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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

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POLITICS NATION
January 14, 2015

Guest: Jim Arkedis, Barney Frank, Jonathan Capehart, Shaun Robinson, Jason
Johnson, Shira Center


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR, POLITICS NATION: Good evening, Ed.
And thanks to you for tuning in. I`m live from Columbus, Ohio.

We start with two breaking news stories tonight on terror, one here at home
and one abroad.

First, a plot to attack the United States capitol. Federal authorities
have filed charges against an Ohio man who wanted to plant pipe bombs at
the U.S. capitol and then lie in wait to shoot employees as they came out
of the building. The man`s name is Christopher Cornell. He was reportedly
seeking an alliance with the terror group ISIS. The feds say that just
today he bought an m-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, like this one, to use
in the attack. After that, the FBI moved in and arrested him. Authorities
say he was under investigation the entire time. The government learned of
his plans from his own social media accounts and officials are saying
tonight that Cornell never posed a danger to the public.

Joining me now is Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF agent and MSNBC law
enforcement analyst. Thanks for being here, Jim.

JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC ANALYST: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Jim, what do you make of this plot? Pipe bombs and m-15 assault
rifles, what do you make of this?

CAVANAUGH: Well, the guy is an inspired actor. You know, the criminal
complaint written by the FBI agent. And the FBI did a great job on this.
They stayed with it since the summer. He`s a young man. He`s only 20.
But he`s inspired by the -- on the web. He talks about Anwar al-Awlaki,
you know, which is Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula`s deceased cleric.
And he talks about ISIS. So he is all over the map. He`s not connected to
anybody. He`s inspired by the web and he plans an attack to make pipe
bombs and a rifle attack, which he bought the military-style weapon. He
bought these 600 rounds of ammunition. He was going to go to the capitol
and start shooting people.

SHARPTON: Now, it says in the court documents that he had never received,
quote, "authorization," but the documents say that the suspect texted an
FBI informant and said, quote, "I believe we should meet up and make our
own group in alliance with the Islamic state here and plan operations
ourselves." How do law enforcement officials stop this kind of lone wolf
terrorists inspired by groups like ISIS, Jim?

CAVANAUGH: Well, just like this, Reverend Al, a cooperating citizen, a
person alerted the FBI and said this man might be dangerous. And that`s
how you get the first clue. Then the agents stayed with it. They under
covered him. They met with him. They sent somebody to meet with him and
monitored him. you know, they tape recorded him, I`m sure, that`s the way
we always did it, and tape recorded the conversations, gave them chances to
get out of the plot, and he still wanted to do it, still wanted to kill
people. And there`s no doubt he`s following on with the news that`s coming
out of Paris and, you know, going for rifle attacks, too.

He`s not going to get inside the U.S. capitol. The capitol police are a
formidable force. They are very efficient. They have 1500 officers. They
are everywhere up there. But he could get on the street, Reverend Al, and
he can start shooting people, (INAUDIBLE) or throwing pipe bombs and he`ll
get killed, but the carnage he could wreak in the few minutes he had to do
it could be awful.

SHARPTON: This bill of lone wolf, I mean, when you look at the fact that
he posted support of ISIS on twitter, claimed he had been in contact with
persons overseas, never got specific authorization for an attack but said
he wanted to, quote, "wage jihad against our own orders." I mean, what do
you make of that?

CAVANAUGH: Well, that`s exactly what the terrorist overseas are throwing
out. That`s exactly what they are telling people. In the latest edition
of "Inspire" magazine which just came out, they are directing people and
giving detailed instructions on how to make bombs to get through airport
security. In the spring they gave instructions on how to make car bombs.
And they are telling people all across the world, act alone, attack
America, attack France, attack Britain. Act on your own. These are the
things to do.

So this guy is following just exactly what these killers and murderers and
terrorists want them to do. And he has done it now and he has got himself
in the legal bind. But luckily because of the agents and the cooperating
individual, nobody has been hurt or killed.

SHARPTON: Now, this is a huge problem for law enforcement here. I mean,
how do they deal with it and what can they learn from Paris in having a
plan mapped out to deal with this kind of lone Wolf problems and lone Wolf
challenges that we`re now beginning to see?

CAVANAUGH: Well, there`s lots of lessons from Paris. And law enforcement
is going to be looking to those very hard. One thing is, how are you
screening and working and surveilling electronically, physically and
interacting with people that you know have traveled abroad, people that are
in the movement, people that are connected with terror, kind of like the
Tsarnaev brothers, you know, went to a conflict zone, came back, you know,
everything should raise the stature.

So no doubt U.S. intelligence, foreign intelligence are scrubbing their
methods to say, you know, these are kind of people we have to look closer
at because you can`t watch everyone. This lone Wolf guy, he came up just
like he should. Somebody saw it on twitter and they said, hey, this is
wrong. I`m going to call the authorities and they did. That`s really the
only way that we`re going to break the lone wolves, if we get a tip from
somebody who sees them preparing, getting ready, speaking like that, you
know. It`s always going to be very subtle and you can dismiss it and say,
well, he probably won`t do it but you need to act on it.

SHARPTON: Jim Cavanaugh, thank you for your time tonight.

Also tonight, breaking news on the terror attacks in Paris where three
million copies of the new issue of "Charlie Hebdo" sold out in minutes
today. Just one week after eight journalists who worked for the magazine
were killed by two Islamic jihadist brothers in a hailstone of bullets.

Today, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Yemen released a video claiming
responsibility for the attack on the magazine. And ISIS released another
propaganda video praising the Paris attacks and urging followers to carry
out more attacks in the west, including the United States.

Also today, for the first time we`re seeing the chilling images of what
happened inside that kosher supermarket where over a dozen hostages were
held by Amedy Coulibaly. You see bodies of people Coulibaly killed lying
in the aisles of the markets and the militant gunman in a bulletproof vest
directing hostages to disassemble the security cameras around the store.

So what was Al-Qaeda`s involvement in these attacks? And do they have
plans for even more attacks in Europe and at home?

Joining me now is Jim Arkedis. He is a former department of defense
counterterrorism analyst.

Jim, first of all, thank you for being here this evening.

JIM ARKEDIS, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Thanks
for having me back, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Do you buy the claim that Al-Qaeda in Yemen is responsible for
funding and training this attack in Paris?

ARKEDIS: Yes. They were very likely -- we know for a fact that one of the
Kouachi brothers, at least one of them, went to Yemen and endured several,
probably months, about three months of training in 2011. There he probably
learned how to shoot, and he probably learned how to finance the plan,
build up a financial network, he probably learned how to plan an escape --
escape plan and maybe pick a target as well. And then went back.

And so, I think it is really important that viewers understand that when
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula releases a statement that says well, we
did this, we directed him, we choose the target, that`s probably not 100
percent true.

The timeline here is very simple. He went in 2011. Then he was allowed to
perhaps carry about $20,000 from media reports that indicate back to France
and then he -- the brothers sat around, they recruited Coulibaly and then
they planned the attacks very likely on their own.

And so, it behooves Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to claim
responsibility and say, yes, this is absolutely us 100 percent after the
fact when the Kouachi brothers are not alive anymore to dispute exactly how
involved Al -Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula actually was.

SHARPTON: Now in the tape, they did not take responsibility for the
supermarket attacks, just the attacks on the magazine. What does that say
to you?

ARKEDIS: Well, it`s a little bit confusing because Coulibaly, the
operative who was in the supermarket, said he acted in the name of ISIS.
And then today, we have this ISIS press released coming out where they
don`t say that they were involved in anything, but they say that they were
-- they encourage future attacks. And this is a heck of a media spat
between is and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. They don`t really like
each other and we don`t know the extent to which Coulibaly actually had any
contact or training or financial help with ISIS. And at this point we can
probably assume that it was relatively low.

But at this point, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is probably trying to
build itself up because it sees ISIS getting all of the press attention.
And now that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has done something,
quote/unquote "good in their eyes," ISIS obviously, has the incentive to
say, wait, hold on, don`t forget about us.

And so, look, here we are talking about it on the evening news. So from
that extent, they`ve achieved their public relations aims.

SHARPTON: Well, these are new and scary times.

Jim Arkedis, thank you so much for your time this evening.

ARKEDIS: Thank you for having me.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Mike Huckabee`s problem with Beyonce. Now a former
president is speaking out.

Plus, Hillary Clinton has a new team member. Is a presidential
announcement coming soon?

And is a civil war coming? What Mitt Romney is reportedly saying about Jeb
Bush?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There`s a heated debate on our social media right now over news
that house Republicans had determined that it is not necessary to restore a
key part of the voting rights act.

Chantai pointed out, IDs are not free. A car to get to the DMV is not
free. This isn`t about race. It`s about disenfranchising the people
Republicans assume will vote for Democrats.

Clarity adds what needs fixing? The courts found that there is no need for
further intervention.

Coming up, more on this news and how the movie "Selma" is impacting the
fight for voting rights today. But please keep the conversation going on
our facebook page or tweet us @politicsnation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today Republicans showed what kind of planning party they will
be. In a single day, House Republicans voted to make it easier for big
banks crater the economy all over again and to deport millions of
immigrants. This morning, Speaker Boehner bragged about his attack on the
president`s historic immigration action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This executive overreach
is an front to the rule of law and to the constitution itself. Enough is
enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The vote directly targeted the president`s actions, shielding
over five million people from deportation.

And next, they sent a valentine to Wall Street gutting key sections of the
Dodd/Frank bank reform. Just like that, they threatened millions of
families and put the country`s economy at risk. It`s extreme. And the
president isn`t standing for it. Vowing to veto a series of GOP policies
including their anti-immigration bill.

The keystone pipeline, attacks on his health care law, rollbacks of federal
regulations and their assault on bank reform. Veto after veto, the
president knows the American people don`t back the GOP agenda no matter
what conservatives tell themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JEB HENSARLING (R), TEXAS: There is an ultra left in our ultra
liberal friends, Dodd/Frank is no longer policy, it`s no longer philosophy.
It`s an article of religious faith. It is sacred tax. It was just a
stone, it came down from Mt. Sinai.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Actually, Dodd/Frank didn`t come from Mt. Sinai. It came from
our next guest. Joining me now is former congressman Barney Frank. Thank
you for being here, congressman.

BARNEY FRANK (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSMAN: You`re welcome.

SHARPTON: Clear this up. Did Dodd/Frank bank reform bill come carved in
stone or did it require an economic collapse to galvanize Congress and then
your hand work help to make it law?

FRANK: It was obviously a response to the worst economic crisis since the
new deal because the ideologically motivated, theologically driven almost
opposition deregulation of new forms of activity cause its baffling. By
the way, it is a sign of far right, the Republican Party has moved even
fairly recently because much of what is in that bill began out of
conversations that we had, Senator Dodd, myself and others, with the Bush
administration`s top economic officials.

Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, secretary of treasury Hank
Paulson, I`m saying they agree with everything. I am saying that this
began with the collaboration and much of what is in there was at their
request. Sheila Bair who is the head of the federal deposited George
commission, a Republican appointed by George Bush. But she was a Bob Dole
Republican and they`ve now become dismissed.

Of course there`s room for change in any complicated bill in some case.
I`d like to toughen in, you know, the cases we should clarify things. But
here`s the problem. You can`t go to war, you can`t say, we`re going to
totally repeal this, no regulation is necessary. When the House voted on
this bill, the Republicans didn`t offer various amendments as their basic
point. They offered a motion to kill all financial reform.

So the answer is this. Yes, we should be working together to try and make
improvements in anything. But you can`t do that while you have people
threatening to undo the whole thing.

SHARPTON: Congressman, how do you assess this Republican Party today? I
mean, is it the same old, same old. For example, the financial industry
for it $1.2 billion into lobbying and campaign spending in the last
election cycle, $1.2 billion they poured in. How much influence does the
industry have on Capitol Hill?

FRANK: Well, they have a lot, the financial ministry, if the public is not
paying attention. And that`s what is happening. These are complicated
issues. So for 30 years, as innovation towards coming up in financial
derivatives and 100 percent securitizing mortgages, so the people who may
belong weren`t the one who are at risk if they weren`t paid.

They got away with that because nobody was paying attention and then the
collapse came. And at this point, the American people understood it. Now,
I think the Republicans made a great political mistake as well as obviously
a substantive and economic one. They assumed the public has forgotten how
we got into this terrible situation. And I, frankly, welcomed in some ways
what they are doing. And you said it right. They show what kind of party
they are.

What the Republicans are doing now is teeing up a major issue for the
election of 2016. It`s apparently the issue of the Republican Party unlike
the way it was under George Bush when we collaborated on financial reform
and adopting new rules for new ideas.

One of the things that will happen, the Republicans will win everything in
2016 is we will back, back where we were before the bill was passed and in
a situation with no consumer protection, with bad mortgages being issued
without any restrictions, with financial derivatives rustle-dazzling people
and I welcome this. I think I`m very happy with the president`s position.
He`s made it very clear and I think what will happen is the president will
veto those bills and we`ll have a public debate and I think the Republicans
are going to find that the public`s memory is not as short as they think.

SHARPTON: Now, let`s turn to immigration. Senator John McCain today
applauded the house GOP vote saying, quote, "today Congress has a
responsibility to respond and push back on his illegal power-grab." Is
this the kind of harsh rhetoric and far right policy going to backfire on
the GOP, Congressman?

FRANK: I think it will. I`m disappointed. Senator McCain used to support
the substance of these kinds of immigration policies. He`s falling in with
his party. By the way, I`m particularly amused -- not amused, been mused,
because Republicans, on the one hand, they are complaining that the
president isn`t getting congressional approval to do this. But you know
what that law so saying? That the president ought to be sending troops
into Syria and expanding the bombing and engaging in widespread military
action in the Middle East without Congress.

Do you see the Republicans stepping forward and saying, wait a minute, Mr.
President, you can`t send troops into these combat situations when we`re
not ourselves directly involved.

SHARPTON: Right.

FRANK: So you know, I`ve got to ask you, what is a greater example
presidential unilateral power, not deporting people who`s got family here
and who have been law-abiding citizens in every other way in a contributing
economy or prolonging military action which people lose their lives and
cost us tens of billions. So the hypocrisy is just very clear.

SHARPTON: Lastly, I want to read you this quote. "I believe in the idea
of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though
some time back they may have entered illegally."

Do you know who said that? Ronald Reagan said that.

Congressman Frank, what happened to the Republican Party?

FRANK: Well, that`s a good point. You know, I was there when Ronald
Reagan and I worked on that bill with Ronald Reagan and former senator Alan
Simpson.

Look, Al, go back any further. The great domestic achievement of President
Dwight Eisenhower was the interstate highway system. That system is now
physically in need of repair and extension and the right wingers that now
controlled the Republican Party don`t want to continue that. They say, let
it go to the states.

There`s been this rightward move of the Republican Party. Ironically, I
think the major reason is public anger over the financial crisis and here`s
the problem that we Democrats had. The financial crisis happened because
of the deregulation under the Republicans. President Obama came in and had
to deal with it. People complained about bailouts. Everything that`s
called a bailout in recent American history was initiated by George Bush,
whether it was TARP or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or the automobiles, any
of them, AIG.

We have got to blame for cleaning up their mess. But I think they have
done us a favor because by going now and saying, you know what, let`s undo
everything, that`s what, literally everything, that`s what the chairman of
the bank committee, Shelby, just said. Let`s repeal it. By literally
undoing every safeguard, every protection, every rules that we put in, not
to stop them from doing things, but to make sure they did them in a
reasonable way, by making it clear that that`s their position, they helped
bring the issue clearly to the people.

SHARPTON: Congressman Barney Frank, thank you so much for your time
tonight.

FRANK: You`re welcome.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Mitt Romney and binders full of ambition. How the
brewing fight between him and Jeb Bush could affect other Republicans and
Hillary Clinton.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The mittens are off. Romney versus Bush gets heated.

Plus, Hillary make as big decision.

All of that and a dog takes the bus, all coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Is he really going to do it? For months, Mitt Romney said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you thinking about running for president again?

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I`m thinking about
the people who I want to see running for president.

I didn`t win. It`s time for someone else now.

The answer is no. I`m not running for president in 2016.

I`m not running for president. I`ve said that so many times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But "The Washington Post" says it`s almost certain Romney will
run in 2016. So what changed? Perhaps it was this guy. Starting to get
headlines. That`s right. Jeb Bush moved closer and closer to getting in
the race. And Romney reportedly didn`t like it. "The Daily Beast" reports
Jeb is a joke in Romney land. One Romney donor says that Romney told him
that, quote, "A Bush can`t beat a Clinton." Romney doesn`t think a Bush
can beat a Clinton. But can a Romney? And these two have a lot of
similarities. While they are fighting it out, does that open the door for
someone else entirely?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You`ve got to get new people, you`ve got to
attract new people to win and I think it`s just time that probably the
party`s going to be looking for something fresh and new.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: 2016 is a long way away but in the GOP, the fight`s already on.
Joining me now is Jonathan Capehart of "The Washington Post" whose new
piece is titled, "A Third Romney Run for the White House is a Sad Quest for
Relevance." And MSNBC`s Abby Huntsman. Thank you both for being here.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks, Rev.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Abby, as a republican, what do you make of this reports? Can
you see a Romney/Bush clash coming?

HUNTSMAN: That can definitely come but what I see more here is this being
about Romney himself. I mean, having been through this experience with my
dad running, running for president is a humiliating experience. It`s tough
on a lot of ways on a families. So, a lot of people are scratching their
heads saying, wait, what, you really want is go through this again? And
what this comes down to is Romney runs on ego. What he wants is control.
And I think he had the sense that the party would sort of coalesce around
him and say, you`re the only one that can beat Hillary Clinton and then all
of the sudden, Jeb makes it obvious that he`s really thinking about running
and you have donors and influential folks in the party fleeing to Jeb Bush
and that`s scary for someone like Romney because it makes him feel like
he`s not as relevant, like he doesn`t have the power that he thought he
had. So, if anything, this is more about Mitt Romney wanting to stay
relevant whether or not it`s the best thing for him and his family or for
the country, for that matter.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, at least on the surface, the similarities between Mitt
Romney and Jeb Bush are striking. They are both former governors, they
both worked in the financial industry, they both have problems with the GOP
base. Romney`s father was a governor who wanted to be president while
Bush`s father was president.

CAPEHART: Uh-huh.

SHARPTON: If one of them doesn`t like the other, what does that say?

CAPEHART: Well, that says there`s a lot of animosity there. The real
question is, if they don`t like each other, and they run against each
other, what does that do to the field and what does that do to the pool of
voters who would go to one or the other? If Mitt Romney were the only one
in that race or Jeb Bush was the only person in that race, then all those
voters would go to them. If they split, that moderate -- well, that
moderate voter, that part of the Republican Party base that would go for
them that might make it easier for someone on the fringes to like run
between them and snatch some delegates, I`m thinking of someone like Rand
Paul or Ted Cruz or any of the other folks who are considering running for
president.

SHARPTON: You know, the conservative website Daily Caller says that
there`s a disarray in the establishment wing of the party. It could create
opportunities for potential candidates like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco
Rubio and even Scott Walker. Is that true, Abby?

HUNTSMAN: I think that`s absolutely true. I`m sure they are looking their
jobs right now reading all of these headlines. That`s exactly what they do
want because it further divides the mainstream more moderate wing of the
party and gives them a bigger voice. I mean, it`s going to be a very
crowded 2016, probably similar to what we saw in 2012, which makes me a
little bit nervous. Because what the party needs right now is to come
together, and to start talking about a strategy and policies that really
can relate to the American people and this is probably going to be a blood
bath. It`s probably going to become very negative. With ads, I can
already see that. So definitely good news for those on the far right, is
my guess.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me follow that up. Is this going to create the
possibility of someone on the far right that may not be considered that
palpable to a lot of us looking at this from the outside but can they
emerge now someone as far right as a Ted Cruz or you mentioned Rand Paul.

CAPEHART: I mean, it could. Look, if you look at the primary calendar, it
starts with states that might be a little difficult for Mitt Romney and Jeb
Bush, especially if you have a Mike Huckabee in the race who is very
popular with social conservatives and so that might make it possible. He
could win again. The Iowa caucuses. After that is New Hampshire where Jeb
Bush or certainly Mitt Romney who is the governor of the neighboring state
Massachusetts could win that. Then you go to South Carolina. Then I`m not
sure how the republicans have changed their calendar but what usually
happens is after South Carolina comes Florida. So it could be that one of
those folks who is popular with the far right could take some of the early
states and that`s when having that establishment backing where Mitt Romney
or Jeb Bush who would have the financial wherewithal to hang in there until
they could win some states, that`s probably the game plan that`s being
constructed.

Certainly for Mitt Romney. We have to keep in mind -- and as you showed
the similarities between the two where they both -- Jeb Bush and Mitt
Romney have problems with their base but they have different problems with
their base. Jeb Bush`s problem with the base is they don`t like his
stances on a couple of issues, immigration, common core, the education
issue. Mitt Romney`s problems with his base back in 2012 was, they didn`t
really like him and they also didn`t really trust him. And so he`s still
going to have that problem in `16 if he runs.

HUNTSMAN: Right.

SHARPTON: But Abby, one quote about Romney getting in this caught my eye,
a long-time adviser said if Romney had won -- this is a quote -- there
wouldn`t be an ISIS at all and Putin would know his place in life.
Domestically, things would be in better shape. No ISIS? Putin would know
his place? I mean, would everyone get a puppy with their tax returns, too?

HUNTSMAN: We probably wouldn`t have the spread of Ebola either, to be
honest? No. I think hindsight is 20/20 for a lot of these guys. The
grass is always greener. Right? You always want to think that if you had
won things would have been better. But if you look at the economy now, you
really can`t make that argument. Things are actually moving in the right
direction, it seems.

SHARPTON: Oh, say that again, Abby.

HUNTSMAN: The economy is doing well. I mean, the economy is doing better.
What I will say though, I agree with Capehart and the biggest struggle with
Romney is his ability to connect with people. He wasn`t able to do that
the last two times that he ran. That`s probably the most important quality
I can and can have when he runs for office. He or she is connecting with
the American people, if he can`t do that the first two times, my guess is
the third is not going to be any different.

SHARPTON: Well, maybe his strong suit is his ability to cause mischief but
we`ll see. Jonathan Capehart and Abby Huntsman, thank you for your time
tonight.

HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Rev.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: And watch Abby on "THE CYCLE," weekdays at 3:00 p.m. Eastern
right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, a former president speaks out on Mike Huckabee`s problem with
Beyonce.

Plus, Hillary Clinton has a new team member. Is a presidential
announcement coming?

And a dog rides the bus alone. Do I need to say more? "Conversation
Nation" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight, "Access
Hollywood" Shaun Robinson, political analyst Jason Johnson and political
editor for Roll Call Shira Center. Thank you all for your time tonight and
for being here.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Glad to be here, Rev.

SHAUN ROBINSON, HOST, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: Thank you.

SHIRA CENTER, ROLL CALL: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Is Hillary Clinton close to a presidential announcement? "The
Wall Street Journal" said today reporting, White House Adviser John Podesta
is joining Hillary`s emerging campaign as a senior counselor. Podesta
served as chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton and was brought
on as President Obama`s special counselor last year. Neither Mrs. Clinton
or Podesta have commented on this report. Jason, what do you make of this?
Is an announcement coming soon?

JOHNSON: I mean, she`s going to announce sometimes and probably sometime
this spring. But I got to be honest with you, Rev, there`s only two things
Hillary Clinton needs to worry about. And it`s not her staff. Number one,
she needs some competition. Because if she doesn`t running by herself, if
she doesn`t have a Warren or a Pataki or Mally (ph) to run against, it`s
going to be hard for her to explain why we should elect her one way or
another, and the second thing is, she needs to spent more time with the
base. The democratic base has been marching against police brutality for
the last three and a half months. Hillary has hardly said anything. So,
it doesn`t matter how many Washington insiders she gets, if she`s not doing
those two things, she`s not going to do well in 2016.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Shaun. Is she gearing up? I mean, does this
Podesta hire give you a sign that she`s gearing up for the race and that we
may be seeing an announcement soon?

ROBINSON: Well, Rev, if she`s not gearing up for a political campaign, I`m
not sure why you would have somebody like John Podesta, you know, step
down from his current position and come and get on her side and be on her
team. I mean, look, he`s one of the -- when you talk about a democratic
heavyweight, he`s definitely is that. And so, and I definitely think that
people are ready for Hillary Clinton. You know, she will -- I think one of
the big things that she`s going to have to worry about is being able to
answer questions that she hasn`t really specifically answered in the past.
Number one being Monica Lewinsky and what happened during that time. You
know, Monica Lewinsky just recently came out and joined twitter and that
reignited that whole conversation about what was that whole time in the
Clinton administration like? So I think once Hillary Clinton is able to
get past questions like that, then she can -- you know, she`s getting this
team together and I think that she`s going to be a real contender. I think
we might be ready for another Clinton in the White House.

SHARPTON: Shira, Shaun raised it because the chair of the GOP Reince
Priebus said everything is on the table. They are going to bring up Bill
Clinton`s personal life. Monica Lewinsky will certainly be there. That`s
going to be on the table, Shira.

CENTER: Well, I think it will be on the table in terms of republican
primaries and there`s a lot of republicans still like to talk about that
want to talk about this but you know, you`d be hard-pressed to find a
Clinton supporter anywhere who is not gotten past Monica at this point.
Right? That was over ten years ago. Right? The Clintons have a solid
base of support and a lot of competitive states and when you ask those
voters, the democratic primary voters especially what they like about the
Clintons, Monica rarely, rarely comes up. And if I can mention also the
issue of staff, right? You can`t reach out to the base necessarily until
you get some semblance of the campaign staff. And her staff calls to a lot
of problems in 2008. There`s a lot of drama amongst the ranks, a lot of
infighting and it proved detrimental to her campaign in the long run. So
stuffing at the head of time is going to be integral to her success this
time around. And so is finding the right people.

SHARPTON: All right. Now to, a former president, former President Jimmy
Carter weighing in on Mike Huckabee`s problem with Beyonce. We told you
last night how former FOX News host Mike Huckabee complimented the
President and First Lady on how they`ve raised their daughters but then
criticized their closeness to Beyonce. Former President Jimmy Carter
weighed in on the controversy today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I don`t agree with much that Mike
Huckabee says and I think President Obama is doing a good job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Shaun, you cover celebrities. How is Hollywood reacting to this
criticism of Beyonce?

ROBINSON: Rev, I`ve got to tell you, I think politicians know that if they
want to get some publicity, just talk about Beyonce. I mean, my goodness,
anytime somebody has something to say about pop culture or the
entertainment world, they mention Beyonce and they know that that`s going
to be front page news. Look, you know, you can`t tell people how -- first
of all, I don`t think parents like for you to tell other parents how to
raise your children and if you don`t want your kids to listen to Beyonce or
anybody else, then that is your rule as a parent to keep them from
listening to that type of music. But I`m not sure how he is -- I`m not
sure how Huckabee -- I just imagine Huckabee like, you know, his wife
calling him, honey, you know, dinner`s ready. And he`s like, oh, wait a
minute, I`m watching these Beyonce videos so I can, you know, be on top of
telling people what not to do. It`s like, you know, I don`t know why
people are always putting her in the forefront when we talk about, you
know, what`s so bad with pop culture? I`m not sure exactly why he`s doing
that.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m not too sure kids like being told what to listen to
either.

ROBINSON: That`s right.

SHARPTON: But Jason, I said it last night and I repeat, is this all they
have left to criticize President Obama about? I mean, are we down now to
the kids and listening to Beyonce?

JOHNSON: Yes. And it seems silly. You know, Barack Obama has a whole lot
on things on his iPod that his kids listen to but it`s really hypocritical
of Mike Huckabee. Remember, he plays front man for a band called capital
offense. They`ve opened for Dionne Warwick, they`ve open for Willie
Nelson, I asked my parents, Dionne Warwick, you say has some saucy lyrics
back there in the `80s. So, before he starts lecturing Barack Obama what
his kids listen to, he might want to think about who he`s performed with on
stage and how that affected his own children.

SHARPTON: Shira, tell me how -- what is the measure of this -- of Huckabee
wanting to take a shot at President Obama and Mrs. Obama?

CENTER: Look, I think Mike Huckabee said that for one reason only and it
was to sell books. Right? And why does Mike Huckabee need to sell his own
book? Because he wants to remain relevant in the 2016 conversation and
turn again to just sell more books. Right? And what`s the easiest way to
do that is to say something controversial. But I really don`t think Mike
Huckabee`s angling for the youth vote with a comment like this. Right?
First of all, who insults the Queen B? Okay? Right. It`s just a silly
move. Okay? Secondly, by saying something like this, he comes across to
like a grandma complaining about Elvis dancing in the `60s. Right? This
is so throwback 50 years ago.

SHARPTON: Well, I see all of those millions of youth voters leaving
Huckabee. Our panel, stay with me, please. We`ll be right back with a
commute that`s going to the dogs.

And the Razzie awards, the worst Hollywood has to offer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with the panel, Shaun, Jason and Shira. You`ve heard
of the Revvies, but here comes the Razzies, it`s an award given to the
worst movie performances of last year. The winners, if you can call it
that, were announced last night. "Transformers" won for the worst movie of
the year. And congrats to Kirk Cameron, he took home the award for worst
actor in "Saving Christmas." And Cameron Diaz won for a few roles,
including her performance in "Annie." Shaun, is it always a fun one to
watch? Do the actors play along?

ROBINSON: Well, I don`t really know about that, Rev. I don`t know if
anybody likes to get a Razzie but here`s the deal. Hollywood can be the
most self-congratulatory business on the planet. You know, there`s award
show after award show. We are deep in it right now. Every single week
we`ve got somebody congratulating somebody else in Hollywood. And I think
--

SHARPTON: And the Oscars will be announced tomorrow, the Oscar nominees.

ROBINSON: That`s right. I got a very early call time tomorrow morning.
So, here`s the deal. It`s fun. And people are like, wait a minute, you`re
not as great as you think you are and so that`s why you have the Razzies
and I think a lot of them actually take it in stride. Hopefully down the
line that they actually gave an award for people who have kind of rebounded
and Ben Affleck was on that list. They said he went from Gilly (ph), to
"Argo" to "Gone Girl." So anyway, so they`re praising people who used to
be on their list, and now they`re doing very very well. So, hopefully all
of the actors will take it in stride.

SHARPTON: Jason, what do you think? You know, by the way, Jason, Halle
Berry showed up and she owned the night. I mean, showing up because she
was nominated for the Razzies. I thought that was very interesting.

JOHNSON: Oh, yes, she gets one almost every year. Like her cat woman was
so bad, it was just a lifetime achievement award for the Razzies. I
actually agree with them this year. I love that they gave a Razzie to like
Mel Gibson for "Expendables 3." I had no desire to see a bunch of old
dudes jump out of plane and blew things up anymore. If I want to see that,
I could go to Netflix, so, yes, I actually pay more attention to the
Razzies than I do to the Oscars.

SHARPTON: Shira?

CENTER: Yes. Well, the best thing I can say about some of these films as
I saw them on a plane, right?

(LAUGHTER)

So, I just saw the other woman on a plane and it was pretty bad. And then
I tried to watch "Blended" on the plane and it was so bad, I actually had
to watch something else. Okay. So, these are obviously terrible movies
but, you know, it`s paying tribute to the mistakes we all make in our
careers. Right?

ROBINSON: And not only that, Rev.

SHARPTON: Yes. Going to the movies is expensive. I just went the other
day and it`s, what, 15 bucks? And so, people are upset when they shell out
that much money and you`re getting, you know, a real dud. So, you know,
look, it`s all in fun.

CENTER: You have to know what was coming. You have to know --

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: I was fooled. I was fooled. I thought it might be better.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s true. Well, I won a Razzie and I wasn`t even in a
movie.

(LAUGHTER)

CENTER: Congratulations.

SHARPTON: So, I mean, we all do make mistakes along the way. But I think
it`s a fun night and it`s good that people play along. How about the
actresses, Shaun, in this?

ROBINSON: Okay.

SHARPTON: And let me ask you something more serious. What about the
Oscars, what are you looking for in the nominations?

ROBINSON: Okay. So, tomorrow morning I`ve got a really, really early call
time. I think for best picture we`re going to have -- now, don`t hold me
to this, Rev, but if I get them all right, you have to like treat me to
lunch or something. Definitely "Boyhood," "Selma," "The theory of
Everything," "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and I`m going to say the fifth one
will probably be "Birdman." Those five, definitely.

SHARPTON: All right. We`re going to hold that tape, Shaun, and we`re
going to hold to that. And if you win, we`re going to hold you to you
saying, you take me to lunch.

ROBINSON: Okay.

SHARPTON: Shaun, Jason and Shira, thank you for your time tonight.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

CENTER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: When we come back, "Selma" and the voting rights today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the right to vote. We all remember the news on
June 25th, 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted the voting rights act. I
was in court that day. It was a devastating decision. And anyone who
waits in long lines on Election Day or is who is forced to show voter I.D.
at the polls know the full law should be restored. But now the GOP is
trying to kill that effort. Today, the top republican on the House
Judiciary Committee confirmed, there are no GOP plans to fix the law. But
the fight isn`t over. The movie "Selma" has reminded millions of Americans
about what it took to achieve the voting rights act in the first place five
decades ago. As I watched that movie, as I thought of my conversations
growing up led by those in the civil rights movement that raised my
generation, Reverend Joe Lowery, Jesse Jackson and others would tell us
stories. I thought too many times how many blacks and whites gave their
lives for the right to vote. No leading republican of a contemporary or
seasonal committee will stop the permanent sacrifice that many gave their
lives for us to have a permanent right to vote in this country for all
Americans.

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.
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