that mental illness is the basis of this?

JENKINS: Well, you can bet that his attorneys are already looking at
that as a defense in this case. He was arraigned on second-degree murder
charges. I actually think that you probably in a first-degree murder case
here based on the facts that we`ve seen. It appears that this was a
premeditated act if most of the allegations are true. Listen, it`s
outrageous. He`s 30-years-old --

DESOTO: Affluenza, like the rich child.

(CROSSTALK)

I mean, you`re 30 years old, you`re a Princeton graduate and you`re
receiving an allowance. Clearly there are some issues there.

SHARPTON: And you`re getting it cut.

JENKINS: And then, you know, he`s angry because -- he`s not working.
He had a girlfriend and she said that he was basically a loner. For four
months she dated him. He received one phone call who was maybe from his
mother. Clearly there are some issues there.

SHARPTON: Yes. There are issues there. We`ll have to follow this
one. Faith Jenkins and Karen Desoto, thank you for your time tonight.

DESOTO: Sure.

JENKINS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama`s challenge to the GOP on day
one of the new Congress. Also, the Biden effect. He broke twitter today
while swearing in senators on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (D), UNITED STATES: Hey, man, good to see you
up.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s his birthday today.

BIDEN: Well, happy birthday, man. You got some killer eyes. Those
girls are in trouble.

I need a hug, man. Come on. I need a hug. God love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And why is Sarah Palin going on national television to talk
about President Obama eating dog meat? It`s all ahead in "Conversation
Nation."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight,
democratic strategist Tara Dowdell, The Grio`s Chris Witherspoon and
HuffPost Live host Alyona Minkovski. Thank you all for being here.

TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you.

CHRIS WITHERSPOON, THE GRIO: Thank you.

ALYONA MINKOVSKI, HUFFPOST LIVE HOST: Thank you.

SHARPTON: First up, day one of the 114th Congress and a chance for
new beginnings. President Obama says, he wants to work together with
republicans but he also threw down the gauntlet, vowing to veto the
Keystone Pipeline and a bill aimed at limiting the Affordable Care Act.
He`s also pushing ahead with executive action. Tara, it sounds like the
President is not being swayed by this republican Congress. Is this a
winning strategy?

DOWDELL: It is absolutely a winning strategy because people want to
see the President stand his ground. And that`s what he`s been doing. And
we`ve actually seen his poll numbers go up. And when it comes to the
Keystone Pipeline, the Keystone Pipeline in particular is a political issue
right now. It`s not a policy issue. It`s not something that`s going to
help the American public. If the republicans --

SHARPTON: They say it`s going to create jobs.

DOWDELL: Thirty five permanent jobs is hardly a windfall.

SHARPTON: Right.

DOWDELL: When we look at what we need in this country, the Chamber of
Commerce which is backed many republicans actually said infrastructure is a
no-brainer. That`s something they need to be working on. We have
pipelines in this country that carry our water that need to be replaced.
That`s what the priority is.

SHARPTON: Alyona?

MINKOVSKI: I couldn`t agree more. The idea this is a job creator is
something that the facts just don`t back up. Maybe a couple thousand jobs
temporarily. Leading climate scientists all agree that this is going to
create incredible damage to the environment and the progressive base is
really been waiting for the President to take a stance on this issue. But
I think that we must point out to the administration for now is saying they
will veto this bill because they haven`t seen it and because they`re being
held up by technicalities, because there`s an approval process which they
want to follow. And so it`s still not the President coming down and saying
that he opposes this Keystone Pipeline.

SHARPTON: Chris, you`re one of the masters of optics. You know,
whether they`re vetoing for these reasons or these reasons, the impression
is to many is that he`s vetoing, he`s standing up.

WITHERSPOON: Yes. I think what Tara said is so true. He`s making a
strong stand. We elected this man in 2008 and 2012, and whether you`re not
into politics or you are, you care when the President takes a bold stand
like that. I`m not for one -- with the Keystone Pipeline. I don`t know
whether they cover politics, they cover entertainment.

SHARPTON: Right.

WITHERSPOON: But I do know --

SHARPTON: Yes. The important issues of this country, when you hear
the facts of it, I think most folks when they hear is vetoing this are
going to be and be ready to go and research it. You realize that it is
something that probably should be vetoed and you stand by him --

DOWDELL: Well, it`s smoke and mirrors.

SHARPTON: The package though, that`s why I went where I went on the
jobs. The package that they`ve been trying to sell is that it is a job
creator when it isn`t. At best, it`s a temporary jobs for a couple of
thousand. And as you said, it comes down, many analysts said only 35
permanent jobs. So what`s the motive? Why they`re pushing this, Tara?

DOWDELL: This is political. It was pushed in 2008 originally by the
oil lobby. Many of the people who were supporting, were people who were
getting a ton of money from the oil lobby. So, that`s one part of it.
It`s also become a flash point, it`s become this liberal versus
conservative thing when that`s not what this is about. If people really
want to bring jobs to this country, we need more than that. And one of
them, if you look at China, for instance, they`re doing a $1.1 trillion
infrastructure spending package to boost their economy. This is playing
small ball.

SHARPTON: Yes.

DOWDELL: I thought republicans -- why are we playing small ball?

SHARPTON: We have an infrastructure bill. Let me go on Alyona to
Sarah Palin. She`s not backing down from the dog fight that`s pitting her
against the animal rights group, PETA. Defending herself against criticism
over a photo of her six-year-old son using the family dog as a stepping
stool to reach the sink. Palin responded to PETA`s attacks by pointing out
President Obama once ate dog meat as a child in Indonesia. Appearing on
the "Today" show this morning, she was asked if maybe that comment was a
cheap shot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: Oh, heck no. That was the best
line in the post that I wrote. It was the kickoff line, it was hey, PETA,
chill, you know, at least Trig didn`t eat the dog.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, Chris, let me go to you and I`m coming back to
Alyona.

WITHERSPOON: I`m rolling my eyes.

SHARPTON: You know, there`s no end in sight in this debate. Should
she let sleeping dogs lie?

WITHERSPOON: I mean, first of all, I`m shocked that we still take
Sarah Palin seriously.

SHARPTON: We didn`t say that.

WITHERSPOON: Well, I mean, first of all, the photo of Trig is a bit
absurd. I think seeing that photo, I haven`t seen it that close until now.
Seeing that photo, that`s absurd. That is something that PETA should be
outraged about. But I think the comment she made about Obama is
ridiculous. It`s a low blow and it`s Sarah Palin at her best.

SHARPTON: Somebody got to do --

MINKOVSKI: I just can`t believe that we`re choosing here between PETA
and Sarah Palin. I really genuinely dislike both of -- presidential
candidate and PETA is an organization in a lot of their tactics. And so
it`s unfortunate I think that she`s just trying to --

SHARPTON: Well, what does Obama have to do with it?

MINKOVSKI: Nothing. She`s trying to stay relevant.

WITHERSPOON: And she`s known for shock value. You know, that`s what
she does. She gives these sound bites that go viral.

SHARPTON: Tara, you`re nodding?

DOWDELL: That`s exactly what this is about. She always, you know,
it`s like when little kids, when someone criticizes and they throw someone
else`s name out there. She`s trying to deflect. Because not only was PETA
after her, some of her own followers were upset when they saw that picture.
That`s how it actually started. Her own supporters were upset and thought
it was un-appropriate. So her first line of attack, is go after President
Obama. That`s her emo --

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

SHARPTON: Well, she put the picture out.

DOWDELL: Exactly. She didn`t think that people would have a problem
with it, and then her own supporters did.

SHARPTON: Yes. She said it was overcoming obstacles. I mean, it
wasn`t like somebody had a zoom camera from outside and invaded their
privacy.

MINKOVSKI: And it also doesn`t look likes the dog is being tortured.
I think people are overreacting.

WITHERSPOON: That could do a little bit of damage.

SHARPTON: All right. Everyone, stay with us. Everyone, stay with
me. When we come back, Joe Biden being Joe Biden, and we`ll all love it,
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with our panel, Tara, Chris, and Alyona. Next
we turn to Joe Biden being Joe Biden. That is all I can say. The vice
president was back on The Hill this afternoon. Swearing in the latest
class of senators, and it was vintage Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: You`re going to talk to a democrat?

(LAUGHTER)

Whoa, man, this is boring, boring, boring. How you doing, man?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Charlie?

BIDEN: Charlie, how are you doing, man?

Big time Charlie. How old are you? Charlie, now remember --

(INAUDIBLE)

All right, good boy. Okay, here we go. Cheese.

(Baby crying)

I need a hug, kid, come on. I need a hug. God love you. Hi,
Caroline. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I knew this would happen.

BIDEN: All right. I`ll tell you what, man, I may be -- Betty, how
are you? My name is Joe Biden, Vice President Biden. How are you doing?
I know, and I just swore in your grandson. All right, well, it`s nice to -
- I`m going to put him on the phone, here he is. Nice talking to her, but
I don`t have time.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Biden was winning over the crowds at the capitol just as
Jeb Bush announced he was launching a new pac for a potential presidential
run. And we still haven`t heard from Hillary Clinton about her future.
But seeing Joe Biden back on The Hill and all his charisma had me wondering
about his political future. Tara, what do you think? Could we see a Biden
run in 2016?

DOWDELL: Well, I`ll tell you this, that man is living the dream.
He`s having the time of his life. Nobody is happier than Joe Biden. I
mean, he really eats it up. I think you could see Joe Biden run in 2016.
I think because first of all, he has a strong base of support. He doesn`t
have the level of support that Hillary Clinton has right now, but a lot of
the people like him. And what you saw right there is good old-fashioned
retail politics. And retail politics is very important. It should never
be underestimated.

SHARPTON: Never be underestimated, you`re the entertainment guy. How
do you in this modern social media world get a guy through with retail
politics?

WITHERSPOON: I mean, what we just saw was a viral moment. That was a
viral moment. He was being himself. He wasn`t putting on. You can tell
he was truly being good old Joe.

SHARPTON: It was.

WITHERSPOON: If you watch this "House of Cards" and you see Frank
Underwood play Kevin Spacey, he has a very endearing persona as a vice
president. And that`s what we really want. We want to know the person in
that office is someone we can relate to. And I think if he were to make a
run in 2016, he would bring a whole new demographic of voters to be
invigorated about politics that might not have already cared.

SHARPTON: But how would you identify him politically? Is he
moderate? He`s not progressive. I mean, where would you put him?

MINKOVSKI: He`s more of a centrist democrat. Of course it matters,
and especially if you are going to run. And that`s the thing, I think that
a lot of America doesn`t know too much about Joe Biden aside from his
gaffe. And so if he were to run, he needs to be able to overstep that and
really get them to see, get the American public to see him as a serious
politician in their eyes, talk about his foreign policy credentials, which
is actually an area where he does have a lot of expertise.

SHARPTON: Well, I mean, you know, I ran in 2004, I talked to all the
guys and ladies in 2008. And I`m going to tell you, I like Joe Biden, he`s
a very good politician. Shouldn`t be underestimated. I have no idea what
he`s going to do, or Hillary`s going to do, but he shouldn`t be
underestimated.

Tara, Chris and Alyona, thank you for your time. And when we come
back, New York police officers showing why they`re New York`s finest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, going over and beyond the call of duty in
one of the toughest jobs in America. Last night, two NYPD officers were
shot after responding to an armed robbery in the Bronx. Five plain-clothes
policemen responded to the call. One suspect was shot in the back. He was
arrested at the hospital. The alleged gunman was arrested today following
a massive manhunt, after this surveillance video showed him moments after
the robbery. "The Daily News" reports a third suspect is also in custody.
Officers Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano remain hospitalize but were happy
to report they are in stable condition and expected to make a full
recovery. What is remarkable, is the officers just finished their shift,
but decided to respond to the crime. Mayor de Blasio spoke about their
bravery today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: The work they do -- this anti-
crime work -- is so profoundly important, but this instance where they went
above and beyond the call, this is absolutely a case of officers going
above and beyond the call to protect their fellow New Yorkers. As always,
the city of New York and the NYPD will be with them through this challenge
and as these officers recover.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, this incident is a reminder to all of us of how
dangerous the jobs of police officers are on a daily basis. We are engaged
in a national conversation about policing. But we also must remember how
hard they work to protect us. No one wants to see reform more than me.
But we want it because good cops, most cops, leave home every day not
knowing what danger they face. They don`t deserve to be smeared by those
that don`t uphold the standards that they risk their life for.

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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